How to Get Into Harvard Business School (Part 1)

We recently did a webinar on How to Get Into Harvard Business School. If you have time, we encourage you to watch it here before you continue to read this article:

Here’s what you need to know: 

Over 10,000 people applied to Harvard Business School last year. 11% of applicants, or approximately 1,100 people, were admitted. HBS admissions officers concede that as much as 80% of applicants are fully qualified to attend and successfully complete an MBA program, however, there are only so many seats in any given class.

So, what can you do to earn one of those coveted offers of acceptance at HBS? Continue reading to find out!

What is HBS looking for?

Let’s start by breaking down what Harvard Business School is looking for.

There’s no big secret about what HBS seeks in candidates. HBS posts its criteria right on its website, and you should take their word for it. Without clearly demonstrating all three criteria — a habit of leadership, analytical aptitude and appetite, and engaged community citizenship — you’ll be climbing up a very steep hill to be admitted.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, I’ve got this!” One thing to consider is your perception of how well you demonstrate the qualities HBS seeks may differ from the admissions board’s perception. The admissions board is reviewing thousands of applications, and if you know someone who got into Harvard Business School or you’ve read essays written by those admitted, you know that they’re pretty impressive individuals and the bar is set very high. You will be facing some stiff competition.

How do you know if your accomplishments in these areas are good enough to be admitted to HBS? We can actually give you some idea through a free MBA consultation. If you aren’t quite up to par in one or more of the areas, don’t lose heart. There are definitely things you can do to improve or strengthen the weaker aspects of your candidacy.

It’s also worth noting that there are some applicants who think they’re really impressive in these areas, but in the eyes of the admissions board are just okay. There’s another group of applicants who don’t think they have anything or struggle to come up with good examples or stories, but they’re actually quite impressive. For some, the challenge is discovering and pulling out the aspects of your background that would make you a strong candidate.

For example, Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Taniel Chan says, “Don’t view ‘leadership’ with the narrow frame of formal roles. There is much that can be said, if not more, about informal leadership opportunities. Don’t boast about just the things you’ve done with a proper title. It’s appropriate and can sometimes be viewed favorably when you share an anecdote of you acting even when nothing was expected of you.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article  — we’ll talk about how to demonstrate what HBS is looking for in the limited space provided in the application!

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.

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.

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.

7 Quick Takeaways From the New 2016 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings

USnews!Hot off the presses, the much-awaited U.S. News & World Report college rankings have arrived for 2016, and in stunning news…well, there’s not much stunning news. Princeton hasn’t gone the way of ITT Tech (New Jersey’s Ivy remains #1 for the sixth straight year), and the biggest “out of nowhere” story is that Villanova, now ranked 50th for national universities, took that perch having been reclassified from a “regional university” in years prior.

Still, there are always interesting trends and takeaways to be had from the slow-changing, well-respected rankings. Here are seven that caught our team’s eye:

1) The Central (Time)-ization of Higher Ed.
The typical Harvard/Princeton/Yale top 3 was cracked by a school outside the Eastern time zone…and no, it wasn’t Stanford. The University of Chicago moved up from 4th to tie for 3rd (with Yale), moving the nation’s “medal podium” slightly west this year. This continues a big surge for U. Chicago in recent years, having moved up from as far back as 9th in 2010.

Another big mover was Rice, jumping from 18th to 15th. The sum? A total of 6 schools – U. Chicago, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Washington University St. Louis, and Vanderbilt – in the Central Time Zone made the Top 15. (Alas, those Central-timers celebrating the notion of having 40% of the Top 15 should be careful: because of ties, a total of 18 schools can consider themselves in the Top 15, as well.)

2) USC beats UCLA
In the rankings’ most dynamic intra-city rivalry, USC finally moved a step ahead of UCLA, staying at 23 while the Bruins dropped ever-so-slightly to 24th. Last year the rivals were locked at 23, whereas the previous year saw UCLA a spot head of USC.

The other major intra-city rivalries stayed static, with Harvard safely above MIT, U. Chicago safely over Northwestern, and Columbia comfortably ahead of NYU.

3) It’s Good to Be A Bostonian…
Boston University and Northeastern each cracked the Top 40 this year (tied at 39), bringing the number of Boston schools with that distinction to 7. Harvard and MIT stayed in their usual Top 10 places, with Tufts (27th), Boston College (31st), and Brandeis (34th) also staying in that Top 40.

4) …or an Upstate New Yorker
While Columbia leads the way for all New York-based schools at #5, four other New York schools make the Top 40, with three of them coming from upstate. Cornell, naturally, leads that group at #15, and both the University of Rochester (32nd) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (39th, in Troy), also earned that distinction.

5) The Public Option
With the exception of UC-Berkeley, each of the 22 schools with a Top 20 designation is a private school with a stated price tag of over $43,000. But once that list gets into the 20s, plenty of public schools with in-state tuition costs under $20,000 enter the mix: Berkeley, UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina all make the Top 30, with William & Mary, Georgia Tech, UC-Santa Barbara, and UC-Irvine ranking in the Top 40 at less than half the tuition cost of their private counterparts.

6) For Better Or Worse, Your Test Scores Will Matter
In the standard table view, the US News & World Report shows four statistics: tuition cost, undergraduate enrollment, SAT scores, and ACT scores (the range for the 25th percentile through the 75th percentile). And as you scan down the list, you’ll fisand that you have to get all the way to the 20th-ranked school (Emory) to find a middle 50% ACT range that isn’t entirely in the 30s (Emory’s is 29-33), and that only one of the top 15 schools (Dartmouth) has a middle 50% SAT range that includes scores below 1350.

As long as there are rankings that are based on quantitative data, standardized test scores will be a major way for schools to rise (or fall) in those rankings. It therefore follows that admissions officers will be looking for applicants whose stats can help them rise, so prospective students to highly-ranked schools should take their test preparation seriously.

7) Money Matters, Too
Seven of the Top 10 ranked schools are also in the U.S. News’ 2015 rankings for largest university endowments. When you see that Princeton has access to over $20 billion and Harvard holds over $36 billion, is it any wonder that these schools consistently top the U.S. university rankings? We’ll give a special shout out to Johns Hopkins, which managed its Top 10 ranking despite having “just” $3.4 billion in its coffers! Whether you think that’s puny or not, the fact is that all of these schools have the means to hire brilliant professors and give them access to world-class tools and facilities… Here’s hoping that they continue to invest in improving access to education and finding endless advances in all disciplines.

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 Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Scott Shrum and Brian Galvin.