Using the GMAT® Exam in Admissions

The GMAT exam has decades of proven success predicting the best candidates for graduate management programs like yours.

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Your applicants come from different countries, cultures, academic backgrounds, and levels of work experience. How can you assess them fairly and objectively?

The GMAT® exam offers admissions professionals a consistent, objective measure of skills for all applicants. The exam is administered under standard conditions around the world, with high security, to ensure that scores are comparable across all applicants, regardless of their country of origin, present location, and other factors.

GMAT scores are used by graduate management programs worldwide to:

  • Select applicants for graduate study in management in an objective manner
  • Help determine financial aid recipients on the basis of academic potential
  • Counsel and guide applicants to select appropriate programs of study/tracks based on how strong their scores are in certain areas (e.g., if their quantitative score is high, they may be a good candidate for your Finance program/track)

GMAT exam scores should not be used as a requisite for awarding a degree or as an achievement test.

Guidelines for Using GMAT Scores

  • Use multiple admissions criteria including scores, undergraduate GPA, relevant work experience, and other important criteria for admissions. The GMAT exam is only one key factor in the admissions decision. Continue using other admissions criteria to ensure you measure discipline-related skills necessary for academic work, and subjective factors such as motivation, creativity, and interpersonal skills.
  • Validate the relationship between GMAT scores and academic performance in your program. Our free Validity Study Service (VSS), available to schools and institutions that accept the GMAT exam, helps demonstrate the relationship between test scores and performance in a specific academic program.
  • Avoid setting “cutoff” scores to disqualify candidates. Don’t automatically disqualify candidates because they fall below a score limit that you establish as the baseline minimum for your program–a cutoff score. Only consider cutoff scores when clear empirical evidence shows that a large proportion of students with a score in that range were less successful in your curriculum. Also, using cutoff scores may result in discrimination based on sex, age, ethnicity, or any other characteristics.
  • Don’t compare GMAT scores with other test scores. Although GMAT score scales are similar to those of other standardized tests, comparisons with other tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®), are not valid. In addition to the differences between the tests, the populations taking the tests have different characteristics.

Important Considerations When Comparing GMAT Scores

Test scores become meaningful when compared against a standard or norm. The percentile rankings allow you to compare your applicants’ GMAT performance against all GMAT test-takers in the last three years.

  • Direct score comparison. All standardized tests have some measurement error, which means that a test score is an estimate of the test-taker’s true ability. When comparing scores of two candidates, the standard error of the difference should be used (41), which is more than the standard error of measurement (29). The standard error of the difference has to account for the potential for error in the scores of both applicants being compared. We recommend considering all of the other applicant criteria in the context of the reported scores. If you must compare scores of two applicants directly, remember that even scores of 40-50 points apart could garner the same performance in your program.
  • Educationally disadvantaged test takers. Use special care in interpreting test scores when the test-taker is educationally disadvantaged as a result of social and environmental circumstances. Because scores represent skills accumulated over a long time, they may reflect the extent of educational disadvantage resulting from unequal opportunity, and there may be other supplementary indicators of the potential to succeed academically in a graduate management program. GMAT scores should always be considered as only part of the applicant's overall application.
  • Test takers with limited English proficiency. All GMAT exams are given in English. If a test-taker’s native language is not English, it is important to carefully consider how much the scores may have been affected by a limited proficiency with English. GMAT scores, especially the Verbal and AWA scores, may reflect the test taker's deficiency in English, rather than his or her reasoning ability. You may need to carefully consider the other aspects of the application to determine to what extent an applicant's limited English proficiency would affect participation and performance in your program.

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