GMAT Tip of the Week: Stop Counting Rights and Wrongs in Your Practice Tests!

A common question we get from students who have just completed our free GMAT practice goes something like this: “I just got a score of X, but I see that I got Y questions right and Z questions wrong… How can my score be so low/high?” Embedded in this question is a bit of a lack of understanding of how a computer-adaptive test (CAT) works. Let’s dig in…

How A Computer-Adaptive Test Works
CATs such as the GMAT are built on algorithms that use something called Item Response Theory, or IRT. The IRT system has two main functions — item administration (determining which questions to give you) and ability estimation (calculating your score). And each system informs the other. Once the ability estimate feels confident that you’re above average, for example, it delivers questions that are most likely to help it determine “just how far above average?” — which means that you’ll miss several questions even if you’re in the 90th percentile, because it’s trying to determine whether you’re above that level and the only way to know is to continue testing your upper limit.

Now, that is a simplified explanation, and it strips out a good amount of IRT nuance and basically says this: Once the system has narrowed in on your ability you should theoretically get half the remaining questions wrong; if your true ability level puts you at the 60th percentile among all GMAT test takers, you should get all the 70th-percentile questions wrong and all the 50th-percentile questions right, and the system will keep bouncing you between those levels. That’s a pretty simplistic description of how it works (you will sometimes get really easy questions wrong and super hard ones right, after all), but it’s close enough for a good understanding of the scoring system.

Getting Questions Wrong Means the System Is Working
So what does all of that bouncing around mean? Once the test has a close read on your true ability level, AND assuming that the test has in its arsenal enough questions to keep challenging you at that level, you should then start to miss a lot of questions. After all, if you’re still getting a lot of questions right, then the system must not have you pegged at the right ability level. Or — and you will see this with a lot of practice tests available on the market — it knows your ability level, but it doesn’t have enough questions at that ability level to keep challenging you.

And get this: According to IRT theory, it doesn’t take too long to get there — within just six or seven questions the system usually has a pretty good feel for your ability level. So, if you take the Quant section of a GMAT practice test and the system figures you out after about seven questions, then you should spend the next 30 questions bouncing around your ability level. Of course your answer sequence from that point forward won’t perfectly be “right, wrong, right, wrong…” but you will probably start to get a good percentage of questions wrong. Or, you’ll spend an unreasonable amount of time on questions trying to get them right, and then you’ll pay the price at the end of the test when you run out of time, in which case you will have a bunch of “wrong” responses recorded at the end of the test section.

This Is Where the Math Gets Fancy
What’s really happening with the ability estimation is that it’s calculating the probability of someone with your responses having each score. And here’s where conventional wisdom in online GMAT forums tends to miss the nuance of IRT: We see “You get a question right it gives you a harder question / You get it wrong it gives you an easier one,” but that’s still too simplistic. What the system is really doing after each response is using all of your responses to date to estimate the probability of your having each score, and not all questions carry equal weight.

Again, the IRT system heavily relies on probability — some questions are much more potent at determining whether you’re above or below a certain threshold and others are a little less telling. The system takes these weights into account, particularly as your score moves. These weights also have to account for content delivery. The system might want to ask you a “more potent” (meaning it will give the system a lot of information about you based on how you respond) Sentence Correction question, but need to deliver you another Reading Comprehension passage, and so those RC questions might not carry the same weight as the questions before it. All of this is constantly happening in the background as you move through the GMAT.

So, the next time you hear someone recounting the number or percentage of questions they got right in their last practice test, just smile and nod. They probably don’t know much about CATs or Item Response Theory. We’ll let you decide whether to let them in on it or not!

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? Try our own new, 100% computer-adaptive GMAT practice test and see how you do. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin

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

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

This online survey should take just a few minutes to complete. We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Monday, May 20 — and we would like to see you win one of three $100 gift certificates!

Simply click here to begin the survey: http://j.mp/AIGAC.

More about the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants: AIGAC promotes high ethical standards and professional development amongst graduate admissions consultants, increases public understanding of graduate admissions consulting, and enhances channels of communication with complementary organizations and entities.

Thanks in advance for your participation, and good luck with the drawing!

