It’s nearly a year since TopDogMBA came into being and – over 18,000 hits later – I’ve decided to share some of the application aids I created that helped me get two admits (and a waitlist) from top 10 b schools.
I hope that it helps any newbies to the MBA application process, gives some light relief to anyone going through it right now and elicits some groans from anyone who already made it through.
Part 1: GMAT
When I sat down to prepare for my GMAT in 2012, it had been nearly a decade since I’d taken any official exams. I was targeting a 700+ score to see if I had “what it took” to get into a top b school.
This was the study plan I wrote to give myself 10 weeks and about 80 study hours to ace the test (in this version I’m halfway through).
It sounds obvious but I found it really helpful to dissect my time between the Quant, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning (then a new concept) and Analytical Writing Assessment sections, as well as taking regular practice tests to establish my progress.
The plan moved around a bit depending on my results as I needed to dive back and forth between sections, but broadly it worked well for me to devote an hour each weekday morning (set that alarm clock an hour earlier folks!) and then 4–6 hours each weekend.
I was able to get through using only the official GMAC guide and Princeton Review manuals (the latter came with a handy CD). The GMATPrep practice exams were also particularly useful to get a feel for the exam format (I even took lavatory breaks between sections and went to a different room to drink).
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I even drove to the test center a week in advance to make sure I knew where it was and which floor it was on but…
In the end, my prep worked out well and I got a 720 in my first attempt!
At the time I was elated by my score but – over time – I met a lot of people with higher scores and I realised that it was just another part of a long and difficult application process.
I would encourage anyone considering an MBA to get the GMAT done and dusted at the earliest opportunity. Don’t try to do this at the same time as applying to b school. The scores are valid for five years so it’s worth doing it ASAP even if your MBA plans slip by a year or two.
Part 2 is going to be all about my Application Masterplan. Stay tuned!