So you decided to do a MBA at Vlerick? Good! And you decided to take the on-campus assessment? Great! In this first post, I’ll try to give you the feeling of how it works, based on what happened in Ghent on April 12th, 2011 …
The on-campus assessment lasts one full day, either at the Ghent campus or the Leuven campus. There are four parts:
- an English test
- a logic test
- a motivational interview
- a cv interview
The order in which you will take the tests and interviews depends on your last name and the ones from the other participants. When Vlerick wrote that “The admission test will start at 08.00 am sharp and will end around 05.00 pm”, the test indeed starts at 8am. No welcome speech (we are not there for that, isn’t it?). No equivocation. Just plain efficiency :-)
I started with the English test. You enter the room, take your seat. Papers and a pencil are provided. My test was a text read by someone (a man) in a rather neutral tone and good English. The text was an article from The Economist about the merger of T-Mobile and At&T in the USA (people who took this test before told me they had a radio conversation about the Sarbanes–Oxley Act). The text is read only once. You can take notes. Your first assignment will be to summarize what you heard (my advice: do it in the more logical manner, not necessarily the way the information was presented in the article). Your second assignment will be to give your opinion on the article itself. I think it also helps to put some broader ideas about the environment in which the topic takes place. One last tip: use your time wisely.
Immediately after, I took the logical test. It is not a GMAT (it’s easier in fact, more focused). You sit in front of laptops (with Belgian AZERTY keyboards, this disturbed some people on that day) and answer multiple choice questions. These questions are about what is presented in charts or tables. Some answers are obvious (i.e. you just need to find the right cell), most questions require some calculation (a very tiny calculator is provided ; if you have fat fingers, you can use the tip of the pen – also provided).
During lunch, sandwiches and drinks are provided. It’s now time to really meet other people. What I liked was that it was very informal. You have – of course – people who consider themselves very important and look down their noses at you but most of other test takers are very friendly and relax. No business cards, no fluffy talks and a breeze of fresh air from students trying to enter other masters.
Now how the two interviews proceed will depend on your background, your curriculum vitae, the interviewers and probably many other factors. The “cv interview” is supposed to go through your cv (!): you might be asked to explain your career choices, what you did at some companies, how the MBA fits in your career plan, etc. During the motivational interview, interviewers will see your motivation (!): why a MBA, why now, why full-time/part-time, why at Vlerick, how the MBA fits in your career plan, how do you see yourself in the future, etc. As you can read, it seems there aren’t any rules. I guess there must be some because each jury member can’t interview all the candidates. I think that what works is to be yourself, to tell the truth but always get the positive side, always build a constructive conclusion from what you think might be negative.
How to prepare? Big question! My take is that you don’t need any preparation if you are already interested in business. That means you already know why you want to do an MBA, why at Vlerick, what are your career aspirations, what is happening in your business area, etc. That also means you already read the Financial Times, The Economist, CNN, Business Week, etc. (doesn’t mean you spend all your time on these media but you read some papers at least from time to time). You may prepare the distance assessment just for yourself: it already prepares you to answer some basic questions that will most probably be asked. One nice thing you can do is also find people who work in your current (or previous) company and who did Vlerick (“alumni”): offer them a coffee and discuss about why they did Vlerick, what they did to prepare, what questions they had, etc. During these interviews, I got interesting feedback like one who prepared the logical test by playing mind games at the Wii or another one who was asked which Disney character he was.
What to bring? Definitely something to read. You’ll need to wait for some time between the interviews, during lunch and before the results (if you wait for them at the end of the day). Otherwise bring your c.v., bring a pen and some sheets of paper.
What was the outcome?
If you are patient, the proclamation usually takes place during the evening, around 8PM (or 9PM in our case). If you are in, congrats! If you are out, you have a chance to see what went wrong or any other reason why they didn’t take you. I think this is a very good think to know why you failed. And I think Vlerick should also tell people who succeeded why they succeeded and more importantly what can be improved.
So personally I got it! :-) I was so happy I couldn’t believe it when they pronounced my name. I had to stop the car on the way back home to check my e-mails and get the written confirmation (oh, because they immediately send a confirmation by e-mail – that’s nice from them!).
Wow, this is a long post! I would finally thanks alumni I interviewed for their precious time and people I met on the assessment day for the interesting discussions. I hope to see you later again!