Applicants Invest 90 to 140 Hours To Apply

MBA admissions at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, Duke University’s Fuqua School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business received the ultimate accolade from applicants today (May 12).

According to a new survey published by a group representing business school admissions consultants, MBA candidates named those schools the top three MBA programs that got to know them best in the application process.

That’s especially a coup for Tuck whose head of admissions Dawna Clarke has said her goal has been to create the most customer-friendly admissions office in the business school space. Following the top three schools were Stanford, UC-Berkeley Haas School, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (see table below).

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.13.31 AM

Source: AIGAC 2013 survey

Some 377 applicants responded to the survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). This year’s respondents were significantly below the 1,451 last year or the 1,962 in 2010. The organization said there were fewer responses because the survey was fielded later in the application season than in prior years. Nearly one in six of the respondents (57%) said they used the help of admission consultants in applying to business school with the five most popular schools being Harvard Business School (25% of the respondents applied here and 13% were accepted), Wharton (22% applied and 14% gained acceptance), MIT Sloan (21% and 10%), Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (21% and 9%), and Stanford Graduate School of Business (18% and 4%) (see table below).

Source: AIGAC 2013 survey

Source: AIGAC 2013 survey

The survey–based on an open Internet questionnaire that anyone would fill out–covers a vast array of admissions and MBA issues, from the the most important factors that lead to choosing a business school to what kind of boost in income is expected once the degree in on a person’s resume.  Among other things, AIGAC found that the average MBA applicant spends between 90 and 140 hours on the application process, excluding some 21 to 30 hours studying for the GMAT exam. After GMAT prep, writing essays for applications was the second most time-consuming activity in the application process, accounting for 16 to 20 hours. Merely deciding which schools to apply to also took a good bit of time: according to respondents, school selection consumed 11 to 15 hours (see table on following page).

  • That sounds about right. Most online prep courses have a minimum of 30 hours of instruction — going over the instruction alone is 30 hours. What about the time spent learning about the GMAT, or doing your own practice questions or your own practice test. The practice test itself is 3.5 hours — budgeting time on a Saturday morning requires rearranging your schedule. Reviewing that test may take another 3.5 hours or even more.

    And if you do poorly and retake?? There goes another 50+ hours, easily a total of 100+ hours..!!

    That’s why many students opt in for help. Efficient course + mobile access + motivation are important ingredients.

    When it comes to preparing for the GMAT, doing it in an efficient manner is really important. After learning core concepts, you should be doing gmat practice questions on your own with video explanations by experts. It’s especially helpful if you have commentary for each question from an expert, so you can review exactly why answer choices were right or wrong.

  • Sourav

    Hi Obaji,

    Congrats! That is great to hear. Would you mind sharing your GMAT score ?

  • cornell

    I agree about Tuck and Fuqua. Booth is no super elite though. Not by a long shot.

  • PhD747

    I cannot believe that people answered that they have only studied arround 30 hours for the GMAT. In fact, having into account that some people must have been honest -saying that they studied arround 100 hours or more-, it can be guessed that some just have responded that they did not studied at all. That is not what it can be inferred from forums such as gmatclub and beatthegmat. Or MBAs surveyed are a bunch of liars, or the article is wrong.

  • Africa

    I am also an international student trying to get myself into a top Business school in the U.S. You inspire me Obaji. I’ll also write my unique story in my own humble words. Thanks

  • 2cents

    Well… this doesn’t seem personal at all?