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How Important Is Your GMAT Score When Applying For An MBA Scholarship?

Yolanda Habets, head of MBA programs at Vlerick Business School, answers your Applicant Question of the Week

By  Jasmine Lee-Zogbessou

Thu May 30 2019

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from business school applicant Isaac Apomah.

His question is answered by Yolanda Habets, head of MBA programs at Vlerick Business School.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

How important is your GMAT score when applying to an MBA scholarship?

The Answer:

Like with anything in life, the answer is ‘it depends’. 

How competitive is the program you are trying to get into? For the highly competitive MBAs, the more you can stand out above the average applicant, the higher your chances are for a scholarship.

How does the business school position itself? Do they pride themselves on the brilliant minds that graduate from their program and move on to positions in consulting or finance?

These are sectors that also often request GMAT scores as part of the application process.

What rankings does the business schhol perform well in? Some rankings take average GMAT scores of the MBA class into consideration in their criteria.

In other words, it is really important to research the different business schools and MBA programs that you are considering applying to in order to find out what they value in the candidates they want to attract.

Scholarships are usually awarded by business schools on the basis of merit, need, or a combination of the two.

Availability of scholarships is always limited, so make sure to present yourself in the best way possible.

Make sure you understand what scholarships you can qualify for.

For example, to ensure diversity in the classroom, business schools might offer a wide range of industry-specific, gender-specific or nationality-specific scholarships.

Most business schools will take a holistic view of each scholarship application because test scores cannot tell the whole story, it is just one component of the application.

The GMAT test can predict academic success and can assess critical thinking skills, but it does not assess cultural fit, leadership potential, motivation and readiness for the program.

An MBA is a very intensive program and the kind of commitment needed to improve yourself and to contribute to the self-development of the people around you is something that only becomes clear in the essays and the interview process. 

Read MBA Scholarships: The True Value Of Financial Aid At Business School


Like with your MBA application, there are numerous other criteria that factor into a scholarship decision.

These include academic experience, leadership experience (in and outside of work), work experience (length of work experience, industry and company, career progression, international experience), a clear vision of your goals, your performance on the admissions or scholarship interview, and what you personally bring to the MBA class, like your interests, extracurricular experience, and cultural background.

In the end, make sure to submit a well-rounded scholarship application that speaks to your academic ability as well as to your motivation and your future leadership potential.

Scholarships are an investment of the business school in your profile. Like with any investment, they want to make an assessment with confidence.

Business schools can gain the confidence that you would make it through the academic part of the MBA. The GMAT does not predict professional success, so use other ways to help them assess this.

Other skills that are very important are; learning agility, teamwork skills, creativity, cultural awareness, commitment, and motivation.

You should prepare each part carefully and if you are submitting a GMAT test score that is below the average mentioned by the business school you are applying to, make sure to ‘compensate’ for it.

Highlight other elements that can attest to your analytical and problem-solving ability and showcase your other talents. 

To be sure how to best position yourself, always check with the business school representatives as they would be able to tell you what they consider and what the candidate profile is that they have in mind. 

A high GMAT score might increase your chances of receiving a scholarship, but it will not guarantee you one.   

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! becky-coggins-image-cropped.jpg

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Becky Coggins, who works with executive programs at London School of Economics (LSE), anything you want to know about getting into business school.

Becky has worked in higher education for over twelve years. She joined LSE in 2011 and helped set up LSE department of management’s flagship executive master’s degree and the Executive Global Master’s in Management.

Got a question you'd love Becky to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below!