The Application Process Part 1: Your Academic Profile

The following blog post was written by Rebekah Lewin ’02 MBA, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. 

For many studBlog -- Steps to A Simon Admissionents, undergraduate performance and standardized testing will be a significant point of stress in the application process. The Admissions Committee will review your grades and test scores, but keep in mind that there are many other factors to consider as well. Here’s some additional information about those two potentially worrisome sections of the application that we hope will put your mind at ease:

Your academic record:

Grades are a historical part of your application – you cannot change your performance, so this is a data point in the overall assessment that might not even be fully reflective of your current potential.  If you are pleased with your performance and your grades include a variety of quantitative or business courses, that’s great. If not, here are some things you might consider:

  • More recent non-degree coursework in math or business areas can strengthen your academic profile (both lower grades or an absence of undergraduate courses in content that is relevant to your future MBA plans). Consider one or more courses in statistics, algebra, or financial accounting and aim for grades of “B” or higher.
  • If you already earned a master’s degree, the Admissions Committee will take your graduate level coursework into consideration when reviewing your application.
  • A strong score on the GMAT or GRE (especially on the quantitative section) can offset average or below average undergraduate performance.

Your standardized test scores:

The GMAT/GRE is used to compare academic potential across candidates and provides some prediction on performance in the core classes of the MBA program. It is one of the only aspects of the application that is standardized across candidates and the Admissions Committee will consider both your absolute performance (scores/percentiles) as well as your relative performance compared to other applicants.

If you are not confident with your GMAT or GRE score, consider the following:

  • Review the class profile for your desired program, especially the middle 80% range of the GRE and GMAT, when assessing your relative performance.
  • If you decide to take the exam more than once, the Admissions Committee will count your highest score.
  • Strong performance on the GMAT or GRE can help offset a weaker academic record.
  • A strong test score will not by itself get you admitted, nor will a weak test score by itself get you rejected.
  • An important part of standardized test success is preparing with adequate lead time – develop a study plan and map out when and how much you will prepare and how that timing fits with application deadlines.
  • The Admissions Committee looks at all components of the GRE or GMAT – including the writing portion and integrated reasoning.

Once the Admissions Committee concludes that you are academically qualified to be successful in the MBA or an MS program, they will then focus on many of the other areas of the application that will help to differentiate you from other candidates – level and type of prior work experience, recommendations, career goals, and fit for the program.  Many of those areas are within your control as you present your candidacy to the Admissions Committee.

Stay tuned for a future blog post with tips on how to put your best foot forward with work experience, recommendation letters, and essays. In the meantime, I encourage you to begin or continue working on your application. We look forward to reviewing it soon!

Interested in more application tips? Tune in to our “Preparing to Apply and Common Application Mistakes to Avoid” webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 30. at 12 p.m EDT.

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