It’s time now to build your profile and start maximizing your acceptance chances for business schools. If you are targeting top schools (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia University, MIT, INSEAD, LBS, ISB, NUS and so forth), you need to start looking at your profile now. Applying to top programs is not just filling in applications, it is also about addressing the gaps in your profile. There is nothing worse than beginning to even think about your MBA applications a month or two before deadlines when the only thing you are left to realize is your weaknesses in your profile. By starting now, you can build the profile that admission committees look for.

There are some steps to fill your gaps and to ensure that you submit interesting, dependable, and successful MBA applications:

GMAT Preparation:

GMAT plays an important role to improve your chances of being accepted by the top business schools. GMAT score matters a lot in the application process. Take as many GMAT Mock Tests possible. When planning to take the GMAT, plan with enough time for a retake. It hurts when people get a below par score the first time, and don’t have time for a retake, and as a result, end up switching the list of schools. While the schools generally say that they are indifferent about the importance of the GMAT,I’ve seen many a times, that a low score makes it difficult to aim for top programs.

Essays:

When starting early, even before a particular school opens its application, it helps to have some idea about the kind of questions the school may roll out for essays. While the questions tend to change to some extent year after year, going through the school’s last year essays gives a fair idea about the kind of questions the school is likely to ask, and what are the qualities that matter more to that school. Questions such as those on leadership experiences may encourage you early on to take on such roles at your workplace or otherwise. Read here more on How to Write an Effective MBA Essay.

Recommendation:

The first important step is to select the right recommenders. Sometimes the most recognizable choices are not the most suitable ones. For example, you might not want to get a recommendation from your senior manager because you have worked with him/her for only a few months, and spent the last four years working with some another manager, who is knows you much better. Make sure the right person recommends you.

One more important part of getting a charming MBA recommendation is making your recommender a part of the process. Your recommender is an important part of the entire evaluation. What he/she says is serious to your success and will verify your strengths. Discussing your goals, what your recommender feels about them, and discussing your career and future objectives can only do you good. Your recommenders are putting energy to make you look good. Make sure they are very much ambitious to do this.

Extracurricular Activities:

If you wish to talk about any meaningful activity in your application, you need to start dedicating to it early on. You may think about activities you participated in as an undergrad and become re-engaged. Example, If you have some inclination toward a community service, try to get involved early so that it is more justifiable to mention in the essays rather than making it seem that the involvement was only for the sake of the application. Read here more on MBA Application Essays and Extrac