Cross posting from another thread asking about when to take GMAT / start esasys etc... thought some of this might be helpful here too.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. STUDY NOW. TAKE THE EXAM WHENEVER YOU ARE READY.
Here's basically how things will play out:
Between now and early August you have tons of time. You can do a lot in this period to prepare for the GMAT. I'd suggest taking it before July, and ideally before June. The reason is you may end up taking it more than once - most people on this forum do. Expect twice, and three times is not uncommon either -- and this is very very important now, so pay attention. YOU MUST WAIT 30 CALENDAR DAYS TO RETAKE THE GMAT.
Read that again. Do a little math. Lets say you wait till July to take it the first time. Now you can't take it again till August - so you have to keep studying. Say you have to take it one more time ... now you have to keep studying for one more month and take it in September.
In short, its very very easy for the GMAT to drag out an extra month or even TWO, just because of this limitation. (For instance, say you go take the exam, something happens, you do a lot worse than you did on practice exams and you want to take it again. You can't come back in 2 days and do it -- you have to wait 30 more...)
So, the GMAT will take a MINIMUM of 1 month study. Most people who score 700+ on this site will tell you they worked 2 or 3 months before achieving that score. Some work 4, some 5. I've seen pretty consistent numbers for people posting 100 point moves - it took them about 3 months. In my case it was about 2/hrs a day on weekdays and 10-16 hours on weekends for 3 months. If you do that math, its around 300 hours -- and that seems to be about right for a lot of people on this site... 200 to 300 hours of study is reasonable
. Think about your schedule, and back into how many months you need. Plan for worse.
Been a long time since you've done anything? Consider a class. Manhattan GMAT
are both well respected, Kaplan
and Princeton are often not. In my personal opinion, Kaplan
is horseshit, as is Princeton. Manhattan is solid.
And no matter who you are, english native speaker or not, there are two books you MUST buy if you plan on getting a 700.
First: "OG 11
", Official Guide 11th edition
Second: Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction
These are absolutely critical, and everyone who has finished their GMAT will swear up and down on both of those books.
If you've managed to complete your GMATS by June, congratulations. You can get a head start on your applications.
Here's what you need to do:
1) Get transcripts from all universities you attended and get them early.
2) Get addresses, phoen numbers, fax numbers, titles, salary, bonus figures, and EXACT dates of employment for every single job you've had after college.
3) Get contact names and phone numbers for Directors or Presidents of any extraccuricular activities in which you participate. Some schools ask for this.
4) Figure out what extracurricular activities you were involved in at college and estimate what dates you were involved in them, as well as how many hours per week / month / year you worked on them.
5) Identify short two to three sentence descriptions of your role in both your undergraduate and post-grad extracurricular activities.
6) Start attending school events. Take copious notes. Names of people, students, etc. Expect this to take up a lot of evenings.
7) Start narrowing down your list of schools - many people come in here saying their list is 8 schools long. It won't be for long. Narrow it down to your top 5 choices.
8) Get your suit tailored if it isn't already.
9) Start polishing your resume.
This will keep you busy for the month, easily. Sound stupid? Seem like an afternoon's worth of work? It's not. Item (1) is an afternoon. Item (2) takes a few days as you wait for people to call you back. Item (3) is the asme. Item (4) means calling up old friends and remembering titles of organizations you havent been a part of for years... Item (5) takes a cuople of adys. Item 9 takes 20 hours on its own...Item 7 can take a month on its own if you let it. ETc. DO NOT UNDERESTMATE THE AMOUNT OF LITTLE CRAP THAT WILL TAKE UP A LOT OF TIME.
In July, start doing this:
1) Identify possible recommenders. Think hard and long about who you want to ask and who you can trust to do a good job. If any are alumni somewhere, take advantage.
2) Reach out the school local alumni chapters and talk to them. Find out about the schools. Ask for advice. Make connections, build rapport. Etc.
3) Begin drafting an idea - NOT an essay - but just ideas to the following questions: "Why MBA?" , "Why this school?", "Why now?" and "What do you want to do in the shrot and long term?". Take time on this. It's the most important set of questions on any application - and its on EVERY application - in some form. If you answer these in a day, your answers suck. If you answer them in a week, they still suck. If you spend two weeks on them, they probably only sort of suck. Seriously think about these questions and come up with MEANINGFUL answers.
