The GMAT – shudder. The majority of business school hopefuls concur that sitting for the GMAT is one of the most dreaded components of the business school application process. If the mere thought of completing the GMAT (or re-taking the GMAT) torments you at night, read on. Much emphasis is placed on this exam, but it’s not as horrible as you may think.
1. The GMAT is not the be-all, end-all in business school admissions
Yes, the GMAT may be one of the most discussed factors in business school admissions, but it is not the only item admissions committees consider. Business schools seek well-rounded classes, and this detail cannot be stressed enough. Business schools are interested in your work experience, your goals, your personality, and your community involvement. If your GMAT score is not as high as you’d like it to be, you can compensate with other parts of your application. Institutions are particularly interested in the GMAT in order to evaluate your quantitative abilities. Demonstrate these skills in other ways, perhaps through your essays or recommendation letters, or even by enrolling in a calculus course at a local community college.
2. You can train in order to achieve a higher GMAT score
In all honesty, the GMAT will not tell admissions how well you’ll do in business school. It doesn’t measure your business acumen. It simply tests your ability to successfully complete standardized tests. This may not be fair, but you can use it to your advantage: with appropriate practice, you can improve your performance on the GMAT. You can strengthen both by reviewing the key concepts and acclimating to the test itself. The more practice tests you finish, the better. A wealth of information is available; you just need to develop a study plan to boost your score accordingly.
3. There are a limited number of concepts examined on the GMAT
As difficult as some individuals find the GMAT to be, it does not test too wide a range of subjects. The Quantitative section, for instance, includes mainly arithmetic, algebra, and geometry – no trigonometry or calculus will be found here. Granted, the test is not simple, because it will combine several concepts in one problem. But if you can master the basic fundamentals of the mathematics, you are prepared to succeed. Similarly, the sentence correction questions usually test less than 10 grammar concepts.
4. You can sit for the GMAT more than once
Few students find themselves satisfied with their score after taking the test the first time. You can, however, sit for it again. All marks within the past five years will be included in your official score report, but that shouldn’t deter you. Admissions committees will appreciate the determination required to continually strive for improvement. It may be wise to incorporate enough time into your business school plan to allow yourself to take the GMAT more than once.
5. The GMAT is not the only test that business schools acknowledge
A number of institutions accept a GRE score in lieu of the GMAT. If you’ve already taken the GRE or you strongly suspect that you will perform better on this exam, you may want to consider submitting this score instead. Peruse the full list of universities that accept the GRE on ETS’ website. The GRE, while a different format than the GMAT, tests many of the same skillsets – critical reasoning, quantitative skills, and analytical writing. Yes, the GMAT can seem daunting at first, but perhaps you now understand why it’s not something that should frighten you!
Maureen Spain is a professional GMAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Northwestern University and received her MBA from Duke University.