For many corporations an MBA qualification is now a prerequisite for business leaders in key positions. With so many MBA programmes available however, it can be difficult to ascertain which best prepares executives for effective leadership. Competitive as it is to gain admission to programmes, a world recognised MBA programme with a sound track record of successful alumni promises brighter career prospects.
Carolyn Ling, associate director, The Princeton Review (Hong Kong) notes that prospective students must be well prepared before applying for a prestigious MBA programme. "Competition to successful business schools is keen. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required by most reputable business schools as basic admission requirements, particularly in the US. Impressive results in these two tests will increase the chance of being admitted," Ms Ling advises.
The GMAT is designed to test an individual's logical thinking and language skills. The three sections include mathematics, a verbal component and writing. It is a computer adaptive test (CAT), meaning candidates' performance in previous questions will be used to determine subsequent questions. TOEFL, meanwhile, is a test for non-native English speakers to assess their English reading, writing, speaking and listening competencies. Its total score is 120. A score of 100 or above is sought by most business schools.
"Most business experts agree that MBA training is a long-term investment. The time and money invested today will pay off even during economic hard times. Graduates from accredited MBA programmes are offered increased employment opportunities as revealed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council of McLean (GMAC), a leading non-profit education organisation providing graduate management information. Similarly, an MBA increases salary levels in the US. MBA graduates can expect an average starting salary of more than US$80,000, over a third more than graduates from other disciplines, according to GMAC findings," says Ms Ling.
Besides the higher potential financial returns and improved career prospects, MBA training also enhances an individual's personal calibre. Ms Ling notes that MBA graduates show a greater adaptability to change. Employers regard them as more flexible, creative, self-motivated, confident, efficient and competitive — all essential qualities in today's globalised environment.
In addition, most MBA programmes expose participants to a melange of business-oriented subjects. Participants graduate with a clear understanding of macro and micro business focuses in finance, marketing, production and human resources. And since IT has a strategic role to play in today's business environment, many MBA programmes now incorporate concepts relating to information systems and information technologies.
The networking resources of MBA programmes are particularly valued by participants. While studying for an MBA, numerous networking opportunities inevitably arise. Quality MBA programmes require a teamwork component ensuring significant relationships develop ranging from mentoring to information exchanges on the relative merits of corporations in a particular field. Furthermore, an extensive network of alumni is always at hand.
Cream of the crop
The Princeton Review is a US educational preparation institute offering test preparation for standardised achievement tests such as GMAT, TOEFL and SAT, as well as professional advice on college admission for students across 13 countries. The organisation delivers courses around the world via a network of subsidiaries and franchises.
Individuals seeking to take the GMAT and TOEFL can put their trust in the Princeton Review. The organisation has accumulated 25 years of experience in helping candidates achieve the required scores for admission to desired colleges. Effective learning materials and online practice sessions are provided for course participants. Small classes are a distinctive feature of the test preparation procedure. "Students learn better in smaller groups as the instructor can offer more personal attention. We have less than 15 students in a class. Our instructors work closely with students to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and provide additional help if necessary," says Ms Ling. In addition to standard courses, customised options are available to meet specific student needs.
Results are the ultimate objective of sitting any achievement test. In this regard the Princeton Review is confident. Its test preparation materials have led to the best score increase in the industry for candidates. As an example, GMAT students improve an average of 92.5 points.
"The admission process to MBA programmes is complicated. We are committed to helping students solve problems along the way so that they can gain admission to their dream business schools," concludes Ms Ling.