Tag Archives: GMAT

B-School AdComs Still Iffy on GMAT IR

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of business school admissions officers*, 57% of MBA programs say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s recently launched Integrated Reasoning section is not currently an important part …

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of business school admissions officers*, 57% of MBA programs say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s recently launched Integrated Reasoning section is not currently an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.

Despite that finding, Kaplan’s survey also finds that 51% of business school admissions list a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a competitive score overall.

In Kaplan’s 2012 survey, business schools were largely undecided about Integrated Reasoning’s importance, with 54% saying they were unsure how important an applicant’s score would be; 22% said it would be important and 24% said it would not be important.

Because test takers receive a separate score for the Integrated Reasoning section, poor performance on this section cannot be masked by stronger performance on other sections of the GMAT.

“It’s not surprising that a majority of business schools are not currently placing too much importance on the Integrated Reasoning section, since it makes sense they’d want to gather performance data on a new section before fully incorporating it into their evaluation process,” said Lee Weiss, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business programs. Weiss also noted that because test scores are good for five years, some applicants in 2012 and 2013 submitted scores from the old GMAT.

“Moving forward, business schools may decide that Integrated Reasoning should play a more critical role. In the meantime, prospective MBA students should not take Integrated Reasoning any less seriously than the Quantitative or Verbal sections. It still matters,” Weiss said.

* For the 2013 survey, 152 admissions officers from business schools across the United States were surveyed by telephone between July and September. Among those 152 are five of the top ten MBA programs, as compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

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Breaking from the GMAT to Prepare for the TOEFL

Guest post by our friends at Magoosh Are you a non-native English speaker? Chances are you’ve spent the past months swimming in a sea of GMAT questions and now your gears have to shift to …

Guest post by our friends at Magoosh

Are you a non-native English speaker? Chances are you’ve spent the past months swimming in a sea of GMAT questions and now your gears have to shift to the TOEFL. Unless you are a TOEFL teacher yourself or you’re retaking the test, you probably have no opinion about TOEFL books. And unless you know are in a TOEFL class or have a friend who studied a lot for the test, you might not know how to choose a book.

Should you trust the amazon.com reviews? If people say the reading is too difficult, does that mean it’s actually good practice? Is it important to have a CD with computer practice tests? Is the Official TOEFL Guide the best just because it’s official? What is important in a book?

Well, The answers to those questions, in order: Only a little, rarely, yes, no, and it really depends. That last question is the trickiest one, and that’s what we’ll talk about here.

Learning About the Test

Some students really only need to learn about the format of the TOEFL and some test-taking strategies. If you have spoken English regularly (not just in a class) for many years, you probably fit in this category. If GMAT Verbal was a breeze, the TOEFL likely won’t be so bad.

To find out about the structure of the test, learn how hard the TOEFL is, and get practice taking it, there is no better resource than the official books from ETS. They give the best representation of the test.

But you might also want to learn more about test-taking strategy. For this, other resources become important. You want a book that has a lot of answers and explanations. Ideally, each reading and listening question should have a very long section of explanation. The wrong answers should be explained. Every speaking and writing task should have a few different sample answers and analyses for those samples.

There should be information on how to take good notes, how much time to spend reading each passage, what keywords are important to notice when listening, how much time you should spend speaking about examples, how to format your essays, and many other small topics, too. Cambridge, among other books, does this pretty well. You may have acquired a lot of this over this course of preparing for the GMAT. Use these skills–they’ll help.

For a student in this situation, grammar and vocabulary aren’t as important, so don’t worry if you don’t see many word lists or grammar exercises. Your TOEFL book might be very different from your other English textbooks, and that’s okay.

Improving Your English

Your TOEFL scores are a measurement of more than just your TOEFL practice. They show your total English experience. If you have only studied English in high school or college classes, never lived in an English-speaking country, and don’t have English speaking friends or family, then you might need to improve your English in general. Your GMAT experience helps here, but you’ll quickly learn it’s not eactly the same test of language as the TOEFL.

That means learning more than just the structure of the test and question strategies. It means using English as much as possible, improving your vocabulary, and correcting grammar mistakes. The most important of those three is using English. You need as much experience as possible in all skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), especially if you have not practiced speaking and writing essays in the past.

And no TOEFL book includes the type of natural practice you need to really get better. That improvement requires frequent conversation with native speakers. There is no better way to improve your speaking and listening than that.

