As more and more business schools waive standardized tests for admission to their MBA programs, the companies that routinely ask students for their test results say that a GMAT or GRE score is no longer a prerequisite to getting hired. For years, some of the highest-paying jobs available to MBAs required graduates to come clean on their scores, including at MBB, the popular acronym for McKinsey, Bain and BCG, and at investment bank Goldman Sachs.
But now these firms are publicly disavowing the importance of standardized exams just as the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business announced that it is extending its policy of granting test waivers into the 2021-2022 admissions season after discovering that “many incredible applicants” in this past year applied without a test score. “I don’t mind one bit campuses waiving the GMAT requirement,” Bain recruitment chief Keith Bevans told The Wall Street Journal. “Business schools are admitting a much broader range of talent, and I expect to find strong candidates this fall in places I wouldn’t normally see them.”
He added that Bain has steadily de-emphasized the importance of applicants’ GMAT test results in its hiring decisions over the past couple of years. He insists there’s no threshold for who gets an interview or job offer as a result of a GMAT score. Nevertheless, Bain still asks for test results from MBA applicants even though, Bevans says, candidates will not be penalized for them despite the long-held belief that a sub-700 score would torpedo a candidate’s chances of landing a job at MBB. Bain uses the score for an internal analysis it runs, according to Bevans. The analysis shows that a higher score doesn’t always correlate to being a more productive Bain employee.
‘IF YOU WERE TRAINING FOR THE OLYMPICS RATHER THAN TAKING THE GMAT…
“If you’re at a top B-school, you probably have something amazing going for you anyway. If you were training for the Olympics rather than taking the GMAT, that tells me more about your competitiveness than if you can tell me the angle of this triangle,” Mr. Bevans told the Journal.
The downplaying of the GMAT is more bad news for the Graduate Management Admission Council which has seen fewer test-takers as a result of marketshare gains by the GRE in recent years and the fact that some 67 of the top 100 business schools have now gone fully test-optional or are actively promoting test waiver policies. While the change has largely occurred as a result of the pandemic and the early closure of test centers all over the world, many business schools believe that standardized tests have gotten in the way of achieving diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
MBA admission officials insist that their admission standards have not declined as a result of the policy changes. Instead, they are relying on other parts of candidates’ applications to gain confidence that an applicant can handle the academic requirements of their programs. Some of the most prominent business schools have joined the waiver movement, including MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Darden has led the charge, in fact, with a dean who believes GMAT scores have long been over-indexed in MBA admissions. One result of the change? In A GMAT-optional world, the average reported scores are plummeting at the top 50 business schools.
MCKINSEY ON THE GMAT: AN INTERESTING METRIC THAT IS NOT REQUIRED FOR AN MBA HIRE
McKinsey & Co., which expects to hire more MBAs this year than in any years in its history, told the Journal that test waivers haven’t affected its recruiting. According to Danielle Bozarth, the firm’s lead partner for North America recruiting, McKinsey views test scores as an interesting metric but doesn’t require them from job candidates.
Boston Consulting Group, meantime, takes the same position many schools have adopted in waiving standardized tests for admission. Brian Myerholtz, a BCG partner who leads its North America recruiting, told the newspaper that there is no one metric used to assess a candidate. Over the years, the firm has used test scores to help evaluate candidates, but in more recent years GMAT scores have become much less of a priority, according to Myerholtz.
It is also a fact that the elite investment banking firms have long asked MBA candidates for their test scores. But a Goldman Sachs spokesman told the Journal that GMAT and GRE test scores haven’t been part of the firm’s recruiting process for the past several years. The trend of making tests optional “is aligned with our recruiting approach that [tests] are one of many ways to help assess a person’s skills or knowledge,” she said. “We look for people who are good problem-solvers,” but the many indicators of that can include winning a scholarship, doing a fellowship or case-study interviews, she added.