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What Can I Do To Impress An MBA Admissions Director?

Director of MBA admissions at CEIBS, Steven Ji, answers your Applicant Question of the Week

Thu Oct 25 2018

It's time for the BusinessBecause Applicant Question of the Week

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 Shamayal Hussain. 

Shamayal has been a management consultant for two years, but now is wondering if an MBA could give him a boost in his career. 

He's currently in the research phase of the application process and is considering top schools across Europe and the US including Harvard Business School, London Business School, HEC Paris and Columbia Business School.

His question is answered by Steven Ji, assistant director of MBA admissions, marketing, and financial aid at Chinese Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Steven has spent almost two decades choosing the best candidates for the MBA at CEIBS and is a fount of knowledge on what makes a good candidate. 

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I have a high GPA and good professional experience, but my GMAT is between 500-600. What can I do on my application to impress an MBA admissions director?

The Answer:

Dear Shamayal,

Before you get too upset about your score it may be helpful to put it in context. How does it compare to those of fellow students from your home country, for example? In China, the average GMAT score is very high but we do bear country averages in mind when considering applications from other parts of the world.

That being said, the fact that you are asking this question is a step in the right direction. It shows that you recognize that you may need to make an extra effort to pull some of the focus away from an area in which you may be weaker than other applicants and find ways to showcase your strengths.

It also shows that you are a strategic thinker, something that will serve you well during your MBA studies and your career after you graduate. 

In filling out your application form, I would encourage you to consider these three points:

1. Show the concrete steps you are taking to address the weak points in your GMAT test, for example, a low verbal or quant score. Are you taking online classes to prepare you for tackling financial accounting classes, or have you recently joined a public speaking club? These are the kind of things that will show the admissions team that you are action-oriented as well as open to pursuing personal growth.   

2. Show that you have a solid career path in mind and how the school you are applying to will help you achieve those goals. For example, if you are applying to CEIBS, try to clearly communicate how an understanding of China and its global role will impact or shape your professional life after you graduate. 

3. Tell us what you bring to the table. Applying for an MBA is a lot like applying for a job in this regard. You need to tell us why, even with your concerns about your low GMAT scores, we should admit you instead of all the others who have applied—many whose scores are a lot higher than yours. What is your competitive advantage? What will having you as a student add to the overall MBA experience at the business school?  

And remember, admissions teams at the best business schools don’t look at just the three numbers that make up your GMAT score. We look at the complete individual.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!


Next week, David Simpson, admissions director at London Business School (LBS), is here to answer any question you might have about applying to business school. 

David has spent over 20 years at LBS and is now the admissions director of both the MBA and Master in Finance. 

And with LBS frequently appearing in rankings of the best business schools in the world—this year it was ranked fourth in the world by the Financial Times—David has experience picking the best candidates for the MBA program.

Got a question for David?

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