March 14, 2013
Last summer, the GMAT made the most major change to its format in 15 years by replacing one of the essays with the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. Since then, GMAT test-takers have been wondering how IR impacts their b-school applications. As it turns out, business schools are wondering exactly the same thing.
In the IR section of the GMAT, test-takers evaluate data in graphs, spreadsheets, and charts, similar to the materials they will eventually see in business school. In theory, IR can better assess students’ ability to perform the tasks expected of them in business school and the work world. Nearly a year after the inclusion of IR, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who administers the GMAT, and business schools nationwide are taking the first steps to determine what role IR should play in the admissions process.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that business schools across the country are actively assessing the significance of IR performance on students’ eventual success in business school. While IR isn’t currently being given much weight in the admissions process, largely because many applicants took the GMAT before the test change and therefore do not have IR scores, business schools are analyzing IR data to get a better understanding of the role it will eventually play in admissions. Dan Poston, of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, states, “We want to see how it [IR] plays out…We want to see how predictive it is of student’s success at school.”
GMAC has released some key data on the IR section, based upon results of the more than 123,000 test-takers who have taken the GMAT since IR was added to the test. GMAC reports that the distribution of scores is normal and without bias against any subgroup of test-takers. In short, these results suggest that IR has the potential to be a valid predictor of student success in b-school.
In addition to analyzing data from GMAC, some schools are directly studying the connection between IR and student performance. For instance, at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, a group of 60 second-year students will complete the IR portion of the GMAT. Their IR scores will then be compared to their success in core courses in order to determine whether IR performance positively correlates with b-school performance.
The obvious question for GMAT test-takers is how they should approach IR in order to put together the best application package possible. While IR may not play a major role in the admissions process for the next few years, a solid IR score can only help applicants. As Dawna Clarke of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business notes, “IR will help prospective students more than it will hurt them…If you are not ‘quant strong,’ but you have strong IR skills, then this test will help you shine.”
When I was a college English teacher, I regularly warned my students about the dangers of plagiarizing their assignments. In addition to pointing out that plagiarism is simply unethical, I made it clear that plagiarists would be punished, through a failing grade on an assignment, expulsion from class, or even academic probation. Nevertheless, every semester I would catch at least a few students who either missed my warnings or chose to ignore them.
Today, some business school applicants take the same risks, ignoring schools’ warnings about plagiarism and submitting plagiarized essays, despite the steep penalties should they be caught. A recent article in U.S. News and World Report reports that both Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management recently rejected over 60 applicants due to plagiarized material. Additionally, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business has identified 50 cases of potential plagiarism, which are currently being investigated.
In today’s digital world, plagiarism is easier than ever–students can easily buy or copy essays from the comfort of their own bedrooms–but plagiarism is also more easily detected. Penn State, UCLA, and Northeastern are among the more than 100 colleges and universities that use Turnitin, software that checks for original work and flags potential plagiarism. Turnitin compares papers to other student papers within its database, public web pages, and commercial pages from books, newspapers, and journals, making the task of identifying plagiarized essays much simpler for admissions officials.
In short, plagiarism might be easy, but it’s not worth the risk. So, now that you’ve reaffirmed your aversion to plagiarism, what can you do to put together a solid MBA application essay? Here are few tips:
- Start thinking about your essays sooner rather than later. The earlier you start brainstorming and writing your essays, the more time you’ll have for revision and improvement.
- Be specific about who you are, why you want to go to business school, and what your goals are. The best way to stand out is to demonstrate your passion for your career interests and goals. Check out last week’s blog “Add Depth to MBA Application Essays by Owning Your Goals” for suggestions for making your essays more specific.
- Get feedback. Have a variety of people read your essays. Get feedback from friends, family members, AND co-workers so you can revise your essays from several different perspectives. You don’t need to go overboard–commentary from too many people can become overwhelming–but the insights of several different people will help you perfect your essay.
- Most importantly, be true to yourself. Business school is a big investment, and as much as you want schools to accept you, you also want to select a program that is right for you. Putting your true self forward in your essays will help to ensure that the programs you are accepted to will be good fits for you and your goals.
February 7, 2013
In recent years, the job market has faltered due to the lagging world economy, and MBA grads were hit just like everyone else. However, a recent survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who administers the GMAT, reveals that employment is up for 2012 MBA grads. Of the 4,444 MBA and other graduate-level alumni surveyed, 92% were employed three months after graduation–6 percentage points higher than reported by graduates in last year’s survey. Additionally, 77% of those surveyed this year reported that their starting salary met or exceeded their expectations, and 76% stated that they could not have gotten their jobs without their graduate management education.
Dave Wilson, GMAC president and CEO, attributes this year’s higher employment percentages to the improving world economy, stating, “As the economy improves in many parts of the world, employers who are hiring look for skilled managers to lead the way. MBAs and other graduate degrees provide the skills people need to manage tough problems in today’s complex marketplace.”
