Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Traditional MBA Admissions Criteria and Graduate School Success: The Importance of GMAT Scores and Undergraduate GPA as Predictors of Graduate Business School Performance

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Traditional MBA Admissions Criteria and Graduate School Success: The Importance of GMAT Scores and Undergraduate GPA as Predictors of Graduate Business School Performance

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The traditional approach that business schools have used in making decisions regarding admission into their graduate programs is to employ a formula that considers the overall GMAT score and undergraduate GPA (UGGPA) of the applicant, with prescribed minimum formula scores for conditional or unconditional admissions (Braunstein, 2002; Hedlund, Wilt, Nebel, Ashford, and Sternberg, 2006; Kass, Grandzol, and Bommer 2012; Loucopoulos, Gutierrez and Hofler, 2007; Ragothaman, Carpenter, and Davies, 2009; Yang and Lu, 2001). In addition to the formula minimums, schools generally also establish minimums for the formula components (overall GMAT score and UGGPA). Many schools also consider additional admissions criteria such as (a) amount and quality of work experience (Braunstein, 2009; Deis and Kheirandish, 2010), (b) strength of references (Fairfield-Sonn, Kolluri, Singamsetti & Wahab, 2010; Ragothaman, Carpenter, & Thomas, 2009; Rim, 1976), (c) maturity of the applicant (Fish and Wilson, 2009; Truitt, 2002, as cited in Braunstein, 2006), (d) strength of the undergraduate school (Fish and Wilson 2007), (e) communication skills of the applicant as exhibited by a written essay or an interview (Abbasi, Siddiqui, and Ain Azim 2011), and (f) previous success in graduate work.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The research has been mixed to date, but generally supports the traditional approach (formula that includes the overall GMAT and the UGGPA) for graduate admissions decisions along with consideration of other criteria. Previous research has been very limited (or nonexistent) in considering the relationship between the overall GMAT score and the more specific GMAT component scores (verbal, quantitative, writing) with each other or with undergraduate GPA, and has been somewhat limited in considering the relationship between these measures and graduate business school success.

Kass, Grandzol, and Bommer (2012) supports the traditional approach to MBA program admission; however, further research discovered that GMAT failed to predict essential skills such as "communication, teamwork, decision making, leadership initiative, and planning and organizing" (p. 290). A meta-analysis of 273 studies found that on performance in both verbal and quantitative sections, the GMAT total score was the best predictor of graduate school success (Talento-Miller & Rudner, 2008). In determining the variables most closely related to student academic success and where the MBA student's overall GPA was the dependent variable, Yang and Lu (2001) found the GMAT quantitative and GMAT verbal and undergraduate GPA were the most important predictors of student graduate performance in a study of 395 usable participants. An additional study indicated that waiving the GMAT demonstrated a marginally significant difference in GPA of MBA graduates (Fairfield-Sonn, et al, 2010); that is, those whose GMAT was waived, finished the MBA with marginally better grades.

METHODOLOGY

This preliminary research effort provides an examination of those relationships. Objectives of the study are expressed as three research questions:

1. Are the component GMAT exam scores (quantitative, verbal, and writing) correlated? If so, what is the nature of that correlation?

2. Do correlations exist between the GMAT overall exam score or the component GMAT exam scores (quantitative, verbal, and writing) with undergraduate GPA? If so, what is the nature of that correlation?

3. (a) Do correlations exist between selected variables (GMAT quantitative score, GMAT verbal score, GMAT writing score, GMAT overall score, undergraduate GPA) that may serve as graduate school admissions criteria and selected variables (graduate GPA, number of A's earned, number of C's earned) that may serve as indicators of success in graduate business school. (b) Is there a causal relationship between these admissions criteria and graduate business school success? …

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