How Important Is Each Part Of Your MBA Application?


Business school admission officials acknowledge the importance of the GMAT but some believe that a score of roughly 580, with decent quant scores, would give them enough confidence that an applicant can do the work. A spokesperson for the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test, says it’s not possible to identify a specific score. “Given that every program is different, that they might grade differently and might even define or measure success differently, it’s not possible to give some sort of a universal score that assures success,” says Rich D’Amato, vice president of corporate communications for GMAC.

“What the GMAT excels at is helping schools and students understand when a score can be used to predict success in the core subjects taken in the first year of B-school and within a particular program,” he adds. “That’s validity. With that knowledge–that GMAT score–the risk of not being successful can be reduced for both the student and the school and making a “successful,” admission decision becomes an easier proposition for both. That’s what an admissions exam should seek to do and that’s what the GMAT does; help students and schools make better smarter decisions leading to better outcomes.”

The pressure to keep reported GMAT scores high and get them higher is even more pronounced when it comes to overrepresented portions of the applicant pool. “From my observations, many top schools look to Chinese and Indian MBA applicants to score much higher on the GMAT compared to other applicants in order to maintain a high overall average GMAT scores of admitted students,” believes AJ Warner, founder of Touchdown! Admissions Consulting in Beijing. “I don’t feel this is fair for Chinese applicants who often have to struggle with the GMAT three to four times to achieve a high enough score to be competitive for their target MBA programs.”


Another contentious point the survey sought to shed light on is whether business schools give preference to candidates who submit GMAT scores over those who take the GRE. One admissions director after another, from Harvard Business School to MIT Sloan and Yale, have publicly said they have no preference. Based on their experience with client applicants, however, admission consultants disagree. An overwhelming 78% of the responding consultants said they believe schools put more weight on the GMAT than they do a GRE report. Only 4% said they think schools put equal weight on both tests.

Ultimately, an acceptance or rejection from a school is based on numerous factors, including those that are less tangible than an interview report or an adcom’s view of a written essay.
Adam Hoff, a co-founder and partner with Amerasia Consulting, says he firmly believes in what he calls the 60/40 rule. “About 60% of a decision is ‘your life to this point’ and 40% is ‘what happens from here’ – essays, interviews, etc. I truly believe in that rule of thumb,” insists Hoff. “Without visibility into someone’s character, motivation, passion, level of introspection, capacity for empathy, even their charisma and personality, it’s just absolutely impossible to peg their chances. I am even uncomfortable pegging someone’s chances after talking to them for an hour and knowing their deepest, darkest secrets.”

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