Greetings from Philadelphia,
Fall is in the air and the cooler temperatures (and perhaps the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks) are reminders that application deadlines are fast approaching. October 1 will be here in a week and I know many of you are working feverishly to put those final touches on your Round 1 applications.
In this spirit, I would like to provide a few tips for making sure that your application is as strongly presented as possible, whether you are pressing submit this week or in future rounds. Specifically, I would like to focus this post on the academic side of your application. While your academic background is just one piece in our holistic evaluation, it is critical that you demonstrate in your application that you can handle the rigor of the Wharton curriculum.
When the Admissions Committee begins to look at your application, one of the first things that we are looking for is objective evidence that you are prepared to handle the academic coursework in Wharton MBA program. Demonstrating a strong quantitative proficiency and excellent English communication skills makes the case that you will be academically successful in our rigorous curriculum. The primary means of assessing these abilities is through your undergraduate performance, any Masters degrees or additional coursework, and your GMAT or GRE scores. This leads us to a few questions that we frequently receive from prospective students, which I will address below.
Which test should I take – the GMAT or the GRE?
We do not have a preference whether you choose to take the GMAT or the GRE. As you evaluate your demonstrated academic performance, consider how much the GMAT/GRE total score as well as the individual scores on the quantitative, verbal and writing sections indicate your readiness for the Wharton curriculum. If you choose to sit for both exams, we will use the test that you perform better on in evaluating your application. For a link to a GMAT/GRE conversion chart, click here. Please note that as of August 2011, the GRE moved to a 130-170 point scale.
Is there a maximum number of times that I can take the GMAT/GRE and do I have to send you all of my scores?
On average, our applicants take the GMAT/GRE two to three times. In assessing whether you wish to retake the test, it is important to use some judgment as to whether you have changed your preparation or approach to the test and can therefore expect a significant impact on your score. It is an expensive test to take repeatedly and eventually you will reach a point of diminishing returns. Despite the recent adoption of “ScoreSelect” by the GRE, we would like for you to submit all of your previous scores for our review. If you retake the GMAT/GRE and do not have your scores prior to submitting your application, please let us know this as well. We require only self-reported scores at the time of application.
Are you using the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT in evaluating my application?
We will not formally be using the Integrated Reasoning score in our review of applicants this year as the data is not yet calibrated. However, please don’t disregard this section; you should plan to do your best on all sections of the test.
I was a humanities or social sciences major in undergrad. How do I make sure that I am prepared quantitatively for business school?
In the Class of 2014, 44 percent of students were former humanities or social sciences majors, so these backgrounds should not be seen as a disadvantage. Regardless of your undergrad major, it is important to do some self-assessment as to where your quantitative skills are currently when considering an MBA program. If you have not recently taken a Calculus or Statistics class, or waived out of these subjects in undergrad, it may be a good idea to enroll in a continuing education course in this area. Grades in these classes can be used to further demonstrate and assess your quantitative ability and will ensure that you are prepared upon arrival.
My undergraduate performance wasn’t as strong as I would have liked it to be. What can I do to make up for this?
Unfortunately history cannot totally be undone, but there are ways to supplement the information that we are gleaning from your transcript. If there was an extenuating circumstance that caused you not to perform to the best of your ability in undergrad, let us know about it in the Optional Section. And while they cannot totally replace undergrad performance, continuing education courses can also help us assess your academic preparation. I encourage you to find ways in the application to show us that you will be successful in the program academically.
I hope that you find this information helpful in preparing your application. Last year around this time, I wrote a blog that focused on some other aspects of the process and cleared up some common myths – I encourage you to review this piece as well. Likewise, you may utilize our S2S forum to seek answers to any additional questions that you may have along the way. And, of course, the best way to get to know us is to visit. During our Visit Day sessions you will have the opportunity to speak with current students, tour campus, and sit in on classes. We look forward to seeing you in person as well as on paper very soon.