Nominate a High School Teacher Who Deserves Recognition!

Perhaps it started on a January day in Chicago when elementary school students greeted teacher Frankie Beecroft, recently named Veritas Prep’s Worldwide Instructor of the Year, with an enthusiastic “Good Morning, Teacher of the World!” But maybe it started well before that, in classrooms and at dinner tables in Missouri and Michigan, New Jersey and Norway as the students who would become the leaders of Veritas Prep were inspired by teachers. Whatever the genesis, our lifelong appreciation of teachers and our firm belief that they deserve recognition for their yeoman efforts has led us here.
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Now, Every Veritas Prep Student Gets a Free Myers-Briggs Assessment!

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

We spent an entire year collaborating with the publishers of the Myers-Briggs® personality tests and developed something revolutionary in MBA admissions. It’s called the Personalized MBA Game Plan™, and it’s available to every Veritas Prep GMAT student and MBA admissions consulting client!
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U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2014

U.S. News & World Report has just announced its 2014 business school rankings. While we never like to see applicants put too much emphasis on the rankings, it’s always a little exciting when U.S. News refreshes its rankings of the nation’s top MBA programs. Don’t solely decide to apply based on whether an editor at a magazine moved your target school down from 8th to 9th this year, but do take a look at the rankings — and, especially, the data associated with the rankings — to help you start to narrow down your list and get a feel for what kind of MBA program you have a shot of getting into.
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A New SAT Is Coming… Eventually

Last week, College Board CEO David Coleman made waves by sending out an email announcement about changes coming to the SAT. Coleman, who started leading The College Board in October, has wasted no time in making his mark on the organization and on the exam. While the details are murky and the timing is still “TBD,” it is clear that Coleman doesn’t want to wait before tweaking the SAT.

The last major change to the SAT came in 2005, when the test dropped analogies and introduced the Writing section, and re-branded the Verbal section as Critical Reading. While The College Board has always insisted that the Writing section is actually the test’s best predictor of a student’s college performance, Coleman has made it very clear that he’s not a big fan of the section, previously calling it an “opinion piece” that doesn’t put enough emphasis on synthesizing arguments from given information. In the new email announcement, Coleman seems to have softened his tone, although his intentions are still pretty clear.
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GMAT Testing Volume: A Deeper Look into the Numbers

Last week Poets & Quants ran an article announcing robust growth in GMAT testing volume from Testing Year 2011 to 2012. A total of 286,529 exams were taken in Testing Year 2012, representing the highest total ever, and 11% growth vs. the previous year. (GMAC’s testing years run from July 1 to June 30 each year.) While testing volume in the United States is still down about 10% vs. Testing Year 2009, strong growth in East and Southeast Asia helped drive total testing volume to its highest level ever.

Sounds like the GMAT and the graduate management education market are firing on all cylinders, right? While we agree that reports of the death of business schools have been greatly exaggerated, there is a huge part of the story here that everyone is missing, one that will almost certainly bubble up once we see Testing Year 2013 numbers from GMAC later this year.
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Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank… Now with Item Difficulty Feedback!

In the four months since we launched the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank, we have collected nearly 300,000 responses and helped thousands of users get ready for the GMAT. Students’ responses have been nothing short of terrific, sharing success stories with us and giving us some great ideas for how to make the GMAT Question Bank even better.

We’re already hard at work implementing enhancement ideas that have been streaming in from all over the world, and today we’re excited to announce that the single most requested feature has now been added: After you complete a GMAT practice quiz and review your results, you now receive detailed information about each question’s difficulty level!
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Financial Times Business School Rankings for 2013

MBA Rankings 2012Earlier this week The Financial Times released its new global MBA rankings for 2013. For the first time in eight years, Harvard Business School sits atop FT’s rankings, ousting last year’s #1, Stanford GSB. Harvard’s return to #1 marks the fourth time the school has topped the FT rankings since they were first launched in 1999. In fact only three other schools have ever topped the Financial Times rankings: Stanford, Wharton, and London Business School.

