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Ask a Consultant! - GMAT/GRE Only

The GMAT section's been growing rapidly over the past few years but I'm sure you already know that. Unfortunately, it's becoming tougher for individual contributors to keep pace. Fortunately, a lot of consultants have been coming up to help! So as...
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How to Shortlist MBA Universities

Researching on business schools and taking time out to find the best possible options for yourself can be very rewarding and lead to making more intelligent choices. But how do you begin and go about the entire process?

. Do you make a list of colleges based on geography, course structure and placements?

. Do you look at things like environment, international student body and social factors?

. Or do you look at placements, ROI and brand?

There's a good chance, you answered yes to all of the above. However, zeroing in on the perfect combo of 5-6 schools may seem like a daunting task. This is especially true if you do not consider the most important parameters relevant to your profile and start looking at colleges solely based on brands, ranking or endorsements from friends and family because it seems like the easy way out. What then is the best way to start looking? Start at the ending. Look closely at where you see yourself and what you envision doing. Then look at the most likely way to reach your destination post MBA. Look at schools which actively place students in the industry and function of your choice.

Should you rely solely on rankings? Rankings by all means can be the beginning of your programme search but you do not want to solely base your decision on these. Most rankings are surveys and data which help students to compare schools on various criteria like reputation, recruiter satisfaction and are not very accurate measures of the educational quality of institutions. And really, course offerings are different from school to school and individual criteria and personal expectations of a student vary so an excellent "fit" school for one might not even be on a list of another. This is why there is no substitute to doing your own detailed research. Randomly applying to schools just based on rankings can lead to disappointment later. I am not discouraging you to not refer to rankings but keep the following parameters in mind while looking at possible business schools:

1. The rankings do not necessarily tell you about the schools in detail with respect to the course details, networking opportunities, support system, extracurricular opportunities, internship and placement opportunities and percentage of industries where students land up. Overall rankings hide the strengths and weaknesses of schools in different areas and there are many outstanding programmes beyond the top twenty - thirty schools.

2. The rankings do not highlight the differences between various schools or compare programmes. For example, there could be a huge difference between two schools in terms of percentage of international students or the kind of employers hiring graduates.

3. Surveys which ultimately decide rankings are very incomplete indicators of the quality of courses. Existing students and alumni participate in surveys and they have their own interests while giving positive reviews.

4. Rankings do not indicate class size. A choice of whether to study at a school with a large class room consisting of 300+ students or thriving in a more personal and close knit community of under a 100 is only a student's and cannot be made through rankings.

5. Rankings also do not give you details and professional background break up of students which might be critical in weighing in choices. Most business schools have set criteria to admit a certain percentage of students from Engineering, Business, Art backgrounds, etc which can help while narrowing choices.

What you should really do: There is nothing compared to conducting a detailed research after narrowing down a couple of schools. Start looking closely at school websites, research on the curriculum and faculty and try making personal connections with these schools either through direct contact ( connecting with the admissions office or visiting the school campus) , through fairs, virtual information sessions or current students and alumni. Pay very close attention to the companies hiring at your target schools. Many offer complete employment reports on their websites but in case they don't, you can always reach out to their career development centres directly. They are always happy to help. Scrutinise the target programme and each of its component. Also look at extracurricular activities on offer and see if these are in sync with your educational needs. Remember, the school should appeal to you on a professional and personal level and you need to be 100 % convinced of your choice. Utilise every opportunity to interact with current students and alumni to get first hand perspectives on the quality of course and its impact on their personal and professional life. An insider's peep will also help you decipher if the school's values are in sync with your own. Lastly, do not miss any opportunity to visit the school campus if possible. You will probably not get any bonus points on account of having made the effort, but the preparedness and thoroughness will definitely reflect in the quality of your application, taking you a bit closer to the ultimate goal.

