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The Importance of Short Answer Questions in MBA Applications

The Importance of Short Answer Questions in MBA Applications

With the recent release of the 2014 HBS application, it is clear that shortening the number of essays is a trend that is here to stay for now. With only one essay on the HBS application this year, it is becoming more important than ever to not only communicate effectively and concisely, but also to leverage the balance of the application (and of course the interview) to stand out from the crowd.

The Winning Formula: MBA Applications

The Winning Formula: MBA Applications

As an MBA Admissions Consultant, an Adjunct Instructor at UCLA teaching MBA Admissions, and a college Professor, I am surprised that more MBA candidates applying to the top 20 business schools have not figured out the simple formula I followed when applying to business school 20 years ago:

MBA ACCEPTANCE = STRATEGY & PLANNING.

How Many Times Should You Take the GMAT?

How Many Times Should You Take the GMAT?

We often get asked by clients how many times they should take the GMAT before they move on to other components of the application.  Of course this largely depends on your score, but if you find yourself disappointed with your initial test results, you will generally want to try again.

Broadly speaking, schools don’t really care how many times you take the test, and will only consider your highest score.  Know that they won’t combine separate components into one score, but will consider your best overall score from one sitting as your “application score.”   Having said that, it is also generally agreed upon that schools don’t want to see applicants taking the exam a dozen times.  This can communicate negative qualities to the admission’s committee such as poor time management skills, slow learner syndrome, or good old fashioned poor judgment or misalignment of priorities.

What to Do with a Low GMAT Score

What to Do with a Low GMAT Score

One question we see from business school applicants every year is “My GMAT score was lower than I expected… What should I do now?” Candidates walk away from their GMAT test date wide-eyed and shocked that their score came in 50 points under all their practice exams.

You will surely hear over and over, that the GMAT is only a portion of your application, albeit a fairly important one. We have seen firsthand that top schools are not always lenient on incoming scores because the average GMAT has a big impact on the schools’ rankings and they can’t afford to slip from the coveted top 10 or 20 slots they so desperately try to hold.  Even lower tiered schools are beginning to see their GMAT scores climb, and every school likes to see their average score go up each year.  Last year, Stanford’s average topped 729!

New Releases: Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, & NYU Stern Admissions Preview 2013-2014

New Releases: Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, & NYU Stern Admissions Preview 2013-2014

As schools continue to release admissions deadlines and essays for the 2013-2014 application season, Veritas Prep will periodically bring you a preview of what’s to come. Already, Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, and NYU Stern have released their new application deadlines for the upcoming season, with Stern also releasing its application essay questions. Look below for the new deadlines and check back for more commentary next week!

I'm Waitlisted... Now What?

I'm Waitlisted... Now What?

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

Dear Trav,
I was waitlisted to my top choice schools. What should I do, if anything, to follow up with these schools?
– 

Getting Letters of Recommendation from Your Current Supervisor

Getting Letters of Recommendation from Your Current Supervisor

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

Dear Trav,
I want to change careers so my employer can’t know I’m applying to b-school. How should I navigate letters of recommendation if I can’t ask my direct supervisor for help?

3 Tips to Make Your Admissions Essay Stand Out

3 Tips to Make Your Admissions Essay Stand Out

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com!

Dear Trav,
Do you have any tips for writing admissions essays about myself?

Application Tips from Harvard, Stanford, and More!

Application Tips from Harvard, Stanford, and More!

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com!

Dear Trav,
I want to run my family’s business once I finish school. Is this a good story for my future goals?

Business School Applicants: Take the 2013 AIGAC Survey and Win $100!

Business School Applicants: Take the 2013 AIGAC Survey and Win $100!

Every other year, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conducts a large survey to study trends among business school applicants. The results are shared with AIGAC member consultants and with MBA programs to help them better anticipate the needs of those who will soon apply to business school.

Differentiating Finance Candidates

Differentiating Finance Candidates

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
I am a traditional finance guy. How can I best differentiate myself from everyone else who looks and sounds like me in an application?

