Why Minority GMAT Scores Still Lag

DMAC Jose speaking

Jose Franco speaking at the 11th Annual Diversity MBA Admissions Conference (DMAC)

When Jose Franco applies to MBA programs, he’s planning to go all out. The schools currently on his list are among the best in the world: Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, USC and UCLA. Franco, the son of migrant farm workers, completed a term with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a prestigious career development institution that strives to increase the representation of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans in business. During that time, he got most of his essay writing and school research done.

But he still needs to improve his GMAT score. “I definitely have to improve a lot to get into any of the schools I just mentioned,” Franco says. Right now, he’s scoring in the 500s. He’ll be taking the test again at the end of August. “I took a GMAT course, which ended on June 18,” he says. “I think in the past—I’m a very stubborn person in general, so I was trying to do it on my own and study on my own. Which was great, but it wasn’t helping me as much as I wanted to.”

Franco’s story is part of a much larger one about minority students’ performance on the GMAT. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, in the 2011-2012 testing period, the average score for white test takers was 547. The average score for black test takers, on the other hand, was 433—114 points lower. The Mexican American and Native American averages aren’t much better: 471 and 488, respectively.

“I know there’s been a lot of research on it, and some people have published articles claiming that it is biased in favor of the majority,” Consortium CEO Peter Aranda says. The Consortium is a diversity network that serves the same groups as MLT, i.e. minorities that aren’t well-represented in corporate America. “I don’t think the researchers were doing bad work, so I believe that there probably is some bias built into it. It makes some sense. I think the bigger challenge, though, is less about that bias and more about where our communities are in their progression from being completely underserved to becoming part of mainstream society in the United States.”


What does it mean to be outside of mainstream society? For starters, Aranda sees differences in test-prep behaviors. “In my experience with many of the candidates that we have—they will be taking the test for the first time three weeks before the application deadline without having the ability to pay for a prep course,” he says.

Denice Gonzalez, a South Los Angeles native who will be taking the GMAT for the first time in two months, remembers feeling left out during college. Two weeks before graduating from UCLA, many of her friends had already taken the GMAT and the GRE; meanwhile, she barely had a sense of what a post-college plan was. “There’s a lot of factors that go into that, right?” she says. “Like, households. We come from parents that didn’t even know—they don’t even know what SAT is. You know, let alone GMAT.”

Franco echoed that idea. “I don’t want to think that that’s a crutch for minorities—but the statistics are what they are, and I think it’s primarily due to a lack of resources,” he says.

Minority students who aren’t native English speakers face additional challenges. Inglewood native Nancy Lopez grew up speaking Spanish at home; at school, she was in a Spanish-speaking program until the fourth grade (California has since discontinued that particular program, she says). Because she had studied the social sciences at UC-Berkeley, Lopez expected to at least have the verbal portion of the GMAT down. But she’s not satisfied with her average score, which she describes as “in the 500 – 600 range.” “A lot of the way the test is, it’s basically proper sixth grade, seventh grade—well, that’s probably belittling the test—but it’s just proper grammar, proper structure,” she says. “Yes, the true test is being able to complete all those questions in the small window of time that you’re given, but I think—at least for me personally—I just don’t speak in the format that the test expects me to or the way the questions are phrased.”


DMAC Nancy and Denice

Nancy Lopez and Denice Gonzalez are both on the Riordan Programs Alumni Association’s board of directors

When U.S. News ranks business schools, about a quarter of the decision-making is based off students’ undergraduate GPAs and GMAT scores. In other words, schools that want to place well have to take applicants’ GMAT scores very seriously.

Aranda wonders whether that’s wise. “I know plenty of people who have scored lower on the GMAT test and are hugely successful,” he says. “Is it because they’re not as smart? They’re more successful.” Plus, at the end of the day, Aranda believes that GMAT success is less about innate talent and more about knowing how to approach a standardized exam. “It’s an aptitude test, which means that you can absolutely improve your score by applying yourself and studying and being taught certain methods, whether those methods were taught to you and handed down because you’re part of the majority population or you got those methods in a prep course—they can be taught,” he explains. “And they can be learned. The challenge is a significantly larger portion of the minority population doesn’t have opportunities for that learning. And therefore it’s an unfair comparison.”