  • 1 Like  
  • ATTEMPTING THE GOALS ESSAY The goals essay is the most im.... 10 Jun.
Mansie Dewan @MansieDewanConsulting 3,278

ATTEMPTING THE GOALS ESSAY The goals essay is the most important component of your applications. It is the fundamental building block around which your other complementary essays will be built. You cannot afford to get this wrong. Business schools see whether you want an MBA just for the prestige of it or you genuinely have your head on your shoulders, are mature enough to make your career choices and how the school fits into them. This is not the place to try your creative ideas but rather one where you capture the admissions committees' interest to retain it and enthuse them enough to call you for interview. Most schools will ask you to define your short term and long term goals. There is no right or wrong approach to tackle this one, just a perfect personal statement totally relevant to you. Before you go ahead and answer this important question, consider these important phases of your life: . How has your career so far prepared you for business school? How have they led you to conclude that an MBA is the stepping stone to your future career aspirations? . Why is now the best time to get an MBA? . What knowledge and skills do you hope to gain from the degree to help your career move in the direction you envision? . What are your goals and how will an MBA help you achieve them? Most goals essays have a common theme. They are about logically stringing together your career aspirations with how your career so far has prepared you for them. Also, are you qualified to achieve these goals, with the help of management education? What you need to do reflect, think and make a holistic argument justifying the need for an MBA and how you will achieve your goals through it.

Hey friends

I completed my Civil engineering in 2011 from NIT Jalandhar and have been working since then and will be completing 4 years full time work ex this year in Adani Group. I am starting preparation for GMAT right now. Please assess the suitability of my profile for MBA in Canada and USA and also suggest counselling and preparation guiders in Gurgaon / New Delhi.

  • Hi Armaan Hope you are doing well too. Academics : Xth .... 09 Jun.
  • @aayush_bhutani \- Hi there! There is a big list of b-s.... 09 Jun.
Aayush Bhutani @aayush_bhutani 1

Hi Armaan

Hope you are doing well too.

Academics : Xth - 87.2 % CBSE

XII - 87.6 % CBSE

NIT Jalandhar - CGPA - 8.23

Please let me know if any further details are required.

MBA Decoder @mba-help 1,677

@aayush_bhutani - Hi there!

There is a big list of b-schools in the US and Canada where one can apply. A lot of options will open up for you as well.

Your academics so far seem to stack up nicely. Now you need a good GMAT score, and this score will enable you to decide upon the b-schools where you should apply. 

In terms of work experience, I am missing the picture here - exactly what have you done in the past 4 years, how have you progressed, what have your achievements been like? 

If you have a resume, do share it with us. Else you can just reach out for a telephonic discussion. With more knowledge about you, we will be able to give better answers.

Namita Garg


B-school Selection: How to go about it

This is a reprint of a blog post we recently wrote about the various resources you should use for selecting business schools. 


If you are just getting started with the MBA application process, this is a question that could be tormenting you like none other. Which 5-7 b-schools should I apply to?  If you have trawled any admissions related forums, you would already have picked up buzz words like "fit" when collating your "target b-schools" list.

Essentially this means how well do you fit into these b-schools' environment. Will the teaching method suit your learning needs? Will you thrive in a small class size and a college town environment? Will you perform better if the programs emphasize on hand-on learning as opposed to theoretical learning? Do you have any geographic preferences for the post- MBA job?

These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself.

We always recommend applicants to conduct a primary research by reaching out to the stakeholders- students, business school representatives and alumniThe insights you get from these resources will not only bring clarity about your "fit" with business schools, but also help you write more convincing essays explaining the same.

Here are some ways that you should use to conduct your research:

1. Campus Visit- Every B-school encourages you to visit its campus. There is nothing like sitting through a case study class at Harvard or Darden to understand whether you like the case method and can live with it for two years (500+ case studies). You can attend a class, workshops, open houses to really get a feel for the school, besides getting a tour of the campus.

Some b-schools such as Tuck, Kellogg and UNC Kenan Flagler give you the option clubbing your interview with the on-campus visit.

2. Register for online events - Attending school hosted webinars and chat sessions is among the simplest ways to get to know b-schools. Most have a school briefing followed by a Q&A round, where school representatives will answer your questions. The topic of discussion could be general MBA admissions queries or specific to a department (e.g. marketing) or an industry (e.g. private equity).  Chicago Booth for instance regularly hosts regular online chats while Wharton has a long list of archived webinars uploaded on their website.  Previous Booth chats are also available for your reading.