One driver of Harvard’s rise is its improvement in FT’s diversity measure, which rewards schools for having a greater percentage of female and international students. While 34% of Harvard’s Class of 2013 comes from overseas, 43% of the Class of 2014 are international. This surely is a reflection of Dean Nitin Nohria’s goal to boost Harvard’s international influence and outlook.
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INSEAD Dean Dipak Jain to Step Down

Dipak Jain
New INSEAD Dean Dipak Jain

Yesterday the Financial Times reported that Dipak Jain will step down as dean of INSEAD effective March 1, ending a two-year tenure as the school’s leader. INSEAD announced that Jain will stay with the school as a marketing professor. This news comes after Jain took an extended medical leave in 2012 to undergo extensive testing after complaining of exhaustion.

Earlier this week the INSEAD board selected two of the school’s current deputy deans to step up and lead: Ilian Mihov, an economic professor, and Peter Zemsky, a professor of strategy. They are expected to co-lead in an interim role until INSEAD is able to find a permanent replacement. Mihov
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Four Predictions for 2013

There is no shortage of opinion and points of view here at Veritas Prep. We’re an opinionated lot, and we’re also not afraid to stick out our necks and make a few predictions about how we see the worlds of test prep and admissions evolving in the coming year. The following are four trends and news items we expect to see emerge at some point in 2013:

At least one Top 20 MBA program will introduce an all-online MBA program.
Right now, Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC is still the only game in town when it comes to top-tier business schools offering real, full-blown MBAs available online. The segment certainly still has a ways to go in terms of burnishing online education’s reputation, and UNC has tried to tackle this problem head-on with ads that go as far as to warn that you probably can’t get into its program. With most of the elite American universities making much more aggressive strides into online education (most frequently with MIT & Harvard’s edX or Stanford’s Coursera), it’s not hard to imagine that another top-ranked business school will soon move to offer a full MBA over the Internet in 2013.
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MBA Admissions Reality Check: There’s Only One Dilfer

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

Trent Dilfer, of course, is widely accepted as the (and we say this with admiration) worst (or maybe “least best”?) quarterback to win a modern Super Bowl, the most glaring exception to the commonly-held notion that a team needs an elite quarterback to win the NFL’s championship. Sure, teams with marginal quarterbacks say, most Super Bowls have been won by Montana, Brady, Elway, Aikman, Manning, Bradshaw, etc., but Trent Dilfer did win a Super Bowl, so we have a chance with our guy. But here’s the flaw in that reasoning — it’s easy to remember Dilfer’s name because he’s really the only one who fits that category. He’s surrounded in history by the all-time greats at the position, quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls and in other years nearly always had their teams in the hunt. Dilfer is the glaring exception, so we remember his name because he was so rare. There’s only one Trent Dilfer, so if he’s your guiding hope that your team can win with a lackluster quarterback, you’re grasping at incredibly thin odds.
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What Everybody Ought to Know About Our 2012 Predictions

And just like that, another year has already come and gone. It’s time to check in and see how we did with the six predictions we made 12 months ago. We love sticking out our necks and putting forward an opinion in this space; it’s even better when we can back up what we write with accountability. Fortunately, the world didn’t end in December, affording us the opportunity to look back and see just how well our crystal ball worked last January.

Without further ado, here is what we predicted for 2012, and how things ended up turning out:
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Struggling to Meet Essay Word Counts? Try These 3 Editing Tips

If you’re hurrying to finish your MBA admissions essays before the Round 2 application deadlines, chances are that at least one essay is giving you trouble when it comes to meeting word length requirements. While MBA admissions officers are fairly understanding and are not out to penalize you for going over a word limit by a couple of extra sentences, adhering to word limits as closely as possible is a strong signal that you can communicate clearly and succinctly.

It’s also a matter of consideration for admissions officers: If application readers need to get a few dozen applications in a day, they will appreciate the fact that you didn’t take up any more of their time than absolutely necessary. This sort of positive karma counts in admissions!

With that in mind, here are three things to try if you’re having a hard time getting your word counts down to within 10% of a school’s stated limits:
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Test Prep and Admissions: The Best of 2012

Believe it or not, 2012 is almost over. If you’re reading this, it means that the world hasn’t ended, and that at least some of us still have electricity and Internet access, so we’re ending on a good note! As we at Veritas Prep wind down the year, we thought we’d share some of our biggest news, best posts, and most interesting topics from the past 12 months.

