MAC admissions: Why does my GMAT score or undergraduate GPA matter?

Admissions teams in accounting programs at the nation’s top graduate business schools typically use an applicant’s score on the GMAT or GRE, in combination with the undergraduate GPA, as a quantitative measure of academic aptitude. While other qualitative criteria factors — interview performance, recommendations, the resume, and essay responses — significantly impact the final admissions decision, strong scores on standardized tests are important because they represent one of the few objective measures available to admission staff.

>> Download our free tips guide: “Scoring Big on the GMAT or GRE”
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So, what score do I need to get accepted to your program?

As you can imagine, we get this question a lot. Unfortunately, there’s not a easy answer nor do we have a fixed minimum. Generally, our students score better than 550 on the GMAT and 156/156 on the GRE. This said, we’ve enrolled students — and, ultimately, successful ones — with scores below this level, and we’ve declined admission to applicants above this level. While standardized test scores are considered, our holistic approach to admissions places significant value on many different criteria, most notably, a prospective student’s motivation, potential, and character.


What happens if I get a low score on the GMAT/GRE?

Many students find standardized exams challenging because they can be quite different than the tests taken in college classes. So, if your first try doesn’t go as well as you had hoped, you can retake the exam — and we’ll consider only your best score. In your second attempt, consider using a test preparation service. (If you need a recommendation on a service, reach out to us.)


Can I submit my application before I take the GMAT/GRE? And, when should I take it?

Yes, you can absolutely submit your application ahead of taking the GMAT/GRE. While we won’t proceed with an admissions interview before we have your unofficial score report, submitting your application as early as possible allows us to confirm that all other facets of your application are complete and allows those whom you’ve chosen to provide recommendations ample time to finish. We’d also encourage you to take the exam as early as is reasonable — assuming you’ve adequately prepared, of course! Taking the exam early puts your application in the queue faster, increasing your chance to earn a merit fellowship. Starting early also gives you time to retake the exam, should you need it.


What’s the GMAT/GRE exemption and waiver process all about?

We analyzed a lot of data and determined that there are some situations where an applicant’s academic or professional success demonstrates clear readiness for the rigor of a graduate-level accounting program. In turn, we reward these cases with a test-score exemption or waiver. For current students or recent (within the past five years) graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill who have earned a 3.4 GPA or higher, we do not require a test score. Professionals who have more than five years of progressive work experience and who hold a undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher are invited to apply for a GMAT waiver. Details on each of these processes can be found on our Application Requirements page.


OK, what about my GPA?

Like the GMAT/GRE, there’s no fixed minimum. Typically, our students possess a GPA higher than 3.0 in their undergraduate studies; however, like the GMAT/GRE score, GPA is not a standalone determinant. A solid grade point average is important because it signals to our admissions team that you possess the scholastic rigor to succeed in a challenging graduate-level academic program.


What can I do to improve, or “explain”, my GPA?

We get it. Sometimes there are situations where your grades suffered due to circumstances that you’ve put behind you. Perhaps you started into a program where you were simply over your head. Perhaps you had a family or medical emergency. Whatever it is, tell us within the Additional Information section of your application. While past academic performance is important, we’ll evaluate many aspects of your qualifications and character to determine how you’ll fit within our program. More recent work also tends to carry significant weight, so taking — and performing well in — a few business classes or other quantitative coursework will reflect well on you!


We’re here to help.

If you are interested in applying to our program, the information above may have only scratched the surface. We’d encourage you to learn more about our top-ranked program, request a consultation with one of our admissions experts, or download our guides with tips on scoring big on the GMAT/GRE or tips on the application and interviews.