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How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO

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How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2020, 00:43

How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO MBA Admission consultancy

Saturday, May 30, 2020 9 AM PDT | 9:30 PM IST | 12 PM EST

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The applicant pool for Fall 2021 is going to be very tight and more competitive with up to 1/3 of international students deferring from Fall 2020 as well as more people consider an MBA to get ahead in the workforce during a downward economy. ARINGO MBA Admissions Consulting specializes in working with candidates with low GMATs or GPAs on top MBA programs. Join ARINGO's head of strategy, Mr. Shimri Winters, a London Business School alumnus, on his tips and tricks on how to compile a winning application

Details of Presenters:
Mr. Shimri Winters, Head of strategy at Aringo, a London Business School alumnus

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Re: How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO  [#permalink]

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New post 30 May 2020, 09:05
Here is the chat log from our recent chat session with ARINGO MBA Admission consultancy held on May 30th 9am PDT | 9:30pm IST

Introduction of our guest from ARINGO

Hi everyone. Excited to be here!

My name is Shimri Winters. I am a London Business School alumnus and I have been heading the strategy team here at ARINGO MBA Admissions Consulting for 6 years now.

A bit more about me: I have a computer science degree, and before my MBA at LBS, I worked as a programmer in a big software company. Post-graduation I work in consulting. Additionally, when I graduated from LBS, I was asked to be part of the LBS interviewing committee (I was helping LBS, interview MBA candidates, for 8 years).

Feel free to ask me anything during this chat!

(you can also check out our website for further information or profiler assessment feel free to shoot me an email on with your CV, GMAT, school wish list, timeline and questions.

What is the GPA cutoff for top 10-15 schools in the US? I have a 3.1, aiming for 700+ score and am worried

Simple answer - there is NO GPA Cutoff - really. schools look at many factors and the GPA is about 10% of the total... I have had candidates get into top 10 schools with 2.5s...and naturally, a higher GMAT can help to offset a low GPA

How is the profile of a candidate viewed if he/she had worked for 2-3 years on their own startup/company but the company didn’t had a successful outcome?

I used to interview for LBS for 7 years. anyone with an interesting story got extra points. 9/10 startups don’t succeed. and that is fine, but there are many stories and business cases that can be taken from this experience => startup, even if didn’t work out is an AMAZING experience!

What do you think is the tradeoff of a virtual fall semester/quarter for 2020 admits vs deferring to 2021?

haha well, this is a question no one knows (we have never had a global pandemic like this. I would say that for two-year programs, go for 2020. for a one year program, well, it is up to you and your thoughts on when the campuses will open...

What are your thoughts on who you should pick for your recommendation letter? I am planning on having 1 as my direct manager at work (I believe this is required), but the other person is someone I used to work with that move on to another company - do you think it’s okay that both are not from your current employer?

The best recommender is your direct current manager. BUT, many candidates do not want to tell their employers they are leaving to NMBAs (not at this early stage) hence you can pick recommenders from previous jobs, or even from extracurricular activities or even (less good for MBAs) academic recommenders... ALL are acceptable. Don’t worry about this too much. if your recommender can speak about your professional experience, even your past one, that is good!

Are GRE scores converted to a GMAT score or are they evaluated separately?

All schools are indifferent to GMAT or GRE. Really. Some US schools have seen 10%-15% and even 20% of applications come in with a GRE score so they really don’t mind. You can read more about these tests here: and choose the best test for you
Scores are translated into the same "base" and then all candidates are evaluated together

Given the pandemic situation, what would be your advice to people who are applying this year for 2021 intake? The job market is uncertain with rising unemployment and the competition for the application is predicted to be high, how do you see it all rolling in favour or against a candidate who is applying for 2021 intake.

not sure I understand this question. but here are my two cents on 2021 chances:

A. Many international candidates who were accepted to Sep-2020 studies will ask for a deferral (= next year, there will be fewer seats in the class due to deferred students from this year)
B. Many people are now sitting at home, rethinking their future, thinking of a career change (=next year there will be more candidates)
A + B => next year will be harder to get into top MBA programs.

