Read the first part of our 12-Month MBA Admission Plan (Jan to July), before continuing.
August – GMAT Retake, Recommendation Letter Follow Up & Essays
For those applicants who are planning to re-take the GMAT during August last week, the first week of the month should be focused on introspection. This is for those applicants who had prepared well but due to various reasons didn’t get a competitive score. The introspection process should be honest. Don’t blame it on other test takers who were “typing loud” or on the “minor cold” that affected your mood.
Be brutal, and list 3-4 reasons for your poor performance. If it has to do with nerves, then you have to approach the retake process differently. The preparation should be focused on full-length tests in a similar test-taking environment. Some applicants might excel in small tests with 10-20 questions but get exhausted when presented with 3-4 hour tests. For such applicants, instead of focusing on fundamentals, efforts should be made to improve stamina.
For those test takers who had the misfortune to encounter 8-12 problems from topics that they hadn’t mastered, it is time to focus back on those fundamentals. You will be surprised to learn that even after a two-week break, 70-75% of all the concepts, and techniques to solve them are still fresh in your mind. Just focus on the 25% of the concepts. So instead of approaching the GMAT retake as preparation from scratch, look at it as mastering the concepts that you had missed last time around.
Applicants should follow up with recommenders about the letters, and convey a sense of urgency, and a tentative deadline for the first draft, preferably last week of August.
The Essay writing process should evolve from life audit and research to the actual writing process where the question at hand should be addressed first before supporting them with arguments, and facts, convincing the AdCom about your candidacy. Download our Essay Guide and streamline the essay writing process.
All related documents including original transcripts should be ready by the third week of August. Have a clear idea about the turnaround time for universities for producing original transcripts. Plan accordingly.
If the recommenders are ready with the letter, it is important to share the IMPACT table with the recommender so that he does not miss important achievements or project-related events in the letter.
We have demonstrated how to create an IMPACT table in our Essay Guide. Download it here.
If you share your essay, the recommender might consciously or subconsciously pick the phrases that you have used. Ideally, don't share your essay with the recommender. Share the IMPACT table and the outline of your essay. The recommender can either supplement the achievements or compliment them with other results that are relevant for MBA Admissions.
September – Essays Final Draft, Recommendation Letter & Documents
The final draft of your essay should be well thought and reviewed extensively so that inconsistencies in voice, argument, and sentence structure are removed. It is important to include a team of reviewers, preferably someone from the industry or unbiased acquaintances for the review process. Friends & Family might not be a good fit for the process and inadvertently might weaken the essay. That is why we started our editing and review services. By 1st of September, the recommendation letters should be ready. All the writing for the essays should also conclude by the same day. For applicants targeting top schools other than Harvard, repeat the process and be ready by the 4th week of the month. Harvard MBA Application deadline is in the first week of September.
October – Apply
Most top MBA programs have their first round of deadlines in the first half of the month. The days leading up to the deadlines should be devoted to reading and re-reading the essays. Once you get the feeling that the essays cannot be improved further, end the review process and be ready to upload the essays online. Make sure that you upload at least 2-3 days before the deadline. The day of deadline still invites a lot of traffic from last-minute applicants, even those who are serious about meeting the deadlines. This can lead to server timeouts and other issues.
November – Waitlist Communication Strategy & Fund Planning
Once you apply, the announcement of results takes place within two months, but you can develop a strategy for the waitlist, reapplication, interview and fund arrangement.
How will you communicate if you are categorized in waitlist?
We have written extensively about Waitlist, you can read it here. Don’t be defensive or over communicative, thank the AdCom for the opportunity, and develop a strategy to maintain communication for the next 3-months. Improve your profile after getting feedback from the AdCom.
How will you plan if your application is rejected?
If you feel that an MBA is essential, and your profile can be improved, start working on them immediately – an extracurricular or involvement in voluntary activity would be useful. If you have the option to improve scores in a few subjects, start preparing for that. If you have not retaken the GMAT, it is time to go for an extensive preparation with the help of professionals. The scores are valid for 5-years, so it does not matter if you take the GMAT by December last week. Whatever be the corrective action, start taking them immediately. It would be unlikely that you would have the same motivation after two months.
How to create a competent Profile for Loans & External Funding?
Evaluate your credit history, and clean up any debts or unwanted expenses. The next couple of years requires a lot of financial planning. A reasonable interest rate on student loans is offered to those who have a credible financial profile. If you would like to navigate the MBA journey with manageable debts, planning is important. By eliminating unwanted expenses, you are developing a habit that would be useful for a productive post-MBA journey.
December - Waitlist Communication/Interview Preparation
Once the results are announced for Round 1, you can develop a waitlist, re-application, interview or a funding strategy. Also, apply to other top MBA programs by Round 2. It is unlikely that you would have the motivation to go through the admission process again.
Read our articles on handling waitlist communication.
For those who have been shortlisted for Interview, Download our Interview Guide and be Interview ready.
For Applicants, planning for Round 2, we have a separate plan.