The GMAT and MBA Admissions

The GMAT has been part of the MBA admissions process since the 1950s. Does it play a valuable role in determining an applicant’s potential to finish an MBA program? Does it serve the needs of MBA programs to bolster their rankings?  Regardless of the rationale for the GMAT (and the GRE is  a substitute for the GMAT at may schools), admissions testing in general and the GMAT in particular is here to stay. That means that GMAT preparation in some form or another is essential.

A GMAT score (and preferably a high score) is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for admissions to an MBA program. Different schools use GMAT scores in different ways. There is little agreement on what a GMAT score is evidence of. Furthermore, not everybody agrees that the GMAT is a measure of things that matter to the MBA program.

See the following article from the National Post. Highlights include:

“One of the key areas of focus for Brock University is fit, says Shari Sekel, director of graduate programs for the university’s faculty of business. “We are trying to make sure that what a student is trying to achieve with their MBA is something our program is capable of delivering. Not all MBA programs are alike. There are similarities, but they all have different specializations, styles of learn-ing, opportunities, extra-curricular activities. We want to make sure there is a good fit between the expectations of the student and the realities of our program.”

Who is a good fit for Brock’s MBA program? “Someone who looks beyond the books. Some of our courses base 30% of the final grade on in class contribution,” says Ms. Sekel. “We are looking for people very comfortable in participating, sharing ideas, asking questions. We are also looking for them to get involved outside the classroom and have a lot of extra-curricular opportunities to help them round out the graduate experience.”

It is exactly for that reason that Ms. Sekel has concerns about the emphasis placed on GMAT scores. Administered by U.S.-based Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT has become the standard assessment tool to measure the likely success of MBA candidates used by business schools around the globe. The test is divided into three parts: verbal, quantitative and analytical writing skills.

“The GMAT is well regarded and widely used but I’m torn on the subject. The admissions function is all about predicting who is going to be the most successful in the MBA program. The GMAT serves as a common evaluation tool because all students have to write the same test. That’s one of its most important uses,” says Ms. Sekel.

“On the other hand, we have to recognize the GMAT is not the only piece of an application that’s important, particularly when you are looking at students fresh from undergraduate programs. If you have students even in history or science who are scoring well, getting As, these are students with a good work ethic, they are motivated and those are some of the skill sets that will serve them well at the MBA level. The GMAT holds less weight in those instances for us.”