This is the third in a series of posts on GMAT/GRE testing. We encourage you to review previous posts, if you have not already. This content was written by Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer, Dallas/Fort Worth MBA.

Before you make a final decision on which test to take, it’s best to research some of your target companies or industries and determine two things:

  1. The extent to which they evaluate a test score in reviewing job candidates.
  2. Whether they have a preference for one of the tests. At McCombs, we have found that most consulting and investment banking firms do look at the candidate’s score, and both industries historically have favored the GMAT.

Regardless of which test you take, you should consider it as another opportunity to not only impress the Admissions Committee, but also potential employers.

“Test scores are definitely important. In addition to GPA, it shows the ability to think analytically, critically, and quickly, and also demonstrates the time and energy commitment to succeed where it matters. If a candidate has a low test score and grades, we typically will not consider them for an interview.”

-Rachel Simpson, Texas Evening MBA Class of 2013 and Manager, Human Capital Consulting at Deloitte.

A few tips for managing the test process with your career in mind:

Do your homework.

Go to company websites and talk to your network within different industries to gauge their requirements and preferences. Puja Ghelani, Texas MBA at DFW Class of 2018, said that reviewing requirements online solidified that she would take the GMAT, and gave her a target score. She topped that number and landed a job upon graduation with KPMG. “Coming from a non-traditional background, my GMAT and GPA acted almost as equalizers, to prove that I was capable and could quickly be trained to do the job,” Puja said.

Consider a retake.

Many candidates take the test multiple times to improve their score. (See our previous blog for commentary on how to prepare for the test environment the first time.) Even if you scored well enough on the GMAT to meet our admissions requirements, taking the test one more time and boosting your score for the career search process can pay dividends. But our advice is to do so before you start the program when you have more time. “A friend of mine is retaking the GMAT after graduating from the MBA program to get over 700 and to improve his chances of interviewing with a top tier firm,” Puja said. “It’s not at all ideal to take this route, so if you invest the time and effort on the front end, you’ll have more opportunities to take advantage of in and through the program.”

Take the long view.

Even if you don’t have an interest in consulting or investment banking, the format of the GMAT is considered an effective preparation for the type of critical thinking style you’ll need in the MBA program and in your post-MBA career. “Prepping for the GMAT prepares one for the problem-solving approach that one needs to be successful in the MBA Program and beyond,” said Janet Huang, Director of Working Professional & Executive MBA Career Management at McCombs. “These skills are needed in the classroom, in the career recruiting process, especially for case and technical interviews where you are asked to solve a business problem, and in the workplace.”

Regardless of which test you take, consider it part of the overall MBA investment. Challenging yourself in the testing environment will make you better prepared for what comes along the way during and after the program. Stay tuned for more in this series soon.