Wharton EMBA Alumnus Talks about Value of the GMAT

When Mark Espinola had his admissions interview for Wharton’s San Francisco MBA Program for Executives, a memorable moment was when he tried to negotiate his way out of taking the GMAT. But after taking the test and graduating in 2007, Espinola, who is now the CEO of Ballard & Tighe Publishers in Orange County, Calif., came to appreciate the importance of the GMAT. We asked him to share his thoughts on the test and here is what he said:

“When I first realized that the GMAT was a required part of the admissions process at Wharton, I thought this rule must not apply to me. I had been a senior manager at PriceWaterhouse as well as worked in a CFO position so I had plenty of finance and accounting under my belt. I thought my experience would be sufficient to be exempt from the GMAT, but found during the interview that this was not the case. There is no exception for the GMAT – all applicants have to take it.

“So I went back home and began studying for the test. I took a pretest and discovered that while my critical thinking and verbal skills were pretty good, I tested much lower than I expected for math. That was a complete shock and I realized that I needed to spend a lot more time preparing for the test to bring up my quantitative score.

“I think it’s important to take some type of pre-assessment to see how you test as opposed to taking the GMAT cold. The math on the test involves concepts that you might not have used since high school and it won’t just come back to you in a snap. Most people need to brush up on those skills.

“A good question is whether those math skills are really needed once you are admitted to the program. The answer is: Yes! The GMAT is not even the bare minimum of the skills you’ll need in your classes. The test also gets you back in study mode. It helps prepare you for the rigor of Wharton’s program because you can’t fake it here. The exams, many of which require serious number crunching, will require you to show that you really know the material.

“Wharton’s quant foundation has really helped me since graduation. It has changed the way I think about things and I am definitely more analytical when I look at business problems. I now see why the GMAT is required for everyone and an important step in the admissions process.”

Admissions Committee note: We will accept both formats of the GMAT, the current and the next generation (effective June 5th, 2012).

Mark was a featured panelist in our January 2012 webcast.