What to Do if You Don’t Meet LBS’s Entry Requirements

LBS (London Business School) is one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. In fact, the Financial Times European Business ranking places LBS as the 2nd best business school in Europe (2022). 

Getting into LBS is extremely competitive. Whilst LBS does not publish its acceptance rates, it is reported that acceptance rates vary from 10-20%. At face value, this makes LBS’s acceptance rates much higher than LSE or Oxford, whose Finance and Management courses have as low as 5% acceptance rates. However, the average calibre of an LBS application is much higher because all students must submit a GMAT score, and this barrier to entry filters out the weakest applicants, inflating LBS’s acceptance rates. 

If you’re worried that you don’t meet LBS’s requirements, there are some tips and tricks that could tip the scales in your favour. Let’s break them down.

LBS’s basic criteria considers your academic track record (especially your undergraduate degree results), your areas of expertise/knowledge, the quality of your written application, your GMAT/GRE score (where applicable), your work experience, your English language proficiency, and your interview. This article will explore each of these factors, helping you to identify which areas you might be lacking and to equip you with the know-how to combat this.

LBS will even assess your application according to their hidden soft skills criteria, which we know all about here at The Profs. We are admissions experts, especially when it comes to LBS, hence we boast an offer rate of 83%!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our previous article for a general guide on how to get into LBS.

Contents:

    1. If your areas of knowledge don’t align with LBS’s expectations
    2. Underestimated factors that carry weight
    3. Embrace the power of your interview
    4. If your academic performance isn’t up to par

What are the criteria to get into LBS?

As one of the best business schools in the world, LBS can afford to be choosey. Hence, it runs a competitive admissions process. 

Meeting or exceeding LBS’s entry requirements doesn’t guarantee you an offer. You are considered in relation to the standard of applicants that year.

When it comes to entry requirements, LBS considers a variety of factors:

  • Academic performance: LBS’s prestigious reputation means that it can ask for higher grades than other UK universities. So, check whether your grades are up to par!
  • Subject area: Some courses at LBS slightly or highly recommend that you study quantitative subjects. Beyond what is advised, it’s important that your subject areas convey a genuine interest in your chosen LBS course, as well as applicable knowledge, and relevant capability.
  • Your written application: Your written application (your answers to a set of questions and CV) should demonstrate your suitability for both LBS and your chosen degree. It should prove that you are motivated and impassioned by the course.
  • Your experience: Relevant work experience is very important to LBS. Extracurriculars and extra/other qualifications could also give you an edge over other students or make up for other areas in which you lack. Lived experience can help strengthen your LBS application. 
  • English language ability: If you are an international student, LBS might ask you for a qualification proving your proficiency in English.
  • Your interview: Many universities do not interview their applicants so this is an extra step that adds further effort and pressure to the process. However, it also gives you a valuable opportunity to stand out if your application on paper is not as strong as your peers!

LBS has its own uniquely intensive application process when compared to most other universities. In fact, the average application for LBS is 3 times longer than the average application to LSE and 5 times longer than the average application to Oxford when comparing the total word counts. However, you should not see this intense application process as a negative, but rather something you can use to your advantage to beat the competition. It’s important that you familiarise yourself with LBS’s application process as much as possible so that you can prepare equally for every step and avoid mistakes. 

Feeling overwhelmed by all the factors you’ve got to consider? Or just generally daunted by the LBS admissions process? Here at The Profs, we have amazing admissions tutors, with a proven track record of tripling their students’ chances of success. They can help you with meeting the entry requirements, as well as preparing your perfect application. Don’t stress, just reach out to our friendly team for an expert helping hand. 

Understanding LBS’s entry requirements

First thing’s first, you need to understand LBS’s expectations. We have made a table where you can see the university’s criteria for each of its courses. Just click below to check it out:

[View Table]

Please note that LBS only offers postgraduate courses.

Can’t find something? Click here to view all of LBS’s courses in more detail.

Are you an international student?

