Resource Review: The MBA Application Roadmap

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While this site is almost exclusively about the GMAT, it's important to keep the test in perspective. As big of a challenge as the exam can seem, it is only part of the MBA application process. Other aspects of the process, such as essays, can be every bit as challenging and time-consuming.

There are plenty of books on the market to help you get from "I want to go to B-School" to "I'm in!" but it wasn't until I recently read The MBA Application Roadmap that I found one I could enthusiastically endorse.

Authors Stacy Blackman and Daniel J. Brookings have put together a concise handbook that gives you a plan and then walks you through the steps required to get there. Blackman is well-known for her admissions consulting service, and her experience is evident throughout the book.

The Plan is the Thing

Most striking in the first several chapters of the book is the emphasis on getting started early. Blackman and Brookings encourage giving yourself several months to research schools, prepare for and take the GMAT, draft essays, and manage recommenders.

The authors start from the very beginning, explaining the various factors that should go into your school selections. In my experience (and in theirs), too many students decide on one or two programs simply because of familiarity or a top ranking. Researching more possibilities will not only expand your options, but will also come in handy when tailoring your essays to each school's admissions committee.

Speaking of Essays...

Nearly half of the book is devoted to application essays, and this is where you'll find the most valuable advice. By necessity, most of the tips are general in nature, but regardless of your specific situation, you'll find plenty to help you improve your application package.

I wish I had always been able to point my students to this book, because it answers so many of the questions I've been hearing for years. Some of those are:

  • How much should your essays be tailored for individual programs?
  • Should you write an optional essay?
  • How can you effectively handle topics such as your biggest weakness or failure?
  • What tone should you strike in the essays?

A Great Resource

The MBA Application Roadmap weighs in at only 240 pages, and reads even faster than that. While it's very concise, that doesn't mean it's not valuable. Many of the strategies the authors share sound simple, but far too many B-School aspirants fail to use them. I don't want you to make the same mistake.

The book's content is divided into over fifty short chapters, making it easy for you to use it as a reference guide. After an initial quick read (I went through it in about two hours), you'll go back to it many times as you choose target schools, draft essays, and put the finishing touches on your application package.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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