Now Hiring: Vice President of Kaplan Acquisition

GMAT PrepWe’re growing! Veritas Prep is seeking a Vice President of Kaplan Acquisition to work in our Malibu, California headquarters, on an as-yet-unnamed secret project. Veritas Prep is the largest privately owned GMAT preparation and admissions consulting company in the world. We offer our renowned GMAT courses in more than 90 cities on five continents and employ nearly 150 admissions experts from the world

Alternative MBA Options: Part 2 (The EMBA)

A few weeks back we ran a post on part-time programs as part of a broader concept: finding and presenting alternative MBA options to those applicants who desire an MBA but do not fit the traditional profile for an elite, full-time MBA program. Today, we continue the theme by exploring the Exeuctive MBA (EMBA) and looking at some of the elite and interesting options available to students in that space.

As alternative paths go, EMBA programs aren’t as universally appropriate as part-time MBAs and the experience doesn’t come nearly as close to that of a full-time student, but for a select group of candidates, an EMPA is the ideal degree pursuit. Whenever applicants have north of eight years experience, are working in a management position, and simply need added fundamentals and pedigree, an EMBA is often a terrific choice. Another way to look at an EMBA is to think of it as a broader perspective on business issues — executive programs are often known as the view from “50,000 feet.”

Executive MBA programs often use a modular approach that takes students through all of the key functions of business and adds conflict resolution, ethical issues, EQ training, and presentation skills, which makes for a program designed to “round out” an already accomplished business professional. Ranging between 15 and 24 months in length, far more accessible from an admissions standpoint, and rather expensive (especially if the employer is not footing the bill), this is one way that quality candidates who are beyond the age range for full-time MBA programs can still get the kind of training, networking, and pedigree that they are seeking.

One the most interesting and noteworthy trends surrounding the executive MBA is that at present, fewer companies are sponsoring students (either fully or partially) than in years past. This is due in large part to current market conditions, but another theory suggests that employers are catching on to the fact that a large majority of EMBA students are positioning themselves for new jobs (either internally or externally) by attending the program. In other words, the return on investment is still worthwhile for the student, but is becoming less so for the company (at least in the short term) who might have sponsored that individual in the past. Many of the companies that are still aggressively sponsoring EMBA students are those that take a longer view on ROI and believe that they can create executives with advanced skills, networks, and problem-solving abilities by exposing them to the teachings, modules, and colleagues that an Exec MBA provides.

There are many attractive EMBA programs available, but the list is perhaps best split into two distinct groups: 1) Kellogg and Wharton, 2) Everybody Else. The primary difference is in the perception of the programs on the part of corporations, although that can be traced back to how closely the EMBA programs at Kellogg and Wharton emulate the training of the business schools’ full-time philosophies and methodologies. Actual students sometimes enjoy the experiences more at other great EMBA programs, but at present, the reputational prestige of “the big two” makes it hard to pass up Kellogg or Wharton in favor of another intriguing option.

As for gaining acceptance, most programs feature much lower average GMAT scores than their full-time counterparts or don’t require the GMAT at all, and favor far more management experience. Unlike part-time programs that can be a safe haven for both young and old applicants alike, EMBA programs are a much better fit for someone who is “too old” for traditional full-time work but has all the other tools and is looking for an edge in advancing his or her career. Most top programs feature a minimum work experience requirement ranging between five and seven years and often post an average work experience of 10 years and management experience of five years.

The Truly Elite EMBA Programs

Kellogg — A 22-month program that brings students to Northwestern’s Evanston campus every other weekend (Fridays and Saturdays), Kellogg features a dynamic curriculum housed in one of the best facilities the university has to offer. Group projects make up close to a third of the work in the Kellogg EMBA program, which provides for the sort of networking and leadership development often specific to full-time and part-time programs. Kellogg also offers an EMBA program in Miami and four partner programs (in Israel, Hong Kong, Germany, and Canada) and the total number of students in all seven programs (there are two in Evanston) comes to over 800 people. Average full-time work experience is 14 years and Kellogg requires a minimum of eight years of management experience (and 10 of work experience), resulting in an average age of close to 40. Only 15% of students self-fund and it is worth noting that the GMAT is not required. In other words, Kellogg is not the option for the traditional full-time student with a great GMAT score who is just a bit too old … this program is for honest-to-goodness executives.

Wharton — A unique aspect of Wharton is that the school offers two locations for its two-year executive program (“MBA Exec”): the Penn campus in Philadelphia and a second location in San Francisco that is known as “Wharton West.” Both locations feature a program that closely follows the blueprint of the full-time MBA, which is one of the things that makes Wharton so popular among EMBA students. Unlike other executive MBAs, this program “looks and feels” like a more traditional business school experience. While Wharton’s Exec MBA program does not feature the severe work experience requirements of Kellogg, the admissions process is quite competitive, with an acceptance rate near 25% and an average GMAT close to 700 (yes, the GMAT is required at Wharton). As for noteworthy industries, over half of the students in each class go into either finance or technology.

Other Great EMBA Options to Consider

Thunderbird — A program that students seem to enjoy and corporations also hold in high regard, Thunderbird is often viewed as a great international business school, but it also boasts an executive program that is among the very best in the nation. Shorter than some of the other top programs (16 months), Thunderbird features a high number of self-funded students (42%) and a broad range of management experience despite a fairly high number for average work experience (eight years). The school can request, but doesn’t require, the GMAT, and offers a great value at $75,000 ($50,000 less than Kellogg). Many EMBA programs go out of their way to create group projects and hands-on learning opportunities, but Thunderbird takes a page out of Harvard’s book and employs a teaching methodology that is heavy on case studies.

