5 Ways to Make MBA Applications Sharper


Surely an MBA can boost your career. But, how do you know that you will receive an admissions offer from your dream B-school? Particularly, in the post-Covid era, the MBA admission process has become extremely competitive making it necessary for each applicant to ensure that his/her application has the definite ‘x’-factor to help them make it to the program of their choice. This article will walk you through the five crucial ways you can make a strong MBA application.


Plan your MBA Application

MBA admission is a rigorous process and definitely not an overnight job. Do not wait till the last hour. Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, start the process of the application process. Here’s a plan that you can follow for your MBA application:


Step 1: Research

Shortlist the business schools you wish to apply to. Take into account the location, the financial requirements, and, most importantly, the average statistics of the batch. Next, check the MBA application requirements for each program as well as the average work experience and standardised test score for the preceding or current MBA class. This will further help you finalise your list.


Step 2: Book your Standardised Test Dates

Take your GMAT/GRE in advance so that you have time to re-take the test before application in case you are not satisfied with the results.


Step 3: Collect your Academic Transcripts

You need to submit transcripts of all academic coursework that you have undertaken; this is a time-taking process. Notify your academic institutions well in advance to ensure that you have the documents in time for submitting your MBA application.


Step 4: Connect with Your Recommenders

MBA applications need at least two professional recommendations. Your recommender has to be able to submit your recommendation letter in time, while ensuring that it is a strong recommendation of your strengths. Shortlist your recommenders in advance and schedule discussions with them to ascertain that you are submitting a convincing recommendation letter.


Step 5: Work on Your Essays

The MBA application essays help the Admissions Committee derive a complete understanding of your profile. Introspect well so that you are able to put forth the strongest of the stories in your application – stories that provide a balanced perspective of your cognitive and non-cognitive skills.



The GMAT/GRE tests helps to determine your analytical and quantitative skills. While a good GMAT score, in the scale of 700 and above, definitely gives you an edge in the application process, it is not the only determining factor. Moreover, several programs allow GMAT/GRE waivers. However, regardless of the possibility of a waiver or strong academic and professional records, you must take these tests. As these tests are valid for five years, you can start your preparations in advance and re-take the tests till you reach your target score. Moreover, every MBA program publishes the class profile for each year. Visit the same to understand the average standardised test score requirement and accordingly set your targets.


Build Leadership and Entrepreneurial Skills

This is another crucial aspect of your MBA application. Try to build leadership experiences in your professional domain. While you may use leadership instances from your undergraduate or graduate days, stories from a professional setting enable you to showcase your abilities in real-time situations. Bring out your leadership instinct, your ability to take charge, your proficiency in solving problems, your ingenuity of thought in resolving issues and the like. These are important determiners of admission decision and can make your application stand out. However, you do not need to limit your leadership experience to your work space only. You can show your leadership potential and entrepreneurial instincts by even taking up pro-bono work, engaging with community service projects, and the like. Even if you have three years of work experience, but no significant leadership story to share, wait at least a year before submitting your application. Take this time to actively build your experiences.


Distinguish your Profile

If you are an Indian student applying for MBA abroad, you may be worried that you present a typical profile: software/engineering background, in the age group of 26 – 29, and with a work experience of 3 years. While it may be a valid concern, it need not demotivate you from applying to your dream program. Build your profile to distinguish it from the other applicants – add significant leadership experiences in the professional domain, take up challenging prospects, score a competitive score on your GMAT/GRE, and diversify your skill-set by pursuing certification programs.


Connect with Alumni

An important part of your MBA essay will be justifying your choice of the program – why you think this program is good for you or will help you meet your career goals. Simply paraphrasing information available on the websites is not enough if you are looking to prepare a stellar application. Instead, gain real-time information about the academic experience and resources you can expect to receive at a given school and the best way to do the same is to connect with the alumni. Talking to them will lend you crucial insights and you will be able to convincingly put down your reasons for the given program and the school. The Admissions Committee will be sure to note your passion and understand that you have seriously considered all factors and are interested for the program.


Career Goals

While the universal need for an MBA is to fast-track your career growth, you must be able to justify your particular need for an MBA at the given point in your career. Moreover, you must include valid, plausible career goals. The Admissions Committee wants to see a realistic career plan that shows that you have seriously considered your need for an MBA and the path you wish to take thereafter. Include an immediate short-term goal (immediately after completing your MBA) and a long-term goal (what you wish to do in the next 5 – 10 years).

MBA programs have their deadlines on a rolling basis or in rounds. While your MBA applications will be considered per the set standard regardless of the round you apply in, it is always recommended that you target applying in the first round. Despite the competition, applying in round 1 shows your serious intent to apply and partake of the MBA education. Moreover, it helps establish the particular program as your program of choice. Furthermore, you have greater chances of securing scholarships if you apply in the first round as the scholarships tend to be awarded on an availability basis. Besides, if you are serious about pursuing your MBA in the given year, applying to round 1 gives you the option to apply in the further rounds for other programs as well if you do not receive any admissions offer. However, while applying in round 1 is recommended, it is not binding. If you do not feel confident about your application and need more time to build a strong, convincing one, it is better to apply in Round 2 than submit a weak application in round 1.

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When should I apply for MBA?

Apply for MBA when you feel ready for the same. Applying for MBA is a big decision as you need to take a hiatus from work and secure your financials. At the same time, the application process will need you to heavily invest time and resources in building a strong profile. Plan your application accordingly.

What is a good GMAT score?

A good GMAT score will get you the admit of your dreams. In reality, since the GMAT score is a part of your application, a range of GMAT scores may be acceptable based on other aspects of your application, such as resume, letters of recommendation, essays, etc. The MBA programs in top universities are very competitive and require higher scores (650+). On the other hand, many universities may accept scores from 550 depending on the program and your profile.

What is a strong MBA application?

The chances of admission also depend on the strength of applications received for a particular round. However, you should always focus on building a strong MBA application. This will include meeting the minimum application requirements prescribed by the program, showcasing analytical, quantitative, leadership, problem-solving, entrepreneurial skills and the like, diversifying your skill-sets, displaying knowledge of the opportunities and resources to be had if granted admit, and preparing efficient professional resumes and recommendation letters.

How important are essays in MBA application?

Each aspect of your application has its own weightage and it is a combined assessment of all the factors that help the Admissions Committee make the admission decision. Thus, essays also play a crucial role in your MBA application. As a matter of fact, essays allow you the opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a glimpse into your personality, your strengths, and your motivation. Work diligently on preparing strong MBA essays.

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