Drumroll, please! MBAmo says...



To put it another way, the average candidate has a {{MBAMO_SCHOOL_ODDS}}% chance of getting into this school, but MBAmo estimates your chances are {{MBAMO_ODDS_CATEGORY}} the average applicant.

OK, that’s MBAmo’s assessment of your odds. Now let’s talk about what to do with it!

1. School Portfolio Strategy

Odds vs. Outcomes

Take a moment to reflect on the difference between odds and reality. Statistically, the house always wins in blackjack – the odds are stacked against you in any given hand, in any given streak of hands. And yet many people make millions of dollars at the blackjack table every year. What the odds say and what will actually happen are two different things that are not causally linked.

Regardless of how any one school nets out in MBAmo’s calculation, we generally recommend you apply to a portfolio of schools: some reaches, some matches, and some safer schools. That means that as you look at this specific school, the key question is:

If I am going to apply to this school, how should I think about it in terms of risk?

Is applying to this school and only this school a risky proposition because my statistics aren’t well aligned with candidates who succeeded in the past? That would make it a reach school.

Or is applying to this school and only this school a relatively safe bet because my stats are stronger than the average admit? That would make it a safer school.

When you look at it this way, you can start to assemble a portfolio of schools that allows you to aim high while also keeping your feet on the ground. Think of it like an investment portfolio. If you want an average of a 10% return, you choose some higher risk assets that return at 20% but could also go to zero, and then you throw in some bonds that return at 3% with 95% certainty. That way, you win, even if you don’t win them all.

How does MBAmo classify this school in your portfolio?


But those are just the odds.

And the odds don’t take into account your passions and character, your specific achievements, your unique fit with the school, and all the elements of MBA application execution that can make the difference between a big fat Yes and a sad whimpering ding.

Still, let’s get you started on the next steps of your MBA Application Strategy…


2. How MBA admissions really works

The Pile Game

You can think of the admissions process as a game of piles. Let me explain. While each school has its own process for evaluating candidates that is both holistic and iterative, an easy way to think about the process is as follows:

Step 1:

Someone reads your entire application. (Yes, even if you have a terrible GMAT, they’re gonna read ALL your MBA essays and recommendations. They give everyone an equal chance to show them who they really are.) At this stage, there may be only one reader or two independent ones.

Step 2:

After the first read, your application lands in one of two piles: yeah or nay. At this stage, the nay pile is also the ding pile, so if you get a nay here, that’s probably it for you. If you’re in the yeah pile, then you advance to the next step.

Step 3:

You interview with the school.

Step 4:

The committee makes a final decision on who ends up in the final yeah pile, who remains in limbo (the waitlist pile), and who has to move over to the ding pile. This committee decision could be digital, with some kind of calculation and weighted algorithm of yeahs and nays, or it could be a real committee discussion around a table. This last step is the hardest to understand, but you can think of it like packing for a long trip with only one carry-on suitcase.

They have to cram as many interesting, strong, and different candidates as possible into the fixed class size (~500 total admits for Stanford, ~1000 for Booth, etc.). They start with the people they love – the yeah pile post-interview – then they winnow it down to the right number, taking into account a variety of dimensions of diversity: academic background, industry experience, gender, nationality, other demographics, etc.

Now of course your question is “How do I get into the final yeah pile!!??”

Tactically, you get there in 3 steps: 

  • Don’t get knocked out in the first round for too many major weaknesses in your candidacy. Everyone is allowed one weakness. A major weakness or having more than one puts you at risk.
  • Crush the interview.
  • Be someone the admissions committee genuinely loves throughout every aspect of the application so that in the final tally, you’re one of the few who stay in the Yes Pile.

If you do those three things, you’re in. So how do you do those things? Let’s get to it.

3. Your Five MBA Profiles

Frameworks are so awesome

They help you make sense of vast unknowns and simplify your understanding of what really matters.  Here’s the Career Protocol framework for the various dimensions of your MBA candidacy that matter to your favorite MBA programs.

Brain Power

What the school is wondering about you:
Are you going to slay your classes?

Can this profile land you in the ding pile on the first read?
Yes. Without compensating strengths, schools will be concerned about your ability to handle the program if your academic stats are too weak.

