To better identify high potential candidates, the Yale School of Management has added a behavioral assessment to this season’s MBA application. For the past five years, ETS research scientists have worked closely with the SOM on developing a non-cognitive online assessment to better determine how applicants will perform once they arrive on campus.
“We’re always seeking new and innovative ways to look at our applicants outside of traditional metrics like test scores and academics,” said Laurel Grodman, the school’s Managing Director of Admissions.
Grodman called the behavioral assessment an appealing admissions tool because, “unlike an essay or interview question that is open to individual interpretation, it looks at these traits in a way that is fair, consistent, and measurable.”
“We wanted more confidence to assess applicants who don’t perform as well on traditional measures while also looking at those who perform very well on the tests and wind up underperforming in school,” Grodman added.
What is the behavioral assessment?
This online tool measures inter- and intrapersonal skills associated with success in business school. According to ETS, Yale is the first and only school to explore this tool for candidate evaluation.
The test takes about 20-25 minutes to complete and uses a forced-choice format. This means applicants will see 120 pairs of statements and must choose the ones that best match their own behaviors. An example would be selecting between, “I work well with other people” and “I work hard.” The test is adaptive, so no two test-takers will receive the exact same set of statements.
“There are no right and wrong answers,” said Grodman. “We researched a host of other instruments and they were all gameable.”
By “gameable” Grodman means it was obvious what the preferred response should be. The Yale team found that the ETS behavioral assessment was not gameable because there was no obvious preferred response.
How does the behavioral assessment factor into admissions decisions?
This assessment provides yet another data point to predict who will perform well in the classroom, Grodman explained. “We’ll be looking at it alongside, and sometimes as a counterpoint to, these more traditional metrics.”
However, the behavioral assessment results won’t become the deciding factor for an application, Grodman said. Instead, the admissions team will consider the assessment in combination with the rest of the applicant’s materials.
Can you prepare for the behavioral assessment?
This assessment doesn’t require any specialized knowledge. Therefore, there’s nothing you can do ahead of time to prepare. “I hope this comes as a breath of fresh air to MBA applicants—finally something that requires no preparation!” Grodman said.
“I can certainly appreciate how any new application component could create anxiety in an applicant,” Grodman noted. “I hope it will put applicants at ease to know that our use of this assessment is geared towards allowing the committee to take more chances on candidates whose traditional metrics may not be the best predictors of success.”
“Just try not to overthink it.”
For more information, please visit Yale SOM admissions.