Today’s Future Year Scholars Program post is authored by Senior Associate Director of Admissions Katherine Alford.

One key area the Admissions Committee evaluates in every Future Year Scholars application is academics. We want to make sure we are putting a candidate in a position to be successful at Darden, and we will consider a broad array of factors as we get a feel for their academic readiness. These ‘readiness factors’ include undergraduate courses and grades, graduate level courses and grades, additional non-degree-related coursework (ie MBA Math, HBS CORe, etc.), and, yes, standardized test scores.

As part of Darden’s commitment to a broad, holistic application review process, the Future Year Scholars Program is now accepting the SAT and ACT exam in addition to the GMAT, GRE, EA, LSAT and MCAT. 

We recommend candidates choose the test approach that best aligns with their strengths, background and career goals. Here are a four things to consider as you make your plans:

1.We are Test Agnostic.

View all the tests we accept equivalently. Though the GMAT is the most popular test, we have seen growing interest in GRE over the past few cycles. 

As recently noted, we typically recommend the Executive Assessment (EA) for candidates who have at least five years of work experience. Consequently, the EA is likely not the best test for Future Year Scholars applicants.  

2. Be objective.

Think about your application as our admissions committee will, objectively. Do you think your candidacy will benefit from having a more recent data point regarding your academic readiness? Or do you feel like you can build a strong case for your candidacy on the basis of your SAT/ACT score?

3. Career Considerations.

Employers in certain industries – specifically investment banking and management consulting – will ask for a GMAT or GRE score as part of the recruitment process. If you’re not sure you will need a standardized test for a future industry, we’d recommend taking the GMAT/GRE… just in case.

4. Scholarship Strategy.

Each year Darden awards a number of competitive and merit based scholarships. Candidates who wish to give our Scholarship Committee one more data point to consider when making these awards may want to take the GMAT or GRE.

And remember – whatever test you choose, test scores are just one part of a much broader holistic review. We do not assign a particular weight to any part of the application, and we are interested in getting to know you through this process. Be yourself and use your application to share your story and highlight your many strengths. 

If you would like to discuss your test plans or any other aspect of the Future Year application process, we invite you to schedule a one-on-one call with a member of our Admissions Committee.

For more resources about standardized tests (and lots of other application tips) check out Executive Director of Admissions Dawna Clarke’s YouTube playlist

Studies show that students who take the GMAT or GRE while they are still in school (aka still in studying mode with a bit more free time) perform better on the exam than students who wait to take the exam and are further removed from the days of studying and sitting for exams.

For more information about the Future Year Scholars Program, visit us online or sign up for our upcoming Application FAQs webinar!

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