GMAT Tip of the Week: Making Your GMAT Score SupeRIOr to Ryan Lochte’s

GMAT Tip of the WeekWhat’s the worst thing that can happen on your GMAT exam? Is it running out of time well before you’re done? Or blanking on nearly every math formula you’ve studied?

Whatever it is, it can’t be nearly as bad as being pulled over by fake cops – no lights or nothing, just a badge – then being told to get on the ground and having a gun placed on your forehead and being like, “whatever.” So your big event of 2016 will already go a lot better than Ryan Lochte’s did; you have that going for you.

What else do you have going for you on the GMAT? The ability to learn from the most recent few days of Lochte’s life. Lochte’s biggest mistake wasn’t vandalizing a gas station bathroom at 4am, but rather making up his own story and creating an even larger mess. And that’s a huge lesson that you need to keep in mind for the GMAT:

Don’t make up your own story.

Here’s what that means, on three major question types:

People make up their own story on Data Sufficiency all the time. And like a prevailing theory about Lochte (he didn’t connect the vandalism of the bathroom to the men coming after him for restitution; he really did think that he had been robbed for no reason), it’s not that they’re intentionally lying. They’re just “conveniently” misremembering what they’ve read or connecting dots that weren’t actually connected in real life. Consider the question:

The product of consecutive integers a, b, c, and d is 5040. What is the value of integer d?

(1) d is prime
(2) d < c < b < a

Once people have factored 5040 into 7*8*9*10, they can then quickly recognize that Statement 1 is sufficient: the only prime number in that bunch is 7, so d must be 7. But then when it comes to Statement 2, they’ve often made up their own story. By saying “d is the smallest, and, yep, that’s 7!” they’re making up the fact that these consecutive integers are positive. That was not specifically stated! So it could be 7, 8, 9, and 10 or it could be -7, -8, -9, and -10, making d either -10 or 7. And the GMAT (maybe like an NBC interviewer?) makes it easy for you to make up your own story.

With Statement 1, prime numbers must be positive, so if you weren’t already thinking only about positives, the question format nudges you further in that direction. The answer is A when people often mistakenly choose D, and the reason is that the question makes it easy for you to make up your own story when looking at Statement 2. So before you submit an answer, always ask yourself, “Am I only using the facts explicitly provided to me, or am I somehow making up my own story?”

Think of your friends who are good storytellers. We hate to break it to you, but they’re probably making at least 10-20% of those stories up. Which makes sense. “It was a pretty big fish,” is a lot less compelling than, “It was the biggest fish any of us had ever seen!” Case in point, the Olympics themselves.

No commentator this week has said that Michael Phelps, Lochte’s teammate, is “a really good swimmer.” They’re posing, “Is he the greatest athlete of all time?” because words that end in -st capture attention (and pageviews). Even Lochte was guilty of going overly-specific for dramatic effect: there was, indeed, a gun pointed at his taxi, but not resting on his forehead. His version just makes the story more exciting and dramatic…and you may very well be guilty of such a mistake on the GMAT. Consider:

About two million years ago, lava dammed up a river in western Asia and caused a small lake to form. The lake existed for about half a million years. Bones of an early human ancestor were recently found in the ancient lake bottom sediments on top of the layer of lava. Therefore, ancestors of modern humans lived in Western Asia between 2 million and 1.5 million years ago.

Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?

(A) There were not other lakes in the immediate area before the lava dammed up the river.
(B) The lake contained fish that the human ancestors could have used for food.
(C) The lava under the lake-bottom sediments did not contain any human fossil remains.
(D) The lake was deep enough that a person could drown in it.
(E) The bones were already in the sediments by the time the lake disappeared.

The correct answer here is E (if the bones were not already there, then they’re not good evidence that people were there during that time), but the popular trap answer is C. Consider what would happen if C were untrue: that means that there were human fossil remains that pre-date the time period in question.

But here’s where Lochte Logic is dangerous: you’re not trying to prove that the FIRST humans lived in this period at this time; you’re just trying to prove that humans lived here during that time. And whether or not there were fossils from 2.5 million or 4 million years ago doesn’t change that you still have this evidence of people in that 2 million-1.5 million years ago timeframe.

When people choose C, it’s almost always because they made up their own story about the argument – they read it as, “The earliest human ancestors lived in this place and time,” and that’s just not what’s given. Why do they do that? For Lochte’s very own reasons: it makes the story a little more interesting and a little more favorable.

After all, the average pre-MBA doesn’t spend much time reading about archaeology, but if some discovery is that level of exciting (We’ve discovered the first human! We’ve discovered evidence of aliens!) then it crosses your Facebook/Twitter feeds. You’re used to reading stories about the first/fastest/greatest/last, and so when you get dry subject matter your mind has a tendency to put those words in there subconsciously. Be careful – do not make up your own story about the conclusion!

A similar phenomenon occurs with Reading Comprehension. When you read a long passage, your mind tends to connect dots that aren’t there as it fills in the rest of the story for you. Just like Lochte, who had to fill in the gap of, “Hey what would I have said if someone pointed a gun at me and told me to get on the ground? Oh right…’whatever’ is my default answer for most things,” your mind will start to fill in details that make logical sense.

The problem then comes when you’re asked an Inference question, for which the correct answer must be true based on the passage. For example, if two details in a passage are:

  1. Michael swam the fastest race of his life.
  2. Ryan’s race was one of the slowest he’s ever swam.

You might answer the question, “Which of the following is a conclusion that can be drawn from the passage?” with:

(A) Michael swam faster than Ryan.

Your mind – particularly amidst a lot of other text between those two facts – wants to logically arrange those two swims together, and with “fastest” for Michael and “slowest” for Ryan, it kind of seems logical that Michael was faster. But those two races are never compared directly to each other. Consider that if Michael and Ryan aren’t Phelps and Lochte, but rather filmmaker Michael Moore and Olympic champion Ryan Lochte, then of course Lochte’s slowest swim would still be way, way faster than Moore’s fastest.

Importantly, Reading Comprehension questions love to bait unwitting test-takers with comparisons as answer choices, knowing that your mind is primed to create your own story and draw comparisons that are probably true, but just not proven. So again, any time you’re faced with an answer that seems obvious, go back and ask yourself if the details you’re using were provided to you, or if instead, you’re making up your own story.

So learn a valuable lesson from Ryan Lochte and avoid making up your own story, sticking only to the clean facts of the matter. Stay true to the truth, and you’ll walk out of the test center saying “Jeah!”

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.

How Do Language Studies Affect Your College Acceptance?

Europeean MBA ProgramsWhy study a foreign language? This is a question high school students often have about the courses they need to take to get into college. Other students wonder about the number of years they should dedicate to studying a foreign language. The fact is that many college admissions officials give special attention to students who participate in second-language studies. Discover a few specific reasons why college officials like to see foreign-language studies included on a student’s application:

Dedication to Learning
Why study a foreign language? It takes a dedicated student to become fluent in a second language. College admissions officials are looking for students who are constantly challenging and strengthening their skills. They are especially impressed when a student takes four years of a foreign language in high school. Students who take just two years of second-language studies have achieved the minimum requirement for most colleges. But a high school student who studies a foreign language for four years has shown dedication to getting a more thorough understanding of the language.

At Veritas Prep, we offer a free profile evaluation to students, and we look at their foreign language courses, extracurricular activities, and other qualifications to help them craft standout applications. We know how to highlight a student’s best assets, including their persistence in learning a new language.

Interest in Other Cultures
Colleges like high school students who are studying a foreign language because it shows an interest in other cultures. Part of studying the language of a foreign country involves learning about the customs and traditions of the people who live there. Interest in other cultures can help a student decide what to study in college or even what type of career to pursue. A class of college freshmen is all the more diverse if it’s filled with students who have knowledge of different people and places throughout the world.

Persistence in Mastering a Difficult Skill
College admissions officials know that it takes persistence to learn a foreign language. A student has to add to their vocabulary while working on pronunciation and constructing meaningful sentences. Also, the student must learn about the history of a country and its people. The persistence a student uses in learning a foreign language is likely to carry over into other classes. Colleges are looking for hard-working students who are eager to excel in all of their subjects. Several years of foreign-language study is an indication of a diligent student.

Earning High Scores on Standardized Tests
One of the other benefits of studying a foreign language is that this type of coursework can help students perform well on standardized tests. The logical thinking and memorization skills used to learn a foreign language in high school can assist students as they tackle questions on the SAT or the ACT. So why study foreign language? Because it can help students boost their standardized test scores and bring them a step closer to an acceptance letter from a preferred college.

Incorporating a Foreign Language in a Future Career
There are some high school students with plans to pursue careers that require knowledge of a foreign language. For instance, one high school student may dream of becoming an executive for a corporation that has offices in Japan, so the student would begin serious study of the Japanese language as a freshman in high school. After four years of Japanese study, the student would want to continue to perfect their skills in college. College admissions officials would certainly take note of a high school student with long-term goals to make use of a second language.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep can give students the tips and guidance they need to put together an impressive college application. Our consultants have worked in the admissions offices of the country’s most notable colleges. Consequently, students benefit from the inside experience of our staff.

For students who are wondering what their chances are of getting into a particular college, we have the College Chanculator. After typing in a few items of information, students can see how they compare to others who have already been accepted into a particular school. From online test prep to college application advice, we help high school students toward the school of their dreams!

How a Mock MBA Interview Can Help You Get Into Your Dream School

InterviewCongratulations, you made it to the interview stage! Now what should you do? Knowing the answers to the commonly asked MBA questions a) “Why an MBA?” b) “Why this school?” and c) “Why now?” isn’t enough. Even if you know all of the potential questions that you will need to address, a mock interview with someone who can give you honest and objective feedback will still be very helpful.

Your practice interview can offer you critical insights that may prove to be the difference between admission to your dream school and denial. Here are two reasons why you should have a mock MBA interview before the real thing:

Being well-prepared with your materials and being intelligent is not enough for a business school interview – you also need to know how to deliver your message in a natural and flowing manner.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore lost the one of the most narrow and controversial presidential elections in 2000. Well-known for his intelligence, Gore couldn’t connect effectively with his audience, often sounding like he was dictating a letter instead of having a conversation. In contrast, his rival, George W. Bush, came off as “somebody you would want to have beer with,” and could seemingly get away with missteps through his humor and charm.

Thus, don’t just count on your innate intelligence and knowledge in your interviews – practice your delivery, be aware of your mannerisms, and connect with your interviewer. Having a practice interview partner who can identify the bumps in your delivery can help you smooth these out through awareness and repetitions. This will help you feel more relaxed and confident, instead of having to organize your thoughts and search for precise words during the interview itself.

Facilitating mock interviews over the years, I have seen marked improvement for candidates who have gone through  these simulations before their real interviews. The difference between an interviewee who practiced and one who didn’t is night and day in terms of the flow and manner by which they get their messages across.

“Inside Words”
I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons in which the main character, Homer, blurted out loud words he thought he was only saying in his head. Thus, Homer had to remind himself of “inside words/outside words” to guide him on what he could and could not say in public.