But if you are in this group–students who are trying to make general English improvement over a long time and learn about the TOEFL–some books are definitely better than others. The Official Guide is not enough. It teaches you about the test, but doesn’t help improve your English very much.

A good book for this type of student would give a lot of reading practice, grammar lessons, hundreds (or maybe thousands) of vocabulary words with exercises, and more. I have, sadly, not yet found the perfect book for this. Just like I’m sure you’ve discovered with the GMAT books out there, there simply isn’t one that is perfect. But if you are looking at reviews on the internet in a store looking at books, look for those three pieces: reading, vocabulary, and grammar.

And here’s where you’ve really got to change your study habits from your GMAT prepartions: make sure you get that speaking and listening practice, too!

This post was written by Lucas Verney-Fink, resident TOEFL expert at Magoosh. For more advice on TOEFL prep, check out Magoosh’sTOEFL blog.

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Is MBA Admissions Affected by IR Scores?

Guest post by Zeke Lee, founder of the GMAT Pill The IR section has been around for a year now, with 196,712 scores recorded. With all these scores taken into account, the average (mean) IR …

Guest post by Zeke Lee, founder of the GMAT Pill

The IR section has been around for a year now, with 196,712 scores recorded. With all these scores taken into account, the average (mean) IR score was found to be 4.34 / 8.00 with a standard deviation of 2.1

Since 95% of the distribution lies within 2 standard deviations, we can roughly say that 95% of the distribution lies between 2.24 and 6.44. Please take into account that this is not a normal distribution and that the score intervals only change by 1.  

Interesting points

  1. The IR section is more than just another score.

Ever since the IR section’s debut in 2012, the MBA admissions committee has begun to understand how the IR score compares in relation to a student’s overall application.

How should this affect the students who apply?

Well, the MBA programs always have qualified applicants looking to get in. However, there are not always enough seats for all of the applicants. Those who can score a high enough IR score can set themselves apart from the others.

 How so?

It’s no surprise that students with high GMAT Quant scores are qualified for MBA School. After all, business is a career that reveals around numbers. However, with so many qualified applicants, the mere difference of 2 quant questions can completely alter a score’s percentile.

For example, a Q48 student may not even be in the 90th percentile of scores anymore. Fortunately enough, the difference between two questions is not enough for the admission committee to select the Q50 student over the Q48 student.

Imagine this scenario: Two qualified applicants remain for the final seat at Stanford MBA. Which one would you choose?

Candidate 1: Q48 / IR 8
Candidate 2: Q50 / IR 4

Based on these statistics alone, Candidate 1 can potentially appear to be more well-rounded than Candidate 2. There is too much discrepancy between Candidate 2’s overall GMAT score and his IR score.

Speaking of discrepancies between GMAT scores and IR scores, the difference is quite noticeable among Chinese and Indian applicants. As a result, if applicants from China or India can score well enough on the IR section as well as the overall GMAT, then they can beat out other applicants from the same region.

  1. Scholarship Money

The GMAT Pill community is to proud to admit that several alums have gone off to attend top business schools around the world. But even more impressive are the ones who scored a merit-based scholarship along the way. These candidates often have high marks across all categories on the GMAT exam – including IR.

Why is so much emphasis placed on the IR?

The IR section is more than just another score. It was carefully designed to test a student’s ability to analyze information and make appropriate decisions. Such qualities are what attract colleges and potential job recruiters. If a college is able to determine a student’s capabilities beforehand, then they will be more willing to invest in that student through scholarships and grants.

Proof: One of GMAT Pill’s former students (and now GMAT Pill instructor) James –obtained a $93k MBA Scholarship from London Business School. It’s no surprise considering that his stats included a GMAT score of 770, an IR score of 8/8 and an AWA score of 6/6.

  1. Consultants understand the IR score

When job recruiters visit college campuses, they are mostly interested in those who have relevant work experience. And among those with relevant work experience, the ones with high GMAT scores and GPAs may stand out. However, soon enough, another requirement will be added to that criterion. High IR scores can be play a factor for those interested in consulting because the IR section test the same skill sets that consultants use on the job.

  1. After the fall of 2013

As of today, GMAT test takers will enter the testing room, take the test and receive an unofficial score report that does not have their IR scores. However, all that will change after the fall of 2013. After finishing the exam, test takers will receive an unofficial score report with their IR scores.

