Does Your College Pass the “Broken Leg Test”?

Run OnDon’t worry, college-bound high school students – this post is not about another test you have to take. I’m sure you’ve had just about enough of testing for a while! The “broken leg test” is a term that I learned from a family friend, and it has to do with the college search process.

For athletes that want to continue to play sports in college, there’s another aspect of looking at schools: finding a college sports team that you like and that will take you. But my family friend’s advice to athletes was to make sure that the search for a good athletic program didn’t overshadow the search for a good academic and social fit. He told athletes to consider whether they would still like the school they wanted to go to if they got injured and were no longer able to be on the sports team. Hence, the broken leg test.

This is, first-and-foremost, good advice for athletes. Sports are, of course, a big part of school for athletes, but college is too big an investment for athletics to be the only consideration. Applying the broken leg test is a good way to make sure that an athlete’s college choice is well-reasoned and positions the athlete well for the future, no matter what injuries may occur.

The idea of the broken leg test can be valuable for non-athletes, too. Making sure that your college choice isn’t disproportionately based on one factor is a smart thing to do. It forces you to think broadly about the aspects you want your college to have, and not get caught up in one little detail that catches your eye. There are so many things to love about college, and life is so unpredictable, that you’re more likely to be happy if your reasons for choosing a school are numerous.

Consider the following example: Imagine a student – let’s call her Caroline – really likes College X. She visited College X during a special concert performance on campus and loved the performers and the atmosphere. However, with a careful application of the broken leg test, Caroline should be wary of putting too much stock in this one experience. Possibly, the concert doesn’t usually draw as talented of artists, or the student body acts much differently on normal days of the week. Would Caroline still be happy at College X if concerts and other events like this weren’t nearly as good when she went to the school? Only if the answer is yes should Caroline still consider attending College X.

So, for athletes and non-athletes alike, the idea of the broken leg test is a good thing to keep in mind when choosing a college to attend. If, for some reason, you were unable to participate in one major college activity you had planned to participate in, would you still be happy at the school you chose? Keeping that question in mind is a good way to make sure that even if something drastic happens, your college choice is still a good one.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Tackle Kellogg’s 2016-2017 Video Essays

Kellogg MBA Admissions GuideNorthwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has double downed on the recent trend of video essays, bringing back their video essay for another year. Kellogg has continued to tweak the questions and format over the years but the general premise and ways to succeed in this aspect of their application have remained consistent.

As far as the operational aspects go, you have a week to complete the video essays after submission of your application – the video essays themselves are pretty straightforward and should be approached as such. I believe that these video essays are genuinely used so that the admissions committee can “get to know” the candidate on a more personal level. Therefore, the applicant should try to be friendly and open about the questions (while still being appropriate, of course) rather than overly stiff and formal.

The video essays can also be used as another way for the Admissions Committee to get a little glimpse into the personality traits of applicants. This is not something that will be really tricky or challenging, such as a mini-case – it is much more personal.

Kellogg is looking to see how you come across in an unscripted, conversational moment. The important thing to remember here is to convey calm confidence and answer the question directly within the time allotted. The good thing about these video essays is that you have a bank of 10 practice questions to prep with, so utilize this to get a feel for the questions and the technology. I would also recommend practicing a few responses for timing purposes to see how long or short a minute really is.

This is the kind of thing where I think over-preparation could potentially backfire, since you don’t know what the questions will be (outside of video prompt #2, which the school has made publicly available to all). Remember, the objective of the exercise is to be yourself and have fun, so be ready to be flexible in your responses to what you are asked. Your personality should be consistent with who you have portrayed yourself to be in the application (which should be in line with who you really are) while factoring how the Admissions Committee perceives you (young candidate, international, brain, etc.).

Prep some responses to common questions under each of the prompt categories, but keep in mind that these questions are not meant to be brain teasers, just personal questions you should have sorted through about yourself and your interest in the school prior to completing your application. One question will be Kellogg-focused, another will be more personal and the last will exploring a challenge you have faced.

Finally, try and have a good structure in your responses to the questions – communication is obviously one of the major elements being tested here, so stay poised and show off that executive presence Kellogg values so much.

For more thoughts on Kellogg, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Kellogg or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Explain Work Gaps in Your MBA Applications

ChecklistIf you have a prolonged gap in activity – either at school or at work – on your resume, you probably already know that explaining it can be difficult. Being open and ready to address this “hole” in your profile with the Admissions Committee will greatly benefit your application. Let’s examine the two major ways you can tackle work and education gaps in your business school essays and interviews:

Be Open and Ready
Be prepared to answer questions from the Admissions Committee regarding your gap. Being ready to discuss your gap will allow you to be composed when asked about it during your interview. An honest demeanor will help keep the interview on the right track, while allowing you to explain the context of the gap. Addressing this openly in your essays also gives you the chance to take control of the message and show your character, personality, and purpose.  

Over the years, I have had successful clients who had gaps in their educational or professional history be admitted to top programs. Reasons for these gaps have ranged from choosing to take a break to explore other countries, to taking care of the family business, to recovering from illness. Being forthcoming about the reasons for these interruptions helped demonstrate their authenticity and made it easier for the Admissions Committee to appreciate their personal growth.

Add Another Dimension
Explaining the reason for your breaks will also allow the Admissions Committee to gain more insights about your personal life story and your priorities. For instance, an applicant who had to overcome personal issues to eventually complete his undergraduate degree reflected thoughtfully that his struggles at that key point allowed him to build resilience and empathy – the same qualities that have formed the foundation of his leadership principles. Communicated sincerely, a message like this will come across powerfully, especially when supported with the context of applicable leadership activities you may have taken on during, or after, your gap.

Another applicant had to take over the family business due to his father’s illness while he was still studying. Doing so helped shape his sense of responsibility at a young age, and his maturity served him well in taking on early leadership roles. Experiences such as these are attractive, as business schools look for applicants with strong leadership potential.

Additionally, your travels can be used to show your international motivation, openness to new experiences, and ability to relate to diverse cultures. Sharing your involvement with worthy organizations while you are on break will also give a peek into the causes you hold dear. Highlight this whenever possible, as it will show your personal enrichment and act as a unique addition to your profile.

To conclude, don’t be too secretive about your education or work gaps. Instead, use your gap as an opening to connect with the Admissions Committee on an even deeper level.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Early Thoughts on MIT Sloan’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

MITApplication season at MIT Sloan is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

This year, Sloan has made some changes that echo prompts used in the past. Let’s explore how to best approach your responses:

Cover Letter:
Please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions. (250 words)
This year, Sloan brings back its “Cover Letter” essay, which it retired a few years back. Sloan was one of the schools that ushered in this recent trend of non-traditional essay prompts. Your response here is limited to only 250 words so it is important to be even more concise as you address the prompt.

Given the word count, it may make sense to leverage a story-like narrative to touch on a few relevant personal accomplishments that distill your goals, passion, values and interests. The key here is to orient your response around Sloan’s core values that have always been heavily influenced by the ability to problem solve and drive impact. So with these factors in mind, really think about what you can uniquely bring to the student community at Sloan.

Do not limit your impact just to the Sloan community – MIT alumni have impacted the world in many different forms so think about how the school can be the impetus for you to do the same. This is where research comes in handy, so do your due diligence. Keep in mind, with the tight word limit you don’t want to stray far away from the prompt, so stay focused on the type of support you choose to include in your response.

Similar essay prompts in the past have asked applicants to “describe accomplishments” and/or “address extenuating circumstances,” so keep these elements in mind as well as you structure your response.

Optional Essay:
The Admissions Committee invites you to share additional information about yourself, in any format. If you choose a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us with the URL. (500 words or 2:00 minutes)
Not all optional essays should be considered optional, and in this case I suggest candidates utilize this essay accordingly. This essay is a really an opportunity for Sloan to get to know you, and with so few other touchpoints in the application process, you should make the most of this space.

Sloan gives candidates a pretty good runway on this one with a lengthy word and multimedia count (as far as “optional” essays go), but you will still want to keep things focused. Use as much of the real estate as you need for your answer and none more. You should really use this space to get personal; it is a great opportunity to differentiate yourself so make sure it is not something you have previously covered elsewhere in your essays.

Just a few thoughts on the essays from Sloan – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on MIT and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to MIT Sloan or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How Are College Applications Actually Evaluated?

GMATThe Common Application is live! Most (if not all) college applications are now available for you to access, meaning that application season is officially here! We here at Veritas Prep get very excited about this time of year – we connect with students all around the world who are ready to tackle applications to their dream schools. We are inspired to come to work every day because we get to work with the most ambitious students and help them reach their most ambitious goals.

We’re a team of college admissions nerds experts who have a unique insider’s perspective to how college applications are actually read and evaluated by admissions committees. As the 2016/17 application season officially begins, we wanted to provide you this insider look into our 4 Dimensions of a College Applicant. When admissions committees read their hundreds of applications a year, they are looking to evaluate candidates through these 4 dimensions:

Dimension 1: Academic Achievements
Your academic achievements demonstrate that you’ve mastered high school academics, but most importantly, they indicate to admissions committees how you’ll be able to handle the academic rigors at their school if you are admitted. To evaluate your academic achievements, admissions committees will review your:

  • GPA: This is a predictor of your academic performance in college; how well you did in high school may be directly related to how well you’ll do in college courses.
  • Class Rank (if your school provides rankings): Class rank gives admissions officers a bit more context for your grades in comparison to how your classmates performed.
  • AP/IB/Honors Coursework: Admissions committees will want to know which courses are offered at your high school and if you took advantage of all that your school had to offer.
  • High School Profile: Your high school profile allows admissions committees to see where your high school stands compared to other high schools in the nation/world.
  • Standardized test scores: The SAT & ACT provide colleges with a standard scale to compare you to all other applicants. While your GPA may have less room for change, your SAT or ACT score is more in your control. A higher standardized test score can help mitigate the effects of a low GPA.
  • Recommendations: You may not suspect that recommendations play into your academic achievements, but admissions committees read these letters and look for your teacher’s perspective on your abilities and achievements in the classroom.
  • Final grades: Although it may seem impossible to stave off senioritis, do your best to keep your grades up! Your final grades do count – in our years of experience, we unfortunately have seen students have their offers of admission revoked because their grades dropped second semester of senior year.

Dimension 2: Match & Fit Factors
The most selective schools in the nation often report that 75% of their applicants are qualified for admission. Since they, unfortunately, do not admit all of the students who may be academically qualified to attend, admissions committees look carefully for match and fit factors. Essentially, they’re looking for the right group of students who accurately and creatively represent themselves in their applications in a way that demonstrates their perfect fit for the campus culture, academics and community. When admissions evaluates your match and fit factors, they’ll be looking closely at your:

  • Personal Statement: This is where you can really let your personality and passions shine!
  • Vision for the Future: The personal statement should shed light on what you are thinking about pursuing in college and beyond. Don’t worry too much about completing the goals that you write about as we know that this might change over time, but demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have ambitions (and make them believe in these, too).
  • Potential for Success: Colleges love to brag about their alumni and celebrate their students’ accomplishments. When they read your personal statement and supplemental essays, they’re going to be looking for successful students who will bring that same level of success to their campus.
  • Interest In and Knowledge of the College: With students applying to an average of 10+ schools these days, colleges really want to know that students actually want to attend their school. There are several places in the application where you can show your interest in and passion for a school. Admissions committees want to know that if they offer you a place in their freshman class, you will likely attend.

The other two Dimensions of a College Applicant will be integral in the success of your applications. Want to know what they are and how to make sure you’re submitting the strongest applications? Attend one of our upcoming online free college workshops led by one of our college admissions experts. Sign up for free here!

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

Advanced Number Properties on the GMAT – Part VI

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomMost people feel that the topic of number properties is hard or at least a little tricky. The reason is that no matter how much effort you put into it, you will still come across new concepts every time you sit with some 700+ level problems of this topic. There will be some concepts you don’t know and will need to “figure out” during the actual test. I came across one such question the other day. It brought forth a concept I hadn’t thought about before so I decided to share it today:

Say you have N consecutive integers (starting from any integer). What can you say about their sum? What can you say about their product?

Say N = 3
The numbers are 5, 6, 7 (any three consecutive numbers)
Their sum is 5 + 6 + 7 = 18
Their product is 5*6*7 = 210
Note that both the sum and the product are divisible by 3 (i.e. N).

Say N = 5
The numbers are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (any five consecutive numbers)
Their sum is 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 20
Their product is 2*3*4*5*6 = 720
Again, note that both the sum and the product are divisible by 5 (i.e. N)

Say N = 4
The numbers are 3, 4, 5, 6 (any five consecutive numbers)
Their sum is 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 18
Their product is 3*4*5*6 = 360
Now note that the sum is not divisible by 4, but the product is divisible by 4.

