The graduate management admissions test (GMAT) is, for many, the key that will unlock the gate to the MBA program of their choice. However, it is also a very competitive test, and one that only a percentage of test takers do well on the first time. Just how important is it that you have an impressive GMAT score, and what difference will that make in the business world? There is no one simple answer that applies to everyone. However, there are some basic factors to consider:
It’s all about the MBA
As you well know, you are taking the GMAT to get into an MBA program (and hopefully the one of your choosing). However, that doesn’t mean that the GMAT is the only thing you have going for you when it comes to your MBA program application. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you must do well on the GMAT in order to get into an MBA program. While there is no denying that a high GMAT score can open doors to MBA programs that might otherwise not be options for you, it’s just as true that you can get into an MBA program with a relatively low GMAT score, given you can compensate on other parts of the application. Plenty of low GMAT scorers have gotten into the MBA program of their dreams, based on their overall experience and aptitude, which can’t always be measured by a test.
Negative Correlations with the GMAT
Some recent studies have revealed some shocking statistics that seem to support the argument that a high GMAT score may not be as ideal as some would naturally think. As as matter if fact, high GMAT scores are proven to be linked to some character traits that aren’t so good for business. These include individualism, avoidance of ambiguity/uncertainty (which can all but stomp out entrepreneurism), a negatively-skewed ethical standpoint, and even chauvinism. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone who does well on the GMAT expresses these traits . . . but it is some worthwhile food for thought.
Life after the GMAT
Whichever way you cut it, the GMAT matters most when you want to get into an MBA program, and matters very little once you are out of school and in the real world. To work in business, you will have to orient yourself with people who represent a wide array of personality types, cultures, and educational backgrounds—some, even, who did better (or worse) on the GMAT than you did. How will your GMAT score affect your dealings in the business world, once you have established your place in it? The simple answer is that it won’t.
While there is no denying that the GMAT is important, and for a very specific reason, that importance only goes so far. When it comes down to it, there is no substitute for well-roundedness. The GMAT is just one small piece of the much bigger puzzle in the search for business success.