How to Ace Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion

The Wharton School’s Huntsman Hall. Courtesy photo

How to Ace Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion

Wharton is traditionally known as the finance mecca of business schools. But Wharton’s MBA education offers more than just a solid foundation in financial studies. From its diverse community to its large investment in areas such as analytics, fintech, and entrepreneurship, Wharton has a lot to offer.

Judith Silverman Hodara, Admissions Director at Fortuna Admissions and former acting director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School, recently gave insight into what Wharton looks for in applicants and offered a few tips on how applicants can best stand out in the B-school’s Team Based Discussion (TBD). 


The Wharton TBD is a cornerstone of the B-school’s application experience. Groups of five to six applicants are teamed up and given a prompt with an end goal. Groups work together to propose a tangible outcome to the prompt and are responsible for sharing their ideas in 1 minute or less before moving into the group discussion component.

“After this round of brief introductions, your team has a little less than 30 minutes to generate a subject and presentation model that is ultimately shared with the admissions committee observer,” Hodara says. “Following the TBD, there will be a one-on-one interview with an admission representative, lasting 10 minutes.”

“Everyone receives the same question and will be participating from remote locations on video,” Hodara adds. “No one is at an advantage – it’s a question that’s designed to exhibit team building and is not about demonstrating specific knowledge of a subject area.”


When preparing your one-minute pitch, Hodara also recommends introducing yourself in the context of your idea.

“This way, you’re not only giving your team a sense of your background but also what it is that compels you to that particular area of interest,” Hodara says. “If your idea is chosen, you can anticipate your teammates looking to you for an additional layer of guidance, so be prepared to offer the ‘next level’ of detail in the discussion.”


Since the TBD takes place in a remote video environment, it’s important to consider the context of your delivery.

“This means giving considered attention not just to what you’re saying but how you’re saying it – Wharton really cares how you present yourself and engage with the team,” Hodara explains. “Especially on video, you’ll want to bring extra awareness to your posture, gestures, eye contact and that of others; it’s harder to read non-verbal cues over video, and there might be a time lag that’s not present in person.”

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your environment is set up for success.

“Turn off your email, WhatsApp, or other notifications and definitely silence your cell phone – anything that might chirp or ding (note that tablets, cell phones, and use of internet browsers are not allowed during the Zoom),” Hodara says. “Flawless internet connectivity should go without saying, so be sure to test your connection in advance. Like preparations for any virtual MBA interview, make sure the space behind your camera is clear and uncluttered, that your lighting is positioned on your face, and that your sound quality is excellent.”


After the TBD, the facilitator will conduct one-on-one interviews that last about 10 minutes. Hodara says it’s important to prepare questions you want to ask beforehand.

“Be prepared to speak to ‘Why Wharton’ (this is almost always asked),” Hodara says. “This is also your opportunity to highlight specific aspects of your candidacy you want to convey, and to ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the program.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, P&Q

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