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15 December 2023

8 minutes read

Navigating the MBA Admission at HEC Paris: Insights into GRE and GMAT Requirements

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Gaining admission into HEC Paris’s esteemed MBA program is a coveted goal for many. This blog provides a comprehensive guide on how HEC Paris weighs GRE and GMAT scores in its admissions process, offering insights into the GMAT vs GRE debate and practical advice for prospective students.

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The Role of Standardized Tests in HEC Paris MBA Admissions

Unraveling the Importance of GMAT and GRE Scores

GMAT Scores: A Traditional Benchmark in Business School Admissions

GMAT, a test traditionally associated with business schools, has been a staple in assessing MBA applicants’ readiness. At HEC Paris, a high GMAT score is often seen as indicative of strong quantitative and analytical skills.

The average GMAT score for admitted students is typically high, reflecting the school’s rigorous academic standards. However, this doesn’t mean that a lower score is an automatic disqualification.

The admissions committee at HEC Paris looks beyond numbers to gauge an applicant’s full potential, considering the score as one piece of a larger puzzle.

The Rising Acceptance of GRE Scores in Business Education

In recent years, the GRE has gained acceptance as an alternative to the GMAT in the business education realm. HEC Paris, aligning with this trend, also accepts GRE scores.

This move widens the pool of applicants, allowing those from more diverse academic backgrounds to apply. The GRE tests verbal reasoning, quantitative skills, and analytical writing, offering a comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s capabilities.

Applicants choosing the GRE should aim for high percentile scores, particularly in the quantitative section, to stand out in the competitive applicant pool.

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Decoding the GMAT vs GRE Dilemma for HEC Paris Applicants

Focus and StructurePrimarily focused on quantitative and verbal skills with a strong emphasis on analytical and problem-solving abilities. Consists of Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections.Offers a broader assessment including verbal reasoning, quantitative skills, and analytical writing. The structure includes Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections.
Test DurationApproximately 3.5 hours including breaks.About 3 hours and 45 minutes including breaks.
Scoring SystemTotal score ranges from 200 to 800, with separate scores for the Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning sections.Scores are given separately for the Verbal and Quantitative sections (130-170 each) and for Analytical Writing (0-6).
AdaptivenessThe Quantitative and Verbal sections are computer-adaptive, meaning the difficulty level adjusts based on the test-taker’s performance.The GRE is section-level adaptive, where the second section’s difficulty is based on performance in the first section.
Mathematical ContentKnown for challenging quantitative sections, with a focus on data sufficiency problems.Contains more straightforward math questions but covers a broader range of topics including geometry and data interpretation.
Verbal ContentEmphasizes critical reasoning and sentence correction, alongside reading comprehension.Focuses more on vocabulary, in addition to reading comprehension and text completion.
Relevance for MBA ApplicantsTraditionally favored by business schools and seen as a standard for MBA admissions. Indicates strong quantitative and analytical skills.Increasingly accepted by business schools, including HEC Paris. Seen as a demonstration of a well-rounded academic profile.
Preparation ResourcesAbundant resources specifically tailored for GMAT preparation including official guides, online courses, and practice tests.Numerous resources are available for GRE preparation, including official ETS materials, practice tests, and online courses.
Ideal for Candidates Who:Have a strong quantitative background and excel in analytical problem-solving. Aim for careers in finance, consulting, or roles requiring strong quantitative skills.Possess a balanced skill set, excel in verbal and qualitative analysis, or come from a more diverse academic background.

Impact of Test Choice on Admission Chances

While HEC Paris does not prefer one test over the other, the choice can subtly influence your application. A high GMAT score can strengthen an application, especially for candidates targeting traditionally quant-heavy roles post-MBA.

Conversely, a strong GRE score can highlight a well-rounded profile. It’s crucial to remember that neither test guarantees admission; they are merely one component of a multi-faceted evaluation process that includes professional experience, academic performance, and personal essays.

Mastering the Application Process for HEC Paris

Crafting a Compelling Application Beyond Test Scores

While test scores are important, HEC Paris looks for well-rounded candidates. This means your application should effectively showcase your professional achievements, leadership potential, and personal motivations.

