U.S. News & World Report today released the 2016 Best Graduate School rankings. As our friends at mbaMission have reminded us, all rankings should be approached with skepticism. “Fit” (be it academic, personal, or professional) is a far more important factor when choosing a school.
That said, here’s how the top 15 American business schools stack up this round:
1. Stanford University
2. Harvard University
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. University of Chicago (Booth)
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
6. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
7. University of California, Berkeley (Haas)
8. Columbia University
9. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
10. University of Virginia (Darden)
11. New York University (Stern)
11. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ross)
13. Duke University (Fuqua)
13. Yale University
15. University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson)
See the full list and check out the rankings by MBA programs and specialties, here.
So you’ve taken the test and you aren’t entirely happy with your score. How do you decide whether to re-take the test?
It might be the case that your score is close to what you wanted, but not quite all the way there. Alternatively, you may be trying to decide whether to stick with the GMAT or switch to the GRE (and, if so, I recommend you follow that link I just inserted).
If you already know that you do want to stick with the GMAT, read on.
Should I re-take?
There are two main reasons someone might want to go for a higher score. The most common is that you think a better score will improve your chances of getting into business school or of obtaining certain internships once in school. Some people also feel that achieving a certain score is a personal goal and they want to meet that challenge.
If you’re trying to gauge whether a better score will make a big difference, start researching. What’s the average or median score for last year’s incoming class at your preferred schools? (Look at whatever data the school publishes—different schools might publish data in different forms.) Are you in range? Are you strong? If you are already above the average or median at that school, then adding 30 points might not make as big a difference as, say, earning a promotion at work.
Check GPA statistics as well. You have a little leeway for your GMAT score to be lower if your GPA is higher than the average for admitted students; if your GPA is lower, however, then it would be better to have an above-average GMAT. (Also, all of this just means that you have a chance, not that you’ll definitely get in. These are only two of many parts to your application!)
Are You Prepared for B-School Admissions?
—for an invaluable series of free workshops to help you put together a successful MBA application, from your GMAT score to application essays to admissions interviews to post-acceptance internships. We hope you will join us for as many events in this series as you can. Please sign up for each sessions separately via the links below—space is limited.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 (7:30- 9:00 PM EDT) SIGN UP HERE
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 (7:30- 9:00 PM EDT) SIGN UP HERE
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Most business schools now accept both the GMAT and the GRE, so which one should you take? I’ve written on the topic before but it’s been nearly a year and I’ve got some updates.
The conventional wisdom has been that the math is easier on the GRE. Though many schools do accept the GRE, rumors abound that students who take this test are at a bit of a disadvantage because they are expected to do better on the (easier) quant section. Anecdotally, we have heard a few admissions officers admit that they do think about this (strictly off the record, of course). Most admissions officers, though, have said this doesn’t matter to them at all, including several officers at the top 10 schools.
So we’ve come up with a series of decisions to help you make this choice. The first three questions are “deal-breakers”—that is, a certain answer will point you definitively to a specific test (the GMAT, as it happens). The fourth question is…murkier. We’ll address that in a little bit.
#1: Do all of “your” schools accept the GRE?
This one is obvious. All business schools (that ask for a standardized test score) accept the GMAT. Most—but not all—accept the GRE. If you want to apply to any schools that require the GMAT, such as London Business School MBA (at the time of this publication), then you’ll be taking the GMAT.
#2: Do any of “your” schools prefer the GMAT?
Most schools that accept both tests don’t express a preference between the two. Some schools, though, do say that the prefer the test. They publish this preference right on their web site, so go look up all of your schools and see what they say about the GMAT / GRE requirement for admissions.
As of the date of this article, Columbia, Haas (Berkeley) and Anderson (UCLA) all state that they prefer the GMAT, even though they do accept the GRE. If you want to apply to one of these schools, I recommend that you take the GMAT. (Note: these aren’t the only three schools that prefer the GMAT; I just picked out the three most well-known ones that do. You still need to research your schools!)
#3: Do you want to go into banking or management consulting after b-school?
The major banks and consulting firms ask for GMAT scores when you apply. (Some of them even ask for undergraduate GPA and SAT scores. I think that data is irrelevant after someone has a b-school GPA and GMAT scores but I’m not the one making the hiring decisions!)
