How Are the GMAT and GRE Relevant to Business School Success?

November 11, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

How Are the GMAT and GRE Relevant to Business School Success? The following guest blog post was written by Brian Prestia of Reason GMAT: For many prospective business school applicants, their first encounter with the GMAT or GRE comes as a bit of a shock.  The predominant reaction is:  What the heck does this stuff have to do with business school anyway?  Geometry, rate questions, correcting grammatical errors…how can this be the measure of potential success in business school? The Real Nature of the GMAT and GRE What most people don’t realize is that the GMAT and GRE are really reasoning tests -– they give business schools a view into applicants logical reasoning, problem solving, and analytical abilities. Sure, a firm grasp of the quantitative and verbal foundation of these questions helps, but that’s not all it takes. And a less-than-perfect grasp of the foundation can often be overcome by good, old-fashioned reasoning and smart problem solving. Business schools know that incoming students are going to be inundated with lots and lots of new information. They are not looking for students who can memorize and regurgitate that information; they are looking for people who can think critically and solve problems creatively. The GMAT and GRE are designed to reward those kinds of skills and punish ...

The GMAT: To Retake or Not to Retake

May 01, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The GMAT: To Retake or Not to Retake Virtually all business school applicants worry about whether their GMAT (or GRE) score is good enough for their target schools. If you’re deliberating whether it’s worth retaking the exam, the following might help you make your decision. How Prepared Were You, Really? How many weeks/months did you study? Did you use the best materials available, whether through a prep course or independent study? Did you take several full-length practice tests in test-like conditions (e.g. timed, no distractions, without stopping)? If you didn’t truly give preparation your all, you will likely be surprised to see how much you can improve with a head-down, intensive study effort. For a personal anecdote, I came into my prep course scoring a 590. 6 weeks later, after a hardcore study effort, I earned a 740 on test day. GMAT tutors regularly score 800s when they sit for the exam – are they all prodigies, or freaks of nature? No. They’ve just dedicated themselves to mastering the material. And you can too. It’s entirely learnable. Did You Face Extenuating Circumstances on Test Day? Were you completely prepared only to find yourself sick the morning of the exam? Or distracted by a major ...

Advice for the AWA and IR Sections of the GMAT

April 01, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Advice for the AWA and IR Sections of the GMAT The following guest blog post was written by Rich Carriero of NextStep Test Prep: Analytical Writing Assessment As you likely know, The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essay is the first section of the GMAT. The task is for you to read and analyze a short argument and then critique it on the basis of its use of logic and data. One of the most important things to remember is that you must not take sides. Rather, consider your position like that of a professor grading a term paper: you are not so much concerned with the inherent truth or falsehood of the writer’s position as you are with how well constructed, supported and reasoned you find the argument to be. Planning the essay begins with dissecting the stimulus. You must determine what is the author’s conclusion, what evidence does the author use to support this conclusion and what are the gaps are between the evidence and conclusion--the assumptions. There are many types of assumptions but they can generally be divided into unproven premises the author is taking for granted and potential outside factors the author is ignoring. Dealing with your assumptions will be the meat of your essay. For example, your stimulus ...

MBA Application Planning Timeline: 2015-2016

March 02, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Application Planning Timeline: 2015-2016 Planning to apply to business school this fall? Though it’ll still be a few months before applications are released, there's plenty you can do now to get ahead of the curve and reduce your stress when crunch time approaches. 6 Months Before the Deadline If you still need to take (or retake) the GMAT or GRE, now is a great time. Not only can you give it your undivided attention but you also give yourself wiggle room should you need to take the exam again. If you’re lacking in certain aspects of your undergraduate profile (limited quantitative experience, poor grades in business courses), you could also use this time to ace a local or online course in finance, statistics, or accounting. It’s never to late to show the admissions committee that you can handle the academic rigors of the program. Additionally, this is a good time to reflect upon your leadership experience. If you fall short, find or create ways to take on more responsibility. Propose improving an area of your organization that is in need. Step up to be the captain of your recrational soccer team. If your personal passions have been pushed by the wayside, reconnect with them. Volunteer at the animal shelter. ...

Which Test to Take: GMAT vs GRE

February 23, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Which Test to Take: GMAT vs GRE Many MBA programs are now willing to accept GRE scores in lieu of the GMAT. The question is, which test should you take? Do Your Target Schools Accept the GRE? Before you get too excited about closing your GMAT books forever, research what your target business schools have to say about the GRE. Some schools feel that the GMAT is still the best exam for their needs, and while they accept the GRE, they may state a clear preference for the GMAT. Others deny the GRE outright. Know the requirements for each school before committing to an exam. Which One Plays to Your Strengths? Both the GMAT and GRE assess your verbal and quantitative reasoning, writing, and critical thinking, though each tests these concepts in different way. If English is your second language, you may have an easier time with the GMAT since it does not directly test vocabulary. If you are a non-traditional candidate with a limited quantitative background, you may prefer the GRE which is considered less quantitatively rigorous. (Conversely, quant jocks and financiers who shy away from the GMAT may raise a few eyebrows.) What is Your Past Exam History? Did you already take the GRE ...

Taking the GMAT vs. the GRE

July 29, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Taking the GMAT vs. the GRE Did you know that many MBA programs now accept GRE scores in place of the GMAT? The question is: which test will play best to your strengths and demonstrate that you're the most capable candidate? Make Sure Your Target Business Schools Accept the GRE Before you get too excited about the prospect of throwing away your GMAT books, make sure your dream schools accept the GRE. Some MBA programs still only accept the GMAT, citing that it more directly tests the analytical and quantitative concepts you'll need to utilize in business school. Others do accept the GRE, yet they state a clear preference for the GMAT. Know what the admissions requirements are at each school you’re targeting before you commit to an exam. GMAT vs GRE Structure While both tests assess verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and writing, the way in which these tests ask you questions varies. It's similar material being presented in different ways, which means that for some people, the GMAT makes perfect sense, but for others, the GRE approach is more intuitive. Only the GRE tests vocabulary, which could be a challenge for those for whom English is a second language. However, the GRE is a bit shorter in time ...

Retaking the GMAT: 3 Ways to Know It’s Time

July 24, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Retaking the GMAT: 3 Ways to Know It’s Time Are you wondering whether your GMAT is “good enough?” Did you nail a 740 total score but bomb one section? Did you fall just short of a threshold you were aiming for? Not long ago, one top-five school examined the profiles of students who struggled in their MBA program, and they had one thing in common: low GMAT scores. This is NOT to say that a low GMAT score is a predictor of failure in business school; rather, a high GMAT score is generally a predictor of success. It gives the admissions committee confidence that you can handle the academic aspects of the program. Your GMAT score is therefore a very important component of your MBA application, though it’s not the only factor. Here are three ways to know whether you should consider retaking the exam. 1. Is Your Score in the Mid-80% of Accepted Students? Most schools publish the range in which the middle 80% of their students’ GMAT scores have fallen. For example, Wharton's GMAT range of accepted students last year was 630-790, but the middle 80% of students fell between 690-760. That means if you’ve scored in the mid-to-upper 700s, you have a very competitive score for Wharton. Conversely, if ...

Katie, Northwestern Kellogg MBA

April 02, 2014  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Katie, Northwestern Kellogg MBA The team at Shine was integral to my admission offer to my dream program at Kellogg. I came to Shine after retaking the GMAT, but still feeling insecure about my competitive position. Coming from an non-traditional background with 10+ years of work experience I wasn’t sure how schools would consider my application. Hillary helped me to organize my application as a package that brought out my strengths in areas I considered weaknesses. She also encouraged me to look to schools that I had considered out of my reach, such as Kellogg. Tactically, the resume review and editing services were extremely helpful and the essay brainstorming and editing process was critical to my success. When I got off the phone from the Admissions Officer at Kellogg after receiving my offer of admission, the first and only thing I could think to do was text Hillary to say “Holy s*$^! I got in to Kellogg!!!” - Katie (Denver, CO)

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them)

July 10, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them) July is here--and you may be feeling the pressure to finalize your business schools target list and begin strategizing for those first-round essays.  Your instincts wouldn’t be steering you wrong.  The question though is which schools, and how many of them, should you choose. Rankings: For Entertainment Use Only Rankings can certainly be a helpful starting point to build your initial b-schools list. (The latest rankings are always available in the notes section of our Facebook page.) However, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Each of them measures different criteria: Forbes calculates ROI five years after graduation, Businessweek looks closely at student and recruiter satisfaction, US News includes GMAT/admissions selectivity as well as a survey of MBA program leaders.  Which is why a phenomenal program like Yale SOM is ranked everywhere from #8 to #24, depending on who you ask. Instead, through your own research, identify the strongest programs in your areas of interest.  Consider opportunities to gain knowledge and connections both inside and outside of the classroom.  Rank them for yourself.  And then, weigh the other factors that will help you determine if the school is ...

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference

July 03, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference After attending our annual AIGAC MBA admissions conference in Philly—and tweeting up a storm—I stand before you armed with insights directly from the mouths of the admissions directors who’ll be reading your future applications. In attendance were Wharton, Columbia, Tuck, NYU Stern, Yale, Cornell Johnson, Texas McCombs, UNC and others—as well as representatives from GMAC, test prep companies big and small, and fellow AIGAC consultants deliberating the hot issues of today’s admissions process. Here are a few of the highlights: We first dissected AIGAC’s annual applicant survey results, administered by Huron Consulting Group and completed by this past year’s applicant pool.  Among the takeaways:  respondents spent 70-110 hours on their applications (plus another 21-30 hours on GMAT prep)!  50% scored a 700+ on the GMAT.  And 57% used an admissions consultant last year—99% of whom would recommend that future applicants do the same. Of strong interest was the issue of candidates being asked to write their own recommendations—a definite admissions mistake.  (Our recent post “Securing the strongest MBA recommendations” tells you why, and offers our advice).  38% of survey respondents faced this very ethical dilemma last year.  Be on the lookout for ...

