GMAT Role in Application

What Role Does the GMAT Play in the Application?

The GMAT is a requirement for many business schools and it is an important component of any application. For many schools, the GMAT is the only common standard by which to compare students from different undergraduate colleges, different work experiences and different countries. While many advise future business schools students to keep from over-worrying about the GMAT, in truth the GMAT scores do make an impact. People have gotten into top schools with low GMAT scores, but a score that is particularly high or particularly low will be noticed.

Business schools post the average GMAT scores of their entering class and it is a component of their national ranking. So in a sense, prospective MBA candidates consider GMAT scores in evaluating business schools just as it is used in evaluating them. And perhaps they should. For students, high GMAT scores have been validated as a predictor of success in first-year business school classes. As a measure of schools, Forbes magazine reports that a school's median GMAT score is an indicator of its median "5-year gain," meaning the salary for its graduating class at graduation and for the five years following graduation. Students who attend business schools with higher GMAT scores have higher median salaries for the first five years post MBA compared to their pre-MBA pay. However, that indicator only works in the aggregate. On an individual basis, the correlation between MBA scores and post-MBA pay disappears.

Overall, for prospective MBA students, it is just one factor but it is an important one. Perhaps University of Chicago Booth School of Business Dean Rosemaria Martinelli put it best when she said, "A high score will not guarantee admission; a low score will not preclude admission. It's just one piece of a complex puzzle."