  1. 20 Days or less

The official score report is said to come within 20 days of the testing day. However, test takers often find the score reports in their mailboxes within a week. Chances are, your official score report will come within a week as well.

  1. One GMAT score

Talk has taken root about a single GMAT score of 800, made up of 4 sections, quant/verbal/awa/ir. This would be a huge change considering that the current 800 score is only made up of quant and verbal.

Despite all this talk, this type of change is not likely to take place anytime in the near future. Several years would pass before all of the adjustments are made to the scoring system, the test booklet, etc. That is, if GMAC decides to create a single 800 score.

Here at GMAT Pill, we believe that having a single overall score would be a smart move. If all of the sections are distributed evenly, the IR section will be much more emphasized than it is now. It will have a place within the 800 score—the score most students take account to– the score that top business school will display on their admission pages, etc

More opinions need to be gathered before GMAC actually makes any decisions, but the GMAT Pill community remains hopeful.

Analyzing the IR Stats

With a year passing since the IR section’s release, the GMAC community found some interesting information about the relationship between a country’s average GMAT scores and IR scores.

Test takers from China and India have been found to face the largest discrepancy between GMAT scores and IR scores. The IR scores appear to be inadequate in relations to the GMAT score.

What can we do with this information?

This information is important for Chinese/Indian test takers because if they can manage to score well on BOTH the overall GMAT and the IR section, then they can stand out among ordinary Chinese/Indian test takers who have high GMAT scores, but insufficient IR scores.

With China and India facing the largest discrepancy between scores, Australia and America face the least discrepancy between GMAT scores and IR scores.

If an MBA admissions committee wanted to determine an applicant’s future graduate GPA, they would look at his IR score. Why? Although not completely accurate, research has been made to determine which testing metric would best predict an applicant’s future graduate GPA.

Using the total 800 score, the AWA score, the undergraduate GPA, and the IR score to test the prediction, it was concluded that the IR score was the victor. The IR score best predicted graduate GPA in comparison to the other testing metrics.

What kind of influence does the IR score have on a student’s admission?

The IR score usually portrays an idea of whether or not an applicant should be accepted or denied. Although there might npt always be a clear cut answer on who should be accepted, it helps to decide which students should be denied.

How does it work?

For applicants scoring 650 or higher, the number of students scoring low on IR (1, 2, or 3) was 2%, 3%, and 6% respectively. In other words, if a student scored high on GMAT, chances are that he/she scored at least a 4 on IR.

So what does this mean?

Well, you don’t want to stand out in a bad way. You don’t want to score 650 or higher and then be one of those 11% who bombs the IR.

Advice: Try to be as well rounded with your scores! Having a superb GMAT score and an insufficient IR score will do more damage than good.

Chinese and Indian applicants may be an exception to the advice above because large discrepancies are common among their regions. But if they want to have an edge during admissions, they should try to score on higher end of the IR section. An 8 would be incredible, but it’s not completely necessary. Simply scoring a 6 or 7 should be good enough.

A high IR score is not just desired by upper tier programs, but by all MBA programs, including the less competitive ones. A good portion of applicants end up receiving a score of 1, 2 or 3 on the IR. In fact the chance of scoring a 1, 2 or 3 is 6%, 10%, and 14%, respectively, which means 30 percent of IR test takers end up with a 1, 2 or 3.

Predicting a career path
Despite being around for only a year, the average IR score differs among MBA careers. For example, MBAs who head into Consulting, Operations, and Finance have scored higher on the IR than MBAs who head into human resources, marketing, or general management.

GMAC confirmed that top consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG have taken interest in asking a job candidate for his IR score.

Consultants can evaluate with IR Scores
Since the IR section tests the same skills that consultants must use, consultants can use IR test results to find out who is best suited for a job. For example, in order to become a management consultant, it is necessary to understand the prime objective, and what is necessary to achieve it. After analyzing data and finding the lurking pattern, appropriate decisions must be made in order to turn that goal into a reality.

Before establishing GMAT Pill, I used to work at Booz & Company, as a managing consultant. As a result, I can understand, first hand why consulting firms want students with high IR skills. These are the students that have the necessary skills to succeed as a consultant and help strengthen the firm.

