IE Business School Online Masters
Ram Parasuraman
May 7, 2010
Hi everyone! Welcome to the final post in my Q&A series. Of course, the questions never end, but I guess I should put a stop somewhere. I believe that this series consists of the most common questions that were asked by most of you. Over the last few emails, I found complete coverage, this tells me that we have reached “critical mass” in terms of questions. Of course, if you try a bit, you can find a question that is not covered here, but hopefully that is a very specific question.
Q.24 Which would you recommend, the IE Admissions Test or the GMAT?
A.24 In the sport of Cricket, they would call this a “Googly”. A totally unexpected question, but a good one nonetheless. Again, I am not going to dodge this question and emphasize that this is just my opinion, may not match those of IE, other fellow authors or my colleagues worldwide. So here goes.. The GMAT is an international standard for MBA admissions. Some argue that it is unrealistic, does not test the most relevant aspects required from an MBA entrant, etc. But I am a fan! I think preparing for the GMAT was in itself a great experience. I would say that the GMAT was a lot more relevant to my MBA than the GRE was to my MS. Getting a good 650 or 700+ score in the GMAT would require good written English skills and a good aptitude for quantitative analysis. I would say this is your signature, not the bottom line. With a good GMAT score, you show the AdComs that you’ve got talent.
In talking to several people, I have found that the IE written test may be harder for some and easier for others to get through compared to the GMAT. It tests for some specialized skills that it considers as appropriate metrics for incoming candidates. The GMAT gives you access to any business school, but of course, the IE test gives you access to IE. If IE is your only choice, then maybe the latter is more for you, you might save money on the IE test relative to the GMAT if you take rescheduling fees, retakes, etc. I like standardized tests just as a way to benchmark myself to the rest of the world and considering its validity for 5 years should you not be able to execute your plans.
But of course, I would like to repeat that the GMAT or the IE test is but one aspect of your application. There are essays, your academic and professional preparation, the diversity you bring in, etc.
Q.25 Who would you recommend getting the Letter of Recommendation from? Should my boss be involved?
A.25 Again, excellent question. Looks like it takes 7 parts to get into the actual guts of the application process 😉 Jokes aside, you need 2 letters of recommendation (LoR) for the IE GMBA. First rule of thumb, make sure they are real people and that “they” are writing it, not you. Next, you do not need to let your boss know if you are not going to seek company assistance for your tuition fees. It is much more important that the people that write your LoR are those that know you very well and have worked closely with you. As you can see, IE’s letters are a bit more structured and closed ended than many open ended letters that other MBA programs ask for. So, it is crucial that you get properly represented via these letters.
I am not in the AdCom, so I can only guess what they’d look for, but if I were they, I would want to make sure that these letter reflect what you write in your essays. For example, if the recommender says that you love working on your own to find solutions whereas you boast about your teamwork skills in your essays, that is inconsistent. Who do they believe? The other thing I would look for, just as I would in the essays, is to get maximum coverage. So, if you choose 2 people that know you in a different capacity, for example, if you are a manager, getting one from your peer or direct report and another from your customer, would give 2 very different perspectives about you. This would supplement your essays very well and help AdCom understand you quite well.
I hope I am guessing right, if not, if someone from the Admissions Department is reading this, please feel free to correct via the comments and I will retract this answer and apologize for guessing wrong.
Q.26 How did you approach the essays? There are so many in IE’s Application Form!
A.26 Good question! Yes indeed, IE has more questions than other comparable MBA programs. But I think it gives you an excellent opportunity to introspect and find out what you really want from this MBA. It is okay to be entirely honest and present yourself for who you are. MBA programs ask for essays to gauge your experience, your judgment and the style with which you make your argument. This is critical since this shows the AdCom who you are, how you would contribute to the experience of your classmates during the courses. Plus, I think since the GMBA involves a lot of writing, for presentations, for forum posts, during the chat in the videoconferences, etc. it is only apt that your written skills are put to the test.
So, get down and dirty, write about your most notable experiences, just as you would write it yourself. I think the more you write in your natural style, the better your chances. It is easy for anyone to see through a professed writing style and it is not fair to you or your peers for you to write any differently than you normally would. So, be yourself, and write about the most relevant aspects. One tip I can offer is, try not to repeat yourself during essays. It is to your advantage to expose different facets and experiences in your life in each essay. That way, you give a 360 degree view of who you are. The essays are the eyes and ears into you, so make sure you are heard and seen! Differentiate yourself by talking about experiences that made you what you are. Talk about fun things as well. Humor could be your “niche”! So go for it!
This concludes the Q&A series! I wish you Good Luck in your application and hope to see you as an IE MBA student in the near future! If this Q&A helped you, I would appreciate it if you could drop a line indicating that it did its job or failed in the process. Please guide me with your feedback.
You can Read prior Q&A posts here:
Prior Episodes of this series:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Goodbye Folks! Stay tuned for further notes on the everyday experience in the GMBA from me and from all of us!

The IE Global MBA from Sunny California


9 Comments

[…] GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: Essay, you say? | Online Masters […]

Re: Q25. Yes we do read the blog Ram and I more or less agree although the recommendation letters don’t have to agree 100% with your own opinion given in the application but it certainly would make us ask questions if it was completely contradictory.

Comment by Stephen Adamson — May 7, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Stephen.

Comment by Ram Parasuraman — May 8, 2010 @ 6:47 am

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