LBS accepts international equivalents of a UK degree and GPA scores (usually 3.3 minimum).

LBS might ask applicants from non-English-speaking countries to complete an English language proficiency test. This usually depends on your circumstances e.g. LBS’s Executive MBA asks for evidence of English language fluency if you do not have substantial experience living, working and/or studying in an English-speaking environment. 

LBS considers the IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge CPE, CAE or the PTE Academic score. The most common English language proficiency test of these is the IELTS. If you are taking the IELTS, you will typically need to achieve a score of 7.5. Find out more about English Language requirements here. Check out our guide for more detailed information and tips on how to prepare for the IELTS.

What should I do if I don’t meet LBS’s Entry Requirements, and how do I get in?

We have some insider advice to share if you don’t meet LBS’s entry requirements. LBS might not necessarily be beyond your reach! Below is a breakdown of what you could be lacking regarding LBS’s entry criteria, and how to tackle this.

1) If your area of knowledge doesn’t align with LBS’s expectations

Your academic areas of knowledge could determine whether you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course as well as prove your passion and relevant capability.

Some of LBS’s courses state that they slightly or highly prefer applicants with a quantitative degree, and for other courses, they ‘recommend’ this. Hence, even if your grades meet/exceed LBS’s requirements, you might not be considered or have a much lower chance of an offer if you haven’t studied a quantitative degree. However, you might still be able to build a strong application by pursuing these subjects in alternative ways outside of a standard undergraduate degree.

If your grades aren’t amazing then you should ensure that you have a quantitative academic track record to boost your chances of getting in (however this is unlikely to help you if your results fall substantially below LBS’s requirements).

LBS is a specialist school: only offering postgraduate courses in Business and Finance. So, generally speaking, LBS values a history of quantitative subjects; Maths, Further Maths, Business, Economics, and other subjects related to these will be received well.

Please note: there are no official academic requirements afforded to the MBA and Executive MBA at LBS because work experience is considered far more important. However, having an undergraduate degree is preferred for the Executive MBA, and given LBS’s general focus, a quantitative degree would be most ideal. So, whilst getting into LBS without a quantitative degree is most likely for these two courses, any academic history in a quantitative field will strengthen your application. 

Check out our previous blogs on applying for the Executive MBA at LBS and on generally applying for a course in Economics.

Recovery tips: What if I don’t have a quantitative degree?

It is important to recognise that if your chosen LBS course highly or strongly recommends a quantitative degree, it might be worth your time to study one. 

It is obviously a large investment to complete an undergraduate degree (typically 3-4 years). However, if LBS is your dream university and you really want a postgraduate degree from there, this could be worth your time and unlock that door. 

You could take an undergraduate course on a more flexible basis too, such as a part-time course, a remote course, or even a fast-track course. The open university, particularly their business school, has a lot of options pertaining to this.

You might even decide to use the Christmas or summer holidays to get started with one of our tutors who can coach you through the first-year modules of an undergraduate degree. With good A levels and evidence of having independently studied at university level, you might be able to enrol at a university for an undergraduate course and get started right away with your second year. 

If you have a degree but it’s in the “wrong” subject, your solution could involve: enrolling in a conversion course, completing a course at LBS’s Summer School or completing a relevant supplementary qualification. Another option might be doing a 1-2 year internship in a quantitative field. LBS typically does not count internships as work experience so you could frame it as educational, especially if it includes qualifications or certifications.

Unsure about what makes the most sense for you? Our expert admissions team can advise you on the best path to take for your personal circumstances. 

What if I can’t get a quantitative degree? 

If there is a contextual or extenuating reason for this, it is definitely worth explaining it to LBS. For example, if you’re a primary caregiver or breadwinner for your household. Simply stating that university is too expensive won’t get you anywhere as SFE, scholarships, and grants are in place precisely for this reason.

