MBA Essay Tips

To help MBA applicants navigate an uncertain Round 3 admissions round resulting from COVID-19/coronavirus, we have created a live update page, highlighting top school’s responses.


Visa Suspension and Increase in Waitlist: Since the US government suspended all visa processing services for international citizens, Harvard has shared that they would increase the number of the waitlist for R2 candidates to attract the “talented leaders from around the world” and contribute towards the overall class experience and bring a difference in the world.  

Deferred Admission: In the worst case that visa is not processed within the R3 timeline, the admission team has assured that the applicants will be offered a deferred admission, joining with the next year’s class.

Origin of GPA (Grade Point Average)

International students wonder how GPA became a ubiquitously American phenomenon. If you want to blame someone for starting a 4.0 scale, you should go back 200 years, when Ezra Tiles, the President of Yale, in her 1785 diary, divided the examination performance into four groups: “Twenty Optimi, Sixteen second Optimi, 12 Inferiores (Boni) and Ten Pejores." It was not until in Yale’s Records of Examination (1813) that a 4.0 GPA scale was formalized.

In 1830 and 1837, when Harvard played with a 20 point and a 100-point scale respectively, Yale tried to test with a 9.0 point scale, which the institution later switched back to the 4.0 GPA. Combining the grading, GPA, and percentage into a unified evaluation system took time.

It was not until 1897 when Mount Holyoke assigned grade to each percentage range.

A:95% and above
B:90% to 94%
C:85% to 90%
D:80% to 84%
E:75% to 79%

This later switched to A:4.0, B:3.0, C:2.0, D: 1.0 (GPA mapped to grading)

GPA Inflation

INSEAD Video interviews following the MBA application submission is the most fumbled section of the application, primarily from the limited opportunity an applicant has at covering the nuanced points in just one minute. The effort becomes at highlighting the most impactful point in 20-30 seconds and adding a point or two to support the answer.

Time to Prepare for INSEAD Video Interview: 1-2 Days; The applicant must submit the interview within 48 hours.

Here are some Sample Interview Questions and tips to ace the INSEAD Video essay.

How to Prepare for the INSEAD Video Interview Questions

There is an opportunity to address sample questions and attempt any number of times before the actual recording.

Number of Questions: 4

Seconds to Prepare each question: 45

R3 admissions are traditionally discouraged for international applicants due to the hassle of getting visas, funding, and accommodation in a 2-3-month timeline. However, if you consider the tendency of local applicants to wait it out for Round 1, a small window opens for the self-funded and the permanent residents. Even by the most conservative estimates, 10-15% of the class is reserved for Round 3 applicants. The outbreak of Coronavirus has skewed the class representation in favor of Round 2 waitlisted applicants and those small groups of international applicants from India, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Singapore not adversely affected by the virus.

Last Minute GMAT Test takers

Since the deadlines for Round 3 is during April first week, test takers who have appointments during March - a scenario that most R2 reject applicants deploy would be the most affected. As of 6th March 2020, GMAC has announced that testing has been suspended till March 31st ,2020, till further notice in Mainland China, March 25th for Italy, and March 14th for Kuwait. Test centers in Hong Kong have remained unaffected by the pandemic apart from a few special restrictions for test-takers (travel history and test for flu-like symptoms)

Top 60 MBA Programs -  GMAT and GPAGMAT plays an important role in the MBA Admission process. You must study the GMAT Median and Mean score of your target schools. We at F1GMAT have researched and created the GMAT and GPA Score list for the top 60 MBA programs.

Pattern – GMAT and GPA Scores

GMAT: For the top 3 schools – Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton, the GMAT score has moved from the 720s to the 730-740 range as we entered a new decade.

A 10-point increase across all top 50 schools is a phenomenon that we have observed in 2020. Therefore, to remain competitive, your GMAT score should be in the 720-740 range. Anything below 720, requires considerable diversity of experience, achievements, and measurable impact that is outside the traditional contributions in extra-curricular.

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