In the Jack Welch Management Institute’s MBA program, we don’t gauge graduate student ability with one obscure test. Rather, we assess who is going to be successful by looking at many indicators—including professional work history, undergraduate grade point average, and a commitment to being a great leader.
In the academic community, some argue that without measures such as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), university admissions standards are watered down. However, there has been a shift in what great institutions consider important skills and abilities to measure during the application process. As an example, less than half of the top 25 Executive MBA programs in the United States currently require the GMAT. JWMI follows suit with other great universities such as UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in identifying factors other than the GMAT to measure ability.
Rather than using questions about triangle inequality, negative square roots, irrational numbers and what the word “contumacious” means as a measure of incoming student ability, our admissions team rigorously reviews applicants’ work experience and accomplishments, academic track record, and leadership potential. Since our students come to JWMI with, on average, 14 years of professional experience, they bring rich ideas and lessons of their own to the classroom. In this way, students are teaching each other as much as the faculty member is driving learning. This creates a dynamic exchange and interesting dialogue—things that could never be measured by a standardized test.
So, to those critics who denounce admissions standards that are absent the GMAT, I challenge you to review the content of the GMAT and list three reasons why the questions in that exam measure ability any better than proven business experience, strong academic success and the drive to earn a graduate degree.
If we look at that list of top MBA programs next year, my bet is that less than a third of the finest institutions will be using GMAT as an admissions requirement. We are glad to be out in front.