Should You Take the GMAT Before Applying for an MBA Program?

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As more colleges have moved toward online programs and college admissions standards have evolved, the once-paramount standardized test score has decreased in significance for many programs. Master of Business Administration programs has been no exception. Should you take the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is, essentially equivalent to the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or ACT/SAT in undergrad. For decades, it has been a staple of MBA admissions. But, it’s popularity has been waning. More MBA programs rely on other criteria for determining eligibility and making admissions decisions.

The move away from GMAT

Although many graduate management programs continue to use the GMAT as a measurement of aptitude, more MBA programs are forgoing the use of the test or making it an optional part of the admissions process.

Much of this move appears to be related to the general wave of criticism against standardized testing as a major factor in admissions decisions. There is some controversy over whether the tests provide a clear and accurate prediction of a student’s performance in the graduate program.

Other factors that matter

When it comes to modern college admissions for MBA programs, what you’ve done is often considered more important than what you know.

Increasingly, these programs will look only for students who have a proven record of work experience. Many often require years of existing management or leadership tenure. It’s not unlikely that an MBA program will use your resume as a primary source for considering your application.

There is usually also a requirement for letters of recommendation to be submitted on your behalf. You’ll likely want executive managers to recommend you as a rising star within the business world, which will reflect well on you when it comes time for admissions decisions.

MBA programs will likely also look at your undergraduate academic record and may use that as a benchmark for your aptitude.

In addition, many colleges now accept the GRE from applicants to their MBA program.

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Colleges that don’t require GMAT

Although many top-tier institutions still require the GMAT or GRE as part of the admissions process, a growing number of colleges and universities do not require these credentials–including many online programs.

Just a few of the well-known, accredited, and reputable colleges that offer MBA programs without a GMAT requirement include:

  • Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
  • Concordia University (St. Paul, MN)
  • Dominican University (River Forest, IL)
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
  • New York University-Stern (New York City, New York)
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Should you take the GMAT?

The answer to these questions will, of course, hinge on whether or not the program which you hope to attend requires that you submit a GMAT score or not.

If it’s not a required part of the admissions decision, then it’s ultimately up to you to make the decision.

General advice for making the call would be: How well do you generally perform on standardized tests? While some students perform well, others struggle with the format and taking the GMAT may not serve those students well.

Secondly, how strong is your professional experience? If you feel like your record speaks for itself–many MBA programs recommend having 5-10 years of working experience before applying–then the GMAT may not add anything valuable to your resume.

Lastly, you may want to consider your prior academic record. Many MBA programs will consider your undergraduate degree, course load, and GPA as an indicator of your success. So, if you don’t have a great college record, the GMAT may be a way to lift your application.

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