Harvard Business School Eliminates Round 3 MBA Application Period

Harvard Business SchoolThis week Harvard Business School announced that, unlike most other business schools, it would not have a Round 3 application deadline this year. The world’s most desirable MBA program just announced that they dropped an admissions deadline… must be a huge deal, right? “Not really,” is our answer. Read on…

Here are the main takeaways:

1) In the past, the former Director of Admissions had said that they always see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again. We think the move to eliminate Round 3 indicates that HBS has so many great applicants in Rounds 1 and 2, it’s not necessary to review applicants in Round 3 in order to fill their class with outstanding individuals. Instead of admitting 90% of the class in Rounds 1 and 2, they’ll now admit 100%.

2) The announcement says that Harvard has decided to focus their spring Round on 2+2 applications. This seems to signal an elevated level of importance for the program for college seniors seeking deferred admission. Clearly, the program is going well enough that they were ready to really focus on it in the spring admissions round this year.

The impact on you:

As an MBA applicant, this announcement means that if you want to apply to Harvard Business School, you really need to plan ahead. In the past, if circumstances had prevented you from applying in Round 1 or Round 2, you still had a chance to submit your application in Round 3. That chance is no longer available to you at HBS. You either need to decide earlier if you are going to apply (the Round 2 deadline is January 4 for the Class of 2021) or you’re going to have to wait and apply the following fall.

However, a big reason we say this announcement isn’t that big of a deal is that we rarely ever encourage business school applicants to pursue Round 3. We didn’t always think it was radioactive — indeed, it has helped applicants in certain situations, such as coming back from a military deployment or losing a job — but most applicants apply in one of the first two rounds, anyway. And, that’s almost always what they should do.

Also, note that applicants to HBS will now most likely know their fate when Round 2 decisions are released. (The Round 2 decision date was March 21 this past season.) The announcement mentions getting admitted students their decisions earlier, giving them additional time to do everything they need to do before classes start. This will allow a lot of small logistical things to fall into place a little more neatly, for both the school and for admitted applicants.

Another thing we’re wondering with this announcement from Harvard: we’re curious to see what other business schools do. Will more of them eliminate their final round? Will they be happy to keep Round 3 and probably see more applications from folks who were dinged by HBS in Round 2? Only time will tell. In the meantime, start working on your applications now, if you haven’t already. If you have questions, contact us.


Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

Expert Advice for Young MBA Applicants

Make Studying FunFirst of all, who is considered a younger applicant?

Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. The average age for most of the top full time MBA programs is typically about 27 or 28 years old, but as we learned from our GMAT prep, averages don’t tell us a lot. Even looking at the middle 80% age range of full-time MBA programs, most students are between 25 and 31 years old.  So, if you have fewer than 3 years of work experience, at the time of application, you will be at the lower end of the range. There is no cut off, though.

Every year, full time programs admit applicants younger than 25, however these people are outliers. Just as a candidate with a GMAT score that falls outside of the middle 80% of a school’s range must justify how they will succeed academically, an applicant that falls outside the middle 80% of the age range must justify why they want an MBA, why now, and how they’ll fit with the program both culturally and professionally.

If you are a younger applicant, what can you do to maximize your chances of admission?  

Demonstrate maturity.

It’s imperative to convince the admissions committee that you have the quality and depth of work experience they’re looking for in members of the class.  Help the admissions committee understand how what you’ve done in your fewer than average years of work experience is better than or equal to what other applicants have achieved in more.  Strong letters of recommendation could play a key role in this.

Make it clear why you want an MBA now.

Admissions officers are going to see your age, your college graduation date and the years of work experience you bring, so there’s no sense in trying to hide or downplay this aspect of your profile.  Instead, make sure you have a clear and coherent response for why you want to get your MBA now, how it fits into your professional path, and how receiving a full-time MBA is the best possible path to achieve your goals.  Know that the admissions committee will be looking at this portion of your application with extra scrutiny. I guarantee that every 23 year old who was admitted to a top-tier, full-time program had a very clear and compelling argument for why they should be there. Nobody stumbles into a top-tier program with 1 or 2 years of work experience who simply said, “I’m looking to expand my career opportunities and improve my management skills” without providing significantly more detail.  

Demonstrate fit.  

Also, don’t forget to do thorough research on each program to which you are applying.  Talk with current students and recent alums who were a little younger in their class and pick their brains on school culture, the ways they got involved, and their overall experience. Get on your target schools’ websites to find out what clubs interest you most and include these in your application essays to show the admissions committee that you’re serious about getting involved!  At Veritas Prep, we have expert consultants for younger candidates and can help you refine your professional goals, why you need an MBA now, and how you will contribute to your class.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.


Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

BREAKING NEWS: The GMAT is Getting Shorter!

stopwatch-620GMAC has announced that, beginning April 16, 2018, the GMAT exam will be 30 minutes shorter via the removal of 6 Quantitative questions and 5 Verbal questions and some streamlining to tutorials and other non-exam screens at the test center. So, just how much should this affect your test prep strategy? Well there are a few things to keep in mind before you take the official exam. 

To prepare for the changes, know the following:

  • Your allotted pace per question is essentially the same (within ~2 seconds per question).
  • According to GMAC, the removal of questions all comes from the unscored, experimental questions (those that GMAC is vetting for quality and difficulty, but that do not count toward your score).
  • There are no changes to scoring or to the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections.
  • There will now be 31 Quantitative questions (in 62 minutes) and 36 Verbal questions (in 65 minutes).

What does this mean for you?

  • In general your pacing strategy doesn’t need to change. You’re still allotted just about exactly the same amount of time per question (exactly 2 minutes per Quant question and 1:48 per Verbal question).
  • However, the “penalty” for guessing just got a bit more severe. With all of the reduction in questions coming from the unscored questions you lose (most of) the 25% probability that a question you guess on won’t count toward your score.
  • What you give up in “probability that a guess won’t hurt you” you likely make up for in mental stamina. A shorter test allows you to perform at your peak for a greater percentage of it, so that works to your advantage.
  • Most importantly, recognize this: everyone takes the same test, so these little nuances in stamina and number of experimentals will affect everyone. The psychometricians at GMAC take data integrity seriously and won’t sign off on changes that could alter the consistency of scores, so any perceived advantages or disadvantages are likely a much bigger deal in your head than they are in practice.

The best news?

Unlike with Section Select – another new, user-friendly GMAT feature – you (probably) don’t have to make any decisions.  If you’re signed up for the “old” format test (an appointment between now and April 16) GMAC will allow you to transfer your appointment to a later date with the shorter format free of charge.  But unless you have a test currently scheduled for the next 12 days you’ll just take the shorter test and be able to celebrate a half-hour earlier.

Whether you’re just beginning your GMAT prep or you’re just looking to hone a few particular skills (such as time management), Veritas Prep has a service to ensure you succeed on test day! Check out our variety of GMAT prep services online, or give us a call to speak with a friendly Course Advisor about your options. 

Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter

Oberlin CollegeIt is admissions decision time, and many institutions are reporting an increase in applicants for the Class of 2022, and a decrease in admissions rates. For the first time, Harvard admitted less than 5% of applicants! So, for the 95% of you who applied to Harvard and received a rejection letter, or for any other students who feel like their dreams have been crushed, this post is for you.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel how you want to feel – disappointed, angry, frustrated or even sad. You worked tirelessly in high school to be a stellar student, spent hours outside of schools participating in extracurricular activities, pulled all-nighters to complete homework assignments and stayed up late rewriting your application essays over and over again. You may have even lost some sleep in the last week in anticipation of the decision. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel a sinking disappointment. However, your rejection letter should not take anything away from your herculean efforts over the past four years. You are still an outstanding, accomplished student. Repeat that to yourself a few times.

Your future is not defined by today. We won’t try to get too motivational on you, but it is important to remember that tomorrow is a new day, life will continue on, and your future will not defined by the admissions decisions you received.

If you’re wondering what to do next, here are three suggestions to help you get excited about the next phase of your life:

Ask for an explanation

If you find yourself asking “what happened?” or “what could I have done differently?” you might get some peace of mind by connecting with an admissions officer. Many institutions are willing to give you feedback on why you weren’t admitted. If this is something that would help you feel closure, we suggest reaching out to the admissions office and getting this information!

Get excited about your plan B

Once you are ready to stop mourning what could have been, it’s time to start getting excited about what will be! If you’re able, go on a campus visit to your Plan B school to start envisioning yourself as a student there. If you happen to find yourself with no offers of admission, take this time to research schools who are still accepting applications, or seek a Community College option that might be a good fit for you for the upcoming year. You may even choose to work with a college admissions consultant to help guide you through the process.

Celebrate your successes

We get it, you didn’t crack the selective admissions rates at the top colleges in the country, but if you strategized your school list wisely, it’s likely you were admitted somewhere, and that’s worth celebrating! Go out to dinner, hang that admissions letter on the fridge and remind yourself that you’re awesome and your future is bright.

In the end, your future is what you make of it. No matter where you enroll, your future will be fantastic because you make it that way. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and the people in your corner cheering you on. The best is yet to come!

Dinged By All Of Your Schools?  Here Is What To Do.

AdmissionsIt is hard not to feel the sting of rejection coming from MBA programs you failed to get into, especially when you just devoted a portion of your life going through such an arduous application process. But we are here to let you know that it is key to your long term success not to let fear of future rejection keep you from reapplying yourself. There are steps you can take to improve your chances of admission and earn the acceptance letter you deserve!

What should you do?  

 

Be honest with yourself.  

This is probably the most important and most difficult step an applicant can take to kick-start the post-ding process. You will need to look back at your application and honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. Look at where you stand on paper (GMAT, GPA, etc.) as well as how you fare in some of the softer areas like the essay – scrutinize your whole profile. The data side is easy; you can compare average and median scores to determine your competitiveness in these areas. The “softer” areas are a bit more complicated, but assessing whether or not you answered all questions as they were posed, and to the best of your abilities, is a good place to start. The information gleaned from this self-assessment should fuel your next steps as a potential re-applicant. Evaluating yourself is quite a challenge, and sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective to address your “blind-spots.”

Ask for feedback.  

Anyone who gets rejected will inevitably ask, “What did I do wrong? What’s the one thing that kept me out?”  There are some programs that give rejected applicants specific feedback on why they didn’t get in. This can be helpful because if it’s something you can improve, then you know exactly what you need to do, if you decide to re-apply.  The old advice applies, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”

If the programs you applied to are unable to provide you with feedback on your application, you can get a “ding analysis” from an admissions consultant.  They’ll review your application and give you their opinion on what held you back. Considering many admissions consultants are former admissions committee members this can be invaluable.  

Prepare for the Future.

Here is where you will decide whether or not you would like to apply to business school again. Creating a winning application is not easy, so making the necessary changes to a rejected application may not be seen as worth the effort for some. In the event you do decide to apply again, it is important to create an action plan. Having a plan to address the aspects of your profile that held you back this year is key.  You may need to expand the universe of schools you apply to. You may need to improve your essays. You may need to raise your GMAT score.

Allow me to share the following review posted by a client we worked with.  I hope it will give you hope.

“I had applied on my own to a couple of top MBA programs last year and was rejected without interviews. Even through I sunk many hours into my applications, within just one session, Dave was able to highlight different areas in which I could strengthen my essays, resume, and letters of recommendation. I started with Dave in April for a four-school package, and every step of the way, he was an incredible mentor and guide. Dave took the time go get to know my life story, future goals, and general life; I never felt like just another client. Dave was great about really cutting to the core of my stories and the reasons I made decisions while still focusing on the impact of those experiences. The final results blew away my best expectations – 100K scholarship from Kellogg, 60K scholarship from Booth, and full rides from both Tuck and Darden. Thank you so much to both Veritas and Dave for a fantastic experience and amazing results, and I highly, highly recommend Dave. Can’t wait to start school in Fall 2018!”

A ding is not the end of the world! Take the steps above to bounce back and earn the letter of acceptance you deserve.

Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation to discuss whether or not you should re-apply and how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.  As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Waitlisted? Here are 3 Things You Should Do Next.

RoadThis time of year is full of so many highs and lows for college applicants. Many students will be jumping for joy when they learn that they’ve been admitted to the school of their dreams. Others may learn that they have been denied admission placed on the waitlist, and can’t help but feel defeated. If you happen to find yourself in the camp of waitlisted students, here are some strategies to help you figure out next steps.

Reach out to the school immediately.

If you’re still dreaming about attending the school that waitlisted you, open communication as soon as possible. Write a letter or send an email detailing that if they were to admit you, you would accept the spot in their incoming freshman class without question. Reiterate the reasons why this school is your dream institution and update them on any new developments in your candidacy.

Get excited about your Plan B.