The round three deadlines for business schools are right around the corner! Are you still working to hit your target GMAT score? Use the chart below to check the deadlines for the top 25 business schools, and evaluate whether you have enough time to prep and retake the official exam.
Looking for some guidance to maximize your study time? Our upcoming February GMAT Boot Camps are designed to prep you in just two weeks. Be prepared for intensive in-class work paired with hours of one-on-one coaching that will get you ready for the exam quickly, without sacrificing content knowledge.
We’re running a special promotion for our February Boot Camps only. Get $500 off with code CAMP500—but hurry, this promotion is only valid this month! There are still a few spots left in our upcoming boot camps (New York City and Live Online). Check out the full schedule and see all that’s included!
|School||Round 3 Deadline|
|Harvard University||April 6, 2015|
|Stanford University||April 1, 2015|
|University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)||March 26, 2015|
|University of Chicago (Booth)||April 7, 2015|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)||N/A|
|Northwestern University (Kellogg)||April 1, 2015|
|University of California–Berkeley (Haas)||March 11, 2015|
|Columbia University||April 15, 2015|
|Dartmouth College (Tuck)||April 1, 2015|
|New York University (Stern)||March 15, 2015|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)||March 23, 2015|
|University of Virginia (Darden)||April 1, 2015|
|Yale University||April 23, 2015|
|Duke University (Fuqua)||March 19, 2015|
|University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)||March 24, 2015|
|University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)||April 15, 2015|
|Cornell University (Johnson)||March 11, 2015|
|Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)||March 15, 2015|
|University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flager)||March 13, 2015|
|Emory University (Goizueta)||March 13, 2015|
|Indiana University–Bloomington (Kelley)||March 01, 2015|
|Washington University in St. Louis (Olin)||February 15, 2015 (Next: April 1)|
|Georgetown University (McDonough)||April 1, 2015|
|University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)||February 23, 2015|
|University of Washington (Foster)||March 15, 2015|
The Graduate Management Admission Test, better known as the GMAT®, is a standardized test used in the admissions process for business school and other specialized Master’s programs. The exam measures certain skills that the business schools care about, most notably Executive Reasoning skills. It does not test any specific business knowledge.
When is the GMAT given?
You can take the GMAT year-round, nearly any day of the week (though they limit you to 5 sittings in a 12-month period and require a wait of 31 days between tests). The exam is given on a computer and is known as a “CAT.”
What is a CAT?
A CAT is a computer-adaptive test: the test actually adapts itself to you while you’re taking it! Two of the four sections on the GMAT, the Quantitative and Verbal sections, are adaptive. Each of these two sections begins with a random, approximately medium-level question. The computer chooses each subsequent question based upon your collective performance to that point in the section.
The practical implications are important. First, every test taker will take a different exam with a different mix of questions, but the test feels hard for everyone, since the test will just keep getting harder until it finds a particular person’s limit. Second, the scoring is pretty peculiar; it’s important to understand how the scoring works.
Want to try your hand at a practice test? Take our free, full-length practice exam here.
How is the GMAT Scored?
Tests you took in school were generally based on the percentage of questions answered correctly: the more you got right, the higher the score you received. As a result, you have been trained to take your time and try to get everything right when you take a test. This general strategy does not work on computer-adaptive sections of the GMAT because, strangely enough, the quant and verbal scores are not based on the percentage of questions answered correctly. On the GMAT, most people answer similar percentages of questions correctly, typically in the 50% to 70% range (even at higher scoring levels!).
How is that possible? The first thing to know: the GMAT is not a school test. The quant section is not really a math test, and the verbal section is not really a grammar test. Of course, you do need to know how to handle those topics. The test writers are really interested, however, in knowing how good you are at making decisions and managing scarce resources. (That’s the second time we’ve linked to that same article. Go read it!)
Choosing the right MBA program for your needs can be challenging. How do you identify the best one for your specific personal, educational, and professional goals?
An important element of your business school experience will be your fellow students—the other aspiring MBAs with whom you will be living and studying every day. Using Class of 2016 profile statistics from the top ten U.S. programs (according to U.S. News & World Report 2015), we at mbaMission have created this infographic to help show how the different programs compare. Enjoy!
