March 18, 2008

Consulting Recruitment - Relevance of GMAT score / GMAT wisdom!

GMAT is a pain for so many.We stress about GMAT scores before applying to business schools. We debate endlessly on its relevance and what one could conclude about someone on basis of GMAT scores. We argue the reputation of schools based on their average GMAT. Whether you love it or hate it, everyone worries about GMAT some time in their MBA lives.

Unfortunately, the specter of GMAT will not leave you even when you apply to some consulting firms. It so happens that some of them will ask you for your GMAT score. Some encourage you to specify your score, and we don't know what it means if you are not sufficiently encouraged to disclose your score. Now is this score critical to their decision making process? I don't know. Do those with higher GMAT do better in their consulting lives? I don't know. Is it a screening process? I don't know. Is it just to weed out someone if their remaining application is weak? I don't know. In the absence of hard data the answer to all questions is I don't know. But is it asked for? Yes.

I remember an year ago during my application time that in one of the forums someone posted a message that consulting firms require GMAT and a whole bunch of people began to attack him as if he made the policy. Like we learn in our OB classes (I'm twisting it a little), there are "type A" issues - those you know the way they are, and there are "type B" - those you wish they were like. GMAT is type 'A' - whatever you think, it's out there and it gets attention.

So, my GMAT wisdom,

1. Don't underestimate its importance - a good score will bolster your application for top schools, and don't forget that some schools actually try to lift their reputation by actually touting incoming GMAT averages. The scores also get asked by some companies for whatever reason. It doesn't matter what you think - if you ignore all the signs out there, you are being dumb.

2. It's actually not that hard - With some intelligent preparation and diligence, there's no reason why you can't do it well.

3. A high score is no reason to strut - since there seems to be no conclusive evidence about what a high GMAT score even means in terms of general ability, it's best not to infer too much about anyone based on GMAT scores. I can tell you with certainty that here at INSEAD we have those with lower GMAT scores who still happen to be super smart and beat many others hollow in many areas. I actually see no correlation at all based on subjective observation. The only "macro" indicator is that all top schools have 700+ averages, and we don't even know how to interpret it (cause-effect unclear).

On the left column of this blog post there are some GMAT links of my past posts that might help you somewhat in your preparation.


HappyBunny said...

Good post! I think school post stats just to put ideas in our head. Anyone who did good on critical reasoning on GMAT should find fallacies with these stats. Also, I never understood why do companies care about standard test scores. I remember when I was applying to consulting firms and banks after college, they ask you to specify SAT score. Well, you never know what they do with it. It's better to be ready then sorry.

JulyDream said...

Definitely good to know, but what a pain in the arse. ;) My opinion - you simply state with confidence what you scored and move on. There's nothing to do about it now. Furthermore, someone saw more than a GMAT score as you did get into business school.

Anonymous said...

MVP, can you ask INSEAD to waive the classes and exams for you ? I mean this way you could blog 24/7 and everybody would be happy.

DTLF said...

Introvert? You don't say.

Do "I"s have a tendency to write? Do engineer-background I's have a tendency to write informative, productive posts to world acclaim?

I've got your back on this; just take down Zanat0s in the Google ranking.

necromonger said...


Well, I tend to write and I do classify myself as an "I" :) I would say some engineer-background "I"'s tend to write useful posts I guess ;)

Zanat0s - guess he's ahead with his one year lead ;) I'll pursue!

CMOTPT said...

GMAT score is very important.I have seen many a GMAT scores in the families of my relatives and friends(that mean I know the boys and girls for long)and I found more intelligent the boy is higher is the GMAT score.Among the 45 known boys and girls who had undertaken GMAT exam one was known as most intelligent since his early school days got the score of 780 and next two best boys got 740 each.Among some apperently very smart and handsome boys none got more than 650 in GMAT which were comparable to their performances in their college degrees.Therefore GMAT is a much better indicator of a candidate's suitability for MBA compared to the eassys,recomdation letters etc which can be manipulated.I know influential parents could arrange excellent recomendation letters for their children seeking MBA admission in top US Business schools.Things like GMAT score,Quality of academic degrees(Quality of the college and University and their marks and grades in exam etc),Job profile(Quality of the Company and nature of job performed etc.) should be the main consideration for selecting candidates for MBA programme.Top Business Schools in USA and other countries should rethink about their selection process. Dr.J.Sarkar,Head of Medical Services of a Major Port Organisation in India.