6 Tips for Applying to Business School with Low Stats

Webinar: Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats!

Can you show the adcom an upward trend?

For most business school applicants, “low stats” are GMATs and GPAs at the lower end of or below the mid-80% range for a given school. It may be difficult to find average GPAs, but if you have a 2.6, you know it’s low for almost any MBA program. Except for the most elite schools, where the number is higher, a GPA below 3.0 warrants a deliberate effort to counterbalance.

Here are 6 tips for applying with low numbers:

1. Analyze your situation. Which numbers are low – test score (GRE or GMAT), GPA, or both? If your GPA is low, did you have an upward trend that would show the committee you improved during college? Did you have one bad semester that pulled you down? If the problem is your test score, is there one section that is stronger than the other?

2. Address low quant scores (GMAT/GRE and transcript) by: taking additional courses for higher grades; highlighting your quant-oriented achievements in your essays; and asking recommenders to confirm your quantitative ability.

3. Address low verbal scores (GMAT/GRE and transcript) by: writing fantastic essays; taking additional courses that focus on business communication or involve substantial writing; and asking recommenders to comment on your communication skills.

4. Make your essays count! Draw on examples of your accomplishments, leadership skills, and exceptional impact to counterbalance the low scores.

5. Pick the right schools to apply to. Some schools are more focused on numbers, while others are known for a more holistic review.

6. Consider the optional essay. If your scores are below the 80% range, you’ll probably want to acknowledge and provide context for your situation. The optional essay provides an opportunity to briefly explain the circumstances behind your scores. If you write the optional essay, make it short and straightforward. Provide a brief explanation, take responsibility, and focus on evidence of your talents that counters the impression made by the low stats. Also, explain (or, ideally, show through example and anecdote) that either you have dealt with the problem causing the poor grades, or the circumstances no longer apply.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

Navigate the MBA Maze
Do Low Stats Sink Your App?
Should You Retake the GMAT?

The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree

IV with Rich D'AmatoAdmit it. You just can’t stop thinking about the GMAT.

If you are a b-school student (present or future), then Rich D’Amato, Vice President of Global Communications at GMAC, has some important info to share with you.

Listen to the full recording of our conversation with Rich for the scoop on new GMAT features, the MBA Alumni survey, the relevance of the MBA degree, and more.

00:02:44 – The low-down on GMAC’s Enhanced Score Reports and how they can help you prepare effectively and score higher on the GMAT.

00:08:17 – The new Score Preview feature: how it works and how it can help you.

00:11:22 – Featured Applicant Question: Can I retake the GMAT, and then cancel the score and reinstate the original score?

00:12:08 – The case for the GMAT in the GMAT vs GRE battle.

00:15:24 – The role of “entrepreneurial traits” (and an MBA education) in career success.

00:19:16 – Is the end of the MBA degree in sight?

00:21:54 – The growth of specialized business degrees.

00:26:36 – Rich’s awesome advice for future test-takers.

Click here to listen to the show!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• The Official GMAT Website 
GMAT NEWSFLASH: GMAT to Feature Score Preview
• GMAT’s New Enhanced Score Report
GMAT Unofficial Enhanced Score Report FAQs
Control Your GMAT Experience with These Three Features

Related Shows:

• The GMAT, the GRE, and the Guy Who Knows them Well
• The GMAT Score Preview and Application Boxes
• GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep
• Chris Ryan of Manhattan GMAT on What MBA Applicants Need to Know

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

GMAT’s New Enhanced Score Report

Check out our GMAT 101 page for great tips and info!

New tool to help GMAT-takers plan for a retest.

Starting in February 2015, GMAC will be launching its new Enhanced Score Report as a way of helping test takers better understand their GMAT performance and potentially strategize and plan for a retest.  With this new tool, test takers will be able to see how much time they spent on each question, identify their skill strengths and weaknesses, and benchmark their performance against test takers from the last three years. The customized summary report will help test takers prepare for future study and test taking.

The AWA score is not included in the ESR since the report only uses data generated from unofficial scores (and this does not include the AWA). There is also no sub-section feedback given on the IR section since that section is too small to provide an adequate sample.

Test takers may purchase their GMAT Enhanced Score Report here for $24.95 and then have access to their report for five years. You can purchase your ESR for GMAT exams taken as far back as October 2013. ESRs become available up to 48 hours after you’ve completed your GMAT exam. Applicants who purchase the ESR also receive two additional practice exams and nearly 100 additional practice questions.

Starting last year in June 2014, GMAC gave test takers the option of cancelling their scores within a few minutes of completing the exam. The ESR authentication code can be applied to those cancelled exams, but not towards a GMAT exam for which a score was revoked due to a policy violation.

My thoughts:

This information should be valuable to those who aren’t satisfied with their GMAT score and want to know where to focus their studies. For those people the data is worth the fee. And in the context of the cost of the MBA, it is pocket change.

At the same time, this new revenue source for GMAC represents another competitive advantage for the GRE, which is less expensive than the GMAT to begin with.

