Round 1 deadlines are next month and every successful applicant needs to show a fit with their target program academically, professionally, and personally. Veritas Prep offer a few suggestions in each area:
- Do you have a competitive GMAT score?
The vast majority of applicants to top schools will be academically qualified to attend, so showing academic fit is an absolute must. MBA programs will look primarily at your GMAT score and undergraduate performance.
The GMAT score has shown to be the best indicator of academic success in business school, so admissions committees use this score as a means to “level the playing field” as they compare one candidate to another. While a stellar GMAT score will not guarantee acceptance, a low GMAT score alone can keep you out. It is the number one reason that an applicant is denied. Veritas Prep analysis has shown that if your GMAT score is 35 points or more below a school’s average, you will likely fall into the bottom 10th percentile of that school’s admitted class. This is a narrow range, and a score more than 35 points below your schools’ averages will be very difficult for most candidates to overcome. If this is a concern for you, check out the test prep options and free resources Veritas Prep offer to improve your GMAT score.
- Does your resume demonstrate impact?
Following the GMAT score, your professional experiences are the next most important element of your candidacy. In general, no industry provides an advantage or disadvantage in the MBA admissions process, but admissions officers will look for clear evidence that, whatever it is you do professionally, you perform well amongst your peers. They will want to see that you’re a rising star.
Vertias Prep has written a whole article about How to Create a Breakthrough Business School Application Resume. A couple of the key takeaways: share accomplishments, not tasks, and show your impact.
- Have you prepared your recommenders?
After you’ve chosen someone who knows you well, cares about you, and believes in you, one of the most important things you can do is arm them with specific examples to illustrate your greatness. Even when your recommenders love you and want to see you succeed, when they sit down to start writing your letters of recommendation, they may not realize that it’s simply not enough to say, “This applicant has great leadership skills.” They need to say, “This applicant has great leadership skills, and here’s an example from a few months ago to show you why.”
Once they do realize that “show, don’t tell” is in fact the name of the game, they probably won’t have multiple examples handy to help back up their statements about you. Your job therefore is to provide them with these examples, in written form. If you’re wondering if providing such a “cheat sheet” is ethical or is a good idea, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” to both. Don’t leave your recommenders wondering how to show how great you really are.
- Is your narrative airtight?
Your ability to gain admission to a top MBA program will come down to the details, introspection, and overall unique narrative that you’re able to tell. The best short-term goals are genuine, achievable, and well-researched. For long-term goals, business schools look for students with ambition who are going to change their industry, community, or even society, so don’t be afraid to dream big! Connect the dots. An MBA may seem like an obvious choice to you, but don’t just assume that the admissions committee will understand why it’s the right choice. They want to hear your decision-making process in your own words. Clearly connect the dots among what you’ve done to this point, what you want to do in the future, and why you need an MBA from their program to get there.
- Does your application represent who you are, in addition to what you’ve done?
Admissions committees are looking to understand who you are as a person, particularly through your essays, letters of recommendation and interview. Showcasing a track record of involvement in extracurricular, volunteer, and/or community activities is a good way to show admissions officers that you will be actively involved in the school upon admission. However, it’s not only what you’ve accomplished, but who you are, what motivates and drives you, the experiences that have shaped who you are today and who you want to be, that will help you standout in the crowded and highly competitive applicant pool.
Work with Veritas Prep to improve your entire MBA application. Learn more about the services and free resources they offer. If you have questions, give them a call at 1-800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert.
Cecile Matthews is the Director of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep, the largest privately-owned test preparation and admissions consulting provider, helping applicants improve their test scores and gain admission to the world’s best graduate schools.