Sometimes knowing what is needed to be done & the efforts needed for it may help us in deciding if we may want to pursue it further. For example, the MBA.

What does it take to put together a typical MBA application?

The Elements of the MBA Application

Resume: Aha, knowing how important the B-School Resume is, we already discussed this is in the Day 6 article in the series. The 1-page ultra-compact B-School Resume would be a nice condensed summary of all your top professional and personal accomplishments. To many application readers, this is the favorite starting point.

Application Form: The application form will take in your contact information, details about your education, family information, professional experiences and more. Why is this important? Your background- your undergraduate major, occupation, age, ethnicity, gender, etc. do have a say! There are many short answer questions in the application form and using these to show the complete information about your profile should be your goal.

Essays: These will form the heart of the application. Through your essays, the Admissions Committee (AdCom) gets to know you both at a professional and a personal level. The essay questions vary from school-to-school and you can get an idea of what matters to the B-School more through the essays. What’s in an essay, you ask? A LOT! More on this in the next few days.

Letter(s) of recommendation: The AdCom wants to know what others have to say about you – sometimes being too specific about it. So other than the common LoR from GMAC, your recommenders might have to fill out individual detailed LoRs for different B-Schools (Sigh!). These letters of recommendation needs to come from someone who knows your performance in a work setting, preferably from a current or former direct supervisor. Mostly, all recommendations are to be submitted electronically. You will be filling in details about your recommenders and they will receive separate access to fill out or upload the letters.

Test Scores: The dreaded test scores which has spawned a big business for the test prep industry. Love them or hate them, these are here to stay. The preferred exam for management programs is GMAT as it was specifically designed for B-School. But tests like GRE, EA are all equally accepted. Some B-Schools like IE or Warwick may also admit applicants through their own tests.

English Proficiency Tests: If you are an applicant whose first language wasn’t English, then you may have to prove your proficiency in English through standardized tests like TOEFL, IELTS Academic, Duolingo and others.

Transcripts: A transcript is a detailed summary of your grades (for all the courses you have taken) that is issued by your university (typically Registrar’s office or Academic Affairs office). You will receive them in sealed envelopes and will be submitting a transcript for every degree you hold post high school. Typically the official transcript will be a document, either on paper or online, that lists all individual courses you have completed and also mentions the grading scale. For many universities, at the time of application, only unofficial transcripts are required.

The MBA Interview: There is the much anticipated (& dreaded) interview which can be the deal-breaker. The interview serves as an opportunity to you to show that you are the same as on paper(through the rest of the application). Typically done by AdCom members, second year students or alumni, there are so many variants of these. Technically, you start prepping for an interview right from when you put your application together.

Application Fee

Applying to B-Schools is a costly affair. But luckily many B-Schools may also give full or partial application fee waivers if you visit campus or attend their virtual events or if you happen to have a high GMAT score too! For example, take the Tepper Chart my Path and get an application fee waiver.

Of course, some of these elements of the MBA Application need deeper probing. Do keep an eye out for more on these. Until next time, happy planning!


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