Applying to business school can be a daunting task. Follow these seven simple steps to break down the task into manageable pieces so you can submit outstanding applications and get accepted by the school of your dreams.
- Step 1: Get the Best GMAT Score You Are Capable Of
- Step 2: Start Your Online Applications
- Step 3: Develop a Winning Game Plan
- Step 4: Write an Outstanding Resume
- Step 5: Get Enthusiastic Letters of Recommendation
- Step 6: Write Compelling Essays
- Step 7: Review Your Application
Step 1: Get the Best GMAT Score You Are Capable Of
This step is pretty straightforward, so we won’t spend a lot of time talking about it here. However, a couple of things to note: If your GMAT score is well below the average for your target school, you might want to consider taking the GMAT again. If you are 10 or 20 points below the average, retaking the GMAT might not be necessary; however, if your score is more than 30 points below the average for the incoming class as reported in the most recent class profile, it will be difficult to gain admission.
While a stellar GMAT score will not guarantee acceptance, a low GMAT score alone can keep you out. It is the No. 1 reason applicants are denied.
For help achieving your personal best on the GMAT, check out the test prep options and free resources Veritas Prep has to offer.
Step 2: Start Your Online Applications
It’s important to start your online applications so you can see for yourself all of the components you will be asked to submit. For example, some schools have short-answer questions embedded in the application that may require some thought. Also, filling out all of the basic information is a great way to get the ball rolling and get your head in the game while accomplishing a necessary task. One more bonus: You won’t be rushing at the last minute, nor surprised by elements you weren’t expecting.
Step 3: Develop a Winning Game Plan
In this step you want to identify your strengths and weaknesses, particularly differentiators and red flags. What aspects of your background will you highlight in your application? What specific examples will you give? What stories will you tell? What aspects of your profile might you need to explain or address in the optional essay?
Step 4: Write an Outstanding Resume
We actually wrote a whole article about this topic: How to Create a Breakthrough Business School Application Resume. A few key things to keep in mind:
- Remember your audience and purpose. Your resume will be read by admissions people and your goal is to be accepted to business school, so don’t use the same resume you’d use when applying for a job, and watch the technical jargon.
- Share accomplishments, not tasks, and show your impact. Your resume is your highlight reel. You want to give the reader a good look at what you’ve done, so they’re excited to learn more about you through your application. This is a great opportunity to impress them with your professional achievements!
- Avoid over-packing your resume. It may be tempting to talk about every significant project you’ve worked on, but less may be more. You don’t want a great accomplishment to be lost in an over-packed resume.
Step 5: Get Enthusiastic Letters of Recommendation
We actually wrote a two-part article on this topic, which I strongly encourage you to check out. In a nutshell, there’s the who and the what. Who you ask to write your letters is very important. You want to choose people who know you well, who care about you, and who believe in you. But you also need to guide them on what they should write by letting them know that effusive praise is not unprofessional, arming them with specific examples to illustrate your greatness, and telling them it’s OK to ask for help.
Step 6: Write Compelling Essays
For many of you, this is the hard part. Try to give yourself as much time as you can to brainstorm, outline, draft, start over, edit, and rewrite your essays. To end up with a finished product that you’re really happy with can take many hours and lots of hard work and trial and error. If you want some help, check out this structured and creative approach of using mini-stories.
Step 7: Review Your Application
Set aside some time to review your application. Better yet, have a friend review it — they’re more likely to catch those pesky typos. As you review your application, make sure you have really answered the questions, carefully utilized spellcheck, and transferred content correctly. Check out this article for more detail on 3 basic last-minute checks.
Follow these seven steps and you’ll be well on your way to doing your best work so you can hit “Submit” with confidence.
Want an admissions expert to help you with any or all of the steps above? Or someone to review your applications before you submit them? Call us at 800-925-7737 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cecile Matthews is the director of MBA admissions consulting at Veritas Prep. Veritas Prep is the largest privately owned test prep and admissions consulting company in the world. Since 2002, using its team of experienced consultants and a personalized game plan for each client, Veritas Prep has helped thousands of applicants gain admission to their dream schools. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!