Career Progress

What the school is wondering about you:
Have you done cool stuff in your career?

Can this profile land you in the ding pile on the first read?
Yes. Without enough great career experience, you won’t be able to add value to your classmates.


What the school is wondering about you:
Do you care about stuff? Do you make the world and yourself better?

Can this profile land you in the ding pile on the first read?
No. Schools love passion, but plenty of successful candidates get in without demonstrating extracurricular passions.

School Fit

What the school is wondering about you:
Do you fit with the culture and values of this specific MBA school?

Can this profile land you in the ding pile on the first read?
Yes. This is an easy dealbreaker. If you don’t fit with this school’s culture, there’d be no point in admitting you.


What the school is wondering about you:
Are you a good person?

Can this profile land you in the ding pile on the first read?
Yes. This is the easiest and swiftest dealbreaker. If you’re a jerk, you’re out, plain and simple.

Nota Bene: Your admissions odds above rely on only the first two profiles!! But, admissions success relies much more heavily on the last three!

Since MBAmo is a robot, he works with numbers and stats. So the fact that {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_PROGRAMME_NAME}} is a {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_ADVICE_CATEGORY}} school for you is based ONLY on the first two profiles: the ones that are relatively objectively quantifiable and comparable.

In the end, the hard facts are important, but in our experience, the qualitative elements of your candidacy are what ultimately make the difference between a YASSSS and a ding.

Every year, many statistically strong candidates get dinged. The favorite sometimes loses the match. In MBA admissions, this happens because they don’t shine in the qualitative elements of the application. Or they write essays that inadvertently make them seem like self-absorbed jerks.

On the flip side, many of our clients get into reach and even moonshot schools because they submit complete MBA applications beaming with their best self. They’re so lovable and their one-of-a-kind nature is so apparent that the admissions committee is willing to accept them just as they are – GMAT warts and all.

Your job is to inspire them to love and want you as you are.

That means transcending your statistics and becoming a complete human being in the application. It means bringing forth authenticity, humility, kindness, and a sense of humor. Start with a reality check . Let’s look at where you stand on these 5 MBA Profiles.

Start with a reality check

Let’s look at where you stand on these 5 MBA Profiles. Here’s how MBAmo says you line up with {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_PROGRAMME_NAME}}

Your Undergraduate Profile


Your GMAT Calibration


Your Career Progress Profile

Your Career Progress profile is in the {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_WORK_CATEGORY}} range for this school.

Your Passion Profile

Your current extracurricular and community profile for this school {{MBAMO_PASSION_SCORE_TEXT}}

Your School Fit Profile

You are currently demonstrating {{MBAMO_FIT_SCORE}} fit at this school.

Your Character Profile

This one’s a mystery to MBAmo! Robots can’t understand human nature, so if you want a read on your Character Profile and how to make this a strength in your application, apply for a free MBA Strategy call with a member of our team.

Let’s go through ‘em one at a time!

4. Your Brainpower Profile

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

You’re headed back to school!! So the adcom wants to know you’re ready to excel in class. Your undergraduate performance and your standardized test scores come together to show the adcom whether you can hack it at their school.

Your MBAmo readout

MBAmo considers your GPA and how it relates to the average of students at {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_PROGRAMME_NAME}}. Your undergraduate institution is classified as {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_SCHOOL_CLASSIFICATION}}, and that was also factored into your calibration.


How MBAmo calculates your undergraduate performance

This calculation is really pretty simple. MBAmo starts with your GPA. If you went to a university or college that’s more widely known and respected, you got a little bump. (If your school wasn’t in the list, don’t worry, it didn’t hurt you!) He then calibrated your numbers against the average of your target school. It’s that simple.

A few important things that MBAmo DOES NOT factor into your academic profile:

  • Your major: For example, a Finance or Engineering major at a school with a forced curve might have a greater or lesser impact on your overall candidacy than an English major would.

  • Your full transcript: A transcript loaded with quantitative courses in which you got good grades will have a greater positive influence on your candidacy. The converse is also true: a bunch of bad grades in math could hurt you even if your overall GPA is strong.

