Some candidates, particularly those who did not attend college where English was the primary medium of instruction, are concerned about the impact of a low TOEFL or AWA score on their admissions odds. A low TOEFL or AWA score can certainly have a negative impact. For example, if your GMAT score was very lopsided and you were much stronger in quant than in verbal, and you also have a low AWA, the admissions committee may become concerned that you will not be able to communicate adequately with your peers. Part of the attraction of admitting you to a business school is not only what you will gain from the experience, but also what you can give. It won’t matter if you have outstanding insights and innovative ideas if you are unable to communicate those insights and ideas to your peers. In many cases, to maximize your odds of admission you should try to improve low TOEFL and AWA scores.
Candidates frequently ask me whether there are instances when a candidate can still get into a top MBA program in the United States and Europe with a low TOEFL or AWA score. Yes, of course. I have worked with candidates who had poor TOEFL or AWA scores, but were such attractive candidates that they were accepted at schools including Harvard and Wharton. In one example, an East Asian foreign national I worked with had poor English skills and a relatively low TOEFL score. He had terrific work experience at a Fortune 10 multinational company, however, and his business experience was a great asset. We at MBA Admit.com worked with him extensively and he was able to highlight the strengths of his overall candidacy in his application, and as a result he gained admission to Harvard Business School. Upon acceptance, Harvard simply asked him to enroll in an English program before beginning.
From Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)