Attendees at our information session on 6 September got some top tips from representatives of GMAT and LSE Graduate Admissions on the essential elements of a successful application process. Here are our top five takeaways from the evening.
1. Understand the GMAT before you go and choose your target score
- The GMAT isn’t an IQ test. Scores are directly related to the amount of time and energy you invest in preparing for it. There are plenty of preparation books and service out there and GMAT offers two free preparation exam downloads so you can do a trial run at home before the real thing.
- The exam is comprised of four sections and is computer adaptive. That means each section begins with a question of medium difficulty and, depending on whether you answer it right or wrong, will either increase or decrease in difficulty with each successive question. Remember with the GMAT that it’s always better to make an informed guess on questions than to leave them blank. All unanswered questions will be marked as incorrect and will lower your score.
- Did you know you can now choose the order in which you take each section of the exam? To take advantage of this new feature, know your strengths. Some people may choose to start with their challenge section while their brain is fresh, others may want to use their easier section as a warm-up. Decide before the exam what your strategy will be.
- After you complete the test, you will immediately see your score for three of the four sections (excluding analytical writing). You then have two minutes to decide if you want to keep that score or cancel it and opt to retake the exam again. Have a target score in mind before you arrive so you don’t have to calculate it on the spot and make a quick decision. If you’re feeling indecisive you can also cancel your score within 72 hours for a $25 fee.
2. Stay calm if your GMAT score is lower than you wanted
Lucky for you- you can retake it! Additional preparation can do a lot to raise a GMAT score and you can request an enhanced score report to help you as you revise. This detailed analysis of your performance shows not only which questions you got wrong but the amount of time you spent on each section.
You can take the GMAT up to 5 times in a 12 month period and scores are valid for 5 years. But please don’t torture yourself. If you’re struggling, keep in mind that the GMAT is just one element of your application. LSE Admissions Selectors look at applications holistically and weigh up everything you might bring to the table in one of our programmes. We know you’re more than a number!
3. Don’t curb your enthusiasm on the personal statement
LSE Graduate Admissions Selector Kate Smith-Crallan reads thousands of personal statements every year and she says the ones that stand out are those where the reader has clearly done their research before selecting a programme and can’t wait to tell the world why they want to embark on their course. She can spot a generic, recycled statement a mile away! Just make sure your enthusiasm fits in the 1,000-1,500-word range.
“The best personal statements I read are personal statements where I can tell the person is super interested in their program. They’ve done their reading and their enthusiasm is infectious. You get excited about them coming to the school because you just know they are going to be a great element in that cohort.” Kate Smith-Crallan, LSE Graduate Admissions Selector
4. Send your application materials to your references beforehand
We completely understand that your ties to your previous university degree may feel a little tenuous three or four years after graduation, but LSE strongly values academic references (and may require them if you graduated less than five years ago) so don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s in your best interest to give your references a little push in the right direction. Remind them who you are, ask if they are willing to serve as a reference (academic or professional), and send them your full application materials. These materials will give them some much needed insight into who you are today and help them to write the best reference to achieve your goals.
5. Apply early
Candidates for LSE Department of Management programmes are selected on a rolling basis. That means there’s no strict deadline for application and when we’ve had the applications of enough promising, talented students cross our desks to fill a programme, we close it until the next year. Last year some applications closed as early as February, others as late as June, so your best bet is to get your name in the ring before the rush of the masses. Not to mention it showcases your great planning and organisational skills.