High GMAT Score vs Unethical Behaviour: Flaws in the Study & Better MBA Selection Process

High GMAT Score FraudAccording to a new research by Raj Aggarwal and John Goodell from the University of Akron College of Business Administration and Joanne Goodell from Cleveland State University, there is a negative correlation between GMAT Scores of MBA candidates and ethical decision-making. A high GMAT scoring MBA candidate shows increased tendency to be unethical.

This is a classic example where researchers are taking independent variables and correlating it without understanding the context. A high GMAT score might give us hints about the student profiles, their ambition, and competitiveness but it does not necessarily offer you any conclusion about future behavior. GMAT is not a behavioral test.

A more balanced study would involve analyzing the career paths (10-15 years) of MBA students who had a relatively low GMAT score. To confirm the correlation between high GMAT score and unethical behavior, we should compare the incidence of fraud and unethical behavior for low GMAT scoring (below 630) MBAs. It would be a hasty conclusion to label majority of high GMAT scoring MBA applicants as having a tendency to be unethical. The study does not show the percentage of management professionals who are unethical regardless of their degrees.

The dependence on GMAT score for Admission has increased consistently over the past 15 years. The average GMAT Score in top Business Schools has jumped from 610 in the early 90s, 690 in mid-2000 to 720 in the past 5 years. This has made GMAT score one of the most critical elements for MBA Admissions.

Diminishing Essays

With the recent changes in essay word limit, it has become clear that Business Schools are not considering essays as a single point of assessment for an applicant’s non-academic profile. The importance of interviews and group-based discussions will increase in the coming years. The decrease in word count would make sure that applicants spend considerable number of hours listing and assessing their life and career achievements, and include only those instances that are relevant, and unique.

Related: Review your unique story with SB Consulting Essay Editing & Consulting Service GMAT & Post-MBA Recruitment

Unfortunately, companies still consider GMAT as a critical component in assessing an MBA student. Recently, we had a conversation with a leading European Business School Admission officer, who told as about the importance of GMAT Score. When asked why they would recommend retaking the GMAT if the score falls below 640, she said that recruiters prefer students with a strong and balanced GMAT Score. This seems a little unfortunate given the academic rigor that an MBA student goes through to  score a consistent grade in all core courses, and electives.

So for argument sake, let us consider that a high GMAT score has correlation with unethical decision-making. Don’t expect high GMAT score, which is one of the entry criteria for top Business Schools, to go away soon.

Here are some feasible solutions:

1) Emotional Intelligence: Include a customized school test that evaluates the candidate’s ability to make decisions under stress. AdCom can learn a lot about the candidate with this test. The questions should be open ended instead of multiple choices. Applicants can fake an ethical decision making test when the options are given.

2) Group Based Activity: Test the applicant’s teamwork abilities with group-based activities. This is not the typical group based discussions where a group shows unnatural restraint or where one participants hogs the entire time for the discussion. Group based activities require each participant to actually participate and show tangible output.

3) Culture Fit: The interview questions are about the applicants’ life and their potential contribution for the school’s learning community. This has many flaws as applicant can easily prepare for such questions with expert interview tips, and MBA Admission interview Guides. Instead, prepare scenario-based questions that have multiple solutions. Each solution should map to a personality type. With the answers, AdCom can evaluate conclusively whether the applicant is a good fit for the school.

4) MBA Course Grades: Recruiters have to decouple their selection from GMAT Score. It is a good metric for measuring analytical and verbal abilities but course grades, personality traits and how the candidate worked with other team members during internship or group projects are much better metrics than a computer adaptive test.

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