Category Archives: Admissions

Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate Analysis

How can anyone ensure that they will be accepted to Harvard Business School? Unfortunately there are no assurances at the number one ranked business school which has an acceptance rate of 12%. This analysis will show you what factors impact Harvard Business school acceptance rate, such as GMAT and GPA.

Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GMAT

Similar to all other business schools, Harvard does care about your GMAT score. As you can see in the graph below, a higher GMAT results in a better chance of admission. If you want a double digit chance of admission you had better score a 740 or higher. Even at 800 the HBS acceptance rate is surprisingly only predicted to be 16%.

Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GMAT MBA HBS Admissions

Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GPA

Next we look at how GPA affects Harvard Business School acceptance rate. Obviously a higher GPA results in a better chance of admission at HBS. Acceptance rate doesn’t break into the double digits until you hit 3.7. This reminds me of why I didn’t even bother applying to Harvard with my 3.33 GPA. Damn you engineering, why did you ruin my grades?Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GPA HBS MBA Admission

Harvard Business School Acceptance: GMAT vs. GPA

The real question is which is more important for raising your chance of admission to HBS, GPA or GMAT? In the graph below I compare how much the admissions rate changes if I alter the GMAT or GPA by one standard deviation. A standard deviation is a measure of variance in a population or sample. Since I can’t compare the absolute variance because GMAT and GPA are on different scales, I compare how the shift of one standard deviation impacts the Harvard MBA acceptance rate.

Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate GMAT vs GPA MBA HBS AdmissionsUnlike at Stern and Wharton, Harvard values GPA over GMAT. Harvard acceptance rate increases by 30% when GPA increases by one standard deviation but only by 25% when GMAT increases by a standard deviation. This indicates that GPA is more important than GMAT at HBS, and they are willing to roll the dice on a candidate with low GMAT like the guy who was accepted last year with a 550.

Other HBS Acceptance Rate Insights

The round you apply in does have an impact on your chance of being accepted at HBS. Applying in a later round significantly reduces your chance of admission at Harvard. The data for round 3 is not statistically significant due to low sample size, but I wouldn’t risk applying in round 3 unless you have a godly application. Perhaps after this recruiting year is over I’ll have enough data to confirm and update the model.

Harvard Acceptance Rate by Round HBS MBA AdmissionsIf you want to maximize your chances of getting into Harvard, then be sure to apply during round 1. Additional work experience does increase your odds of getting into Harvard by a small amount, roughly .5% per year. I’m sure a lot of peoples’ next question is what about the 2+2 program? I do know about the 2+2 program Harvard has but I can’t tell which candidates are applying through the 2+2 program vs. not. However I can tell you that of the 59 people in my sample who are 24 years old or younger , none were admitted. So although it is possible to get in if you are younger, it certainly is more challenging.

Next I’ll mention a few factors that are out of your control in the short term but should be known so you can plan accordingly. Similar to Wharton, applicants who are applying from India have a lower chance of admissions, only 1.5% of applicants from India are accepted. Applicants who majored in finance also have a significantly lower chance of being admitted, only 2%. And finally applicants who have worked in venture capital or the military have a much higher admissions rate, 16% and 17% respectively.

Update: I took a quick look if I could predict acceptance rate accurately for people who were already selected for an interview. They only factors that had any predictive power were round, age and major. Average acceptance rate is 49%, with older candidates doing a little better about 7% higher acceptance rate for someone a year older than average. Round 2 applicants had a 37% acceptance rate, while round one had a 57% chance. And finally, applicants who majored in finance had a 16% chance of admittance. In the end, it is very difficult to predict admissions for candidates once they have been invited to interview, which suggests that to Harvard the interview actually matters.

Good luck with your Harvard applications!

For undergrads, check out the Harvard acceptance rate analysis at College Admit Me.

Stern Acceptance Rate Analysis

I just finished building the Stern acceptance rate prediction model. I will post the admissions calculator as soon as I have time to finish learning PHP and then build that portion of the website. I’ll probably have time to work on it over Christmas break, but right now I am too busy applying for interviews for summer internships. In the mean time I will share some of the insights I got from building the model.

Stern Acceptance Rate by GMAT

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the acceptance rates I came up with are noticeably higher than the published acceptance rate of 15%. I believe that this is because the average candidate who applies and posts their data on GMAT Club, where I get my data, is more competitive than the average candidate. The average GMAT Club applicant to Stern has a GPA or 3.45 and GMAT of 709, which is not too far from the scores listed on the class profile for Sterns class of 2016 of 3.52 and 721.

Stern Acceptance Rate by GMAT MBA Admissions Business School NYUIf you are applying to Stern, it is pretty obvious that having a higher GMAT is important and will significantly raise your chances of being admitted. To create the graph above, I used my model with the average GPA of 3.45.

Stern Acceptance Rate by GPA

Next I looked at how GPA affects Stern acceptance rate. Once again there is a clear relationship between GPA and admission rate for NYU. In the graph below I used the average GPA score of 709 in my admissions model.Stern Acceptance Rate by GPA NYU Admissions Business School

Stern Acceptance Rate by Round

Many candidates want to know if it matters in which round you apply. I took a look at the raw acceptance rate by round for NYU. As you can see the acceptance rate for round 2 is slightly lower and for round 3 it is noticeably lower.

Stern Acceptance Rate by Round MBA NYU Admissions Business SchoolThe acceptance rates above are raw numbers, not the predicted values from my admissions model. Why you ask? Because when I took into account all of the other factors, the round you apply in is not statistically significant. The reason the acceptance rate is lower in round 2 and 3 is not because the schools are more selective but because on average lower quality candidates apply in those rounds. If you are a qualified candidate, do not worry about applying to Stern in round 3, you still have a good chance of getting in.