What does this mean for you? not much.
You can only do what you can do.

My suggestion - continue to improve your profile, work on your GMAT, and get the best score you can and perhaps apply to more schools that you intended to originally, for backup reasons.

What are some of the most deciding factors that B-schools look for in a candidates profile?

Academic ability
Interesting profile
Broad horizons
School Interest & Motivation
International exposure
Leadership / Entrepreneurship

Hey guys, thanks a bunch for doing this. I have a profile evaluation that I wanted to ask. Would it be okay if I post the same? Would really appreciate your answers!

For a deep analysis on your profile, please send me your CV, GMAT score, school wish list, the timeline of application and any other info to

By when I must give GRE/GMAT to have sufficient time to apply for B-schools in R1 as an international candidate?

you can take the GMAT or GRE up to the day of the application (= September) not sure that is wise but doable. obviously, you will need several months to practice for the tests + several months to work on your application (we work with candidates 8-12 weeks on average on ~4 applications...)

If I want to gain management skills and knowledge for corporate sales management, will pursuing an MBA help me with that?

YES YES YES... not sure what else to say :)

Do you have any tips on the essay/application writing process? I have read some of the basics (create an outline, start high-level etc.) but haven’t started. Anything you tell your students that helps them with it?

The honest truth is you are wasting your time reading what others are writing and suggesting. try to write your own story.
We at ARINGO work 1on1 with all our candidates, and we never repeat stories or look at other templates...
(Feel free to send me your CV, GMAT score, school wish list, the timeline of application, and any other info to and I can give you some pointers and directions...)

How should I improve my profile if I come from a technical background and have less of Business skills

I was a programmer in a big IT company and have a 640 GMAT. Still, I got into LBS :)
How? it is all about how you write it.
Look for your strengths, not your weaknesses
you are saying you are technical I am hearing you are in charge of a big project. you are saying you have no managerial skills, I am hearing you volunteer and was captain of your Cricket team in high school..

Thanks I understand , what I meant tis that what do you think is the ideal time to prepare our applications considering we are done with tests. say 1 month? 2 month?

As I said, we at ARINGO work with candidates on average 8-12 weeks on ~4 applications...
Can it be done in less time? of course. I have seen people write applications in 1 day... (but usually not very successful ones...)

Let me take this in another angle

It is better to apply in R2, when the GMAT score and applications are ready, vs. applying in R1, when you can have done better in one of these aspects

I don’t think I have something substantial to repreesent by Leadership skills other than regular job work which really doesn’t count. What practical things I can do to show my leadership skills considering I have to apply in R1

Volunteer, have interesting extracurricular, during university or during your professional career or outside of both of these

I have a consulting bsckground of 3 years and am also a stand up comedian. Any tips on how I should justify my choice for moving to product management post MBA and why I’m the ideal candidate for it?

Please send me your CV to

But generally speaking, product management is a very common post-MBA position for people with tech backgrounds

All the Bschools look same while browsing through their brochure and all of them seem to have a similar marketing strategy which is usually " come join our MBA and this will change your life" , how do I remove this veneer and look at the real picture and differentiate how each B school differs

you are right. most MBA programs have similar curriculum
The Two most important considerations:
- Where will your career aspirations be best served?
- Where would you like to live

On the academic ability, I am prepping for GMAT but fear that I might not be close to the median score range vs peers from my pool (Indian female). I have a good GPA in both my undergrad and MSc (>4)....can it help compensate?

GMAT is a major factor and if you are an Indian female, your GMAT should be in the range of the median... having that said, it is not the only factor and a unique profile will compensate for this

BUT, this is just one factor. I suggest you concentrate for now on the GMAT and then see what score you reach...
(feel free to send me that score and your CV and your school wishlist to for a chances estimation...

