Executive MBA admission tips and insights

Back view of young successful female freelancer use net-book for distance work during her recreation time, woman's hands keyboarding on portable laptop computer with blank copy space on the screen
Back view of young successful female freelancer use net-book for distance work during her recreation time, woman's hands keyboarding on portable laptop computer with blank copy space on the screen

ESMT Berlin accepted me into the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program and I recently completed the first residency. Before I started the program, I put a lot of time and energy into the application process and I would like to share my experience. 

There are many reasons why I decided to take the next step in my professional life and apply for the EMBA – the will to progress, learn more and share this knowledge, meet new people, and create new goals. I was looking forward to 18 months full of learning and development. 

Finding the right business school 

It took me a while to find the right business school. At times I was so frustrated because I thought I would need even more time to choose one. There are definitely too many schools and universities in Germany to choose from. There are almost 100 MBA programs which is crazy! 

But you only do the MBA once so I took my time to make a decision. I did plenty of research online to find reviews and experience reports. Fortunately, I also had a contact who was graduating and could share their EMBA experience with me. I didn’t just want to study to get a degree, I want to become the best version of myself as a woman in business.  

Furthermore, I want to add value to the company where I work. I didn’t want to choose just any course of study, I wanted one of the best so that I wouldn’t have regrets later, saying, “Oh, I wish I had….”. I based my choice on the program accreditations and rankings, experience reports, and the course content itself. 

Online study, mixed, or pure presence study. Which time model fits best?  

For me, it was clear that I wanted to continue working. There are weekend courses or block courses, where you sometimes spend entire weeks in face-to-face classes. I am very grateful to work for PlusDental, an open company that makes it possible for me to attend classes on my days of attendance. 

I knew that I didn’t want to spend my time learning alone online, I want to meet new people and have face-to-face interactions. 

Check the accreditation

Avoid unpleasant surprises and check in advance which accreditations the business school has. 

After searching for a long time, you have to stop at some point and choose a school. Of course, this is not the end of the story. You don’t just call and say you’re registering for the program. The application process is an experience in itself! 

Application process

Don’t be disheartened by the school’s initial evaluation of your profile. See this as an advantage – if you are not suitable for the program then you don’t have to get false hopes and invest more time in the application. 

I only applied to ESMT as it was my first choice and I was accepted into the program. To start the application, you need to fill out general information about yourself, your work experience, vocational skills, and submit a copy of your CV, two recommendation letters, and four essays. If you want to apply for a scholarship, an additional essay is required. 

The first essay is about your motivation for applying, plan B, and your career vision. The second one is about the importance of failure. The third one requests you to write about a road trip and the fourth essay requires you to write about your most challenging intercultural experience.  

Afterward, I had four weeks to do the Business Admissions Test (BAT). The GMAT/GRE test and the GMAC test are also accepted. The former is recommended for the more linguistically gifted, as it involves more complex vocabulary. I decided to do the BAT. 

The Business Admissions Test (BAT) 

There are three reasons why I decided to do the BAT. I only wanted to apply to ESMT (other schools may not accept this test), it is much cheaper (only preparation material must be purchased), and it is designed specifically for graduate business program admissions. In my opinion, this is a plus because I am already learning something and indirectly preparing for the MBA. 

The test has five sections: 

  1. Communication Analysis: You need to read longer texts and answer some questions. 
  1. Critical Thinking:  This involves statements to find a definitive answer to a question or simply determine its solvability. 
  1. Data Analysis: Tests for fluency and efficiency in use of business-relevant mathematics. 
  1. Data Interpretation: Both standard mathematical logic questions and multiple case questions where arithmetic and algebra are tested in the context of a business scenario. 
  1. Case Presentation: Lastly you have 30 minutes interpret information about a company which is followed specific questions related to the case. Within the interview, the interviewer will go deeper into this case. 

The time of each section is calculated quite short. You won’t have time to double-check your answers, on the contrary, you should move on as soon as you realize that you can’t come up with the solution. I took the test online. That means I had my room, my ID card in advance, my screen and of course myself filmed the whole time. I have no idea who had to look at my shots, but I had incredibly strong dark circles under my eyes. The night before was unfortunately very short due to the excitement. And yet, I made it and was accepted. The sleepless nights were worth it. 

Lastly, I had an interview which took around 45 minutes. It was scheduled for the day after my test. 

Afterward, the committee will meet periodically to review all available information and decide if you are eligible. It took no more than two weeks to get an answer. It was such a relaxing time because I knew I did everything I could and that the decision was now out of hands.  

Generally, the school answered all my questions with great detail and gave me a very welcome feeling. Whenever I wrote a mail, I received the answer within 24 hours. 

Now that I have started the program, my focus is on learning, developing, and just enjoying the time. I am excited about what is to come and look forward to taking you with me on my journey. Like Konfuzius said: “The way is the goal.” You only need to start. 

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