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A New Admit Test For MBA Applicants

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto

A prominent business school is introducing a new twist on the written essay question that will make it more difficult for applicants to use admission consultants to refine their answers.

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management yesterday (Sept. 3) announced the addition of a “timed written response question” along side its two video questions. After completing the video questions, candidates will receive one written response question and be given a maximum of ten minutes to draft an answer. There will be no word limit to the essay.

The novel test, delivered by the school’s video provider, Kira Talent, will make it harder for candidates to “package” themselves with the help of an admissions consultant because there will be no time to get third-party guidance or edit help. Candidates will be able to revise and edit their answers within the ten-minute timeframe.


Niki da Silva leads the MBA recruitment and admissions team at the Rotman School of Management

Niki da Silva leads the MBA recruitment and admissions team at the Rotman School of Management

Rotman was the first school to introduce video questions for MBA applicants, a practice that is now part of the admissions process at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Yale University’s School of Management. The school also has done extensive research that has found the GMAT exam to have little correlation with the ability of an MBA graduate to land a job (see The Case Against The GMAT).

Niki da Silva, director of recruitment and admissions for Rotman’s full-time MBA program, believes it will provide the school with another important data point to consider in evaluating candidates. “It’s not a massive innovation but it will add to our review,” da Silva told Poets&Quants. “As an admissions person, you want to see both sides: the raw potential of the candidates and the polished side that shows them at their best. This will help us get a more authentic look at what a student has to offer.”


There are just over 20 questions in the inventory bank, though more may be added later. Applicants will not know which question they will be asked ahed of time. “The plan is to see what works and then craft some more,” adds da Silva. “If one is a dud, we can get rid of it and add others as we go along.”

In a blog post made public yesterday (Sept. 3) announcing the change, she wrote that the school “identified a need to find a tool to better assess the regular business-communication skills and ‘voice’ of our applicants. We find a great deal of value in essays – which are reflective writing pieces, and also in the GMAT AWA – a component that showcases a candidate’s ability to dissect and discuss a topic. These tools reflect some of the communication skills required for success in our program, and in the business world broadly but we were missing an opportunity to see the more casual and real-time style our students use most frequently to write emails communicating with team members, professors, etc. and a style that they will carry forward in their careers.”

The timed question will begin by providing some context to help explain why it is relevant for a Rotman student, explained da Silva. “This is not videotaped but is delivered ‘live’ with one opportunity to write/edit/submit.”

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.