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To be admitted to one of the world’s top MBA programs such as Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and Kellogg, you need to prepare and submit an application.
Below are the various application components. By each component,
we noted its weight in the overall admissions considerations.
Admission committees do not usually base their decisions on the strict weights listed below. However, we present these weights to help you gain a general idea regarding admission considerations, based on our experience and on close to 10 years of conversations with admission committee members. In practice, these weights also change from one school to another.
When a certain aspect of the application is extremely strong, or weak, relative to its average among admitted students, its relative weight is usually greater than the weight listed below. For example, if your GMAT score is 540, or 790, and the average GMAT score of people admitted to the school you are applying to is 710, then the relative weight of the GMAT score will be higher in your case.
- Personal history and/or CV and/or
15% weight (in terms of admission considerations).
It is usually possible to improve the document (that is, reapply) once a year.
- 2-3 recommendations
It is usually possible to upgrade the recommendations, or some of them (that is, reapply) once a year.
- 3-6 essays based on the application
(e.g. Why do you want to study for an MBA? Why our school? What makes you a unique candidate? Describe your greatest achievement)
It is usually possible to improve the essays (that is, reapply) once a year.
In some cases, schools will take the older essays into account even if you submit new essays a year later. In addition, normally there are special essay questions for re-applicants.
- GMAT score
The GMAT tests your English language and math skills. You can take the test several times, and in most cases the schools will consider only the highest score.
What score do you need to get in order to be accepted?
The leading programs normally accept candidates with varying GMAT scores. The score difference between two accepted candidates could go beyond 140 points. For example, every year, schools like Harvard, Wharton and Columbia accept candidates with a GMAT score of 620 while rejecting, despite the high score, candidates with a GMAT score of 760 and above.
Below, is a rough description of the admission committees’ approach to the GMAT score.
On the left you can see the program’s average ranking, followed by the GMAT score that could reasonably result in admission, yet may raise certain concerns (some candidates will be admitted with an even lower score). This is followed by a GMAT score that would not raise concerns with the admissions committee (that is, no need to counter-balance it with other data), followed by a GMAT score that would be considered “strong” and possibly counter-balance other weaknesses in the application.
When the GMAT score is extremely high, or low, its relative weight is usually greater.
1-10: 650+ 700+ 730+
11-20: 630+ 680+ 720+
21-30: 600+ 650+ 700+
31-50: 580+ 640+ 680+
The GMAT can be retaken once a month. Most admission committees only take the highest score into consideration.
- Undergraduate GPA (BA/B.Sc. average)
Normally, what matters most to the admission committee is the relative ranking in your class (for example, top 20%, top 40%, cum laude, etc.)
Less important is the school where you studied. However, well-known leading universities will be given more weight than an unknown institution. Also, the school you attended will be given more weight (significantly) at programs where the application will be reviewed by someone from your home country. The same is true in cases where someone from your home country will interview you.
Often it is possible “counter-balance” low grades, to some extent, by attaining high grades in supplementary/advanced courses or degrees (for example, through the Open University or a local community college). For example, if your grades give the impression that you may be weak in math, you can take an academic math course. You will somewhat (usually, to a small extent) improve this impression if you excel in it.
10% weight (in cases where the interview takes place prior to application submission).
20% (or more) weight (in cases where the interview takes place after an initial screening of applications).
Most schools decide whether to offer you an interview following an initial screening process of applications. A few programs ask that you conduct an interview (either in your area of residence, on campus, or via phone) even before submitting the application. The weight of the interview is higher in the case of the former and lower in the case of the latter option.
- TOEFL score (if required)
The TOEFL is an English-language test which is usually required of candidates whose mother tongue is not English and did not attend an undergraduate program conducted in English. Most universities will request a certain minimum score. As long as you reach this minimum, the actual score usually carries little weight.
Fewer than 25% of the candidates who apply to the US top MBA programs are admitted. Aringo helps candidates gain admission by helping them prepare effective essays, recommendations, and CVs.
To get your application process started, please fill out the Initial Assessment Form.