The Seven MBA Applicant Evaluation Criteria
MBA admissions officers evaluate candidates using seven criteria.
For many years I conducted admissions seminars designed to help applicants get into top MBA programs. This Web site is a condensed version of those seminars. In it I address the qualities admissions officers are looking for in candidates and include anecdotes from my former GMAT students, many of whom are now in or have already graduated from the country's top business schools.
Those top schools will evaluate seven elements of your candidacy. There is significant variation in the emphasis placed on each of those elements, but as someone who has worked with hundreds of applicants, I have also noticed distinct similarities among the top programs.
I've arranged the seven elements in what I feel is their order of importance. My rankings are based on my own experience, and I will be the first to admit that they are regularly contradicted. I have plenty of former students at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and every other top school who were admitted because admissions officers liked something in their applications and threw out the rule book to accept them.
So don't be discouraged if you feel a little weak in some of the categories that I place high in my ranking. As I write this, I can think of former students at all three of the schools I just mentioned who had glaring weaknesses in important categories but managed to convince the admissions staff that they had something valuable to offer.
Keep in mind as you read through the seven items that their ranking applies only to top MBA programs. Less competitive schools have entirely different motivations behind their admissions decisions.
After running through the seven items, be sure to look at the GMAT tutorial and the tutorial on writing the essays. And if you're interested in working with an editor on your application essays, feel free to contact us.
The 7 Criteria
1. GMAT SCORE
You won't be admitted to a top-tier MBA school without a pretty decent GMAT number. The schools' own statistics prove this simple truth.
2. APPLICATION ESSAYS
It's common for applicants with great essays but only acceptable GMAT scores to beat out candidates with higher numbers.
When you submit your application can be as important as what you say in it. At the elite schools, you'd better be in one of the first two rounds.
4. UNDERGRADUATE GPA
Undergrad GPA is not as important as most applicants believe. But there's a caveat: if your math grades suck it will pay to do some work.
5. WORK EXPERIENCE
This isn't the type of experience you have at work, it's the amount. As applications rise, schools want students with more experience
Recommendations are often a better reflection of the recommender than of the applicant. I think they should be dumped.
Interviews can be very important, but their impact varies widely from school to school—and some schools don't use them at all.