Another tip for if you are missing a required subject is: to try to find a related extra qualification that you can complete which can stand in for the missing one. For example, taking the GMAT/GRE even if your course doesn’t require this and completing a MOOC or highly esteemed short course/certification. For example LSE offers a 10-week MBA Essentials course. MIT and UPenn offer free courses in relevant quantitative and date modules – completing something like this could work as evidence of your suitability for the course.

The most important tip is work experience. This will be the key thing to make up for a lack of quantitative qualifications. Get professional experience in the business world so that you can impress LBS with the incredible role you had, the great work that you completed, the quantitative, collaborative and leadership skills you learned, and the tangible results that were accomplished because of you. Just be sure to check your chosen course’s requirements because some courses ask for applicants to have less than 2 years of experience whilst others ask for 5-12 years.

Insider tip: In 2022, the 2-year Global Master’s in Management had a reported 33% acceptance rate. This is because the second year of study is undertaken at the University of Shanghai. Many candidates are not prepared to invest the time and money required for a 2-year programme, or else unwilling to locate to Shanghai for a year, which causes this programme to see much lower application rates, and thus marginally lower standards than LBS’s other courses. So, if you are dead set on LBS and willing to relocate to Shanghai for a year, it could be worth applying to this course to elevate your chances of getting in!

2) Work experience wizard

Lacking academically? Perhaps you don’t have a degree/good grade, a GMAT score/good score or a quantitative background. Unlike most other top universities, LBS is willing to overlook grades falling below entry requirements where students have substantial relevant industry experience! In fact, for the MBA courses higher level education and grades are not even officially part of the entry requirements.

So, if you want an offer, ensure that you read our tips for what LBS constitutes exceptional work experience and a brilliant 5-year plan for your career.

All that said, some courses do not accept students with over two years of work experience. So, ensure that you check your course’s requirements. More isn’t always better.

Talk end goals: 

LBS is a career-focused university, and usually for students who are already in employment or have had a taste of it already. Hence, LBS wants students with a clear and ambitious, yet realistic, 5-year career plan. 

LBS will ask you to provide your first choice employer after graduation, as well as your back up plan. This is usually one of the first (of very many!) questions that LBS asks, showing the weight they place on it. So, mention your career aspirations in your application and be specific. If you’re not sure, educate yourself. What institution or company do you want to work for, and what do you want to specialise in? 

Avoid writing something generic such as ‘being an Investment Banker at Goldman Sachs’ or ‘Management Consultant at McKinsey’ as these responses, whilst ambitious, are generic and cliche. If you truly do want to apply to these employers, then write something specific that demonstrates you have done your research: e.g. ‘Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Graduate Programme (2 years), Leveraged Finance Desk, London under the supervision of Aaron Stone’.

However, you might want to avoid these cliche answers altogether if possible and instead research a very specialised employer that is relevant to your desired career. This allows you to introduce your desired specialism (e.g. data visualisation, exporting, supply chain management, etc.) and makes for a more authentic and interesting application than yet another McKinsey hopeful.

LBS wants to see ambition, but will also assess how realistic your plan is. If you say you will be a CEO of a major company within 10 years, LBS will mark you down unless you write a brilliant and convincing plan towards achieving this goal. 

Please note: Most years LBS doesn’t ask for any written answers on your work experience. It is therefore important to think strategically about how you might include your work experience within their questions. I recommend including evidence of impact, leadership and teamwork skills in the following questions if you are asked them:

  • In 300 words or less, please tell us your most significant international experience(s) to date.
  • In 300 words or less, please describe your plan b career goals, telling us your plan b sector, role and function; and your motivation for this alternative goal.
  • How will the course help you to achieve your academic and professional goals?

Your professional experience:
For some courses, LBS requires students to have less than 2-years work experience, whereas for the MBA, EMBA and Master’s in Finance LBS reports offer-holders to have an average of 5-12 years experience. 

London Business School particularly looks for teamwork skills and leadership potential in your professional experience. You should demonstrate flexibility and respect for different approaches to team skills and tell LBS how your experience could aid the development of your fellow students if your application is successful. You should also show that you are curious about the way businesses operate, that you have strong leadership potential, and have a global and goal-oriented outlook.