Stern Prefers GMAT over GPA

In the past I tried to figure out if Stern prefers a high GMAT or GPA and didn’t come up with anything conclusive. Now that I have built the Stern admissions model I can see how a similar change in GMAT or GPA impact acceptance rate at Stern. In the graph below I compare how much the admissions rate changes if I alter the GMAT or GPA by a standard deviation. If you are applying to business school then you should probably know what a standard deviation is, however if you don’t it is a standard measure of variance in a population or sample. Since I can’t compare an absolute variance because GMAT and GPA are on different scales, I compare how the shift of one standard deviation impacts the Stern acceptance rate.

Stern Acceptance Rate GPA vs GMAT MBA NYU Admissions Business SchoolIn the graph above, you can see that increasing the GPA by one standard deviation (.28) increase acceptance rate by 29%, but raising the GMAT score by one standard deviation (39) leads to a 45% higher chance of admissions. It is clear that Stern prefers candidates with high GMAT score over ones with a high GPA. This is good news for candidates with a low GPA because with enough hard work, you can increase your odds significantly by raising your GMAT.

Other NYU Admissions Insights

I also found that NYU prefers candidates with an average age of 27 to 28, the further you are from this average age, the lower your chance of getting in. Stern really likes candidates that come from consulting. Applicants from consulting had a acceptance rate of 42% vs. 21% for non-consultants. Having more work experience also increased your odds of admissions. Acceptance rate increased by about 2% for each year of work experience. However, once you pass 28, the age deviation factor is significantly stronger than the work experience factor so you shouldn’t wait until after 28 to apply.

I noticed that candidates that majored in business or engineering had a lower chance of admission. Business majors with average scores had a 8% chance of admission compared to 24% for non-business majors. Engineers had a 13% chance of getting in compared to a 26% chance for non-engineers. These differences are statistically significant even after taking into account all other factors. That being said, I majored in engineering and I got into Stern. I also know many other business and engineering majors who are currently attending Stern with me.

Follow Up on Wharton Acceptance Rate for Indian Applicants

Last week I posted an article discussing the Indian application disadvantage at Wharton. I received a request to go into more detail about how GMAT impacts the Wharton acceptance rate for Indian applicants. Given that only 5% of applicants identified as Indian and the acceptance rate is low, I don’t have enough data to look at that relationship in isolation. However, I have built a model that can predict what that relationship would be for Indian applicants based off of data from other Wharton applicants.

Wharton Acceptance Rate by GMAT

As you can see, my model predicts that there is a relationship between GMAT and the Wharton acceptance rate. This acceptance rates in the graph assumes a GPA of 3.54, which is the average for Wharton applicants. As you would expect, the higher the GMAT score, the higher the chance of getting in. Unfortunately, even with an 800, the forecast acceptance rate is still less than 10% for Indian applicants. Wharton Acceptance Rate GMAT India MBA Application

Wharton Acceptance Rate by GPA

I decided to also look at the relation ship between GPA and acceptance rate as well. Similar to GMAT, higher GPAs increase your chance of acceptance. For the graph below I used the average Wharton GMAT score of 728 to calculate the acceptance rate. Even for candidates with a 4.0 GPA, they only have an acceptance rate of 6%.

Wharton Acceptance Rate GPA India MBA Application

After that I made a graph displaying the relationship between GMAT and GPA on acceptance rate for Indian applicants. With a 4.0 GPA and 800 GMAT, the acceptance rate increased to 12%, but that is still very low for such a qualified candidate.


The final question to answer is which is more important to Wharton, GMAT or GPA. I already had suspicions that Wharton cared more about GMAT than GPA, and this analysis confirmed it. I looked at the average candidate (both Indian and non-Indian) then compared the average acceptance rate to the acceptance rate one standard deviation above and below for both GMAT and GPA.

Wharton Acceptance Rate GPA vs GMAT MBA AdmissionsAs you can see the slope for the line is steeper for the GMAT than for GPA. What this means is that a candidate who score one standard deviation above average for GMAT will be rewarded more than a candidate who has a GPA one standard deviation above average. Similarly a candidate will be punished more for having a low GMAT. This suggests that GMAT is more important to Wharton than GPA.

The data used to make this post came from GMAT Club and included applicants from 2012 through 2014.

Indian Application Disadvantage at Wharton’s MBA Program

Recently I discovered an Indian application disadvantage at Wharton’s MBA program while reviewing their admissions data. I have been busy over the past few months at business school and haven’t been able to post. I am attending NYU Stern school of business and loving it. I have a little bit of free time over Thanksgiving break so I decided to make a little progress towards building my MBA admission calculator. I started by analyzing Wharton’s admission data because I have far more data available for Wharton compared to other schools. This makes it easier to find statistical significance in the model. For example, there are 1,093 Wharton applicants verses 498 NYU applicants. I built a beta version of a model to predict admissions into Wharton, but plan to spend a lot more time working on it before I release it on this website.

The Indian Application Disadvantage at Wharton

In building the logistic regression, I found that the only three variables had statistic significance, including GPA, GMAT and whether the applicant was from India. I was shocked to find a significant Indian application disadvantage, the acceptance rate for Indians was 3.4% compared to 18.2% for Americans and 13.8% for non-Indian Internationals.

Indian Application Disadvantage Wharton MBA GMAT

Despite similar GMAT scores, Indian applicants had significantly lower acceptance rate at Wharton.

The difference between American and non-Indian acceptance rates was not statistically significant. However, the Indian acceptance rate difference was significant, with a confidence interval of 0% to 8%. This means we can be about 95% sure that the Indian acceptance rate is equal to or lower than 8%. For this analysis I excluded all entries that were missing both GMAT and GPA. If I had included these applicants who didn’t share their scores, then the Indian acceptance rate would have dropped to 2.8%.

I don’t know why the acceptance rate for Indian applicants is lower despite similar GPAs and GMAT scores. It could be due to trouble writing application essays or some other explanation, but I think this matter needs to be looked at closer.

Stanford GPA Impact on Acceptance

stanford gpa MBA business school acceptance rate

Stanford is the most select MBA program in the country. If you hope to be accepted, then you need to put together a very strong application. It is important to understand how at Stanford GPA will impact your chance of admission before deciding if you want to apply.

