Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms. He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99thpercentile with the proper techniques and preparation. In this “9 for 99th” videoseries, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.
First, take a look at the previous lessons in this series: 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7and8!
Talk Like a Lawyer. When you click “Agree” on a user contract (think iTunes) or read through a GMAT question, you may just see an overkill of words. But thanks to lawyers, every word on that user agreement is carefully chosen – and that GMAT question is written the same exact way. In this final “9 for 99th” video, Ravi (a member of the bar himself) shows you how to talk and read like a lawyer, noticing those subtle word choices that can make or break your answer to those carefully-written GMAT problems you see on test day.
Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms. He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation. In this “9 for 99th” video series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.
First, take a look at lessons 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and7!
Reading is FUNdamental: If you can read this video prompt, there are several GMAT quantitative problems that you should answer correctly…but might not on test day. As Ravi notes in this video, often students supply incorrect answers to quantitative problems not because they can’t do the math, but because in doing the math they take their attention off of reading the question carefully. So heed Ravi’s advice: if you’re going to get a math problem wrong, get it wrong because you can’t do the math, not because you can’t read.
Imagine the business school application of the future: Rather than spending weeks on dozens of revisions of multiple essays, you sit down at a computer and give short verbal responses to questions, which are recorded via a webcam and uploaded to your target business school’s online application system. Sound crazy? It’s not necessarily as far away as you might think.
Some MBA admissions officers have begun to experiment with wildly different formats that replace the traditional essay. These multimedia questions, which are completed through such platforms as audio, video and sometimes PowerPoint, are an increasingly common tool used by the likes of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and the Anderson School of Business at UCLA to learn about the “real” applicant, or the person behind the resume, GMAT score and undergraduate institution of record. Continue reading “The Rise of the Multimedia MBA Admissions "Essay"”→
MBA Podcaster’s MBA PodTV team has just launched a new video titled “Getting Into The Wharton School,” featuring our own Director of MBA Admissions, Scott Shrum. In addition to some great advice from Scott, the episode also features admissions insights from Wharton admissions officers, current students, and recent alumni:
(You can watch the video in a larger size on YouTube.)
A few key points that Scott makes:
Although Wharton is best known as a finance school, its marketing department is incredibly strong. In fact, Wharton has the largest marketing faculty of any business school.
Although Wharton doesn’t emphasize it as much as some other top schools do, Wharton really wants to see that you’re someone who’s ready and willing to get involved on campus. In fact, no school relies on its students in the admissions process more than Wharton does.
Hirability is key, especially in this market. What drives this? Your maturity and having a realistic grasp of your post-MBA goals (vs. your abilities) are two key ingredients here.
What one thing in your application should you focus on the most? It’s career progression — Wharton wants to see a track record if success. Naturally, this isn’t something you can “polish up” or quickly improve like an essay or a GMAT score.
One interesting new Wharton essay question is, “Tell us about something significant that you have don to improve yourself.” While brushing up on a hard skill is a reasonable answer, a richer response tell a story about how you overcame weaknesses or fears to make yourself a better person. For example, maybe you overcame a fear of public speaking to lead a company meeting, even thought you couldn’t sleep the night before the big event. That’s always going to be a more interesting response to an admissions officer.
For more advice on getting into Wharton and other top business schools, take a look at Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, in-depth guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools. They’re absolutely FREE to anyone who registers. And, of course, be sure to follow us on Twitter!
Continuing our admissions video series, this week we hear a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert discuss how you can determine how well you fit with a business school, and how you can demonstrate this in your business school applications.
We at Veritas Prep believe in the advice outlined in Your MBA Game Plan: Getting into a top business school requires that you 1) differentiate yourself from the competition and 2) demonstrate fit with that school. We’ve written plenty about how to differentiate yourself from applicants who are similar to you, but “demonstrating fit” is a nebulous concept that many applicants don’t fully understand. Consider admissions consultant Jim Fleigner’s take on fit and how to identify it:
In addition to visiting the schools you’re considering, consider what Jim describes here: When you meet people from a given school, if you gravitate toward them, ask yourself what it is that makes you feel so comfortable with them. It may have to do with personality, working style, life philosophy, or interests outside of work. Recognizing these, and being able to put them into words for admissions officers, will go a long way toward demonstrating your fit with your target MBA programs.
Continuing our admissions video series, this week we hear Veritas Prep co-founder Chad Troutwine give a brief overview of how Veritas Prep’s admissions consulting works.
Forgive us for indulging ourselves with a more self-promotional video this week. We normally use this space to share news and analysis that helps applicants get into the world’s most competitive graduate schools. However, at this time of year we get so many questions about admissions consulting — what it is, how it works, how to tell apart a legitimate and illegitimate consultant — that we thought this would be a good time to share this video:
Note what Chad says about really listening to our clients and understanding what makes each one unique. This is by no means a “one size fits all” process. No two applicants are the same, and it’s each clients’ uniqueness that admissions officers respond to. In much the same way, we work with you to get past the “usual stuff” — your career goals, what you did in college, the fact that you like cooking and hiking — and draw out what’s really most interesting in admissions officers’ eyes. It’s amazing how often applicants bring interesting traits and experiences to the table, without even knowing it! That’s a big part of what Veritas Prep’s admissions experts do every day.
Continuing our admissions video series, this week we continue to explore the idea of how an applicant with a unique background is at an advantage over applicants who come from more typical backgrounds.
First, what is a “unique” in MBA admissions? It’s a professional or personal history that admissions officers don’t see every day. If you aren’t coming from a typical business school feeder industry, such as banking or consulting, then you may already be somewhat unique in admissions officers’ eyes. If you come from a part of the world or have had personal experiences that admissions officers don’t commonly see, then they may also look at you as a somewhat unique applicant.
That’s not a bad thing — that’s actually a very good thing, because you’ll provide a different perspective in the classroom. You just need to be able to show that, while you’re different, you also will fit in and succeed in business school:
As Samantha says, it’s just a matter of plugging any holes that may appear in your application (by the way, this is true for any applicant) so that you wipe away any questions that may exist in the back of admissions officers’ minds. Then, you can move on to emphasizing what makes you unique, and how these different traits and experiences will make you an asset to your business school community.
Check back soon for more insightful videos in the coming weeks. For personalized help in applying to business school, law school, or medical school, call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to one of our admissions experts!
Continuing our admissions video series, this week we explore the unique challenge (and advantage) of applying to an MBA program without traditional business experience. We often get questions from applicants who work for non-profit organizations, are musicians, or have worked in another field that doesn’t have much to do with “real” business. More often than not, these applicants’ experiences are much more relevant to their candidacies, and their weaknesses are much less formidable, than they expect!
If you’re an applicant coming from a non-business background, today’s video emphasizes the things you can do to overcome your potential weaknesses in the eyes of an MBA admissions officer:
Samantha Johnston, one of our Wharton Head Consultants says, “Even though they have very uncommon backgrounds, in some ways it’s easier to plug the holes for those candidates.” What she means is that an unusual, “non-business” applicant’s potential weaknesses are usually fairly obvious, and are usually the weaknesses that can be addressed more immediately.
Lack leadership experience and maturity? Well, it’s hard to plug those holes in a few short months. But if you don’t have a strong quant background, in a few short months you can earn a strong grade in a stats class at your local college. This won’t completely overcome this perceived weaknesses, necessarily, but it will go a long way to help, and admissions officers will definitely take note of the effort that you’re making. In this way, these are the easier deficiencies to overcome in your application.
Many MBA applicants ask us, “How soon should I start working on my business school applications?” When they ask that, they’re usually thinking about their essay and their letters or recommendation (and even their GMAT, if they haven’t yet taken it). We think this narrow definition gets a lot of applicants in trouble, however. Ideally you will start working on your application a couple of years before you ever submit it! The application itself is just a single snapshot of who you are, and you should start working on your candidacy log before you write your first essay.
We cover this idea in our newest MBA admissions video:
“Now hold on,” you’re saying. “Two years ago I didn’t even know that I’d apply to business school now, much less know what I’d need to pull together to build a great application.” Fair enough. That’s true for most applicants. But we urge you to change the definition of what it means to work on your applications — from just writing essays and gathering letters of recommendation, to seeking out new challenges on the job, finding ways to make an impact on your community, and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to ensure that you keep growing personally and professionally.
Note that these are all things that you should do, anyway, to advance your career and to mature as an individual. If this were a blog post about how to build a strong career path when you’re very early in your career, we would dispense the same advice. But these are also the things that admissions officers look for (leadership, a willingness to take on challenges, maturity, etc.), so pursuing these opportunities has the double advantage of helping you in your career and in the MBA admissions process.
Continuing our new MBA admissions video series, this week we investigate how some of our admissions experts attack the process to help their applicants write knockout admissions essays. This clip covers two important steps that every applicant should take — one tactical step at the beginning, and one strategic step closer to the end of the process.
As Samantha says, it’s important think through what you want to say before you actually start to write. This “begin with the end in mind” approach helps ensure that your essays stay on topic and answer the questions asked. If you find yourself thinking “That’s obvious,” stop right there. Don’t underestimate how tempted you will be to dive into some essays without a clear plan. Outlining your thoughts beforehand also helps you to keep your essays succinct — and stay under those word limits!
Also, note Samantha’s comment that the outline ultimately comes from the applicant — not from an admissions consultant. Like all ethical admissions consultants, we will never tell you what to write or write your essays for you. Everything you submit will be your own words and ideas; we’re here to help you present them with as much clarity and impact and you can muster.
As Scott says, once your essays start to take shape for a particular school, you should take a step back and see how they all fit together. Ask yourself: Together, do they present all of the messages that you want to come through in your application? Do they help you demonstrate a good fit with your target school? Do they present the profile of a well-rounded applicant who stands out from the pack? If not, then consider going back to the drawing board until you are able to fit all of your key themes into your essays (while answering the questions asked, of course).
Continuing our new MBA admissions video series, this week we ask how personal someone should get in their admissions essays, and how much personal information is too much. One thing that we always tell our clients — and admissions officers frequently tell their applicants — is that they shouldn’t be afraid to get personal in their essays. Admissions officers don’t want to only read about your accomplishments; they want to get to know the real you, and that means sharing a piece of yourself, even if it means revealing some vulnerability.
