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Is all the Prep Worth it? Do You Really Need to Take the GMAT?

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

We know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if there’s some way you can possibly avoid taking the GMAT exam, and still get into a great business school.

You’re contemplating those long, dark hours of GMAT prep, hundreds of practice questions, and the insane marathon of the actual test, and thinking, surely there’s another way!

Exam-anxiety aside, this is a completely rational question to ponder. After all, you’re a busy person. You’ve got a job, possibly kids, and most certainly a personal life.

Getting an MBA will be hard enough—should you subject yourself to the GMAT as well?

Let’s unpack this question a little, shall we?

Here’s what to consider if you’re considering not taking the GMAT.

Do You Need a GMAT Score to Apply to Business School?

The quick answer is no, not every MBA program requires applicants to  include a GMAT score in their admissions package.

Some MBA programs offer GMAT waivers to students with exceptional academic credentials and/or professional experience.

Certain Executive MBAs require applicants to take a much shorter test, called the Executive Assessment, in lieu the GMAT. Columbia Business School, CEIBS (China), and INSEAD (France) all follow this model.

Another example is the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto). They’ll waive the GMAT for applicants who have successfully passed the CFA level III examination.

GMAT prep
Have substantial mid-to-senior level management experience? You may not need a GMAT score.

But…despite these exceptions, there’s no denying that if you don’t take the GMAT, you’ll almost certainly be limiting yourself to a smaller pool of MBA choices.

Dream of attending one of the world’s top MBA programs? Simply want to diversify your B-school options? It’s time to embrace GMAT prep.

Yes, you’re looking at months of arduous study, and the resurrection of dreaded high school math and verbal concepts—but you’ll need to face these challenges at business school, anyway, right?

So, think of GMAT prep as a warm-up…pre-season training for your brain, so you can jump into your MBA at full mental power.

How do B-Schools Weigh Your GMAT Score During Admissions?

Let’s say you’re a “reluctant” GMAT-taker (who isn’t, right?), and you’re wondering just how important a high score is during the admission process.

Do you really need to go hard at GMAT prep for hundreds of hours, or can you slip by admissions with a less-than-stellar result? How do B-schools weigh your score against other admission criteria?

There’s no simple answer to this one. Every B-school is different.

Officially, most schools say that they evaluate the whole student.

In others words, they follow a “holistic” model of assessment that includes looking at your undergraduate GPA, personal and professional profile, and overall “fit” with the program.

Other B-schools place a heavier emphasis on GMAT scores.

In a recent survey, 65% of MBA admission consultants said they believe B-schools are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever—with personal essays, interviews, and undergrad marks coming in second during the decision-making process.

Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that a competitive GMAT score is your “foot in the door”. It won’t guarantee you acceptance, but it provides a benchmark that many B-schools use during their initial screening process.

GMAT prep
Admissions teams take your GMAT score seriously. If you’re challenging the exam, it’s worth aiming high.

Our advice: Research the average GMAT scores at the B-schools you want to attend. Take a mock GMAT exam, and see how far you are from those scores.

This will help you map out a realistic GMAT study plan, and achieve the result you need to be a competitive applicant at your target schools.

Learn about getting a free GMAT personal assessment with a Quantum expert

Does a High GMAT Score Mean You’ll be Successful in Business?

Nope. But more than 6,000 business and management programs worldwide agree that a high GMAT score means you’ll be very successful as an MBA student.

This is why most top programs require a GMAT score for admissions. They want to ensure applicants have the critical reasoning, quant, and verbal skills needed to survive the rigours of an MBA.

The GMAT is not designed to predict your success as a business leader. It is designed to assess your readiness for advanced business training. The rest is up to you!

GMAT prep
The GMAT predicts your success at business school, not your future career prospects

I want to Avoid GMAT Prep! Can I Take the GRE Instead?

Does buckling down to months of GMAT prep fill you with fear and loathing? Think you’d fare better with the GRE?

More than 1,200 MBA programs now accept scores from the GMAT or GRE for admissions—and that number is growing daily. But don’t forget, that’s a far cry from the 6,000 institutions that accept the GMAT.

If you’re considering swapping the GMAT for the GRE, the first thing you must do is check with your target schools to ensure they accept the GRE.

It’s also important to note that even if your dream school accepts the GRE, it may still favour applicants with GMAT scores.

A recent US News report reveals that 26% of B-school admissions officers give priority to applicants who took the GMAT, versus the GRE.

Plus, while the content and structure of the GRE is in some ways different from the GMAT, both exams test your quant, verbal, and writing skills.

So, don’t just run blindly from GMAT test prep—you may seriously limit your MBA options down the road.

Still uncertain about whether you should take the GMAT? Need help assessing your options, or mapping out a GMAT prep plan?

Don’t stress. Come out to a free GMAT information session to get some expert support and guidance.

See a list of upcoming GMAT Info Sessions near you

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