You are on page 1of 9


Dont PanicYet.
By S M Mahamudul Islam
1. How to Handle Low GMAT/GRE Score?

Look at your scores in the context of a bigger picture.

A low GMAT/GRE score or a low GPA is not necessarily an MBA deal breaker. No
university is going to admit or dismiss a candidate based solely on one
semesters poor GPA or a low verbal GMAT/GRE score without also reflecting on
other numbers as well as the rest of the non-quantitative parts of the applicants

Average numbers vary according to school, as well as numbers within your

demographic group. You should examine each of these aspects and weigh the
strengths and weaknesses in your application before you can really start to worry.
And if your stats are worth worrying about, then its time we get to work and address
these concerns!
How Low Can You Go? It Depends

Certain numbers will be significant hurdles. Say, for instance, you have a GPA of 2.9
and your top choice MBA programs GPA average is 3.5. In this case, your chances of
acceptance have just taken a major hit. If, on the other hand, that same applicant
applies to a b-school with a GPA average of 3.2, then he or she may have a chance of
acceptance, provided, the rest of the application is solid, or better yet, above average.

Heres another it depends situation: Overrepresented demographics Indian

engineers or investment bankers from overrepresented ethnicities will have a
harder time getting into a top MBA program than a corporate finance executive from
an underrepresented background with the same stats. In such a case, a GMAT/GRE
score in the lower part of the schools 80% range and a GPA of 3.3 may be just too low
for one person and just high enough for another.

Your Score + Yourself = A Balancing Act

You need to examine the details of your scores and reflect on them in the context of a
bigger picture. Ask yourself these questions:

Is one score low, but balanced out by other higher numbers? Can you provide
other evidence of academic ability?

Did your overall GPA improve as you matured through the college experience?

Do you have flawlessly-written, compelling essays that prove your strong writing
and communication skills despite a somewhat lower-than-average GMAT/GRE verbal

Do you offer specific examples and anecdotes in your essays that highlight your
quantitative skills, even though your GMAT/GRE quant scores werent as high as
youd like?

Do your recommenders vouch for your abilitiesespecially ones that the

numbers dont reveal?

Have you chosen schools that will view your scores as competitive?

Have you taken additional college courses in an attempt to boost your quant or
verbal capabilities?
Have you written the optional essay to further boost your competitive edge?

You need to assess and interpret how youll be perceived with such scores and
numbers, and then develop an application strategy to address those issues.

2. 3 Tips for Handling a Low GMAT/GRE Verbal Score

Highlight your solid communication skills.

Recently I talked about overcoming the challenge of a low GMAT/GRE quant score.
Today well discuss how to handle a less-than-perfect verbal GMAT/GRE score (in the
bottom of the 80% range or lower for your target programs).
With such a strong emphasis on teamwork and communication in b-school (and for
the rest of your life as a successful businessperson), its no wonder that stellar written
and spoken verbal skills are essential for MBA students.

Here are 3 things you can do if youre worried that your low verbal score may
interfere with your chances of acceptance:

1. Demonstrate the power of the written word

You must construct expressive, flawlessly written essays. Maybe you couldnt
prove your verbal abilities with your test performance, but nows your final
opportunity to put your best verbal foot forward. Be sure to include examples and
anecdotes that highlight your solid communication skills, so that you dont just have
well-written essays, but that the content speaks to your verbal strengths as well.

2. Boost your verbal skills resume

You can enroll in additional writing and/or communications courses at a local college
(and earn As). This option is particularly important if youve received low grades in
your college English courses in addition to scoring poorly on the GMAT/GRE. Public
speaking clubs, debate teams, and other activities, roles, or events for which youve
stepped up and proven your strong communication skills are all noteworthy items
worth focusing on.

3. Reason with your recommenders

You can ask your recommenders to comment positively on your written and verbal
communication skills.

Dont run for the hills just yet! A low verbal GMAT/GRE score wont banish you from
b-school if you take strategic steps to build a rock-solid application, despite those
pesky low numbers.

3. 3 Tips for Handling a Low GMAT/GRE Quant Score

A low quant score on the GMAT/GRE (at the lower end of the schools 80% range) is
never good news, but it doesnt equal immediate rejection. As Ive mentioned in the
past, no single score is scrutinized independently, but rather your entire profile is
examined as a unified package.
WWAS (What Would University Say)?

Interpret your scores as an university member would and ask yourself these

Is the rest of your profile stellar?

Do you have solid grades in quant-related courses?

Is it possible that youre just not great at standardized tests?

Is your score perhaps not so low for people in your demographic group?

Are you applying to schools where the average GMAT/GRE score is not far off from
your lower-than-you-wouldve-wished score?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you have a chance!

3 Steps to Despite-Low-Quant-GMAT/GRE Success

The following 3 tips will help you overcome the odds and present a strong case of
acceptance to a top b-school, despite your lower-than-desired quant stats.

