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Should I Take the GMAT?

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Abound: MBA »

If you’re thinking about applying to an MBA program, chances are you’re also thinking of the GMAT. This standardized test has been around for a while, and is usually an essential component of an MBA application. Limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift in values held by higher education institutions has made the GMAT less obligatory and more optional. So should you take it? Let’s find out! 

What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a test designed to assess a candidate’s analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. This computer-based test measures an applicant’s preparedness for graduate level coursework. The GMAT contains four sections: 

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment: This portion of the assessment measures an applicant’s writing and critical thinking skills. Applicants have 30 minutes to compose an essay that effectively and persuasively analyzes an author’s argument, evidence, and reasoning. A successful essay demonstrates your keen understanding of rhetorical argument, and ability to organize your thoughts cohesively and thoughtfully. 
  2. Integrated Reasoning: The integrated reasoning portion of the GMAT will test your ability to think on your feet when presented with real-world situations. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete a series of problems that will fall into the following categories: 
    1. Graphics interpretation: analyze and interpret visual data in graphs or images.
    2. Multi-source reasoning: This type of question requires you to assess and synthesize information from different sources for your answer.
    3. Table analysis: As the name suggests, this portion requires you to use information presented in a table in order to answer the question. This type of question measures your ability to analyze and interpret information, which will come in handy in various upper level business management positions. 
    4. Two-part analysis: These questions consist of two questions whose answers may be the same or different. Two-part analysis questions can be verbal and quantitative. 
  3. Quantitative: This portion of the exam consists of 2 parts: data sufficiency and problem solving. This section is designed to measure your skills in basic math concepts such as arithmetic, algebra, and geontery. There are 31 questions which must be answered in 62 minutes.
  4. Verbal: The verbal section of the GMAT measures your command of written English, analysis of arguments, and critical reading skills. Types of questions in the verbal section include critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. 

Should I take the GMAT?

First, you must ask yourself: is this a required component of my application? If your prospective MBA program requires a GMAT score to be submitted, then the answer is an obvious yes. You should take the GMAT! If your program offers a test-optional policy, then you can consider not taking it. There are a number of reasons why you might choose not to take the GMAT, but the most popular reason is below average scores. If mastering the standardized test is a challenge for you, don’t worry too much! You’re not alone. If the option is available to you, opting out of the GMAT could be a good choice if the score won’t benefit your application. Standardized test scores have been such an important part of both undergraduate and graduate admissions that it might seem unbelievable or impossible to opt out of the GMAT. But times are changing! \

Why are more “prestigious” schools offering waivers? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely influenced the application process across the board for higher education. With so many entrance exams being canceled or postponed indefinitely, institutions are shifting attention away from test scores. Take advantage of these changes and apply to your dream B-schools that might have otherwise been out of reach due to lower test scores. 

Find out why now might be the best time to apply to MBA programs!

Are test-optional MBA programs high quality? 

That being said, there is also a larger shift away from standardized test scores that has nothing to do with the pandemic. As more attention is paid to making higher education more equitable and accessible, the relevance of test scores to a candidate’s potential is being critically examined. It’s even been reported that the GMAT is not an accurate predictor of success for some MBA graduates. Thus, some schools focus more on a holistic analysis of candidates rather than their standardized test scores. A program is not any better or worse if it requires test scores, because even the most prestigious institutions are dropping them as a deciding factor. Admission requirements and program quality are independent from one another!

How does time factor into my decision? 

Another reason that applicants are forgoing the GMAT is because of the time and energy it requires. The GMAT is a challenging test and most applicants need a few tries to get the score they want. If you are on a tight schedule, consider opting out of the GMAT and instead focus on other parts of your application such as your résumé, personal statements, letters of recommendation.

Should you take the GMAT? Well, it depends. If the school of your dreams requires it, then maybe you should. If not, and if you’re not a strong test-taker, then maybe you don’t need to worry about it. Consider the cost and benefit of putting in the extra work required for the test, and make the decision based on your personal experience. No matter where you are in the MBA application process, Abound: MBA is here to help! Abound: MBA’s college resource guide introduces you to pre-vetted schools that we can confirm meet our high standards of Affordability, Accessibility, Acceleration, and Advancement. Take a look at the schools we trust to find the MBA program that’s right for you.

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