What b schools look for in essays | Apphelp blog

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Low GMAT score? Make up for it with your essays.

Very often, B-school aspirants get de-motivated or discouraged by a GMAT score that is below their expectations. They let their application efforts get sidetracked, do a half-hearted job or decide not to apply at all. Well, this may come as a surprise to some, but the GMAT score is not the most important criterion in the evaluation of B-school applications!

The GMAT Official Score Report states that you will “most likely earn a Total score within about 30 points of a score reflecting your true ability”. So one could argue that a person who got 570, 30 points less than his “true” score, is just as good as another person who got 630, 30 points more than his “true” score, “true” scores for both being 600. Similarly, someone who gets 690 may be just as good as someone who gets 750. Extreme cases, no doubt, but they demonstrate an underlying inaccuracy in the standardized test scores. B-schools recognize this inaccuracy. That is why they use the GMAT score as one of several approximate indicators of an individual’s academic ability and not as an exact measurement of his or her potential for success in life.

What schools say they care about (and this is what they actually do care about!) is the overall strength of the candidate. Schools evaluate candidates, through essays and interviews, on 4 key factors (or a variation of these):

  1. Purpose and value proposition – Articulation of short term and long term goals, need for business education, role of the school in the achievement of the goals, strengths the applicant brings to the table, diversity, a mutually beneficial relationship, etc.
  2. Work experience – quality, quantity, leadership skills, teamwork, international and cross-cultural exposure, in-depth domain knowledge, contacts and networks in the industry, etc.
  3. Personality – Well-rounded and multi-dimensional personality, good communication skills, extra-curricular activities outside of work and school, travel and variety of experiences, fit with the school, diversity w.r.t. the rest of the applicant pool, contributions to society, ethical values, etc.
  4. Academic ability – Performance in undergraduate classes, results of standardized tests (this includes GMAT), certifications, courses, workshops, etc.

As can be seen, the decision to make an offer of admission depends on one’s ability to showcase various strengths and facets of your personality – mainly through essays and interviews. The GMAT score, in that sense, plays a rather diminished role in the decision-making process.

So if you are an MBA aspirant with a not-so-great GMAT score, don’t worry. Instead, put in the effort to craft an application that can’t be ignored! Clearly state your goals and value proposition, showcase your personality, and write powerful, compelling essays to make a strong case for why you should be admitted. Then wait for your interview call.

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Best advise from experts for b school applicants

Writing an Application for B-SCHOOL is the hardest part of the application process. To make it a bit simpler we have some advice from the B-School experts, on what do they expect in an application.

A.keith Vaighn of Marshall School of Business, University of South California, says “The applicants should just be their selves and follow directions. Schools are not trying to trick them, but are trying to know who they are.”

Monika Gray, University of Georgetown advises applicants to be true to who they are. She says “The biggest mistake the candidates make when preparing an application is to try to figure out who we are trying to preview and who we think is the best candidate and leave out lots of important things about themselves.”

According to her, most students fail to understand that B-schools are looking for all-rounded people who are interesting and that doesn’t have to relate to something that seems business school related. “When we ask students about their hobbies and interests , they say following the stock market. It is fine to have such a hobby, if it really is, but if your hobby is playing socker, jogging or mountain climbing that’s perfectly fine to admit, because most people find their creative solutions outside their work space. So it’s important to us that we have students who do interesting things and not solely focus on whatever they are interested in doing professionally, as it helps them balance themselves. So , be honest about who you are and develop that personal profile and not just assume that everything has to go specifically matching your career.”

According to Richard G . Miller, Carey Business School, John Hopkins University. “Make sure you turn the interview into you being the interviewer. Ask the right question.”

Gaynor Jones, Freeman school of Business, Tulane University says “Keep it simple. It is important for the candidate to put across basics about themselves. When we look at an applicant or an application comes in , we try to get an idea about who the applicant is . We don’t want to read the same thing and boring stuff. Make it different and interesting, yet complete and simple.”
Alice Hiang, Hult International Business school agrees and says,” Try to use application to let yourself come through. We get hundreds of applications , those who let their personal story and unique characteristics come through, are the ones who are selected”.
Glenns Burman, Rutger Business school, comments ” When it comes to an application, you have to treat it as an opportunity to get in through the door. It has to represent you to the best of your abilities. Understand that you have one shot to make 1st impression. Make sure its complete, make sure its on time or even early, especially when applying for some finantial aid or scholarship. One should understand that its more than just a piece of paper, it is you. I do not know the person, I can come to who you are at that point is through that application.


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