Currently viewing the tag: "GMAT"

Christine just handed me an idea (nay, a plea) for today’s post.  She told me that, as the staffer who answers the questions of most callers and emailers (particularly while our student interns are in the middle of exams), she has been fielding endless special requests this week, mostly related to taking and submitting results for the GRE/GMAT.  Requests such as:  Can I submit scores late?  Can I take the exam after the application deadline?  Can you waive the requirement for me, because I haven’t studied for the exam?  Or because I graduated from college many years ago?

So, with Christine and all the applicants who take the exam in a timely way (and don’t make special requests) in mind, here’s the deal:  Fletcher requires submission of GRE/GMAT scores because we find them to be a useful analytical tool, even though GRE/GMAT scores are never the sole basis for an admissions decision.  Our expectation is that you will make your application complete as quickly as possible after the deadline.  That is, you must submit the online application materials before the deadline, but supporting credentials (test scores, recommendations) can arrive a little bit later without having a negative effect on your application.  Today’s date is December 13.  If you’re aiming for the January 10 deadline, you have about three weeks to take the exam and still expect to complete your application in time.

(Note that, even within the structure outlined above, you can still see a typically Fletcher-ish flexibility.  We could (but don’t) say we refuse to review an application if all materials don’t arrive by the deadline.  We want to give our applicants every opportunity to put together a strong application.  But that flexibility doesn’t extend as far as offering special arrangements to each of the thousand people Christine feels she has spoken to this week.)

Since many graduate schools have January deadlines, testing centers tend to be very busy this time of year.  That is why, if you haven’t taken the test yet, you need to act RIGHT NOW and find a test date.

What happens if on January 10…January 15…January 20…February 1, your scores still haven’t reached us?  Well, we’re just going to hold all your materials in a folder while we wait.  Leaving your application in that endless purgatory is, let’s say, not a great strategy for obtaining admission.

As for all the other reasons people give for not wanting to take the exam (graduated long ago, math skills are rusty, etc.), I can only say that your fellow applicants would probably say much the same.  No one likes taking these exams.  We understand that.  But like many unpleasant things in life, you simply need to do it.  In this case, you also need to do it on our schedule — not because we seek to inconvenience you, but because not following our schedule may hurt your own chances of gaining admission.

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Dear Ariel: Are my GRE scores good enough to get into Fletcher?

All MALD, MA, MIB, and PhD applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Text (GMAT).  Subject tests of the GRE are not required.

The Fletcher School’s Committee on Admissions views standardized test scores as part of the applicant’s total application, but not the most important part.  The Admissions Committee does not have a minimum requirement for GRE or GMAT test scores.

In recent years the middle 50% GRE verbal score has been in the 77th – 96th percentile range, the middle 50% GRE quantitative score in the 61st – 84th percentile range, and the middle 50% GRE analytical writing in the 49th – 92nd percentile range.  For the GMAT, the middle 50% has been in the 73rd – 92nd percentile range.

And just as a reminder, Fletcher cannot accept GRE/GMAT scores that are more than five years old. Happy testing!

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This year, the Fletcher admissions process will include a revised testing policy for MALD and MA applicants.  While the new policy is sure to make a few people unhappy (and we have held off on making the change for just that reason), it actually affects a fairly small subset of our applicant pool.  So here it is.

Starting with the October 15 deadline for applications for January admission, all applicants to the MALD and MA programs, whether they’re from the U.S. or another country, will need to submit results of the GRE or GMAT exam.  Non-native English speakers, unless their university education was in English, will also need to submit results of an English language assessment exam (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE).  This has been the policy of the PhD and MIB programs for many years, so we’re bringing the MALD and MA expectations in line with these other programs.

You may be wondering why we have decided on this change.  Often, the Admissions Committee finds itself in a complete muddle over an applicant who submits a transcript with minimal grades, or with strangely cryptic course names, or with an overall grade of 46 that recommenders tell us is a good result.  We don’t expect the GRE or GMAT results to clarify everything for us, but we think they’ll help in a good number of cases.  Finally, professors on the Admissions Committee have asked us to change the policy for several years.

The irony is that we require test scores from applicants who have graduated from the universities we know the best.  If we ask for scores from a student with a 4.0 average in international relations at Tufts, why wouldn’t we also want that piece of information from someone who studied at a university we don’t know well in another country?  As it happens, many of the applicants in the affected group tend to submit scores anyway, and even when they don’t send test results to Fletcher, they’re sending scores to our peers that require them.  That is, they’ve taken the test and simply need to direct the score reports to Fletcher.  So the policy change is significant, but the ultimate impact will be less so.

