GMAT NEWSFLASH: GMAT to Feature Score Preview

Big GMAT News!

Big GMAT News!

There’s big news going on at GMAC this week: they’ve announced a new and exciting GMAT feature – test takers will now be able to view their GMAT scores before either reporting or canceling them. This update will take effect this Friday, June 27, 2014, and will be available to all test takers at all 600 testing centers around the world.

“We are pleased to offer this feature as part of our efforts to make preparing for and taking the GMAT exam easier,” said GMAC VP Product Management, Ashok Sarathy. “The new score reporting feature gives test takers more certainty and control in the testing process and in how their scores are reported to schools.”

Here’s how it will work: After completing the exam, test takers will get to see their unofficial scores, broken down separately for IR, Quantitative, and Verbal, and then as a total. They will then get two minutes to decide either to accept the scores or cancel them. If their decision timeframe times out, then their scores will be canceled. All of this is done before they even get up to leave the testing center. (Analytic Writing Assessment scores are not included in this new feature and may not be canceled.)

If testers decide to cancel, they’ll receive a 60-day grace period during which they may change their minds and reinstate their scores for a $100 fee. After that, there will be no way to retrieve the canceled scores.

Sarathy, who says that this feature is meant to make the testing experience easier, offers test takers two tips: “If there were two things I would recommend to test takers to get the most out of this new feature, they would be:

• Know what score you’re willing to accept so that when asked whether your wish to send your scores or cancel them, you have already considered your answer.

• Understand that you have 60 days to reinstate a score you might have canceled but decide later that you want to send.”

Thoughts about What This Change Means for Applicants

GMAC is reacting to competition from the GRE in a positive way. ETS, the entity behind the GRE, allows test-takers to see their score and cancel. It also gives you 60 days to reinstate a score, but only charges $30 for the reinstatement. GMAC is offering this new feature to slow or arrest GRE’s increasing role in the MBA application process. It will be interesting to see if GMAC ultimately reduces the price of cancellation to match or at least be more competitive with ETS. I completely agree with Ashok Sarathy’s advice that you should have a clear number in your head and know that you will accept any score at or above that number and cancel any score below that number.

Let’s call that Score-It-or-Bust-Number the “Cancel Score.” Realize that the Cancel Score is going to have components. There is an overall score and the quant, verbal, and IR scores. You should have Cancel Scores for each segment as well as the overall score. You should also decide ahead of time if you bomb one section and do well on other sections, if you will cancel or not.

How can you decide? Let’s explore that question, focusing for now on the overall score.

To date GMAT test-takers fall into two broad categories:

1. Those taking the test to see what they get. Once they receive their score, they select programs to apply to based on their goals and their qualifications.

2. Those aiming for a particular score because they want to be competitive at specific MBA programs.

To determine your Cancel Score if you are in group #1, use your practice exam scores. They should give you a reasonable idea of your capabilities on test day. But be realistic. Don’t use your best practice exam score as the Cancel Score. Cut yourself a little slack.

Here’s an example of how to set a Cancel Score for the overall score if you are in the first group: If most of your practice test scores are in the high 600’s and you hit 720 once, don’t expect a 720 on test day (but it sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?). Maybe make 680 or 690 your Cancel Score.

In setting that number also consider how willing you are to prepare again for the GMAT and how you would change or improve your prep. If you feel you could make major improvement to your studying and you don’t find the possibility of taking the GMAT again overwhelming, then you can aim higher. Maybe go for a 690 or 700 as your Cancel Score.

If the idea of preparing again is devastating and you don’t see what you could do better, then lower your cancel number. If nothing in your preparation will change, you have little reason to expect an improvement – and little reason to retake. If this scenario describes you, then your cancel score might be a 660 or 670.

Group #2, in particular, is going to love this new GMAT feature. If you are a card-carrying member of Group 2, how will you determine your Cancel Score?

Let’s say that you know you want to apply to programs with an average GMAT of 680-710. You obviously want as high a GMAT as possible, but considering the other elements in your profile, you will be satisfied with a balanced 690. You believe that 690 is a competitive GMAT score for you, and if you drop below it, you will be hurting your chances at the target programs with higher average GMATs. While GMAT prep is not your favorite way to spend your “free” time, it’s not the worst thing in the world either. A retake would not be soul shattering. You can set your overall Cancel Number at 690.