Obviously your dream school is still your goal, but you’re likely going to head somewhere in the fall, so it’s time to psyche yourself up for Plan B! Since it is uncertain whether or not you will be lifted from the waitlist at your dream school, put down a deposit at a school that admitted you. The last thing you want is to be stuck after May 1st with nowhere to go, so set yourself up for success by paying an enrollment deposit at another school. Buy a t-shirt or hat for that school, too. You might end up being a student there, so it’s time to get into the school spirit!

Keep your eye on the prize.

If you’ve been waitlisted, you might consider just walking away altogether to take a Gap Year. For some students, this might be a good option, because you can spend your Gap Year doing things to boost your candidacy in anticipation of applying again. However, it is important to note that it is easier to try and transfer to your dream institution from another college than taking a stab at the first-time admissions odds again. In most cases, you are better off enrolling in your Plan B, kicking butt in challenging courses and ultimately positioning yourself to be a compelling transfer applicant in a few years. Who knows, you might fall in love with your Plan B and realize that’s where you were meant to be all along!

Being placed on a waitlist definitely isn’t ideal, but there are actions you can take to position yourself well for the future! Veritas Prep college admissions consultants are ready to help you with strategies to get off the waitlist at your top-choice school.

We are happy to review your waitlist school letter or assist you as you decide on which college is right for you. 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 FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Insights from the 2019 US News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Booth Climbs to #1

US News College RankingsWe don’t like to overemphasize the importance of rankings, but we know that applicants are extremely interested in them.  As such, let’s take a look at the US News and World Report Best Business Schools rankings for 2019 (ranked in 2018) today.

What’s new?  

 

Booth went from #3 last year to #1 this year, tied with Harvard.  

This is the first time Booth has been ranked #1 by US News and World Report.  Comparing Harvard and Booth, the acceptance rate jumps out at you.  Booth accepted 23.5% of applicants and Harvard 9.9%. The percentage of graduates employed at the time of graduation also stands out.  Booth has one of the highest at 88%. The only school in the top 25 with a higher percentage is Ross-more on them later-with 89.7%.  Side note: We don’t want to get too deep into employment statistics, but if having a job at the time of graduation, or getting one shortly thereafter is really important to you, check out the numbers reported for graduates employed 3 months after graduation.  The highest percentage you’ll see in the top 25 is Foster at 98.1%-pretty impressive. For those of you who’d been solely focused on applying to and getting in to H/S/W, we hope this helps you open your mind to the value of applying to and the possibility of attending a school other than those 3.  

Ross went from #11 last year to #7 tied this year, tied with Berkeley Haas.  

Ross achieved a noteworthy rise in the rankings, cracking the coveted Top 10.  Similar to my comment above, for those of you hyper focused on attending a school in the top 10, we hope this 1) helps you realize that the top 10 varies from year to year and 2) opens your mind to applying to schools outside of the top 10.     

The difference between a school being ranked in the top 10 and not is pretty small.  One year they may be in the top 10, the next year they may be out. Did the school change that much in 1 year?  Probably not. Is the school still a great school? Most likely yes. There can be so much focus on a school being ranked in the top 10, but there are a number of excellent schools which hover right around the top 10 and even crack the top 10 (as they say) some years that as an applicant, you should make sure you don’t overlook them.  So, while Fuqua, Yale, Stern and Darden aren’t in the top 10 this year, as you consider which schools to apply to, take a look at these schools as they are perennially near the top 10 and sometimes included, if that’s important to you.

What do you need to know?  

One thing we noticed when we looked at the rankings was the average GMAT score.  Scanning the rankings, it wasn’t until you got to #17 Tepper that the average GMAT score dipped below 700.  Yikes! The average GMAT score at 5 of the top 6 schools (including the top 4 schools) was 730+. Wowza! Similar to rankings, we don’t want to place too much emphasis on the average GMAT score, but it’s worth noting that the average scores remain high and are continuing to go up for schools in the top 25.  You’re probably wondering, what you can do about it? Check out these articles on the Veritas Prep blog or contact us so we can give you some free advice.  

It’s pretty common knowledge that the top 7 schools are pretty consistent–thus the term M7.  And everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – thus the term H/S/W – even though Booth, Kellogg, or Sloan may be tied or ranked higher any given year.  Outside of the top 7, though, call it 8 through 12, there can be movement and as such, one school may be in the top 10 one year and out the next.
We constantly remind applicants, rankings are only one factor to consider when selecting which schools to apply to.  Regardless of which schools you decide are right for you, you’ll want to make sure you submit the strongest application you’re capable of.  Contact us today to discuss your chances of admission to your target programs, to get answers to your questions, and to find out how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.

MBA Application Advice for Older Applicants

SAT/ACTFirst of all, who is considered an older applicant?

Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. The average age for most of the top full time MBA programs is typically about 27 or 28 years old, but as we learned from our GMAT prep, averages don’t tell us a lot. Even looking at the middle 80% age range of full-time MBA programs, most students are between 25 and 31 years old.  

So, if you have more than 7 years of work experience, at the time of application, you will be at the upper end of the range.  In other words, if you’ll be 30 or older at the start of the program, you’ll be above average. There is no cut off, though.

Every year, full time programs admit applicants in their mid 30s, however these people are outliers, Just as a candidate with a GMAT score that falls outside of the middle 80% of a school’s range must justify how they will succeed academically, an applicant that falls outside the middle 80% in age range must justify why they want an MBA, why now, and how they’ll fit with the program both culturally and professionally.

If you are an older applicant, what can you do to maximize your chances of admission?  

 

Make it clear why you want an MBA now.

Admissions officers are going to see your age, your college graduation date and the years of work experience you bring, so there’s no sense in trying to hide or downplay this aspect of your profile.  Instead, make sure you have a clear and coherent response for why you want to get your MBA now, how it fits into your professional path, and how receiving a full-time MBA is the best possible path to achieve your goals.  Know that the admissions committee will be looking at this portion of your application with extra scrutiny. I guarantee that every 32 year old who was admitted to a top-tier, full-time program had a very clear and compelling argument for why they should be there. Nobody stumbles into a top-tier program with 10 years of work experience who simply said, “I’m looking to expand my career opportunities and improve my management skills” without providing significantly more detail.  

Demonstrate fit.  

Also, don’t forget to do thorough research on each program to which you are applying.  Talk with current students and recent alums who were a little older in their class and pick their brains on school culture, the ways they got involved, and their overall experience. Get on your target schools’ websites to find out what clubs interest you most and include these in your application essays to show the admissions committee that you’re serious about getting involved!  At Veritas Prep, we have expert consultants for older candidates and can help you refine your professional goals, why you need an MBA now, and how you will contribute to your class.

Consider applying to a part time or EMBA program.  

Many business schools, including Stanford and Wharton, offer other programs such as EMBA, part-time and executive education tracks that may be better suited to candidates who will not likely take advantage of the immersive experience of a full-time MBA.  If you have 7 or 8 or more years of work experience, be sure you are considering all of your options. Leaving your full-time job for two years is not always the wisest option for people later in their careers and will not provide the same ROI as for younger candidates.  Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Can Amazing Extracurriculars Outweigh Average Academics?

Extracurricular-ActivitiesYear after year, this is one of the questions we receive most from eager high school students gearing up for the college application process. We thought we’d take the time to break down how admissions decisions are made. Don’t want to read all the way to the end? Here’s our #spoileralert: amazing extracurriculars don’t outweigh average academics. Let us tell you why!

When admissions committees at top schools make admissions decisions, they’re evaluating you across a few elements:

Academic Preparedness

Here, admissions committees are looking to evaluate whether or not you are equipped to succeed in their college courses. This comes down to more than your GPA and test scores, though those are factors in this evaluation Other areas of your academic evaluation will include AP test scores, SAT Subject Test Scores, Letters of Recommendation and your academic involvement outside the classroom.

Habit of Leadership/Depth of Commitment

(This is where your amazing extracurriculars will be evaluated!)

It’s not enough to just participate in volunteer work or play a sport. Admissions committees at top universities are looking for students who have thoroughly enveloped themselves in activities that they are truly passionate about! Their job as an admissions committee is to admit a well-rounded, diverse freshman class. They’re looking for “pointy” students – students who have clearly demonstrated interests and passions and have taken the initiative to excel in those areas both inside and outside the classroom.

Fit for Institution

In the end, admissions committees will never admit a student that they don’t believe will actually enroll, so it’s important to clearly articulate your fit and sincere interest for each individual school on your list! This is typically done through school-specific supplemental essays, and will also be an imperative part of your application process.

Essentially, excelling in extracurriculars does not outweigh average or less-than-average performance in academics. Why? Because first, admissions committees need to determine if you will be able to keep up academically with your peers in college level courses. That’s the most important criteria. Unfortunately, your extracurricular activities do not necessarily demonstrate to admissions committees that you are prepared to excel academically on their campus. If you don’t have sufficient evidence on your application that you’ll be able to handle academic rigor, it is unlikely you will be admitted to selective college or university.

Do you have questions about how your unique extracurricular experiences will be evaluated by admissions committees? Take advantage of Veritas Prep’s free college consultation — you’ll receive personalized feedback from one of our college admission experts on your chances of admission to your dream schools, as well as tangible next steps for what you can do to ensure your applications are successful!

Top 5 Waitlist Strategies for College Applicants

Waiting in LineNo one wants to be waitlisted by the school of their dreams. Being waitlisted could be one of the best things that can happen to you in your college admissions journey. Why? You’re one step closer to the finish line.

A decision of “maybe” from your top-choice school might be confusing at first, but it gives you a chance to think about what you really want to do next. However, you must weigh your options quickly. If your heart’s still set on going to that college, there are some things you can do right now to boost your chances of acceptance.  

Here’s some expert advice from our Veritas Prep college admissions team on what to do next if you find yourself on the waitlist:

1. Reflect on why you applied. Is this school still your first choice? How does the curriculum align with your goals? What are the chances that you will receive a scholarship or grants should you be admitted after all early and regular decision acceptance offers have been made? Answering these questions can help you decide whether you want to pursue admission as you consider or await other college decisions.

2. Read the fine print. Many schools give clear direction to their waitlisted applicants about what to do next. Some schools require students to respond to the waitlist offer by a certain deadline. Others instruct students not to send any additional information to the admissions committee. It’s important that you follow the instructions provided to you in your letter — even if this means that you may just have to wait.

3. Write the “admissions love letter.” If your decision letter does not discourage submitting additional information to the admissions office, you can still show your dream school how committed you are to becoming a member of their next incoming class. Due to the time sensitivity of the process, this letter should be sent by e-mail directly to the contact information provided to you by the university’s admissions office. The letter should not exceed one page (1-3 paragraphs) and include the following:

a. New insights into why you are a good fit for the school (i.e. new discoveries from the admissions interview, campus tour or meetings with professors and/or alumni). Do not repeat information you have already stated in your application.

b. Highlights of how you have strengthened weaker areas in your application profile over the past few months.  This includes things like mid-year grade improvements, research projects, accomplishments and awards.

c. Reiterate that the school is genuinely your top choice and you will attend if admitted. This is the number one question admissions committees have about the status of their waitlisted applicants.

Time is of the essence: Don’t forget to send your “love letter” in a timely manner. Usually your letter will provide you with key dates and deadlines. If not, respond as soon as possible.

4. Create a backup plan. You can request to remain on the waitlist of your top-choice school whilst securing your spot at another institution. Pay close attention to the deadlines to pay your security deposit, in case things don’t work out with your first-choice school.  

5. Stay positive. Take a deep breath and feel confident that you put your best foot forward. No matter the outcome, you should be proud of your accomplishments to make it this far in the process. A waitlist decision is not an outright “no,” and it’s very likely that your application was favored over a pool of thousands of applicants from all over the world.

Veritas Prep college admissions consultants are ready to help you with strategies to get off the waitlist at your top-choice school. We are happy to review your waitlist love letter or assist you as you decide on which college is right for you. For help creating a top-notch college application, contact us today at 800.925.7737.

3 Reasons to Apply in Round 3

InterviewRound 1 and 2 deadlines have come and gone, but you had it in your head that you were applying to business school this year. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant should consider applying in Round 3.

1. Many schools have strong Round 3 acceptance rates.

Think you have no chance getting in if you apply Round 3? Think again!  Admissions officers at Harvard (HBS), Stanford GSB, Wharton and across the top-tier MBA programs have openly stated that they would simply eliminate Round 3 if they did not consistently admit candidates from the final round. Harvard Business School’s former Director of Admissions, Dee Leopold, offers this: “We always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always – ALWAYS – see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again.”  

Schools with relatively higher acceptance rates of Round 3 applicants include Cornell Johnson, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, Emory Goizueta and Georgetown McDonough, according to data provided by MBA Data Guru. If you apply to schools outside of the top 15 MBA programs you are more likely to be accepted in Round 3. 