Unfortunately, once you finish your undergraduate degree, you GPA is set in stone. At this point the only metric you can improve is your GMAT. However, knowing where you stand with GPA can help you to set your GMAT goal so that you still have a competitive chance of being admitted by Stanford.

Stanford GPA by Acceptance Rate

Stanford GPA MBA Acceptance Rate Business School

As you can see, at Stanford GPA has little impact on acceptance rate until it increases over 3.6. Above 3.6, acceptance rate increases by almost 50% compared to below 3.6. Applicants who have a GPA that is higher than 3.9 have a 200% higher chance of being admitted compared to students below 3.6. Although the below 3.0 applicants do not seem to suffer from a lower acceptance rate than applicants with a 3.0 to 3.6, the data for that population is very thin and is likely to have significant error. It is reasonable to assume that it will be difficult to be admitted at Stanford with a GPA below 3.0.

If you are luck enough to be invited by Stanford for an interview. It is important to work hard during interview preparation to maximize your chance of admission. Top MBA programs put a lot of weight on interpersonal skills, so you don’t want to slack off when it comes to the interview.

To create this Stanford GPA analysis, I used data from GMAT Club. The data included applicants for the class of 2014, 2015 and round 1 of 2016.

More recent analysis on the impact of GPA on Stanford admission rate shows that GPA is not an important factor, but GMAT is.

GMAT Preparation: How I Scored a 770

GMAT Preparation Studying MBA Application TestGMAT Preparation is a challenging experience. The average GMAT score at top schools has increased significantly over the past 5 years. The GMAT score is up at 19 out of the 25 top schools in that time period. It is critical for aspiring MBA students to study for the GMAT in an intelligent manner so they can maximize their chance of admission to their dream school. Here is how I was able to score a 770 on my first attempt at the GMAT.

Do Not Rush Your GMAT Preparation, I Studied for 6 Years

I know right now you think I am crazy for studying for 6 years, but it’s not what you think. I first started my GMAT preparation during the summer between my junior and senior year of undergrad. I had free time and GMAT scores are valid for 5 years. I studied for 10 to 15 hours and then life got in the way. I never ended up taking the test at that time. Since then, every year or two when I had some down time I would begin studying again, once again finishing about 10 to 15 hours of GMAT preparation before something would prevent me from finishing studying. Each time I came back to studying for the GMAT it was easier.

I finally got serious about studying for the GMAT in January 2013 because I knew I would be applying in the Fall. I studied from January until October when I eventually took the test. Studying over a long period of time has several benefits. Your brain can only absorb so much information per day. When you rush your learning by cramming last minute, you will forget almost as much as you learn, and it will not become second nature. The human brain commits information to memory during the rem cycle of sleep. If you are up late at night cramming last minute then you will not be getting enough sleep and benefit from all your studying. By studying slowly over time and getting enough sleep, you will absorb more information and your GMAT preparation will be more efficient.

I do not recommend studying over a 6 year timeframe for anyone. It is much more reasonable to plan for 6 months to a year of GMAT preparation. So if you are planning to apply for the class of 2017, now is the time to start studying.

Set a Date Test Date as Soon As Possible

When I began studying last year, my plan was to take the GMAT two months later. My goal was to study five to ten hours a week. Since I did not actually commit and schedule my test, I did not feel motivated to stick to my study plan, and the date I wanted to take the test slipped further and further. If I had a fixed date I needed to be ready by, then I would have done a better job of prioritizing my GMAT preparation. During January through May, I probably only studied two or three hours a week instead of the five to ten I wanted to. Spreading out my studying over nine months did end up benefiting me by allowing me to slowly absorb the material and get plenty of sleep, but it forced me to miss the round 1 application deadlines.

Diversify Your GMAT Preparation Techniques

GMAT preparation is not fun, but it is necessary in order to achieve a high score. Between work, social life and chores, I did not have a ton of time for GMAT preparation. I decided to try to optimize my limited time so I could study as efficiently as possible without letting the other areas of my life suffer. I found that a great way to multitask is to watch GMAT videos while doing chores or other low brain function tasks. Manhattan GMAT has some great GMAT videos posted on Vimeo that I used to study. There are also hundreds if not thousands of GMAT preparation videos on YouTube. I watched these videos every night while I cooked dinner, folded laundry, and cleaned my room. Over the course of 9 months of studying, I watched approximately 40 hours of GMAT videos without losing any time I needed for other tasks.

In addition to the videos, I also studied from traditional GMAT preparation text books. I found the official Guide by GMAC to be the best book. GMAT books are helpful for practicing problems. The books usually have problems in order of type of problem. On the test the questions will be in random order, so be sure to spend time practicing problems in random order rather than doing all algebra questions for an hour then all trigonometry questions for an hour.

Remember that the actual test is computer based, so be sure to practice doing some questions on your computer. There are a lot of great website such as GMAT Club and Beat the GMAT that offer resources for studying.

Practice Tests

GMAC offers two free practice tests that are very similar to the real GMAT. I don’t recommend wasting one early in your GMAT preparation because you only have two. Take a pen and paper test, Kaplan test or Manhattan GMAT test to roughly see where you are early on in your studying. Take your first real GMAC practice test about half way through your GMAT preparation to measure your progress. You can take the first practice test more than once. If you retake the first practice test, a lot of the questions will be different if you get certain questions right that you missed the first time. This give you a mostly different experience. I recommend retaking the first practice test once or twice. Take the second official GMAC practice test approximately two weeks before your actual test to see if you are close to the score you are hoping for.