Similarly, applicants get used to saying things that may be acceptable within their company or with their families, but may not be politically correct or appropriate for a business school interview. For example, within your team at work, you may know the “(insert nationality here) account” as the most difficult one, however, in citing this as an example during your interview, be very careful that you do not come off as associating negative traits in a generalized manner with a particular race, nationality, or other group.

Your practice interview partner can help you identify such pitfalls, not only in your words, but also through your body language, such as eye-rolls and shrugs, or even subtle changes in tone that may be sending an unintended message.

Polishing these rough edges in your delivery will allow you to shine during your MBA interview and convince the Admissions Committee that you are a gem of a find!

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. 

GMAT Math Cheat Sheet: Formulas and Tips for Success

ChecklistAn individual who is creating a study plan for the GMAT knows that math must be a part of the equation. Though many people love all sorts of math, there are some who become worried about the Quantitative portion of the exam.

If you’re concerned about the math questions on the GMAT, it can be useful to become more familiar with the specific content in this section. Find out about the types of problems in the Quantitative section and consider some GMAT geometry formulas. Also, check out a gathering of tips on how to prep in an effective way:

What is in the Quantitative Section?
Data Sufficiency and Problem-Solving are the two types of questions in the Quantitative section. The Problem-Solving questions are multiple-choice and test your skills in algebra, basic arithmetic, and geometry. The basic arithmetic questions involve decimals, positive and negative integers, fractions, percentages, and averages. The problems you find in this section are on par with the level of material taught in high school math classes. Though many of the questions on the exam involve basic arithmetic, it’s helpful to have a GMAT formula sheet to refer to when preparing for algebra and geometry problems.

GMAT Formulas for the Math Section
Your GMAT math formulas cheat sheet should include the Pythagorean Theorem. This formula helps you to find the measurement of the third side of a right triangle when given the measurements of the other two sides. Another item on your GMAT math cheat sheet should be A = 1/2 bh, which is the formula for finding the area of a triangle. Distance = rate*time is a very helpful formula to know, too. Find the area of a rectangle in fast fashion by using the formula A = lw. The formula A = s2 will help you discover the area of a square.

Moving Beyond Memorization

A GMAT math formulas cheat sheet is an effective study tool, but it’s equally important to know which formula to apply to a problem, so you should spend time practicing problems that employ each of those formulas. This way, on test day, you’ll be familiar with the formulas and feel comfortable using them. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to let us help you.

The expert instructors at Veritas Prep partner with students to help them learn and to practice these formulas for the Quantitative section. We hire tutors who have excellent teaching skills as well as GMAT scores in the 99th percentile. When you study with us, you know you’re learning from the best! Our instructors work through practice math problems with you to ensure that you understand how to solve them in the most efficient way.

Get the Timing Right
Test-takers are given 75 minutes to tackle the 37 questions in the Quantitative section. This sounds like a long time, but if you get hung up on one question for several minutes, you could end up running out of time for this section. In order to avoid this, you should take timed practice tests. Taking timed tests allows you to establish a rhythm for solving problems and answering questions. Once you establish a rhythm, you don’t have to be so concerned about running out of time before you finish all of the problems.

More Tips for Mastering the Quantitative Section
Studying with a GMAT math cheat sheet is one way to prepare for the test. Another way to save test time and make questions more manageable is to eliminate answer options that are clearly wrong – this allows your mind to focus only on the legitimate choices. Estimating the answer to a problem as you read through it is another way to save test time and arrive at answers more quickly.

Our GMAT curriculum teaches you how to approach questions on the separate math topics within the Quantitative section. Our strategies give you the tools you need to problem-solve like a business professional! We are proud to provide both online and in-person courses that prepare you for the GMAT. Veritas Prep instructors offer solid instruction as well as encouragement to individuals with the goal of acing the GMAT and getting into a preferred business school. Let us partner with you on the road to GMAT success! Contact us to talk with one of our course advisers today.

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!

Playing Up Athletic Accomplishments in Your Business School Applications

For the MBA admissions game, applicants often feel that the content they should be including in their business school applications is limited to their professional and academic highlights. However, impressive personal details – such as athletic achievements and experiences – can also come in handy when building up one’s profile.

Just as a beauty pageant contestant would want to impress the competition judges with both intelligence and physical beauty, an MBA applicant will do well to win admiration from the Admissions Committee with different aspects of his or her personality, as well.

I know you are applying for a top MBA program (and not an NBA team!), but sharing that you are part of a national team or that you hold (or held) regional, age-level records in your chosen sport will still help your application. Apart from differentiating you from other candidates within your same industry, your accomplishments can also be used to show consistent character traits that have been common in your successes, which you can bring with you as you make the move to business school.

For example, you may highlight the leadership skills and drive that have allowed you to excel as captain of your soccer team as the same strengths that have been key to your success as a project manager. This will help you be more convincing when you say that these skills will enable you to be successful at the prestigious MBA program you are targeting. Likewise, accomplishments in competitive sports can also be effective in strengthening your personal brand – they could be additional illustrations of your reputation as an achiever or as a team player.

Sharing interesting personal anecdotes of how a particular athletic event changed your mindset or helped you grow as a person is another way to leverage your athletic background. Rich materials abound in this field – you can demonstrate your ability to collaborate with teammates, your resilience in overcoming personal setbacks (such as injuries or failures), and other positive traits.

One inherent advantage to showcasing your athletic background is that your stories will be easy to visualize (like an ESPN highlight reel), and the Admissions Committee will be able to better relate to the highs and lows that you share. Thus, your stories become effective set-ups for presenting lessons you have learned and how you have become the person you are today. Aside from strengthening your message by demonstrating it across various contexts, this also presents you as a multi-faceted individual.

Lastly, when presented properly, your passion for sports can be an effective “ice breaker” for your interviews or to help you build relationships with your future business school peers. Sharing a keen interest in a particular sport can develop rapport. Being associated with positive qualities such as strength, agility or gracefulness can only help you as you reach for that coveted spot at a top MBA program.

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. 

Live Chat Event Helps You Find the Right College Match

collegeweeklive-1Deciding which college to attend can seem like an overwhelming decision. How do you know what type of school is best for you? Which are the best degree programs? And once you decide on a school, what will it take to get in?

There’s now a website – – where these questions can be answered in live chats with colleges and education experts. Nearly one million high school students a year visit to text and video chat with admissions counselors at colleges and universities around the country.

Throughout the year, you can watch live presentations or join a one-on-one or group chat to ask anything you’d like about topics like classes, professors, degree programs, campus life, dorm rooms, and more. Many of the participating colleges also have live chats hosted by some of their current students who can give you plenty of insider advice about what it’s really like to live on campus.

Get Free Advice at Back to School Day
The next big event is their Back to School Day on Thursday, August 25, 2016. You and your parents can sign-up for free and login between 2:00-10:00PM EDT to:

  • Chat with representatives from 100+ colleges and universities around the country
  • Attend live presentations and Q&As with education experts
  • Enter to win a $1,000 scholarship when you research colleges during the event

Top Questions to Help You Find the Right College
Don’t be shy about asking questions during a virtual college fair. This is your chance to really get to know each school! Here are some great questions to get you started:

  • What do students seem to like best about your school?
  • What do you feel makes your school stand out?
  • What’s your favorite part of campus?
  • What fun things are there to do off campus?
  • What types of students tend to do best at your school?
  • What percentage of students get a job in their field right after graduation?
  • What test scores do I need to get admitted?
  • What advice do you have for making my application stand out?
  • What are some of your most popular degree programs?
  • Which are some of your strongest programs and why?
  • How accessible are your professors?
  • What types of scholarships are available?
  • What kind of work/study opportunities do you offer?
  • What is student housing like?

Get Advice from Admissions Experts
Education experts such as Ted Fiske of The Fiske Guide to Colleges participate in many of CollegeWeekLive’s online presentations. You can watch live presentations and ask questions during the live events, or even view the presentations on-demand.

Common presentation topics include:

  • How to write a great college essay
  • Tips on researching colleges
  • The ins and outs of college admissions
  • Finding the best scholarships
  • Preparing for the ACTs and SATs

Check out the schedule of virtual college fairs and live chats and signup for CollegeWeekLive for free.


Important GRE Math Formulas to Know Going Into the Exam

Pi to the 36th digitThe Quantitative Reasoning section is just one of three parts of the GRE. In this section, students must answer algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis questions. In order to prep for this section of the test, students must take time to learn some GRE math formulas, as these formulas aren’t provided on the test. Check out some examples of math formulas for GRE questions and get some tips on how to master this section of the exam.

Examples of GRE Math Formulas

  • Slope-intercept: y = mx + b
  • Distance = Rate * Time or D = RT
  • Average Speed = Total Distance/Total Time
  • For squares: Perimeter = 4s (side); Area = s2
  • For rectangles: Area = Length * Width or A= lw; Perimeter= 2l + 2w
  • For polygons: Total degrees = 180(n-2), where n = the number of sides
  • For circles: Area = πr2 , Circumference = 2πr

Tips for the Quantitative Section
As a student works through this portion of the test, it’s helpful to scan through the answer options and eliminate those that are clearly incorrect. Crossing out these options helps to make a math problem more manageable for a student. Plus, the student doesn’t have to waste time considering answer options that are definitely not going to work.

A second tip is to work problems out on scrap paper. This is especially beneficial when working on word problems – a student is able to see all of the parts of a problem without having to mentally juggle a lot of figures. Furthermore, if a student arrives at an answer that doesn’t match up with any of the options, they can go back to the work on the scrap paper to find the mistake.

Students may want to get into the habit of estimating the answer before considering any of the answer options. This gives the student a rough idea of what the answer looks like before choosing the official solution from the multiple options.

In order to save test time, it’s also a good idea for students to skip extremely puzzling questions and return to them later on in the test period. A student who spends too much time on one problem in the quantitative reasoning section is likely to run out of time before finishing the rest of the section. Students who take the computer-delivered version of the GRE are able to use a convenient “mark and review” tool that helps them to remember the questions that were skipped and go back to them.

Studying for the Quantitative Section
Memorizing math formulas for GRE questions is just one of the effective ways to study for the GRE. Working on practice math problems is another way to prep for the test. This gives a student the opportunity to practice using those math formulas. As they work through a variety of problems, students can become familiar with when to use a particular GRE math formula.

Some students find it helpful to make flash cards with math formulas on them. They can quiz themselves by holding up a flash card with a GRE math formula on it. Next, the student should successfully complete a problem using that formula.

Online math games are another study tool used by many students. Games can be a fun way for students to refresh their algebra skills or get reacquainted with the rules of geometry. Some students like to pair with another person to play these types of math games. Competing with a friend to see who can score more points and end up with more correct answers can be motivating to many students who plan to take the GRE. Plus, it’s always helpful to hear encouraging words from a friend.

