GMAT at Sixty: Why and Why not?

1. Why GMAT?
GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test), which debuted in 1954 has just turned sixty, and has remained one of the most popular Global Business School Admission Tests with about 238,000 people in 113 countries taking the test in 2013 (according the Graduate Management Admission Council ). With sixty-two percent of test takers coming from countries other than the U.S., it has become the gold standard for an applicant’s ability to last the rigor of graduate business education. The GMAT itself has changed significantly since its inception. The one unchanged category is ‘problem solving’ which has appeared every year since the test made its debut.

2. Role of GMAT Scores in candidate Selection
Most top B Schools across the world recognize that no single measure can accurately evaluate an applicant’s preparedness for a rigorous academic schedule. The academics at any top school is intended to prepare the most well rounded managers with the analytical and critical thinking ability to confront the complexities of today’s business. And finding the best fit is not easy, especially when the candidates come from diverse backgrounds. Hence, most business schools use a multi-dimensional approach for evaluation. For example we at MYRA, evaluate them on four major dimensions of:
– Good Academic record
– Test Scores (GMAT/other)
– Work Experience
– Career and other objectives articulated in a Statement of Purpose (SOP)/ required essays
Typically a personal interview would round out the application process. This is a relatively standard and consistent process. However, potential applicants may have a few questions in this regard:

3. What is the importance of GMAT in Admissions?
A score from a standard test is a key requirement. GMAT is the most preferred test score for admission internationally and is considered the best indicator of a candidate’s level of readiness for a management education. It also gives schools a standard measure to evaluate candidates given the diversity in their educational backgrounds. Generally, the overall GMAT score gets the most consideration during the first level of filtering, though schools may look at other components such as the candidate’s exemplary achievements or a unique story.

4. What is ‘a good’ or the ‘cut-off’ GMAT Score?
GMAT score is only one of several criteria considered in the overall evaluation of a candidate. Obviously, a good GMAT score certainly would increase the attractiveness of a candidate, but then it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. Therefore most schools do NOT declare a ‘cut-off’ score. A low score may be balanced by other factors such as high quality work experience/an outstanding academic record/ domain knowledge in any field of business due to involvement in a family business and so on.

5. Can I report a score from another test instead?
Many top B Schools admit candidates based on GRE Scores as well. While GRE or GMAT score is internationally valid, in India GMAT/GRE/CAT /XAT are the preferred scores. The list of admissible test scores may vary from one institution to another and also from one academic year to academic year. The best thing to do is to contact the respective admissions office for the latest list of admissible tests.

6. Is it worthwhile to take GMAT again to improve on a low score?
GMAT scores from all attempts would be reported to the schools. Depending on the candidate’s circumstances, it may be worthwhile to repeat the test to improve on a low score – for example in the case of a candidate with not enough or no work experience. An additional attempt with in improved score may indicate to the applying B School a willingness on part of the candidate to work towards improving one’s performance.

Dr. Sudhendar Rao
Professor of Information Systems
MYRA School of Business
PhD: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

2013 GMAT Profile summary http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/GMAT%20Test%20Taker%20Data/2013-gmat-profile-exec-summary.pdf