The Human Brain Has Limited Capacity

I did all of my studying and practice tests after a full 10+ hour day of hard thinking at work. All of that thinking drains your brain’s capacity to perform on the GMAT and will slow you down. On my first official practice test I scored a 740. On my second official practice test I got a 730. Both of these tests were taken at 6 pm after working around 10 hours. On my actual test day, I took the test at 10 am without having worked all day. My brain was fresh which allowed me to move through the test faster and achiever a higher score of 770. I was in the 97th percent for quantitative and 98th percent for verbal. If you do decide to take your practice tests at night after working all day, you can be reasonably sure that you will perform at least as well as you score if not noticeably better.

GMAT Timing is Critical

Most GMAT questions can be answered pretty easily with enough time, but test takers have limited time to complete the test. Be sure to not only practice getting the questions right, but getting them right in the appropriate time period. If you can figure out within 30 seconds that you have a low chance of getting a question right, then make an educated guess and save the extra minute or so for a question you have a better chance of getting right.

The more answers you get right, the harder questions get. Some test takers go with an unconventional approach of randomly guessing on the first two questions. If you get them right then you have bought yourself 4 free minutes on the rest of the questions. If you get them wrong then the next several questions will be easier, so you can complete them faster and save time for the later more challenging questions, plus you still have the 4 free minutes for later in the test during the difficult questions.

Some people try the opposite approach, spend more time on the early questions so they can get them right. This is a bad approach because you will end up with harder questions faster and end up having less time for the hard questions later since you spent extra time on the early problems.

Good luck with your GMAT preparation. Studying is difficult and boring, but it pays off in the end. Having a high GMAT score significantly increases your chance of acceptance at top schools like Wharton.

Tuck Admissions Analysis

Tuck Admissions Analysis MBA Business SchoolThe final decision for the Tuck MBA January round applications is being released tomorrow. Tuck calls the students who have been accepted either the day of or the day before the decision is released. Today, mostly international acceptance calls were made, and I have not been called yet. I am based in the US so I am not super nervous yet, but I am finding it difficult to think of anything other than the Tuck decision. I was incredibly unproductive at work today because I spent the entire time hoping my phone would ring. To help ease my worries I created this elaborate Tuck admissions analysis to try to figure out my chances of getting in. Each of the following graphs are only acceptance rate vs. one variable. In reality there are probably interaction effects between different variables, so this is by no means especially accurate, but my final conclusion is that I have a 53% chance of being admitted. I was hoping the number would come out higher, but it is a lot better than the 20.8% acceptance rate overall at Tuck.

Tuck Admissions Analysis

Tuck Admissions Analysis GMAT Acceptance Rate MBA

The first variable I looked at was GMAT. I did a scatter-plot by acceptance rate and found the best trendline for fitting the trendline. This line has an R squared of .82, which is a fairly strong correlation. I then created the smoothed out graph below, which probably does a better job of estimating the impact of GMAT on your application odds.

Tuck Admissions Analysis GMAT Acceptance Rate MBA

My 770 on the GMAT really helped to boost my Tuck admissions chances since it is significantly higher than the 718 average. However, I know my GPA is below the average Tuck GPA of 3.5. So next I looked at how GPA impacts acceptance rate.

Tuck Admissions Analysis MBA GPA Acceptance Business School

For Dartmouth, GPA is highly correlated with chance of acceptance, as one would expect. The GPA scatter-plot has a .89 R squared, which is very high. However, the line is not nearly as steep as it is for GMAT. Similar to GMAT, I smoothed out the curve to account for noise and came up with the graph below.

Tuck Admissions Analysis GPA Acceptance MBA Business School Dartmouth

After GPA, I looked at how your industry impacts your chances of getting into Tuck. I only included an industry if it either had a high number of applicants or had a very high acceptance rate, like Venture Capital and Commercial Banking. I lumped all other industries into “other”. The trends for Dartmouth are similar to what I saw in my Wharton industry analysis. Manufacturing fared better with Tuck, but it is still significantly below average.

Tuck Admissions Analysis Industry Acceptance Rate Dartmouth MBA

Finally, I looked at Dartmouth acceptance rate by years of work experience. The results of this graph do not seem to be as conclusive as other variables. The acceptance rate kind of jumps around. My interpretation is that in general the more years of work experience, the higher your chance of admissions is, until you reach 9+ years. Then the admissions committee starts to wonder why you are even applying for an MBA.

Tuck Admissions Analysis Dartmouth MBA Acceptance Rate

All in all, my predicted chance of getting into Dartmouth is pretty decent at 53%. My chance is theoretically a little better than a flip of a coin. I know that very few people who don’t do a applicant initiated interview are invited to a Tuck interview. An admissions committee member told me that roughly 55% of applicants self-initiate interviews, and I am going to guess that only 5% of total applicants are invited. If this is correct, then the fact that I already interviewed means that I have a pretty good chance of getting in. On top of that, I had one recommender who wrote an amazing recommendation for me. I sent it to NYU, Wharton and Tuck. I was admitted to NYU and I have been interviewed at Wharton and am waiting for my final decision. I was rejected from every school that he didn’t recommend me at. I am hoping the trend continues that I get into every school that my super recommender submitted to.

For those of you who are still waiting for the Tuck admissions decision, I hope that this article is able to distract you for a little while while you wait for the decision tomorrow. I wish everyone the best of luck.

The data used to create this Tuck admissions analysis is from GMAT Club. I used the data from the class of 2014, 2015 and the first two rounds of the class of 2016.

Stanford GMAT vs. GPA: Which is more important?

stanford gmat gpa MBA business school acceptance rateStanford is tied currently tied with Harvard and Wharton as the #1 MBA program in the world. Stanford’s acceptance rate is extremely low, at 6.8%. With such a low acceptance rate, it is important to understand how at Stanford GMAT and GPA affect your chance of admissions. Every school weighs the importance of GMAT and GPA differently. Today I will look at how Stanford compares the two metrics. For this analysis, I only included applicants who were accepted and are on the margin. We don’t learn much by seeing that Stanford accepted a student with a 3.98 GPA and a 790 GMAT, but we do learn a lot by analyzing the profile of applicants who were just barely accepted. Top MBA schools prefer candidates with high GPA and GMAT, but they are often willing to accept an applicant with low GPA if that applicant has a high GMAT. The same is true for applicants with low GMAT and high GPA.

