Eat healthier. Exercise more. Spend more time with your family. 

These may be some of the new year’s resolutions you had in mind. But for those of you hoping to apply to business school in 2019, add MBA application planning to this list.

To give you a head start and keep you on track in the new year, Personal MBA Coach developed a 4 part series: MBA Planning Kick-Start!

We have put together an abbreviated, 4-step kick-start plan just for The MBA Tour readers here!

1) Make Your Career Work Harder For You! Without changing jobs, there are some steps you can and should be taking now to ensure that when you sit down to draft those essays and prepare for your interviews you have plenty to talk about.

  • Be honest about your desires.If there is an experience at work you want to have, ask for it. Many managers will be more than happy to find projects to help you close existing gaps or develop new expertise.
  • Get involved at the office.Internal projects are a great way to beef up your leadership experience and almost every company has an internal initiative that requires help.
  • Look for mentoring opportunitiesEven if you have not had the chance to manage your own team, becoming a mentor (whether formally or informally) is a great way begin to perfect your management skills.

2) Build And Improve Your Extracurricular Profile. Strengthening extracurricular profiles is one of the key areas I am working on with round 1 candidates this January. Now is the time to build or strengthen your extracurricular profile. By putting in the extra effort today, you will have ample opportunities to add real value before the deadlines this fall and avoid being penalized for not having a track record of involvement and leadership by the time summer comes. As you enhance your extracurricular profile, keep 3 guiding principles in mind:

  • Quality Over Quantity
  • Focus On Leadership
  • Activities Should Fit With Your Profile

3) Plan Ahead For The GMAT/GRE: If you have not researched standardized tests since planning for college, a lot has changed. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years AND you can take the exam up to 5 times during a 12-month period. There is also a lifetime max of 8 tests and you can take the test once every 16 calendar days. Similarly, you can take the GRE once every 21 days and up to five times within any 12-month period. GRE scores are also valid for 5 years.

 Further, you can cancel your score if you are not happy with the result. This change has led to candidates taking the exam multiple times and rising average GMAT/GRE scores. What does all this mean for MBA hopefuls? The pressure to perform is high and doing so takes advance planning! Follow these key tips:

  • Start earlier than you think!  The earlier in your career you take the test, the better. Most of the skills tested in the GMAT/GRE you mastered in undergrad (if not before) so the longer you wait, the less you will remember about reading comprehension and math fundamentals.
  • Take a practice test now to see your baseline. Check this score against your target schools to get a real sense of what it means and a true feel for how much work you have ahead of you. 
  • Think about how you learn best and use this to inform your study plan. There are countless support options available for the GMAT/GRE so think about what would be best for you and plan accordingly! 

4) Expand your network. It should come as no surprise that networking is a key part of every long-term career strategy. It is also something that many of my clients struggle with. To get you on the right path this year, Personal MBA Coach has some tips on when and how to start networking. It is never too early to start networking.Whether you are planning to apply to business school later this year or a few years from now, a strong network will position you for success. As you develop your networking strategy, focus on these four areas:

  • Network at work: 30-day goal: schedule one lunch or coffee with someone at the office who is more experienced and who knows you well.
  • Network with alumni/students from your target schools: 30-day goal: Locate and email two students about their business school experiences.
  • Network with professionals in your preferred field: 30-day goal: Reach out to one professional in your dream job and invite her for coffee.
  • Network with admissions professionals. 30-day goal: Locate The MBA Tour event closest to you and register/put it on your calendar.

Need Help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their deferral MBA applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.


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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