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Is GMAT important or not? I keep hearing everything from “it literally doesn’t matter” to “this is the single most important factor”. What’s the real importance of it?

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I think it is the single biggest factor that is largely in your agency to control easily. And I think there is a pretty clear target that you need to be in based on your profile. If you are aiming for M7 you probably need something 700+ and tend higher if you have a tradition background or aren’t a minority. It’s much easier to study and improve your score vs. changing your undergrad GPA / school (impossible), getting a more prestigious job (very hard short term), etc.

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The single most important factor

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