Why Take the GMAT? 3 Main Uses of the Exam

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Maybe you’re getting ready to apply to business school, or just starting to think about what you’ll do after finishing up your undergraduate. Maybe you’re considering a career change or deciding whether or not you should go back to school for another degree. Maybe you just really like taking standardized tests. If you’re in one of these situations, you’ve probably considered taking the GMAT or another grad exam.

But why take the GMAT? What are the main GMAT uses? How is taking the GMAT different than taking the GRE or the LSAT? In this guide, I’ll explain the main uses of GMAT scores and help you decide whether or not taking the GMAT makes sense for your education and career goals.

 

What Are the Main GMAT Uses?

Most people take the GMAT to get into business school. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, over 6,000 graduate business programs at around 1,700 universities and organization around the world accept GMAT scores from applicants.

For a long time, GMAT scores were the only standardized test scores accepted by business school admissions committees. While more and more business schools are now accepting GRE scores from prospective applicants, the GMAT remains the primary standardized test that applicants take in order to get into business school.

So if you’re planning on going to business school, taking the GMAT and meeting your goal score is an important part of your application. According to a recent Poets & Quants survey, 65% of MBA admission consultants believe that admissions committees are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever before in deciding whether or not to admit applicants.

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Business programs rely on the GMAT to see if you can handle the rigorous academic classes of graduate school.

 

What Does the GMAT Test?

As I mentioned previously, the vast majority of people take the GMAT in order to apply to business school. And business schools, in turn, use GMAT scores to assess the academic preparedness of their applicants. But why? What does the GMAT test, and how do business schools use it to assess their applicants?

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) designed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). GMAC created the GMAT as a way for business schools to predict the academic success of their applicants. As such, the GMAT test the skills students need to succeed in MBA programs, including analytical writing, problem-solving, logic, and critical reasoning skills. For example, the Integrated Reasoning section measures your ability to evaluate information from a number of sources presented into different formats, including passages, graphs, and tables.

 

The GMAT is a computer adaptive test designed to test your preparedness for business school.
The GMAT is a computer adaptive test designed to test your preparedness for business school.

 

Why Do Business Schools Use the GMAT for Admissions?

You may be wondering why admissions committees look at GMAT scores, rather than relying solely on grades from your undergraduate coursework.

First of all, as we discussed above, the GMAT is specifically designed to test the types of skills you’ll need to succeed in an MBA program. That means that the questions are formulated to see how well you’ll do solving the types of problems you’ll often encounter during both your MBA program and after, once you’ve entered the workforce. Your GMAT score gives admissions committees an idea of whether or not you’ll be able to handle the rigorous course load at their business schools.

Moreover, the GMAT is a standardized test. The content and style of GMAT questions is the same for all test-takers across the world, while the difficulty and content covered in undergraduate coursework varies widely from class to class. Using GMAT scores helps schools see how different applicants measure up against each other in a standardized way.

Finally, many business schools care about applicants’ GMAT scores because they contribute to schools’ national rankings. The higher the average GMAT score of the admitted applicants to a business school, the higher that school’s rankings; the higher a school’s ranking, the more (and better) applicants they attract.

 

The GMAT assesses your ability to use skills like evaluating data.
The GMAT assesses your business skills, like evaluating data.

 

What Are Other GMAT Uses?

Your GMAT score can have an impact on more than whether or not you’re accepted into business school. Other uses of GMAT scores include qualifying for merit-based scholarships and getting a job after business school.

Business school can be extremely expensive. There are multiple ways to fund business school, including taking out federal student loans, private loans, or money that you or your family have saved. Unfortunately, not every student has access to savings, and it can take years and years (and thousands and thousands of dollars in interest) to pay back loans.

Scholarships, on the other hand, are a great way to get money for business school that you don’t have to pay back. Scholarships are mainly merit-based — meaning that they’re given to applicants who’ve shown that they’re exceptional candidates for one reason or another. While the selection criteria for some scholarships can be incredibly vague, having a strong GMAT score is certainly one way to demonstrate that you’re a stellar candidate. By boosting your GMAT score, you’re boosting your likelihood of getting a scholarship.

Your GMAT score can be useful beyond the classroom, as well. Many consulting companies, such as McKinsey and Accenture, ask applicants to report their GMAT scores on their job applications. Indeed, posters on formats like Beat the GMAT and GMATClub have said that interviewers also specifically asked them about their GMAT scores as they applied for jobs. Other insiders on these forums have said that competitive consulting companies won’t look twice at applicants who don’t report their standardized test scores.

Internships and jobs at highly successful consulting firms can be even more difficult to get than admissions into business school. After all, consulting firms receive applications from students from many different business schools. There may be hundreds, or even thousands, of applicants all competing for one internship. Since these firms use GMAT scores as a way of assessing applicants, it follows that applying to consulting jobs and internships is one of the most important GMAT uses.

 

Business school can be expensive. A solid GMAT score can improve your chances of securing a scholarship.
Business school can be expensive. A solid GMAT score can improve your chances of securing a scholarship.

 

Why Take the GMAT?

Why take the GMAT? Well, if you’re applying to business school, taking the GMAT is an important part of your application process. Even though most business schools now accept GRE scores from their applicants, GMAT scores are still considered the most important standardized test scores for MBA applicants.

What are other uses of GMAT scores? Aside from helping you get into business school, GMAT scores can also help you get scholarships for business school and stand out as an applicant for competitive internships.

If you’re not planning on going to business school, you probably don’t need to take the GMAT. GMAT scores are not seen as applicable to any graduate programs besides business school. Most other graduate programs require the GRE, which is seen as a more general test of graduate school preparedness than the GMAT, which is seen as assessing business school preparedness specifically. If you’re looking to go to graduate school for anything besides business, you probably won’t want to take the GMAT.


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Taking the GMAT can help increase your changes of getting a competitive internship or job after school.
Taking the GMAT can help increase your changes of getting a competitive internship or job after school.

 

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve learned about GMAT uses, let’s talk more about what’s on the test. As I mentioned in the article, the GMAT is specifically designed to measure preparedness for business school. But what does that mean? Check out our What is the GMAT guide to learn more about the structure and history of the test.

Wondering what makes a good GMAT score? Well, the answer varies depending on your goals. In our guide to what makes a good GMAT score, we’ll walk you through the possible ranges of GMAT scores and tell you how to interpret whether or not your GMAT score is “good.”

Concerned about the other parts of your MBA application? In our guide to what makes a good GPA for business school, we’ll talk about what make a good GPA for different business schools. We’ll also offer tips for ways that you can boost your application if you’re worried that your GPA won’t be good enough to get you into the business school of your choice.

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