Applying to London Business School is more like applying to an American university, as LBS values the following factors highly:

  • Ambition
  • Whether your career trajectory is realistically achievable
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership within teams
  • Team player
  • Impact (if you’re too early in your career to talk about YOUR impact, talk about your team’s impact and your role in that)
  • Community skills/work

Hence, your career should demonstrate these elements. The importance LBS places on this list is not common knowledge. So, framing your answers, career anecdotes and skills according to this list will boost your application.

Keep in mind that LBS asks for a professional referee, so channel your work experience into laying the groundwork for the right referee (more on this lower down).

Is work experience where you lack? LBS will consider reducing the work experience requirements for extraordinary individuals. For example, if you have an incredible academic track record (including an impressive distinction on quantitative degree and a high GMAT score) and/or have fundraised a significant amount, they might be more lenient on you having too few (or too many) years experience for a course. 

Contact us to evaluate your case and see if we can help you. 

EMBA applicants: Professional experience is one of the most important elements of your LBS EMBA application. Successful applicants normally have around 12-14 years’ management experience. This experience can include managing teams, projects, budgets, and/or resources. You will also need to demonstrate strong career progression throughout your employment history, whether in one company or over several different organisations. Further tips can be found here.

Insider tip 1: Take a look at LinkedIn. You can search there for LBS graduates from the same country, background or subject as you. Have a look to get an idea of their profile. This will give you an idea of what kind of experience to pursue. Not to mention, you can reach out to them directly, network, and ask for an opportunity. Searching through LBS alumni is especially important if you are not applying with ideal qualifications as you can find graduates with similar grades to you and deduce from their profile what they might have done additionally to get in. However, minimum entrance requirements can vary year-to-year, so some profiles of LBS alumni could be misleading. Plus, people with subpar grades might opt-out from sharing them on their profiles.

Insider tip 2: LBS values real world impact and global collaboration. So, international work experience (whether this regards conducting business in another country/language or your involvement with your company’s international affect or appeal) will be received well. You could even link your experience to a mission statement: how do you plan on blowing your company up to a global scale?

Please note that typically LBS does not accept internships as valid work experience. 

3) Underestimated factors that carry weight

Your application is not about how great you are:

Surprisingly, a lot of applicants forget to mention what they intend to do with their degree as well as why they are applying, or why they are a good student for their chosen course at this university. This, however, is exactly what the application is supposed to focus on, rather than just proving why you’re great. 

Many applicants are not aware of LBS’s seven pieces of  ‘hidden criteria’ or ‘probes’ which they will mark each application out of five for. You need to score highly in these in order to be invited to interview. Two of these are:

  1. Having a positive social mission, as well as cultural/diversity awareness. What’s your mission statement? Will you be a good fit for this international university?
  2. A robust, ambitious and realistic career plan. They want to know what job title you’ll have and what company you’ll work for after you graduate.

Luckily for you, our ex-admissions staff and ex-interviewers know all seven factors! Contact us to tick each box that LBS is looking for.

Don’t hand in a personal statement:

LBS does not allow you to upload a general personal statement. However, every course has a ~500 word question that is similar to a personal statement. Typically “How will this course help you to achieve your academic and professional goals?”. What you can expect from the written application is broken down below.

Submit superb application questions 

As LBS asks application questions rather than for a personal statement, this means you cannot (and should not!) copy and paste an application you have written for another university course. Instead, each course has its own set of career and leadership questions for you to answer. The Master’s in Management courses typically have between nine and thirteen 150-500 word questions for you to answer, whereas some of the Finance courses only ask you for two 500-word questions.

It is strongly advised that you move your application questions into a Google or Word document and bullet point all of your answers before writing full sentences. You can create your applications account and review which questions you have been asked before you start writing so that you can target the specific questions. LBS does not allow you to submit a generic personal statement. The key to a successful LBS application is writing unique answers that you have not copied and pasted from another business school application.