Essays play a pivotal role in this, offering a chance to narrate your story and aspirations. Additionally, recommendations should reflect your professional impact and potential for growth.

Demonstrating a clear career vision and how an MBA from HEC Paris fits into that trajectory can significantly enhance your application.

Understanding the Significance of Professional Experience

Professional experience is a critical component of your application. HEC Paris values diverse and rich professional backgrounds, offering various perspectives within its MBA cohort.

The admissions committee assesses the quality of experience over quantity, looking at your career progression, achievements, and the impact you’ve made in your roles. Highlighting leadership experiences, innovative projects, and significant career milestones can strengthen your application.


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Timing and Preparation: Key Strategies for Success

Navigating the Application Timeline Effectively

Timing your application submission can be as strategic as the content itself. HEC Paris has several rounds of admissions, and applying earlier can sometimes offer a slight advantage, as the class is less filled.

Preparing for the GMAT or GRE well in advance, crafting thoughtful essays, and securing strong recommendations should be planned meticulously to avoid last-minute rushes.

Preparing for the GMAT or GRE: Tips and Resources

When preparing for crucial tests like the GMAT or GRE, a strategic and structured approach can make a significant difference. Here are some essential tips and resources to help you prepare effectively:

  1. Understand the Test Format and Content:
    • Familiarize yourself with the structure, types of questions, and timing of each section.
    • For the GMAT, focus on sections like Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment.
    • For the GRE, concentrate on Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.
  2. Set a Study Schedule:
    • Dedicate a consistent study schedule, allocating daily or weekly time for preparation.
    • Balance your preparation time between the different test sections.
  3. Use Official Preparation Materials:
    • Utilize official guidebooks and online resources from GMAC for the GMAT and ETS for the GRE.
    • These materials provide accurate representations of the questions you’ll encounter.
  4. Take Practice Tests:
    • Regularly take full-length practice tests to build stamina and get accustomed to the test’s timing.
    • Analyze your performance in these tests to identify areas of strength and weakness.
  5. Focus on Weaker Areas:
    • Allocate more time to improving your weaker sections.
    • Use targeted exercises and tutorials to build skills in these areas.
  6. Learn Time Management:
    • Practice solving questions under timed conditions.
    • Develop strategies for pacing yourself through each section of the test.
  7. Join a Prep Course (Optional):
    • Consider enrolling in a preparation course if you need structured guidance.
    • Online and in-person options are available, offering different teaching styles and resources.
  8. Explore Online Resources and Forums:
    • Utilize online platforms like Khan Academy, Magoosh, and Manhattan Prep for additional study materials and forums.
    • Engage in forums like GMAT Club or GRE Prep Club to get tips and advice from other test-takers.
  9. Build Your Vocabulary:
    • Especially for the GRE, work on expanding your vocabulary through daily practice, using apps, flashcards, or word lists.
  10. Work on Analytical Writing:
    • Practice writing essays under timed conditions.
    • Review sample essays and learn how they are scored.
  11. Maintain Physical and Mental Health:
    • Ensure you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet.
    • Keep stress levels in check through meditation or relaxation techniques.
  12. Seek Feedback:
    • If possible, get feedback on your practice essays and quantitative answers from mentors or peers.
    • Use this feedback to refine your approach and improve.
  13. Stay Updated and Plan for Test Day:
    • Keep abreast of any changes in the test format or rules.
    • Familiarize yourself with the test center location and required documents to reduce stress on the test day.
  14. Use Technology Wisely:
    • Leverage mobile apps and online quizzes for on-the-go preparation.
    • Use digital flashcards for quick revision of key concepts and formulas.
  15. Practice Mindfulness and Confidence Building:
    • Practice mindfulness exercises to improve concentration.
    • Cultivate a positive mindset and confidence in your abilities.

Final Thoughts: Making Your Application Stand Out

The Holistic Approach of HEC Paris Admissions

HEC Paris adopts a holistic approach in its admissions process, meaning every part of your application counts. While your GMAT or GRE score is important, it’s your overall profile that will ultimately sway the decision.

Showcasing a balance of strong academic capabilities, professional excellence, and personal qualities aligned with HEC Paris’s values can significantly boost your application.

