Business schools want reassurance that you can handle the quantitative aspects of the curriculum. If you have a low quant percentile on the GMAT or GRE, or a weak undergraduate record in quantitative courses, here are tips about how you can strengthen your quant profile for business school.
First of all, it’s helpful to understand what scores business schools like to see on the standardized exams. Although it is absolutely possible to get in with scores lower than this, the general rule is that you want to have at least a 68th percentile quant score on the GMAT, and at least a 70th percentile quant score on the GRE. Anything below that tends to trigger additional scrutiny, including a closer examination of your undergraduate grades.
If you are having trouble crossing this threshold on the GMAT, consider trying the GRE. The quant section is generally considered to be easier, especially for applicants who haven’t taken a lot of math classes.
Also, if you have a weak undergraduate GPA and think that the committee will be concerned about your academic qualifications in a general sense, quantitative or not, definitely invest the right time and resources to get a representative test score. It can go a long way in reassuring the committee that you can handle the work. (And it’s also obviously better not to apply with two metrics that are below your target school’s averages.)
- Additional Classes
If you didn’t take quantitative courses in college, or if you did take them but struggled, definitely consider taking additional courses now. The most impactful courses will be comparable to what you will find during your first year of business school (Statistics, Financial Accounting, Corporate Finance.) Classes taken in-person at the most rigorous possible institution are also optimal, and you should always take the class for a grade.
If you can’t take the class in person, I suggest looking at UC Berkeley extension courses online. HBX core is another good online option, and is comprehensive and rigorous.
Finally, if you do have weak quant grades, consider addressing them in an optional essay – ideally while drawing their attention to other indicators of your ability to handle the work.
- Professional Experience and Certifications
In some cases, you can highlight CPA or Series 6 or 7 licenses as additional evidence of quantitative ability. If you have an especially analytical job, you can also highlight those skills and ask your recommenders to get specific about your ability to manipulate data, etc. Definitely leverage the quantitative aspects of your professional experience, but consider this to be supplemental information. The schools are still going to scrutinize your grades and test scores.
There are many ways to strengthen your quant profile for business school. As with all aspects of the application process, it’s critical to be self-aware and proactive. And remember that schools are receptive to learning more about your ability to succeed.