  • Additional externalities: Was there an upward trajectory in your transcript? Were you working fulltime during school? Did health or family issues impact your performance? Those factors might mitigate a weaker GPA. Likewise, MBAmo can’t see if you’ve got an F or two in that transcript.

What should you do now?


5. Your GMAT Calibration

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

The GMAT/GRE score is at once the most trivial and the most influential aspect of your application. It’s a terrible proxy for predicting post-MBA career success, it’s a decent proxy for predicting MBA academic performance, and it’s literally the only piece of information in your candidacy that can be objectively and reasonably fairly compared to every other applicant. It holds tremendous sway in the school rankings. It’s also biased to the extent that people of different demographics consistently perform differently on the tests.

All of this makes it a highly complex stat, one with which the admissions committee has a love-hate relationship. If they could ignore it in certain cases, they would. But in other cases, it’s a handy way to winnow out a few more dings from a yeah pile that’s too big for the class.

Even a perfect score won’t get you in if the rest of your candidacy is weak. But at the same time, a very out of whack test score vis-à-vis your competitive set can be the sole reason for your rejection.

We’ve written a lot on this subject. If you want to learn more, head over here to discover what the GMAT means for your MBA application, whether you should take the GMAT or the GRE, why you need as high a GMAT (or GRE) score as possible, and how to know when it’s time to quit testing and just apply.

Your MBAmo readout



How MBAmo calibrates your GMAT

MBAmo is no more sophisticated on the GMAT calibration than you would be with a list of school averages GMATs and a little bit of commons sense. 😊

He simply assigned you to a bucket based on how far above or below the school’s average your score is, taking into account the lowest reported scores (or the 80% range) published by top schools. Because the school’s average GRE is below the average GMAT (more on why that is in this article), you added 30 points to your GMAT-calibrated GRE, though this overly simplifies how schools think about a GRE.

Just as a lot of information about your GPA is left out, the MBAmo GMAT calculation doesn’t factor in a few things that could ultimately shift your calibration up or down a bit.

For example, the MBAmo model calibrates vis-à-vis the overall average at this school, not the average for your demographic. It’s possible that you will need to adjust your competitiveness a touch up or down depending on how people of your background tend to do on the GMAT. People of different backgrounds tend to perform predictably on the GMAT test, and a score that is strong or weak overall might not be strong or weak for your particular demographic. If you want to do a little personal research on demographics, start with this report, published by the writers of the GMAT.

MBAmo also doesn’t factor in your Integrated Reasoning Score, Analytical Writing Assessment, or the quant and verbal breakdown, which may ultimately be relevant to the admissions committee’s evaluation of your specific candidacy. The less proof of math skills there is on your undergrad transcript, for example, the more the school will look to your GMAT or GRE quant score for evidence you’re ready for Corporate Finance and Stats class.

If you’re considering working with us on your MBA applications and you want a more nuanced read on your test score, please bring it up in your free MBA Strategy Call.

What should you do now?

If you’re satisfied with your Brain Power Profile, then you can move on to Passion!

If your Brainpower Profile isn’t as strong as it can be, here are some ways you can concretely move the needle on your candidacy between now and application time.

Step 1: Crush that standardized test

If your Academic Profile and GPA are on the weaker side, then your first line of defense is to blow the schools’ concerns out of the water by getting a GMAT or GRE that is at or above their average test score. Your Standardized Test Score is a more recent and more universally comparable statistic than your GPA. Major, caliber of school, and other factors influence the GPA. The GMAT score is just a single naked number. So invest whatever it takes to get it as high as you possibly can. Read this article to know when you can quit. Take a class, then practice on your own, then hire a tutor. In that order.

Step 2: Take additional classes and crush them

You’ll need to plan in advance to get this done, and it’s lower priority than that test score. But even if you don’t have time for additional coursework before you submit, you can let schools know that your supplemental studies begin around application time and that you will update them when transcripts are ready.

Some great options:

  • HBX CORe: Make sure to get high distinction.
  • MBAMath: Likewise, do as well as possible.
  • A calculus, statistics, finance, or business math class at your local accredited college or university. Be sure to get an A or A+.

