What to do if you’re not getting the answers – MBA Admissions for low-GMAT applicants.
MBA admissions can be a challenging game to play, and it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. The GMAT is an integral part of your application, but it is only one part of the whole package that admissions officers evaluate.
If you don’t have the GMAT score that you want, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get into business school. Getting upset over your score isn’t going to help anything and will probably just make things worse. Your first step is to take a deep breath and relax. A low GMAT score doesn’t have to stand in your way of getting into a good school. The trick is making yourself stand out in the other parts of your application. You need to be aware of what schools are looking for and how they make their decisions. Sometimes, you also need to take a step back and evaluate if you understand what a good GMAT score is in the first place.
This article covers some of the alternatives available to you and how you should plan your strategy if you are a low-GMAT applicant.
Explore opportunities to raise your score
If you are not getting the answers you want, then let me help you take a step back to explore a few other options. We’ll talk about the GMAT test and what you can do if you feel that the score is too low to get your dream business school admission. Most MBA programs accept either GRE or GMAT scores for admissions. If you do not have time to retake the GMAT, take the GRE, and send your GRE scores to the schools that accept both tests.
First, let’s be clear on one thing: If need be, retake the test (or take another test that the school accepts). Yes, it costs money and time, but if it means not applying to lower-ranked schools or having a harder chance at getting accepted into your dream school, it may be worth it.
Second, look for options on 1-on-1 GMAT coaching and test prep, and if you have been preparing only on your own, then get professional help. Maybe you can raise that score after all!
Check the average GMAT scores of b-schools you want to apply to.
If you feel you cannot raise your score, here are some steps you can take if you’re an applicant with a low GMAT score.
- Check the average GMAT scores of b-schools you want to apply to. If the average score is high, you might want to stop dreaming about those. You can get a sense of what’s achievable by researching what kind of GMAT scores your peers have got in similar programs.
- Don’t count yourself out yet! Even though the average GMAT score for specific programs might be higher, there will always be students who fall below this number. Do a quick Google search for “GMAT Profile of (insert school name here).” Most schools publish this information on their website. Look through these profiles and see if there are students with lower GMAT scores than yours who got admitted. If you are in specific categories of over-represented students (e.g., Indian applicants), you might need to have a GMAT score 20-30 points higher than the school’s published average. Take this into account.
- Talk to an admissions consultant who has helped people with similar GMAT scores get into those schools. We have done that. As we mentioned earlier, not everyone gets selected in a program because they meet the minimum requirements. Still, from our experience as consultants, many top 25 schools (though usually not the M7) do look at candidates with low scores provided that they have strong leadership qualities and good work experience in their field of interest. They will also consider applicants with good GPAs from top universities and strong
Check the average GMAT scores of other b-schools that you like and have a rationale for applying there.
Your scores, both quantitative and qualitative, are important. However, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your application. As an applicant to a top business school, you need to take ownership of your application.
Suppose you can make a convincing case for why you want to do an MBA, what kind of work experience you want to gain from it, how it will add value to your career trajectory, and how you will contribute to the learning environment. In that case, the lack of solid GMAT scores may not be a deal-breaker. Check the average GMAT scores of other b-schools that you like and have a rationale for applying there.
Think about your reasons for pursuing an MBA and how it will help you in the future. If your goals are clear, most admissions committees will look at you as an asset for their class rather than judge you based on low GMAT scores alone.
Draw up a list of schools where your GMAT score is higher than the average.
Draw up a list of schools where your GMAT score is higher than the average. Also, investigate MBA programs that do not require the GMAT or GREs. Some schools offer test waivers for students who have significant work experience or who have
Now see which schools you are most likely to get into, given your profile (work experience, GPA, extra-curriculars, recommendations) and pick those.
Now you may think that you’re not going to get in anywhere with a low GMAT score. That’s not true! Plenty of excellent MBA programs can probably get you to the same career outcomes as a top-ranked MBA program. You might want to start thinking of your objective regarding the schools that can help you achieve your post–MBA goals, not just top-ranked schools. For example, many MBA applicants who go to programs ranked 15-25 end up with the same jobs that applicants in the top 10 schools get.
You should know that you need to apply to more schools than an average applicant because your chances at each school are lower than the average applicant. You also need to apply to lower-ranked schools than an average applicant – or else it will be tough for you. But it’s also true that you need to manage your expectations with a low GMAT score.
Contact admissions offices and ask them if they can waive your GMAT scores based on your profile.
If your undergraduate GPA is higher than 3.4, you have a chance to get a waiver. In some cases, schools consider only the last two years’ grades for calculating GPA, so if you have a good GPA during these years, you can also get a waiver. Some schools also offer disclaimers to applicants who have a CFA.
If you have relevant work experience (5+ years), you may also get a waiver. Usually, schools prefer applicants with strong academic and professional backgrounds, so if you have both, your chances of getting a release are high.
Consider alternatives to the MBA
Many MS programs are in fields that are closely related to business, such as accounting or finance but don’t require the GMAT. Consider an MBA alternative, such as a Master of Science. These programs may also offer dual-degree options so that you can earn an MBA and master’s degree simultaneously. This may increase your career options post-graduation.
Most MS programs are shorter than MBA programs, taking one year rather than two. Some MS programs take just nine months, so you could finish a master’s degree and be back in the job market faster than if you completed an MBA.
Of course, some employers may not consider an MS equivalent to an MBA. However, if your goal is to change careers within your current industry or switch to a different field altogether, an MS program may be enough to get your foot in the door.