In Part 1 of our MBA Profile Evaluation series, admissions expert Iliana Bobova reveals what and why business schools take into consideration when they assess prospective applicants. She also shares the main Dos and Don’ts for your application.
Is there any specific area of business management that is considered as a big plus when evaluating the MBA profile of a prospective applicant?
Actually, no. The MBA programs are open to professionals from any background and any field of study. And, actually, applicants who come from a non-management and non-business background might even be much more interesting to the admissions committees, because they bring diversity to the classroom, and fresh perspectives. Also, the MBA is a general management and business leadership program, and management and leadership are needed in all areas of business. So, people from all backgrounds are really welcome to the MBA programs. However, the admissions committees will be looking for evidence that applicants have the necessary analytical and quantitative skills. So, if an applicant with a non-quantitative background applies, then they will require – and they will be looking closely at the GMAT scores or other test results that will show this – that this person has the analytical and quantitative skills required for the program.
Are analytical and quantitative skills more important than language skills?
No – actually, the language skills are the basics. If you are not fluent in English, even if you have the analytical and quantitative skills, you will not be able to benefit from an MBA program conducted in English. So, I would say that the language skill is the first basic requirement. And here I would like to highlight that people should not overestimate their language skills. Many MBA prospects use the language in their everyday work – some of them primarily write in English, others maybe primarily talk in English. However, going to graduate school to study in English requires fluency and a more sophisticated vocabulary. MBA participants should be able to read, process and analyze long texts in different subject areas, from finance strategy, HR, technology, data science… The MBA programs are quite intense and demanding. So, the language should definitely not be a barrier for MBA participants.
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What are the tests besides GMAT and GRE that can be considered during the application?
Usually, these are the tests. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the one that is still, in many cases, preferred by business schools, because it is particularly prepared for admission to management programs. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a test for graduate schools, and it is more and more accepted as an alternative to the GMAT. Some business schools have their own admission tests. But applicants need to decide: if they’re going to apply to one school only, and if the school has a school test, applicants don’t need to take the others. But if they are applying to many schools – like three, four, or five, they’d better take the GMAT or the GRE test. And actually, they have to make sure that the schools accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. And there are some MBA programs that don’t require any test, but they have other ways through which they get the evidence that the applicant is bringing the qualifications and the skills that they require. And, of course, the language tests, as I mentioned – they are obligatory. And some might ask why schools want language tests and the GRE and GMAT, since the GRE and the GMAT are also in English. Briefly – these tests, GMAT and GRE on one side, and TOEFL, IELTS, etc. on the other – check different skills. So, aptitude tests do not replace language proficiency tests.
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