Three applicants with different profiles decide to apply to bschools:
Rishi (Chhupaa) Rustom:
IT professional | 2 years work experience | GMAT score 740 (confident of cracking 770+)
Marketing professional | 6 years experience | GMAT score 640 (got 630 in the first attempt)
HR professional | 4 years experience | GMAT score 710 (pleasantly surprised as she was getting 650-680 in practice tests)
They are all willing to take the GMAT again. What advice will you give them? Hold on to your answer and read on.
The best case situation is a no-brainer. You follow a structured and well-planned approach towards GMAT preparation, consistently score in the target range in mock tests and surpass your expectations in the first attempt. But not many would be fortunate to get that outcome. The most common gripe you hear from candidates who’ve taken the test for the first time is that their actual GMAT score is lower than their expected score.
The reasons fluctuate from ‘I wasn’t feeling well on the day of the test‘ to ‘The air-conditioner was too cold‘. So they give themselves some more time, try to figure out what can work better, focus on their weak areas, get some more reference material (books, downloaded GMAT prep material), take help from mentors/experts and give it another shot.
Generally, if candidates have had multiple attempts at the GMAT, bschools take the highest GMAT score. So candidates think there’s very little downside to the approach of – try, & keep trying till you succeed.
All this comes at a price, and it isn’t just money we are talking about.
There’s a general perception that a score of 700 or above is absolutely essential, especially if you are an Indian MBA applicant (God save you if you are an Indian/IT/Male/Engineer). The GMAT score no doubt is an important parameter. Going with 80:20 rule, if you’re spending 80% of your time on your preparing for the GMAT exam, you might be getting only a 20% incremental benefit over others who are balancing out their time on other aspects of the application which includes writing appropriate content-rich MBA essays, getting good quality recommendations from the right people and updating your resume.
Fact is when an application gets rejected, the reasons generally extend beyond a low GMAT score. There may be exceptions to the rule – for instance the Adcom member has to choose between two candidates who are equally strong on ALL other parameters.
We’ve had situations (in fact one, just a couple of days back) when someone with a pretty low GMAT score got an interview invite from a top school that would’ve been ‘Ambitious’ for this profile. Along with the invite, the Admissions Officer has gently ‘encouraged’ the candidate to re-consider taking the GMAT, but this was more for scholarship decisions and not to influence the acceptance decision. What does that mean? If the Admission officer had a strict GMAT cut-off, this candidate would’ve never crossed the first stage of review.
Are we saying, that you should aim for a low GMAT [waiting for 5 seconds to see if anyone says Yes]. Of course, not! Aim for 800 by all means (Read How to get a perfect 800 GMAT score). But if you don’t get it, don’t fret & fume. Don’t underestimate the impact of well-written MBA essays and recommendations, since they tell the Adcoms more about your real potential than simple scores.
If you think that you can significantly raise the GMAT score with another attempt and ensure that you aren’t doing so at the cost of your other MBA application components (MBA essays, recommendations, resume), then it might be worth considering.
One line philosphical lesson: It’s important to push yourself to do well on the GMAT, but it’s also important to know when to stop.
If you are still thinking about Rustom-ji, Gulgulaa bhaiyya and Champavati didi (despite their unusual names), go ahead and share your thoughts. We’ll stay quiet and allow you to become Admission consultants for a while.
If you care two hoots about fictitional characters, because you are worried about your own score and are thinking about re-taking the GMAT, tell us why.