Still, there are plenty of people—usually white—who gripe about minority students getting into prestigious schools with not-so-stellar GMAT scores. The implication is that they were diversity admits and nothing more.

Gonzalez doesn’t see the logic in that line of thinking. “Even if you say, ‘I’m Latino! Take me!’ They’re going to be like, ‘Okay, excuse me? Show me what you have to offer us,’” she says.

And what does Franco have to say in response? “Come talk to me. Absolutely. Go talk to those individuals who got in with a 600 GMAT score—into Harvard—and get to know them and understand their overall background.” He mentions a friend who started a nonprofit that helps East Los Angeles high school students get into college. “If you look at his GMAT profile, you would say he shouldn’t get into Harvard or Stanford or any of these schools,” Franco says. “But the fact that he started a nonprofit—the fact that he’s managing people, the fact that he’s budgeting for his nonprofit, the fact that he’s been nominated for a lot of awards and received a lot of awards—I would take that person over somebody who got a 750 GMAT score but doesn’t have any substantive professional work experience in their lives.”


Conference attendees participate in a roundtable

Conference attendees participate in a roundtable

Whether you believe the GMAT is a useful assessment or a ineffective way to level the playing field, one fact remains: admissions officers are under a lot of pressure to keep their incoming classes’ scores high.

Gonzalez thinks that helping minority students succeed on the GMAT is about reaching them earlier—earlier than college, even. That’s why she’s the director of the Saturday Business Academy at the Riordan Programs Alumni Association, the very organization that hosted DMAC. She works with high school students from low income households. “Just that introduction that it’s a possibility gets them thinking about it faster,” she says.

What also helps is having advocates for minority students on admissions committees. When Deena Williams worked in MBA Admissions at UCLA Anderson and Chicago Booth, she took up that role. “There need to be a lot more of you pursuing this particular career path,” she told an audience of potential minority applicants at the 11th Annual Diversity MBA Admissions Conference (DMAC) earlier this August. She spoke about knowing that black, Latino and Native American applicants would generally have lower GMAT scores; thus, she would argue her case with the dean when she found one of those applicants to be particularly compelling. It helped that she had a track record of bringing in leaders.

As far as Williams is concerned, what she did was perfectly fair. Legacies were getting special treatment, weren’t they? In that case, “you’re going to take my person with the 600 GMAT,” she said.

  • cake87

    Your level of idiocy is astounding; I really hope I never get to come across someone like you. I really hope you never got into a business school with that minf set. And Maths IS CORRECT. It is the British English, aka the real English!

  • mm

    Of course, hard work is required for everybody who want a good score on gmat. But i think that you are overlooking the fact that there are disadvantages; first, not all people start with the same background in english; some people start with a low level of english because they are non-natives and did not receive a good education in english….It is not the same that native english people who were exposed to academic english skills for years….or even non-natives who had a solid education in english have a tremendous advantage because they can reach higher scores in significantly less time…I know people who spent several years to achieve a 650 or 680…because first they had to quit their Jobs and dedícate themselves to study full time improving their english skills to be admitted to their dreamed business schools…If you are native english speaker, it would be shame if you are not able to achieve at least 700 because you do not have the language barrier…of course there are exceptions…indians and chinesse applicant, at least those who take the gmat, come from a solid education system, so that’s why the score well!!, but that’s not the case of many other applicants from other countries….

