Application Components More Important Than High GRE And GPA Scores

Application Components More Important Than High GRE And GPA Scores

Strong essays, interviews, and recommendations carry more weight than numbers alone in MBA admissions, experts say.

The three key components play a significant role in showing admissions officers who an applicant is beyond a high GPA or accomplished resume. Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says that while there isn’t one “most important” part of an application, essays interviews, and recommendations are critical elements.

“Compelling essays, recommendations, and interviews can provide context for a low GMAT score or GPA. But the reverse is not true,” Blackman writes. Additionally, “strong numbers will never make up for weak essays or a disorganized, negative recommendation.”


While it may seem counterintuitive, one strategy to building a strong application is actually to showcase your weaknesses in an honest manner.

“Everyone has weaknesses,” Blackman writes. “You’re better off acknowledging and incorporating them into your application than hoping the person reading your application will miss them.”

Blackman says that your essays are a good opportunity to speak openly about your shortcomings.

“While we doubt that many business school admissions committees would formally support this statement, we would cast our vote for essays as the most important part of your application,” Blackman writes.

Essays, Blackman says, play a key role in the admissions process largely because they create a level playing field for applicants to convince the admissions team of your candidacy.

“The essays are your opportunity to present your strengths and explain your weaknesses,” Blackman writes. “They also go a long way toward convincing the adcomm that you have a lot to offer the program and that you belong in their class.”


Interviews are another key area in the admissions process that are a good opportunity for applicants to show their personality.

“B-school admissions officers say they use interviews to gauge whether an applicant has key personality traits that are beneficial for future executives, such as clarity, self-awareness, humility and sincerity,” Illana Kowarski, a reporter for US News, writes.

Additionally, strong recommendation letters can help further paint admissions officers a portrait of who you are.

“Getting that third-party perspective on [applicants] is really important to figure out their personality, their passions, and their goals,” Natalie Lahiff, a former admissions counselor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who now serves as an MBA admissions consultant with Solomon Admissions, tells Fortune. “The recommendation will either boost that application—or it could go the opposite way.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, US News, Fortune

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