Compensation for 2012 MBA graduates differed most significantly by work location, with Europe featuring the highest median salary ($105,120) and Central Asia the lowest ($27,818). The median salary in the U.S. was $83,000, with Canada just slightly behind at $81,443 (all salaries are expressed in USD). Also, compensation varied between full-time two-year and one-year MBA programs: graduates of two-year programs reported a median salary of $85,000, while graduates of one-year programs reported a median salary of $59,000.
These promising survey results demonstrate that now is a great time to move forward with your plans to get your MBA. Check out other Kaplan GMAT blog posts for tips on getting started with the process, and look for upcoming free Kaplan GMAT prep and admissions events at kaplangmat.com.
The summary report of the 13th annual GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey can be found at gmac.com/alumniperspectives.
January 22, 2013
Welcome to 2013! For current b-school applicants, January marks the beginning of the end of the application period. For those applying next year, January is the perfect time to get started on the process. If getting your MBA is one of your New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips to help you get started on achieving your goal.
• Start prepping for the GMAT: While many b-school applicants leave their GMAT prep for the fall, winter and spring are actually a better time to start your prep. Starting your GMAT prep now gives you plenty of time to master the material on the test. Doing well on the GMAT requires more time than many test takers realize: top scorers on the GMAT spend over 100 hours studying for the test, which generally requires a solid two to three months of preparation time. Beginning your prep in winter or spring gives you that time, as well as a “cushion” during which you can retake the test if you want to. Start investigating the GMAT by taking a free practice test (you can find upcoming Kaplan practice tests at kaptest.com) and visiting the testmakers’ website, mba.com, for additional information about test format, scoring, and preparation. The added benefit of starting your GMAT prep now? The sooner you get the GMAT out of the way, the sooner you can focus on putting together the rest of your application package.
• Research schools: There are a lot of MBA programs out there, and sifting through all the information about them can be overwhelming. Do you want to stay close to home or travel to a new city, state, or country? Are you interested in a full-time or part-time program? Where do you see yourself working after you finish your MBA? What sector are you interested in working in? These are key questions to ask yourself, and the answers will help you determine what schools you might be interested in. Start narrowing down your selections now so that you’re ready once schools open their applications in the summer and fall. Great places to start are the rankings in US New and World Report, Businessweek, and Financial Times. These lists will provide you with information about schools’ available programs, average GPA and GMAT scores, admission rate, and tuition. Also, blogs such as Poets & Quants will often feature posts that provide more detailed information about individual schools as well as comparisons of different programs.
• Think about why you want an MBA: While every school’s essays are different (and most schools change their essays somewhat year to year), virtually every program will ask you why you want an MBA now and what you want to do with it in the future. This is a crucial question for you to think about, and not just for your application: your answer to this question will help you determine what really matters to you about getting an MBA, which will help you narrow down your school choices. Think about what kind of work you enjoy doing–fincance? marketing? entrepreneurship? nonprofit?–and how an MBA will fit into that picture in the future. As you ponder this question, you may even find that a traditional MBA is not what you want; you may find yourself more interested in an international or executive MBA, or possibly a Master’s of accounting, supply chain management, or public policy, to name just a few MBA alternatives.
Taking these first steps towards your goal of an MBA now will ensure that you are ready once applications are available and will help make the application process much easier and less stressful. Addressing these topics well before the height of application season will give you more time and energy to focus on the rest of your application, and ultimately, the better you can focus next fall on putting together a solid application, the better your chances are of getting into the program of your choice.
December 18, 2012
The holidays are upon us, and with them come a flurry of seasonal activities: shopping trips, parties, and visits with family and friends. If you’re planning on taking your GMAT in January, you’re probably struggling with the challenge of fitting your studies into your holiday schedule. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this busy time.
First, acknowledge your limitations. Because of your holiday obligations, you’ll probably need to scale back your GMAT study time. The holidays provide you with a great opportunity to recharge mentally and emotionally, so there’s nothing wrong with cutting back a little on your studies to give yourself some more personal time. You’ll be able to create a study schedule–and stick to it–if you’re realistic with yourself about how much time you’ll actually have for studying over the holidays.
Second, since you’ll have less time to study, plan out carefully what you’re going to study and when. A specific agenda for each study session will help guarantee that you use your productively. If you’re used to longer study sessions (two or three hours), but you’ll be studying for shorter periods during the holidays, limit your agenda to one key topic at a time. For instance, you might spend an hour reviewing just proportions, rather than two hours reviewing proportions, averages, and ratios. This is also a good time to give yourself short quizzes (5 to 10 questions at time); in an hour, you can complete a short quiz in 15 to 30 minutes, giving you an equal amount of time to use for review of the quiz. As always, though, be sure to balance your studying between Quant and Verbal. A good plan is alternating between the two every day, or depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses, spending two days on one, followed by one day on the other.
Finally, recognize that there are benefits to a mini-vacation from your studies. Taking time away from intense studying gives you time to digest the material. There’s a lot to learn for the GMAT, and all that material takes time to “settle in” to your brain. Slowing down for a little while allows you to master concepts and helps prevent burn out. So take advantage of the pleasures of the holidays: enjoy your time spent not studying, maximize the time you do spend studying, and rest assured that your brain will benefit from the holiday as well.