Here’s why we didn’t make the change earlier:  We know that GREs and GMATs are expensive.  But the cost is minimal compared with the expense of studying in the U.S. for two years.  We know that, in some countries, the exams are not offered as often as they are in the U.S.  Well…this will be a challenge, but we expect our applicants to plan carefully.

So, in the end, we decided that the values of fairness and clarity win out over the inconvenience that we know a small group will experience.  Fortunately, I expect that the new policy will be a subject of conversation for only one year.  After this, anyone doing careful homework on the admissions process will have at least twelve months’ notice and can plan accordingly.

I’ll close with the answer to one question that will surely come up.  Yes — we will adjust our expectations, particularly on the verbal and analytical sections, for the non-native speakers.  We’re already accustomed to making that mental adjustment, and now we’ll simply be doing it more frequently.  If you have other questions about the change, please feel free to ask them as a comment to the blog, or email the office.

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If you’re thinking of applying to Fletcher this fall (or if you want to help your friends who are applying), you’ll want to know about the consequences of a new GRE exam that will be launched on August 1.  I’m going to let the test designers tell you about the new test via the GRE website.  Because Fletcher will accept old scores or new scores, the format isn’t the wrinkle for us — it’s the reporting schedule that will have the greatest impact on Fletcher applications.

So here’s a summary to help you consider how/whether you’ll be affected:

1.  If you have already taken the GRE exam and you like your scores, you’re all set!  We will happily continue accepting scores from the soon-to-be discontinued exam format for as long as the scores are valid (five years).

2.  If you are planning to apply for January 2012 enrollment, with our application deadline of October 15, you should register to take the outgoing GRE format before it is discontinued on July 31.  If you wait until after August 1, your scores may not arrive in time to be considered with your application.

3.  If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our Early Notification deadline of November 15, you can take the exam in the outgoing format or in the new format, but you should be aware of the delayed reporting schedule.  Here’s the schedule ETS provides (note the two-month delay for August test-takers):

In addition to the reporting delay itself, Fletcher applicants will want to keep in mind that you may not have information about your own scores before you submit applications.  Unless you take the old format test this summer, you won’t have time to learn your score and consider retesting before the Early Notification deadline.

4.  If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our January 15 deadline, you’ll have more flexibility. You can choose the old format or the new format, and scores will be reported quickly enough that you can consider your score and decide whether to retest.  In fact, we hope that the worst of the chaos/turmoil/confusion caused by the changeover will have passed by the time we’re dealing with the majority of our applications.

Remember that you also have the option of submitting GMAT scores, if you want to avoid taking the GRE during their transitional year.

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Last week, my daughter Kayla took her first of (sadly) many standardized tests.  Up to now, she has taken the Massachusetts assessment tests that seem to be given to school children every-other-day from March to June each year, but this was her first of the fill-in-the-bubble college entrance exams.  Fortunately, the PSAT doesn’t count for much, particularly for 10th-graders like her.

We’re very aware, from both personal and professional experience, how annoying, daunting, nerve-racking, irritating, (fill in your choice of adjective here) the graduate-level standardized exams can be.  As I may have written before in the blog, when I started to work in admissions, I had hoped I’d find the GRE and GMAT to be useless.  As it turns out, I learned that the exam scores help us interpret the endlessly diverse education backgrounds reflected in the applications we receive.  Fortunately for applicants, we don’t have minimum acceptable scores, and we don’t assess applicants against the mean or some other statistical basis.  While (probably I don’t need to say this) higher scores are always better, we evaluate test results in the context of the applicant’s overall application.

So what’s a test-taker to do?  At a minimum, follow the advice I gave to Kayla:  prepare yourself by becoming familiar with the test format and the many different question types that tend to recur on exam after exam.  And you really should time your practice tests.  So often I hear that nerves and time-management difficulties are what kept an applicant from doing as well on the exam as he had hoped.  Whether you should study for months on end, or sign up for an expensive test prep class, is a judgment you’ll need to make, but I certainly believe it’s a mistake to hand over your money to the GRE or GMAT people and not try to do as well as you can.

And what about re-testing?  In general, for Fletcher anyway, there’s not much point in re-testing if your scores will only change by ten or 20 points.  (And that’s assuming they’ll go up — scores can also go in the other direction.)  But if you were sick on the exam day, or your car had a flat tire on the way to the test center, or any other circumstances prevented you from doing as well as you believe you could have, then consider taking the test a second time.

Once the tests are taken, make sure you  have had the scores reported to Fletcher, and then think about other aspects of your application.  I can assure you that we never make decisions solely on the basis of GRE or GMAT results.

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