Is GMAT Necessary for MBA Abroad?


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an assessment test taken by students who are aspiring to pursue a management course at one of the business schools around the world. Almost every business school has a similar application process with students submitting an application form along with their GMAT score.

The GMAT exam is a computer adaptive test. It has 4 sectionsQuantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Analysis (AWA).

Is GMAT compulsory for MBA? Get ready to learn about an important aspect of MBA admissions today! You are aware that the GMAT is required for MBA admissions in top-tier schools around the world. Is the GMAT, however, a mandatory requirement for MBA programmes?


Benefits of Taking the GMAT for MBA Admission

If you are thinking about doing your MBA abroad or management programmes in India but aren’t sure if you should take the GMAT, then keep reading!


How Important is the GMAT Score?

A GMAT score is an essential part of your MBA application along with letters of recommendation, application essays, and your academic transcripts. Research conducted by GMAC showed that for full-time MBA programs, GMAT scores contributed to 22% of the overall application, more important than interviews (20%) and academic transcripts (19%).

According to a survey conducted by GMAC, 9 out of 10 new MBA admissions are done using a GMAT score.


Role of a GMAT Score

Universities perceive your GMAT score as an important part of your application. GMAT scores are trusted by universities as the GMAT is a standardized test that is conducted in reliable settings, all over the world.

Since the GMAT is considered a difficult exam by many, taking the GMAT shows B-Schools that you are committed to getting your postgraduate business degree and that you are ready for the rigors of such programs.


Measure of Current Skills

GMAT scores show your quantitative, analytical, and verbal skills. These abilities are required for both an MBA and a successful career after graduation So GMAT is considered a good measure of the skills that you currently possess.


Indicator of Future Performance

GMAT is considered a reliable indicator of potential academic performance in an MBA program. Also, the GMAT has been around for decades and thus universities are very comfortable using GMAT scores to build the perfect class.


Preferred by Universities

Universities prefer GMAT scores for management programs, particularly MBAs. Currently, GMAT scores are used for admissions into over 7,000 business and management programs all around the world.

GMAT score is a single, comprehensive, total score of your math and verbal scores. The single score value provided by GMAT allows universities to easily measure your skills. At the same time, the universities also have the flexibility to consider the sectional scores (such as essay and integrated reasoning) as and when needed (depending on the program).


Advantages of a GMAT Score

GMAT has certain unique advantages compared to other similar competitive exams. Firstly, it is accepted around the world and is the preferred score for MBA applications. Other than this, GMAT also offers an optional service that provides customized recommendations for courses that fit your needs.

For Experienced Test-takers

If the rigor and length of the GMAT is daunting, you can choose a shorter version of GMAT specifically designed for people with many years of experience. The GMAT, or Executive Assessment, is a condensed version of the GMAT that is better suited for Executive MBA programs.

For New Graduates (Freshers)

GMAT scores are used for MBA applications and applications to master’s programs in business or management. GMAT scores are accepted for programs such as the ISB YLP, Harvard 2+2 program, the Yale Silver Scholars program and the Booth Scholars Program. These programs are a boon for students in the final year of study who do not have work experience. Students can get admitted to the top B Schools and join after some work experience.


Convenience of GMAT

The GMAT doesn’t have an exam date: it can be taken on any day of your choice. If you choose to take the exam at a test center, slots are available any day all year round. If you choose to take the exam from the comfort of your home then slots are available 24 x 7.

GMAT can be taken in any of the 650 test centers in 114 countries. Since 2020, the GMAT can also be taken online from the convenience of your own home.

GMAT score is valid for five years. So you can choose to take the exam while studying and then apply to programs after you have gained more work experience.

Can Your Average GMAT Score Help in Your MBA Admission?

How do you know that your GMAT score is actually an average score? There might be a possibility that your ‘average score’ is not that average as you think. Usually, scoring a 690 on the GMAT is considered to be a good score to achieve. Statistically, the real average score for GMAT test takers around the world is 565.

