Representatives from top MBA schools will be offering advice and information on their programmes Anyone thinking about doing an MBA will have an opportunity to do some comparative shopping when the World MBA Tour comes to town this Saturday. The one-day event, from 3pm to 6pm at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, will give participants a chance to sound out admissions officers while getting useful feedback from alumni. A series of seminars will offer pertinent advice to potential students. 'The World MBA Tour is a unique opportunity for anyone thinking about doing an MBA to meet face-to-face with business school admissions officials and alumni from leading business schools around the world,' World MBA Tour director Nuncio Quacquarellie said. 'It is the only time in Hong Kong that more than 80 business schools gather together. Potential students can ask personal questions that can help them in their decision-making process.' Potential students should do their homework in advance by finding out who will be in attendance and by short-listing a relatively small number of business schools - between four and six would usually be ideal - that they would like to learn more about during the event. It is important to go through school profiles ahead of time, looking at such issues as admissions data and areas of excellence. To encourage people to do research in advance of attending the fair, attendees registering online will not have to pay an admissions fee. Those registering in person will be charged a nominal fee of HK$40. A lot is made out of average GMAT scores, and they can in fact reflect an institution's overall quality as better quality schools tend to be more selective in terms of who they admit. But do not automatically assume that you should apply only to schools with high average GMAT scores. Instead, look for institutions whose scores are similar to or slightly higher than your own. If other students in your classes scored significantly higher than you did on GMAT, you might find that the professors teach at a level that is way over your head, and this can lead to frustration. Appropriateness is what counts most, and you will feel most comfortable in a programme that enrols students with aptitudes and experience that are similar to your own. Also, applying to schools you have little chance of getting admitted to can be a waste of time and money. You should also consider an institution's areas of excellence. Not every school excels in everything, so look for institutions that are strong in the areas that interest you most. If you are interested in marketing, for example, you would not be happy in a school whose forte is accounting. You should also think through carefully if you want to concentrate on general management or if you would prefer an MBA that combines training in general management with a particular focus in a related field such as accounting or international business or a totally unrelated field, such as design, hospitality or medicine. There is a growing trend to cater MBA curricula to the needs of students in particular fields or sectors. Sometimes they are taught in collaboration with other schools or departments at the university. Another area that is often overlooked is the quality of a programme's career planning or placement office. If you are happy at your present job and are just seeking to move up within your own organisation this might not be an issue. However, if you are hoping to switch jobs or careers, you will want to find an institution that actively helps graduates in this area. First, make sure that such an office exists because not all business schools have them. Then find out how many people work there and what the institution's record is in terms of helping graduates find better or new jobs. 'It is important that candidates gather some background information so that they ask pertinent questions,' Mr Quacquarellie said. 'We recommend that they look at www.topmba.com to get an overview of the MBA marketplace and also that they read the admissions advice available on the site.' Representatives from dozens of institutions - including most of the top business schools in the United States and Europe as well as some local business schools - will have booths where potential students can ask questions and pick up brochures and application forms. You can also inquire about scholarships and financing. If you register in advance, some schools might even contact you to schedule an interview or inform you of information sessions that they will be holding during the fair. There will also be a GMAT admissions strategy workshop, a sample MBA master class taught by top professors, and a careers panel headed by MBA recruiters and alumni.