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I got a low GMAT/GRE score, now what?

Updated on December 30, 2010

Even If you got a low GRE or GMAT score, don't panic just yet. Read on to see how you can better your profile!

This is one of the most common problems with aspiring graduate and MBA students all over the world. However, contrary to common perception, the GMAT and the GRE are not the defining aspects of your profile, and need not weigh down your application. Read on to find out how you can still get into your dream university with your scores. Let us begin at the basics, and go step by step.

What is The GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a Computer-Adaptive standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools commonly use the test as one of many selection criteria for admission into graduate business administration programs (e.g. MBA, Master of Accountancy, etc.) principally in the United States, but also in other English-speaking countries like the UK.

What is the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a commercially-run standardized test that is an admission requirement for many graduate schools in the United States and in other English-speaking countries. Created and administered by Educational Testing Service (or ETS), the exam measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study

What is the TOEFL?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (or TOEFL) evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. It sometimes is an admission requirement for non-native English speakers at many English-speaking colleges and universities.

Which exam have you taken? - GMAT or GRE

The GMAT or The GRE?

See results

OK. So my GRE or GMAT score is low. What's the first step?

Step 1 to better a profile with a low GRE/GMAT score:

Firstly, decide whether your current GRE/GMAT score is acceptable or too low. You may then decide whether you need to take the test again. Although there is no such thing as a 'cut-off' score you can still reasonably estimate your chances at a particular university with your score. If you have a stellar academic record with glowing recommendations and a well-composed personal statement, you can get through to a good university even with a really poor GMAT/GRE score. For example, there was one international student who got admitted to a graduate program in Columbia with a GRE score of 1060, because he could cover it up in other areas. You may choose to contact a graduate adviser at the university and 'pre-check' if you still have a reasonable chance of being admitted.

If you are an international student, you may also want to know that a good TOEFL score can offset a poor verbal score. GMAT/GRE scores are also program dependent; especially in case of GRE scores. An applicant to an MS program in a field related to engineering need not worry if his verbal score is, say 350; but a student who wants a graduate degree in English Literature will find it most difficult to get admitted to a good graduate program, with the same verbal score.Try to keep in mind your program requirements before you make a decision about giving the test again.

Step One was easy! What's next?

Step 2 to better a profile with a low GRE/GMAT score:

Secondly, You need a kick-ass personal statement and great letters of recommendation. If you decide to apply with a 'low' GMAT/GRE score, DON'T try to make excuses in either your recommendations or your personal statement. Never tell the admissions committee that you 'deserved' a better score. They've heard it all before, and it only gives them the impression that you can't get the job done, so you're looking for excuses. You cannot blame 'pressure' for failing to perform; GMAT/GRE are designed to be challenging and to see how well a student can perform under pressure.

If you had a personal problem or medical condition that affected you, try to get in touch with someone from the admissions committee who will be sympathetic to your cause. If you really wish to mention it in your personal statement, say 'personal problem' but leave out any other details.

I'm done with the second step. What's the third and last step?

Step 3 to better a profile with a low GRE/GMAT score:

Thirdly, if you have time, make up for your 'low' scores. If you can get straight A's in all the courses relevant to graduate program that you wish to pursue, then it will further your cause to no end. Remember - good grades in relevant courses can mask a low GMAT/GRE score, but even the best GMAT/GRE scores cannot completely mask a poor academic record! As mentioned before, also make sure that your recommendations highlight your strengths and expertise in the fields related to your graduate program.

Any last words?

Final Advice to better a profile with a low GRE/GMAT score:

Parting words: Don't be under the impression that taking the test twice is a handicap. In many cases the admissions committee considers it as an effort by the student to improve, which gives a very positive vibe about the student.

In a nutshell, low GMAT/GRE scores need not stop you from pursuing the course of your choice in the college of your choice.Don't be unduly bothered about it. Best of Luck!

Appreciation from Squidoo

Thank you, Angels!

