Stanford to Offer New Dual MA/MBA Program

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has announced the launch of a new dual degree program with the School of Humanities and Sciences. In three academic years, students will earn an MBA and an MA …

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has announced the launch of a new dual degree program with the School of Humanities and Sciences. In three academic years, students will earn an MBA and an MA in International Policy Studies.

Designed for students who want to work in fields that bridge businesses and governments in the United States and abroad, Stanford GSB notes that this cross-disciplinary program will prepare participants for leadership roles in non-profit organizations, social enterprises, international organizations, consulting firms, etc. focusing on issues such as international development, security, healthcare, trade and finance, and the environment.

The interest in second degrees has grown in recent years, as Stanford MBA students look for opportunities for cross-sector leadership. Among MBA students, approximately 1 in 6 currently pursue joint or dual degree studies, the school reports.

“More and more we find that students benefit from a multidisciplinary learning experience,” says Madhav Rajan, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Graduate School of Business (GSB). “With Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences just down the street from the business school, it is possible to bring together the best resources in multiple fields for our students.”

Find out more about Stanford’s new dual MA/MBA program for students interested in international policy and business, which will begin accepting applications this fall.

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Posted in General, School News | Tagged , ,

How to Achieve Your Highest GMAT Score

Guest post from Josh Jones of Test Prep Unlimited, a private GMAT tutor in the San Francisco Bay Area.  His students have reported score increases as high as seven points per tutoring hour. How to …

Guest post from Josh Jones of Test Prep Unlimited, a private GMAT tutor in the San Francisco Bay Area.  His students have reported score increases as high as seven points per tutoring hour.

How to and how much you should study depends on your starting/target scores and the amount of time you have, but this guide should give you a good sense of how to structure your study.  It’s best to use multiple GMAT resources, but be deliberate about how you use them to maximize your efficiency.  If after reading this you still have questions, you can ask me at the Facebook Page for Test Prep Unlimited.

Your first step is to learn how to speed-read. Your words per minute should be at least 400 (with >95% comprehension).  Faster is better; 500+ would be great. Here’s a test for you: What speed do you read?

Next, download the free, official GMATPrep® Software from the makers of the test.  Read a little bit about the format and structure of the test, do 1 easy, 1 medium, and 1 hard question of each type (but save the rest of the questions and exams for later!), then take a full-length diagnostic exam under semi-realistic testing conditions (no outside reference or calculator, no pausing the exam to think about questions, etc).

On timing: You’ll want to spend about two minutes per Quant question (perhaps more for Data Sufficiency and less for Problem Solving) and 2.5 minutes per Integrated Reasoning question. For Verbal, 75-90 seconds for each Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning, 2-3 minutes for each Reading Comprehension Passage, plus 90 seconds each for the three or four questions that follow.  The Verbal numbers will vary slightly depending on your strengths and weaknesses, but you have about 1 minute 49 seconds per Verbal question.

If your starting score is under 550, you will want an entire foundational overview.  I would recommend using Manhattan’s Foundations of GMAT books. Attempt some of the drills at the end of the section, and if they take you more than 15 seconds each, read the section beforehand and try again. Then you can move onto comprehensive strategy guides.

If you’re between 550-650, you will still want that foundational overview, but you can do it more quickly.  Then you can move onto comprehensive strategy guides.

If you’re between 650-700, you can skip the foundational overview and work on the comprehensive strategy guides.

If you’re already above 700, just focus on the 700-800 level questions, and on the specific subjects you need help with. Kaplan has a GMAT800 book, MGMAT has an Advanced Quant book, Veritas has a Data Sufficiency book, an Advanced Verbal book, etc.

Books and Resources:  The two most popular sets of comprehensive strategy guides are MGMAT and Veritas Prep.  I personally prefer Veritas’s books; They have a better understanding of the test and their questions are closer to real GMAT questions. MGMAT’s guides are farther from the GMAT. They are a good first step, and are useful if you don’t need to gain more than 100 points, but they are far from ideal.  They’re just marketed better, so they are more widely known.  As for online resources, there is also GMATPill, Magoosh, and Economist GMAT Tutor.

You cannot neglect studying Verbal! This is true even if you are a native English speaker (or even an English major!). The reasons are a) The Verbal skills cultivated in college are not exactly what the GMAT measures, and b) Many international applicants with superior Quant but weaker Verbal skills take the GMAT and skew the results so that the tail is much longer above V45 than for Q45.

So if you have a solid Verbal score, you can still break 700, even with a less-than-stellar Quant score.  For example, with a 40 in Quant, you could still break 700 with a 45 in Verbal. (In practice this is extremely difficult to attain, even for most native English speakers.)  But it’s better and safer to have a more balanced score.