I’m an engineer working in Indian IT firm currently working as a project lead. Exp 5 years. What, I’ll have to do to improve my profile.

Any international project that comes in - grab it
Any managerial experience- take it
Volunteer and have nice hobbies
get a good GMAT, choose realistic schools and write a kick-ass application :) (happy to help with that. finish with the GMAT first and send me your score and CV -

if you have a low GPA, how to be attractive to top 3 programs? where to balance the profile

GPA is just one factor (and not even a major one)
GMAT, work experience, Leadership potential, international experience, Broad horizons -> all these are worth more points than GPA)

What are your thoughts on rushing to apply Round 1 vs. taking more time to complete your application for Round 2? The closure of test centers has delayed my timelines a few months (not trying to take online) and I’m not confident now I’m going to be fully prepared for R1

There is a minor difference between R1 and R2 and my suggestion is to apply when you are ready (profile and GMAT are optimized, and your applications are perfect) even if it means missing the R1 deadlines.

The reasons are these
R1 and R2 tend to have similar acceptance chances.
Yes, there are slight advantages for R1, for example, they might be more candidates who are waitlisted or a few more scholarships. The biggest advantage in my eyes for R1 admissions is, if you don’t get in, you can always apply to backup options in R2. So, the biggest advantage is more of a project management perspective, than of acceptance chances per school…
but again, as I said at the beginning, you should only apply, when you think your application is optimum in terms of career, GMAT, and application.

Would you say it is imperative for an over represented candidate pool like (indian male engineer) to have a +20/+30 score above the school’s avg score. I understand that there are a range of other things like the profile, candidate story ,recommendation that hold equal signifance. But would you say the score is the make or break parameter for this group of candidates?

The GMAT score is not make or break!
To prove this:
I have an Indian Male Engineer with a 700 GMAT who got into Wharton this year!
but to be honest, it is a very very important factor...

If I want to Major in MBA in Strategy, will the add. comm. reject my profile because they don’t think my profile is promising for a Strategy major ? Ma be because they think I am not the right fight for that field ?

Most top MBA programs do not "major in" anything.
you can choose out of many electives (for example strategy)
I dont see why a school would care about this. and many MBA graduates (about a 1/3) go and work as strategy consultants

Do schools factor in a candidates frequency and quality of communication with current students/alums for admissions?

of course!
schools want to make sure you really want to get into THEIR school. how can they check?
a. seeing if your stories fit their program
b. seeing if you have expressed interest "in theory" (online research) or have actually taken steps to get to know the school (campus visit, webinars, speaking to students and alumni etc.) the latter gives extra points!

What do people mean exactly when they talk about researching your target b schools? Apart from going through the website and understanding their core values, talking to a few students about the culture and life at the school

check out my previous answer... start with LinkedIn, the go-to specific clubs that interest you and get in touch with students and alumni

Are financial aids and scholarships reserved for candidates with high academics? Or do a solid application explaining the desire for Scholarship the relevant factor?

Most schools grant scholarships on merit basis - this can mean good academics (GPA + GMAT) or an exceptional story.
Few schools have financial need based scholarships (like HBS)

I have an extensive backpacking experience (~2 years) across a bunch of countries over 4 continents. Can I substitute international work experience with this experience through the optional essays and get a leg up?

you can definitely bring unique factors from your "personal life" - this will help make you unique
I love chefs, standup comedians, poker players and travelers :)

Does it help to reach out to alumni of these business schools? E.g. if you have a friend that attended HBS, could they do anything to help your acceptance chances? I’m not talking about helping with your application, I’m asking if they could reach out to someone in the admissions department as an alum (or something like that) and whether it would help

knowing students in the schools can help in a few ways
a. they can tell you about the schools
b. you can mention them in your application (
c. in some schools they can send a support letter to admissions

Which Canadian is the best one in terms of ROI and placements

They are a few top MBA schools in Canada - please visit our website to see the list -
ROI? it depends on your salary post MBA, and on the scholarships, you will receive...

