In order to get into an MBA program at a top business school you’ll need to go through a meticulous application process, but don’t let the amount of work involved discourage you – it’ll be worth it once you get in.To mitigate the stress of this rigorous process, here at TopMBA, we recommend you take a gradual approach. Trying to fit too many steps into a small timeframe won’t work, so take your time and focus on each part of the application as you go along.Here is our recommended step-by-step to-do list to earn a spot at b-school.Ask yourself the necessary questionsYou might be confident that an MBA would be a good fit for you – after all, the post-graduation perks are extremely attractive – but it’s important that you first assess your level of commitment and career goals.Ask yourself if you really want an MBA, which type of program might work best for you and if you’d be willing to relocate to pursue your degree. Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want, you can begin your application process.Choose your favorite schoolsWhile some might say this step is premature, knowing which schools you want to apply to early on will make the application process smoother. It’s important that you research curricula, tuition fees, employment opportunities and teaching styles to get a true feel of what might work for you.MBA rankings – whether for full-time, online or executive programs – will help you identify these factors, and you can also attend digital events to meet with b-school recruiters and get more information.Another fundamental step is researching student credentials and GMAT/GRE requirements. You want to be as realistic as possible when crafting your selection so it’s key that you investigate the competitiveness of each candidate pool before you choose which schools to focus on.Check application deadlinesEvery business school has its own application season with different entry dates, and many will offer an early decision option. Make sure you take note of every date and plan accordingly.Remember that applying to the first application rounds will give you an advantage over other candidates and allow you to apply elsewhere if you get rejected.Prepare and take the GMAT or GREAll MBA applicants must take the GMAT or the GRE and submit their score as part of their application. As a first step, look into your top schools and see whether they accept both GRE and GMAT scores – you don’t want to risk taking the wrong one.You should also take simulation tests for both and compare your performance. While some applicants might get similar scores for both exams, others might prefer one format over the other.Once you’ve made your choice, give yourself enough time to prepare. You might need to take a prep class or multiple tests before you get the score you want, so be sure you start prepping as early as possible.You may be wondering whether you’ll still be able to take the GMAT/GRE during lockdown – the answer is yes. You can find more information and useful links here.Refine your resume and find referencesA compelling resume is vital to convey your abilities and personal growth, so make sure it is up to date, gives the correct references and highlights the skills needed by businesspeople at senior/executive levels.Write a compelling essayJust like your resume, the MBA essay helps you communicate to recruiters why you’d be a good fit in their program. Here are our top tips on how to tackle the most common MBA essay questions.Prepare for interviewsIf your application is strong, it’s very likely that you’ll be invited to interview within a month of your application. It’s important that you show not only that you’re determined to get an MBA, but that you also know exactly what the specific schools and their programs can offer you.Here’s our guide on how to impress recruiters from home.