However if your willingness to retake is barely positive and the likelihood of improvement based on your practice exams is low, then set that Cancel Score lower – perhaps a 680, 670, or even lower depending on how ready you are to consider schools with lower average GMAT scores.

One thing that isn’t changing: Almost all MBA programs take the highest GMAT score. So if you don’t cancel and then decide to retake, you can still do so.

Obviously I just touched the surface in pointing out factors to consider. If you have individual questions about your situation, please post in a comment below. If you prefer private guidance, please consider an MBA Admissions Consultation.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

2014 B-School Grads Flock to Jobs in Tech, Healthcare, and Manufacturing

A GMAC press release presents the results of the most recent global student exit survey (of 3049 grads from 111 schools who responded in February and March), revealing that those students seeking jobs in traditional fields like consulting, products/services, and finance/accounting were more likely to have a difficult time securing a position early in the hiring cycle that those looking for work in smaller, less traditional fields such as technology, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Check out the GMAC press release.

Image from the GMAC press release

Here are some highlights from the report:

 • 57% of 2014 business school graduates (MBA and others) received at least one early job offer, down 3% from last year, but up 25% from 2010.

 • 62% of students were involved in the job search; 4% were planning on pursuing entrepreneurship or were already self-employed.

 • There was an 80% median salary increase (over their pre-degree salary) for those who received job offers, up 7% since last year.

 • 61% of job seekers in the tech industry received job offers, accounting for 15% of the total number of grads who received early job offers; this is up since last year’s 9%.

 • Students in the manufacturing and healthcare/pharmaceuticals industries had the greatest success rate landing job at 74% reporting at least one job offer, and accounting for 7% and 5% respectively of all early offers.

 • 27% of career changers who received job offers were in the consulting.

 • 21% of all job seekers who received job offers were in consulting, up slightly since 2010 (20%).

 • 26% of all job seekers who received job offers were in the finance/accounting sector, up since 24% last year, but down from 2010’s 30%.

 • 62% of graduates in the government/non-profit sector received early offers, accounting for 5% of all job seekers who received job offers.

The following stats come from the Financial Times article on the subject, “Technology companies become magnet for MBA students”:

 • At London Business School, more graduates received job offers at tech companies than at financial institutions. Eleven class of 2013 grads landed jobs at Amazon, while Citi hired only eight. Seven grads were recruited by Google, and only five received job offers from HSBC.

 • In 2013, Stanford GSB sent more grads to tech companies than to banks for the second year in a row – 32% in 2013 went into technology, which followed 24% in 2012 and 13% in 2011. Of those who headed to tech companies, 40% went to small and medium-sized companies, 40% went to large companies, and 20% went to startups.

According to the FT article, a number of factors are responsible for this monumental shift. Steve Dalton, Duke Fuqua’s senior associate director of MBA student services, reports that promotions and job security, two previously high scoring advantages for the banking industry, are on the decline, making alternative fields more attractive. But, according to David Morris, LBS career services’ head of corporate sectors, in explaining tech’s growing and banking’s declining popularity, money’s not the main draw – “People are excited about the company and the product – that’s the main driver, not the money,” he says.

You can read more about the results of the GMAC survey in the Poets & Quants article, “Job Offers Up In Tech & Healthcare.”

Navigating the MBA Maze

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GMAC Survey Finds More Employers Eager to Hire MBAs

Last week GMAC released the findings of its annual Corporate Recruiters Survey of 565 employers from 44 countries around the world – and results are looking good for business school graduates! Employers around the world are placing more value on the MBA degree, proving that the degree is a good investment.

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Percentage of companies hiring new graduates, by degree type. Source: Graduate Management Admission Council 2014 Corporate Recruiters Survey.

Here are several highlights from the report:

• 80% of employers plan on hiring MBAs in 2014, up 7% from 2013 and up 30% since 2009. (In 2009, only half of recruiters hired MBAs.)

• Projected hiring in all sectors is at the highest it’s been since the Great Recession in 2009.

• Only 25% of companies reported a focus on overcoming economic challenges, compared to 58% of companies in 2009.

