In 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.

How do admissions committees assess MBA applicants? In the second part of our series on MBA profile evaluation, find out how to prepare for tests and how you can highlight your leadership potential in your application.

How do admissions committees evaluate the prospective students’ potential for academic work and what is the most important thing about that?

The GPA, the score from your first university degree studies, gives an indication of how you performed in an academic environment. Your language proficiency is also important. As already mentioned, if someone struggles with the language, the possibility of succeeding with studies is low. So, the test scores from TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge, etc., will also be an indicator of academic success. Application essays also supply information. But basically, it’s the first university GPA and academic transcripts and the test scores – language tests, as well as the GMAT test and the GRE. GMAT and GRE actually test skills that are essential for success during the studies, skills that students will use every day in graduate school. So, if you have good scores on these aptitude tests, this is an indication that it’s very likely that you will be successful academically in the program.

Check out: MBA Essay Topics at Top Schools and Their Tips

Is it possible to achieve a good result using only online tools, or we should also consult with an admissions officer? And is oral or written communication better?

If you ask about how to achieve good test scores, then it’s very personal. Some people can prepare really well using online resources, and currently there are plenty of them, including PrepAdviser. There are sample tests, practice questions, etc. Other people can’t study well entirely online, so they might need to attend classes or have individual tutoring. So effective tests preparation depends on the personal learning style of each applicant.

If the question is, how can you improve your chances of admission, I would recommend getting in touch with the admissions officers at your desired universities as early as possible. Contact them as often as needed, taking any opportunity to consult them – email, attending webinars, Q&A sessions, school presentations. Interact with the admissions advisers – their role is to help applicants prepare their application for admission, to guide them to get to know the school and decide how this school can be helpful for them, and whether this is the right school for them.

Check out: How to Apply to a Top 10 MBA Program

How do business schools measure leadership potential?

This is a tough question, and every business school has their own ways of doing that. But, basically, admissions committees look at the career details and progression, as well as the quality of both the professional and personal experience. They will be looking at whether the person has led teams, either formally or informally – in the workplace, or during their personal life and hobbies, interests, volunteer work… So, it’s a really complicated review. Admissions committees will be looking also for evidence in the essays because even some essays might be focused on leadership. Very often, in the letters of recommendation, schools ask the recommenders about the leadership potential of the candidate. The admissions committees are putting together bits and pieces from the whole application package to evaluate leadership potential. And, of course, your leadership aspirations and experience will be discussed during the admissions interview.

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For more advice from Iliana Bobova, read MBA Profile Evaluation Behind the Scenes (Part 1) and MBA Profile Evaluation Behind the Scenes (Part 3).