USC Marshall — USC Marshall more closely resembles Kellogg’s EMBA program than just about any other EMBA program on the west coast. Featuring averages of 14 years for work experience and 10 years for management, Marshall tends to attract a lot of “true executives” rather than near-miss traditional MBA students. It also features a very balanced teaching approach that includes simulations and team projects, with a lot of company-funded students. For those students who don’t have corporate backing, the price tag isn’t all that bad — just under $100,000 for a 21-month program based in Los Angeles.

North Carolina — The top-ranked school from the perspective of EMBA students, according to a recent Wall Street Journal ratings study, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is a top five overall option despite not receiving the same level of respect from many corporations that are polled for such rankings (UNC ranks 14th among corporations in the same WSJ poll). A 20-month program with pretty standard admissions requirements for work experience, Kenan-Flagler’s average GMAT score hovers just over 600, making it more accessible for many students. UNC is notable for the fact that 31% of students “self fund,” meaning they don’t rely on corporate sponsorship to participate in the program. People working in software and consumer goods seem to gravitate toward UNC, as nearly 50% of the class is made up of professionals from those two sectors. Finally, it is worth noting that the program cost — approximately $80,000 — is just over half that of Wharton’s, making for a very good deal.

Michigan — Ross is another EMBA program cut from the same cloth as Kellogg, featuring extensive work experience requirements (10 years total, five in management) and a high percentage of company-sponsored students. Perhaps not surprising, given its proximity to the major auto manufacturers, Ross stands out for the fact that over a quarter of the class works in the manufacturing industry (healthcare is another popular sector for Ross students). Ross isn’t cheap ($125,000) and it’s a pretty small class, but the GMAT isn’t required, so for someone with true executive experience, this could be a great option.

Name Brands with Quality EMBA Programs

The following are elite business schools with very solid EMBA options, with a notable comment for each:

Cornell (no minimum requirement for management experience)

Columbia (one of the most diverse EMBA programs)

Chicago Booth (huge percentage — 90% – of classes taught by tenured faculty members)

Duke Fuqua (a mere recommendation — 5 years — for minimum work experience rather than a requirement)

Haas (extremely diverse; extremely expensive)

NYU Stern (incorporates global studies better than almost any other program)

UCLA Anderson (extensive career service offerings)

Columbia-LBS (joint program that often requires a high GMAT score; only one-third of students are American citizens)

For more insight into part-time programs or MBA admissions, give us a call at (800) 925-7737. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

GMAT Tip of the Week: Whatever You Say I Am

GMAT prepIt’s Hip Hop Month on the Veritas Prep blog, and no discussion of contemporary rap would be complete without mention of Eminem, the controversial emcee who has earned Grammy award and platinum records at nearly the same pace as he has earned criticism and backlash for his honest, edgy lyrics and demeanor.

Like many great artists — be they painters, poets, musicians, or filmmakers — Eminem pours himself into his work, giving listeners an open, honest, and oftentimes eerie glimpse into the life that inspires him. Eschewing the trend for successful rappers to forego gritty portrayals of their innermost thoughts to focus on the glamour lifestyle of the rich and famous, Eminem continually derives his creativity from his strained relationships with his mother and ex-wife, his reluctant comfort with celebrity and wealth, and his introspective thoughts on his role and his art.

Eminem’s unabashed honesty pervades each of his tracks, and even inspired a film, 8 Mile, that parallels his life. One of his first songs to offer an introspective look at his fame was The Way I Am; its lyrics detail the pressures that the artist felt from his fans and his record label after achieving success with his first album. In its chorus, Eminem attacks the celebrity culture that surrounds entertainers, with media outlets creating controversy and speculation around artists:

I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am? … I don’t know, that’s just the way I am.

In addition to serving as an anthem of frustration for one of the world’s greatest entertainers, these lyrics may unlock for you a secret to success on the GMAT:

“I am whatever you say I am” can also be the anthem of any algebraic equation that the GMAT provides you on test day. That is, your success on math questions may depend on how you rephrase mathematical statements to serve your purposes (the same way that magazines reposition stories about Eminem to sell copies). As long as you “tell the truth” with an algebraic statement, you can rearrange it to fit your needs. Consider the question:

If x and y are nonzero integers, does x – y = y/x?

(1) y2 = x2y

Law School Applicants: You Can Learn From Rappers

Law School Admissions
If you have been reading our excellent GMAT Tip of the Week series (penned by Veritas Prep’s GMAT guru, lesson booklets co-author, and Director of Academic Research Brian Galvin), then you know one thing: it is “Hip Hop Month” here at Veritas Prep. The esteemed Mr. Galvin has been coming up with interesting and nostalgic ways to use rap music examples in order to better understand complex GMAT problems and solutions.

Today, it is our prospective JD readers who get to experience the joyful fusion of hip hop and graduate school admissions. This only makes sense, considering we once ran a blog post breaking down the legal implications of the Jay-Z song “99 Problems.”

By now, you HAVE to be wondering: what can you, the law school applicant, possibly learn from a rapper?