The Reputation of Berkeley Haas

The Reputation of Berkeley Haas

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
What is the reputation of Berkeley Haas?
– 

The Game of MBA Admissions

The Game of MBA Admissions

That’s right.  I just called the MBA admissions process a Game.  And like all games, there are winners and there are losers.   Baseball Hall of Famers with the highest batting averages still strike out sometimes, and MVP Quarterbacks do fumble the ball and throw pick sixes now and again.   But they are experienced, they are trusted, and they are generally really darn good at what they do.

Timeout with Trav: Bombed HBS Interview

Timeout with Trav: Bombed HBS Interview

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
What happens if I bombed my HBS interview?
– 

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Can’t make it to campus?  No time, no money, no problem!   While it’s not an ideal situation to be in, some people have virtual interviews instead of meeting with their admissions committee face to face. Here are some tips on making the virtual (Skype) interview work for you.

Timeout with Trav: Selecting the Right Program

Timeout with Trav: Selecting the Right Program

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
How can you best determine which school or program is right for you?

While we provide services on everything from resume reviews to essay feedback to mock interviews, perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of being admitted to your target MBA program is to select the right schools. This is probably the most valuable advice we can provide, and yet most candidates completely ignore it and simply apply to the top 5 schools of their rating publication of choice. This is a huge mistake!

Take a Close Look at Your Round 3 MBA Applications

Take a Close Look at Your Round 3 MBA Applications

So you are late in the game, and you want to apply for Round 3 deadlines….   What have you got to lose other than a couple hundred dollars and some hours of your time, right?  WRONG.   Think carefully before applying and this doesn’t just apply to the last round, but all rounds of application deadlines.

Now, Every Veritas Prep Student Gets a Free Myers-Briggs Assessment!

Now, Every Veritas Prep Student Gets a Free Myers-Briggs Assessment!

Here at Veritas Prep we never stop investing in making our GMAT prep courses and MBA admissions consulting services better. And, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone achieve a high score on the GMAT, and then also helping them perfect their applications and get into an MBA program they thought was only a dream. Today, we make all of our services even better. We’re excited to announce a new resource available to everyone in the Veritas Prep family.

Timeout with Trav: No Time for Extracurricular Activities

Timeout with Trav: No Time for Extracurricular Activities

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,

My job requires me to work 80 hours a week so I have no time for extracurricular activities. How will that affect my candidacy?
– 

With so many candidates coming from Investment Banking and other industries that are notorious for long working hours, you’re certainly not alone. It’s important to understand why top-tier MBA admissions committees (Adcoms) look for extracurricular activities to know how to address a lack of them in your application.

Timeout with Trav: Starting a Business in College

Timeout with Trav: Starting a Business in College

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,

I started my own business in college, but it didn’t pan out.  Should I mention this  in my application?

Timeout with Trav: Getting Laid Off

Timeout with Trav: Getting Laid Off

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav, 

I was laid off during the recession and out of work for about a year. How will that affect my candidacy?

Clearly, this would have been a huge challenge for you and I applaud your diligence in working to overcome it!  The global financial crisis affected millions of people—both well qualified and poorly qualified. Some industries were affected more than others, and if you were in an industry such as Finance or Real Estate, this may be fairly common. However, you will need to explain any gap in employment in the optional essay in your MBA application, and a yearlong gap will need a particularly thoughtful explanation.

Timeout with Trav: Retaking the GMAT

Timeout with Trav: Retaking the GMAT

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,

My GMAT score was 700 (with a 99th percentile in quant, and a 60th percentile in verbal). Should I retake the exam?
– 

Congratulations on your 700 GMAT score!  I think people tend to think that getting a 700 is a piece of cake, but remember that only 1 in 10 test takers gets a 700+, and the population of GMAT takers is primarily college-educated, ambitious, smart people.  Top 10% is a tough crowd!

Filed in: GMAT, MBA Admissions
Timeout with Trav: Letters of Rec for MBA Applications

Timeout with Trav: Letters of Rec for MBA Applications

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
I run my own business and don’t have any managers. Who should I go to for letters of rec?
– 

We often hear that b-schools want a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, period.  There are a number of circumstances where this is not possible, and running your own business is certainly one of them.  Fear not!  Admissions officers completely understand that you don’t have a direct supervisor, and they will not hold this against you.  Instead, you should be congratulated on starting and running your own business!  This shows a great deal of leadership ability, calculated risk taking and professional maturity, all of which are highly valued by MBA programs!

