Category: Application Tips (page 1 of 13)

Everything You Need to Know About the Texas McCombs MBA COVID-19 Test Waiver

 

Standardized exams like the GRE, GMAT, EA, TOEFL & IELTS help us to evaluate a candidate’s academic preparedness for the rigor of business school and is one metric used to compare candidates within a large pool of applicants.

In addition, studying for and taking the exam – for some, even taking it multiple times can show the admissions committee your commitment to the competitive business school application process and how you may approach academic challenges as a student. 

However, we understand that many are experiencing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that these challenges may be affecting your applications plans and ability to take an exam. Due to the unprecedented circumstances, we are providing applicants who are unable to take an exam in person or online the opportunity to petition for a test score waiver.

Here, our Admissions Team answers some questions you might have about the Texas McCombs MBA COVID-19 test waiver, including who the waiver is for and how it might impact your application. 

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 test waiver? 

Applicants who meet both of the criteria below have the opportunity to petition for a special test waiver:

  • You are unable to take an exam in-person at a designated testing center due to lack of availability in your region, or because you or someone in your household is immunocompromised, AND  
  • You are unable to take an exam online due to lack of availability in your region, technology or other test-taking requirements (e.g. device availability or compatibility, slow internet connection, testing environment) 

If you do not meet both of these criteria, we require that you complete the standardized tests prior to submitting your application.Both GMAC and ETS have introduced remote testing options for the GMAT, GRE, EA, and TOEFL exams for candidates impacted by coronavirus, and the majority of testing centers have re-opened globally with stringent health and safety precautions.   

How do I request a COVID-19 test waiver? 

If you meet both requirements above and would like to request a COVID-19 test waiver, please email TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu to receive a link to the petition and to learn more about the test exception process 

Is there a deadline to request a COVID-19 test waiver? 

The test waiver petition must be approved by the admissions committee before you submit your application to McCombs. The admissions committee may take up to five business days to review your petition, so please follow the timeline below to meet the application round deadlines. At this time, test waiver petitions are only being accepted for the following application deadlines.  The admissions committee will start accepting test exception petitions for later application deadlines after the new year.  

  Submit Petition By…  …For Application Deadline  Submit Petition By…  …For Application Deadline 
Full Time MBA  October 6, 2020  October 13, 2020   December 18, 2020  January 5, 2021  
MBA at Houston  October 20, 2020  October 27, 2020  January 26, 2021  February 2, 2021 
MBA at DFW  October 20, 2020  October 27, 2020  January 26, 2021  February 2, 2021 
Evening MBA  October 20, 2020  October 27, 2020    
Executive MBA     January 26, 2021  February 2, 2021 

How does a test waiver impact my application? 

If you are approved for the COVID-19 test waiver, you may be asking yourself, “What are my chances for admission?” 

The truth is that by removing one component from your application, your other components will carry more weight in the committee’s final decision. Below are some items to consider as you craft your application. 

Academic History 

Does your undergraduate or graduate transcript accurately reflect your academic ability? If your GPA is low, and you do not submit a GMAT or GRE score, the admissions committee may have concerns about your ability to succeed in the rigorous MBA curriculum.  

One other factor to consider is whether or not your quantitative ability shines elsewhere in your application. While many of our MBA students come to McCombs from non-quantitative majors, these applicants are typically able to prove their quant prowess through the GMAT or GRE. If you come from a non-quantitative background and qualify for a test waiver, you will need to find other areas within your background or experience that can demonstrate your quantitative skills. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that you are set up to succeed academically in the program. If the admissions committee has concerns about your quantitative ability, it may impact your chance of admission, or you may be required to complete pre-MBA coursework prior to admission and/or prior to enrollment.  

Work Experience 

Your work experience will be reviewed thoroughly by the committee for leadership potential, progression and/or increasing responsibilities, and achievements. Generally, the level of responsibility someone has within a company correlates positively to how they will perform in a rigorous graduate educational program.  For those with less than the average work experience, a standardized test score may make your application more competitive. 

