GMAT (or GRE). These could be the simplest set of 3-4 letters that strike fear into some prospective business school candidates. Although it is just one part of our mandatory application process, it is one that candidates do seem to dwell on. In the first of a planned series of blogs from MBA Recruitment and Admissions on application preparation, I’m hoping to ease some of these worries, and provide a little bit of advice on what to consider when preparing for GMAT/GRE.
What is GMAT or GRE?
Both exams are multiple-choice, computed-based standardised exams. They were created in order to provide graduate and business schools with a common way to compare applicants’ capacity for rigorous graduate/business programmes. Either test will have several sections, including but not limited to, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
Your GMAT/GRE score forms just one part of your application to business school. At London Business School, we review extremely holistically, so your GMAT/GRE score will be considered alongside the other application elements like your previous academics, your work experience so far, your essays, what your referee says about you etc. Think of it a bit like a jigsaw puzzle – no one piece is more important than the others and it’s only when all the pieces are slotted together that you see the full picture!
So why do business schools like LBS ask for a GMAT or GRE score?
We see applicants from all over the globe, with varying educational experiences. As mentioned above, GMAT/GRE is the only standardised element of the application materials we require at LBS. As we recruit extremely diverse classes, not only from a nationality perspective but also from a sector perspective, the GMAT/GRE is a useful indicator of academic capabilities, taking regional and educational differences out of the equation.
GMAT/GRE is also a great indicator of what your verbal and quantitative skills are like now. It can show the Admissions Committee any changes you’ve made since your undergraduate degree – for example, if your undergraduate degree results were not as strong as you hoped, a strong GMAT/GRE score goes some way to counteract this.
What scores do you look for?
Our GMAT average in the MBA class is currently 702. For those looking for a GRE equivalent, a good ballpark figure to aim for is 163 and 164 in both the verbal and quant sections. Our range in the class is anywhere from 600 up to 780.
It’s important to reiterate that GMAT/GRE scores are just one part of the application. A higher score does add weight to a profile, but it doesn’t guarantee admission. Similarly, a low score doesn’t automatically discount you from the process.
Which test is right for me?
My advice here is to take practice tests for both GMAT and GRE. For some candidates, there is just more of a personal fit to one test or the other, so it’s important to explore both options.
At London Business School, for most of our programmes, including the Full-Time MBA, we accept either GMAT or GRE, and we truly mean this! It doesn’t have any impact on your application whether you choose to do GMAT or GRE, we look at them both equally.
Any other pieces of advice?
Do take some time to self-reflect when it comes to GMAT/GRE. Consider not only which test is best suited to you, but also reflect on the time it will take to prepare for the tests. For some candidates, standardised tests have been a feature of their educational lives already and so the format of preparing feels familiars. For others, this will be an entirely new thing! It may also require some balancing with your full-time working life. Preparation and practice will be extremely key to achieving a strong GMAT or GRE score!