Future management consultants should take this information into account and begin prepping for the IR section. It may play a huge role when it’s time to find a job.

Final Thoughts & Outcome

As the IR section grows older, the MBA admission committee has a clearer understanding of how the IR score contributes to an applicant’s statistics.

There are several things to keep in mind, with  regards to the IR section. Chinese and Indian applicants often notice a huge difference between their 800 GMAT score and their IR scores. About 30% of the test takers received a 1, 2, or 3 on the IR score. The importance of the IR score differs based on region and it’s important to do GMAT practice questions to get used to the new question types. 

Sometimes a decent score of 4 is good enough for certain individuals to get into the school of their choice.

High scores in all categories – verbal, quant, AWA, and IR- will be beneficial in obtaining scholarship money. As previously state, London Business School offered former GMAT Pill former (and now GMAT Pill instructor) James a full tuition scholarship after he scored a GMAT score of 770, an IR score of 8/8 and an AWA score of 6/6.

In the long run, IR scores will play a role in influencing MBA admissions AND corporate recruiting. Keep in mind that high scores always be a plus!

The unofficial score report received after the test will carry your IR score following the fall of 2013. Talk has taken root about a single GMAT score of 800, made up of 4 sections, quant/verbal/awa/ir.

More opinions need to be gathered before GMAC actually makes any decisions, but the GMAT Pill community remains hopeful.


Zeke Lee, the 98%ile in 2 weeks guy from Stanford, is the founder of the GMAT Pill, an online GMAT course that teaches “speed-learning” techniques designed to help busy working professionals ace the GMAT in as little time as possible. These techniques combine with a collection of 1,000+ GMAT practice questions and video explanations to form the ultimate study resource for the GMAT test taker.

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Why Can’t I Score Above 700 on the GMAT?

By Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. Every test taker seems to covet a 700+ score on the GMAT. For good reason too, since a score of 700 means …

By Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep.

Every test taker seems to covet a 700+ score on the GMAT. For good reason too, since a score of 700 means that student broke into the 90th percentile—a big deal when the average GMAT score is a 545. Although a 700 is not a guarantee of getting into a grad program, it will make the admission committee notice you. And if anything, it will keep your application out of the rejection pile.

But how to score 700 if you are stuck in the 600s? Let’s examine the common habits of students who score in the 700 range and dispel some common myths that test takers have to help you succeed.

Practice GMATS are not the Real GMAT

First, to score in the 700 range, let’s calibrate our expectations. Taking mock tests is a crucial part of preparing for the test, but don’t expect your performance on a practice test to match your performance on the real GMAT. Every practice test was not created equal and every practice question is not necessarily a strong representation of actual GMAT questions.

So don’t put too much weight in a practice test result unless it is the GMATPrep Software from the test makers. Make sure that you know what the best GMAT prep books are and use them. Don’t waste your time with flawed resources.

Multiple Attempts

The real test can cause more stress, which leads to a loss of focus and an increase in mistakes compared to a practice test. So do not expect to reach a 700 score in one, two, or even three attempts. Many students need multiple attempts to see an increase from 600 to 700 (one student didn’t see improvement until he took the test eight times!).

The students who break into the 700 range are working hard to do so, and often take the test multiple times. Remember that a score of 700 means that you are doing better on the GMAT than 90% of the people who take the test. This is an elite group, and you won’t make it there without hard work, dedication, and probably multiple attempts.

Practice Questions aren’t Enough

Plenty of students think that if they answer 1000+ practice questions, they will be ready for the test. This is a myth. The best test takers, the students who do score in the 700 range, not only answer a lot of practice problems, but they also read The Economist and The New York Times regularly.

The are challenging themselves by choosing articles that they normally wouldn’t read so that they are comfortable with new, strange, foreign reading passages. These students have made a habit of improving their skills outside of doing practice problems and learning grammar points. Make practicing for the GMAT more than just opening a test prep book or logging into your test prep software.

Pacing is Key

Not only are they expanding their skills outside of practice problems, but these students also have a very strong understanding of the questions types, the common wrong answer traps for each question type, and the strategy for each type of question. This knowledge, like knowing the answer choices and how to eliminate them in Data Sufficiency, ultimately, saves them time.