So, ideally, our 690 Indian scorers should be called among the top scorers. But, as a matter of fact, the top schools don’t seem to agree upon this. Still, if you plan to get into schools like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and INSEAD then your GMAT score should be a 700+. Well, for some of the real average GMAT scorers the average score that hovers around is 540. But if you want to be a part of a top B-school then it should be above 700.

Well, it is true that what you scored on your GMAT cannot define your managerial potential. And also at times, the admission committees consider several other data points such as your work experience, industry type, and accomplishments.

It may not be a very good idea to generalise but most of the programs accepting candidates with a low GMAT score may not be as selective as the top programs. So, it may be the case that the filtering mechanism in the application process is not at par with the best MBA programs and thus every applicant has a chance to get admission to the B-school.

You may be wondering why the GMAT scores have risen so dramatically. It could be your engineer friend purposefully preparing for his GMAT exam with that solemn “busy, do-not-disturb” expression.

If you have prepared your mind to take the GMAT, then approaching an MBA consultant in India can help you. The MBA admission consultants are always there to assist you and will help you prepare with your essays, recommendations, resume, and interviews.

GMAT Score For Top MBA Programs

As elite MBA aspirants, you all have thought a fair deal about your GMAT scores. You know that the top global MBAs demand a high GMAT score. But every now and then you come across some facts – someone with a high GMAT score rejected by a school or someone with a so-so GMAT score accepted! If all this leaves you confused, you have come to the right place to seek your answers.

At Manya, after helping thousands of students get into their dream MBAs abroad, we have developed good insights about what GMAT score gets students into top programs. Let us put things in the right perspective for you in this article.


Understand How GMAT Scores Are Used

GMAT is an exam specially designed for MBA programs. Why? Because, unlike the GRE or other standardized tests, GMAT is more heavily based on logical decision making, a key skill in the business world. Hence, business schools screen candidates with high GMAT scores to be certain that they are well suited for the competitive business landscape.

This, coupled with the fact that there are thousands of applicants for a few hundred seats in every program, there emerges a ‘preferred GMAT score’ for every MBA program. Some programs give preference to certain scores on particular sections – Verbal, Quantitative, IR, or AWA – as well. No one can know the exact way in which GMAT scores are used, but one thing is certain – the higher the score, the better your chances.


The Average Scores Of Top MBA Programs

Let’s have a look at the average GMAT scores of some elite MBA programs across the globe. A study revealed the average scores of the top US MBA as follows. The top European programs demonstrate a similar picture.

  • Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management 732
  • University of Chicago – Booth School of Business 730
  • Harvard Business School 729
  • University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School 730
  • Stanford University – Graduate School of Business 737
  • UCLA – UCLA Anderson School of Management 719
  • University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business 717
  • Dartmouth College – Tuck School of Business 717
  • Columbia Business School 724
  • University of Virginia – Darden School of Business 712

Average 720

The key takeaway here is that most premier MBAs are looking for GMAT scores that hover around the coveted 720 points. For scholarships though, the scores would be higher – around 750.

BUT, and read this carefully, a 720+ GMAT score does not guarantee admission. It is also important to look at the bigger picture – the median GMAT score and the mid-80% range of scores. This information is available on application sections of all MBA programs and needs a careful review.


A Note For Indian Applicants

MBA aspirants from India tend to be Engineers by training and hence nail the GMAT Quantitative section more easily than the global average GMAT taker. This means that GMAT scores from India tend to be higher. Further, since Indian students are applying as international students for global MBAs, they tend to compete for fewer seats – roughly 30% of the class is earmarked for international students. This makes the whole game more competitive.

Additionally, although you are applying for global programs, you are most likely to be compared to candidates from your country and your background. This is the only practical way for schools to assess competencies in a neutral manner. What all this means is that, like it or not, Indian candidates need a higher GMAT score, about 20 points higher, than the averages stated above.


