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I Have A Low GPA—Will I Still Be Accepted Into The MBA At HEC Paris?

Director of MBA admissions at HEC Paris, Benoit Banchereau, answers your Applicant Question of the Week

By  Abigail Lister

Thu Oct 11 2018

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause.

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Ira Kamble. 

Ira is in her pre-final year of engineering at a university in India, and having experienced managerial challenges in her extracurricular activities, thinks an MBA could be the best way to get a head start in her career.


Despite only being in the initial stage of MBA research, HEC Paris has already caught her eye as a potential school.

Her question is answered by Benoit Banchereau, director of MBA admissions at one of Ira's top target schools, HEC Paris. Benoit has previously worked as a director of marketing and communication at consulting firm AT Kearney and has been at HEC Paris for three years.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause,

I have a low GPA, and I'm worried about being accepted. What can I do to offset low test scores to be accepted into HEC Paris?

The Answer:

The GPA is surprisingly unimportant in our admissions process—the only time it comes into play is when we see low quant scores in the GMAT or GRE.

To offset test scores and/or to enhance your application, I recommend the following:

1. Be clear in your CV and careers goals

Have you demonstrated excellence and leadership, or have you progressively attained more senior positions? Be genuine in your career goals; please don’t tell us what you think we want to hear! Don’t forget to include the languages you speak and any interests or hobbies that are important to you—they make you memorable and share a little bit of who you are.

2. Demonstrate your open-mindedness

Let us know if you have lived/studied/worked outside of your home country and what this experience meant to you. If you haven’t lived/studied/worked outside of your home country, tell us about your personal travels, or work experiences wherein you had dealings with those in other countries. 

3. Take time in your essays to show us the real you

This is a place where you can stand out and share your experiences and ideas with us.  We advise you to read over the essay questions, and then take some time to really think about the answers. Once you know what you want to share, it will come from the heart, and we can feel this in your application.

4. Choose the right references

Where possible, you should select professional references, rather than friends or professors. It’s ideal if your referee worked with you as your manager. If you cannot ask your current manager, it’s okay to ask past managers—we understand. Feel free to chat with your references ahead of time to ensure that they understand your goals and give you a good reference.

5. Study for the GMAT or GRE

We accept both and have no preference between the two tests. Take several practice tests, keeping in mind that the real-life experience is always a little more stressful so your scores might be less than in practice. 

6. Impress our alumni

Those who move forward to the pre-selection round will meet two HEC Paris MBA alumni. It is your opportunity to meet members of the community and to be inspired by them. It’s their opportunity to determine if they would want you as a classmate.

So, indeed, there is so much more than a good GPA to get into an MBA! I also encourage you to get in touch with your regional marketing and recruitment manager for a phone call. She would be happy to get to know you and your MBA goals and she can coach you along every step of the application process.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!


Next week, we're giving you the chance to ask independent admissions expert Betsy Massar anything you want to know about getting into business school!

Betsy is the founder of Master Admissions, an admissions consulting firm. Betsy received her own MBA from Harvard Business School, and after graduating worked on Wall Street for both Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. 

She has also worked as a sales director for Barclays in Asia and has coached MBA students at Stanford.

Got a question for Betsy? Simply head to our Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages, comment below, or send an email to info@businessbecause.com!