How do I evaluate my chances of getting admission into my dream business school?

“I have a GMAT score of 6XX/7YY. Do you think I can make it to a top tier MBA program in India or globally?”

We get this question so many times that we have lost count. And we understand why.

As humans, we all crave a quantifiable, fixed outcome of our efforts. Life would be so much easier then, wouldn’t it? That is exactly why most candidates who come to us always want to know their odds of getting into their dream B-school.

But is the answer that simple? Only if you are perfect in every aspect of your evaluation. But for most mortals like us, there are multiple aspects of a profile that an admissions committee evaluates before making their decision.

Are we saying then it’s a matter of pure luck? Again, the answer is no. Any admissions committee across the world will look at your application from two aspects — Quantitative and Qualitative.

When we talk about Quantitative evaluation, it means that the evaluation is done for aspects of your profile that can be quantified, and literally be graded by an algorithm benchmarking against set thresholds. For instance, if you have scored between 650–690, you will be assigned a certain score by the algorithm, if you have scored higher than 690 and below 740, then there is a different score assigned to you, and so on, and so forth. There is absolutely no human perception involved here. So, if your GMAT score is 600, all premier B-schools across the world will consider it a low score.

However, the list of quantitative aspects does not end at your GMAT score only, but includes scores of other things such as your undergrad GPA, your work experience, and even your domicile country! That’s right, your domicile nation matters too. Want to know why? Let’s compare two potential candidates, with one being an Indian national, and the other from Nigeria. India, despite being a developing nation, still offers a lot of opportunities in terms of education. But for someone coming from Nigeria, the opportunities of education aren’t probably as great. So, if they have made the bold move to go through the rigour of getting themselves educated, and then applying to an MBA at a top-tier college, their profile will be given more weightage.

Let’s cover each quantitative aspect of your profile, one by one.

  1. GMAT Score- While it is not the only criteria, it is definitely one of the more important one. So, the higher your score, the better your chances.
  2. Undergrad GPA- A high undergrad GPA bodes well for you, just because it shows your academic prowess. And who wouldn’t want a high achiever to be part of their school?
  3. Whether you have your Post-Graduation degree- Having a post-graduation degree simply shows that you have more depth in your subject, and a deeper understanding of different aspects of a subject-matter.
  4. Post-graduation GPA- Again, the higher, the better. Just like your undergrad GPA, a high post-grad GPA highlights your academic capability.
  5. Which tier did your undergrad college fall under- In India, we all know the value of an IIT engineer, don’t we? Well, as it turns out, so does your favourite B-school. If you have studied from a top-tier college, whether engineering or otherwise, your chances of getting a higher score are more than that of someone who has studied in a Tier-2 or Tier-3 institute.
  6. Which tier did your post-graduation college fall under- Like we’ve said, the better your college, the higher your score. There is no two-way about this.
  7. What course did you study- If you’re a doctor, engineer or lawyer (and we totally commend all your hard work), your score might be slightly lower than someone who comes from a less conventional educational background like literature, fashion, shipping, etc. That’s because it reflects on your diverse choices in life, and your ability to make out-of-the-box decisions.
  8. What is your domicile country- As we explained above, the more hurdles you’ve overcome to complete your education, the more weightage your profile gets.
  9. How many years of experience do you have- Your professional experience essentially indicates whether or not you have some knowledge about how businesses function. No points for guessing why that is important for a B school.
  10. How many years of International experience do you have- With international experience comes exposure, exclusive skillsets, and network, all of which are highly valued in a B-school graduate.
  11. Which sort of companies have you worked with- Much like your undergrad or post-grad colleges, your company’s positioning also plays an important role in your score. If you have worked at a Fortune 500 company, you will be ranked higher than someone who has worked at a fledgling startup.
  12. How many promotions did you get at work- You might think promotions don’t indicate your actual progress at work, but in purely quantitative terms, they do show your career progression, and that’s what the algorithm will take into account as well.
  13. What was the average duration between two promotions- This one should be fairly easy to understand. If you have two promotions in a year, versus someone who has 5 promotions over 10 years, your profile obviously stands out more.
  14. Have you founded a successful company or been a core team member of one- B-schools are all about that entrepreneurial mindset. So, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
  15. Do you have any patents/publications in your name- This is yet another solid, quantitative way to assess your academic or professional rigour.
  16. 12th Score/ matriculation score- The higher, the better — just like our mantra for everything else.

Each of these quantitative aspects are then weighted averaged to generate a new, fixed score. There is minimal human intervention in this process, and the score helps the admission committee gauge whether you are an academic fit for the programme or not.

Now that we have covered the Quantitative aspects of your profile, it is time to move to the Qualitative ones. These aspects are related to your personality, leadership skills, initiatives outside work, soft skills, temperament, motivation, and passion, among many others. These are usually evaluated by a human — one or more of the admission committee members, an alumnus, or even a current student. The human evaluating your application is the only one who will know the kind of composition or diversity that they want in their B-school, and is also in a better position to understand your aspirations and motivations behind doing this programme. Which is why this is something that a computer will not be able to do. The key qualitative aspects include –

  1. Essays, that assess things like-
    a) Goals
    b) Situational Awareness
    c) Leadership Stories
    d)Community contributions
    e) Strengths and Weaknesses
  2. Letter of Recommendation- This is important because it can influence the decision of the admissions committee, and allows them to review your capabilities from the recommender’s point of view, thus building your credibility. It’s the only window where they can see what someone else thinks of you and your work, so never neglect LoRs.
  3. Resume- This provides a snapshot of your work experience, and details out whatever you have done or achieved over the years.
  4. Application form- This is mostly factual, but they do encapsulate your hobbies and extra-curricular activities, so keep them handy.

Just like the computer, the human will also score you basis the above parameters, individually. These will then be weighted averaged to generate a second score. Here, the admission committee tries to gauge whether you are a Cultural fit for the programme or not.

The first score from your quantitative assessment, and the second from your qualitative assessment will then be given a weighted average score together, to generate your final score. This is then benchmarked across all the final scores of every applicant who has applied in that particular round. Everyone who is above a certain threshold is then called for an interview. In some rare cases, applicants may also be given a direct admission, but you have to be truly exceptional for that to happen.

As you can see, the answer to the question at the beginning of this article involves several paragraphs of work. The GMAT score is just one of the many parameters considered during the evaluation of applicants for an MBA programme. Please remember, the exact weightage attached to each parameter is a closely guarded secret as far as most B-schools are concerned. And no, even Google doesn’t have the key to this black box. You will just have to trust us on this, given how the team at CrackAdmission has gone through the same journey, and guided hundreds of others as they pursued their dream B-school.

Our recommendation to anyone reading this, and planning on doing their MBA, is to focus equally on both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of your profile, and demonstrate a fine balance between the two.

Are you dreaming of joining a top B-school? Get exclusive guidance from our counsellors, as they help you navigate these tricky waters. Contact us and book a free-of-charge 30-min call with us.

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