MALIBU, CA--(Marketwire - July 21, 2010) -  As the number of applications to top business schools continues to climb, MBA admissions officers are searching for ways to better separate great candidates from the rest of the pack. The increasing competitiveness of the applicant pool has spurred a trend among top programs to experiment with their essays and, in some cases, to replace traditional written essays completely, says leading MBA admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep.

Could the MBA application of the future consist primarily of videos and visual presentations? While business school applications are renowned for their grueling sets of essay questions, some admissions officers have begun to experiment with wildly different formats that replace the traditional essay. These multimedia questions, which are completed through such platforms as audio, video and sometimes PowerPoint, are an increasingly common tool used by the likes of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and the Anderson School of Business at UCLA to learn about the "real" applicant, or the person behind the resume, GMAT score and undergraduate institution of record.

"A shift in the response format of an MBA admissions essay generally indicates that admissions offices were not getting what they needed to make accurate determinations about applicants," explains Scott Shrum, Director of MBA Admissions Research at Veritas Prep. "Multimedia questions offer a fresh opportunity for applicants to be creative and demonstrate the key qualities that admissions officers look for, including emotional intelligence (EQ) and capacity for critical thinking and self reflection."

Whatever the response format, application essays represent a prime opportunity for applicants to communicate personal information that admissions officers may never otherwise know that can enhance their candidacy. As a result, applicants should heed these basic tips to take advantage of the emerging question formats:

  • A well-prepared audio or video response doesn't come across as an-overly scripted one. While very few applicants can sit down and make a perfect impromptu video or recording in one take, the more an applicant can strike a friendly and not overly formal tone, the more likely the response is to draw in one's audience. Loosen up and speak from the heart -- the last thing an admissions officer wants to see is something that looks or sounds like a hostage reading a prepared statement.
  • Gimmicks are less effective than you might think. Sure, it's hard for an admissions officer to forget the video of the guy juggling flaming torches, but if the only thing the video communicates is "This guy likes to juggle flaming torches," then that applicant has missed a valuable opportunity to share something meaningful about himself.
  • Less is more. Many applicants mistakenly assume that a video or a PowerPoint deck gives them the chance to communicate a wide variety of information, more than a written essay ever could. But, just as it can with an essay, trying to cram in too many messages will dilute the effectiveness of the whole product. Keep your response concise and single-minded.

For more information about Veritas Prep's best practices for multimedia application questions or its business school admissions consulting offerings, call 1-800-925-7737 or visit veritasprep.com/mba.

About Veritas Prep
Veritas Prep is the world's largest privately-owned GMAT preparation and admissions consulting provider, offering industry-leading programs to help applicants improve their test scores and gain admission to the world's best graduate schools. Founded in 2002 by graduates of the Yale School of Management, Veritas Prep now offers live GMAT prep instruction in more than 90 cities worldwide, as well as interactive online courses available everywhere. Additionally, Veritas Prep offers industry-leading admissions consulting services for applicants seeking admission to the most competitive business schools, law schools, and medical schools in the world.

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