All of our GRE instructors at Veritas Prep have taken the exam and achieved impressive scores. They are familiar with the subtleties of this challenging test. In short, our students learn from instructors who know what it takes to master the Quantitative Reasoning section as well as the other sections on the GRE. Our instructors help students to learn the math formulas they need to know to take on the test with confidence. We offer in-person and online courses in which students can get test-taking strategies from the experts. Contact Veritas Prep today!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

When to Pick Your Own Numbers on GMAT Quant Questions

SAT/ACTThe other day, while working with a tutoring student, I was enumerating the virtues of various test-taking strategies when the student sheepishly interrupted my eloquent paean to picking numbers. She’d read somewhere that these strategies were fine for easy to moderate questions, but that for the toughest questions, you just had to bear down and solve the problem formally. Clearly, she is not a regular reader of our fine blog.

As luck would have it, on her previous practice exam she’d received the following problem, which both illustrates the value of picking numbers and demonstrates why this approach works so well.

A total of 30 percent of the geese included in a certain migration study were male. If some of the geese migrated during the study and 20 percent of the migrating geese were male, what was the ratio of the migration rate for the male geese to the migration rate for the female geese? 

[Migration rate for geese of a certain sex = (number of geese of that sex migrating) / (total number of geese of that sex)] 

A) 1/4
B) 7/12
C) 2/3
D) 7/8
E) 8/7

This is a perfect opportunity to break out two of my favorite GMAT tools: picking numbers and making charts. So, let’s say there are 100 geese in our population. That means that if 30% are male, we’ll have 30 male geese and 70 females geese, giving us the following chart:

Male Female Total
Total 30 70 100

Now, let’s say 10 geese were migrating. That means that 90 were not migrating. Moreover, if 20 percent of the migrating geese were male, we know that we’ll have 2 migrating males and 8 migrating females, giving us the following:

Male Female Total
Migrating 2 8 10
Total 30 70 100

(Note that if we wanted to, we could fill out the rest of the chart, but there’s no reason to, especially when we’re trying to save as much time as possible.)

Our migration rate for the male geese is 2/30 or 1/15. Our migration rate for the female geese is 8/70 or 4/35. Ultimately, we want the ratio of the male migration rate (1/15) to the female migration rate (4/35), so we need to simplify (1/15)/(4/35), or (1*35)/(15*4) = 35/60 = 7/12. And we’re done – B is our answer.

My student was skeptical. How did we know that 10 geese were migrating? What if 20 geese were migrating? Or 50? Shouldn’t that change the result? This is the beauty of picking numbers – it doesn’t matter what number we pick (so long as we don’t end up with an illogical scenario in which, say, the number of migrating male geese is greater than the number of total male geese). To see why, watch what happens when we do this algebraically:

Say that we have a total of “t” geese. If 30% are male, we’ll have 0.30t male geese and 0.70t females geese.  Now, let’s call the migrating geese “m.” If 20% are male, we’ll have 0.20m migrating males and 0.80m migrating females. Now our chart will look like this:

Male Female Total
Migrating 0.20m 0.80m m
Total 0.30t 0.70t t

The migration rate for the male geese is 0.20m/0.30t or 2m/3t. The migration rate for the female geese is 0.80m/0.70t or 8m/7t. We want the ratio of the male migration rate (2m/3t) to the female migration rate (8m/7t), so we need to simplify (2m/3t)/(8m/7t) = (2m*7t)/(3t * 8m) = 14mt/24mt = 7mt/12mt = 7/12. It’s clear now why the numbers we picked for m and t don’t matter – they cancel out in the end.

Takeaway: We cannot say this enough: the GMAT is not testing your ability to do formal algebra. It’s testing your ability to make good decisions in a stressful environment. So your goal, when preparing for this test, isn’t to become a virtuoso mathematician, even for the toughest questions. It’s to practice the kind of simple creative thinking that will get you to your answer with the smallest investment of your time.

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 Dartmouth Tuck’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

Tuck MBA Application season at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth 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 updated essay prompts. With all of your essays for Tuck, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy within the school-specific suite of essay questions.

Essay 1:
Tuck educates wise leaders who better the world of business. What are your short- and long-term goals? How will a Tuck MBA enable you to become a wise leader with global impact? (500 to 700 words)
This essay is Tuck’s take on the common “Career Goals” essay. Tuck returns this year with an updated approach to this essay that asks applicants to hone in on the leadership and impact aspects of their career goals. This is a great opportunity to really show the school how you plan to become a global change agent, and how Tuck is the ideal place to help you manifest this goal. School research is key here, so make sure your school interest aligns with Tuck’s strong value system.

Leadership is not typically an item that is directly called upon in a career essay prompt, so this should be a clear focus in your response. Tuck is looking for candidates who are aspirational and who truly see themselves making an impact on the world around them through a leadership role, so think through how your career goals will do that and make sure to frame your future plans in the context of leadership.

Essay 2:
As a diverse and global community, our students arrive at the same place from many different paths. Tell us about an experience in which you have had to live, learn and/or work with other people very different from yourself. What challenges and/or opportunities did you experience, how did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)
Attending Tuck is a very different MBA experience than one might have at other programs – from the remote location, to the small class size, to the close community, it is your job to convince the Admissions Committee that you are a strong fit for this unique student experience.

In your response, it is important to directly address each point of the prompt while highlighting your strong fit with the Tuck MBA. Tuck is known for their unique culture and strong alumni network, so your evaluation by the Admissions Committee will be based on how well you will fit into their student community.

Don’t limit yourself to just professional examples here; this prompt is purposefully open-ended, so whichever direction you choose to go should showcase a cross-section of both your interpersonal skills and comfort in interacting with people from various walks of life. The experience you select should have a good deal of depth so you are able to address each aspect of the prompt in great detail. Make sure you also connect the dots for the Admissions Committee by detailing the impact this experience had on you, the lessons you learned from it, and how it will factor into your contributions as a Tuck MBA.

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

Applying to Dartmouth Tuck 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.

Invest in Your Success: Preparing for the GMAT in 3, 2, 1 Months

stopwatch-620Are you planning to pursue your MBA? If so, you probably know that most business schools take special notice of applicants who have high scores on the GMAT. In order to perform well on the GMAT, you have to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to study. This brings up the question, “How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT?” Check out some tips to consider when creating your study plan for the GMAT:

Things to Consider Before Starting the Study Process
Before estimating your GMAT preparation time, it’s a good idea to look at the application deadlines for the business schools you’re interested in. Ideally, you want to submit your GMAT scores by a school’s application deadline. For example, a business school might have an application deadline of Oct. 5. Taking the GMAT in August would allow you enough time to retake the test if you’re not satisfied with your score. And if you’re taking the GMAT in August, you could also start studying in May to allow yourself three months of GMAT preparation time.

When you study with our instructors at Veritas Prep, you’ll learn how to approach the questions on the GMAT. Our GMAT curriculum zeros in on each subject within the four sections. We reveal subtleties of the test that can help you avoid common mistakes and achieve a high score.

How to Prepare for the GMAT in 3 Months
Three months is an optimal amount of time to prepare for the GMAT. Naturally, many prospective MBA students want to know the specifics of how to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months. Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to a study schedule. Some people study for three hours per day, five days a week, while others study for two hours a day, seven days a week.

After looking at your practice test results, you may see that you did well on algebra and basic arithmetic questions but need to work on geometry and Data Sufficiency problems, so a two-hour study period on one day may begin with 30 minutes of quizzing yourself with geometry flashcards and 30 minutes of practice problems. The second hour could be dedicated to Data Sufficiency study – this involves evaluating Data Sufficiency questions to practice weeding out unessential information.

During each week of the three-month period, you could work on Quantitative skills for two days, Verbal skills for two days, Integrated Reasoning skills for two days, and Analytical Writing for one. Varying a study schedule helps you cover all of the skills you need to practice and keeps you from growing tired of the routine.

Two Months to Prepare for the Test
Perhaps you’re wondering how to prepare for the GMAT in 2 months. Two months is a relatively short time to study for the GMAT, but it can work, especially if you get impressive results on your practice tests.

One tip is to study for two or three hours several days a week. If your test results reveal that you need to strengthen your Reading Comprehension skills, try increasing the amount of reading you do. Reading financial magazines and newspapers can give you practice with evaluating an author’s intentions and finding the main ideas. Alternatively, if your practice test reveals the need to work on basic arithmetic, you can spend 30 minutes each study period with flashcards containing fractions, percentages and probability problems. Let your practice test results guide your study to make it efficient.

One Month to Prepare for the Test
But what if you’re short on time and need to know how to prepare for the GMAT in 1 month? Once again, your practice test results should guide you in your studies. If you have just one month to prepare, it’s best to study for two or three hours each day of the week.

If you need to strengthen your Analytical Writing skills, find some high-scoring GMAT essays to study. These will help you to see what elements you need to include in your own practice essays. If you find that you run out of time on a practice test in the Quantitative section, work on establishing a pace that allows you to finish in time. Most importantly, create a study schedule ahead of time and follow it closely throughout the month so you give each subject enough attention.

Veritas Prep’s instructors stand ready to help, no matter how many months you have to prepare for the GMAT. Our prep courses are available both online and in person. Contact our offices today to start studying for the GMAT!

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!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Know Your Subtraction for the GMAT!

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomYour first reaction to the title of this post is probably, “I already know my subtraction!” No surprise there. But what is surprising is that our statistics tell us that the following GMAT question – which is nothing extraordinary, but does involve some tricky subtraction – is a 700-level question. That made us decide to write this post. We will discuss this concept along with the question:

The last digit of 12^12 + 13^13 – 14^14 × 15^15 =

(A) 0
(B) 1
(C) 5
(D) 8
(E) 9

This is a simple question based on the cyclicity of units digits. There are 3 terms here: 12^12, 13^13 and (14^14)*(15^15). Let’s find the last digit of each of these terms:

The units digit of 12 is 2.
2 has a cyclicity of 2 – 4 – 8 – 6.
The cycles end at the powers 4, 8, 12 … etc. So, twelve 2’s will end in a units digit of 6.

The units digit of 13 is 3.
3 has a cyclicity of 3 – 9 – 7 – 1.
A new cycle starts at the powers 1, 5, 9, 13 … etc. So, thirteen 3’s will end in a units digit of 3.

This term is actually the most simple to manage in the case of its units digit – an even number multiplied by a multiple of 5 will end in 0. Also, note that this will be a huge term compared to the other two terms.

This is what our expression looks like when we consider just the units digits of these terms:

(A number ending in 6) + (A number ending in 3) – (A much greater number ending in 0)

Looking at our most basic options, a number ending in 6 added to a number ending in 3 will give us a number ending in 9 (as 3 + 6 = 9). So, the expression now looks like this:

(A number ending in 9) – (A much greater number ending in 0)

It is at this point that many people mess up. They deduce that 9-0 will end in a 9, and hence, the answer will be E. All their effort goes to waste when they do this. Let’s see why:

How do you subtract one number out of another? Take, for example, 10-7 = 3

This can also be written as 7-10 = -3. (Here, you are still subtracting the number with a lower absolute value from the number with a greater absolute value, but giving it a negative sign.)

