GMAT™ Examinee Spotlight: Oyinda Ajayi

The GMAT exam is the only admissions exam specifically built for graduate business school admissions. When you take the GMAT exam, you signal to the world’s leading business schools that you mean business, and that you’re serious about pursuing a career in management.

mba.com is teaming up with Admit.me Fellows, a free comprehensive admissions support resource for under-resourced underrepresented minorities and women, to highlight the stories of GMAT examinees from underrepresented backgrounds.

Meet Oyinda Ajayi 

Oyinda AjayiOyinda Ajayi is an Admit.me fellow originally from Lagos. She’s a bachelor’s graduate in Electrical Engineering from Penn State and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Stanford GSB.

Read on to hear about her GMAT exam journey, why she wants to get her MBA, and her advice to prospective applicants beginning their own journey to business school.

What’s your background?

Oyinda Ajayi: I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, went to undergrad in Pennsylvania and currently work in Nigeria. I worked first at KPMG Nigeria and then over 2 years at Bain and Company across Africa before moving to a fintech company in 2019 first as a strategy associate and now as Chief of Staff to the CEO.

Why do you want to earn your MBA?

OA: My MBA journey began in 2018 when I left consulting and started to consider what would be the next step to achieving my goals of supporting entrepreneurs and businesses on the African continent.

How did your GMAT journey begin?

OA: I considered applying to MBA programs in 2019 and started prepping for the GMAT exam. I spent most of my time understanding the technicalities of the English language and refining my Quant. Given that I had an electrical engineering undergrad major I felt more comfortable with my quant skills.

I studied primarily with the GMAT Official Guide, and the Official Practice Exams 1 & 2, and an online prep course and practice question bank to understand some concepts I found difficult.

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My target score was 700.  I took my first test in April 2019 in person at a testing location and scored in the low 600s. Throughout the test I was very nervous and completed my tests with significant amount of time on the clock.  I was disappointed to receive my scores.

Determined to get my grades up, I began to study again a month after, in May. This time, I spent more time understanding the testing strategies including time management. I purchased the Enhanced Score Report that shows my strengths and my weaknesses from my first test and spent some time understanding the sections that were highlighted as weaknesses. I also purchased additional Official GMAT Practice Exams and used other online resources to learn testing strategies.

I took my second test in July 2019.  I was a lot less nervous and scored in the low 700s. While I had finally hit my initial target score, I was unsure it was enough to get me into the schools I wanted.  I sought feedback from friends and admissions consultants, all of whom advised me to re-take the test. So, I decided I wasn’t ready to apply in 2019 and decided to give myself some more time.

In 2020, I became a part of the Admit.me fellows and while I was still considering re-taking the test, through the support and my conversations within the fellows program I became more confident in other parts of my application and a lot less intimidated by the statistics that the schools publish. I ultimately decided not to retake the test and applied with my 700 score.

What were your admissions outcomes?

OA: I applied to three top 3 schools and one other top 10 program. I got accepted to all four schools with scholarships and have accepted my offer at Stanford GSB!

What advice would you give others?

OA: Since going through this process, I have shared my testing tips and resources with many others who are still on the journey. I have generally encouraged people to give themselves more time than they think they’ll need and be comfortable with testing multiple times if necessary but also not be intimidated and deterred by the statistics on the internet.

The test is one part of the application, while important, it is not a sole factor. My self-doubt held me back from applying in 2019 but getting more clarity on the admissions process helped eliminate that doubt and allowed me to put my application forward in 2020.

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