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MBAs With The Highest First-Year ROI

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Why Do Adcoms Rely So Heavily on GMATs?

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone It, people like me!”

‘Oh, and one more thing: I got a 590 on my GMAT. That’s not a deal breaker here at Harvard, is it?’

Ah, yes.  It’s time to tackle the dreaded GMAT. This is the test that separates the marquees from the refugees. And it has caused more hard feelings than jacked up fees, complacent career services, and fickle WI-FI combined. I mean, you earned high marks as an undergrad and scared your bosses with your pluck, initiative, and achievements. ‘I’m going to be a star in five years,’ you think. ‘They’ll see.’ ‘Why does this $%#&! GMAT account for so much?’ ‘It just isn’t fair!’

Looking for someone to blame? Start with the faculty according to Fortuna Admissions Director Diarte Edwards, who previously served as the Director of MBA Admissions at INSEAD. ”I think there is a often a tension in the school between faculty who can be sticklers for the GMAT, and admissions staff who would sometimes like to be more flexible in the interests of attracting more diverse candidates, and to be able to admit certain candidates who are likely to do brilliantly professionally but just don’t have a great GMAT.”

Mind you, faculty members have good reason for holding the line on GMAT scores. According to Fortuna Admissions, programs like “INSEAD that have analyzed the link between test scores and academic performance see a clear correlation, making it difficult to convince the professors on the admissions committee about a borderline GMAT applicant.”

Academics are only one part of the equation. Edwards notes that a GMAT is an absolute in a pool of variables, where every student takes the same test and measured according to the same criteria, “irrespective of their cultural and academic backgrounds.” As a result, adcoms can quickly rank candidates. Even more, GMATs scores are associated with applicant quality. By dropping GMAT thresholds, schools could create the perception that they are relaxing standards, which hurts both their academic reputation and (potentially) their school ranking in various outlets.

Some schools are starting to find ways to get around the GMAT, however. Take the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, for example. Here, applicants can skip the GMAT if they’ve passed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program. It’s a win-win for the program according to the school’s admissions director, Niki de Silva. Passing the CFA reflects that applicants possess the requisite finance skills to succeed at Rotman. Even more, waiving the GMAT frees applicants to spend more time studying for the CFA.

Other alternatives to the GMAT include the GRE, which is accepted by 69 percent of business school according to Fortuna Admissions. In addition, schools like the University of Chicago (Booth) and New York University (Stern)  are “require[ing] applicants to provide sufficient work experience, prior coursework, or certifications.”

Don’t expect the GMAT to go away anytime soon. It is still the great equalizer among candidates. Regardless of its weight in the admissions process, it will always be the one empirical tool that helps adcoms decide which candidates deserve the most attention.

Don’t Miss: Average GMAT Scores at Top 50 U.S. Schools

Source: Beat the GMAT