It’s pretty simple, actually: what you can learn is how to tell a story. Rappers – the good ones at least – are ultimately storytellers. The hip hop album generally considered to be the best ever recorded – Nas’ Illmatic – is basically a spoken word version of his life’s journal. The late great Tupac Shakur transitioned easily from “gangsta rap” to books of poetry and back again. These guys gave us tales of their life, made the words rhyme, and put it all over produced beats and sounds. That was their way of telling a story within the confines of a particular form.

Law school applicants also have the challenge of telling their unique story within the confines of a form … the personal statement. We’ve written about the personal statement several times in the past (mistakes to avoid, how to write a great personal statement), but there is one critical mistake that applicants keep making … they want to write about all the good stuff and ignore the bad.

If you click on the above links and read my previous offerings on the subject, you know that the personal statement is all about answering the admissions officer’s biggest question. It’s all about positioning. It’s all about mitigating weaknesses. In other word, the best personal statements feature raw, honest, uncompromising storytelling. And now is where hip hop re-enters our discussion: the best rap songs are often not the brag and boast variety, rather, they are the tales told from the heart. Sure, there have been a few party anthems that have resonated over time and maybe this is me, but the hip hop tunes that have stayed with me over the years are tracks like 2Pac’s “Dear Mama,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” and “So Many Tears,” Common’s love letter to rap itself (“I Used to Love H.E.R.”), Jay-Z’s “Lucky Me,” and Biggie’s “Juicy.” Introspection, emotion, and brutal honesty is what elevated rap from shallow party music to something akin to literature. It made listeners sit up and take notice and to feel invested in the lives of the artists. There’s a reason that so many people were devastated when 2Pac died and it wasn’t because he penned “California Love.”

Law school applicants would be wise to take a page out of the same book (of rhymes). Sure, you can brag about an accomplishment with artistry and make an initial impression – you may even have an admissions officer nodding her head for the rest of the day. But when admissions committee rolls around and precious few spots are up for grabs, your odds are better if your words have staying power – if you tell a story that resonates and makes the reader sit up and take notice. You want the reader to feel invested in your life as an applicant. Make them care about you and your story.

In short, when you write your personal statement, set out to write “Where I’m From” instead of “H to the Izzo.”

For more information on law school admissions or for help incorporating career goals into the application, visit our law school admissions site or call our offices at 1.800.925.7737! And, remember to follow us on Twitter!

Six Terrific Professors at Michigan (Ross)

Business School GuidesContinuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we look at six of the Ross School of Business’ most popular professors. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Ross research.)

The Ross faculty is populated with many prominent business leaders, researchers, and teachers. Among Ross students, there are a handful of professors who are considered a “must” to have for a class, due to their reputation both as educators and as experts. This list isn

GMAT Tip of the Week: Be a Method Man (not an Ol’ Dirty Bastard)

Welcome to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space on the Veritas Prep blog. Now that we’re a full decade removed from the entire span of the 90s, “classic hip hop” is a viable genre and discussion topic, and in this space we’ll analyze some of the highlights of 90s rap and, more importantly, how these topics can help you succeed on the G-to-the-MAT.

No discussion of 90s hip hop would be complete without mention of the Wu Tang Clan, a group of Staten Island rappers that collectively created multiple top-selling albums, and individually produced several more. With unique individual styles that blended for a particularly eclectic overall sound, Wu Tang crafted its own place in the 90s rap scene just outside the scope of the East Coast (Bad Boy) — West Coast (Death Row/Aftermath) icons, perhaps even giving Wu Tang greater staying power by its having stayed just outside that fray.

Two of the most popular members of the Wu Tang Clan were Method Man and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Each a great MC in his own right, the two had different styles and vastly different arcs after the peak of the band in the late 90s. How can differentiating between the two help you succeed on the GMAT?

Ol’ Dirty Bastard received that name because, as Method Man said, “there ain’t no father to his style” — his wide range of vocal tones and expressions, guttural sounds, and themes simply had no precedent in the mainstream world of rap, and because of his uniqueness he stood apart from much of the group as a figure that transcended hip hop in his own way. He blazed his own trail, leading in some cases to high-level success (a gold solo album in 1999 to go with his platinum record with Wu Tang in 1995) and some high-profile failures (multiple stints in jail, albums that still remain unpublished).

Method Man, perhaps coincidentally to his name, followed a more proven method toward success. Like Ice Cube before him, he took his success as a member of a popular group and parlayed it to commercial success as an MTV icon, a film actor, and an overall brand. In doing so, he has won Grammy awards, appeared in TV series and films, and produced a series of comic books.

On the GMAT — particularly when it comes to Sentence Correction, you’ll have a choice to make: will you follow your own, unprecedented (fatherless) style, or will you employ a proven method to break down the standardized tests questions?

Sentence Correction questions tend to lend themselves to an ODB-style process, as test-takers either try to determine which answer choice “sounds right,” or gravitate toward the unique idioms in each sentence and attempt to process those. Just as Dirt McGirt found, however, this process will lead sometimes to success, but often to failure. As a test-taker, you simply can’t memorize enough idioms or trust your ear enough to keep up with the various ways that the writers of the exam will craft questions to counteract your unique methods.

So, to succeed, become a GMAT “Method Man,” looking for the tried-and-true error families that the GMAT exclusively tests: check to see if the subject of the sentence agrees with the verb; check to see if each pronoun in the sentence agrees with and refers back to its specific antecedent; check to ensure that any comparisons that the sentence draws compared equivalent elements. The GMAT will test these same concepts repeatedly, and will reward you for finding the proven path to success on each question, instead of trying to invent your own style each time you face a grammatical issue. There’s a method to success on Sentence Correction questions, and much like the hip hop Method Man, you can employ it to replicate the success of those before you.

