Applying during the first round or second round of deadlines for your MBA application is a hotly debated topic. There are people who support the argument that applying for the first round of deadline can give you an edge over people who are applying during the second round of deadline. Admission committee would have a bias towards people who are on time with their application. When you apply during the first round of deadline, it might give the impression that you are eager to do your MBA (This can reflect on your motivation to do an MBA). This is especially true for candidates who have scored in the average GMAT score range of the business school or have fallen short of the average by 20-30 points.
The argument against this theory is that when you apply for the second round of deadlines you would have enough time to go through second or third iteration of your essays. By the third iteration, you would have given enough thought into your essays and it would reflect on your application.
Another argument in favor of applying during the 2nd round of deadline is that normally the volume of applicants increase with 2nd round and that the evaluation criteria is much more stricter during the 1st round. Once the business school gets a realistic idea on the application volume, the evaluation would be less strict. However, there are experts who use this same fact against applying during the second round. When you apply for the second round of deadlines, you would be competing against candidates who are applying during the second as well as against those who have applied in the first round of deadline. Candidates applying during first round of deadline have a better chance of getting into a business school than the ones applying in the second round (If the admission committee is consistent with the evaluation in all the rounds). I believe that if you have taken your GMAT during June/July you can submit your application on or before the first deadline (Which is normally in Sept/Oct). You would have enough time to go through second and third iteration of your essays.
GMAT Score and competition
Download GMAT Candidate Profiles and refer the mean GMAT score of your country and the number of test takers in your country. Now contact your target business school and get information on how many people have applied from your country last year and how many got through. This will give you the hit ratio. Ask for the mean GMAT score of candidates from your country. If you cannot get this information, contact the alumni from your country and get their GMAT score. Average the score to get the mean. Now analyze the mean GMAT score of your target business school and the GMAT score of alumni from your country. Was the score above or below the school’s average? How does your score compare against the average GMAT score? Now here is a snap shot of mean GMAT score based on country with the number of test takers in 2007-08.
Mean Total Score
Number of test takers
The table shows that China, India and US are the biggest competitive pool. But since most of the business schools that accepts GMAT score are in the US, candidates in the US will have more options to choose. From an international student's point of view, if you are planning to do your MBA from US, contact the school and get the percentage of international students in your target school. Refer the “Undergraduate Major, Gender and Testing Year" to see the number of test takers with a similar background that you have. Get to know of the gender ratio of your target business school.
The factors that affect the selection criteria for a business school (In order of importance are):
2) GMAT Score = Country = Work Background
Experiences that portray your leadership and communication skill are the primary criteria for selection into a business school. Your profile is competitive if your GMAT Score is in the + or – 20 range of the mean GMAT score of your target business school.
Business school data
Mean score: 650
Average work exp: three
Number of US candidates selected from Information Technology (last year): 1
A has a GMAT score of 630 and B has a GMAT score of 650.
A has 5 years of exp in Information Technology and B has 3 years of exp in the same field .
A applied on 1st round of deadline, B applied on 2nd round of deadline.
A has worked on 3-4 leadership roles compared to that of 2 of B and both are from US.
Who will get through?
Unfortunately, only one will get through although both the candidates will bring in different experiences to the class and I believe that candidate A has a higher probability of getting through even though his GMAT score is below the class average by 20 points. His experience and leadership roles would give him a clear advantage over candidate B.
P.S: In order to get an edge over candidates don't apply on the day of the deadline, apply 2-3 weeks before the deadline(Normally candidates will apply around 1 week before the deadline).