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5 Ways To Ace Your MBA Application

Learn five tips and tricks on how to ace your MBA application and get into your dream school


Thu Jul 20 2023

Pursuing an MBA is a significant step towards advancing your career and gaining a global perspective in business management. 

However, the MBA application process can be highly competitive, requiring careful preparation to build a compelling application. 

BusinessBecause spoke to Cristian Giraldo, a current International MBA student at emlyon business school IMBA in Lyon, to learn more about the application process and his tips for future candidates. 

1. Research thoroughly before applying

Before diving into the MBA application process, it’s best to research potential universities and their respective programs. 

Cristian explains how thorough research will allow you to find the right school, and help you curate the best application possible. 

"I looked at the Financial Times, Economist, and QS rankings, and used information, like [fees], the average salary of the post-MBA graduate, and the percentage of students employed three months after finishing the MBA," he says. 

His research led him to the emlyon IMBA, ranked third for Global MBA in France—and a top 20-school globally for new career opportunities—according to The Economist, with 86% landing a job within three months of graduation.

When selecting a business school, it’s important to determine whether the university's programs, teaching methods, resources and values align with your academic and career goals. This research will help you identify the universities that resonate with your aspirations.

"I downloaded all the brochures; checked the criteria, the requirements, and the intakes. And once I had the index, and all the criteria, I planned my application."

2. Assess your strengths and weaknesses

Preparing for the MBA application requires a holistic approach to your personal goals, and allowing time to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses—and to work on improving them. 

This involves prepping for the various aspects of the application, including the GMAT and the IELTS English-language test, which Cristian had to sit as a native Colombian. 

Cristian studied for the GMAT using online resources, including the GMAT club.  

"GMAT club is free for any student that wants to prepare for business school. You get the preparation, the books, and a huge database. It's about more than just the resources and quantities. It's about preparing effectively." 

Once completed, Cristian supplied his scores to emlyon.

3. Align your goals to the business school

As well as acing the tests, to stand out in the MBA application process, it’s crucial to showcase how your personal and professional goals align with the university's values and the program. 

This is particularly important in the application essays that allow candidates to illustrate their uniqueness to the school. 


Cristian (pictured) was aided in these essays by emlyon's MBA program recruiter. He reached out to Cristian after he downloaded the brochure, and stayed in contact with him all through his application journey. 

"Throughout the process, the recruiter planned frequent meetings with me and replied to any question I had," Cristian says. 

Cristian completed three essays to explain why he wanted to do MBA, why at emlyon, and to describe his future professional pathway. 

He used these essays to show how the MBA program would complement his existing skills and experiences, and help him to achieve his long-term career aspirations. He conveyed his commitment and motivation to the program.

4. Showcase substantial experience

Just as with MBA programs, the MBA typically requires students to have a few years’ work experience. During an application, it’s important therefore to share your professional achievements, emphasizing leadership roles, projects, and—especially for the  emlyon MBA—international exposure.

As a part of the application process, emlyon requires that candidates take a business scenario-based digital test to showcase their managerial and leadership skills. 

"The digital test examines your managerial skills in stressful situations," Cristian explains. "You are receiving emails and calls, and you have to handle different stakeholders simultaneously."

For Cristian, this exemplified how important it is to apply to an MBA with the relevant experience, and not before you have built up a strong professional skillset. 

"If you didn't have previous experience of managing people or working in stressful situations for a company in the corporate world, the test would be very tough," he says.  

5. Be specific about why you want to join the program

One of an MBA application's most critical aspects is articulating why you want to join the program. For this, it’s best to avoid generic statements and focus on specific aspects of the program that appeal to you. 

During the digital test for emlyon, there are four questions that candidates have to answer within a set time that focus on these specifics.

Cristian says: "The four questions in the test were: ‘Why me?’; ‘Why an MBA?’; ‘What are my long-term goals after the MBA?’; and, ‘How is this MBA going to help me to achieve them?’" 

The questions are designed to show how much thought you've given the program, and are your opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the specific course. 

Additionally, when answering, you can explain how the program will bridge any knowledge- or skill-gaps, and can contribute to your long-term career vision. 

"It's a well-designed screening process to check that the candidate has the right motivations to apply,” says Cristian.

"Before applying, I questioned if the school was the right-fit for me, and if I was going to get the best out of the program. In my case, it was clear. So, my advice is: before you apply, take your time to reflect on why you want to not only study an MBA, but this specific MBA."

Student Reviews

emlyon business school




On Campus

Intense courses, helpful professors

I am an international student in my 3rd year and I love going to this school and do not regret chosing it for my BBA. The classes are helpful, professors are always there to help as well and we have a very understanding administration.




On Campus

Leadership in an amazing city

I decided to do my exchange in Emlyon because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and I found a space with very capable People.. participatory, empathetic and full of leadership. I will never forget Lyon, apart from giving me an unforgettable experience, he gave me great friends




On Campus

A lot of opportunities professionally and socially. A unique program in France.

You can choose your courses and do your internship, exchange whenever you want. It's flexible and adapted to the needs of each student. A great program and a great city! Professionally, it opens a lot of doors for you to find internships or jobs in France or abroad thanks to the network and career events.




MSc in Digital Marketing

Combining both worlds into one, this course gave me all the on-demand technical skills in data science while maintaining a business-oriented approach. Thanks to the strong academic profile of this university I was able to secure an internship and full-time job at Amazon.




Top Business School fostering innovative entrepreneurs

EMLyon is one of the best business schools. The campuses, associations and courses offered provide the students with the best options to build the future they have chosen. The various opportunities to study and work abroad also offer a deeper understanding of the world, not only economy-wise but social, which helps the student become as well a better individual and not only a pre-formated business school student.




Emlyon campus in Paris

It has a great international community and you have access to many international tools, courses and professors. I had many networking events and workshops for students. Campus and some details of the program could have been improved or need to be bigger in order to have a better student life.




On Campus


Overall good content and good activities. Lack of administration but still ok. Good flexibility and liberty offered to the students. Finally, the amount of internship is also a good way to improve qualifications.




Good Reputation and International Business School

The course was not well adapted but it was up to the mark. The professors are very well experienced and their experience comes in handy while working on assignments. The facilities on the campus are top class. Truly professional. I really like spending time in the learning hub and using all the available resources. Lyon is an amazing city. You will never get bored.