  • mario

    But the gmat is not related to speak but to read!….Were you exposed to academic Reading when you were child in school? I have to say I am a minority too, but my school did not have a good level of english…98% of my total courses were in spanish!!!….i just had one course in english..called”english”, that’s all…compared to other successfull gmat takers…all of them received a good education in english…at least 50% of more of their courses were in english which means that they were exposed to academic readings for several years…that’s a advantage!! I struggled with the gmat not because it was difficult but because i had problems to understand the language ….but i did not complain at all, I was aware of that drawback and i could score 640….but i must say, any applicant with good skills in english have an advantage over those who do not…those who start studying with good english skills, have an advantage, those who are native english speakers, have an advantage..those non-native but studied in good schools with high quality english courses, have an advantage….

  • mario

    I think that the GMAT is not fear in certain ways; what happen if you are non-native english speaker and you did not receive a high quality education in english in the school of your country? well, this guy would have to study first to increase his english abilities which, of course, takes time before considering studyding for the gmat. Well, i am sure that it is the case of many people around the world who scores less than 600; they are maybe good in reasoning but the gmat is in other language but well, this is a requirement, i am sure that these people would love that the gmat is in their mother tongue…but of course, one should acknowledge that there are disadvantages here and the test is not fearly equal for everybody….even indians and chinesse, those who decide to take the gmat have solid skills in english…and because their educational system, they score pretty well…

  • hernan cortez

    Lol, caucasian candidate with a sub-standard score blaming minorities for taking his spot while ignoring the vast majority of under-qualified candidates getting into elite schools are C+ 500 scoring white well connected student like George Bush.

  • hernan cortez

    Lol, yeah LBJ and Hoover murder hundreds of innocent blacks including MLK, and he has a federal building named after him. Bengal is freed, black americans are STILL being oppressed by the english. Black americans are being shot in the streets by trigger happy english as of yesterday.

    No one is saying colonialism was a walk in the park. But the immigrants to America, particularly the Asian ones were financed by the American government with SBA loans, ethnic loans, country of origin loans, that black americans cannot get.

    These loans were used to build the wealth that permit Asians to be studying the standardize test earlier and get into the better schools.

    Have you seen a British man lynch indians lately? Because the KKK is still active in every state with 100,000s of members lynching and killing blacks.

    No one is saying you are at fault

  • hernan cortez

    Indians cheat on the gmat, that is why they score so highly.

  • hernan cortez

    I am not convinced, I know cheating is rampant in many parts of Asia, I’ve lived there, kids being given test before hand, all the norm.

  • hernan cortez

    Just because something was designed with good intentions doesn’t mean it does not contain bias. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Avinash Tyagi

    Well to be fair, lynching and other killings continued in the south well into the 50’s and 60’s, as well as increased imprisonment in the south of blacks so they could work on prison gangs, long after the civil war ended

  • Shaniqua James

    1. Math is a singular.

    2. the GMAT

    3. comma before despite.

    Please don’t come to my country with that huge chip on your shoulder. You’re not as smart as you think you are.


  • Indian

    Your English sucks & I doubt you’re better at Maths than me.

    I don’t know about GMAT but it seems that despite getting the best American education possible, you’re still miles behind me. What does this imply, Mr AmericanAryan?

  • Rohit

    I’m sorry for what your race faced- but frankly I fail to see how this is our fault. If you seriously think colonialism was a walk in the park for us, you need to read more history. Nearly 10 million Indians died in the (entirely man-made) Bengal famine in the 1940s. Indians were being shot in the streets by trigger-happy drunk Englishmen as late as 1946. When was the US civil war fought BTW? The 1880s?

    At least the KKK wore masks. Our oppressors have had statues erected in their honour in the middle of London.

  • Rohit


    Indians are no better than Whites when it comes to GMAT. The reason why the test scores are skewed is because while the test is (usually) affordable for all Americans, Indians have to shell out nearly a month’s salary every time they appear. The $ cost is too high for the average young Indian- unless their preparation is top-notch.

    Bang on the target when it comes to the CAT! The IIM criteria get more & more ridiculous each year. This time around, a male engineer from the so-called Higher castes MUST score the equivalent of 791 to even have a chance of an interview call.