Step 3: Address the weakness strategically in your application

Highlight analytical and quant experience on your resume. Have one recommender speak at length and in detail about your analytical abilities. Add an optional essay explaining (but not excusing) your undergraduate performance and calling attention to brighter spots in your quant profile.

Your Brainpower Profile doesn’t get you to the Yes Pile, but it can land you in the Ding

A Brainpower Profile that doesn’t demonstrate how smart and MBA-ready you are is the number one reason otherwise awesome candidates end up in the ding pile. So take it seriously. Do what you need to do to make your Brainpower Profile as strong as it can be, and then move on to the rest of your MBA profiles, all of which are far more important in getting you to Yes.

6. Your Career Progress Profile

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

MBAs are changemakers, plain and simple. If you want an MBA, you want to make a mark through leadership. And the MBA degree prepares you for leadership not only through academic content, but also through experiential learning from peers and the relationships you build with your amazing classmates. That’s why your Career Progress Profile is so important. If you’ve had a strong career to date, that means you’ll have more to contribute to your MBA classmates.

As long as your Brain Power Profile is in the right range for your school, your Career Progress Profile will carry much more weight in the final decision.

Your MBAmo readout

Here’s what you reported to MBAmo:

You will have {{MBAMO_YEARS_OF_WORK_EXPERIENCE}} years of work experience by the time you matriculate, including {{MBAMO_NUMBER_OF_JOBS}} jobs and {{MBAMO_NUMBER_OF_PROMOTIONS}} promotions. You’ve also worked at {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_COMPANY_CLASSIFICATION}}.

All of that means your Career Progress Profile is in the {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_WORK_CATEGORY}} range for this school.


How MBAmo calculates your Career Progress Profile

Evaluating genuine career progress is much more nuanced than the data MBAmo uses, but it’s a good starting point.

As a general rule, schools prefer you to stick to your guns and move up through the ranks. They like it when you get promoted, gain new responsibilities, build support for your career through mentors and sponsors, and ultimately produce great results in your pre-MBA career.

MBAmo can’t see all of that, but he uses your years of work experience, job changes, promotions, and the company you worked at as a pretty decent proxy.

Honestly, a little bit of voodoo magic goes into this calculation.

MBAmo starts with your years of work experience (as you know, 3-5 years of pre-MBA job experience is average and standard for these schools), then he gives you experience points for the number of jobs and promotions you’ve had. If you worked for a slightly more prestigious company, you got a little extra credit.

The career calculus is less linear and black and white than your Brainpower Profile, but with our years of experience evaluating candidates and helping them get into top schools, we can confirm that conforming to certain norms in your career gets you bonus points with most schools.

That’s simply because the MBA is not an end in itself. It’s meant to accelerate your career.

It’s designed for people who’ve got a good chunk of experience, but not too much. If you have too much or not enough experience, schools will question whether you’ll be able to get a return on your MBA investment. Likewise, if you’ve not demonstrated a strong track record of success so far by earning promotions, producing results, and gaining increased responsibility (the latter two of which MBAmo can’t see!) then they won’t be certain you’ll be able to go the distance required post-MBA to cover your investment in tuition.

Here’s some meaningful stuff MBAmo leaves out:

  • All the companies you’ve worked at if you’ve worked at more than one
  • Any specifics about the results you produced or how quickly you moved up through the ranks
  • Anything subjective about your career like whether you mentored people, led initiatives at the office, got top performer bonuses, generated revenue for your firm, have company sponsorship and a return offer for your MBA, started your own company, or any number of other things that add value to your candidacy but aren’t captured in these numbers

In short, your specific achievements, which will ultimately have a huge impact on your candidacy, aren’t included here. You can give yourself a little bump up in your career calculation if you’ve worked at other prestigious companies, moved through the ranks more quickly than expectation or average, and created exceptional change beyond your mandate. That stuff all matters. A lot!

And of course, feel fee to bring this up in your MBA Strategy Call to get a human perspective on your specific achievements.

What should you do now?


How to get in

Ensuring your Brainpower and Career Progress profiles are strong will help you avoid the ding pile on first read. But you’re still a long way from Yes. You’ve got to be more than a collection of numbers if you want to get in. You’ve got to show the admissions committee that you’re a complete person, with passions, values, humility, and heart.

