Category Archives: Test Prep Advice

New Ranking Shows Top Choice B-Schools for 2016 Applicants

Ready4, a Boston-area company that creates test prep apps, has unveiled its second annual rankings of the most desired business schools around the globe. Unlike traditional business school rankings that are based on complex methodology and, in …

business school rankingReady4, a Boston-area company that creates test prep apps, has unveiled its second annual rankings of the most desired business schools around the globe. Unlike traditional business school rankings that are based on complex methodology and, in many cases, information self reported by participating schools, Ready4’s rankings represent the voice of current and prospective students and provide unique insight into what schools students most want to attend.

This ranking represents the top schools chosen by 250,000 users of Ready4GMAT app using its “School Matcher” and “Top Picks” functions.

The Top 25 Most Desired Business Schools

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Indian School of Business
6. Columbia
7. London Business School
8. New York University (Stern)
9. INSEAD
10. University of California Berkeley (Haas)
11. University of Chicago (Booth)
12. Northwestern (Kellogg)
13. Indian Institute of Management
14. Yale
15. Duke (Fuqua)
16. University of Oxford
17. London School of Economics
18. HEC Paris
19. Cornell
20. University of Cambridge
21. National University of Singapore
22. UCLA
23. SP Jain Institute of Management
24. University of Michigan Ann Arbor (Ross)
25. Dartmouth (Tuck)

Notable observations from this year’s ranking include:

  • Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business are the top two most desired schools for the second year in a row, while the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School moved up two positions into the third spot, displacing MIT Sloan School of Management, which is now fourth
  • University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business made the biggest leap in the Top 10 category, moving up 5 positions (15 in 2015 to 10 in 2016)
  • Four schools are new to the list this year: London School of Economics (17), Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management (19), University of Michigan Ross School of Business (24) and Dartmouth Tuck School of Business (25)
  • Five schools fell off the list of the Most Desired Schools in this year’s ranking: Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, University of Cambridge Judge Business School, Boston College, Imperial College London, USC Marshall School of Business

Statistics represent the time period between September 2015 and September 2016, and users were allowed to pick more than one school.

top choice business schools

“With more than a million downloads of our test prep apps, Ready4 sits in a unique position to not only understand where students want to pursue their MBA or other business degree, but also to guide them on their journey to find and get into the right program,” says Elad Shoushan, Ready4’s founder and CEO.

“We are in business to ensure that a generation is ready, willing and able to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century economy, and in many cases, that starts with helping match students to their preferred schools and preparing them to get the scores they need to be considered in the admissions process.”

Image credit: ebayink (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Survey Reveals the Study Habits of Top Standardized Test Takers

What does it take to get a top score on a standardized exam? The test prep experts at Magoosh surveyed more than 400 students who scored in the top 10% for the GRE, GMAT, SAT …

GMAT test prep

What does it take to get a top score on a standardized exam? The test prep experts at Magoosh surveyed more than 400 students who scored in the top 10% for the GRE, GMAT, SAT and ACT, and have shared those results with us so that our readers and clients put their best foot forward when it comes to preparing for this important component of the MBA application.

Here are the biggest takeaways from what they learned about the way top scorers prepare for test day:

  • Top scorers prefer to study alone. 98% of students said they chose to study alone instead of with friends or a group.
  • They don’t break the bank. 88% of respondents said they spent only $300 or less on their test prep. A majority also reported that they performed better on the exam than they thought they would.
  • They study for at least a month. 84% of respondents studied for a month or longer.
  • They don’t cram. 71% of respondents said they gave themselves a break the day before the exam instead of studying to the last minute.
  • They don’t listen to music while studying. 63% of students said they chose to study in complete silence, while only a few chose to listen to classical music or white noise.
  • They have a regular workout routine. 68% of respondents said they hit the gym or exercised at least 1-2 times a week while studying.
  • They aim to take the test once. 68% nailed their top scores the first time they took the exam.

