7 Areas of Assessment for MBA Applicants

Assessment ChecklistSo you want to go to business school? Unlike many other graduate level degrees business schools scrutinize applicants across a wide array of criteria. Scoring high on an exam or even applying with a high GPA will not guarantee an applicant admission. The assessment process can be very complicated and involved and often leaves applicants confused when trying to determine how best to position their candidacy for target programs. Admissions teams will assess candidates across seven areas using data from within these categories to create a holistic perspective of an applicant. The seven key assessment areas are listed below:

1) Education

This area is multi-layered factoring in your GPA, quality of undergrad institution, and major area of study. This is an area where it may be wise for an applicant to gauge where they compare against historical data.

2) Work Experience

This is an application for business school so it should come as no surprise that work experience is an important assessment area. This area includes your resume with a focus on the rigor of the role, company, and track record of achievement and growth.

3) Recommendations

A corollary of work experience, this area is often overlooked but is a crucial part of the process as it largely serves as the only “independent” assessment of the applicant. A poor assessment here can raise doubts on an otherwise strong application.

4) Extra-Curricular

One of the more under-utilized components of the MBA application, admissions teams often use this area to best get to know what candidates do in their free time and really care about. For many applicants this is a great way to show off interpersonal skills like leadership and teamwork that may not be obvious in other areas like the resume. Keep in mind this area spans from undergrad through the resume and should be considered proper essay fodder.


The GMAT, everyone’s favorite part of the process, is an area that can be a major hurdle for many applicants. This area is one of the more analytical aspects of the application, thus making it easier for admissions to compare candidates to historical scores as well as those of other current applicants.

6) Essays

Each of the assessment areas is important, but essays are a really great way to stand out from the pack. Utilizing this area to write personal, unique and truly breakthrough essays can take an average application to the next level, so don’t miss this opportunity.

7) Interview

For most schools, getting to this point is a positive and a sign of a strong application. This is the closest assessment area to an actual decision and invokes many of the aforementioned other areas into it’s evaluation.

Business schools are honestly looking for well-rounded candidates that rank highly in all of the above categories. However, if a candidate is weak in one or two areas it is even more important that the candidate excels in the other areas.

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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here