What are the chances that your ISB application will be shortlisted for an interview? What happens inside the ISB admissions office after you submit your ISB essays, recommendations? Will the ISB admissions officer reject your application purely because of a low GMAT score?
V.K. Menon, senior director of admissions, financial aid and careers offers some insight into all these questions in an interview with John Byrne from Poets & Quants. We bring to you the important points from Mr Menon’s interview as he dissects the ISB admission process for the benefit of applicants. Though these inputs are for ISB, you’ll find that the approach would be quite similar for the other top schools as well. So read on.
The most important message Mr Menon has for Indian applicants (who are used to entrance exams like JEE & CAT dominating the admissions process) is the fact that the GMAT isn’t the whole-and-sole deciding factor within your ISB application. The GMAT gets a 30% weight in the ISB admissions process, which is quite a bit.
But, like our political parties, it’s not enough to gain an independent majority. You have to work towards building a successful coalition – across the other application components.
Though a high GMAT score is desirable, those will scores as low as 600 also have a chance of being considered seriously.
If you don’t believe it, here’s the story of Sudhir Nemani who got into ISB with a low GMAT score of 600!
But the ISB admission process is a lot more complex that you’d imagine. With thousands of applicants with varying degrees of skills, expertise and potential, it can become pretty confusing. Almost like comparing Adam’s apple to Steve Jobs’ Apple.
So the ISB admissions team devised a structure to categorise each applicant based on their profile.
How does the ISB admission process work?
If you are applying to ISB and wondering about your chances of getting into ISB Mohali campus or Hyderabad, it would help you to understand how the Adcom will slot you into P1, P2, P3 and P4.
The coding scheme might give you the impression that the odds increase or decrease along with the numbers. But that’s not how it works. Here’s a lowdown on each of them, in a jumbled up order (for a reason).
This is the dream profile for ISB. Elite undergrad college (like IIT), very high GMAT score (770-780), excellent accomplishments in all spheres, impressive extracurriculars.
Unless you’ve really messed up in one of the key areas (described in the next section) you can be confident of getting interviewed by ISB admissions officer.
This is where the diversity candidates will be pooled together. Despite being the top B-school in India, ISB doesn’t have the same cultural diversity that European or American or even other Asian bschools (like NUS) offer.
The next best thing they can do is to look for differentiated backgrounds from unconventional professions. If you have a sports, NGO, military, creative background, good for you.
Back it up with a strong GMAT and some strong ISB essays and you can expect an interview call.
All you IT Male Engineers working in technology and software companies, this is where you’ll be housed. The good news is that you are still in the race. The bad news is that you have lots of company.
If you read the resume of any random competitor from the P2 group, you might feel like he copied your CV. Tough life!
Can you narrate a story that’s different from all the other applicants who also have your background? That’s the only way to make an impact.
This is the only category where the number signifies the position in the category listing. Applicants with a very low GMAT score who also have nothing special to write home about would be ‘dumped’ into (one step before the politely worded formal rejection goes out).
If you happen to be in this pool, the odds of getting dinged are very high. The only hope is if you can pull out a rabbit from your hat and convince the MBA admissions committee that you deserve a seat despite the lacklustre application.
What the ISB Admissions Committee looks for
Irrespective of the category you fall in, you will be judged on 3 aspects:
Academics: This covers the familiar territory of undergrad performance (GPA, percentage) and MBA entrance exams like GMAT.
Leadership: Here’s where your professional accomplishments along with all that you’ve done outside work (extra-curriculars) will get evaluated.
Interview: ISB wants to see if all the facts and figures you submitted is backed by an effective and impressive personality as well.
Here’s how ISB’s 4 P’s (inspired by the 4P model of marketing?) stack up against each other:
Your odds of getting into ISB are as follows:
In terms of the number of applicants, the order changes:
Will your ISB application chances plummet if you aren’t in P3?
Nope. Keep in mind that the P3 guys who apply to ISB also aim for the top international schools including Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. Adcoms know that the odds of their joining is still a question mark, even if they get an offer from ISB. So apart from dangling goodies (like ISB scholarships), the admissions committee needs to take the remaining 3 categories seriously too.
To cut a long story short, depending on which P you fall in, the queue may be short or long.
So, mind your P’s and Queues!
If you want to improve your chances of getting into ISB, get in touch. We’ve had a pretty good track record of shortening the queue even if you aren’t falling in one of the favourable buckets.
Read these related posts:
– ISB MBA admission with full scholarship
– How I got into ISB with scholarship in my third attempt
– ISB Hyderabad admission with low GMAT score of 610
– Is ISB still worth the money and time?
– All about ISB placements
– Executive MBA at ISB
PGP Essay 1 Analysis
You are required to respond to the following Essay questions, two mandatory and one optional. If you are a re-applicant, even the third essay would be mandatory.
If we were to admit just one more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you? (500 words)
So the ‘Why You’ essay prompt continues for the third consecutive year, albeit with a 25% increase in the word limit (more on this later).
Taking the question literally may mislead you, since it is not going to be easy to prove that you are the ‘One’ – but ISB has over 800 seats and you can always prove that you are a worthy candidate. You would therefore want to focus on your strengths, qualities, skills and traits that you think are different from the larger pool of candidates, though you may not be the only one demonstrating them.
While talking about yourself, do not just go on claiming things, but back your claim with relevant examples. Since you are applying to a business school, focus more on your professional strengths than just personal qualities. What makes you unique can very well be your niche industry exposure, the initiatives you have taken at work, the exceptional growth you have achieved vis-à-vis your peers and so on. We would also advise presenting one (preferably only one) personal trait, backed by relevant examples.
As you list the qualities – personal and professional, what remains important is to question yourself if these are relevant to ISB. It’s a good idea to connect these traits to how they enable you to contribute to the class at ISB. Indulge in specific research to identify events, activities, clubs and other platforms at ISB that you would like to use in the context of your skills/qualities. Recall where you contributed in a similar manner in the past.
Overall, it’s not an easy question to answer, but if drafted well, can very well seal the deal for you.
Now on the increased word limit – let’s say it’s just a replacement to the optional and the reapplicant essays. Since the very idea of this essay prompt is to establish why ISB should consider you, feel free to add any additional points you have on mind, to present your strengths. If you are a reapplicant, you may very well add a paragraph on the additional effort you have put in and the changes in your profile you have brought about, which are further reasons why ISB should be interested in you.