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So, you want to get into Columbia, Harvard, Oxford, Wharton or Yale’s business school? If so, keep reading. 

Getting into an MBA program at an Ivy League university can change your professional life forever. I have received many questions about how I got into Yale. If you are interested in following a similar path, I’ve summarized all the steps you need to take and have addressed the most common points of confusion. In addition, I will share the number one tip for a successful MBA application, so that you can start on the right path to land a spot into your dream program.

 

“Why should I do an MBA?”

While it is possible to achieve an executive position without an MBA, having such a qualification will certainly give you an edge. If there were two candidates for the same job, both with comparable professional experiences, who do you think the company would favor if one of them had also an MBA?

In this sense, I chose to do an MBA because I had a background in engineering and wanted to balance out my technical skills and have a competitive edge in my industry. Similarly, if you have a degree that is not strictly related to business or management, an MBA works as a credential to show that you understand the business goals and objectives of the company and have the skills necessary to help.

 

How to choose the best MBA program?

Now that you have decided to pursue an MBA, you need to choose the program that best fits your professional goals. This is not an easy task, as there are many options and the top institutions offer equally competitive programs.

During my business school search, initially, I filtered the universities by rankings from Financial Times, Bloomberg and US News and World Reports. While these classifications are not an absolute quality index, companies usually value them as it saves time and provides them with an objective assessment.

For your search, if you choose this method, the next step would be to reach out to the institutions you are interested in. See what they have to offer outside of what is listed on the website. The most valuable option in my view is the on-campus visit. It allows you to talk to staff and students and gain a sense of how it feels to be part of their program.

Initially, I could not decide between two universities, Yale and MIT. However, after the “experience day” and with the information, I gathered from these events, I realized that the mission of Yale and everything it stands for was a better fit for my personality.

 

Which tests should I take to get into my dream MBA?

The GMAT is generally the gold standard exam to take for admission into most of the business school programs. However, this is an exam that demands a thorough preparation, which might postpone your plans if you want to secure a great score.

As a working professional, I decided to take the Executive Assessment (EA), which is also known as the “baby GMAT.” This is not a derogatory term. Instead, it simply summarizes a comparison between both tests, as the Executive Assessment has roughly half the length and questions of its “big” brother and is reserved for those considering an Executive MBA.

Also, do not be upset if you miss the cut-off score by a few points, as institutions usually consider your application as a whole and sometimes allow some flexibility. There is no “magic formula” in applying to an MBA program. Having a great overall MBA application is more effective than just focusing on your test score. 

 

How to study for the GMAT or the Executive Assessment?

Working and studying on the same day can be challenging but, with good organizational skills, it can be managed.

To maximize my study time, I studied for one or two hours every day during weekdays. On the weekends, I spent one or two days at the library, depending on how much I had studied during the week. Getting out of the house and going to a cafe or library will allow you to focus on your study plan and keep distractions away.

Another great strategy is to keep a good rhythm to help you retain key test information. Even if you cannot dedicate many hours daily, it is more important to be constant. Study a little each day than to overcompensate by studying for a greater number of hours occasionally. This method is not as effective and will probably make you tired or even lose interest.

 

The number one admission tip for an MBA

Be yourself. I cannot stress this enough.

Instead of trying to exhibit a persona that does not fit your personality, express yourself as you are. This way, you can present your best self to any institution that you are considering.

Remember, this is a two-way street, as the universities also have to prove themselves to you. Several MBA programs may be competing for your attention. If you are considering an ivy league business school, you certainly have something to add to them.

 

Conclusion

An MBA (or Executive MBA) is a great opportunity to elevate your skills. You can achieve the executive position that you always wanted or expanded skillset to make the leap into something new. There are many MBA programs to choose from. Attending an “experience day” or campus visit to your dream business school(s) is the best tool to aid your decision.

Studying for the GMAT or Executive Assessment can be challenging if your time is limited due to work or personal obligations. To get your ideal score on either of these tests, have a consistent study schedule and to avoid distracting environments.

The secret to getting admitted into your dream MBA is to be yourself. This will make you more comfortable and will provide the necessary confidence to convey your aspirations of attending the school to recruiters.

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