When applying to top schools, most people assume that the higher the GMAT score the better. This is not a wrong assumption, but it is too simplistic. There are plenty of rejections at top schools even with 700+ GMAT scores.
The admissions committee AT ALL TOP SCHOOLS is trying to shape a new class and create as diverse a group as possible. This means women, a mix of educational backgrounds, minorities, and extra-curricular activities. However, what they do not say in the brochures is that the number one thing they are looking for is “employability” post-MBA. If you can make yourself seem indispensable in the future job market, you are in. This is actually the basis of our admissions strategy, and lucky for us it is working really well.
I am not going to give a specific test score that you will need. We have had acceptances at LBS, INSEAD, IESE, ESADE, TUCK, DARDEN just recently with sub 650 GMAT, but that is cutting it pretty close. A concrete take away is that each section of the test (not AWA and IR) MUST be in the 70th percentile or above.
Once this is achieved, our experience is that the GMAT story is “neutralised” and admissions looks that the other features of the candidates. The bottom line is: You will need to be above the 70th percentile in all the scored sections. Then the other aspects of the application can persuade the admissions committee that you deserve a place in the class.