As this video shows, you want to reveal some of yourself in your essays — and even show some vulnerability. That helps admissions officers get to know you better despite the tight word count constraints that you have. However, there’s a difference between revealing some vulnerability and sounding like a person who will bring a suitcase full of problems to your target business school.
So, is there a fine line here that you must not cross? Not really… The difference isn’t all that subtle when you think about it. You want admissions officers to feel what you felt in a given situation, understand your emotions, and come away knowing you a little better. But you don’t want your applications story to get lost in a see of excuses or (for lack of a better word) whining about your failures. If you write an essay and aren’t sure if you’ve crossed this line, this is where another set of eyes can help a lot. (Veritas Prep offers MBA essay editing services to help you with this, although any pair of objective eyes can help here.)
Continuing our new MBA admissions video series, this week we look at the importance of hirability in the MBA admissions process. This has been a hot topic this year, given the sagging economy and the message we’ve heard from multiple top business schools about how they expect job placement to continue to be a challenge for at least one more year. This topic came up at a recent discussion among some of Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions experts, and we all agreed that admissions officers are unlikely to take a chance on an applicant if they believe it will be difficult to place that applicant with an employer down the road.
As Veritas Prep co-founder and CEO Chad Troutwine says, “The savvy applicant understands that to improve her chance for getting into a top MBA program, she needs to make sure it’s clear she’ll be attractive to employers.”
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQtPOQg_UcQ&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1] (You can go to YouTube and watch the video in a larger size.)
By no means does this mean that career switchers aren’t welcome at a top business school (although they’ll find some schools easier to get into than others). Rather, it means that getting into business school requires the same key traits — intellectual ability, maturity, polish, and leadership ability — that attractive employers look for in MBA graduates. Now more than ever, with the hiring outlook for MBA grads still looking tough, every applicant must demonstrate these traits to stand a strong chance of getting into a top MBA program.
We’ve been helping business school applicants for a long time now, so long that it’s easy to forget that we didn’t start out in that business. After Veritas Prep co-founders Markus Moberg and Chad Troutwine launched our GMAT prep service in 2002, it quickly became apparent that our students not only needed GMAT help, but they also needed help in pulling together their entire business school applications. How did we know? Because they came back to us time and time again, asking us to help them with their applications just as we helped them with their GMAT prep.
While we were flattered, we didn’t immediately dive into MBA admissions consulting. We were only going to do it if we could do what we did in GMAT preparation — do it better than anyone else. After talking to many respected experts and learning what was out there, we realized how we could do it better, and in 2003 Veritas Prep’s admissions consulting arm was born!
We have built the industry’s largest team of admissions experts, consisting of graduates and former admissions representatives from all of the world’s top MBA programs. When you work with Veritas Prep, you will not only get assistance from a Head Consultant who has worked as an admissions representative — as an admissions officer, application reader, or interviewer — but you will also work with a graduate from each of your target schools, to get true “insider” information about the culture and workings of each program.
In our ongoing quest to provide you with the best MBA admissions resources available anywhere, we present the second video in our MBA admissions series: How MBA Applicants Can Demonstrate Leadership.
So many applicants come to us every year with concerns about a lack of leadership experiences. When we dig a little deeper, we often find they they do in fact have great leadership experiences to talk about, although they may not come from traditional leadership roles, such as a big job title at work, military rank, team captain, etc. It’s an applicant’s ability to identify and clearly communicate these less obvious leadership stories that can make the difference between admissions to or rejection from a competitive MBA program.
As our own Samantha Johnston likes to say, leadership is a set of behaviors, not a job title or a rank. Leadership can come in many flavors, and shows up in many settings. As Paul Lanzillotti says, the richest leadership stories exhibit a blend of professional experiences and personal values — you not only achieved results, but you did so in a way that’s consistent with your core values.
Watch the video and think about what leadership experiences you might be able to draw upon in your own applications. You think of some outside of your job title and day-to-day responsibilities at work? How did you accomplish something that no one else could have done without you? Those stories often make for the richest leadership examples in your MBA admissions essays.
In Veritas Prep’s ongoing quest to provide business school applicants with the best GMAT prep and MBA admissions resources, we will roll out a series of video tips in the coming weeks. Rather than shooting a lot of “talking head” videos, we decided it would be fun to bring together some of our admissions experts for a day of shooting the breeze and sharing some of our own experiences in working with applicants. The result is a series of short, informative videos that should give you food for thought as you start to plan your application.
The first video in our series captures some discussion around the question of “What’s the biggest mistake applicants make in their essays?” While we had seemingly dozens of examples to share, we thought these points, made by our own Samantha Johnston and Chad Troutwine, represent the kind of mistakes that we see far too often — when applicants provide mundane, factual answers to questions, and fail to put “real meat” into their essay responses.
There are plenty more videos on the way, and we’ll release them one at a time. Yes, there will be some “talking head” videos in there (we couldn’t resist), but we hope for most of them to capture real snippets of the kinds of conversations that take place at Veritas Prep headquarters every day!