How much does your ACT/SAT matter for PE Recruitment?


As the title says, I am wondering how much your ACT/SAT matters for PE recruitment. What are the cutoffs for some of the top private equity firms? What score would you consider it necessary to retake the ACT? If you perform very well on the GMAT, should you not worry about it?

Comments (27)

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  • VP in PE - LBOs
Apr 23, 2020 - 3:26pm

Tough answer - unfortunately more than it should.

Perspective is from a middle market buyout fund. When we kick off recruiting, we get a list of 80 names from the headhunter on a spreadsheet with name, bank, college, GPA, college grad year, SAT score and GMAT score (if available). We also get a pack of resumes. We are looking to interview ~30 of the 80.

We participate in both on cycle and off - on cycle is so early now that there is very very little that differentiates people's resumes in terms of work experience. Also, to be honest, by the time you are reading the 40th 1st year analyst resume, they all start looking the same. So then the spreadsheet plays into it a little bit more, and we will look at GPA and SATs. While its silly because SATs are very old, they are a way of differentiating candidates. Not saying its right.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Apr 23, 2020 - 3:35pm

Both scores are competitive.

I should have added to the above - this is why networking is important. I will make sure someone who reaches out to me expressing interest in us 100% gets a first round interview (regardless of SAT / ACT!). The act of reaching out is enough differentiation from the other 80.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Apr 23, 2020 - 3:44pm

To clarify, its much more binary. A low score will disqualify, a competitive score, SAT or GMAT, will keep you in the mix. But then we may decide to interview the person from Hawaii vs. New York because hey, Hawaii is cool and that person seems to know how to surf.

Its a pretty big crapshoot, but a competitive GMAT or SAT, a good school and a good bank will help you win the crap shoot more often than not. Again, networking is the only way to push the dice in your favor.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 23, 2020 - 3:49pm

Pigging backing of this. If one were to have a near perfect gpa, be in one of the top groups in the street (ms m&a/Gs TMT), and overall have an impressive resume for a non target. Would a shit sat from 8 years ago be a huge problem? I mean pretty shit 1600/2400

I took my sat back with 0 prep my senior hs year when I didn't care about school and like the dip shit I was back then I took it hungover and did pretty bad.

I'm planning on taking the gmat this fall to fix this issue but was just curious on how much weight would an 8 year old test have on pe recruiting.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Ind
Apr 23, 2020 - 3:54pm

Obviously I don't know much, but from what I've read it will probably hurt you if it's between other kids in your group/other top groups. If I were you, I'd use this downtime to study and take the GMAT just to give them less of a reason to ding you

Edit - Only recommend studying for the GMAT if you're still in undergrad

Apr 24, 2020 - 10:22am

Not taking his side but if you're a current 2nd year analyst and you took the SAT in the middle of junior year of high school, it would be approaching 7.5 years old now. (Ex. graduate college in 2018, high school in 2014, could have taken SAT December 2012) Most of my friends took it junior year and those who took in senior fall were desperate to get a better score right before they applied to colleges.

If you're in a 3 year analyst program or you lateraled after a year at the Big 4 or a smaller boutique, it's possible for your SAT score to be 8 years old.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 24, 2020 - 1:51pm
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