How to prepare for the Wharton Team Based Discussion (TBD)

Home » How to prepare for the Wharton Team Based Discussion (TBD)

The Wharton Team Based Discussion (TBD) is one of the most unique business schools admissions evaluation exercises. If you’ve made it to the TBD, congratulations! You’ve already cleared the first filter, and that means something! The TBD, while a non-traditional interviewing format, can be much more fun than just a personal interview as well. To get a final Wharton admit, you will need to excel at the TBD.

The Wharton TBD format

The TBD is a 35-minute exercise, which is done in groups of 5-6 applicants. Wharton says that these teams are assigned randomly, but there must be some sorting and assigning going on in the background, because most teams tend to be quite heterogenous in their composition. This is a good thing, because it allows for diverse perspectives that enrich the discussion.

The group discussion usually focuses on a central ‘problem statement’ prompt given to the groups by Wharton. This statement is the same for all groups in a given admissions year. The statement is related to something at Wharton, and the problems have ranged from creating a new course at Wharton (2021-22 prompt) to deciding on the perfect location for one of Wharton’s GIPs (2022-23 prompt).

  • A 60-second ‘pitch’ for every individual applicant
  • A 25-minute group session in which you must discuss the problem at hand with your teammates and arrive at a final solution
  • A 10-minute personal interview session on your ambition and purpose to attend Wharton

Sharp applicants realize that the TBD actually has three components – the pitch, the group discussion and presentation, and the personal interview. While the group discussion is the mainstay, that does not means that others elements do not carry importance or value.

How to think about the Wharton TBD pitch

The pitch is your chance to shine! Irrespective of whether your solution is accepted by your group as the one that they want to work on, your brilliance in the ideas you propose will always add to you candidature. So, what is the pitch? It is a one-minute (strictly) presentation that allows you to pitch your solution or idea for a business problem. You will have to make sure you cover all of the following points during your pitch:

– Problem statement (What problem do we solve?)

– Solution statement (How do we solve it?)

– Solution model (Why is this a great solution?)

To have a great pitch, you should research the Wharton program first. You should also understand how your solution fits into the program’s overall goal of helping businesses solve real-world problems. You should be able to clearly communicate how your solution will help solve this problem and why it is so important that your group works on this project.

You should also be able to clearly communicate how your solution will help solve this problem and why it is so important that your group works on this project. Remember that the purpose of the pitch is not to get your solution selected for the actual presentation that your group later works on, but to showcase your understanding of the problem and your own analytical skills.

Wharton TBD group discussion – what you should do, and how

Once the pitches are over, you will have a chance to discuss which of the proposed solutions your group adopts, and then refine it before creating a 5-minute presentation for it. While it would be fantastic to have your solution accepted, this is often not the case for various reasons not necessarily connected to the quality of your solution. What is more important is that you are able to show the right team spirit to drive the joint solution of the group forward. Remember, you are judged not just on what you contributed, but also on how well your group did. It is therefore important that you are able to see a situation from the perspective of your team, and be able to adapt your personal goals accordingly. This will not only make you more effective as an individual contributor, but also help prevent frustration and conflict within the group.

The key to being successful in any group discussion is to listen carefully to what everyone else says before you make your own point. This gives you time to think about what you want to say and how best to communicate it.

You may also find it helpful to take notes while people are talking so that you can refer back later if needed. If you do this, be sure not to interrupt others when they are speaking by writing down their comments!

Another tip is that if you want other people’s input on something before making a point yourself (i.e., if someone makes a point that doesn’t seem right), wait until they’re done speaking before asking questions or making comments. Otherwise, people might feel as though they aren’t being heard because they’re constantly being interrupted by questions or comments from others.

The following are some of the roles you can play:

Facilitator: The facilitator is responsible for making sure that the discussion stays on track and everyone gets a chance to speak. If someone doesn’t have anything to say, then the facilitator may ask them questions or give them suggestions to get them thinking.

Leader: The leader is responsible for setting goals and providing direction for the team. They are also responsible for communicating with other teams or managers in order to ensure that everyone stays on track with their tasks and deadlines. While it is tempting to have your directions followed and be seen as the leader, be very careful that you don’t end up overshadowing others.

Participant: If you are not chosen as leader, then you will most be just a participant in the group discussion, but that doesn’t mean you are at a disadvantage! In fact, you may be more free to contribute your ideas, validate others’, and help move to the overall outcome. This means that you should speak up when it is appropriate and offer your ideas when they may add value to the group’s efforts; however, be sure not to dominate or interrupt others who are speaking. It is important for everyone’s voice to be heard in order for consensus or compromise to occur successfully among team members. You may even find yourself in the position of being a member of a minority opinion within your group. That’s when it’s important for you to clearly state your views without being confrontational or argumentative.

As with any type of communication, it’s important for each person involved in a team-based discussion to understand what his or her role is within the discussion and how that relates to the other members of the group. Keep the following pieces of advice in mind:

When working in teams, you may find yourself in a variety of roles. You can be the leader or the follower, the expert or the novice, the quiet one or the outspoken one. However, there are some general guidelines that will be helpful to keep in mind when participating in group discussions:

Listen actively. When you do speak up, make sure to add value to the conversation by speaking thoughtfully and clearly. Ask questions to clarify your understanding and make sure you know what other team members are saying before jumping into the discussion.

Keep an open mind. You might not always agree with what others say in a group discussion — but remember that it’s important to listen respectfully and try to understand where they’re coming from. Remember that everyone has different perspectives and experiences that shape their views on issues, so even if someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong!

Be respectful of others’ opinions and try not to judge too quickly; instead focus on understanding those opinions more fully. Also keep in mind that most people aren’t trying to be rude or disrespectful by sharing their thoughts; rather they just want to share their ideas and opinions freely without being judged for them (which is why we have academic freedom!).

The Wharton TBD personal interview

How to Ace the Wharton Team Based Discussion

After the group discussion, you will have a 10-minute personal (1-on-1) interview with an admissions volunteer. At this stage, you will be asked to answer two questions:

– Why MBA?

– Why Wharton?

Here is how you can do well at this process.

You should remember that the interviewer is trying to understand your reasons for applying, not just your answers to the questions. You should have prepared a list of reasons why you want to get an MBA and why Wharton would be a great choice for you. Make sure that these reasons are specific and clearly articulated in your mind before entering the room! The best way to do this is to practice explaining your motivations aloud in front of friends or family members until they feel natural rather than rehearsed or forced. Practice saying them out loud so that they come out naturally in an interview setting as well.

  1. Read up on the school and its offerings. Study up on Wharton’s core values, mission, alumni network and more. You should know about the curriculum, faculty, student body and alumni network. This will help you formulate your answers better. You have done this already in answering your application essays. Now is the time to add personality and a background to those answers.
  2. Have a clear idea of why you want to pursue an MBA degree from Wharton or any other business school for that matter. You should also be able to communicate this effectively. Remember, Wharton is not just any other business school, so don’t bring in points related to learning about business or building a network. Don’t simply focus on the network or the brand either, but on how the Wharton MBA will be distinctive for you.
  3. Try practicing answering these questions beforehand so that it does not sound rehearsed when you are asked them in front of a panel of experts who are evaluating your application!

Are you looking for professional Wharton TBD preparation?

We have a close to perfect record with helping Wharton TBD applicants get a final admit. Our Wharton TBD guides are specially created for the TBD question each year, and packed with strategies and things to do to ace the process. We also do Wharton TBD mocks to make sure you don’t just prepare, but also practice. If you are looking for professional help on the Wharton TBD, contact us today!

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