2. There were extenuating circumstances which prevented you from applying in an earlier round.

Some applicants have extenuating circumstances that prevented them from applying in an earlier round. Admissions Officers will certainly keep this in mind while reviewing your Round 3 application, so feel free to include legitimate circumstances in your optional essay. This might include an overseas military deployment, atypical professional obligations such as working on a political campaign, or other circumstances where it is easy for the admissions officer to see that submitting an earlier application would have been nearly impossible. Do not feel an obligation to list an excuse for applying in Round 3, but if you have extenuating circumstances you may include them. Our Veritas Prep consultants can help you determine whether to mention a possible extenuating circumstance in your application or leave it off.

3. You’re a stellar applicant with a stellar application.

Round 3 partly gets a bad reputation from those applicants who throw together their applications at the last minute (rather than having to wait eight months before applying in next year’s admissions cycle) and end up getting rejected. “See,” they say, “I knew I wouldn’t get in. Round 3 is impossible.” But Round 3 wasn’t the problem… their applications were what held them back.

An impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or postpone to Round 1 in the fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee  has you covered every step of the way!


Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Top 5 Reasons You Should Start Your MBA Applications Early

Six WeeksAcross the board, MBA admissions officers recommend that you apply in the earliest round you can – as long as you’re submitting your best possible application. Particularly for candidates from overrepresented industries such as finance and consulting, later round applicants can be at a significant disadvantage. This means that you should begin working on your applications now, in time to submit the best application possible, as early as possible. Here are the top 5 reasons to start your MBA applications early and apply in Round 1:

1. Significant MBA school research is imperative to your success.

Schools are looking for candidates who’ve approached business school with a mature and thorough decision making process. In order to write impactful essays that also demonstrate fit, you will need to do more than check rankings and click through their website. Effective research often includes conversations with current students and recent alums, visiting campus and attending info sessions, or at least diving into comprehensive resources like the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. Lack of research leads to generic essays, which are not compelling to admissions officers.

2. Demonstrating “fit” is a more arduous process than you think. It takes time. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.

Every year, we see clients who expect that they can write essays for one application and simply strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. This is especially tempting with the current trend in open ended questions. Rachel, a member of our Ultimate Admissions Committee and Head Consultant from Wharton, says “it’s more important than ever to consider the culture and environment of the school.” Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

3. You won’t just identify and explain your weaknesses – you will work to improve them.

One of the first steps in working on your applications is evaluating every element of your profile. Are there any weak areas? Red flags? Leadership? Low GMAT score? Low undergraduate GPA? If you identify any areas which may be less than solid, when you start early, you can take steps to improve your weaknesses, rather than finding yourself in the unenviable position of trying to explain them in an optional essay. This might include tackling a new project with your volunteer organization, taking a calculus course from your local community college, or retaking the GMAT with the proper strategy to raise your score. There are numerous strategies to improve your application profile, and if you start on your applications now, you have time to implement them!

4. You will increase your chances of receiving financial aid awards and scholarships.

It is well known that schools operate with a limited budget – this means that there is more money to go around for financial aid, scholarships and awards, towards the beginning of the admissions season than there is towards the end. Why not allow yourself the highest possibility of receiving a financial reward?

5. It will allow you to avoid late application pitfalls.

In an exclusive Veritas Prep survey, we asked the top 30 MBA admissions officers to name the most common mistakes they see in MBA applications. Their #1 response: careless errors. Admissions officers view your application as a reflection of your commitment, so careless errors can doom your chances for admissions. However, let’s face it, most of us love to procrastinate! About 80% of MBA applications are submitted within three days of each deadline, most within 24 hours. These rushed, last-minute applications are often rife with careless errors – a missing comma here, an incorrect spelling of “they’re” there. By starting the process early, you and your Veritas Prep Head Consultant can craft your Personalized MBA Game Plan™, providing structure to the application process and ensuring there is plenty of time to catch careless mistakes and add the perfect polish before you hit “Submit.”

What you should be doing now?

Even before the schools release their updated essay prompts, you can work to significantly improve your applications by working with an expert MBA consultant to:

  • Identify the ideal programs for your personal and professional goals, even some you may not be currently considering.
  • Thoroughly research your target schools beyond rankings and school websites.
  • Discuss how to maximize the value of your campus visits, information sessions, and conversations with students and alumni.
  • Prepare your recommenders to write stellar letters on your behalf.
  • Craft your resume to emphasize accomplishments that will resonate with the admissions committee.

Secure your ideal MBA consultant now.

With the lowest client-to consultant ratio in the industry, Veritas Prep ensures your consultant is solely focused on your success. However, this also means that many of our consultants can get booked up early. We will ensure you work with a consultant who best fits with your personal and professional background, career goals, target schools, and working style so they can clearly understand your story and know how to best portray it to the admissions committee. As a First Mover, you’ll work with the ideal consultant for your needs so that your applications truly shine.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.


Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

How Does Scoring Differ Between the GMAT and the GRE?

SAT/ACT

It’s a new year, and thus a good time to undertake a new intellectual challenge. For me, this challenge will take the form of teaching new classes on GRE preparation. Because the test has changed so much over the years, I thought it might be interesting to delineate my impressions of the newer incarnation, both in terms of how the GRE differs from the GMAT and in terms of how the GRE has evolved over time.

Observation 1: The formats are different.

 The GRE has two Quantitative sections and two Verbal sections of 30 minutes each, while the GMAT has a single Quantitative section and a single Verbal section of 75 minutes each. Moreover, while the GMAT is adaptive by the question, the GRE is adaptive by section.  Do well on the first GRE Quantitative section and the entire next section will escalate in difficulty. (My impression: while the GRE does adjust from section to section, it does so in a way that feels significantly subtler than the GMAT exam.)

Observation 2: The two Quantitative sections on the GRE are much easier than the one Quantitative section on the GMAT.

This is typically the most conspicuous difference test-takers notice. In our GMAT courses, we have a skill-builder section that allows students to re-master the basics before delving into a discussion about the types of higher-order thinking the GMAT will require. In other words, it’s not enough to simply recall the various rules, axioms, and equations we’ve forgotten from high school – those foundational elements will need to be applied in creative ways. While the GRE does require some higher-order thinking, on many quantitative questions simply having the foundational skills is enough to arrive at the correct answer. The strategic element is more about how to arrive at these answers in a timely manner and how to avoid panicking on the few hairier questions that will likely come your way.

Moreover, in lieu of the GMAT’s dreaded Data Sufficiency questions, the GRE has Quantitative Comparison questions, in which a test-taker is asked to compare the relative magnitude of two quantities – it’s possible that one quantity is larger than the other, that the two quantities are equal, or that it’s not possible to determine which quantity is larger. After grappling with knotty Data Sufficiency questions, a test-taker is likely to find Quantitative Comparison to be blessedly straightforward. Better yet, the GRE will allow you to return to questions once you’ve answered them, granting test-takers more opportunities to weed out careless mistakes. If that weren’t enough, on the GRE, you’ll have access to an on-screen calculator. So there are perks.

Observation 3: The GRE’s scoring algorithm is much less forgiving than the GMAT’s.

Of course, there’s a rub. The GRE’s Quantitative section might be easier in terms of the difficulty level of the questions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier to score well. If you’re able to ascend to the more difficult question levels on the GMAT, you can miss many of them and still do well. Not so on the GRE, where you need to be pretty close to perfect to achieve an elite score.

Observation 4:  The Verbal on the GRE can be trickier.

Like the GMAT, the GRE has a Reading Comprehension component. But unlike the GMAT, the GRE questions will often ask you to select “all that apply,” meaning that you may need to select as many as three correct assertions in order to receive credit for a question. Select two of the three? You get the question wrong. No partial credit. And while the GRE doesn’t have any Sentence Correction questions, it does have Sentence Completion questions, and these questions often come down to either recognizing somewhat obscure vocabulary words or utilizing more familiar words in less familiar ways.

Ultimately, in my experience, most test-takers will score at comparable percentile levels if they were to take both exams. Choosing which test is better for you might be a question of fit or comfort more than anything else. And while there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two exams, they feel different enough that you wouldn’t want to prepare for one and simply assume that you’re ready for the other. Each test has its own strategic texture and its own idiosyncrasies, so you want to be sure that you’ve worked through a curriculum specifically designed for the test in question before you sit for the exam.

Regardless of whether you take the GMAT or GRE, Veritas Prep is committed to helping you prepare to do your best on test day! Jump start your prep by taking advantage of Veritas Prep’s various free GMAT resources and free GRE resources to determine which test is right for you.


This article was written by Veritas Prep instructor David Goldstein. Be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful articles like these!

How to Spend Your Summer Months in High School

Study on the BeachIt may not seem like it now, especially if you’re looking outside at a pile of snow… but summer is right around the corner! Year after year, there is an increased focus from admissions committees at top schools on how students spend their summer months. While it is called summer “break,” we know that you need to spend your “break” being productive, too! We’ve compiled our list of the best ways to spend your summer months to maximize both preparedness and relaxation!

1) Strengthen your Candidacy

This one is general, but probably the most important. Summer months are your break from school, so you have opportunities to strengthen parts of your candidacy outside of your classroom performance. Here are some ideas for how to spend that valuable time:

Participate in a competitive academic program

Now is the time to apply to competitive academic summer programs. Admissions committees will evaluate how you have explored academic interests outside of your high school curriculum, and participating in an academic summer program is an excellent way to demonstrate your pursuit of academic interests outside of school. Any program that allows you to take additional coursework, study on a college campus or participate in research with a working professional is a great choice!

Participate in a meaningful volunteer opportunity

Admissions committees also care deeply about how you have supported your community and developed an interest in community involvement. If you reflect on your extracurricular activities and find that you have not been too involved in bettering your community, summer months are a great time to find a worthy organization and get your hands dirty!

Focus on test prep

If you’ve already taken the ACT or SAT and don’t have your desired score, you should spend summer months preparing to take the exam again. It’s easier to focus on test prep when you’re not knee deep in your AP Physics and Honors Literature class, so utilize the summer months to focus on test prep and increase your score before you begin the college applications!

2) Explore colleges – virtually or in person

Use your summer months to explore colleges in-person or virtually. While it’s not an ideal time to visit college campuses because the student population is much smaller than during the school year, it’s typically the best time for families to travel together. Make the most of your visits by meeting with an admissions representative personally, talking with current students and professors. If physically visiting campuses is not possible, take advantage of the World Wide Web and the fabulous resources available at your fingertips! Most colleges will offer virtual tours on their website and admissions representatives make themselves available for calls from prospective students!

3) Finalize your school list

One of the biggest mistakes we see students make is beginning their senior year without a finalized school list. By the time you step foot at your school as a mighty and all-knowing senior, you should have your school list finalized – a balance between reach, match and safety schools.

4) Enjoy yourself

Finally, it’s your break. Take a breather and enjoy yourself. Spend time with your friends and family, sleep in and soak up the sun. While it’s important to focus on college readiness, we also know that balance is key. Enjoy!


Do you need help with your college applications? 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 FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Starting the Common Application: Your 2018-2019 Personal Statement Prompts

The Common Application has made a major announcement! It’s only January, and they’ve announced that they will not be making any changes to the 2018-2019 Personal Statement prompts from the 2017-2018 season.

This means that if you are in the Class of 2019, your Personal Statement prompts are available to you, and you can officially begin your college application process! Your personal statement prompts are as follows:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

If you’re having trouble getting started with your Common Application essays, Veritas Prep has you covered. Our college admissions experts have broken down each Common App prompt to tell you what college admissions committees are really looking for in your answers to each question, and to offer actionable tips for how to start the writing process for your own essays. You can read our thoughts here:


Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? 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 FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How to Write a Strong Common App Essay

SAT WorryOver 700 American Colleges and Universities utilize the Common Application system to streamline the application process. Among the many elements of the application itself, you will have to choose ONE of seven Personal Statement prompts to respond to, and you’ll have 250-650 words for your narrative.

When you’re staring at the seven Common App essay prompts, the choices can seem overwhelming, and the stakes are high.  Depending on the prompt that you select, you’ll need to write something that is informative and emotionally compelling, but not a cliché. You need to be unique and demonstrate character, while also proving you’ll add insight and experiences to the incoming freshman class. You need to talk about your leadership and accomplishments, but stay humble.  You need to be yourself while also keeping your voice professional.  It’s a lot to convey your authentic self in 650 words or less, but Veritas Prep has you covered with our Personal Statement Guide.

Our College Admissions Consultants all have formal admissions decision-making experience, and they have reviewed each of the seven Personal Statement prompts to provide guidance on how to respond to each of the options.  Best of luck!

Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Read advice>

Prompt #2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Read advice>

Prompt #3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Read advice>

Prompt #4: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Read advice>

Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Read advice>

Prompt #6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Read advice>

Prompt #7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Read advice>

Admissions deadlines are approaching! Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How to Write a Yale Supplemental Essay

Yale JDMBAFor the 2017-2018 application season, Yale has asked all applicants to answer to several Yale-specific short answer questions in addition to the Personal Statement. To see a list of all Yale-specific essay prompts, click here.

Additionally, Veritas Prep had one of our college admissions expert review one of Yale’s supplemental essay prompts. Take a look at our tips for writing a winning Yale-specific essays here.

Responses to school-specific essays help admissions committee understand why you are a good fit for the school, and why the school is a good fit for your personal goals! It’s imperative to think strategically about your responses to each school-specific essay, as they play a crucial role in admissions decisions. If you’d like expert guidance on how to write strong essays for all of the schools on your list, check out our admissions consulting services here.

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

The GRE Exam for Law School?

Law School Images

Update: On August 7, 2017, Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and Georgetown Law also announced that they will begin accepting the GRE or the LSAT for admissions. With this news, it seems all the more inevitable that the GRE will soon be universally accepted among top law schools. Read on…”

Harvard Law is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States. It is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the world, and is also the largest law school in the U.S., with about as many students as Yale, Stanford and Chicago combined. So when Harvard Law makes news other law schools are likely to follow.

And Harvard Law recently announced some big news: starting next fall the GRE exam will be accepted as an alternative to the LSAT exam. Surveys suggest that nearly half of all law schools were not opposed to accepting GRE exam scores even before Harvard made its announcement, so this is probably just the beginning of a trend.

The upshot of all of this is that beginning next fall those prospective law students applying to Harvard Law can submit a GRE score instead of, or in addition to, an LSAT score. The University of Arizona Law School has already begun accepting the GRE score from applicants, and if the results from those law schools are as positive as expected, then additional law schools will likely join them in the very near future.

LSAT vs. GRE

I have taught the LSAT and currently teach the GRE and (as well as the GMAT), and have earned a perfect 170/170 on the GRE and a near-perfect 176 on the LSAT. Here are my thoughts on the LSAT versus the GRE:

The LSAT has long been the dreaded gatekeeper to law school admissions and the exam definitely rewards a certain type of test taker with a certain background. So, should you consider taking the GRE instead of the LSAT? Maybe you should!

First, who does not benefit from this development? Those who plan on applying exclusively to law school in the next couple of years should stick with the LSAT to have the most flexibility in the application process. As Harvard and Arizona are currently the only law schools that accept GRE scores from applicants, you’ll want to have a good LSAT score under your belt in case you decide to apply to any other JD programs.

Everyone else should at least consider the GRE. The Dean of Harvard Law School, Martha Minow, listed a few of the groups of students who might benefit from being able to use the GRE instead of the LSAT: “international students, multidisciplinary scholars, and joint-degree students…” I would add to that list students who have strong math skills, who have different possible career paths, or who have less time to devote to the process of preparing for an exam.

Advantages of Taking the GRE

Flexibility: The GRE is accepted for admission to nearly all graduate and business schools in addition to Harvard Law School and Arizona Law School (and hopefully a growing list of law schools). For anyone considering a variety of career options, the GRE is the best exam to take as it gives the test-taker the most flexibility. Even a great GMAT score is not accepted by law schools or graduate schools, and a perfect LSAT score will not get you into business or grad school. The GRE is the universal key that can open many doors – this is the number one reason to make the GRE your first choice.

Time Commitment: For many students, the LSAT is the exam that requires the most hours of preparation. The sheer variety of critical reasoning questions and “logic games” requires a student to master a huge range of information. On the other hand, the GRE tests skills that a student is more likely to possess already or can learn more readily through a preparation course or self-study. This is not to say that the GRE is not a challenge, it just may be a more reasonable challenge than the LSAT.

Credit for Your Strengths: Maybe you are strong in Quantitative areas… This can give you an important head start on the GRE, as math is not tested on the LSAT.

Convenience: The GRE is offered in convenient locations around the world on a continuous basis, with times generally available in the morning, afternoon and evening, making it easy to fit the GRE into your schedule. By comparison, the LSAT exam is only offered 4 times per year, usually at 8:00am. With the LSAT, you have to arrange your life around the exam, which can be difficult for test-takers with busy schedules.

Reasonable Retakes: If for any reason you do not earn the LSAT score that you hoped for, then you have to wait anywhere from two to four months before you can retake the exam. On the other hand, you can retake the GRE after just 21 days and you can take the exam 5 times in a year.

Advantages of Taking the LSAT

No Math Required: The LSAT exclusively tests skills that fall on the “Verbal” side of the GRE, meaning that you won’t have to memorize the Pythagorean Theorem, practice working with algebra, or brush up on your multiplication tables before you take it.  If you’re a student who hasn’t studied math in a while, the LSAT allows you to engage your logical thinking (philosophy, political science, literature) brain without having to dig back into high school math skills.

Applicable to All Law School Applications: While what Harvard says typically filters down to nearly all schools eventually, right now the GRE is only accepted at a few law schools.  If you plan to take the GRE to apply to Harvard and a few other elite JD programs, you’ll end up having to take the LSAT for those other applications, anyway.

Availability of Official Practice Problems: The LSAT has been administering essentially the same exam for decades, and has to retire its questions after each administration. The result? It has thousands of official exam questions to sell you for practice.  By comparison the GRE underwent an overhaul in 2011 and has some official test questions for sale, but the LSAT provides several times as much authentic practice material.

Is the GRE Easier Than the LSAT?

It is not easy to get into Harvard or any of the other top law schools. The average LSAT score for the most recent class at Harvard Law is above the 99th percentile, so an applicant’s GRE score would need to be near-perfect to be competitive.

Please understand that if you do plan to take the GRE for admission to law school, business school, or a competitive graduate school program, you will need to earn the best score that you are capable of achieving. Taking the GRE is not a short cut or an “easy way” to get into a top law school (or business school). But it is another option and – for some people – a better option.

My advice is this: Unless you are committed to applying to law school in the next couple of years, consider taking the GRE. The GRE gives you the most options (graduate school, business school, law school) and its scores are reportable for 5 years. This means that if you take the GRE this year your scores will still be good for applications submitted in 2022.

Considering taking the GRE? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions to jump start your GRE prep, 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!

David Newland has scored in the 99th percentile on both the LSAT and the GMAT, and holds a perfect 170/170 score on the GRE.  He taught the LSAT for nearly ten years for a leading firm, and has taught the GRE and GMAT for Veritas Prep since 2006.  In 2008 he was named Veritas Prep’s Worldwide Instructor of the Year, and he has been a senior contributor to the Veritas Prep GRE and GMAT lesson materials. David holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School and teaches live online classes from a film studio in northern Vermont.

Essay Advice for the 2017-2018 Columbia MBA Application

Columbia UniversityWe are excited to deliver advice on Columbia Business School’s new MBA admissions essays. This is just a taste of what you can expect in addressing this year’s prompts. To skip right to the full version of our advice, click here.

Let’s look at each essay question individually:

Essay #1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
The first essay essentially asks the applicant to describe their short term career goals and long-term dream job.  Quick advice: your goals should be researched, realistic, and real.

Essay #2

The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)
The second essay asks the applicant to describe his or her personal priorities and how they plan to allocate his or her time at CBS.  Quick advice: go deep with your research before you start on this essay so you can show the admissions committee that you really understand what it’s like to be a Columbia Business School student, and that you know what you will be like as a member of the class and community.

Essay #3

Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)
a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?
The third CBS essay gives you a choice between answering two prompts, but is basically trying to learn what makes you you, or what makes you interesting.  Quick advice: be genuine and be memorable.

Just a few quick thoughts on the new batch of admissions essays from Columbia Business School. To read all of our detailed advice on the Columbia essays, visit the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Columbia or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or get free expert advice! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

5 Basic ACT English Rules to Live By

ProfessorThe questions in the English section on the ACT measure your grammar, usage, and punctuation skills along with others. As you study for this part of the test, it’s a good idea to review the basic rules of grammar and create some practice sentences. Additionally, learn a few basic ACT English rules of thumb as you prep for the test to maximize your chances of a high score.

1) Look for Subject and Verb Agreement
Looking for agreement between the subject and verb in a sentence is one of the most important ACT grammar rules to remember. As an example, in the sentence, “The horse runs through the field,” “horse” is a singular subject and “runs” is a singular verb. You might also say, “The horses run through the field,” which would pair the plural subject “horses” with the plural verb “run.” If an underlined portion of a passage has a subject and verb that disagree, then it’s time to look to the answer options for a replacement.

2) Read the Entire Sentence Before Answering
The English section on the ACT consists of several passages, and each passage contains underlined words or sentences. Your task is to read the question connected with each underlined portion to find the best answer option. If you think the sentence is correct as is, you can also choose “no change.” You may be tempted to focus on the underlined portion of a passage while ignoring the rest of it, but this is a mistake. Make it a point to read the entire sentence as well as the paragraph. Examining the context in which the underlined word or phrase appears can help you recognize the best answer option.

3) Use the Answer Options to Your Advantage
One of the easiest ACT English rules to remember is to scan the answer options before reading the question. Do the answer options have anything in common? Perhaps all of the options look the same except for adjustments in punctuation or spelling. Does one answer option seem wordy while another is succinct? Scanning the answer options can help you determine the specific skill being tested. Once you know what the question is asking, you are more likely to end up with the correct answer.

4) Check for Agreement Between the Pronoun and Antecedent
Checking for agreement between the pronoun and antecedent is one of the most basic ACT grammar rules to keep in mind. As an example, consider the sentence, “Catherine read her report to the class.” In this sentence, “Catherine” is the antecedent and the word “her” is the pronoun. If a sentence has a plural antecedent, then the pronoun needs to be plural as well. These two parts of speech must agree for a sentence to be correct.

5) Look for Clear and Concise Sentences
As you practice ACT English questions, get into the habit of looking for clear, concise sentences. The creators of the ACT want to know if you can state ideas in a succinct way. For instance, you may see three answer options that all convey the same meaning, but one of those options is short and to the point while the other two seem to have unnecessary and redundant words thrown in. For example, “He made the decision to walk to work on account of the dozens of people already on the bus” is an idea that can be conveyed with fewer words: “He decided to walk to work because the bus was crowded.” Often, the correct answer option is the least complicated one.

At Veritas Prep, all of our ACT tutors achieved a minimum score of 34 out of 36 on the exam. This means that our tutors really know what they’re talking about! Students who study with us learn strategies and tips from experts who have practical experience with the ACT. In addition, you’ll get to work with someone who can provide encouragement as test day approaches: After all, they’ve been in your shoes. When you sign up for ACT instruction, you can choose to participate either online or in person. We make it easy to fit our quality ACT tutoring services into your busy schedule of activities. Contact Veritas Prep and sign up for one of our excellent ACT courses today!

10 Things You Should Be Doing to Prep for College the Summer Before Senior Year

transition into college“I am going into my Senior year of high school. What can I do to prep for college this summer?” Sound familiar? Summer is halfway over, and while you’ve been out with friends swatting away mosquitos and dipping your feet into pools, Veritas Prep has been here gathering the most important information about what you should be doing to prep for the last year of high school!

We had a chance to catch up with Stephanie Fernandez, former Assistant Director of Admissions for Northwestern University, and she has some tips and tricks to help keep you motivated this summer and to eliminate stress when the regular school year starts up again.  Trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!  Stephanie broke down the things you should be doing into two major categories: application work and involvement work.

Application Work

Stephanie says, “get a jump start on visiting as many colleges as financially possible.  If you go to the schools, you can get the best vibe.  Colleges can sound great on paper, but visiting is the best thing you can do to help you refine your target school list.”  Whew.  Great advice indeed.  Maybe you grew up wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt, and then you go there and realize… “Oh my god! It’s even better than I expected! Go blue!” (I might be a bit biased, but you get the point.)

Additionally, Stephanie suggests that you start working on the Common App Personal Statement.  If you aren’t applying to schools that utilize the Common App, start on any of their essays that have been released early.  As soon as school starts, you will be busy juggling extracurricular activities, spending time with your friends, homework, classes, and all of the other obligations you deal with throughout the academic year – too many responsibilities to give these essays your full attention.  Starting over the summer will really eliminate a lot of stress as you head into your senior year.  

Also, there’s this wacky idea that Senior year isn’t difficult because you’ll be graduating soon, however remember that it’s really important to maintain the grades and the participation/involvement that you’ve been able to achieve historically. Admissions Committees do not like to see that you’ve arrived at your Senior year and started to slack off.

Involvement Work

Stephanie reminded us that Admissions Committees are most interested in your involvement during the school year because then they can see how you balance all of your activities with usual responsibilities, which is a skill you’ll definitely need to be able to do in college.  That being said, Admissions Committees do not want to see that you’ve been doing nothing.  They want to see some type of progress over the summer.  