    And AFAIK there were 18 such guys…What else can you expect when there are a mere 2500 odd seats for a population of 1.2 billion?

  • Bobi

    GMAT is unfair, it is done for English-speakers. That is a fact, not an opinion.

    Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British have a considerable advantage to others because they know the verbal part, which has the greater weight in the total score.

    A fair GMAT should contain more weight to the quantitative part. It is true that MBAs are in English, I do not deny it. But the selection cannot be based on where you were born.

  • Ed

    Well said. Black with a 650 here lol.

  • RealityCheck

    I think most people are missing the message of the article that its trying to get across. Yes you can work very hard and be great, but if you really think that your academic foundation and familial reinforcement in your early years don’t have an impact on your educational prowess, then you are gravely mistaken. Yes you can work hard and overcome your obstacles no matter where you come from, rather it’s from poverty, disability etc, but living in an environment and having a poor academic foundation or poor family reinforcement does matter. Statistically speaking, those who come from poor and uneducated backgrounds tend to stay poor and uneducated. The ones who make it out tend to be the exceptions, not the norms. As much as I would love to believe that every kid from the hood or inner city is going and graduating from college and overcoming the odds, that’s not happening. Clearly hard work and dedication payoff and can take you to extreme success, on any endeavor you so choose to pursue, but the article is just stating that people form certain backgrounds are at a disadvantage. Yes there are other factors that weigh in on rather one does good or not on the gmatss, but race and background is one of them

  • Dan Short

    LOL. If it’s just that easy then why don’t you take those $60 OG books and get an 800. Surely no school would deny you then. The test is hard. Harder on some people than others for a variety of factors. There are Indian people that will run laps around me on the Quant section. Yet I will destroy them on the verbal. Why? Because of what we were taught and worked on in our upbringing.

    Hard work and dedication can close the gap. But it’s not going to achieve the impossible.

  • GMATRequiresHardWork

    Actually, on further review, it’s pretty obvious that you’re a troll. But good job, I definitely fell for replying to you. A+ troll.

  • GMATRequiresHardWork

    Um, I never even said what my race was. And I’m not white. My whole point actually was that I came from a “disadvantaged background” but through hard work was able to get a high score. But okay.

  • gabriel

    Another selfish “AH” caucasian…tell you what sicko garbage giving stupid opinions about people totally in disadvantage…hey you want to understand what is behind poverty…read the history of discrimination in this country idiot and stop covering the sunlight with a finger.

  • Gabriel

    GMATRequiresHardWork, you are full of s…you did not score 760. hahahaha what a bull shitter you are…lair bigot. Typical saxon self auto sick ego…I cann’t take you suckers

  • Gabriel

    another stupid article about latins lagging….how about the sucessful latins, the one which are not sons of doctors and other professional, the one who came to this country because of other motivations….no mexicans perhaps?

  • elvasco1

    For all those of you out there that are concerned about these tests, take solace in knowing that admissions people are looking into more things than just the GMAT or GRE. I also think that a lot of these articles, while very good, also give an implication that you can’t get into a good school with a low GMAT or GRE unless you’ve started 100 non-profits and 3 fortune 500 companies; again this is not the case. There are some things you can do to help yourself, one is, if you have a job, stick at it and go to a part-time program. That work experience will replace some of the weight of the test and you get the same degree. Here is my case:
    I’m a white male hispanic (family from Spain) currently in the second year of my part-time MBA. I grew up bilingual, but language was not an issue for me as English was the primary language in my household (therefore, to those of you who struggled because of that, I feel for you and cannot speak to your situation). I don’t find the test biased in any way. I’m personally HORRIBLE at math. I always have been. I studied and studied, but could only improve my score marginally. I got a 540 on the GMAT the first time I took it and a 560 the second time. However, I scored perfect on my writing sample both times and was in the top 10% of the verbal/reasoning sections. Based on that, you can deduce that my quant score was bad – like bottom 15%. I work fulltime as a Systems Analyst and have an ok resume but I’ve never started any non-profits. My undergrad GPA was good, but not stellar (3.5). I ended up at a top 15 school (top 10 in terms of part-time). I was surprised – I even asked the admission people why they let me in. They laughed and said “trust us, they pay us well to look at all aspects.” I can pretty much assure you I wouldn’t have gotten into Harvard and I’m probably never going to pull $300k a year. That said, remember, going top 15, top 20 or even top 50 and making $75k-$150k is not that bad guys. One last thing – I’ve finished all of, or most of my math based courses (finance, accounting, quant analysis, etc.), it was extraordinarily difficult for me. That said, I busted my butt, put in my time and got an A or A- in all of them. You readers will be ok.

