Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Ross | Mr. Verbal Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Social Scientist
GRE 330, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
INSEAD | Mr. Consulting Fin
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0

Mastering The GMAT Basics

studying

There’s a rule of thumb in MBA applications: Start studying for the GMAT in March – a year before you intend to enroll. Why? Just think about all the steps that come with applying to business school.

First, you have a resume, where you must condense your academic and professional background to a single page and reflect the “how” and the “why” more than the “what” and the “when.” Second, you’ve got the essays. While adcoms are requiring fewer of these written responses, they’re still a tool for revealing how you’ll be an invaluable voice in your class (and why you’ll be successful after you graduate). And letters of recommendations usually aren’t dashed out in a week or two, either.

Beyond the application, you may need to take classes or MOOCs to brush up on the fundamentals (and smooth any concerns about your mastery of finance or statistics). Not to mention, schools are seeking candidates who show career growth, leadership experience, and extracurricular interests. Without those, your candidacy is dead on arrival. Picking the right school also requires reflection – along with frank conversations with faculty, students, and alumni. While ranking and reputation make for good copy, you’re better off focusing on fit. Ultimately, a school’s culture, strengths, and network yield the greatest return.

In short, you have months of work ahead of you. But it all starts with the GMAT. It is the great equalizer, the one rubric where students can be compared side by side. Score a 700 or above and you’ll snag an adcom’s interest. Hit 650 or lower: time to lower your expectations (or re-take the test).

If you haven’t taken the GMAT yet, you’re behind in the application process. For starters, experts recommend two to three months of GMAT study, which takes you to the middle of fall. The problem? Round one deadlines have generally passed by then, with timelines ranging from September 9 (Harvard) to October 1 (Wharton and Stanford) to October 20 (Fuqua). And applying in the first round comes with some big-time perks. Generally, adcoms view first-round applicants as the most committed candidates. Plus, there are fewer candidates then, which can mean greater consideration for their applications. Don’t forget, nearly all first rounders are guaranteed to hear back before the holidays (if not sooner).

So is it too late to apply? Absolutely not! In fact, schools receive the largest number of applications in the second round, which concludes in early-to-mid January. The advantage? Second rounders have more time to polish their applications. The disadvantage? Many offers have already been made, meaning you’re competing with more people for fewer seats (i.e. your application had better stand out). And the later you take the GMAT, the less time you have to re-take it if you need to raise your score.

So what are the best practices for studying for the GMAT? This spring, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) produced a handy infographic, which includes a listing of what to expect on the GMAT, and how to create a study plan. This summer, GMAC also updated its GMAT Handbook, which includes directions for scheduling your exam, a breakdown of what to expect on exam day, and steps for receiving and evaluating your score.

To access these resources, along with helpful columns on GMAT preparation and test-taking, check out the next pages.

Don’t Miss: 2014-2015 MBA Application Deadlines

To have Andrew Geller, our resident GMAT expert, answer any GMAT-related questions, click  here.