GPA and test scores as viewed during admissions (application) review

 

Ohio State Numbers Garden located near Central Classrooms on Ohio State's Columbus campus

Fisher MLHR receives a lot of e-mails this time of year. We are very appreciative of the interest! We try to reply to all emails within one business day – but because of the volume (especially this time of year), it may be a few days before we reply. We appreciate your patience.

There seems to be two things of which most of you are concerned:

1) Some prospective applicants are very apprehensive about their GRE or GMAT scores.

Many of you write to us and ask about whether or not your test score is competitive for the program. As we address in our FAQ, the admissions committee looks at *every*thing in your file when assessing your admissibility. The GRE/GMAT, in and of itself, will not cause you to be denied What does this mean? I can tell you what this doesn’t mean … it does not mean that if you score below the program average, that you will be denied. It is a general guideline that we suggest, not a hard cut-off point.

Again, if submit GRE or GMAT scores below the current program average, this does not mean that just because you are below the average, that you will not get into the program. I blame elementary school teachers for this issue. In elementary school world, “average,” as a concept, is a baseline minimum. If you were “below average,” you were considered to be doing less than “well.” I pity students who fear they have no chance of getting into a program because they are below the “average.”

Remember what “average” really means in the real world. If you dust off your fifth grade math book, you will see that an average (or “mean”) is (X1+X2+…+Xn)/n. Unless every student in the current MLHR class scored exactly the current average, then you have to assume that some students scored above and others scored below the average. So, yes, some applicants who scored below the average did receive offers of admission. Instead of focusing on the average, look at the range of scores. At Fisher, we tell students the average score and we also inform them of the middle 80% range. Click here for insights on the range of GRE scores currently represented in the program. (We do not report GMAT scores since the vast majority of MLHR applicants submit GRE scores. Any data we would report for GMAT would be meaningless since the sample size is too small.)

On the other hand, do not assume that just because you are above the current class average that you will be offered admission. Many students have written to us and tell us they have scores well over the average and they sound pretty confident that they will enter the class. Test scores aren’t everything. In this program, it’s not all about numbers. Remember – the admissions committee looks at *every*thing to assess “fit” and potential for success in this program.

2) Most of you are fixated on the letters, ‘G-P-A’. “What’s the minimum GPA required for the program?” “If I have a 3.5, I can get into the MLHR, right?”

The above questions are a few examples of what we receive in our inbox. They want to know if they are competitive for the program. The MLHR program recommends that students have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered minimally competitive. Sound familiar? The 3.0 minimum is a policy set by The Ohio State University’s Graduate School. You’re below the 3.0 minimum? In rare cases, if the program is interested in a candidate, the program can petition the Graduate School to admit the student. You as the applicant CANNOT request this petition, but later on I will tell you how you can improve your chances of getting a petition request. (NOTE: This is not a guarantee.)

Your GPA is above 3.0, but below the average GPA (currently 3.3/3.4) … look at the paragraph about the average GMAT. Same rules will apply.

One thing about GPA that is worth mentioning is that (at least at Fisher) admissions committees will look at trends in grades earned. What does this mean? For more detailed information, please refer to a blog post written about a year ago called, “The Minimum.” The admissions committee will look at your overall academic performance. Someone with a 3.1 who started out poorly, but ended up getting really good grades at the end will likely be more impressive (all else being equal) compared to someone with the same GPA who started out performing fantastically, but ended up not doing well at the end of his/her academic career. Or maybe the applicant started out in one major, did not do so well and then changed majors and GPA increased as a result. There are a lot of different scenarios and, yes, each case is different, but remember that you can explain yourself via your essays.

This last point, explaining your situation, brings us to the ending message: the GRE or GMAT, your GPA, etc are not the ONLY thing that matter in Fisher’s graduate student selection for admissions. Don’t get the wrong idea: grades and test scores are important, but the point is that there are other factors that also play into your application review. You are not a “number;” we look at your application in its entirety.

You ask, “What can I do to stand out?” Honestly, think less quantitatively and more qualitatively. Your grades are not going to change drastically at this point. You may choose to re-take the GRE or GMAT; this is a personal decision and the admissions committee won’t make that determination for you. If you believe you can do better, go for it. (The admissions committee does not average scores – it will use the highest scores you submit if you submit more than one set of scores.) You can control your essays; use the essay as a tool to really show case who you are. Use essay #1 on the application to explain your GPA and/or to tell us what you’ve done in your life so far. Here is a chance for you to tell us that you are not just a GRE or GMAT, but a person who will do well in HR and in the Fisher MLHR program.

The important take-away is that we cannot evaluate you by looking just at your GRE/GMAT scores and/or GPA. There is a lot more to an MLHR student than just numbers. The only way Fisher MLHR admissions can tell you whether or not you can join the program is for you to submit a COMPLETE application. Why are you still waiting? Apply today.

 

 


2 Responses to “GPA and test scores as viewed during admissions (application) review”


  1. 1 Yixing Li November 19, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Do you have requirements for TOEFL iBT score? I’m a international students and my score is 97 now. I want to know whether I would be rejected because I didn’t scored above 100? Thank you!

  2. 2 Rob November 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    We recommend 100 total score or higher to be competitive. However, we look at EVERYthing in an applicant’s file when assessing admissibility. The only way you can find out whether you’ll be admitted is to submit a complete application. The admissions committee does not and will not “pre-evaluate” someone’s chance for admission without a complete application being submitted.

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