SquidAngels traverse the Squidoo world looking for blessworthy lenses that give something to the community. This lens was blessed by the angels theraggededge and Skiesgreen.

Thank you so much!

Some products i've chosen for you (on amazon): - Check these out , they may help you do better in future!

I have handpicked these products, they are the among the ones I used on my way to a score of 1450(800 Q + 650 V) on my GRE and 115 on my TOEFL. If you're looking to give the test for the first time, at least Barron's GRE is a must-have book for you.

More Books and Cds

Above I've listed Books and CDs that are my favorites, but you may find some other preparation material equally useful. Search here to see if you can find something that appeals to you.

You may find these Free preparational materials useful:

Free preparation material for you. If you can come across any website that offers quality free material please let me know and i'll include it here!

Ready to begin with your preparation? Or just want some last-minute tips? I would love to hear what you have to say. Please leave your feedback about my lens!

Got a question? Got a suggestion? Please leave a comment! - I'm also available if you need any personal help. Just contact me!

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    • profile image

      sara 2 years ago

      I think that the GMAT is very important because a good score can get you into a good business program like this.

      http://gmat-scope.blogspot.com/2011/05/gmat-essay-...

    • profile image

      edwards_fire 4 years ago

      Sorry. Wrong URL before. Check out GMAT Pill, an online GMAT prep course, which promises you to ace GMAT in 30 days.

    • profile image

      edwards_fire 4 years ago

      Great lens! Check out my review of a GMAT Prep online course - GMAT Pill at:

      http://www.squidoo.com/gmat-pill-review

    • profile image

      samjames700 5 years ago

      What is the minimum score required in GRE to get admission for MS in US?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great blog,I am appreciate with u.really hard work is most important in GRE exams score.

      MS in US

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Only hardworking required for grtting GRE Good Scores

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      good stuff

    • profile image

      Sarah0601 5 years ago

      Hello,

      I am preparing for GRE and I am very weak in Quantitative section. It may be because I am from arts background. I am looking for some online help which suits my pocket. i found this online resource http://www.wiziq.com/course/2526-improve-your-gre-... . I need your help, Can you please suggest if it is good enough for a beginner like me who needs to start from basics.

      Thanks,

      Sarah

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      One suggestion I would add for those planning to get PhD's and scored poorly... you can always go to a lower ranked program and work really hard with professors and your writing and get into a higher ranked program for your PhD.

      I don't know how many other students are like me, but I have some major problems with standardized tests. Taking the GRE was like taking the ACT all over again. My parents paid big bucks to help me improve my score and after taking it three times my score went up 2 points and I barely made the cutoff. I have no learning disabilities, I have a 3.5 GPA, I am constantly writing papers and I love it, and my professors love me! I know I am an intelligent person and I wish I could figure out why there is such a gap between my school performance and my standardized test scores but I just can't. My GRE score put me in the bottom 34th percentile. Much of what is on the quantitative portion of the test is being covered in my math course I'm enrolled in this semester. I just aced my last test in it! The verbal reasoning portion surprises me even more, since I am constantly reading and writing. I even studied for the GRE and when I took the practice test I got above average scores. I realize you cannot blame test anxiety because people in charge of admissions could "care less", but my future should not be in the hands of some arbitrary test which proves nothing about my research capabilities. I hope that when my children are applying for grad school the standardized testing corporation (supposedly non profit) will be exposed as the fraudulent company that it is. The more research I do on ETS the less faith I have in our education system from elementary through post grad.

      That is all.

    • nekoneko profile image

      nekoneko 6 years ago

      like!!

    • profile image

      rockinbosslady 6 years ago

      I used to run an MBA program and the #1 excuse for poor GMAT performance was "I suffer from test anxiety." The admissions committee doesn't care! Rankings are what the top tier programs care about and if your score is low, you need to look elsewhere or retake the test.