To read points 3 through 11, click over here

Namita Garg,

MBA Decoder


I completed my engineering in 2011 securing 62.5% from UPTU and MBA from MDU,Rohtak securing 70%.  I would be having an experience of 2+ yrs by August 2016. I would be appearing for GMAT on 22nd August 2015 for admission in universities in Canada and US. I have 71% in class 10th and 77% in class 12th.

Please do suggest some good books and good coaching centres for counselling since I am currently working and would be preparing for GMAT at home itself.

Also please do suggest how much is my profile suitable for admission through GMAT.

  • Abhay, your work experience after your first MBA is low. .... 08 Jun.
  • Hi Abhay, there is too less work experience in general an.... 08 Jun.
Mansie Dewan @MansieDewanConsulting 3,278

Abhay, your work experience after your first MBA is low. How will you justify the need for a second MBA so soon after the first one. Even despite a high GMAT score, this will be a deterrent for all top universities in the US and Canada. I suggest you wait another 2-3 years at least to justify the need for a second international MBA. Good Luck and God Bless! 

Prep Zone @prepzone 138

Hi Abhay, there is too less work experience in general and too little work experience between your 1st MBA and 2nd aspiring one. I agree with @MansieDewanConsulting  that you should work for another couple of years before pursuing another MBA. I hope this helps. Thank you


I came to know that while applying for GMAT exam, one can select five college for free application. This has to be done before taking the exam. Please confirm.

  • You are right, you can send your GMAT score for no additi.... 08 Jun.
  • Thanks. It helps.. 08 Jun.
desert ice @desert_ice 15

You are right, you can send your GMAT score for no additional cost to upto five universities before starting your GMAT examination. If you apply to more than five schools/ change your mind etc, you will have to send your official score to the universities for which GMAC charges US$25-28 per report. While selecting universities you might find multiple school options under a given university. So please research the exact name of school/university you intend to send your report. However I would suggest not to spend too much time for school selection just before starting your GMAT exam. Hope it helps. All the best.  

How long does it take for GMAT score to reach the universities ?

  • I haven't given GMAT yet.. 08 Jun.
  • ye putra bolna kya chahta hai.... 08 Jun.
fredix jones @frediey 41

I haven't given GMAT yet.

suman jha @suman3040 40

ye putra bolna kya chahta hai...

I will have 6.5 years of experience by March 2016. Is it worth writing CAT this year or should I focus on GMAT?

  • Dear @bhaiyu_sunny Dear Aditya, with your experience, you.... 11 Jun.
CAT'14 96.28%ile 
MentorStone Education @mentorstone.com 6

Dear @bhaiyu_sunny Dear Aditya, with your experience, you must look at appearing for GMAT. Please understand that your work experience may not be valued as much at IIMs if you take CAT and get into their flagship program since recruiters, even today, come with an agenda to hire IIM grads ( fresh out of school). Please try to score 720+ GMAT in order to be competitive.

All the Best


Hi, I need your expertise on studying abroad for mba! Following is my profile.

My marks are as follows: Xth - 91.4%, XIIth - 84.4%, BE - Mechanical - 74.7%.

I work at General Motors and have a work ex of 3+ years by 2016 when I am planning on leaving. i am into product development.

For extracurricular activities - I am Taekwondo black belt holder, completed state level rajya sabha in scouts, active participant of an NGO my family is associated with, worked on enhancing UAV Nishant for DRDO, Presented technical papers at state level competition, played soccer at school, college and company teams.

I want to do an mba in strategy and operations

1. Is 3+ years work ex enough to get an admission in US B-schools? I have heard from many of them that I am on the lower side.

2. Will I get a scholarship with 3+ work ex and my profile? It is pretty much impossible for me to go abroad without some scholarship.

3. Can you provide names of some of the top 10 US b schools for strategy and ops?

4. How are the MS degree on strategy and ops? Are the career options lucrative in them?

5. How are colleges in Canada and Singapore for mba in strategy and ops?

I thank you in advance for any sort of help you can provide.

