AdmitMBA360 Blog formerly Journey to my MBA

Journey to my MBA

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Applying in which round will improve my chances?

Today, Scott of MBA Game Plan noted that there is no noticable difference in applying to Round 1 or Round 2. I agree with this completely. I would like to add that there is really only one huge advantage in applying early. That is for those schools that have "Early Application(EA)" rounds. In my research with schools, students and Alumni, I've concluded that ones chances look something like the following when applying in the various rounds-- For schools without an EA round, the graph should look something like the second graph.

Let me be clear though, it's not a black and white issue (no pun intended.. since my graph has colors. ha ha) Students who apply in EA tend to have great GMAT scores. They tend to have their GMAT done and out of the way and have been thinking about their essays for quite a while. There are other issues too such as the MBA Tours which come around in time for Round 1+ apps and not EA rounds. The info sessions of each school usually fall during Round 1 and early Round 2 periods. Quite a few people wait for these events before figuring out which schools they'll be applying to. This makes it difficult for many of these individuals to craft an application strategy for each school they apply to. The way I see it, the MBA Tour's and info sessions of this year, are a good setup for applications for next years application rounds.

EA applications are not just more successful because there is less competition. Rather, these students tend to have done their homework for 6 months or more before the app was even due. Nevertheless, all things being equal, the EA round is definitely a more successful time to apply. As you may recall, in other articles I've written, I commmented that one needs to show just how much one really wants to apply go to a particular school. An EA application shows you're very very very very serious about them out of other schools. Using a bit of this same logic, schools without an EA round will tend to show Round 1 applications fairing a good portion better than in other rounds. But this would be more attributed to the fact that Round 1 apps would be better prepared and put together.

Not sure what an EA is other than it being an earlier date for application?

Early Admission (EA) means that if you apply and get accepted, you must make a decision to accept the offer by putting up a good sized deposit and that you will take the position. Should you pull out, you'll lose the deposit. It says that you are absolutely serious about that particular school and therefore improves your chances for acceptance. This is because EA applications prove that their the school of your choice and that is a positive factor when reviewing your application.

Lastly, please remember that this is my opinion (although quite informed). Please take it as you want and weigh what I've said with what you're own research reveals. I implore everyone to do their own research as well.

The BusinessWeek Article by Scott.........

As the Round 1 deadline approaches for most top business schools, a lot of MBA applicants are starting to face the reality that they haven't budgeted enough time to get all of their applications done. If you find yourself in this situation, I'd like to remind you of one important fact: It is NOT imperative that you get your applications in by the Round 1 deadline! The reality is that applying in Round 1 gives you no real leg up vs. applying in Round 2. (We usually do urge applicants to avoid Rond 3, though.)

[Read more]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust me, it feels great to have app ready for EA.

But I would generalise the advantage not for EA but for any application before November.

The reason is simple: People applying for Round 1 or EA in October or early November would have likely taken GMAT before September - it effectively means that they likely had info before May. This applicant pool is likely to be the MOST informed and hence extremly well-prepared.

Don't forget: Darden EA is after HBS R1. More people apply to HBS than Darden. So there are more factors than just timing as shown in the graphs. But I would say that timing makes a difference not in terms of rounds but in terms of actual dates.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Freeway said...

Can you please tell me what has been a trend in the past years as far as when to apply to a Business school is concerned. More specifically, I want to know what do Business schools look for in the Early admission round or even round 1. Do they look for high GMAT and high GPA Or average GMAT or average GPA is fine for these rounds. What has been the trend in the past years for these early rounds. Please comment, Thanks.....

12:32 PM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

I agree about the early round trends in terms of quality of applicants. Nevertheless, the EA round has a distinct advantage unlike other rounds with regard to ones ability to exhibit a strong and influental passion for said school.

