Veritas Helped ‘570 GMAT’ MBA Into HBS

by Chad Troutwine on

iStock_000014847259XSmallIn “Harvard’s ‘570 GMAT’ Student,” Poets&Quants asked several leading MBA admissions consultants to speculate how someone “could overcome that low a score to get an invite from Harvard, of all places.” All of the consultants quoted are experienced and talented. It is clear that many of them described characteristics of actual, former clients with modest GMAT scores who gained entry into very selective MBA programs. In that context, none of the consultants provided inaccurate assessments, though some were closer to the mark than others.

At Veritas Prep, we have an advantage.  The 570 GMAT Student at Harvard Business School is one of our clients.

Since we know the factual answer to what was hypothetical conjecture by the other consultants, it may be instructive to see whose answers mostly closely described the actual student:

Sandy Kreisberg of HBSGuru.com speculated that the 570 GMAT Student might be a “development case” (a euphemism for the relative of a rich donor or someone connected to the administration or faculty).  We can confirm that he is not closely connected or related to anyone at HBS, though one of his letters of recommendation was written by a successful HBS graduate.  While it is possible the 570 GMAT Student could one day be a large donor, it is reasonable to say that about any incoming HBS student.

AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN APPLICANT WITH A B-PLUS AVERAGE AND A HIGHLY ACCOMPLISHED WORK RECORD

Jeremy Shinewald of MBAMission suggested the 570 GMAT Student could be the “elected member of parliament in an under-represented country” or the “prodigy who sold an internet company in college.”  While I suspect hypothetical candidates like that could overcome a low GMAT score, he is not describing the 570 GMAT Student at HBS.

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, hypothesized that the student “came from a background that does not send many students to HBS.  Maybe an African tribal prince… or, a first generation immigrant from a poor neighborhood ….”  The 570 GMAT Student graduated from a large, public university in the mid-Atlantic United States that typically sends a few students to elite MBA programs every year.  He is African-American and his family has been in the United States for generations.  He grew up solidly middle class and attended an urban magnet public high school where he excelled in the classroom, in sports, and in his extracurricular activities.

CLOSEST TO THE MARK WAS EVAN FORSTER OF FORSTER-THOMAS

Graham Richmond, co-founder of Clear Admit, assumed it was likely the candidate had a very successful academic record because, “it would be very difficult for [him] to overcome two strikes in the academic portion of [his] file….”  The 570 GMAT Student earned a solid B+ GPA with no marks below C, all while devoting several hours per week to elite level athletics.  He had no quantitative coursework, but at the suggestion of Veritas Prep, he enrolled in several business-related quant courses at a local MBA program (non-degree path), earning an A in each.

Dan Bauer, founder and managing director of The MBA Exchange, along with his colleague Pauline Jennett, created a fictional character to illustrate how the very real 570 GMAT Student might have gained entry.  While they are off-base about his academic record balancing out his low score, they are correct that he retook the GMAT.  The 570 GMAT Student actually started with an even lower score.  He likely would have been able to improve to the 700 range, but he didn’t want to wait another year.  Incidentally, the 570 GMAT Student shattered another persistent myth by gaining entry as a Round 3 applicant.

Evan Forster of Forster-Thomas is closest to the mark with his theory that the candidate demonstrated “transformational leadership” – accomplishing something extraordinary with limited resources.  Forster’s description is eerily accurate: “On the other hand, ’570’ probably did not go to a prestigious school. He may even have gone to community college for a couple of years and transferred into a state university. He graduated with a 3.2 GPA—no failing grades, but not necessarily distinguishing himself, either. He took no quantitative coursework to prepare the way for doing well on the advanced quant section of the GMAT. However, ‘570’ did something truly incredible—despite coming from an underprivileged background, where he was likely told ‘you can’t do that’ his whole life.”

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  • pissed-off-white-dude

    Thank God for affirmative action!

  • Rick

    This is politically incorrect, but I just knew from the headline that the 570 guy had to be an African American. No way a normal jewish or wasp or asian kid will get into HBS with a 570 unless his daddy is George H. W. Bush.

    A straight up non-legacy admit with a 570 that isn’t black — highly unlikely.

    For the record, I’m fine with affirmative action and HBS deciding to admit whoever it wants to. But several of my black friends have said that affirmative action actually ends up hurting them because people assume that it’s always **only** because of AA that they got their job and admits to elite schools. It’s sad because so many of them have worked so hard and have overcome so much, that it’s a slap in their face when society just assumes that they got an easy break thanks to AA. My friend recently remarked that XYZ firm was in his campus and recruited a couple of “token” blacks; I was shocked at this statement. I pressed him further, and he just muttered that he thought they weren’t as good (GMAT, Under grad school, work experience), but also conceded that they might have interviewed exceptionally well. This is from someone at a top MBA program…who thinks his own classmates might not be deserving of working for a top firm and only got in thanks to AA. This shows the double edged sword that is AA. Yeah, we could dismiss my friend as a racist..but trust me – even the guys with the most liberal views approach this differently when their own careers and jobs are at stake.

  • Mike

    Well, if I can’t post his identity (I did, and my message was promptly deleted), perhaps I can still congratulate those beneath me on being bigoted assholes.

  • hbsguru

    Ahem. This guy would have gotten in if he were white, and would have had the HBS jet sent to his house with Dee as stewardess in a short dress if were Asian. HBS would LOVE nothing more than to have the guy with the lowest GMAT in its class be white or Asian. This story is not really about affirmative action, and not fully what you might think it is about on second thought, celebrity culture. The guy actually had a REAL STRONG case on the merits, both because, yeah, he is a pro player but also because guys with a solid background representing organized workers (as odd as that sounds in this context) in union negotiations (and in other contexts), which is what he did, are rare at top B schools and a very valued part of the case discussion mix. Yeah, even tho he was repping millionaires, in many cases, ha, ha, after that, and after the jock sniffing wears off (which in reality is pretty fast) you got a classic labor/management situation.

