Scott Edinburgh
April 3, 2019

Personal MBA Coach’s 5-Month Round 1 Success Plan

April is upon us! This means that the first round 1 deadline is likely just over five months away.

While the 2019-2020 MBA application deadlines and questions have not yet been announced (stay tuned for more details on this), last year, the first round 1 application deadline was in early September. If you are applying to Columbia Business School, they will start accepting applications within 4-6 weeks! We expect similarly timed deadlines this year.

Regardless of whether you followed our MBA Kick-Start Plan, it is time to kick your MBA application efforts into high gear.

To help you make the most of your time and avoid last minute cramming (which is never great for anyone), Personal MBA Coach has put together this 5-month plan.

Month 1: April

  1. Schedule campus visits for your target schools

    • This is a great time to visit while classes are still in session

  2. While visiting schools over the summer is ok, it is always best to see campuses in action

    • Develop or solidify your GMAT/GRE preparation plan

    • Many of you may be well underway here (or even have already completed your testing)

  3. Customize your resume for your MBA applications

    • Your MBA resume should differ from your professional one

    • While you may need to tweak your resume later this summer, we advise our clients to get most of their resume development work out of the way before essay questions are released

  4. Fine-tune your career goals

    • Putting pencil to paper (so to speak) on your career goals now will save you time while developing your essays

Month 2: May

  1. Narrow down your school lists

    • Your final list may change (particularly if your GMAT/GRE score is not as you expected), but it is ideal to have an initial idea of your school list by May

  2. Brainstorm essay topics

    • As soon as the essay questions are released, get started on brainstorming and outlining!

  3. Prepare your personal story

    • Give extra thought to your personal story and what makes you unique

    • Keep this story in mind as you outline your essays

  4. Begin to identify potential recommenders

    • Think about who will write the best letters (not just who is the most impressive on paper!) and begin putting out feelers

  5. Continue GMAT/GRE preparation (if you can take the test this month, it is ideal)

Month 3: June

  1. Draft your essays

    • Essay development should be getting the bulk of your attention this month

  2. Finalize and prepare your recommenders

    • Nail down your recommenders and schedule time to prepare them appropriately

  3. Take the GMAT/GRE

    • If you have not already done so, try to get your testing completed by mid-summer

    • This will give you time to retake the test and not be too rushed

  4. Network with current/former students

    • Speak with current students and alumni in your network to learn more about their programs

    • This will not only help you to confirm your interest, but it will also give you strong material for your applications

    • Some schools specifically ask who you talked to, so do not forget this step

Month 4: July

  1. Edit, edit, edit

    • Editing should be well underway at this point for most, if not all schools

    • However, your essays will again take up the bulk of your time in July as you continue editing and developing essays for additional schools

  2. Revisit school lists as needed

    • Based on your score, you may want to critically evaluate and expand your school list

    • My average candidate applies to 5+ schools

  3. Attend MBA events

    • Personal MBA Coach will be attending and presenting at multiple MBA Tour and Forté Foundation events in July and August. Email us for details

    • These are great opportunities to speak with admissions committee representatives from your target schools

Month 5: August

  1. Put finishing touches on essays

    • By August, you should be wrapping up your essays. We advise clients to lock their essays at least 2-3 weeks in advance of deadlines

    • Last minute changes are rarely for the better

  2. Ensure LORs are ready to go

    • Follow up with your recommenders and make sure they are on track

    • Ask your recommenders if they need any additional information from you

  3. Work on short answer questions

    • Allocate enough time for short answer questions

    • Often these questions take longer than you might think and are an important part of the application

  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread

    • ALWAYS get someone unfamiliar with your applications to do a thorough review

    • We use a separate proofreader to do final application checks

By starting now and following this plan, you will be able to breathe easy come September!

Keep in mind that while it is great to have the full five months (or more) to prepare, we regularly work with clients who start later in the year and craft custom timelines accordingly.

Need personal support? Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year. Our comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th


Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

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