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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Monday, August 18, 2014
B-School Admissions: Not Just a Writing Contest
Standardized tests are not my favorite thing. Nothing sets of a reflexive eye-roll and shudder like the words "multiple choice". I'm not alone, of course. I suppose that's why I cherish the gradual turning-tide in college admissions regarding optional testing. (See my blog from earlier this week).

As a writer, however, I've always been partial to the personal statement. Sure, it gives young writers wide berth to showcase mediocrity. It also invites hyperbole, platitudes, and melodrama. At its best, the personal statement is in fact a window into the writer's soul. The reader gets a glimpse of vulnerability or startling insight that helps the student's name jump off the piece of paper.

Business schools, however, seem to be growing less optimistic about the power of the written word. On its own, at least. (Note that the vast majority of business schools require multiple personal statements of varying lengths). Instead, graduate MBA programs are asking their candidates to use technology and creativity to create a performance to remember.

Unprepared video responses and team exercises are amongst the improvisations invited by several prominent business schools. As in any interview or public setting, students are forced to think quickly on their feet, speak articulately and, in some cases, work efficiently in a team setting-right before the eyes of interested b-school admission officers.

In the business school context, this evaluation of non-written skills makes a great deal of sense. This isn't to say that the quantitative and analytic skills assessed by the GMAT have no value. It isn't to say that the ability to cobble together coherent prose isn't an important skill. It's just that even those two pieced together don't flesh out the entire picture.


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