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Application Timetable

When to Request Applications: Try to get them as soon as they are available, usually late summer/early fall.

When to Take The GMAT: Since the GMAT is now offered on computer terminals at testing centers every month, there is more flexibility for taking the test. Try scheduling the GMAT sometime in the spring or the summer. If you think you did not do well, you can cancel the scoring immediately after the test and take it again the following month. Since official reports arrive at the schools two to three weeks after the test, October and November are generally the last opportunities to take the GMAT and still be sure the schools receive the scores before the first application deadline. Schedule the GMAT early because popular days and times book quickly. It is best to take the GMAT only after you have had a chance to prepare for it thoroughly.

When To Solicit Recommendations: Basically, as soon as you know you will be applying. If you are asking someone for recommendations to more than one school, try to give them all to the writer at the same time and set a deadline. Aim to collect the recommendations 1-2 weeks before you submit the applications.

When to Write the Essays: Start thinking about the essay questions as soon as you have them in hand. Even though you may be able to rework some essays to fit other schools' similarly worded questions, the number of essays you will have to produce can multiply quickly. Give yourself plenty of time to think about the questions, brainstorm for ideas, and polish the essays. Try to finish the essays by mid-November, if possible.

When to Submit the Application: Many schools have rolling admissions, which means your application will be reviewed as soon as it is received. Other schools have several staggered deadlines (for example, December 1, January 15, and March 1).

If the schools are using rolling admissions or staggered deadlines, it is to your advantage to apply early because fewer acceptances will have been made. If you apply just before the last deadline, a school may only have a handful of spaces available and a large number of candidates, reducing your chances.

Applying early can also work in your favor because, in the first few weeks, admissions committees have relatively fresh minds and have read fewer applications, making it easier for your application to stand out. In the later stages, after they have read through several thousand applications, admissions committees can get fatigued, and may be less likely to re-review a borderline application. Try to put most applications in the mail before Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on the deadlines.

Submit the application at least one week before the deadline to make sure it arrives on time. Consider sending the applications using certified mail, which gives you a written receipt confirming that the applications arrived at the schools.

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