GMAT or MBA Essays: Which Should You Start First?

It’s a question that plagues many MBA applicants each year: “Should I start preparing my application essays before or after taking the GMAT?” According to a 2022 survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a considerable 63% of applicants found balancing test preparation and application compilation to be quite challenging. This blog aims to address this prevalent concern and help you strategize your MBA application process efficiently.

The Role of GMAT in MBA Admissions

What should your prioritize – GMAT prep or Application Essays?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a key component of your MBA application. Schools use it as a benchmark to compare applicants’ quantitative, verbal, analytical writing, and integrative reasoning skills. In 2022, the average GMAT score for top 10 business schools hovered around the 730 mark, making it a high-stakes element of your application.

The Power of a Stellar MBA Essay

However, an equally critical element of your application is your essays. According to a 2021 survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), admissions officers from top business schools stated that the essays accounted for approximately 30% of the admission decision. MBA essays provide admissions committees with insights into your personality, career aspirations, and fit with the program – aspects that your GMAT score can’t convey.

Research: The Foundation of a Stellar Application

Crafting a stellar MBA application requires extensive primary and secondary research. Interacting with alumni, attending school webinars, studying placement statistics, understanding the career opportunities offered by the school, and assessing how you can contribute to the school’s culture are all integral parts of the process. According to industry experts, applicants should ideally spend around 80 hours on each school’s application, with 70% of this time dedicated to research and 30% to drafting content.

Advantages of Starting Your Essays Early

Commencing your essay preparation before the GMAT offers numerous benefits. Early preparation allows you sufficient time for comprehensive research and reflection, aligning your essays with your post-MBA goals and target schools’ cultures. Furthermore, it provides ample opportunities for revisions, enhancing your narratives’ impact and persuasiveness.

The Balance: GMAT and Essays

But remember, working on your essays while preparing for the GMAT requires a delicate balance. Having a target GMAT score in mind can help you strategically align your applications with specific schools, resulting in a cohesive and impactful application.

Striking the Right Balance: GMAT or MBA Essays First?

The decision on whether to concentrate on the GMAT first or work on both concurrently depends on your strengths, availability, and application timeline. You might be among the 56% of applicants surveyed by GMAC who found a sequential approach more beneficial, or you might thrive on multitasking.

In Conclusion: A Holistic Approach

Your MBA application is more than just your GMAT score. It’s a comprehensive portrait of you as a candidate. A balanced, well-crafted application combining a competitive GMAT score with strong, introspective essays can set you apart in the admissions process. Do note that there is NO magic recipe for success and applicants should chose the approach that best fits their schedule and is most tuned to their working temperament. What works for someone might not work for someone else.

Share Your Thoughts!

Are you a multitasker or a sequential planner? What strategies have worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Remember, an MBA is a significant investment. If you’re finding the process overwhelming, consider seeking guidance from an admissions consultant. Their expertise can help you navigate the process effectively and present an application that truly represents you.

Further Reading

Stay tuned to our blog for more insights, tips, and strategies to successfully navigate your MBA admissions journey!

Edit Template
Scroll to Top