For EMBA, Is a 620 GMAT Good Enough?

Posted By SWatts on Mar 11, 2016 | 0 comments

For EMBA, Is a 620 GMAT Good Enough?

Taking the GMAT is no simple feat. Many full-time MBA candidates study through hard and long regimens for the GMAT. They enroll in courses, wipe their weekend schedules clear to spend hours studying, and take many mock exams. But many EMBA candidates are so far advanced in their careers, with significant responsibilities, and often also have families, that carving such abundant time to prepare for the GMAT is very difficult. In spite of their best efforts, such candidates are disappointed when they learn that their score is in the 600s and they struggle with a question about whether to re-take the exam or abandon their quest for a top EMBA.

The good news is that many top EMBA programs are aware of the challenges of taking the GMAT exam when you have a demanding career. As a result, some top EMBA programs simply eliminated the admissions requirement to present a GMAT score, noting they were not seeing a correlation between the GMAT scores and performance in their programs. Such schools include NYU, MIT, Kellogg and Cornell.

For those EMBA programs that still require the GMAT score, such as Wharton and Columbia, there is still a strong awareness among admissions committees that candidates are in the midst of demanding careers and may have a hard time carving out the time to prepare for the exam. As a result, an outstanding candidate who is very capable of excelling in their program may present a relatively low score, even a score such as 610.

We have found at MBA that the vast majority of candidates can be successful in gaining admission to top EMBA programs with a less-than-ideal GMAT score if they present an outstanding overall application – with truly excellent essays, recommendations and an application form/resume that highlights their winning credentials very effectively. Professional success is usually the most important factor for EMBA admissions, so showcase your professional achievements excellently.

With a GMAT score like a 610, the calculation about whether you should try to get a higher score should reflect many considerations. Do you have other qualifications to point to that demonstrate outstanding performance in the workplace, such as awards, promotions or bonuses? This is important.

Also, what is the strength of your overall candidacy? How strong are your college GPA and extracurricular activities, for example? Do you have other metrics to point to that show you have performed excellently academically? For instance, have you taken any business-relevant courses that demonstrate your ability to excel in an academic setting? Have you passed important certification exams such as the CFA? Has your work required you to employ strong analytical skills? If you have enough other evidence of your analytical strengths, you may be fine to apply to an EMBA program with a less-than-ideal score, because your professional success is typically what matters most in EMBA admissions, your professional success along with some other qualifications attesting to your strong analytical abilities may be sufficient to succeed in EMBA admissions.

For candidates who also have a lower-than-ideal GPA in addition to a less-than-ideal GMAT score, the calculation about whether to apply with the less-than-ideal GMAT score is more complex. Given the low GPA, the less-than-ideal GMAT score may be interpreted by the admissions committee as providing “evidence” that your lower-than-ideal GPA was an accurate indicator of your abilities and potential, even if you attended college long ago. So, the admissions committee may have concerns about your ability to excel in their program. In this case, it is still the reality that professional success is usually the most important factor for EMBA admissions success, but you should go out of your way to show that there are other more recent metrics that indicate you have strong analytical abilities and can excel in the EMBA program.

Finally, the decision about whether to try for a higher GMAT score should also reflect both the school to which you are applying and your overall profile. EMBA programs that are pickier about the GMAT score include Wharton, so make sure to acquaint yourself with what we call the “GMAT sensitivity” of your target schools (know how much they really care about your GMAT score). Similarly, if you are from a hyper-competitive group (for example, East Asian foreign national male), you may want to get good feedback about whether your less-than-ideal GMAT score is high enough to ensure you have a solid shot at admissions success to your target school.


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