One more reason to be a Sentence Correction Method Man: Method Man’s given name is Clifford Smith, the same as Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year winner (and Palo Alto-based instructor) Cliff Smith, who co-wrote the Veritas Prep lessons (and methods) for Sentence Correction. Coincidence? Maybe, but Veritas Prep’s method man Cliff Smith can confirm that there’s a method to the madness — he employed these methods for the Triple Crown of GMAT success — 99th percentile on each section and overall. It pays to be a Method Man.

Just another friendly tip from Veritas Prep, where “we don’t got no problem with you scoring well, but we’ve got a little problem with you not scoring well.”

For more GMAT prep tips and resources, give us a call at (800) 925-7737. And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

HBS 2+2 Application Deadline Announced for 2010

HBS 2+2 ProgramHarvard Business School has just announced this year’s application deadline for the HBS 2+2 Program: June 15, 2010. Note that this is a couple of week’s earlier than last year’s deadline.

Harvard launched the HBS 2+2 Program to encourage high achieving undergraduate students who are not on a “business track,” to pursue careers in business. The program targets students focused on non-business concentrations such as engineering, liberal arts, science etc. Accordingly, they’re looking for students coming from those majors, rather than from undergraduate business programs. (If you’re in college now and fall into the latter camp, have no fear! That’s what the traditional HBS two-year MBA program is for.)

If you’re current a college junior, this deadline announcement is most relevant to you, since you will apply right after your junior year ends. To get a feel for what to expect in the coming months, take a look at the HBS 2+2 Program Timeline on Harvard’s web site. You’ll notice that the timeline suggests taking the GMAT or GRE this spring. If you haven’t yet gotten ready for the test, take a look at Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep options.

After getting the GMAT or GRE score that you want, then you’ll need to focus on writing a terrific application. Fortunately, we’ve been helping applicants do that for years, and we have helped many HBS 2+2 Program applicants since the program’s inception in 2008. To get an early read on your own admissions chances, give us a call at 800-925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert today!

A Bold Law School Recruiting Proposal

Law School AdmissionsFor the last year and a half, there has been a steady stream of articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces about the law school recruiting process. Some have explored new apprenticeship models employed by law firms, others have focused on what law schools are doing to protect students, still others have put a renewed focus on public interest fellowships and job opportunities. Most, however, have merely predicted more doom and gloom. It’s perfectly fine to report what is going on out there, but how many more profile articles and pithy blog posts do we need about stranded 3Ls with no prospects?

That’s why it comes as such a relief to come across an opinion piece about the legal recruiting pipeline that actually suggests bold and decisive action. Not only that, but the author of the article, Aric Press, actually goes so far as to call law firms out and challenge them to push the envelope. Thank you, Aric Press!

In the piece, Press lays out the situation clearly. The old way of recruiting – where NALP puts rules in place that allow firms to go do the meat market on campus interviewing circuit, follow it up with four months of “call backs,” and then submit offers – isn’t working and neither NALP or the individual law firms are doing anything to react to new realities. This part of the article is all well and good, but nothing we don’t already know. What was so interesting to me is where Press took it from there, as he laid out a plan for firms to go outside the NALP system in their recruiting efforts. This plan includes a call for transparency, honest interviewing approaches, and probing to see if the applicant has practical skills that will match the firm’s needs. Press even calls for a two-step interview process with the second session serving as a mock client interaction, to truly test out whether the firm and the law student are a good match for each other.

Having worked in a law firm where everything is hidden behind the magic curtain until it’s “too late,” I am all for increased transparency and more rigorous interviewing processes that truly flesh out proper fits. Press has put forward a fairly bold initiative that would vastly improve the quality of law firm hires and give law students a much better view into life at individual firms. And all at a time when the recruiting process badly needs a facelift. Sounds like a win all the way around.

Now we wait to see if anyone paid attention.

For more information on law school admissions or for help incorporating career goals into the application, visit our law school admissions site or call our offices at 1.800.925.7737!

Four Important Characteristics of the Duke MBA Program

Business School Application Guides
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top MBA programs, this week we investigate a few things that make Duke’s approach to graduate management education unique. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Fuqua School of Business research.)

Like most elite business schools, Duke is focused on providing hands-on learning opportunities, global perspective, and a flexible curriculum. What makes Duke somewhat different is that the school is focused most of all on collaborative leadership. Other than Kellogg and perhaps UCLA Anderson, few business schools can cite that as the program’s most distinguishing feature to the degree that Fuqua can.