The round two deadlines for business schools are right around the corner, which means that we start hearing from students who are planning to apply during round two but are worried because they haven’t quite hit their target GMAT score. Sound like you? Use the chart below to check the deadlines for the top 25 business schools, and evaluate whether you have enough time to prep and retake the official exam.
Looking for some guidance to maximize your study time? Our upcoming December GMAT Boot Camps are designed to prep you in just two weeks. Be prepared for intensive in-class work paired with hours of one-on-one coaching that will get you ready for the exam quickly, without sacrificing content knowledge. There are still a few spots open in our December Boot Camps (New York City and Live Online). Check out the full schedule and see all that’s included!
|School||Round 2 Deadline|
|Harvard University||Monday, January 05, 2015|
|Stanford University||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)||Sunday, January 05, 2014|
|University of Chicago (Booth)||Tuesday, January 06, 2015|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)||Thursday, January 08, 2015|
|Northwestern University (Kellogg)||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|University of California–Berkeley (Haas)||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|Columbia University||Final Application Deadline: April 09, 2015|
|Dartmouth College (Tuck)||Tuesday, January 06, 2015|
|New York University (Stern)||Saturday, November 15, 2014|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)||Saturday, March 14, 2014|
|University of Virginia (Darden)||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|Yale University||Thursday, January 08, 2015|
|Duke University (Fuqua)||Monday, January 05, 2015|
|University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)||Tuesday, January 06, 2015|
|University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|Cornell University (Johnson)||Wednesday, January 07, 2015|
|Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)||Sunday, January 04, 2015|
|University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flager)||Friday, December 12, 2014|
|Emory University (Goizueta)||Friday, November 14, 2014|
|Indiana University–Bloomington (Kelley)||Sunday, March 01, 2015|
|Washington University in St. Louis (Olin)||Saturday, November 15, 2014|
|Georgetown University (McDonough)||Monday, January 05, 2015|
|University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)||Monday, January 12, 2015|
|University of Washington (Foster)||Saturday, November 15, 2014|
Last week, I attended the annual GMAT Summit, held by the fine folks at GMAC (who own / make the GMAT), and I have some interesting tidbits to share with you.
It really is a myth
You know what I’m going to say already, don’t you? The first 7 (or 10, or 5) questions are not worth more than the questions later in the exam. I’ve written about this topic before but I’m going to mention it once again because of something that happened at the conference.
Fanmin Guo, Ph. D., Vice President of Psychometric Research at GMAC, was answering questions after a presentation on the test algorithm. A couple of people were peppering him with questions about this myth and apparently just didn’t seem to believe that it could possibly be true that the early questions aren’t worth more. One of the questioners also made a pretty significant faulty assumption in his arguments—and now I’m worried that an article is going to pop up trying to revive this debate. I don’t want any of my students led astray on this topic.
First, to understand why the early questions actually aren’t worth any more than the later ones, see the article I linked a couple of paragraphs back.
Second: here was the faulty assumption that I heard:
“You said that the earlier questions aren’t worth any more than the later ones. So you’re telling us that students should spend the same amount of time on every question.”
Dr. Guo was saying the first part: that the location of a question on the test doesn’t impact its weighting in the overall score. He and the other GMAC folks weren’t saying anything, though, about how you should take the test.
In fact, it would be silly to spend exactly the same amount of time on every question. Some questions are harder than others. In addition, you have various strengths and weaknesses in terms of both accuracy and speed. There are, in fact, very good reasons not to spend the same amount of time on each question. All Dr. Guo was saying was that the location of the problem in the section is not one of those reasons.
So, if you read something that says that you should spend more time on the earlier questions, roll your eyes and click away. Alternatively, if you read something that concludes that you should spend the same amount of time on every question, drop that source as well. Take a look at the data in my other article to see that GMAC actually does know what it’s doing and the GMAT is not just a test of how you perform on the first 7 or 10 questions.
GMATPrep offers more data
GMAC has been building more score reporting functionality into GMATPrep to give us a better idea of how we do when we take the official practice CATs. In fact, this capability has already launched! I need to go download the newest version of GMATPrep to see exactly what’s offered (and I’ll report back to you once I’ve done so), but they’ve started to offer data for sub-categories such as question type and content area.