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How important are GMAT Scores and Grades?
The GMAT score and GPA are used in two ways. First, they're used as "success indicators" for the academic work. In other words, if admitted, will you have the brain power and discipline to make it through the program? Second, they're used to compare applicants against the larger pool. In particular, the top schools like applicant pools with high scores. They think that having an incoming class with high score and grade profiles is an indicator of their program's prestige and selectivity.

The GMAT
Virtually every MBA program in the country requires their applicants to take the GMAT. In fact, one of the notable holdouts -- Harvard -- started requiring the GMAT again for people applying for fall 1997 admissions. Great GMAT scores won't necessarily get you into the school of your choice (there are too many other factors), but low scores will almost certainly keep you out. As a general rule, if your scores are more than 50 points below a school's average, you are probably facing an uphill battle. If you're in this situation, consider taking the GMAT again. Business schools generally focus on your most recent score.

GPA
Some schools look more closely at junior and senior year grades than the overall GPA. Most consider the academic reputation of your college and the difficulty of your curriculum. A transcript loaded with courses like "Environmental Appreciation" and "The Child in You" isn't valued as highly as one with a more substantive agenda. Increasingly, schools are looking quite closely at your performance in quantitative courses, particularly calculus and microeconomics, when evaluating transcripts. Given the quantitative nature of much of the course work in an MBA program, they feel that such courses are good indicators of your likely performance. If you didn't take any quantitative courses as an undergraduate (or didn't do so well in the ones you took), one thing that you can do to improve your application is to take a calculus, statistics, or microeconomics class before you apply. Of course, you need to do well if this is going to help you.


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