1. Your MBA application timeline is more important than you think. Many first-time MBA applicants fail to understand how far in advance they should ideally start working on different aspects of the application. Most MBA applicants are said to spend a whole year on the process, and starting early is indeed recommended in order to increase your chances of standing out in a competitive applicant pool, a reality not to be forgotten for most top business schools.

    Not only are business schools generally able to spot applications that were thrown together the weekend before the deadline, which reflects poorly on you as an applicant; hurried MBA applications often contain unnecessary mistakes and are of lower quality in general.

    Therefore, starting early will not only increase your chances of admission, but may also help you get into better business schools and programs. It may also increase your chances of being offered a scholarship.

    In order for you not to start on your application too late, let us present the ideal timeline for MBA studies starting in September 2018:

    The beginning of 2017

    This is the time to get acquainted with different business schools and their MBA programs in order to be able to figure out which ones suit you best. It is also advised to choose schools that you have a realistic chance of being admitted to. You can use ARINGO’s chances calculator to get a better feel for what kind of a candidate you are. The more research you can do on each school at this stage, the better, as it is advisable to apply to 4-6 schools in the first round.

    This is also the best time to reach out to current students and/or alumni from each business school in order to find out even more about the schools.

    February to March 2017

    This is the time to take the GMAT, if you haven’t already done so. You will want to take the GMAT as early as possible as your score will be a crucial element in your business school application. The GMAT score can also help you understand which schools and programs are realistic for you. You can see some of the schools’ average GMAT scores on ARINGO’s combined ranking page.

    Should your first try on the GMAT not go as expected, you will also have plenty of time to retake the test without feeling stressed. You are allowed to take the GMAT 5 times a year and 8 times in total. Most MBA programs will only consider your highest grade achieved on any one of your tests.
    You can also start planning your application strategy at this stage if you feel you know enough about the business schools that interest you.

    Summer of 2017

    This is the time to actually start working on your application, choosing essay topics and recommenders, and preparing your CV. You should also order all of your university transcripts, as you will need them for your application.
    For those of you who did not study in English in your undergraduate degree, we advise you to check the TOEFL / IELTS requirements of your desired MBA programs and take one of these tests if needed.

    Keep in mind that essay writing especially benefits from having plenty of time on your hands, as you may want to revise what is written several times and get input and suggestions from others.

    August 2017 to January 2018

    This is the time when you will be submitting your applications, as most business schools have several rounds. Statistically speaking, your chances of admission will be the strongest in round 1 (August to October) but round 2 (November to Early January) is a popular choice as well. Other rounds are significantly less popular as the chances of admission in those are lower.

    This would also be the time to prepare for interviews, and interview with the schools if they are interested in meeting you. All top programs require an interview in order to be admitted.

    January 2018 to May 2018

    This is the period when you will find out whether you have been admitted or not, and therefore also the time to make a decision about where you want to study. You also need to notify the schools whether you will be attending or not, and pay a down payment on your tuition.
    In some schools you will have the opportunity to submit applications for scholarships and financial aid during this period.

    For those seeking loans, now is the time. Check with your bank and compare rates and terms with the university financing options that are offered for students.

    June to July 2018

    If you are going to study abroad and have not applied for a student visa yet, you need to do so now (done at the relevant embassy). If you are moving to another city you will also need to find a place to live, arrange transportation (such as flights) in order to not have any last-minute stressful issues to deal with.

    July 2018

    Invite your friends to your farewell party 🙂 . Smile as you prepare to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience!


    This guest post was written by the team at ARINGO Admissions Consulting, an examPAL partner whom you will have a chance to chat with, along with examPAL, about “How to get into a top-10 MBA program” on January 25th at 19.00 EST.

    Michelle Miller
    Michelle is the CEO of ARINGO Americas. A PhD candidate in the field of Higher Education Administration, Michelle is passionate about widening access to education and sees her role at ARINGO as key to achieving this goal. Michelle holds a master’s degree in psychology and an undergraduate in business and management, and has enjoyed working in university admissions and recruiting departments as a passionate advisor, scholar, and leader.

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