In fall of 2012, Wharton boldly introduced a new component to its already rigorous MBA admissions process. In addition to the traditional essays, recommendations, application questions, and one-on-one interviews required by all top business schools, Wharton applicants must succeed in a real-time, group conversation with 4-5 peers. Observed by Wharton admissions staff, this 35-minute dialogue centers on a pre-assigned “prompt” about which the group is expected to achieve some kind of “tangible outcome.”
Per the Wharton website, the admissions committee views the Team-based Discussion (TBD) as a platform for applicants “to model the highly collaborative nature of the Wharton MBA environment in order to identify characteristics (communication style, level of engagement, leadership skills, decision-making process, etc.) that we believe contribute to the success of a Wharton student.”
Understanding Wharton’s vision for the TBD is helpful, but this provides insufficient guidance for applicants in preparing for success in this critical test. There’s precious little time available to plan and practice. Shopping for an expert resource can be confusing and stressful. So, it’s important for serious Wharton applicants to consider these 7 questions when selecting an admissions consulting firm to help them prepare:
1. Does the firm feature an ex-Wharton adcom and actual Wharton TBD facilitators?
No admissions consultant can understand the TBD process better than those who have experienced it as both an applicant and a facilitator. The MBA Exchange is proud to have a former Wharton Associate Director of Admissions who helped design our TBD prep service, as well as two recent Wharton grads who served as actual TBD facilitators. In fact, our consulting team features a total of 9 Wharton MBA alumni!
2. Does the firm have 5+ years of experience providing Wharton TBD sessions?
In Fall 2012, recognizing the TBD as a new challenge for those seeking admission to Wharton, The MBA Exchange developed and introduced the admissions consulting industry’s first, moderated video-simulation to help our clients succeed in this assessment of their teamwork skills. This head start has allowed us to climb a steep learning curve and gain valuable knowledge about the Wharton TBD process — while other firms were just getting started.
3. Does the firm send an individualized scorecard with actionable feedback within 24 hours?
Verbal comments and written generalities are not enough. A serious Wharton applicant also needs to learn where he or she stands compared to others in the group. After all, the TBD is a “competition.” We make sure that our feedback is individualized, actionable and timely so our clients gain confidence and competence before their actual TBD session.
4. Does the firm provide a confidential video recording of your group simulation?
To get maximum benefit from a prep session, you must do more than just participate in a prep session. The opportunity to thoroughly assess your performance by viewing a confidential video recording of the session allows you to keep improving. The MBA Exchange is the first firm to offer this essential element as part of the prep process.
5. Does the firm offer flexible scheduling so you can choose the most convenient date and time?
Your day job, family and friends keep you very busy. So you need the flexibility to book a prep session that’s most convenient and available when you need it. We leverage our experience and resources to provide each client with as many options as possible when it comes to scheduling.
6. Does the firm’s pricing reflect the value of its services?
As with any product or service you purchase, the price charged for TBD prep is a major consideration for applicants. However, the lowest price is not a great bargain if the service lacks the quality and scope you really need. And the highest price doesn’t guarantee the most complete and effective offering. Ultimately, it’s more about “value” than price.
7. Does the firm offer free bonus TBD sessions if available?
Having one simulated TBD session is great. But having the chance to participate in a second group — at no additional charge — is even better. At The MBA Exchange, whenever we have an available spot, we invite our clients to take part in another session for free.
So, Wharton applicants, as you shop for a resource to help you succeed in your upcoming Wharton Team-based Discussion, use the 7 questions above to compare your options and choose the admissions consulting firm that delivers the highest expected return on your TBD prep investment.