faq

Are you looking for a business school? Are you preparing to dive into the application process? Chances are high that you will encounter terms and processes that you are not familiar with. We've tried to list some of the most common obstacles here, to help you during your quest for the perfect business school. If you have more questions, feel free to ask us via info@mybs.eu.

 
> What is the typical application process?
> What do I need to apply for a business school?
> What is the TOEFL test and what is a score that is sufficient in most cases?
> What is the GMAT test and what is a score that is sufficient in most cases?
> What is a recommendation letter and what is the best way to write it?
> What is a motivation letter and what is the best way to write it?
> What should I do if I am not accepted for a certain business school? Does it mean I do not stand a chance for any?
> Do I need work experience for a Master?
 

What is the typical application process?

  1. Online form: Schools want to screen your potential fit with their program, according to some dimensions they have set up front. Normally they will ask you to upload your CV, enter personal data and potential test data (GMAT/ TOEFL) and answer some questions.
  2. Interview: After a positive screening - business schools might reject you in the previous stage because of various reasons - you will be typically invited for an interview where the business school will test your motivation and ask further questions to determine your fit with the program. Apart from motivational and qualitative questions they might test your analytical skills and verbal skills.

 

What do I typically need to apply for a business school?

With the following documents you will have sufficient material for the majority of the schools:

  • CV (English)
  • TOEFL test
  • GMAT test
  • Recommendation letters (two, in most cases)
  • Motivation letter

 

What is the TOEFL test and what is a score that is sufficient in most cases?

The TOEFL Test - Test of English as a Foreign Language - measures your ability to speak, understand and write in English. For the internet version (IBT) the following is interesting to know:

  • The TOEFL Test is split into 4 parts:
    • Reading
    • Speaking
    • Listening
    • Writing
  • The test cannot be taken more than once every 12 days.
  • The test score is 2 years valid
  • Waiting time - time between subscription and actually doing the test - can vary between several weeks and a month. Plan your test well in advance.
  • The TOEFL test fee is around $250 or €210
  • A score of 100 out of 120 is sufficient for most schools.
  • Reaching this score doesn't require similar preparation as for the GMAT test. It is recommended to look up the format of the test and run some tests. As a preparation reading an English book might be a good idea to acquire necessary skills.
  • As some of the test is similar to the GMAT verbal part we would recommend to take your TOEFL close after your GMAT

 

What is the GMAT test and what is a score that is sufficient in most cases?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) which assesses a person's analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in standard written English in preparation for being admitted into a graduate management program, such as an MBA or a Master in Management at a business school.

  • The GMAT Test is split into 4 parts:
    • Analytical writing assessment (30')
    • Integrated reasoning (30' - 12 questions)
    • Quantitative (75' - 37 questions)
    • Verbal (75' - 41 questions)
  • The score of the quantitative and verbal part will be summed to a scoring on 800 based on your percentile score, your relative performance compared to other students taking the same questions
  • This combined score for verbal & quantitative is the most relevant and will be mostly referred to when someone is talking about his GMAT score.
  • The test cannot be taken more than once every month.
  • The test score is valid for 5 years
  • Waiting time - time between subscription and actually doing the test - can vary between several weeks and a month. Plan your test well in advance.
  • The GMAT test fee is around $250 or €210
  • A score of 600-650 out of 800 is sufficient for most schools.
  • Most schools do not set an exact minimum because students with a certain background (eg. law) might be disadvantaged for of the quantitative part which requires some basic mathematical knowledge
  • A score of 700+ is the average in classes in Harvard or HEC and is seen as an outstanding test score.
  • It is recommended to prepare well in advance with a recommended minimum (!) of a week, full time. It is recommended to buy the official GMAT books where examples of the questions and support on how to solve them are included.
  • As some of the TOEFL test is similar to the GMAT verbal part, we would recommend to take your TOEFL close after your GMAT

 

What is a recommendation letter and what is the best way to write it?

A recommendation letter is a letter written by someone who is in a good position to evaluate you on your potential fit to apply for this master. Typically these letters are written by professors, but also people in non-academic world are fit to do the job. Just make sure there is a certain link between you and the 'referrer': you have followed a class, you have worked together, you have worked in his team.

In some cases professors will ask you to write the letter yourself because they do not have sufficient time. If this happens, make sure you respect the following rules:

  • Make sure the qualities described are possible to be identified during the time you and the referrer spent together. For example:
    • Commitment in class by professor
    • Leadership during internship or group assessments
  • In all cases: support any statement with a specific example - this is applicable as well for all motivational letters or questions you might get online or during an interview.
    Example: 'I believe he or she has great leadership potential since I have seen her managing groups during various assessments during my courses'
    Example: 'X has shown analytical skills and the ability to process information quickly, proven by his/her excellent scores on all financial courses'
  • It might be smart to make your recommendation letter generic. In this way you do not have to annoy your referrer several times or have to look for new people willing to refer you. A way to do it for the 'referrer' is
    • To make the subject generic, for example: a 'Master in Management at a reputed business school' instead of MSc International Finance at X
    • To leave space open
  • Make sure you know which profile the school is looking for. In most cases multiple qualities from the list below will be identified for desired profiles. It is a good idea to look for examples to support the fact that you have or have acquired these:
    • Leadership
    • International mindset / profile
    • Creativity
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Team Player
    • Analytical
    • Ambitious / Dedicated
  • In some cases the school will ask the referrer to fill in a fixed list of questions.

 

What is a motivation letter and what is the best way to write it?

In most cases you will not need a motivation letter. However it might be a good idea to do the exercise in any case. Start with your cv as a basis and ask yourself several questions. They will return anyway if you will apply for several schools. Typical ones are the following:

  • Why do you want to do this Master?
  • Why are you an added value for this Master?
  • Which benefits do you want to get out of this Master?
  • What are your most outspoken qualities?
  • What are your most outspoken points of development?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • It might be a good idea to identify if you master the following skills and why? Support every statement with a specific example. For example 'I believe I am a true leader since I was leading a student council for the last two years.' Do a similar exercise for the following set of qualities:
    • Leadership
    • International mindset / profile
    • Creativity
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Teamplayer
    • Analytical
    • Ambitious / Dedicated

 

What should I do if I am not accepted for a certain business school? Does it mean I do not stand a chance for any?

There can be a lot of reasons for non-acceptance. The following tips might help:

  • Always ask for feedback. For example: 'In order to keep on improving towards the future and to develop myself I would appreciate if you could give me feedback on my non-acceptance for this Master'. This will enable you to adapt your CV, motivation or approach towards future applications.
  • Most common reasons are the following:
    • Non-sufficient academic results: It is possible to anticipate this comment by stating for example:
      • The degree I am following is a difficult one and the way of grading in my country is lower than the average (especially true for engineering profiles or Northern countries like Belgium, the Netherlands)
      • I have invested a lot of time in other activities, e.g. student council, events, charity, sports
    • Lack of work experience: make sure you check well in advance if this is a requirement or recommendation
    • Motivational mismatch: make sure you identify your points of development
    • Low test scores: It might happen that you have a lower test score than expected. It is always possible to take the test again. You can also try to compensate/anticipate on the rest of the evaluation. Schools mostly rate on the complete package.

 

Do I need work experience for a Master?

In most cases you do not need work experience for a Master. They are mostly intended for graduates without work experience. However it is a good idea to check if work experience is required, recommended or appreciated.