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22 Common MBA Application Questions—Answered

From GMAT prep to MBA interviews, find expert answers to all your MBA application questions

By  Chloé Meley

Tue Jan 11 2022

BusinessBecause
In our Applicant Question series, we asks industry experts to answer the burning questions that MBA candidates like you have about the MBA application journey.

From GMAT prep to your MBA interview, if 2022 is the year you decide to apply for an MBA, we’ve compiled the most important questions you may have and answered them.

Here's 22 MBA application questions for 2022, answered! For a more detailed answer to each question, click on the question itself.


Choosing an MBA program


1. When should I choose an Online MBA?

Should you choose a full-time MBA or an Online MBA? If you have personal and professional commitments that you cannot give up, the flexibility of an Online MBA allows you to upskill without putting everything else in your life on pause.

An Online MBA is a great option if you want to grow within your company. By applying your newfound skills to your role in real time, you’ll become more and more of an asset to the organization. 

If you have entrepreneurial ambitions, an Online MBA can also be a great fit. You can use this opportunity to get feedback on your ideas from experts at the school and expand your network ahead of launching your venture. 

2. Part-time MBA vs full-time MBA?

Part-time MBA programs are similar to traditional programs in curriculum, professors, and student profiles. 

The main difference is that you can keep working while completing a part-time degree, and even get your employer to support your MBA by funding your degree. 

Ultimately, studying a part-time or full-time MBA depends on your ability to forgo your income for two years, and how much time you’re willing to commit to your studies. If you haven’t been able to secure a competitive GMAT score, part-time MBA programs also tend to be more lenient. 

3. How to choose an MBA program virtually?

To make the most out of researching MBA programs online, take advantage of all resources available to do your homework on the school. Look into program outlines, employment reports, and calendars of interactive events like student and alumni chats.

Also make sure to reach out to current students and attend admissions events, and ask them smart questions. That will give you great insight into a school’s culture and will make you stand out as an engaged applicant. 

4. Which M7 business school should I choose?

The M7 business schools offer seven of the most elite US MBA programs.

When choosing between them, consider whether you want to go to a school where the case method—a teaching method used at Harvard and other elite business schools that relies heavily on class participation—is the biggest part of the curriculum.

Other top MBA programs rely more on lectures, immersion classes, or team-based exercises, so figure out which teaching method is the best fit for you.   

Also, look into different M7 schools’ areas of expertise and employment reports. That will help you figure out where most grads end up, and whether that aligns with your career goals.

Finally, as a matter of personal preference, look into class size and school culture, as that will play an important role in your business school experience.


Navigating the MBA application process


5. How can I manage my stress during my MBA application?

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© Ridofranz via iStock


Firstly, plan ahead. Create a schedule for yourself six months ahead of target deadlines, and allocate a few hours a week to work towards those deadlines.

Secondly, if you feel like you need help, experts are here to accompany you on this journey. Test prep professionals will help you achieve top scores, while admissions consultants will help you hone your application.

Thirdly, practice your test-taking skills. For instance, becoming better at speed reading will help improve your efficiency on test day.

Finally, work on your mindset. Avoiding negative self-talk and embracing mindfulness techniques will help you tackle the application process with a more positive and relaxed attitude.

6. How do I make successful STEM MBA application?

STEM-certified MBA graduates from US universities are eligible for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension, which enables them to work in the US for three years after their degree.

To be accepted into a top STEM MBA program, make sure to demonstrate your quantitative strength through your GMAT/GRE score, highlight your experience with data-driven analysis, and explain how the STEM options available at your target school are relevant to your long-term career goals.

7. How do I write a successful MBA personal statement?

For your personal statement, explain why you are pursuing an MBA, detail your long- and short-term career goals, and explain what skills and characteristics you have developed in your career so far.

Also, keep in mind the specific needs that the MBA program defines on their website, and make sure to emphasize the unique perspective and expertise that you would contribute to the school. 