4) You are still polishing your resume right?
In August/Sept the essays will come out and the whirlwind begins.
The GMAT will seem like a joke to you now. You'll laugh at how much effort you put into three meesly little numbers, but dont' despair. At least essays are more fun.
Prioritize your schools. Look at deadlines. Think strategically.
Begin thinking abotu what you want your recommenders to say about you. Approach them. MAke sure they understand the seriousness of what you are doing. Make sure they understand deadlines. In fact, LIE. Tell them the deadline is weeks before it actually is.
Almost everyone on this forum, at some point, was freaking out because of their recommenders waiting too long to do anything. This will happen to you too, but if you give them early dates, you'll make it easier on yourself.
Now comes the actual writing essays and school visits.
DO NOT START WRITING ESSAYS WITHOUT WRITING OUTLINES. THIS IS SO CRITICAL, IF YOU FORGET ANYTHING HERE, DONT FORGET THIS.
I hate outlines. I really do. But you absolutely need them here. If you write an essay without an outline, you will blow the word limit completely. Then, in an effort to bring it down, you'll cut the essay and spend hours editing it down. By the time you are done, the thing makes no sense anymore, so you give up and start over. You'll do this fruitless excercise several times. Don't. Write an outline. If your outline is more than the wordlimit, you know you have a problem. Start thinking about your essays as chapters in a book. They are not individual essays. They are one cohesive story.
The first set of essays you write will take you a lot of effort. I have about 100 revisions of my HBS essays. I have probably a good 50 or 60 for Kellogg and a similar number for Chicago. All told, I think I have about 500 word documents in my application folder - essays, drafts of resumes, different resumes, notes from schools, notes for my recommenders, etc etc etc. I'm not making those figures up. Some people are able to do things much faster and get away with a handful of revisions to their essays. Most of us are not. Do not delude yourself into thinking this will not apply to you. I have always considered myself a strong writer (its virtually my job) and I've never had trouble putting thoughts to paper, but when it came to this effort, I was challenged in ways I'd never been before.
The first school took me about a month to do.
The second maybe 3 weeks.
The third maybe 2 weeks.
I dont think it ever gets faster than that, not if you really want quality. I did do one application in a few days, but I rushed it.
This is also a good time to visit schools. You'll get an idea of the campus, the culture, etc and you'll ahve a great list of stuff to use in your essays. I don't know how many hours I put into this effort, but you should plan for your entire august, september and october to be occupied on a DAILY basis with essays. Thsi will not be a weekend effort. Nor will it be a half hour a day here and there. You will work on this non stop for those several months. Once you have completed these and start getting interviews, expect your days to be filled with interview preperation. Reviewing essays, ideas, etc. That will likely take you through the end of the year for the most part. If you are doing R2 applications as well, it'll go on even longer.
The long point I'm trying ot make? YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE TRYING TO DO THE GMAT AND YOUR ESSAYS AT TEH SAME TIME.
I have a brilliant friend who did just this. He will be lucky if he gets into a top 30 this year, and he belongs in a top 10. The only reason? Poor GMAT coupled with poor essays. All that will happen if you wait this long is that both your GMAT **AND** your essays will suffer. Thats two strikes, and in the game of admissions you walk up to the plate with one strike already.
So, whats the timeline I would suggest?
April: Order GMAT books, begin study in EARNEST. (not 1 hour per week. That wont help)
May: Continue study signficantly. Tell friends you can't see them.
June: Consider taking exam.
July: Consider take exam / Begin recommen, school research, transcripts, logistical stuff.
August: Begin recommendations, school research, transcripts, and logistical stuff. Take GMAT again if necessary.
September: Begin essays, visit schools.
October: Continue essays begin submitting apps
November: Ditto, begin prep for interviews and attend interviews.
December: Wait on decisions, complete R2 apps if any
January: Attend more interviews if necessary, or with a little bit of luck, be done by December.
If I were you guys, having been through it, thats what I would suggest.