Testing, testing, testing! For better or for worse, GMAT, GRE and Executive Assessment (EA) are key topics of conversation throughout the application process.
Below are the questions I am asked most often about the MBA admissions testing.
Q. How important is the GMAT/GRE?
A. While these tests are not the be all and end all and are just one part of the application, they are very important. Further, they will play a more important role for some candidates than for others. If you are applying with a weaker academic record or from a field of study that is less analytically intensive, your score (particularly your quantitative scores) will be key to showing that you can handle the academic rigor of an MBA program. In addition, if you are applying from an overrepresented applicant pool, differentiating yourself with a strong GRE/GMAT will be even more important.
Q. What score do I need to get?
A. While naturally this varies from school to school, it is becoming less and less common to see students earn admission to top 10-20 schools with a GMAT score below 700. For the Wharton class of 2021, the average GMAT was 732 (the average GRE was 162 V/162 Q). For Columbia Business School, the class of 2021 average was 728. HBS reported a median GMAT score of 730 and median GRE of 163V/163Q for the class of 2021.
When determining your target score, researching average scores is a great way to start. While those with a very strong profile, a unique background or from an underrepresented applicant pool could enjoy success with a below average score, it is becoming less and less common to see large numbers of applicants with scores more than 20-30 points below average succeed.
In addition, in some cases, such as the ones discussed in the previous questions, you may need to score 20-30 points above the average to even be on the same playing field as other applicants.
Q. What should I take, the GMAT or the GRE?
A. This question is much easier to answer: candidates should take whichever test they can score better on. Schools do not have a preference between the two tests, and the GRE is becoming more common and average data is becoming easier to find. My advice is to take a practice test for each and see which one comes more naturally to you. Generally, if quant is a strength the GMAT may be your friend while those stronger in verbal tend to prefer the GRE.
Further, if you have taken one test many times and have not been successful, consider changing gears and trying the other test. Of course, you will need additional preparation for this new test, but that may be worth the effort!
Q. How many times should I take the test?
A. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years AND you can take the exam up to 5 times during a 12-month period. There is also a lifetime max of 8 tests and you can only take the test once every 16 calendar days.
Further, you can cancel your score and the report does not go to the school if you are not happy with the result. This change has led to candidates taking the exam multiple times. Our average candidate now sits for the exam 2 - 4 times (with some giving the test as many as 6 or 7 shots.) While this policy may seem great, it has caused average GMAT scores to rise, as more and more candidates cancel low attempts.
Q. How should I prepare for the GMAT/GRE?
A. Think about how you learn best and use this to inform your study plan. Personal MBA Coach feels that most applicants do best with one-on-one tutoring, allowing the applicant to target areas where he is struggling the most. For this reason, we offer a variety of one-on-one tutoring packages with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile. Check out our offerings here.
Q. What is the Executive Assessment (EA) exam?
A. The EA exam was designed for experienced professionals interested in pursuing advanced education and is most often used by those applying for EMBA programs (some Part-Time programs are now also accepting the EA). The 90-minute exam was created to assess the skills and knowledge of experienced professionals and evaluate business school readiness. Currently, Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua, INSEAD, London Business School, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, NYU Stern, UCLA Anderson, UVA Darden, Wharton and Yale SOM are included in the list of programs accepting the EA for Executive MBA candidates. Personal MBA Coach provides dedicated one-on-one EA tutoring.
Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year and is the #4 ranked admissions consultant on Poets & Quants. Personal MBA Coach's comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.
Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!
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