• Management Masters

Overcoming The Odds: Low Academic History

When it comes to targeting top international business schools for MBA or MIM programs, the academic history of aspirants becomes a subject of rigorous evaluation - often leading candidates to make incorrect assumptions about their chances or lack thereof, for their dream business schools.

Obviously, academic history matters. Top MBA or MIM programs are extremely rigorous, especially on the quantitative front. So when candidates have solid grades to back them up, b-schools are happy to trust them easily about their potential future performance.

The academic history helps business schools evaluate the potential academic performance of candidates during the degree course.

However, many candidates who do not have a stellar academic background are often left wondering if they still have a shot at their dream schools.

In this article, we try to address these concerns, and clarify some steps that such candidates might be able to take to mitigate their risks.

Step 1: Face the Truth.

If your academic grades are not up to the mark, there's no running away from it. Good or bad, it is a part of your profile. They will not disappear, they will not be "not evaluated", they will not be "covered up" by anything you do. Face the truth, and accept your mistakes.

Most top b-schools provide you extra space to highlight any specific aspects of your profile. In case you have low grades, make sure that you use this space to tackle it head-on and explain the low performance. That will not only help you act proactively and address potential questions for the AdComs, but also allow you to present a matured persona.

When you explain the dismal performance, ensure that you provide genuine reasons, rather than trying to defend or justify your mistakes.

At the same time, you should also accept that while it may work for some schools, others might be less forgiving. So, keep realistic expectations.

Step 2: Assess the Damage.

Identify what is really lacking in your profile. Is it just that you have low grades? Or do you also come from a non-traditional background? Maybe you have hardly taken any quantitative subjects throughout college?

What exactly is your problem?

Your answer to this question should be crystal clear to you.

Step 3: Take Corrective Action.

Once you have identified your core problems, there are a few solutions that could apply to you.


Getting a great GMAT/GRE score is the first step towards redeeming your low grades. What is a great score, you ask?

Aim to be above the average score at your target schools.

However, unlike popular belief, GMAT/GRE will not erase your past mistakes. They can definitely help you showcase your quantitative abilities to the business schools, and are quite an important aspect of the applications, but they will not whitewash everything. At the end of the day, test scores account only for a part of the overall evaluation.

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