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How Important Is GRE Score When Applying To US Business Schools?

Taking the GRE? Melissa Rapp, from Emory University's Goizueta Business School, answers our Applicant Question

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Wed Sep 25 2019

BusinessBecause
How important is a GRE score when applying to US schools?

I graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2015 with a BS in environmental engineering, with a 3.1 GPA while also playing varsity baseball. 

Since then I have been serving as an infantry officer in the army until next spring. I plan to take the GRE and intend to apply round one to a few top schools in the US, as long as I am able to get a 320 cumulative on my GRE. 

In practice tests, I have been scoring around 164-165 in quant, but have been struggling to get even a 155 on verbal. 

At what score should I consider deferring my application, and what else can I do right now to strengthen my application - is there anything I can leverage from my military background?

(This week's question comes from a candidate who prefers to remain anonymous)


The Answer


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This week's Applicant Question is answered by Melissa Rapp, associate dean of MBA admissions at Emory University's Goizueta School of Business.

Thank you for your question, but more importantly, thank you for your service! Many candidates have anxiety over their standardized test scores; you are not alone.

It might be helpful to review why schools ask for standardized test scores. GMAT or GRE scores are one means of measuring if you are ready for the academic rigor of an MBA classroom. 

Other application items also help to provide this information, including transcripts from schools you have previously attended. Classroom ability is just one aspect of what makes an MBA candidate desirable to a school, though. 

At Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and many other top-ranked business schools, we are also looking at your professional experience to date, your goals following your MBA program, how involved you are in activities outside of work, and why you are attracted to our program in particular.

Regardless of your final GRE score, you can position your experience to date in your MBA application to showcase what you have achieved and how you will enhance the MBA community at your chosen school. 

In your case, your 3.1 GPA in a rigorous program supports an ability to perform in the classroom. Additionally, you have the leadership experience of being a military officer and team skills from baseball. 

Attending a service academy and playing a varsity sport shows you are focused, goal oriented, and can manage multiple responsibilities and priorities; all good qualities in an MBA applicant.

Take time to understand what the schools you are applying to value. For example, team, accountability, and integrity are three of the core values of Goizueta’s small-by-design MBA program. 

Highlighting ways in which you are both a good team member and team leader will strengthen your application. Discussing the ways you were accountable to your baseball teammates and your instructors at the academy and are accountable in your current role as an infantry officer will aid us in understanding how you will contribute to a business school community. 


Check Out Another Applicant Question:

Europe Vs USA: Where Should You Do A Post-Experience Master's In Finance?

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Emphasizing how your time at the United States Military Academy has shaped your moral principles will also help you stand out as an MBA candidate.

If you decide to apply with a GRE score below a school’s average, and you think your score will raise a question to an admissions committee, address it as best you can in the application process. 

Many schools have an optional essay in which you can highlight experience or coursework demonstrating your  ability. 

You could also speak to it in your interview. Your recommender can also be an ally in providing evidence to help an MBA admissions committee overlook a lower test score. 

Keep in mind, every year near perfect scores are denied and low scores are admitted based on the other strengths they bring to the schools they will attend.

In terms of deferring your application, I would encourage you to do so if you believe you can still do better on the GRE. If you have only taken it once or twice and believe you have a better score in you, retake it again and apply to a later round. 

If you have taken the GRE more than once and know you have done your best, put your effort into optimizing your MBA application and interview. Remember, you will need to spend time on all aspects of the application. Don’t let chasing a test score prevent you from doing your best on other aspects of the application process.

Standardized tests are just one aspect of admissions applications. You should do the best you can on the GRE and then make sure you use every opportunity provided in the application to highlight your unique talents and experiences to show the admissions committee how you would be a great addition to their MBA community.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!

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Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Dennis Yim, director of academics at admissions and test prep consultancy, Kaplan Test Prep, anything you want about getting into business school. Kaplan Test Prep helps applicants strengthen their business school applications, as well as preparing them for a wide range of tests.

Dennis had a decade's experience helping applicants prepare for standardized tests, and ace their business school applications. 

Got a question you'd love Dennis to answer? Submit your question.

Student Reviews

Emory University Goizueta Business School

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Excellent institution with valuable resources

In general, Emory University is an excellent institution with valuable resources. The majority of the professors I encountered were outstanding and displayed a genuine concern for their students. Furthermore, Atlanta provides a plethora of opportunities and experiences.

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Pleasant weather, campus and professors

Emory enjoys pleasant weather for the most part, with warmth and mild conditions. The only drawback is the spring season, particularly due to the heavy pollen presence. Everything becomes coated in layers of pollen, which can be problematic for allergy sufferers. Fortunately, this pollen season is relatively short-lived. During the spring and fall, the weather can be quite unpredictable, swinging from scorching heat to chilly temperatures. You'll often find students relaxing or studying outdoors on campus with Professors ever ready to attend to students personally.

Student

Verified

30/10/2023

On Campus

Outstanding academics

At Emory, the academics are outstanding! It takes a lot of effort and commitment, but the results are well worth it. Teachers are very approachable and like answering inquiries from students. Nobody ever turning away a student that I know of. The campus is beautiful and tidy at Emory, with many places to relax and study.

Student

Verified

24/10/2023

On Campus

Academic performance surpassed my expectations

Emory University's academic performance surpassed my expectations. Achieving good grades often requires substantial effort, and the academic rigor varies depending on your chosen major. Nevertheless, I encountered highly knowledgeable professors, well-equipped to teach their respective courses. Emory offers a wide range of subject areas to choose from, providing students with diverse academic opportunities.

Student

Verified

24/10/2023

On Campus

Outstanding institution with stunning aesthetics

Emory University is an outstanding institution! The campus boasts stunning aesthetics, the individuals are friendly, and there is an abundance of activities available in the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia. Undoubtedly, my most cherished aspect of Emory was its people. I forged numerous friendships and encountered individuals from diverse backgrounds. Academically, Emory provides a manageable experience. The majority of my professors were excellent, although, as is the case with any university, there may be certain classes or professors that one may not enjoy. Nevertheless, conducting some inquiries and perusing online reviews should provide a fairly accurate insight into what to anticipate in each class.

Student

Verified

23/10/2023

On Campus

Professors skilled in interactive discussions

I take great pleasure in the small class sizes and the professors' skill in creating interactive discussions. The professors demonstrate a strong enthusiasm for their subjects, consistently making the course content fascinating. Moreover, I am captivated by the beautiful campus, and its location is equally appealing.

Student

Verified

23/10/2023

On Campus

Exceptional faculty members

Emory University takes pride in its exceptional faculty members who are highly educated and committed to utilizing innovative and successful teaching techniques.It is widely recognized for its extensive research endeavors, offering students a wide-ranging knowledge foundation that can be readily applied to a variety of academic disciplines.

Student

Verified

25/02/2023

On Campus

Review of Emory university

The Professors are awesome and you get a lot of opportunities to get involved both on and off Campus. The campus is very lovely. The community of people are welcoming, super nice, and entertaining. The dining halls have popular music from throughout the decade playing and the overall atmosphere is super relaxing and enjoyable.

Konya

Verified

3/11/2022

On Campus

Batch'20

Emory is an amazing campus and a school with a nice social scene. I always wanted to see what it was like living in the states and this made it happen. Loving making new friends, acquaintances and some for life bonds as well as learning new subject every week. Emory is a great choice.