Hey Alex, I was hoping to get your honest assessment of my situation...
Essentially, to be brutally honest with myself, I have grossly underestimated the time and prep required to score 700+ on the gmat. I was halfassedly studying for the last month and a half and have done some practice tests and I am nowhere near where I need to be in terms of timing and accuracy. If I clamped down and studied hard over the next month, I am still not comfortable that I would be a lock for 700+. I think what I need is a prep course, however all the live courses I have come across are 2 month courses (8 classes, a day a week). This would make it virtually impossible to get my application in for first round given the timing of the courses.
The question boils down to this:
a) Do I absolutely need 700+ to crack the top 5 schools?
b) Am I better off applying in the second round with a higher gmat (700+) or should I take my chances, potentially get below 700, and apply in the first round (where I assume there's less competition)?
An interesting note from the HBS admissions' director blog (HBS website):
"What is the difference between applying in round one and round two?"
Not much. We'll make roughly the same number of admissions offers in each round. While we have a smaller number of applications in round one, I will generalize and say that they historically tend to be a very organized and eager group who want to know where they stand as soon as possible.
Thanks for your thoughts.