The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a tool often used by business schools in evaluating applicants for the MBA program. This standardized assessment is also an essential criterion for a management consulting career, as some firms consider a candidate’s GMAT score during the recruiting process.
Why Consulting Firms Consider GMAT Scores
GMAT scores are taken into consideration by some consulting firms because the results may reveal the applicant’s management consulting competencies. GMAT scores can help recruiters determine whether or not candidates will move on to the interview stage.
Quantitative Reasoning Ability
The quantitative section of the GMAT helps employers gauge your quantitative reasoning ability. An impressive score on questions related to numerical problems implies that you have the capability to effectively deal with numbers on a regular basis. Consultants frequently assess financial reports, compute costs and revenues, and engage in many other quantitative tasks. If you’re not good with numbers, you may not be consultant material.
Critical Reasoning Skill
GMAT scores can also reflect your reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills. Employers want to gauge your ability to understand written text, formulate sound reasoning, and interpret and express ideas. A good score in this section implies you have outstanding verbal reasoning skills, which consultants must have in order to study research and write reports and recommendations.
Your marks on the integrated reasoning part of the GMAT may be used by recruiters to evaluate your graphical and table analysis capabilities. Consultants analyze data in different formats, and a good score in this section indicates your ability to resolve complex problems.
Written Communication Skill
Finally, GMAT scores help employers assess whether you can write analytically under pressure. Consultants have great idea organizational skills and are frequently called upon to develop comprehensive presentations for various clients within a short period of time. Therefore, the ability to organize ideas and provide supporting facts is attractive to recruiters.
How to Compensate for a Low GMAT Score
If you don’t have an impressive GMAT score, you need to compensate in other aspects so as not to completely derail your candidacy.
If done properly, networking can be the key to getting your foot in the door of a prestigious consulting firm. Remember, your goal is to add contacts who are associated with your target firm. You need to network with people in your prospective firm, even if they are not involved in the recruiting process. You may use these valuable contacts for informational interviews, in which you ask for advice about your career path such as day-to-day consulting responsibilities, how your contact became interested in their firm, challenges and rewards, etc.
You can then use the information you have learned in your cover letter. You may mention who you have met and what inspired you to pursue a position at the company. Resume screeners will see these specific details as a genuine and dedicated effort to learn about them, and your letter will stand out even if you have a low GMAT score. Who knows, you might even build strong relationships with consultants who can influence the resume screening and interview process.
The activities you participate in outside of school or work may also help compensate for a low GMAT score. You can mention volunteer work, student council involvement, school newspaper contribution, etc.—anything that will prove academic excellence and/or notable social involvement. When discussing your extracurricular experience, ensure you highlight roles that demonstrate your leadership and people skills as well as your communication skills and motivation.
Another way to impress recruiters, even if you have a low GMAT score, is by providing a results-oriented track record. Consulting firms want achievers who can prove quantifiable accomplishments. Ensure that your application clearly shows your valuable contribution to your previous or current employer. Regardless of your background, firms are generally impressed with the quantifiable impact you have made in the past.
Consultants must possess strong leadership skills. Listing leadership roles you’ve held will also help compensate for a low GMAT score. Firms are after individuals with great people skills—an ability that effective leaders have in common. As consultants handle diverse interpersonal situations, your application needs to establish you as a personable leader.
Of course, if you really want to excel in the consulting industry, you have to make extra effort to hone essential consulting skills. One critical skill you need to improve is your math skills. Consultants need to be able to calculate numerical data fast and accurately in their heads. As an aspiring consultant, you need to develop this skill if you’re not that comfortable with numbers.
Additional key skills you need to take the time to hone are your problem solving and analytical skills. You can take advantage of the available books and other material to help you improve these essential consulting abilities. Consultants typically exhibit strong competencies in devising efficient solutions, so work on it.
Moreover, ensure your application is properly structured and well-written in order to convey your excellent communication skills. You will also need to prepare for the case interview. Consultants must be able to convey their ideas in a concise manner, so work on your written, verbal, and nonverbal communication skills, particularly if your GMAT score is not that impressive.
The GMAT and other standardized tests must not be taken for granted. These exams reflect your capability to handle the responsibilities of a management consultant. Ensure to provide your GMAT score in your application, especially if it’s good, and remember to compensate in other key areas if you didn’t do so well.