  • BT

    These types of minority articles always leave out Asian Americans (Indians and Chinese). Asians experienced colonization and slavery, English is not their first language, many are first or second generation immigrants who don’t know the school system either and yet they do just as well or even better than the dominant group, whites. Furthermore, many schools that use race as a factor penalize Asian Americans because they are an over-achieving minority. An Asian American applicant needs GPA/GMAT points much higher than average for admission.

  • km80

    OK then, I’ve made my point. Because I was responding to the poster above who referred to foreigners coming to the US to study and contribute to the class as invaders (invasion) For some reason that comment did not offend you? Double standards much?

  • dont be a jerk

    People with more education have less children period. Also what do you mean by “hood rats and people living in ghettos’.” I’d like to see a report that says that these people, whoever they are, are reproducing at the same rate of people who live in the 3rd world. I also think it’s funny that you say ” US citizens with lower scored than their int’l counterparts get to benefit by interacting with their smarter counterparts.” ? What does that even mean? How dare someone who has a lower GPA get to interact with/learn from someone with a higher GPA. Lord forbid someone with a lower gmat actually contribute something valuable to the class. Don’t be dumb. It’s called life and not being an idiot/jerk. No matter how smart you are you can learn from others of all backgrounds, classes, and intelligence levels. I assure you, anyone who is in a business school class has something to teach others (Whether they have a low gmat or not).

  • give me a break

    Hahaha, Guest below is right, you really are a prick. Well done.

    No, it has not occurred to me that I’m inferior, because I’m not. Never said I was not admitted to the best schools. Maybe your lack of any semblance of reading comprehension is a factor in your anger problem?

    You say far from predictive measure, science says closest thing to a predictive measure that exists, who’s counting? I like angry dumb commenter on a message board’s take.

    To be fair to you: of course it is a small correlation. Of course schools use diversity to make the “experience” they’re hawking at $100K a head feel global and something you couldn’t get at a library for free. Nothing wrong with that, as long the diverse persons are qualified. If you’re implying ‘diverse” persons are unable to qualify for academics without a boost, well hopefully not true. Either way, I said nothing about affirmative action or the sad message of inferiority it sends, so not sure why you’ve graced us with your ramblings on it. I said if you can’t “cut the mustard” intellectually, reconsider. I also said that, as someone who actually was disadvantaged (but doesn’t show up that way on paper) and overcame it through hard work and talent to best a simple test, I would never let someone who scores in the 500s – below the average – run any business I had a stake in, especially if they were whiners about hte unfairness of said test. Poor character. There is some validity to winners and losers; if you don’t make the grade, you don’t; world needs ditch diggers too; etc. Take yourself for example. Repressed inadequacy and poor logic and causal reasoning, sure, but could still be something. Probably not on the college track but there’s still something out there.

    Also your last paragraph is excellent, blah blah blah, upset platitudes, more assumptions and talking down, but the final sentence is my favorite. Bravo. At any rate, get counseling…someone leaves a simple note with positive intent on the internet, and you leap in to attack lol. I sincerely believe it behooves the “minority” to cast away their crutches and compete. If I were a traditional minority I would spread this message 100X more seriously.

