GMAT Scores: Important for Jobs, not just MBAs
by Cian O’Carroll
“Care to tell me your Quant score in GMAT?”
Previously we have explored the details of your GMAT score, but in this piece, I want to dispel a myth about GMAT. Reading up on GMAT online then you will eventually come across forum members, bloggers and, shockingly, occasional journalists who claim something like “once you get your MBA, no one cares what you scored in GMAT.” Not only do I want to show that this is untrue, but I want to explain why it is untrue, and how you can use this to your advantage.
One of the first signs of GMAT’s significance beyond the MBA is its importance for specialist degrees, in fields that often attract MBA graduates. If you have ever been considering a Masters in Finance or Management at top institutions, you will have noticed that GMAT is either required, or explicitly preferred over GRE.
It doesn’t stop there however. It is not uncommon to see GMAT scores required on follow-up for related jobs in Financial Planning, Analysis, Risk Management, Equity, Investment Banking, Management, and Consulting too. As P&Q put it bluntly: “Top firms will ask candidates their GMAT scores and grades.” A look at job listings which target business school graduates shows one good reason why: Employers often request MBA/Masters GPA but with a proviso like “unless your school has a non-disclosure policy.” This shows that employers care about how well you did at business school, not just which school you studied at, something that disclosure policies can obscure. Thus, the GMAT is an excellent alternative for employers to gauge your business school performance in lieu of checking your GPA.
Visibility is not the only reason employers like to see your GMAT performance. In the unlikely event that they could see the GPA of each applicant, each school grades to their own standard, so it’s impossible to compare like with like. The GMAT is often the one prior assessment where all applicants were graded under the same standard, making your percentile a good and fair indicator of your performance against the global competition. Although GMAC designed the GMAT to predict likely success in business schools, those same metrics – skills in quantitative analysis, problem solving, working with data and reports, and effective communication – are vital in the workplace too. Thus, it comes as no surprise to see it used this way.
Bloomberg (subscribers article) revealed that in addition to stipulated minimum cut-offs (sometimes as steep as 700!), some employers use GMAT scores to weed out weaker candidates. Lancaster University’s Dr Joern Meissner has astutely pointed out that in economically troubled times these employer requirements (which won’t always be stated up front) get even stricter. As you can’t predict what future business climate you might find yourself in, he advises even current MBA students interested in competitive fields to prepare carefully and retake their GMAT if they have less than 720. “The job recruiter doesn’t care if you got your best GMAT result before your MBA admission or after, just as long as you can prove you’re just as good [as], or hopefully even better than, the next guy.”
Most only consider GMAT for admissions, when trying to fit in with their desired institution’s score profile. Yet, regardless of where you want to take (or if have already taken) your MBA or speciality Masters, you can use your GMAT score to stand out, to both admissions offices and recruiters! Globally the average GMAT score is 556, with 68% of candidates scoring between 430 and 670. The average GMAT grades among incoming students at top US schools like Wharton or Stern are in the top 10% worldwide (over 700), so scoring on par with these few will bolster your profile, wherever you choose to study. In fact, the average grades at these institutions keep climbing as they attract more high-performing talent, and as those candidates push themselves further – so you will want to keep up.
We have established that, like it or not, your GMAT score and percentile will continue to be an important part of your profile, even after you graduate. Savvy future employers will be looking at it to judge whether you stand out. Furthermore, it is clear that places at top business school (and scholarships too!) are going to applicants with increasingly strong grades. And although it may be impossible to apprehend what will happen in the jobs market, there is evidence that in financially troubled times employers will apply harsher cut-offs as the pool of applicants inflates.
How then do you ensure a compelling GMAT score, to help you stand out to employers, secure places at selective business schools and secure yourself against uncertainty? It’s all about ensuring you have adequate preparation. Some would advise taking it before you begin working, while you still have free time – after all, your score is valid for five years, so there is plenty of time to acquire experience afterwards and apply later. Whether you’re still in school or a professional pressed for time, the key thing is efficient preparation. There’s no need to struggle by yourself. ICON+ has over 18 years of test preparation experience in Singapore – with regular GMAT courses as well as one-to-one sessions with our GMAT tutors. Come along to one of our trial GMAT classes, sample some questions, and learn how we can help you, as we have helped others in the past.