People love people, not robots (sorry, MBAMo!), and it’s your nonquantifiable character that make you loveable.

MBAmo took a crack at reducing some of your important human elements to numbers, because he wants to help. But these next profiles depend on far more than just numbers.

Let’s see what MBAmo says and what you can do about it to shine in your applications.

7. Your Passion Profile

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

To be truly great, you’ve got to care about something enough to be willing to fail. This is where humility comes into play. Passion makes you humble because it aligns you with something bigger than yourself.

You’ve got to have passion for something. What that thing is doesn’t even really matter as long as it’s something that adds meaning to your life and allows you to contribute to your fellow humans in some way – even if that’s just by your example.

Plenty of candidates get into business school with no demonstrated passion outside of work. But if you’ve got one (or two or ten), it will go a long way to helping the admissions committee fall in love with you.

Your MBAmo readout

Based on the details you gave MBAmo, he thinks your Passion Profile {{MBAMO_PASSION_SCORE_TEXT}}


How MBAmo calculates your Passion Profile

Your Passion Profile assessment is a simple weighted average based on the amount of time you’ve invested in this area of life, with an extra kicker if what you’ve created has had longevity. MBAmo rewards effort, not necessarily results.

The admissions committee cares about results, but that’s just because results tend to correlate with effort. If you’ve put in the time and sweat equity, you will achieve. Life is pretty simple that way.

What should you do now?

Passion is lovable. When people love things, it’s easier to love them. The admissions committee will appreciate the things you love and have dedicated your one precious life to. This will most meaningfully come into play in your interview. When you talk about something you’re enthusiastic about, you naturally come alive. That aliveness is both contagious and irresistible.

So having a strong Passion Profile will already increase the likelihood you will crush the interview. But before you get to the interview stage, you’ve got one or two next steps:

  1. Beef up your Passion Profile before you apply: commit to what you care about and go long on impact pre-application. Even if you’re in a strong position already, consider whether there are opportunities to excel even more.
  2. Decide how to feature your Passion Profile throughout your application, including resume, recommendations, short answers, and your primary essay stories.

Your passions reveal what matters to you: your values and what drives you. Do not shy away from bringing these extracurricular elements into your application.

8. School Fit

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

MBA admissions is a little like dating. You wouldn’t wanna go out with someone who doesn’t wanna be with you, would you? So why would you expect an MBA program to choose you if you’re just not that into them? Don’t. Because if you’re just going through the motions in your application, they’ll know it. And they’ll reject you first to save themselves the later pain of you rejecting them (and hurting their student yield, which affects their rankings!! Ouch!)

School fit is going to feature hugely in your essays, especially in personal statements and discussions of “why this school?” It will also be the focal point of most interviews. It will be hard to submit a standout application without showing great school fit. So this profile is extremely important. Showing a total lack of school fit in your essays could land you in the ding pile on the first read.

Your MBAmo readout

Based on the data you entered, MBAmo calculates that your School Fit Profile right now shows {{MBAMO_FIT_SCORE}} fit with {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_PROGRAMME_NAME}}.

How MBAmo calculates your School Fit Profile

Your School Fit Profile is a simple summation of the investment you’ve put in so far in getting to know the school and figuring out whether it’s a fit for you!

School fit has to be mutual. If you’re confident this school is a great fit for you based on thorough research and an understanding of what the program offers, then that builds credibility in your school fit. Likewise, if you’ve taken the time to get to know the specific offerings and community of that school, then your fit will naturally shine forth in applications.

Lack of enthusiasm for the school or investment on your part will cost you a lot of points in the application process and run the risk of landing you in the ding pile no matter how strong the rest of your candidacy is.

What should you do now?


It’s an old truism – if you want to be loved, be loving. If you haven’t tested this out in your personal life, we really recommend it. Try being forgiving and loving to an important friend or family member and watch how quickly their attitude and behavior towards you changes for the better.

MBA admissions committees are human just like that friend of yours. If you take the time to really get to know their school and demonstrate genuine interest in what the program has to offer, they will be much more likely to be interested in you.

