The MBA degree is one of the best investments you can make for your career and personal growth. So you need to make sure that you gain admission to this once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the most common admission requirements for business school is the ability to fluently speak and work in the language of instruction – usually English.
In this article, you will find out everything you need to get ready for the English tests that are most required by international business schools.
As you probably know by now, there are many components to an MBA application. You will need to submit written essays and letters of recommendation and to prepare for the interview. So if your selected schools also require an English proficiency test – do not leave it to the last minute.
Even if your English skills are above average, English tests have different formats and structures. To be able to score high and flaunt your fluency, you will need time to get ready. And if you sometimes struggle to hold a business conversation or to understand complex English texts, you should invest additional time and effort in test preparation.
“While everyone’s studying and test-prep styles are different, we recommend you begin studying at least 2-3 months before your test date. (The English language isn’t really something you can cram into a few days!),” according to advice shared by Bentley University (US).
Another recommendation from Bentley says that it is best for students to take the test 2-3 months before the earliest application deadline.
Choose a test
With enough time until the first MBA application rounds, you will be able to choose which exam you are most comfortable with.
The English tests most commonly accepted by international business schools include TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE Academic. However, check the requirements of each MBA programme on your list. Some programmes also accept Cambridge, TOEIC, or other English tests.
After the outbreak of Covid-19, some test providers developed online versions of their exams that can be taken at home. As of March 2022, these versions of the tests are still accepted at most institutions.
For some people, choosing which English test to take is all about logistics. You might want to check the available test dates and locations and decide based on that. But if you have specific preferences regarding the test format, you should do some research before choosing. For example, the TOEFL is well-known for conducting its Speaking section via computer, while the IELTS organises it in person.
Prepare with focus
Do you already know which test would be most useful to gain admission to your shortlist of MBA programmes? Then it is time to study and practise your English.
Do not underestimate the difficulty of the exam because each test has a different format and structure – not knowing what to expect can slow you down and influence your final score. Look up available tutors or study groups that are specifically focused on the test of your choice.
If you decide to get ready by yourself, then be sure to complete enough practice tests that closely reflect the real test content. This will ensure you know what is included in each section and how the scoring works.
Having a strong knowledge of English is an excellent starting point but you can achieve more with your TOEFL or IELTS score if you prepare well. “Even a native English speaker can receive a relatively low score simply for not knowing the ‘rules’ of the test,” highlight the MBA advisers at Ellin Lolis Consulting.
Plan your time
Business school students will tell you that English tests are just one small part of the application package. You also have to update your resume and prepare essay answers and recommendation letters for each school you apply to. You will not be able to do all of this in a rush, at the last moment before the admission deadline, and while getting ready for an English test. This is why time management and good planning are essential to every successful MBA application.
You will also want to check how soon after taking the test will your score be ready. You do not want to miss the admissions’ deadline of your chosen MBA. Nevertheless, some business schools will accept your application if you have already taken the IELTS or TOEFL and are simply waiting to submit the final score. Just be sure to double-check this detail in advance.
With or without an English test, the MBA admissions procedure can be lengthy and challenging. Fortunately, you have already taken the first step to make it much more manageable by informing yourself about it!