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Free MBA acceptance chances predictors and business school selectors: Pros and cons

MBA college admission chances predictor

Imagine the scene at a top 10 business school a day after the application submission deadline has passed. All the admission officers from the admission committee gather around a crystal ball that has magical powers to improve their productivity.

In a matter of a few seconds, it processes thousands of submitted applications, calculates the chances of getting in for each candidate and displays a hologram with the list of folks who rank the highest in terms of admission chances. All that the officers need to do now is call the applicant over the phone to pass on the good news and soak in the pleasure of hearing them squeal with joy.

Chances are, this scenario will not unfold in our lifetime. Adcoms know it and they aren’t holding their breath hoping for such a crystal ball to be delivered to their office. They are relying on their physical and mental powers to get through each of those thousand applications.

However, folks on the other side (i.e. applicants) already have access to many free MBA acceptance calculators to make the difficult process easier. Many GMAT prep and MBA related websites host such match making tools.

Some candidates have asked us why we don’t do what other MBA application consulting teams have already done and create an online application to calculate and predict MBA acceptance chances. It’ll allow applicants to select business schools and move on quickly to the application part.

Here’s a little secret. In the earlier days of launching our site, we thought – “How can a team with a name like MBA Crystal Ball not have a crystal ball!

So we created an online application by packaging our MBA Application Strategy (i.e. MBA MAP) algorithm within a familiar web-page interface and hosting it on our site. The online MBA chances predictor worked pretty well.

As you might already know, business school selection and MBA chances evaluation are among the things that we cover in our MBA MAP. Instead of relying purely on gut feel to make bschool school selection recommendations, we make the process analytical and data-focussed.

Given the vast number of MBA colleges there are and the amount of relevant data that one needs to consider for such an analysis, it’s impractical for us to hold all that data in our head and do the data-crunching. That’s why we created an algorithm which supplements (important word) the manual part of the MBA MAP process. As with all software applications, it involves data, processing and presentation. Our offline process involves much more than automated data crunching.

In contrast, our online MBA chances predictor was meant to do a subset of that, by stripping off what we do manually (i.e. no essay evaluation, no interviews, no MBA goal validation).

Based on the personal, professional and academic details shared by the candidate, the online predictor would create elaborate & impressive looking reports with the names of the top ranking business universities and the candidate’s chances of getting in.

In those early days, when we were trying hard to gain traction for our website, a free online admissions prediction tool seemed like a great hook to gain the attention of MBA applicants. But after spending all the effort on software development and testing, we discarded the idea. The program never saw the light of day.

Since then, we’ve created other free online applications that have become popular (like our career growth visualisation tool, supply chain game, business strategy game). The efficacy and utility of these tools became apparent to us when not just regular visitors but universities across the world started using some of our software tools in their classrooms.

The MBA MAP went on to become our flagship offering. But even after all these years, we still shy away from hosting our own MBA college admission chances calculator on our website. Here’s why.


Why we don’t have a free online MBA admission chances predictor and b-school selector tool


1. Over simplification of a complex process

We aren’t referring to the profile evaluation and chances prediction algorithm. That would get really complex if you start considering all the relevant parameters. We are looking at it from the candidate’s perspective.

The big advantage of an online tool is its simplicity of use and the simplicity (and often binary nature) of the results. It can create a false sense of clarity. ‘Ah, the program said that, so it must be true.

For a software program, two Indian candidates with a mechanical engineering degree from IIT / NIT with similar academic grades with a 700 GMAT and 4 years experience as supervisors in an engineering company would appear to be pretty similar.

But we know that this is an over-generalisation. A single subjective factor (communication skills) can turn one into a hero and another one into zero.

Adcoms know how to differentiate between the two, but there’s no way for a software program to even try factoring in such aspects.

2. Relevance and reliability of data

However complex the algorithm might be, if the data inputs are incorrect or obsolete, then the results are meaningless. The statistics for Bschools change every single year, as new classes start. When the applicant pool changes, you’ll get a new set of average GMAT scores, work experience.

Most importantly, the interdependency of data also changes. Is a GMAT score of 700 good? In absolute terms, yes. But what if you are an male Indian IT engineer? Well, maybe not. What if your extra-curriculars (outside your day job) were unusual and really impressive? Hmm, not so easy to say now.

Software works well where there’s rule-based standardisation and fixed data elements – like calculating your total Income Tax liability while filing returns. It’s not so optimal for moving targets, as is the case in admissions decisions.


3. Human element missing

Though we’d love to have James Cameron convince us about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, in most scenarios (other than those where the process can be very clearly defined in unambiguous terms), we aren’t anywhere close to machines and programs replacing humans when it comes to real world decision making.

There’s a reason why bschools haven’t replaced Admission officers with robots yet. And we find that reason convincing enough to follow it in our own profile evaluation and bschool selection process.

