The Ideal Preparation Process

September 2016 Applicants:
Ideal timetable for applying to the top MBA programs

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  • Text that is not in bold is optional.
  • Studies usually start in September.
  • Some programs (such as Columbia and INSEAD) have an additional class that starts in January.
  • The timetable below assumes that your studies will begin in September 2016.
  • The timetable below is ideal to ensure for an orderly and thorough preparation of your application.
  • The process can be undertaken in a much more intensive manner (this may come with a price in terms of admission chances or costs).
  • If you intend to commence your studies in January 2017, add four months to the timeframes below.

September-December 2014: Creating the infrastructure

  • Think about what can be changed in your career in order to boost your candidacy
    A shift to a managerial position? New projects at work? Boosting your community activities?
  • If you haven’t done so yet – consider signing up for a GMAT preparation course
    Ideally, begin your GMAT course in 2014 and take your first (and hopefully last) GMAT test between October 2014 and April 2015.
    Candidates often find it difficult to make significant progress with their application during the GMAT preparation course.
    It is recommended to take the GMAT as early as possible (when you are at your peak academically), even 2-4 years prior to the submission of the applications, and improve your score later if necessary.
  • “Set your sights” on potential future recommenders, and establish solid work relations with them.
  • Visit campus: If you are already traveling to a certain area, consider visiting the area’s top business schools.
    During the visit it would be good to network with students, preferably those with a similar background to yours, and/or with professors and/or admissions officials.
  • Get in touch with an admissions consulting service (such as to set up a work start date.
  • Consider applying to one or two programs as early as March-June 20154 (for programs commencing in January 2016, such as Columbia or INSEAD, or for programs commencing in September 2015) in order to get to know the process and receive early responses (that may spare you the need to apply to several other universities in the fall/winter).

January 2015: Getting the application process started

  • Visit the websites of schools that are of interest to you in order to learn about the program, application deadlines, and the admissions process.
  • Visit websites that provide information to MBA candidates (such as Business Week’s) to learn more about the programs.
  • Network with current students and alumni.

February – April 2015: GMAT and Strategy

  • If you haven’t done so yet – take the GMAT
  • Embark on the strategy phase of your application work (data mining, career planning, coming up with topics for major essays).
  • Select 3 programs to focus on. Learn as much as possible about them
    Candidates normally apply to 4-5 programs in total.

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May – August 2015: Application (and TOEFL, if needed)

  • Prepare the applications (CV, essays and recommendations).
  • Prepare for the TOEFL if you need to take it.
  • Take the TOEFL.
  • Order your college transcripts.

August 2015 – January 2016: Submitting the applications

  • Send the transcripts.
  • Submit the applications.
    Based on the results in recent years, it is recommended that you submit most of your applications between August-October (the first round). In relatively few cases did second round applicants (November–early January) have an advantage.
    Admission chances in the last round (which is normally the third round, and sometimes the fourth) are usually significantly lower. At most universities, the last round begins at some point in January and ends at some point in March.
    However, there are programs with admission rounds between mid-January and July that are not the last round.
  • Prepare for interviews.
  • Verify that the recommendations were submitted.
  • Attend the interviews (at most schools interviews are by invitation only).
  • Cross your fingers!

January – May 2016: “The moment of truth”

  • Drink a glass of water and then read the admission committees’ decisions.
  • Decide where you wish to study and inform the school.
  • Submit scholarship applications (where relevant scholarships are offered).
  • Attend the Welcome Weekend at campus, if offered.

January – July 2016: Getting ready

  • If needed, make visa arrangements.
  • Make travel arrangements / book your flight.
  • Look into preferable accommodation arrangements and start apartment hunting.
  • Invite your friends to your farewell party.
  • Smile as you prepare to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

If you plan to apply in two years or less, please fill out the Information Request Form.