5 Important Things to Know About the MBA Application Process

The MBA application process is unique among graduate school admissions processes. Yes, there is a standardized test involved and your undergraduate grades are taken into account, but plenty of other factors are also taken into consideration. Here are a few important things every prospective MBA student should know about applying to business school:

The MBA Application Process Can Be Expensive

There is the GMAT registration fee. There are the GMAT preparation guides, the application fees, the plane tickets for multiple rounds of interviews. When you decide that you want to pursue an MBA, start saving for these up-front costs as soon as you can so that you can apply to as many schools as you would like.

Related resource: The Top 10 Best Business Schools

Get Your Recommenders Lined Up Early

You will probably need between three and five letters of recommendation for each school’s application, although the exact number will vary from school to school. There are not typically any restrictions on who can be a recommender, so think carefully about what you want out of your recommendations and identify people who will give it to you. As a rule, you should choose recommenders who are familiar with your professional habits and accomplishments. You should also be certain that your recommenders know you—the real you, not just the professional you—well enough to give each letter a personal twist that will catch an admission committee’s eye and get your application noticed in a positive way.

You Do Not Need Any Business Background to Get an MBA

Although some level of familiarity with the business world is an asset for any prospective MBA student, it is by no means a requirement. MBA programs admit applicants from all walks of life, including many who have undergraduate degrees in the hard sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts. However, if you enter an MBA program without an academic business background, you will likely be required to take a series of introductory business classes before you begin your MBA coursework. So, if you are coming from outside the business world, expect that you will be required to take basic economics, organizational theory, financial accounting, marketing, corporate finance and business law courses.

Study Hard for the GMAT—Really Hard

Study hard for the GMAT. Study really hard. Pardon the repetition, but this point cannot possibly be emphasized heavily enough. Set aside plenty of time before you begin applying to MBA programs for GMAT preparation. Although the thought may make you cringe, be sure to account for the possibility that you may need to take it more than once. Buy some GMAT study guides, make yourself a study schedule, follow through with it and reap the benefits A high GMAT score can open up a world of opportunities. Do not sell yourself short.

Soft Factors Matter

Unlike, say, law school admissions, where your GPA and standardized test scores are essentially the only determinants of whether you will be admitted to a particular school, business school admissions are more complicated. Yes, your grades and GMAT score are important factors. Your educational background, work experience, You will likely have to undergo multiple rounds of interviews at several schools, so work hard ahead of time to hone your interviewing skills. In the MBA application process, a stellar interview performance or an outstanding letter of recommendation from a recommender who knows you well could offset a mediocre GPA or a sub-par GMAT score.