Premium Service Reviews

You're at square one with the application process. Partner with us to ensure your next destination is business school. We’ve helped 1,200 clients since 2009. 90% succeeded and 35% secured unsolicited scholarships. Our focus isn’t client volume or revenue; it’s you. We hope you sense that when you read reviews.

Top business schools teach that diverse teams create the most impactful solutions. Our diverse team ensures our clients craft the most impactful applications. In addition to being the most diverse among admissions firms, our team is the most rigorous and hands-on.  Who’s on our team?


With PREMIUM NEED-BASED service, your team is:

-An Advisor (a top MBA with proven coaching and writing skills)

-A Career Narrative Expert (a current/former MBA Career Management professional)

-A Former MBA Admissions Officer (no further description necessary)

-An Editor (an author with a creative writing MFA)

-A Partnership Manager (an MBA with operations and client relations expertise)


With PREMIUM service, your team is everyone above, plus:

-A Current MBA Admissions Officer (yes, you read that right)

-Square One’s Founder (to amplify your relentlessly supportive SOP team)

4.9 /5 Average Rating
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Based on 492 reviews
January 15, 2023

Joined: Jul 22, 2020

Posts: 5

Kudos: 1

Amazing Team! Highly recommend for HSW.

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I had the fortune to be mentored by Kathryn and Allison in RD 1 of the 2022-23 application cycle. I could not recommend SOP enough. They really delve deep into the applicant’s life, encouraging them to embrace their individuality and share inspiring stories from their life experiences with the adcom. The time you spend with SOP is an investment in yourself. They force you to self-reflect and get clarity on your motivations, an exercise that will come to define your future. By the end of the journey, you will really know the answer to two questions everyone will ask you - Why MBA? And Why Now?

After consulting a few firms, I chose SOP because of Kathryn’s honest and straight forward approach. She not only expressed confidence and enthusiasm in my profile, but also backed up her recommendation to focus on M7 schools with statistical data, sharing the probabilities for success based on past results – an approach I found unique to her. However, she was also brutally honest: cautioning me that especially for schools like HBS/GSB/Wharton, no one is a shoo-in, and while SOP team can help me craft the best possible application materials, there is still an inherent element of luck in the highly competitive process.

The Career Narrative that you build with SOP before working on any aspect of the applications may seem like extra work, but, it will make you question your goals and motivations, and come up with a conclusive, air-tight career plan. It will help you beyond MBA admissions.

I could not have imagined myself going through the process without the generous support from Allison. She is responsive, caring, and is always ready to lend her hand. Her level of commitment is evident from the fact that at one point, we were working on 8 essays simultaneously! And as an Indian applicant, managing applications even though we were in different time zones felt like a walk in the park because of her efforts. She would stop me from overworking on my essays and over prepping, instilling in me the confidence I needed most also as a re-applicant. Allison has established herself as a trusted advisor that I look up to – and I know the lessons I learned from her were not only helpful in the application process; but will also carry me forward in the professional world, where effective communication and storylining are so crucial to one’s success.

I could not recommend SOP enough – SOP’s unwavering support, commitment, and human touch are the reasons why I was able to succeed in a highly competitive season (as a re-applicant, admitted to 1 of HSW, interviewed at 2)

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May 27, 2023

Joined: May 27, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Outstanding comprehensive support throughout the application process

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I began my MBA application process frantic and stressed, with impending deadlines adding to the anxiety. Countless questions swirled in my mind: as a nontraditional applicant, how could I effectively convey my experience and aspirations? Which schools should I target? What aspects should my recommenders focus on? I knew I had one shot to get it right, and the whole ordeal seemed overwhelming. Exacerbating matters was that I had started work with one consulting firm, but realized they were not the right fit for me; I did not feel like a priority to them. Then I joined forces with Square One Prep.

Right from the start, the SOP team impressed me with their seamless process and remarkable responsiveness and expertise. Kathryn, Darcy, Cristina and Wendy worked closely with me, ensuring I stayed on track with timelines and nailed down all aspects of the application. They provided unwavering support every step of the way. Our journey kicked off with a comprehensive examination of my career narrative through multiple conversations and extensive self-reflection. This groundwork laid the foundation for the subsequent essays and established a solid framework for the entire process.