Stanford GMAT vs. GPA

Stanford GMAT vs. GPA GSB MBA Admissions Acceptance

Unfortunately, Stanford data is a little thin because their acceptance rate is so low, but we get a reasonable idea of the GMAT vs. GPA tradeoff. At Stanford GMAT vs. GPA slope is -.005, which means that 100 GMAT points are roughly worth .5 GPA points. So a 680 GMAT with a 3.87 GPA would be viewed roughly similar to a 780 GMAT with a 3.37 GPA. This slope is less steep than most other schools, which means that, compared to other schools, Stanford prefers high GPA over high GMAT. The only school with a lower slope is Stern, which had a -.0043.

Check out how some of the other schools weigh GMAT vs. GPA:

Upenn / Wharton GMAT vs. GPA

Harvard GMAT vs. GPA

MIT / Sloan GMAT vs. GPA

Dartmouth / Tuck GMAT vs. GPA

NYU / Stern GMAT vs. GPA

The data for this post is from GMAT Club. I used the admissions data from the class of 2014, 2015, and R1 admits for 2016.

I have published a more recent Stanford business school acceptance rate analysis which has more accurate findings on GMAT and GPA at GBS.

Wharton GPA Impact on MBA Acceptance Rate

I posted an updated Wharton acceptance rate analysis which is more accurate than this article. It shows how GPA and GMAT affect your odds of admissions.

Wharton GPA MBA Admissions Acceptance Business School

When applying to a top MBA program, GMAT and GPA are important parts of the application. As one would expect from a top MBA program, at Wharton GPA has a large impact on your chances of admission. The question is how much does your undergraduate GPA affect your chance of admission. I analyzed the acceptance data from the past two and half years at GMAT Club to see how much GPA impacts acceptance rate. Unlike Harvard where there is little benefit from GPA until 3.8 or higher, at Wharton the acceptance rate generally increases as the undergraduate GPA rises.

At Wharton GPA Increases Chance of Admission

Wharton GPA vs. Acceptance rate MBA Business School You can clearly see that acceptance rate is lowest below 3.0 and highest in the 3.8 to 4.0 range. There is a slight dip in the 3.6 to 3.79 GPA range. I took a closer look and it appears to be because more applicants in this GPA range worked in industries that Wharton does not value. There are more applicants in the 3.6 to 3.79 range that work in Government and Mutual Funds and fewer in Military and Venture Capital, which are industries that Wharton seems to prefer.

Higher GPA does appear to increase the chance of an applicant being admitted to Wharton, but the slope is not as steep as I would have expected. Unfortunately for some, GPA is stuck in stone. Applicants who hope to increase their chance of admissions need to focus on GMAT to increase their odds. Luckily, data suggests that very high GMAT scores significantly increase the odds that Wharton will accept an applicant. If an applicant studies hard for the GMAT, then a high GMAT score is highly likely achievable. There are many companies that offer GMAT preparation which will increase your chance of admission.

Wharton does not publish statistics on GPA for us to analyze. However, we can look at what the average GPA is in my data set. The mean GPA for accepts at Wharton in my dataset is 3.61 GPA with a middle 80% GPA in the range of 3.23 to 3.94. The mean Wharton GPA of 3.61 is lower than the mean Harvard GPA of 3.66.

MBA Data Guru Reaches 1,000 Visits

MBA Data Guru 1000 visitsI started MBA Data Guru a little over a month ago after all of my MBA applications were submitted. I needed something to distract me while waiting to hear from all of the schools I applied to. When I found the GMAT Club application data, I knew it would be the perfect thing to keep me busy. My goal is to help the next round of applicants to better understand MBA admissions by showing them what their chances are at different schools. Fewer than 40 days after starting this website, it has had over 1,000 visits from more than 700 unique individuals. I think that this is a great start, and I hope to build from here. I plan to not only build this website while waiting to start my MBA, but also continue to work on it while in school. I hope to build this into one of the largest MBA admissions websites.

What is Next from MBA Data Guru?

In addition to working on the MBA Data Guru blog, I am working on building a fully functioning admissions calculator for all of the top MBA programs. This calculator will predict your chances of being admitted into different programs based on a few pieces of information, including GMAT, GPA, years of experience and others. This is a fairly large undertaking because I need to learn how to program HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, R and MySQL. I am making great progress and plan to finish the admissions calculator before I start school in the August. I will also build a comprehensive database of all MBA data you could ever hope to find, including admissions as well as job placement data for all of the top MBA programs. If there is anything that you would find helpful and would like me to add to this website, please let me know by leaving a comment on this article.

Harvard GPA Impact on Acceptance Rate

Harvard business school is ranked first and it is incredibly difficult for applicants to get admitted. If you are applying, then you might wonder what is the minimum Harvard GPA requires in order to have a decent chance of acceptance. I analyzed the data from GMAT Club application data to discover the relationship between Harvard GPA and acceptance rate.

Harvard GPA MBA Acceptance Rate Business SchoolUpdate: I have posted a more up to date analysis of Harvard Business School acceptance rate which looks at how GPA, GMAT and application round impacts your chance of admission.

At Harvard GPA is Not Important Unless it is Very High or Very Low

As you can see, the acceptance rate between 3.0 and 3.79 is relatively flat. GPA only seems to have any impact if you are above 3.8 or below 3.0. The acceptance rate for Harvard is higher in the 3.0 to 3.39 range than 3.4 to 3.79. This is likely due to low sample size in the lower GPA range. Although the acceptance rate is 0% below 3.0 in my dataset, I don’t think there is no chance of getting in, it is just very challenging.

