How a 600 GMAT Score Could Get You in to Harvard

Interview with Riadh Hamida, founder and CEO of Cours Colbert

Cours Colbert is a dynamic GMAT preparation and MBA coaching company with the mission to help MBA candidates get admitted. The high acceptance rate to top MBAs illustrates the value of their demanding approach. Cours Colbert offers an extremely efficient MBA profiling that allows top MBA admission committees to consider the applications highly. Cours Colbert is one of the international partners of Access MBA Reach.

How important is the GMAT?

Many MBA applicants first obsession is about their GMAT score.  Most of the people’s first question, when contacting Cours Colbert, is whether we can help them achieve a great GMAT score. Well, we tell them that our mission is not only to get them to score high; our job is to help them get admitted. And that is a totally different approach in terms of preparation. No one prepares for the GMAT just to get a score.

Cours Colbert operates exactly like an admission committee. GMAT is important; however, your essays and interviews are as important and one should really focus on bringing the highest value through these key elements of the application. A great GMAT score without outstanding essays and interviews is just useless. Many 800 top scorers are rejected by top MBAs because, indeed, schools are not only looking for GMAT scores: top MBAs are interested in profiles, experiences, and in people who can bring value to their programme. And that is exactly what our mission is about: lightening your assets and offering them to the school, even with a 600 GMAT.

What makes an application stand out?

Valuable essays are mandatory. It is not only about what you write, but also about how you write and present it. If you do not mention networking and leadership skills in your essays, how can you apply to Harvard? If you just mention your skills but do not show how these skills make you a good manager or a good leader, why do you apply to Harvard? Also, if you just talk about your weaknesses but do not say why working on those weaknesses made you a better leader, why would you apply to Harvard? Each of the just mentioned examples is key to a successful application. And not only to Harvard. Eventually, there is a key element which enhances an MBA application and makes it attractive to an admission committee: your profile match with the school you apply to.

What is the most effective application strategy?

The right target for the right strategy. The right profile for the right schools. We are extremely demanding when it comes to choosing the right programme where the fit with the school is crucial.  Many people come to us and ask for help because they were rejected by the MBAs they applied to despite a great GMAT score. That is the point again. GMAT will not get you in: the right profiling will probably do. Our students do not prepare more than 3 or 4 top MBA’s. Why? Because applying to 10 schools will not increase your odds of being accepted and your profile can not match 10 schools.

Does an invitation for an interview mean that you have high chances for admission?

Most people will already be jumping for joy because they have been invited for an interview with the school.  Our students know that the fight is just about to begin. Getting an interview does not mean getting admitted. It just means that the school finds your application interesting so far, and that it wants to know more about you.
Most schools will ask general questions such as why an MBA, why do you apply to our school, etc… If you reply that you apply to Harvard because it is your dream school and that is a top MBA: you are out. Say something the school does not know. Again, the school is even more interested at this stage of the application in the value you are going to bring to their programme. Tell the school how you are going to contribute to the school. You are not only doing an MBA to learn about finance or marketing, but also because you are willing to share your own experiences  and knowledge with your future MBA peers. This is what makes you stand out of the thousands of people applying.

What is the successful approach to MBA application?

If they really focus on the contributions and on the real assets you can bring to a top MBA, you will not be in a position where you are asking for a seat at a top programme: the school itself will do its best to make you accept their offer by not only choosing you but also offering a scholarship. This is how you can get admitted to Harvard with a 600 GMAT score.

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