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 ...

Applying to the Right Business Schools

April 16, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Applying to the Right Business Schools You know you want to apply to business school, but there are so many schools to choose from, and you need to use your time wisely. Here are some tips in finding the right MBA programs for you. Fit, Not Rankings Ranking can be a helpful starting point, but they should NOT be your primary factor in school selection. Instead, determine the strongest programs in your areas of interest, taking into account the opportunities you can gain both inside and outside of the classroom. Does the school's curriculum and electives meet your academic needs? Do the companies you want to work for recruit on campus (and does that matter to you)? Are there extracurricular activities that will enable you to connect with like-minded students or attend relevant events? Also consider the school's location, culture, learning environment, and whether you can make connections through an active alumni network. Attend MBA Fairs MBA fairs are a great opportunity to attend admissions panels in your city. It's also a great time to pick up tips on the GMAT and speak directly with admissions officers from your target schools. Book one-on-one sessions when you can, which offer a great chance to ...

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. ...

MBA First Round Deadlines: Final Checklist

September 24, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA First Round Deadlines: Final Checklist Just about ready to turn in your MBA applications? Maybe you're still putting the finishing touches on your essays, or waiting for your recommenders to upload their writeups. Use this last-minute checklist to help you finish–and finesse–the best round one business school applications possible: Check in With Your Recommenders It has already happened to us again this year: one of our clients didn’t take our advice to give his recommenders a “fake deadline” several days before the real deadline. Minutes before the application was due, the recommender was still having trouble uploading the file, out of the country, and not returning calls. Fortunately, HBS was kind enough to offer a 24-hour grace period, but that is not the situation you want to find yourself in amist your other deadline stresses. Don't be shy about checking in with your recommenders. While you want to give them ample time and show them tremendous gratitude, it is ultimately your project to manage and your deliverable in the end. Fill out the Data Form Often, MBA applicants will wait until the last possible moment to fill out the data form (a.k.a. part one) and then find out the hard way ...

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2014

October 01, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2014 In addition to providing our own advice through the Shine blog, presentations, and private MBA admissions consulting services, each year we like to share the outside resources that our past clients found helpful on their journeys to business school. Whether you’re looking to supplement your GMAT prep, learn more about your target schools, or find new ideas on tackling a tough essay question, the Shine MBA Class of 2016 recommended that you check out the following: GMAT/GRE Prep To increase their test scores, our clients this past year took advantage of private tutors in their area, as well as the following prep courses: Manhattan Prep Veritas Prep Kaplan Princeton Review Dominate the GMAT Advantage Testing For practice exams, The Official Guide to GMAT Review by GMAC has actual GMAT questions from previous tests with answers and detailed explanations. Additionally, they recommended Beat The GMAT and GMAT Club for online forums, links and tools. School/Admissions Insights As always, they recommended the school's own websites, blogs and social media pages as your first resource. Use these pages to learn about the characteristics of ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications–Part II

September 16, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications–Part II Here is our second installment of resume FAQs, straight from our clients’ mouths. In the era of the incredible shrinking essay section, the resume has become increasingly important in the business school application process. Take the time to make sure yours is as polished a reflection of you as the rest of your application is. I’ve seen job entries written several different ways. Which one is right? While there’s no rule, we feel that the strongest job entries begin with a few lines describing your general roles and responsibilities. What were you hired to do every day? This paragraph can also include big picture details about the business, such as annual revenue and growth trends. Then below that, list three to five bullet points highlight your ownable achievements, notable projects or awards. This approach shows the reader not only what your job was, but exactly how you added value in that role. Be very specific about your accomplishments, quantify everything possible, and take credit where credit is due. If you created a system to save the company $125K in operating costs, say so. Even better, don’t just say that you did it; explain why you did it and how. Use vibrant details to describe the impact you ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications

August 20, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications Applying for business school means crafting an outstanding resume that exhibits your talent, clarifies your work experience, and shows off your leadership roles, all while convincing them that you can handle the rigors of a top MBA program. Whew! While schools are not going to reject you for minor details, like whether you list your work experience before your education, there are some legitimate dos and don’ts. Here are some responses to some of our commonly asked questions:   How much time must I spend finessing this? It’s just the resume. Your resume makes the first impression in your application. In that moment, admissions officers develop a crucial first sense of who you are, what you do, what you've done, and how much value you added along the way. They get a glimpse into your organization skills (does it have a logical flow?), your attention to detail (is your punctuation consistent?), and your ability to communicate with someone outside your industry (is it written in Greek?)—all of which goes into their assessment of whether you’d fit in well to the business school environment. How long should my resume be? The rule is: one resume page for every 10 years of work experience. For the typical MBA applicant, this means your ...