• 74% of employers plan on hiring bachelor’s degree graduates, compared to 75% in 2012 and 2013 (in other words, no significant difference). In 2009, only 56% hired bachelor’s degree grads.

• 86% of U.S. employers, 83% of employers in the Asia-Pacific region, and 61% of employers from Europe all plan on hiring MBAs in 2014. All have increased since 2012.

• 50% of employers plan on hiring grads from master in management programs, an increase from 45% in 2013 and 18% in 2009.

• 45% plan on hiring grads from master of accounting programs, compared to 36% in 2013 and 17% in 2010.

• The numbers for master in finance grads are as follows: 44% of employers plan on hiring this year, compared to 39% last year and 41% the year before.

• Employers rated communication skills as the most important skill they look for in new hires, ranking it twice as important as the next winner, managerial skills. Other skill options were teamwork, technical, and leadership.

• Salaries – They are flat, but at a comfortably high plateau. Employers plan on offering newly minted MBAs an average of US$95,000 in the U.S., US$69,000 in Europe, and US$21,340 in Asia-Pacific. For bachelor’s degree holders, median base salaries expect to run at US$50,000 in the U.S. and US$41,000 in Europe.

My Thoughts

Most commentators on the b-school biz are justifiably happy with the results of this survey. So am I. Here’s why and a few other observations:

1. The most obvious reason to be thrilled with these results is the buoyant job market, especially for MBAs. MBAs are in demand. But they’re not the only ones – holders of specialized degrees in business are also sought after, and with a lower out-of-pocket and opportunity cost than the MBA. Many professional organizations and fields outside of business (law and academia for example) would think they had died and gone to heaven if they could report stats like these.

For those of you in college or just out and trying to decide on career direction, if you have any interest in business or a specific area of business, explore that field. Perhaps get an internship or get a job in that area. Talk to people working in that field. If you enjoy it, consider a specialized masters or MBA to enhance your professional skills and opportunities.

At the same time, and at the risk of being repetitive, every graduate school applicant has to determine that they have a goal requiring a specific course of study and that the course of study is likely to be worth the cost. The payoff can be and usually needs to be financial, but it can also be in terms of improved career satisfaction or simply learning. That is a determination for you to make, but it is one you must make before you commit to an expensive, time-consuming graduate education – even an MBA.

2. The growing popularity of specialized masters, specifically the Masters in Management, among recruiters is striking. It’s less expensive for recruiters to hire holders of Masters in Management, and it’s less expensive for students to acquire the degree.

GMAC 2014 hiring by degree graphic

I would love to see data on how much MBAs vs. MiMs are making let’s say 10 years after graduating college. Now that would be an interesting report. So far it’s not out, but if such a report were to show little or no difference in earnings at that stage in one’s career, than the MiM may be the way to go and the traditional two-year MBA has one more source of significant competition.

Even without that data, as a result of the MiM’s recruiting mojo and reduced cost for students, expect to see more programs developing Masters in Management for early career candidates. Ross, Duke, and London Business School already offer it. It wouldn’t shock me if others offer this kind of a program soon; I would keep my eye on Tuck, Kellogg, and Cornell for early-career Masters in Management programs. MIT Sloan, LBS, and Stanford GSB already have Masters in Management aimed at mid-career professionals.

I also anticipate that more MBA programs will follow Cornell and Kellogg’s lead and offer accelerated MBAs for those with advanced degrees or strong business background. That implies that if you have an MiM and later decide you want your MBA, you would eventually reduce the out-of-pocket and opportunity cost of your MBA.

Finally, those of you who are long-time readers of Accepted’s blog may remember that we picked up on this trend about a year and a half ago in “Grad Degrees that Lead to Jobs,” when looking at an earlier GMAC Poll of Employers. (Sometimes I just gotta say, “I told you say so.” Just a little crowing. :-) )

3. Another remarkable piece of info in this report is the high value employers around the world and in various disciplines place on communications skills when choosing whom to hire among business school graduates.

GMAC 2014 top skills Employers see

 

I wonder if the technical number crunching is taken for granted as a given by recruiters. Consequently what separates those hired from those receiving form rejection letters of consolation are communications skills.