Timeout with Trav: An Older Candidate

Timeout with Trav: An Older Candidate

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

I want to apply for a full time MBA program, but I am 32 years old. Am I too old for this type of program?

Deciding whether your age will be a damaging factor to your b-school application is an important question!

Timeout with Trav: GMAT or GRE for Business School?

Timeout with Trav: GMAT or GRE for Business School?

Click here to read the intro to this new blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

Timeout with Trav: Exploring a low GPA

Timeout with Trav: Exploring a low GPA

Click here to read the intro to this new blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

I had a 2.9 GPA in undergrad, although I had some extenuating circumstances. Do you think I have any chance of getting into a top-10 school?

Harvard, Wharton, Yale: What an Interview Can Show

Harvard, Wharton, Yale: What an Interview Can Show

My Harvard Business School interview was one of the most challenging obstacles I’ve ever faced in my life.  Perhaps more challenging than attending HBS itself.  It was by phone (very unusual) because I was based in Mexico and was frequently traveling to rural parts of the country.  It was timed – exactly the 30 minutes that was allotted to me.  My interviewer must have cut me off 4 or 5 times – she’d ask me a question and if she felt that she had either gotten the sufficient information or I was going in the wrong direction, she’d just stop me.  But by the end of it, I felt I’d made a good impression.  Not too good, but hopefully good enough.  There’s no way to know for sure, but it must not have gone too badly, as I was accepted first round to HBS.

An Entrepreneur at HBS

An Entrepreneur at HBS

“What do you mean you didn’t even apply to Stanford?” folks would ask me when I told them I was going to business school to learn about technology, start-ups  and entrepreneurship.  It’s a fair question – in 2012, Stanford graduated 13% entrepreneurs versus HBS’s 7%. And this doesn’t even take into account the Stanford MBA’s who drop out to start business.  So why didn’t I apply to Stanford?  Wasn’t that the clear choice for tech entrepreneurship?  What was I thinking, going to HBS to start a company?

Timeout with Trav: Applying Round 1

Timeout with Trav: Applying Round 1

Click here to read last week’s intro to this new MBA admissions series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

I’m thinking about applying to B-schools in the fall of 2013, but most deadlines are 9 or 10 months away. What should I be doing between now and then?

Timeout with Trav: Exploring MBA Admissions

Timeout with Trav: Exploring MBA Admissions

Hello aspiring MBA friends! Trav here. I’m the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and I’m excited to launch this new series on the Veritas Prep blog called “Timeout with Trav.”  Each week, I’ll take time out to answer your questions about MBA admissions, B-school life, and any other fun topics you may decide to throw my way! (Feel free to be creative!)  To ask me a question, simply email it to timeout@veritasprep.com.

MBA Admissions Reality Check: There's Only One Dilfer

MBA Admissions Reality Check: There's Only One Dilfer

Every January, two seemingly-different sets of lofty goals converge around the tale of one man; whether you’re applying to a top ten business school or trying to win the NFL’s Super Bowl, you need to remember that there’s only one Trent Dilfer.

Trent Dilfer, of course, is widely accepted as the (and we say this with admiration) worst (or maybe “least best”?) quarterback to win a modern Super Bowl, the most glaring exception to the commonly-held notion that a team needs an elite quarterback to win the NFL’s championship. Sure, teams with marginal quarterbacks say, most Super Bowls have been won by Montana, Brady, Elway, Aikman, Manning, Bradshaw, etc., but Trent Dilfer did win a Super Bowl, so we have a chance with our guy. But here’s the flaw in that reasoning — it’s easy to remember Dilfer’s name because he’s really the only one who fits that category. He’s surrounded in history by the all-time greats at the position, quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls and in other years nearly always had their teams in the hunt. Dilfer is the glaring exception, so we remember his name because he was so rare. There’s only one Trent Dilfer, so if he’s your guiding hope that your team can win with a lackluster quarterback, you’re grasping at incredibly thin odds.

Are You Thinking About Retaking the GMAT?

Are You Thinking About Retaking the GMAT?

