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The GMAT Conundrum

The decision to apply to business schools is usually followed by the activity of school selection. It’s exciting, no doubt, to pour over rankings and sift through other criteria to determine the list of potential alma maters that will propel your career to a stratospheric level. Once the schools have been selected, however, it’s time to deal with the mundane – the resume, essays, recommendation letters, and of course, the GMAT.

The GMAT is synonymous with business school applications. However, it poses a rather interesting problem for applicants. Every component of the application other than the GMAT is rooted in the past. Your resume reflects your achievements, your essays narrate your life stories, and your recommendation letters are predicated on the relationships you’ve built. The GMAT, unless you’ve already taken it, can derail your application process completely.

When you indulge in school selection, you have past indicators such as your academic background and work experience to determine the list. However, if you haven’t taken the GMAT, you typically tend to either base your calculations on an assumed score, perhaps based on those of your peers, or on mock tests that you’ve been working on, if you’ve been diligent enough to start your preparation. However, things can get tricky if you score significantly lower on the actual test.

We have seen cases where the school list had to be changed partially or completely or, in a worst case scenario, the candidate decided to postpone their applications by a year. The GMAT is a critical unknown when it comes to MBA school selection. Hence, we advice that this test be taken as soon as possible (after adequate preparation, of course) to complete the criteria which can then be comprehensively used to create your school selection list.

The other advantage of taking the GMAT early is that you can take it again after 16 calendar days if your score isn’t satisfactory. While this is not an ideal situation, it still gives you a basis to at least start working on your school selection and another opportunity to score higher. In fact, you can take the GMAT up to five times in a year. So technically, the sooner you start the more attempts you can accommodate although that shouldn’t be your aim.

We do need to caution you here that we’re not saying that you wait to start school selection until after you take the GMAT. You can’t start applying until you have a school list. And schools have deadlines. At the same time, don’t rush to take the GMAT until you’re thoroughly prepared. While there isn’t a ready made answer to this, the problem can be easily tackled through some proper planning and optimization of your application strategy.


LemonEd can help you with all elements of your MBA application.

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