MBA Application: How Important is the GMAT Score?

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in MBA Admission

Gmat-Score-enoughA fundamental question about the importance of the GMAT score confronts everyone who intends to apply to an MBA program. It is a fact that the GMAT score is among the important criteria for evaluating MBA applications. It is used as a predictor of your verbal and quantitative ability to manage the workload of an MBA curriculum. A high GMAT score indicates greater likelihood of future academic success.

No one can deny the significance of the GMAT score in the admission process. Over the years, however, students have developed the false perception that scoring high on the GMAT will get them into the best MBA schools automatically. It is important to realize that the GMAT score is only one part of the admission process and only one of the many factors used to screen applications and make admission decisions. A high GMAT score alone is not enough to guarantee admission to a good MBA program. Likewise, a low score does not mean that you cannot qualify.

The application process is becoming more and more competitive, and you need to show something special in order to stand out from the competition. Regardless of your GMAT score, you need a well-rounded application to ensure that you make your way into a good business school.

When applications are reviewed, weight is given not only to GMAT score but also to undergraduate GPA, recommendations, statement of purpose, and similar factors. You need to demonstrate professional potential and to create a strong impression of suitability for the program. Any postgraduate study or work experience can contribute to an advantage over other applicants. Moreover, in case you fail to achieve a high GMAT score, a thoughtful and well-written essay can lead an evaluation committee to believe that your GMAT score is not a fair criterion by which to judge your capabilities.

Admission committees at business schools worldwide review MBA applications from the perspective of leadership, organizational ability, management potential, teamwork skills, career goals, contributions you have already made to the school, and your community involvement and service. Never underestimate the significance of these virtues. Even with a very high score on your GMAT, if your other attributes are miserable, your chances of getting into one of the top business schools remains bleak.

Students frequently whine about their low GMAT scores and plan to try their luck with the test again, when they should be determining how high a score is actually needed. It is worth mentioning that each MBA school has a predefined GMAT intake range that may be subject to change each year. Particular attention should be given to this intake range before you make the decision to start your MBA application process at any particular business school. Retaking the GMAT is not necessarily the only or the best way to improve your chances of getting into a better business school. The experiences and characteristics listed above can go a long way toward compensating for a less than stellar GMAT score.

Some MBA programs, for example, Stanford Graduate School of Business allocate more points to the GMAT score in evaluation of the overall application. (Remember, however, that does not mean an excellent score by itself will get you admitted.) Other schools, for example, Harvard Business School, do not place as much emphasis on GMAT scores. You would be surprised at the number of current MBA students at some of the finest business schools who had GMAT scores actually below the school's intake level and still made it by demonstrating their exceptional qualities in other respects.

By now, it should be clear that your admission to an MBA program does not depend entirely on your GMAT score meeting or exceeding the program's required score. Even if your score is not especially good, you need not despair. You still have a chance if you concentrate on your other qualifications. In particular, bringing a stellar GPA and extensive work experience can do wonders for your application. With a GPA of 4.0 and only an average GMAT score, it is unlikely that you would be considered unable to handle the MBA curriculum successfully.

The GMAT score's crucial role in the success of your MBA application should never be in doubt, of course. A high GMAT score can compensate for a less than impressive academic performance or other weaknesses in an application. The higher your GMAT score is, the better your chances of admission to a better business school. Both a good GMAT score and strong presentation in other components of the application are critical for making your application shine.

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