If you are in your final year of college, you could be among the majority who believe that the GMAT is not for them. It is not entirely incorrect - a good majority of the top ranking B schools in the world admit to their MBA programs only students with at least a couple of years of experience. So, why bother about the GMAT now? There are other options including campus placements, CAT, XAT and few other decent Indian B School tests.
However, if you are serious about a Master degree in Management from a very good B School, you should definitely take the GMAT - and that too while in college. Here are 4 compelling reasons to take the GMAT while in college - ideally by the time you enter your final year of college.
1. The Masters in Management (MIM) Programs that require little or no work experience
The Masters in Management programs usually admit college students with little or no work experience, and give them a general management degree leading to a Management job. These programs are not offered by some unknown schools. The who's who among the B schools in Europe including the London Business School, IE Spain, HEC Paris, and Rotterdam school of Management offer MIM programs.
Most of these programs do not require any previous work experience; in fact, programs offered by schools such as London Business School will not find you eligible if you have more than 12 months experience. So, this program is primarily for freshers - with no experience.
The MIM is mainly offered in Europe. Schools in Asia, Canada and Australia have also started offering MIM programs. It is making a slow entry into the US.
The ideal time to apply is when you are in your final year of college so that you could start your MIM program immediately after graduating from college with a Bachelor's degree. Some of these programs have two academic calendars - September and January - while many others admit students in only one of these. The typical duration of these programs is anywhere from 12 months to 18 months.
Here are two useful links to get an insight into the MIM program.
1. 2013 Financial Times Ranking of the MIM program
2. MIM Compass - a very useful source of information on the MIM programs
2. Young leader program (YLP) of ISB, 2 + 2 programs at Harvard
Schools such as ISB have started making deferred admission offers to students who are still in college (final year of college), provided they have an outstanding academic and extra curricular record. The application process for the YLP program at ISB starts in the month of March and students who are in the pre final year have to apply at this juncture.
If you are selected for this program, ISB makes an admission offer to join their coveted flagship PGP program once you have gained 21 months of experience. You are also mentored for 4 weeks (1 week each, 4 times during the 21 months period) at ISB while you are gaining professional experience.
Having your GMAT score by the time you complete your pre final year is essential to apply to this program. ISB's YLP program details are available here
Harvard Business School's 2 + 2 program is a deferred admission program for students who are in college pursuing either their undergraduate or graduate program. If you are pursuing your Masters degree, to be eligible to apply to this program, you should not have held full time experience. You can get details about the 2 + 2 Program of HBS at this link
So, whether you apply to the 2 + 2 program of HBS or the YLP program of ISB, you should have your GMAT scores by the time you enter your final year of college.
3. Top B schools in India such as XIM Bhubaneswar, SP Jain accept GMAT as one of the test scores
More and more top Management Institutes in India such as XIM Bhubaneswar, SP Jain Mumbai (for PGDM and PGPM), T A Pai Manipal, use GMAT scores as one of the eligible scores through which Indian nationals could apply to their flagship 2 year postgraduate programs in Management (PGP or PGDM - equivalent to MBA).
So, if you are preparing for the CAT or XAT - it might be to your advantage to leverage that preparation with some additional effort and investment and have your GMAT score in place too. Who knows, you might get a higher percentile in GMAT than in the other tests. The schools usually allow you to select the score that you would want them to consider while shortlisting candidates for the second round of selection. Having an additional score gives you more choice.
Click on this link to reach official GMAT site to get an updated and comprehensive list of Indian B Schools accepting GMAT scores
4. It's a lot easier to study while at college
Ask any of your older friends who work and they will rue about how they hardly ever get time to prepare for the GMAT. The curriculum in most of our colleges leave more than enough time in your hands to do justice to your GMAT prep. Do not fall into the trap of believing that the final year curriculum in your program takes all your time. Even if you are occupied otherwise - including sports, extra curricular, part time job, etc., you will still be less worked while you are at college than while working full time after graduation. So, roll up your sleeves and get started with the prep and bank that score. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years. You could apply anytime of your choice during this period.