GMAT, GRE, & GPA…oh my!
Admissions, July 06, 2017 | 0 comments
Before we get to the details, it’s important to note that our evaluation process is truly holistic. Each applicant stands out for different reasons, and it’s possible to make up for an area in which you’re less strong in another where you really excel. In the simplest sense, the application consists of your academic record/predictors (GMAT/GRE and GPA), your work experience (as highlighted in your resume and throughout the application), your essays, letters of recommendation, and the interview. (Of course, there are a number of characteristics we look for within each of those categories—stay tuned to Tuck 360, where we’ll talk about them!) Tuck does not assign these components various weights or importance, there isn’t a special formula that spits out “admit” or “deny,” and we thoroughly review every single application, regardless of someone's stats (every application is seen by at least two members of Ad Com).
Aptly called the Graduate Management Admissions Test, the GMAT was designed specifically with business schools in mind. That said, Tuck admits students who submit the GMAT as well as those who submit the more broadly used GRE (and both groups are successful in the program). You are not at any sort of disadvantage simply for submitting one instead of the other. We still see more GMAT scores, but here are a few reasons you might apply with a GRE score instead; you’re pursuing a dual degree and need a GRE score for the second program, you took the GRE a few years ago in preparation for a future, type-not-yet-determined grad school (both tests are valid for 5 years), OR you feel that your aptitude is better represented through the GRE (taking practice tests for both can give you a sense of what you might score). Other things of note regarding the GMAT/GRE:
- Along with past academic performance in undergraduate and graduate study, the GMAT/GRE helps admissions gain a sense of an applicant’s ability to handle the rigor of the MBA program.
- If you are not satisfied with your test scores, and feel that you can do better based on how you’ve been scoring during practice exams, consider taking it again—typically, schools will look at your highest score.
- We will note a higher quant/verbal score, even if your composite score isn’t improved. However, we do NOT combine individual quant/verbal scores from different tests to create a new composite score.
- If you’ve only taken the test once, and scored below our average, we might wonder why you didn’t give it another shot.
- Speaking of our average, make sure you’re aware of it (and 80% ranges) for all of your target schools. While our holistic evaluation won’t count you out for scoring below average, it’s a good benchmark for understanding how competitive you might be within the pool.
- We still don’t see enough GRE scores to report a statistically significant GRE average.
- There are a lot of GMAT and GRE prep materials you can take advantage before shelling out the cash for a third party test-prep tutor.
- If possible, get this out of the way early so you can focus on other aspects of the application like essays, interview prep, and school visits.
Academic Performance (GPA)
As mentioned earlier, your past academic performance and behavior helps us determine whether you’ll be able to handle Tuck’s rigorous MBA program. For some of you, this is great news because you killed it in college. For others, it can be nerve-wracking because your grades aren’t all that stellar and there’s no way to call for a do-over. Remember—it’s a holistic process! Moreover, your GPA is not evaluated in isolation. We consider the rigor of your course load and major, whether grades trend up or down, and other demands on your time, such as working while in school or serious involvement in extracurricular activities. It’s possible we’ll still have concerns, but looking at the big picture helps.
- Again, look at school averages. Is it over if you’re below average? Absolutely not—but depending on how far below you are, it could be difficult. Know what you’re up against.
- If there’s a particular class or semester that really stands out as poor, let us know what was going on by using the optional essay (just don’t make excuses). A few sentences should be plenty.
- When we talk about rigorous academics, we’re often referring to quantitative concepts. If you come from a less quantitative background, or if your undergraduate performance was not as strong, you may want to consider taking some additional classes to demonstrate your ability.
- Financial accounting, statistics, microeconomics, and finance are good options.
- If you’re going to take supplemental courses, do so within the resources available to you (time, cost, etc.). That said, a class with an actual grade is most helpful.
- It’s not just coming in with a skillset though, your GPA (in conjunction with other things) can speak to your academic work ethic as well. We’re not looking for a class of geniuses, but we are looking for a class of contributors (in the classroom, in your study group, during the FYP, etc.), who will be able to successfully complete two academically challenging years.
- If you’ve already completed another graduate degree, we will look at your academic record in that program as well. Sometimes it will show a stronger record than undergrad (which can be reassuring). Because it’s not required of all applicants (nor seen from the majority), we do not track or report grad school GPAs. It is simply another data point.
We hope this blog was helpful! For some of the more nitty-gritty, logistical info, check out this page. Stay tuned—we’ll break down other aspects of the application as the season goes on. Until then, good luck!