Last week, I read an article on Poets and Quants written by John A. Byrne called “What an Average GMAT Will Get You”. The article implied that you need an above average GMAT (700+) to get into a top MBA program. As Manager of Recruiting & Admissions here at Ivey, I don’t believe this to be true.
At Ivey, our team considers ALL parts of the application: undergraduate or graduate grades, GMAT, work experience, essays, reference letters, and the interview. While I think the GMAT is an important criterion, it is not THE criterion.
I think the most important thing applicants can do is to deliver a balanced application. What do I mean by balance? If you feel one part of your application is less than average (ie. Grades/GMAT), balance it with something that is above average (ie. Work/volunteer accomplishments).
You could do this with work experience. The average years of work experience for the current class is 5 years. What do you do if you have less? Focus your application on the quality of that experience and the impact you have made. More than 5 years? Focus your application on the depth and breadth of that experience.
You could also achieve balance with grades/GMAT. Our average GMAT is around 670. What should you do if you have less than this? Our advice is to highlight your leadership, teamwork, problem solving, and decision making skills.
Lastly, you could do this with your role/position. If you cannot demonstrate leadership skills within your role at work, focus on how you are a leader outside of your job through a volunteer opportunity within your company or an external organization.
In short, one application criterion by itself does not make or break your admission to a top business program. What does make or break is your ability to deliver a balanced application. So, if you are reading this and working hard on the GMAT, don’t forget to work on the other parts of the application as they are just as important.