In continuation of our recent GRE vs GMAT discussion, here’s what an intrepid BSer asked us recently:
Hi snark. I’m sorry I keep asking questions but you guys are such a great source. I couldn’t find this information anywhere. I want to take the GRE because it better suits my strengths. Since I have already taken the GMAT(and had the scores sent to schools), will I be required to submit these scores in my app next year if I decide to go with my GRE score? Will schools be required to submit my low gmat score to b-school rankings if I don’t want to submit my gmat score? Thank you so much for your time![BSer #2]
This is a great question and the answer is so specific that it’s nuts.
In most cases, no you don’t need to submit a GMAT score if your GRE is higher and that’s what you want the school to consider.
But there’s (at least) one exception, which is named Columbia Business School.
We’re hedging our statements with that “at least” because there’s probably another school out there somewhere that has such preferences and policies. The main one that’s bitten other BSers in the butt on this issue though is Columbia.
Columbia has a rule where, if you have ever taken the GMAT in the past five years, then you need to submit that with your app.
Or at least, they’ve had this rule in the past. Who knows if they’ll continue it.
To answer the other part of the question: Our understanding is that the schools have to submit the GMAT score that an accepted applicant applied with — but it’s up to you the applicant which score you submit. In other words, if you have one GMAT score with a really high quant but a lower total, and a second GMAT score with a higher total but it came from outperformance on verbal and the quant is low, you should always submit the second score. In this specific situation, an optional essay may be warranted to explicitly call the adcom’s attention to the higher quant score on the other test; they have access to the whole score history but sometimes they don’t go digging for it, and if only test #2 is entered into the app, then this may cause a problem for you if the adcom is worried about your quant abilities. But it’s much more important for you to help the school with their data sent to rankings that you present your highest total in the app.
Even though the first score might actually be better for you as an applicant in how it reflects your quant abilities, the second score would be better for the school, and in this important question of application strategy, in such a hypercompetitive environment as we’re in, then that second aspect may count for more (provided you can offset the perception of low quant aptitude in other ways).
Still with us?
The one blank spot in our understanding of these things is what happens when a BSer has the GMAT score sent to a school at the time of taking the test, but then subsequent to that, takes the GRE and decides to apply with that score instead. Here’s what we THINK happens in this situation, but it likely varies by school and we don’t have direct first-hand understanding of these facets from inside the admissions office:
We THINK that most schools disregard a GMAT score if it’s not being presented as the score the applicant wants to use.
BUT! (And this is a very big but.) Some schools want to know the entire score history. It really depends on how they’re asking their questions in the app. A few schools are still accepting apps, so you could always create one in their app system if you haven’t already, and poke around to see how the questions are defined and what they want you to report.
You could also pick up the phone and call. Ask the current admissions staff at your target school how things work, and see what they tell you. Most schools are trying to be more transparent. There are some points that they’re cagey about, but who knows? Maybe they’ll fill you in.
If they do, we hope you’ll come back here and let us know what you’ve learned.
There are a lot of grey areas in MBA admissions, and the answer is often, “It depends.” Many of the GRE vs GMAT strategy questions are really going to center on what the rest of your profile looks like, your goals and objectives, and why you’re choosing one test over another. Remember, all the adcoms know that the GRE is easier on the math side. If you took the GMAT then switched to the GRE, they’re going to see right through that. It may not be a stumbling block, but it’s a tacit acknowledgment to them that you were flailing and you went to your Plan B. Better to do better on a Plan B than to continue to flail with a Plan A, but still.
Again, our Comprehensive Profile Review lets us dig into the details of your candidacy and offer up some pros and some cons. There are always competing reasons for each test decision, but sometimes it’s a more open-and-shut case of which way will be better. (Well, actually, it’s ALWAYS better to do the GMAT if you can score well on it – but that whole “score well” thing is elusive, we know.)
Now is the time to be pulling the trigger on your test strategy and executing, so these are important decisions to wrestle down. You’ll be very glad to have this part behind you. Soon enough you’ll have the pleasure of cursing out your computer screen as you smack your head on the desk trying to figure out how to write a good essay. But that’s a pain for another day.
Good luck with your test, BSer! If you’ve gotten definitive answers on any of these strategy questions from an admissions person that you care to share with your fellow BSers, we hope you’ll post in the comments.