A Head Start Program For B-Schoolers


‘THE STRONGER YOU ARE BEFORE YOU GO TO B-SCHOOL, THE MORE YOU GET OUT OF IT’

“Business school goes so fast and is on such a high level,” says Devi, 42, who also serves as president and CEO of a Chicago-based non-profit she founded, the Association of Professionals in Business Management. “And it’s hard to know how strong your business acumen is beforehand. The stronger it is before you go to B-school, the more you get out of it.”

Some admission consultants say the program also can sway an admissions director in favor of an applicant with a non-traditional background. “Completing MBA IQ helps convince the admissions committee that such an applicant can compete and contribute in a classroom full of bankers and management consultants,” says Dan Bauer, founder and managing director of The MBA Exchange, one of the largest MBA admission consultants. The firm has been encouraging non-traditional clients to take the program. “It can help those who lack a traditional “business” background to climb a steep and important learning curve before B-school matriculation,” adds Bauer.

Many of the best business schools, of course, hold pre-MBA summer boot camps for students who need a little extra help to transition to graduate study. But even these orientation sessions are usually little more than cursory review of the most common accounting or finance concepts.

NOT A BUSINESS FOR DUMMIES INTRO INTO CORPORATE DISCIPLINES

MBA IQ, on the other hand, is a fairly deep dive into the lingua franca of business. Both the 353-page workbook and the online curriculum are not Business for Dummies intros to the various disciplines of the corporate world. In all their earnestness and academic intent, MBA IQ’s numerous sections come off like textbook reading. The writing is always clear and concise, though not very beach worthy.

As Devi puts, “Business school is rigorous, so any pre-matriculation program has to be equally rigorous and serious. Otherwise, we would be doing the student major disservice. It would be like taking a non-runner out for an afternoon jog one day and expecting him to finish a marathon the next day.

“I think many MBA applicants think that the end goal is getting admitted to an MBA program. To me, that is just an intermediate step to the ultimate goal – to get the best job you can when you graduate. You can’t expect a great outcome if you don’t focus on the inputs.”

Although Devi won’t disclose how many subscriptions to MBA IQ have sold, she says it numbers in the hundreds and that the venture is already turning a profit. Some customers are business schools who get a bulk rate and offer the online program to their students either free or at discounted fees and companies who pay a licensing fee and incorporate the program into their corporate universities. Ten corporations have subscribed, some of them using MBA IQ as their own “business acumen” programs.

BOOTH RECENTLY BEGAN OFFERING THE PROGRAM TO NEW MBA ADMITS

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business recently began offering the MBA IQ to newly admitted and returning students for $175 per person. “We had been looking for things aside from just pre-MBA accounting [to help students prepare],” says Christine Gramhofer, director of academic services for Booth’s full-time MBA program. “What I appreciate about MBA IQ aside from just the quizzes and flashcards is that the layout of the material is very easy to get to. Definitions are clear. This material is a long time coming.”

Devi says there are basically four profiles of MBA IQ users: “People who have already been admitted to business school, businesspeople who want to change careers, people who want to remain in one area of business but add new skills sets, and finally, the ‘my boss made me take it’ category. MBA IQ is working out an agreement whereby book-publisher Wiley sells the program directly to business schools and shares the profits.

Devi encourages “graduates” of the program to put their MBA IQ scores on their resumes or grad school applications.

‘PROOF OF PROFICIENCY RATHER THAN A RESUME BULLET POINT’

“I see it more as a proof of proficiency than a resume bullet point,” Gramhofer says. “I can see it being required as a means for waiving certain required courses.”

Gramhofer reports getting positive feedback about the MBA IQ from students, with one modest drawback: their anxiety about taking the quizzes, even though no one but the students themselves see the results. “There’s a lot of material to cover,” she says, “and they don’t like getting low scores.”

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