One major hurdle that aspiring tycoons have to face on is the Graduate Management Admission Test. Business schools look carefully at GMAT scores.
“We don’t have a formal cut-off, but anyone more than about 50 points below our average of 650 [on the 200-800 point scale] would have to bring something special to the table,” says Stacey Dorang Peeler, director of admissions at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. “That might be a strong undergraduate transcript, leadership ability or impressive work experience.”
“[The GMAT?is] important for seeing an applicant’s overall ability,” agrees Dr. Rajan Chandran, vice dean at Temple’s Fox School of Business. “It’s a useful snapshot.”
The GMAT is not the only factor considered, though. “We want to create entrepreneurial leaders and change agents. Test scores reflect some skills, but emotional intelligence is just as important,” says Chandran.
It serves business schools when graduates succeed, so admissions personnel look for those who’ll benefit from the experience. “We’ve rejected candidates with scores of 700, 750, if they can’t articulate their goals,” Peeler says.
Major changes planned
The GMAT will undergo a major format change in June 2012. It will add a third component, integrative reasoning, to the current verbal and quantitative sections.
“The help now available — both preparation classes and books — is based on experience with the current version,” points out Andrew Mitchell, Kaplan Test Prep’s director of pre-business programs.
Since your score is valid for five years, it might make sense to take the test before next June, even if you’re not planning to apply to business school immediately.
“After the changeover, it will take time for prep resources to regain that level of experience,” Mitchell says. “The GMAT is much more competitive than the SAT. You need to be well prepared.”