Saturday, 22 September, 2012

Book Review – MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham & Judy Gruen

I just finished this great MBA Admissions resource – a book by Linda Abraham (founder of called ‘MBA Admission for Smarties’. I was fortunate enough to have been given a complimentary copy of the book by Sarah (from Based on my own personal experience and the experiences about the MBA applications process of a couple of friends of mine, I can vouch that the book describes the MBA admissions process right from to-dos when one first thinks of an MBA to the moment he gets an acceptance letter from an MBA program through some concrete examples at every step.
The book starts with the importance of clear and objective goals when making the decision to do an MBA as the next career move. To quote from the book, “In their quest for an MBA, applicants must ask themselves two fundamental questions: (a) Do my career goals and personal preferences match the school’s curricular, extracurricular, and recruiting strengths? (b) Do my academic and professional qualifications compare favorably to the school’s recent class profiles”? The chapter then discusses similar issues about goals selection at length. This section is followed by discussion on the ‘Researching MBA programs’. What should go in business school research, how to find the right match of the business school and the right MBA program are just to name a few of the highlights from this section. The book simply explains almost everything about MBA admissions that an applicant has to face viz. importance of rankings, when to refer to them and when not to, work experience, how to project a work experience, projecting personal traits, how many programs to apply, when to apply to highly competitive and potentially competitive programs and many more. The best thing about the book is its objective approach to all the sections. There have been tips given on almost all sections in the book and these tips have been shown in action through sample essays, resumes, recommendation and anecdotes.
The second half of the book is dedicated to application process. Again, the book objectively defines the characteristics of great essays illustrated by examples, planning essays. I particularly liked the STAR approach to writing essays and the concept of ‘editing funnel’ to fine tune essays. This essay section also discusses at length, the approach to the common essay questions like Why MBA, Why Now, and Why XYZ School, Short and Long term goals essay, Failure essay, Leadership essay, Teamwork essay and other similar most common essays again through great sample essays. This is also one major take-away from this book because although these essays seem common but they need a very specific and calibrated approach while drafting them. The book has a dedicated section on writing Resumes which most of us applicants tend not to pay enough attention to. More importantly, I realized the difference between a Resume for a job application and a Resume for an MBA application. These two are entirely different pieces of a cake. The book has illustrated a couple of sample resumes which I feel can also be used as a template for writing my own resume for MBA application. Now comes the toughest part of MBA application – gathering great Letters of Recommendations. Based on my own research and knowledge about MBA application, I think this was my most important take-away from the book. First, a couple of sample LoRs have been given which again show how to guide my recommender in writing a great recommendation, especially when my recommender will be doing this for the first time without having an idea of what should go in an LoR and what not. In this section, a compilation of tips for recommenders have also been provided which I feel is of great significance if we hand it over to our recommenders. The section called ‘Preparing to Shine during Interviews’ is another asset in the book with key issues that one should take care during an interview and more importantly, while preparing for an interview. The last section on what to do after submitting an application provides some good tips for specific applicants like Older applicants, re-applicants, waitlisted applicants and so on.
The bottom line is that as an applicant, I knew most of the important issues and how to approach them. However, for gathering this amount of information, I have spent countless hours on my laptop reading through thousand of blog posts, forum posts, chat with current students and alumni to name a few. The best thing in my perspective about the book is its objective approach and the consolidation of everything about MBA applications in one book. Most importantly, the book does not guide you specifically on any one point or the other about the applications process. Instead, it gives a 360 degrees holistic view of the entire admissions process while highlighting the importance of each process and tips on handling each process. Just to illustrate, I think I have spent the past 2 months on researching MBA programs and application process but I still had takeaways from the book. So finally, ‘Recommendation on grabbing a copy’? – Well, I would say if you have just thought of an MBA, go for the book. You will know what it takes to get an Admit confirmation mail from a top MBA program and for that matter how to decided if that top ranked MBA program is a fit for you or not? If, however, you are in advanced stages of the application process, I would say it still deserves a read given the tips of LoR, Interviews and post-submission issues.
My experiences from the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) - Bangalore Information Session coming up next. Stay Connected...!!!


  1. Nice introduction for the people who want to take the admission for the MBA!!Most of the people are preferring the top management schools!!Please list the top schools!!

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  2. What is the different between MBA and EMBA? Pls give some detail to join, Which course is good to study