It's not about high GMAT or high GPA. If you apply early, you'll tend to get a better look. This means that if you get 40 points below the GMAT mean, you're application will be read with more attention and open mindedness. In later rounds, that 40 points will probably go to 30 points. I'm NOT SAYING THAT IF you get 30 or 40 points below the GMAT mean of a school that you won't get looked at. I AM saying that you'll get a better look in the early rounds. Many times, it that extra look or discussion with a fellow adcom about you that may put you into the admit pile.

I'm using 30 or 40 points very specifically because that is the range below the mean of most schools where you should just stop the stress and move onto the essays or other parts of the application. That is of course, you only took the GMAT once and think you could do 30 points better. Then you should retake. ALWAYS take the GMAT at least twice if you can. However, if you score 680, I would really consider not trying the 2nd one as the opportunity cost to put more time into the rest of your app would not be a good return on your time investment.

In the past 2-3 years, the points went down much lower. So, if the mean was 690 and you got 640 or 630, you probably would have your application reviewed as comprehensively as others.

Imagine if you will that every part of the application is weighted with a ball. As each part is gone over, a small, medium or large ball is thrown into one of 3 buckets. These buckets are called:
1) Acceptance
2) Reject
3) Neutral

Let's say you have a 660 GMAT score and the school has a 700 mean. That may be a small ball into the reject or neutral bucket depending on the many factors. For example, if it were an EA round review, the ball might go into the neutral bucket. If it were round 2, the small ball might go into the reject bucket.

A GMAT score of say 600 might be a big ball into the reject bucket. Couple that with a GPA of 2.8 and you'll probably get a second large ball into your bucket. Add onto this an average or poor 1st or 2nd essay and that'll be enough where other part's of the essay may not get looked at because the "reject" bucket is already full.

In lean years such as 2 years ago, schools had a very big "reject" buckets when they reviewed you. Even though the "reject" buckets have a shrunk a bit, the "reject" buckets of today are still bigger than they were 6 years ago. So it's a much better time to apply.

As far as the acceptance side of the equation goes, the size of the acceptance bucket hasn't really changed. Time has tended to show that the overall stats and quality of applicants improves over time. In the 1980's one could have gotten into a top 10 B-School with a 610 GMAT score with no real pressure to put it above 700. But that's neither here nor there because that's not how it is now.

Conclusively then, the GMAT or a GPA are not the only way in. And when I say that you get a better look in early rounds or in lean years, it's because the "reject" bucket is larget than normal.

Regarding the 2nd part of your question about trends, I'd have to say that the picture has become very complex.

GMAT prep companies are sprouting up like crazy. Admission Consultants have grown by more than 1000% over the last 5 years. People are getting more and more professional guidance to get the better score and better application packages submitted.

The number of MBA forums has tripled in the last 3 years. This Blog and others like it didn't exist 3 years ago. The application process was far more vague back then. I've been glad to be part of the fog removal initiative of the B-School application process. I receive more than 10,000 visitors a month and more than 700 visits and RSS receivers during the weekdays.

The MBA has become the new hot ticket in the last 12 months. To apply now is good thing. To wait 3 years would be a problem. I foresee the MBA prep and GMAT prep sector of businesses to grow by at least 7 times over the next 3 years.

The number of applicants will also increase to all schools to ridiculously competitive levels in the next 4 years. B-School popularity is cyclical, but our world economy is changing to such a point that B-School Full time will grow maybe 30% and Executive MBA's by 55% over the next 4 years. These are numbers I made up based on what I'm seeing and sensing. India and China are having huge impacts on the application process as well here in the US.

For the first time in history, this year, a handful of top 10 Business Schools put specific notes and comments on their web pages specifically for applicants from India.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Rag said...


Great information, I am one of 700 regular visitor to your blog. Could you please comment on R1, R2 for part-time programs ? Thanks

5:03 PM  
Blogger YoGi said...

Hi Dave,

I just took my GMAT yesterday and scored a disappointing 640 (Q 44 V 33). I just did not pace myself well! I believe that was one big factor which dragged down the overall scores.

