The Tuesday Q & A: Can a Good GMAT Score Cover Up My Weaknesses?


Will a high GMAT score be a good cover-up for some weaknesses in my profile?



You know how a cat will hide under a chair, and it thinks it’s hidden from the humans in the room…but its tail is still sticking out and you’re like… “I can still see you, kitty”?

Mmmm yeah. That lack of work experience, those murky career goals, that lack of an undergraduate degree, etc…. that’s the cat. And no matter how good your GMAT is… well, “I can still see you, Kitty.”

And more importantly, so can the adcom.

The “cover-up” is not a good strategy. Adcoms are way too smart for that. [Come on – give ’em some credit, folks!] They read hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of apps every year; they can see a good candidate from a mile away. And they can see someone who’s trying to hide something from even further. You’re not gonna be able to hide your weak spots from them.

A GMAT score doesn’t cover up anything. But if it’s good, it helps everything. Take a low college GPA, for example. A high GMAT score isn’t going to undo that GPA, but it WILL show the adcom that you’re smart and that what happened in college was a minor blip, and not indicative of what you’re capable of. After all, that was so long ago. But look at that GMAT score! That’s a much better sign of what’s to come from you.

So, yeah, the GMAT can definitely help. But all too often people make the mistake of thinking a GMAT score can carry them into a top program. That all they need is a 750 and it’s smooooth sailing into HBS.  But let me tell you, folks, there are plenty of people who score a 750+ on their GMAT…and get rejected from top programs.

While the GMAT is a good equalizer of applicants, it’s not the only thing that adcoms look at. And it’s the REST of your materials that are important: the essays (where you lay out your plans/goals/personal brand), your resume (where they see your experience), and your LORs (where your superiors highlight your achievements and why you’re going to go on and do AWESOME things).

So while the GMAT is indeed important, and it can absolutely HELP your applications, it’s not going to hide a lack of work experience, or weak career goals or irrelevant and poorly articulated LORs. And that’s the case even for the guy who manages to score an 800.

What can you do about those weaknesses, then? Well, instead of wasting your time trying to cover ’em up, instead focus on highlighting your strengths, showcasing your awesome work experience, and all that leadership potential you’ve got.  And, if you have space in your app and it makes sense to do this, you can even ADDRESS your weaknesses. Show ‘em that you KNOW what’s up, you know what you need to improve, and tell ‘em how getting an MBA is gonna help you do that.

Hope that helps,

Jon Frank, Admissionado Founder

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