Crack the Code: What Really Matters in Your B-School Application

Sep 24, 2015
Tags: Admissions, Applications, Business School

In evaluating candidates for admission, graduate business schools often employ a holistic approach—similar to what you may have experienced when you applied to four-year colleges. This means business schools will evaluate you as a complete individual, not merely as the sum of your data—e.g., your undergraduate GPA, GMAT exam score, and years of work experience. Admissions professionals are interested in understanding who you are as a person—your unique background, your aptitude for leadership, and how well you will contribute to the classroom community, among other considerations.

This is why applications have so many parts in addition to filling out your basic biographical information. Typically, candidates are required to provide academic transcripts, an official GMAT score report, a resume, essays, short answer question responses, letters of recommendation, and an interview.

As you’re polishing that resume, lining up who will write your letters of recommendation, and powering through the fifth draft of your essay, you may wonder: which parts of my application matter the most to getting in?

Weighing Your Application

For insight into this question, we surveyed more than 600 business programs around the world and asked them to distribute 100 percentage points among eight application components to indicate their level of importance in determining who to admit.

Using this interactive tool, you can explore their responses for yourself. Click the drop down list to filter the data by program type and study location to understand how, on average, admissions professionals weigh different aspects of candidate applications.

Admission Criteria Tool

Variation by World Region and Program Type

As you can see, the average responses vary considerably by both world region and program type. For example, full-time two-year MBA programs in the Asia-Pacific region weigh candidate interviews (38%) more heavily than any other factor, whereas US-based full-time two-year MBA programs weigh interviews (18%) more evenly with exam scores (21%) and academic transcripts (18%).

By program type, much of the variation can be explained by the level of work experience programs expect from applicants. For example, US-based Master of Finance programs typically accept candidates with little to no prior work experience.1 In evaluating these candidates, academic transcripts (27%) and exam scores (27%) are given the most weight because candidates have little work experience to take into consideration.

In contrast, US-based executive MBA programs typically weigh resumes (26%) and interviews (22%) the greatest because candidates for these programs often have 10 or more years work experience1 and are able to be evaluated based on their established professional track record, in addition to other admissions criteria.

There Is a School and Program for Everyone

Keep in mind that these are averages. If the strengths of your application don’t necessarily correlate to what the averages say are the most important factors, that doesn’t mean you won’t be considered for admission. There’s a school and program out there for everyone. More than 6,100 graduate management programs around the world accept the GMAT exam, and your unique background and skillset will be a good fit for any number of them.

Begin exploring your options today to find your ideal fit program and school using the School Finder tool!


 

1 GMAC (2015). Application Trends Survey. gmac.com/applicationtrends

OK