  • BlackGuywitha730

    GMAT’s not everything but we act like it is because it’s the only rite of passage for everyone who attends good b-school (unless they go GRE). But I’ll tell you from experience there is really not that much of a difference between those who score 650’s and those who score 750’s in terms of natural intelligence. Once a person is in that range of scores it all depends on how hard that person wants to work to get to the score he or she wants. But we must acknowledge that if people are not socialized to reach that high or think that they can go that high then people of any group will only work toward their own expectations.

    -A Black guy with a 730

  • Guest

    Wow, I just read both of the comments – or, really, attacks – that you’ve left on other people’s comments for this article. Did you notice yourself that you keep falling into a fallacy of attacking the individual making the comment rather than focusing on the issue at hand? You’re kind of a jerk.

  • Cry Me a River

    Did it ever occur to you that maybe there are other aspects of your app that don’t cut the mustard? There are plenty of 800s folks that get dinged from all sorts of MBA programs. Heck, there are plenty of Caucasians in b-school today… ever think of why they got in over you? Maybe the fact that you do not “know adjectives from between verbs” might have been a factor?

    At the end of the day, the GMAT is one piece of the puzzle, and it is far from a predictive measure. While I’m sure it correlates on some level to post-MBA success, there are plenty of folks at my school with high GMAT scores that I wouldn’t trust to run a Dunkin’ Donuts, and plenty of folks with lower GMAT scores that I would entrust my life savings with full confidence. But either way… like it or not, diversity is an approach employed by all schools to ensure coverage across all demographics and thus all pieces of the global pie. It’s a business decision.

    So, in summary, to adjust your last paragraph a bit:

    If you don’t think the world owes you your free ride to make up for how UNFAIR life is, you can start to actually get ahead in life. A better job, better extra curriculars, and/or better recommendations go a long way if you have any sort of self-awareness whatsoever. It sounds like you don’t, so give up.

  • km80

    “The problem is US & EU citizens (majority & minority) slowing down reproduction to reasonable levels so their children may have opportunities (pay for school, which is out of this world expensive) while those in the aggressive countries pop out as many kids as possible, where each one has a shot at a free ride.”

    This makes absolutely no sense. You made 2 points and I am hoping you back these claims. #1) Reproduction is down in westernized nations because women spend more time in the workforce and are too busy climbing the career ladder. Obvisouly this does not apply to the hoodrats and people living in ghettos who are reproducing the same rate as the third world. The only difference is they get benefits from the US government.
    #2) We are talking about business school here. I still have to hear a story where an international is getting a free ride over a US Citizen. On the contrary, US citizens with lower scores (GPAs, GMAT scores) than their international counterparts are admitted in to the same program and get to benefit by interacting with their smarter counterparts.

  • go shanique

    Good for you Shaniqua. This is unacceptable to let in all these
    foreigners. It’s insane to give them our best education (and therefore the world’s best) so they can attack our job-providing
    institutions and use these same educations against us. The problem is US & EU citizens (majority & minority) slowing down reproduction to reasonable levels so their children may have opportunities (pay for school, which is out of this world expensive) while those in the aggressive countries pop out as many kids as possible, where each one has a shot at a free ride. Invasion

  • give me a break

    This is so annoying. If you are in the 500s you do not deserve a spot at a top school over some poor 670 kid that fits every qualification except is cursed with pale pigmentation. If you don’t like your score on the Verbal GMAT, maybe you shouldn’t murder your country’s language.

    I say this as someone who is Caucasian, has already been passed over for multiple opportunities because “we need to reserve the good ones for diversity candidates” (yes, the few times people have slipped up and admitted that aloud they’ve been reprimanded, supposed to be a semi-secret), does not know adjectives from verbs, went to a terrible high school, and scored in the 700s. If you don’t think the world owes you your free ride to make up for how UNFAIR life is, you can start to actually get ahead in life. $60 on OG practice books and a month of trying goes a long ways if you’re smart. If you’re not, give up.

    That is the best advice I can give to you and if I were a “URM” this article would make me flat-out mad. It’s a pitiful way to conduct oneself.

