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Is There A ‘Good’ GRE Score? It Depends, Experts Say

·7 min read

Most B-schools now accept GRE test scores in lieu of the GMAT. But what exactly is a good GRE score?

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says it isn’t such a black and white answer. Rather, she says, a good GRE score will vary based on an applicant’s goals and educational background.

GRE SCORE RANGES

The score range for the GRE is 260 to 340 with each section consisting of a 130 to 170 range. But GRE test takers don’t only receive scores, they also receive a percentile rank, which compares your performance to a large sample population of other GRE test takers.

“Because there are so few possible overall scores – only 41 – that you can get on the GRE, answering just one more question correctly could be enough to turn an average score into a great score,” according to Kaplan.

WHY A GOOD GRE SCORE VARIES PER APPLICANT

The importance of your GRE score will largely depend on what background you have as an applicant, experts say.

“For example, for non-traditional and/or liberal arts educated candidates, the standardized tests are even more important,” Blackman writes. “This is because it’s one of the only ways the applicant can demonstrate quant proficiency, especially if they don’t have undergrad quant classes or analytical work experience.”

While there are other ways to demonstrate quant proficiency, such as through essays, work experience, or courses, Blackman says that standardized testing still holds the largest impact.

“An essay alone explaining quant proficiency for some applicants is usually not enough for top MBA programs,” Blackman writes. “This should be reinforced with a solid test score, as that objectively demonstrates one’s ability to handle the curriculum.”

If you’re unsure whether to take the GRE vs. GMAT, experts recommend getting a feel for both.

“The first thing that I advise the students to do is to take a practice test for both,” John Fulmer, the content director for the GMAT and GRE at the Princeton Review, tells Fortune. “What that will do is help students expose some of their strengths and weaknesses.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Kaplan, Fortune

Next Page: 3 Tips For Finding The Right Business School.

3 Tips For Finding The Right Business School

Where you choose to pursue your MBA can matter a lot. That’s especially true if you’re intent on entering a field like private equity. For applicants, the pressure of choosing the right business school easily be overwhelming.

The experts at Clear Admit recently offered a few tips for how applicants can go about choosing between B-schools and what factors to consider.

ATTEND EVENTS

B-schools host a number of admissions events to let applicants learn more about their programs and culture. Experts say immersing yourself in a school’s culture can tell you a lot about what your experience may be like.

“Due to COVID-19, it’s not likely you can take advantage of visiting campus; however, schools have moved most of their admissions events and student chats online,” according to Clear Admit. “If you have not yet participated in an online admissions event, sign up and see what you think of the school’s culture. Be sure to engage students, take a virtual tour of the facilities, and so on.”

ASSESS FIT

When attending these events, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions to assess whether or not you’re a right fit for a B-school.

“Think about the location, size, teaching method, etc.,” according to Clear Admit. “Are you looking for a close-knit, ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of experience, or would you prefer to attend classes and then disappear into a large city with a few classmates or old friends? Do you need the benefits of a large university to pursue coursework in a specific field? Do you crave lengthy discussions with faculty? Do you have family or a significant other who might need to consider your location? Are you strong in qualitative areas but looking to refine your skills in quantitative subjects? Is there a teaching method that might better address your weaknesses or best suit your learning style?”

LOOK AT STATS

If you have a specific field in mind post-grad, experts recommend looking at a business school’s track record for your target field.

“For example, if you hope to become a strategy consultant after school, take a look at each program’s placement statistics with the firms that are of interest to you,” according to Clear Admit. “Talk to the career management office and find out which firms came to campus and how many offers were made. You might also try to contact alumni who work in your target field and see what they have to say about their alma mater’s strength in that area.”

Sources: Clear Admit, Fortune

Next Page: Most Common Essay Questions

Most Common MBA Essay Questions: Here’s How To Tackle Them

MBA admissions essays play an integral role in your application. A strong essay can very much sway an admissions team to give your application the green light, experts say.

“Compelling essays, recommendations, and interviews can provide context for a low GMAT score or GPA,” Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes. “But the reverse is not true. Strong numbers will never make up for weak essays or a disorganized, negative recommendation.”

Most admissions officers like to see essays that are personalized for the business school where you’re applying. And while essay prompts will change year to year, they tend to cover the same general questions. The experts at Top MBA recently discusses a few common MBA admissions essay questions and how applicants can address them effectively.

WHY AN MBA?

One of the most common admissions essay questions asks applicants why they want to pursue an MBA. The goal with these essay prompts, experts say, is to talk about your past, present, and future.

“You need to shape your ‘why an MBA’ answer carefully according to whether the question asks more about your past: ‘What has led you to want an MBA?’ or about your future: ‘What will you do when you graduate? How will an MBA help you?’” according to Top MBA.

Connecting the dots between your past, present, and future to the target B-school is the key to hitting this type of essay questions head on.

“You need to show how the MBA is the bridge between your yesterday and your tomorrow,” according to Top MBA. “Past, present and future can be presented in any order, but you must paint a picture of a future that rests naturally on what you have done before, plus the MBA from the school to which you are applying.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM FAILURE?

Another common admissions essay question asks applicants about their weaknesses and failure. Experts say it’s not so much as to what the failure was that’s important, but how it taught you valuable lessons.

“Everyone has weaknesses and has failed. What is in doubt is how you responded, what insight into yourself you gained and how you grew from there,” according to Top MBA. “What they are testing, above all, is whether you have the self-insight to locate and admit to your mess-up, and the seniority to talk maturely about it.”

WHAT’S YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE?

Many business schools will ask you to describe how your leadership experience translates onto campus. The key to these essay prompts is to demonstrate how you’re an effective leader.

“Just having experience in a leadership position doesn’t necessarily mean you were good at it,” according to Top MBA. “You have to show them you understand what good is. You also need to demonstrate an explicit understanding of your own personal leadership style – how you influence, motivate, sanction, inspire others to achieve, and so on – and the preferences that underpin your approach. In all leadership analyses, you should show respect for the difficulties of leadership. If you think leadership is easy, you have never really led.”

Sources: Top MBA, Stacy Blackman Consulting

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