If you have any professional certifications, such as the CPA, CFA, Series 7, or others – be sure to highlight these on your resume and within your application, as attaining these types of certifications helps show the committee your academic readiness.  Advanced or terminal degrees should also be highlighted.  

Career Goals 

If your post-MBA career goal is to work in management consulting or investment banking, employers in these industries may ask that you provide your GMAT score when applying for internships or full-time positions. If you qualify for a test waiver and are considering pursuing post-MBA jobs in these industries, it is important that you are aware of this before enrolling because you may end up having to take the exam to apply for these roles. 

Scholarships 

Scholarship awards are competitive and limited in number. Scholarship decisions are based on a longstanding holistic review process that takes into account your entire application and serves to assess the overall strength of your candidacy, including readiness for academic rigor, career goals, leadership potential, and fit with our program culture. Submitting an application without a test score may limit the information available to award a merit-based scholarship  

One other note: Admission deferral requests for the Full-Time MBA program will not be considered if you gain admission to Texas McCombs and have a test exception. 

What if I’m an international student and am not able to take the TOEFL or IELTS? 

If you are an international student who does not qualify for our standard TOEFL/IELTS waiver based on work experience and/or education history, but you meet the criteria for a COVID-19 test waiver, you may be asked to prove your mastery of English via other avenues, such as a meeting with an admissions committee member or an additional essay request. In addition, if admitted you may be required to enroll in and pay for the pre-MBA Business English Program, which occurs in June 2021.  

Final Thoughts on the COVID-19 Test Waiver

The COVID-19 test waiver is intended only for those who cannot take the exams in person or virtually due to circumstances beyond their control.  If you qualify for a test waiver and believe that your application will not be negatively impacted by the lack of a test score, we encourage you to submit the petition and apply when you are ready. However, it is important to remember that we have multiple application rounds for a reason! For some, it may be best to wait to apply until you can submit with test score in-hand.  The decision will be different for every applicant, and we encourage you to approach this thoughtfully.   

We wish you well during these difficult times. Please contact us if you have any questions, and best of luck on your application! 

When Should You Submit Your MBA Application?

The 2020-2021 Full-Time MBA application will open soon, and the Admissions Committee is accepting applications in four rounds this cycle. We usually receive questions about application deadlines and whether or not it matters when you submit your application– Round 1, 2, 3 or 4.

You should NEVER rush to submit your MBA application simply to take advantage of “more spots.” – The Admissions Committee’s best application round advice

Timing is a key factor in your overall application strategy. A lot of details go into deciding which round to apply, and one answer is not right for everyone. So, let’s break it down by round so you can get a clearer picture of when might be the best time for you to hit “Submit.”

Round One

Round 1 is a good choice for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is our first priority scholarship deadline– If you want to be considered for all merit-based scholarships, Round 1 is your best shot. As each round closes, our scholarship funding pool decreases.
  2.  All of our spots are still available! Plus, historically we’ve received fewer applications in R1 than in R2.

But, the best piece of advice for any round is that you should NEVER rush to submit your MBA application simply to take advantage of “more spots” or “more funding.”  Once you submit your application, you cannot “re-submit” a stronger application in a later round for the same term of entry. If you skip important preparation, including a formal test prep, articulating your “why MBA,” or conducting research just to be able to submit in Round 1, you could end up with a test score and application that doesn’t reflect you at your best.

In any case, submitting in Round 1 might not be a good idea, especially if you know that you can improve a component of your application. Waiting to apply until all aspects of your application are strong is always the best approach.

Round Two

Applying later is okay, too! If we filled up the class in Round 1, the Admissions Committee might be out of a job by February. Round 2 is traditionally our largest round, and receives many strong applicants. Scholarships and fellowships are still available and all information and data included in your application help the Admission Committee allocate scholarship awards. In short: A strong application will stand out in any round.

