Your 4 Step Guide to Beating Those MBA Round 2 Deadlines

Click here to learn the Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays!

Create a detailed schedule.

January may seem like worlds away, but if you don’t get crackin’ now, then these next 6-8 weeks will come and go before you can say “MBA 2015.”

Hopefully by this point you’ve already taken your GMAT and decided on the MBA programs you’d like to attend. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the actual applications, with a heavy emphasis on those MBA essays. Yes, now. Assuming you apply to 4-6 programs, that’ll give you about 3 weeks for the first application (which is always the hardest), and then about 1-1.5 weeks for each remaining application, and a couple of weeks for the unexpected things that you can expect will happen between now and January.

It’s you versus the buzzer. Here are four things you can do now to make sure you submit your MBA Round 2 applications on time:

1. Create a detailed schedule. Make a fairly rigid schedule that allows time for drafting, writing, and editing each essay. Each one of these steps requires time, lots of time, so the key is to start early and commit to your schedule. Let your forward momentum propel you to the finish line. (P.S. Your schedule should be rigid, but you should also accept that there are always hiccups along the way; leave room for error, and as I said above, the expected unexpected.)

2. Complete one application before moving to the next. Approaching each application separately will help ensure that each is completed as a cohesive package. Writing all your goals essays and then all your achievement essays and then all your team work essays will simply confuse things and result in you losing focus. Write HBS’ essay first, conveying your unique story as it relates to Harvard. Then do Stanford‘s essays, while focusing on how your story relates to Stanford. Then move on to Wharton, Columbia, MIT, and Kellogg respectively.

3. Determine which experiences best answers each question for each school. Your essays should complement each other and the rest of your application. You won’t want to use the same experience in two of your Haas essays, but you may be able to use an experience highlighted in a short answer from Harvard’s app in one of  your Kellogg essays.

4. Do NOT submit your applications right away. This applies to all your MBA applications, but particularly to the first one you complete. Here’s why: As you proceed through subsequent applications, you may discover that certain ideas that you developed in Application #4 help sharpen a point in Application #1. A week before the deadline is a good time to review your first application and clarify any points that have been further developed in later applications. If your original points seem fuzzy, then you’ll have enough time to refine them.

MBA 5 Fatal Flaws


Related Resources:

School-Specific Tips for Top MBA Programs
Resourceful Essay Recycling
From Example to Exemplary: How to Use Sample Essays to Create Exemplary Essays

What You Need to Know for SAT Writing

Applying to college? Check out our College Admissions 101 Pages!

Get to know the SAT’s favorite grammar topics.

When the SAT was first changed to the format it’s in now, back in 2005, many schools didn’t pay any attention to the writing section; they only looked at students’ reading and math scores. Since then, there’s been a slow change, although not a universal one. It depends on what school you’re applying to, of course, but in general, gone are the days when you can just dismiss a third of the test completely.

Nowadays, it’s wise to brush up on your grammar before taking the test, because that’s what SAT writing is largely about. That’s not going to change with the 2016 redesign, either: a large chunk of the “reading and writing” section (a hybrid of today’s critical reading and writing sections) will be made up of the same types of questions that are on the SAT now. That means grammar, grammar, grammar.

Here are a few examples of the SAT’s favorite grammar topics:

1. Misplaced modifiers

2. Parallelism

3. Subject-verb agreement

4. Pronoun agreement

5. Verb tenses

6. Passive voice

That’s not exactly an ordered top six, but it’s roughly in order of importance—the test-makers love misplaced modifiers, for example—and it’s all stuff you should be familiar with before that fateful Saturday morning. If you don’t know what any one of those means, look it up!

