Category Archives: GMAT

Mapping Out Your MBA Application Timeline

Once you’ve decided to pursue an MBA, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Applicants need to fit studying for the GMAT, visiting schools, and developing essays in with other personal and professional commitments. …

MBA timelineOnce you’ve decided to pursue an MBA, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Applicants need to fit studying for the GMAT, visiting schools, and developing essays in with other personal and professional commitments.

If you’re planning to apply to business school in the fall, come up with a game plan for completing the admissions components within a schedule that doesn’t necessitate sleepless nights and a jumbo bottle of Maalox. The best way to do this is to put together your MBA application timeline several months before your target deadlines.

Community Involvement: Now is a great time to deepen or establish your involvement with a community organization. If you have been involved with outside activities over the last couple of years, consider stepping your activities up a notch. Consider roles that will allow you to take a leadership position and create real impact before September. Offering to organize an event is a great discrete activity that will allow you to work in a team, have an impact, and show results.

Allot time for essays and the GMAT: The amount of time MBA aspirants will spend on their applications will vary, depending on writing abilities and general work efficiency. That said, plan to spend between 40 and 60 hours preparing four to eight applications. Non-native English speakers will also likely need to allot more time on their applications, particularly on writing, revising, editing, proofing, formatting, and inputting essays.

The other piece of this puzzle is, of course, the GMAT. Have you completed the GMAT and are you satisfied with your score? If you still need to take the GMAT, you have a lot of work ahead of you, as applicants typically devote at least 100 hours to test preparation. Depending on where you are in the process, you may have to take a prep class and perhaps take the test more than once. The good news is, Round One is still nine months out so you have time if you get serious soon.

Bolster your quant profile: An undergrad GPA hovering around 3.5 is generally considered fine. If your GPA is a 3.2 or below, or you majored in liberal arts, you may want to consider taking quantitative classes to enhance your academic profile. The MBA canon generally consists of Calculus, Statistics and Microeconomics.

If you took any of those classes in undergrad and scored a C or below you should certainly re-take the classes now. Where you take the class is much less important than the course material and grade (aim for A’s!!). The local community college is a great option.

Structure your work sessions: Some people work most efficiently when they can break up tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, while others prefer to devote several hours to their writing in one sitting. MBA applicants should be aware of the way they work most effectively and structure their writing and editing sessions accordingly.

I typically recommend that candidates allocate two to three hours each time they sit down to work on their essays, particularly for the first few drafts. Essays should be approached holistically; you won’t have a compelling final product if you’ve only snatched 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there.

Conversely, most applicants should also avoid the “marathon session.” Few people are still sharp or creative eight hours into a writing and editing session. If you need to make up for lost time, try breaking it up with a session in the morning and another in the evening.

Allow some distance: Applicants should also build several weeks for reflection and feedback into their MBA timeline. If you can come back to your essays days later with fresh eyes, you’ll often think of a better example or more inspired language to illustrate a certain point. This won’t happen if you’re forced to work at warp speed.

Distributing your writing and editing over a reasonable period also makes it easier for friends, family, or colleagues to provide feedback. It’s unfair to ask someone to turn around comments in a 24-hour period, so provide them with a few days to give you their critiques. Leave yourself adequate time to reflect upon and incorporate their feedback.

The b-school application process is stressful, but careful planning will make the experience manageable and help you channel your energies into continually improving your candidacy until the moment you submit your applications.

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Improvements Coming to GMAT Test-Taking Experience

If you haven’t yet taken the GMAT, or still need to send scores to your target schools, then this news from the Graduate Management Admission Council will be of great interest. Earlier this week, GMAC …

If you haven’t yet taken the GMAT, or still need to send scores to your target schools, then this news from the Graduate Management Admission Council will be of great interest. Earlier this week, GMAC announced it will make three changes in July designed to streamline and enhance the test-taking experience for applicants.