4. The flatness of salaries amidst growing demand for b-school grads and rising tuitions. It is not shocking that salaries haven’t climbed given the recent recession. The good news is that the average MBA salary in the U.S. still provides a significant premium over average salaries for recent college grads. The bad news is that tuitions are continuing their seemingly inexorable rise. For an applicant considering an MBA or any other graduate degree, again, you need to evaluate whether the benefit, for you – not the average Joe or Jane – is worth the cost.

For most students in MBA and specialized masters programs, as this GMAC 2014 Survey Shows, it’s lookin’ good. Real good.

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Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Specialized Master’s Degrees in Business Gain Popularity

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23% of applicants who are undecided about where to apply turn to admissions consultants to help them make that decision.

GMAC’s recent mba.com Prospective Students Survey reveals that even though MBA degrees still come in first as the most sought-after graduate business degree, close to half of prospective business graduate students are considering non-MBA business master’s programs, and one in five prospective students isn’t considering an MBA at all.

Here are some additional findings from the survey:

  • Candidates focusing exclusively on specialized master’s degrees increased from 13% to 20%.
  • Candidates focusing exclusively on MBAs decreased from 55% to 53%.
  • Those interested in both non-MBA and MBA business degrees decreased from about 33% to about 25%.
  • 60% of men considered pursuing only MBA programs, while for women, that percentage was at 45%.
  • On the other hand, women were more likely than men to pursue specialized master’s in business programs – at 27% of women compared to 15% of men.
  • Younger candidates (aged 24 and younger) are more likely to consider both non-MBA and MBA business degrees than are older candidates.

My thoughts

On an egocentric note, I find the growing appeal of the specialized masters programs to be somewhat gratifying. Based on salary data in GMAC‘s 2012 Year-end Poll of Employers, I urged college grads then to consider specialized masters programs. (See “Grad Degrees that Lead to Jobs” for the details.) Now not all grads may have heard the word from me, but clearly the news that specialized masters’ grads have professional opportunity and jobs has contributed to increased applicant interest.

I took note of other data in the survey, specifically the fact that 23% of applicants who are undecided about where to apply turn to admissions consultants to help them make that decision. That’s still not in the top 10 of resources (family and friends are #1), but admissions consultants weren’t even mention in the 2011 Prospective Students Survey as sources of information. Clearly more and more applicants are turning to consultants.

The true value of this report is for schools much more than applicants. You know what you want, but the schools, and companies like Accepted, need to understand better what you value. So thanks for sharing your thoughts.

In a few weeks I’ll attend the annual AIGAC conference. A highlight of that event is the release of AIGAC’s applicant survey results. I look forward to hearing those results and sharing them with you then. Many of you participated in that survey too. Thank you!

Download your free copy of Navigating the MBA Maze!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

9 Fun Facts about the GMAT

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Happy 60th Birthday GMAC!

To celebrate GMAC’s 60th birthday, we’ve compiled the following fun GMAT facts from the GMAC site:

1. In 1953, nine b-schools met with ETS to create what would later become the GMAT. Those schools were Harvard, Rutgers, Columbia, Northwestern, Chicago, Seton Hall, Michigan, Washington University (St. Louis), and University of Pennsylvania.

2. Pre-1976 the GMAT was known as the Admission Test for Graduate Study in Business (ATGSB).

3. The question formats on the 1954 exam were Best Arguments, Quantitative Reading, Verbal Omnibus (Sentence Completion, analogies, Antonyms), and Quantitative Reasoning (Problem Solving, Data Interpretation). On today’s exam we have Integrated Reasoning, Verbal (Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Correction), and Quantitative (Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency). As you can see, Problem Solving is the only question format present on today’s exam that was also used on the original test.

4. In 1997 the GMAT exam became computerized.

5. The GMAT was the first standardized test to use palm vein readers – this analyzes specific hand vein patterns of users to ensure security and catch proxy test takers. This was introduced in 2008 and 2009.

6. The first five countries to offer the GMAT (which was then the ATGSB) were the U.S., Canada, England, France, and India.

7. The exam was offered in Hawaii five years before Hawaii became a state.

8. The GMAT is currently available in 113 countries – on every continent except Antarctica.

9. The Official Guide for GMAT Review was introduced in 1978. It’s now in its 13th edition.

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