Scheduling the Test

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Well eventually you’ll get to a point when you realize you can’t wait any longer: you have to schedule the test. At this point I’m still not sure whether I’ll be ready or not, but time is ticking and test slots fill up quickly.

I’m applying to round two which means most of my application deadlines are the first week of January. I want to have time to take the test twice so I’m scheduling the first test for mid November. What a great birthday present that’ll be for me! You can only schedule the test every 31 days so I can’t take it again until late December.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t take the test at a time when you’re not used to working or focusing. For example, I work in the agency world and get in the office around 9 or 9:30 AM every day I’m also not a morning person. So it would not make sense for me to schedule a test that begins at 7AM.

Also keep in mind most test facilities require you to arrive a half hour early. Add the commute time on and you need to account for probably at least an hour of time before you even take the test.

Personally I chose to schedule the dust test at 10:30 AM and the second for 11AM. I’m also fortunate to have facilities in my area that host treating sessions on weekends. That helps minimize time off of work.

Oh and did I mention the price? Each test will set you back $250 US dollars. As if the test wasn’t already dreadful…

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What’s the Magic Score?

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We’ve all done it. Researched the average GMAT score of the school you’re interested in and then cringed. How can I ever get into that school? I’m nowhere near the average score. I need a miracle. They must only admit geniuses. I wonder what the average IQ score is for admitted students.

But what score do I really need anyway? Do I need to have a higher than average score because I’m younger than the average applicant? Would a higher than average score help because I don’t have experience in consulting or corporate finance.  I read a great article today that gave a great perspective about average GMAT scores.

If you can tackle the GMAT, schools will assume you will succeed in their programs. A promise of success is a factor in the evaluation process. If you cannot reach the average score, don’t let it keep you from applying. Harvard admits students who have scores in the 500s. I wouldn’t say this is very common, but if you have a great application, interview well and have relevant work experience, a low GMAT score might not be limiting.

I’ll end with a blurb from an article from Manhattan GMAT. You can read the full article here: http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2014/08/08/what-is-a-good-gmat-score/?utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Learn+More&utm_content=08%2F18%2F2014&utm_campaign=GMAT_Newsletter_81814

“Seriously, consider who’s telling you that you don’t actually need these crazy high scores. I work for a test prep company; our whole reason for existing (and making money!) is to help people get higher scores. If even I’m telling you that you don’t need a 750 or a 50 or 51 on quant, then believe it!”

Nail the Basics

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Does math make you cringe? I usually don’t mind math. I know, it’s weird. But really, I can do math. The highest score on my ACTs was in the math category. I took AP Calculus in high school and did well. In college I got a 4.0 in calc my freshman year at a school where 80% of the student fail at least one math class…I can do math. But, leave it to the GMAT to give me run for my money at math. I am realizing I’m going to need to spend a little extra time studying Quan. So far, here are a few tips I’ve discovered throughout my studying.

1. Know the basics

It sounds really simple, but it’s true. Relearn the basic math equations you learned in high school. Refresh yourself in geometry. When hearing rumors about the GMAT and it’s difficulty level, I thought I’d be dealing with Calc 3 type of material. Instead most of the questions are based upon general equations, but the questions have a spin on them. You’re never going to be able to answer the question if you don’t know the basics. Invest the time in memorizing common equations and geometry figures.

2. Identify the question

This seems like another no brainer, but it’s important. Some of the questions don’t ask for an answer. Seriously. Instead some of the questions ask “if you knew this piece of information, or this piece, both or neither-could you answer the question.” So instead of answering the original question, look for what they are asking for. You might not have to solve for x. Often you won’t be able to, or you won’t have enough time to.

3. Watch your timing

Time management is one of the most difficult things on this test. Generally you have just under 2 minutes to answer each question. The questions aren’t timed individually, but if you want to stay on track a general rule is to use 2 minutes per question. This is especially difficult for the Quan section. Often the problems are complicated or require calculations. Use your time wisely. What I often tell myself is I know I can answer this correctly, but I need a little more time. Usually the opposite is true. Most students get the questions wrong that they take a long time to answer. If you are getting behind in the test you might have to consider strategically guessing on a few problems to catch up.

4. Replicate test conditions

Most of the time study as if you are taking a real test. Don’t get me wrong, you need time to absorb and learn the material During that time you will need extra time to understand strategies. However, if you are taking a practice test, or working on a set of problems act as if you are taking a real test. Time yourself and don’t take breaks. DO NOT use a calculator. Mental math capabilities is a big part of this test. I would actually recommend specifically working on your mental math skills using timed sessions that evaluate timing and accuracy. Manhattan GMAT has a great tool for this. http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/05/09/everyday-ways-to-improve-your-mental-math-skills/

Well, that’s all for today. Let me know if you have any questions about these tips. And if you have any best practices for studying, send them my way!

50 Reasons to Date an MBA

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Well to kick off this weekend with a lighthearted TGIF post, here are some of my favorite reasons to date an MBA. The full list was provided by Poets and Quants and can be viewed here: http://poetsandquants.com/2014/07/26/50-reasons-to-date-an-mba-student/ Let me know which are your favorite!

The business school admissions team has already screened your dates. No criminals or deadbeats here. You’re dating the best-of-the-best. Question is, can their etiquette live up to their GMATs?

MBA students are already buried in debt. And that turns some into big spenders. I mean, what difference does paying $1000 for a romantic ski weekend make when you already owe $100,000?

MBAs make serious marriage material. Remember: Dating an MBA will impress your parents. More importantly, it’ll make your siblings raging jealous. And isn’t that what you really want anyway?

Attention Ladies: In business school, men generally outnumber women by a 2-to-1 ratio. With the dating pool acting as a living case study for supply and demand, the men must up their game. Expect plenty of roses and phone calls (and chivalrous behavior, no doubt).

Dating an MBA student could make you smarter, as some dates will expect you to do their homework. This frees them up to follow their true passions: Networking and job hunting (while practicing delegation too). Never forget, study time is considered a date.

If you’re already enrolled in an MBA program, dating another MBA will help you maximize your net worth (and increase the value of your degree too). Starting as friends – with shared passions, experiences, and philosophies – also makes for a stronger relationship (despite the whole grad school poverty thing).

MBAs have a vision. By now, they know what they’re seeking. If you last beyond three dates, there’s a good chance you fit in with their plans (Let’s just hope you know who you are and what you want).

MBAs come from all over the globe. They’ve graduated from the top schools and worked for prestigious companies in most exotic locales. This well-roundedness means they have a surplus of stories about their travels and the people they’ve met along the way. Plus, they’re probably cultured enough to order off a wine list (or understand the waiter when he curses you in Italian).

Why an MBA?

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I suppose I should back up a little bit and let you know why I’ve decided to get an MBA in the first place. Let’s be real for a minute. I’ve always been “a dork.” I like school and learning. For real. Some might think I’m a teacher’s pet. But really, I’m just a curious person and want to learn. But there is a difference between wanting to learn and deciding to pick up Rosetta Stone, and wanting to learn to support a goal.

When I graduated from college I joined the job race. I started applying everywhere and anywhere. Of course a lot of the places I applied for were in the auto industry. Us Michiganders live and breathe for auto and grew up with oil running through our veins. A lot of the jobs I saw at OEMs required a MBA. Of course I had heard of MBAs before and thought about getting one, but this is what caused me to seriously consider doing so and I began my research. The more I researched I found myself actually getting excited about going back to school. A lot of my friends could not wait to graduate from their undergrad program and actually counted down the days. Instead I am counting down the days until I begin an MBA program. I took about a year to get settled in the work place and very recently I began my journey.

Study Schedule

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Staying dedicated to a study schedule is a lot tougher than it sounds. After I’ve worked all week over 60 hours in the hectic agency world, the last thing I want to do is study GMAT material. I try to do anything else but study. I will clean the house, do chores, go grocery shopping-anything to still do something “productive” other than studying. On the upside, this is the cleanest my house has ever been.

Instead of studying when it’s convenient, for the past week I’ve implemented a new strategy. To ensure I keep a tight study schedule here’s a few tactics I’ve been following:
1. Schedule study days
If you commit yourself to specific days, you are more likely to get your studying in, instead of just “fitting it in” whenever you can figuring “you’ll get to it” at some point in the week.
2. Pick a good study spot
If you get easily distracted, pick a study spot that only allows you to study. Maybe the local library or a coffee shop.
3. Strategically study
Create a study plan that addresses your main areas of weakness.
4. Log your progress and review
Write down the number of hours you study per week and the topics covered. This will help when reviewing overall progress and can help ensure you are meeting your goals. Continuously review your progress.
5. Reward yourself
This is a long process and only the top students will be able to complete this journey. It’s something to be proud of. And of course, rewards provide motivation to continue studying. This is a psychology trick.

Time to hit the books!

Study Materials

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Alright, I can no longer delay this. It’s time to get studying. I’ve been doing some research to decide what prep materials I should use. It seems like the Official GMAT Guide is a no brainer. Insight from the actual company that creates the tests, previous test questions, and a full guide-yes please! You can find a comprehensive review of all the products offered here: http://www.mba.com/us/store/store-catalog.aspx. But to be honest, I saved a few dollars and ordered my materials off of Amazon. The Official Guide Book gives a great overview of the test format, question types, and other tips and tricks.

The only other resource I’ve tried so far is the Magoosh GMAT software. It is not as comprehensive as some of the other software programs, but it’s a great resource to get started. And it’s affordable, only about $100. The program offers study videos, examples, and questions. Is also has a dashboard to help track your progress. This software is great if you want a quick refresher in the basic areas of study to help with the Quan and Verbal portions of the exam. There are not many strategy techniques offered in this software. http://gmat.magoosh.com/ That being said, I do not recommend this as the only study materials you use for preparation, just some materials to get you started. Let me know if you have any questions!