But I’d be lying if I said grammar was the only important part. The SAT essay counts for nearly a third of your writing score, and grammar is only a piece of that puzzle. You can write an outstanding SAT essay with a number of grammar errors; it mostly just has to be long enough, include some high-level vocabulary, and have clear examples that relate back to the topic. What you learn when studying for the multiple choice part of the test can help, of course, but that knowledge alone won’t bring you to a perfect score. You’ve also got to be able to write like a madman—to put ideas down on paper fast, and work in some good examples while you’re at it. That takes practice and preparation outside the grammar. One of the most helpful things you can do is come up with a list of sources for your examples: stories from history, literature, or even pop culture that you know particularly well. Use old essay prompts to then practice coming up with examples from that pool of resources.

If you know the grammar rules, which are relatively easy to learn, given a bit of time, and you get yourself comfortable writing a 2-page, 25-minute essay with concrete examples, then you’re on your way to nailing SAT writing (time to focus on one of the other sections!).

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

magooshThis post was written by Lucas Fink, resident SAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in SAT Prep. You can learn more about Magoosh on our SAT blog, and you can get $50 off 1 month of prep here!

Related Resources:

• Preparing for College in High School
• GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep (podcast)
• Writing an Interesting SAT Essay in 25 Minutes

Prioritizing at an All You Can Eat Buffet: UNC Kenan-Flagler Student Interview

Click here for more MBA student interviews!This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Alex Dea, second-year student at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job? 

Alex: I was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and went to Boston College in Chestnut Hill, to study business and theology. Upon graduation from BC, I joined Deloitte Consulting and spent three years in the Boston office. At Deloitte, I advised clients on how to use digital technology to transform their business strategy and operations. After three years at Deloitte, I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in August 2013 to attend the University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler).

Accepted: Why did you choose UNC Kenan-Flagler? How would you say it was the best fit program for you? Which other schools had you considered? 

Alex: First and foremost, it was the people and the culture. I visited UNC and spoke to a handful of students, faculty and administrators and walked away feeling like these were the people I would want to work with and support. Furthermore, they seemed like people who wanted and were willing to support me. People at UNC Kenan-Flagler understand that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and when someone achieves success it can be good for everyone.

Secondly, it was the leadership opportunities. I came to business school because I wanted to accelerate my development in becoming the leader I thought I was capable of becoming and was very impressed on the leadership development opportunities at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Lastly, it was the curriculum. UNC has a robust core curriculum that I knew would allow me to hone some development areas in my business toolkit while allowing me to get depth in some of my areas of interest, such as Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

One of the things that was most important to me was finding a school where students both own and invest in the community. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve always taken pride in the communities and organizations I’ve associated myself with and have invested time and energy into those communities and I wanted to go somewhere that empowered people to do just that.

As such, I really looked at schools that seemed to have strong student-driven and community-like feel. This attracted me to UNC Kenan-Flagler, UC Berkeley (Haas) and Duke University (Fuqua). All of the programs I applied to are top-notch programs with great people. While I’m very happy at UNC, I have nothing but respect and admiration with all of these schools to the point where I still stay in touch with many of the individuals I met at those respective schools. This has come in handy, especially for some of my recruiting efforts and business school activities and pursuits. You never know when a connection you make can come in handy!

Accepted: If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Alex: I think very highly of my fellow classmates, administrators, faculty and staff at UNC Kenan-Flagler. I think we can do a better job of sharing the talents, skills and gifts that we collectively possess with the outside world.

One of the nice things about being at Kenan-Flagler is it’s a very feedback-driven environment. I’ve shared some of these insights with some administrators within the program and they’ve been very receptive to my ideas and even shared some of the things they were doing to improve upon this. Sure enough, there were initiatives underway to work on this and even found opportunities for me assist in the process.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known early on in your first year?

Alex: I think two critical concepts to business school are developing priorities and understanding opportunity cost. Business school can feel like an endless “all you can eat buffet.” There are so many great opportunities and experiences at top MBA programs – it really is overwhelming!

