Admissions Director Shares Top MBA Application Tips

Melbourne Business School Director of Admissions Sally Forrester.

The entry requirements to study an MBA at the world’s top business schools are extremely high, and the application process time-consuming – so it’s important to get it right.

Sally Forrester, Director of Admissions at Melbourne Business School, says there are some tips you can follow to make sure your application stands out to the right people at the right organisation.

Make sure you choose the right school

Studying an MBA requires a significant investment of time and money, so it’s important you choose a school that is going to provide you with the right experience and help you achieve your goals.

Different business schools have different cultures, as well as particular strengths in different areas of specialisation, such as sustainability or healthcare.

Melbourne Business School is a leader in the areas of innovation, data analytics, marketing, social enterprises, community impact and business in Asia, for example.

The first step to understanding the culture of each school is to talk to the Admissions team – but for a deeper insight you should make sure to also visit the campus or meet with former students.

“We offer candidates to get a feel of the experience to be had at the school by allowing them to visit the campus, sit in on a lecture, speak with faculty and talk with current students,” says Sally.

“If they’re overseas, we put them in touch with alumni in their area to meet and discuss what we offer.”

Take the GMAT exam seriously

If you’re applying to one of the world’s best business schools, the chances are you’ll need a high GMAT score.

GMAT stands for the Graduate Management Admission Test. It measures problem-solving, analytical, comprehension and communication skills to make sure that you’re ready to take on an MBA at a leading school.

Melbourne Business School’s competitive Full-time MBA program has one of the highest GMAT requirements in Australia – though it’s not the only consideration for which students are accepted. Our Part-timeExecutive and Senior Executive MBA programs do not have a GMAT requirement.

“We believe the GMAT is the best indicator of academic ability, but that doesn’t always mean business potential. It’s about being able to cope with the intensity of our one-year Full-time MBA program,” Sally says.

One of the most common mistakes that applicants make is underestimating the GMAT and failing to devote enough time to preparation.

“I’ve seen students go into it from a quantitative background thinking it’s going to be easy – but they haven’t spent the time preparing, and so they don’t do as well as they could have,” Sally says.

As well as helping applicants stand out, a high GMAT score can be influential in securing a scholarship – so preparation is definitely important.

“They say up to 100 hours of practice are needed,” Sally says. “You don’t have the luxury of time when sitting the exam, because it’s a time-based test – so you need to be familiar with the types of questions and how they are posed.”

Be your best self, but don’t exaggerate

Just as you will want to find a business school that meets your needs, so each school will be looking for students that are a good fit for its organisation.

Melbourne Business School looks for students with a diversity of backgrounds and personal interests, who can spark off each other in the classroom to foster creativity.

“We want diversity in the classroom, because innovation and learning are the product of differences,” Sally says.

“The guarantee with our cohorts is that we won’t have everyone from just one country, or a gender imbalance. We make sure the gender ratio is as close to 50 per cent as possible.”

In your application, it’s important to show your strengths and a track record of leadership and problem-solving, as well as your goals and personal interests.

But beware – your application will be checked against your references, so there’s no point lying or exaggerating about your experience.

“We want our students to be here for the right reasons,” says Sally. “We want their goals and expectations to align with our own, because it makes for happy students and a better overall experience for everyone.”

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (