22 Sep 2017

MBA Admissions Panel Advice


I recently attended the MBA tour here in Bangkok. Here are a few take-aways from the Admissions Panel talk given by admission directors from some of the top programs.



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The GMAT is primarily used as a “leveler.” Since applicants come from all over the world they want some measure of comparison that is universal. They say they are indifferent as to whether you should submit the GRE or the GMAT. Just use the one that is best for you. Take a look at the programs 20%-80% acceptance scores. That is what you should aim for. These scores are also important for potential scholarships.


Personal statement/Essays


These are used to showcase your goals, values, and aspirations. Admission panels want to see how the program fits with you and vice versa. Basically, they want to know who you are. Pay close attention to the prompts and stay on point. Make sure it is proof read. Have someone who knows you and also someone who doesn’t know you read it for clarity of message. Do not just recycle a generic response for all applications. Definitely don’t write the wrong name of the school on an application. Make sure you stick to the word count, or time limit. They will stop once that is met.




These are used as a primary predictor of future grades. As with the other parts of the application package, admissions panels are looking at what story the transcript tells. They want to see if this person can handle the rigor of the program. Make sure to explain any gaps or issues in your transcript. If you have minimal or poor quantitative marks, taking supplemental classes may help.



This is where they look for evidence of leadership material. The resume should only be one or two pages long and emphasize a clear track record. Don’t just list out a bunch of information. Minimize the technical jargon. Try to quantify accomplishments. When looking at school’s work experience requirement, look at the range of applicants accepted. This will give you an idea of the variety of people they are looking for.




The recommendation should come from a supervisor. For more technical programs a academic recommendation may also be required. Again, these should tell a story that reinforces the rest of the application.  It should continue the story of your accomplishments, and how you dealt with challenges.  They are looking for candid information. Admissions panels know when it is not. Don’t just have your recommender sign off on something you wrote. Find people who will go to bat for you.  Sit down and reacquaint them with your work. Don’t just hand them your information.




An interview may be necessary. It may be with a member of the admissions panel, a faculty member, or an alumnus. Treat it akin to a job interview. Make sure to prepare key talking points, especially, on how this MBA will add value to your life. Do research on the program. Have questions ready, but make sure they are relevant. While the type of program is important, you don’t need to have a specialization set before applying. They understand that interests change.


Lastly, they urge you to take time to ensure the application is complete. You want to put your best foot forward and present a polished package. Even if this means missing the first round, it’s better to have a solid application than just applying early.


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