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Coronavirus & MBA Admissions: 4 Common Questions Answered

Scott Edinburgh of Personal MBA coach addresses some common MBA application concerns in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak

Tue Apr 21 2020

How is coronavirus impacting MBA admissions? How will it affect your MBA application?

In this week's Applicant Question, Scott Edinburgh of Personal MBA Coach shares the answers to four common questions that applicants are asking him in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Answer

As the coronavirus pandemic brings many day-to-day activities to a halt, MBA hopefuls have reached out with questions on how coronavirus is affecting the MBA application process. Personal MBA Coach has been in touch with admissions directors to discuss some of our clients’ most pressing questions and would like to share these answers.

1. What should I do about GMAT or EA testing?

GMAC have launched an interim online GMAT test, and you can book slots until June 15th 2020. This online test does not include the Analytical Writing Assessment section, but is otherwise comparable to standard GMAT exams. These tests use online human proctors to ensure testing integrity and will be offered at a lower price point. GMAC also expects to open registration for the online EA exam in most countries by the end of April.

For many candidates, the option to take the exam in the comfort of your own home could be a good one. I encourage MBA hopefuls to consider this option, especially now that many of you have extra time on your hands.

2. Should I change my MBA application strategy?

For some candidates, the answer here is actually yes. 

Historically, I have discouraged most candidates from applying during round three. 

With few slots, later rounds traditionally have had very low acceptance rates. However, in light of current conditions, round three (or four) may now be a viable option for some candidates. In fact, many schools are delaying their existing deadlines or adding additional MBA application rounds to encourage more applicants to apply.

Admissions directors at top schools have directly shared with me how they expect to have an unusual number of late cycle admits this year. They are taking this approach for a few reasons. 

Firstly, a sizeable number of international candidates may be forced to defer if they are unable to secure visas in time to arrive on campuses this fall. In addition, after a few cycles with a decreasing or flat number of MBA applicants, admissions directors are hopeful that a softer economy will encourage strong candidates to apply. 

As many top schools open their doors for candidates, round three (or four) could be a great option for class of 2023 MBA hopefuls who have taken (or are able to complete) the GMAT or GRE this spring or early summer and are ready to start classes in September. 

In addition, those candidates who did not fare as expected in round one or two might now have an opportunity to broaden their school lists during round three. 

Finally, if your current or expected employment situation has suddenly changed due to economic conditions, beginning business school this fall may now be an attractive proposition for you. 

Got a question of your own?


3. What should I expect for the fall application cycle?

Personal MBA Coach predicts a particularly challenging fall application cycle. First, there is a strong chance that many international candidates will defer, reducing the number of open slots for candidates this fall. For example, HBS has confirmed that students who are unable to attend this fall due to visa issues will be granted deferrals. 

In addition, the weakened economy is likely to lead to a natural increase in MBA applications as unemployment rates skyrocket. 

This does not, of course, mean that applicants should panic or not apply this fall. Instead, they should develop well-rounded school lists (my average client applies to five or more schools) and articulate compelling personal stories. 

4. What should I do if my campus visit was cancelled?

If you did not get a chance to visit your top choice schools before many campuses closed for the semester, do not panic! 

While normally we stress the importance of courting your target schools and visiting campuses, this expectation will be lifted this application season. There is a chance that some schools will allow visits later in the summer or early fall, but do not depend on this. Instead, focus on other ways you can familiarize yourself with each of your target programs. 

Each year we have countless candidates who cannot visit campuses due to financial or geographic limitations yet successfully navigate the MBA application process.

Additionally, look for online events. For example, HBS has online information sessions, moved its “Women’s Visit Day” online and is conducting “Life at HBS” virtual chats. Wharton is conducting an “MBA Overview” webinar later this month. Many tours, such as The MBA Tour, are also looking into online options. 

Finally, as with any other year, reaching out to alumni within your network is a great way to learn more about the programs. 

Similarly, current students (even if they are not currently on campus) are a great resource. Connect with club leaders or other students with shared interests via phone or video chat. 

Ask an admissions expert a question


Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Esmeralda Cardenal, admissions consultant at, anything want about getting into Business School.

Before joining, Esmeralda sat on admissions committees for over 10 years, working with Yale SOM, then Michigan State University. For this reason, she knows exactly what it takes to be accepted to a top business school.

Esmeralda herself holds an MBA from Michigan State's Eli Board College of Business.

Got a question you'd love Esmeralda to answer? Submit your question