Developing your priorities will help you figure out which opportunities to pursue and which to ignore. You can’t do everything, but you can do a lot. Secondly, understanding opportunity cost will help you make those tough decisions. Inevitably, you’ll be given the choice to do either X or Y, both being really great options. Understanding what you give up in return for what you get is critical to evaluating opportunities that come your way, and can help you make those tough decisions. (Note: this is an ongoing process throughout your two years!)

Accepted: Where did you intern this past summer? What role did UNC play in helping you secure that position? 

Alex: This past summer I interned at out in San Francisco, CA. I worked on a Product Marketing team for the Salesforce1 Platform and enjoyed learning the ins and outs of life as a Product Marketer and experiencing first-hand what it’s like to work at the world’s most innovative company (as deemed by Forbes).

While I went off-campus to recruit for this position, I got some help from a UNC Kenan-Flagler Alum who worked at Salesforce and was able to give me great insight into the people, culture and business of Salesforce. Furthermore, I relied on the Alumni network at UNC Kenan-Flagler for almost every company I applied to during the recruiting process. Whether it was getting insight into the company culture, understanding what interviewers were looking for or getting honest insights about career decisions the Kenan-Flagler Alumni network played a huge role in the process.

Furthermore, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Career Management Center (CMC) was instrumental in my recruiting process. Since I did not go through the traditional on-campus recruiting channels the CMC was very helpful in connecting me to Alums but also providing me coaching and feedback as to how to handle particular situations that occurred in the recruiting process. For instance, I had the fortunate problem of getting multiple offers with quickly expiring deadlines while I was still interviewing for a role that I wanted. The CMC staff was provided great guidance in how I needed to handle that situation while maintaining professional and positive relationships with all the companies and recruiters that were involved.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the MBA admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? 

Alex: My biggest challenge was that I was initially waitlisted at every school that I applied to. This was a tough pill to swallow, but after recognizing that I didn’t have time to sit idle I needed to take action and I needed help doing so. I was very fortunate in that I have a great network of current and former MBA students who were very familiar with the admissions process.

I’m someone who is comfortable networking and building relationships with others so I reached out to a handful of people who I thought could provide thoughtful guidance. These people were really helpful in being supportive about my situation while providing me with actionable insight on what I could do to move from the waitlist pile to the accept pile. In certain cases, they were able to directly connect me to admissions officers who gave me honest and direct guidance on what I could do to improve my odds of admission.

In the end things ended up working out, and while it was stressful it was a reminder that it’s not always but what happens, but rather, how you respond to what happens. Despite facing an uphill and daunting battle, I managed to get off the waitlist and attend a Top MBA Program of my choice.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn? 

Alex: Over the years, people have given me feedback that I give great guidance and advice and communicate effectively. Additionally, I’ve always wanted to write but thought I wasn’t a real “writer” so I shied away from doing anything.

Business school is about taking risks and stretching yourself, as such, I decided to take this feedback and run with it by creating a blog to share my thoughts and experiences on my MBA experience. I’ve met some incredible people and built great relationships through this experience. These people, have not only helped me learn, but have made a difference in my career. I wanted to combine all of this and share all of the knowledge, stories, experiences and thoughts so that others could learn and benefit from what I’ve gained.

So far, it’s been a very positive experience and something that I’ve enjoyed. Not only have I met great people, but I’ve also been able to reconnect with old colleagues/friends who have seen some of my work. Overall, it’s been a great learning experience and something I’ve truly enjoyed.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages

You can read more about Alex’s journey by checking out his blog, A Digital Mentor. Thank you Alex for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• UNC Kenan-Flagler B-School Zone
Leadership in Admissions
Waitlisted! Now What?

International GMAT Test Takers Score Higher than Americans

Got low stats? Find out how you can still get into a top b-school!

U.S. GMAT-takers performing poorly compared to test-takers from Asia-Pacific

U.S. GMAT test-takers are performing poorly compared to test-takers from Asia-Pacific reports a recent Wall Street Journal article. In response to this growing performance gap, adcom at U.S. schools are seeking to implement new evaluation metrics to make domestic students appear better.