Speak from the heart and talk with enthusiasm and motivation. Remain focused and concise.

Insider tip 1: With so many words to write, LBS allows you to provide many more selling points than other universities, and you should only repeat your very most impressive selling points (e.g. a 85% grade in a Maths exam). Also, these bullet points allow you to quickly assess whether you have hit LBS’s ‘hidden criteria’.

Insider tip 2: Whilst you will be asked how you contribute to the community, LBS do not explicitly ask questions on your impact or leadership. So, you need to plan your answers strategically. Weave in important information.

Check out our previous article on postgraduate university applications.

Demonstrate insider knowledge: 

Show that your understanding of the course is beyond comprehensive by talking about very specific and complex concepts. The best way to do this is to do your research and go beyond undergraduate curriculum and understanding. Better yet if you can link the theory to real world experience. 

Take the time to read a large breadth of quality literature around your niche. Be careful not to read the most popular texts that most applicants for your course might point to. Express something unique to your personal interests. Or find something unknown, underrated, niche, and/or peculiar to talk about. It’s important to demonstrate passion and knowledge for sub-subjects within your course. If your strength is your work experience rather than your academic track record, then demonstrating expertise and understanding surrounding your interests as theoretical and academic concepts is especially important.

It’s also valuable to demonstrate that you’ve researched LBS itself too. LBS asks you to submit one of the longest application forms in the world. They are willing to invest time in getting to know you – meaning it is equally important that you show you have spent time getting to know LBS, their courses and wider opportunities. If your application is superficial (or worse still, copied and pasted from your generic LSE or Imperial personal statement), you are highly unlikely to receive an offer.

Look at your course page e.g. the Master’s in Financial Analysis. There is so much information for you to talk about in your application – from electives or an entire additional term, to skills programmes and a global challenge week. You’ll want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for their opportunities and align them with your career goals throughout your application to stand out from the crowd.

When conducting your extra reading and research in your subject check out the variety of online courses that LBS offers. You can demonstrate a genuine interest in LBS by mentioning that you took one of their courses.

MBA applicants: Mention the fourth term to show that you’ve done your research. You might not end up sticking to this, and that’s okay, but it will help you to stand out!  

Insider tip: Keep up to date with national and international current affairs relevant to your field. It can boost your application to link the outside world to your discipline. For example, a Finance applicant might mention specific developments within FinTech and Cryptocurrency as these concepts tie the subject into current and relevant digital developments. 

Your extracurriculars:

Extracurriculars can be a great opportunity to boost your application. If the activities are related to your chosen subject, they can demonstrate genuine passion and interest in the subject. If you have any accomplishments within your extracurriculars, they can be evidence that you have talent, capability, and skills that will equip you for your degree. For example, have you taught yourself anything quantitative in your free time? 

Don’t forget to mention the experience you might have picked up during your undergraduate course e.g. ‘Spring Weeks’ (designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to your relevant industry). It is great if you are able to say you’ve done something like Spring Week as it proves you have some experience, but more importantly, it shows that you have initiative, motivation and passion. Similarly, whilst LBS won’t consider an internship appropriate professional experience, they will value it as an extracurricular. It could also be attractive to mention if you had a position of responsibility within a university society, such as president or treasurer.

All that said, don’t write ‘fluff’, check that your extracurriculars genuinely relate to your chosen course and strengthen your application. 

Top tip: Learn Python (or another coding language)! This will help you to start out with any application. Especially for LBS’s MFA and MAM  courses. Ensure you add new valuable experiences to your repertoire if you’re falling short in any areas of your application.

London Business School places a far greater weight on your softer skills (leadership, teamwork and communication) than other universities. So, you should use any mention of extracurriculars to illustrate these skills. LBS explicitly marks your application for the following: communication skills, leadership skills, collaboration, and community engagement. The key to getting into LBS is to explicitly target all of the ‘hidden’ criteria above.

Insider tip 1: London Business School values community greatly. You will be assessed on both your previous experience giving back to the community, and also by the contributions you can make to the school should you be awarded a place. LBS ask the vast majority of applicants a question on community (note the exact question will vary year to year and course to course), such as:

‘During your time as a student, how will you contribute to the school community?’ (400 words). So, how do you best demonstrate your community contributions? Provide 150 words on your most relevant community work to date – this could be charity work or giving your time for free to your university, workplace or school. Then, with your remaining 250 words, show off in-depth research into LBS’s cultural and career societies and think carefully about which you can contribute to and how you could help others in your cohort to succeed. For example, have you successfully raised funding? Then research and join the Entrepreneurs Society and offer to share these insights with others, as well as your contacts. LBS wants to see what you will offer to your fellow students.

Insider tip 2: Don’t just view extracurriculars as what you’ve done before LBS, also include what you would do at LBS. What do you offer LBS’s community? Would you get involved and how? Research their societies and clubs. LBS wants a truly diverse, global cohort and network of alumni interviewers that invests in its societies and community. As such, if you are applying from a smaller, less represented country – especially in less represented geographical areas on their website, such as South America or Africa – it is worth emphasising your cultural identity and how you will actively bring representation to LBS.

Pick the right application cycle: 

LBS has multiple cycles with applications, interview and decision deadlines for each course (note that these cycles are different from course to course, so always check the relevant course page on their website). All universities advise that you apply as early as possible for the best results.

This is not always the best advice. As a general rule, the first cycle is the most competitive and should be avoided; candidates who have their GMAT and full application ready early in the cycle are highly likely to be the most prepared and may have spent an entire year perfecting their application. So, if you’re lacking something in your application, it’s best to avoid competing with these strong candidates. Instead, apply on the first day of the middle cycle(s).

You should also avoid the final cycle as places will be most limited and many very strong applicants with great work experience apply last minute, usually because a job offer has fallen through.

Most importantly, it is almost always worth waiting for one more cycle in order to improve your application, boost your GMAT score, and apply early within that cycle, rather than rush to meet the end of a cycle and submit a suboptimal application. If you are interested in more advice on applications strategy, contact The Profsteam.

Click here to check out LBS’s application cycles calendar. 

Don’t ignore the power of your referee:

You should always set up a meeting with your referee early in the application process because their statement about you is just as integral as your written application. 

A good referee is important. Obviously, you want them to speak highly of you, but ideally, they will highlight your skills and qualities that are relevant to your chosen degree. You also want to select a referee who meets what your application is looking for – usually a professional referee who you’ve worked closely with. Choose wisely.

Beyond that, get to know your referee so that they can get to know you. You want your referee to sell you as a person and your characteristics. 

Use your referee wherever you need them and ask them to vouch for you. If you lack a degree or a quantitative background, you might want your referee to defend why that is and assure LBS that you are still a suitable candidate. Perhaps they can describe how you demonstrate the skills of someone with a quantitative degree in your career or how you’ve acquired those skills through your employment experience. Maybe they can say how you make up for any losses. 

Bonus tip from our founder, Richard (LBS alumnus): 

“London Business School places such importance on networking that they often include two questions testing it. Firstly, whether you have met any staff from the university, and secondly, whether you know any alumni. Answering ‘no’ to either question shows your lack of effort and is a hard no! Instead, find a champion! LBS offer a lot of unique opportunities to meet and greet their recruitment team, alumni and current students e.g. coffee chats around the world throughout the year, open days and virtual open days. 

There’s even a textbox on the application where you can mention a name! So, take note of the admissions team, and name drop that you have attended these events. LBS will share even more tips, such as those found throughout this post, which you can use to your advantage to gain a place. 

Get onto LinkedIn and reach out to an alumnus – ask them some questions and include their name in your application. I don’t ask my students to complete these exercises to game the system, but instead because there is immense value in learning from open days and alumni which can help students to make better-informed choices as to whether LBS is right for them and their career goals!”

3) Embrace the power of your interview

London Business School interviews for all its courses. You will typically be offered an alumni interview or an online interview with a member of the admissions team. London Business School really makes an effort to get to know you through your application and will try to pair you with an alumni in a relevant field and, if possible, one who can meet with you for a coffee in your home country. Recently, we have noticed more and more interviews happening online rather than in-person.

Don’t forget LBS’s 7 ‘hidden criteria’ or ‘probes’ mentioned earlier in this article. You need to score highly in these in order to be invited to interview, and you need to be well-prepared for these to do well in your interview.

Tips to impress in this interview: 

  • You need a career driven identity – after all LBS prides itself on having a 96% employability metric. So, they want candidates who know what career they seek and have some certainty they will achieve it e.g. internship or job already secured.
  • Know your weaknesses. Usually, students know their CV and their strengths but they don’t know their weaknesses. They might ask about your cultural fit with the university, quality of your experience, whether or not your career aspirations are realistic and even your multicultural awareness. So know your weak points and prepare accordingly.
  • Treat the interview as a conversation back and forth between you and the interviewer.
  • This interview should be approached as a job interview! Prepare for motivational, competency and situation-based questions.

Research your alumni interviewer:

London Business School’s interviews are very different from typical UK university interviews because they are commonly conducted by an ex-student. Whether your interview is conducted online or in-person, and by an alumni or a member of the admissions team, makes a huge difference in how you should prepare for the interview.

If you are meeting with an alumni, I recommend putting at least 30 minutes into finding them on LinkedIn and understanding their own role. As a general rule, you want to keep an alumni interviewer talking about their experience as much as possible, whilst asking questions on how their LBS experience helped to prepare them for their career! It is great if you can turn up to your interview and say: “Hi, I saw you worked in X role for X company. What a great field! I’m interested to know how you got on.” 

We also have articles on how to prepare for postgraduate interviews, common postgraduate interview questions and Kira Talent Prep interviews which you may find useful. 

The Profs also offer experienced university interview tutors for mock interviews!

4) If your grades aren’t up to par

The LBS courses with academic requirements ask for a 2:1 in a quantitative degree with emphasis on work experience. 

So, if you don’t have an undergraduate degree under your belt or your grade is lower than a 2:1, you should obtain quality professional experience (just ensure that you don’t exceed LBS’s maximum years of experience per course). Alternatively, if you have over 5 years of impressive work experience, you may consider applying for the MBA or EMBA instead (as they don’t require a degree grade).

LBS is far more career-driven and far less academically focussed than other top universities so it is definitely worth applying with poor or missing grades if you can strengthen your application in terms of valuable experience. 

On that same merit, LBS are unlikely to consider your GCSEs and A levels at all, especially if you have a decent undergraduate degree. If you don’t have an undergraduate degree (or you do but it falls below a 2:1) and you have good A level grades in quantitative subjects, point this out!

So, let’s talk tips:

Careful what you declare:

Put your best foot forward as long as it’s not deceitful. 

If you have multiple grades or qualifications for a singular subject, with one being lower than the other, you might not need to declare both of them. If the better result is the most recent one, then this is your rewritten grade, and you should only present this grade to LBS. Though if they ask you about this, you should tell them you’ve completed the test twice.

Unfortunately, if your most recent grade is the lower one, then this is your current and rewritten grade and you have to declare it. But in this situation, you should declare both of your grades as evidence that you have in fact achieved higher before, and you can even state that the higher grade is the accurate representation of your abilities. 

Similarly, if you took an extra test or qualification beyond your standard A levels or undergraduate degree then it is not mandatory for you to declare this or your results in your application to LBS. If you didn’t do very well, don’t bring it up. 

Offer an alternative track record: 

Mention all your relevant wins from the end of your time at secondary school to the present. Again, this can include absolutely anything that demonstrates excellent academic ability and/or talent in your field of interest. The better these wins are, or the more you have of them, the more likely they are to make up for your academic blips. For example, you can stand out by mentioning scholarships, awards, or class prizes.