Turning your personal statement into a chronological recap of your resume, not showing emotion or personality, and failing to talk about the values that drive you are some of the biggest mistakes you should avoid.

8. How do I write a winning MBA resume?

Spotlight your soft skills as well as your technical expertise on your MBA resume. Highlight the interpersonal skills you acquired through training or professional experience, and how you’ve successfully applied them in the past. 

Also, don’t overlook the interests section; it’s a good way to show your personality and to make your profile more well-rounded.

Finally, make sure that every other aspect of your MBA application is of a high standard, including your personal statement, letter of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores.

9. How do I write good MBA essays?

Always keep your skills and goals in mind. Regardless of the MBA essay prompt you’ll be presented with, the school will expect you to reflect on your leadership experiences and how they inform your desired career trajectory. 

Also remember to answer all aspects of the question, as it serves as evidence of your ability to be meticulous and to structure your answer well. 

Finally, get your friends and family to proofread. Having another pair of eyes look over the essay will help ensure that it is coherent, well-crafted, and doesn’t have any grammatical errors.

10. Should I mention Covid in my MBA application?

You should definitely mention the way that coronavirus has impacted you in your MBA application. 

Top MBA programs are looking for candidates who create solutions and are able to respond well to challenges, so schools will appreciate it if you can prove you demonstrated tenacity and an innovative attitude in the face of the pandemic.

It’s an opportunity for you to show how you’ve remained adaptable in difficult circumstances.  You can provide examples of how you helped your business weather the Covid-19 storm and how you’ve worked towards improving the well-being of your professional and personal communities. 

11. What is the best GMAT prep strategy?

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© Jacob Ammentorp Lund via iStock


If you feel confident studying alone for your GMAT prep, create a schedule that is manageable and maintainable, study in one to two hour sessions multiple times a week, and periodically take practice tests to keep track of your progress. 

But if you feel you need more structure and strategy, you can take a GMAT prep course. Prep course instructors will give you the tools and confidence to perform at your best on test day by helping you incorporate prep into your schedule and think about the questions in new ways. 

12. Do I need an MBA admissions consultant?

MBA admission consultants don’t have access to secret advice, and they cannot guarantee you acceptance, but they are experts who know how to maximize your chances of success.

If your profile meets baseline qualifications, a skilled MBA admissions advisor might turn an application with a 20% chance of getting accepted into a top MBA program into one with a 50% chance, or one with a 40% chance into one with an 80% chance.

Although not every single applicant needs to work with an admissions consultant, it’s a surefire way to turn a good MBA application into a great one.

13. Which questions should I avoid asking in an MBA interview?

When asking questions in your MBA interview, don't say that you already know everything. For most interviewers, having no questions translates to having no intellectual curiosity.

Don’t say that you 'know so many alums that they’ve already answered my questions.' That can be interpreted as disregard for the interviewer’s expertise. Instead, mention something that you’ve already heard and ask for the interviewer’s opinion.

Don’t ask, 'What did you dislike about the program?' or 'Where else did you apply?' That’s not a good impression to leave on the interviewer, who may think you’re looking into better options.

Finally, don’t ask questions that betray your lack of research, such as 'Is an MBA worth it?' or 'What percent male/female was last year’s class?'

14. How do I handle curveball questions during my MBA interview?

To prepare for unpredictable and difficult to answer questions during your MBA interview, analyze the unexpected situations you’ve faced previously, and reflect on how you reacted and the outcome. That will boost your confidence. 

Also, keep your answers flexible when preparing for the interview. It will make it easier to bounce back if you’re surprised by a question. 

Finally, be authentic. Curveball questions are not here to trick you, but simply to see who you are beyond prefabricated answers. Allow yourself to be spontaneous.


Evaluating your MBA profile


15. Can I apply for an MBA with a low GPA?

The simple answer is yes: a low GPA is one of the easiest items to mitigate in an MBA application. Make sure you provide a brief and concise explanation, without sweeping anything under the rug.