  • You can know about scholarship once you apply because you.... 12 Jun.
  • @mentorstone.com @kinji.at.pg1 Thank you for your insigh.... 18 Jun.
Kinjal Das @kinji.at.pg1 29,572

You can know about scholarship once you apply because you will be competing with a pool.  If you are good and school wants you to join,  you will be offered a scholarship.  All the best. 

Prabhakar Tripathi @prabh0810 1

@mentorstone.com @kinji.at.pg1  Thank you for your insight. I will get back to you both after i am done with my GMAT.

Need help kind consultants! Can someone please guide on a shot at IVY league? Profile as under-

1. Xth- 73% 2 XIIth- 64%

3 Engg(pvt college)- mechanical- 74%- 2004

4. Post grad in banking n finance from NIBM 1 year COURSE (RBI college) through CAT- 7.78 CGPA. 

5. 8 years of workex with Bank of Baroda in Project Finance and Investment Banking (led a team of 8 ppl for 2 years)

6 extra curricular includes basic knowledge of French and Spanish languages.  I know it's not much to write home about.

Planning to take GMAT in 2015. In case I get above 700, do I stand a chance? the cost part at Stanford, INSEAD (1 year) is prohibitive! How does it work out?

  • Hi Gaurav, you have a strong profile for sure. However, I.... 05 Jun.
  • @prepzone hi there, thanks a bunch for your help. Need to.... 06 Jun.
Prep Zone @prepzone 138

Hi Gaurav, you have a strong profile for sure. However, I would definitely say aim for more than 720 for both INSEAD and Stanford. INSEAD now says it requires candidates with some international experience however, they do accept brilliant profiles without as well. Stanford might be aspirational if I can honestly give my opinion. Most people take a loan from Credila or Avanse or their banks for collateral.  If you have some schools in mind, please let me know and I'd be happy to let you know your chances or else can suggest some myself. I hope this helps. Thank you

Gaurav Sobti @nutcased

@prepzone hi there, thanks a bunch for your help. Need to discuss this elaborately. My existing Sal is also decently high. If you could share your no., i would like to hv a detailed discussion on this. 

Hello Consultants;

I have once taken the GMAT but the score was'nt good enough, so i am preparing to retake it in couple of months. Although I'm working hard to achieve anything above 700,  i would like to have your advise in case i land somewhere between 600 and 650. Which B-schools in India shall i consider applying, and what are my chances? I am considering to completely shift my profile to a more dynamic role. Will a 1 yr MBA be a good choice or a 2 yr MBA. Please enlighten me.

Class X : 71 %

Class XII: 51%

B.tech, WBUT, Kolkata, Electrical Engineering: 76% 

Post Grad: National Power Training Institute, New Delhi: 70.6 %

Work Ex: 6 yrs. Working as an operations engineer in a power plant under Qatar Water and Electricity Corporation, in Qatar since 2009. 

Extra Curricular:

1) Led a Green Project that resulted in a net annual saving of 90K USD  for my company.

2) Awarded best bowler award, in inter company tournament for 3 consecutive years.

3) Awarded HSE award for Safety initiative in 2014.

4) Gold Certificate holder for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. 2015.

5) Wildlife photography, submitted photos displayed on Nat Geo.

  • I completely agree with @admitlane since your profile is .... 04 Jun.
  • Thank you so much for your comments. I was, infact am qui.... 04 Jun.
Prep Zone @prepzone 138

I completely agree with @admitlane since your profile is quite strong hence pursuing an MBA based on the GMAT score you get as opposed to the right fit school for your next best career move might be a mistake. I am sure you can get over 700. I hope this helps. Thanks


Thank you so much for your comments. I was, infact am quite worried as my 12th marks are not so well, and that may have a huge impact on my chances. But your comments are really inspiring. Looks like i do have a chance of getting in a good B-school. However i haven't started working on my essay yet. Once i crack a good score in GMAT, i'll definitely focus on that. I hope then you can guide me to prepare a good essay.                           Regards                                                                                                                    Subhaditya.

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