Tag Archives | NYU Stern


GMAT test successFor those who are applying to business school,  the question arises: should I take the GMAT or GRE?

Or if you’ve already taken one or the other,  you may be wondering if you should have taken a different test.

In all honesty, I think the answer is either, but it’s not entirely black and white.  These days, just about every top US business school accepts the GRE.  But read the fine print. Not all schools value it equally (UCLA for example) and some even have quirks (Columbia).

You’ll see a list at the end of this article that indicates, at least of this writing, which do and which do not. I’ve also put links to the school websites for further explanation. Things change all the time. The most recent data shows about 10% of students are using the GRE, and the numbers are growing.

Why do schools even take the GRE? Because they are casting a wider net to get more interesting students, and because they realize that lots of students think about joint degree programs.

Harvard Business School was one of the first schools to accept the GRE, because, as Dee Leopold said in 2009

HBS: Since many HBS applicants are also considering graduate programs besides the MBA, there is now no need for them to take the GMAT if they have already taken the GRE. We believe that the GMAT and the GRE meet our expectations of what a standardized test can tell us about a candidate’s ability to thrive in our MBA Program.

The Rumor Mill
Face it, both tests are standardized, and both are computer adaptive.  They are both annoying and require more studying than you want. Most, but not all schools are perfectly happy to take either. For example, this line is from Michigan Ross’s application instructions:

ROSS:Your performance on either exam will be used as part of our assessment of your academic ability, and you are at no advantage or disadvantage by taking one exam instead of the other.

But other schools, such as UCLA Anderson, strongly prefer the GMAT

ANDERSON: We prefer GMAT scores as the common denominator by which we have historically compared candidates, but we accept the GRE now as well.

That means you have to check carefully and rely on what you read and hear from admissions officers, beyond what is on chat boards, and even blogs like mine.

I thought the next few lines were hearsay, but they were just confirmed, May 30, 2014, in person, by senior members of the admissions office at Columbia.

COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL: If we have a GMAT score, we are going to use that. We will disregard the GRE.

I had a student who took the GRE for Columbia, did well, but felt he wanted to take the GMAT to prove his quant mettle. He didn’t do well because he had an off day, but because he HAD taken the test, Columbia took his GMAT instead of the GRE. What would have happened if he didn’t report the GMAT? Who ever knows? (He went to Yale SOM anyway, his first choice).

Other schools are much more relaxed.  At a May 2014 conference, Isser Gallogly, Assistant Dean of Admissions at NYU Stern, suggested that students try the GRE if they are sub-par in the GMAT.

NYU STERN: If someone is struggling with one test, try the other, the GRE

Your Quant Score
Most admissions officers admit that they want to see a balanced score on both verbal and quant. The general buzz is that around 80% on both is about right, but there’s definitely some give on both sides. So don’t fear if you get a 47 on the quant, which is turning out to be a 78% these days. As for the GRE, the population on the quant side is a bit less numbers oriented, so if you get an 80% in that pool, it’s pretty well known that you are being measured against a different population, usually not as quant-oriented as GMAT test takers. So shoot for a higher percentage, say about 85% on quant.

If you are worried about how you look by taking one test vs. another, I say, don’t worry unless they really make a point of it (like UCLA). All you need to do is get it over the net, and they pretty much tell you what a normal distribution looks like. Get within one standard deviation of the average, and you are fine.

Having said all that, if test taking is not your forte, you really should take a GRE or GMAT course. You don’t know what you don’t know about your own study habits. It’s worth the investment.

Future Employer Preference on GMAT vs GRE

One more thing–and perhaps this deserves a blog post all to itself, employers will take any statistics you throw that them.  At least that’s what representatives of the Career Development Office at Yale SOM stated on May 27, 2014, “Employers love points of data wherever they can find it. So gre or gmat doesn’t matter. They do like the numbers!”

MBA Programs: GRE in addition to GMAT

School GRE? Link
Cambridge YES Cambridge Judge
Chicago YES Chicago Booth
Columbia YES Columbia Business School
Cornell YES Cornell Johnson
Darden YES UVA Darden
Duke YES Duke Fuqua
HBS YES Harvard Business School
Kellogg YES Kellogg MBA
Mich Ross YES University of Michigan Ross
MIT Sloan YES MIT Sloan
NYU Stern YES NYU Stern
Stanford YES Stanford GSB
Tepper YES Carnegie Mellon Tepper
Texas YES Texas McCombs
Tuck YES Dartmouth Tuck
UCLA YES UCLA Anderson (GMAT Preferred)
Wharton YES Wharton MBA
Yale YES Yale School of Management
Haas YES UC Berkeley Haas (Part-time YES)
LBS NO London Business School
Oxford NO Oxford Said

If you are looking for more schools the ETS link has a full list of MBA programs which accept the GRE.  Further, to confuse, or perhaps clarify you, ETS also has a GRE-to-GMAT converter.

UPDATED: June 5, 2014.

