We received a very polite inquiry about Harvard’s 2+2 program a few months back and thought we’d share our answer. This Brave Supplicant is still in college and is trying to figure out strategies for applying.
With a target of applying in Round 1(with the October deadline) when should I take my GMAT/GRE exam? Also, I am a little confused as to which exam I should prefer. I don’t really know what advantage I would have and in which exam.
Here’s what we said:
The GMAT test is preferred over the GRE by some business schools. If you think that some day you may be interested in a different master’s degree besides the MBA, then the GRE gives you more flexibility, since it’s accepted by more types of graduate programs. However, several of the best bschools do not accept the GRE at all (Kellogg is in this group, as an example EDITED 12/28/11 Kellogg now DOES accept the GRE for most of its MBA programs; Columbia still has very restrictive policies re: GRE/GMAT however, and Haas only accepts it for the P/T program). So, worst case scenario, if you don’t get in through HBS 2+2, if you have taken the GMAT then that will give you the option to apply to any other bschool later. The GRE is also accepted by many top bschools but it’s not seen as equivalent. So if you’re choosing a test, then you should probably decide what your future education path might be first, and let that dictate which one. There are some articles on the website here.
The GMAT scores are good for 5 years. That means if you were to take the test today, you would need to start (matriculate) at a MBA program before Fall 2016 – which means that you’d need to apply for that program probably in 2015. If you do not get into 2+2, then your best strategy will be to work for a few years and then apply to bschool after you have some work experience. Make sure that the timing of that plan matches up for how long your test score will be valid.
The advantage to testing a little earlier is that it gives you time to retest if your score is low. So, the latest you’d want to take the test the first time is probably around May next year, to prepare for a Round 1 application. You should leave several months for studying. It’s a very difficult test!
The big wrinkle in all this is that both these tests are/will be changing. There is a new GRE out right now, and the GMAT will be going through a big change next Spring. There may be an advantage to testing NOW for the GMAT, and LATER for the GRE, due to these changes.
Some of this is discussed elsewhere on this site; we’ll probably be posting more articles about this, too, in terms of the upcoming GMAT changes and what it means to all candidates, not just HBS 2+2 kids.
Between these GMAT vs GRE questions and overall timing, there are obviously a lot of factors to consider! It’s great to see a Brave Supplicant who’s so motivated.