5 Questions on the GMAT with Michelle Miller, CEO at Aringo MBA Admissions Consulting

Is it ever too early to start preparing for the GMAT? Aringo MBA Admissions Consulting CEO Michelle Miller answers our questions

Why do you think the GMAT score is such an important part of the MBA application?

Aringo CEO Michelle Miller. Source: Private.

I find that it is important simply because it has only shown to grow in importance to admissions committees year after year.

Every year when the class profiles come out, particularly at the top 10-20 schools, which is where we focus, the importance of the GMAT has continued to climb. 

Usually it's a small climb, but we have examples like last year at Kellogg, Northwestern University's business school, where their average GMAT score climbed – ok this is off the top of my head – but I would say over 10 points in one year. That's a huge jump in the average. 

So it's important because the schools keep showing how important it is. 

And we would really like to take it at face value when we hear that it is just one part of the application, but I believe the admissions trends show that it continues to be a very important piece of the application.

When you meet applicants for the first time have they already sat the GMAT, or are they more likely to be heading towards that?

The candidates come to us at all different stages of the GMAT process. Just yesterday I spoke to a candidate who had only graduated with a bachelor's degree two months ago, so he hasn't even bought a GMAT book yet. 

He just wanted some tips on "how should I be preparing myself over the next few years?”

And then I get candidates who are applying this year so they're studying for the GMAT right now, they have their test dates scheduled. I also have quite a few candidates where it’s already behind them, plus even more candidates who have taken the GMAT but they're preparing for a retake. 

So if we go back to the guy who’s only just graduated with his bachelor's degree, what are of the first things you tell him about the GMAT?

I tell him that it's a bear. Don't take it lightly. I tell him, “this is not a test you should go in and take cold. This is something that takes serious time and preparation.”

I tell him that it's never too early to start. So even though he and I might not speak for another three years, when he's ready to apply, I let him know it's never too early to buy a book to start looking at so you're not [where] unfortunately so many candidates are in right now. They want to get their applications in in less than three months and they're still banging their head against the wall.”

I encourage candidates to talk to an expert, to go to a math tutor. Find a reputable one with proven expertise and make sure that your preparation is evolving. I think that it makes sense that many candidates will start with some degree of self-study, perhaps they might pick up a Manhattan Prep book – sorry, we call it The Bible – to do their initial preparation. But once they can actually practice and they start to get a feel for where they're at with the material, then it's time to determine whether they need to focus on something more specifically. 

Is there a common mistake you see candidates making with the GMAT or their MBA applications more broadly?

Simply underestimating the test itself. I can give you a more specific example of what I mean. I oftentimes will talk to candidates who haven't begun studying yet and they'll tell me, "you know, I haven't actually looked at the GMAT yet, but I'm not worried about it because I aced my SATs, PSATs, etc." They will assume that that the GMAT is just going to be another quote unquote easy standardized test for them to get through.

And if I could add one thing about MBA applications more generally, candidates often undervalue the importance of campus visits.

Because on paper, a school might look like the perfect match for you. But if you go to the campus, you might find a different culture, or that you don’t really enjoy being there – whereas at another school that wasn’t originally top of your list, you could find that the culture fits you better.

This can also help you avoid a ‘deer in the headlights’ situation. Picture yourself in the interview, where it’s all gone so well and then the interviewer casually asks, “have you had a chance to visit the campus?” You really want to be able to say “yes” in that moment!

What MBA application services does Aringo provide?

In addition to offering a lot of complimentary profile evaluations, candidates who work with Aringo receive comprehensive support on their applications. 

Aringo assists applicants in choosing the appropriate program, developing an application strategy, and guiding them through writing a resume (CV), recommendations, and strong essays.

Aringo also offers assistance interview preparation conducted by interviewers who sat on admissions committees at some of the top programs, as well as assistance in applying for financial aid. We specialize in Top 10 MBA admissions for candidates around the world.

We pride ourselves on being able to help our candidates not just craft a strong narrative for their applications but also course-specific narratives.  

For example, Kellogg is world-renowned for their hands-on teamwork-based approach on campus. So we would want to make sure that we help our applicants explore and explain all the ways that they are strong team members and that they're not the type of person who would prefer to work on an island. 

It's our job to help them with the matching process and then in developing these narratives so that they can bring out those parts of their qualifications and explain why they're a strong fit for the schools.


Images:

  • Studying by Pexels CC0
  • Michelle Miller. Source: Private.

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