Does the GMAT Matter After Graduation?

High GMAT scores are a requirement for acceptance to thousands of different graduate programs, from top tier MBAS to EBMAs to PhD programs in business management. More than a quarter-million students take the exam every year. 

Admissions officers see GMAT scores as one of the most reliable predictors for future success. A high score signifies not only an applicant’s technical and quantitative proficiency, but also his or her ability to perform at a professional level. 

But do GMAT scores matter after graduation? The short answer is yes. Here’s why.

What exactly does the GMAT test for?

To understand why elite business schools and fortune 500 companies take GMAT scores so seriously, we need to ask another question first:

What exactly does the GMAT test for?

At first glance, the GMAT seems like a fairly standard exam; it tests for command over basic algebra, arithmetic, geometry, grammar, and multi-source data analysis. However, on a deeper level, the exam evaluates an applicant’s critical thinking skills and creativity–two essential traits in the modern, highly competitive business world. 

Why is a good GMAT score so important?

The GMAT isn’t about rote memorization. Every GMAT question has multiple paths to a solution. However, some paths are significantly shorter than others. The GMAT doesn’t test how much applicants know; rather, a successful applicant demonstrates what they can do with that knowledge in a narrow time frame. To do well on the GMAT, applicants must demonstrate a strong ability to analyze and contextualize information with speed and efficiency. 

GMAT performance has become one of the most decisive factors for business school admissions committees because the score isn’t just a score. It’s a representation of the candidate’s traits and abilities. A high score reflects focus, diligence, hard work, intellectual aptitude, and time management skills. A high score signifies not only a candidate’s technical and quantitative proficiency, but also his or her ability to perform at a professional level. 

Is taking the GMAT a must?

While every top tier business school requires GMAT scores, not every company does. A 2018 Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) survey showed that only 6% of surveyed companies use GMAT scores in their employee selection process. Of the remaining companies, 21% stated that while a high GMAT score can help a job candidate, the GMAT doesn’t typically play a significant role in the selection process. The remaining 72% said they don’t consider GMAT scores at all.

However, the 6% that do use GMAT scores to vet job candidates are the cream-of-the-crop in the business world. All major banking, investment, and consulting firms, including Accenture and Goldman Sachs, require high GMAT scores for all positions–even internships. 

Most of these firms specialize in quantitative-intensive labor. As a result, the quantitative section tends to carry more weight. For example, if a candidate has an overall score of 680, but a quantitative score of 51, he or she has a good chance of getting an interview at a major firm.

However, there are diminishing returns. Many recruiters believe that a candidate’s efficiency doesn’t increase proportionately to the score. Let’s say candidate A has a 3.2 GPA, candidate B has a 3.5 GPA, and candidate C has a 3.8 GPA. The difference between candidates A and B is the same as the difference between candidates B and C. However, the value candidate B adds to the company compared to candidate A is a lot greater than the value candidate C adds compared to candidate B. This applies to GMAT scores, too. 

How to get a high GMAT score

The advanced skills that business schools and employers look for aren’t solely the result of inborn traits. With a positive attitude, drive, and high quality tutoring, these skills can be learned. Effective GMAT prep trains test takers in the crucial areas that promote logical thinking and mental acuity, and the work habits, determination, and rigor acquired throughout the preparation process lasts for a lifetime. 

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