Furthermore ETS, the entity behind the GRE, already provides the GRE Diagnostic Service at no additional cost to its test takers, and that service is similar to GMAT’s Enhanced Score Report. According to the ETS website:

“The GRE® Diagnostic Service provides insight into your performance on the test questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE® revised General Test. This FREE service includes a description of the types of questions you answered right and wrong as well as the difficulty level and time spent on each question.”

Unlike the GMAC’s ESR, the Diagnostic Service does not provide practice exams or questions.

My sense is that the $25 fee will be resented by affluent test takers, but if they need the information they will (and should) pay for it. It will be yet one more hurdle for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. And for those unsure of which of the two tests to take, the price of the ESR just adds a little weight to the side of the scale that says “GRE.”

Watch the webinar!

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

Related Resources:

• That GMAT Score: Implications for Your MBA Application
• Should You Retake the GMAT Exam?
• GRE vs. GMAT: Trends

When is the Best Time to Take the GMAT?

Click here to download your free guide: MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 moths Before You Apply

I remember when I was young and would ask my dad a question, more often than not he would respond, “Would you like the short answer or the long answer?” It didn’t matter which option I chose, because at some point he would inevitably launch into the long answer. And while I hated it at the time, looking back, there were always some great nuggets of wisdom in the nuances of his long answer.

So in the spirit of my dad’s sage example, I present to you the short answer — and the long answer! — to the question, “When should I take the GMAT?”

The Short Answer

You should take the GMAT any time that you have 2-3 months, or approximately 80-100 hours, to adequately prepare for it.

Remember that your GMAT score is good for five (5) years, so you can take the GMAT whenever you’re ready — even if you don’t plan on applying to business school for another year or two. Why not get it out of the way early?

Now, why do I say that you’ll want to devote 80-100 hours studying for the GMAT? Because statistically, that’s how many hours students study to score above average on the GMAT. You can read my full article about how long you should expect to study for the GMAT by clicking here.

The Long Answer

Telling you to take the GMAT whenever you want, which is essentially what I’ve done in my short answer, may seem like a bit of a cop-out to you. At the very least, it’s still pretty vague. So let me dive deeper and give you three additional guiding principles for when you should consider taking the GMAT.

• In what application round are you applying?

 It’s a good idea to have a sense of when you’ll be applying to business school. Pretty basic, right? Once you know when the application deadline is for the round you’ll be applying in, you can work backwards from there.

For example, Round 1 deadlines for many MBA programs are at the end of September for matriculation the following Fall. If you’ll be applying Round 1, then, you should start studying for the GMAT in May or June and plan to take it toward the end of August. For Round 2 deadlines, you’ll usually want to take the GMAT in late November or early December, and for Round 3 deadlines, mid- to late- February is a good time to take the GMAT for most schools.

Note: If you’re currently studying for the GMAT with an eye toward Round 3 applications (or even if you’re not planning on applying until next year and haven’t started studying for the GMAT yet), join us on Wednesday, February 11th for a free webinar providing a 3-part game plan for dominating the GMAT. Click here to learn more and register.

• Leave time to retake the GMAT if necessary

 As confident as I am that you’ll get the GMAT score you’re looking for on the very first try (especially if you’ve taken one of our GMAT prep courses!), the reality is that many students end up needing to take the GMAT a second (ore even third) time. The GMAC makes you wait a minimum of 31 days before retaking the GMAT, so take that into consideration and plan accordingly. For example, if the Round 3 application deadline for your target school is April 1st, then plan to take the GMAT before March 1st to give yourself that 31-day buffer.

While technically a school will need your official GMAT results before granting you admission (official scores can take up to 20 days to arrive), often admissions offices will work with you and grant you provisional acceptance based on the unofficial score you receive immediately after finishing the GMAT, pending that final score report. When in doubt, call the admissions offices of your target schools and ask them what the absolute latest is that they’ll accept a GMAT score from you. They want to work with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

• Don’t drag it out

 One of my favorite teaching points when I’m training my team on the importance of taking action goes as follows: Five birds are sitting on a wire. Three decide to fly off. How many are left?”

Answer: All five.

Why? Because deciding to do something isn’t the same as actually doing it! The same goes for the GMAT.

I can’t tell you how many times I have students sign up for one of my courses and despite having completed all of the course material and taken all of the practice tests, they drag out the process of actually signing up for the real thing. The truth is, you’ll probably never feel 100% ready for the GMAT. You’ll always feel like there’s one more thing to learn or one more practice problem to solve. But really, it’s fear that’s holding you back. And the best antidote to fear is action. So my advice is to pick a date based on the guidelines I described above and lock it in stone by actually submitting your registration. That way you’ll have a fixed target on your calendar that you can start working toward!

Watch the webinar: 3 Part plan to dominate the GMAT

Brett Ethridge is the founder of Dominate the GMAT, a leading provider of GMAT courses online and topic-specific GMAT video lessons. He has taught the GMAT for 10 years and loves working with students to help them achieve their highest potential. Brett is an entrepreneur, a triathlete, and an avid Duke basketball fan.

Related Resources:

GMAT Admissions 101
Should You Take the GMAT or the GRE?
• GMAT Facts: True or False