Tag Archives: GMAT

Should You Retake the GMAT?

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com While I occasionally hear tales of MBA applicants offered admission in a top business school with a 640 GMAT score, the truth is that  accepting students …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

While I occasionally hear tales of MBA applicants offered admission in a top business school with a 640 GMAT score, the truth is that  accepting students with stellar scores of 700 or higher is more the norm at the most competitive programs.

Before you start to panic and become hung up on achieving the highest score possible, or fixate on the average GMAT score reported by the schools, I urge test-challenged clients to focus instead on aligning their scores within the 80 percent range, which schools usually list within their admitted class profile.

Many experts in the test prep industry advise all students to plan on taking the test twice. If your score after the first attempt is already at or above your goal, you can always cancel the second sitting. Remember, top schools want to see scores in the 80th percentile in the quantitative section. So if you score 100 percent in verbal and low in quantitative, you would want to retake the exam, especially if you don’t have a strong quantitative background outside of the GMAT.

[Learn about ways to fix a low GMAT score.]

There is absolutely no reason to retake the GMAT when you score over 700, test prep company Magoosh says emphatically. You’ve already proven you can handle the quantitative component of the curriculum, so turn your focus toward ensuring all of the other parts of your application are as strong as possible.

Keep in mind that this high number is primarily for those targeting a top-tier MBA program. If you scored a 680, the decision to retake should be carefully considered, as you may be better off focusing on your essays or coaching recommenders instead. Applicants looking at programs in the top 20 or 50 should check the average scores of admitted students to determine their personal target GMAT score.

If illness, nerves, exhaustion, or simply a lack of adequate preparation resulted in a low score, then a second attempt becomes a necessity. Repeat test-taking, with additional preparation, typically results in a higher score as students become familiar with the experience, and therefore, less stressed out.

[Learn to dodge your fear of failure when applying to business school.]

Although the Graduate Management Admission Council allows you to take the test as many times as you like, you must wait 31 calendar days before retaking the exam. Make sure to check your target schools’ application deadlines in order to allow enough time to send in your final scores.

Applicants self-report their highest score, and it’s worth noting that the admissions committee doesn’t have an issue with students taking the exam more than once. In fact, committees may look positively on the dedication you’ve shown to improve upon your prior performance. Mind you, I’m talking about a score report with two or three scores, max – not one that shows you’ve sat for the GMAT seven times.

After your first test, it’s time to go over your entire GMAT performance to determine your weaknesses and double-down in those areas as you resume your studies. Don’t completely ignore the sections you did well on, however. You wouldn’t want to improve in one area but do worse in another the next time.

If you studied alone or took a class for your initial preparation, you might consider studying one on one with a GMAT tutor for the second go-round. A test prep expert can work around your schedule and tailor the curriculum to your needs.

Finally, some people aren’t natural test-takers and have a less-than-optimal performance no matter how well they know the material. One of the primary causes is stress under pressure, and it may help to watch this video tour of the GMAT Test Center and detailed explanation of all procedures to increase your comfort levels about what to expect.

If that familiarity still isn’t enough to calm your nerves come test day, consider using relaxation techniques such as meditation and visualization to reduce test anxiety. Also, taking the GMAT in the same center will help you feel more comfortable with the test-taking process and any logistics that may have thrown you off the first time.

Business school hopefuls can be incredibly hard on themselves when they make mistakes on the GMAT, but each error is a learning opportunity and a chance to improve. So don’t become discouraged if your first score isn’t where you’d hoped. Relax, and think of it as a dress rehearsal for a stellar performance to come.

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How Does Kellogg Assess MBA Applicants?

MBA hopefuls are always looking for clues as to how the admissions process works. With that in mind, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has attempted to demystify the applicant assessment process with a series …

MBA hopefuls are always looking for clues as to how the admissions process works. With that in mind, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has attempted to demystify the applicant assessment process with a series of blog posts this week.

Beth Tidmarsh, director of admissions for full-time MBA programs at Kellogg, addresses three key areas in this series: intellectual ability, work experience, and professional goals. While this information is tailored for a specific group of applicants, we believe the guidance holds true no matter where you’re applying.