And this is the last piece: students scoring in the 700 range have a strong pacing strategy, know how to save time, and use time efficiently. Not feeling rushed is a key to success, which comes with practice problems for sure. But not just answering questions correctly, but also setting a timer for questions and answering them correctly. If you lack a pacing strategy, it is time to start coming up with one.

Focused, Targeted Practice

Each time you sit down and study, you need to have direction and purpose. The big difference between a 600 and a 700 is targeting weakness and improving. So that means sitting down to study, and working on those weakness.

You need to be constantly on the look out for weakness. Be honest with yourself and keep track of your weaknesses in a notebook. Then when it comes to practice, focus on improving those skills. For example, if you struggle with identifying assumptions in arguments, then you need to spend your time generating assumptions and doing practice problems that are about assumptions.

Or if you struggle with statistics, you need to spend time watching lesson videos that teach the basics, like Khan Academy. Without a strong foundation in the basics of math and grammar, you cannot expect to break into the 700 range.

Do you even need a 700 on the GMAT?

But, let’s step back from this problem. Do you even need to take the GMAT and get a 700 to actually get into a graduate program? Plenty of business schools now accept the GMAT or GRE, so even before you invest all of your waking hours to preparing for the GMAT, look into the GRE. Take a practice GRE test and see how you do. If you do better on the GRE, you might want to pivot your preparation to the GRE.

For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog

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Darden’s Dean On the Value of International MBA Students

Against a backdrop of public debate on immigration, and assertions that international students are taking away places on college campuses that should go to American-born students, Dean Robert Bruner of the University of Virginia’s Darden …

Against a backdrop of public debate on immigration, and assertions that international students are taking away places on college campuses that should go to American-born students, Dean Robert Bruner of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business explains in a recent blog post why international students are vital to our educational system.

According to the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business, international students comprised 14.2% of all students enrolled in U.S. B-schools in 2012-2013. The number of GMAT test takers abroad, particularly from Asia, continues to rise, and Bruner notes that international applications at Darden increased by 21% this year, with just a 1% increase in domestic applications.

In this excerpt, Dean Bruner specifies exactly what motivates Darden to recruit international students:

  • It is right for the students. I challenge any parent: given what you know about the trends in the global economy, would you be satisfied to have your child educated only with people of your own country? The professional world into which American and international students will graduate requires managers and leaders who are globally confident and competent. One learns so much about navigating across borders from studying with internationally-diverse classmates. Our best American applicants demand an internationally diverse classroom and network. They know that the future will require both understanding of and cooperation with other nations.
  • It is right for the companies who recruit our students. Darden’s corporate partners actively look to hire our international students. No wonder. Our analysis shows that the top 15 corporate non-financial recruiters at Darden report an average of 45% of their revenues originating outside of the U.S. America’s business economy is not an island unto itself; it is hugely dependent on global trade. American firms of all sizes must look beyond our borders. Some 46.6% of the sales of the S&P500 companies originate internationally.
  • It is right for our society. International students contribute much more than the measures of student spending indicate. They promote global awareness among American students. They spur innovation and creativity (diversity does this generally). They found companies and create jobs here. Generally, international students carry values that are quite consistent with the heritage of America. These students are optimists, pioneers, and risk-takers who leave their familiar lands, languages, and cultures to strive for a better life. They are drawn to the American Dream as much as many Americans—and the international students help to sustain that dream. Since Darden is financially self-sufficient, it delivers these benefits to society without funding from taxpayers or the University.
  • It can help the native countries of our international students. America spends 1% of its Federal budget on foreign aid and humanitarian assistance. Educating international students is a high-impact complement to such aid. As the saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.’
  • It is right for Darden. Our vision for Darden is succinct: “World-class impact and stature.” Our Mission calls us to “improve the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and by advancing knowledge.” We want to make a positive impact in the world. Educating international students helps us fulfill our Mission and Vision.”

Dean Bruner goes on to sketch out the financial aid and loan programs available to international applicants at Darden, while stressing that he always advises B-school hopefuls to first tap into personal savings, family, a working spouse, and/or part-time employment to help pay for their education—using loans only as a last resort.

With references to Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson, Dean Bruner makes a compelling and relevant argument about the value of expanding our experiences beyond our own backyards. To learn more about how Bruner makes the case for international students, read the complete blog post here.