Going forward, any cancelled scores will not appear on the official score report. This means that when a test-taker cancels their score, only the test-taker will know. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools. GMAC believes this move, supported by 85% of surveyed test-takers, will help deter any misinterpretations of cancelled scores in candidate profiles.

Candidates will also now be able to retake the GMAT exam after 16 days, rather than the current waiting period of 31 days. This allows candidates the flexibility to retake the exam within a shorter period of time in order to accommodate their schedules, study habits, peak performance times, and/or school deadlines. The max of five exam sittings within one 12-month period remains in effect.

Finally, test-takers will enjoy a streamlined authentication experience at the testing center with the elimination of a separate authentication code. Candidates will be able to view their Official Score Report online using their date of birth to authenticate their access.

These new features and options for test-takers are effective July 19, 2015.

 

 

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Overcome a Low Quant Background in MBA Admissions

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The MBA admissions process is a holistic one. If it weren’t, every MBA cohort would be full of finance wizards and accounting gurus – not …

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

The MBA admissions process is a holistic one. If it weren’t, every MBA cohort would be full of finance wizards and accounting gurus – not an especially well-rounded group.

These days, business schools seek a diverse array of students to fill their classes, knowing that the unique life and career experiences they bring will enrich the classroom experience for everyone.

Applicants with undergraduate degrees in the humanities are welcomed at all of the elite business schools, but, unlike their business major peers, will need to prove to the admissions committee that their relatively minimal academic experience in quantitative subjects won’t be a hindrance once they hit those core courses.

[Learn how to sell yourself to MBA admissions committees.]

Your GMAT or GRE score is the first and most obvious piece of the puzzle that indicates your ability to handle MBA-level course work, so allow yourself plenty of time to study for the exam.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, the average amount of study needed to achieve a score between 600 and 690 is 92 hours and getting above that brass ring score of 700 is 102 hours.

What can you do if you’ve put in the time, taken the test and still receive a so-so score? Schools look favorably upon taking the GMAT more than once.

In my experience, this dedication to improving your score is often interpreted by the admissions committee as a sign that you’ll do whatever it takes to prove you’re ready for business school. So sign up for that prep course or hire a GMAT tutor to help you bump up your score a few notches.

[Try one of these fixes for a low GMAT score.]

At Harvard Business School, the median GMAT score was 730 out of 800, but the lowest accepted GMAT score for students entering in fall 2014 was 550. If you find your score has settled at the lower end of the spectrum, I would encourage you to find other ways to demonstrate your quantitative competence.

Take a college-level calculus class and score a B-plus or better. Focus on the essays, extracurriculars and working with your recommenders so that they support your quant aptitude in their recommendation letters with real-life examples.

If you have strong quantitative work experience and can show a solid grasp of quantitative subjects, then a weak GMAT score may not be overly problematic. The admissions committee will sometimes give candidates the benefit of the doubt if other aspects of their application are exceptionally compelling.

An MBA Podcaster episode on MBA quantitative skills notes that business schools regularly report that many soon-to-be first-year students lack some basic quantitative skills. To remedy this, several top MBA programs offer so-called math camps for accepted students during the summer as a refresher of critical concepts.

[Look beyond top business schools when applying for an MBA.]

Carolyn Sherry, a first-year student at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business who attended math camp last summer, wrote a blog post in the fall addressing precisely this topic.

“If you’re worried about your quantitative skills, here’s my advice,” she writes. “Most importantly, don’t underestimate yourself. Did you do well in college? Do you have a demanding, complex job where you excel? Can you grasp concepts pretty quickly? … These attributes will see you through a rigorous curriculum!”

Ultimately, the GMAT or GRE is just one component of the application, and a high score doesn’t guarantee success in business school. MBA hopefuls should do all they can to offset a lackluster test performance by demonstrating they can handle the work, highlighting a high GPA from a respected undergraduate school and wowing the admissions panel with their compelling extracurricular and leadership activities.