Fortunately, this is the easiest profile to move the needle on. In just a few hours, you can stalk your MBA school on social, get to know multiple community members, find classes and clubs that are the perfect fit for your goals, and attend an online event or two so your presence is also known to them. Be sure to start your application first and accept all the school’s cookies and consents so your activity is tracked.

Even if you’re already at rockstar status, more is more with respect to school research. You can’t overdo it as long as you treat everyone you meet with respect and kindness.
Check out our top advice on networking with schools remotely in this video.

Want more School Fit Tips? Read about 10 Creative Ways to Show School Fit and our Ultimate Guide to MBA Admissions, which breaks down school fit even more. And here’s a complete guide to MBA campus visits when the time comes.

9. Character Profile

How this fits into the MBA admissions calculation

At some level, your character is everything.

No MBA program intentionally admits arrogant pricks. If you come off as arrogant, overly self-centered, immature, or emotionally unintelligent even in just your essays, you’ll wind up in the ding pile immediately. Many a ding review has made me cringe when I read essays that cast the author in a terrible light despite their obvious gentleness and decency in person.

On the flip side, every MBA program wants humble, generous, and kind students in their community. We’ve seen our clients overcome extraordinary weaknesses in their profiles to gain admission to top schools because they had generous intentions, unbreakable spirits, and hearts the size of Texas. Well, figuratively, anyway.

Think about it. How much you enjoy your MBA experience will be determined primarily by your classmates. Not by how awesome they are – though, yes, that will be interesting in classroom discussions. But rather by how much you like them and have fun learning and building with them. Same thing with your alumni network: famous alums are useless if they don’t selflessly respond to your requests for informational interviews.

All MBA programs want to build mutually supportive communities based on contribution, connection, and kindness. Your ability to hang in a community like that comes down to your character: what you value, what you’re made of, how you treat others, and what gets you out of bed and keeps you up at night.

Your MBAmo readout

MBAmo has no clue about your character. Robots can’t understand human nature because robots can only deal with the linear, the quantifiable, and the “objective.” Character is nonlinear – it’s subjective, it escapes measure, and it transcends the mind and includes the heart.

How much does courage weigh? How can you compare levels of humility among people? How much time and money is a sense of humor worth?

These are impossible calculations. So unfortunately, character is a bridge MBAmo cannot cross.

What should you do now?

Once you’ve shored up the measurable aspects of your profile, it’s time to dive into the well of character.

Because in the end, MBA admissions is really a lot like dating. Getting in is about making the adcom fall in love with you and value you as a member of their community despite any weaknesses you might have.

See, you can’t MAKE someone love you. You can’t manipulate, cajole, coerce, or convince them into choosing you. Selling and branding yourself doesn’t endear them. And if you’re faking something, they’re gonna know it.

The only option you have is to be your full authentic self, because – let’s face it – that’s the most loveable you anyway!

Achieving authenticity and therefore maximum lovability in your applications starts with self-discovery. If you do your applications right, you’ll learn new things about yourself, your values, your limits, and what you’re made of.

We guide our clients through a very in depth You Discovery Process™ that includes detailed questions and guided inquiry, a 15 page Life Story PowerPoint, iterative examination of their story as they learn to tell it through unlimited essay drafts, and structured training on Communication That Connects so they can showcase what they’ve learned powerfully through essays, interviews, networking, and more.

If you want to learn how we guide you step-by-step through the process of showing your authentic self in MBA applications, check out the whole Authentic MBA Application Journey.

To learn more about the storytelling skills we teach in depth during our work together, check out our articles about telling your epic story, writing a great MBA essay, and why you need to stop trying to convince people you are good enough.

Watch this video about being yourself in MBA applications.

10. What now?

So to sum it all up one more time, this school should occupy a {{MBAMO_OUTPUT_ADVICE_CATEGORY}} spot in your portfolio of applications.

Try out MBAmo on other schools to finalize your choices. And once you’ve calibrated your risk profile and chosen schools that interest you, it’s time to move on to the awesome, important, and very fun work of crafting your bestest, most authentic, most inspiring application possible.

If you want a team who will help you see the best in yourself and bring it out in your applications, it’s time to talk to us.

One last note: