How to Get Good Grades in Business School

Success Tips for Business School Students

I have a bright future ahead of me
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Every business school works differently when it comes to grades. Some grading systems are based on instructional approaches. For example, lecture-based courses sometimes base grades on class assignments or test scores. Programs that use the case method, like Harvard School of Business, often base a percentage of your grade on classroom participation.

In some cases, schools won't even award traditional grades.

Yale School of Management, for example, has grading categories like Distinction, Proficient, Pass, and Fail. Other schools, like Wharton, request that professors keep average class GPAs below a certain number, ensuring that only a certain number of students will receive a perfect 4.0.

How Important Are Grades in Business School?

Before you begin worrying about grades too much, it's important to note that GPA isn't really that important if you're an MBA student. Obviously, you want to be able to pass your class and do well, but when it comes down to it, MBA grades just aren’t as important as high school or undergraduate grades. Employers are willing to overlook soft grades for MBA grads who fit the company culture or excel in a particular area, such as leadership.

If you're a student in an undergraduate business program, on the other hand, your GPA is important. A low undergraduate GPA can keep you out of a top-ranked graduate school.

It can also affect your employment prospects, as employers are much more likely to ask about your class rank and success rate in particular class.

Tips for Getting Good Grades in Business School

Determination is an important quality for all MBA students. Without it, you are going to have a hard time wading through the notoriously rigorous curriculum and keeping up with your cohorts.

If you can keep your determination level high, your persistence will pay off with good grades or at least an A for effort - professors notice enthusiasm and effort and will find some way to reward it.

A few other tips to help you get good grades in business school:

  • Show up for class. You don’t need to attend every single class, but if you attend a small business program, your empty seat will be noticed. Since many business programs are teamwork-based, you will also be letting down your classmates when you do not pull your weight.
  • Participate in class. Remember, participation can account for a large portion of your grade. If you don’t get involved in class discussion or at least look interested in class, you won’t fare well in a case-based curriculum or a course that emphasizes involvement.
  • Learn to read fast. In two years of business school, you could read as many as 50 textbooks and 500 cases. Learning how to take in a lot of dry text in a short amount of time will save you time and allow you to focus on other work.
  • Join or form a study group. Study group members can learn from one another. Making yourself accountable to a group can also keep you motivated and on track.
  • Read case studies. A good case study/analysis combo is the perfect way to learn how to answer questions in a business school class. If you know what topic you will be studying next week in class, prepare with a few case studies in private this week.
  • Master time management. There is never enough time to get all of your work done in business school. The more you can learn and practice time management, the easier it will be for you to at least get to 90 percent of your work.
  • Network with everyone. Grades are important, but networking is what will help you survive business school and thrive after graduation. Don’t sacrifice your time with other people for hours in the books.