Following this, the essays were a breeze - I was astounded by how quickly drafts were returned and accompanied with insightful feedback. The team was always available to answer any questions, no matter how small. Within a matter of weeks, I completed eight high-quality applications. Beyond the logistical support, what truly stood out was the genuine care the team had for my success. There is no doubt that navigating through this process can be incredibly stressful but having SOP on my side truly made all the difference. When I finally hit that submit button, I felt a sense of confidence. Ultimately, I was amazed by the generous scholarship offers I received. It was beyond my wildest dreams to receive an almost full ride scholarship to one of my preferred programs, but thanks to the unwavering support of SOP, this remarkable outcome became a reality. I wholeheartedly recommend Square One Prep to anyone seeking comprehensive support and exceptional guidance throughout the MBA application process!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system or .edu email address and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
May 21, 2023

Joined: May 21, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
610 Q43 V31 (Online)

Incredible help in a short space of time


I could not recommend Square One more. I am so grateful for all their incredible work with me, especially under my time constraints given I didn’t reach out until December and needed to apply by the beginning of January! I didn’t have a proper strategy and I wasn’t aware of how much was needed to put together a strong application, I just needed a scholarship from USC or UCLA! Horatiu helped me define my story and gave my whole application a focus which I relied upon throughout the entire application process. Anna was an absolute pleasure to work, so experienced and personable, and Kathryn’s incredible expert opinion was always available.

As a result, we put four applications together in one month. I received a full scholarship to Emory with a USD 30,000 stipend and a 60% scholarship to my first choice school, USC.

They all bent over backwards to help me make this happen and keep me on track. I am so incredibly grateful for the whole team and I am so excited to start the next chapter of my life in July!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
May 18, 2023

Joined: Oct 07, 2022

Posts: 29

Kudos: 9

Self-reported Score:
680 Q49 V34

Admission Consulting Services Review

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

Square One Prep played a crucial role in guiding me through my business school applications. Despite starting the process late in the application cycle and having a busy work schedule, the team at SOP diligently checked in with me and ensured that I stayed on track to complete my applications on time. Their holistic approach, which involved crafting a compelling career narrative, providing multiple expert reviews of my essays, and offering interview preparation, greatly contributed to my acceptance into one of my preferred schools. I wholeheartedly recommend SOP to anyone aspiring to gain admission to the world's top business schools.

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May 12, 2023

Joined: Sep 03, 2015

Posts: 1

Kudos: 0

Thorough and Relentless

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

Kathryn and her team played a pivotal role in my journey, surpassing their roles as mere consultants by assuming the roles of career and life coaches. Their guidance and support were instrumental in refining my professional vision, gaining clarity on my motivations for pursuing an MBA, and comprehending the distinct attributes of the schools to which I wanted to apply. They tirelessly motivated me to iterate perfect versions of my essays and were available every minute in the last few weeks near deadlines. Overall, great experience, would recommend to anyone! They don't demotivate you to not apply to dream schools but help you prepare the best version of yourself for it.

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April 26, 2023

Joined: Nov 10, 2018

Posts: 0

Kudos: 5

Verified score:
710 Q50 V35

I first started my MBA application journey in October 2022 and decided to use admission consulting services. The hardest decision was to choose what company’s services I would use. Of course, my instinct told me to look at the most reviewed companies in GMAT Club. After trying free consultation services from the top 5 most reviewed admission consulting services, one company stood out: Square One Prep (S1P).

When you book a free 30-minute consultation, your expectation should be low: you could probably meet with a client rep, with an engagement manager, or, if you’re lucky, with the company’s founder, but you will feel rushed since it’s only 30 minutes. But with Square One Prep, you meet Kathryn. Yes, she is the founder of S1P, but to only say you meet the founder is not the best way to put it. You meet Kathryn, period. After that, you will feel that your time with Kathryn should not be free.

When you meet Kathryn, you should not worry about the 30 minutes. If she believes she can help you, she will invest her time in you by delving deep into your stories to find your genuine aspiration in seeking MBA. Then, she will recommend you the best of her squad of advisors to work with you and let you meet with each of her recommended advisors for a 20-minute intro call. In my experience with S1P, I talked with Kathryn for more than one hour and did three 20-minute intro calls with three different advisors before choosing Wilson. These all proceeded before I made a single penny of transactions—you see, they invest in you before they even begin.

Your advisor—mine is Wilson—will then assess your MBA candidacy, and Kathryn will provide you with her recommendation of business schools that suit your profile. But, as you might already read in other reviews, Kathryn will not talk you out of the school of your choice. She will give you a well-informed risk level for each school you plan to apply to. I chose INSEAD and Haas, and, given my profile, Kathryn gave these schools “Super Reach” risk level, just one level below “Out of Reach”. Such a risk level means that I will have a tough time and might need some luck to get into these schools. But even after that assessment, Kathryn and Wilson continued to help me to get to the school of my choice when I decided to take the risk.

