1. If your GMAT (or GRE equivalent) is not already at or above the average score for those admitted and you can improve it, this should be your highest priority. Scores are going up. I highly recommend this article from Poets&Quants and its accompanying charts for understanding the role of GMAT and what kind of numbers you should be targeting. (Note: For those who are not native or near-native level speakers, TOEFL/IELTS is likely to be more of a priority than GMAT/GRE right now.)
2. Learn about schools! If you can do so, go visit them while they are still in session. Visiting a few programs is really good to do if you have the time. Even if you don’t visit, make full use of online resources, information sessions, and networking. Contact alumni and current students now, not a few days before you apply. Showing fit in order to gain admission is about knowing the program and conversations with current students and alumni are immensely helpful.
3. Work on your resume. Even if you are not sure where to apply, this is something you can do now. See here for a resume template.
4. Do some goal brainstorming as know is the time to develop your post-MBA goals for your application. For a very systematic process for developing goals, see my discussion of goals in this post (amongst others) on Columbia Business School. This method for developing goals can be used for any school or not school in particular.
5. Enhancing your community engagement/extracurricular profile. While I don’t, for the most part, recommend starting a new activity that you have no previous connections with, it is still early enough to enhance something you do. For example, by taking a leadership position or project management role in an organization or activity you have already been involved with. One criterion for admission to MBA programs relates to such activities, so if feasible, enhancing your role in such an activity can be useful. While it looks kind of unimpressive to suddenly start something new that you have no previous connection to, now is a good time to enhance what you already do.
6. Take on new responsibilities, roles, and/or projects at work. It is always good to find new ways to enhance your professional experience through taking on something new. Showing a record of doing so is important for MBA application and recent professional accomplishments are always welcome. There is still time to potentially make some before application deadlines, so look for such opportunities.
7. Enhance your academic profile. If your GMAT is already done and is as high as you will get it and your academic profile is not so strong because of your GPA, there is still time to take HBX CORe, MBA Math, or even an online course. Again, if y0u are done with GMAT, I think this is something to think about BUT IT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR GMAT! I think HBS CORe, in particular, is one that applicants who need to showcase business related quant skills that are not indicated by their academics, should consider. Needless to say, this is especially good if you are applying to HBS because HBX CORe was developed for HBS admits who need to work on these skills prior to entering the program.
8. Figure out who to use for your recommendations. For more about that, see here and here.
9. If you need to provide English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS), get this out of the way as soon as possible. Some applicants leave this to the last minute and end up with bad scores for no good reason. Applicants with real limits on their English ability probably don’t need to be told the above but I have worked with some applicants from Europe, Latin America, and India (yes, for some schools like Berkeley, you will need to take TOEFL) who leave this to the last minute. Take it seriously and do it early. No reason for surprises or a score that does not show the full range of your English ability.
10. Prioritize the above. It is easy for me to make all these suggestions but I don’t expect anyone to do all of them in the next few months so focus on what you think is most important.