Ask Kate: Masters Degree with Low GMAT Score

Hello Kate,
I took GMAT for second time and scored 620. The breakdown is Q48/V28. The GMAT results are not too different from when I took it the first time. I have a Masters in Aerospace Engineering with 3.8 GPA and a 8 years of work experience. What word of advice do you have for me?

Thank you for the prompt response. I am looking at part time program and not a full time or executive mba program. I failed to mention that my IR and AWA scores are 6.0 and 4.5 receptively. Would these have any role to play in the mba admission process?

mastersAssuming you are targeting a top tier program for full time MBA:
Well, the quant score is in the clear as one would expect from an Aerospace Engineer – so good work there. Unfortunately, you are in a position where your low verbal score is crushing your opportunity. In the past 5 years business schools have demonstrated more concern for a student’s ability to perform well in class. Specifically, for a student to understand the lecture and then take that understanding and build upon it, on his own. Assignments are less, do problems X,Y,Z and more here’s a concept, how might you apply this concept to businesses X,Y,Z and what are the potential outcomes.

Can you demonstrate success with non-engineering curriculum? It need not be a literature class, but something that demonstrates more qualitative thinking and critical position development. Classes that are largely discussion oriented may be good examples. Even Aerospace design classes that were more theoretical or abstract would be helpful. Since you’ve taken twice and the performance has not changed, you want to demonstrate other positive ways for them to consider your candidacy. If you’ve managed the leadership group of a community organization, run a political campaign (even if very small local…) or done something else that says, “Hey this candidate is trusted by a group,” that can demonstrate the qualities many programs seek.

You will need to show that you are not just a quant jock. You will also need killer essays and recommendations.

If you are NOT targeting top tier or full time . . . you have a lot more breathing room. A 620 is not ideal, but you have enough work experience in years to be a strong executive mba program applicant if your career has had a decent trajectory. You’ll still need to put together a compelling application, but the burden is not as heavy as if aiming for top 10 full time MBA programs.

Best wishes with the application process. I’d set the GMAT aside and go for broke on the essays.


Gladly! Well, you should be in pretty good shape for a part time mba program once you emphasize your other skills (beyond quant). I wouldn’t worry about the IR and AWA, those are fine. If you’re having trouble coming up with demonstrating your non-quant skills, consider team leadership (even if work-related engineering team) examples. Have you managed multiple concurrent projects?

Do use the supplemental essay to add the examples of your team leadership since they may not flow in your personal statement. It is okay to start the essay with something like this: I would appreciate the admission committee using the following examples to determine my fitness as a candidate rather than my GMAT as the verbal score poorly represents my abilities – please use your own wording. Do get the point out that you can comprehend the verbal cues around you.

Good luck!


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