We hope that this blog has provided you with some useful insights as you’ve studied for the GMAT or SAT, or as you have slaved over your applications. Sometimes we have a little fun, and sometimes we veer off topic to talk about what interests us, but everything written here comes from the same place: We want to help you be successful in your pursuit of admissions success!
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What Life Is Like at the Tuck School of Business

Today’s guest post is from Courtney Jane, a Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant who focuses on the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. When she’s not consulting, she works as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, helping clients protect and grow their assets. Before going to Dartmouth to study business, Courtney graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Political Science, and Communications.

The Tuck School at Dartmouth is a magical place. It is the quintessential college campus, and to me the most beautiful of all the Ivy’s – not a bad place to spend two years. I think the picture attached to this post sums it up as to why I chose to attend Tuck after also being accepted to Columbia, Wharton, and Cornell, among many others.
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More Thoughts on Wharton’s Team-Based Discussions

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

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

This blog post is one in a series of lessons that come from the free Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank and the statistics gathered from its user base. For each question, the data behind correct and incorrect answers tell a story, and many of these stories hold in them great value for you as you prepare to take the GMAT. In each of these posts, we’ll take a question from the GMAT Question Bank and show you what you can learn from the trend in correct/incorrect answers submitted by other students.

While we discuss GMAT question difficulty, let’s start by mentioning this: it’s often quite difficult to convince GMAT students of what on the GMAT is truly difficult. Students overestimate the difficulty of the “math” on the GMAT quant section, studying and discussing in forums the various rules, shortcuts, and properties that they can cram from flashcards or highlight in notebooks. In doing so, they underestimate the capacity of their competitors to do the same – remember, every single competitor of yours on the GMAT has been to college. Every single competitor “knows how to study,” and theoretically every single competitor of yours has passed year-long classes on the content of the GMAT (largely algebra, geometry, and arithmetic). Mastering high school math skills is necessary for success on the GMAT, or at least a very good idea, but when you’re competing with a pool of test-takers who have all demonstrated the ability to do the same, it’s not sufficient for you to separate yourself!
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Why I Chose Harvard Business School

Harvard Business SchoolToday we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Tiffany Singleton. Tiffany currently serves as the Senior Director of National Campaign at Year up, a nonprofit organization. She has served as an alumni interviewer for Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and has recruited undergraduates and MBA candidates for JP Morgan. Tiffany has also represented HBS at various admissions events. Before receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she went to Dillard University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance.

The experience as a prospective student – in addition to the interview! (see more below) — most memorable to me was the HBS Immersion Program (aka IXP), specifically the New Orleans trek. I had the incredible opportunity to attend a seminar held in early December 2006 because of my collaboration with the Dillard team and Tim Butler, Director of Career Development Programs.
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Tales from the GMAT Question Bank: When One Statement Is Obvious…

This blog post is one in a series of lessons that come from the free Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank and the statistics gathered from its user base. For each question, the data behind correct and incorrect answers tell a story, and many of these stories hold in them great value for you as you prepare to take the GMAT. In each of these posts, we’ll take a question from the GMAT Question Bank and show you what you can learn from the trend in correct/incorrect answers submitted by other students.

One of the more fascinating themes surrounding the GMAT is that the math concepts that tend to drive adults crazy are those that they mastered as kids – the grad school level test in many ways flummoxes students with middle school and even elementary school math. Many a GMAT student has even joked that the GMAT is similar to the TV game show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”
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6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

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

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

Think fast: when you hear “SAT” do you:

A.) Feel your heart race and your hands get clammy
B.) Develop an instant inferiority complex
C.) Start to scream and/or cry
D.) Jump up and down with excitement.