Stephanie gave us some great suggestions for how students about to enter their Senior Year should spend time over the summer, and we’re going to pass them along to you. You can: 

1) Get a part-time job.

2) Find research labs at nearby universities to assist with research.

3) Secure an internship in anything that interests you. This doesn’t have to be related to your major (interning at an art gallery will not prevent you from eventually becoming a doctor)!

4) Give back to your community. Keep in mind, however, that over-doing your volunteer work right before applications are due can make it look like you are trying to pad your application. Make any volunteer or community involvement you do authentic.

5) Test out a career you are considering by finding a professional to shadow.

6) Get involved with sports camps, summer team practice, or personal training. Working with your team over the summer is a great use of time – use this opportunity to establish yourself as a leader of the team (if you haven’t already). Helping the coach schedule meetings or run practices is another good way to establish yourself as a leader. 

As a last reminder, if you haven’t already secured your letters of recommendation (which we recommend you do at the end of your Junior year, if possible), connect with your teachers when school starts up again in the fall, and be sure to ask them for help right away.

That’s it!  A special thanks to Stephanie Fernandez for allowing us to interview her about this topic.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions from applicants just like you about this topic, and she helped us address these concerns!  

Oh, another fun fact, Stephanie now works as one of Veritas Prep’s College Admissions Consultants, so if you need help getting into your dream school, be sure to check-out our variety of college consulting services.  Our team of Admissions Consultants are industry experts. Not only are they strong coaches and mentors throughout the application process, but they have former admissions experience evaluating applicants on behalf of some of the most selective schools in the world.  If you want more personalized advice about how to begin your college application process, using a College Admissions Consultant is the best way to have it! 

Okay, that’s all folks! Now put down the Snapchat and get to work!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? 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 FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

SAT Subject Tests: Which to Take and Why

SAT Scantron TestAs a high school junior, you may find it helpful to make a list of the standardized tests you must take before applying to colleges. The ACT and the SAT are likely to be at the top of your list. In addition, you may be thinking about taking one or two SAT subject tests.

Many preferred colleges express interest in seeing students’ SAT subject test scores, while others have made them a requirement. Researching the specific admissions requirements of the colleges you plan to apply to is a wise idea. If you find that some of the colleges on your wish list require these test scores, the next logical question is, “Which SAT subject tests should I take?”

A Look at the SAT Subject Tests
Each of these tests measures your level of skill in a certain subject. You can take an SAT subject test in literature, U.S. history, Spanish, math, physics, chemistry and several other subjects. Regardless of which test you choose, you are given one hour to complete it. You can take as many as three SAT subject tests on the same day.

Which SAT Subject Tests Should I Take?
If you have a favorite subject you excel in, it’s a good idea to take an SAT subject test on that topic. For instance, if you’ve always performed well in American history classes, then take the SAT subject test in U.S. History. Take a moment to check out the complete list of SAT subject test options to determine the appropriate choices for you.

Which SAT Subject Tests Are Easiest?
The answer to this question is different for each student depending on their academic talents. For example, if you’ve always excelled in your physics classes, then you would likely find the SAT subject test in physics to be the easiest. Another student whose favorite subject is English would probably find it easy to complete the questions on the SAT subject test in literature. In truth, it’s best to stop wondering which SAT subject tests are easiest: Instead, focus on choosing the tests that will give you the opportunity to highlight your skills in your favorite subjects.

Reasons to Take SAT Subject Tests
There are several reasons why SAT subject test scores are important to colleges during the admissions process. For one, a high score on an SAT subject test shows that you have a thorough understanding of the subject. This shows that you’re a student who is persistent and dedicated to your studies. Plus, your score gives officials an indication of whether you’re ready to tackle college-level classes. Another reason why SAT subject test scores are important is they help college officials place you in courses that will challenge you, so you won’t end up in an introductory course when you’re at a higher level.

Preparing for These Tests
After you decide which SAT subject tests to take, it’s time to start the prep work. Answering practice questions is an excellent way to prepare for a subject test. A practice test allows you to become familiar with the test format and the difficulty of the questions you’ll encounter. One helpful tip is to time your practice test so you know how quickly you must work in order to finish the test in one hour. Ideally, you want to develop a comfortable test-taking rhythm so you don’t feel rushed. The results of your practice SAT subject test can help you figure out what skills to focus on during your study time.

Studying for an SAT subject test is a lot more efficient when you partner with an experienced instructor. The instructors in our SAT subject test tutoring program are experts in the subjects they teach. We provide strategies that help you to improve in your weakest areas while further strengthening your strongest skills. Our professional tutors give you the support you need to showcase your skills in your chosen subjects!

At Veritas Prep, our SAT subject test preparation courses are a combination of top-notch instruction and effective study resources. If you have any questions, check out our FAQ section to find answers. Of course, you can call or email us for further information. Let us play a part in your SAT subject test success!

Should You Reapply to the MBA Program that Rejected You?

RejectedApplying to an MBA program can be a consuming experience, both mentally and physically. The whole process of applying to business school can be YEARS in the making for some. So, for many, even the thought of going through such a rigorous and time consuming process more than once, can feel daunting. Depending on what is causing you to consider applying again can really influence the outcome of your decision. Just know, you are not alone, many candidates find themselves in a similar situation every year.

Let’s explore the two most common reasons why a candidate may consider reapplying to an MBA program that rejected them:

1) You Were Not Admitted Anywhere
Not receiving admission to any of the schools you applied to can be a really challenging thing to deal with, especially after all of those months of hard work. Many applicants are disillusioned after receiving the bad news and it can be tough to think through next steps. However, not receiving admission in a given application year is not necessarily an indication of your ability to secure admission in another year.

The key here is to spend some time and evaluate your application strategy and submitted package. You want to determine whether you put together the best application package. If you feel like there may have been some issues or there may be other opportunities to improve your profile, then reapplying is probably a good decision.

One other thing to consider is also whether you applied to the right schools. Focusing on what your school list next year should look like given your qualifications is a great first step.

2) You Are Not Happy With the Schools You Were Admitted to:
Some applicants actually do secure admission at some of their target programs but for one reason or another still may consider applying again next year. The most common rationale here is if there is a belief that there are better opportunities at higher ranked programs. This is a tough position to be in, because it is really hard to gauge the likelihood of admission, especially at more selective programs. Reapplying here takes a lot of self-confidence, but ultimately it is about avoiding any potential regret on missed opportunities at more prestigious programs.

Another scenario that can happen here is for an applicant to receive admission to a part-time program but having more interest in full-time programs. In this scenario, an applicant will consider foregoing the part-time offer in lieu of pursuing a full-time offer. Full-time programs tend to be more selective than their part-time counterparts so receiving admission to a part-time program is not always an indicator of the likelihood of success with full-time programs.

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.

How to Answer GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions Involving Experiments

QuestioningThere are certain themes that crop up in Critical Reasoning questions so often that it’s worthwhile to treat these problem types as their own sub-categories. One category that shows up with greater frequency in each new edition of the Official Guide is one that I’ll christen, “The tainted experiment.”

The logic of these arguments is always rooted in the notion that we can only trust the results of the experiment if we have a legitimate control group, and there aren’t any other confounding variables that we’ve failed to account for. Spoiler alert: typically in GMAT questions, we will find such confounding variables tainting the experiment’s predictive value.

Imagine, for example, that you’re testing a drug designed to alleviate headaches. You have two groups of subjects: a control group that takes a placebo and an experimental group that receives the drug. The results of the experiment show that the control group has a higher rate of headaches than the group receiving the medication. Time to rejoice, notify the delighted shareholders, and move this drug to market as quickly as possible? Well, maybe.

But now imagine that the control group consisted largely of stressed-out, sleep-deprived college students living near construction sites, and the experiment group consisted of retired yoga instructors. Suddenly we’ve got other variables to contend with. Yes, it’s possible that the effectiveness of the drug is what accounts for the differential in headache incidence between the two groups. But it’s just as likely that other environmental factors are responsible. A good experiment would have controlled for these factors.

The upshot: whenever you see a question that involves an experiment with a control group, always ask yourself if there are variables that the experimenters have failed to account for.

Here’s a good example of such an argument:

In Colorado subalpine meadows, nonnative dandelions co-occur with a native flower, the larkspur. Bumblebees visit both species, creating the potential for interactions between the two species with respect to pollination. In a recent study, researchers selected 16 plots containing both species; all dandelions were removed from eight plots; the remaining eight control plots were left undisturbed. The control plots yielded significantly more larkspur seeds than the dandelion-free plots, leading the researchers to conclude that the presence of dandelions facilitates pollination (and hence seed production) in the native species by attracting more pollinators to the mixed plots. 

Which of the following, if true, most seriously undermines the researchers’ reasoning? 

A) Bumblebees preferentially visit dandelions over larkspurs in mixed plots.
B) In mixed plots, pollinators can transfer pollen from one species to another to augment seed production. 
C) If left unchecked, nonnative species like dandelions quickly crowd out native species. 
D) Seed germination is a more reliable measure of a species’ fitness than seed production.
E) Soil disturbances can result in fewer blooms, and hence lower seed production. 

This is a classic experiment argument. There are two populations: plots that contain both dandelions and larkspurs, and plots that have had all the dandelions removed, and thus contain only larkspurs. We’re told that the plots containing both types of flowers produced more larkspur seeds than the plots containing only larkspurs, thus validating the contention that the presence of dandelions has a positive benefit on larkspur seed yields.

Fortunately, the GMAT is pretty predictable. If we’re trying to weaken the conclusion derived from an experiment comparing two populations – a control group and an experimental group – we’re looking for a confounding variable. The initial hypothesis is that the presence of dandelions promotes seed production in larkspurs. An alternative hypothesis is that an environmental factor we haven’t yet considered accounts for the differential in larkspur seed production in the two groups, so that’s what we’re on the lookout for when we examine each of the answer choices.

A) Which flower bees prefer sheds no light on the validity of the experiment. A is out.

B) This answer option would be entirely consistent with the hypothesis that dandelions promote larkspur seed production. We’re trying to weaken the argument. B is also out.

C) This answer choice makes no sense. We’ve already been told that the plots containing both types of flower produce more larkspur seeds – we never want to contradict a premise. C is no good.

D) This tells us nothing about whether it is the presence of dandelions that’s helping promote larkspur seed production. D gets kicked to the curb.

E) If removing the dandelions disrupts the soil, perhaps it’s the disrupted soil, rather than the absence of dandelions, that accounts for the lower larkspur production in the plots where the dandelions have been removed. We’ve got our confounding variable – E is the answer.

Takeaway: On Critical Reasoning questions on the lookout for the tainted experiment. If you’re trying to weaken an argument regarding an experiment containing a control group and an experimental group, the key will be determining which answer choice provides a confounding variable, and thus, an alternative explanation for the conclusion given.

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.

Time Management Tips for the SAT with the Optional Essay

Keep Calm Write FastIf you plan to sign up for the SAT, you probably know that the Essay section of the test is optional. Though you may not be excited about taking the extra time on test day to complete the Essay section, it may be a good idea.

Some colleges will ask for an SAT Essay score, so it’s smart to check the admissions requirements of the colleges you’re interested in before you make this decision. Some students write the SAT essay so they have the score in case it’s needed for a last-minute addition to their college list.

If you decide to take the SAT Essay section, there are a few tips to keep in mind so you can submit the most impressive sample of your writing, especially considering that like every other section of the test, the Essay section is timed. Even if you apply to take the SAT with extended time due to a disability, you’ll need to complete your essay within a limited amount of time, so it’s important that you manage your time wisely.

Create a Writing Schedule for Test Day
The SAT with essay time included lasts for a total of three hours and 50 minutes. You are given exactly 50 minutes to write your essay. Fifty minutes may not seem like enough time to write an essay, but it is if you adhere to a writing schedule.

This writing schedule doesn’t have to be on paper; you can make a mental schedule. You should dedicate five to ten minutes to reading the prompt and making an outline for your essay on scrap paper. Next, spend about 30 to 35 minutes writing your essay. This leaves you with approximately five to ten minutes for proofreading your work. After the timed Essay section begins, look at the clock or your watch to remind yourself that you should be finished making your outline within ten minutes of that time. Before you start to write your essay, glance at your watch and remind yourself that you should be finishing up approximately 35 minutes from that point.

A mental writing schedule can keep you from running short on time and rushing to finish. This is a useful strategy if you’re taking the SAT with extended time, too; you’ll just need to modify this schedule based on whether you’re receiving time and a half or double time to complete the Essay section.

Use Your Outline to Refocus
There are lots of reasons why it’s smart to take the time to make an outline before starting your essay. One of the best reasons to make an outline is that you can use it to refocus yourself if your mind wanders during the writing process. Looking at the organized ideas and details included in your outline can get your mind back on the right track. Also, your outline helps you to avoid forgetting any important points that can be the difference between a high-scoring essay and one that doesn’t represent your true talents.

