Strategies for Integrating HEC After a Challenging Preparatory Program

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Dec 03, 2023

5 min read


Strategies for Integrating HEC After a Challenging Preparatory Program


Integrating into prestigious business schools like HEC can be a daunting task, especially for students coming from less prestigious preparatory programs. However, with determination and strategic planning, it is possible to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. In this article, we will explore the experiences and advice of students who successfully integrated HEC after a challenging preparatory program.

Setting Goals and Focusing on Improvement:

One student shared their journey of gradually improving their academic performance and targeting higher-ranked schools like EM and EDHEC before aiming for the top 3 schools (HEC, ESSEC, ESCP) in their second year. They even considered repeating a year (cubing) to increase their chances of entering a top 5 school. This decision helped reduce their stress during exams and allowed them to focus on the BCE exams. The key takeaway here is the importance of setting clear goals and continuously working on improving yourself.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Conduct a Self-Assessment and Start Addressing Weaknesses: Before starting your preparatory program, take the time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Use the summer before entering prep school to work on your weaknesses and build a solid foundation for the challenges ahead.
  • 2. Read Classic Literature: Reading renowned literary works not only enhances your cultural knowledge but also helps in the general knowledge and essay writing sections of the entrance exams. Start reading the classics during your pre-preparatory phase when you have more time.
  • 3. Language Proficiency: Work on improving your language skills, especially English, as it is crucial for success in business school. Attend oral sessions of prestigious schools like ESCP and HEC to gain exposure to their interview and assessment techniques.

Strategies for Success During Preparatory Program:

  • 1. Target Schools of Interest: Identify the schools that interest you the most and consider them as your top choices. Additionally, select backup options to ensure you have alternatives to fall back on. This will keep you motivated even during periods of low morale.
  • 2. Group Study: Form a study group with like-minded and serious students who are also aiming for the same schools. Collaborating with peers can help in sharing knowledge, discussing strategies, and providing support when needed.
  • 3. Time Management and Exam Techniques: Develop effective time management skills during exams. Determine how much time you should allocate to each section, including drafting and planning. Learn to identify "quick wins" to optimize your performance. Additionally, take necessary breaks when you feel inefficiency creeping in to avoid frustration.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Differentiate Between Long-Term and Short-Term Subjects: Identify subjects that require long-term preparation, such as languages, general knowledge, and economic history (AEH). Focus on these in the early stages. As the exams approach, shift more attention to subjects like mathematics.
  • 2. Economics and AEH: Practice solving a maximum number of past papers to identify the most relevant topics and theories for the exams. Only a portion of the course material is usually tested, so focus on the essential concepts. Develop the ability to problematize economic issues effectively.
  • 3. Mathematics: Master the course content, but do not waste time memorizing proofs. While your scores in math may be lower during practice sessions, it is crucial to understand the concepts rather than memorizing formulas. Use reliable resources like the MATHS ECE book and solve a mix of EDHEC/EM and ESSEC/HEC past papers.

Preparing for Interviews and Personal Assessments:

  • 1. Self-Reflection and Elevator Pitch: Prepare a concise elevator pitch that introduces yourself and highlights your journey, educational background, and career aspirations. Be flexible during interviews and adapt your pitch based on the interviewer's direction.
  • 2. Research the School: Gain in-depth knowledge about the school, its associations, specializations, and international academic partnerships. This will allow you to ask personalized questions and demonstrate your genuine interest in the institution.
  • 3. Current Affairs and Personal Interests: Stay updated on general news and topics related to your field of interest. Practice summarizing and discussing current events, presenting balanced arguments, and demonstrating your ability to think critically.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Film Interview Simulations: Request to be recorded during interview simulations to review your performance and understand the feedback provided by the interviewers. This helps in improving both substance and delivery.
  • 2. Prepare for Common Interview Questions: Anticipate questions like "Why should we choose you?" and "Why do you want to join our school?" Prepare concise and relevant answers, highlighting your strengths and aligning them with the school's values and offerings.
  • 3. Ask Questions: Always ask questions at the end of the interview if given the opportunity. Prepare a list of generic questions beforehand but adapt them based on the discussion during the interview. Take notes on the interviewers' introductions to personalize your questions.

Staying Motivated and Maximizing Potential:

  • 1. Focus on Progress: Instead of fixating on the long road ahead, celebrate the progress you make along the way. Treat every low score as an opportunity for improvement and growth.
  • 2. Participate in Inspiring Events: Attend alumni testimonials, conferences, and other events that provide insights into the professional world. This helps you visualize your future and identify areas of interest.
  • 3. Maintain a Greater Purpose: Cultivate an overarching goal beyond just passing the exams. This may include envisioning your post-preparatory journey or identifying areas where you can make a difference. A bigger purpose will keep you motivated and dedicated.


Integrating into prestigious business schools like HEC after a challenging preparatory program is possible with the right strategies and mindset. By setting clear goals, focusing on improvement, managing time effectively, and preparing for interviews, you can maximize your chances of success. Remember to stay motivated, participate in inspiring events, and maintain a greater purpose throughout your journey. Good luck!

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