Low GMAT Score? Here’s How To Bolster Your Application

Low GMAT Score? Here’s How to Bolster Your Application

Roughly 67 of the top 100 B-schools now are test-optional for admission. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that admission standards have gotten lower.

“We are not waiving the requirement that an applicant has demonstrated analytical and quantitative skills,” Soojin Kwon, managing director of full-time MBA admissions and program at the University of Michigan’s Ross School, tells P&Q. “We want to see students succeed and thrive in our program. As such, we will continue to look for evidence that an applicant can handle the rigor of our MBA program.”

If you’re hoping to gain admission to a top MBA program without taking the GMAT or GRE, you’ll have to prove to admissions officers that you have the strong analytical and quantitative skills they’re looking for. Fortune recently spoke to experts on how applicants can bolster their MBA application in lieu of having a high GMAT score.


The GMAT is one of the best ways to showcase your analytical skills. But if you don’t want to take the exam, there are other ways to demonstrate your analytical abilities. One of the most proven ways is through a strong GPA.

“Earning A’s in college-level quant courses will help convince the admissions committee that you can succeed in a challenging, fast-paced MBA program,” Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes.

Additionally, you can use application materials such as optional essays to showcase experiences where you’ve demonstrated strong analytical thinking.

“Applicants don’t need to write at length or plead with the admissions committee,” Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, tells Fortune. “In a very direct way, they just need to reveal the courses they have taken and their strong performances therein.”


B-schools are increasingly seeking to diversify their campuses with students who bring unique perspectives and backgrounds.

“MBA programs are looking holistically for well-rounded candidates that have proven themselves across multiple spheres—professional, personal, extracurricular—so they’re eager to look past stats like GPA, college brand, and test scores because they want people that have a valuable, interesting, compelling perspective to offer the incoming student class,” Esther Magna, a principal MBA admissions consultant with Stacy Blackman Consulting, tells Fortune.

If applicants want to gain a competitive edge, it can be helpful to highlight unique experiences or perspectives in application materials such as recommendation letters, essays, or interviews. And if you’re lacking a high GMAT score, it’s even more important to shine light on experiences that demonstrate strong analytical aptitude.

“The measure of analytical aptitude won’t go away. It’s here to stay because it’s fundamental to the MBA experience, but it might reinvent itself in different ways,” Magna tells Fortune.

Sources: Fortune, Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

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