Ask a College Advisor: Do I Need to Take the GMAT to Get an MBA?

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Question: Do I need to take the GMAT to get an MBA?

Answer: As you prepare for graduate school, you may wonder what standardized tests you'll need to take to apply for master's programs. Although a growing number of graduate programs are adopting test-optional admissions policies, business schools that still require them often ask applicants to submit Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores.

As a future student, the schools you choose to apply to will determine whether you need to take the GMAT or another standardized admission test. Knowing where you'll be applying will assist you in planning whether or not to take the test and help you figure out the scores you'll need to be accepted.

What Is the GMAT?

The GMAT is a standardized test that is often used as part of the admissions process for graduate business programs. The test measures various skills, including analytical writing, integrated reasoning, and quantitative and verbal reasoning.

Who Needs to Take the GMAT?

Each school has different admission requirements for its MBA program. For example, some schools may require all applicants to submit GMAT scores. Alternatively, others may only require scores for some applicants, and some do not require them at all.

Since GMAT course prep materials and the test itself can cost hundreds of dollars (and many hours spent studying), it is essential to know in advance if you need to take the test. Review the admissions information for each of your target programs carefully, and talk with an admissions counselor to understand how scores factor into admissions decisions for their particular program.

If the GMAT is optional at your school of choice, you may still consider taking the test if you feel your scores could strengthen your application.

Some schools may accept GMAT or GRE scores. Since the GRE features different questions and focus areas, some students may perform better on this exam and opt to submit these scores instead.

How Important Is My GMAT Score?

The importance of your GMAT score varies from school to school. However, generally speaking, the GMAT score is just one factor considered in the admissions process. Admissions committees will also look at your undergraduate grades, work experience, application essays, and extracurricular activities when making decisions. In other words, a high GMAT score can give you a competitive edge, but it is not the only thing that matters.

An admissions advisor may be able to help you gauge how much these test results weigh into the decision-making process.

How to Prepare for the GMAT

There are several ways to prepare for the GMAT exam, including taking a GMAT prep course and practicing with sample questions. The cost of test prep courses ranges from free to more than $1,000, depending on the course length and structure.

The best way to prepare for the GMAT exam is to find a method that works best for your learning style and stick with it. It often takes several months to prepare, so plan to give yourself ample time to work on your skills before your testing date.


MBA or other graduate business programs may require an applicant's GMAT scores. Students should carefully review the application requirements for their prospective schools to see if GMAT or other standardized test scores are required, optional, or not accepted. At test-optional schools, students should only submit their GMAT scores if they feel their scores will enhance their application.

DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.

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