Interested in admissions consulting? Email me at betsy@masteradmissions.com

Just have a question? post it at my Wall Street Oasis forum

Financial Times Global Rankings — What they Mean to You

The Financial Times‘ Global Rankings came out last Monday, and everyone is a winner.  That’s what I always say about rankings, because there are always ways to slice and dice the data so that a school can claim they are highly ranked according to someone.

I, for one, am glad that there are a number of rankings (USNews, BloombergBusinessWeek,FT, Economist, WSJ, Forbes, and an aggregated version by Poets & Quants) – although the FT and the Economist really do dominate the global rankings – and I am glad that they all emphasize something different. That’s because the business school experience is different for everyone, and it’s very hard for a rank to represent just how good a school is for you.

HBS Wins Overall – Sort Of
But like Oscars, rankings are a part of life in the admissions industry, and there are definitely some quirks.  For example, although Harvard Business School ranks #1 in the survey overall, it is only #17 for “aims achieved.”  It’s also ranked #77 for “value” and #43 for “international mobility.”  This tells me that I probably need to dig a lot deeper to understand the methodology, something most of my clients will never do. All they know is that Harvard Business School is on top of the charts, and that’s a good thing.

Good News for Columbia
Columbia Business School administrators should be cheering by the fifth-place overall ranking especially after applications for last year’s entering class declined 19%.

The ranking also puts CBS as fourth in the United States, just behind HBS, Stanford GSB, and Penn.  One of the boosts in Columbia’s methodology seems to be its 92% employment figure, that is, percentage of students who have accepted a job offer within three months of graduation. Of the US business schools, this ranks higher than Harvard and Stanford’s 89%, but lower than Emory’s 96%, or UC Berkeley’s and Tuck’s 93%.  Given the high exposure of Columbia students to the financial industry, that’s not bad.   In the mystifying category of “aims achieved,”  the score came in #24, vs.  #4 for Yale and #13 for Carnegie Mellon Tepper.  Tepper, by the way also had a 90% employment-after-three-months figure.

International Mobility
Here’s an interesting ranking for those who want to go to business school to “see the world.”  If you want to do so, don’t stay in the US, because the highest ranked US school in the list is Wharton, coming in at #40 for “international mobility.”  I know that’s one that begs for methodology, but other name schools in the US that followed Penn were Harvard, Berkeley Haas, our friend Columbia and MIT Sloan.

Ranking By Alumni
The FT also lets alumni have their say on their schools in certain categories.  For example, the top US schools for economics in this survey are Booth, MIT, Yale, and Tepper (again!)

For general management UVA Darden bests HBS, followed by Tuck, Stanford, Ross and Kellogg.  Here’s good marketing for you, alumni of Indiana University’s Kelley School ranked their alma mater #2 for marketing, after Kellogg, (of course) and before Duke. And here’s a fun one, showing you that Wharton is not just a finance school, alumni ranked Penn below the following schools for “Top for Finance” : Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and Univeristy of Rochester’s Simon School.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read
I admit, I have cherry picked some of the points to make in this blog post. Mostly because it is fun, but rankings are really hard to figure, and they really don’t matter as much as what is the right school for you.  Rankings only tell a small part of the story .

Also, rankings can be misleading. Because I came from finance, I used to get a lot of questions about the best school for finance – and maintain that you need to do a whole lot of your own research and networking to figure out your right path.   So visit schools, talk to students and professors, and see what’s happening beyond just what pundits like me write on the internet. Spring is around the corner –the best time for campus visits — so take advantage of the time you have now to see if those rankings really tell the whole story.

What is the Best Business School for a Career in Finance?

Because I worked for Goldman Sachs right out of business school, later worked in investment management, and now consult with companies like BlackRock, lots of people ask what MBA program they should attend if they want a career in finance.  And they also wonder if they should go to graduate school at all. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume you want to pursue an MBA.

Riches can be yours!

Here’s what it does not depend on: rankings.  Rankings have something to do with what business school or finance degree you might want to research, but they won’t tell you whether it’s the right program for you.   And rankings are all over the place.  A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on this subject with lots of quotes from the Assistant Dean at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Tuck has been ranked overall #1, #6, #7, #14, #18, depending on who you talk to, and encourages students to look beyond the actual listing.

Figuring out the Right Path

So which of the top schools might be better in corporate finance, or M&A, or hedge funds, or private equity? Is Wharton better in finance than Harvard, or is Stanford the best way to get a job in venture capital?  There are a lot of opinions all over the internet – and many of them are simply wrong.  So what should you believe?  You’ve got several ways to figure this out.

1.  See who is recruiting at your target school.  Not everyone gets a job on campus, but take a look at the recruiting list for any school. You can usually find it through their employment report. Here is Columbia Business School’s  employment report, for example. The list of recruiters starts on page 10. Or here’s UC Berkeley Haas’ list of companies that have come on campus.  Examine it carefully. You might not find some of the big New York PE shops, but you’ll find Cambridge Associates, which for you, might be an even more likely stepping stone into venture capital, private equity, or hedge funds.

2.  Visit the schools and/or talk to students about their experiences. With LinkedIn and Facebook, you must know someone who knows someone.  Many schools put student contact information right on their website, for example, see this list of student ambassadors from Michigan Ross or NYU Stern. Others, like Harvard Business School, present interviews of students—who are all easy enough to find if you look hard enough.