At Harvard GPA only starts to help you when your GPA is 3.8 or higher. The average acceptance rate at Harvard is 12%, but it is 20% for applicants with a 3.8 or higher. I could not find any data published by Harvard on average GPA or GPA range. In my dataset, the average GPA of an applicant was 3.55, but the average GPA for someone who was accepted was 3.66. The middle 80% for Harvard GPA was 3.2 to 3.98, which means that 10% of those applicants that Harvard accepts have a GPA of 3.98 or higher.

In summary, if you are applying to Harvard, don’t stress out too much about your GPA as long as it is at least 3.0. Having a somewhat low GPA isn’t going to hurt your chances very much. Harvard only seems to care about how high your GPA is if you have a low GMAT score.

For this analysis, I used data from September 2011 through February 2014. There were 774 applicants in my data set.

Tuck Interview Preparation Guide

Tuck Interview MBA Dartmouth Business School Admissions

Tuck interviews are typically 30 to 45 minutes. Typically, the interviewer is a second year student, but on occasion you will be interviewed by an admissions staff member. Unlike most schools, Tuck allows anyone who visits campus to interview. Since Tuck is in a very remote location in New Hampshire, Tuck wants to see that you are committed to the school and are willing to travel to campus. Tuck does extend interview invites to a few select candidates who did not self-initiate an interview, but it is very rare. A member of the admission committee told me that slightly over half the candidates self-initiate an interview.

I highly recommend you self-initiate an Tuck interview on campus, because if you don’t then you put yourself at a huge disadvantage.  While visiting campus, visit a class and go on a tour. It is a great way for you to gather material for your essays.

Here is a list of the most common questions asked during a Tuck interview. I also included the probability that each question is asked based on Clear Admit interview reports.

Tuck Interview Questions

  1. Why Tuck?  –  (100%)
  2. Walk me through your resume  –  (82%)
  3. Do you have any questions for me?  –  (76%)
  4. What are your short-term and long-term goals?  –  (71%)
  5. Why an MBA or why now?  –  (65%)
  6. Tell me about a challenge, conflict or difficult situation at work? How did you deal with it?  –  (59%)
  7. What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?  –  (29%)
  8. What kind of leader are you or how do you interact in a group?  –  (29%)
  9. What extracurricular activities do you plan to participate in at Tuck?  –  (29%)
  10. What are your three biggest strengths?  –  (29%)
  11. What is your biggest weakness, or three biggest weaknesses?  –  (29%)
  12. What would you contribute to Tuck?  –  (29%)
  13. Tell me about yourself  –  (18%)
  14. Are there any questions you wish I had asked you?  –  (18%)
  15. What are your other interests or passions?  –  (18%)
  16. If you attend Tuck, how would your classmates describe you?  –  (12%)

I interviewed back in December and most if not all of the questions I was asked are on this list. My Tuck interview was with a second year student. He was friendly and laid back. We chatted a little before and after the interview.

Check out my new MBA Interview Guide.

Harvard GMAT vs. GPA Comparison

I have posted a more up to date Harvard Business School acceptance rate analysis which is based on GPA, GMAT and application round.

Word is that Harvard will take a chance on applicants who have low scores, but impressive accomplishments. Lets see if Harvard lives up to its reputation.

Harvard GMAT vs. GPA Admissions Accepted MBA Business School
As you can see the slope for Harvard is much steeper than for the other schools. The slope of -.0093 means that Harvard would look at an application with a 750 GMAT and 3.0 GPA similarly to a 650 and 3.93. This result is interesting, it shows that on the margin Harvard is weighs GMAT very strongly, however, the marginal Harvard GMAT scores are lower than other schools. Harvard is willing to take a chance on a low GMAT, but you better have a damn high GPA to make up for it.

Harvard GMAT vs. GPA All Accepts

It is interesting to look at the total accepts instead of just the accepts on the margin. As you can see below, Harvard seems to be completely missing the population of students with low GPA and really high GMAT. I guess the admissions committee isn’t interested in students who slacked in undergrad and tried to make up for it with GMAT. I find that odd given Harvard’s reputation for grade inflation. They say that the hardest part of Harvard is getting in.

Harvard GMAT vs. GPA (all accepts)

The median Harvard GMAT score is 730. It is interesting that Harvard posts the median GMAT score instead of mean score like other schools. You can hide some very low GMAT scores by only posting a median. I would venture a guess that Wharton’s mean GMAT score, at 725, is higher than Harvard’s GMAT mean. After all, Harvard did accept a person with a 550 GMAT score last year. That has to be bringing down the average.

Check out how some of the other schools weigh GMAT vs. GPA:

Upenn / Wharton GMAT vs. GPA

MIT / Sloan GMAT vs. GPA

Dartmouth / Tuck GMAT vs. GPA

NYU / Stern GMAT vs. GPA

Methodology: The scatterplot represents the 50% of applicants who are accepted with the lowest GMAT and GPA. It isn’t helpful to look at the top 50% of applicants because those are not the marginal candidates who barely got in. I occasionally will remove very low outliers because those candidates may have been admitted due to very strong connections that most applicants don’t have. I never remove more than 5% of the total accepted students as outliers. The slope of the scatterplot demonstrates the point at which the school is indifferent to GMAT vs. GPA. The data for this analysis comes from GMAT Club.

Sloan Interview Preparation Guide

MIT Sloan Interview MBA Admission

At this point all of the Sloan interview invites have been sent out for this year. Unfortunately, I did not receive an invite from Sloan, but I am happy to say that due to all of my preparation, my Wharton interview went very well. Although the team based discussion is a new interview format, I was able to assume a leadership role without being aggressive or obnoxious about it. Since I had already started preparing for a Sloan interview incase I got an invite, I decided to post the Sloan interview preparation I was working on for myself. I hope this is helpful for those who will be interviewing with sloan over the next few weeks. Sloan interviews can take place on campus, in hub cities or even at the offices of alumni. Most Sloan interviews last 40 to 50 minutes, but some have been as short as 15 minutes. I have listed out the questions found in Clear Admit over the past 2 or 3 years in order from most common to least common. The number to the right indicates how many times it was asked.