Most likely, unless you are stretching the truth substantially, you answered A, B, or C (or your actual answer was some other response similar to one of those). If this is that case, then there is no need to worry: you are quite normal. The SAT, perhaps more than any other test on earth, notoriously conjures up intense feelings of stress and helplessness in high school juniors and seniors. And of course these negative feelings are highly contagious, which means that as SAT season approaches, the stress quotient in most high schools goes through the roof. But I am here to tell you why you don’t have to stress quite so much, and why you don’t need to feel helpless at all.
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Feeling Very Thankful at Veritas Prep

It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in the stress of trying to get ahead at work or (if you’re reading this blog) trying to get into a top-ranked grad school, it’s healthy to stop for a few moments and realize just how good most of us have it. No matter where you are or what you’re doing right now, you probably have something in your life that makes you want to give thanks. Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes to think about it before you enter a tryptophan-induced coma today.

We here at Veritas Prep HQ are thankful for the hundreds of amazing test prep instructors and admissions consultants that we have all over the world. While we don’t get to see most of them very often, we know that they care about helping our GMAT and SAT students, as well as our admissions consulting clients, as much as we do. We’re thankful that they’re there to get the job done, all day, every day.

If you’re in the U.S., enjoy your turkey! If you just like to eat poultry, go ahead and enjoy your turkey! And while you’re snacking on leftovers, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

2012 Businessweek MBA Rankings

Bloomberg Businessweek has just released its business school rankings for 2012. Businessweek’s rankings aren’t the only game in town — the U.S. News business school rankings are also very influential, and others such as The Financial Times carry more clout in Europe — but the fact that Businessweek’s rankings only come out every two years always creates a little more buildup for this moment.

A word of caution before we proceed: When you look at any ranking system, remember that there’s no single “right” way to rank the schools. Each of the popular business school ranking systems below rely on a different set of criteria, including acceptance rates, average GMAT scores, and post-graduation salaries. Some also use more subjective criteria, such as peer ratings by administrators at other business schools, and how each school is rated by its current and former students. It’s therefore no surprise that no two ranking systems will completely agree with one another.
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Tales from the GMAT Question Bank: Beware the Shrumbuster

This blog post is one in a series of lessons that come from the free Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank and the statistics gathered from its user base. For each question, the data behind correct and incorrect answers tell a story, and many of these stories hold in them great value for you as you prepare to take the GMAT. In each of these posts, we’ll take a question from the GMAT Question Bank and show you what you can learn from the trend in correct/incorrect answers submitted by other students.

One of Veritas Prep’s most-beloved employees is Scott Shrum, co-author of the book Your MBA Game Plan and our resident “scientist” (given that designation because of his BS from MIT; he doesn’t wear a labcoat but when you ask him a science question he pretty much always nails it even after the disclaimer “You know that not everyone who went to MIT is actually a scientist”). Scott is a natural to test out hard GMAT problems –- he scored 770 on the GMAT and was admitted to Kellogg and HBS — and one of our favorite internal barometers for determining question difficulty is when we find what we call a “Shrumbuster” — a question that Scott Shrum gets wrong.
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Full-Time or Part-Time MBA, That Is the Question

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

Full-time or part-time… That is often a question that many business school applicants gloss over and don’t even consider asking. Many MBA candidates automatically exclude part-time MBA programs assuming that the programs are either less rigorous (a check box for executive resumes), impossible to balance with work, too expensive, only for older candidates, or less beneficial for networking. While the part-time MBA program is not for everyone (and I am slightly biased as an alumna of the Fully-Employed MBA program at UCLA Anderson), here are some reasons you, a non-traditional part-time MBA candidate, might want to at least explore this possibility as you begin your business school search:
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The National Parenting Center Recommends Veritas Prep SAT 2400!

Since launching our SAT course this summer, we have been hard at work building the most effective SAT preparation program available anywhere. Our goal is for both students and parents to have 100% confidence that they have done everything in their power to maximize their chances for SAT success. This week, The National Parenting Center recognized our dedication to SAT mastery by awarding Veritas Prep SAT 2400 with its Seal of Approval.

The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval program is an independent testing procedure conducted to judge a variety of products introduced and marketed to the parent/child consumer market. Evaluations are solicited from parents and their children on products and services from educational and entertainment to travel destinations.
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Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank… Now with Integrated Reasoning!

