Which round is better

Here’s the third article in the series of 10 articles that will cover everything in and around the GMAT preparation and MBA application process. In this article, we are covering a very common yet important query that students have, i.e. – What is the difference between Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3? Knowing the difference between the 3 will play a key role in deciding when you should apply to your dream school to enhance your chances of getting in. So, let’s discuss which round is the best to apply –

Why is it important to decide in which round you should apply?

Confucius aptly said, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door”. Thousands of students end up losing a whole year just because they didn’t plan their preparation well in advance. This is because, in most of these cases, students think they have enough time before applying. So, they either don’t get started with their GMAT preparation or prepare without an action plan that could get them ready by a certain date.

In the end, they find themselves cutting too close to the deadlines and have to apply with a low score or compromise with the application. If you don’t want to be in such a situation, you must ensure that you are approaching your GMAT Preparation with a proper plan in place.

Suggested Read: How to start preparing for the GMAT.

4 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Round of the Three

If you’re looking for a quick answer, the sooner you apply (with your best shot), the better it is. However, there are 4 important factors that should be considered –

  1. Are you from an over-represented pool?
  2. Quality of Application
  3. Need for scholarships
  4. Ranking of Your Target Program

Let’s discuss of these in detail –

Are you from an over-represented pool?

It is not just your GMAT score that is crucial when it comes to seeking admission. Your profile too plays a very important role in selection. (We will be discussing it in detail in the next post). B-schools aim for building a truly diverse class with people hailing from different geographies, different work experiences, different academic backgrounds, and so on. Hence, they have a certain limit for selecting students from a certain pool.

For example, if you’re an Indian or a Chinese applicant, your competition will be tougher as compared to another student with an equivalent profile. Again, within the Indian cohort, if you’re an Engineer and working in the Technology space then the competition becomes even more fierce.

So, if you’re from an over-represented pool, you shouldn’t wait until Round 3 at all. In fact, you should try your best to be ready with your application in Round 1 itself as most schools tend to have a slightly higher rate of acceptance in Round 1 over Round 2, owing to the fact that more applicants apply in Round 2 than in Round 1.

Quality of Application

With this we mean that it is important for you to present your best in the applications. For this, you should consider 3 things here –

a. A competitive GMAT score – GMAT is the most important piece of your application. Hence, it is important to ensure you have a score that suits your profile and your target school’s average score. Ensure you plan to get done with the GMAT at least 1 month before you plan to submit your applications.

b. How well have you researched your target school – Adcoms expect you to take your MBA dream seriously. Thus, you should have clarity of why you’re applying to a particular program. It is best to devote the right amount of time and carry out ample research about your school. The 7th article in this series will be specially focused on this aspect.

c. Is something big happening soon – Another factor that might make a huge difference is your career progression. Let’s say you’re expecting a big promotion but you can only show it in Round 2 and not in Round 1. In that case, it might make sense to defer the application. Again, the decision of delaying hugely depends on other factors as well, so you must decide wisely.

If you feel that your application is not up to the mark for the above reasons, it makes sense to delay your application to another round. Remember, B-schools won’t just take you because you applied in a certain round. It is important to present yourself as competitive.

Need for Scholarships

Just as you’re looking for a good B-school to pursue your MBA, B-school Adcoms are also looking for good candidates and don’t want to lose them. This means that if they find your profile interesting in Round 1 and fear that they might lose you to another program in Round 2, they would be willing to make it more lucrative for you by offering you a generous scholarship. So, if you apply in Round 1, it is possible that it will increase your chances of getting a scholarship as the schools have the full purse available to offer.

Ranking of your target program

Another important aspect to consider is how competitive your dream school is? If your target school is in the Top 10 programs globally, then unless you have an exceptionally good profile, Round 1 and Round 2 are your only options. On the other hand, schools ranked below the top 50 might be possible for you even in Round 3 or even later rounds. Also, if you’re not an international candidate (meaning that you don’t need a visa to study in that country) then generally you have more leeway to apply.

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

We hope this helped you in deciding which round is best for you to apply in your favorite school. The best thing to do is to plan your GMAT preparation so you can be ready for the applications in time. Do follow our other posts in the series to have all of your MBA related queries answered.

MBA Application Process: An Overview
5 factors that B-school Adcoms look at


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