If N is odd then the sum of N consecutive integers is divisible by N, but this is not so if N is even.
Why is this so? Let’s try to generalize – if we have N consecutive numbers, they will be written in the form:

(Multiple of N),
(Multiple of N) +1,
(Multiple of N) + 2,
… ,
(Multiple of N) + (N-2),
(Multiple of N) + (N-1)

In our examples above, when N = 3, the numbers we picked were 5, 6, 7. They would be written in the form:

(Multiple of 3) + 2 = 5
(Multiple of 3)       = 6
(Multiple of 3) + 1 = 7

In our examples above, when N = 4, the numbers we picked were 3, 4, 5, 6. They would be written in the form:

(Multiple of 4) + 3 = 3
(Multiple of 4)        = 4
(Multiple of 4) + 1 = 5
(Multiple of 4) + 2 = 6
etc.

What happens in case of odd integers? We have a multiple of N and an even number of other integers. The other integers are 1, 2, 3, … (N-2) and (N-1) more than a multiple of N.

Note that these extras will always add up in pairs to give the sum of N:

1 + (N – 1) = N
2 + (N – 2) = N
3 + (N – 3) = N

So when you add up all the integers, you will get a multiple of N.

What happens in case of even integers? You have a multiple of N and an odd number of other integers. The other integers are 1, 2, 3, … (N-2) and (N-1) more than a multiple of N.

Note that these extras will add up to give integers of N but one will be leftover:

1 + (N – 1) = N
2 + (N – 2) = N
3 + (N – 3) = N

The middle number will not have a pair to add up with to give N. So when you add up all the integers, the sum will not be a multiple of N.

For example, let’s reconsider the previous example in which we had four consecutive integers:

(Multiple of 4)      = 4
(Multiple of 4) + 1 = 5
(Multiple of 4) + 2 = 6
(Multiple of 4) + 3 = 3

1 and 3 add up to give 4 but we still have a 2 extra. So the sum of four consecutive integers will not be a multiple of 4.

Let’s now consider the product of N consecutive integers.

In any N consecutive integers, there will be a multiple of N. Hence, the product will always be a multiple of N.

Now take a quick look at the GMAT question that brought this concept into focus:

Which of the following must be true?
1) The sum of N consecutive integers is always divisible by N.
2) If N is even then the sum of N consecutive integers is divisible by N.
3) If N is odd then the sum of N consecutive integers is divisible by N.
4) The Product of K consecutive integers is divisible by K.
5) The product of K consecutive integers is divisible by K!

(A) 1, 4, 5
(B) 3, 4, 5
(C) 4 and 5
(D) 1, 2, 3, 4
(E) only 4

Let’s start with the first three statements this question gives us. We can see that out of Statements 1, 2 and 3, only Statement 3 will be true for all acceptable values of N. Therefore, all the answer choices that include Statements 1 and 2 are out, i.e. options A and D are out. The answer choices that don’t have Statement 3 are also out, i.e. options C and E are out. This leaves us with only answer choice B, and therefore, B is our answer.

This question is a direct application of what we learned above so it doesn’t add much value to our learning as such, but it does have an interesting point. By establishing that B is the answer, we are saying that Statement 5 must be true.

5) The product of K consecutive integers is divisible by K!

We will leave it to you to try to prove this!

(For more advanced number properties on the GMAT, check out Parts I, II, III, IV and V of this series.)

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

3 Business School Essay Mistakes That are Easy to Make

EssayBefore even reading the essay questions and prompts for their MBA applications, most business school candidates have made a checklist (written or mental) of the accomplishments, highlights, and goals that they want to share in their essays. While this is very helpful in mapping out your stories to share and the overall profile you want to present, be very careful of these common mistakes in your essay responses:

Not answering the questions!
As an example, take a look at the prompt below from one of the top MBA programs:

“Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned.”

This prompt may seem simple at first – all applicants are able to identify the achievement they want to play up and can extensively set up the details regarding it (even going so far as to fill in unnecessary details). This results in a having a very limited space to discuss the failure aspect of the question. Surprisingly, even with the great care taken to reflect, review, and revise, more often than not, applicants forget to address the question about how these experiences impacted their relationship with others.

Applicants will often get fixated on one or two parts of a longer prompt and totally miss out on critical aspects of the question. This is a very basic mistake committed during the essay-writing process, and it can happen no matter how much time and effort you have invested. Thus, be mindful of the need to the match each aspect of the given prompts with your responses before clicking the submit button.

Not showing how!
You know that you need to share awards, distinctions and accomplishments to strengthen your application chances, however, just as importantly, you also need to identify how you were able to earn these. Relating the specific actions you took and your outstanding personal qualities to these accolades will help demonstrate your potential to do the same in the future.

So, take your essays as opportunities to showcase the key factors that led to your successes, and choose the ones that would also be applicable to your future endeavors. For example, you may have inherently physical gifts, such as extraordinary hand-eye coordination, that allowed you to excel in multiple sports, but it might be better to highlight qualities such as focus, drive and leadership skills, as these would be more applicable to the endeavors you’re sure to take on during your post-MBA career.

Not explaining why!
Another chance to connect with the Admissions Committee on a deeper level is to explain your motivations, both for what you have done in the past and for your future plans. Whether explicitly prompted to or not, sharing more of yourself by explaining your background, values and interests in a reflective and honest way will help you put forth an engaging application package, and will allow the Admissions Committee to get to know you better.

Sounds easy, right? Avoiding these three simple mistakes will surely raise your chances for a homerun application.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Early Thoughts on Berkeley Haas’ 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

UC BerkeleyApplication season at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach the essay prompts, which are essentially the same as the prompts from last year. There are three full essay questions for Haas, with Essay 2 providing the applicant multiple options to choose from.

Essay 1:
If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)

The most important thing about what song you choose here is that the song you choose does not matter. The fact that the school does not care what language, culture, or even what the lyrics are should signal this to you. It is all about “why” this song is so important to you, so when selecting a song think long and hard about a song that provides some insight into who you are. The more authentic the better, so use this as an opportunity to really let the Admissions Committee in so you can stand out from other candidates.

Essay 2:
Choose one:

  • Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you
  • Describe a time when you were challenged by perspectives different from your own and how you responded
  • Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging

(250 words)
There is a common theme between these three potential essay prompts, so it can be difficult for applicants to decide on which one to pick. Overall, with all three of these prompts, Haas is looking to understand how you have handled uncomfortable situations in the past. Again, which prompt you choose does not really matter for this essay – what is most important is to dive deep and be vulnerable and reflective on the experience you choose to share.

Essay 3:
Tell us about your career plans. How have your past experiences prepared you to achieve these goals? How will Berkeley-Haas help you? (500 words)

Essay 3 is the longest of the three essays and is by far the most traditional. This is your opportunity to really connect the dots for the Admissions Committee and help them understand how a Haas MBA will uniquely position you for success in your future career path. Spare the generalities here and get specific – highlight how your past, present, and future all link together with the Haas MBA. Hint: Haas’ “Defining Principles” are a great place to start!

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from the Haas School of Business – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Berkeley and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Berkeley Haas or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Intern

Stop WorryingCongratulations! You’ve just gotten your first internship offer, and you’re ready to accept.

Now that you’ve completed the search, application, and interview processes, survived the tense waiting period, and written up a few new bullet points to add to your resume, it’s tempting to think that the hard part is over now. But far too many interns end up squandering their internships by forgetting that being an intern comes with responsibilities–and that being a good intern, or a bad intern, can impact you and your career beyond just your resume.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your internship:

Understand what you’re signing up for.
Are you sure you’ll be doing work, or at least contributing to work, that either interests you or teaches you something useful? Have you asked? Do you have the time in your schedule to commit to this internship? If you have met, or can meet, your potential coworkers before accepting the internship offer: do you think you’ll get along with them? Be sure that you’re a good fit for this position, and that this position is a good fit for you. If either of those things is not the case, your internship could turn out to be a worse experience than it’s worth.

Take your work seriously. 
Are you getting paid? Great. If not, that’s no excuse to not take your internship seriously. Often, the experience and connections you gain from internships are more valuable in the long term than your salary, especially since interns usually don’t have very high salaries anyway. You aren’t really working for free: remember that you applied for the position in the first place, and that you’re exchanging your work for the opportunity to learn about that business and what it contributes to. Besides, making a good impression on and genuinely aiding your supervisors and coworkers can pay off through connections and letters of recommendation later on.

Don’t snub menial jobs.
Accept that some of your work will probably be administrative or very low-level. Filing, stapling, and the occasional coffee run may be boring, but it’s necessary work, someone has to do it, and even your higher-ranking coworkers probably do some of this too (if not more.) Just be sure that you’re spending most (or, at the very least, a significant portion) of your internship time learning useful things.

Be aware of your work level. 
Ask for more work if you’re sure you can handle it. If you’ve got all of your internship responsibilities under control and have both the time and the competence to take on a bigger project, let your supervisor know. You may even consider taking the initiative to propose and assume responsibility for a new project that you think could support the work of your team. Only look for more responsibility if you’re sure you have what it takes to live up to higher expectations. Remember that, if you end up not being able to handle that responsibility, you impact not only yourself and your own work but your team’s as well.

Keep your ears and eyes open.
Much of the value of an internship comes from exposure to work beyond your internship duties. Get a feel for the conventions, politics, and priorities of your field and your organization by shadowing meetings, paying attention to conversations around you, asking (appropriate) questions, setting up informational interviews, and doing your own side research on interesting topics and issues that come up.

Follow these tips and your new internship is sure to be beneficial to both you and your company.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Debunking 6 Popular Myths of the Part-Time MBA

FAQDo you think that you aren’t a good fit for a part-time MBA? Think again! Part-time MBA programs have rapidly evolved over the last five years, adapting to the changing needs of the workforce and to their students.

Here are some common myths about part-time MBAs and why you shouldn’t let them stop you from applying:

Myth #1 – “I don’t have enough work experience.”  
Sure, the average part-time MBA student has more years of work experience than the average full-time student. The reality is, on average, this is only a two year difference – an average of seven years of experience, compared to the average of five years that full-time students have. If you have a “below average” tenure of work experience, the scope of your responsibilities and quality of your experiences can outweigh the quantity. If you manage and evaluate a team of employees, handle large projects or budgets, or have P&L responsibilities, don’t rule out a part-time MBA.

Myth #2 – “I don’t live close enough to the school.”
Part-time MBAs have evolved from weeknight only programs to weekend programs, hybrid flex/commute programs, online programs, and opened alternate campuses in other cities. Just because you don’t live within a reasonable drive of a school doesn’t make it out of reach anymore.

For example, many UCLA FEMBA, Kellogg and Booth part-time students fly in and out for Saturday classes (typically up to 2 hour flights each way, including across borders), and many more fly across the country for flex programs. NYU Stern has opened an additional location in Westchester, UT Austin McCombs also has campuses in Dallas and Houston, and UNC Kenan-Flagler now has a fully online part-time program.

Myth #3 – “I travel too frequently for my job to do a part-time program.”
Similar to Myth #2, enrolling in Saturday classes, flexible programs or online programs can allow you to earn your MBA while still managing your career and travel schedule. Part-time programs are also understanding that there is a reason you are enrolled in a part-time program – your current career is important to you. Schools want you to be successful and will work with you to meet your schedule. This can mean switching from a weeknight program to a weekend program, or taking a semester or even a year off. Most part-time programs will allow up to five years for students to complete their graduation requirements, so depending on the school, you will have plenty of time to travel for work and attend your MBA classes.

Myth #4 – “It takes too long to do the program part-time.”
While a typical part-time MBA program is three years instead of two, there are many options for acceleration. If you have the flexibility to take additional classes, many programs will allow you to graduate early. For instance, McCombs in Dallas and Houston both have two-year part-time program options, and Kellogg has an accelerated part-time program that takes just over one year to complete.

Myth #5 – “I can’t make a career switch without doing an internship.”
This may still be the case for some industries, but certainly not the majority. Leveraging your transferable skills, the knowledge you’ve acquired at business school, the network you’ve developed, and career services your school offers are often enough to make your career change. Many part-time programs also have capstone projects that students complete for companies, allowing them to complete an “externship” while still working full-time to help facilitate their transitions.

Myth #6 – “I don’t have access to on-campus recruiting or career services as a part-time student.”
Generally, unless you are fully-sponsored by your employer (and even then, with their permission, this restriction can be waived), you’ll have the same access to career services and on-campus recruiters that full-time students do.

Keep these points in mind when considering applying to a part-time MBA program – these programs are a lot more accessible than you might think!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep consultant for UCLA, 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, and she has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

Early Thoughts on NYU Stern’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

NYU CampusApplication season at NYU Stern is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these essay prompts that have remained relatively consistent over the last few years. The two essays Stern requires are structured to give applicants a chance to showcase both the professional and personal sides of their applications.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life? What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience? What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation? (750 words)
This is a very multi-layered prompt provides applicants with a great opportunity to share their professional game plan and why Stern specifically is a key part of this. This prompt differs from other more traditional “career goals” essays by including multiple questions that will tease out many details of your planned career trajectory.

Keep your approach simple here and consider addressing each aspect of the question in order. The wording of this prompt signals that you should touch on the past a little to provide context for the factors that have brought you to this point in your professional journey. Make it clear that you are self-reflective and have a deep understanding of where you have come from and where you are going professionally.

Don’t shy away from honestly assessing why now is the right time to pursue your MBA. Whether it is personal maturity, industry changes, desired promotion or something else that is motivating you, the impetus of your timing is important to have pinned down.

The second aspect of the prompt involves “fit.” Stern is really looking for specifics here, so don’t shy away from the detailing your research of schools and how Stern in particular has stood out for you from other MBA programs. The more you can personalize this aspect of your response, the better.

The rationale and  likelihood of reaching your identified career goals post-MBA is also a key aspect of how Stern will evaluate its applicants. Connecting your personal development goals to Stern’s unique offerings is critical to showcasing true fit with this program.

Essay 2: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.
Many programs have begun to move towards more open-ended and creative essay prompts such as this. The goal of this prompt for Stern is to get to know who you really are. Unique to most other MBA programs, Stern provides various multi-media options for candidates to use to convey their message. This allows you the opportunity to have a unique and creative approach in answering this prompt.

Keep in mind that the use of more non-traditional media can really stand out in a typically text-heavy process. Think creatively about how you plan to share your response, even if you are only using words. Creativity is not only limited to the medium – how you structure and organize your response could be another interesting way to stand out.

This essay is an opportunity to balance out the heavy professional focus of Essay #1 with elements of your unique personality. Make sure you share details that would be relevant to someone who you are potentially about to spend a lot of time with over the next 2 years. This essay is a great place to showcase your interpersonal skills as well as how you plan to utilize them while working with your future classmates.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Stern – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Stern and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to NYU Stern or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

5 Great Jobs to Hold in College

moneyI, like many of my peers in college, held jobs throughout my undergraduate career in order to help make ends meet. Working while taking classes, especially at a demanding university like UC Berkeley, isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when hours worked begin to dig into study time. I knew many undergraduates who resented their jobs at cafés, restaurants, parking garages, and theaters in the neighborhood for putting extra pressure on their study schedules.

As far as college jobs go, I and a few of my friends were extremely fortunate to find positions that not only gave us the flexibility we needed to keep our studies on track, but also offered us opportunities to learn important job skills or to engage with our fields. I realized quickly that, even though undergraduate students often don’t have many options when it comes to jobs, college work hours don’t have to feel like a waste of time. Here are five of the best job options we found:

Tutoring
Just about every university (or university area) I know of offers paid tutoring opportunities, which are a great way to develop leadership, communication, organization, and public speaking skills. Tutoring hours are often flexible, and tutoring subjects that you yourself study can help you stay sharp in your own field. Many tutors I know also love their work because of the positive impact it can have on students.

Note-taking
I took notes for my university’s Disabled Students Program, which paid me a stipend in exchange for detailed lecture notes for disabled students’ use. Some universities also allow private note-taking companies to hire students to take high-quality lecture notes, which are then sold to other students. Taking notes on lectures, especially those in your field, allows you to combine learning time with work. If you’re enrolled in the course that you’re taking notes on, you can earn money in exchange for work you’d be doing anyway.

Research Assistantships
These aren’t always paid, but it’s worth looking into them either way. Gain experience in and exposure to your field, build relationships with experts, and contribute to interesting projects by working with researchers at your university. The hours are often very flexible; in many cases, research assistant projects can be completed from home.

Internships
Again, these aren’t always paid, but are definitely worth exploring anyway. Holding internships in your field will offer you work experience, exposure to your field, and sometimes even academic credit if your university accommodates it. If you need to work during college, it makes a lot of sense to do the same work you’re going to college to learn about in the first place.

Short-term Employment
Do you study computer science? Help a local business redesign its website. Do you study journalism? Hone your writing skills by looking for work as an editor, drafter or blogger for a nonprofit near you. Doing short-term work related to your field of study will help you better craft the skills you’ll need to succeed post-college and will look great on your resume, too.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Campus Visit

campus tourBusiness school visits are a lot of work, and they take time to set up before you actually step onto a campus. Below are 3 steps you can take to make sure you have a successful visit with your target schools.

(Before you dig into this article, be sure to check out 2 Ways to Prepare for Your Campus Visit.)

1) Sign Up for An Official Visit
Most campuses offer official visit programs that allow you to sign up to sit in on a class, learn more about the program, and sometimes have lunch with current students. These programs could be a half-day, full day, or even a weekend of events, such as Fuqua’s Weekend for Women. Each school will vary slightly, so take a look at their websites for more information. These visits will be great introductions to the campus life and the specific programs that you are interested in – you’ll get to see how the students interact in class and what the professors are like before you choose to spend two years there.

2) Use Your Network
Once you sign up for a visit, let your network know that you will be on campus! If you’ve met an admissions representative, or had any phone chats with current students or alumni, contact them and see if they’ll have time for a quick meet up to grab coffee or a bite to eat. Engaging with the school’s community shows your continued interest and also helps admissions representatives remember you once your application comes through.

If you haven’t had too much contact with students yet, this is a great time to email the leaders of campus clubs and ask if they can meet with you so you can learn more about their experiences. Remember that these students are sure to be very busy, so ask for a quick 15-minute chat where you can buy them a tea or a coffee. If they are available, chances are they will be more than happy to meet with you.

3) Make Your Official Visit Unofficial
This one might not be as easy for some to do (and it is probably best if it comes naturally) but it will really help you get a sense of the school community. Try to take advantage of any random run-ins with current students. During the Fall Friday for Women event at Yale, I met someone in the bathroom who I started chatting with. We quickly became friends and she invited me to a fellow student’s birthday party that evening. At that event, I was able to meet a dozen other MBA students and it was helpful to see the social side of business school life in an informal setting where no one was officially trying to sell me on a program.

If you can form genuine relationships with students, no matter what campus they are on, it will help you and your application. These relationships will allow you to craft more genuine essays, and regardless of whether or not you attend that particular program, that person can still be a great resource for you when you are later networking for jobs – networking is a huge aspect of business school, so it will only help you if you can start before you even apply to your target schools.

Without these school visits, I would have no idea how to go about choosing the right program for me. It was Michigan’s admitted student event, Go Blue Rendezvous, where I was really able to see myself on campus, and it was after that weekend that I knew it was the right place for me. If you’re lucky enough to have a decision to make after your applications are reviewed, these visits will definitely come in handy when you are choosing where to put down your deposit.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Corrections for The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 2017

Official GMAT Guide 2017

The below information about The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 is from the Graduate Management Admission Council – the makers of the GMAT exam. This content was originally posted on The Official GMAT Blog.

We recently released The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 and we have discovered that this version contains a number of typos that occurred during the publishing process.

We understand that these errors may make it difficult to understand certain content and could affect the study experience for the GMAT exam. Below, we’ve outlined options that provide updated materials. For complete details and a full list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: http://wileyactual.com/gmat.

I have the 2017 Official Guide. What should I do?
You have the following options:

  1. Use the errata document to replace chapter 4 and make corrections in the other chapters of the Official Guide. (An errata is a list of corrected errors for a book or other published work.)
  2. Request a free replacement copy of The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 which will be shipped when the new, corrected version comes out in mid-September at the latest. For more information, contact your regional Wiley customer support here.
  3. For a refund of your The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017, please reference and follow the refund policy for the retailer from which you purchased the Guide.

In addition to this, candidates have access to comparable study materials that enable them to prepare with official GMAT practice questions, such as the The Official Guide for GMAT® Verbal Review, 2017 and The Official Guide for GMAT® Quantitative Review, 2017, Free GMATPrep® Software, and more.

Both the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and Wiley deeply apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused individuals studying for the GMAT exam. We are committed to high-quality publication standards, and moving forward we will make every effort to ensure that our study products are superior.

GMAC customer care representatives are available to answer any questions or concerns at customercare@mba.com.

To inquire about a replacement copy of The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017, contact your regional Wiley customer support here.

The Importance of Challenging Your Worldview in College

GoalsCollege is a time for many important things, and one of those is re-imaging the way you view the world. For many college first-year students, life has (up until this point) been lived in one place with people of mostly similar backgrounds. Once in college, however, you will be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, opinions, cultures, and experiences that will be very different from your own.

Many colleges recruit students and faculty from all over the country and the world, so there’s a good chance many of the people you meet will be from places you know nothing about. While this may seem scary to some, it is actually a great opportunity for learning and growth.

By engaging with diversity in all its forms, you will be able to see things from different angles and expand your perspective to better understand the full complexity of the world. Recognizing socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, and political diversity are important to seeing the world through fresher, clearer, more well-informed eyes. Our worldviews are often limited by what we have seen in our own lives, so when we make a sincere effort to understand how people from different backgrounds understand the world around them, we learn new modes of thinking and encounter challenging questions we may not have previously been aware of.

In seeking out new perspectives, your resulting opinions will be stronger, you will be a more worldly person, and you will recognize that there are always new things you can learn more about. Whatever opinions you hold now can continually be improved, updated, and amended.

Here are some things you can do on or off campus to make sure your time in college allows you to critically reassess your views and opinions:

Seek out people who disagree with you.
It’s easy to get caught in an echo chamber of people who already share your opinions, but this doesn’t force you to challenge the way you think. Making an active effort to be friends with people with different political or religious beliefs will ensure that you don’t get stuck in an opinion bubble. Plus, when you have good relationships with people who disagree with you, you are more likely to realize that their opinions come from good faith, not from a radical desire to “ruin” the world.

Advocate for unpopular opinions.
This can be a hard role to play in conversation, but it’s important to be a voice that won’t just kowtow to the dominant ideology. When someone makes a claim, it’s valuable to be the one to push back on it (respectfully), since this can cause all people involved to more deeply examine why they hold their beliefs. You don’t have to play the “devil’s advocate” and stick up for opinions that you truly find appalling, but you can ask probing questions, critique arguments, and voice the viewpoints that nobody else is sharing.

Explore unfamiliar topics.
On college assignments, students have a tendency to write about things they are familiar with. This may make for easier work, but it doesn’t have the kind of benefits that learning about unknown topics does. When you do a research paper on a culture you know little about, or write a philosophy essay on a moral dilemma you hadn’t considered before, you will be able to learn with an open mind and grow in areas you hadn’t previously imagined. Sure, it might be hard to dive into an unfamiliar topic, but in the long-term, learning how to challenge yourself like this is sure to come in handy.

Reflect on your own beliefs.
Being away from home, college is a good time to reflect on where your beliefs came from. Sometimes things that seem central to your identity are actually just a byproduct of your upbringing, and may not be what you really believe when you take the time to reflect. By really analyzing why you think what you think, you’ll often realize that a different way to think is just as or even more reasonable. Self-reflection is an important part of personal growth, and college – the hallowed place of learning – is the perfect place to perform that growth process.

If you are curious and bold in your thinking in college, your beliefs will change and grow throughout your time there. Although this thought may be disconcerting, the uncomfortable process of intellectual growth and development is exactly what college is designed for.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Divisibility by Powers of 2

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWe know the divisibility rules of 2, 4 and 8:

For 2 – If the last digit of the number is divisible by 2 (is even), then the number is divisible by 2.

For 4 – If the number formed by last two digits of the number is divisible by 4, then the number is divisible by 4.

For 8 – If the number formed by last three digits of the number is divisible by 8, then the number is divisible by 8.

A similar rule applies to all powers of 2:

For 16 – If the number formed by last four digits of the number is divisible by 16, then the number is divisible by 16.

For 32 – If the number formed by last five digits of the number is divisible by 32, then the number is divisible by 32.

and so on…

Let’s figure out why:

The generic rule can be written like this: A number M is divisible by 2^n if the last n digits of M are divisible by 2^n.

Take, for example, a division by 8 (= 2^3), where M = 65748048 and n = 3.

Our digits of interest are the last three digits, 048.

48 is completely divisible by 8, so we conclude that 65748048 is also divisible by 8.

A valid question here is, “What about the remaining five digits? Why do we ignore them?”

Breaking down M, we can see that 65748048 = 65748000 + 048 (we’ve separated the last three digits).

Now note that 65748000 = 65748 * 1000. Since 1000 has three 0s, it is made up of three 2s and three 5s. Because 1000 it has three 2s as factor, it also has 8 as a factor. This means 65748000 has 8 as a factor by virtue of its three 0s.