Sloan Interview Questions:

  1. Why MBA? (5)
  2. Describe a time I had to resolve a conflict.  (5)
  3. Anything new to add to your resume since submitting application? (4)
  4. Why Sloan? (4)
  5. What do you me to get across to the admissions committee about you? (3)
  6. Questions? (3)
  7. Tell me of a time you received feedback and how did you respond? (3)
  8. Tell me about a time you helped a colleague who was struggling professionally. (3)
  9. Tell me of a time when you had to mentor someone. (3)
  10. Describe a time when one of your ideas was rejected and what you did. (3)
  11. Why get an MBA now? (2)
  12. Tell me about a time you had to persuade your colleagues. (2)
  13. Walk me through your resume. (2)
  14. Describe a time when you had to rally a team  (2)
  15. Describe a major initiative that you have worked on. (2)
  16. What would your recent team members say about you, if they were asked what its like to work with you?
  17. Tell me about a company in your industry that has caught your eye.
  18. Given your role at your company (work for a startup), what will it be like when you leave?
  19. Describe a time when you took a big risk.
  20. Elaborate on your leadership role in your extracurricular activity.
  21. Why did you change jobs from (company x) to (current company)?
  22. You have an offer from (current company) to return. Do you intend on taking it?
  23. Explain what your prior employer does, your contributions there and why you decided to move to your current job.
  24. Will you return to your employer after graduation?
  25. Describe a time when you had to say “no” to a boss.
  26. Tell me about your biggest achievement.
  27. Did you talk to someone about the Sloan program?

You will be in good shape if you prepare for the 10 to 15 most common questions. It may be helpful to look at the questions that have only been asked once, but I would not spend too much time prepping for them. For more info on preparing for a Sloan interview, check out my MBA interview preparation guide.

Few MIT Interview Invites for Round 2

Similar to many of the applicants on the GMAT Club forum I have been impatiently waiting to hear from Sloan about an interview invite. It seemed to me that the number of invites have been very low so I decided to take a quick look at how low. I put together two charts, one based on the front page statistics and one based off of the table you can download with detailed stats.


MIT Sloan MBA Interview Invite

 MIT Sloan MBA Interview Invite




For some reason the two sets of numbers do not tie together but they tell the same story. Even though the Sloan interview invite period is more than half over, only 14% of the estimated interview invites have been sent out. My best guess is that the weather has been even worse than normal in Boston this year and has significantly delayed MIT. It is really hard for me to stay positive as the invite deadline quickly approaches, but given the numbers, I think we should all stay positive. It will be interesting to see if Sloan misses the invite deadline for R2 in addition to missing it for R1.

Wharton Interview Preparation Guide

wharton interview preparation guide MBA business schoolCheck out my updated Wharton MBA Interview Questions and preparation guide for the most up to date list of questions.

Now that I have been invited to a Wharton interview, I am spending as much time as I can prepping for interview. In the spirit of teamwork and cooperation, I’ll share with you the most common Wharton interview questions I found on Clear Admit. I only included questions from interviews that happened in the past two years, since the Wharton interview format changed. I don’t think that the older interviews are relevant anymore. If questions were asked to more than one person on a Clear Admit interview report then I put the number of times in parentheses.

Wharton Interview Questions:

1)    Describe your views of the Team Based Discussion. (7)

2)    Do you have any questions for me? (6)

3)    Do you have any updated to your application? (4)

4)    What extracurricular at Wharton? (4)

5)    Was your behavior in the Team Based Discussion representative of the way you typically act in a group setting? (4)

6)    Walk me through your resume. (4)

7)    Why MBA? (2)

8)    What could you have done differently as a team? (2)

9)    Why Wharton? (2)

10) Tell me about a time you had to persuade others. (2)

11) What are your post MBA goals? (2)

12) What specific quality or qualities do you hope to hone at Wharton?

13) Tell me about one time you had to overcome an obstacle working in a group and what you would do differently if you had to do it again?

14) Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned.

15) What are the 3 top qualities you think a leader should have?

16) What are 3 qualities you look for in a business school, especially our school

17) Why now?

18) What do you do in free time?

19) Tell me about a time you faced a leadership challenge.

20) Tell me about a time when you worked in a group in which everyone did not agree and how did your team resolve the situation?

21) What do you think worked well in the Team Based Discussion?

It seems that pretty much everyone is asked how they thought the team based discussion went and everyone is given the chance to ask questions at the end. Beyond that there are four other questions that are asked frequently, which you should prepare for. Good luck in your Wharton interview! Check out my MBA Interview Preparation Guide for more tips.

Acceptance Rate by GMAT for Wharton

An MBA applicant’s GMAT score impacts their acceptance rate at business schools such as Wharton. During the application process, GMAT is one of the few metrics that the applicant has any control over. Undergraduate GPA is already set in stone, work experience can’t be changed and recommendations are written by someone else. The only control a student has is their GMAT, resume and essays, so it isn’t surprising that applicants stress over their score. Today I am going to quantify exactly how much the GMAT impacts you chance of admission into Wharton.

The first piece of information to look at is the distribution of GMAT scores for Wharton applicants. The graph below shows how many students who applied had each score. For the GMAT overall, students who receive a 760 or higher are in the 99th percentile, yet 20% of Wharton applicants have a 760 or higher. I think this data is somewhat skewed by the fact that it comes from the GMAT Club website, where I imagine applicants score higher on average. Surprisingly, the distribution is actually relatively flat between 710 and 760.

Wharton GMAT Distribution

Wharton Applicant GMAT Distribution MBANext I created a scatter plot of acceptance rate verses Wharton GMAT score. You can see that there is definitely a strong correlation between GMAT and chance of admission, with an R squared of 75%. Unexpectedly, the acceptance rate for applicants with scores below 700 was actually higher than the acceptance rate for applicants with a 710 or 720. Actually 720 had the lowest acceptance rate even though it is the average score for the Wharton class of 2015.