If your Verbal score is below 40 and you have the time to do so, start your Verbal prep by using ACT and SAT verbal prep materials (take all of their practice tests). Yes those are for high-schoolers applying to college, but what is more important here, your MBA or your ego?

If you want to be a Verbal superstar, which is required to be above 750, do the Verbal sections from past LSAT‘s, as they are harder than the GMAT’s Verbal. These are good for Reading Comprehension and especially Critical Reasoning, but not Sentence Correction. Don’t do the LSAT Analytical Reasoning (as there is no parallel in GMAT), just the Reading and Logical Reasoning (which is similar to GMAT to Critical Reasoning).

For every 50 hours of study that you do, take another practice test under exam conditions and review the solutions. GMATPrep has four, and you’ve used one already, so if you plan on taking several practice tests, use others first then come back to the GMATPrep exams at the end.

Don’t burn through your practice tests without significant study in between, unless you’re already at the 750+ range, because you’re just using up your practice tests without gaining much in between.

If you can afford it and would benefit from doing so, hire a private tutor to structure, motivate, and expedite your study (this will cost between  $1,000-10,000 dollars).  Be aware though: Tutoring companies take a large percentage of the tutor pay—70% or more—so if you can find an independent tutor with excellent credentials, teaching experience, and reviews, that’s a much more cost-effective route.  Students in remote areas, countries outside the U.S., or with severe budget constraints, may benefit from online adaptive learning software such as Economist GMAT Tutor ($500-1,000).

You can also take a class, but if you’re disciplined about your GMAT studies, you won’t get much more out of it than you would by following the program I’ve outlined, especially if you’re ahead or behind the curve for the class, as you will not move at your optimal pace.  Actually the primary potential benefit of a class in this case is the potential for community you can form with your peers, but you will have to take that initiative and there is no guarantee you’ll get what you’re looking for.

Finish your study with GMAC materials, first with The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2015 and the supplemental Quant and Verbal guides, then with GMATPrep.  Always try to do the question first without looking at the solution, but don’t spend more than 5 minutes trying to solve a question if you’re stumped. Try to keep in mind actual test pacing, but spend as much time on each question as is necessary for you to complete it and understand the solutions provided (which are often not the best or fastest way to do the problems, by the way).  In other words, first focus on getting questions right, then focus on getting them right quickly.

Take another practice exam (see the timing suggestions at the beginning of this post), go over the answers, then do *ALL* of the GMATPrep questions in exam mode.  Then take another practice exam, look at the solutions, and repeat as necessary until you feel satisfied with your results.

Since OG and GMATPrep are real GMAT questions from the makers of the test, you will develop appropriate habits for test day as opposed to using test prep company materials which are imitations of, rather than substitutes for, real questions. So if you’re going to use multiple materials, DO NOT START YOUR STUDIES WITH GMAC MATERIALS!!! Once those questions are gone, they’re gone, and if you’re unsatisfied with your score, you’ll have to wait until either you forget these materials, or they release an entirely new set of questions (which will take years, since the updated questions are not for the entire set).

Come test time, relax the day before the test (don’t cram!) and make sure you eat a healthy meal and sleep well.  Know your biological clock and pick a 4 hour block for the test when you will be most alert and energetic, one that doesn’t require you to skip a meal.  Bring healthy snacks, and stay hydrated, focused, and positive.  Good luck on your studies and on your dreams!

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2014 Global MBA Recruiting Market

Are you curious about where to find the top jobs and salaries across the globe after business school? QS Top MBA recently released its annual MBA employers survey, which, with 5,669 respondents worldwide contributing to …

Are you curious about where to find the top jobs and salaries across the globe after business school? QS Top MBA recently released its annual MBA employers survey, which, with 5,669 respondents worldwide contributing to this year’s report, makes it the most comprehensive global review of hiring and salary trends available.

Key Recruiting Trends in 2014:

Across North America, MBA demand has jumped 10% in 2014, in line with the forecast from last year’s report. It seems that as confidence in economic recovery arrives in North America, there is renewed demand for MBA graduates from globally oriented and local employers.

Western Europe reported 0% net growth in MBA demand in 2014. While growth in demand in Switzerland (15%), Germany (9%), Belgium (9%), France(6%) and the UK (5%) has buoyed the region, these results are offset by steep declines in Southern Europe, particularly Italy (-27%) and Spain (-1%).

However, there is some good news for Europe’s MBAs. The QS Top MBA survey reports growth across Europe is forecast to accelerate in 2015, with Italian and Spanish employers leading the way with a projected 15% and 7% growth in demand respectively.

