You’ve finally set your sights on your dream business school but are probably unsure about what makes a winning MBA application.
While there’s no set formula, the GMAT, one of several key ingredients in a strong application, is a firm favorite among savvy students looking to stand out and land a place at their target business school.
In fact, 88% of business schools responding to a recent survey said that submitting a competitive admissions exam score will help your application.
These schools offer GMAT and GRE waivers. That means you don’t have to take an admissions test to apply. But, by not doing so, you might put yourself at a disadvantage.
Why do business schools value the GMAT?
For students unsure of whether the months of work that goes into GMAT test prep is worth it, knowing the reasons behind why many top MBA programs still value the GMAT can help you decide on whether to climb the GMAT mountain.
Responding to the survey by Kaplan/Manhattan Prep, business school admissions officers explained why they still favor the GMAT:
“Anything an applicant can do to stand out from the pack is helpful. A good GMAT score shows us that they are willing to invest time to prepare for the MBA and that they have the baseline knowledge to begin.”
“Our scholarships are based on GPA, GMAT score, and interview experience, so strong GMAT scores have a very important impact on admissions and scholarship offers.”
“In situations where an applicant's GPA is lower than we would typically consider, strong scores might lead to us giving the applicant additional consideration.”
For business school admissions teams, your GMAT score is evidence that you can handle the academic rigor of an MBA program. Schools will then consider your GMAT score alongside other factors like your soft skills and work experience to assess your suitability for a program.
“The GMAT score is important for assessing a candidate’s aptitude for being able to have a successful MBA experience. The exam is designed to demonstrate essential critical thinking and reasoning skills that will be required in an MBA program and beyond,” explains Nora Colton (pictured), director of the University College London (UCL) Global Business School for Health.
Charlotte Marinus, program manager for the Full-time MBA at Nyenrode Business University, agrees. The GMAT, she says, is a useful precursor to a face-to-face interview.
“The GMAT focuses on several areas of intelligence. This helps us to go into an in-depth conversation with the applicant about that person’s analytics, writing, and reasoning skills.”
Moreover, what few business schools will openly admit is that while major MBA rankings tables continue to consider GMAT scores in their methodologies—where the quality of an MBA class is based on the average GMAT— their preference for the GMAT is unlikely to go away.
The GMAT’s not just for business school—it’s for life
You can see what kind of score you need to achieve to land a place on an elite MBA program by looking at average GMAT scores for top business schools. Get an above average GMAT score and your application will stand out.
But even beyond business school, the GMAT can help you gain a competitive edge, explains Stacy Blackman (pictured), founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting.
“Strong test scores show the top MBA programs that the candidate can commit to the academic exercise of test prep and score improvement through hard work and perseverance, and such attributes are proxies for success within and outside the classroom of a graduate program,” she says.
Some companies across management consulting, financial services, and investment banking, consider GMAT scores when reviewing job and internship applications.
Having a strong GMAT score could help you stand out, particularly if you’re applying from a lesser-known business school that doesn’t have access to as many career opportunities as a top-ranked MBA program.
Studying for a highly intensive exam like the GMAT requires dedication and determination to succeed, and these are qualities that will stand you in good stead in an evolving business landscape.
While the GMAT isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of your business school journey, admissions experts say a good GMAT score will ensure you remain at the top of the pile when MBA admissions teams review your application.
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