Follow the Basic Essay Format
When you opt to take the SAT with writing time, you may wonder how to set up your essay. It’s best to use the basic essay format: You’re no doubt already familiar with the format, and it’s a good template for an essay that asks you to evaluate an author’s argument.

The Importance of Writing Practice Essays
The most effective way to remember these tips while completing the SAT Essay section is to practice them ahead of time. When starting your practice essay, check your watch to get an idea of how quickly you must work to read the prompt and finish an outline in ten minutes or less. After practicing a few times, you’ll develop a rhythm for your essay-writing that allows you to adhere to your schedule and finish without hurrying. The time you spend practicing also gives you a chance to become familiar with the topics found in SAT prompts so when you take the SAT with writing time, you aren’t venturing into unfamiliar waters.

At Veritas Prep, we are here to help students like you get the highest possible score on the Essay section of the SAT. We understand how to approach the Essay along with every other section, and our instructors can help you meet or exceed your goals for taking the SAT with essay time. We’ll evaluate your practice essay and provide you with tips on how you can achieve a high score in each of the three areas evaluated by SAT graders. We want you to score 8’s across the board on your SAT essay! Contact us today to get the strategies, guidance, and support you need to master the SAT Essay section.

The One Business School You Should Never Apply To

08fba0fCreating your target school list is an integral part of setting the appropriate MBA application strategy. Many things go into creating the right strategy. Looking into what location, teaching style, career opportunities, or class size make sense as logical starting points for your school research.

Part of this vetting process involves evaluating your fit for all relevant aspects of your business school criteria. If there are aspects of a school that are important, you should make a decision as early as possible whether this criteria is a deal breaker for you or not.

So you have done your school research and identified your deal breakers and created a target school list that you are happy with. So what is the one school that you should never apply to? Well the answer is the school you would not actually matriculate to! This sounds obvious, but every year applicants make this mistake months before they actually have to deal with the consequences.

This issue manifests when the applicant receives an offer of admission from a school they realize they actually do not want to attend. This is not the same as applying to a safety school. With a safety school, you are applying to a school that you feel you have a high degree of certainty that you will receive admission to. The difference for safety schools is if admitted and without other offers, a candidate would actually be comfortable attending.

Applying to a school you have no desire to actually attend makes no sense and is a waste of time, energy, and mental space. It provides the false security of an option that does not really exist. This is why the upfront process of vetting your schools is so important. If this process is done right, a candidate would never apply to a school that they would not go to. Many candidates once they receive application decisions struggle to deal with the decision to reapply in future years, even with an offer in hand, which is a sign of school selection issues.

Be honest with yourself as early as you can in the process when it comes to school selection, to make your application process and subsequent matriculation decision as straightforward and simple as possible.

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.

Taking Advantage of Early Decision and Admission to College

stopwatch-620Most college-bound high school students envision themselves sending out college applications in December or January of their senior year. Furthermore, they expect to hear back from colleges in the spring. This is the typical path for lots of high school seniors, but there are other options. For example, some students opt for early admission to college and send an application to one school long before the regular admission period begins. They do this in order to receive an early decision from that school.

Learn more about the specifics of early decision admission and how students can benefit from choosing this path to college.

What Is Early Decision in the College Admissions Process?
A student who wants an early decision on their application usually submits it to a college in November. College officials evaluate the student’s application, essay, SAT scores, and other documents just as they would during the regular admission period. Generally, a student who participates in early decision admission receives notification from the college in December. With this option, the application process starts and ends well before the regular admission period ever begins.

The Advantages of Early Decision Admission
One of the biggest advantages of the early decision option is that students don’t have to wait around for several months to hear back from their first choice. If they are accepted, it reduces their stress level and allows them to focus on second-semester coursework. In addition, getting accepted via early decision allows students to avoid sending out applications to several schools. If students are not accepted to their first choice, they have time to make plans to apply to alternate schools. At Veritas Prep, our expert consultants can partner with students during the college admissions process. We have first-hand knowledge of what college admissions officials are looking for when evaluating applications, essays, transcripts, and other student documents.

Why Do Some Students Take the Early Decision Option?
Generally, students who are certain of where they want to go to school are the ones who take advantage of the early decision option. They’ve conducted thorough online research on colleges and are set on attending one specific school. Perhaps they like what the school’s science department has to offer its students. Or maybe they want to take advantage of the courses available to students studying business.

A student who applies for an early decision sometimes has a better chance of being accepted than if they were to apply during regular admission, when large numbers of students submit their applications. Students with solid academic records and impressive standardized test scores are showing a high level of ambition and determination by applying to a college for an early decision. College officials appreciate this kind of dedication in a potential student.

The Differences Between Early Decision and Early Action
There are some important things students must remember as they send an early application out to a college. Early admission is available in a couple of ways. The one discussed above is early decision. Colleges refer to early decision as binding: in other words, a student who is accepted to a college via early decision must attend that college.

Early action is the second path a student can take toward early admission. College officials consider early action to be non-binding. Once officials notify a student of acceptance, they give the individual time to either commit or move on to consider other schools. When it comes to early decision, colleges expect a student who receives an acceptance letter to send them a deposit long before the customary date of May 1. Alternatively, students who are accepted via early action have some time to reconsider whether they want to attend that college. Early action requires a student to provide a college with a definitive answer by May 1.

We help students in many different ways as they head toward college. Our professional tutors share test-taking strategies with students who want to put their best foot forward on the SAT or ACT. We review practice test results with students so they can focus on the subjects that need the most improvement. Whether you want tips to prep for an upcoming standardized test or college admissions guidance, we have the resources to help. Contact Veritas Prep today!

Understanding College Selectivity

AdmissionA college-bound high school student who goes online to research various schools is likely to encounter a page featuring a list of colleges ranked by the selectivity of their admissions process. A student who scans this list may see several colleges that they plan to apply to.

Naturally, many high school students wonder about selective college admissions and what qualifies a college as selective. Furthermore, they want to know the advantages of getting into a highly selective college. Learn more about the details of college selectivity rankings and what makes one school more selective than another.

What Is College Selectivity?
Some colleges are more selective than others when it comes to inviting applicants to join their next class of freshmen. Each college on a list of schools is evaluated for selectivity using a set of criteria. These criteria include the average standardized test scores, class rank, and average GPA of students accepted as freshmen into a college. As an example, at college X, the average SAT score for freshmen is 1800 (verbal and math), while the average SAT score for freshmen at college Y is 1200. Considering this data, it would stand to reason that school X has more selective college admissions than school Y. Colleges that have the most selective college admissions practices are the ones that only accept students with highly impressive academic records.

Advantages of Attending a College with Highly Selective Admissions
One advantage of attending a college that is highly selective is that students are likely to have access to more resources. Students use state-of-the-art laboratories, libraries, and technology because the school invests in the success of its students. Also, highly selective schools usually have a better faculty-to-student ratio, so a student is able to get individual attention when needed.

Often, students at highly selective schools have the chance to study abroad, participate in research projects, and take advantage of valuable internship opportunities. Many highly selective colleges offer excellent financial aid deals to students. Not surprisingly, a student who attends a highly selective college is studying alongside other students who are just as dedicated to performing at their best. This can motivate an already ambitious student to strive for even more academic accomplishments. Also, fellow students form a network that can serve them as they are establishing a career after graduation.

What Steps Can a Student Take to Get In?
A high school student looking at a list of college selectivity rankings may decide that they want to go to a school at the top of the list. There are many things that students can do to improve their chances of being accepted into a highly selective college. For one, a student can achieve an impressive score on the SAT. Our SAT tutors at Veritas Prep are experts at preparing students to achieve their best on this challenging exam. We hire tutors who scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT. Our tutors convey strategies and tips to students that they can use to master each section of the test. We go over practice tests with students and guide them on which skills to improve.

Another thing a student can do to get into a highly selective college is to make it a priority to perform well all through high school. This means completing extra assignments, taking additional courses, and dedicating several hours a week to study. Academic excellence must be a priority for a high school student who wants to get into a highly selective college.

Our professional college admissions consultants provide assistance to students as they navigate their way toward acceptance into a preferred school. Our consultants understand what college officials are looking for when choosing their next class of freshmen. Along with test prep, we evaluate high school transcripts, advise students on extracurricular activities, and help them in filling out college applications. We even have a College Chanculator that gives students an idea of the likelihood of being accepted into a particular college. The answer given by our College Chanculator is based on some of the same criteria used by highly selective colleges. Those criteria include a student’s GPA, test scores, and class rank. Contact Veritas Prep today to learn more about our varied selection of services.

Average Princeton SAT Scores

Princeton UniversityHigh school students who dream of earning a degree from Princeton University have a lot of steps to take in order to make that dream into reality. Students applying to Princeton must meet a variety of academic requirements. One of those requirements is a relatively high score on the SAT. Learn about average SAT scores for Princeton students. In addition, find out how high school students can achieve their best score on this important exam.

The Average SAT Score at Princeton
When looking at students accepted to Princeton, average SAT scores range around 2250 for the old version of the SAT (the average score for the new version of the SAT will probably be around 1520 – the school has yet to disclose this). This score places a student in the 99th percentile of test-takers. Again, this score is based on the scoring system for the current SAT – the highest possible score that a student can earn on the current version of the SAT is 1600.

How to Achieve an Impressive SAT Score
When it comes to gaining admission to Princeton, SAT scores can carry weight with admissions officers. While there’s no official cutoff, a strong score can do nothing but help a strong application overall. Fortunately, there are several things students can do to prep for the test and earn an impressive score. One of the most valuable resources a student has is a practice test. A student can pinpoint which subjects they need to work on by examining the results of a practice test. This is an effective way for students to achieve the score they need to feel confident about applying to Princeton. Average SAT scores for Princeton students are high but may be achieved with persistent, focused study. At Veritas Prep, we offer students both online and in-person study options to help them prepare for the SAT. We recognize the level of study necessary for students who want to apply to Princeton: SAT scores can play a critical part in the final decision of admissions officers, after all. Our prep courses provide students with test-taking tips and strategies they can use to simplify questions and showcase their strengths in every subject on the SAT.

What Other Factors Are Considered by Admissions Officers at Princeton?
Certainly, an SAT score of 2250 or higher is a plus on any student’s application to Princeton. But a student’s SAT score is just one of many things considered by admissions officers. They also look at a student’s grades in high school as well as the types of classes taken by the individual. Did a student take advanced courses throughout high school? If so, this demonstrates a student’s intellectual curiosity and willingness to push their skills to the limit. A student’s application essay is another element that carries a lot of weight with admissions officers. In fact, a student’s essay gives officials insight into the person’s character and motivations. It allows admissions officers a look at the person behind the test scores and transcripts. Extracurricular activities and recommendation letters also play a part in the evaluation process. Princeton admissions officers are looking to fill all of the spots in a freshman class with students who are most likely to strive for great success at the school.

For students who want to go to Princeton, SAT requirements can seem daunting. Naturally, ambitious students want to do all they can to live up to the high academic standards set by the officials at Princeton. SAT subject tests are also a consideration for high school students who want to apply to this prestigious university. Admissions officers at Princeton recommend that applicants take two SAT subject tests. Students who want assistance preparing for the SAT as well as the SAT subject tests can get the help they need from our talented team of instructors at Veritas Prep. Each of our instructors scored in the top one percent of individuals taking the SAT. This means that high school students who work with our professional instructors are learning from the best! Along with solid academic assistance, our instructors are experts at supplying students with the support and encouragement they need to succeed. Contact Veritas Prep today and let us help you prepare for and master the SAT.

Understanding the Changes to the U.S. Visa Process

SAT/ACTThe United States H-1B visa program is changing again. The much-challenged program that has aimed to bring skilled foreign workers to the U.S. continues to be under pressure.

Of most critical importance to the world of MBA admissions is how this affects the ability for international students to secure employment post-graduation. Many international MBA applicants rely on the H-1B visa to offer them a chance to purse their dreams of working in the U.S. Without this visa, the viability of a U.S. MBA degree lessens for these international applicants.

Not surprisingly with every regime change in Washington, policy and legislation can be impacted. The new administration appears to be focusing on prioritizing jobs for Americans and this obviously puts the H-1B visa program in direct conflict. Although most of the minor changes and announcements are more cosmetic in nature, coming legislation is expected that will make it even more difficult to secure these work visas.

Major MBA employers like Microsoft, Facebook, IBM who also happen to be common recipients of the H-1B visas have prepared for the impending changes. Although, those with computer science and engineering background tend to be the largest recipients of these visas, MBAs also rely on them as well in great numbers. The above employers, and those in similar industries to tech, have already started to move hiring away from low level, cheaper visa recipients to more expensive, higher educated talent.