Demand for MBAs in Asia is settling at a sustainable rate of 11% per year. Since 2011, India has been vying with the USA to be the largest MBA job market and there is no sign of this trend reversing with forecast growth of 8% in 2015.

Brazil, Argentina and Mexico continue to be the engines of MBA growth in Latin America. Demand has become much more plentiful in recent years and this trend is continuing, albeit at a more sustainable growth rate of 7% in 2014 after a year of 10% growth in 2013. Employers in the region are utilizing MBAs as a key talent pool as companies battle to internationalize across the region.

Top Ten Countries for MBA Demand:

  1. USA
  2. India
  3. China
  4. Mexico
  5. United Kingdom
  6. South Korea
  7. Argentina
  8. Canada
  9. Brazil
  10. Singapore

Key MBA Salary Trends in 2014:

Overall MBA salaries have increased 4% on average in the mature North American and Western European markets for the first time in several years, the survey reveals. With evidence of MBA demand picking up steadily in North America as well as in several European markets, QS Top MBA continues to predict that MBA salaries are likely to increase again in 2015 in these regions.

  • Average total compensation offered by MBA employers in North America increased by 15% to $128,600 ($112,200), with salaries of $97,700 and bonus of $30,900.
  • Total compensation offered by MBA employers in Western Europe grew by 3% to $112,600 ($109,100).
  • Total compensation offered by MBA employers in Asia-Pacific fell by 2% to $86,000. MBA salaries in the region remained roughly flat at $68,000 with bonuses being cut back.
  • At $71,400, total MBA compensation in Latin America was slightly down in 2014, compared to 2013. Salaries offered by international employers in these regions were flat.

Growth By Sector:

Consulting— Consulting and professional services reports 9% demand growth in 2014 continuing this longstanding pattern, albeit at a slower rate than previous years. Consulting is a bellwether for the health of the MBA and the sector is forecasting 8% growth in 2015.

Technology and Telecoms— The big story in 2014 is the growing demand for MBA talent amongst global technology companies, which are now recruiting in almost every region of the world. High tech/electronics companies report 11% growth in demand in 2014. IT/computer services 8% growth, while telecoms report 7% growth.

General Industry—The consumer goods sector is reporting 12% growth in 2014, while manufacturing is reporting 10% growth, with large numbers of MBAs being hired, especially in emerging markets.

Energy Sector—This sector continues to report strong MBA recruiting with an 18% increase in MBA jobs in 2014.

Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare—This industry is dominated by global players,and after a bit of a lull, their appetite for MBAs seems to be resuming with 9% growth in demand in 2014.

This 54-page survey is chock-full of useful information, and QS Top MBA hopes current and future MBA students can use this data to decide which industries and geographies they want to pursue in their MBA job search, as well as to help negotiate an optimum compensation.

You can read the entire 2014-2015 QS Top MBA Job and Salary Trends survey here.

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Don’t Hide From MBA Admissions Background Checks

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Background checks in MBA admissions are more common for some schools than others, but their overall use is growing. Some programs vet every …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Background checks in MBA admissions are more common for some schools than others, but their overall use is growing. Some programs vet every admitted applicant, others randomly select a percentage of candidates and still others delve further only when something seems to raise a red flag. The process usually take place in the spring, after all application rounds have passed and candidates begin sending in their deposits.

The vast majority of people shouldn’t stress over this verification process. Business schools aren’t on a mission to grill candidates about every last detail of their applications. They simply want to ensure that applicants have honestly represented themselves, their experience and their accomplishments.

[Learn to overcome the fear of MBA admissions failure.]

Sometimes applicants are screened because their profile is unusual or difficult to verify, such as if their work experience included time in a startup or at a failed startup, in a small family firm or at a company abroad, and the admissions office simply needs to clarify and confirm the details.

Typical reasons for rejecting a candidate include ethical lapses or questionable behavior, not disclosing a layoff or firing, evidence of plagiarism and not disclosing a criminal conviction. Willful deception or lying by omission will jeopardize your admission – not minor discrepancies such as being off by a month when listing your employment dates. Most schools give applicants a chance to explain any plausible mistakes.

Though I can’t share specific examples due to confidentiality issues, I have had clients who have had problems with background checks. In some cases, an offer of admission was revoked following the background check. In one situation, the student had already started school and was escorted out due to an omission on the application. It wasn’t because of a lie, but rather that this person failed to  include information the program would have wanted to know about during the application process.

[Dodge three surprising application mistakes MBA students make.]