Convince your target business school why an MBA is the best next step in your career progression, and prove to them that you have what it takes to succeed.

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Why Can’t I Score Above 700 on the GMAT?

By Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. Every test taker seems to covet a 700+ score on the GMAT. For good reason too, since a score of 700 means …

By Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep.

Every test taker seems to covet a 700+ score on the GMAT. For good reason too, since a score of 700 means that student broke into the 90th percentile—a big deal when the average GMAT score is a 545. Although a 700 is not a guarantee of getting into a grad program, it will make the admission committee notice you. And if anything, it will keep your application out of the rejection pile.

But how to score 700 if you are stuck in the 600s? Let’s examine the common habits of students who score in the 700 range and dispel some common myths that test takers have to help you succeed.

Practice GMATS are not the Real GMAT

First, to score in the 700 range, let’s calibrate our expectations. Taking mock tests is a crucial part of preparing for the test, but don’t expect your performance on a practice test to match your performance on the real GMAT. Every practice test was not created equal and every practice question is not necessarily a strong representation of actual GMAT questions.

So don’t put too much weight in a practice test result unless it is the GMATPrep Software from the test makers. Make sure that you know what the best GMAT prep books are and use them. Don’t waste your time with flawed resources.

Multiple Attempts

The real test can cause more stress, which leads to a loss of focus and an increase in mistakes compared to a practice test. So do not expect to reach a 700 score in one, two, or even three attempts. Many students need multiple attempts to see an increase from 600 to 700 (one student didn’t see improvement until he took the test eight times!).

The students who break into the 700 range are working hard to do so, and often take the test multiple times. Remember that a score of 700 means that you are doing better on the GMAT than 90% of the people who take the test. This is an elite group, and you won’t make it there without hard work, dedication, and probably multiple attempts.

Practice Questions aren’t Enough

Plenty of students think that if they answer 1000+ practice questions, they will be ready for the test. This is a myth. The best test takers, the students who do score in the 700 range, not only answer a lot of practice problems, but they also read The Economist and The New York Times regularly.

The are challenging themselves by choosing articles that they normally wouldn’t read so that they are comfortable with new, strange, foreign reading passages. These students have made a habit of improving their skills outside of doing practice problems and learning grammar points. Make practicing for the GMAT more than just opening a test prep book or logging into your test prep software.

Pacing is Key

Not only are they expanding their skills outside of practice problems, but these students also have a very strong understanding of the questions types, the common wrong answer traps for each question type, and the strategy for each type of question. This knowledge, like knowing the answer choices and how to eliminate them in Data Sufficiency, ultimately, saves them time.

And this is the last piece: students scoring in the 700 range have a strong pacing strategy, know how to save time, and use time efficiently. Not feeling rushed is a key to success, which comes with practice problems for sure. But not just answering questions correctly, but also setting a timer for questions and answering them correctly. If you lack a pacing strategy, it is time to start coming up with one.

Focused, Targeted Practice

Each time you sit down and study, you need to have direction and purpose. The big difference between a 600 and a 700 is targeting weakness and improving. So that means sitting down to study, and working on those weakness.

You need to be constantly on the look out for weakness. Be honest with yourself and keep track of your weaknesses in a notebook. Then when it comes to practice, focus on improving those skills. For example, if you struggle with identifying assumptions in arguments, then you need to spend your time generating assumptions and doing practice problems that are about assumptions.

Or if you struggle with statistics, you need to spend time watching lesson videos that teach the basics, like Khan Academy. Without a strong foundation in the basics of math and grammar, you cannot expect to break into the 700 range.

Do you even need a 700 on the GMAT?

But, let’s step back from this problem. Do you even need to take the GMAT and get a 700 to actually get into a graduate program? Plenty of business schools now accept the GMAT or GRE, so even before you invest all of your waking hours to preparing for the GMAT, look into the GRE. Take a practice GRE test and see how you do. If you do better on the GRE, you might want to pivot your preparation to the GRE.

