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The Tuesday Q&A: Can a High GMAT Score Save an Application?

August 23, 2011 :: Admissionado Team

Got a question about those MBA applications? Stuck on an essay? Need a little clarity? Chances are, you’re not the only one. Thankfully, Admissionado founder and Harvard MBA Jon Frank has an answer… for everything admissions-related. And he’s going to share all of his answers with you, right here, every Tuesday.

Today, let’s talk about the GMAT. Can that score overcome other shortcomings in your application? See what Jon has to say below….


I dream to study abroad for my MBA but I’m worried that I’m too….normal. My undergraduate university was not a top one but a normal local college, and I have been working for 7 years now. I am wondering if I should even apply for b-school because my background is weak. Can a high GMAT score outweigh other shortcomings in my MBA application?


The short answer is yes, a high GMAT score CAN help a weaker application. Kill it on your GMAT and you will certainly have a shot at an MBA in the US.  If you break 700, you should be in the top-50 range!  Now, as you get closer and closer to 760, 770, 780 etc. you will be able to rise up the ranks into the top 30, top 20, and top 10.

But for you especially, given the fact that your school is not a top-ranked one (and you don’t have a great work experience either, it sounds like), the GMAT becomes VERY important.  If you can do very well in that test, you will have good chances this year.  So get a 760…and you will be in business!

Now, of course there is even MORE that you can do.  The most obvious thing is to bring out some amazing WORK experience.  If you have a great job—perhaps with a well-known company, ideally even an international or US-based company—you could look even MORE impressive.  That is, you got a job DESPITE the fact that you didn’t go to an amazing college.  “Gosh, that must have been hard to do!”  I can hear the adcoms thinking that already.  So great work experience can help to overcome a weaker, or “normal” college background.

And finally, you can make yourself stand out through EXTRA-CURRICULAR activities.  Do you volunteer anywhere?  Do you have any LEADERSHIP experience OUTSIDE the office?  If yes, that is also a great thing that can make a “normal” application stand out from the crowd.  The combination of extra-curricular work and LEADERSHIP go a very long way in MBA applications.

So never fear!  Just because you didn’t go to an amazing school, or just because you feel that your background is too “normal,” there is still a TON of hope for you.  Just follow our simple steps, and you will be in great shape this year!

Good luck!
— Jon Frank

Got a question you want to ask Jon? Email info@admissionado.com!