Let’s try to look at this in tabular form. The number with the greater absolute value goes on the top and the number with the smaller absolute value goes under it. You then subtract and the result gets the sign of the number with the greater absolute value.

(i) 100-29

(ii) 29-100
(But since the sign of 100 is negative, your answer is actually -71.)

So, the number with greater absolute value is always on top. Going back to our original question now, (A number ending in 9) – (A much greater number ending in 0) will look like:

–  pq9

Ignoring the letter variables (these are simply placeholders), note that the greater number ending in 0 will be on the top and the smaller one ending in 9 will be below it. This means the answer will be a negative number ending in a units digit of 1. Therefore, our answer is B.

As we learn more advanced concepts, make sure you are not taking your basic principles for granted!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, 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: What Simone Biles and the Final Five Can Teach You About GMAT Math

GMAT Tip of the WeekOn this Friday, ending the first week of the Rio Olympics, your office has undoubtedly said the name “Simone” exponentially more than ever before. Michael Phelps’ blowout win – his 4th straight – in the 200 IM was incredible, but last night belonged to two Texans named Simone.

Swimmer Simone Manuel and gymnast Simone Biles each won historic gold medals, and if you’re at all inspired to pursue your own “go for the gold” success in business school (maybe Stanford like Manuel, or UCLA like Biles), you can learn a lot from the Olympic experience. Two lessons, in particular, stand out from the performance of Biles and her “Final Five” teammates:

Connect Your Skills
There’s no way to watch Olympic gymnastics and not be overwhelmingly impressed by the skills that each gymnast brings to competition. So at times it’s frustrating and saddening to hear the TV announcers discuss deduction after deduction; shouldn’t everyone at all times just be yelling, “Wow!!!!” at the otherworldly talents of each athlete?

Much like the GMAT, though, Olympic gymnastics is not about the sheer possession of these skills – at that level, everyone has them. It’s more about the ability to execute them and, as becomes evident from the expert commentary of Tim Dagget and Nastia Liukin, to connect them. It’s not the uneven bars handstand or release itself that wins the gold, it’s the ability to connect skill after skill as part of a routine. The line, “She was supposed to connect that skill to another…” is always followed by, “That will be a deduction” – both in Olympic gymnastics and on the GMAT.

How does that affect you?

By test day, you had better have all of the necessary skills to compete on the GMAT Quant Section. Area of a triangle, Pythagorean Theorem, Difference of Squares…if you don’t know these rules, you’re absolutely sunk. But to do really well, you need to quickly connect skill to skill, and connect items in the problems to the skills necessary to work with them. For example:

If a problem includes a term x^4 – 1, you should immediately be thinking, “That connects really well to the Difference of Squares rule: a^2 – b^2 = (a + b)(a – b), and since x^4 is a square [it’s (x^2)^2] and 1 is a square (it’s 1^2), I can write that as (x^2 + 1)(x^2 – 1), and for good measure I could apply Difference of Squares to the (x^2 – 1) term too.” The GMAT won’t ever specifically tell you, “Use the Difference of Squares,” so it’s your job to immediately connect the symptoms of Difference of Squares (an even exponent, a subtraction sign, a square of some kind, even if it’s 1) to the opportunity to use it.

If you see a right triangle, you should recognize that Area and Pythagorean Theorem easily connect. In a^2 + b^2 = c^2, sides a and b are perpendicular and allow you to use them as the base and height in the area formula. And the Pythagorean Theorem includes three squares with the opportunity to create subtraction [you could write it as a^2 = c^2 – b^2, allowing you to say that a^2 = (c + b)(c – b)…], so you could connect yet another skill to it to help solve for variables.

Similarly, if you see a square or rectangle, its diagonal is the hypotenuse of a right triangle, allowing you to use the sides as a and b in the Pythagorean setup, which could also connect to Difference of Squares…etc.

When you initially learned most of these skills in high school (much like when Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, etc. learned handstands and cartwheels in Gymboree), you learned them as individual, isolated skills. “Here’s the formula, and here are 10 questions that test it.” On the GMAT – as in the Olympics – you’re being tested more on your ability to connect them, to see opportunities to use a skill that’s not obvious at first (“Well, I’m not sure what to do but I do have multiple squared terms so let me try to apply Difference of Squares…or maybe I can use a and b in the Area calculation.”), but that helps you build more knowledge of the problem.

So as you study, don’t just learn individual skills. Look for opportunities to connect them, and look for signals that will tell you that a connection is possible. A rectangle problem with a square root of 3 in the answer choices should tell you “the diagonal of this rectangle may very well be connected to a 30-60-90 triangle, since those have the 1, √3, 2 side ratio…” The GMAT is about connections more so than just skills, so study accordingly.

Stick the Landing
If you’re like most in the “every four years I love gymnastics for exactly one week” camp, the single most important thing you look for on any apparatus is, “Did he/she stick the landing?” A hop or a step on the landing is the most noticeable deduction on a gymnastics routine…and the same holds true for the GMAT.

Again, the GMAT is testing you on how well you connect a variety of skills, so naturally there are places for you to finish the problem a step short. A problem that requires you to leverage the Pythagorean Theorem and the Area of a Triangle may ask for the sum of sides A and B, for example, but if you’ve solved for the sides individually first, you might see a particular value (A = 6) on your noteboard and in the answer choices and choose it without double checking that you answered the proper question.

That is a horrible and unnecessary “deduction” on your GMAT score: you did all the work right, all the hard part right (akin to the flip-and-two-twists in the air on your vault or the dazzling array of jumps and handstands on the tiny beam) and then botched the landing.

On problems that include more than one variable, circle the variable that the test is looking for and then make sure that you submit the proper answer for that variable. If a problem asks for a combination of variables (a + b, for example), write that down at the top of your scratchwork and go back to it after you’ve calculated. Take active steps to ensure that you stick the landing, because nothing is worse than doing all the work right and then still getting the problem wrong.

In summary, recognize that there are plenty of similarities between the GMAT and GyMnAsTics [the scoring system is too complex for the layman to worry about, the “Final Five” are more important than you think (hint: the test can’t really use the last five questions of a section for research purposes since so many people are rushing and guessing), etc.]. So take a lesson from Simone Biles and her gold-medal-winning teammates: connect your skills, stick the landing, and you’ll see your score vault to Olympian heights.

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.

Applying Nassim Taleb’s Thoughts to Your Future Post-MBA Career

GMATNassim Taleb, the thought-provoking, bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan, and Antifragile, always pokes fun at MBAs, economists, and academic types. What then can we learn from him, given his seemingly evident contempt for the path you are planning to take? How can you use his own thoughts to your advantage towards achieving your post-MBA goals?

Have a Sense of Humor
Well, to put things in perspective, Taleb himself is a Wharton MBA and has served as a professor at NYU. So, the first lesson for everybody would be this: Don’t get too attached to titles and distinctions. Let’s have a sense of humor about ourselves!

Aside from allowing us to enjoy life more, having a sense of humor reduces our biases, making us more conscious of “unknown unknowns.” It also helps us keep our minds open to new experiences and ideas outside the defined “knowledge” in our specific fields.

Be Aware of the Problem with Experts
Taleb also humanizes “experts” – no matter how distinguished they may be in their fields, their error rates are higher than what you would expect. Thus, as you make your career-defining decisions, be sure to keep in mind what the downsides would be if the expert predictions you have relied on fail.

Credentials, jargon and expensive suits can make gurus, economists and military analysts look like real experts, even if they have poor track records of success or predictive abilities. Beware of relying blindly on these “empty suits” who can be anywhere, including CEOs, senior managers and classmates. With no exceptional ability to achieve results, “empty suits” focus on looking and sounding credible, rather than providing real substance. As an MBA, it would help you to develop both the ability to detect these “empty suits,” and still learn skills to effectively communicate with them.

By observing them closely, you can consider adopting the tactics they use that work (while avoiding what doesn’t work) and integrating them into your (hopefully!) sound reasoning and solid plans. This will help you better present your ideas and win people over to help achieve your projects’ objectives and your personal goals.

Domestication of Employees?
In an excerpt from Taleb’s work-in-progress book, Skin in the Game, he shares perspectives on the power structure between employers and employees.

Drawing from his personal experiences and observations, Taleb discusses the evolution of the “company person” into a “companies person”. As a high-potential employee, you will no longer be only concerned about your reputation within your own company, but the times now dictate that you will also want to be attractive to other companies in the event that you have to move on, whether by circumstances or by choice. Taleb argues that caring so much about this reputation and about performance evaluations by your direct superiors is a form of slavery.

Employees who have relocated with their entire families to remote outposts of their companies also fall into the trap of having their whole lives hanging by the whimsical thread of the boss at headquarters. Thus, they cannot be expected to make any radical decisions that could potentially displease their superiors. The employees with the most freedom are often salespeople – they don’t have to worry as much about pleasing their bosses as they hold the potential threat of taking customers with them if they move.

Knowing what you are getting into within the power structure of your role, organization and industry could help serve as an additional guide on how to handle your own expectations and how to plan for your next moves.

You may not completely agree with Taleb’s conclusions, but do consider his thoughts as you navigate your post-MBA career. Being aware of these concepts and lessons may just help your future professional life.

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. 

Does Your GMAT Score Matter Once You’re Admitted Into Business School?

08fba0fOne of the most anxiety-inducing and nerve-wracking aspects of the MBA application process for many candidates is the GMAT. Whether it is preparing for the exam, actually taking the test, or wondering if your score is high enough and your Verbal/Quant splits are well-balanced, the GMAT can drive you crazy. However, once applicants are able to break through and secure admission into their target programs, one would think all of this GMAT stress is behind them, right?

Unfortunately, not exactly. For most students, the GMAT is, in fact, a thing of the past and they can breathe easy and move on from those dreaded four letters after business school begins. For some students, however, their GMAT score can still represent an important measure of aptitude even past the MBA application process and matriculation.

Let us focus on these students who must still concern themselves with their GMAT scores. The GMAT is really only relevant for recruiting purposes at this point, and only in a select few industries that tend to put a heavy weight on analytical skills and “intellectual horsepower.”

The most common industry recruiters that fit the bill here are management consulting firms like the Boston Consulting Group, financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, and prestigious tech companies like Google. These specific firms are just used for representative purposes, but many similar companies use the GMAT as a key decision point when selecting students for interviews, and also when making their final decisions in on-campus hiring. Therefore, it is important to do your due diligence and discuss with the recruiting firms you are interested in the components that factor into their decision-making processes.

Generally, companies that put an emphasis on the GMAT are looking for you to break a threshold. So it is not simply “the higher score you get, the better your chances.” The standard tends to be at the 700 mark – if your score is below this threshold, your chances at securing an interview or an offer at these firms may be a bit more difficult. Although again (I cannot emphasize this enough), every firm has a different value system towards the GMAT and you will often never truly know how much of a factor it plays within the recruiting process, but it is still important to keep in mind that it is a factor.

Information is king! Do your due diligence upfront in the recruiting process, understand the strengths and weakness of your profile, and be knowledgeable of how factors like the GMAT may play a role during on-campus recruiting.

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.