For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog

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GMAC Survey Finds Uptick in Demand for Traditional MBA Programs

Graduate programs in business and management are drawing a wider range of applicants, and these aspiring students are more likely to have a single program type in mind for either an MBA or non-MBA master’s …

Graduate programs in business and management are drawing a wider range of applicants, and these aspiring students are more likely to have a single program type in mind for either an MBA or non-MBA master’s degree, according to Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2013 mba.com Prospective Students Survey.

Over the past four years, the percentage of student candidates considering both types of programs has declined from 33 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2012.

New reports from the survey provide data on a wide range of topics including:

Program Demand: As more millennials consider management education, the proportion of potential students interested in specialized master’s programs in business continues to rise, from 42 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the proportion of aspiring students interested in full-time two-year MBA programs is up one percentage point and the proportion interested in part-time programs is down one percentage point.

Recruitment Planning: Although a growing proportion of prospective students consider cost the most important factor in their decision making, concerns about financing have declined. This is seen in declining percentages of prospects concerned about the cost being more than they can afford as well as their declining potential debt burden (each down four percentage points in the past four years).

School Appeal: Criteria for school selection vary greatly by program type and student demographics, but quality and reputation continue to be the top factor, ranked most important by 39 percent of potential students.

The worldwide survey of prospective management students includes data from more than 31,000 individuals who registered on mba.com, the GMAC web portal for those interested in graduate management education and the GMAT exam, surveyed over the past two years.

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GMAT Idioms and Phrases: More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys

This guest post was written by Mike McGarry, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh. There’s a great deal of claptrap floating around on the internet that you don’t need to know about idioms for the GMAT.  …

This guest post was written by Mike McGarry, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh.

There’s a great deal of claptrap floating around on the internet that you don’t need to know about idioms for the GMAT.  Many websites broadcast the dubious message, “The GMAT no longer tests idioms,” and yet, the GMAT Official Guide is stuffed to the guppers with questions about idioms.  What’s the straight dope?

GMAT idioms

Let’s make a fine distinction here.   One sense of the word “idioms” connotes colorful metaphorical expressions, such as “claptrap“, “stuffed to the guppers“, “straight dope“, and “more fun than a barrel of monkeys.”   These colorful expressions, while they pepper colloquial English, are quite informal, and thus have never been the focus of the GMAT. These idioms are definitively not going to be on the GMAT.  By contrast, another sense of the word “idiom” connotes the idiosyncrasies of the syntax of a language: what prepositions follow what verbs, or what combinations of words are or aren’t used.

For example, the words “able” and “ability” always take the preposition “to” — you might have an “ability to do something”, but never an “ability for doing something”.   These fundamental constructions appear even in formal language, and thus are very much part of what the GMAT verbal sections tests.  In this latter sense, knowledge of idioms is absolutely essential on the GMAT.

How to study for GMAT Verbal

If you want a good GMAT score, particularly on the Verbal section, you need to understand the basic parts of speech — verb tenses, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs.  You need to understand the more complex and exotic constructions — infinitive phrases, participle phrases, and various clauses.

For each verb, each adjective, each phrase, you need to understand what combinations, what accompanying prepositions, the syntax of English supports — in other words, you need to know the proper idioms.  This can be hard even for a native speaker, and can be very challenging for folks who speak English as a second language.  The more folks can read GMAT-level material, the more they will accustom their ear to the idioms they need to learn.

In order to know how to study GMAT verbal, it’s important to have a GMAT study schedule.  The Manhattan GMAT book on Sentence Correction offers a truly excellent discussion of idioms.   Here’s a free GMAT ebook that gives a valuable overview.  Avail yourself of the best GMAT books and resources available, and with practice, you can achieve the mastery you will need to have a successful performance on the GMAT verbal section.  Make use of all these resources and you will be in the catbird’s seat!

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