The Top 8 Things You Should Do to Prepare for Your MBA Application

Published 10/05/2022

For many people, applying to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is the first step toward advancing their professional career. Before you apply, it’s important to learn about your school’s MBA application requirements and take some time to prepare.

Many MBA programs begin accepting applications about a year before the semester is slated to begin. For example, applications for a program starting in August 2023 may open up in September 2022. Some business schools have their MBA application deadlines split up into multiple rounds. Unlike many on-campus MBA programs, the Wake Forest University online MBA has three start dates and corresponding application deadlines.

Generally speaking, you should try to apply for an MBA program as early as possible. Completing your MBA application early gives you a better chance of getting accepted since there will be plenty of seats available.

Learn more about the typical MBA application process and the best things to do before starting an MBA.

1. Ensure That You Meet Program Prerequisites

For any school you’re interested in applying to, make sure you meet their MBA requirements. These vary from school to school, but a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is almost always a prerequisite.

Wake Forest University’s online MBA program has the following requirements:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Preferably have at least two years of postgraduate work experience prior to the program start date
  • Be employed full time

Find out more about Wake Forest’s online MBA requirements.

2. Update Your Resume

Prior to applying for an MBA program, take some time to update your resume. You want to make sure it paints an accurate picture of work experience and educational background to date. Highlight any relevant achievements from work or school that could help you excel in an MBA program.

In addition to your work experience, you may choose to include extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

3. Take the GMAT or GRE

Most MBA programs require applicants to pass either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Some schools, such as Wake Forest, let applicants choose which test they would prefer to take, but other schools may require one or the other.

The GMAT does not have specific testing dates. Instead, you can take the exam whenever you are ready by registering and completing the exam either online or at a testing center. According to, test takers who receive the highest GMAT scores tend to study for a median of 90 hours. In general, you can expect to spend several months preparing for the exam.

Similar to the GMAT, the GRE is available both online and at testing centers. The online test is available at any time, but testing centers have specified exam dates and times. U.S. News & World Report recommends that students spend between two and four months studying for the GRE.

Test scores for both the GMAT and GRE are valid for five years. If your test score is about to expire, make sure you complete your MBA application prior to the expiration date.

GMAT and GRE Test Waivers

Increasingly, more and more business schools are waiving testing requirements for students. A 2021 survey by Poets & Quants found that out of 100 full-time MBA programs, 67 were either test-optional or promoting test-waiver policies.

At Wake Forest, GMAT/GRE waivers are provided to qualifying students based on years of work experience, level of education, undergraduate GPA, and other criteria. Applicants who would like to request a waiver should provide an essay explaining how their experience qualifies them for a testing waiver.

4. Take an English Proficiency Test (if Applicable)

If English is not your native language or if your undergraduate degree was from a university whose principal language is not English, you will need to take an English proficiency test before enrolling in an English-speaking MBA program. The two most common proficiency tests are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Both tests are available online and at testing centers, and scores are valid for two years.

ETS—the organization that administers the TOEFL—recommends picking a testing date at least two to three months before you plan on submitting your graduate school application. This leaves plenty of time for your scores to be reported to your college of choice before you fill out your application.

The required score for the TOEFL and IELTS may vary depending on the MBA program you apply to. Wake Forest’s Admissions Committee recommends a minimum TOEFL score of 100 (iBT) or an official IELTS score of 7.0. However, these scores are only guidelines. In some instances, these minimums may be waived if applicants have lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time.

5. Gather References and Letters of Recommendation

Many business schools require references or letters of recommendation as part of their MBA application requirements.

One thing you should do before you begin your MBA application is decide who you would like to list as a reference. Your references should be people you know from a professional, academic, or even athletic setting who can speak to your work ethic and character. If needed, you may also want to start requesting letters of recommendation from these references.

Wake Forest’s online MBA application requires two references, but it does not require any letters of recommendation.

6. Request and Send Transcripts

Before you begin your MBA application, you can start the process of sending your undergraduate transcripts to your college of choice. Most schools require unofficial transcripts during the initial MBA application and official transcripts before you can formally enroll in the program.

Some schools may also take your GPA into consideration while reviewing your MBA application.

7. Draft Your MBA Essay

Some business schools require applicants to complete an essay as part of their MBA application. In many cases, you can find the prompts for these essays on the college’s website and start preparing your essay before you begin the application process. MBA essays typically describe who you are and why you would be a good fit for the degree program.

Essays are optional for Wake Forest’s online MBA program. They are only recommended for applicants who are requesting a GMAT/GRE waiver, applicants who want to address anomalies within their application, or re-applicants. For example, if you have a low undergraduate GPA or a significant gap in your work experience, you can use the optional essay to explain the reasoning behind this.

8. Practice for Your MBA Interview

MBA interviews aren’t conducted until an admissions advisor reviews your initial application and determines your eligibility—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing in advance.

The purpose of an MBA interview is for admissions advisors to get a feel for your background and why you want to pursue an MBA. This is your chance to describe what your career interests are and how an MBA will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Interviews are a requirement for most MBA programs, but their format may vary from school to school. If you’re applying to an online MBA program, chances are your interview will be conducted online as well.

At some schools, including Wake Forest, the MBA interview may take place before you have completed the GMAT or GRE. However, before you can be admitted to the program, you will need to either submit your test scores or receive a waiver.

Be Empowered with an Online MBA From Wake Forest

Earning an MBA can help become a purpose-driven leader, ready to make an impact. With Wake Forest’s online MBA program, you can choose a concentration that aligns with your career goals. We offer MBA concentrations in business analytics, finance, and strategy and leadership.

Find out more about the Wake Forest online MBA by requesting information today.