MBA Admissions is a 12-Month plan, and we have developed the plan based on the assumption that most top MBA programs have Round 1 Deadlines in September/October.
January – Top 10 List
Although most serious MBA research starts in March, starting early has its advantages. The research process will be more comprehensive, and you will get the chance to reconsider several schools based on the interaction with current students, MBA Alumni, and school representatives. You can apply to any number of schools but to fulfill the essay and recommendation letter requirements, consider 5-6 schools. However, when you start the research in January create a top 10 list without worrying too much about your chances. The selection process and methodology are covered in our book.
February – Pick 5 Schools & 2 Specialization
In January, you had created a top 10 list without thinking too much about specialization. Keep that list. But once you have the knowledge of top MBA programs based on specialization, pick two specializations that you are interested. It need not be related but should be based on your proven expertise, or your aptitude. If you want an unbiased profile evaluation, use our Basic Profile Evaluation Service. Once you have shortlisted two specializations, pick the top 5 MBA programs based on specialization: General Management, Finance, Consulting, Marketing, Strategy, Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, Luxury Management, Information Systems, Hospitality Management, Accounting, Energy, Non-Profit, Wine, Sports, Sustainability, Leadership Development, Military & International. Download it here.
March – Find the Intersection
In January, you had created the top 10 MBA program list, and in February, you had a top 10 list based on two specializations. During March, you have to find the common MBA programs from the two lists. This is your chance to evaluate the program based on several factors: Recruiter reputation, Employment Trends, Career Service team, Economic Growth of the host economy, Post MBA Increase in Salary, Learning Environment, Teaching Methodology, and competence of Professors. After considering all these factors, use some of the methodologies (Moral Algebra Method & Risk Evaluation) mentioned in our book to pick one MBA program over the other.
Create the top 5 MBA program, after evaluating risks, and the program’s ability to fulfill your post-MBA goals. Pay close attention to the basic academic entry criteria: GMAT, GPA & Work Experience. If you are below the median by 20-30 points (GMAT), and by 3 to 4 decimal points (GPA), and by 2-3 years (Experience), eliminate the MBA program from your top 5 list.
April – GMAT Preparation Fundamentals
This is the month where you collect at least three sources for GMAT preparation: Official GMAT Sources (the The Official Guide to the GMAT Review 2017 Bundle + Question Bank + Video and GMAT Prep Software available freely at mba.com), Commercial Sources (Veritas Prep, Manhattan GMAT, or Kaplan), top downloaded study guides from our store (Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide and Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning), and popular forums (GMAT Club & Beat the GMAT).
Do keep in mind that official GMAT guides should be given the first priority followed by commercial sources. Use our RC and CR Guides to master the fundamentals. Start with the diagnostic test in GMAT Test Prep software to get a clear picture about your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of them, focus on the weaknesses (read again about the concepts and solve 10-15 problems every day), while maintaining the strengths (solve one or two problems every alternate day). Don’t worry too much about speed or the scores. Make sure that you are in the 650-700 range or 75% accuracy rate.
May – GMAT Preparation Intermediate
After covering hundreds of questions, you will have a clear understanding of the question format, and the framing involved. By April, you should know how to pick information from the question, convert them into statements, and apply them to various formulas. During May, the focus should be on improving accuracy from 75% to 90%. This is the tough part of GMAT preparation.
The weaknesses should be split up into specifics:
1) Lack of Knowledge on Concepts
2) Carelessness (noting down information or errors while applying in formulas) &
3) Lack of skills to convert problem statements to equations.
While attempting full-length GMAT tests, the focus should be on scoring in the 680-720 range.
June – GMAT Preparation Mastery
Once you have overcome fundamental weaknesses, the Mastery phases involve using all time-saving techniques to improve the speed of noting down facts & concepts, the process of elimination techniques for GMAT 750-800 level questions, and the art of refocusing on the next question after an exhaustive GMAT 750+ level question. The scores in the full-length practice tests should be in the 720 to 780 range.
July – GMAT Test, Recommendation Letters & Essays
Try to schedule the GMAT exam in the first two weeks of July. This would ensure that you would have enough time for GMAT Retake, Essay Writing, and Recommendation Letters. If your GMAT score is above the median score of your target school, then you have a competitive score, and you don’t have to worry about retaking the GMAT. Otherwise, take a 2-week break, and reschedule the test for August last week.
During the month of July, applicants should start selecting their potential recommenders. Eliminate recommenders who are not that eager about your career progress. End of the day, intent and motivation of the recommenders will be reflected in the recommendation letter. It is far better to ask for recommendations from a project manager with whom you had worked closely than a CEO who had one or two interactions with you.
Offer clear guidelines on how to answer the recommendation letter
For Essay writing, this month should be devoted on life audit. We have covered this process in our book: Winning MBA Essay Guide. After life audit, do a thorough research on the school, its history, and values. A key aspect of essay writing involves matching your career aspirations with the school’s ability to achieve them. Without understanding the school, it would be difficult to align these two factors. Again our Essay Guide captures the culture and curriculum in detail.
Read 12-Month MBA Admission Plan (Part 2)