This is the second article in a series of 10 articles to help new GMAT aspirants understand the nuances of the MBA application process.

Before you can seek admission in your favorite B-school, you first need to meet the eligibility criteria for the program. If you do, then you will need to provide several documents along with your resume. But that’s not all. Most of the top B-schools would ask you to submit the following 3 things as well –

  1. Test Scores(GMAT/GRE and IELTS/TOEFL)
  2. Statement(s) of Purpose
  3. Letter(s) of Recommendation

Let’s discuss the three in detail one-by-one –

Key Requirements for the MBA Application Process

I.Test Scores

Most top schools will require you to submit a valid GMAT/GRE score. GMAT is much more widely accepted than GRE for Business related programs, and hence is the preferred test by a huge margin. Ideally, most schools will publish the average GMAT score of the last batch on their website clearly. However, while setting a target GMAT score, it is important that you focus on other factors of your profile, because depending on how well you fare on them, you might need to target a score higher/lower than the average.

Suggested Read: How to identify the right target GMAT score?

Note: If you are taking IELTS/TOEFL instead of GMAT/GRE, schools generally give a waiver if you have studied your under-graduate course in English. You can easily find this information on their website.

II. Statement(s) of Purpose

As a part of the admission process, schools ask applicants to provide one or more motivation letters. Usually, the most common topic for the essay is “Why MBA from this school?”. Some schools may ask you to produce more than one essay on topics that focus on several other key aspects of your profile and personality.

Here are some of the most common essay topics that you may have to write:

Your short term and long term goals

What is your biggest achievement?

One scenario in which you faced adversity and how you tackled it?

How will you add value to your cohort? … and many more!

These essays help the school in understanding you as a person, your intent behind doing an MBA and how can you contribute to the MBA cohort. This is the most important part of your application as a good essay improves your chances of selection considerably. Hence, it is important that you give enough time and effort on your essays. This is the part where you can impress the admission committees.

Essay Tip: Think of your essay as a story and build it well. Have crystal clear clarity about your goal and how an MBA fits into it. A good starting point is to think of all your achievements, learnings, decisions, successes, and failures till date and then think of how you can narrate your story using all these characters. The essays should bring out the best and most relevant things from your life. Also remember to have a friend or colleague to take a look at your essay and point out mistakes before submitting it.

III. Letter(s) of Recommendation (LOR)

Most schools ask for 2 letters of recommendations from people who know you and have worked closely with you. They can be your professors, your boss, your supervisor or your client. It is important to identify the right people who can vouch for you and hold some credibility at the same time.

The school will ask them to write a simple essay on why they are recommending you to their program. They can follow up the LOR with a set of additional questions in case they wish to know more about you. If you play smartly, you can bring out some really important aspects of your profile through LORs.

After reviewing the above aspects of your application the school will ask you to come for a face-to-face/online interview process. If you do well there, you will get selected for the program. Also, the process differs from school to school. For instance, some schools might ask for Video Resumes/Essays and may also organize Group Discussions/Group Activities in some locations.

When does the MBA Application process begin?

The whole process is generally repeated in 3-5 rounds, with Round 1 deadline for fall admissions around September, Round 2 around January and Round 3 around March. The other rounds may/may not be there depending on the school and its intake criteria. You can apply in any of these rounds. But remember, the sooner you apply the better it is. I recommend taking note of the deadline of your target school and planning accordingly.

How much time should I account for completing my applications?

The time needed for completing applications depends on a number of factors, such as how many schools you’re applying to, how aware you are of these schools, how clear you are about your goals, etc. It is strongly recommended that you account for at least 30 days for completing your essays and other things. You can always make your life easy by starting early with the research on your dream schools, thinking deeply about your goals, and talking to people who can help.

We will be covering more areas related to the admission process in the upcoming posts. Kindly follow up regularly to have your questions answered. If you want us to help you with doubts that we haven’t yet covered, you can post your queries on our Facebook page here or write to us on

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