Last month we created a bit of a splash when we launched the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank, an entirely source of hundreds of realistic GMAT questions that allows you to practice with any number of questions, review your accuracy vs. that of other students, and even track your pacing vs. worldwide averages. In less than a month, thousands of students have logged tens of thousands of responses in the Question Bank. We’re swimming in data!

When we launched, we said, “We will add Integrated Reasoning shortly,” and now we make good on that promise. On Friday we turned on the ability for students to select and answer dozens of Integrated Reasoning problems. Students can then review their results, see a detailed solution for each problem, and use the feedback to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses.
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Tales from the GMAT Question Bank: When You Assume You Make… A Big Mistake

This blog post is one in a series of lessons that come from the free Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank and the statistics gathered from its user base. For each question, the data behind correct and incorrect answers tell a story, and many of these stories hold in them great value for you as you prepare to take the GMAT. In each of these posts, we’ll take a question from the GMAT Question Bank and show you what you can learn from the trend in correct/incorrect answers submitted by other students.

When Veritas Prep hosts its free seminars online — 1.5 hour sessions that introduce prospective students to the GMAT and to several strategies for succeeding on the test, as well as introducing them to the Veritas Prep program — one of the first items that the presenter covers is a Data Sufficiency question that highlights the GMAT “penalty” for making assumptions about numbers. Through that demonstration, students quickly realize their own propensity for thinking in terms of positive integers, and are taught to write down a quick checklist to ensure that they consider both negative numbers and nonintegers.
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Regarding Tuck

Today’s post comes from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant and Tuck alumna. She shares a recent conversation with a client about Tuck and what students can expect if they spend two years in Hanover.

Earlier this spring, I received the following inquiry:

“I think I would like to seriously consider Tuck as an option. Obviously the academics are wonderful, it is well known in general management, it is extremely well established, and it is not so far from my home. I visited Dartmouth when I was applying to undergrad, and Hanover seemed small, without much to offer. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience there?”

This was my reply:
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How to Make the Most Out of a Business School Visit

Business School VisitIf you can swing it, we highly recommend visiting the schools you are applying to before you submit your applications. Websites and school brochures are great for basic research purposes, but there’s no comparison to experiencing an MBA program in person. Your day on campus will inform your essays and help you craft authentic responses to interview questions. Therefore, when you’re on campus, make the most of your visit!

When you arrive, or at some point before you leave the school, visit the admissions office. Typically, the admissions department will ask you to sign in when you arrive. However, if you’re on a more informal visit, one that you didn’t schedule through the admissions office, make sure you remember to do this. Admissions officers like to see who has visited. While they don’t penalize students for not coming to the school, it never hurts to show your interest and dedication by visiting, so make sure you get credit for your visit! Additionally, the school may offer special activities or events for prospective students. You may only be able to learn about these opportunities through the admissions office. Make sure your visit includes a stop here for this reason.
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3 Ways to Prepare for Your MBA Admissions Interview

Now that top-ranked business schools have started to send interview invitations to Round 1 applicants, the conversation has turned to exactly how applicants can prepare themselves for this rite of passage. While business schools rarely try to make the interview a stressful process, applicants can’t help but worry about the pressure they will face in the 30 to 60 minutes they spend face-to-face with tan interviewer.

If you’re one of these folks, or if you simply want to prepare now for an interview invite that will hopefully be coming soon, we bring you the top three ways you can best prep for the business school interview:
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The Accidental Bruin Lands at UCLA Anderson

UCLA AndersonToday we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant who attended UCLA Anderson. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA, and today Nita shares what went into her decision to earn an MBA from UCLA Anderson.

Do as I say (well, write), not as I do. That’s the truth. I’m proud to be an alumna of UCLA Anderson’s Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program, but I took the unlikeliest path to get there, one I don’t recommend anyone else pursuing. I still joke to this day that the Admissions Committee must have had a few too many drinks when they reviewed my application, but knowing the team now, I know they saw something in me that even I didn’t see in myself at the time, and I am truly grateful they did.
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What Elite Students Know About the SAT

Do you want to know the biggest SAT test-prep secret? It’s simple: students must only practice for the SAT using questions produced by the College Board — the company that publishes the SAT.

