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Getting into Cambridge MBA: Indian student shares experience

Cambridge MBA student India blog

How to get into the Cambridge MBA?

The admissions process is similar to any other top school’s process.

  1. Get good grades in your bachelors / graduation degree.
    It helps if you were in the top quartile of the graduating class.
  2. Work on building your profile.
    Successful students typically have a significant amount of experience, with non-trivial accomplishments
  3. Get a competitive GMAT or GRE score.
    The average GMAT score is 700. But try to go higher than that.
  4. Put in a fantastic MBA application.
    This includes impactful essays, recommendations, resume and interview. This is where we can help!

How hard is it to get into the Cambridge MBA?

While the Cambridge Judge Business School does not official disclose their selectivity rates, from our experience working with Cambridge MBA applicants, we know it’s among the toughest to get into.

Check out their class profile to get an idea of how tough their acceptance rates might be, considering so many applicants vying to be part of their small class.

Is the Cambridge MBA good / worth it? Well, read on and decide for yourself.

My Cambridge MBA student experience

by Harsh Mohta

In the age-old nature versus nurture debate, I subscribe to John Locke’s philosophy of ‘tabula rasa’ i.e. the mind is a clean slate.

We are the aggregate of all our life experiences, and one event occurred differently somewhere creates an entirely different timeline (yes, I am also a comic book nerd).

Certain key moments in my life were pivotal to being where I am today.

When I was in the 6th grade, my family and I moved to Indonesia where I went to middle school with people from 40+ countries.

The culture shock I experienced then, helped me better understand the criticality of diversity.

Three years later, I moved back to India to join one of India’s elite boarding school – the place I learned independence, tenacity and other life skills I hold dear.

After graduating high school, I went to Calcutta to become a Chartered Accountant (CA).

My daily schedule began at my 6AM college (the premier St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata), after which I would take a bus to the other side of the city to the Deloitte office where I was an audit article for 3 years.

As is the case with a Big4 firm, my day would end from anywhere between 7PM to 3AM depending on the work in the pipeline.

Any additional time that I could carve out from this, would largely be spent on studying for the CA Final exams.

This chapter of my life was instrumental in the self-realisation of my determination, focus and prowess.

After I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I worked for almost 3 years with EY in their Transactions Advisory team before moving to Cambridge Judge last year for my MBA.

It is as I started to grow in EY and entrusted to lead and manage workstreams, that I realised the need for an MBA.

Even when I was applying for business schools, I realised that I was not the typical candidate.

I was significantly younger than average age of most top business schools, being only 23 at the time of submitting my applications.

However, as has been the pattern in my life, I have always been someone who likes to break convention and become the exception rather than align with the ‘rule’.

Is CA articleship considered as work experience for MBA admissions?

While I had almost 6 years of experience, the 3 years of articleship is often a grey area regarding their inclusion in the aggregate work experience.

For those not familiar, articleship is a mandatory 3 year working experience that a student must acquire in order to qualify as a CA.

While the relationship between the firm of employment and the individual is not a hard employer-employee relationship, the articleship is quite different to a traditional internship on account of length of duration of association with the firm as well as the nature and degree of responsibilities entrusted.

In my head, articleship is always treated as a work experience, and I just had to best explain and convince the business schools of that.

I spoke to several different adcoms across top business schools as well as other chartered accountant alums of said schools.

I realised that arguments in favour of considering articleship as work experience can be made if it is backed up by strong demonstrable evidence and narrative.

In fact, one top US school even replied saying “if you consider it as work experience, we consider it as work experience.

Therefore I made sure that my narrative, expressed well through the resume and the personal essays were the strongest components of the application profile.

Aside: To all prospective students, I will always recommend asking specific questions tailored to their own candidature to the adcoms. They are always super responsive and clarifications to each individual’s candidature would not always be available online.

I scored a 710 on my GMAT which was a fairly competitive score since I was targeting schools largely in the UK and Continental Europe.

I had applied to a total of 7 programs and converted 3 out of them, being – Cambridge Judge, HEC Paris and Cornell Johnson.

Why Cambridge MBA

I ended up accepting the offer from Cambridge MBA program because I wanted to study at a business school that held diversity as a critical factor and wherein I could meet and exchange ideas and plans with students from my cohorts who had backgrounds (cultural, professional and academic) radically different from my own.

My cohort had representations from 38 different nationalities and professional backgrounds ranging from Ex-MBB consultants to Chinese art auctioneers to kidnapping insurance professionals and everything in between.

The curriculum and program structure at Judge also really resonated with me, particularly due to the increased focus on the experiential learning opportunities offered by the 2 flagship consulting projects – Cambridge Venture Project, Global Consulting Project.

The COVID-19 pandemic had definitely imposed a lot of restrictions including curtailment of a lot of activities Cambridge is famous for.

However, I was amazed at how the MBA program at Judge was able to adapt to the ever changing and ever increasing restrictions and create a fantastic learning opportunity for us.

We were amongst the only top school to have a substantial number of in-person classes during the Michaelmas term (September to December), albeit with half the regular class size.

The school also invested significant resources to develop and institute the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE for short) with resources provided by the professors to complement the learning experience.

The theme of this year to describe my cohort and I was “resilience”.

As the Treasurer and member of the MBA and MFin programs’ leadership committee, we worked really hard to ensure the sense of normalcy in the year within the cohort.

I was simply amazed at how collaborative and not competitive the cohort was.

My most satisfactory moment of this year was being involved in an entirely student run initiative called “Cambridge Judge Against COVID” (CJAC) wherein we provided pro-bono consulting to small and medium businesses in the UK most affected by the pandemic.

As I sit and reflect on my last year, I am proud to have been part of such an elite and collaborative MBA program.

To all the future applicants of an MBA program, I would always stress the importance of choosing the right MBA program that fits the best for them and the criticality of the narrative to be presented.

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Harvard Stanford vs Cambridge Oxford | Ivy league vs Oxbridge
Cambridge MBA Judge Business School Interview with Admissions Director
MBA at Cambridge after Digital Marketing

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Email. Or follow on Linkedin, Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Getting into Cambridge MBA: Indian student shares experience”

  1. Hi Manish,

    Work experience: 8 years in BHEL (as production engineer, commercial and project manager)
    Handled power plant EPC projects (contract value-1732 Crores), R&M projects (25- 90 crores), FGD Projects (approx.400 crores)

    GRE:318 quant-162 , verbal:156
    U-14 and U-17 district cricket team

    Should i apply to ISB with this profile or profile needs improvement (except GRE).
    Can I take a chance with this GRE Score as GRE Score range for ISB IS 303-330 and average is 324.

    • The basics look decent. Tough to say without more details – do share a recent resume on mcb (at) mbacrystalball (dot) com for a more detailed overview.

      More than the range, it’s the average you should look at. Will be always tough at the current score given the huge application volume surge.

  2. I am from a Middle class family , i am not that good in studies too but I am very possitive about graduating my MBA but in abroad how can I get there ? If i don’t have any good scores or money what should i do.

    Looking for advice ?


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