Dear Mentor:

What exam percentage do I need for a good US MBA program?

I am doing my B.Com. [Bachelor of Commerce, the first degree in Business] 2nd year in Chennai. What percentage do I want get, and is it necessary to get good percentage? I want to how much we should get in the undergraduate degree (B.Com.). I want to do my MBA in the US from a good university. What kind of exams do I want to undergo? I want to know the good institutes for competitive exams in Chennai.

Percentage Focused, Chennai, India

Dear Percentage Focused:

First of all, the MBA schools in the US - at least the good ones - pay critical attention to your ability for analytical thinking, articulating thoughts, and clear and precise writing. We had to communicate with you, through private email, to gain some understanding of your inquiry. Your inquiry as posted above is the product of two attempts by you. Second, we hope that your level of thinking, articulating, and writing is not what is reflected in your emails, because should that be the case, it would be a tall order for you to get admitted into a good MBA school in the US. Your inquiry as posted above has been edited by us for grammar, typographical errors, and readability. Third, if your abilities are in fact superior to those demonstrated by your emails, we would appreciate very much if you pause to think, articulate, and write before you hit the "send" button on your submission to iMahal. It takes a considerable effort for us to reply to the inquiries submitted to iMahal. We don't think we are being unfair in asking you to invest at least a fraction of the time that it takes us to prepare a meaningful reply. We encourage you to be more thoughtful while writing in general; it is just good practice.

You are not eligible to enter an MBA program in the US with a B.Com. from India. You need a Master's degree. MBA schools in the US require the candidates to have a Bachelor's degree equivalent to that in the US. The Bachelor's degree in the US is a 4-year program, after finishing Grade 12 from high school. Unless your Bachelor's in India is a 4-year program, such as in engineering, you must obtain a Master's degree in India to apply for a Master's program in the US.

"What percentage do I want to get?" is an interesting way to put it. You make it sound like you can pick and choose any percentage you want. The other interesting question you pose is: Is it necessary to get good percentage to get into good universities in the US? What do you think? Do you need good scores do get into good universities in India? Do you think the US universities are pushovers and accept students from India, or from any other country for that matter, who could not get into good universities in their home country because of low scores? These are not a trick questions. You get the idea. You don't need an answer from us.

You may say that what you really meant was whether the entrance exam is the only thing that matters at the end for admission, since the entrance exam performance overrides your academic performance, as is so often the case in India, so long as you meet the mandatory threshold. Even if this were true in the US, which it is not, your performance on the entrance exam is highly correlated with your academic performance. If you do well academically, chances are that you will do well on the entrance exam. So, don't let yourself get carried away in thinking that you can blow off academically but ace the entrance exam. You may be a rare exception, but don't count on it.

One thing is clear: Showing good performance on the courses has never hurt anybody, at least not anybody that we know! You should work hard and get the best score you can possibly achieve. Playing the "what-if" scenario isn't very helpful. The first question you should ask yourself is: What is the best score I can possibly achieve? The logical next question is: If I achieve the best possible score, can I get into a good MBA school in the US? Focus on doing the best; the rest will take care of itself.

The top-tier MBA schools in the US are extremely competitive. Unless you are in the top of your class from a reputable school and you have extra-ordinary performance on the GMAT (General Management Aptitude Test, a standardized entrance exam), you have a slim chance of getting in. Most MBA schools require candidates to take the GMAT. You can find more information on the GMAT and Other Entrance Exams, the List of Business Colleges and Universities in the US and the iMahal College Finder in the iMahal Education Channel.

Oh, one more thing. Virtually no financial aid is available to international student for MBA programs in the US.

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