Tag Archives | UCLA Anderson


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

The Round 3 Question

Some business school applicants are legitimately wondering whether they should go ahead and apply in Round 3 for the 2012 entering class.  Some realize that if they don’t apply in this round, they probably won’t matriculate this year. Others figure that they should take advantage of this one last chance to round out their choices.

If you are thinking of Round 3, take a look at the following list of do’s and don’ts. It just may help you decide whether to go through the process one more time. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find an unscientific list of schools that may be worth reviewing for third round. This does not mean that it’s a cakewalk, just that they may have more flexibility than, say, Harvard or Wharton.

You should apply third round if

  • You ran out of time second round and had some other target schools that interested you (and you fell within the profile of the class of 2013)
  • You improved your GMAT score by enough to put you within the target school’s range
  • You overlooked a school and, after taking a closer look, you think you might be a good fit
  • After going through the whole application process, you really realize you are less hung up on a top 5 name.
  • You are considering part-time programs when you only applied to full-time programs

You should NOT apply third round if

  • You only want to go to a top 5 school and you didn’t get into the top 4
  • You are outside of the school’s 2013 class profile
  • You aren’t sure what you want to do
  • The thought of filling out another application gives you a rash
  • You hate your job and it just occurred to you to apply to business school last week

If your scores/grades are lower than average/mean/standard distribution for your target school, take the time to retake your tests, or take a few courses in finance/accounting/business statistics and ace them.  If your work experience isn’t strong enough, take on more projects or a team leadership role.

The final round is not the death round; I know some very successful third-round admits at schools as competitive as Stanford.

As a bonus, I’m reposting excerpts from Harvard Business School admissions director Dee Leopold’s 2011 blog post about Round 3:

Round Three – Should You or Shouldn’t You?
…You may be asking yourself whether it’s worth your time and money to submit an application. Is it too much of a long shot?

…we always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always – ALWAYS – see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again. I know you wish I could define “interesting” with pinpoint accuracy but I can’t. Sometimes it’s work experience, sometimes it’s an undergraduate school we wish we had more students from, sometimes it’s a compelling recommendation …

So if you are interested in trying for HBS in Round 3, make sure you get your application in by April 10, 2012.

An Unscientific List of Third-Round Deadlines that Might Be Useful, (in date order)

Indiana Kelley 3/1

Carnegie Mellon Tepper 3/5

Duke Fuqua 3/8

Cornell Johnson 3/14  (R4)

USC Marshall 3/15

UNC Kenan-Flagler 3/16 (R4)

Texas McCombs 3/26 (R4)

UCLA Anderson 4/18


–Betsy Massar

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






Be Yourself. Don’t Be Casual. Which Is It?

Be diplomatic

Scott Shrum of Veritas Prep wrote this great article on presentation for the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants newsletter. It’s particularly useful as students start booking their interview slots. Heed his advice!

For years MBA admissions officers have urged applicants to be themselves in the admissions process.  From essays to admissions interviews to interactions at events, admissions officers want to see glimpses of the real applicant, not an act or ideal of what the applicant thinks admissions officers want to see.  We have all heard this advice for years, and most admissions consultants frequently share this same advice with their clients.  “Be yourself,” we say.  “Reveal something about yourself in your application.”  Yet applicants have historically tended to err on the side of being overly formal or being reluctant to share anything that might make them appear less than perfect in admissions officers’ eyes.

This “be real” advice from admissions officers is so common that it was interesting to hear a new theme emerge in June’s AIGAC conference: Some applicants have become a little too informal, particularly in admissions interviews and other face-to-face interactions with admissions personnel.  Panel discussion participants including Christine Sneva of Cornell’s Johnson School, Bruce Delmonico of the Yale School of Management, Mary Miller of Columbia Business School, and Mae Jennifer Shores of UCLA Anderson, discussed examples including:

  • Overly casual dress
  • Unprofessional personal habits such as gum chewing
  • Very informal language, including cursing
  • Frequently checking one’s phone or sending text messages
  • Other unprofessional behavior, such as putting one’s feet up on the interviewer’s desk.

Even more remarkable is that most of the stories told involved applicants meeting with admissions officers in formal settings.  While applicants sometimes wrongly perceive an interview with an alum or a student as an informal discussion and sometimes “let their hair down” a bit too much, it is hard to fathom that admissions officers see this sort of behavior.  (All of the admissions officers at the conference were from business schools, but the lessons they shared are equally applicable to all types of graduate programs.)

It’s like applying for a job

While these stories still represent the exception rather than the rule for all of the schools in attendance, the clear trend is toward this sort of thing happening more than it did just a few years ago.  Whether it is the result of generational trends—many Generation Y applicants have been exposed to less formal work settings than those who have come before them—or some applicants misinterpreting the “Be Yourself” advice, these applicants clearly do themselves a disservice by acting this way.  MBA admissions officers have enough excellent applicants to choose from that any signs of arrogance or immaturity make it far too easy for them to reject an applicant and look elsewhere for talent.

So what advice can an admissions consultant give to help applicants be authentic in the admissions process, yet not come across as overly casual or flippant?  While applicants really should be genuine and reveal a bit about themselves in their interactions with a school, they must remember that applying to an MBA program is not very different from applying for a job—everything about them will be judged.  Just as a job applicant could never put his feet up on an interviewer’s desk and expect to land a job, a business school applicant needs to remember that the admissions interviewer is not just a formality, and that any unprofessional behavior makes it far too easy for an admissions committee to reject that applicant no matter how strong his application is.  When in doubt, an applicant should treat an admissions interview no differently from a job interview.

Ultimately, the best litmus test still comes back to common sense.  If an applicant has to ask whether or not a certain behavior is okay, then the answer is probably “no.”  And, if an applicant doesn’t have the common sense or maturity to even ask, then he or she may not yet be ready to apply.

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.