After you decide on the schools of your choice, you begin to work on the school’s application with S1P and therefore start a deep, soul-searching experience. Wilson tirelessly helped me dig deep into my course of life and career to help me find meaningful stories for the essays. Horatiu helped me build upon my work experience a narrative of my future career that was convincingly impactful. And finally, Kathryn gave her final touch and approval while she oversaw all the other S1P clients’ essays, ensuring that my application was unique among others and would catch Adcom’s attention.

From where I come from, the cost of admission consulting services is very expensive. But If I were to repeat my MBA application, I would—again and again—choose S1P to help me. The cost seems to set me back just a little, given S1P’s excellent guidance and the usefulness of the content material they build for me. Other than applying to INSEAD and Haas, I use the S1P-built essay content to apply to not only four other schools but also several scholarship programs—of course, with few modifications.

It feels almost irrelevant to discuss which schools you want to apply to or get into with the S1P’s help because I believe S1P will work hard to help you as if all the schools you apply to were top, hard-to-get-into schools. Frankly, though, I never expected to get admitted to the schools I worked with S1P since Kathryn labeled these schools “Super Reach” for me. But in the end, I got admitted to INSEAD from the waitlist, an unthinkable reality for me had I not worked with S1P.

After the MBA application journey, I realized that what is special about S1P is that Kathryn runs the company with her heart and soul. Sometimes I wonder how this world would be if every business were run with Kathryn’s principles. Please look at her replies here on the GMAT Club admission consulting review page, her bio on the S1P website, and her profile on LinkedIn. When reading those, you might only see words. But when working with S1P, you’ll see that Kathryn did not just write words.

Overall, if I’m allowed to give you an analogy, the entire MBA application journey with S1P is akin to creating a movie where Kathryn is the executive producer, Horatiu is the screenplay writer, Wilson is the director, and you, the applicant, are the starring, debuting actor. S1P will shoot a movie for each school of your choice and will work as hard as they can to make you--the actor--look great. Kathryn says, “Our focus isn’t client volume or revenue; it’s you,” Indeed, she means it: it’s you, the actor, that matters.

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
March 27, 2023

Joined: Oct 28, 2018

Posts: 0

Kudos: 5

Verified score:
770 Q49 V47 (Online)

Square One Prep - Truly Differentiated MBA Admission Consultants


As an Indian male applicant, who by MBA standards was likely on the older side, I knew the odds of cracking my dream schools were stacked against me. Right from my initial screening call with Kathryn, Square One Prep felt different than other admission consulting companies. I wasn’t nudged to aim lower or outright told that I am being “unrealistic”. It was a refreshing change to end my initial screening call with a consultant without feeling dejected (or questioning whether applying to my dream school is even worth it).
My experience of working with the Square One Prep team was phenomenal. I appreciated the candid feedback I received at each step of the way. While I felt a bit frustrated at times about the second and the third (and in some instances fourth) level of questioning, it’s that questioning that helped me dig deep and answer questions with genuine authenticity. Going through the process of taking a step back and reflecting on what truly matters to me, I learned so much about myself. I’d be amiss if I do not mention my consultant, Kelsey Wise, who was just the best person to work with. Her constant support, guidance, and most importantly, encouragement played an integral role in my application process.
When I decided to choose the “risky” strategy of applying to all reach and lottery schools, Square One provided me with an honest assessment of what my approach entailed. Of the 6 schools I applied to in Round 1, I got interviewed by 4 of them - HBS, MIT Sloan, Booth, and Yale SOM. Having gone through the process of self-introspection throughout the application process (with guidance from Kathryn and Kelsey), preparing for my interviews did not feel daunting. I was able to convert all 4 interviews into acceptance offers. In fact, I received substantial merit scholarships from Booth and Yale (given my background and the competition pool, this was not even in the realm of possibilities in my wildest imagination).
As I gear up to attend my dream b-school, Harvard Business School, in the fall, I cannot thank the Square One Prep team enough to help my dream become a reality. If you are considering getting a consultant for your application process, look no further than Square One Prep – the team will go out of its way to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
March 09, 2023

Joined: Mar 28, 2021

Posts: 25

Kudos: 12

SOP - Incredibly dedicated and supportive team!!

