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MBA Admissions 2021 – How to get into a top business school?

Do you want to get into a top Business School? Ever wondered how Harvard MBA Admission Committee or Wharton MBA admission committee evaluates all the applications they receive? Top B-Schools often tell applicants that they follow a holistic approach to evaluate applications, but the question is, what can MBA aspirants do to strengthen their chances of getting admitted in MBA Programs of the Top Business Schools? Which factors are considered by the MBA admission committees?

We’ve tried to cover all important aspects of getting an admit into your dream B-School and answer the critical question – How to get into a top MBA Program?

MBA Admission 2018- 2019 | how to get into a top business school

How to get into a top Business School – MBA Admission Committees on their expectations

Wharton School’s Dean Geoffrey Garrett in an interview to Poets&Quants said, “The GMAT score is one part of an applicant that we’re looking at in the construct of so many things. If I look at an individual who has a liberal arts background and delve into their curriculum as an undergrad, I get a better feel for the work they’ve done. Very often, we’ll see students, even as humanities majors, who have taken courses in statistics and economics or disciplines along those lines. Those are attractive to us. Certainly, their work experience is a consideration. So we’re trying to develop a really holistic picture of the individual when we’re trying to make our class”

Harvard Business School’s (HBS) admissions committee tells you exactly what they look for. They look for Habit of Leadership, Analytical Aptitude, and Appetite and Engaged Community Citizenship. Learn more about what Admission committees are looking for and how to impress them in this article.

Niki Da Silva, Director of Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management says that MBA admissions is more art than science. Decisions are based on a mix of quick judgments, gut instincts, and raw numbers. She and her colleagues consider an applicant’s undergraduate grades, GMAT scores, work history, and recommendations. They also judge candidates by their responses to two essay questions.

Further reading MBA admissions 2020-2021: Deadlines and important dates

MBA admission committees look for these skills

Now that you have a fair idea about what AdComs look for, let us understand the skills that map with their expectations and how they evaluate them. They look for: –

  1. Intellectual aptitude
  2. Interpersonal skills
  3. Leadership qualities
  4. Personality fit

mba admissions skills | mba application factors

Business School Admission Committees evaluate each of these qualities based on specific parameters.

1. Intellectual aptitude

Skill – An MBA program is very rigorous. You would be juggling through case studies, project work, assignments, quizzes, extracurriculars, and social life at the same time.

Parameter – GMAT score is one parameter that gives an idea about your academic readiness. It also shows your industriousness- a trait valued at B-schools. Your undergraduate GPA also gives an idea about your academic capabilities.

2. Interpersonal skills

Skill – Teamwork is an essential part of any B-school curriculum. Most assignments are handled in teams. Moreover, B-schools expect you to take part in social activities. Therefore, good interpersonal skills are a must.

ParameterYour resume and essay stories will come in handy to assess you on working in pressure situations while managing and working with a team. Your letters of recommendation and the interview questions are great tools to understand and gauge your interpersonal skills and ability to work in teams.

3. Leadership qualities

Skill – B-schools look for a leader in you to carry forward the school’s brand and legacy. Your resume and essay questions give them an insight into your leadership potential.

ParameterThe initiatives you took in your last job, effective team management skills you developed, and conflict resolutions you managed are some of the important markers of leadership potential. It boils down to the fact that a team efficiently works under an effective leader.

4. Personality fit

Skill – Even if you have been a high achiever, your personality has a lot to say about your likes and dislikes, the causes you believe in and what motivates you. B-schools normally ask essay questions on your personal traits, ethics, and ambitions to gauge your maturity.

ParameterThe attention to detail about the program and your career goals are important parameters. Your GMAT score also shows that you can put in hard work to achieve your goals.

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5-year trend of GMAT scores of best business schools

The school’s prestige and its rank are directly related to the GMAT score they expect. Since every college wants the best students, GMAT score becomes a tool for them to filter out the best students. Below is the list of the top business schools in terms of their incoming class’s average GMAT score.