Early Thoughts on UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

MBA@UNCApplication season at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 application essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this year’s essay prompts:


Essay 1Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA.
Explain how your professional experience has shaped these goals; why this career option appeals to you; and how you arrived at the decision that now is the time and the MBA is the appropriate degree? (500 words)
This is a very involved career goals essay, so you’ll want to make sure you compartmentalize each component of the prompt to ensure you are properly answering the question. 500 words is generally seen as a lengthy word count among the essays of other top business schools this year, but with all of the components in this essay, it is critical to stay concise with your response and move things along.

Addressing your response to this prompt via a relevant story that captures your passion for your desired career path is a great way to stand out while still informing the Admissions Committee of your post-MBA goals.

Essay 2: Optional
What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (300 words)
These questions can be difficult for many candidates to answer, but for an MBA application, candidates must be unafraid to highlight what makes them truly unique. Remember, unless you say it, the Admissions Committee will never know, so don’t be bashful here.

Focus on the “distinguish” aspect of the prompt to highlight not only what makes you unique, but also what you could potentially bring to campus. Try to avoid basic responses here – dig deep to think through your personal and professional strengths and connect them to UNC student life and what you could contribute to the Kenan-Flagler community.

Essay 3: Optional
If your standardized test scores are low, or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum (300 words)
Only answer this question if you realistically fall into this bucket. If your GMAT score is materially lower than the average score listed for Kenan-Flagler students, then the school would probably define you as a “low test score” recipient. If you have worked in an analytical function or plan to take pre-MBA coursework, this essay would be a good opportunity to highlight these aspects of your profile to address the potential red flag of your score.

Essay 4: Optional
Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? (300 words)
This is a more traditional optional essay, so only use it if it feels absolutely necessary (given that the school already has a few outlets to address typical optional essay topics). This essay tends to be a good area to show an aspect of your personality, passion, perspective or professional career that has not been discussed otherwise in your application.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Kenan-Flagler that should help you get started for this admissions season.

Applying to UNC 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.

3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Gain From an MBA

GoalsHarvard Business Review recently published the article, “Why More MBAs Should Buy Small Businesses” by professors Richard S. Ruback and Royce Yudkoff. This article presented the argument that it makes sense for MBA graduates to buy small businesses as, in the long run, it benefits their independence and certainty (after the initial stress of the business search process, of course).

Browsing through the comments of HBR’s original Facebook link to this article, entrepreneurs with MBAs expectedly felt validated that experts from Harvard itself supported their path. This is understandable, as they have surely received mouthfuls before from friends, families and foes ridiculing how they are “wasting” their expensive MBA credentials.

On the other hand, some stated how unnecessary it is to have an MBA to create a small business, frequently citing tycoons who did not have MBAs, and how the funds used to pay for business school could have been used as start-up capital, instead. Owning a small business may not be for everybody due to the risk and investment required, but it is a path to consider.

So, what then does an entrepreneur gain from an MBA?

1) A Strategic View
Learning about the rise and fall of industries, companies and products, as well as the market forces that drive them, will help you gain a big-picture look of business and allow you to better determine the feasibility of your ideas. It will also equip you with a general range of probabilities for your success, while also keeping you conscious of both the upside and downside of your venture. Having some awareness of broad industry and economic trends – while keeping an eye out for disruptive technologies or events – could help you spot opportunities and risks.

Key concepts on managing finances and operations, such as the trade-off between debt and equity or between stock-outs and spoilage (or obsolescence), are important takeaways from an MBA that will help save you money in the long run, or even be the difference between the life and death of your enterprise.

2) Recognition of Human Factors
During the first month of my MBA program, I was filled with stories of how giant companies – reputable ones filled with the smartest people – made errors that a rational person would not have committed. The reason? Organizational politics, silo mentalities, misalignment of incentives, or just plain misplaced egos!

Being aware of these human factors can help an entrepreneur build a strong organizational culture that is able to implement strategies and processes sustainably, while also creating a healthy work environment that encourages accountability and growth throughout.

Learning about these human factors will also help you deal with outside organizations – including clients, suppliers and service providers – in the future. Being able to negotiate and effectively manage your relationships with these key stakeholders will be as critical to your success as any business activity.

3) A Rise in Self-Awareness
Decisions, decisions and more decisions! You have craved to have more independence and to be able to do things your way; the hierarchy, multiple levels of approval and authority limits that frustrated you before is no longer there. What you have now as an entrepreneur is the responsibility to make decisions (both large and small) that directly affect your business, your employees and your family.

The classes and group exercises at business school will allow you to become more aware of your biases, strengths and limitations, both intellectually and emotionally. Being aware of these should better inform you when it comes time to consult with others, delegate projects, and pull the trigger on tough decisions. Having an idea of the potential impact of your choices should also be able to guide you as to the time and energy you should allocate for these.

To conclude, getting an MBA is not a necessary condition for entrepreneurs or a guarantee for business success, but it does improve your probabilities of getting it right! At the very least, it should also help provide you with a safety net and an option to go back to the corporate life if you later choose to do so.

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. 

Protect Your Investment – The Cost of the SAT Exam

SAT Tip of the Week - FullMost students who plan to take the SAT have a lot of questions about the test itself, as well as issues related to signing up for the test. One common question is: How much is it to take the SAT? The SAT does have a registration fee, so it’s natural that students will want to put forth their best efforts on the test. After all, they are investing both their money and time in the SAT. They want to earn scores that will get them into the college they want to attend.

Apart from concerns about what might be on the test, however, the one question that is likely to be on the mind of someone about to take it is: How much is it to take the new SAT? We have the answer, as well some ideas about what students can do to protect their investment in the SAT:

The New SAT Test Price
The new SAT test price is $45.00 without the optional essay and $57.00 with the optional essay. Paying this registration fee enables students to take the test and receive their scores. A scoring report displays a student’s test scores as well as how those scores compare to the scores of other students who took the test. This information plays an important role in the college admissions process. Not surprisingly, a student who pays the registration fee to take the SAT wants to perform well on the test in order to avoid paying again to retake the test.

Make Studying for the SAT a Priority
Fortunately, there are several things that students can do to perform well on the SAT the first time they take it. For one, students can think of their SAT prep as an extension of their schoolwork. This means a student must devote a certain amount of time each day to studying for the Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics sections on the test. As a result, preparing for the SAT becomes a priority and part of a student’s daily routine. This approach allows a student to thoroughly absorb the material in a gradual way.

Practice with the Experts
At Veritas Prep, our talented instructors have first-hand experience with the SAT. In fact, the test scores of our instructors place them in the top 1% of all SAT test takers! In short, students who sign up for our SAT courses are protecting their investment by preparing with individuals who are experts on the test.

Students take practice tests to find out which skills they need to improve. They study for the test with first-rate resources such as our Veritas Prep SAT workbook and Vocabulary Builder. Our online and in-person instructors convey practical strategies to students to help them simplify their approach to any question on the test. With Veritas Prep, students are able to prepare for the SAT in a way that allows them to feel more confident as test day draws near.

Preparing and Planning for Test Day
Students who study for the SAT in a gradual way are setting themselves up for success on the test. As test day approaches, there are other things that students can do to further protect their investment in the SAT. One thing a student can do is to participate in regular physical exercise and get at least eight hours of sleep per night. These practices contribute to a student’s overall health and can help him or her to feel great on test day.

The night before the test, a student should plan to eat a healthful meal and go to sleep early. This can help a student to feel rested and ready to work. Instead of eating a high-sugar breakfast on test day, students may want to consider eating a protein bar or another protein-rich food that will supply them with lasting energy.

In addition, a student may want to set out the items that he or she needs to take to the test. These items include two pencils with an eraser, a photo ID, the test admission ticket, an approved calculator, a wristwatch and a snack. Setting out all of these items helps a student to avoid the stress of rushing around to find things on the morning of the test.

Our professional instructors at Veritas Prep assist students in protecting their investment of time and money in the SAT. Our SAT courses are ideal for students who want to learn effective tips and test-taking techniques that can boost their scores on the 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 Yale SOM’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

Yale MBA Admissions GuideApplication season at the Yale School of Management is officially underway 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 new essay prompt. This year, Yale has made some changes from last year’s prompt, so let’s explore how to best approach this essay:

Essay 1:
Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)
Yale returns this year with a new essay prompt that is one of the shortest among the top MBA programs. Yale only has one essay again this year, so candidates must make sure to really focus on this aspect of their application.

With other similar, open-ended questions like this, your choice of topic will provide the Admissions Committee with a good deal of insight into your character, personality and values, so it is important to choose what you will write about wisely. In addition, understanding that this essay prompt was created in concert with a Yale Professor of Organizational Behavior should signal the layered thinking that will be expected from you in your answer to this seemingly-innocuous question.

The school also references “leadership” and “integrated” curriculum as it describes this professor, which might illuminate the type of interpersonal elements that Yale is looking to learn more about in your essay response. A successful applicant will examine the values that Yale SOM has made the hallmarks of their program and connect these values to a personal and introspective response to the essay prompt. To dive deeper here, you’ll want to use your commitment story to share your own personal values in the same way Yale has done.

The first step to completing this essay will be to really sift through anecdotes within your personal, professional and academic career to discuss in this essay. It’s not enough to just select any old commitment, but instead, you should choose one where the full breadth of your interpersonal skills are on display – the ideal skills to highlight are the ones that jive with the Yale SOM mission. Also, it would be wise to leverage some of the clues within the prompt itself. Use the aforementioned signals as elements of the story you will lean on to make your case. Make sure the example you have selected has a bit of staying power, too – Yale is looking for sustainable commitment, here.

Introspection will be a key element to any successful Yale SOM essay, so remember to relate why this specific anecdote is significant to YOU. Finally, consider if and then how your experience will allow you to make a similar impact on the greater Yale community as a whole.

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

Applying to Yale 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.

Early Thoughts on Duke Fuqua’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

duke-universityApplication season at Duke’s Fuqua 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 thoughts on how best to approach these essay prompts, which have remained relatively consistent over the last few years. The two essays give applicants a great opportunity to showcase their fit with Fuqua, which is a program that really strives to create a cohesive student community built around its values.

Essay 1: 25 Random Things About Yourself
Share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
Year in and year out, Fuqua’s “25 Random Things” essay remains one of the most creative prompts among the top MBA programs. This Fuqua essay truly strikes at the core of what makes their program unique. Showcasing your thorough understanding of Fuqua’s value will help you determine what “random things” you choose to highlight.

Your list should reflect an honest portrayal of who you are. Remember, the goal of this essay is to uncover some of the elements that are stated in the prompt, so seriously brainstorm some of the unique aspects of your personal, professional and social identity. The most common mistake I see in this essay is when applicants take the exercise too seriously. Now this is a business school essay so it should, of course, be professionally drafted, but applicants should also feel comfortable having a little fun with this prompt and letting their personality shine through.

Consider what perception you want to leave behind for the Admissions Committee after reading your “25 Random Things” and make sure each one addresses some aspect of this positioning.