GMAT Scores in Another Perspective

As MBA admissions committees often state – GMAT is just one component, although a critical component, of the whole process. Your profile carries as much weight as your GMAT score. We have seen that rarely represented profiles are preferred over the typical ones. For example, Indian Army experience with a little lower than average GMAT is likely to be valued more than IT experience with a little more than average GMAT. So, do not delight or despair based purely on your GMAT score. If you have something unique to offer in terms of demographics, professional background, or life experiences, top schools are interested in your story!


So, What GMAT Score Will Get Me Into A Top MBA Program?

To conclude, higher GMAT scores will increase your chances of admission in elite MBAs. Shoot for a 730+ GMAT score for your ambitions to materialize. Lastly, pay attention to other elements of your profile to present a well-rounded application to your dream schools.

How Strict Is GMAT As A Requirement For MBAs Abroad?

You may have a few questions in your mind like;

This article will shed a lot of light on all of these questions.

Most elite MBA programs across the globe – those in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, as well as a few premier Indian MBAs – use the GMAT as an essential and significant component in their admissions decisions. In fact, the average GMAT scores of most top schools are fairly high. In a nutshell, if you aim for a top global MBA, there is no escaping the GMAT. How important is GMAT? It is a test that is solely designed with graduate-level business schools in mind.

But I Have Heard About MBAs without GMAT? You are right. There are a few alternatives for which a GMAT score is not required. Let’s quickly look at those.


MBA/Management Programs Without GMAT

Executive MBAs generally do not require a GMAT score. This is so because such programs are built for mid-career professionals. These candidates bring strong and diverse work experiences that enrich classroom discussions, thus undermining the GMAT score as a preferred admissions criteria.

Further, there are a few non-MBA management programs that accept students without GMAT scores. Such programs are more like diploma or certificate programs and do not offer anything close to a full-fledged MBA.


GRE In Place of GMAT

The GRE is a general graduate-level admissions test, not built for business or other particular programs. However, there are a few MBA programs that accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT. The GRE requirements for such programs are likely to be high. Also, while comparing candidates with the GRE and those with GMAT, the GMAT candidates are likely to be given preference. Once again, the GMAT emerges as a necessity.

You should apply with the GRE, only if you already have a good score (upward of 320/340) and cannot manage to score better on the GMAT. Planning for the GRE + MBA route, on the other hand, is not recommended.


IELTS and TOEFL in Place of GMAT

Is IELTS required for GMAT? IELTS or TOEFL are tests that judge your English competency, while the GMAT tests your managerial potential. There can be no substitute between the two. Yet, there are a few programs that accept students based purely on language test scores. What these schools are doing, essentially, is waiving off the GMAT or any other standardized test requirement!

Since there are no standardized test criteria, you can take a guess at the quality of the incoming class. There is no surprise, then, that MBA programs listed in any reputed rankings do not fall under this category. Basically, GMAT or IELTS have no substitute. Both GMAT and IELTS have separate ways to test students.


What If I Have A Poor GMAT Score?

Yes, this is a real pain point for many students. You have realized that a good GMAT score is essential, you studied hard, but couldn’t get your desired score. While there is no short-cut, the following steps can help you make reasonable progress.


Retaking The GMAT With Better Preparation

The GMAT requires a certain logical way of thinking, which can be developed with practice. So pull up your socks and seek guidance from GMAT experts. At Manya, we have a well-established GMAT offering across India. Reach out to us for more details.


Enhance Other Elements Of Your Profile

There are other components of your application – your background, work experience, personal stories, leadership experiences, extracurricular activities that carry a lot of weight in the MBA admission process. Pay attention to these if you are not able to get your desired GMAT score. Note that, after a fair GMAT attempt, you may derive more benefit from spending time on your profile and application essay, than on a yet-another GMAT attempt. So make a wise choice.

The gist of the whole GMAT saga is as follows:

  • There is no alternative to a great GMAT score if you are looking for a top-tier MBA program.
  • An MBA without GMAT is possible, but may not be worth the money and effort.
  • Give your best to get a top GMAT score. Take multiple attempts, if required.
  • Work on your applications, as much as you focus on your GMAT.