Kellogg is looking for candidates who have demonstrated academic excellence. While your GMAT or GRE scores are key indicators that you can handle the work, the admissions team also wants to see what you’ve done to broaden your knowledge base and challenge yourself academically.

“If your scores or grades seem a little lopsided, we dig deeper into your application to look for evidence that you’ve taken steps to develop those skills,” says Tidmarsh. “That tells us if you’ve taken charge of balancing out your skill set.”

When in doubt, err on the side of explaining any dips or gaps in your academic record. You never want the admissions team speculating about your past performance.

Tidmarsh’s comments about work experience are particularly enlightening, and perhaps reassuring as well for some candidates. The director explains that applicants are analyzed within the context of their own career paths—not compared against each other.

Use your application to show how your work experience is noteworthy. If you’ve taken on more responsibilities, been promoted more quickly, and generally progressed faster than others at your same level, this is the kind of information the admissions officers want to hear, says Tidmarsh.

We really like her tip to help applicants avoid the trap of using too much industry-specific jargon.

“Think about how you would explain your job to a 10-year-old or your grandmother…This is a great place to show us how you can communicate ideas across fields and disciplines.”

Because the admissions team already has a copy of your resume, use the opportunities within the application to further explain your responsibilities and provide rich detail about your career to date. Don’t just copy your resume into the input fields, Tidmarsh admonishes.

Finally, it’s important to have a pretty clear picture of your career goals and how a Kellogg MBA will help you reach them. That’s not to say you can’t change your mind once you’re on campus. Students often explore new paths while in business school, and may decide to pursue a new direction after experiencing all that an MBA program has to offer.

“Our Admissions officers are checking to make sure you’ve got a plan in mind. We understand the plan may change over time, but do think about what areas and opportunities you would focus on if you were starting our program today,” Tidmarsh advises.

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Michigan Ross Admissions Director on Retaking GMAT

First off, congratulations to all of the R1 applicants to Michigan Ross School of Business who received an invitation to interview yesterday! MBA admissions director Soojin Kwon discusses the subject of retaking the GMAT in …

First off, congratulations to all of the R1 applicants to Michigan Ross School of Business who received an invitation to interview yesterday! MBA admissions director Soojin Kwon discusses the subject of retaking the GMAT in her latest blog post, noting that the question also frequently comes from candidates who have already submitted an application.

Perhaps not surprisingly, her answer to whether someone should retake the GMAT is, “It depends.” The tried-and-true advice is to aim for a score in the 80% range, which at Michigan Ross is 650-750. But, 10% of Ross admits have scores below 650, and Kwon explains what an applicant would need to have in order to counterbalance a low score.

That 10% looked something like this:

  1. had undergrad/post-undergrad records that demonstrated solid academic achievement including in quantitative skills and/or they took post-undergrad courses to demonstrated quantitative ability;
  2. had a strong track record of professional achievement that demonstrated an ability to contribute to class discussions;
  3. submitted essays that were well thought-out and well-written with rec letters that demonstrated a fit with Ross’ collaborative, initiative-taking community; and
  4. solidly reinforced all of the above in their interview. If you look like this, then you may be fine. Keep in mind that there may be many other applicants who look like this.

If applicants wish to retake the GMAT exam and can get their scores submitted to Michigan Ross reasonably close to the application deadline, Kwon says the program will consider the updated score. However, a new score won’t change an admissions decision once it has been made.

You may also be interested in:

Try These Fixes for a Low GMAT Score

Admissions Updates from Michigan Ross

Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

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B-Schools Still Lukewarm on GMAT IR Section…For Now

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of admissions officers at over 200 business schools across the United States,  60% say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section (launched in June 2012) …

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of admissions officers at over 200 business schools across the United States,  60% say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section (launched in June 2012) is not currently an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.

This represents a slight uptick from Kaplan’s 2013 survey, when 57% said an applicant’s Integrated Reasoning score was not important.  Despite that finding, Kaplan’s survey also finds that 50% of business schools pinpoint a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a strong score overall.

And because GMAT takers receive a separate score for the Integrated Reasoning section, poor performance on this section cannot be masked by stronger performance on the Quantitative, Verbal or Analytical Writing Assessment sections of the exam.

Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep, says the current lack of emphasis on the IR section may be due to the fact that applicants in 2012, 2013, and 2014 probably submitted scores from the old GMAT, since scores are good for five years.

The tide will likely change though as more applicants submit scores from the current iteration of the GMAT with the IR section. For that reason, Kaplan advises MBA applicants to continue preparing for and doing well on the IR section.

“Similar to how not scoring well on Integrated Reasoning cannot be masked  by good performance on other sections because it receives its own separate score, doing well on Integrated Reasoning can set you apart from other applicants in a positive way,” says Carlidge. “Use it to your advantage.”

For the 2014 Kaplan survey, admissions officers from 204 business schools from across the United States – including 11 of the top 30 MBA programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between August and September 2014.

You may also be interested in:

The New GMAT Integrated Reasoning: What to Expect

Score Preview Added to GMAT

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HBS Admissions Director Talks GMAT/GRE Scores

Although most of the elite MBA programs now accept either the GMAT or GRE as part of the admissions process, many applicants wonder if business schools really consider the exams equally. In an attempt to …

Although most of the elite MBA programs now accept either the GMAT or GRE as part of the admissions process, many applicants wonder if business schools really consider the exams equally.

In an attempt to clarify the matter, Harvard Business School Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold recently provided a breakdown of just how many applicants submitted each test, and how many were ultimately offered a place in the program, during the 2013-2014 admissions cycle.

“Please don’t over-crunch,” Leopold urges, pointing out that the admissions team isn’t looking so much at the overall score as at the sub-scores in the context of the candidate’s profile. “An engineer with top grades doing highly quantitative work doesn’t need a high GMAT/GRE-Q to convince us he/she is capable of doing the quantitative work at HBS,” says the director.

As logic would dictate, applicants from the humanities with no quantitative coursework or professional experience need to demonstrate preparedness for the rigorous HBS program with a strong GMAT or GRE quant score.

Going forward, Harvard Business School will accept either a GMAT score or GRE score, not both, as were submitted by 140 applicants this past admissions season. “We need to officially verify scores and prefer to do it for only one test per candidate,” Leopold explains.

The Round 1 deadline at Harvard Business School is just a couple of weeks away on September 9th. If you’re still polishing your open-ended essay, take a look at our HBS MBA application essay tips for guidance and inspiration.

You may also be interested in:

MBA Trends at Harvard Business School and Beyond

What My MBA at Harvard Did Not Teach Me

 

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Economist Launches MBA Scholarship Contest

Earlier this week, Which MBA?, the business education group of The Economist Group, announced the launch of its second ever Brightest Minds MBA Scholarship Contest. The first Brightest Minds MBA scholarship ran earlier this year …

Earlier this week, Which MBA?, the business education group of The Economist Group, announced the launch of its second ever Brightest Minds MBA Scholarship Contest.

The first Brightest Minds MBA scholarship ran earlier this year and drew over 4,500 entrants. The winner of the $25,000 MBA scholarship, Rishabh P. from India, is currently applying to several of the business schools that sponsored the first contest and plans to begin his studies in Fall of 2015.

“The Brightest Minds Scholarship connects prospective MBA students with leading business schools that can help them achieve their career goals. We are thrilled to provide our large audience of MBA seeking students an opportunity to win substantial financial support towards his or her MBA program of choice,” says Adam Ingberman, Head of Which MBA?.

The contest is open to all prospective MBA or EMBA students worldwide. The winner will be the student who scores the highest on The Economist GMAT Tutor simulation test. The simulated GMAT exam utilizes adaptive technology similar to that of the real GMAT, so the difficulty level adjusts according to the test-taker’s ability. The winning student will be awarded a $25,000 scholarship towards tuition to one of the business school sponsors:

  • Yale School of Management
  • Warwick Business School
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
  • University of Florida MBA Programs
  • University of Exeter Business School
  • University of Edinburgh Business School
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
  • Pace University
  • Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University
  • International University of Monaco
  • HEC Paris MBA
  • Florida International University College of Business
  • Aston Business School

The contest officially opened on August 4, 2014 and will close at 11:59pm ET on October 31, 2014.  The winner will be announced on November 17th. Five randomly selected runners-up will receive a free iPad mini.

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