I started GMAT Club - one of the largest MBA communities and this book is probably the most often referenced. However, it is by no means perfect and you can get the most out of it, if you set your expectations correctly. Here are my thoughts:
- All-in-one book (covers every stage of the application process)
- Includes 67 Real Essays covering 31 specific Topics (however, there are some really old ones)
- Great sections on Recommendations (do's and dont's as well as what is appropriate), also good section on interviews.
- Has fantastic little insights (framed sections) that provide additional insight from admissions officers of schools on various topics such as gmat score split, recommendations, retaking gmat, etc
- Sets the proper expectation in terms of time needed for the process. Most people underestimate the time needed to take the gmat, write essays, proofread them, and then have time for a job/family.
- I found insights from admissions to be very valuable (in many sections of the book). Most of the time, they don't tell you some big secret, but get a confirmation about a certain process (waitlist for example or application review) is very helpful and comforting that you are on the right track
- Does not provide any information about schools specifics (???). It is called how to get into the top business schools but actually does not cover the top schools in detail
- Extra stuff (starts from Why MBA & types of MBA programs and ends with post-acceptance information, though frankly, for most, it will be the substance in between that will matter the most). Only about 400 pages out of 600 are the meat, which is plenty actually
- Some outdated parts that have changed since
- Some Essays are outdated (some are 10 years old - ouch). They are also really long. In the past 5 years the length has been cut down to just a page or even less.
Bottom Line: Good book to get an intro to MBA Application but does not provide any insights how to get into the top programs (or info about them) and has some outdated information (nothing dangerous). If you are serious about getting into top 10 or top 20, You will still need to do a lot of research on your own or possibly recruit an admissions consultant to maximize your chances. Use it for preliminary research/craft your strategy - definitely helpful but take it with a grain of salt and keep in mind - the other 50,000 applicants probably read it too.
Some Other Suggestions & Thoughts:
1. Plan ahead - draft a schedule and stick to it
2. Find the program that fits you best. People get disappointed even with a Top 5 school. It is important to take from the school and also give
3. Understand your strengths and weaknesses - be real with yourself and with the admissions. Don't lie or make up things - I know it may seem like a better short term strategy but it backfires in the long run
4. Know your story and tell it well - to get to the top, you need to have a story that goes through your essays, recommendations, interview, and resume
5. Don't copy/plagiarize any essays - you won't be along and those people are quickly picked out and kicked out. You won't have a second chance. Also if your AWA essays are under 4.5 and your school essays are perfect, that will be a red flag.
Please let me know if any questions about this book, I respond to comments.
BB, MBA, GMAT 750
Founder of GMAT Club.