If you are in the process of searching for a good MBA program, you already know that applying to a good school can be very competitive. You also likely know that the application process is extensive and comprised of many different steps. In most cases, there is more to applying for an MBA than there was to your initial college application. How you complete the application process can be very important. With such a competitive environment, it may be helpful to think about what business schools are really looking for in a candidate for a graduate program.

Grades are only part of the picture:

While it is true that your GPA will be an important part of your application for graduate school, it may not have as much weight as you think. Other parts of the application, such as the interview, GMAT tests, personal statement, or letters of recommendation could outweigh GPA in certain situations. An MBA program is looking for leaders, for people with clear goals, good organization skills and the drive that is needed to get through this rigorous graduate program. Your GPA is only part of the picture. Typically, an MBA Program wants to know all about you.

Standardized testing:

Most business schools are going to require you to take the GMAT test. This is one you’ll want to prepare for and take practice tests before the actual test. The GMAT is not really designed to measure your knowledge, rather it measures your ability to organize your thoughts, think critically and analyze information in a variety of formats. In other words, it measures those things that you will need in order to be successful in business school.

Interview and personal statement:

These are two items that will help set you apart from other candidates. Most schools will require a personal statement, or an essay. Some will also have an interview process. Here is your chance to use your communication skills and your opportunity to show your prospective school who you really are. This is the “why” part of the application. Why would you make a better candidate for the MBA program than someone else? What sets you apart from other students? What drives you? What are your future goals and ambitions? These are the questions that you’ll answer during this part of the application.

Letters of recommendation:

Having mentors, teachers, or bosses, submit letters of recommendation allows your prospective schools to get insight into your character as viewed by others who know you well. It is important to think carefully about who you’d like to ask for a letter of recommendation and make sure to give the recommender plenty of time to complete their letter before the deadline.

Timeliness and accuracy:

MBA programs want to see that you can finish a project correctly and on time. Make sure you are timely with your application and are aware of the deadlines. Read carefully all directions – particularly those regarding your interview, personal statement and letters of recommendation.

To sum up, business schools want to know more than how you’ve done in college. They will want to know who is behind the application, and why they should give you a spot in the program over other students. In addition, they’ll want you to have a good GMAT score and prove that you can follow directions and submit a complete and correct application by the due date.

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