This is such a difficult situation.
And it totally sucks to have to open this post with that line.
Because if you’re a Planner who is so thinking-ahead and got-it-together that you took the GMAT before you even graduated from college, then how on earth can that be a bad thing?
EssaySnark luvs Planners. (We love Chillers too! But in a different way. 🙂 ) Planners Have Their Act Together. Maybe you were the oldest kid in your family or something and had to always have the PB&J made for your little sister’s lunch in the morning. Who knows, but you’re the one who will Get It Done — and you knew long ago that you wanted an MBA, and you were smart and you laid the foundation for that way early.
There are huge advantages to taking the GMAT in college — the most obvious being that you don’t have to take it now (yay! celebration!). When you’re in college, you’re in Study Mode, which you don’t value nearly as much at the time as you should. You’re geared up for textbooks and exams. You are in the habit of focusing on a topic and working through the solution and meeting an objective with a date around it where your performance will be evaluated and you’ll get a grade. Sounds basic, but it’s one of the hugest hurdles for many BSers when they have been out of school for four or five or eleven years and have decided they want to go for an MBA. Getting into Study Mode is a key requirement for success with the GMAT (and obviously with bschool later on, which is one reason why going through the h3ll of test prep is so valuable as a first step in going back to school).
The other obvious advantage to taking the GMAT during college is that you’re much closer in time to the end-date of your most recent math class. As you know, the GMAT is a lot of math. If you wait till you have progressed your career for a couple years before going back to a standardized testing, then even if you’re in a highly analytical environment like finance, it’s likely that the exact skills required for solving Data Sufficiency problems and all those quant stumpers that the GMAT (or GRE) folks dream up for you have grown a little stale. Taking the GMAT while you can still remember what to do with X when faced with one of those cryptic equations is smart smart smart.
Obviously if it were all sunshine and roses, then there would be no point in this post.
The fact of the matter is that the GMAT has changed RADICALLY in the past five years alone, with new policies affecting the way people approach the test and the resulting scores that they are landing.
We’re doubtful that the GMAT people were aware of how their policy changes would affect test-taker behavior. In Q3 2015, they made it so you could cancel your test at the end and the score would never be sent to the school, and the schools would not even know that you had taken the test. Anyone reading this who’s recently taken the GMAT may not recognize what a shift this was from prior policy. Used to be, they didn’t even let you cancel; then, they let you cancel at the end but you had to do it blind, without even knowing your score; then – very big change – they showed you the score and let you cancel, but if you did, it would show up to the schools on your test report as “canceled”; now, you can cancel, even within a window of time post-testing, and the schools never will know.
Big changes. That last change resulted in people acting differently. Suddenly there was no risk to getting a bad score. This generated all sorts of testing demand (lucky GMAT peeps! their revenue numbers probably went through the roof post 2015) and it put tremendous pressure on test scores. Now, if you don’t get the 750 you wanted, you’ll just cancel and test again.
Those top quartile testers who are very very good at standardized testing have no blocks on them. They will keep testing until they get a massive score. This behavior bumps the percentiles higher for everyone.
We’ll say that again:
This behavior bumps the percentiles higher for everyone.
If you took the GMAT when you were still in college — say, in 2014 — then you tested in a totally different GMAT reality. At the time, a 710 was considered a “good” score. Known wisdom at the time was that you could get into any top school, including Whanvard, with a 710, provided everything else in your app lined up.
While that’s still true today, it’s not as true as it was then.
If you landed that score, then you probably were quite satisfied with that as the outcome and you checked “Take GMAT” off your to-do list and went back to your final-year-in-college life, feeling happy that you’d set yourself up for success in the future, that you were already planning so far ahead and you’d have one up on all those other schmucks who are so clueless about things that they didn’t even think to plan ahead like this.
Well, here we are. It’s 2018 and you’re getting ready to try for your MBA.
And we hate to break it to you, BSer, but your GMAT score from college may not be enough to get you where you want to go now. 🙁
Shameless plug: Our Comprehensive Profile Review will go over every aspect of your profile — GMAT score, GPA, work history, everything — and let you know how you stand. Is your current GMAT score going to be sufficient to get you in? We’ll let you know, to the best of our ability!
UPDATE! If this post freaked you out, we went into a bit more detail in “Is a 710 GMAT enough to get in?” which you can find here!