Would physically visiting the campus and interacting with the ad-com/students be of any assistance in selection? I feel that desktop research and zoom calls with alums can only help me so far. Thoughts?

I totally agree - Campus visit is the best (you can read some tips about this here: but it is not possible for everyone

What should you put in the application section for other schools/programs you’re applying to? I’m currently looking at 3 and they’re not T10 or anything. One is probably T20 and the other two T30-40 or so. Would it be fine to list the other 2 for each app? I’ve read schools don’t want to get the impression that they’re my "backup" option.

I would mention the other schools if they are the "same caliber" (or same rankings) but I wouldn’t mention Harvard Business School when I am applying to Kentucky Community college...

knowing students in the schools can help in a few ways
a. they can tell you about the schools
b. you can mention them in your application (
c. in some schools they can send a support letter to admissions

Can you please tell us more about c , I have a bunch of alumni from my undergrad who are in top B schools but I have never hear about support letter

Some schools will accept a support letter from students, alumni or faculty - ask your friends - they will know what to do and if this is acceptable int heir schools...
just to be honest - this adds a point or two and is not a deal-breaker (well, if you know the dean personally, that might add 3 points :) )

What’s the ideal time to start connecting with the ad-com for my target B-schools? I’m currently in prep-stage but can think about investing some time speaking with as-com would connecting early be a good strategy?

Research is always good. at any stage. webinars, MBA fairs... but realistically, you should focus on the GMAT, and when it is time to work on your applications you should invest the time on the "reaching out"

Luckily, my manager is an alumni at one of my choices as well.

GREAT - of your letter of recommendation comes from an alumnus - that is great!
Feel free to send me your CV, GMAT score, and school wish list for a profile evaluation... I am always on

The GMAT score is not make or break!
To prove this:
I have an Indian Male Engineer with a 700 GMAT who got into Wharton this year!
but to be honest, it is a very very important factor...

do you have a debrief of his profile somewhere?

ARINGO works with about 80 Indian male engineers each year...
Most with lower than average GMAT scores. (read our logo... we specialize in this :) )
it is all about how you write the story. I am not saying a programmer with one year experience, in a local company, and a 650 can get into Harvard. I am saying the GMAT is just one factor, and even if you come from an over-represented background, this doesn’t mean you have to score 900...

Do you think there will be a decline in applications to Top Chinese Business schools because of the widespread lash-out , post covid economic shift etc.

I think there will be an uplift in applications to ALL business schools next year. Asian, European, American

I’ve heard a lot about B-schools looking for unique profiles..I am from MBB Consulting, ex-investment banking industry .I can show leadership skills, global clients, working abroad stuff. But I don’t have super strong marks in recent would HBS look at this given they want an all-rounder?

I just worked with a BCG candidate, no volunteering (but nice international experience) and a 710. he got into HBS, Wharton and Chicago (and got dinged from Kellogg and CBS...)

your profile sounds amazing! not sure if you took the GMAT yet. if you did, send me your GMAT score and CV to and I can help you find some unique angles...

Appreciate the help! Actually, I was originally planning on applying for Spring 2021 but with COVID-19, all the schools extended their deadlines for Fall 2020. I *think* I have a decent chance but is there any downsides to trying now and then re-applying for Spring 2021 if I don’t get in? Am I way too late in the admin process to have a fighting chance? More prudent to wait until Spring 2021?

SO, most MBA programs extended their rounds (most of them till June 1st, so that is over tomorrow)
I would say at this stage for American schools, it is too late for international candidates (due to Visas..)
for US citizens or permanent residents you still have a chance

no real minus in trying (time, money and effort) . you can try again next year too...