Wharton GMAT Acceptance Rate Scatter Plot

GMAT Acceptance Admissions MBA BusinessI used a polynomial trend line for the scatter-plot because it had the highest R-squared. The polynomial actually creates a slight curve up at the low end for people with GMAT scores below 700. I don’t think this actually means that your chance of getting into Wharton is higher with a 690 vs. 720. I expect that this phenomenon is due to reporting bias for the GMAT Club data. Someone who gets into Wharton with a low GMAT score is more likely to report it than a person with a high score. I also think that someone with a low GMAT is less likely to even put their GMAT score in their profile because it is highly visible on the website.

Wharton Acceptance Rate by GMAT

GMAT Acceptance MBA Wharton Business School Admissions

In the graph above, I smoothed out the acceptance rate by GMAT score and adjusted it up. In the GMAT Club data, not everyone updates their profile with the ultimate decision, so the acceptance rate needs to be adjusted up slightly. In the end GMAT score did not affect acceptance as much as I expected. However, probability of admissions is roughly twice as high for applicants with a 770 or higher compared to an applicant with a score of 700.

On a personal note, today I was invited by Wharton to interview for a spot in the class of 2016. I am extremely excited to be interviewed and will be concentrating on preparing for my interview over the next few weeks.


Acceptance Rate by Wharton GMAT

Wharton Accecptance Rate by GMAT Upenn MBA AdmissionsThis original analysis did not take into account several additional factors which impact acceptance, such as GPA, years of work experience and the industry the applicant worked in. The graph above is the result of a regression model I built that takes into account all of the other factors. Once GPA, country of origin, work experience are taken into account, the curve below 700 disappears. For more detail, check out the updated analysis of Wharton acceptance rate by GMAT and the disadvantage of applying from India.

How Much Does Your Industry Affect Your Acceptance Rate at Wharton

If you have any doubt that the industry you are in and what company you work at affect your acceptance rate at top MBA schools, then I have wonderful bridge I can sell you for a bargain. I know, my joke is lame, I should stick to the numbers.

We all know that your industry has a big impact on your acceptance rate, but which industries are the best to work in if you want to get into  a top MBA program like Wharton. First, lets take a look at the distribution of applicants at Wharton by industry. I removed all industries with fewer than 20 applicants over the 3 years I analyzed.

Wharton Industry Distribution MBA Applicants Business School

As you can see, the greatest number of applicants came from consulting and investment banking. I removed the “Other” category from this graph because it was too large in comparison to each individual industry. There were 883 “Other” applicants.

Now what you all are waiting for, which industries are best for getting into Wharton? The answer shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, it is Venture Capital. The biggest surprise for me was that military and defense came in second by a wide margin. I guess risking your life for your country may pay off for some lucky soldiers. I expected consulting acceptance rate to be pretty high, but it was only slightly above average. If you work in manufacturing or mutual funds, then you might want to give up your dream of going to Wharton, my magic eight ball says “Outlook not so good”.

Wharton Acceptance Rate Industry Admissions MBA Business School

If you are really passionate about applying to Wharton, then you have probably already noticed that the average acceptance rate in my graph is only 13% and not the actual acceptance rate of 20%. This is because I get my data from GMAT Club, and not everyone updates their profile with the final decision. I considered scaling all of the numbers up 63% to account for this but the venture capital acceptance rate got a little crazy up at 54%. My theory is that venture capitalists are a lot more likely than your average candidate to update their profile on GMAT Club when they get it.

What is going on with the investment bankers having a below average acceptance rate? Perhaps they come across as too aggressive and arrogant in their interview, or maybe they are too busy working 100 hour weeks to update their profile once they are accepted.

Stern: How Important is the GMAT vs. GPA

I posted an updated analysis of Stern Acceptance rate for GPA vs. GMAT on this page.

NYU is currently ranked 10th by US News and World Report for full-time MBA programs and is tied for the 3rd highest average GMAT score. I expected to see Stern prefer GMAT over GPA, but that is not what I found.

Stern NYU GMAT GPA Admissions MBA Business School

It turns out that Stern has by far the smallest slope of any of the other schools I have looked at so far. The .0043 slope means that Stern would view a candidate with a 800 GMAT and 3.00 GPA similarly to one with a 700 GMAT and 3.43 GPA.

Other Schools:




Columbia Business School

Methodology: The scatterplot represents the 50% of applicants who are accepted with the lowest GMAT and GPA. It isn’t helpful to look at the top 50% of applicants because those are not the marginal candidates who barely got in. I occasionally will remove very low outliers because those candidates may have been admitted due to very strong connections that most applicants don’t have. I never remove more than 5% of the total accepted students as outliers. The slope of the scatterplot demonstrates the point at which the school is indifferent to GMAT vs. GPA.

Sloan: How Important is the GMAT vs. GPA

MIT is well known for highly intelligent students who are gifted in math. The rumor is that Sloan cares a lot more about your GMAT score than other schools. Do you think that this is true?

In the graph below you can see that Sloan has a slope of .0057. This means that MIT would consider a 800 GMAT with 3.0 GPA roughly similarly to a 700 GMAT with a 3.57 GPA.

Sloan GMAT GPA MBA Business MIT Score

Sloan is tied with Tuck (so far) for the lowest reliance on GMAT score. So far in my analysis Columbia cares the most about GMAT score. Sloans GMAT vs. GPA slope is relatively similar to the other schools, so  you should still take the GMAT seriously when applying to Sloan, but clearly it is not the singular most important component of the application.

Methodology: The scatterplot represents the 50% of applicants who are accepted with the lowest GMAT and GPA. It isn’t helpful to look at the top 50% of applicants because those are not the marginal candidates who barely got in. I occasionally will remove very low outliers because those candidates may have been admitted due to very strong connections that most applicants don’t have. I never remove more than 5% of the total accepted students as outliers. The slope of the scatterplot demonstrates the point at which the school is indifferent to GMAT vs. GPA.