All we need to worry about now is the last three digits, 048. If this is divisible by 8, 65748048 will also be divisible by 8. If it is not, 65748048 will not be divisible by 8.

In case the last three digits are not divisible by 8, you can still find the remainder of the number. Whatever remainder you get after dividing the last three digits by 8 will be the remainder when you divide the entire number by 8. This should not be a surprise to you now – 65748000 won’t have a remainder when divided by 8 since it is divisible by 8, so whatever the remainder is when the last 3 digits are divided by 8 will be the remainder when the entire number is divided by 8.

In the generic case, the number M will be split into a number with n zeroes and another number with n digits. The number with n zeroes will be divisible by 2^n because it has n 2s as factors. We just need to see the divisibility of the number with n digits.

We hope you have understood this concept. Let’s take look at a quick GMAT question to see this in action:

What is the remainder when 1990990900034 is divided by 32 ?

(A) 16
(B) 8
(C) 4
(D) 2
(E) 0

Breaking down our given number, 1990990900034 = 1990990900000 + 00034.

1990990900000 ends in five 0’s so it is divisible by 32. 34, when divided by 32, gives us a remainder of 2. Hence, when 1990990900034 is divided by 32, the remainder will be 2. Our answer is D.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

How to Land a Consulting Job Offer Abroad

PassportManagement consulting is one of the most competitive industries to break into, and it can become even more difficult to enter if you plan to work at offices outside your school’s immediate region.

Looking at this challenge primarily from the perspective of the MBA applicant, it is important to consider the ways you can best position yourself for success before you even step on-campus. This approach is important because once you are on-campus and committed to a program, your options may be limited with regards to maximizing your chances of landing an offer at an international office.

Let’s explore a few criteria that should factor into your school selection if you aspire to work as a consultant in an international office:

Location:
Where is the location of your target program? Is this location in close proximity to the offices you are interested in? These are two very important questions to answer as you refine your target school list. The closer your school is to the region in which you wish to work, the better off you will be.

As international as many management consulting companies claim to be, local hiring needs often still claim priority, with companies hiring the greatest number of employees from local business schools. Targeting MBA programs in close proximity to your desired office is a very savvy move if you are interested in working internationally in consulting.

Geographic Placement:
In what regions of the world does your target school place students? How local, national, and global is this placement? This is another important consideration, as this information can provide you with insights into your program and the track record it has with placing students in your desired region post-MBA. The number of alumni a school has in a specific region can better inform you as to your chances of securing employment in that same region come graduation day.

Hiring Offices:
How many students has your target office historically hired from the MBA program you are interested in? This is another great indicator of how challenging it may be for you to emerge from business school with an offer from your target employer. Generally, you can find this information either from your school’s employment report or from firm-specific recruiting websites.

Alumni Representation:
Is there a strong presence of alumni at your consulting office of interest? Generally, companies will leverage alumni from schools to conduct most of the leg work during their on-campus recruiting process, which signals a commitment by firms to the program and its students. A strong alumni base within an office (and overall) is another positive sign that your target school has a successful track record with a particular firm.

Landing an international consulting job offer does not have to be a mysterious process – do your diligence before you land on-campus to maximize your chances of reaching your global career goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

The 2016-2017 Common Application: How to Get Started

GMATThe Common Application is going to be offline from July 21 until August 1, 2016 while all of the dates and details are updated for this upcoming application season. For the first time in the Common App history, students who created an account before August 1st will be able to roll over all of their saved information to the application when it is officially released on August 1st.

So, for those of you who have gotten a head start, your information will be ready to access again on August 1st. For those of you who may not have had a chance to create an account just yet, don’t you worry! There are things you can work on now while the application is down to get you started on the right foot when it is officially open again on August 1st.

Strategize your essays:
The Common App announced in January that they are not changing their essay topics this year. Take a look at the prompts and brainstorm your strategy for your personal statement. Need a little guidance? Check out our tips for making your personal statement stand out!

Finalize your college list:
When the application opens again on August 1st, it will be time to hit the ground running. The best way to prepare yourself for filling out college applications is to know exactly where you plan to apply. Check out commonapp.org to learn about the 700 colleges who use the common app. You can also use collegeconfidential.com to identify best-fit schools for you.

Select your recommenders:
Most schools you apply to will request that you submit letters of recommendation from a teacher, coach, counselor, etc. Once the school year officially begins, all of the seniors will be asking their favorite mentors to write these letters, so start to think now about who you want to write yours! We generally like to suggest that you provide your recommender with a resume or list of accomplishments that they can reference when writing this letter of recommendation, so start putting together those resources, too.

Enjoy yourself:
Yes, that’s right, we’re telling you to take a break and enjoy the rest of your summer! The best way to kick-off application season is to be relaxed and have a clear mind. Make sure to take some time for yourself before you dive into these college applications so that you are able to give it your best effort from start to finish!

Are you interested in learning more about the Common App and how admissions committees at top universities actually evaluate college applications? Register for our free workshop here. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

Important Admissions Insights from the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

AIGACAIGAC (the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) presented insights from its survey of recent MBA applicants and graduates at their annual conference last month. On your own business school application journey, knowing the trends below may help you know what your peers are thinking and better inform your choices:

Let’s look at some of the most interesting findings this study presented:

School Selections Impacted by Cost-Consciousness
41% of MBA applicants in this study indicated that affordability affected their final school choices, while 21% factored program cost and access to financial aid into creating their lists of target schools.

Related to this, applicants this year showed more of an openness to business school options other than the traditional two-year MBA program than they had in the past. This could be because these options reduce opportunity costs of the time away from employment prospects. The study also showed applicants’ interest in shorter full-time MBA programs (less than 2 years) jumped significantly from 33% in 2015 to 40% in 2016.

Reputation (Ranking) Still Matters Most
Although affordability has become an increasingly considered factor in the application process – with 30% of survey respondents including net costs in their school evaluations – an MBA program’s ranking is still the most influential aspect in deciding where to apply, with 74% of respondents factoring this into their school choice.

Other major school factors applicants considered in the application process were impact on career (48%), city/geographic location of the program (46%), and school culture (38%).

Optimism on Post-MBA Career
MBA applicants remained optimistic with their post-MBA prospects this year, with 41% of respondents expecting salary increases of greater than 50% within 6 months after completing their business school education.

The most popular post-MBA target career paths for applicants remain Consulting, Finance/Accounting, and Technology. The AIGAC report also shared actual post-MBA career trends, which showed a declining number of graduates going into Finance (from 43% in 2007 to 29% in 2013), while those going into Technology more than doubled (from 8% in 2007 to 17% in 2013).

Engaging Help for the Competitive Application Process
Realizing how competitive the MBA application process is, many applicants are tapping multiple sources of support. Top support systems are friends (44%), professional admissions consultants (39%), and family (30%). Only 17% of applicants reported going through the entire process with help from “no one”.

These findings show that applicants are realizing the benefits of gaining additional business school insights and wider perspectives as they compete for the coveted spots at the top MBA programs. Although the decision of where to ultimately pursue your MBA should, of course, be your own, hopefully this information can better inform your application process and help you determine some factors to consider when choosing a business school.

For more details about the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey, please see AIGAC’s White Paper or slide presentation.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Early Thoughts on Chicago Booth’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

Chicago BoothApplication season at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has officially kicked off with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 application essay question. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this essay prompt that remains relatively consistent from last year:

Essay 1:
View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why.

  • Choose the format that works for you
  • Determine your own length

I would think of your approach to this essay in three buckets. First, you want to identify the story you want to tell to the Admissions Committee. Second, you want to identify the image that best allows you to paint this picture in the most comprehensive and all-encompassing way. Finally, you want to select the medium that allows you to best bring your response to life in a vivid and clear fashion.

Let’s explore each bucket in greater detail:

Story Identification:
Who will you be to the Admissions Committee? This prompt really seeks to understand the candidate who is applying to Booth, and it is your job to identify the aspects of your background that best connect with the mission of the program. Theoretically there are many things a candidate could focus on as a theme – be authentic here, but make sure you are highlighting a narrative or anecdote that aligns your personal and professional strengths with qualities that will endear you to Booth’s admissions team.

Image Selection:
The school wants to know what aspects of the Booth student experience you most viscerally connect to and gets you the most excited. A big part of this is research, so conducting primary and secondary research into the program to really understand the symbolism of each image is a major key to success in your response here. Using your “story” to inform your choice is a really smart way to go – pick the image that best aligns with your tale and allows you to communicate the most robust narrative.

Medium Choice & Length:
This aspect of approaching the Booth prompt tends to give applicants the most trouble. In the past, Booth limited responses to four slides; these limitations on both the length and medium of an applicant’s response made candidates’ approaches much more straightforward. Now, with the more open-ended prompt, applicants are left with a bit of anxiety when deciding on an approach. One thing to always keep in mind during the application process is when a school states they have no preference, take them at their word. Select the medium that you feel will best illustrate a clear, cogent, and passionate response to the prompt.

This is a great opportunity to leverage your writing or visual skills to help you stand out. On the length side, many schools have been moving towards shorter essay length requirements, so keep this in mind and try to communicate your response in a concise and direct fashion. This is really a judgement call, but think of every element used in your deliverable and evaluate whether it is actually building or diluting your argument.

Just a few thoughts here on approaching this year’s essay prompt from Booth – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Booth and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Booth or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

An Introvert’s Guide to College Job Fairs

HandshakeMy first college job fair was during my first semester of college. I signed up as soon as I saw the email. I’d heard a million times that networking was the most important thing to master in the work world, that universities like UC Berkeley could get me access to recruiters I’d never meet otherwise, and that one of the most important things I could learn at college was how to land a job.

I put on my nicest (only) suit, tossed a stack of freshly edited resumes into a folder, and marched into the fair, thinking I’d walk back out that evening with an empty folder and an internship.

Instead, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the thick crowds and by the storm of recruitment stands, students, flyers, and small talk. I left the fair exhausted and frustrated: I was completely drained of social energy, frustrated by the fact that expending my energy hadn’t resulted in an internship, and unable to match any names or faces to the dozens of business cards I’d collected. I had spent far too much time with recruiters for positions I didn’t care about, been overshadowed by more gregarious students, and fumbled through awkward, forgettable conversations with the few recruiters whose companies I was really interested in working with.

Over the next four years, I realized my mistakes and eventually developed strategies for reconciling my naturally quiet self with the chaos of job fairs. Here’s what I learned:

1) Dress the Part
For introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between: you may be a college student, but you shouldn’t dress like one! Generally speaking, people wearing Jansport backpacks are harder to take seriously than people not wearing Jansport backpacks. Invest in a couple of nice, professional outfits and a simple bag.

2) Do Your Research
Look up the list of recruiters in advance, and do some research into the participating organizations that catch your eye. Only visit the recruitment stands you’re interested in engaging with. It’s exhausting and inefficient to wait until your conversation with the recruiter to decide whether or not you’re interested in working with an organization, especially if you have limited social energy to expend. If you know what work you’re interested in, don’t waste time and energy on positions you don’t want to take.

3) Arrive Prepared
If you don’t know what work you’re interested in, you’ll need to cast your net more widely. Read websites and fair descriptions to acquaint yourself with the attending organizations, and then prepare a set of questions to ask. For instance: What internships/job positions do you have available? What might a day’s work in your company look like? How much exposure could I get to the workings of the rest of the organization?

4) Play to Your Strengths
Don’t feel obligated to stop at every recruitment stand. Actually, you’ll likely get better results if you engage more deeply with fewer recruiters. Introverts may not have as much social energy as extroverts do, but when introverts choose to expend social energy, they tend to be better at shifting interactions beyond small talk and towards in-depth, productive conversation. Understand your limits, stick to them, and play to your strengths.

On that note, take breaks and conserve energy. In order to stay focused and be at your best during conversations that matter, opt out of conversations that aren’t productive towards your goal. When you need to, grab a snack, find a quiet corner, or step out for a coffee. If your college offers the option, attend smaller recruitment events where the atmosphere is less stressful and you’re likely to feel less pressure while speaking with recruiters.

College job fairs may be overwhelming, but by following the aforementioned tips, you’ll be able to make the most of these important opportunities.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Use Units Digits to Avoid Doing Painful Calculations on the GMAT

StudentDuring the first session of each new class I teach, we do a quick primer on the utility of units digits. Imagine I want to solve 130,467 * 367,569. Without a calculator, we are surely entering a world of hurt. But we can see almost instantaneously what the units digit of this product would be.

The units digit of 130,467 * 367,569 would be the same as the units digit of 7*9, as only the units digits of the larger numbers are relevant in such a calculation. 7*9 = 63, so the units digit of 130,467 * 367,569 is 3. This is one of those concepts that is so simple and elegant that it seems too good to be true.

And yet, this simple, elegant rule comes into play on the GMAT with surprising frequency.

