The London Business School Application Process

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: October 10, 2019)

In a recent post (Why Earn Your MBA At London Business School), we reviewed what makes LBS a great MBA program. In today’s article, we are going to analyze the school’s application process, provide you with a few tips to maximize your chances, and point you to valuable resources that you should consult before writing your essays.

The application process at London Business School is very similar to that of other leading business schools. If you want to know how to stand out as an MBA candidate, do read Oliver Ashby’s blog: . It is a great resource for any LBS applicant, and could prove very useful when applying to other programs as well.

The school does not publish GPA data (likely because of the diversity of its student body; it’s quite difficult to harmonize grades across so many educational systems), and its average GMAT score is 695 (with actual scores ranging from 600 to 790), a much lower score than the average GMAT at top US programs (e.g. Harvard’s average GMAT is 727).

Essay Questions and Tips From the Admissions Team

If you are planning to apply to the class of 2016 (entering in 2014), below are the school’s essay questions and Mr. Ashby’s take on these prompts. No trick here, these essays are pretty straightforward to answer, and the admissions team does a great job providing tips to nail them. To do well, simply do your homework: show that you know why you need an MBA, and why you think that LBS specifically is the right place to earn your degree.

What will your future look like after completing your MBA? (500 words)

“We are extremely focused on helping our students to achieve their goals and ambitions. This essay gives you the opportunity to share your future aspirations with us. They don’t have to be ultra-specific but if your goals are particularly ambitious, you may want to think about some steps as to how you will achieve them and think about having a coherent back -up plan if they don’t immediately work out. Also remember that your future can include other aspects of life, not just your career. Think about how your relationship with LBS will evolve in the years following your graduation.”

What value will you add to London Business School? (300 words)

“This essay is deliberately straightforward. At LBS, one of our core values is collaboration. We are looking for students who will be highly active members of the community. This might be membership of one of the many student clubs, helping fellow students in their jobs searches or myriad other contributions. You should think carefully about what you intend to bring to London Business School and your future classmates”.

“One of the most common failings we see in applications is an inability to differentiate between top business schools. Many applicants will apply to more than one school and that is absolutely fine. However, when you apply to different schools you should know exactly why you are applying to each specific school and how it is unique from other world-class institutions. If you can’t tell the difference, you probably need to do some more research, think about visiting the school and speak to the admissions team.”

What is the School’s responsibility to you and what is your responsibility to the School? (400 words)

“At London Business School we take our relationships with students very seriously. We firmly believe that the relationship between the school and our students should be a two way process. We believe that the LBS MBA is a well-rounded, transformative experience, but it is vital that from day one our students understand what they can expect from us in terms of support, and what we expect from our students in terms of contribution to the LBS community.  Our community is vibrant, fun and extremely diverse. Though, when it comes to academic performance all LBS MBA students understand that the degree is a solemn undertaking and as a result, take their studies seriously. When answering this essay think about how you will approach your MBA studies and how you will manage the competing demands on your time. Feel free to be open about what you expect from us and what you believe the school should deliver both during your studies and after”.

Letters of recommendation

London Business School asks for 2 letters of recommendation. The LOR needs to specifically address these questions:

  • How long have you known the applicant and in what connection?
  • What do you consider to be the applicant’s major talents and strengths?
  • What do you consider to be the applicant’s major weaknesses or areas for improvement?
  • In what developmental areas has the applicant changed most over time?
  • What will this individual be doing in 10 years? Why?

Referrers are also required to rate the candidate on the following skills:

  • Intellectual or academic ability
  • Quantitative skills
  • Initiative/ability to take decisions
  • Problem solving
  • Organizational skills
  • Leadership and team skills
  • Impact and charisma
  • Self-confidence and self motivation
  • English skills

There is no secret to getting a great letter of recommendation: give your recommenders plenty of time, and help them as much as possible remember why you were a great person to work with by giving them a referral package containing your resume, essay drafts, and a few anecdotes they can consider writing about. We wrote a whole article about getting great letters of recommendation that you might find helpful.

The LBS Interview

When I applied to London Business School a few years ago, the interview was actually the most unique part of the school’s application process. In my case, it was conducted by an alumnus in Paris (my hometown) and lasted a mind-blowing 3 hours (it is usually a 2-hour long exercise). The alum had been picked carefully, and his profile was similar to mine in a number of ways. He was therefore able to relate to many of the questions I was asking myself at the time. But before answering my questions, he grilled me extensively for almost 2 hours, and not only asked me the usual suspects (“introduce yourself”, “why LBS”, “what are your post MBA goals”, etc.) but also made me go through a series of questions meant to assess my business acumen (I had to explain why Germany was doing so much better economically than France).  Don’t drop the ball here, and start reading business newspapers on a regular basis if not already a habit.

At no point did my interviewer try to trick me. The conversation was friendly and it was meant as an opportunity to really assess the fit between the school and me. I remember the interviewer explicitly telling me that he had a “very good feeling” about my application, and that I’d be a “great match” (obviously not all interviewers may be so open to sharing their feedback).

For what it is worth, here are the instructions provided by the school before my interview.

  • Remember to take with you and show your interviewer a photo ID (driving license, passport, national ID card etc.)
  • You will give a short presentation (approx. 5 minutes) for which no prior preparation is required
  • There is no need to take a copy of your application form or CV
  • The interview is likely to last between 1 and 2 hours in total

Apart from its length, the LBS interview is similar to interviews at most leading business schools. A dose of uncertainty is added by the participation of alumni who may not be as objective as an admission officer would. But there is little secret to succeeding other than solid preparation.

London Business School’s MBA Application Deadlines

The London Business School has 4 application deadlines for the 2014 intake (class of 2016): October 4, 2013, January 3, 2014, February 28, 2014, and April 16, 2014. All deadline are 5pm GMT.

If you are considering applying to the London Business School MBA program and are looking for advice, feel free to reach out to us to request a free consultation. We’ll be happy to help.

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