You may also be interested in:

3 Common Hurdles for International MBA Applicants


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3 Common Hurdles for International MBA Applicants

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Nearly a third of students in some of the top MBA programs are international, which offers great professional and cultural diversity and enriches …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Nearly a third of students in some of the top MBA programs are international, which offers great professional and cultural diversity and enriches the classroom experience.

Applying from abroad involves certain expected obstacles, such as the logistics of campus visits, securing visas and financial aid and demonstrating language proficiency, but students share other challenges as well.

Here are three specific client cases – and their challenges – I’ve encountered while working with international MBA applicants that may help you with your applications.

1. Explaining your international GPA: Our client Naveen wanted to work in technology management and felt that the MBA program at Stanford Graduate School of Business would be a great fit for him. He had attended the College of Engineering at University of Delhi, where he received marks of distinction in almost every class. However, due to the difficulty level of the courses at his college in particular, those marks usually resulted in percentage scores in the 70s.

Naveen was shocked when he translated his overall grade percentage as 73 – the equivalent of a C average in the U.S. He was convinced his academic record would stand out negatively when compared to applicants from American schools grading on a 4.0 GPA scale.

Looking at grade conversion calculators available online, we found that for some transcripts, a 75 percent would be the equivalent of an American A-plus, and at other, more difficult programs, a percentage as low as 60 would translate to an A grade.

We felt that the Stanford admissions committee would likely be familiar with the rigorous engineering program at University of Delhi and would know that marks in the 50-60 range would be the equivalent of a 3.5 GPA in the U.S.

Naveen insisted on describing his degree as “First Class with Distinction,” and we agreed, so long as he used his actual scores without any conversion. This straightforward strategy worked, and Naveen ultimately landed a seat at Stanford.

2. Distinguishing yourself from other applicants: Another client, Abhi, desperately wanted to attend a top MBA program and had his sights set on University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. After earning his undergraduate degree in India, he had come to the U.S. to earn a master’s degree in engineering and spent three years in a technical position within a financial services company.

Unfortunately, Abhi’s academic and professional profile was nearly identical to a thousand other applicants. His handful of extracurricular activities were similar to ones we had seen from other applicants.

In addition, Abhi’s GPA and GMAT score were merely average, so we had a difficult conversation about the reality of this highly competitive situation and encouraged him to apply to a portfolio of schools in order to maximize his chances. He did agree to apply to four programs: Tepper School of Business, Darden School of Business, NYU Stern School of Business and Wharton – with Wharton being by far the most competitive.

We mentioned his long track record of service, but really highlighted his organizing a large group to train for a marathon and raise money for a six-year-old girl with leukemia. Abhi discussed his own training process, recruiting and engaging others, planning multiple fundraising events and the leadership ups and downs that he encountered throughout the process.

For Wharton, Abhi put in an extra push. He visited the campus more than once, and came to know the school extremely well, which was made clear in his essays. He also asked a good friend, a current student and someone who could legitimately add insight into his candidacy, to submit a letter on his behalf.

The final package showcased how truly passionate he was about the program and what a good fit he was in terms of culture and goals. Despite having a profile that on the surface mirrored countless others, by digging deeper to find and highlight the compelling aspects of Abhi’s background, he was offered a seat at both Wharton and Tepper.

[Find out how extracurriculars can enhance your b-school experience.]

3. Balancing out zero community involvement: Schools outside the U.S. often place far less emphasis on an applicant’s extracurricular or volunteering involvement when making admissions decisions. When Italian national Aldo came to us for help with his applications, his problem wasn’t quantitative. His balanced GMAT with an overall 720 and a 3.8 GPA presented a very strong academic profile in addition to three years of investment banking experience.

Aldo’s main issue was that extracurriculars and volunteering were not a part of his undergraduate experience, nor was it a priority for his peers in banking in Italy or London. He had no real way to demonstrate the community engagement that American MBA programs like to see.

Although it didn’t seem immediately relevant to Aldo, we helped him see the value of his passion for travel, which had spurred him to visit all seven continents and study abroad in Singapore.

Aldo referenced some of the lessons he learned while traveling and living in Singapore and London to demonstrate his cultural awareness and a sustained focus on international interactions. Ultimately Aldo was admitted to Wharton and NYU Stern.

Each of these applicants benefited from taking a fresh approach to their particular situation. Often, the steps necessary to strengthening your business school application become apparent once you spend some time in self-reflection.

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