As this season draws to a close, it’s worth highlighting three MBA admissions trends that have recently emerged.

  • Early Applications Are More Important Than Ever.

The standard admissions advice is to apply as soon as you are ready, in the earliest round that you can manage. Although this is true, and it won’t help to apply before your test scores and essays are where they need to be, you optimize your chances of getting in by applying in the earliest rounds. Admissions officers may tell you that the difference is negligible, but in reality it is enormously beneficial to apply in the early round. (This is especially true if your GPA is low.) The takeaway: Start NOW if you plan to apply for the class of 2020.

  • GREs Are On The Rise.

I mean this in both ways –Average GRE’s are rising, and more candidates are opting for the GRE over the GMAT. There are 2 main reasons for this trend: The GRE quant section is easier than the GMAT and some schools don’t report their average GRE scores, so admitting you with a mediocre test score won’t hurt them in the rankings in the same way that it would to admit you with a comparable GMAT. My best advice, especially if the GMAT quant section feels hard, is to take a full-length practice GRE AND a full length GMAT before committing to one test. If the GRE feels more intuitive consider preparing for that exam instead of the GMAT. (One caveat – if you submit both exams some schools will use the GMAT, so be careful before you send score reports.)

  • Personality Matters.

Schools are really serious about screening for personality, as well as genuine interest in their program. Expect to see even more video essays, as well as deeper essay questions about failure, growth and interpersonal skills. This means that essays, interviews and networking will become even more important than they already are. In order to get into your dream school, do your best to really connect with the committee and help them understand who you are and how you can contribute.

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than 20 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.