ARINGO recently had the opportunity to ask the admissions officers at Chicago Booth some questions in order to get some insight into their MBA admissions process. Here is a summary of some of the questions asked, as well as what the admissions directors at Chicago Booth had to say:
Question: Are scholarships/fellowships merit based or needs based. Are you
able to provide any guidance?
Answer by Donna Swinford: At Booth we are 100% merit-based. We recently
re-did the scholarship page for prospects to highlight some of the awards we
Question: I’m wondering what you’re seeing for application numbers this
year, and the relative level of competitiveness vs. last year.
Answer by Donna Swinford: I am sure you are wondering how round one
ended this year. Applications have increased year over year. We continue to
be impressed with the diversity of the overall application pool. Tech,
entrepreneurship, and consulting continue to be of high interest.
Applications increased for us over all geographic locations. No one area
dominated. We did see a good increase of US veterans, and we continue to see
great applicants with GRE scores.
Question: What percentage of round 1 applicants did you invite to interview?
Answer by Donna Swinford: This year was not different than past years.
Typically we interview 50% of applicants for each round.
Question: How helpful is building an “alternative transcript” for applicants
who have reasonable quant or verbal skills (as measured in their undergrad
transcripts, job experience, etc.) but who can’t seem to translate that into
GMAT test performance?
Answer by Colin Davis: It’s good for prospective students to look at their
application with a critical eye. I would encourage anyone who feels that a
certain area isn’t representative of their true potential, to find
opportunities to provide greater clarity or context. In the example you
outlined, we’d evaluate all areas (transcripts, job experience, recs, GMAT,
alternative, etc.) for evidence of performance.
Question: I am curious if you can comment on what you saw in R1 with
respect to presentation vs. essay format. Are most people writing the essay
or evenly balanced?
Answer by Michelle Moore: We continue to see applicants use both formats.
We’ve stressed to them to use their best judgement when it comes to how they
best express themselves, so it ends up being fairly balanced, though with a
bit of a skew toward the written format given our Booth moments based
Question: Score cancel has enabled applicants to cancel scores. For an
otherwise viable candidate do you care if an applicant has a 720 or a 640
-670 – 720?
Answer by Colin Davis: The test score is only one component of the broader
application, as there are many other areas to help guide us on this topic.
For that reason, we focus on an applicant’s highest score prior to
Question: How can someone who has decided to take a gap year from work
remain competitive in the applicant pool?
Answer by Colin Davis: There can be many reasons to take a gap year, and
that’s what we’ll want the applicant to focus on. We’ll want to know what
the candidate took from that experience (just as we’d want to know what a
candidate takes away from professional experience) and how any learning
shape their thinking and/or their future.
Question: Are you able to share roughly what percentage of applicants
received R1 interviews and from that pool, approximately what percentage is
likely to receive offers?
Answer by Donna Swinford: We interviewed approximately 50% of the round
one applicants. We usually admit approximately 40 to 50% of those who are
Question: How do you view the GRE vs. the GMAT? If an applicant has a weak
quant GMAT but is able to demonstrate significantly higher quantitative
aptitude on the GRE, would that carry the same weight as a good GMAT alone?
Answer by Michelle Moore: We began accepting the GRE many years ago. We look
at this score in the context of the entire application, so we don’t rely
specifically on is score. There are other elements within the application
for us to look at if this area is low: undergrad courses, work experience,
Question: How do you treat the GRE with respect to the GMAT? Do you prefer
one over the other? Do applicants have an advantage taking one over the
Answer by Donna Swinford: We don’t have a preference of one test over
another. This round 7% of the applicant pool had GRE scores. We actually do
not calculate the average but instead use the ETS conversation tool to
determine the comparable GMAT score. The range of GMAT scores for those we
invited this round is from 590 to 790.
Question: Booth receives about 7.3 applicants per seat available,
competitive with Columbia and Duke but much below Stanford, Haas, MIT, HBS
etc. (19.5 to 10.3 apps). Is growing this number strictly about better
marketing or is something else at work?
Answer by Colin Davis: Applications per seat is one metric to look at.
However, we remain much more highly focused on quality, diversity, and
continuing to connect with the right applicants that understand how a Booth
MBA can impact their future. Our marketing approach is to ensure applicants
understand what’s different about the program and the underlying value
system that our community is built upon. That success goes beyond just
increasing app submission numbers.
Question: If someone were to take the GMAT score more than 3 times, does the
admissions office view that as a red-flag or something the applicant should
offer explanation for?
Answer by Donna Swinford: Red flags are only valid if there are other
questions in their application. If the rest of the application is strong and
they have a decent overall GMAT score, then no. If there are some concerns
about education, experience, etc, then maybe.
Question: What is the best way to approach the Booth Moments Essay? Are you
getting the information you want/need in that essay or did you initiate that
question to demonstrate the multiple facets of Booth experience?
Answer by Michelle Moore: Good question! It’s a little bit of both. The
visuals really anchor on the individuality of each applicant, how they
connect with a specific moment, and why they want to be part of the Booth
community. We want to get a better feel for the unique connection and impact
they can bring to Booth, as well as Booth’s impact on their life and future
aspirations. We’ve been really impressed and have seen applicants take a
very personal approach with their chosen image, as well as give profound
reasons for wanting to be a part of this school and how they want to define
their impact going forward.
Question: How are you dealing with applicants that are using apps like
magisto, animoto, vidify to anwer Booth moments?
Answer by Kim Masessa: We view submissions electronically and in full
color, therefore, all submissions need to be converted to PDF files. No
animation, video, music, etc. will translate over properly.
Question: Are you looking for a minimum quant score? In other words is
there a percentage point at which you believe an applicant could not handle
the quantitative coursework at Booth?
Answer by Colin Davis: There is a point in which ability to handle
coursework can be a concern, but it is not determined solely by a quant
score (or really any one indicator). Instead, we rely on the entire
application (professional experience, transcripts, recs, resume, etc.) for
evidence of readiness and ability.
Question: How would you advise an applicant to approach the presentation
Answer by Michelle Moore: We hope that, as it did last year, the essay
encourages applicants to express themselves, their individuality, and their
passions in an authentic way as well as how they connect to the Booth
community and culture. The captions that we included this year provide
additional context for applicants to relate to each moment and find
connections that resonate best with them.