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Every MBA program as its own timeline and number of rounds. Though most have 3, some have more, and almost all of them operate on a different schedule. Some schools, like HBS, have their first round deadline set as early as September 4. It is imperative that as an MBA applicant, you do not force yourself into a later round because you were disorganized or unprepared. However, waiting to apply during a later round can also be a strategic move. Here at Write Track, we have broken down the most commonly used 3 Round Process for you!
(Acceptance rates by round. Limited sampling of GMAT Club Users. Source: https://poetsandquants.com/2015/12/19/how-acceptances-rates-vary-by-round/)
MBA Round 1
Applying during the first round exemplifies just how serious you are about a particular school. It implies that you have planned on attending the school, and believe your request for their consideration is strong. Statistically, first round applicants see the highest chance of acceptance, as schools typically take the largest percentage of applicants from the round 1 pool, which is also most often smaller than the round 2 pool. According to a former Duke Fuqua Admissions Committee Member:
“In the end, there are more slots available in round one and more opportunities to be placed on the waitlist if that’s the route the admissions committee decides to take”.
So first round applicants have identified their top choices and are prepared to submit their application before the majority of other applicants do.
Write Track Recommendation: If you have a great GMAT score, solid Letters of Recommendation, and a unique profile, or you identify as a weaker candidate that wants all the advantage possible… APPLY ROUND 1!
MBA Round 2
Round 2 is almost always the largest applicant pool – but the odds of acceptance are relatively similar to the first round. Furthermore, a solid GMAT score can usually ensure that the increase in competition is not too huge a deal. Through research and experience we have found that some applicants utilize this round to apply to schools that are lower on their list, while others will purposely wait to apply until this round because of a nontraditional background and a sparkling personal statement, which in most cases will shine extra bright. Taking the extra time to polish your application to perfection can also work to your advantage.
Write Track Recommendation: If you need to wait to (re)take the GMAT to get a solid score, spend time getting that stellar Letter of Recommendation, and work on an outstanding application to a wide variety of programs (Reach – Target – Safety) … APPLY ROUND 2!
MBA Round 3
A highly unusual background or sheer desire to attend an MBA program are really the only reasons to wait until the third round to apply. The odds of acceptance are lowest in this round, and there is typically less scholarship money to be given out. Extremely strong candidates may still have a fair chance of acceptance, but the third MBA round is the most competitive and by all measures will limit optionality. Most people applying during this round only have a chance if they have used MBA Admissions Consulting services.
Write Track Recommendation: If you are eager to go to business school, regardless of the rank and can not wait another year … APPLY ROUND 3!
If you find yourself stuck in a later round, contact Write Track Admissions for cutting-edge MBA application assistance. We’ll ensure your application is at its strongest point so you can remain competitive even in the third round.
Aly Hartman | Write Track Communications Officer