Maybe some of you have been there: You didn’t quite break the score you were hoping to break; your quant or verbal is lower than you expected, or maybe your composite score falls below your target school’s range. Should you retake the GMAT?

For some, it may not be a tough decision. If your score is dramatically lower than you expected, and you’re very confident that you can do better, do not hesitate to take the test again. Schools commend applicants who boost their scores, and admissions officers do not penalize candidates who have taken the test more than once. They do, however, always prefer to see improvement. Think of your GMAT score as a data point. If there are two data points, and your second test score is higher than your first, admissions will conclude that you’re capable of that higher score. If they see two data points in descending order, then they may conclude that the first test score is a good indication of your best effort.

My Parent, the Boss

My Parent, the Boss

Today’s post comes from Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

How to Prep Your Recommenders

How to Prep Your Recommenders

Every component of your business school application is important, however, the recommender portion is a unique opportunity for the admissions committee to see how others perceive and evaluate you.

First, let’s cover the basics. While there is no right or wrong way to choose recommenders, most schools request at least one current or recent direct manager. Additionally, we strongly recommend that you waive your rights to read your recommenders’ submissions. This act demonstrates that you are confident in your recommenders’ abilities to advocate for your candidacy.

Distinguishing Yourself in Your MBA Applications

Distinguishing Yourself in Your MBA Applications

This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in Economics and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and went on to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. Eventually, she received her MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and is now a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for Tuck. She has experience in environmental consulting, urban education, and finance.

Dear Professor...

Dear Professor...

Today’s post comes from Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

The Mistake Question

The Mistake Question

Many business schools ask variations on the theme of making mistakes. Describe a time that you failed; what did you learn from a mistake; tell us about a time when you should have done things differently, etc. These are all possible, if not likely, essay questions that you’ll confront during the application process, either during the interview or while writing your essays. Every applicant’s background is different and arguably you are really the only one who knows about your past mistakes. However, we’re here to share some guidelines about “the mistake question” that will help you select the right kind of mistake. For the purposes of this post, we’ll discuss the mistake essay question and how you can write about it in a way that actually sheds light on your strengths.

More Thoughts on Wharton's Team-Based Discussions

More Thoughts on Wharton's Team-Based Discussions

Last week Wharton Admissions Director Ankur Kumar posted an update on how Wharton’s team-based discussions went during Round 1. It sounds as though the experience has been very positive so far, both for the school and for applicants. While we were quite skeptical when Wharton officially rolled out the team-based discussions, and still wonder how authentic the setting truly can be, it’s worth revisiting now that we have some real data coming in.

The feedback we have been hearing from students is that the discussions haven’t turned out to be the shark tanks — with applicants elbowing each other for air time — that some had feared. (We will put ourselves in this group.) If anything, the opposite has occurred, with applicants going out of their way to show how courteous they can be. Multiple outlets and our own clients have reported seeing this effect in action as the discussions have taken place.

6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

Each December, we hear from dozens of applicants just a week or two ahead of Round 2 deadlines who are seeking last-minute admissions consulting services. Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements, so we’re offering up to $1000 off admissions consulting services this week to get you started earlier! Here’s why it is so important to start now:

1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.
Every year, we see clients who expect that they can simply do a “Find & Replace” function on their MBA applications, strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. MBA applicants do this at their peril! Don’t wait until just a couple of weeks ahead of the Round 2 deadlines to start writing your essays for additional schools! Even questions that essentially ask for the exact same information (for example, “Why MBA, why now and why XYZ school,” will ask them in slightly different ways that require significant reworking. Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

Full-Time or Part-Time MBA, That Is the Question

Full-Time or Part-Time MBA, That Is the Question

Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant and UCLA Anderson MBA graduate. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study.

Full-time or part-time… That is often a question that many business school applicants gloss over and don’t even consider asking. Many MBA candidates automatically exclude part-time MBA programs assuming that the programs are either less rigorous (a check box for executive resumes), impossible to balance with work, too expensive, only for older candidates, or less beneficial for networking. While the part-time MBA program is not for everyone (and I am slightly biased as an alumna of the Fully-Employed MBA program at UCLA Anderson), here are some reasons you, a non-traditional part-time MBA candidate, might want to at least explore this possibility as you begin your business school search: