New ND MBA test tool helps prospects overcome GMAT anxiety

Author: Michael Hardy

When Kristin McAndrew travels around the country meeting with prospective MBA students, one of the most common concerns she hears is about the GMAT, the standardized test required of all business school applicants.

“If you ask people what aspect of the application is the biggest hurdle, the GMAT is it,” said McAndrew, the director of admissions for the University of Notre Dame Graduate Business Programs.

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Students interested in b-school usually have to register for a paid test-preparation site, such as the one provided by Princeton Review. To help students prepare to take the exam, the Notre Dame MBA is launching a free, interactive GMAT simulation.

The simulator, which was licensed from The Economist Group, gives students three options: a 20-minute micro-test comprising five quantitative (math) and five verbal (English) questions; an hour-long mini-test, which includes about half the number of questions in a normal GMAT; and a full test consisting of two 75-minute sections, each containing about 40 questions.The tool provides immediate feedback and can be taken repeatedly.

“The GMAT is one obstacle that students see in their way. It seems overwhelming and unapproachable,” McAndrew said. “And as with anything, when you reduce uncertainty, you can help people take a step forward. So I think just giving them a low-risk way to encounter that test and put their toe in the water is really helpful.”

Taking the test also can help a prospective student overcome another common hurdle to applying to b-school: The worry that he or she aren’t the “typical” MBA student.

“It’s funny, because I think about 99 percent of MBA applicants think they don’t have a typical MBA background,” McAndrew laughed. “And really, there isn’t one traditional way to prepare for an MBA — there’s no one industry or one undergraduate major that all our students have.” In fact, McAndrew said that professors are constantly urging her to recruit a wider variety of students from non-traditional backgrounds, such as the military or the arts.

However useful the simulator is, though, McAndrew doesn’t want to give the impression that the GMAT is all-important at Notre Dame; if anything, the online simulation is designed to reduce anxiety about a component of the application that students often worry too much about.

“The GMAT is not the biggest part of our admission decision,” she said. “We know it’s the most overwhelming part of the application, so we want to help with that, but our focus is actually on their past experience and what they have to offer in the classroom.”

To access the Notre Dame MBA GMAT simulation tool, visit gmat.mendoza.nd.edu/. For more information about the Notre Dame MBA or other graduate programs at the Mendoza College of Business, call (574) 631-8488 or email MBA.business@nd.edu.