For many of the same reasons, we shy away on our MBA forums from making business school selection suggestions, as it goes to the other extreme of depending too much on intuition (rather than data).

Just like Adcoms, we prefer a more balanced approach, of considering data along with experience and intuition to judge whether a candidate will be successful after an MBA.


Does it mean that the free online bschool selectors and admission chances predictors are not useful at all?

Of course, not. There’s still value in them if you know the general process behind them, you are aware of the limitations of software driven recommendations and you use it as a supplemental input to your independent research. (or any other matrimonial site) might propose 5 profiles for you to consider based on their match making programs. You wouldn’t blindly pick one to marry, right?

You’d probably start off with those suggested profiles, as it’d be better than a completely clean (and confusing) slate. Then you’d do your own research to find better potential partners that the match-maker software wouldn’t have managed to get in front of you.

Not to mention the fact that we have no clue about how exciting or boring the brilliant program designer’s love life has been, how qualified s/he is to recommend your life mate, etc.

Other sites use free match making programs too. Think about LinkedIn that suggests jobs for you to apply to. Amazon does it based on your browsing history. Think about those car and home buying sites that suggest options based on your preferences.

When you are searching for a needle in a haystack (as is the case in the earlier examples), such features can help you with a launch pad.

Stick to the same logic when you are using online tools to find out your admission chances to MBA colleges.

The 5-10 college names that pop up on the screen could be a good starting point for your research.

Go behind the numbers and find out more about the bschool culture, what current students like (and don’t) about the program, how the economy is doing and where’s it heading in the next 2-3 years (when you’d be ready to graduate and start looking for jobs).

If you have started preparing early, you may have some time to build your MBA profile as well. That could positively influence your chances and what you see in the online results of the free tool today may no longer be relevant in a year or two.

The data-oriented algorithm we use in the MBA MAP takes a few milliseconds to run, but it only helps with the number crunching.

It still takes a whole day for us after that to send the MAP report to the candidate, after an old-fashioned human brain (subjected to Darwinian evolution laws rather than Moore’s law of obsolescence) has had a chance to process the inputs from the MBA essays, interview and other elements of the MBA application.

Have fun calculating your MBA admission chances and predicting your future. But don’t get swayed away by the results. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and take solid steps to decide which bschools you should apply to.

Read this related post:
Average GMAT scores for the top MBA programs in the world

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

16 thoughts on “Free MBA acceptance chances predictors and business school selectors: Pros and cons”

  1. Hello,

    I am looking to get admission into,

    1. IIM Udaipur – PGPX program in SCM
    2. SP Jain – PGPM Program

    My profile:
    Work Ex: 6 years in IT service company as Business Systems Analyst in Oil &Gas Enterprise Asset Management Domain
    Education: BE (ECE) 72% (Rajasthan University)
    12th 77%
    10th 84%
    GMAT Score: 640

    Could you please advice as to what would be a good choice in terms of college. I am looking for Indian colleges only, do I need to retake GMAT?

  2. Arun, it would surely help if you can get your score higher, as most of your competitors in the IT pool will come in with a competitive GMAT score along with strong essays, recos, etc.

    Works better if you are at the same level if not better than them when competing for the same seat.

  3. hi i am and control) after my B.E i was lecturer it was contract with government of Maharashtra but i left the same because i qualified GATE and UGC selected in 2008 but again my mind told me complete first PG so i left again and almost spent 2 yrs to complete my PG but got extension in PG because project not completed again i got job in accel it resources with good salary but after one years company windup the operation in Mumbai and got transferred to Chennai so again i left this job in 2011 and searched the job in andheri mumbai in 2012 after 10 days of marriage my boss told me to resign i told him kindly let me know the reason he told you will get better job in your field after that from 2012 to 2015 i was jobless but complete my project work i was gone through this stage frankly i worked with BOP also with salary of 8000 pm which was 4 times i earned in 2010 i am really frustrated all my friends with MNC with very handsome salary currently i am working with teaching institute with salary of 10000 pm and have one daughter my wife also stay with her mother because of not having good job my parents, sisters, everybody told me why this is happening to you? i am not getting success in any work everywhere disappointment? i dont know what is happening with me i am very depressed kindly guide me what should i do so that everything will be better……..

  4. @Abhay: Sorry to hear all that you’ve been through. Apart from what you’ve shared here, I do not have an insight into what you’ve done and what your aspirations are. So, it’s tough for anyone to suggest the way forward on a public forum.

    Find a good friend, relative or even a former colleague that you trust and look up to. Ask them to give you perspectives on what you can do going forward.

    And hold on to that teaching job for now even if it doesn’t pay well. You’ve had too much of a rocky road so far. You’ll need to find some stability – financial as well as emotional.

    Hang in there, bro!