Getting the Best MBA Recommendations

August 06, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Getting the Best MBA Recommendations An important component of the MBA application is the recommendations. While it seems that this piece may be out of your control, you can do plenty to ensure that your recommendations shine as brightly as the rest of your application. Who are the Right People to Ask? I’m often approached for advice on who candidates should ask to write their recommendations. You have to choose the right people—that is, those to whom you have reported in some way, formally or informally.  People who were in a position to judge you.  And, most importantly, people who have worked with you directly and can speak about you from their firsthand experience. An ideal set of recommenders can talk about you from varying perspectives (rather than two people from the same project team). They also think extremely highly of you, and they are willing to spend the time writing about it to help you achieve your dreams. Should you make an effort to ask an alum of the school to which you’re applying? If all things are equal, then sure, why not. If you’re choosing between two great options, it can't hurt for the admissions committee to see an endorsement from someone personally invested in the school.  ...

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 ...

Planning Timeline for MBA Applicants

July 08, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Planning Timeline for MBA Applicants Are you ready to apply to business school this year? Maybe you’ve been prepping for the GMAT or staring at your resume, unsure of what to say. Think you can’t do much right now? Think again! It’s time to start thinking ahead to when you will be applying and how you can make the most of these early months. You’ll be a stronger candidate that’s not only ahead of the curve, but also (hopefully) a little less stressed about the process! 5-6 Months Out Use this time to assess and evaluate. Do you still need to take the GMAT or GRE? Now is the perfect time, considering how time-consuming preparation will be. Are you dissatisfied with your GMAT score? Sign up for new prep classes. Or if you feel like your undergraduate coursework wasn’t top notch, then take--and ace!--a local or online course in accounting, finance or statistics. At this point, you should definitely be scouring school websites to identify the best MBA programs for you. Ask yourself the tough questions: beyond ranking and reputation, does the school offer what you truly need? Does it offer coursework that will help you achieve your career goals? ...

EJ, Chicago Booth MBA

June 04, 2014  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

EJ, Chicago Booth MBA I very much enjoyed working together with Shine during my MBA applications, which resulted in five interviews and four acceptances (out of six applications) including a successful re-application to Chicago Booth. Throughout the application process I was constantly amazed by the speed of delivery, the structured approach and the level of attention to details from Hillary. I was based in Europe and Hillary was always prepared to work around the time difference, even if it means she will have to work outside of her office hours. Hillary showed a genuine interest in my application, and her passion as well as her sense of humour made our teamwork most pleasant. I strongly recommend Hillary's assistance. - EJ (London, United Kingdom)

Matt, Wharton MBA

April 23, 2014  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Matt, Wharton MBA Hillary was extremely helpful during my MBA application process, which ended in my enrollment at Wharton. Her materials spurred my idea-generation for essays, and her clear checklists gave me structure during the sometimes messy application process. Her personal touch during calls/over email made her a pleasure to work with and helped me keep my sanity before interviews/decision days! I highly recommend Shine to anyone getting ready to dive into the application process. - Matt (New York, NY)  

Branding yourself for business school applications

July 24, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Branding yourself for business school applications We believe that the MBA admissions process is inherently a marketing exercise.  This does not mean “spinning your story” to impress the admissions committee or telling them what you think they want to hear.  It means, presenting your authentic self in the best light possible.  It means taking a premium product (YOU) and wrapping it in beautiful packaging, showing off your true colors inside, then adding a well-written label that lets your personality shine through, so that you stand out from all of the others. And as any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to market a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for.  Similarly, before jumping into the application-writing process, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of understanding about yourself. You may have heard the terms “brand identity” or “brand positioning statement.”  Coming up with your personal brand is a very similar exercise.  While there are a number of meaningful elements that comprise the branding process, we recommend that you focus on these 5, and you’ll be off to a running start: Vision ...

Geoff, Purdue Krannert MBA

January 01, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Geoff, Purdue Krannert MBA Hillary was a breath of fresh air when it came to the MBA application process. She took a great deal of time and offered clear advice from her many years of experience. It is no wonder why so many of her clients get into the top schools of their choice. - Geoff (Chicago, IL)

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, ...