I hope to hear from you and anyone reading this if I should retake the GMAT. I hope to try for Duke and Colubmia Health Sector Management Fall '07. I have a grad deg from Johns Hopkins and will have 4 years of working exp (in a big med dev firm) come next fall. Should I just submit that mediocre score for Duke's R1?

Thanks in advance!

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Freeway said...

Thanks Dave, great info, excellent guideline..... Thanks again...

6:19 PM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

R1 and R2 etc for Part-time is about the same as full-time. However, the acceptance rates are higher overall.

Depends on if this is your 1st try at the GMAT. If it is, try again in a month. Check out to target weak areas. For $30/month, you get some great homework, drills and adaptive quizes.

640 is worth an application. There are people at Duke with 570 GMAT scores. I know this for a fact. Put in your best apps when you are ready and don't rush it. Be thoughtfull. The world is not over. There is always next year. Take a deep breath and imagine what is the worst scenario in waiting a year. You get more time for the GMAT and more time to prepare for your apps. Your could write 1/2 your essays between now and then. The essay questions really don't change that much for those two schools.

All my best to your apps. - Dave

7:40 PM  
Blogger MBABlogger said...

Dave I am I am not wrong you have applied to Darden EA. Would you please share whats the security deposit to secure your admission and by which date do we have to pay that. I could not find this info anywhere on the darden website.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Nat4mba said...

I would like to add that there is still a serious advantage of Round 1 for all international applicants because of visa and resettling matters. In some countries securing a visa may take up to three months, so, you will really want to learn about your admission before summer.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

I don't know what the EA security deposit is. Perhaps someone else could answer this?

The international issue is a nice point. But it has no bearing on ones chances. The biggest point to note with International applicants is that their "chance" scale is different from US ones. For example, Wharton advises international applicants to apply no later than round 2. Some schools such as Tepper don't even mess around with this. They just flat out say that they won't take applications for international students beyond round 2. But that they'll still take applications from US ones in round 3.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb Info Dave. I visit your blog on a daily basis and really appreciate the timing of the high quality contents that you get into your blog almost all the time. Could you please share the top Business Schools that put specific notes and comments on their web pages specifically for applicants from India?........Thanks

1:53 PM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

Rag, I've seen the security deposit be anywhere between $1,000 to $8,000.

Anonymous, about the mention of India in schools application process. I can't remember all of them. Nor did I think I needed to as I'm not Indian (grin). But HAAS is one comment..

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave - I don't know if you're just providing circumstantial evidence to applicants for kicks, but why do you think EA provides an advantage. Adcoms can easily see through applicants who are not serious about the program being their #1 choice, and the EA strategy backfires. My advice is do not mess with EA if the school is not unquestionably, positively your top choice.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

This post is not at all for kicks. In fact, this post is rather narrow in focus in that I've presented the circumstances why EA is a more effective choice. I've even added comments that show how EA is advantageous for those who know which school they have choosen out of all others. And I presented the notion that EA is also a help to those who may need a broader look and said school is the desired school as well.

I would never present such an issue just for kicks. I'm confident about the EA round being of help to some. This is not a scheme or a sign post showing the easy way in.

The applicant must be of strong caliber and show their love for said school by showing how they really did their homework.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Hobbes said...

Dave, your first comment on this post was indeed very informative. But I am not all too sure abt "other part's of the essay may not get looked at because the "reject" bucket is already full."

Really? If some of the key initial parts of the essay are bad (relative term, I know) wont they even bother to look at the other parts?

I seriously doubt if this is the case. Some of the adcoms are now coming out in the open about how they conduct the app reviews. And from what I could glean from those is tht every app is read completely by atleast 2 people. Because frankly I think it would be unfair to not completely read the application just because some initial information, maybe important info, is not up to the mark.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Submitted Tuck App - EA. Had tough time getting my recommenders push in their work.

11:01 AM  

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