Most Common Advice From Top Scorers:

Develop a routine and stick it to it. Many students from the survey said you should work a strict study schedule into your daily routine. Give yourself 3-6 months to study so you can spread out your prep time. Studying more than that might wear you out, while studying less might inadequately prepare you for test day. You can keep yourself from burning out by limiting yourself to no more than four hours of study in a single day.

It’s not the number of questions you practice, but how much you learn from each question that counts. Top scorers from the survey said that while studying, you should be mindful of the mistakes you make. Take time to learn from every question, and don’t rush through them. Several top scorers from the survey also mentioned that they kept a log of their errors to help them learn and move on from each mistake.

Focus on your weak spots. Do a diagnostic test, review your answers and determine the types of questions you struggle with. Make it a point during your studies to focus on those weaknesses, then practice those question types until approaching and solving them feels automatic.

And finally…

Pay attention to timing. It’s not enough to just know how to approach a question; you need to be able to complete it accurately under time constraints. At the beginning of your studies, you should work through questions slowly and develop your technique, but as you near the end you should start timing yourself to prepare for the realities of test day.

You may also be interested in:

5 Test Prep Steps from UM Ross Admissions Director

Exam Lifehacks for a Higher Test Score

Image credit: Flickr user Steven S. (CC BY 2.0)

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Which Test Should I Take – GRE or GMAT?

Guest post by LA Tutors 123 Decisions, decisions. Now that most business schools accept either the GMAT or the GRE as part of your application, which standardized exam would be better for you to submit? …

Guest post by LA Tutors 123

GRE or GMAT

Decisions, decisions. Now that most business schools accept either the GMAT or the GRE as part of your application, which standardized exam would be better for you to submit? Is the GRE easier? Do admissions committees like the GMAT more?

First, let’s take a look at each of the exams. There are ways that the GRE and the GMAT are alike and ways that they are different. For example, in the United States, both tests are taken on a computer and adapt to your skill level. They both have writing, quantitative, and verbal sections. Also, sitting for either the GRE or the GMAT can consume your entire morning or afternoon: the total time is almost four hours for each test, plus breaks.

However, there are differences between the exams. The GRE currently costs $195, while the GMAT fee is $250. Furthermore, the quantitative and verbal sections aren’t the same on each test, and neither is the scoring. On the GRE, in addition to a Writing score from 0 to 6, the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are each scored from 130 to 170. On the GMAT, there is also a Writing score from 0 to 6, but there is also an Integrated Reasoning score of 1 to 8, and a Total score from 200 to 800, which combines the Quantitative and Verbal results.

Confusing, isn’t it? To simplify this issue, you should take a diagnostic test or practice exam for the GRE and for the GMAT to see which one you feel more comfortable with and which you think you can perform better on.

Second, ask your schools which exams they take and which exam they prefer. Talking with the admissions officers at your business school is a good idea anyway, to let them know who you are and why you’re interested in their particular MBA programs. It will also give you insight on how they view the GRE and the GMAT, especially in regards to your application.

Which leads us to our third issue: how your exam choice and score will fit into your overall package. If you didn’t take many math classes in college, or you don’t do much quantitative analysis in your career, getting a good score on the GMAT could enhance that area of your application. On the other hand, if you think you can do considerable better on the GRE than on the GMAT, then the GRE might be your best course of action.

The truth is, your test score is only one part of your application. Plus, if you’re making a conscious decision to study for either the GMAT or the GRE, then you’re already ahead of the game. The key to success on either exam is advanced preparation. Start crafting a plan today; you’ll have more confidence about whatever choice you make, and more confidence on test day.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. Do your research, and then decide. And if you need assistance, either with making a choice or getting prepared to take your exam, LA Tutors can help. For more information, click here, or call 866.60.TUTOR to be matched with your own personal instructor.

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Fit the GMAT Into Overall MBA Application Strategy

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Just about every MBA candidate needs to submit a GMAT or GRE score as part of their business school admission package, but not …

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

Just about every MBA candidate needs to submit a GMAT or GRE score as part of their business school admission package, but not everyone has a clear grasp on when and how the exam fits within the context of the whole application process.