Essay 2:
Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom? (2 pages max)
Essay 2 is your opportunity to take the Fuqua research that informed your approach to Essay 1, and share some of the specifics that really resonate with how you plan to have an impact on the school’s unique student community.

Breakthrough candidates will personalize their narrative and avoid generalities, here. Not only should you be specific with your answer, but you should also make sure you identify your future role in each of the activities you plan to be involved in. The contribution aspect of this prompt is also very important, so be sure to identify what individual impact you will have on your chosen extracurricular activities and on the Fuqua community as a whole.

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

Applying to Fuqua 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.

Extracurriculars that Compliment Your Major

Extracurricular-ActivitiesGPA, class rank, and standardized test scores are all parts of a student’s college application. Extracurricular activities also play an important part as a student is considered for admission into college.

Many high school students join extracurricular clubs and get on sports teams so they can enjoy some fun times with friends, but it benefits high school students to keep their intended college major in mind as they select their extracurricular activities. College admissions officials are sure to take special notice of extracurricular activities that complement a student’s intended major. Look at some examples of these types of extracurricular activities:

Volunteer Work
One of the advantages of participating in volunteer work is that students have a lot of options to choose from. Plus, volunteer work complements many college majors. For example, someone who supervises volunteers at a homeless shelter is displaying leadership skills as well as the ability to motivate and organize a group of people. This would be an ideal extracurricular activity for a student who wants to major in business, education or psychology.

Alternatively, a student majoring in veterinary medicine can complement that selection by volunteering at an animal shelter or zoo. A high school student who plans to major in gerontology would benefit from volunteering at a nursing home or a recreation center for senior citizens. These types of extracurricular activities are impressive on a college application and give students valuable experiences they can use in their future career.

Tutoring is one of the most popular extracurriculars for college applicants who plan to major in education. For instance, a high school student who wants to major in elementary education can tutor pre-teens who are participating in a summer reading program. Or a student who intends to major in special education can tutor kids in an after-school program for those who need extra help. The leadership and communication skills required for tutoring make this an excellent extracurricular activity for students who intend to major in business, communications or even pre-law.

At Veritas Prep, high school students can get a free college application evaluation from one of our talented college admissions consultants. We provide students with tips regarding extracurricular clubs and other activities that can make a great college application all the more impressive.

Students looking for outstanding extracurriculars for college applications may want to consider an internship. An internship can give a student the opportunity to sample the type of work they will be doing in a particular field. For example, an internship at a magazine publisher is an extracurricular that complements a major in journalism. In addition, an internship in the marketing department of a well-known company complements a business major.

A student who intends to major in botany may want to find an internship at a local greenhouse or botanical garden. This would give the student hands-on experience with all types of plants and flowers. Our team of consultants at Veritas Prep has the skills and experience to advise students on the most suitable types of extracurricular activities for their intended major. We understand what the best colleges in the country are looking for when it comes to prospective students.

Taking Extra Courses
On a college application, extracurricular activities may take the form of additional courses. A high school student may take these classes in the evening, after school, or during the summer months.

Naturally, certain courses can complement specific college majors. For instance, a class in basic sign language complements a major in language studies, and a class in women’s history complements a women’s/gender studies major. High school students who want to complement their political science major can take a course that looks at the lives of the most well-known presidents of the United States. Besides complementing their major, additional courses can prep students for some of the academic work they’ll encounter in college.

Our professional instructors at Veritas Prep are proud to prepare high school students for college. We do everything from helping students study for the SAT and ACT to guiding them through all of the steps of the college admissions process. Our students benefit from the insider knowledge and practical experience of our admissions consultants. Contact the experts at Veritas Prep today and start your journey toward higher education!

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!

2016 Forté Forum: Let’s Aim Higher. Discover the Value of an MBA.

fbe258d9a01c9fd044a8c4772e99faab_400x400Forté Forums are designed for standout women considering an MBA, whether you’re a high-achiever looking to change careers, a college student planning for the future, or a professional ready to take your career to the next level.


August 15 – October 20, 2016
12 cities across North America and Europe

A free event unlike any other, Forté Forums are held in 12 cities to empower you with information about the value of an MBA. You’ll make critical connections with representatives, alumnae, and students of top business schools in North America and Europe—all while forming an unmatched peer support network. Successful businesswomen representing diverse industries and career stages will also share how their MBAs help them make a mark. And you’ll gain exclusive insights to the admissions process.

Reasons to Go:
1) Understand the MBA advantage, offering career advancement, expanded earning potential, and even opportunities to study abroad.

2) Connect with a business school that’s the best fit for you.

3) Hear from top MBA businesswomen in various industries and career stages, including the non-profit world.

4) Network with standout peers to build a lasting support network.

5) Discover how to finance your MBA.

Women can expect to connect with more than 30 of the top MBA programs from the United States, Canada and Europe. The cost to attend a Forté Forum is free. For a schedule of dates and locations, and to register, visit

Understanding the New GMAC MBA Rankings Tool

scottbloomdecisionsWith so many different MBA rankings, it can be difficult for the typical applicant to understand why one business school may be ranked higher in one publisher’s ranking than in another’s. This can create a culture of bias and distrust around the rankings, which limits the value of the information they present, especially considering few applicants will actually dive deep enough to uncover the DNA of each specific ranking.

The new GMAC rankings tool seeks to shed light on the differences between the various rankings. This tool provides a “one stop shop” for finding the right rankings system for your personal school selection process. Here’s a brief summary of the topics the GMAC rankings tool evaluates:

Distinctive Emphasis
A quick summary headline describing the most important criteria influencing the rankings of the publisher. This quick information will help orient your criteria for pursuing an MBA with the most relevant rankings publisher.

Rankings Methodology
A visual breakdown of how the publisher determines its rankings. This is a deeper dive into the “distinctive emphasis,” showing the full spectrum of the ranking criteria.

Rankings Fluctuation
An estimate of how much the average schools’ position changes from edition to edition. This can provide good insight into how stable and reliable the rankings of a particular publication are.

Schools Included
Information on what schools are included and the criteria each publication uses to determine inclusion. There are many MBA programs around the world and some publications are more U.S focused, international focused, full-time, or part-time focused so this category provides information on the publication’s coverage area.

Regional Popularity
A visual map of the most popular regions for a specific publisher’s ranking. The influence of a particular publication can vary from region to region, thus influencing its value to candidates in other areas.

Rankings Lists
The actual publication-specific rankings. This is the ranked list of schools that have resulted from each publisher’s unique methodology. Once you have identified the right publisher based on your target program criteria and future goals, then this list can help inform your school selection process.

This new offering from GMAC is a great tool to kick start your school research and selection processes. Leverage this resource to find the right rankings system for your MBA 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.

Building Your Perfect GRE Prep Schedule: A Study Schedule Students Can Use to Excel

Six WeeksHow long does it take to prepare for the GRE? The answer to this question depends on the person who is taking the test. A student who is just finishing undergraduate school may need just a few weeks to prepare. Alternatively, someone who has been out of college for several years may need to study for three or four months. Regardless of how long a person studies, a GRE prep schedule can make study time all the more effective.

Let’s look at some tips that can help students create a study schedule that paves the way to success on the GRE:

Before Making a GRE Preparation Schedule
Before jumping in and making a study schedule for GRE success, it’s a good idea for students to take a practice test. Taking a practice GRE gives students the chance to become familiar with the format of the test. Also, they get to experience the types of questions they will encounter in all three sections.

Most importantly, students can refer to the results of their practice test as they set up their GRE preparation schedule. One student may see that they need to improve their performance on the Analytical Writing Section of the test – perhaps they need to work on including more specific evidence in their essays. Another student may discover that they need to focus on learning more vocabulary words for sentence equivalence questions in the Verbal Reasoning Section. Students can use their practice test results to prioritize what they need to study in order to submit their best performance on the GRE.

Making a Study Plan That Works
There is not a one-size-fits-all study schedule for GRE students. One person’s full-time work schedule may not allow them to study until six o’clock in the evening. Another person may have to study early in the morning due to a full schedule of undergraduate courses. In short, each person has to craft a study schedule that fits with their daily commitments.

Sample GRE Study Schedules
One student may decide to study for three hours per day, five days a week. If they want to focus on verbal reasoning skills, they could dedicate the first hour on Monday to practicing reading comprehension skills, such as summarizing written passages and drawing conclusions. They could use the second hour to memorize new vocabulary words using flash cards. The third hour could be spent practicing sentence equivalence questions. This student could plan to spend three days a week studying for the Verbal Reasoning Section and two days preparing for the Quantitative Section of the test.

Another student may create a GRE prep schedule that involves two hours of study time per day, six days a week. This student wants to concentrate on sharpening their quantitative reasoning skills, so they spend three days a week studying algebra, geometry, and data analysis problems. They might dedicate two days to verbal reasoning study and one day to analytical writing practice.

It’s a wise idea for students to write each day’s study activities on a calendar so they know exactly what they are doing every time they sit down to prep for the GRE. At Veritas Prep, no matter what your schedule looks like or what topics you need to focus on, we provide GRE tutoring designed to meet the specific needs of each student. We help students learn how to study in the most efficient way possible. In addition, we hire professional instructors who excelled on the GRE. We want our students to benefit from the knowledge and experience of their instructors!

Checking Progress Along the Way
It’s important for students to review their progress as they continue to move through their GRE preparation schedule. After two or three weeks of study, students should take another practice GRE to see if their skills have improved. In many cases, a student will find that they have mastered a particular skill. This means the student can adjust their study schedule to dedicate more time to skills that still need work.

Our online tutors at Veritas Prep are experts at providing instruction, guidance, and encouragement to students who are preparing for the GRE. We can advise students on their study schedules and offer tips that can make them more efficient. Contact Veritas Prep today and let us help you study for the GRE!

College Math Tutoring: Bridging the Gap Between High School and College Math

stressed-studentIt doesn’t take long for a freshman in college to discover that there are many differences between high school and college math classes. For example, most high school students attend math class every day, while college students have math class from one to three times per week. The number of times a math class is held depends on the specific program of a college. Generally, students must study more for college-level math courses than they did for high school courses.

College math classes can sometimes be a challenge for students who are used to high-school-level work. Students who find themselves struggling in class can benefit from college math tutoring services like those we offer at Veritas Prep. Look at how an online college math tutor can help a student move smoothly from high school to college-level work:

Prep for College-Level Courses
When a high school student knows what to expect in a college math class, it can make the transition a lot easier. Students who sign up for college math tutoring are able to get their questions answered by an expert. For instance, they can get an idea of how much homework they will receive in a college math class and how much time a professor will spend on each lesson. A tutor can also let students know what types of materials they’ll need for a math course in college and what to bring with them each day. An experienced online college math tutor has the knowledge required to provide students with answers they can use.

Tips for College Tests and Quizzes
Students can get helpful tips for taking quizzes and tests from a college math tutor. Online tutors may suggest that students skip the puzzling questions they encounter on a math test or quiz, then return to these questions after finishing all of the less-challenging ones. This tip helps students to use their test time in the most efficient way, and it ensures that students won’t run out of test time while they are pondering a single challenging question.

