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Make MBA Preparation Easier

08 Jun

As you look toward getting your MBA, the view can be overwhelming. Between finding the right program, striving to maintain a work/life/academics balance, and stressing out at the prospect of graduate school, staying focused may begin to feel like one more thing on an endless to-do list. Of all moments in your life, this one needs a calm, conscientious approach—and your sense of calm may be worn thin.

How can the University of Kansas School of Business help? We’ve simplified the MBA-prep process with a few user-friendly steps. Take them as guidelines, rather than larger piles of work on your desk. Rely on the many strengths that have brought you this far, and remember that you can get to grad school without getting in your own way. The next steps are manageable. Read on.

Meet the admissions requirements.

Start with the essentials. Each graduate school has its own requirements. As a prospective student in the KU School of Business online MBA program, you’ll need these:

  • A completed online application
  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or equivalent (with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale preferred)
  • An Essential Skills Assessment score (we’ll get to that in a minute) or waiver
  • A resume or CV (two years or more work experience preferred)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Application fee: $65 ($85 for international students)

Well before the application deadline, talk with the people who you’re asking to write your recommendations, and be kind to them. They have lives and jobs, and they may be getting a lot of similar inquiries, so plenty of advance notice and a well-prepared request will go a long way in your favor.

Ask someone whose writing skills you trust to proofread your personal statement and your resume. Of course, you’re a terrific writer, but a heavy workload, late hours, and multiple revisions can make you blind to your own typos and grammatical errors. Having someone else’s knowledgeable perspective is always helpful, even if only to confirm the strength of your work.

Get to know the Essential Skills Assessment (ESA).

The ESA is a 50-minute online exam that tests how ready you are for an MBA program. You’ll take it in a secure, proctored environment at a time and in a private location that are convenient for you.

This scholastic assessment test comprises two timed sections: Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Your total score—the sum of the two sections’ scores—will range from 0 to 15. You’ll receive your unofficial score when you finish testing, and a copy will be emailed to you. Within seven business days after your exam, the school of your choice will receive your official score.

The ESA overview page on the Graduate Management Admission Council website has helpful checklists you’ll want to complete before your exam and on test day. In addition to some basics—make sure you’re using the right browser, be sure that your government-issued photo ID is current, log in at least 15 minutes early for your testing time—essential highlights include these:

  • Ensure that you can turn your webcam in all directions, as your proctor will ask to see all four walls of the room in which you’re taking the test
  • Be aware that the proctor will take over your computer remotely to confirm that any restricted programs you have are shut down
  • When you register to take the ESA, review the Platform Interface Tutorial. It lets you see a mock version of the test and helps you understand what resources will be available to you while you take it

Use smart test prep strategies.

The sample test on the Platform Interface Tutorial gives you a good sense of the material covered in the exam. Use this breakdown as the basis for your skills reviews:

Verbal Reasoning

  • Reading comprehension
  • Critical reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

  • Basic computation
  • Ratios and proportions
  • Basic algebra
  • Applied problem-solving
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Measurement conversion

Schedule your exam for a time of day when you know you’re typically at your best. The scheduling options are in a 24-hour timeframe, so be careful to book an appointment at the hour that you intend.

After choosing the room where you’ll take the exam, spend enough time in it, alone, to become wholly comfortable there. The test itself takes 50 minutes. Make sure you can be in that closed space for at least that long without needing to leave. Remember: Once the test begins, if you go out of range of the webcam for any reason, you may forfeit your score and your registration fee.

In the months leading up to your exam, in addition to test-strategizing, be sure to use beneficial life strategies. Consistently eat in ways that help you function at your best. If you’ve always thrived on caffeine and vending-machine food, this may not be the time to overhaul your diet, but it’s more likely that plenty of water, fresh produce, and lean protein will help keep you on top of your game. Regularly get enough sleep—whatever amount that means for your system. And, at the risk of sounding like someone’s mother, we’ll go a step further and say this: Make a point of getting your body moving, preferably outdoors. Sunlight, fresh air, and regular cardio help keep you alert and relaxed.

What happens after the exam?

First, take a moment to celebrate. You’ve checked a big-ticket item off of your list, and that newly relaxed feeling in your neck and shoulders is no illusion. You’re a significant step closer to reaching your goals. Congratulations!

Next, look ahead. With test prep out of the way, this is the time to wrap up other tasks that have been waiting on the sidelines. Request your letters of recommendation, and make sure that your recommenders have all the information they need—in writing—to create knockout letters on your behalf. Complete your personal statement, brush up your resume/CV, and make sure that all of your application materials are in order and submitted on time.

Once your letters and application are in, take a deep breath and relax for a bit. The ball is in someone else’s court now. You’ve presented yourself to the world in the best possible light, and the next step is out of your hands. Enjoy the freedom. Reconnect with the people you love, allow yourself some downtime and leisure activity, and start shifting your mindset into that of an MBA student.

Discover how the University of Kansas online MBA program fits your needs.

Learn how the engaging, innovative online MBA program from the University of Kansas can help move your career forward. With no GMAT required, it’s now more accessible than ever, and the curriculum is rich in the insights and skills that strengthen professional achievement.

As your selection process continues, count on the University of Kansas for additional application strategies, and for the support and information to help you with the exciting decisions ahead.