In an ideal world, you would take the test just coming out of college, while you’re still in study and test mode as a recent student. Since both GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years, getting the exams out of the way years in advance would free you to focus on all of the other elements of the application.

If, like most applicants, you didn’t have the foresight to take the exam right after college, the next best step is to plan your application strategy so that the GMAT is finished before you finalize your list of schools. Your score isn’t everything, but it is an important part of the admissions equation.

If you bomb the exam and can’t improve your score, you may need to reassess your target schools to include less-competitive options. Conversely, you may be able to add one more reach school if the score was higher than expected.

Round one of business school admissions is about four months away at many schools, and if you still need to take the GMAT, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Unless you’re a natural at taking standardized tests, you’ll need to train your brain to get it back into test-taking form.

Most applicants devote at least 100 hours to test preparation, and depending on where you are in the process, you may have to take a prep class and perhaps take the test more than once. If this is the case, the first round may not be a realistic option unless you’re able and prepared to completely immerse yourself in the process.

One client, Tasha, came to us just five weeks before the round she was targeting with some idea of her school choices and a GMAT score she wanted to improve. With her limited time she needed to schedule the GMAT for two weeks before her application deadlines. That meant she did not have the luxury of focused studying for the GMAT in all of her free time.

To help Tasha manage her time, we wrote down all of her tasks, including the number of essay iterations we expected her to go through, and then we worked backward from her deadlines to see how many days she had to work. Tasha then started alternating essay writing and GMAT study until the day she took the test.

This abbreviated yet methodical time management system worked for her, and Tasha was able to improve her GMAT by 30 points and submit a strong application to her three target schools. She ultimately gained admission to Stanford Graduate School of Business and Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Tasha’s strategy won’t work for everybody, but we see applicants pull off the impossible every season.

I typically advise clients to plan for two attempts at the GMAT, leaving a buffer for a retake if needed. There’s no harm in taking the test two or even three times, and unless you score really well right out of the gate, you often will do better the second time. This is because you’ll have fewer nerves, more familiarity with the process and no big surprises. There is no such thing as a bad test, just opportunities to build on and learn from.

Average scores are creeping higher every year at the top MBA programs, making it hard to offset a bad GMAT score. It truly is a level playing field, and I often cringe when I read essays where people try to rationalize a low score.

What you can do, however, is acknowledge the score and say you don’t find it truly reflective of your abilities. Then show why you are actually strong in quant or going to excel academically by pointing to your college GPA, work experience or by encouraging your recommenders to focus heavily on your intellect.

Timing and planning are key to reducing the stress of the application process. I generally encourage applicants to not cram everything into too short of a timeline, but everyone has their own style and you need to figure out what makes the most sense for you, your goals and your schedule.

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GMAT Now Features Enhanced Score Report

The Graduate Management Admission Council has launched a new GMAT Enhanced Score Report, providing test takers with access to an in-depth analysis of their overall performance on the GMAT, including their performance on the various …

The Graduate Management Admission Council has launched a new GMAT Enhanced Score Report, providing test takers with access to an in-depth analysis of their overall performance on the GMAT, including their performance on the various sections and subsections within the exam. GMAT enhanced score report

The report provides metrics that describe everything from the test taker’s average time to answer each question type, to overall time management relative to other test takers, and provides insight and analysis about how students might use the report to talk about or improve their score.

This new GMAT Enhanced Score Report is delivered to a test taker following their sitting of the exam. In 2014, GMAC introduced the Score Preview feature for the GMAT exam that allows test takers to cancel a GMAT score if it isn’t up to their standards or expectations, before sending it to a school.

Both Enhanced Score Reports and the Score Preview feature provide test takers with greater control over how and when they report their scores to the schools to which they are applying.

“The value of the GMAT Enhanced Score Report is that, used alone or together with the GMAT’s other prep and score reporting features,  it can help students strengthen their performance, improve their scores and be better prepared for the process of applying to business school,” says Ashok Sarathy, vice president of Product Management at GMAC.

The GMAT Enhanced Score Report can be purchased following the taking of the GMAT exam for $24.99 (USD) through the mba.com store.

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