Applications, Interviews, and the GMAT: Your Guide to MBA Admissions
It’s never too early to start thinking about the application for business school. Studies say that the average student will spend about a year on the whole application process. Filling out the applications, setting up interviews, and studying for the GMAT is a long and nerve-racking process and can even turn some people off to the idea of getting an MBA. Here’s a guide to the GMAT admissions process to help you prepare and make everything seem a little less daunting.
The Application Process
Once you’ve narrowed down which business schools you will be applying to, it’s time to sit down and start filling out the applications. Having an excellent resumé and opting for the early admissions deadline are two great ways to get yourself noticed.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
The application process for MBA admissions can be a very long, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get everything done properly. If you can, try to get everything done early and apply for the early admissions. Early admissions tend to stand out to schools and shows that you are committed and eager.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are an important part of the MBA admissions process, but they can also be one of the most nerve-racking, simply because you have no control over how they turn out. The best course of action is to reach out to possible recommenders as early as possible.
Be considerate of your recommender’s time; if they have the ability to give your application the time it deserves, the better your chances are of getting a good recommendation. After all, you’re spending a lot of your own time on the application process, so you surely hope that they will take the time your recommendations deserve.
If you’re worried about one of your recommenders not having the time to get your recommendation done before the deadline, reach out to one more recommender than what you need. This can help you hedge your bets if one of them happens to not come through for you.
Fill Any Resumé Gaps
When you apply to business school, you’re going to want to put your best foot forward as much as possible. That means maintaining excellent grades, getting a good score on the GMAT, and having an impressive resumé to help you stand out among the rest of the applications.
Take a step back and look at your application; identify anything that may weaken the overall picture of the prospective student you are. Do you have a lot of extra curricular activities? Did you take a leadership position in any volunteer projects? If you lack in this area, consider taking on more clubs or groups. Is your GPA your weak point? Consider taking summer courses in order to raise your score. Putting forth the extra effort can sometimes be enough to stand out.
Acing the Interview
An admissions interview is an important part of the application process for some schools, but just like anything else, being prepared for it can help you succeed.
Do Your Homework
Like a job interview, it’s always a good idea to look into exactly what the school has to offer. Why are you interested in this business school over any other? You should be able to answer this question in a short, concise manner. Also, try to find out how the school usually conducts their interviews. Some will rely on “blind interviews”, which are interviews in which the interviewer knows very little about the applicant before it begins. Some schools conduct interviews via video, or in-person at a casual destination like a coffee shop, or in a group setting. Knowing what you’re getting into will help you prepare and can keep the nerves at bay.
Make a Checklist
An interview is one of your first chances to make the right impression with a potential school, so you should have an idea of the type of person you want to portray yourself as. Figure out how you want to come off to the interview and make a checklist of the points you want to make. This process and preparedness will help assure that you haven’t left anything to chance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In an interview, you want to come off as genuine and unrehearsed, which is why it is important to practice what you want to get across in the interview without having to remember what it says on your essay. The best way to get yourself comfortable with your answers is to practice with friends and family by conducting mock interviews. This will help you understand what you want to say without having to search for the right words. Once you get to a point where you are relaxed in the interview setting, it will be easier to have a lively conversation with your interviewer.
Preparing Yourself For the GMAT
Last but not least, you’ll have to take the GMAT. Setting aside enough time to study, finding the materials that work for you and taking practice exams can help you come test time.
Most people that are applying to business school are already busy people. Whether you have undergraduate coursework, a fulltime job, or familial responsibilities, it can be difficult to find the time to sit and down and cram, which is why you should set out a study plan early. Think honestly about how often and for how long you can reasonably expect to find time to study. Don’t try to cram it all into one day, either. Most experts recommend studying more often, but in shorter periods. So rather than studying for four straight hours one night a week, take 30 minutes each day to have a less stressful study session.
Find the Right Study Materials
In today’s world, study materials come in a lot of forms. Smartphone apps, online video courses, and your standard test prep book are all available to anyone that wants to study for the GMAT, so it’s important to choose the right one for you. Your GMAT guide should be based on what works with the way you learn and retain information. Take advantage of what is out there for you; you can find a lot of materials released by the test makers, including old GMAT tests and study guides to help you tackle all the information.
Taking Practice Exams
While reading over course work and writing flash cards can help you get an initial understanding of the materials, taking practice exams can help you track your progress. With practice exam scores, you can get a better understanding of what you excel at and where your weaknesses are, which will help you decide what to study. Taking practice tests can also help you remove the mystique of the exam, which is important if you often get nervous when it comes to test time.
Business school admissions can take a lot of time. Between all the parts of a complete application, you can spend up to a year trying to perfect your application. Using this guide can give you a sense of what you need to do and how to successfully prepare for each step.