  5. Hello MG/Sameer,

    I’ve got ~11 years of work experience (with a soft BCom Degree ) and am currently working as a Project Manager for a BPO giant in US. Since I am keen to return to India and want to take the MBA plunge, could you kindly suggest School options considering my work experience. Thanks a bunch !

  6. Hello Sameer,

    I wanted to know few information about the college that I can apply for, my grades are
    10th – 90.2%
    12th – 96%
    B.E.(EEE) – 8.97 CGPA from a Tier 1 college in Anna university

    I am yet to take , but I think I will score around 700.

    I have a work experience of 2 years.

    I had occupied some of the important managing positions during my college years.

    Looking forward for your reply


  7. Hi,

    I am working in Tata Consultancy Services and I have done BTech from State level College with an aggregate of 79.94% marks. I am a normal student. I want to do MS from foreign. I need your guidance. Is there are any chances for me. Please revert me back.

  8. hi, this is ramesh
    i have don my graduation in 2015 (–6.75cgpa)
    currently iam working in just dial limitedas a marketing executive from the last 8 months.
    but,now i am planning for MBA in abroad. so please guide me the better option.

  9. Hi Sameer
    I am pursuing BBA final year in India and I want to pursue for masters in US and I have no work experience I want to know what decent score in GRE will help me to enter an US university without any problems. I am interested in pursuing masters in US. I will prepare for GRE right after my graduation and prepare for IELTS! PLEASE HELP AS MY GRADUATION SCORE WILL BE NEAR ABOUT 60% AND WHAT ARE THE CHANCES TO GET A GOOD AND REPUTED UNIVERSITY IN US?

  10. Hi sameer,
    I have total experience of 3.7 years (as of 2016-April),
    M.Tech – IIT Delhi – 6.2 CGPA (extension 6 months)
    One year GAP (GATE preparation)
    B.E – Mechanical – 60%
    12th – 76%
    10th – 72%
    i am planning for One year full time MBA program in 2018 or 2019,
    What are my chances of getting into IIM A/B/C..?
    (my concern is- 6 Month extension during program, 60% in BE and one year GAP before masters). pls help me.

  11. Hi Sameer,

    I wrote GRE 3 years back and scored 314 (Q159 V155).I completed my Btech and I am having an overall experience of 2.5 yrs as IT consultant.

    I want to apply for B schools in US and would like to know if I would stand a chance in getting admission for the #30 – #50 ranked US business schools through GRE?

  12. Hellos sir,
    i appeared for GMAT yesterday score-660( V31 ,Q49, IR 7)

    Btech Civil Engineer- Nit Trichy
    CGPA- 9.1
    Work EX-3 yrs as a Civil & Structural Engineer in TOP MNC.

    Planning to apply for Operation Management -services:
    Simon School of Business
    Ohio State University
    Texas . Mays
    And SP JAIN India

    What are the chances of getting?

  13. Hi!
    While I am pursuing a five year joint BCOM.LLB (Hons.) UG course from a National Law School, I want to pursue MBA after my degree. I wish to know the chances of law graduates being admitted to this course, given a considerable academic record. Thanks!

  14. Hai,I’m graduation completed(Bsc,computers),I wish to join mba in usa by taking gre/TOEFL.what are my chances for this and how much score should I get to do mba in usa

  15. Hello Sameer Sir. I am currently in that state where the next step seems very foggy & I would be grateful if you could offer some insights, so that I can get an idea on how to move ahead. I am kind of on a roll when in comes to aptitude tests (:P) with a 770 GMAT score, 99.98 in ATMA, 99.99 in MAT (as per predictor, will know officially in 2 days) & will be appearing for CAT shortly. My aim is obviously a top class MBA that will allow me to transition into MC. My profile in brief-
    X- 92
    XII- 91.25
    Grad- 82.9 (B.Tech)
    Work-ex – 15 months in IT & 3 yrs as an Administrative Officer in UIIC
    ECs – played club cricket professionally for 2.5 yrs & helped my team gain promotion for 1st division from 3rd division, lots of social activities in the field of education of the underprivileged. Plus the usual school staff (medals in Annual Sports, Debate certis etc)

    I know this is a very brief glimpse at my profile but from ur vast experience, do u think this profile has a shot at winning FULL scholarship in mid ranked US B-Schools (Cornell, Emory, UNC, McCombs) or Judge or Rotman. Coming from an extremely middle class family, finances are a HUGE concern for me, which is basically why I am targeting FMS & JBIMS through CAT & MAT/ATMA respectively (the schools with the best RoI in Asia probably). In an ideal scenario, I would kill for a Top US degree which is what is making me write to you to get an idea on where exactly I stand in the scholarship arms race. It would require serious financial commitment if I decide to go ahead, so I just wanna get a brief idea of the MBA scholarship race…. Thanks in advance, will greatly appreciate if you could give some insights…


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