Overcoming a Low GMAT Score | TopMBA.com

Overcoming a Low GMAT Score

If you get a low GMAT score, getting into a top-tier business school is going to be challenging. Top schools are looking for a score between 650 and 750 before they even look at the rest of the application form.

Of course you could retake it. Self study is hard; it is possible to sign up for one-on-one tutoring if you can afford it. This could potentially give you a much better chance to improve your score.

Balancing your GMAT score

But if you can’t afford to do that, or don’t have the time, there is still hope – top business schools are looking for a diverse cohort, in terms of sectors, countries and skills. If you have something unique to offer and you can demonstrate you are an outstanding candidate, it is worth applying. Coming from an unusual background like design can give you an edge, or if you’re from somewhere other than China, the US or Europe, that could be another plus point. Working and living in these different cultures means you can add something to the cohort.

Many students think it is all about the GMAT score when applying to a top business school like Warwick Business School, but that is not the case. The GMAT score is an important element of an application, but many other factors are taken into account.

A strong MBA essay

The application for Warwick Business School includes three MBA essay questions which provide a very useful space for students to illustrate just why they should be here and to demonstrate they are an outstanding candidate.

The first MBA essay asks about your career and what you have learned from it. Make sure you pick out examples where you have overcome work problems, detailing what you learned.

The second MBA essay presents a business problem from the real world to be solved. Here, we are looking at the strategy used and the reasoning behind it to find out how much formal and experiential knowledge you already have. The final MBA essay is a chance to tell us about yourself outside of the business world: hobbies, interests, achievements, and what makes you tick.

Getting an MBA interview

Three brilliant essays could potentially balance a low GMAT score and get you an MBA interview.  The MBA interview is another important stage on the path to gaining admissions to an MBA. It gives us the chance to really get to know you with the three essay answers giving us a basis to work from.

Some business schools also leave space for additional information. This is a chance to address your low GMAT score, explaining it is not indicative of your true ability and why you have not retaken it – this may be due to the cost or time pressures. Go through what action you have taken to overcome the low score and the extra courses you have done in your own time to prepare for an MBA. This is another way to make up for a low GMAT score, by gaining relevant qualifications that show your skills and commitment to the MBA. Extracurricular certificates in microeconomics, calculus, accounting, statistics or quantitative methods, and spreadsheet skills with good grades show you have some intelligence and basic knowledge that the GMAT didn’t pick up, which can help you gain an MBA interview.

It doesn’t have to be all about the GMAT score

An MBA is not about listening to lectures, soaking up all the information and regurgitating it come exam time. No business wants walking photocopiers – they want critical thinking, creative and energetic staff, passionate about the business, who will go the extra mile and be totally engaged in the company. They want MBAs who will challenge the status quo, come up with new ideas and theories. In an MBA, participants learn as much from each other as they do from the faculty, there is a lot of room for discussion, role play and teamwork. It is intense so you need to have the right people skills to interact with your group and the rest of your cohort.

Schools want students who totally engage with their classmates. After all, it will probably be the only time in your life when you will be in a room with people from 30 different countries and cultures from 30 different sectors. It is a great chance to learn and make contacts that can last a lifetime. Schools want diversity of background and lively, critical thinking students; you need to demonstrate all this in your application form.

Do all this and there is a chance of overcoming a low GMAT score and gaining an MBA interview; it all depends on the school you are applying to and what it is looking for in its MBA cohort. There is no harm in trying, even with a low GMAT score.

This article was originally published in June 2015 .

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