We had thought we actually blahgged about this very important issue for Wharton essay 2 but apparently not. Apparently the post that we wrote last year on the Wharton “contribution” essay that warned of tone does not cover this other very important point that we thought it covered. So when we kept pointing BSers to…
A bunch of schools including Wharton and MIT have essay questions this year asking “How will you contribute?” They’re formalizing what we’ve long suggested that BSers do in their apps. Some enterprising BSers come up with the idea of telling the adcom that they’ll start a club. This sounds great! But is this something that…
If you’ve been talking to certain Executive MBA admissions people just recently and you’re early in the process of applying, then it’s possible that they may have suggested that you take the new Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or the GRE.
Oooh how appealing! You don’t have to take the GMAT?!?? That sounds GREAT!
And it might be – provided you’re interested in a specific (very specific) type of MBA.
What is the Executive Assessment and how is it different?
The Executive Assessment is just as it sounds: It’s a standardized test that’s very similar to the GMAT but – just like an executive summary is a condensed version of an entire lengthy report that captures only the essence of a topic, the Executive Assessment is a much shorter version. Here’s the introduction to the Executive Assessment on mba.com . This is the breakdown of the Executive Assessment compared to the GMAT that you all know and (ahem) love.
|Integrated Reasoning||12 questions
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 topic
Whoo-wee, only like a third of the quant questions? SIGN ME UP!
The Executive Assessment is 90 minutes long, compared to the 3-hour GMAT.
Before you get too excited there’s two very significant limitations (besides the fact that the Executive Assessment is also a bit more expensive than the GMAT, but we assume that’s not a dealbreaker for anyone):
- The Executive Assessment is only accepted by Executive MBA programs. For most of you, this will never serve as substitute for the GMAT. We’ve not heard of any “regular” MBA, whether full-time or accelerated, that has even expressed interest in accepting it, and we doubt we ever will. You’ll need to make friends with the GMAT (or GRE) if you’re interested in any of these standard (read: competitive) MBA tracks.
- As of this writing (October 2016) the Executive Assessment is only accepted by a small number of schools. It’s in limited deployment to a short list that includes Columbia EMBA, Booth EMBA, Darden EMBA, and some international programs like INSEAD and LBS – but not every EMBA adcom is taking it yet. That will undoubtedly change, however if you’re applying for an EMBA this year, then you need to be very very thoughtful before going the Exec Assmt route. (UPDATE JUNE 2017: In the US, UCLA Anderson, Berkeley-Haas and Vanderbilt now also take the EA for their EMBA programs. UPDATE AUGUST 2071: MIT Sloan Fellows now also accepts it.)
Why? Because you’re by definition limiting your options. If you take it for School X but later decide to apply to School B, then you would need to start over with the GMAT.
Say you currently live in the New York area. You’re looking around for an MBA program that allows you to stay at your job while you go to school. There are only a small handful of choices in the region.
|F/T MBA||P/T MBA||EMBA|
Admission to each of those programs entails varying degrees of difficulty based on their respective competitiveness factors. It may be very tempting to just say that Columbia is your first choice and do the Executive Assessment – and Columbia has some excellent EMBA options, including various formats which can accommodate different schedules based on how much flexibility your employer is granting you.
Columbia EMBA is not the most competitive program around but we have seen people apply there (before meeting us) and get turned away. So it’s not like you can just waltz in and expect to be accepted. That’s even more so the case for Wharton EMBA. It’s nearly as difficult to get into that program as it is for Wharton full-time. (Well, not quite, but it’s nothing like admissions to some other top schools’ EMBA tracks.)
Presumably NYU Stern will begin accepting the Executive Assessment in the future but for the current admissions season, EssaySnark’s understanding is that that’s not going to happen. If you’re applying now – in 2016 or early 2017 – then it’s a short list of EMBAs where the Executive Assessment will play .
If you’re at the start of the process of applying for an MBA and you are a fit to an executive format MBA in other ways – mostly based on your seniority and level of work experience – then double-check the schools that you’re interested in. If it’s only one school, and one program, and they’ve been pushing the Executive Assessment on you, then sure, it may be a good choice.
But if you’re just looking at Columbia EMBA because a) it’s Columbia (yeah, we know, that whole Ivy League allure) and b) it’s a part-time format that lets you keep your job and c) you’ve heard it’s easier to get in… Those are all legit reasons, but we have met more than one BSer for whom we were convinced a full-time MBA was actually a much better opportunity. If that type of BSer dives head first into the Executive Assessment without doing proper research and understanding the landscape then they will be limiting themselves to a very narrow set of options.
We’ve seen this happen before. Sometimes people start their school research by focusing on the EMBA based on doubts about their profile or because they only want to go part time, and then later realize that no, they actually are more interested in the full-time MBA. And boy that would suck if you already went through the trouble and cost of doing the Executive Assessment and can’t use it on your apps.
The EMBA admissions people at the schools that take the Executive Assessment are actively promoting this option, because it’s truly a positive for many. The GMAT is a significant hurdle for lots of candidates who are thinking about trying for an MBA, and it deters plenty of the more senior applicants especially from ever applying. Kellogg does not even require the GMAT for their EMBA applicants which is a fairly extreme position to take (basically if you have a pulse and you do a decent job on your essays you’ll be able to find a home in the Kellogg EMBA family – yes we’re exaggerating but not by much).
If you’re in the Midwest and looking at an EMBA, then you may have a bit more wriggle room in going for the Executive Assessment as your test strategy. That’s because of what we just stated:
- Kellogg EMBA does not even require the GMAT (usually)
- Neither does Michigan Ross (again, usually; sometimes they ask for it)
- Chicago Booth EMBA accepts the Executive Assessment (along with the GMAT and GRE)
So, if you take the Executive Assessment for Booth, and you’re also applying to an EMBA program that does not require the GMAT of all applicants, you may be able to use the Exec Assmt to your benefit. This is an untested theory but we are guessing that you might be able to get away with submitting your unofficial Executive Assessment report to the adcom in support of your candidacy to Kellogg or Ross EMBA, even though they’re not technically partners with the GMAC on this pilot.