Being honest about the reason behind your low GPA actually shows a great deal of maturity and capacity for self-reflection, which admissions teams appreciate. 

Make sure that you compensate by having an otherwise strong application, with a high GMAT score, full resume, and interesting personal statement. 

You can also offset a low GPA by enrolling in a pre-MBA course, which is a great way to prove your academic ability and willingness to prepare for the MBA experience.

16. Is 10 years work experience too much for an MBA?

You don’t need to be in a school’s 'average' range—whether GPA or GMAT or number of years of work experience—to be competitive. 

MBA admissions teams look at your application holistically, so you shouldn’t worry if you have a little more work experience than most other applicants.

10 years of work experience won’t put your application at risk, as long as you can provide a well thought out answer to the question 'Why do you want to get an MBA and why now?'


Planning your MBA experience


17. How can I make the most of a One-Year MBA?

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© monkeybusinessimages via iStock


For one-year MBA programs, start engaging with your future classmates, alumni, and the careers service before the program starts. That will help you figure out which on-campus activities and post-MBA opportunities are available to you.

Secondly, don’t spread yourself too thin. There’s so many student clubs and projects to get involved with, but be realistic about how much you can take on and manage your time accordingly.

Finally, remain adaptable. While you may have a clear career objective you don’t want to deviate from, you might also discover a brand-new interest during an elective module. Be open to new horizons and tailor your learning journey as you go.

18. Can I study the CFA at business school?

Yes. More than 650 universities in over 70 countries around the world have joined the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Program (UAP), which recognizes the MBA, Master in Management, and Master in Finance programs that cover at least 70% of topics in the CFA Program. 

Those affiliated programs cover the core content of the CFA Program, as well as the exciting new developments in the finance industry, and will teach you all you need to know to launch your finance career.

Some UAPs fully embed the CFA Program into the degree and all students take CFA exams, while others leave it optional. It’s up to you if you’d like to take the exam during or after your degree. 

19. What should women look for in an MBA program?

When choosing an MBA program, women should consider the ratio of men to women on campus, scholarship opportunities for women, how gender is incorporated into the curriculum, and where women alumni are today. 

Being surrounded by other women in business and knowing that your school is committed to your success and empowerment will be helpful to your career. 

Women may also want to look into the facilities provided for parents on campus, such as preschool programs, breastfeeding locations, and flexibility with scheduling classes. 


Exploring your post-MBA prospects


20. How can an MBA help me get a job in consulting?

MBA students get the opportunity to explore many different areas of business, with a strong emphasis on developing strategy and leadership skills. 

This hard and soft skills toolkit, as well as opportunities to apply this expertise to real-life business cases, put MBA grads in good stead to launch a successful career in consulting.

Look into programs with a practice-oriented curriculum and figure out your specific areas of interest within consulting, so you choose a program that best fits your career goals.

21. Management consultant salaries: What can I earn after an MBA?

Business Master’s salaries at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG start at around $90,000. At MBA level, that figure climbs to $165,000.

That represents base salary only. Your  consultingsalary will be even higher after adding signing bonuses, performance bonuses, or other non-cash compensation like paid time off and pension contributions.

To land your dream consulting job, craft a killer resume, actively network, and prep your case interview six to 12 months beforehand. 

22. How can I reduce my MBA loans?

While federal loans tend to be the most popular option in the US, you may be able to get lower interest rates and no origination fees from private lenders.

Programs like the MBA loan negotiation community Juno use group buying power to negotiate with lenders, which can help you secure a competitive rate and advantageous refinancing options. 

Also, think holistically about your finances while repaying your MBA loans, and work towards your financial goals. You could for instance establish a savings account, invest in your retirement, or even purchase a home. 


If the answer to your question isn’t here, make sure to check out the rest of our Applicant Questions.

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