For recommendation letters, do you think it’s important that the person writes very specific/granular details about how you were good at your job? One of the people I’m considering asking is high-ranked in their title (which helps) but I don’t work with them very closely day-to-day. I’m weighing that option against someone who is lower-ranked but I work with daily and can speak more to my day-to-day....I’ve also thought about writing an outline that lists specific details and giving it to the former person, which may help them speak to it

I get this question a lot - it is very important to have recommenders who can give specific examples of your work... hence, even if your manager is not very senior, it is better to bring him, than the CEO that hardly knows you

How to make my profile strong if i have

Strong academics (A lot of scholarships from class 12 to my Msc + top 10% of the undergraduate and masters)
4 years of job experience in government sector (a top federal ministry, non profit)
good volunteer work
poor extra curricular activities
No international exposure
740 GMAT

I am looking for a top 10-20 US business schools (with scholarship if possible)

your profile sounds great! please send me your CV with the school wishlist to and I will give you some tips... but "all you need to do now" is write the best applications possible...

Thank you , maybe it is just my "sample set" who has acrimony to applying to B-schools owing to uncertainties and this is demotivating me as well. I have seen my "network" to either defer o drop their MBA plans.

Many applicants are deferring their current applications from 2020 to 2021 studies, which is why I think you will see an uplift in applicants next year...

I am working as an volunteer with Thalassemia Children welfare society in Punjab. Here we donate and organise blood camps for Red Cross and for Thalassemic children. Can they consider this experience during admission process along with work experience.

OF COURSE - so what you are saying is
a. you care about your community
b. you are willing to spend valuable time on causes that are important to you
c. you have leadership, out of the box thinking and project management skills demonstrated in your volunteering


Let me answer some common ones:

Can I make it into a top school with a low GMAT?
Sure, ARINGO specializes in helping candidates with low GMAT scores or low GPAs get into top MBA programs. THIS year, we had a 630 candidate get admitted to Oxford, 640 get admitted to INSEAD, 650 to LBS, 700 to Kellogg, 4 710s into HBS, etc.

In terms of coming from a competitive demographic background. Yes, of course, this is a factor, but this is only part of the factor (this year, we had a 700 Indian male engineer get into Cornell, and another 710 Indian female engineers get into Booth) we also had a 660 Indian male get into IESE, 670 Indian male engineers get into HEC, and 690 Indian male get into INSEAD. Everything is possible with a strong application (Well, and with a reasonable GMAT)

For a deeper analysis on your profile, please send me your CV, GMAT score, school wish list, the timeline of application and any other info to

Do we have to present a proof of volunteering experience ?

No, but remember that apart from the application, there is an interview.... you don’t want to be caught lying
In the verification process you may be asked to give proof of workplaces, but i don’t think you are asked to show proof for extracurricular activities

Question by a member What is the critical factor adcoms consider while awarding a scholarship?

Academic ability (= high GMAT) is definitely a key factor for top MBA programs for merit scholarships
Diversity, interesting story, background, gender are others

How does the interview selection process work? Typically how long after you submit your app? If they invite you, should you interpret that as a sign that you’ve "made it past the first hurdle"?

this really depends on the schools
usually about 4-6 weeks from deadlines...
and YES, it means you have passed the initial selection process...

Can a non-IIT/top BSchool & mediocre grades be eclipsed by other professional achievements / high GMAT score or should we forget about getting into HSW etc? I’m presently working in a PM role at LinkedIn - does that help establish the fact that I’m "smart". Sorry if the question sounds dumb.

The question is not dumb at all!
you are a PM at Linkedin that is great! a real T1 brand and this together with a decent GMAT will compensate on a mediocre undergraduate... (Send me your CV and GMAT, once you take it to happy to give you a deeper opinion on this....) and send me a Linkedin invite :)

Thanks, everyone for your questions. I really enjoyed it!
Don’t forget to check us out at or to send me a personal message (with your CV, GMAT, timeline, the school wish list and questions…) my email is:

GOOD LUCK to you all!

That is all from this chat, for more valuable chat sessions please visit the forum again and also you can follow me.


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Re: How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO   [#permalink] 30 May 2020, 09:05

How to get into a top 10 MBA program? - Live chat with ARINGO

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