Mostly what all of this boils down to is: Test your theories.
If you’re interested in the EMBA, then ask yourself: WHY? Is it based only on the flexible format? Is it because you’ve heard that it’s easier to get in? Or is it because you are truly a fit, given that you’re, uh, an executive?
Don’t choose an MBA program based only on its test requirements (or lack thereof). Do your due diligence. School fit is important – not just “can I get in?”
In the future, we’re certain that the Executive Assessment will be a better option for more people, but this year, choose wisely before committing.
As with all things in life, just because it’s easier does not mean it’s better.
After getting to the end of that very long post on healthcare careers out of bschool, we realized that we didn’t even manage to talk about which MBA programs are best for healthcare. So that’s what we’ll do today. The obvious powerhouse names that offer specialized business education in healthcare through their MBA programs are:…
There’s this unavoidable phenomenon that the schools themselves must be acutely aware of and yet apparently powerless to fix for themselves. So we’ll attempt to fix it. The phenonemon is this: Everyone applying to School X talks about the same stuff in their essays. They’re all a bunch of lemmings, racing furiously on cute little…
After we wrote this, we realized how much it may seem like the post that went up last week, talking about “that thing that BSers do in their essays.” But keep reading, BSer. It’s not. We keep seeing these very innocent Brave Supplicants trying to write essays for schools like Wharton, where they ask you…
Things are really happening! As essay questions have come out, we’ve been silently updating the respective MBA essay questions pages but we haven’t made a big deal on announcing them here on the front page of the blahg. The bschool index page indicates which schools have questions out, and you can always find a snapshot commentary on any school’s essays from that dropdown menu (with far greater details and discussion available in their respective MBA essay questions guides when those come out). Today we’re going to recap which schools have done what with their apps so far this year.
So far, essay questions have been announced for:
- Columbia – no big changes
- Harvard – no big changes
- Stanford – no changes at all
- Michigan Ross – no big changes
- Berkeley Haas – no big changes
Are you sensing a pattern?
Given how the schools were wallowing in applications last season, it makes sense that they may not feel motivated to be switching things up too much this year. The whole “If it ain’t broke” thing, right? The most we’ve seen are variations in wording by schools like Columbia and Haas, and a clarification of what they’re looking for in the essay instructions offered by schools like Stanford and Berkeley.
What does that mean for you, particularly if the school you’re interested in has not issued a peep yet of what its requirements will be?
Well, for starters, you can expect that other schools probably also won’t be making wholesale changes to their apps. One reason for this is simply the herd mentality – particularly the “follow HBS” mindset that seems quite prevalent at other admissions offices. Harvard has long been the innovator in this space. They were the first one to start whacking essays from their app, first reducing their original 4-essay set down to 2, and then taking it down to 1. They also led the charge in reducing essay length limits even before then. There have been other ways that Harvard has introduced important changes to the application process that many of you will go through this year, including many that other schools have adopted, including much-shorter cycles (the time from app submit to final decision is shorter now at many schools) and the mid-cycle “release” where applicants who won’t be asked to interview will now be set free at a much earlier stage. Wharton and Booth also do this now, following in Harvard’s footsteps.
When Harvard does not make major changes to its application, then that means the follower schools are given permission to keep things the same, too.
That does not mean that none of the remaining schools will change things up. We actually are looking to Wharton to potentially make some modifications to its application this year (we have no inside information on this, it’s just a sense that a switch-up there is overdue). We’re also quite torn about the Chicago Booth presentation; last year they introduced a novel approach where applicants were asked to respond to one of an assortment of photos from the Booth community. The way they set up the prompt for that assignment was a bit convoluted and it resulted in some rather cumbersome responses. We like the idea of the photos but we’re not sure it was all that conducive to gathering useful content from applicants. So we’re unsure where Booth will go with it this year. They’re undoubtedly going to stick with the “presentation or essay” format (Pro Tip: A presentation is always better!!) but hopefully they’ll modify how they’re setting up the exercise for all of you up-and-coming Brave Supplicants.
Here’s where we expect certain other schools to go:
- NYU Stern – likely to keep same questions
- Duke – likely to keep same questions
- Cornell – likely to keep same questions
- Tuck – likely to keep (nearly) the same questions
- Yale – we expect at least a tweak of the question
- Kellogg – we expect at least a tweak of the questions
- UCLA – we expect they will tweak the question
- MIT Sloan – tough call; at least a tweak of the question but possibly a whole new one
- Wharton – as above; they’re overdue for some changes, and their current question could be improved
Obviously we’ve been surprised by what schools have done in the past – some years our predictions are pretty close (this year we were on the nose with Harvard) and in other years, we’ve been totally off.
In terms of app volumes, we’re not going to make projections there. Apps to many schools for the Class of 2018 were up – and they were up at some schools the year before that, too. That means there’s going to be a lot of spillover: Many BSers are still on the treadmill and will be reapplying this year. In the past, we’d assumed that too many up years in a row meant that a down year was coming, but we were wrong then, and we cannot tell what’s happening in the world to cause so many more apps to be flowing through the door at all of these schools. (Well, yes, we do: A lot of them are international applicants.)
The main takeaway from the fact that already five schools are maintaining status quo this year is that you can rely on past posts here on the EssaySnark blahg to study up on their requirements and preferences and learn proper strategies for positioning yourself in your essays. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, the Complete Essay Package is an excellent way to get started – and now is absolutely the right time to be doing so.