Even though this may sound simple, over 99% of high school students taking the SAT don’t know this test-prep truth. I was once one of these students who had no idea that College Board questions should be used exclusively to prepare for the SAT. And even when I learned this “secret,” I did not follow this advice for a long time. When I finally decided to try practicing on College Board questions, my score began to skyrocket.
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Correlation vs. Causation: Part III

Today’s post comes from Antony Ritz, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor in Washington, D.C. Before you read this post, be sure to read Part I and Part II!

And now for the exciting conclusion — the correlation/causation issue in actual GMAT questions! Let’s try one:

A researcher discovered that people who have low levels of immune-system activity tend to score much lower on tests of mental health than do people with normal or high immune-system activity. The researcher concluded from this experiment that the immune system protects against mental illness as well as against physical disease.
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Why I Chose to Attend Wharton

Wharton Admissions GuideToday we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Lauren Thaler. Lauren received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and started working for The Advisory Board Company in Washington D.C. shortly after graduation. She worked in Business Development, Account Management and Marketing, and Business Intelligence Delivery. After a few years she decided to go to Wharton to pursue her MBA, and has since worked with dozens of business school applicants and founded her own business, Punchwell Press.

The day I returned home from Wharton Welcome Weekend, I put down my deposit at a different school.

There just wasn’t a wow factor for me when I visited Wharton’s admitted students event. I didn’t establish instant friendships with fellow admits, and Huntsman Hall overwhelmed me with its throngs of grad and undergrad students moving from here to there with such purpose. Furthermore, nothing stood out as unique during my visit.
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Profiles in Education: Brian Galvin

We’re back with the next installment in our “Instructors with a Passion for Education series.” Veritas Prep not only has a number of experienced GMAT instructors worldwide, but many of those instructors have also pursued education as a lifelong career. The Veritas Prep faculty includes college professors, educational PhDs and Ed. Ds, schoolteachers and administrators, and many others for whom teaching is a passion and not a job. We interviewed a few instructors to learn more about their passion for education, and to show how this passion has translated into the Veritas Prep classroom experience. Our latest interview is with Brian Galvin, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor in Los Angeles (and author of many of our best blog posts!).
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How to Decide What Type of MBA Program Is Right for You

When we work with MBA admissions consulting clients, they often start off the first conversation with “What are my chances?” and we often start with “Well, what do you want to do in your career?” This seemingly simple first step makes all the difference in ensuring that you’re on the right path when planning out your MBA application strategy.

What you will get out of a program depends completely on your situation. If you’re a career-changer, then you need to acquire new skills and demonstrate to potential employers that you have what it takes to thrive in their industry. If you want to move up in your current career, then you may only need to acquire a few very specific skills to complement your existing experience. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, then business school may be less about academics and more about networking and meeting future potential business partners. Knowing which of these categories you fall into will help you find the right program and go in with a solid plan for making the most of your time in school.
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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Making a Game of the GMAT

We’re back with the next installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. This new series brings some of their best insights to you. Today we have our next installment from John Chismody, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor in Pittsburgh.

Having been involved in the GMAT test prep arena for quite some time, I have taught a variety of students who have different ways of thinking through scenarios. Just like there are many ways to build a house, there is not one correct way to solve a problem. What I have discovered is that those who are masters in engineering and finance are not necessarily the higher scoring candidates on the math sections of the GMAT.
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Introducing the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank!

Part of delivering the world’s best GMAT prep course is offering the best tools and resources for our students. For the past ten years we have offered more GMAT practice tests than any other major GMAT preparation provider in the world (15 tests, to be exact). But practice tests are not a “set it and forget it” affair… The real GMAT constantly evolves, adds new questions, retires others, and (as as the case in June, with Integrated Reasoning) even introduces entirely new question formats. So no company can sit back and let its practice tests collect dust — if the tests aren’t changing, then they’re not the best in the business.

As part of our ongoing commitment to build, maintain, and refine the best computer-adaptive GMAT practice tests available anywhere, earlier this month we launched our new GMAT Question Bank. This new resource contains hundreds of realistic, completely free GMAT practice questions.
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