    • profile image

      slihn21 6 years ago

      Very detailed and well written! Most students I work with worry a lot about taking their GREs or GMATs so these are some great tips to give them.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 6 years ago

      Kinda weird to think there was a time when the GMAT/GRE/MCAT/LSAT didn't even exist. A cynic might be tempted to think they were just something someone made up just so certain people could make a fortune...

      Anyway, good advice and we lensrolled to our college and grad school tips.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @indigoj: Thank you!

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @KenSymes: I hope it does, too:) Thanks!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      I'm sure the advice you share here will be reassuring to many -- good work!

    • KenSymes profile image

      KenSymes 7 years ago

      Great practical lens! I like it. I hope people needing this advice will find it.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @delia-delia: Thank you very much :)

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      I can see you are a Masters Student of Computer Science...all your lenses are well done and very informative

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey there prosperity, thanks for reading! I'm sure they have a Masters and an MBA as separate degrees in your country too, in some places they call them by other names :) Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on this topic.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @burgessvillian: Hey, thanks a lot! I was in the same place before I had to give these test :D

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Nice summary for students applying to Graduate School, and great advice particularly for International Students.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Clear and detailed information here. Well done lens! I don't live in an English speaking country nor went to the University and therefore haven't a master or MBA (I think Master in my country is MBA in other countries) and I've learnt a lot reading this page.

    • burgessvillian profile image

      burgessvillian 7 years ago

      Very informative lens. I've been out of school for a number of years and didn't know some of these terms. I thought toefl was a Japanese soy product. LOL.

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thanks :) I am working on a few lenses for individual parts of these exams too. I'll have them up as soon as I can!

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @aishu19: Hey Ayesha, Thanks for the appreciation! I'm glad I can help people out in some way :)

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @ArunBalagopalan: Thank buddy! If I knew you had joined I would have taught you all I know by now (not much) lol....Never fear, now I know you're here! Feel free to ask me anything.

    • profile image

      aishu19 7 years ago

      Great lens that works as a word of encouragement to those who fear these exams or are in a situation where they really didn't do well. Great and practical solutions you have listed here

    • profile image

      ArunBalagopalan 7 years ago

      @ArunBalagopalan: PS: Favorited, gave a thumbs up! cheers!

    • profile image

      ArunBalagopalan 7 years ago

      This is a great lens! And you joined July 02, 2010? Incredible.. Jus share some tips bro!

      This one is just amazing!

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @anonymous: thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      wow, great lens! every thing is in perfect order.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @myraggededge: Thank you so much! With your blessings, I can only become better :)

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @Isabelle-heart: Thanks!

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @reganbharti: Calculated effort, the right materials and a little bit of luck is all that's required to get here. You can do it too!

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Very neatly done. I'm impressed by your first attempt at lensbuilding. Blessed by a Squid angel :-)

    • profile image

      Isabelle-heart 7 years ago

      Great lens!! really informative

    • profile image

      reganbharti 7 years ago

      Hey, a good, informative and motivating lens for the people who are not able to get such gr8 score like you.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Wow! Thanks a ton! This just made my day :)

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @RedSportNiac: Thanks a lot! i'll try my best to keep it up.

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @KarenHC: Thank you very much :)

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @GuyB LM: Hey, thanks! i am also making a lens about preparing for these tests. anyway, let me know if you need some tips and best of luck to her!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      You have done very well with a first lens. The information will help a lot of people aspiring to enter University. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • profile image

      RedSportNiac 7 years ago

      Quite a well done lens for your first one. Keep it up.

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      I agree with the other comments that this is a very good lens, especially since it's your first one! You have good information, and you organized it very well.

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 7 years ago

      Great lens, my wife is about to take these tests, I'll pass this info along-thanks thumbs up

    • profile image

      ArvindNarasimhan 7 years ago

      @callinsky lm: Hey, thanks a ton :) But i went through just one lens of yours and i can safely say you're mistaken :D i still have a long way to go before i can be as good as you!

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 7 years ago

      Great lens. Especially for your first one ever. Your English is better than mine. (O;

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      hey thanks for your help! I'll know what to do if i get a low score in the future! Rock on!