Head of Admissions at Imperial, Crystal Grant, shares her thoughts on some of the most common misconceptions about the GMAT and how the test is being used by Business Schools and companies in their recruitment process.
I’ve always done well academically, so it will be easy to do well on the GMAT
Whilst having a strong academic background should put you in good stead to do well on the GMAT, it is not an intelligence test and you should never underestimate the importance of preparation. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of bright candidates underperform, so make sure that you understand the structure of the test, question types and how the scoring works – as well as doing plenty of practice and revision.
It will look bad on my application if it took me several attempts to get a good score
Schools vary in their approach towards candidates who have taken the test several times before reaching the required score – and GMAT allows you to cancel scores that you’re not happy with. Make sure you understand your target school’s position on this before you take the test, as you only have two minutes to decide whether to accept or cancel your score. At Imperial, we never penalise candidates who need a few attempts to reach 600 – it demonstrates your grit and determination to succeed, and these are qualities we look for in our MBA students.
My score will depend on how many questions I answer correctly
The quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are adaptive tests with questions of varying difficulty depending on whether you answered the previous one correctly or not. This means that even candidates who score very highly will have a reasonable number of incorrect answers – the important thing is which questions you get right or wrong.
As the analytical writing and integrated reasoning sections don’t contribute to my overall score, they don’t matter
It’s true that these sections don’t impact your overall score out of 800, but they are still key elements of the GMAT – and demonstrate valuable skills that will be relevant to your MBA. For us, the best GMAT results comprise of a strong overall score with good, well-balanced results across the elements. If you’ve done well in quantitative and verbal reasoning but significantly worse in analytical writing and integrated reasoning, the Admissions Committee won’t know if you were unwilling or unable to do these sections. And to be honest, neither of these is a good sign!
Admissions officers are the only people who really care about GMAT scores!
Having to achieve the required GMAT scores might just feel like yet another hurdle in the admissions process, but the process of preparing and taking the test is a valuable way of refreshing your academic skills before you start your MBA. And if like many MBA students, you aspire to work in consulting, top companies will look for a GMAT of 700 or more – so putting the work in now will support your future career goals.