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Avoid these MBA application mistakes and make it to your dream business school

Avoid these MBA application mistakes and make it to your dream business school
A 4 min read

The admissions committees of business schools go through thousands of MBA applications each year to find those ‘perfect’ candidates who would ‘get through’ their rigorous MBA program and achieve their career goals. That’s why positioning yourself correctly in your application becomes really important. However, many candidates knowingly or unknowingly make a few mistakes which cost them their seat in the next incoming class of their target business school.

So, what are those MBA application mistakes which have the potential to cost you dearly? Nupur Gupta, a Wharton graduate is here to point out those mistakes so that you could avoid them while working on your application.

mba application mistakes you should avoid

MBA application mistakes you should avoid

For your convenience, we have divided various application mistakes into four categories. Here are the 4 types of MBA application mistakes a lot of candidates make:

  1. Research and preparation mistakes
  2. Application materials mistakes
  3. Video Essays and interviews mistakes
  4. Miscellaneous mistakes


MBA application mistakes while researching and preparing

Nupur here highlights 8 types of mistakes which can ruin your MBA application and cost you that seat in your target program:

  1. Starting too late. My rule of thumb is to expect to spend 11 weeks on applications to 4 business schools
  2. Rushing to submitting the application in a round when it’s half-baked. Learn which MBA application round should you apply in?
  3. Leaving too much for the last minute. Apart from not doing your best, you also run the risk of introducing errors into your materials
  4. Not allocating adequate time for GMAT preparation. Learn how long does it take to prepare for the GMAT.
  5. Attempting to work on applications while taking the GMAT. While this has worked for some candidates in the past, it is better to plan your MBA application timeline so that you can work on both aspects independently and give them your best
  6. Not leveraging local admissions events
  7. Not researching adequately. Not making an effort to understand the school and how it fits into your plans
  8. Not introspecting adequately and staying at the surface level

Learn the 10 ways you can boost your MBA profile to make your application appealing

Mistakes in MBA application materials (Essays, Resume, Recommendations & Application Form)

This portion poses the biggest risk of making a blunder while working on your MBA application. Nupur has highlighted 14 mistakes that you must avoid while working on different components of your application viz. Essays, resume, and recommendation letters.

mba application mistakes you should avoid

  1. Using the wrong school name in your application materials
  2. Recycling essays from one school to another
  3. Not answering the essay question
  4. Inability to articulate viable goals
  5. Trying to copy sample essays
  6. Leaving the reader to connect the dots
  7. Not providing context for flaws in your candidacy, which could leave the reader assuming the worse
  8. Using company-specific jargon
  9. Not focusing on the key results in the resume
  10. Inaccurate contact details
  11. Not picking enthusiastic recommenders
  12. Not picking recommenders who can get into details
  13. Not prepping recommenders appropriately
  14. Ignoring instructions (e.g. formatting, word limits)

Learn how to to get into the Stanford MBA program?

Mistakes in video essays and interviews

Many business schools ask you to make a video essay in an attempt to understand you better. A video essay gives you an opportunity to position yourself better in front of the admissions committee. However, there are 4 mistakes you must avoid while making a video essay or preparing for the interview:

  1. Not preparing by practising your delivery and watching yourself (video recordings or in front of a mirror)
  2. Relying on assistive tools during a video interview or essay, which could cause you to appear distracted
  3. Not making eye contact
  4. Not preparing through mock interviews, which could help you identify gaps in your storytelling and fix them before the actual interview


Miscellaneous mistakes to avoid in an MBA application

There are a few other common mistakes you must avoid in your MBA application:

  1. Not being in control of your online persona (social media and beyond)
  2. A discrepancy in narrative from one place to another
  3. Communications with schools
  4. Not checking your work and making errors such as typos and factual errors, which could possibly lead to your application getting rejected based on this oversight alone
  5. Not checking your work multiple times prior to submission (esp. if getting your materials ready too close to the deadline)

Bibliophiles often attribute their love for books to the enriching experience books provide. “Why learn from your own mistakes what you can learn from those made by others?” says Nupur, while emphasizing on the importance of learning from others’ mistakes.

You must have noticed that all these mistakes arise because of a lack of

  • Self-reflection
  • Research
  • Attention to detail
  • Proper strategy

why mba

So, make sure you do all the above when working on yourTo avoid making these mistakes in your MBA application, you may contact Nupur. She is a Wharton graduate and also the recipient of the Wharton India fellowship. She also serves on the board of the US-based non-profit AIGAC, i.e. the Association for International Graduate Admissions Consultants.

Nupur Gupta is the founder of Crack The MBA, an MBA consulting firm which has a 95% success rate to leading business schools globally. To get in touch, please send your profile details to

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