With a great deal of significance that Indian MBA applicants seem to attach to their GMAT scores, many don’t bother much about their academic grades (GPA, Percentage) during graduation. Some do, and they are right in doing so, because the admissions officer looking at your essays and recommendations would also be interested in knowing how you performed as a student.
Are 10th and 12th marks important? How to overcome low academic performance in MBA abroad applications? Can a high GMAT score We tackle these questions below and also share some low undergrad GPA / percentage success stories in the end.
Do your 10th & 12th Standard marks matter for (GMAT) MBA admissions abroad?
As a general rule, they don’t. That’s because you probably have around 4-5 years of work experience at the time that you start working on your MBA applications. And a graduation degree (like engineering, B.Sc, B.Com etc) where you spent another 3-4 years. That means your 10th Standard and 12th Standard memories are close to a decade old.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Admission Committees are more concerned about what’s happened recently. Your GPA and percentage in the most recent academic degree you have obtained would matter more.
An exception to this would be when you’ve had some very good (topped the merit list) or very bad (dropped a year) story that has had implications over the subsequent years as student or professional.
Does my undergrad GPA / graduation percentage matter in MBA applications?
You bet, it does. And here’s why. After all has been said eloquently in aesthetically designed B-school brochures and websites about how they’ll convert you into a manager and business leader, the fact remains that you are entering into a class and spending a whole amount of time grappling with academic concepts, some more complex than the others.
Though your graduation marks might’ve been earned in an unrelated discipline (like engineering, science, commerce), your percentage / GPA during those years is still indicative of how academically tuned your brain is. The impression that the Admissions Officer will have if you did well in class last time, is that you can do well again – even if the subjects are different.
And in a class full of achievers (who aren’t going to depend on shoddily photocopied notes from their seniors), they don’t want laggards.
On a related note, check out this article How important are college GPA / grades in getting a job?
Will a high GMAT score compensate for low graduation marks?
From a clear No and Yes answer (to the previous questions), we are now getting into the gray zone. Rather than saying ‘it depends’, let’s look at multiple scenarios (which, your well-trained eye will recognise, is a roundabout way of saying – it depends).
Scenario 1: Low GPA / percentage, from a top tier college
If you’ve graduated from any of the best undergraduate colleges in India (like IIT, NIT, BITS) or abroad (Ivy league universities in the US) where selectivity is very tight, mediocre grades could be justified with a high GMAT score. If the low GPA was due to your over-indulgence in other campus activities that helped you hone your managerial and leadership skills, Adcoms would be more lenient with your academic performance.
For instance, we’ve worked with some excellent folks who were part of the organizing committee of IIT-B’s Mood Indigo. Their grades weren’t impressive, but everything else about them was.
Scenario 2: Low graduation marks from a mediocre college
If you got into Sant Tambooji Maharaj College of Poultry Farming on a management seat (i.e. after paying a hefty donation) and your lacklustre grades would make Shri Tambooji turn uncomfortably in his grave, this may be tough to justify in your international MBA application, irrespective of how high your GMAT score is.
Scenario 3: Somewhere in between the above 2 scenarios
Most folks who work with us are in this category. The top schools may be out of reach, as some of them may have minimum / cutoff limits for academic performance. However, no point crying over spilt beer. Score as high as you can on the GMAT and move on.
What can I do in my MBA Application to offset my low graduation marks?
A combination of one or more of the following actions may help you offset the impact of a lower academic performance.
1. Get a high GMAT Score to counter low GPA
Beyond the super-elite bschools that get thousands of equally strong applicants, most of the lower ranking MBA colleges would give a higher weightage to your GMAT score.
2. Select the right bschools
You could select bschools that balance out the quality and flexibility aspects. Spread out the risk across schools and focus on putting in solid essays, recos, interviews. There are many that will give you access to similar opportunities (like good education, good jobs, good network, good RoI).
3. Take extra courses
Several American universities offer online courses that are graded. They can be pretty expensive, the choice of subjects may be limited and their utility may be uncertain. But still easier to do this than go back in time and fix your graduation marks.
4. Use the Optional Essay well
This is an easier (and free) option for cost-conscious Indian applicants. Of course, it needs the right ingredients too to justify what happened to your grades (was it an illness, was it because you were busy growing in other areas, or just plain immaturity) and why it won’t happen again.
5. Position yourself as a strong contender
Don’t try to underplay the low graduation marks in front of the Adcoms. They know its relevance, so you can’t just brush it under the carpet. Be honest in your applications. At the same time, be smart about how your present your overall profile.
6. Hire a good admissions consultant to get a reality check
Consultants aren’t magicians. They won’t be able to fix most of the problems that already exist in your profile. However there are many good MBA consultants who can help with points 2, 4 and 5 listed above.
They can give you an idea of whether you are aiming too high (or low), what your other strengths are that matter to bschool admission officers and how to put together a strong and impactful application (and not just your optional essay) that’ll convince the Adcoms that your GPA will not be a hurdle in your MBA and post-MBA journey.
Low GPA success stories
Before we wrap things up, here are a few inspiring low GPA success stories where applicants just like you not only got into good bschools, but they also did it with flair. – like cracking the application process not once, but multiple times. Or doing it for their second MBA. Some even got a generous helping of MBA scholarships to ease their financial burden.
So, all’s not lost. Hang in there, go in with a solid application strategy and come back to share your success on our blog. Like these applicants did.
– Computer engineer with low GPA successfully cracks 5 top bschools with scholarships
– INSEAD admit with low GPA in engineering degree
– How I got into an Ivy League university as an older student with low GPA
– Low GMAT and low GPA success story (despite GMAT centre’s failure)
– Low GPA success story: From strategy consulting to investment banking
– Second MBA from top bschool despite average undergrad grades
– Low GRE and GPA scorer gets MBA admit with full scholarship worth $125,000 after 15 rejections
– Some more low GPA success stories
Read these related posts:
– Average GPA for top MBA programs
– Official Academic Transcripts for GRE GMAT colleges abroad
– Problems an average student can face in an elite MBA classroom
– Does a lack of the American GPA grading system put you at a disadvantage?