Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Stanford GSB | Ms. 2+2 Tech Girl
GRE 333, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthcare Operations To General Management
GRE 700, GPA 7.3
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Engineer In The Military
GRE 310, GPA 3.9
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98

Your application is more than just your test score

Linh Gilles, director of admissions and recruiting for the Carlson Full-Time MBA Program

I could tell you, promising MBA candidate, that your GMAT or GRE score doesn’t really matter. I could

do that, and I would be lying.

Look, there’s no way around it: Your test score is important. When we’re evaluating applications, we

look for strength across the board, and your GMAT or GRE score demonstrates academic capability. But,

just like an employer evaluates multiple facets of a prospective hire, we take a holistic approach to our

application process.

So, if you scored extremely well on the GMAT or GRE, don’t assume you’re a shoe-in. And if you didn’t

do so hot, don’t self-select yourself out of the MBA game.

A test score can’t measure your capabilities for leadership, teamwork, and collaboration, or even that

immeasurable quality that is crucial to success in business school: grit. Are you willing to do the hard

work to make a group project successful?

The GMAT or GRE is intended to be a predictive indicator of your academic capability in an MBA

program. If you find your test score sitting below the average at your preferred schools, first keep in

mind that all averages are based on the larger pool of applicants and a range of scores have been

admitted. But don’t ignore your score; confront it as a weakness. If you think it’s an inaccurate reflection

of your academic prowess, then retake it.

If you feel like you’ve given the test your best shot, then find other ways to demonstrate your academic

strength. If you had a 3.8 GPA as an undergraduate, then tout that in the optional essay on your

application. Or break down your test score into components. If your quantitative score is what’s bringing

your overall mark down, highlight how you’ve used your abilities in that area at your job or in previous

coursework or your experience with sophisticated statistical analysis.

Regardless of your score, be sure to firm up the other aspects of your candidacy. Avoid common

mistakes like simply listing accomplishments or trying too hard to be creative rather than directly

answering the essay questions. Connect your short- and long-term career goals to the different parts or

overall ethos of a program. Fit is paramount.

Build relationships with a program early on. Visit weekends and conversations with alumni and students

show dedication to a program. That’s something we can’t read in an application, and it can make a

difference.

And be honest with yourself. Don’t be afraid to re-assess your options. There are plenty of schools with

different strengths and track records of positive student outcomes. Re-examine your goals for your MBA

experience and expand your range of options to include schools that can get you where you’re looking

to go.


Linh Gilles is director of admissions and recruiting for the Carlson Full-Time MBA Program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where the average GMAT score is 675.  Contact her at ftmba@umn.edu.