Here’s an example of how things have changed: For the quant section, in 2004, a raw score of 48 would put the student in the 86th percentile; today, that same score would yield a ranking in the 74th percentile. More students (outside the U.S.) are scoring higher – especially in the quant section – making it a lot harder for U.S. test takers (whose raw scores have remained relatively flat) to hit those higher percentages. That is, their test scores haven’t changed, but their percentile rankings are falling.

Here are some additional stats from the WSJ article:

•  Currently, Asia-Pacific citizens make up 44% of GMAT test-  takers, compared to 22% a decade ago. U.S. students comprise only 36% of all test-takers.

•  Asians averaged a mean raw score of 45 on the quant section, compared to a raw mean for U.S. students of 33.  The global mean was 38.

•  10 years ago, the Asian students’ raw score was at 42; for U.S. students it was still 33.

To address concerns about the shifting global rankings of the test, this past September GMAC introduced a bench-marking tool that “allows admissions officers to compare applicants against their own cohort, filtering scores and percentile rankings by world region, country, gender and college grade-point average.” Adcom explain that they need a way to measure applicants against other test takers in an applicant’s region. They explain that they don’t just want to “become factories for high-scoring test-takers from abroad.”

Others respond by suggesting that American students need to receive a more intense math education, similar to the emphasis put on mathematics in Asia. But is lack of math education the problem or is it the amount of time Americans invest in test prep? GMAC reports that U.S. students only spend an average 64 hours prepping for the GMAT, compared to the 151 hours put in by Asian students.

Students concerned about their GMAT percentile may want to consider taking the GRE which is now accepted at 85% of b-schools.

Watch our free webinar: How to Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats! Helping You Write Your Best
Related Resources:

•  MBA Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Low GPA
•  Low GMAT Score? Don’t Panic…Yet.
•  Admissions Offers to International Grad Students Increase 9% Since 2013

Everything You Wanted to Know About MD/MBA Programs

Listen to the full conversation about MD/MBA programs with Dr. Maria ChandlerIntrigued by business and medicine? Not sure whether you want to be the next Steve Jobs or Jonas Salk?

AST’s guest this week is the person who can show you how to combine these two complementary, but in some ways disparate interests, with an MD/MBA.

Meet Dr. Maria Chandler, founder of the Association of MD MBA Programs and the UC Irvine MD/MBA program, MD/MBA Faculty advisor at UC Irvine, Assoc Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Assoc Professor at the Paul Merage School of Business, and practicing pediatrician.

Tune in to our conversation for fascinating insight about the place where medicine meets management.

00:01:11 – Featured Applicant Question: Should I apply in Round 2 with my good essays, or apply Round 3 with excellent essays?

00:04:10 – Why Dr. Chandler decided to pursue an MBA.

00:06:30 – The story behind the founding of the UC Irvine MD/MBA Program.

00:08:08 – Inviting the east-coasters to Irvine in February: The founding of the Association of MD MBA Programs.

00:10:42 – Curriculum at the typical MD/MBA Program.

00:13:04 – Culture gap alert! What it’s like to go to b-school after med school.

00:17:51 – MD/MBA career paths.

00:20:15 – Do most MD/MBAs leave clinical medicine eventually?

00:22:14 – How and why this new degree became so popular so fast.

00:27:01 – The dual-degree application requirements.

00:31:35 – Maria’s dream for the future of medicine.

00:36:35 – Advice for applicants considering an MD/MBA.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of

Related Links:

• The Rise of the M.D./M.B.A. Degree
MD/MBAs: Fixing Hearts & Healthcare
UC Irvine M.D./M.B.A. Program
• Contact Maria:

Related Shows:

• Getting Into Medical School: Advice from a Pro
• MCAT Mania: How to Prepare
• Healthcare Management at Wharton and at Large
• Med School Application Process: From AMCAS to Decisions

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