PrepAdviser’s latest webinar reveals the best MBA application tips to start your preparation the right way. As the guest speaker, Dr. Don Martin from Grad School Roadmap shared tips and tricks from his 20 years of experience in MBA admissions advising.

Have you ever wondered about the most common mistake made by MBA applicants? You can find out the answer to this and other MBA prep questions in the webinar recording.

Dr. Don Martin founded Grad School Roadmap in 2008 to help business school applicants get the full scope of information they need for their application. This includes much more than planning your standardized tests. Your preparation should focus on shortlisting various schools, preparing recommendations, and other details along the way.

You will be able to take all of these factors into account by following the structured guide prepared by Dr. Don Martin.

Your MBA application checklist

To be able to dedicate enough time to every important aspect of your application, kick off your preparation with the following 12-month plan.

10-12 months out

At the start of your preparation, you should invest time in doing quality research about different business schools. Don’t limit yourself to only two or three programs from the start. On the contrary, try to consider a variety of schools beyond popular rankings.

Then, create a spreadsheet and list all of these schools in alphabetical order. Consider what is most important to you in your decision. Is it financial aid, the location of the institution, the way the curriculum is structured, or something else? Note down your findings in the spreadsheet.

7-9 months out

Once you have explored many different business schools without limiting yourself to rankings or recommendations from friends, you will be able to filter through them based on your preferences.

Then, it’s time to get even more proactive. Plan campus visits and register for recruitment events. Even if it’s not possible to attend face-to-face events at the moment, you can look for virtual tours and webinars that have the same purpose.

Reach out to current students and recent graduates to see how they feel about the programs on your shortlist. Dr. Don Martin recommends asking them two essential questions.

Find out what questions to ask MBA alumni by watching the webinar recording in full.

4-6 months out

When you have about six months left until your admissions deadlines, you should take care of the letters of recommendation. Reach out to recommenders and, if possible, meet them in person to communicate your goals and reasoning for pursuing an MBA. Make sure they have known you long enough and well enough to write a strong reference as this can make or break your application.

This would also be the right time to finalize your CV/resume and get copies of your education transcripts. Taking care of these details early on will leave you with plenty of time to focus on your essays – the most important part of the MBA application.

1-3 months out

This is the final stage of your preparation. Start by opening up application accounts in your shortlisted schools and fill in your demographic information.

Then, spend the rest of your time crafting and editing strong MBA application essays. Dr. Don Martin has two important suggestions for prospective business school candidates. The first one is to take the word limit into account. If the essay prompt says 150 words, you should respect this requirement strictly.

His second piece of advice about essay writing is to answer the specific questions you are being asked. Don’t submit an essay you write for another university – this will be an instant red flag and the business school will reject your application. Instead, make the effort to respond to the essay prompt clearly and authentically.

If you want to discover more tips and tricks about creating a winning MBA application on time, watch the webinar with Dr. Don Martin in full.