A math tutor may also suggest that students write down each step of an algebra problem, so if the student ends up with a questionable answer, they can go back and check each step for an error. The college-level math tutors at Veritas Prep provide students with practical strategies to use while completing a quiz or test. We understand what it takes for a student to excel in a college math class.

Study Skills for College Classes
Students who enter college need to learn a new set of study habits. A college math tutor can offer suggestions to students on how much time to dedicate to studying as well as how to make the best use of their study time. A knowledgeable math tutor is likely to tell students that they need to spend two to three hours studying for every hour of class they take. This is one of the reasons why college math classes are held fewer times during the week than high school math classes. The extra time is given to students so that they have plenty of opportunity to study.

A tutor can guide a student on how to take effective notes in math class. These notes can be reviewed during study time as well as right before a test or quiz. The talented math tutors at Veritas Prep share study tips with students that can give them an advantage over their college classmates.

At Veritas Prep, we are happy to work with ambitious students in need of a college math tutor. Online tutoring sessions make it easy for students to fit this important instruction into their busy schedules. Our professional math tutors use first-rate study materials and resources so a student gets the most value out of each tutoring session. We practice math skills with students and offer lots of encouragement along the way.

Feel free to read our FAQ section for answers to questions about our services. We also have several college application resources for high school students who are still in the process of deciding on a college or university. Contact Veritas Prep today by email or telephone and let us help you ace your college math courses!

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!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Linear Relations in GMAT Questions

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWe have covered the concepts of direct, inverse and joint variation in previous posts. Today, we will discuss what we mean by “linearly related”. A linear relation is one which, when plotted on a graph, is a straight line. In linear relationships, any given change in an independent variable will produce a corresponding change in the dependent variable, just like a change in the x-coordinate produces a corresponding change in the y-coordinate on a line.

We know the equation of a line: it is y = mx + c, where m is the slope and c is a constant.

Let’s illustrate this concept with a GMAT question. This question may not seem like a geometry question, but using the concept of linear relations can make it easy to find the answer:

A certain quantity is measured on two different scales, the R-scale and the S-scale, that are related linearly. Measurements on the R-scale of 6 and 24 correspond to measurements on the S-scale of 30 and 60, respectively. What measurement on the R-scale corresponds to a measurement of 100 on the S-scale?

(A) 20
(B) 36
(C) 48
(D) 60
(E) 84

Let’s think of the two scales R and S as x- and y-coordinates. We can get two equations for the line that depicts their relationship:

30 = 6m + c ……. (I)
60 = 24m + c ……(II)

(II) – (I)
30 = 18m
m = 30/18 = 5/3

Plugging m = 5/3 in (I), we get:

30 = 6*(5/3) + c
c = 20

Therefore, the equation is S = (5/3)R + 20. Let’s plug in S = 100 to get the value of R:

100 = (5/3)R + 20
R = 48

48 (answer choice C) is our answer.

Alternatively, we have discussed the concept of slope and how to deal with it without any equations in this post. Think of each corresponding pair of R and S as points lying on a line – (6, 30) and (24, 60) are points on a line, so what will (r, 100) be on the same line?

We see that an increase of 18 in the x-coordinate (from 6 to 24) causes an increase of 30 in the y-coordinate (from 30 to 60).

So, the y-coordinate increases by 30/18 = 5/3 for every 1 point increase in the x-coordinate (this is the concept of slope).

From 60 to 100, the increase in the y-coordinate is 40, so the x-coordinate will also increase from 24 to 24 + 40*(3/5) = 48. Again, C is our answer.

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!

Understanding the ACT Essay Grading Rubric

writing essayThe writing test is one of the five sections that make up the ACT. Each student’s writing test is evaluated based on the elements in the ACT essay scoring rubric. The ACT writing rubric features four areas or domains. The four domains are ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions. The scores a student receives in each of these domains contribute to a student’s total score on the essay.

Let’s examine the scoring process for the writing test and take a closer look at the ACT essay scoring rubric:

The Scoring System for the ACT Essay
Each student’s essay is evaluated by two individuals who are familiar with the ACT essay rubric. A score of one to six points is given for each of the four domains in the ACT writing rubric. The scores of both graders are added together to get a total score for each domain. If there is a discrepancy of more than one point between the individual scores of the two readers, then a third reader is brought in to re-evaluate the student’s essay. Otherwise, an essay receives a total score based on the domain scores awarded by the two readers.

Ideas and Analysis
The first item in the ACT essay rubric concerns ideas and analysis. Essay graders evaluate a student’s ability to understand and express the ideas contained in the given issue. In order to achieve a high score on the essay, students must also be able to understand the different perspectives offered on the issue. An essay should contain relevant ideas expressed in a clear, succinct fashion.

Development and Support
Students who achieve a high score in this domain offer solid evidence to support their points of view. In fact, they provide specific examples that help to support their perspectives. Students are able to convey their ideas in a way that is easy to understand. They take their audience into account as they craft their arguments. At the end of the essay, the reader should be able to see a student’s way of thinking regarding the given issue.

Students receive a score for the way they organize their essay. Their ideas should be organized in a logical way that lends to the reader’s understanding. A student must transition from idea to idea in a smooth way. An essay should have a clear purpose and end with a conclusion that sums up the student’s thoughts on the issue. A typical format for an ACT essay includes an introduction, three or four paragraphs in the body, and a solid conclusion.

Language Use and Conventions
Essay graders evaluate a student’s skill at using written language to clearly express ideas. A student’s grammar, spelling, and mechanics all play a part in a grader’s final evaluation of the essay. Incorrect punctuation and misspellings are a distraction for essay readers. A student who can use vocabulary, phrasing, and sentence style to convey ideas in an effective way will receive a high score in this domain.

Tips for Writing an ACT Essay
Students who want to excel on the ACT writing test should practice their essay-writing skills on a regular basis. This is all the more effective if a student studies high-scoring ACT essays. They can practice including all of the components necessary for an essay worthy of a high score.

Another tip for writing a convincing ACT essay is to learn new vocabulary words. Students can use these vocabulary words to fully express the ideas in their essay. Plus, learning these words can also be useful in answering questions in the reading section of the ACT. Students can also benefit from making practice outlines. A solid outline can help students organize all of their ideas and supporting evidence. Furthermore, an outline is a helpful guide if a student loses their train of thought while writing the essay on test day.

Our encouraging instructors at Veritas Prep can provide students with guidance on the essay portion of the ACT. Also, we can advise them on the various components of the ACT essay rubric. We hire instructors who achieved a score of at least 33 on the ACT: Veritas Prep students learn from tutors who have real-life experience with the exam! Choose from our in-person or online prep courses and gain the confidence you need to ace the ACT.

Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

How to Improve Your GMAT Verbal Score

books_stackedIn order to get into business school, applicants have to fulfill a number of requirements. One of those requirements is to submit a GMAT score. Perhaps you’ve taken the GMAT and you’re dissatisfied with the score you received on the Verbal section of the test. Naturally, you want to do everything possible to achieve your best score on every section of the test. Check out some tips on how to improve GMAT Verbal score results and impress admissions officials:

Complete a Timed Practice Test for the Verbal Section
People who want to learn how to improve Verbal GMAT scores can benefit from taking practice tests. You’re given 75 minutes to complete 41 questions in the Verbal section. This seems like a long time, but the minutes can disappear quickly if you spend too much time on one question.

Perhaps you missed some questions while rushing to finish on time. A timed practice test can help you to get into the habit of answering each question within a certain number of minutes. Once you establish a test-taking rhythm for the verbal section, you can focus on each question instead of worrying about the clock. At Veritas Prep, you can practice for the GMAT by taking our free test. We provide you with a performance analysis and score report that can help you determine which skills need the most improvement.

Think Like a Professional in the Business World
It can be helpful to examine your approach to the questions in the Verbal section. Someone who takes the GMAT is on a path to earning an MBA and working in the business world. Successful business people know how to evaluate a problem as well as possible options to find the most effective solution. They also know how to disregard information that doesn’t serve any purpose in the problem-solving process. Having the mindset of a business professional can help you successfully answer each question in the Verbal section. Our online and in-person prep courses teach students a new way to approach questions so they can improve GMAT Verbal scores.

Read the Passages for the Reading Comprehension Questions
Some test-takers look at the Reading Comprehension questions in the Verbal section and decide to save time by skimming through the passages. When you do this, it’s difficult to get an understanding of what the author of the passage is trying to convey. Furthermore, many Reading Comprehension questions relate to the main idea, tone, and structure of a passage. Consequently, it’s worth putting aside time to thoroughly read each passage so you can get a clear picture of what the author is trying to convey. Students who work with a Veritas Prep tutor learn what to look for and what to disregard when reading passages in this section.

Look for the Logic in Critical Reasoning Questions
Those who want to know how to improve GMAT Verbal score results may want to focus some attention on their Critical Reasoning skills. Looking for logic is the key to arriving at the correct answers to these questions.

At first glance, many of the answer options can seem like the correct choice. Some of the answer choices may even contain words that are in the passage. But the presence of those words doesn’t necessarily mean that an option is correct. Look for an answer option that follows the same line of logic as the passage itself. It is also helpful to rule out answer options that definitely do not follow along with the argument in the passage. Careful evaluation of each answer option can help to improve GMAT verbal scores.

Dedicate More Time to Outside Reading
Spending some of your free time reading financial magazines and newspapers can help you boost your score on the Verbal section. Reading these materials gives you the opportunity to practice the same skills you’ll use on Reading Comprehension questions. Also, it helps you get into the habit of becoming an active reader and drawing conclusions as you go. In addition, reading financial publications adds to your overall knowledge of the business world.

Many prospective MBA students who want to know how to improve verbal GMAT scores turn to the experienced instructors at Veritas Prep. Why? Because we hire instructors who scored in the 99th percentile on the test. Students learn how to raise their scores from tutors who have hands-on experience with this challenging exam. Contact our offices at Veritas Prep today and let us guide you to your best performance on the GMAT.

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!

5 Signs You May Benefit From Math Skills Help

help - wordsFor some high school students, math classes are a breeze, but other students have difficulty understanding various types of math concepts. A knowledgeable math skills tutor can be invaluable to high school students who need a bit of help in their math courses.

Students who can relate to the following five signs are likely to benefit from working with a math tutor.

Five Signs That a Student May Benefit from Math Skills Help:

1) Making the Same Mistakes on Math Tests
Though most students study diligently for math tests and quizzes, some of them find that they miss the same types of questions on every math test. After getting their graded test back, they take the time to review incorrect answers and rework the problems. Often, these students arrive at the same incorrect answers. Not surprisingly, this is a very frustrating and discouraging situation for a high school student.

The good news is that a math tutor can step in and partner with a student as they review incorrect answers on a test. Furthermore, the tutor can evaluate a student’s approach to solving math problems to find out what the student needs to change in order to get the correct answer. Sometimes a tutor’s perspective is a necessary element in a student’s success with math.

