Will a Low TOEFL or AWA Score Derail Admissions Success?

Posted By SWatts on Jun 11, 2014 |

From The Staff of MBA Admit.com
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Will a Low TOEFL or AWA Score Derail Admissions Success?

Candidates who did not attend college where English was the primary language of instruction are often required to report a TOEFL or AWA score on their admissions applications. The question I often get is: How will a low TOEFL or AWA score affect my odds of admission?

It is no secret that a low TOEFL or AWA score can negatively impact your odds of admission. But in the greater picture, how it affects your odds will depend largely on your overall application package. For example, if your GMAT score was very disproportionate and you were much stronger in the quantitative section than in the verbal – and you also have a low AWA – the admissions committee may become concerned that you will not be able to adequately communicate with your peers.

A large appeal of business school is that you get what you give: not only what you will gain wonderful experiences and knowledge from business school, but you will also give by sharing your ideas and insights with others. You could have the sharpest mind in your class, but it won’t matter if you are unable to communicate those insights and ideas to your peers. In many cases, to maximize your odds of admission you should try to improve a low TOEFL or AWA score.

But what candidates most often want to know is whether they can still get into a top MBA program in the United States and Europe with a low TOEFL or AWA score. Absolutely, you can. I have worked with many candidates who had lower-than-ideal TOEFL or AWA scores. However, these candidates’ profiles where so strong that they were accepted at schools including Harvard and Wharton – regardless of their TOEFL. In one example, an East Asian foreign national I worked with had poor English skills and a relatively low TOEFL score. But, he had terrific work experience at a Fortune 10 multinational company and great stories to attest to his business experience. At MBA Admit.com, we worked with him extensively to help focus on the strengths of his overall candidacy in his application. At the end, he gained admission to Harvard Business School. Harvard simply asked him to enroll in an English program before beginning.

Success is possible!