3.  Investigate clubs at your target business school. Columbia’s Private Equity and Venture Capital Club has its own website, and don’t be fooled by the log-in.  Just jump to club officers, and you’ll have plenty to work with.  More interested in Chicago? Booth doesn’t just have a finance club, it has a  corporate finance club, an investment banking club, a PE club, and and even a distressed investing and restructuring club.

4. Talk to actual people in your target industry and find out what paths they took. While the big guys in the PE industry look like a straight shot from Morgan Stanley M&A, venture capital, hedge funds, and other investment firms might have a more circuitous route. Hey, Mitt Romney came to the private equity business by way of management consulting, so why can’t you?

5. Network.  This is essentially the same as item #4, but it’s so important that I am mentioning it again.  Because you want to hit the ground running once you get to business school, it makes sense to start building your contacts now. Brian DeChesare, an expert on breaking into Wall Street, encourages prospective financiers to “network like a ninja” because, “even if you’re at Harvard you can’t rely on on-campus recruiting.”  And even if you get an interview through on-campus recruiting, you want to have friends who can help you actually land the job and do well there.

And in the meantime, have fun with the process. You’ll learn a lot and meet lots of people. And it’s definitely more enjoyable than signing up on e-Harmony.

–Betsy Massar

Don’t forget to check out our new book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting Into a Top MBA Program

Go Global with an MBA Exchange Program

The World is Your Oyster

Many MBA programs allow for, if not encourage or require,  study abroad, and students who leave, as well as those who host, are amazed at how much they learn.

International exchange programs were brought home to me at a Forté Foundation event last week in San Francisco when I met Katie Cannon,  a London Business School student currently on exchange at UCLA Anderson. Katie’s infectious enthusiasm for LBS and international study—and her passion for the arts and her interest in media management— make a semester in LA perfect for her.  There’s no question that the Anderson students will be learning from Katie as much as she will be learning from them.

Katie is hardly the only one studying abroad during business school.   More than half of the top MBA programs offer full-term international exchange programs. London Business School is a good example. It’s a particularly international school; about 35% of its students spend a semester in a foreign country, and a typical class may have people from over 60 different countries.  To facilitate exchange, LBS partners with over 30 schools worldwide, and students at those schools can also study in London.

UCLA Anderson, located in southern California, is an ideal exchange choice for students like Katie who want to pursue careers in film, television, or talent management—or even financial services and venture capital.  It’s also a great home-base business school for students who want to study abroad— 20% participate in an international exchange.   UCLA—along with Cornell Johnson, Duke Fuqua, NYU Stern, Chicago Booth, and Michigan Ross—is a member of the Partnership in International Management network , an international consortium of business schools, and it also has exchange agreements with schools outside that network.

UC Berkeley Haas offers exchange programs established with several leading b-schools, “if,” says the website, “you can bear to be away from Berkeley.” (Click on the Haas link for useful descriptions of each of the exchange schools.)  In addition to international offerings, Haas also has an exchange with Columbia Business School, giving students the chance to spend a semester in New York City.

Most other top schools require some form of international experience during their MBA years. For example, Yale School of Management mandates that students take a short-term trip abroad in the second semester of the first year.  Professors lead the trips in countries they specialize in, from Brazil to Estonia to Israel to Japan.  Yale also offers a more traditional fall term international exchange for second year students.  Stanford GSB  also mandates a “Global Experience Requirement” which can be fulfilled by study trips or a summer immersion program.

Another resource for current or prospective b-school students interested in international study are the Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs), created by Congress in 1988.  To date, there are 33 CIBERs, located at universities around the country, including UNC Kenan-Flager, University of Texas McCombs, and George Washington University.

It’s all there for the asking – so make sure your passport is up-to-date and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

More MBA Schools Accept the GRE & GMAT

Hot off the press,  Kellogg’s full-time MBA program now accepts the GRE.  As does Cornell’s Johnson School.  Here’s the updated list as of September 7, 2011. It’s always great to check; it wasn’t on the Kellogg website until I emailed and — voila! There’s no harm in asking!

School GRE? Link
Columbia YES Columbia Business School
Cornell YES Cornell Johnson
Darden YES UVA Darden
HBS YES Harvard Business School
Kellogg YES Kellogg MBA
Mich Ross YES University of Michigan Ross
MIT Sloan YES MIT Sloan
NYU Stern YES NYU Stern
Stanford YES Stanford GSB 
Tepper YES Carnegie Mellon Tepper
Texas YES Texas McCombs 
Tuck YES Dartmouth Tuck 
Wharton YES Wharton MBA
Yale YES Yale School of Management 
Duke MAYBE Duke Fuqua 
Cambridge NO Cambridge Judge
Chicago NO Chicago Booth 
Haas NO UC Berkeley Haas
LBS NO London Business School
Oxford NO Oxford Said
UCLA NO UCLA Anderson 

If you are looking for more schools the ETS link has a full list of MBA programs which accept the GRE.