I recently attended the QS MBA Fair in Los Angeles, which is always a busy event for us. Among the variety of questions from prospectives, many were about how we evaluate academics and test scores. Since these application components can understandably induce a fair amount of anxiety, I wanted to talk about them in today’s blog post.
A number of schools, including UCLA Anderson, have started accepting both the GMAT and GRE for admission in recent years. All components of the GMAT/GRE are taken into consideration, including the verbal, quantitative, Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), and Integrated Reasoning (IR – GMAT only) scores so it’s important to prepare for and do well on each part. If you have not taken either test and are unsure which one to study for, I would lean towards the GMAT since it was designed specifically for business school admissions and we have more familiarity with it. Ultimately though, go with the test that you’re most comfortable with.
Applicants educated outside the United States are also required to take the TOEFL exam unless you were taught solely in English during your undergraduate and/or prior graduate degree program. The TOEFL helps assess English fluency for those educated in another language, and like the GMAT/GRE, all components are considered. We also accept the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL. Our website has more detailed information about the TOEFL, so please be sure to read this section thoroughly.
In addition to test scores, your prior academic performance, such as undergraduate and post-graduate coursework, is another important metric. Transcripts are not just about your overall GPA or marks - the admissions committee takes into context not only your actual scores or letter grades, but factors such as the rigor of your school and courseload plus trends over time. Admitted candidates tend to show a consistent level of performance above their peers. Academic diversity is important to us, so applicants from all majors are encouraged to apply.
Academics and test scores are considered together to paint a broad picture of your future academic potential. While strong performance in both areas will enhance your profile, not doing too well in one isn't the end of the world. You don’t have much quantitative coursework during undergrad? We may look more closely at your quantitative score on the GMAT. Not the greatest test taker? Strong undergraduate grades can help alleviate our concerns. For better context, focus on the GMAT and GPA ranges on our class profile instead of the averages.
Remember that test scores and academics comprise only a portion of the application requirements, and it takes more than good numbers to be successful in an MBA program and beyond. Your work experience, essay, letter of recommendation, and interview are all carefully considered as well, and it’s this holistic approach that leads us to an incredible class each year!
For additional thoughts and sage advice, check out the following blog posts from our students:
Application Tips - Mike Leve '16
MBA Application Tips for Fast Approaching Deadlines - Matt Harris '15
5 Application Fallacies - Buzz Black '15
Hope this helps! Post thoughts or questions below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.