Take this question for example:

If n is a positive integer, how many of the ten digits from 0 through 9 could be the units digit of n^3?

A) three
B) four
C) six
D) nine
E) ten

Surely, you think, the solution to this question can’t be as simple as cubing the easiest possible numbers to see how many different units digits result. And yet that’s exactly what we’d do here.

1^3 = 1

2^3 = 8

3^3 = 27 à units 7

4^3 = 64 à units 4

5^3 = ends in 5 (Fun fact: 5 raised to any positive integer will end in 5.)

6^3 = ends in 6 (Fun fact: 6 raised to any positive integer will end in 6.)

7^3 = ends in 3 (Well 7*7 = 49. 49*7 isn’t that hard to calculate, but only the units digit matters, and 9*7 is 63, so 7^3 will end in 3.)

8^3 = ends in 2 (Well, 8*8 = 64, and 4*8 = 32, so 8^3 will end in 2.)

9^3 = ends in 9 (9*9 = 81 and 1 * 9 = 9, so 9^3 will end in 9.)

10^3 = ends in 0

Amazingly, when I cube all the integers from 1 to 10 inclusive, I get 10 different units digits. Pretty neat. The answer is E.

Of course, this question specifically invoked the term “units digit.” What are the odds of that happening? Maybe not terribly high, but any time there’s a painful calculation, you’d want to consider thinking about the units digits.

Take this question, for example:

A certain stock exchange designates each stock with a one, two or three letter code, where each letter is selected from the 26 letters of the alphabet. If the letters may be replaced and if the same letters used in a different order constitute a different code, how many different stocks is it possible to uniquely designate with these codes? 

A) 2,951
B) 8,125
C) 15,600
D) 16,302
E) 18,278 

Conceptually, this one doesn’t seem that bad.

If I wanted to make a one-letter code, there’d be 26 ways I could do so.

If I wanted to make a two-letter code, there’d be 26*26 or 26^2 ways I could do so.

If I wanted to make a three-letter code, there’d be 26*26*26, or 26^3 ways I could so.

So the total number of codes I could make, given the conditions of the problem, would be 26 + 26^2 + 26^3. Hopefully, at this point, you notice two things. First, this arithmetic will be deeply unpleasant to do.  Second, all of the answer choices have different units digits!

Now remember that 6 raised to any positive integer will always end in 6. So the units digit of 26 is 6, and the units digit of 26^2 is 6 and the units digit of 26^3 is also 6. Therefore, the units digit of 26 + 26^2 + 26^3 will be the same as the units digit of 6 + 6 + 6. Because 6 + 6 + 6 = 18, our answer will end in an 8. The only possibility here is E. Pretty nifty.

Takeaway: Painful arithmetic can always be avoided on the GMAT. When calculating large numbers, note that we can quickly find the units digit with minimal effort. If all the answer choices have different units digits, the question writer is blatantly telegraphing how to approach this problem.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Quarter Wit Quarter Wisdom: What is Your Favorite Number?

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomFans of The Big Bang Theory will remember Sheldon Cooper’s quote from an old episode on his favorite number:

The best number is 73. Why? 73 is the 21st prime number. Its mirror, 37, is the 12th and its mirror, 21, is the product of multiplying 7 and 3… and in binary 73 is a palindrome, 1001001, which backwards is 1001001.”

Though Sheldon’s logic is infallible, my favorite number is 1001 because it has a special role in standardized tests.

1001 is 1 more than 1000 and hence, is sometimes split as (1000 + 1). It sometimes appears in the a^2 – b^2 format such as 1001^2 – 1, and its factors are 7, 11 and 13 (not the factors we usually work with).

Due to its unusual factors and its convenient location (right next to 1000), it could be a part of some tough-looking GMAT questions and should be remembered as a “special” number. Let’s look at a question to understand how to work with this  number.

Which of the following is a factor of 1001^(32) – 1 ?

(A) 768
(B) 819
(C) 826
(D) 858
(E) 924

Note that 1001 is raised to the power 32. This is not an exponent we can easily handle. If  we try to use a binomial here and split 1001 into (1000 + 1), all we will achieve is that upon expanding the given expression, 1 will be cancelled out by -1 and all other terms will have 1000 in common. None of the answer choices are factors of 1000, however, so we must look for some other factor of 1001^(32) – 1.

Without a calculator, it is not possible for us to find the factors of 1001^(32) – 1, but we do know the prime factors of 1001 and hence, the prime factors of 1001^32. We may not be able to say which numbers are factors of 1001^(32) – 1, but we will be able to say which numbers are certainly not factors of this!

Let me explain:

1001 = 7 * 11 * 13 (Try dividing 1001 by 7 and you’ll get 143. 143 is divisible by 11, giving you 13.)

1001^32 = 7^32 * 11^32 * 13^32

Now, what can we say about the prime factors of 1001^(32) – 1? Whatever they are, they are certainly not 7, 11 or 13 – two consecutive integers cannot have any common prime factor (discussed here and continued here).

Now look at the answer choices and try dividing each by 7:

(A) 768 – Not divisible by 7

(B) 819 – Divisible by 7

(C) 826 – Divisible by 7

(D) 858 – Not divisible by 7

(E) 924 – Divisible by 7

Options B, C and E are eliminated. They certainly cannot be factors of 1001^(32) – 1 since they have 7 as a prime factor, and we know 1001^(32) – 1 cannot have 7 as a prime factor.

Now try dividing the remaining options by 11:

(A) 768 – Not divisible by 11

(D) 858 – Divisible by 11

D can also be eliminated now because it has 11 as a factor. By process of elimination, the answer is A; it must be a factor of 1001^(32) – 1.

I hope you see how easily we used the factors of 1001 to help us solve this difficult-looking question. And yes, another attractive feature of 1001 – it is a palindrome in the decimal representation itself!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: How to Avoid GMAT (and Pokemon Go) Traps

GMAT Tip of the WeekIn seemingly the most important development in world history since humans learned to create fire, Pokemon Go has arrived and is taking the world by storm. Rivaling Twitter and Facebook for mobile phone attention and battling the omnipresent selfie as a means of death-by-mobile-phone, Pokemon Go is everywhere you want to be…and often in places you don’t.

And that is why Pokemon Go is responsible for an ever-important GMAT lesson.

Perhaps most newsworthy about Pokemon Go these days is the dangerous and improper places that it has led its avid users. On the improper side,  such solemn and dignified places as the national Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have had to actively prohibit gamers from descending upon mourners/commemorators while playing the game. And as for danger, there have been several instances of thieves luring gamers into traps and therefore robbing them of valuable (if you’re playing the game, you definitely have a smartphone) items.

And the GMAT can and will do the same thing.

How?

If you’re reading this on our GMAT blog, you’ve undoubtedly already learned that, on Data Sufficiency problems, you cannot assume that a variable is positive, or that it is an integer. But think about what makes Pokemon Go users so vulnerable to being lured into a robbery or to losing track of basic human decency. They’re so invested in the game that they lose track of the situations they’re being lured into.

Similarly, the most dangerous GMAT traps are those for which you should absolutely know better, but the testmaker has gotten your mind so invested in another “game” that you lose track of something basic. Consider the example:

If y is an odd integer and the product of x and y equals 222, what is the value of x? 

(1) x is a prime number
(2) y is a 3 digit number

Statement 1 is clearly sufficient. Since y is odd, and an integer, and the product of integers x and y is an even integer, that means that x must be even. And since x also has to be prime (which is how you know it’s an integer, too), the only even prime is 2, making x = 2.

From there your mind is fixated on the game. You can quickly see that in that case y = 111 and x = 2. Which you then have to forget about as you attack Statement 2. But here’s the reason that less than 25% of users in the Veritas Prep Question Bank get this right, while nearly half incorrectly choose D. Statement 1 has gotten your mind fixated on the even/odd/prime game, meaning that you may only be thinking about integers (and positive integers at that) at this point.

That y is a 3-digit number DOES NOT mean that it has to be 111. It could be -111 (making x = -2) or 333 (making x = 2/3). So only Statement 1 alone is sufficient, but the larger lesson is more important. Just like Pokemon Go has the potential to pollute your mind and have you see the real world through its “enhanced reality” lens, so does a statement that satisfies your intellect (“Ah, 2 is the only even prime number!”) give you just enough tunnel vision that you make poor decisions and fall for traps.

The secret here is that almost no one scoring above a 500 carries over all of Statement 1 (“Oh, well I already know that x = 2!”) – a total rookie mistake. It’s that Statement 1 got you fixated on definitions of types of integers (prime, even, odd) and therefore got your mind looking through the “enhanced reality” of integers-only.

The lesson? Much like Pokemon Go, the GMAT has tools to get you so invested in a particular facet of a game that you lose your universal awareness of your surroundings. Know that going in – that you have to consciously step back from that enhanced reality you’ve gained after Statement 1 and look at the whole picture. So take a lesson from Pokemon Go and know when to stop and step back.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

The Most Overlooked Question You Should Be Asking During Your College Search Process

Swarthmore CollegeColleges, like all other organizations, love to market themselves positively. Their brochures are bright and shiny, filled with impressive statistics, pictures of happy students, and never-ending lists of reasons why they are great. Talk to students, too, and they’re likely to gush about how much they love their schools and how happy they are to be there.

For the most part, these things are true – many colleges have lots of great things about them, and many students are really happy where they are going to school. But for someone doing the college search process and trying to determine which school is the best fit for him or her, this uniform positivity can be a bit unhelpful.

As any rational person will say, no place is perfect, and hence no college is perfect. Every school has at least a few minor issues, and in my opinion, knowing what the negative aspects of a school are is almost as important as knowing what the positive aspects of a school are. This way, a student can make a decision on which school to attend based on a comprehensive understanding of the school, not just a one-sided view of it.

So, one really important question to ask students and staff when considering a school is, “What are some things you don’t like about this school?” Or, in other words, W”hat would you change about your school if you could?”

This might not be the question that you want to ask, or even one that you feel comfortable asking, but it is of utmost importance. You will spend 4 years at the college of your choice, and that time will be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The best way to make sure you’ll be prepared to handle those “downs” is if you have an idea beforehand of what kinds of “downs” they might be.

For example, a school might seem great to you on its website, yet still have a student body culture you don’t like or a greatly underfunded department you thought you wanted to major in. Maybe the walks between classes are really long, or the food options on campus are boring. Maybe the student body differs too greatly from you politically, or the professors care more about research than teaching.

Information like this is hard to find out on your own; finding it requires talking to people who actually live at the school and are willing to offer their honest perspective. Admitting that a school has flaws doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend the school – it just means that you should choose a school with negative aspects that you are comfortable with and prepared to manage. Whether the issues are big or small, you’ll be a more informed college search-er if you take the time to figure out both the positive and negative parts of a school.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Approach Difficult GMAT Problems

SAT/ACTMy students have a hard time understanding what makes a difficult GMAT question difficult. They assume that the tougher questions are either testing something they don’t know, or that these problems involve a dizzying level of complexity that requires an algebraic proficiency that’s simply beyond them.

One of my main goals in teaching a class is to persuade everyone that this is not, in fact, how hard questions work on this test. Hard questions don’t ask you do to something you don’t know how to do. Rather, they’re cleverly designed to provoke an anxiety response that makes it difficult to realize that you do know exactly how to solve the problem.

Take this official question, for example:

Let a, b, c and d be nonzero real numbers. If the quadratic equation ax(cx + d) = -b(cx +d) is solved for x, which of the following is a possible ratio of the 2 solutions?

A) –ab/cd
B) –ac/bd
C) –ad/bc
D) ab/cd
E) ad/bc

Most students see this and panic. Often, they’ll start by multiplying out the left side of the equation, see that the expression is horrible (acx^2 + adx), and take this as evidence that this question is beyond their skill level. And, of course, the question was designed to elicit precisely this response. So when I do this problem in class, I always start by telling my students, much to their surprise, that every one of them already knows how to do this. They’ve just succumbed to the question writer’s attempt to convince them otherwise.

So let’s start simple. I’ll write the following on the board: xy = 0. Then I’ll ask what we know about x or y. And my students shrug and say x or y (or both) is equal to 0. They’ll also wonder what on earth such a simple identity has to do with the algebraic mess of the question they’d been struggling with.

I’ll then write this: zx + zy = 0. Again, I’ll ask what we know about the variables. Most will quickly see that we can factor out a “z” and get z(x+y) = 0. And again, applying the same logic, we see that one of the two components of the product must equal zero – either z = 0 or x + y = 0.

Next, I’ll ask if they would approach the problem any differently if I’d given them zx = -zy – they wouldn’t.

Now it clicks. We can take our initial equation in the aforementioned problem: ax(cx +d) = -b(cx+d), and see that we have a ‘cx + d’ on both sides of the equation, just as we’d had a “z” on both sides of the previous example. If I’m able to get everything on one side of the equation, I can factor out the common term.