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage)

May 09, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage) It’s MBA tour season again. And along with it comes our advice for using these events to your benefit in the admissions process. First, the what MBA tours, or fairs, are like job fairs for business school candidates.  Traveling city to city, they offer a great opportunity for you to attend panels, accumulate admissions and GMAT advice, speak 1×1 with admissions officers from your target schools, pick up brochures, and evaluate which programs are the best fits for you. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the front lines, and make connections with prospective applicants. Why bother? I can just do my school research online, can’t I?  Yes, and you absolutely should.  However, attending an MBA fair can expose you to programs you may not have considered.  It enables you to hear diverse panelist perspectives on topics that will help you in the admissions process. And it gives you the unique chance to get your questions answered firsthand, demonstrate your passion for your target programs, and make a favorable impression on the admissions representatives well before you even apply. (And they will remember you.) How ...

Resources for MBA applicants

February 06, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA applicants In addition to the insights that we provide through our blog, speaking engagements, and 1x1 MBA admissions consulting services, each year we always like to take stock of the additional resources that our clients found valuable in preparing their applications.  Whether you’re focused on nailing your GMAT or preparing for that final interview, here are some of our clients’ personal recommendations for future MBA candidates: GMAT Preparation Kaplan Manhattan GMAT Veritas Prep Princeton Review "The Official Guide to GMAT Review," by GMAC Beat The GMAT blog Admissions/School Insights Shine blog (Illuminations) School websites, admissions office blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, campus visits “How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs” by Richard Montauk “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays,” by Dan Erck Beat The GMAT blog Business Week MBA articles GMAT Club “Calling All Applicants” threads Clear Admit blog Admissionado (formerly Precision Essay) newsletter MBAadmission.com blog Alumni/Student Conversations School admissions offices LinkedIn Interview Prep Shine blog (Illuminations) Clear Admit interview reports [For more information about preparatory resources or general MBA admissions consulting, please contact: ...

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process

November 21, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process With Thanksgiving upon us, this seems a perfect time to think about all of the people who have helped you in the MBA admissions process thus far. Very often, in the throes of essay writing and interview prep, we get lost in your own heads.  We’re sleep-deprived, focused on our own deliverables, balancing full-time jobs on top of it all.  Perhaps we’ve even felt the heartbreak of receiving disappointing news from one of our dream schools. We’re likely not thinking about too many other people right now. However, it’s never too early, or too late, to show your appreciation to those who have given their time and support to you through the admissions process. First and foremost, your recommenders.  They’ve spent hours upon hours hearing your story, preparing their write-ups, glowing about you, and doing everything within their power to help you get accepted to business school.  Secondly, your friends and family.  The ones who’ve diligently proofread your essays, encouraged you to aim high, listened to you complain, and missed spending time with you as you holed up with your computer.  Thirdly, all of the alumni, students, and faculty members you may ...

The Months Before Applying To Business School

May 01, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The Months Before Applying To Business School So, you are planning to apply to business school this fall. Anxiously, you’re awaiting the release of the essay questions you’ll have to answer, possibly studying for the GMAT as we speak, and likely feeling a bit hopeless that there isn’t more you can do NOW.  The good news is, there is.  If you make the most of this waiting period over the next few months, you’ll not only be ahead of the game, you may strengthen your candidacy as well. Resume There’s no need to wait to update your resume.  Certainly leave room underneath your current position for additional updates, but your past positions won’t be changing.  Take the time now to think through all of your professional accomplishments, roles and responsibilities.  Remind yourself of all of your community and leadership positions, your hobbies and personal interests, your activities and committees.  It’s actually the ideal way to kick off the brainstorming needed for your applications. Recommenders Identify your target recommenders and approach them now to ask them if they’d be willing to write your recommendations.  Look at past applications to familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked, ...

When To Re-Take The GMAT

August 05, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

When To Re-Take The GMAT Raise your hands if you’ve ever second-guessed whether your GMAT score is good enough. Now, keep your hands raised if you’ve scored over 720 and wondered the same thing.  Thought so.  Hands down please. There are very few applicants who haven’t at least wondered, if not worried, whether their candidacy is at risk due to their GMAT score. Here are a few considerations to help you make this assessment for yourselves: There’s no such thing as a deal breaker Those that have attended one of my "How To Get Into The Top Business Schools" presentations can tell you that this is a dominant theme. Other than an ethical violation, there really is no one element that would take an otherwise qualified candidate out of the running. My favorite example comes from the Harvard MBA Class of 2013 profile. The GMAT range of students in the incoming class is 490-790.  490!!!  Is this a good target GMAT score for anyone applying to HBS?  No, no it is not. It does however prove that if you’re an extraordinary candidate, you are going to get your chance.  (On a ...