Securing a seat at a top M.B.A. program isn’t a slam-dunk for anybody, and it’s rare that an applicant can’t improve his or her candidacy in some way. If you’re thinking of applying to business school in the next year or two, there are several steps you can take now that will pay off in a big way down the road. With a little planning and a commitment of just a few hours a week, you can rethink your current list of “safety” schools and you might actually get into an M.B.A. program you now think of as a long shot.

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