May 14, 2013
May 8, 2013
Time: 9:30pm-11:00pm ET/6:30pm-8:00pm PT
What: GMAT Bootcamp
Hosts: Kaplan GMAT Instructor Team — Justin Doff, Teresa Rupp, and Lucas Weingarten
Why: To learn the strategies you need to build the speed and accuracy to tackle the most advanced content on the test.
Listen up, people! You’ve got somewhere to be on Tuesday, May 14, 2013! One of Kaplan’s Elite GMAT instructors, Justin Lawrence Doff (shown here), will be on-camera and coming to you live from Los Angeles, CA dead-set on a singular agenda: arming you with what you need to conquer the most advanced attacks the GMAT has to throw at you. Learn how to set the pace on the climb to the top scoring tiers and, most importantly, how to maintain that level of performance to the end.
It’s bootcamp*. Expect to work hard and to make gains. No matter where you are in your GMAT prep cycle, Kaplan GMAT Bootcamp is designed for the GMAT warrior within us all.
We are saying ‘JUMP!’ and you are saying ‘HOW HIGH?’ See ya Tuesday.
*But don’t worry. We aren’t going to yell at you.
April 29, 2013
From The Free Dictionary:
a. Able to express oneself readily and effortlessly
b. Flowing effortlessly; polished
2. Flowing or moving smoothly; graceful
3. Flowing or capable of flowing; fluid
When I teach people how to beat the GMAT a common refrain of mine during class #1 goes something like this:
“It is not enough to study content. It’s not enough to study methods and strategies. It’s not enough to merely understand how to get the right answer to a GMAT question. If you truly want to dominate this test, which is entirely possible for you to do, then you must attain GMAT fluency. You must be fluent in all aspects of the GMAT: content, methodology, strategy, timing, what the GMAT is, what the GMAT is built to test, why you have to take it, what the scores communicate, the levels and types of stress it cultivates, etc., etc., etc. Fluency is the key.”
In Kaplan GMAT courses, we begin our conversation about the Quant and Verbal sections of the test by discussing what we call the GMAT’s four Core Competencies. These core skills are what the GMAT is designed to test and every single question you will face on test day will leverage each of these competencies in some way. A particular problem solving question, for example, may lean heavily on critical thinking and pattern recognition, and less so on paraphrasing and attention to the right detail. The next one, though, might be built almost entirely around one tucked away, camouflaged detail that most test takers brush right by on their way to getting the right answer to the wrong question—a common GMAT mistake. However, the other three central competencies will still lurk within this question and the test will reward those who exercise those skills.
The point of this conversation about what skills the GMAT cares most about, despite my best efforts to make it intriguing, is very often lost on many. I try my best to describe that the GMAT is a definable thing and it belongs in a particular box and that the walls of this box are created by these core competencies. I try my best… but, despite my effort, I watch so many who are new to the game inherit only the most superficial appreciation of these concepts. I move on because there is always so much to do in a Kaplan class, always so much to cover, and I must trust that at some point on their trip down Preparation Road each will, in turn, have their own “a-ha moment” and perhaps revisit the big ideas again. (Admittedly, I help ensure these revelations by consistently tracking the competencies throughout the course.)
Possibly, what makes it a difficult sell initially is that the GMAT will never test whether someone knows what the four core competencies are or what aspects of a particular question pertain to which. Similarly, it is hard for some to remember the names of the Critical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension question types. After all, that terminology will never actually be tested. Yet, the ability to spot and accurately identify these question types is monumentally crucial to test day success. How a question ought to be approached and answered is inextricably tied to its type. Nonetheless, it is a common occurrence in my line of work to engage a seasoned GMAT prep student in conversation over a troublesome question and during that discussion I inquire as to the type of question we are talking about. Promptly, I am then met with a coy smile followed by, “I dunno… assumption? Inference?”
It is not that the student can’t understand the difference between an assumption question vs. an inference question. It is not even that they can’t articulate that difference if really pressed. The problem is that understanding is not enough. This knowledge must be at the very front of your mind. It must flow out of you so effortlessly it is as if you aren’t really even thinking at all—you are just doing.
Fluency is the key. It is difficult to acquire, though entirely possible, and it must be continuously worked in order to maintain once achieved. We most often use and think of fluency in regard to language—of which all of us are fluent in at least one. So, to stick with this line of thinking, I ask you:
Can you speak GMAT? Can you speak it fluently?
April 19, 2013
Time: 1:00pm EDT
Why: To learn how to find the right fit for business school.
mbaMission is a highly respected business school admissions consulting firm. Kaplan GMAT initiated a relationship with the organization’s founder and president, Jeremy Shinewald, in 2010 for our Road to Business School events and we have worked closely with this outstanding company ever since.
We are very excited to spread the word about an upcoming Twitter event mbaMission is hosting next week on Wednesday, April 24th. Please, do yourself a favor and set aside the time to attend this event!
Be sure to follow @mbaMission and the #mbachat hashtag. All attendees will have the opportunity to submit admissions questions they might have and get expert advice from Mr. Shinewald himself. This is an outstanding opportunity and we hope to see you there!
April 16, 2013
To support my efforts here, I get daily alerts from Google spiders who hunt for news about, or otherwise concerning, MBAs and the GMAT. Every now and then one of these alerts will contain a snippet of information from the interwebs that subsequently does its job and inspires a post. One such link led me to this CNBC article about a new start-up called Hourly Nerd.
Hourly Nerd is a by-product of Harvard Business School’s FIELD curriculum—a fairly recent addition to HBS pedagogy and one I have written about before here and here. Soon-to-be Harvard MBAs started Hourly Nerd with the intention of matching money-starved students with time-and-money-starved businesses. The model actually reminds me of one used by crowdSPRING: a service that matches those in need of graphic design services with those who can provide them, all at a below-market price. For the record, I like the model.
When reading the aforementioned article, I could not help but be reminded of one of the most critical lessons I took away from my time in b-school. I learned this from the incredible people at The Idea Village, an entrepreneurial champion and incubator proudly based in New Orleans, Louisiana. I did a lot of work with The Idea Village; specifically, I worked as a consultant to several of their clients across a range of projects.
When smart, driven people take on short-term, limited-scope projects the expectation is that they will be able to walk in, grab all the information needed via a quick conversation, get the project done independently in only a handful of hours, and present the deliverable to an endlessly-grateful client.
Of course, this is not how things work. It always takes longer and is always more work than initially conceived by either party. Granted, this reality check is not knowledge privileged only to experts nor can it only be derived through extensive experience in the field. What often does go unnoticed or unconsidered by even the most seasoned among us, however, is the toll the outside consultant will exact on the client beyond monetary compensation.
It is easy for the consultant to feel almost as if they are doing the client a favor. What the consultant fails to realize is that every second spent by the client on this project with the consultant costs that client time and money—both resources that would have definitely been expended elsewhere and likely will be anyway.
Similarly, a paying client is often under the illusion that since someone has been hired to complete a project, the client’s major responsibilities begin and end with cutting a check. Not so. Consultants require much, much more. Not only must the scope of the project be articulated, agreed upon, and often changed throughout its course—a very demanding task, to be sure—but also the consultant must be made to understand all the soft stuff that surrounds the project. Examples of the soft include: the company culture; the history of the project to date; why the client is moving on the project now as opposed to before or after now; what can vs. what should vs. what will be done with the deliverable after the consultant finishes; overall and specific expectations of a completed project… the list goes on.
In short, the disruption caused by the consultant must be considered, respected, and taken into account. Yes, a consultant is hired to do a job and the contract is entered into voluntarily by both parties. It is unavoidable that resources must be allocated and expended—money and otherwise—to ensure the job gets done right. However, empathy for the client by the consultant can and will go a long way, both in terms of quality of process and quality of the deliverable.
Any experiences out there on this point? I’d love to hear from you.
March 28, 2013
My last retrospective was when I hit fifty. Number one hundred was overshadowed by the test change so there was not an opportunity for much fanfare. However, Elite GMAT Instructor, Justin Doff, asked me what some of my favorite posts were just after I told him that #149 was up on the blogroll. “Geez, that’s a tough one… but it’s a great idea for #150!” I replied.
Nineteen months and one hundred fifty posts later… Here is a list of some of my favorites, or at least these are posts GMAT blog readers might find interesting.
|GMAT Prep- Clean as You Go
|About the GMAT- GMAT Validity|
| Taking the GMAT- Never Cancel Your GMAT Score
|Higher Education/Academia- Business Students are as Lax as the Education They are Supposedly Receiving
| MBA- The MBA and Woody Allen
| Miscellaneous- Sustainability?
March 21, 2013
Integrated Reasoning (IR) hit the GMAT in June 2012. Here we are, nearing the end of March 2013. Schools have been receiving IR scores from applicants for the last nine months. I have been teaching the section for that long, as well. Amazingly, Kaplan’s first blog post about Integrated Reasoning was nearly three years ago on June 25, 2010, and my first of many posts involving IR was published on Halloween 2011 (although I first mentioned it in September of that same year). All this to acknowledge the notable history the IR section has already accrued and to tee us up for a little “where are they now” segment.
In September 2012, I wrote a blog post titled “Does my Integrated Reasoning score matter?” At the time, IR had been actively battling GMAT test takers for three months. On the minds of nearly all test-takers-in-training was the potential influence over an admissions decision that this new and difficult section would hold. Unsurprisingly, this concern remains quite potent. So, let’s talk it out.
A colleague of mine, Jenny Lynch, recently referred to a Bloomberg Businessweek article to discuss the evolution of how university admissions offices are utilizing IR scores—or, more accurately, learning how to utilize IR scores. These offices are focused on obtaining data, both university derived as well as data coming from GMAC. The goal is to establish IR as a valid predictor of academic performance in business school. Once this is done, schools can appropriately weight and consider IR scores within the totality of a student’s application package.
While the Bloomberg article maintains a tone suggesting imminent impact, a sober read tracks right along with the expectations we‘ve previously laid out and confirmed through research. In short, admissions committee members remain undecided on the future importance of IR scores. However, what these folks have decided is that, at present, IR scores are not important.
No doubt, Integrated Reasoning is here to stay and no doubt the score it generates will slowly gain traction at admissions offices. However, there is still over four years of valid GMAT score reports that will not contain an IR record. Additionally, the GRE is and will continue to be an accepted admissions exam in lieu of the GMAT at business schools. The GRE has both a Quant and Verbal section as well as an essay portion just as the GMAT does. However, there is nothing like IR on the GRE.
Inarguably, the GMAT is the preeminent business school admissions exam. It communicates a level of focus and dedication to securing a graduate management degree that the GRE will never be able to replicate. Integrated Reasoning strengthens the GMAT’s already powerful position. Students must take IR seriously and prepare diligently. A strong IR score can only help. A weak one could very well damage an application, especially as time marches forward.
It is vital, though, to not artificially inflate or otherwise place this new section above its deserved position. The result will lead to increased stress levels and, therefore, a correlated decrease in overall performance. While IR has the potential to communicate valuable information, it is very unlikely it will become the make-or-break message some might passively suggest. Further, one thing is absolutely certain: no matter how institutions decide to weight IR scores, the 200-800 point total score will always be the most crucial aspect of a GMAT score report.
March 15, 2013
The graduate school admissions process is extremely stressful from start to finish. And, the finish, of course, only occurs when those letters from admissions committees start rolling in. This the point at which many of you out there currently find yourselves.
A Bloomberg Businessweek article covers some incoming reports from admissions officers at many of the nation’s top schools. According to the article, most of the decisions for the Round 2 cycle will be pushed out to applicants by the end of March—the 28th to be precise.
Here is a quick summation of decision info from the schools featured in the article:
University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business:
Rnd 2 calls begin March 12th
All decisions posted by March 15th Rnd 3 decisions announced May 15th
University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business:
Rnd 2 calls begin March 20th
Rnd 3 deadline is March 28th Unaccepted applicants can register for a feedback phone call in May. Calls will be made in June
University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business:
All Rnd 2 notifications will be complete by March 28th
Rnd 3 deadline is April 4th
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School:
Rnd 2 decisions made by March 26th
Rnd 3 decisions by May 3rd
Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business:
Rnd 2 decisions pushed out by March 27th
Rnd 3 deadline is April 3rd
MIT’s Sloan School of Management:
Rnd 2 decisions released on April 2nd
No Rnd 3 at MIT
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business:
Rnd 2 notifications complete by March 18th
Rnd 3 deadline is March 21st Rnd 3 interview invitations sent by April 10th and decisions made by May 10th
Harvard Business School:
Rnd 2 notifications complete by March 27th
Rnd 3 deadline is 12:00pm EST on April 8th
Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management:
Rnd 3 decisions by April 3rd
Rnd 4 deadline is March 27th (Note: four admission rounds in a unique feature of Cornell’s admissions process)
Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management:
Rnd 2 decisions by March 21st
Rnd 3 off-campus interview request deadline is April 3rd
Rnd 3 decisions made by May 15th
March 8, 2013
The data is out for the 2011-2012 GMAT testing year (TY) and the numbers are quite interesting to review. 286,529 GMAT exams were taken (228,971 of which were from unique test takers, not the same individual retesting) and 831,337 score reports were delivered to over 5,200 graduate management programs worldwide—record numbers across the board. Also, the global trend continues in terms of US vs. non-US citizens taking the GMAT. Five years ago during TY2007-2008, US citizens comprised the majority of GMAT test-takers at 51%. By TY2008-2009, non-US citizens overtook the majority spot at a nearly equivalent percentage breakdown (49/51, US/non-US). For TY2011-2012, the chasm has grown to 41% US vs 59% non-US.
Two players of note in GMAT test taking trends for TY2012 are women and China. 122,283 women took the GMAT in TY2012—43% of the total. Women have also tracked a 4.3% average annual growth rate as opposed a 2.2% average for men. Further, more than half of the women taking the GMAT are under 25 years old, and a big chunk of that group are from China.
The numbers describing Chinese women are quite interesting, actually, and this demographic is a group that has caught my attention before. Between TY2010 and TY2012, Chinese women saw a 37% increase in total test takers. However, even more staggering was the previous year’s increase: a 98% jump! Also, of the total test takers of Chinese citizenry, women make up 65%. You are free to draw your own inferences about what this may or may not signal. Areas to contemplate include: the global economy, culture of business, and the next generation of leadership.
It is likely no surprise that the vast majority of GMAT test takers intend on using their GMAT score to pursue an MBA. In fact, the 151,387 people who marked MBA as their targeted degree is a number almost double all other stated degree intentions combined over seven categories, including undecided.