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Start Thinking Early About Your MBA

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Graduate Management Education (GME) as an industry has evolved significantly in the past few years. Beyond the traditional offerings of full-time and part-time MBA programs, candidates can choose from specialised programmes such as EMBAs, opt for certification courses or business-related Master’s programmes like a Masters of Finance or Masters in Accounting. 

The number of high quality business school programmes is greater than ever before but it can be difficult to even know where to start looking. This also means that the admissions process is more competitive than ever, so what are the requirements to apply to business school. More importantly, how do you set yourself apart from other qualified candidates? 

No matter where you are in your journey – whether you already have a deadline you’re working towards or if you’re simply considering applying –  it never hurts to start the admissions process early. As a working professional, you will want to buffer in time for unexpected disruptions, to do ample research, prepare necessary documentation and to prepare for admissions tests. 

If you’re at the very beginning of your journey, here are some basic guiding questions to reflect on: 

  • Do you know where and what specifically you would like to study? Is it in Asia, Canada and the US, Europe or another region? 
  • Is it a general management degree you need, or are you specifically interested in, say, finance?

Let’s go through a quick overview of the MBA admissions process and components: 


Start your research on MBA programs now. Visit fairs such as the QS World MBA Tour and The MBA Tour, and get more familiar with names and locations. Information is everywhere and open to everyone so be sure to check out schools’ websites. Attend info sessions, ask questions, and establish contact with the officers if you are interested in their programs. 

Remember that with MBA programs, it’s not a one size fits all; finding that perfect fit often takes time. Research the application process. Talk to older professionals, alumni of MBA programs and MBA admissions consultants, who can share a lot from their experiences.

Preparing for the GMAT 

Many business school candidates spend at least 1-3 months preparing for the exam and most take the exam 1-3 times until they obtain a satisfactory score. Depending on the type of learner you are and how much time you have to prepare, you can opt for a completely independent approach and simply take an online course, allowing you maximum flexibility or if you prefer to take classes, you can sign up for a group class. 

English Proficiency Tests

If you are from a non-English speaking country and/or your degree was not taught in English, you may need to take the TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS. Even if you have near native-level fluency, taking an English proficiency test can be tricky, so be sure to familiarise yourself with test formats and requirements. You can find out more about our PTE course here.


Start reviewing your own key selling points and figure out what your personal brand is. Compared to applicants of a similar background, how are you unique? For example, if you are a male Asian engineer, what would make admissions officers want to accept you? Do you have a hobby that could be considered different? Do you employ a particular and uncommon leadership style, such as servant leadership? Have you worked on projects in interesting countries or regions? 

As MBA admissions become increasingly competitive and the world learns from the recent global financial crisis, your initiatives outside of the workplace become more and more important in the application process.

While this process might seem highly complex right now, remember that you do have so many more options and more resources than your parents did. You can have an edge over your competition and alleviate a lot of last-minute stress by starting early. 

Your hard work will pay off, and you can get closer to your dream school(s) by planning and strategizing well. If you would like more information and would like to get expert insight from admissions consultants as well as admissions officers from INSEAD, attend our upcoming MBA Admissions event! 

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