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ISB: Round 1 vs Round 2

If you are planning to apply to ISB and are somewhat confused on whether to apply in round 1 or round 2, the following information will help you make the decision.

Application deadline/ round is a function of many factors including the plan, choice and priority of schools, profile and any special conditions attached.

Why R1 is preferred

While there is no official information, most of the b-schools including ISB are inclined to choose a higher % of students in round 1. This is because the candidates applying in R1 are required to give some kind of commitment (often a certain significant amount of money to be deposited with the b-school) to the b-school. Hence, most of the candidates applying in R1 are considered more serious about the particular b-school (ISB in this case).

Some more parameters are mentioned below to help you choose R1 vs R2

Your overall plan

If you are an early starter, round 1 is definitely advisable. Please note that you need to plan well for the prerequisites. This means that GMAT and TOEFL (if required) should have been taken by the month end of July (as the R1 deadline is generally 15th September).

The priority of shortlisted b-schools

If ISB is one of the top b-schools in your list of targeted schools, you should apply in round 1. There are multiple benefits.

1) Since you will have an early decision from ISB, if selected, you will save on time and money required to apply to other b-schools in later rounds.

2) For a given profile, chances of selection are generally higher in round1. Hence it makes sense to apply in round 1 at-least to your high priority schools (ISB In this case)


ISB seeks diversity. Hence, if your profile has something to make it stand out, you would stand a fair chance in both rounds and can choose to apply in round 2 also. However, if your profile is similar to a large % of profiles in applicant pool, you should prefer R1. A very cliché example for this is the “Indian, IT, Male” profile, which forms the largest chunk of applicants as well as admits.

Also note that reapplicants are advised to apply in round 1. This generally indicates a genuine interest and seriousness towards getting selected.

Do you need/ want more time at hand?

If you wish to have more time at hand to interact with people and plan your life during the MBA, try to apply in R1. Once an admit is obtained, you would have ample time to find out about the life in the b-school, interact with other admits via online social networks/ in person meetings. You can plan everything right from the books needed, what you need to carry to the b-school and other small things including logistics etc.

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