Personalizing Your Application to Reflect Your Unique Story

Personalizing your MBA application, especially for a prestigious institution like HEC Paris, is crucial in standing out among a pool of highly qualified candidates. Here are key points to consider when tailoring your application to reflect your unique story:

  1. Highlight Your Unique Background:
    • Emphasize what makes your background unique – be it your cultural heritage, unusual professional experiences, or unconventional educational path.
    • Explain how these experiences have shaped your perspective and contributed to your personal and professional growth.
  2. Showcase Personal Achievements and Milestones:
    • Detail any significant achievements, not just professionally but also in other areas like volunteer work, hobbies, or sports.
    • Describe how these achievements demonstrate qualities like leadership, perseverance, or creativity.
  3. Narrate Your Career Journey:
    • Outline your career progression, highlighting key decisions and turning points.
    • Discuss challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them, showcasing resilience and problem-solving skills.
  4. Articulate Your Goals and Ambitions:
    • Clearly state your short-term and long-term career goals.
    • Explain how an MBA from HEC Paris specifically aligns with and facilitates these goals.
  5. Reflect Your Personality in Essays:
    • Let your personality shine through in your essays. Avoid overly formal or robotic tones.
    • Use anecdotes and personal stories to make your essays engaging and memorable.
  6. Demonstrate Cultural Fit:
    • Research HEC Paris’s culture and values, and reflect on how they resonate with your own values and experiences.
    • Include instances where you’ve demonstrated similar values in your professional or personal life.
  7. Explain Unique Aspects of Your Application:
    • If there are unique aspects of your application, like gaps in employment or a non-traditional background, address them proactively.
    • Explain how these aspects have contributed positively to your personal development.
  8. Use Recommendations Wisely:
    • Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to different aspects of your personality and achievements.
    • Brief them on your application strategy so they can tailor their recommendations to align with your overall narrative.
  9. Incorporate Your Global Perspective:
    • If you have international experience or are interested in global business, highlight this in your application.
    • Discuss how these experiences have shaped your global outlook and understanding of diverse business environments.
  10. Express Your Interest and Research:
    • Show that you’ve thoroughly researched HEC Paris and are genuinely interested in what the school uniquely offers.
    • Mention specific programs, clubs, or faculty members at HEC Paris that align with your interests and goals.
  11. Convey Your Contribution to the HEC Paris Community:
    • Discuss how you plan to contribute to the HEC Paris community, both as a student and as an alumnus.
    • Highlight any specific clubs, activities, or initiatives you want to be a part of and how you would contribute to them.
  12. Include Personal Interests and Hobbies:
    • Don’t hesitate to mention hobbies or interests that might seem unrelated to business. This can add a layer of depth to your personality.
    • Explain how these interests have helped in develop skills relevant to your MBA journey.
  13. Be Authentic and Honest:
    • Be true to yourself in your application. Avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting your experiences.
    • Authenticity resonates more with admission committees and helps in creating a genuine and compelling narrative.

By incorporating these elements into your application, you can create a holistic and personalized presentation that showcases not just your professional suitability for HEC Paris, but also your unique personality and life experiences.

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In conclusion, while GMAT and GRE scores are important components of the HEC Paris MBA application, they are part of a broader, holistic admissions process.

The decision between the GMAT vs GRE should be based on your strengths and how well you can showcase your potential through the test. Remember, a strong application is a balanced blend of academic prowess, professional achievement, and personal character.


Can a high GMAT or GRE score guarantee admission to HEC Paris?

No, while a high score is beneficial, HEC Paris considers the entire application, including professional experience, essays, and interviews.

Should I retake the GMAT/GRE if my score is below the average for HEC Paris?

If you believe you can significantly improve your score, it might be worth retaking. However, consider other aspects of your application that can compensate for a lower score.

How long should I prepare for the GMAT/GRE for HEC Paris?

Preparation times vary, but typically, candidates spend 3-6 months preparing for the GMAT/GRE.

Does HEC Paris prefer applicants with business backgrounds?

HEC Paris values diversity in its MBA program and welcomes applicants from various professional backgrounds.

Can I apply to HEC Paris with an older GMAT/GRE score?

Scores are typically valid for five years. If your score is within this range, you can apply with it.

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