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I am incredibly happy to have worked on my applications with Square One Prep. Thanks to them I am now headed to HBS in August. Every penny spent was worth it. Before I started my applications, I was quite exhausted from full-time work and GMAT prep, and I had doubts about the strength of my profile. I needed someone who could give me a reality check and clearly outline what needs to happen to put my best foot forward. Despite talking to several consultants, I was immediately drawn to SOP following my call with Kathryn because of her candidness, personal touch, and genuine interest in my background. My team consisted of Anna Tsilidou (primary advisor), Kathryn Lucas (senior leader), Cristina Castellano (project manager), and Horatiu Stefan (career narrative expert). I am forever thankful to every person on my team and I am particularly grateful that I worked with Anna as my primary advisor. She is a total superstar - confident, energetic, creative, and incredibly smart. I learned so much from her. She is extremely hard working and will demand absolute excellence from you. If you're lucky enough to work with Anna, you're in good hands (as long as you're ready to work hard)!!
1) Personal support - this is technically not something you even pay for but the team does an outstanding job in supporting you personally. In my case, I was hesitant in my decision-making and lacked strong self-belief. But the team consistently encouraged me and gave me the confidence to push myself hard. In fact, I didn't plan to apply to Harvard because I was pessimistic about the outcome. Luckily for me, the team (and especially Anna!!) convinced me that Harvard was absolutely worth a shot and I went for it. The second aspect of personal support is accountability and project management. The team treats the application process extremely seriously and recognizes that, in order to deliver a strong application, you must start early and work regularly. Cristina and Anna would regularly check in on my progress, communicate deadlines, and help resolve problems along the way. Expect to be reprimanded if you are not meeting key dates. The outcome matters to the team just as much as it does to you, so they ensure you stay on track.
2) Responsiveness - A+++ the team is a rockstar on this. Questions/concerns/general thoughts are answered or escalated quickly and immediately.
3) Application support - after all the work with SOP, everything from my resume to essays to interviewing abilities was of exceptional quality. As an engineering who had gotten used to technical writing, I was amazed at how much better my writing could be once Anna started pointing out flaws in sentence structure, word choice, meaning, redundancy, and so much more. My resume also got an amazing, much-needed transformation. Not only did I myself learn a lot but I also ended up putting together an incredibly strong application package. The results prove it: out of the 6 schools I applied to, I received 6 interview invites. The work didn't stop at the interview stage; the team set me up for success there as well. Doing several mock interview with Anna helped me hone in on my flaws and shake off the nerves before the big day. If you put in the work and trust the team's guidance and expertise, you will finish incredibly proud of all your documents.
4) Career narrative - I didn't have a clear vision of my business school goals, so doing this work early paid major dividends throughout the application process. The team makes you start thinking about your professional interests/ambitions and putting it all on paper. Each interest/ambition is then pressure-tested in the context of your background until you settle on one and then you continuously research and refine it until you eventually put it to the test with a detailed review from Kathryn. I'd even say that you overprepare on this aspect to the point that a question about your career goals will no longer seem intimidating, no matter if the question is in an essay or an interview. Horatiu was the perfect person to guide me on this because he is patient, thoughtful and knowledgeable.

If you're looking for a team that is dedicated, structured, responsive, well-versed in business school applications, and heavily invested in your success, then you can't go wrong with SOP. Best of luck!

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March 07, 2023

Joined: Sep 28, 2021

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Pick Square One Prep!

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by gmat club tests [?]

Before starting my MBA application journey, I basically had no idea what was involved in the
application process, and now having gone through this process, I am 100% convinced that I
would have not been successful without Square One Prep's help. Kathryn, Darcy, and the entire
team were right next to me on every step of the way. Their expertise and experience are truly
next level. Not only did they guide me and help me, but they actually pushed me to create
better applications. Additionally, the SOP portal/calendar is a phenomenal tool to help keep
track of all the deliverables and forecast how to best allocate your time. The resources available
to you are fantastic. If you are thinking about starting the MBA application, you *have* to do it
with SOP.

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February 24, 2023

Joined: Feb 24, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

The best MBA admissions consulting team!

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I was referred to Square One by a friend pursuing his MBA at Wharton, and working with Kathryn and Allison was pivotal in me securing admission offers and scholarships from Booth, Kellogg, and Stern Business Schools.
From our very first interaction, the energy and meticulousness that Kathryn and Allison brought to the admissions process amazed me. I initially had no idea what I wanted to do with my MBA, but Horatiu and Allison helped me explore careers that interested me and then craft a narrative based on it. I also had no practice in writing for almost a decade so I needed a lot of hand holding that Allison graciously offered. By the end, I was able to independently write my essays that got me an interview from the Wharton EMBA program.
In the middle of my application process, I had a family issue followed by my own illness, which prevented me from working on my applications. Throughout the challenges, the team was always empathetic and supportive of me that helped me get back on my feet successfully.
I also found the application process in itself to be incredibly enlightening. The deep self-reflections that Allison and Kathryn guided me through while writing my essays helped me develop a clarity of purpose and confidence in my own abilities. It has helped me take better charge of my career and perform outstandingly well in my current role.
Square One truly feels like a family that helped me improve continually and I highly recommend working with them.

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system or .edu email address and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.

77 Older and Non-Verified Reviews for Square One Prep