Skills Developed While Preparing for GMAT

When you prepare for GMAT, you are not only learning the concepts to ace the test, you will also develop skills that can help you both in your management studies and in your career. Here are some additional benefits of preparing for the GMAT:


Analyzing and Critical Thinking Skills

To ace the GMAT, self-evaluation and critical thinking are important. When you practice using the GMAT online test series, after each GMAT sample paper, it is important to look at the answer explanations, understand your own weaknesses and work to improve them. Before you decide to prepare by yourself (using the best books for GMAT preparation/ doing GMAT online preparation) or by joining prep classes (GMAT online courses) – you have to do self-analysis to understand which mode will be best for you. Even if you choose to seek support for your GMAT preparation, analyzing and critical thinking skills are involved in choosing the best option for you. The best study material is one that is accurate, effective, and easily accessible. Manya Princeton Review has standardized content, supportive trainers, and online content that are at par with the best in the world.


Planning and Time Management

Many people choose to prepare for the GMAT while they are working. This involves managing both their work, personal lives and also preparing for the GMAT. Even those who decide to prepare for the GMAT while studying, have to juggle many priorities and tight schedules. Not just planning, effective execution of the plan and disciplined approach is essential for success in acing the GMAT.


People Management

Utilizing all the resources available to you effectively is an important skill for a manager. One way to stay accountable for your goals is to tell your friends and family about your goals. Talking with them can help you stay motivated. While working towards a target GMAT score, you also learn to say no to people and events that will eat up your time. Of course, no goal is attainable without taking care of your health. Successful students who ace the GMAT learn to make smart choices and eat healthy foods, exercise at regular intervals and also spend time with their loved ones.


Taking Other Exams is Easier

The GMAT syllabus is useful for writing other exams too. Based on your GMAT preparation, you should be able to attempt the NMAT, which is accepted in many B-Schools in India. Quantitative and verbal skills learned while studying for the GMAT can also be applied to the NMAT.

A great MBA can help you achieve the career that you have always wanted. A good GMAT score can set your application apart and thus help you get into a great university/ MBA program. All that starts with a great GMAT score. So start your GMAT prep today!


Manya – The Princeton Review Advantage

Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants. Founded in 2002, Manya holds an impeccable track record of enabling more than 4 lac students to accomplish their study abroad dreams through its network of 47+ centers across India.

Manya has formed long-lasting global alliances with several market leaders in the education industry in order to maximize the benefits of its large service portfolio. Their list of esteemed partners and affiliations includes – The Princeton Review (TPR), Cambridge University Press (CUP), Cogito Hub, British Council, Tuding to name a few. Manya has also forged 600+ partnerships with international universities across top study abroad destinations.

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Is it possible to study MBA in USA without GMAT?

MBA without GMAT is offered by a few universities in USA. However, there are certain other criteria to be met to qualify for such MBA programs in the USA. Generally, a high GPA score or considerable work experience is required to qualify for MBA programs without GMAT in USA. Due to COVID, there are certain US universities that have waived of GMAT as a mandatory requirement for MBA in USA.

What GMAT score is required for admission to the top MBA programs in the USA?

At the top 20 business schools, the average GMAT score for the incoming class of 2022 is 700-733.

Can I pursue an MBA in Canada without taking the GMAT?

Yes, admission to MBA programs in Canada without a GMAT score or work experience is possible at some universities. Thompson Rivers University, Cape Breton University, Brock University, Vancouver Island University, and others are among these institutions.

Is the GMAT required to study abroad?

In many colleges around the world, the GMAT is used as a qualifier alongside other criteria such as SOP, work experience, resume, academic record, and so on.

Most of these universities have a cutoff point below which a student is unlikely to be admitted.

Which countries require the GMAT for MBA programs?

GMAT scores are accepted in over 110 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, GMAT scores are accepted in over 2,300 business schools for their 7,000 programmes.

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