Now ax(cx +d) = -b(cx+d) becomes ax(cx +d) + b(cx+d) = 0.

Just as we factored out a “z” in the previous example, we can factor out “cx + d” in this one.

Now we have (cx + d)(ax + b) = 0.

Again, if we multiply two expressions to get a product of zero, we know that at least one of those expressions must equal 0. Either cx + d = 0 or ax + b = 0.

If cx + d = 0, then x = -d/c.

If ax + b = 0, then x = -b/a.

Therefore, our two possible solutions for x are –d/c and –b/a. So, the ratio of the two would simply be (-d/c)/(-b/a). Recall that dividing by a fraction is the equivalent of multiplying by the reciprocal, so we’re ultimately solving for (-d/c)(-a/b). Multiplying two negatives gives us a positive, and we end up with da/cb, which is equivalent to answer choice E.

Takeaway: Anytime you see something on the GMAT that you think you don’t know how to do, remind yourself that the question was designed to create this false impression. You know how to do it – don’t hesitate to dive in and search for how to apply this knowledge.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

SAT Tip of the Week: Calculator Use on the New SAT

SAT Tip of the Week - FullAt Veritas Prep, our instructors are asked a variety of questions about the new SAT. Some students want to know about the difficulty of the test, while others wonder about the types of questions that will be in each section. One of the most common questions we get is, “What calculators are allowed on the SAT?” Students know that they’ll encounter 58 questions on the Math Section of the new SAT and want be prepared for all of them.

Learn the answer to the above question and find out whether students really need to bring a calculator on test day:

Can You Use a Calculator on the SAT?
Yes, students can use one of the acceptable calculators for some SAT math questions. Students must, however, keep in mind that there are portions of the math section where they are allowed to use a calculator as well as portions where they are not allowed to use one. In addition, a student isn’t required to use a calculator on any part of the test – it’s up to the individual as to whether they need a calculator to answer the questions.

What Calculators Are Allowed on the SAT?
There are certain types of calculators allowed on SAT math questions. Students should be familiar with the guidelines for approved calculators if they plan to take one along on test day. Though calculators are allowed on some SAT math questions, they can sometimes be a hindrance when solving certain types of problems. For example, if a student uses a calculator to answer a question for reassurance rather than trusting their knowledge, they may lose valuable test time. Some questions can be answered more quickly without the help of a calculator. Part of the challenge of the math section on the new SAT is deciding whether or not to use a calculator on any given question.

Types of Calculators to Leave at Home
Some students get really excited when they hear that they will be able to use a calculator on some math problems of the new SAT. Unfortunately, in their excitement, they may forget that they can only bring SAT-approved calculators with them. For instance, it’s likely that a student has a basic calculator on their smartphone, but these devices aren’t allowed into the testing room, so students who show up on test day expecting to use the calculator on their smartphone for the exam will be disappointed.

There are also other devices that are not on the list of SAT-acceptable calculators. A student should not bring a calculator that needs to be plugged into a wall socket, a calculator with a paper tape in it, or one that makes noises when its buttons are pushed. All of these would interfere with the concentration of others in the testing room, so they will not be allowed in. In addition, students should never bring a new calculator that they’re unfamiliar with – students should be concentrating on submitting their best performance on the test, not trying to figure out how to perform functions on a new calculator.

Do Students Need a Calculator to Succeed on the SAT?
It’s up to each individual, though it is recommended that students taking the new SAT bring along an appropriate calculator just in case. But for some students – especially students who rarely use a calculator in their math courses, regardless of what type of math they’re working on – a calculator can get in the way of their thinking. If a student feels at ease answering questions without a calculator, then they should go with what is comfortable.

At Veritas Prep, our knowledgeable instructors teach tips and strategies that can guide students to success. We can advise students on when to incorporate a calculator into their work and when to put their calculator aside. Along with expert instruction, our professional instructors provide students with the encouragement and support they need to feel at ease on the Math Section as well as every other section of the new SAT. Contact Veritas Prep and give us the opportunity to study with you for the new SAT!

Still need to take the SAT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Early Thoughts on Ross’ 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

MichiganApplication season at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these essay prompts.

The essays this year are fairly similar to last year’s prompts, however with a few tweaks:

Essay 1:
What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)
This is a traditional “accomplishments” essay, and Ross has tweaked it this year to really have applicants focus on accomplishments outside of the professional arena. Coming from a very culture-focused campus, this nuance should come as no surprise. Ross has always had a very active student community, so highlighting an example that shows your prior engagement – preferably in a leadership capacity – will show your fit with the program.

Dig deep to identify the topic you are going to discuss; these types of open-ended questions really give applicants the chance to differentiate themselves from other candidates. Make sure, however, you are direct in your approach to answering this question, as Ross’ Admissions Committee has emphasized in the past the importance of answering their question as directly as possible.

Also, keep in mind that you will have time to talk about your professional career and even highlight some of your past accomplishments through the second essay, so keep this first essay tightly focused on your life outside of your professional career (unless your professional career was somehow shaped by this accomplishment).

Finally, don’t assume that if your accomplishment does not involve saving a beached whale or climbing Mt. Everest that your response will not be well-received. What makes your response to this question relevant is the impact this accomplishment had on YOU.

Essay 2:
What is your desired career path and why? (250 words)
This is a typical “career goals” essay and should come as no surprise to any candidate applying to business school. In fact, your answer to this question should be what initially drove your interest in pursuing an MBA in the first place, so Ross will be expecting a fairly polished essay here.

What will separate you from the competition as a breakthrough candidate will be how personalized your essay reads.  Like many other MBA programs, Ross wants students who are truly passionate about their school and who want to be there. With this in mind, they will be looking for you to combine your well-thought-out career goals with details on how you plan to utilize their unique program to reach these goals.

In addition, if relevant, try to connect your goals to an underlying passion you have for the role or industry you are interested in. This will highlight other underlying elements of your personal story and make your goals more tangible to the Admissions Committee.

Hopefully these thoughts on the new batch of essays from Ross will help you get started with your own essays.

Applying to Ross or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

2 Ways to Prepare for Your Campus Visit

Business School VisitWhile time consuming (and often expensive), visiting business schools is a key component of your application process. While you have the opportunity to learn about the campus environment, culture, and student body, the admissions committee has the opportunity to learn about you.

So, where do you begin?

1) Do Your Research
First, do your research. Your business school visit begins long before you actually step foot onto a campus. You will need to narrow down your MBA search so you know which schools you most want to visit. During your initial research, determine what factors are important to you in a business school community. Does the school foster a collaborative environment, or is it more competitive? Does it have a larger or a smaller class size? Do most students commute to campus or do they live within walking distance?

Some of these factors may be more important to you than others. If you’ve always lived in an urban environment, do you want to continue that lifestyle and look into NYU Stern or UCLA Anderson, or are you interested in living in a rural community like at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business? If you are going to business school with a partner, you might want to consider the percentage of partnered students in your target programs as well.

Determine which environment you will thrive in. The environment makes up the campus culture, which is an important thing to understand about your target programs before you visit.

2) Start Networking
Once you’ve determined a handful of schools that you want to visit, start networking (if you haven’t already)! Part of your initial research process might involve networking with alumni and admissions officers, but if it doesn’t, now is your chance to get to know some of the people involved with your target programs.

There are several MBA admissions events throughout the world all year long. You can meet with admissions representatives from top programs at events like The MBA Tour and the QS World MBA Tour. At these events, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know admissions representatives, alumni, or both! Talk about your goals and why you are interested in their program. They’ll be able to talk about program specifics that will help with your post-MBA goals, or put you in touch with people who know more.

You can also start to reach out to the leaders of the clubs you are interested in joining once you get to campus. These conversations will help guide your application essays and give you a stronger sense of the school before you hit submit. If you can showcase your understanding of and fit with the program, it makes your applications even stronger!

As you can see, campus visits take a lot of time, so start early. A great place to start your initial search is with the free Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. With this tool, you’ll learn about schools’ class sizes, average GMAT scores, percentage of partnered students, and so much more. The networks that you start to build with this information will come in handy when you begin visiting campuses. Check out our next post to learn more!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Don’t Worry About Your Freshman Roommate!

roomateBefore my first year of college, one of the biggest things I worried about was the prospect of not liking my freshman roommate. After having my own room (and a decently sized one at that) for all 18 years of my life, the prospect of spending two full semesters in a small dorm with someone I had never met was a scary one.

What if I don’t like him? What if his side of the room is a mess? What if he goes to bed at 4AM and blasts music every night? How is this nondescript roommate questionnaire going to pair me with someone I’m actually compatible with? What if he doesn’t like me? In my mind, the negative possibilities were endless.

In one sense, these fears are reasonable. Since you don’t have many (or any) friends at your new school before the year starts, it makes sense to want to have a perfect relationship with your roommate. Couple that desire with the seemingly random roommate pairing process at many schools, and it’s easy to get anxious.

However, in my experience these fears are oftentimes unfounded. Here are a few reasons why:

You Don’t Have to Be BFFs 
While it may not seem so beforehand, making friends in college is not too hard. That said, it’s not imperative that you and your roommate are best friends for life. Being friends with your roommate certainly doesn’t hurt, but if you aren’t super close, you’ll still be able to easily develop a solid friend group. Plus, sometimes it’s good to look outside your dorm for friendship, since it forces you to expand your horizons and get out to meet people!

Closeness Breeds Compatibility 
Even if there are certain factors that may seem to hinder your compatibility with your roommate, the fact of the matter is that most people are perfectly capable of living with each other. Barring extreme circumstances, most people can get along when they have to.

Additionally, the more you spend time living with your roommate, the more you two can figure out how to room together effectively. As long as you’re nice about it, making small requests like turning the music down or cleaning up the room a bit are likely to help out your situation without harming the room dynamic. Good communication is key – when communication lines are healthy and open, little annoyances can easily be prevented from turning into bigger problems.

(Yes) New Friends 
One overlooked thing about having a roommate is that even if you two aren’t very close, you’ll still get introduced to his or her friends. For me – someone who was friendly with, but not best friends with, my roommate – it was fun getting to know my roommate’s friends and hang out with them in our room. It’s easy to get caught up just in your own friend group, so spending time with my roommate’s friends was a nice change of pace. The ironic thing is that even though I didn’t end up being great friends with my roommate (something I had worried about), I ended up making more friends because of him!

Overall, going into college can be a nerve-wracking time for a lot of people. However, worrying about your freshman roommate is an unnecessary expenditure of worry. Hey, you’ll both be mature, responsible, college-ready adults, and even if you seem different, I’m confident you’ll be able to make it work.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Attacking Gerunds on the GMAT!

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomA few weeks back, we talked about participles and how they are used on the GMAT. In that post, we had promised to discuss gerunds more in depth at another time. So today, as promised, we’ll be looking at gerunds. Before we do that, however, let’s examine Verbals.

A Verbal is a verb that acts as a different part of speech – not as a verb.

There are three types of verbals:

  • Infinitives – these take the form of “to + verb”
  • Gerunds – these are the “-ing” form of the verb
  • Participles – these can take the “-ing,” “-ed,” “-en” etc. forms

Gerunds end in “-ing” and act as nouns in the sentence. They can act as a subject, direct object, subject complement or object of a preposition. For example:

Running a marathon is very difficult. – Subject
I love swimming. – Direct object
The activity I enjoy the most is swimming. – Subject complement
She thanked me for helping her. – Object of a preposition

You don’t have to identify the part of speech the gerund represents in a sentence; you just need to identify whether a verb’s “-ing” form is being used as a gerund and evaluate whether it is being used correctly.

A sentence could also use a gerund phrase that begins with a gerund, such as, “Swimming in the morning is exhilarating.”

Let’s take a look at a couple of official questions now:

A recent study has found that within the past few years, many doctors had elected early retirement rather than face the threats of lawsuits and the rising costs of malpractice insurance.

(A) had elected early retirement rather than face
(B) had elected early retirement instead of facing
(C) have elected retiring early instead of facing
(D) have elected to retire early rather than facing
(E) have elected to retire early rather than face

Upon reading the original sentence, we see that there is a gerund phrase here – “rising costs of malpractice insurance” – which is parallel to the noun “threat of lawsuits.”

The two are logically parallel too, since there are two aspects that the doctors do not want to face: rising costs and the threat of lawsuits.

Note, however, that they are not logically parallel to “face.” Hence, the use of the form “facing” would not be correct, since it would put “facing” and “rising” in parallel. So answer choices B, C and D are incorrect.

Actually, “retire” and “face” are logically parallel so they should be grammatically parallel, too. Answer choice E has the two in parallel in infinitive form – to retire and (to is implied here) face are in parallel.

Obviously, there are other decision points to take note of here, mainly the question of “had elected” vs. “have elected.” The use of “had elected” will not be correct here, since we are not discussing two actions in the past occurring at different times. Therefore, the correct answer is E.

Take a look at one more:

In virtually all types of tissue in every animal species dioxin induces the production of enzymes that are the organism’s trying to metabolize, or render harmless, the chemical that is irritating it.

(A) trying to metabolize, or render harmless, the chemical that is irritating it
(B) trying that it metabolize, or render harmless, the chemical irritant
(C) attempt to try to metabolize, or render harmless, such a chemical irritant
(D) attempt to try and metabolize, or render harmless, the chemical irritating it
(E) attempt to metabolize, or render harmless, the chemical irritant

Notice the use of the gerund “trying” in answer choice A. “Organism’s” is in possessive form and acts as an adjective for the noun verbal “trying.” Usually, with possessives, a gerund does not work. We need to use a noun only. With this in mind, answer choices A and B will not work.

The other three options replace “trying” with “attempt” and hence correct this error, however options C and D use the redundant “attempt to try.” The use of “attempt” means “try,” so there is no need to use both. Option E corrects this problem, so it is our correct answer.

Unlike participles, which can be a bit confusing, gerunds are relatively easy to understand and use. Feeling more confident about them now?

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Is Your Future Business School a Consulting Feeder Program?

waiting-in-lineIf you’re interested in consulting post-MBA, understanding how consulting firms view your MBA program is always a good place to start when setting up your recruiting strategy. Consulting companies primarily limit their feeder schools based on cost, as it would be very expensive to comprehensively recruit at every business school.

Another reason feeder schools are limited is experience – consulting firms form relationships with schools and become comfortable with the crop of MBA talent that certain programs provide, giving them no reason to focus on other schools for recruiting. If you are an MBA candidate at such a feeder program, life is good! If you are not, you will have to do a bit more legwork, but you still will have other opportunities for success. Let’s discuss how to distinguish consulting feeders from other MBA programs:

First, you will want to look at the employment report of your program. This report is a treasure trove of information for students when setting up their recruiting strategies. Within this report, you’ll want to review the overall numbers of students going into consulting – this is a good measure of how robust the consulting ecosystem at your school is. The higher the numbers, the more clearly the program is positioned as a feeder.

Next, look at which companies are recruiting at your school. When most candidates think of feeder programs, they think of programs that can get them jobs at MBB (otherwise known as “The Big Three” – the three largest consulting firms in the world). Management consulting is not just limited to McKinsey, Bain, and BCG however, so the depth and the diversity of firms recruiting at a particular school is important, especially for non-feeder programs. However, if you are expressly targeting MBB, it is important to identify whether or not these firms recruit at your program and in what numbers. This information will be useful as you seek to shape your recruiting strategy.

Finally, connect with your career center or consulting club to find out which consulting firms recruit on-campus. This is an important nuance of the consulting recruiting process, as firms that recruit on-campus tend to be more accessible and provide more of an egalitarian opportunity to interview slots for interested students. Firms that consider your program a feeder school will generally be a part of on-campus recruiting, however in some instances, top firms, such as McKinsey, will choose to recruit off-campus to better control the process (even if they consider your program a feeder school). Your program’s career center will have a better idea of where you can find these recruiting opportunities from such companies.

Consulting is one of the most competitive industries to break into, so understanding the relative position of your program in the industry and what this means for your ability to land a post-MBA job offer is key. Utilize this information to best set up an actionable strategy during recruiting season.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Address a Low GPA in Your MBA Applications

report cardA low GPA’s is one of the foremost concerns among those applying to business school. Even having a GPA that seemed “okay” in undergrad now probably seems a little mediocre if you’re aiming for a top MBA program. And if your GPA is actually low, you’re sure to be even more concerned.

With no way to actually change this aspect of your profile, how can you address your GPA concerns?

1) Present a Strong GMAT Score & Additional Credentials
The best way to mitigate a low GPA is to get a great GMAT score – scoring above the average of your target program will alleviate any potential concerns the Admissions Committee may have about your academic potential to keep pace with the school’s rigorous curriculum. A higher score could boost your chances for admission, and even scholarships. Thus, investing the time, effort, and resources to maximize your potential to score as high as you can on the GMAT makes sense.

Obtaining credentials such as a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) title or taking on additional courses at your local community college are also helpful in showing that you will be able to handle the coursework of business school, as well as contribute to, and reap the benefits of, your future class discussions.

2) Provide Context
Sometimes life circumstances – including illnesses, family responsibilities, or competing priorities – can have a negative impact on one’s GPA. If this is the case, the optional essay can be a good space to discuss your situation. In doing this, it is better not to come off as making excuses. Instead, use this opportunity to play up other highlights of your profile or lessons you have learned from your experience.

For instance, running the family business during an emergency while also attending school is a life experience that instills responsibility and maturity at a young age. Likewise, juggling studies and team practices to represent your school in a particular sport can give context as to why your GPA does not reflect your full potential, while also playing up other dimensions of your profile and helping you stand out.

3) Showcase Your Unique Qualities
Another way to make your MBA application more compelling is to make sure that you present strong, unique qualities or experiences that you can bring to the school. This could be in the form of your diverse background, or through your involvement in an interesting cause. If your GPA is below the norm at the school you are applying to, it is very important to justify why they should accommodate you with a spot. Thus, you need to be able to convince the Admissions Committee that you will be able to truly enrich the experiences of your peers, and of the school community, as a whole.

Identify the specifics of the MBA program you are interested in and show them how you have done well in similar environments. Substantiating this with concrete accomplishments and demonstrated impact will help present how your goals at school, and post-MBA, are both worthwhile and achievable.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Why Be an Intern? 4 Reasons You Should Consider Getting an Internship

MBA JobsInternships are time consuming, energy consuming, and frequently unpaid. Taking internships often means filling time that might otherwise be spent on classes or extracurricular activities – and spending that time completing low-level work from an organization you likely won’t be affiliated with for more than a few months. So why are they so useful, and why is competition for them often so fierce?

The answer is that the benefits of an internship goes far beyond an intern’s (often boring) day-to-day workload. Here are a few:

1) Insight Into a Career Track
There is no better way to learn whether a career track is right for you – or whether a particular field is right for you – than to observe and meet people who are in it, and to be in it yourself. Often, interns gain just as much, if not more, from shadowing and observing company staff as they do from completing their own assignments.

2) Connections
Being in a work environment in your desired field means being regularly exposed to professionals in that realm. Internships are great networking opportunities; the connections you make as an intern can potentially open doors to future internships, study and research opportunities, and even job positions after graduation.

3) Resume Boosters
Internships look great on resumes because they show that you haven’t just looked at a subject in theory through classes and textbooks – you’ve tried it out in practice and gained perspective on the practicalities, frustrations, and other everyday realities involved in that line of work. If you continue pursuing positions in that field, whether in the form of more internships or longer-term employment, having an internship on your resume tells potential employers that you understand the work you’re getting into and have useful skills and experience to apply to it.

4) Practice
In nearly every field, working life is very different from student life in terms of hours, expectations, environment, social surroundings, and more. As such, the transition from studying a field to working in it can be a difficult one. Interning helps you to transition more slowly into working life: having fewer responsibilities and less expected of you than other full-time staff will allow you space to learn time management, to adapt to a new rhythm of life and work, and to even make a few mistakes.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Early Thoughts on Wharton’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

Wharton AdmissionsApplication season at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. This year Wharton has added an additional required essay question (as opposed to last year’s one required essay and one optional essay).

Essay 1:
What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
The Wharton School has brought back its “growth” essay again for another year. The biggest potential pitfall in this question is to treat it like a typical “career goals” essay, and I caution against simply recycling your responses to similar essay questions from other programs. This prompt implores candidates to address both their professional and their personal fit with Wharton. Given the many opportunities to explore the professional side of your background throughout the application process, don’t be afraid to put some additional focus on the personal side here.

This prompt is also asking you to think broadly, so don’t minimize your vision. Breakthrough candidates will utilize a very personal narrative that uniquely captures the essence of why Wharton is the ideal fit for the applicant’s development goals. Wharton is looking for specifics here about why their particular school is the best one for you, so avoid general statements that could be harbored by any candidate. The personal element is what makes this question a bit more unique, so consider growth vectors that include others to showcase yourself as the leader a top business school like Wharton is looking for.

Essay 2:
Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)
This prompt is all about “teamwork” and “impact,” and a successful essay will really align these two elements. Hone in on the unique aspects of your profile that relate to these to showcase how you will make a positive impact on the Wharton community – whether it is through academic, professional, social, or diverse means, think through what you will contribute and how this will positively affect others at Wharton.

Your ability to translate a past teamwork experience to your planned future contributions at Wharton is a good approach for this essay. Past performance will add additional validity to your claims if you can effectively connect the dots for the Admissions Committee. If you can specify which aspects of the Wharton community you will influence, that would be even better. The pillars of the Wharton MBA are clear, so align your narrative around impacting the school’s most important focus areas.

Just a few thoughts on this year’s essays prompts from Wharton – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Wharton and its application essays, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

Applying to Wharton or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

SAT Tip of the Week: Remember That the Test is Standardized

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThe SAT, as all of you know, is a whole different animal compared to most tests you take. In terms of time, content, and structure, it’s definitely not your average high school exam. While this difference can serve to make the SAT seem particularly difficult, it can actually be a boon to test takers.

Whereas high school tests operate by their own rules and procedures that vary class-by-class and school-by-school, the SAT is by definition a standardized test. And although standardized tests are usually thought of as a drag, in this case standardization makes taking the SAT a lot easier.

Since the SAT is standardized, it has to operate the same way every time – it always plays by the same rules, always has similar types of questions, always has the same instructions, and so on. How is this information helpful to a test taker? Here are three ways to use this knowledge to your advantage:

1) There are no surprises.
Since the SAT has to operate by the same rules on each of its versions, you know what you’re going to get on each exam. There are limited and delineated areas of content, so there’s no chance a question on advanced calculus will show up on your test. Keeping this consistency in mind can help alleviate some stress about the SAT, since you know that if you’ve studied hard, you’ll be prepared for anything the College Board throws at you.

2) Answer choices have to be totally and completely defensible.
Since the test is strictly standardized, there can only be one right answer on each question. Let me say that again: there can only be one right answer per question! No other answer choice besides the right one can be at all correct. If there were answers that were debatable or questionable, then the standardization mechanism of the test would fall apart – there would be no way for the College Board to definitively say who scored better or worse if some questions had two answer possibilities.

So, when taking the test, know that if you find yourself stuck between two answer choices, then you’re thinking about the question wrong in some way. While it can be hard on the ego to admit this, it will help you re-frame these difficult questions in your head and be more confident in your ultimate answers. 

3) Practice really can make perfect (or at least better).  
Going along with the first point, since you know what general questions are going to be on the test, you can know that you are practicing the right things. Unlike some high school tests where you spend days studying only to realize the test isn’t what you thought it was going to be, on the SAT, the real tests will look exactly like the practice tests. So, the more you practice, the more you’ll be prepared for the real thing – it’s as simple as that!

Instead of thinking of the standardization and repetitiveness of the SAT as annoying, now you can know that it is this exact standardization that makes it easier to succeed on this challenging exam.

Still need to take the SAT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Reach a 99th Percentile GMAT Score Using No New Academic Strategies

Pump UpLast week I received an email from an old student who’d just retaken the GMAT. He was writing to let me know that he’d just received a 770. Of course, I was ecstatic for him, but I was even more excited once I considered what his journey could mean for other students.

His story is a fairly typical one: like the vast majority of GMAT test-takers, he enrolled in the class looking to hit a 700. His scores improved steadily throughout the course, and when he took the test the first time, he’d received a 720, which was in line with his last two practice exams. After he finished the official test, he called me – both because he was feeling pretty good about his score but also because a part of him was sure he could do better.

My feeling at the time was that there really wasn’t any pressing need for a retake: a 720 is a fantastic score, and once you hit that level of success, the incremental gains of an improvement begin to suffer from the law of diminishing returns. Still, when you’re talking about the most competitive MBA programs, you want any edge you can get. Moreover, he’d already made up his mind. He wanted to retake.

Part of his decision was rooted in principle. He was sure he could hit the 99th percentile, and he wanted to prove it to himself. The problem, he noted, was that he’d already mastered the test’s content. So if there was nothing left for him to learn, how did he jump to the 99th percentile?

The answer can be found in the vast body of literature enumerating the psychological variables that influence test scores. We like to think of tests as detached analytic tools that measure how well we’ve mastered a given topic. In reality, our mastery of the content is one small aspect of performance.