  • Emeralds


    The test is fine. Life isn’t easy. Get over it. Success takes patience and hard work. You are the master of your destiny.


    I find any argument that attempts to say that the GMAT is biased to be somewhat silly. The test has been specifically built to the needs of MBA programs, and just because there might be difficulty in the formative years for a population does not mean that the test was purposefully against that group. It gives quantitative and verbal metrics, exactly how it is supposed to. That is the only purpose, and although the scores from the GMAT loom large in everyone’s mind because it is one of the few quantifiable benchmarks, the GMAT is not the only consideration.

    The problem is the formative years, and that is where modification is needed. The current application processes yield great MBA candidates, and it would be silly to modify a successful program to accommodate a failing in the past. It would dilute the effectiveness of the test to be “nice” to everyone.

    On that note, I think everyone has it within themselves to own their future and seek out their success. You cannot blame anyone but yourself for not reaching your goals, and if you don’t like where you are, keep looking for where you want to be, then correct your course towards it. If you decided you want to go to MBA school, look at what it takes to get into the program and push yourself to reach those marks. It might take 2+ years to get there, so don’t cry because you decided to apply for graduate school without being prepared and didn’t get into your top choices.

    I have been working towards my goal for the past 2 years, and I will be working on it for another 1+ year(s) before I feel I am prepared.

  • MoreComplexIssueThanYouThink

    I can say that most of my co-workers and classmates have a similar view to that of “GMATRequiresHardWork”, and do not understand many of the obstacles that the average URM student will face in their developmental years. I say this as a URM student at an elite school with a GMAT score well into the 700s, and as a person that experienced virtually none of those obstacles that most URMs face… despite living in communities in which both non-URMS and URMs *did* deal with these types of obstacles every day.

    I think it is quite lazy to assume that anyone can just “teach themselves the material” if they haven’t had the academic foundation and familial reinforcement that you probably had during your developmental years. Without that structure, the GMAT becomes an exceptionally difficult test for that person to master as a mid-late 20s professional. This is a critical flaw in the b-school admissions process when you consider how many characteristics outside GMAT performance contribute to post-MBA success (like the Gumball Foundation example mentioned above).

    The fact remains that as a URM that *did* have a sufficient academic foundation and strong familial reinforcement growing up, my situation was a genuine rarity in the average URM community. Unsurprisingly, I have also been able to teach myself virtually anything I decide to learn, just like you did. While some of that ability is driven by innate mental horsepower, even I readily admit that the academic framework — the fact that I was taught to learn — has been a much larger in my success.

    One last point — while it is possible for students below the poverty line to have the family support and schooling necessary to thrive, the importance of these developmental cornerstones are magnified tremendously in poorer socioeconomic segments. Anyone that says “the GMAT is easy because I was (underdog story) and I made it” is not only shortsighted, but is also discrediting the hell out of the folks that helped you along the way. This is especially relevant in standardized test performance… people tend to do well on tests that adhere to the academic standards to which they are accustomed and in which they have previously thrived.

  • Shaniqua James

    But for dispensations of US law, their revenues would be taxed, their endowment returns would be taxed or confiscated and donations of their alumni would not be tax deductible. Without US government supported student loan programs and grants, there might not be any revenue to these institutions at all.

    YOU do not have any right to enter the United States. YOU do not have a right to attend school in the United States. YOU do not have a right to work in the United States. All of that is not by right but by the grace, the good will and the generosity of American voters and tax payers. From my point of view, that grace, good will and generosity is largely wasted as gratuitous on the most privileged 1% of the population in India and other countries (how many Dalits at HBS?).