Business School 2018 GMAT 2017 GMAT 2016 GMAT 2015 GMAT 2014 GMAT 5-Year Trend
Wharton 732 730 730 732 728 4
Harvard Business School 729 729 729 725 726 3
Stanford GSB 732 737 737 733 732 0
Chicago Booth 731 730 726 726 724 7
Kellogg 732 732 728 724 713 19
MIT Sloan 728 722 724 716 713 15
Dartmouth Tuck 722 722 717 717 716 6
Columbia Business School 732 724 720 715 716 16
UC-Berkeley (Haas) 726 725 717 715 717 9
Yale School of Management 724 727 725 721 719 5
Michigan (Ross) 720 716 708 708 702 18
Duke (Fuqua) 704 702 695 696 690 14
Virginia (Darden) 718 713 712 706 706 12
Cornell (Johnson) 699 700 700 697 692 7
UCLA (Anderson) 719 716 715 713 715 4
NYU (Stern) 717 714 710 720 721 -4
CMU (Tepper) 691 691 686 690 687 4


It is evident from the table that the GMAT score is directly proportional to the B-school’s prestige. Moreover, the average GMAT score of the incoming classes has increased over a period of five years. The last two years have seen the most elite schools reach what might be a plateau, with three of the top six schools reporting identical or slightly lower average GMATs from 2016 to 2017. A solid GMAT score is the first step towards a bulletproof MBA application. Sign up for a free trial to start your preparation to ace the GMAT.

Harvard and Stanford are the most sought after business schools. Learn more about what qualities they are looking for in applicants to their MBA programs.

Is GMAT the most important factor for business school admissions?

While a good GMAT score can boost your chances of getting accepted into a top business school, it alone cannot do the trick. There are other pre-requisites as well. However, from a relative point of view, GMAT score has the highest weight-age among all the factors. Moreover, the average GMAT scores of the incoming batches of top business schools have been increasing, signifying that the importance of GMAT score in the applications has been growing year on year.

Therefore, out of all the parameters, your GMAT exam score has a big role to play in getting you a place in your dream B-school.

  • GMAT score accounts for 22% weight-age in your application
  • GMAT score offers the proof that you can ‘get through’ the MBA program
  • Your intellectual aptitude is gauged by your GMAT score
  • Your ambition level is gauged by your GMAT score and every B-school wants ambitious applicants

To help you achieve your ambition of getting into a top business school we have created several study plans to reach your Target GMAT Scores:

Wharton MBA Program – GMAT Score and Acceptance Rate

MBA Admission best business school GMAT

Sign up for a free trial to get access to amazing concept lessons and 400+ Practice questions to ace the GMAT.

As you can see, the acceptance rate increases as the GMAT score increases. Therefore, if your target is getting into one of the best business schools, make sure you know the incoming class’ average GMAT score and keep your target GMAT score at least 20 points above it. If you succeed in doing so, your candidacy for the program will become stronger.

If you are targeting Wharton’s MBA Program, scoring 750+ in the GMAT exam will definitely increase your chances of getting accepted.

Read more about the importance of GMAT for MBA admission and beyond.

Think like an AdCom of top B Schools

If you were a member of the Admissions committee of one of the best business schools, what would you look for in your applicants? You would keep an eye on their –

  • GMAT Score
  • Academic readiness
  • Leadership Attributes
  • Ambition
  • Dedication
  • Career Goals

The holistic approach of Adcoms in the MBA Admissions is further strengthened by the following statement – Stanford Graduate School of Business’ MBA Admission Committee seeks the most promising students in terms of intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, personal qualities, and contributions. It goes on to say, “We consider each application holistically, and take into account factors such as your background, experiences, perspectives, fit with Stanford MBA Program, aspirations, values, and accomplishments.”

In short, you would look at applications holistically. Best business schools want a candidate who will ‘get through’ their MBA program successfully. So, think like an adcom and start with your application accordingly.

Don’t know where to start? – Read here for 5 steps to creating a strong MBA Application

How to get into a top business school? Were you wondering about this question too? We’ve answered this question for you in the article above. For any further queries, feel free to write to us at acethegmat@e-gmat.com.

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