Even in the face of this changing focus by employers, the H-1B visa remains more difficult than ever to secure. With impending legislation expected to surface soon, the process will only become more difficult.

MBA applicants and students alike should evaluate this news and begin to take their future career plans into consideration. At this stage, this news should not ring any major alarms, as not much has materially changed as of yet, but international students and applicants who have plans to work in the U.S. should factor in the impact legislation could have on future career goals.

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

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

What to Expect from Possible ACT Essay Prompts

SAT WorryToday, many students choose to write the optional ACT essay. Some write it because a Writing section score is required by the colleges they are applying to. Others write it because they excel in essay-writing and want to showcase their skills to college admissions officials. If you plan to write the essay, you’ll want to become familiar with the types of writing prompts given on this exam.

The Different Types of ACT Essay Prompts
Each essay prompt on the ACT concerns a complex issue. For instance, one sample prompt released by the ACT concerns individual freedom and public health. Other writing prompts may deal with technology, the media, education, the arts, and other issues. Even if you don’t have a great deal of knowledge about the topic in the essay prompt, you can still write an essay that is organized, logical, and convincing. In fact, all of the information you need to complete the writing task is given to you in the prompt.

Your Task on the Essay
After reading the essay prompt, you’re given three perspectives on the issue. Your task is to develop your own perspective, then use evidence and examples to support it. Furthermore, you’re asked to analyze how your perspective is similar to or different from at least one of the given perspectives. Think about the possible counterarguments to your perspective and address them.

The individuals who grade your essay won’t be looking at whether you agreed or disagreed with the given perspectives: In fact, that part is irrelevant. Instead, they’ll be evaluating your essay based on its organization, use of supporting evidence, idea development, and language use. College admissions officials want to see a sample of your writing to find out if you can express your ideas in a coherent way. Many colleges will look at your ACT English, Reading, and Writing scores to get a full picture of your ability to interpret and communicate ideas.

Preparing for the Essay
The best way to prep for the essay on the ACT is to practice your writing skills. This includes working on organizing your ideas in the form of an outline before beginning your essay. Also, reading online newspaper and magazine articles gives you practice developing perspectives on current issues. You have only 40 minutes to write the ACT essay, so it’s a good idea to time your practice essays so you can establish a writing speed that doesn’t make you feel rushed. The professional ACT instructors at Veritas Prep have been where you are right now: They’ve prepared for and taken the ACT, including the essay. More importantly, each of our instructors earned a score on the ACT landing them in the 99th percentile. So when you sign up with Veritas Prep, you’ll be studying with tutors who have excellent teaching skills and impressive experience with the test.

Tips for Writing the Essay
The ACT essay is given on paper, so you’ll have space to jot down an outline and organize your thoughts. You’ll probably want to start writing your essay right away, but creating an outline is an effective strategy if you want to end up with a high score. Take the time to think about your perspective on the issue and make sure you have plenty of evidence to support it. Try to leave yourself with a few minutes at the end of the writing test so you can proofread and make small changes if necessary.

The instructors at Veritas Prep have the skills and knowledge to prepare you for the Writing section on the ACT along with the rest of the exam. We are familiar with the different types of ACT essay prompts and can guide you on the best approaches to them. Our strategies can help you to create an essay that fulfills all of the requirements necessary to achieve the highest score possible. We offer online courses that are convenient for high school students on the go, and we also have in-person ACT prep courses if you prefer that type of learning environment. Look at our FAQ page to find more information about our tutoring services, or give us a call or email to let us know how we can help you conquer the ACT essay!

Flag Your Way to a Better GRE Score

GoalsIn each section of the GRE, there are two important strategic considerations:

1) Each question counts the same: Getting stuck on one question burns valuable time that you could use for the remaining questions.  Maybe you eventually figure out how to solve it, but it might cost you the chance to get two (or more) right answers later on – not great!

2) Time is an asset you control: Knowing how to spend your time effectively can make a big difference in how you score. Spend time on the questions that will earn you points, and minimize time on questions that won’t.

The flagging technique is a great way to take advantage of each of these points. By using it wisely, you can maximize your chances of getting to your target score. Here are three situations where the flagging tool can be invaluable:

You’re pretty sure in your answer, but you’re not certain.
Many GRE takers enter the test well prepared, but there may be some content areas (such as ratios or exponent properties) in which they aren’t fully confident. You may spend a minute working on a problem and get to a point where you feel pretty good about your answer, but you aren’t fully sure (Quantitative comparison questions are notorious for this!). You’d love to do some more testing or double-check your work, but you also realize that it will burn more precious time than you can spare. The solution? Select your answer and flag it. Consider leaving a quick note about your current thoughts so you can pick up right where you left off. If you finish the rest of the section with time remaining, you’ll now have the chance to double-check your initial answer.

You’re not sure how to get started on a problem. 
You’ve read the question. You’ve re-read it. You’ve analyzed the answer choices. You’re still unclear on what the question is asking for, and you’re not even sure what your first steps to figuring it out should be. Hey, it happens – sometimes a question is set up in a way that doesn’t seem to fit the examples you saw during your preparation.

At this point, you have two options: continue staring at the problem and hope the numbers and variables start moving themselves around (like Zach Galifianakis playing blackjack in “The Hangover”), or flag it and move on. If you persist with the question, the best-case scenario is that you eventually figure it out and pick an answer, but you burned time that could have gotten you two or three right answers on other questions. The worst-case scenario is that you eventually give up and move on, burning time without even getting the question right. Your best strategy is to flag it, get some other right answers, and come back to it when you have time to spare.

You can solve a problem, but you know it’s going to take a while. 
“Select All That Apply” questions present this dilemma more often than do other types – the question makes sense, you know how to get started, and you are confident in your ability to find all of the correct answers. On the other hand, you have six or more possible answers, and you know the process to make sure that you find all of the correct answers (remember: no partial credit!) will be time-consuming. Early in the section, spending more than three minutes on one problem is not a wise investment of your time. If there are obvious answers, select them, flag the problem, and return when you have the time to invest.

Clearly, the flagging technique is a strong ally if you know how to use it effectively.  On your next GRE practice test, look for opportunities to flag questions that fit the three categories above. Doing so will allow you to maximize the number of questions you get right by investing your time wisely.

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

By Bill Robinson, a Veritas Prep instructor based in San Diego.

When Should You Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant?

MBA AdmissionsApplying for a graduate degree in business, better known as an MBA, is arguably one of the more involved processes of any of the prestigious graduate tracks (law, medical, etc.). With such a complex undertaking and ever-increasing competition from all corners of the globe, admission into business school has become more challenging than ever. That is why so many applicants hire admissions consultants – to help them develop the most comprehensive, thoughtful, and strategic applications possible.

When hiring an admissions consultant, timing is everything! The earliest I would probably recommend hiring an admissions consultant would be April. The average applicant will probably hire a consultant between June and July.

If you’re really trying to make life tough on yourself (and your admissions consultant) you will hire one a month before your application deadline. The longer lead times above allow you to make the process less transactional, which is what can sometimes happen if you hire a consultant at the last minute. A longer lead time not only allows you to have more time to prepare your application, but it also helps you build a relationship with your consultant. When a consultant understands your background and the intricacies of your profile, it can increase the odds your partnership will be fruitful.

It is also important to get things done early because the more iterations you have, the higher the caliber of your application materials and the greater your chances of being accepted. As far as your specific application timeline, it should vary based on whether you are doing five long, complicated applications or just one application. These are instances where the recommendations outlined above are more fluid.

Another aspect of choosing a consultant that few factor in is the availability of the consultant’s time (and also your time). If you are a traveling management consultant or investment banker, who can barely squeeze an hour into the day to do anything, you’re going to want to start really early. This will allow you to slow-roll things based on your limited time to engage with your consultant, and make material progress on your application in any one week.

Overall, the key here is to really understand your needs when choosing a consultant. Thinking through the amount of applications you will be tackling, the support you’ll need, and your own availability will allow you to begin working with your consultant at the right time.

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.

SAT Quotes to Keep You Focused and Driven as You Approach Test Day

SATAre you in the process of preparing for the SAT? Perhaps you’re completing practice algebra problems each day as you prep for the Math portion of the test, or maybe you’re striving to make your writing clearer and more organized in preparation for the SAT Essay section.

No matter what skills you’re focusing on, you may be feeling a little run-down from all your efforts. As you study for the SAT, quotes from successful, well-known individuals can often provide you with the inspiration you need to keep working toward achieving your goals.

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” (Bill Bradley)
Being an ambitious person, you probably set lofty goals for yourself. You may strive for all A’s in your courses every semester. If you play a sport, you may have the objective of winning a specific award or scoring a certain number of points each game. If you play the piano, you may set a goal of learning a challenging piece of music by a particular date.

You can also set ambitious objectives when it comes to the SAT. For example, you may set your sights on scoring in the top one percent on the test, like our tutors did. This quote points out that being persistent is what helps you arrive at your goals. Studying every day is one example of persistence when it comes to preparing for the SAT. Asking your instructor for clarification on confusing topics and reviewing difficult skills are other examples of being persistent in your SAT studies. This advice holds true for most goals, including success on the SAT.

“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” (Joe Namath)
Building your confidence is part of the SAT prep process. Improving on your weakest skills certainly boosts your confidence leading up to test day. At Veritas Prep, we believe the learning process can be fun, and in our instructional program, we give you the tools and strategies you need to feel confident about every section on the SAT. We want you to walk into the testing center feeling at ease and ready to showcase your skills on the exam.

“I’ve learned time management, organization, and I have priorities.” (Tory Burch)
Preparing for the SAT is a gradual process. To get the most out of your prep time, it’s best to make a schedule for each day’s study tasks. How do you know what tasks to include on your schedule? Take a practice SAT to see what skills you need to work on. If you need to work on recognizing words in context for the Reading section, then quizzing yourself with vocabulary cards is one place to start. This sort of practice would be a task on your study schedule. Set up your schedule by dedicating a certain number of minutes to each task. When you have an organized study schedule, you can complete each day’s tasks with efficiency.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher.” (Temple Grandin)
What better way is there to achieve a high score on the SAT than to learn from someone who already achieved that goal? Each of the instructors at Veritas Prep scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT, so whether you’re looking to improve your score on just one section of the test or on multiple sections, when you work with us, you’ll be learning from individuals who understand how to get there. Professional SAT instructors use their experience and knowledge to benefit the student.

“Success is dependent on effort.” (Sophocles)
Thorough preparation is necessary for success on the SAT. A high score on the test can help you gain admission into a preferred college. Once there, you can earn a degree that leads you to your dream career. So the efforts you make today to excel on the SAT can set you on the path to achieving your goals in the years to come.

When it comes to the SAT, quotes like these can give you an instant jolt of inspiration. But consistent practice and a dedicated attitude are the real keys to success on the test. At Veritas Prep, we have both private online tutoring and in-person courses available: Let us pair with you as you aim for excellence on the SAT.

How to Leverage Scholarship Money

featured_money@wdd2xGoing to business school can be an expensive affair. Price tags for a top two-year full time programs can soar over $200,000 dollars, which for most applicants is more than they have socked away in their piggy bank. There are many ways to pay for your graduate business school education and the one that excites applicants the most is scholarship money!

Business school is an expensive proposition and if a program offers scholarship money as part of their financial package, it opens up a ton of financial flexibility for applicants. Many programs use scholarship money as a “carrot” to entice high potential and strongly desired candidates to their school. It is always good to be wanted by a program but sometimes these scholarship offers come from less desired programs, presenting difficult decisions when it comes to making the ultimate choice of where to matriculate. Sometimes the scholarship offers come from desired programs as well, but even with this good fortune, situations can still arise that create difficult decisions between programs.

If you have received multiple offers from MBA programs with imbalanced financial support there are a few different approaches you can take:

Do Nothing
This is the approach many applicants take. This is my least favorite and the least effective approach. You have nothing to lose by politely and respectfully communicating other offers and your desire for additional support. If you never mention it that is the best way to forego any potential leverage you may have.

Reach Out via Email
This is the next step in being proactive about leveraging your scholarship offer. Getting a school to change their mind about scholarship money is not easy, but it must start with some dialogue. The key here is being respectful and offering up some information about your other admits and associated scholarship funding. Reaching out to the right decision maker can also improve your odds of success here.

Call or Meet in Person
This is my favorite approach to leveraging your scholarship offer. The business school application process is very personal for admissions. So, if you can connect with them on a personal basis, whether on the phone or in person, it can only help your chances of them offering additional scholarship support. I think it is also important to really think through how important the scholarship money is to your ultimate decision making process. Many schools will negotiate the scholarship offer with the expectation that you will accept, so make sure you enter into these conversations being open and honest.

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.

How is the ACT Composite Score Calculated?