    So by HBS’ point of view, this guy could actually contribute to several cases that touch on labor, organizing and the just treatment of workers in general, yeah, it’s a bit funny, but also a bit true. and certainly as true as any B schools ‘reasons’ for taking anyone — which is always a mix of self-induced BS, actual facts, hopes, potential, and hey, why not, we already got plenty of the other kind of guys.
    And, ahem again, as noted, 570 is not that low a GMAT, the year before the low admit had a 490 –any speculation about that girl???

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25503923 Bruce Vann

    Stay pissed off. I’m sure that someone will care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25503923 Bruce Vann

    As a Black man at a good schoool I’ll confirm that it does hurt in some cases. Some people will treat you like you don’t belong but it helps more than hurts overall. Also, if you can prove (as a Black man) that you’re just as good or even better than anyone else in the room then you can shut the critics up. Trust me. If a guy came from a normal African-American upbringing then he is used to ignoring haters. I know from experience.

  • cheetarah1980

    Amazing how people focus on the fact that the candidate is African American and ignore everything else. No, a regular white or Asian candidate would not get into HBS with a 570 GMAT score. However, neither would a normal African American candidate. This guy is far from average given his career accomplishments and would be far from average no matter what his ethnicity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25503923 Bruce Vann

    Touche’ But I was talking specifically about his GMAT score. More power to him, though.

  • A.C.

    I hate that this article reveals the race of the imfamous 570 HBS guy. I know a few black males who are now apart of the HBS ’15 class. Each of them has a 700+ GMAT but now they will have to operate under this shroud of doubt and suspicion. Not sure what this article accomplishes.

  • Gil Levi

    These cases are very rare, but a few years ago Aringo.com helped a
    candidate with 580 GMAT get accepted to HBS. Few other candidates were
    admitted to top MBA programs with low GMAT scores as you can see here:
    http://www.aringo.com/Results_GMAT.htm

  • Random dude

    This view goes all the way up the food chain and is closely shared by Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court. He was very proud after receiving admission to Yale Law School back in the 1970s. But along the way, he got the feeling that recruiters and even his classmates doubted his ability due to being black and has so far refused to let Yale hang his robe from the rafters- totally unheard of for someone who has achieved as much as he has in his career. As controversial as it is, I think our whole education system needs to toss out affirmative action and move to race-blind admissions like the U of California system. Affirmative action was put in place as a temporary measure to boost under-represented minorities, it was not intended to be a permanent solution and was supposed to be phased out after I think 20 years.

  • Standard Water

    Having been admitted to HBS this year with a +700 score, I have to say that it would be a tremendous honor to have this candidate as a section-mate, this is the reason why I applied to BSchool to meet incredible people like this candidate and learn from their experiences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25503923 Bruce Vann

    Random Dude, I am not seeking to be rude when I say this. Please understand that. I know that this is a touchy subject for a lot of people. It is a horribly insulting thing to claim that 400+ years of oppression can just be overlooked by 20-40 years of affirmative action. I see why if you looked at things in recent history affirmative action would piss some people off. Really I do. It continues a history of racism (though in a much much milder form) in this country. But please look at it from the other perspective. You (not you specifically) cannot kidnap a people, strip them of their identities, strip them of their religion, feed them to sharks, divide their families, rape their women, castrate their men, work them as slaves, breed them like animals, stop them from reading, stop them from voting, stop them from starting businesses, burn down the few businesses they do start, not promote and hire them when they are competant because they don’t fit with your culture, segregate their children in crappy schools, treat them as second class citizens up until the 1990’s, and then expect all of the psychological and sociological damage to disappear or be covered to the point that you ignore race in school admission for only a very few spots. Even here in Charlottesville, there are Black people in their 50/60’s who missed 5 YEARS of school because people refused to integrate schools. What do you think that did for their educational expectations of their kids? When people complain about affirmative action I’m just like, “Cry me a river. Build me a bridge and get the hell over it! It is not that bad.”

    Justice Thomas is wrong on this one. He’s one of those Black folks who hates their Blackness because the white men of his generation made him like that.

    I say this as a graduating MBA student from a top school with a 730 GMAT who graduated with honors and as a Black man who is the first in his immediate family to graduate from a 4 year university and the only in his extended family to graduate from a top prestigious school.

  • tim

    This guy is clearly exceptional and would be a great addition to any b-school class.

    But this stood out to me: “The 570 GMAT Student actually started with an even lower score. He likely would have been able to improve to the 700 range, but he didn’t want to wait another year.”

    No. People that sit the GMAT twice and max out at 570 do not just turn around and score 700+.

    That is a very laughable assertion.

  • Dreamer

    I can assure everybody that being a professional athlete, negotiated with billionaires and have the interest of all the NFL players on your hands is a lot more impressive than being an analyst at TPG/Mckinsey/Bridgewaters with an 800. Anybody who thinks otherwise is delusional.

  • Future HBS guy

    Hopefully you’re wrong about that shroud of doubt. I’m one of those 700+ GMAT black guys who will be in the HBS ’15 class. That said, this guy’s experience is extraordinary and he’s one of the people I’m most looking forward to meeting in the class of 2015. Haha I’ve been using him as the primary example of the kind of ridiculous people who will be at HBS…his story is truly one of a kind.

  • AJ

    A white female friend of mine got into HBS w/ a sub-600 GMAT score. Previous sorority girl. No alumni relatives or connections to staff.

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