This time last year I posted about the annual calls I get asking me to perform a “Christmas Miracle.” (The short story is potential clients asking for aid to engender huge changes in their GMAT score in a short period of time so that they can meet mid-January second round deadlines.) This year I’m hoping to help you avoid getting into that situation.
Here are a few suggestions:
1) Plan accordingly. It sometimes takes as little as 3 months, and as many as 18, for people to reach the scores they need or want. For some, it never happens. Regardless, develop a plan and stick to it, but don’t be beholden to it. If you need more time to get your qualifications in order, then take the time needed. More than likely you’ll be wasting energy and money if you apply without the minimum qualifications.
2) Heed the Numbers. Study your prospective schools’ data. Honestly compare your qualifications to those likely needed to gain access (score ranges for the prospective schools for the candidates discussed in the original post above were included to provide an idea of where the lines are in many ways drawn in these situations). If your only choice schools are Harvard, Wharton, and Standford, and your GMAT is a 500 or below, you probably need to revise your expectations (or invest substantial time to get that score up, up, up).
3) Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. The prize is a B-school you want to go to. Beware of falling into the trap of only considering schools EVERYONE ELSE wants to go to. Beware of letting deadlines dictate your life. If the application deadlines are quickly approaching, consider delaying applying for a year until your application package is stronger, regardless of whether these deadlines are those of the school or some other program you’re involved with.
4) If You Need Help, Get It. But get the right kind. Myriad options exist for GMAT Prep – self-study, group or peer-to-peer instruction, classes, tutoring, or some combination thereof – so be sure you’re utilizing the one most effective for your needs. If you aren’t sure what your needs are, then ask a qualified professional.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to hope for a Christmas Miracle, you want to make your desired GMAT score happen. Deadlines are rarely ever deadlines. If people tell you otherwise, it’s probably more their deadline than yours. Your deadline is the right score.