    How many foreigners is too many? Probably the current level. I hope to see that percentage reduced in the next few years. -Shaniqua

  • PlayingtheCard

    Your comment actually strengthens my argument that “URMs and White US applicants benefit from MBA programs decision to consider more than GMAT scores for admissions”, so I dont know where your claim that I am “WRONG” comes from.
    I dont know if your claims are true or not, but I find it hard to believe that these schools are running depending on taxes and “goverment support for their survival”. These institutions are big businesses, just look at tuition costs and endowment figures.
    How many foreigners is “too many”? What is the quota or percentage that would qualify immorality? No institution is obligated to accept anyone and no one is admitted by right.

  • Shaniqua James

    WRONG. US institutions that depend largely on US tax law and various forms of government support for their survival are under no obligation to accept foreign students. In fact, it would be IMMORAL to accept too many. The duty of US educational institutions is to educate US citizens. Foreigners are admitted as a courtesy and not by right.

  • PlayingtheCard

    I find the whole minority GMAT discussion a classic case of one playing the card that suits them, which quite frankly is not surprising. It is simply human nature and is not necessarily wrong.

    If MBA programs only looked at the highest GMAT scores and simply went off the often touted “meritocracy”, MBA students would be overwhelmingly Asian and Indian students. The GMAT report cited in this article also reports that Asian citizens score 50 to 60 points higher than US test takers, and the number of test takers in this area is relatively the same compared US test takers. Additionally, these testers are sending the almost all of their score reports to US schools, so they are intending to study in the US. They are flat out better and smarter than US citizens, but I don’t hear the meritocracy claims coming on behalf of Asians/Indians who want to study in the US, rather you hear claims of how they don’t have other skills that make them a complete candidate. If the GMAT scoring was not weighted heavier on the verbal side (which also has an arguable justification but US test takers don’t seem to have a problem with), the gap would be significantly larger, but this doesn’t seem to come up.

    I think it’s fair to say that both URMs and White US applicants benefit from MBA programs decision to consider more than GMAT scores for admissions.

  • moe

    I’m a minority, have the same background as the person mentioned. Moreover, I struggled speaking English when I grew up. My parents struggled hard but I still managed to get in the 700s on the gmat score. I go into an elite mba program because of dedication and hard work I faced as I grew up. no excuses

  • abanRola

    The GMAT issues isn’t really matter of races or colors. INDIANS traditionally are the master of all test scores, no white can come close to indians in testing and math. IIMA avg GMAT is 770 or more, The test scores is related merely to preparation and studying, INDIANS usually practice maths and quantitative things at early age, high school and undergraduate. plus, it is a national heroism in india to be good in math and engineering. Having said that, we should not get misled by the numbers (machines can do that), although, they are important for doing the dirty work, they are actually for technicians and back office, NOT for leadership or decision making roles.

  • MindtheGap

    The article is giving ideas on how to account for the entire 114 point gap between the average white and average black GMAT taker. Some of that they say, is GMAT unfairness and some are other reasons. You have to look at context. I guess some study said some of that point spread is test bias. Maybe, maybe not. Some of it, I’d argue that most of it, is due to the well-documented, completely closeable academic achievement gap that occurs VERY early in our children’s lives (by 1-2 grade). This is just that phenomena carried forward.

    It is difficult when you don’t have the advantage of living in a home with college educated, or even post-grad educated parents. Not insurmountable, but these are context advantages that add up over time.

    GMAT does indeed require hard work. My argument is that the achievement gap is complex and has many factors. Context matters. The test can be bias, there are larger systemic educational factors at play AND the on top of that the GMAT requires hard work. All these things can be true.

    I say this as a minority, with a modest upbringing, that scored over 700 GMAT, currently at HBS.

  • GMATRequiresHardWork

    I’m sorry but I’m getting tired of hearing that the GMAT is unfair because it gives an advantage to those who can afford a prep course. I didn’t take a prep course, I taught myself material in books (that are available in libraries for free, so no excuse) and I scored a 760. I taught myself everything over 4 months while working. You get what you put in to the test and if you’re not interested in devoting yourself to studying at least 1 hour each day for several months, then don’t cry about not being able to get a high score.

    / end rant and cue “you’re unfair!” comments.