Similarly, if your academic track record is lacking, take an additional course, such as a certified free course from MIT or UPenn in a relevant quantitative/data module and use this as evidence of your suitability for the course.

Smash your admissions test:

All courses at LBS require you to have a competitive GMAT score. The recommended grade varies depending on the course but it generally ranges from 600-700+ . London Business School’s average MBA GMAT score is 708 and the average MFA GMAT score is 689 for its 2023 cohorts. We recommend that all candidates target a score of over 650. Check out our previous article for a breakdown of GMAT scores and your chances alongside other application factors.

The weight of your score is very important as a higher GMAT score will help your application. So, it should not be overlooked. Hence, you should prepare as early as possible. Just keep in mind that you need to have taken the test within the last two years for it to be valid. 

Our average successful student invests 20 hours of tuition into their GMAT score, with many going over 40 hours, in addition to their independent study. If you do not have a mathematical background, the GMAT score will be particularly important in proving to the admissions team that you will be able to keep up with the more quantitative courses. So, if you don’t have a degree or you don’t have a quantitative degree, aiming for above the recommended score is particularly important.

Insider tip: An ex-admissions officer of LBS once told our team that only scores over 750 would significantly improve an application enough to compensate for other weaknesses.

GRE: LBS also accepts the GRE and they do not have a preference between GMAT or GRE, but the GMAT is slightly more common in the UK and Europe.

Executive Assessment (EA): In some circumstances, with a well-crafted waiver form, LBS may consider an EA in place of the GMAT/GRE.

For more specific advice, check out our previous articles on the GMAT, GRE and EA.

GMAT/GRE waiver: 

London Business School offers a GMAT waiver for academic excellence in quantitative subjects in addition to impressive work experience. Over the years we have helped students to receive a GMAT waiver, and our team has developed a couple of strategies to increase the chances of a student securing a waiver. If you already have a strong quantitative background, you can apply for a waiver by submitting your CV to the relevant department (e.g. for the Master’s in Finance, the email address to contact is [email protected]). 

We suggest phoning the department first to ask for the correct email and explain why you think your grades and experience warrant a waiver. You will then be asked to send over your CV. We recommend only requesting a waiver if you hold a 1st class degree (or international equivalent) and to highlight in your CV your highest mathematical grades at university level.

GMAT waivers are more commonly offered to students who have completed their first degree in a quantitative subject and have above-average quality work experience at an impressive name-brand organisation, where they can demonstrate impact above and beyond what is typically expected of their age group. Alternatively, if you have been out of education for many years, but have a job that requires frequent use of maths, LBS may consider this to be sufficient for a waiver.

Consider what’s best for you:

Whilst it is easy to get carried away with the mentality of “I must get in”, take a moment to stop and reflect. If you’re really struggling to meet the requirements for LBS, are you sure this is definitely the university for you? And if your performance history for this subject area is far below expectation, are you certain that this is the course for you? It might be worth taking some time to mull over whether this course and LBS are suited to you and whether you’d be able to keep up. Your mental wellbeing and happiness are important!

4) Consider your options

Here at The Profs, we have a dedicated, experienced, and friendly team of: 

Anything you need, no matter how niche, we can help. We also provide application assessments, where we can tell you your chances of getting into LBS, and where you need to improve. Getting students into university is our speciality! That’s why we have an 83% success rate in helping students get admitted to LBS. 

Finally, if you find that you meet none of the entry requirements mentioned in this article and you do not want to invest a year into getting everything up to scratch, or maybe a year couldn’t fix everything, then it might be worth considering a different course or a different university. Here at The Profs, we can help you establish your options and make a decision that is right for you.

We can help

Triple your chances of success with an expert LBS admissions tutor! At The Profs, we know exactly how to help you get in.

Reach out to our amazing team today and let’s get started.