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Friday, November 25, 2005

hunh... so you have decided to take GMAT

If you have come here and are interested to read this. I believe that you are apping to some B-schools.

Article is meant for people who don't know anything about apping process and do not have an idea about where to start. This will give a picture of the complete process till submission of application. Since the problem you are facing is encountered by everyone of us, I am trying to prepare a generic calender which can be used in the process.

Few Important points to note before going ahead.

The calender dates and time are to be followed for apping process but the profile building takes a lot more time. some times people invest 3-4 years in building their profile for good B-schools. However once you have your profile ready with you, formalities of apping can be planned as follows:

1. However many schools provide two opportunities in one year to commence the MBA program it is highly reccomended that international students should apply to program starting in fall semesters. That is if you are selected your classes will start from August/ September of the year. I will assume that one is interested in apping to fall 2007 program.

2. For most schools and almost all top 20 schools, admission process takes place in three cycles which are reffered as round 1, round 2 and round 3 applications. Approximately 55%, 35% and 10% admissions are granted in round 1, round 2 and round 3 respectively. Figures turn out to be roughly same for international applicants' admissions also. Volumes of international applications are roughly the same in round 1 and round 2 and quite less in round 3. So based on statics it can be figured out that it is more useful to apply in round 1. However as all schools say "please submit your application when you feel it is the strongest."

3. Deadlines for submitting round 1 applications are somewhere between Oct 1st week to Dec 2nd week. For round 2 they are between Nov 3rd week to Jan 3rd week. I didn't bother to collect any information for round 3.

4. Best strategy would be to apply to 3-4 schools in round 1 such that you get some feedbacks before applying to round 2 in another 3-4 schools. As i said earlier it would be difficult to write applications for more than 8 schools in a year. Also you can chose schools such that you get to know results of round 1 applications even before applying to round 1 of another school. For eg: Wharton 1st round rejections are already out and NYU stern 1st round deadline is due on Dec 1st.

5. So let us say you have chosen to apply in first round in four schools. Though for all practical reasons you can have your GMAT on the deadline date of application of a school, I would suggest that you should plan it in such a way that you have your GMAT scores atleast 2-3 months before the deadline. There are two reasons behind it.
I. If you think that your scores does not represent your abilities, you have a chance to retake the exam with another month's preparation.
II. You would be able to make better judgement in chosing your schools based on your scores in GMAT.

So I would say that you should take GMAT in July 2006, that's right more than a year before you will actually be studying MBA. Though GMAC claims that any preparation is hardly useful in altering the scores, I will say that a sincere 2 months preparation will make quite an impact. So you need to start your preparation for GMAT latest by May 2006.Also register yourself for the test in MAY.

Here a dilemma comes that what schools are you going to fill in for reporting your GMAT scores. The schools to be reported are asked before even the exam starts. So .... well use your best judgement. A document that I published earlier in this group will help you to narrow down your choices.

Also it will probably be a good idea to check-out whether schools you are interested in asks for an official GMAT scores at the time of application. As some of the school allow application process on basis of applicant submitted scores and granted the admission on the condition of verification of the scores. You might save some money over here.

6. TOEFL scores, note that not all schools require you to take the TOEFL and for many others it be waived off on the basis your college degree where the primary language of instruction was english. If in doubt submit TOEFL scores, again an official submission may not be required at the time of apping for some schools. TOEFL can be given in the month of September but just make sure that you register the date well in advance. Month of september and october are packed and gets filled by two months earlier.

7. Good news that you get to see your GMAT scores as soon as you finish the exam. Well may be not good for everyone but anyways.... So when you have your scores with you and you can take a rough estimate on TOEFL scores, its time to chose universities. If you have taken two months to prepare most likely you would not require a retake. So next step - Take no more than 15 days to chose universities. The other document published here would be of some help. In addition you should do complete research on the core competency of schools, essay topics, location and whether you stand a chance. You would have to leave some schools because you can not think of responses to their essay questions. DO IT, its alright. It is better to be able to defend your interest in a school's program even if you are not so interested rather than having an interest and not able to defend it.

9. Also this would be a good time to tell your supervisors for reccomendations, (chosing a recommeder is another discussion, we will take it some time) and friends that you are apping this year and would require help on reviews on your essays. From this point till the completion your of your apping, you have to be in regular contact with your recommenders; also keep an idea about their busy and free time. From this point till the end your recommenders are very much part of your application process. Let them know about your decisions on schools, your ideas on essay responses and other stuff. They would be of great help.

8. By July last week you have made a choice on schools. Now its to start writting your essays. As said by many "No matter how good or bad you are at writting, your second draft will be better than your first." Take sufficient time to write your responses say about a month. This is really important. Once you are exhausted start sending your copies of essays to your friends for reviews. Its good to confirm that you have included suggetions by reviewer but Do NOT send the corrected copy to the same person again as he might get bored with all your stories. Keeping your reviewers interests intact is quite important. It would be a good idea to take some professional help here if you can't find all those friends and recommenders' interests.

9. Also once you have chosen schools, you need to find out what are the things that schools require as a hard copy for eg: transcript, recommendations, GMAT and TOEFL score sheets, essays etc. Make a list somewhere with respect to college and sorted on deadline. Do remember to post your transcipts 2 weeks before if you want to do it in 350/- ; 1 week before if for 1600/- ; and lesser if you want to check out whether you are lucky. And do I need to mention that you would have to request your college to get the transcripts. You can do it today, it is not going make any difference or atleast should do it latest by July, say the day when you took your GMAT.

10. What else, open your accounts on school website as soon as you have decided the school and just go through all the pages, just to avoid any surprises. You can open a account with a false identities if site does not allow you to go to next pages without filling some of the information. I would say that atleast 15 days before submission you should know each and every question that is posed in the application. eg: your recommender's mailing address, phone numbers, their title, position, company names, your parents age, B'dates, education background, income status etc.

Well for now this is all i could think of. If something else came to my mind i will write an appendix. You have any specific questions, feel free to post it here.


Blogger Ranjit said...

I like ur idea of willing to help people like me who are new to GMAT.. Ur article is very helpful indeed.. Thanks!!

3:41 PM  
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