Most people applying for top tier MBA programs know that the GPA/GMAT combination is most important in determining chances of gaining admissions. However, it’s a good idea for applicants to know what are the top five ways of getting denied so that they can maximize the chances of getting admitted. Below are the top five reasons as compiled by a Kaplan Test Prep 2011 study of admissions officers.
5. Poorly Written Essays
This is relatively easy to fix. Those who are from outside of the an English speaking country need to hire a service to fix essays so that they don’t have any grammar or stylistic errors. Five to seven years of learning the English language is almost always not enough to avoid an essay with lots of mistakes. Other students who have mediocre writing skills should consider hiring an outside service to edit the essays. This is money well spent even for someone with English as the only language of communications.
4. Poor Letters of Recommendation
Aside from asking a professor or boss to write a letter of recommendation, make sure they’re going to write a good one. Of course, you’ll need to waive the rights to see the letters. However, it is OK to be direct and ask them if they’re going to write a very positive and compelling recommendation. If the person writing the recommendation hesitates at all, pick someone else to write the letter.
3. Lack of Relevant Work Experience
Those that do not have rising managerial responsibilities over the years during their careers will not have a good chance of gaining admissions. A top tier MBA program is not for current individual contributors who want their first promotion into the management ranks. They should have already demonstrated management potential with a promotion or two already. Be sure to describe career progression very carefully. The upward rise in managerial responsibilities should be steady. Students who are barely out of college will not have to worry about this as much. However, their GPA/GMAT will count even more. Those who are individual contributors at age 35 and no entrepreneurial experience have little chance at gaining admissions at top tier MBA programs. MBA schools are looking for managers who will eventually succeed as CEOs.
2. Low GPA
This is a killer. The GPA is used to show that the applicant has the academic skills to graduate from the MBA program. A low GPA doesn’t show promise in surviving difficult MBA programs. In addition, top tier schools care a lot about their rankings with US News & World Report as well as other media organizations. A high GMAT score may compensate somewhat, but a GPA that is too low (less than 2.8) may result in 0% chance of admissions without being the daughter of a senator or something like that.
1. Low GMAT Score
Like the GPA, a low GMAT hurts top tier schools with regards to their rankings. However, a low GMAT shows that students no longer retain the ability to succeed in academia. As students spend more time away from school, their ability to excel in academia goes down. Furthermore, some subjects such as math may be completely forgotten after a few years. That is why it is important to take refresher courses and get good grades in them. It is a very good idea for those trying for top-50 MBA programs to enroll in a GMAT prep course.