GMATIf you’re a Junior in high school, you may have already signed up to take the ACT. Chances are good that you know that a composite score of 36 is the highest you can achieve on the ACT. But do you know how an ACT composite score is calculated? Learning how graders arrive at your ACT composite score can help you feel more at ease as you sit down to take the test.

How Are ACT Scores Calculated?
To get to your composite score on the ACT, you must begin with your raw scores. You receive a raw score for each of the four sections on the ACT. Your raw score represents the number of questions you got right. There are 75 questions in the English section, 60 in the Math section, 40 in the Reading section, and 40 in the Science section. (The ACT essay is optional, and its score is not factored into your composite score.) So if you answered 55 questions correctly out of 60 in the Math section, your raw score for Math would be 55.

After arriving at a raw score for each of the four sections, you are now given a scaled score for each one. Your scaled scores will range from one to 36. Each individual version of the ACT has a chart used to make this conversion, adjusted based on the difficulty of the specific questions used on each test date. For instance, a raw score of 55 in the Math section usually converts to a scaled score somewhere around 33. Now, add your four scaled scores together and average them: The average of your four scaled scores is your ACT composite score.

What Is on an Official ACT Score Report?
Now that you know how an ACT composite score is calculated, you know what to look for on your official score report. But there’s a lot more on your score report than just your composite score. You’ll also see a detailed breakdown of your scores for the skills tested within each section. For example, you’ll see scores for “Production of Writing,” “Knowledge of Language,” and “Conventions of Standard English” beneath the scaled score you receive on the English section. There is also information on how your test performance ranked compared to other students taking the ACT in your state as well as throughout the country. The information on your official score report can be very useful if you decide to retake the ACT.

ACT Prep Tips
Start your preparations for the ACT by taking a practice test to determine where you need to begin your studies. Next, make your study plan based on the results of your practice test. As an example, if you see the need to sharpen your algebra skills, put aside some time to review the basics. Then, put this information to work by completing practice algebra problems each day. If you’re focusing on the Reading section of the ACT, take the opportunity to read online newspaper articles, magazines, and nonfiction books to get some practice spotting main ideas. Also, look for unfamiliar words in these publications to determine if you can figure out the meaning of a word by looking at its context. In addition, examine these reading materials for the proper use of grammar and correct spelling. These skills are helpful on both the Reading and English sections of the ACT.

The Benefits of Studying With a Tutor
Learning how the ACT is scored is easy when you have an experienced tutor to explain the process. The tutors at Veritas Prep have many qualifications that benefit our students. For one, each of them has scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. As if this isn’t impressive enough, our supportive instructors are experts at conveying the strategies and lessons that lead our students to ACT success!

If you have any more questions about how an ACT score is calculated, we have the answers you’re looking for. We can also provide several tutoring options so you can choose the one that’s most appropriate for you. Whether you want to take part in our in-person classes, private online tutoring sessions, or live online courses, we are ready to help you excel on the ACT.

How MBA Admissions Directors Value Your GPA

RecommenderOne of the most important criteria that will be evaluated by admissions directors will be your GPA. Contrary to popular belief, this criteria can be a bit more complicated of an assessment than one would think. Now you are probably thinking how complicated can a simple GPA be? Doesn’t the GPA just have to be high? Very complicated in fact! Let us explore the key aspects MBA programs will evaluate, and why they are so important to how your GPA is received by decision makers.

Overall Undergraduate GPA
This is probably the most obvious aspect of the GPA that schools will focus on. Your overall GPA is considered a fit if it is around or above the average GPA at your target school. Now, all GPAs are not created equally so program’s will certainly factor in the prestige and perceived rigor of your undergraduate school. Same rules apply, the higher the GPA the better your application will be positioned.

Quantitative Classes
Your performance in qualitative classes is really important to your overall candidacy. MBA curriculums are very quantitative in nature, particularly with regards to the traditional core curriculum that includes classes like Stats, Finance, and Accounting. So, schools put a major onus on showing a track record of strong performance in quant classes. Now, not everyone has been exposed to quant classes which is another issue. So even with a high overall GPA not having taken any quant classes, in the past, can be a red flag for admissions.

GPA Trend
Did your GPA trend up or trend down during your time in undergrad? Your overall trend is another area where admissions will focus on. A strong trend upwards showcases maturity and a consistent focus on your studies, and also will be an indicator for future performance in b-school. Now contrary to that, a trend of low performance can signal the exact opposite. Slight dips here and there should not cause concern on your part, but major swings and a trend downward year in and year out may prove to be a red flag for admissions.

Graduate GPA
If you have already completed a graduate degree, this can be another evaluation point for admissions. Strong performance here can help elevate your candidacy. Now, generally your graduate degree performance will not outrank your undergraduate degree performance but strong performance in power degrees like law can certainly showcase your intellectual aptitude and ability to handle graduate level work.

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.

10 SAT Writing and Language Tips to Improve Your SAT Essay

writing essayThe SAT Essay section is an optional part of the exam. However, many students decide to write the essay because they know it’s an admission requirement for some colleges. If you’re looking for tips on how to boost your performance on the SAT essay, there are many to be found. Use these 10 tips to improve your own SAT essay on test day:

 

1) Make an Outline. As a high school student, you know that the basic outline of an essay includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. One way to start out on the right foot with your SAT essay is to make an outline that lays out all of the points, details, and other elements you want to include. You can refer to your outline throughout the writing process to ensure that your essay is organized and complete. Though it takes some time to create an outline, it can reduce the amount of revisions you have to make.

2) Analyze the Writing Prompt. Some students skim over the essay prompt and dive right into the writing. This is a mistake. The prompt lays out exactly what you need to look for and evaluate in the author’s piece.

3) Focus on a Few Significant Points of the Argument. This is one of the most helpful SAT writing and language tips. When you focus on just a few significant points, you’re displaying your ability to recognize the most persuasive elements in the essay. Also, discussing a few points in a thorough way is a lot more effective than trying to touch on every persuasive element employed by the author.

4) Expand Your Vocabulary. An SAT essay-grader evaluates your command of the English language. Consequently, one way to boost your performance on the essay is to learn some new vocabulary words. Science, news, and literary magazines are great resources for new words. Once you have a dozen or more, use them in everyday conversation or on school assignments. Quizzing yourself with an online vocabulary game is a fun way to ensure that you retain new words. Ideally, you want to use words that lend to the clarity and succinctness of your SAT essay.

5) Strive for Quantity and Quality in Your Essay. As you practice your essay-writing skills, keep in mind that you are aiming for quantity as well as quality. As a rule, it takes about one to two written pages to fully explain how an author supports their claims.

6) Include a Strong Thesis Statement in Your Introduction. In your thesis statement, you should reveal the author’s argument and the persuasive elements they use. This sets the stage for you to begin pointing out specific examples of the author’s persuasive devices. When you create a strong, clear thesis statement, you’re showing essay-graders that you understand the author’s argument and recognize the persuasive elements.

7) Brush Up on Your Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation Skills. This is one of the simplest SAT essay tips to follow. When you use proper grammar as well as correct spelling and punctuation, it adds to the quality of your essay. Keep in mind that these sorts of errors can detract from even the most convincing SAT essay.

8) Write With Objectivity. Chances are good that you’ll have an opinion on the topic discussed in the author’s essay. But your job is to evaluate the author’s persuasive argument, not state your opinion on the given topic. Writing an objective essay shows essay-graders that you read and are adhering to the prompt.

9) Highlight Specific Details. All of the material you need for your essay can be found in the author’s piece. When you point out specific details, you’re displaying your ability to effectively analyze an argument.

10) Take Care With Your Handwriting. The quality of your handwriting may not enter your mind as you prep for the SAT essay, but if graders have too difficult of a time deciphering a student’s handwriting, they aren’t likely to give the person’s essay much consideration. If you don’t feel comfortable with cursive, write the essay in print. Don’t let messy handwriting prevent you from highlighting your impressive essay-writing skills!

Our professional SAT instructors scored in the 99th percentile on the test, so when you take our courses, you’re getting SAT essay tips from individuals who conquered all parts of the exam. We teach you strategies designed to improve the quality of your writing. Sign up for SAT tutoring services at Veritas Prep and get access to many other SAT writing and language tips. Make the call today!

How to Get Started on the Common App: The 2017-2018 Personal Statement Prompts

help - wordsGreetings, class of 2022! That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? At Veritas Prep, there’s nothing like a change of seasons – the distinct shift from one application season to another is immensely exciting to us. And, there is no better indicator of a new season than the release of Personal Statement prompts from The Common App. Class of 2022, now is your time!

The Common Application officially kicked off the 2017/18 application season by releasing their Personal Statement prompts back in February. Now is the best time to start working on crafting your answers to one of these prompts – by starting your writing during the summer, you’ll have more time to create the perfect response without worrying about school responsibilities or extracurriculars come Fall.

Year after year, The Common Application collaborates with their partner institutions to make sure that the prompts meet the needs of each school and are yielding quality essay responses from students around the world. While some elements remain unchanged (including the 650 word count), this year they have decided to make revisions to existing prompts AND add two new prompts to the mix!

Without further ado, here are the 2017/2018 Common Application Essay Prompts:

1) Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. [No change]

2) The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3) Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4) Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5) Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6) Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7) Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design[New]

Over the next few months, we will break down every prompt for the 2017/2018 application season with in-depth coaching on how we would suggest you approach each prompt. Check back in soon for more!

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How to Use Ratios in GMAT Verbal Questions

SAT/ACTI’ve written in the past about the GMAT’s tendency to use simple math concepts in the context of a Critical Reasoning question. One instance of this phenomenon is the test’s predilection for incorporating ratios in the Verbal section. It makes sense for the question-writers to do this. If we think about the types of core concepts you’re likely to encounter in your future MBA program: output/worker or price/earnings, etc., simple ratios are inescapable.

Here’s all we need to know:

  • If the numerator increases and the denominator remains constant, the ratio will increase.
  • If the denominator increases and the numerator remains constant, the ratio will decrease.

From this, we can also intuit that if the ratio doubled and the denominator remained constant, the numerator must have doubled. And if the ratio doubled and the numerator remained constant, the denominator must have been halved. Pretty simple, right? For whatever reason, these concepts tend not to produce any difficulty in the Quantitative section when test-takers are expecting them, but cause all sorts of problems when they crop up in Verbal questions. Let’s see an example.

That the application of new technology can increase the productivity of existing coal mines is demonstrated by the case of Tribnia’s coal industry. Coal output per miner in Tribnia is double what it was five years ago, even though no new mines have opened. 

Which of the following can be properly concluded from the statement about coal output per miner in the passage?

A) If the number of miners working in Tribnian coal mines has remained constant in the past five years, Tribnia’s total coal production has doubled in that period of time.
B) Any individual Tribnian coal mine that achieved an increase in overall output in the past five years has also experienced an increase in output per miner.
C) If any new coal mines had opened in Tribnia in the past five years, then the increase in output per miner would have been even greater than it actually was.
D) If any individual Tribnian coal mine has not increased its output per miner in the past five years, then that mine’s overall output has declined or remained constant.
E) In Tribnia the cost of producing a given quantity of coal has declined over the past five years. 

As soon as we see “per” we know we’re dealing with a ratio problem. In this case, we’re discussing coal output per miner. As a ratio, or fraction, this can be expressed as follows: Total Coal Output/Total Number of Miners. Further, we know that this ratio has doubled over the last five years. Employing the logic we used earlier, we now know that because the ratio doubled, if the number of miners (the denominator) remained constant, then the coal output (the numerator) doubled. And we also know that if the coal output (the numerator) remained constant, then the number of miners (the denominator) must have been halved. If we recognize this relationship, the correct answer is going to leap out at us.

  1. This is a restatement of the relationship we’ve already documented – namely that if the denominator remained constant, the numerator must have doubled. Clearly, we’ve got our answer. (But it’s still helpful to evaluate why all the wrong answer choices are incorrect, something you should be doing with every practice problem you attempt.)
  2. We can’t deduce what any individual coal mine has achieved based on the output per worker of all the mines in aggregate.
  3. Again, there’s no way to know what the productivity level of any mine might have been, let alone a hypothetical new one.
  4. If we understand how ratios work, we can see that this is not necessarily true. If the ratio has not increased, there are two possible explanations. First, the numerator has not increased. (This is what’s stated in the answer choice.) Second, the denominator has increased by more than the numerator has increased. Therefore we don’t know that output has declined or remained constant. It could be the case that the number of miners has gone up.
  5. This is out of scope. We don’t know what’s happened to the cost of producing coal.

The correct answer is A.

Takeaway: You see plenty of ratios in Critical Reasoning, so make sure you understand that when a ratio changes, it means that either the numerator or denominator (or both) has changed. If you treat these questions as simple Quant problems rather than as abstruse Verbal questions, you’re far less likely to be tripped up.

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