1. Do more. Do better.

You MUST improve your quantitative abilities or demonstrate that you have them in
some other way. In b-school and in the business world at large, knowing how to
crunch numbers is essential. Youll need to act quickly to show you are equipped for
a spot in their next b-school class. Enroll in a calculus, statistics, and/or accounting
class at your local community college ASAP. Make sure you have the prerequisite
skills; you will need to earn an A! If you have time, also take additional quant-oriented
courses, like finance or economics.

2. Highlight your quant abilities

In your resume and essays, highlight quantitative aspects of your work to further
demonstrate your quant proficiency. Use vivid details, examples, and anecdotes that
will prove to the universities that your low quant score was a fluke, and that its clear
to you and those who work with you that there are no quant problems here.
3. Let your recommenders get the job done

Ask your recommenders to highlight your quantitative achievements as well. Having

a respected third-party vouch for your skill will help you immensely.

Remember, your scores dont exist in a vacuum. With the right moves, you can
overcome this weakness and still present a super strong MBA application.

4. Dealing with a Low GPA

Just prove that you have the ability to excel in your target MBA programs.
Explaining a low GPA can be difficult and it requires you to examine your GPAs trend.

3 Scenarios

Scenario A 3.0 GPA, upward trend

You goofed off for your first few semesters and didnt weigh the consequences. You
failed some classes and started out with an embarrassingly low GPA not because of
lack of ability, but because of immaturity. Mid-sophomore year you wised up and
continuously hit above the 3.8 mark for the rest of your undergraduate career.
Scenario B 3.0 GPA, downward trend

Your college experience started out with a motivated streak of genius three solid
4.0 semesters in a row. But thenthings took a turn towards apathy and laziness and
your grades began to suffer significantly.

Scenario C 3.0 GPA, static

You work hard, but not too hard. You take some classes seriously, and some not so
much. You never really cared about school or grades to really put the effort in. A few
years out of school and a life-changing career move have motivated you to new
heights and you want to apply to b-school. But now you need to deal with a less-than-
impressive record.

Interpreting Our Scenarios

The student in Scenario A doesnt really have too much to worry about (unless hes
applying to a top MBA program for which a 3.0 GPA is a significant hurdle). Many
students early in their college careers have a couple of bad semesters because of
immaturity. Your grades went up, proving your capabilities and your increased

Scenario Bs student is in a bit more of a bind. Shes proved her abilities by acing
those first few semesters, but why the dramatic downturn? Did things get too difficult
for her? Does she have trouble performing under pressure? Or does she just not care
about improving and perfecting her academic capabilities?

The problem of mediocrity looms over Scenario Cs student. This student will need
to prove his skill level if he wants to be considered for a spot in the next MBA class.

Recovery Plans

Student A doesnt need to prove ability as much as motivation and seriousness,

which he may have already proven with his last few years of work. He may want to
ask one of his recommenders to vouch for his maturity and steadfastness. A high
GMAT/GRE/GRE score will help.

Student B will need to enroll in some college courses to prove her verbal and/or
quantitative abilities (especially if her test scores werent so great). Shell want to
make sure her essays express her newfound motivation as well as her keen writing
abilities. Her essays should include clear anecdotes that illustrate how shes matured
since her last few semesters and how her skills should be judged based on recent
work experience, rather than past college experience.

Student C is in a similar boat as Student B. Hell want to retake some of his math and
English courses and hell want to get solid As this time. Bs and Cs just wont cut it if
he wants to prove hes b-school material. Strong essays and letters of
recommendation will also boost Student Cs chances of acceptance.

Understanding Your Unique Scenario

Of course many of you will not be like Students A, B, or C. Your grade dive may have
resulted from illness or family crisis or circumstances beyond your control. Or
perhaps steady, mediocre grades resulted from your working 20-30 hours per week
to support yourself through school. There are many other scenarios too. The key is to
prove that today you have the ability to excel in your target MBA programs and
that the circumstances that contributed to the poor marks in college no longer affect

Moral of the story: A single low number can be explained or put in a less damaging
context with hard work and a solid application strategy.

Overall Chill Man. You Are Not Dead Yet. You Still Tremendous Possibility To
Shine As A Star. So Find Your Eternal Strengths And Explore It To The Admission
Committee. Remember You Have To Show What You Have And Only Then They
Will Believe It. If You Are Passionate About Your Goals, It Is Very Certain That
Today Or Tomorrow, You Will Reach Your Final Destination. No one Can Stop
You Achieving That Dream.

Stay Motivated, Pray Regularly (Pray For Me Too), Stay Focused, Dont Lose
Your Sight From The Big Picture. Remember Its Your Dream, So Have To Fight
Relentlessly To Achieve And Accomplish Your Dream. Best Wishes For All Of


S M Mahamudul Islam Munna