Round Three

Round 3 tends to be a smaller round. Many applicants in Round 3 simply didn’t realize an MBA was an option or on their radar until later in the application cycle. Historically, we always have spots available in Round 3 (which is why we have a Round 3), but each year the number variesWe can’t say it enough– A strong, complete, well-researched application always stands out.

It’s also worth noting that for international students this is the last round to apply.

Round Four

Round 4 is the newest round– an opportunity for those in a similar situation as Round 3, and for those not wanting to wait until next cycle. Many of the applicants who apply in this round are engaging in the MBA process later due to career, life, and employment changes or goals. Others will apply in this round because they are ready to start in the fall rather than waiting another year. Due to the limited and competitive nature of funding, one can expect a decrease in scholarship availability.

Before you hit “Submit,” points to keep in mind:

  • Submit your application only when you’re 99.9% ready. Supplemental application materials submitted after a round deadline are risky, since there is no guarantee the Admissions Committee will see them. Once your file is read, we will not re-review again based upon new information received post-deadline.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute! We are not able to accept applications submitted after 11:59pm CT on the day of the deadline. Technical difficulties plague applicants every round, every year. Stay aware of deadlines the best you can, so you don’t become a cautionary tale. In the interest of a fair process, we don’t make exceptions to our deadlines, no matter what reason you have for a late submission.
  • Be patient. The Admissions Committee does not begin reviewing applications until the round deadline has passed. In other words, you might be far ahead and submit your application in August, but we won’t begin reviewing any submissions until after the Round 1 deadline in October.
  • The Admissions Committee does not provide individual feedback on applications, out of fairness to all applicants and due to the volume of requests we receive.

If you feel good about your application, we encourage you to apply but if you aren’t ready yet (i.e.: You need to retake your GMAT/GRE, rework your essay, or wait for a promotion at work to come through), don’t risk it– wait until you’re confident in your application before hitting the “Submit” button.

We look forward to reviewing your application this year, and are always here to answer your questions about applying. Hook ’em!

Successfully Answering the MBA Essay Questions

The essays in your MBA application are an important part of sharing your unique story. The most successful essays thoughtfully address the prompts, clearly communicate why you want to attend Texas McCombs, and authentically share who you are. We’ve shared some tips below to aid you in submitting a strong set of essays.

Texas McCombs MBA Essay 1

We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation, but we want to get to know you further. Please introduce yourself. Select only one communication method for your response

a. Write an essay (250 words)
b. Share a video introduction (one minute in length)

First, this prompt is purposely open-ended. It grants you the freedom to introduce yourself in a way that is genuinely “you.” Think about what gives you energy and recharges you. When you first meet someone, what’s your personal elevator pitch? How does it share your values? Give us a well-rounded mix of information in this essay so we can better understand you beyond your work life.

Don’t forget about the first sentence of the prompt: “We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation.” The admissions committee already read your resume, letter of recommendation, education history, and goals. While your professional life is important, this essay is your opportunity to share who you are outside of those components.

Finally, the choice is yours: written essay or video. We have seen significant success with both mediums and do not have a preference of one over the other. Therefore, play to your strengths! If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay. If you’re not shy in front of a camera, then record a video. However, if you do submit a video, keep in mind that sending us a photo slideshow isn’t advisable. These slideshow submissions don’t grant the admissions committee the chance to actually see and hear from you, which is really what we are looking for in a video submission. Have fun with either submission, and do not take this essay for granted— it can go a long way in setting the stage for your MBA application and creating another great impression.

Texas McCombs MBA Essay 2

Picture yourself at the completion of your MBA journey. Describe how you spent your time as a Texas McCombs MBA student to achieve your personal and professional goals. (500 words)

Essay Two provides an opportunity to explain why you’re applying to Texas McCombs. By describing what you’re excited for and your plans as an MBA, we will understand your career plan, learn what you’re passionate about, and discover how you want to develop yourself both in and out of the classroom.

What classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities specifically relate to your career plan? Personally, how do you envision yourself becoming an active member of our community? Connect the dots between your goals and how McCombs will get you there.

Make sure to give us specifics. If you’ve engaged with the program, you know there is a lot to look forward to: challenging classes, concentrations, organizations, student/alumni networking, award-winning professors, unique career-oriented opportunities, a vibrant city…the list goes on. Illustrate what attributes of the program you plan to take full advantage of and how you plan to make a positive impact while you are a student. What will be your MBA legacy? Convince us that you are indispensable to our community.

MBA Optional Statement

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Who Should Write Your MBA Recommendation?

The Texas McCombs MBA application requires one professional letter of recommendation from a person who has supervised your work and/or has assessed your performance during your career.

A recommendation letter is one of the only things you rely on someone else to provide in your application. Circumstances differ for every applicant and deciding who you should ask will vary.  Below are some scenarios to help guide you in choosing the best recommender your application.

Your Supervisor

Your current direct supervisor is traditionally the best choice. This is likely the person in your network that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. However, this may not be a viable option for you.  Perhaps you aren’t able to communicate to your employer that you’re applying to business school or you do not work with your direct boss that closely. It could also be that you attained a new role recently and your current supervisor has not had a chance to work with you very much. Or,  you’re an entrepreneur & don’t have a supervisor.

All of these are valid reasons to look for other recommendation sources, but remember that if you do not ask your current supervisor to write your recommendation letter, we do ask that you explain your choice in the Optional Statement.

Your Former Supervisor

If you cannot ask your current direct supervisor to write your recommendation, maybe you can ask a previous supervisor? Depending on how recently you worked with them, the “old boss” may be the best choice, especially if you had a strong professional relationship with that person. This is also a very common option.

Your Indirect Supervisor

Asking an indirect supervisor can another option, especially if you’ve worked with this person closely on past assignments or long-term projects.  This is a nice alternative to a supervisor that you may not work with closely.

Your Client or Vendor

This type of recommendation source is especially useful for entrepreneurs or for applicants who work for a family business.

If you work for a family business, it is preferred that you ask an individual outside of your family to write your letter of recommendation.

Your Mentor

Mentors inside or outside of your workplace are great to have in your corner when it comes time to apply to business school. However, be sure that your mentor has a clear understanding of your current professional value, not just your potential or future goals. Select a mentor with whom you have worked with on measurable tasks to ensure that they will provide a recommendation with depth. Often, mentor recommendations are submitted as an optional secondary recommendation. Keep in mind that the admissions committee is looking for someone who has worked with you professionally.

Other Options

There are many individuals who may fall in the category of “other recommenders.” For example, a former professor, a colleague or a coach.

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Navigating Your Time on the MBA Waitlist

Texas McCombs receives many applications from highly qualified applicants throughout the year. It’s impossible to fit everyone into the limited space of our program, so we have an MBA waitlist.

The waitlist can be a challenging place for applicants, given its uncertainty and lack of a clear timeline and expectations, but we feel very strongly that it is also a wonderful opportunity, an exercise in patience, and a gift of time not given to all who apply.

waitlist webinar April 13, 2020 - register here

Virtual Info Session reserved for those on the MBA waitlist after their decision deadline.

The waitlist is not a final decision from the MBA Admissions Committee. Rather, it is a place to wait and see what unfolds. Please explore the information below to better understand what it means to be on the waitlist, and how you can make the most of this time.

When will I have a final decision?

The MBA Admissions Committee periodically reviews candidates currently on the waitlist, but we are not able to offer a concrete timeline of when you will hear your final decision. We are never able to predict the movement of the incoming class.  If you apply in Round One, this does not mean that you will receive a final decision along with Round Two applicants.  If you apply in Round Two, this does not mean that you will receive a final decision in Round Three.  We review the entire waitlist (which includes applicants from all rounds) as needed.

How many people are placed on the waitlist in a given year?

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