According to a Wall Street Journal piece published earlier this year, Stanford Graduate School of Business began instituting background checks within the past decade under Dean Derrick Bolton, and now all accepted students go through verification tests. Business schools can investigate application details that include everything from recommenders, employment and education history, extracurricular and professional involvements, leadership roles and even authenticate anecdotes from application essays.

The Wall Street Journal piece goes on to note that the school typically rescinds offers to a few students each year based on these tests, but the omissions are the hardest to deal with. Bolton told the Journal that two candidates last year did not disclose prior graduate studies, even though they had each graduated with top marks.

“There was no issue had it been disclosed. The issue was the deception,” he’s quoted as saying, and their acceptance offers were rescinded.

If you’re on the fence about whether to include or explain something in your application, chances are you probably should mention it. When the issue is something like poor academic performance or a gap in employment history, it’s always best to come completely clean. The admissions team isn’t looking for perfection in applicants.

[Learn about the nuances of the MBA resume.]

Major failures can translate into a story about lessons learned and self-improvement which can actually help your candidacy if you show how you’ve become a wiser, more humble person because of them. However, if the incident you’re wondering about including is personal in nature and does not appear anywhere on your official record, you may decide not to draw unnecessary attention to it.

If you learn that your admission is conditional pending corroboration of your professional, academic or personal background, your best option is to cooperate quickly and completely to facilitate the verification process. The schools just want to make sure all applicants are who they say they are.

If you’re meticulous about presenting the facts, haven’t exaggerated or lied, and have explained any lapses in judgment that could come back to haunt you, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

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Wharton School Round 1 Interview Update

The latest posting on the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA admissions blog will bring some relief to nail-biting round 1 applications. The school has announced that invitations to interview will go out on October …

The latest posting on the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA admissions blog will bring some relief to nail-biting round 1 applications. The school has announced that invitations to interview will go out on October 31st.

Applicants selected to interview will receive the Team-Based Discussion prompt prior to their interview, says Maryellen Lamb, Deputy Vice Dean, Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Management.

Wharton piloted this new interview method last year, with the goal of giving potential students an opportunity to show who they are – how they think, lead, communicate and interact. Lamb recommends that candidates spend about an hour in advance preparing for the discussion.

As a reminder, the Team-Based Discussion will be comprised of 5-6 applicants. “Teams will be a function of who signs up – there is no ‘crafting’ done on our end. The discussion will have a prompt and a purpose – that is, there is a tangible outcome you will be working towards,” Lamb explains.

The majority of Team-Based Discussion interviews will take place on campus during the month of November and will be conducted by Admissions Fellows, a select group of second-year students. For those unable to participate on campus, Wharton will conduct interviews in Dubai, London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and here, in Philadelphia.

This format can be challenging yet a lot of fun, and Stacy Blackman Consulting now offers a group interview prep service for applicants invited to interview at a school using the group interview format. Find out more information about this service here.

You may also be interested in:

2014 University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA Essay Tips

Wharton MBA Class of 2016’s Entrepreneurial Mindset

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Applicants Overwhelming Favor GMAT Over GRE, Kaplan Survey Reveals

Acceptance of the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT among U.S. business schools has reached critical mass, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of business school admissions officers. According to the survey, …

Acceptance of the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT among U.S. business schools has reached critical mass, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of business school admissions officers.

According to the survey, 85% of MBA programs now give students the option to submit a score from the GRE instead of a GMAT score. This percentage has steadily increased year-over-year since Kaplan first began tracking the issue in 2009, when only 24% of business schools said they accepted the GRE.

The caveat in wider GRE acceptance: Still only a trickle of MBA applicants are submitting a GRE score instead of a GMAT score. Over half of the admissions officers surveyed said that just one in ten or fewer applicants took this admissions path last application cycle, representing a slight uptick from Kaplan’s past surveys.

But is this apprehension from applicants warranted?

Additional Kaplan data shows that 78% of MBA programs say scores from both tests are viewed equally, but 18% of MBA programs say applicants who submit a GMAT score have an advantage over applicants who submit a GRE score.

“The trendline for business schools that accept the GRE as an admissions alternative to the GMAT has been unmistakable over the past five years. What was once seen as an almost exotic admissions policy by business schools has become nearly ubiquitous,” says Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

“Our advice to prospective MBAs is if all the business schools they plan to apply to accept the GRE in addition to the GMAT, then contact those schools and find out if they have a preference for one exam over the other. We also advise students to take the GMAT if some of the schools to which they intend on applying do not accept the GRE. While the GRE is widely accepted, the only exam that is universally accepted is the GMAT.”

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