2) A Growing Collection of Unanswered Questions
Understandably, students who are struggling in math have a lot of questions. They might ask their math teachers for answers but don’t receive any that are helpful to them. Their teacher may be explaining math concepts in an unclear or confusing way. As these questions pile up, a student may start to feel discouraged. Can a math tutor help with getting a student’s questions answered in a satisfactory way? Yes! It helps that a tutor has the opportunity to get to know a student’s learning style. A tutor can explain a concept in a way that their student can understand. Once a student starts getting answers to questions, they are able to grasp more and more mathematical concepts.

3) A High Level of Math Test Anxiety
When a student is struggling in math class, they may feel anxious at the mention of an upcoming test. This is a definite sign that a student could benefit from studying with a math skills tutor. Of course, a tutor’s main responsibility is to help a student strengthen weak math skills. But a tutor is also a source of encouragement. The professional math tutors at Veritas Prep are experts at helping high school students build up their math skills as well as their confidence. Students who have confidence in their math skills are less likely to feel anxious about quizzes and tests.

4) Spending an Excessive Amount of Time on Math Homework
Students who sit for hours at their desk at home puzzling over math homework assignments may benefit from math tutor help. A student may spend hours trying to figure out how to approach a collection of math equations or spend a lot of time erasing answers and going back to review the steps in a problem. Tutors work with students to teach them specific ways to approach equations. Once a student learns how to approach different types of problems, they can quickly move through homework assignments.

5) Feeling Lost in Math Class
This is an unmistakable sign that a student could benefit from working with a math tutor. Each student sitting in a math class has a different learning style. A student who is struggling in math may not be comfortable with the way the lessons are being presented. This can be solved by getting some math help. Tutor-led study sessions can be tailored to a student’s learning style. The material is the same as the student received in math class, but the tutor presents it in a way that is more easily understandable to the student.

For students in need of math help, tutor-led instruction can be the answer. Veritas Prep tutors convey simple tips and strategies to students that can help them boost their performance on math tests and quizzes. We offer online tutoring that gives students the advantage they need to master all of the skills taught in their math courses. Contact our offices to find the help you need today!

Want more math help? Check out our YouTube channel, where you’ll find helpful math tips for both the SAT and the ACT. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!

GMAT Math Help: Understanding and Solving Combinatorics Problems

StudentStudents who are taking the GMAT are going to encounter combinatorics problems. If you are a little rusty on your math topics, you may be asking, “What is combinatorics?” Combinatorics has to do with counting and evaluating the possibilities within a scenario that involve various amounts of people or things. Learn more about GMAT combinatorics questions and how to arrive at the right answers to be better prepared for the test.

Picture a certain number of people or objects. Permutations are the possible arrangements that those people or objects can be in. One of the things you have to decide when looking at combinatorics problems is whether order is an important factor. If order is important in a problem, then the answer has to do with permutations. If order is not important in a problem, then the answer deals with combinations.

For example, say you line up five postcards from different cities on a tabletop. You may wonder how many different orders you can put these postcards in. Another way to say that would be, “How many different permutations can I make with these five postcards?” To figure out this problem, you would need the help of an equation: 5! = (5) (4) (3) (2) (1) = 120. The exclamation point in the formula is a symbol that means “factorial.”

When working on combinatorics questions that deal with combinations, the order/arrangement of items is not important. For example, say that you have eight books and you want to know how many ways you can group three of those books on a library shelf. You could plug numbers into the three places in this formula to figure out the answer: (8) (7) (6) = 336 ways. This is the slot method of solving a combination problem.

Combinations With a Large Amount of Numbers
You will quickly find yourself needing combinatorics help if you try to count up a lot of numbers in one combination problem on the GMAT. Furthermore, you’ll use a lot of valuable test time with this counting method. Knowing the formula for combinations can help you to find the solution to a problem in a much shorter amount of time. The formula is nCr = n!/r!(n-r)! Here, n is the total number of options, r is the number of options chosen, and ! is the symbol for factorial.

Preparing for Applied Combinatorics Questions on the GMAT
One of the most effective ways of preparing for applied combinatorics questions is to take practice tests and review the various steps of problems. You want to get into the habit of approaching a problem by asking yourself whether order is a factor in a problem. This will help you determine whether a problem deals with permutations or combinations. Then, you can start to attack a problem from the right angle.

In addition, it’s important to time yourself when taking a practice Quantitative test. Though there are not many of these problems on the test, you have to get into the habit of spending only a certain amount of minutes on each problem so you don’t run out of test time before finishing.

We have a program of study at Veritas Prep that prepares you for questions on combinatorics as well as all of the other problems in the Quantitative section. We instruct you on how to approach test questions instead of just coaching you on how to memorize facts. Pair up with one of our skilled instructors at Veritas Prep and you will be studying with someone who scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT. We believe that in order to perform at your best on the GMAT, you have to learn from a first-rate instructor! Our instructors can work through a combinatorics tutorial with you to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are in this branch of math. Then, we give you strategies that help you to improve.

For your convenience, we offer both in-person and online GMAT prep courses. We recognize that professionals in the business world have busy schedules, so we provide several study options to fit your life. When it comes to the topic of combinatorics, GMAT tips, instruction, and encouragement, we are your test prep experts. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you achieve your top GMAT score!

Want to learn more about our GMAT prep courses and how you can get a competitive edge when focusing your GMAT studies? Attend one of our upcoming free Live-Online GMAT Strategy Sessions. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

Preparing the Perfect Package for Your MBA Application in 4 Steps

MBA AdmissionsYou have done all the hard work and put in the hours to get to this point. Your GPA, GMAT, work experience, and extracurricular activities are what they are. You have researched schools extensively, even visiting campuses and making an effort to connect with alumni. Now, it is about putting this all together into one application package that will determine whether you get to attend your dream school or not… no pressure.

Here are three ways you can prepare the perfect package for your target programs:

Selecting Stories
As you start sorting through potential ideas for your essays, list the interesting anecdotes that would best present you in a nutshell – think of these as scenes in a movie that would best capture the essence of the lead character. These can help you stand out through your interesting experiences and serve as attention-grabbers that captivate your audience. These stories could come from your personal life, professional accomplishments, or passions.

Recommenders can also add to this aspect of your application by relating specific stories about you that will help substantiate the qualities that you are highlighting. Powerful examples of your leadership and teamwork skills or ability to benefit from constructive criticism will greatly help. Thus, reminding your recommenders of these episodes in your relationship could come in handy.

Presenting Perspectives
Your application essays are also avenues that allow the Admissions Committee to understand where you come from, what motivates you, and where you want to go post-MBA. Sharing your unique upbringing, family values and inspirations will help present a more personal profile. This is not limited to just the positive events or outstanding accomplishments in your life, either – the challenges you have overcome or even the weaknesses you are still addressing also humanize you, making you more relatable so that the Admissions Committee wants to root for your success.

Sharing your personal story and challenging circumstances will also emphasize that you will be able to contribute to the classroom experiences of your future peers. In addition, use your interesting passions or talents that showcase surprising skills to also help you stand out among the other applicants, similar to the way football players singing and dancing to Beyonce’s music make for a memorable bit.

Tweaking the Tone
Apart from the theme and the great stories you choose to showcase in your application, fine-tuning the overall tone of your presentation can go a long way in delivering a powerful message. Having the perfect mix of displaying your strengths, humbly admitting your weaknesses, and showing fit between your target program and career goals is critical. However, be sure to show personal accountability for, and general reflection on, your failures as you plan your next steps – make sure your choice to pursue an MBA at this time in your life is displayed with clear purpose for the Admissions Committee.

Delivering these details with a personal tone and a positive vibe shows your ability to collaborate and be in sync with a select group of star performers as you apply for a coveted slot in a top-tier program.

Fitting Finale
Take some care to end your application on a positive note, carefully considering the last impression you want to make, just as the last song of a musical has to be well thought-out and excellently executed to deliver a fitting finale.

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. 

Probability and Combinations: What You’ll Need to Know for the GMAT

Roll the DiceIf you’ve been paying attention to the exciting world of GMAT prep, you know that GMAC released two new practice tests fairly recently. I’d mentioned in a previous post that I was going to write about any conspicuous trends I noted, and one unmistakable pattern I’ve seen with my students is that probability questions seem to be cropping up with greater and greater frequency.

While these questions don’t seem fundamentally different from what we’ve seen in the past, there does seem to be a greater emphasis on probability questions for which a strong command of combinations and permutations will prove indispensable.

First, recall that the probability of x is the number ways x can occur/number of total possible outcomes (or p(x) = # desired/ # total). Another way to think about this equation is to see it as a ratio of two combinations or permutations. The number of ways x can occur is one combination (or permutation), and the total number of possible outcomes is another.

Keeping this in mind, let’s tackle this new official prompt:

From a group of 8 volunteers, including Andrew and Karen, 4 people are to be selected at random to organize a charity event. What is the probability that Andrew will be among the 4 volunteers selected and Karen will not?

(A) 3/7
(B) 5/12
(C) 27/70
(D) 2/7
(E) 9/35

Typically, I’ll start by calculating the total number of possible outcomes, as this calculation tends to be the more straightforward one. We’ve got 8 volunteers, and we want to know the number of total ways we can select 4 people from these 8 volunteers. Note, also, that the order does not matter – group of Tiffany, Mike, Louis, and Amy is the same as a group of Louis, Amy, Mike, and Tiffany. We’re not assigning titles or putting anyone in seats, so this is a combination.

If we use our combination formula N!/[(K!*(N-K)!] then N, our total pool of candidates, is 8, and K, the number we’re selecting, is 4. We get 8!/(4!*4!), which comes out to 70. At this point, we know that the denominator must be a factor of 70, so anything that doesn’t meet this criterion is out. In this case, this only allows us to eliminate B.

Now we want our desired outcomes, in which Andrew is selected and Karen is not. Imagine that you’re responsible for assembling this group of four from a total pool of eight people. You plan on putting your group of four in a conference room. Your supervisor tells you that Andrew must be in and Karen must not be, so you take Andrew and put him in the conference room. Now you’ve got three more spots to fill and seven people remaining. But remember that Karen cannot be part of this group. That means you only have 6 people to choose from to fill those other 3 spots in the room.

Put another way, think of the combination as the number of choices you have. Andrew and Karen are not choices – you’ve been ordered to include one of them and not the other. Of the 4 spots in the conference room, you only get to choose 3. And you’re only selecting from the other 6 people for those spots. Now N = 6 and K = 3. Plugging these into our trusty combination formula, we get 6!/(3!*3!), which comes out to 20.

Summarizing, we know that there are 20 ways to create our desired group of 4, and 70 total ways to select 4 people from a pool of 8, giving us a probability of 20/70, or 2/7, so the correct answer is D.

Takeaway: Probability questions can be viewed as ratios of combinations or permutations, so when you brush up on combinatorics, you’re also bolstering your probability fundamentals. Anytime you’re stuck on a complex probability question, break your calculation down into its component parts – find the total number of possible outcomes first, then find the total number of desired outcomes. Like virtually every hard question on the GMAT, probability questions are never as hard as they first seem.

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

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

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

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.