Many of us know this from experience – we’ve all had the experience of studying hard for a test, feeling as though we know everything cold, and then ending up with a score that didn’t seem to reflect how well we’d learned the material. After I looked at the research, it was clear that the two most important psychological variables were 1) confidence and 2) how well test-takers managed test anxiety. (And there’s every reason to believe that those two variables are interconnected.)

I’ve written in the past about how a mindfulness meditation practice can boost test day performance. I’ve also written about how perceiving anxiety as excitement, rather than as a nefarious force that needs to be conquered, has a similarly salutary effect. Recently I came across a pair of newer studies.

In one, researchers found that when students wrote in their journals for 10 minutes about their test-taking anxiety the morning of their exams, their scores went up substantially. In another, the social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that body language had a profound impact on performance in all sorts of domains. For example, her research has revealed that subjects who assumed “power poses” for two minutes before a job interview projected more confidence during the interview and were better able to solve problems than a control group that assumed more lethargic postures. (To see what these power poses look like, check out Cuddy’s fascinating Ted talk here.) Moreover, doing power poses actually created a physiological change, boosting testosterone and reducing the stress hormone Cortisol.

Though her research wasn’t targeted specifically at test-takers, there’s every reason to believe that there would be a beneficial effect for students who practiced power poses before an exam. Many teachers acquainted with Cuddy’s research now recommend that their students do this before tests.

So the missing piece of the puzzle for my student was simply confidence. His strategies hadn’t changed. His knowledge of the core concepts was the same. The only difference was his psychological approach. So now I’m recommending that all of my students do the following to cultivate an ideal mindset for producing their best possible test scores:

  1. Perform mindfulness meditation for the two weeks leading up to the exam.
  2. Reframe test-day anxiety as excitement.
  3. Spend 10 minutes the morning of the test writing in a journal.
  4. Practice two minutes of power poses in the waiting room before sitting for the exam and between the Quant and Verbal section.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Early Thoughts on Columbia Business School’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

Columbia UniversityApplication season at Columbia Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. There are three full essay questions and one shorter prompt for Columbia, which leaves this school with one of the lengthier application packages around.

With all these essays, it is crucial that applicants present their candidacy in a very clear yet non-redundant fashion. Let’s take a look at each of the essay questions Columbia is asking this year:

Goal:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)
Given the tight character limit to this prompt, keep your response here short and sweet. Most of the context you would normally provide in such a response will find a home in your response to Essay 1.

Essay 1:
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (100-750 words)

This is basically the same prompt for Essay 1 as last year, but with greater flexibility on the word count, which now spans from 100-750 words as opposed to last year’s 500-word limit. Do not feel it is absolutely necessary to hit the upward bounds of the new word count just because you have the option – efficiency and impactful messaging always reigns supreme in business school essays.

Columbia’s first essay question falls into the typical “career goals” essay category – the key difference here will be a focus on the future and your post-MBA career, so avoid placing too much of an emphasis on your past professional career. Remember, the Admissions Committee will already have your resume and thus, some sense of your past, so avoid rehashing your background (outside of providing any necessary context).

With this in mind, presenting both your short-term and long-term career goals in a well-aligned and clearly articulated way will be key to executing this essay successfully. Probably even more important, (given the ubiquity of your career goals), is the “fit” aspect of the essay. Breakthrough candidates will cite specific references to Columbia’s professional, academic, and extra-curricular programs that will support their development goals. With so much competition between business schools, it is critical to make a strong case that you will fit well with Columbia’s particular MBA program.

Essay 2:
Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York immersion seminars, in project based Master Classes, and in school year internships. Most importantly, they are taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (100-500 words)

Columbia comes back this year with a slight tweak to Essay 2 with the ultimate prompt effectively being the same. Columbia is uniquely positioned at the heart of business in NYC, which has lured many applicants to this top program for years. Use this essay as an opportunity to avoid generalities about NYC that other applicants may make, and get specific about how Columbia’s unique location in NYC will serve as a clear advantage in your personal and professional career, and specifically during your time on campus. This essay can also be used to build upon your response to Essay 1. 

Essay 3:
CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (100-250 words)

This question is a great chance to let your personality shine through. This is the shortest of the three full essays so every word counts – take advantage of this more open essay prompt and really try and give the Admissions Committee some “behind the scenes” insight into the type of person your classmates will meet in the Fall of 2017.  Use this essay as the platform to differentiate yourself, and remember to keep your tone light and authentic to give the school a better understand of who you are and how you will fit as a member of their incoming MBA class.

Just a few thoughts on the (not so) new batch of essays from Columbia Business School – hopefully this will help you get started with your own application. For more thoughts on Columbia and its application essays, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

Applying to Columbia or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook,YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Go From a 48 to 51 in GMAT Quant – Part VII

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomBoth a test-taker at the 48 level and one at the 51 level in the GMAT Quant section, are conceptually strong – given an unlimited time frame, both will be able to solve most GMAT questions correctly. The difference lies in the two things a test-taker at the 51 level does skillfully:

  1. Uses holistic, big-picture methods to solve Quant questions.
  2. Handles questions he or she finds difficult in a timely manner.

We have been discussing holistic methods on this blog for a long time now and will continue discussing them. (Before you continue reading, be sure to check out parts I, II, III, IVV and VI of this series.)

Today we will focus on “handling the hard questions in a timely manner.” Note that we do not say “solving the hard questions in a timely manner.” Occasionally, one might be required to make a quick call and choose to guess and move on – but again, that is not the focus of this post. We are actually going to talk about the “lightbulb” moment that helps us save on time. There are many such moments for the 51 level test-taker – in fact, the 51 scorers often have time left over after attempting all these questions.

Test takers at the 48 level will also eventually reach the same conclusions but might need much more time. That will put pressure on them the next time they look at the ticking clock, and once their cool is lost, “silly errors” will start creeping in. So it isn’t about just that one question – one can end up botching many other questions too.

There are many steps that can be easily avoided by a lightbulb moment early on. This is especially true for Data Sufficiency questions.

Let’s take an official example:

Pam owns an inventory of unopened packages of corn and rice, which she has purchased for $17 and $13 per package, respectively. How many packages of corn does she have ?

Statement 1: She has $282 worth of packages.

Statement 2: She has twice as many packages of corn as of rice.

A high scorer will easily recognize that this question is based on the concept of “integral solutions to an equation in two variables.” Since, in such real world examples, x and y cannot be negative or fractional, these equations usually have a finite number of solutions.

After we find one solution, we will quickly know how many solutions the equation has, but getting the first set of values that satisfy the equation requires a little bit of brute force.

The good thing here is that this is a Data Sufficiency question – you don’t need to find the actual solution. The only thing we need is to establish that there is a single solution only. (Obviously, there has to be a solution since Pam does own $282 worth of packages.)

So, the test-taker will start working on finding the first solution (using the method discussed in this post). We are told:

Price of a packet of corn = $17
Price of a packet of rice = $13

Say Pam has “x” packets of corn and “y” packets of rice.

Statement 1: She has $282 worth of packages

Using Statement 1, we know that 17x + 13y = 282.

We are looking for the integer values of x and y.

If x = 0, y will be 21.something (not an integer)
If x = 1, y = 20.something
If x = 2, y = 19.something
If x = 3, y = 17.something

This is where the 51 level scorer stops because they never lose sight of the big picture. The “lightbulb” switches on, and now he or she knows that there will be only one set of values that can satisfy this equation. Why? Because y will be less than 17 in the first set of values that satisfies this equation. So if we want to get the next set that satisfies, we will need to subtract y by 17 (and add 13 to x), which will make y negative.

So in any case, there will be a unique solution to this equation. We don’t actually need to find the solution and hence, nothing will be gained by continuing these calculations. Statement 1 is sufficient.

Statement 2: She has twice as many packages of corn as of rice.

Statement 2 gives us no information on the total number of packages or the total amount spent. Hence, we cannot find the total number of packages of corn using this information alone. Therefore, our answer is A.

I hope you see how you can be alert to what you want to handle these Quant questions in a timely manner.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: The Overly Specific Question Stem

GMAT Tip of the WeekFor most of our lives, we ask and answer relatively generic questions: “How’s it going?” “What are you up to this weekend?” “What time do the Cubs play tonight?”

And think about it, what if those questions were more specific: “Are you in a melancholy mood today?” “Are you and Josh going to dinner at Don Antonio’s tonight and ordering table-side guacamole?” “Do the Cubs play at 7:05 tonight on WGN?” If someone is asking those questions instead, you’re probably a bit suspicious. Why so specific? What’s your angle?

The same is true on the GMAT. Most of the question stems you see are relatively generic: “What is the value of x?” “Which of the following would most weaken the author’s argument?” So when the question stem get a little too specific, you should become a bit suspicious. What’s the test going for there? Why so specific?

The overly-specific Critical Reasoning question stem is a great example. Consider the problem:

Raisins are made by drying grapes in the sun. Although some of the sugar in the grapes is caramelized in the process, nothing is added.
Moreover, the only thing removed from the grapes is the water that evaporates during the drying, and water contains no calories or nutrients.
The fact that raisins contain more iron per food calorie than grapes do is thus puzzling.

Which one of the following, if true, most helps to explain why raisins contain more iron per calorie than do grapes?

(A) Since grapes are bigger than raisins, it takes several bunches of grapes to provide the same amount of iron as a handful of raisins does.
(B) Caramelized sugar cannot be digested, so its calories do not count toward the food calorie content of raisins.
(C) The body can absorb iron and other nutrients more quickly from grapes than from raisins because of the relatively high water content of grapes.
(D) Raisins, but not grapes, are available year-round, so many people get a greater share of their yearly iron intake from raisins than from grapes.
(E) Raisins are often eaten in combination with other iron-containing foods, while grapes are usually eaten by themselves.

Look at that question stem: a quick scan naturally shows you that you need to explain/resolve a paradox, but the question goes into even more detail for you. It reaffirms the exact nature of the paradox – it’s not about “iron,” but instead that that raisins contain more iron per calorie than grapes do. By adding that extra description into the question stem, the testmaker is practically yelling at you, “Make sure you consider calories…don’t just focus on iron!” And therefore, you should be prepared for the correct answer B, the only one that addresses calories, and deftly avoid answers A, C, D, and E, which all focus only on iron (and do so tangentially to the paradox).

Strategically speaking, if a Critical Reasoning question stem gets overly specific, you should pay particular attention to the specificity there…it’s most likely directing you to the operative portion of the argument.

Overly specific questions are most helpful in Data Sufficiency questions (and that same logic will help on Problem Solving too, as you’ll see). The testmaker knows that you’ve trained your entire algebraic life to solve for individual variables. So how can a question author use that lifetime of repetition against you? By asking you to solve for a specific combination that doesn’t require you to find the individual values. Consider this example, which appears courtesy the Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review:

If x^2 + y^2 = 29, what is the value of (x – y)^2?

(1) xy = 10
(2) x = 5

Two major clues should stand out to you that you need to Leverage Assets on this problem. For one, using both statements together (answer choice C) is dead easy. If xy = 10 and x = 5 then y = 2 and you can solve for any combination of x and y that anyone could ever ask for. But secondly and more subtly, the question stem should jump out as a classic way-too-specific, Leverage Assets question stem. They asked for a really, really specific value: (x – y)^2.

Now, immediately upon seeing that specificity you should be thinking, “That’s too specific…there’s probably a way to solve for that exact value without getting x and y individually.” That thought process alone tells you where to spend your time – you want to really leverage Statement 1 to try to make it work alone.

And if you’re still unconvinced, consider what the specificity does: the “squared” portion removes the question of negative vs. positive from the debate, removing one of the most common reasons that a seemingly-sufficient statement just won’t work. And, furthermore, the common quadratic (x – y)^2 shares an awful lot in common with the x^2 and y^2 elsewhere in the question stem. If you expand the parentheses, you have “What is x^2 – 2xy + y^2?” meaning that you’re already 2/3 of the way there (so to speak), since they’ve spotted you the sum x^2 + y^2.

The important strategy here is that the overly-specific question stem should scream “LEVERAGE ASSETS” and “You don’t need to solve for x and y…there’s probably a way to solve directly for that exact combination.” Since you know that you’re solving for the expanded x^2 – 2xy + y^2, and you already know that x^2 + y^2 = 29, you’re really solving for 29 – 2xy. Since you know from Statement 1 that xy = 20, then 29 – 2xy will be 29 – 2(10), which is 9.

Statement 1 alone is sufficient, even though you don’t know what x and y are individually. And one of the major signals that you should recognize to help you get there is the presence of an overly specific question stem.

So remember, in a world of generic questions, the oddly specific question should arouse a bit of suspicion: the interrogator is up to something! On the GMAT, you can use that to your advantage – an overly specific Critical Reasoning question usually tells you exactly which keywords are the most important, and an overly specific Data Sufficiency question stem begs for you to leverage assets and find a way to get the most out of each statement.

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By Brian Galvin.