With that in mind, the following are the key elements of the Duke Approach:
  • Collaborative Leadership. Teamwork and leadership are common in every aspect of the Duke MBA experience from inside the classroom to clubs and activities. Each class includes group projects as a learning tool, so the ability to lead and work in a group environment is essential for success at Fuqua. Outside of the classroom, students are encouraged and almost expected to assume a leadership role in a club, activity, or Fuqua-related event. Fuqua is truly a student run program, which generates numerous opportunities to lead projects or even create new ones.
  • Global Perspective. “Global” is a major MBA buzzword in this day and age, but few schools boast an international emphasis and flavor that rivals that of Fuqua. Each incoming MBA class begins with “Global Institute,” a one-of-a-kind program that runs for three weeks prior to the first term and introduces students to the global business environment and the world economy structure. Students discuss current global business issues and are exposed to diverse backgrounds and perspectives while also gaining exposure to more traditional “orientation” concepts such as leadership and team building. Fuqua also offers study abroad programs and the increasingly popular “Global Academic Travel Experience,” a course where students study international business trends from select regions and then travel to designated locations for hands-on experience.
  • Diversity of Instruction. As has become increasingly common among innovative business schools, Duke’s courses feature a blended teaching approach that includes an almost equal distribution of case studies, lectures, and team projects. Each class is typically two hours and fifteen minutes long, allowing ample time for a highly interactive case discussion, followed by a course lecture. Duke professors conduct leading research and are adept at integrating relevant and topical business issues into every class. Team projects are absolutely an integral part of each course, and select groups are called upon to present insights and strategic recommendations as a way to launch a class discussion. Class participation is expected and is a prominent grading criterion.
  • Experiential Learning. While Duke does not boast of an experiential learning program as robust as that of Ross or Tuck, Fuqua does offer numerous courses which help students convert theory into application. These classes provide knowledge and experience by assisting real-world businesses in such areas as consulting, strategic planning, marketing strategy and business plan development. Faculty members guide and participate in strategy sessions with the students to reinforce the translation of academic concepts to real world solutions.

Today’s installment was clipped from our Duke (Fuqua) Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Fuqua or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

GMAT Tip of the Week: Carving Out A High Score

GMAT prepAs we enter the final weekend of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, plenty of drama remains. Will Canada clinch the ice hockey gold medal on its home ice? Will it do so against the rival Americans? Will Lindsey Vonn withstand the pain of another injury – this time a broken finger to go with her badly bruised shin — to add another medal to her haul? Will Bob Costas ever look older than 29? Will Bode Miller summon the magic one more time to erase his Torino disappointment with an unexpected (or perhaps just delayed… we expected this from him in 2006) display of overall alpine mastery?

As Vonn and Miller attempt to add to their legacies, they will need to employ a strategy that you should be thinking about as you gear up for your peak performance on the GMAT. The last race for each is the slalom, an event in which skiers are required to navigate a series of gates making quick side-to-side turns while keeping their momentum focused as straight downhill as possible. A daunting challenge, to be sure — just like those of you taking the GMAT, these skiers must be aware that losing time on any one gate (or question) can be catastrophic, and must also keep in mind that, upon the successful navigation of one challenge, another will be approaching just as quickly.

How do they (and how should you) cope?

If you watch slalom skiers, you’ll notice that they seemingly take wide turns around each gate — instead of taking a straight line from one gate to the next, which would require them to make an abrupt change of direction at each gate, they swoop in from wide of the gate, building speed through the turn toward the next flag. The rationale behind this strategy is that, by employing it, skiers can use the position of the next gate to set up the previous turn, always thinking further downhill and being prepared far in advance to avoid having to make last-second, ice-crunching, turn-on-a-dime turns that kill a skier’s speed and waste valuable time. If the skier uses the downhill gates to set up his movements uphill, he can take as direct and efficient a line as possible, and maximizes his chances at success.

The GMAT affords you the same opportunity — you’ve already noted that each question contains within itself five answer choices, but you may not have thought about using those “downhill” answer choices to set up your work.


  • If multiple answer choices include the square root of 3, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to use a 30-60-90 or equilateral triangle, as those triangles lend themselves naturally to sides with the square root of 3.
  • If answer choices, similarly, include the square root of 2, you’ll probably want to look for an iscosceles right triangle (45-45-90), for which the hypotenuse is going to have a side the length of the other side multiplied by the square root of 2.
  • Other answer choices can guide you in the right direction, as well – look for clues such as denominators (do you need to end up with something divided by 3?), exponential terms (do you need to factor to get everything in terms of 2 to a power?), etc. If you let the answer choices be your guide, you’ll often find that they provide you a template of what your mathematical goals should be.

As an example, consider the question:

What is 38 + 37 – 36 – 35?

(A) (35)(24)

(B) (35)(26)

(C) (36)(25)

(D) 65

(E) None of the Above

The initial statement may not lend itself at first to any type of manipulation that would make it any clearer, but if you look at the answer choices, you

Veritas Prep iPhone GMAT Prep App Reaches More Than 50,000 Downloads!

iPhone GMAT App
With our GMAT prep classes starting around the world this week, we were so hard at work that we almost missed a huge milestone: Our Veritas Prep GMAT Practice Quiz iPhone App has been downloaded more than 50,000 on the iTunes store!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the app, it lets you practice all five GMAT question types — Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving, Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension — and do it on your own terms with multiple customization features.

With the GMAT Practice Quiz, you can:
  • Take timed practice exams or focus on subject mastery without worrying about time
  • Use the complete diagnostics provided to better understand your strengths and weaknesses
  • Customize the quiz to practice all five types of GMAT questions or focus on one question type.

The Veritas Prep iPhone GMAT app is 100% free… All you need is an iPhone or an iPod touch and an iTunes account.

Also, we should address the question that we get a lot: “When will the GMAT Practice Quiz iPhone App be available on Android and Blackberry?” Don’t worry… We hear you loud and clear… Stay tuned!

A Closer Look at Wharton’s First-Year Core Classes

Wharton MBA Guide
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we take a closer look at Wharton’s first-year core MBA curriculum. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Wharton research.)

Like most top business schools, The Wharton School aims to lay a strong foundation in general management that will prepare students to face a range of business issues throughout their careers. First-year students are required to attend a one-month “Pre-Term” session prior to the official start of the school year. Pre-Term, which begins in late-July or early-August each year, features several introductory and review courses in financial accounting, microeconomics, statistics, and financial analysis. There is also an optional math review course offered to those students whose math skills are rusty or who never took a college level calculus or statistics course.

The idea of Pre-Term is to level the playing field and ensure that there is a common knowledge base on which to build over the course of the program. In addition to the academic elements of Pre-Term, there is also a two-day, off-campus retreat designed to introduce students to members of their learning team and to begin the practice of leading in a peer environment.

Beyond Pre-Term, The first year is defined by the core curriculum, which all students are required to take. Wharton operates on a quarter system, with most courses lasting only a quarter and some the full semester (combination of quarter one and quarter two, or Q1 and Q2). The core-curriculum is divided into three areas: Leadership Essentials, Analytical Foundations, and Core Business Fundamentals.

Earning a Wharton MBA requires a minimum of 19 credit units (referred to as “cu’s” around Wharton) of graduate-level courses. There is flexibility within that requirement to take up to 4 cu outside of the Wharton program and students may also waive out of most (although not all) of the core courses on the basis of prior coursework or experience in a given subject. Students can waive course in one of two ways: by waiver application and through the waiver exam process. All waived credits, however, must be replaced by electives to meet the minimum 19cu requirement. Roughly 65 percent of first-year students waive out of at least one core course, which allows them to take advantage of one of over 200 electives offered.

In addition to the core courses, first year students can also pursue the optional Global Immersion elective, which is a four-week immersion experience in one of several different regions of the world immediately following the spring semester of the first year. Once all core course requirements have been satisfied, students can begin to explore the roughly 200 elective offerings across 19 different majors. This typically begins in the second year, but should a student waive out of courses in the first year, those credit units can be satisfied with electives.

Today’s blog post was clipped from our Wharton Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Wharton or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Six Professors You Should Know at Columbia Business School

Business School Guides
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we look at six of Columbia Business School’s most popular professors. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Columbia research.)

Every top-tier business school has its list of star faculty whom the students adore. The Columbia faculty is populated with many prominent business leaders, researchers, and teachers. Among Columbia students, there are a handful of professors who are considered a “must” to have for a class, due to their reputation both as educators and as experts:

Must-Have Professors at Columbia Business School
  • Bruce Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management. Among Columbia’s luminaries, few professors have reached the rock star or guru level of Finance Professor Bruce Greenwald. In addition to being the leading authority on value investing — or, as the New York Times put it, “the guru to the wall street gurus” –

Getting Into Wharton: Veritas Prep on MBA PodTV

MBA Podcaster’s MBA PodTV team has just launched a new video titled “Getting Into The Wharton School,” featuring our own Director of MBA Admissions, Scott Shrum. In addition to some great advice from Scott, the episode also features admissions insights from Wharton admissions officers, current students, and recent alumni:

(You can watch the video in a larger size on YouTube.)

A few key points that Scott makes:

  • Although Wharton is best known as a finance school, its marketing department is incredibly strong. In fact, Wharton has the largest marketing faculty of any business school.
  • Although Wharton doesn’t emphasize it as much as some other top schools do, Wharton really wants to see that you’re someone who’s ready and willing to get involved on campus. In fact, no school relies on its students in the admissions process more than Wharton does.
  • Hirability is key, especially in this market. What drives this? Your maturity and having a realistic grasp of your post-MBA goals (vs. your abilities) are two key ingredients here.
  • What one thing in your application should you focus on the most? It’s career progression — Wharton wants to see a track record if success. Naturally, this isn’t something you can “polish up” or quickly improve like an essay or a GMAT score.
  • One interesting new Wharton essay question is, “Tell us about something significant that you have don to improve yourself.” While brushing up on a hard skill is a reasonable answer, a richer response tell a story about how you overcame weaknesses or fears to make yourself a better person. For example, maybe you overcame a fear of public speaking to lead a company meeting, even thought you couldn’t sleep the night before the big event. That’s always going to be a more interesting response to an admissions officer.

For more advice on getting into Wharton and other top business schools, take a look at Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, in-depth guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools. They’re absolutely FREE to anyone who registers. And, of course, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

The Best Way to Get to Know a Business School

Continuing our new MBA admissions video series, this week we answer the question of how an applicant can get to know his target business schools. The question came up at a recent discussion among some of Veritas Prep’s admissions experts, and we all agreed that the most powerful way to get to know a school still is the one that takes the most effort: visit the school!

The explosion of schools’ web sites, video tours, online communities, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc., has made it very easy to start researching schools. None of these, however, can replace the value of visiting campus and having lunch with a current student, sitting in on a class, and seeing for yourself what makes a school unique vs. other top MBA programs. School visits not only help you learn whether or not a school is a good fit for you, but they will also help your admissions chances by allowing you to demonstrate your true enthusiasm for the program.

(You can go to YouTube and watch the video in a larger size.)

Of course, you may not always be able to visit every school that you’re considering. These trips can be costly and require you to take time out of work. But, if at all possible, given how competitive the MBA admissions environment is, we always recommend that an applicant at least visit his top choice to make sure that it’s really the best possible fit.

For more help in selecting your target schools, Veritas Prep offers the Diagnostic Session, and one-hour consultation with an admissions expert who can help you narrow down your school choices and evaluate the best — and most realistic — business schools for you. Just visit this page and scroll down to “Diagnostic Session” to enroll!

HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Statistics for 2009

This past week Harvard Business School released its admissions decisions for the HBS 2+2 Program. HBS has admitted 115 students, which is nine more than last year, according to Director of Admissions Dee Leopold in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.

This year 843 rising college seniors applied to the program, an increase of more than 33% since last year, when 630 students applied. The number of students admitted also increased (from 106 last year), although the overall acceptance rate has dipped to just 13.6% (from 16.8% in 2008) because of all those additional applicants.

The increased number of applicants is at least in part a reflection of how much work the HBS admissions office did this past year to spread the word about the program. The HBS 2+2 staff visited nearly 60 undergraduate colleges and universities, according to the article. As word of mouth grows and HBS continues to market the program, we expect the number of 2+2 applicants to keep growing significantly over the next few years.

In the article, Leopold made a concerted effort to dispel the notion that the 2+2 Program is a Harvard-only program. Still, nearly a quarter of those admitted to the program are Harvard undergrads, so the program still has some work to do in diversifying its student body.

Also, all of our “older” clients likely won’t be pleased to see that HBS has carved out another nine seats for 2+2 students. While this trend does not help you if you’re already out in the working world, we still believe that HBS will have to add another section to its class by the time the first 2+2 students — who graduated from college this past spring — enter HBS in Fall 2010.

To learn more about the HBS 2+2 Program and what they look for in college undergrads, call us at 800-925-7737. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

The Brutal Law Firm Hiring Landscape

When the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008, the assumption held by many is that law school would emerge as the safest of havens for college graduates and young professionals. The length (three years, great for riding out a recession), versatility, and perceived job security of a JD all made it an ideal candidate for those students that would normally pursue plum jobs or perhaps an MBA. Many have gone on record predicting a massive increase in applications for the coming 2009-2010 cycle.

In light of what is happening at the elite law firms (so called “BigLaw”) across the country, it may be time to rethink those assumptions.

The New York Times is the latest to break down the carnage, highlighting some of the more shocking examples of BigLaw erosion:

– Skadden is slashing hiring by half

– Milbank and others are cancelling interviews at Yale

– NYU, Northwestern, and Georgetown are all placing on campus interviews at being down between 33% and 50% this year compared with last year

The piece does a nice job of detailing the logjam that exists at big firms right now: basically, all the deferred 2009 graduates will be drifting back to BigLaw firms in the fall of 2010, right when the most compressed class in law school history is graduating.

It’s a difficult time for grads, to be sure, which is why Veritas Prep continues to consult clients on more than just admissions prospects. Now more than ever, students need to be sure of their motives for going to law school and taking out the kind of debt that follows a graduate of an elite program. Furthermore, this would be a good time for prospective law students to fully explore the loan repayment programs at top schools to see if a career in public interest might actually be a safer bet (in addition to often being a more personally rewarding and flexible career path).

Thank you for believing in us, Stanley Kaplan

“I have to let you know; I’m not a very good standardized test taker.”

If you’ve ever taught a test preparation class, you’ve heard this introduction-slash-disclaimer multiple times as students have entered your classroom for the first time. If you’re reading this space to learn how to become a better standardized test taker, you may have uttered these words to yourself recently. In a society that becomes more quantitatively-oriented by the day (as evidence, someone somewhere can give you a percentage by which that quantitative orientation increases day by day), standardized tests are a major determinant in the academic and professional opportunities available to those who seek them. The high stakes nature of those exams builds stress, and that stress more often than not snowballs, bringing down a student’s performance level and creating additional stress on the next standardized test.

“I didn’t do well on the entrance tests for private high schools, so I was nervous for the PSAT, and that didn’t help. They let me in to college in spite of my SAT score, and I thought I had dodged the bullet, but then came the GRE, the LSAT, the GMAT, the Series 7, the CFA. I think you should know…I’m just not a good standardized test taker.”

And so it was. The tests would grow in importance with each one a student took, and you either had it or you didn’t. Standardized tests measure ability more than they do knowledge. You can’t study for them, the conventional wisdom (and test design) dictated; we’ll determine your potential based on these tests. You’re either good at them, or you’re not.

“You’re not a good standardized test taker. Yet.”

Enter Stanley Kaplan, who had a different mantra.

These tests are beatable, he thought. The very nature of the exams — they’re standardized — means that the questions have to be asked in standard ways. If you are aware of those setups, the pitfalls they create, the ways to save time, and, ultimately, the ways to increase your confidence, you can learn to be a good test taker. Stanley Kaplan sought to build opportunities for those who were capable but didn’t quite have the knack for the arguably-arbitrary way in which we measure that capability.

And he was cast as an educational paraiah. A cheater at worst, opportunist at best, seeking to discredit the sacred institution of the standardized test. Never mind that the tests themselves may be culturally or socioeconomically biased, or that students who were discouraged at an early age would have precious few opportunities to rebuild that lost confidence. Never mind that education as an ideal suggests that anyone should be able to achieve greater results and develop better skills through hard work and ingenuity. Kaplan bucked the system, and the system pushed back.

The very ingenuity that allowed Kaplan to deconstruct those standardized tests also helped him to build an empire and an industry. He sold his Kaplan test preparation company to the Washington Post Company for $45 million back in 1984, and the Kaplan division — now diversified in to an array of academic services — earned over $2 billion in 2008. More importantly, Kaplan’s legacy includes millions of students who were able to overcome the notion that they were “not good test takers”, because Kaplan believed (correctly) that anyone can develop the necessary skills to succeed on these tests. These alumni of Kaplan’s programs, and beneficiaries of the industry that he spawned, are now doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and, yes, teachers, in many cases because Stanley Kaplan believed they could be.

Mr. Kaplan died on Sunday at the age of 90, but his industry and legacy will live on in the achievements of students around the world who seek to better their performance on standardized tests and create opportunities to, like Kaplan did before them, change the world.

How to Make the Most of Medical School Secondaries

The medical school application process is a marathon, not a sprint, as it features an AMCAS application (featuring most of the admin work, a slew of short answer questions, and the always-difficult personal statement), secondary applications for individual schools, and then interview days at select programs. The whole thing lasts for nearly a year and the time spent tends to dwarf the application processes for other types of graduate programs.

The current leg of the marathon is the secondary application round. It is the part of the process that most closely resembles a college application or MBA application process, in the sense that candidates must respond to essay prompts that are specific to each program. This is the stage of an applicant’s journey that demands a focus on “fit” with individual schools, as well as clear motivation for studying (and then practicing) medicine. The AMCAS was the time for setting yourself apart as a med school candidate … secondary season is about fitting in.

Here are three other crucial tips for secondary applications:

1. Key on service. One interesting correlation that is gaining steam in medical school circles is the notion that community service translates to the pursuit of primary care careers. The current med school culture is very focused on producing good primary care doctors, so medical schools are taking a longer look at these trends, and, in many cases, deducing that a commitment to service is one of the best predictors that a med student will enter this field. Applicants should be sure to include all such experiences and look to build around both the service activities as well as the lessons learned when crafting essay responses.

2. Avoid cut-and-paste. One common mistake made by candidates on their secondary applications is that they fail to resist the temptation of cutting and pasting answers from the AMCAS. One requirement of the AMCAS is to answer a series of short prompts, including listing and describing course work, activities, and research experience. Many medical schools include similar questions on the secondaries. For instance, Columbia asks prospective students a question about extracurricular activities that sounds a lot like the short answer prompt on the AMCAS. The temptation to cut and paste the answer is very strong. Of course, this would be a huge mistake. Not only can Columbia cross-reference the new answer with the old AMCAS answer, but simply recycling a list fails to meet the challenge of the question. It is fine to give a basic rundown in an AMCAS short answer, but broader themes must be addressed in a secondary question. You have to make connections between your own experiences and the culture at Columbia. You have to show how your level of involvement will translate to medical school. It’s a whole new ballgame and your best bet is to simply reference the old answer to ensure consistency, and then start fresh.

3. Take your time. An oft-quoted cardinal rule of medical school admissions says that a secondary application must be submitted to the school no more than two weeks from date of issue. The thinking goes that anything longer suggests to the program a lack of interest. This is not necessarily true. Yes, spending three weeks rather than two may tell the medical school in question that you are not a frothing maniac with nothing else going on in your life than secondary applications. Is that the end of the world? Med schools are looking for disciplined people who can handle heavy work leads, yes. But they are also looking for well-adjusted, balanced individuals who can see the big picture. It is far better to take an extra day or two, or even a week, to do a nice, thorough job on a secondary application, than it is to slap it together and rush it out the door. This is especially true if the secondary application happens to come from the medical school at a busy or stressful time – during a move back to college, during midterms, etc.

Finally, note that the general nature of secondary applications has changed in recent years. It used to be that a secondary application was an indication of forward movement, as schools commonly sent out secondaries only to select students as a way of thinning the herd. Now, however, most schools (over 80%, in fact) are automatically sending out secondaries to everyone who applies. This means that students are truly starting fresh with that program. The AMCAS will still be a very real part of the consideration process, but it has not factored in to a future decision yet. Secondaries must compliment the AMCAS. Research must be conducted into each school to which you are applying. As a result, it is our belief that students should apply to no more than 15 medical schools, given the amount of work that awaits them secondaries release.

For more on medical school admissions consulting at Veritas Prep, be sure to explore our services and feel free to give us a call at 1.800.925.7737.

Chicago Booth’s Rose Martinelli Gives Advice to Reapplicants

Last week Chicago Booth’s Associate Dean for Student Recruitment and Admissions, Rose Martinelli, wrote a followup to her first blog post about how reapplicants can approach the MBA admissions process. While the first post gave very general information that our readers have seen multiple times (e.g., think about what aspects of your application you need to bolster, consider if your goals are the same this year…), Rose’s second post contains some more concrete info that provides a good insight into how Chicago Booth reads reapplicants’ applications.

About your data forms, Rose writes, “Do not rely on last year’s application to provide us with that information since the forms change a little bit each year. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself –

Is Harvard Going Broke?

The August issue of Vanity Fair is flying off of newsstand shelves due to high profile articles on Heath Ledger’s last days and Sarah Palin’s political turmoil; however, arguably the most interesting article in the magazine is a feature on Harvard’s current financial troubles.

The article (a summary of which is available here), penned by Nina Munk, describes the problems surrounding the school’s endowment and the ramifications on Harvard’s day-to-day budget and aggressive expansion plans. From the ups and downs of the Harvard Management Company to the controversial presidency of Larry Summers to current campus conditions, the profile is packed with fascinating details and is a must-read for anyone who follows higher education.

As an added bonus and happy coincidence, I was in Boston this week and had a chance to go examine Harvard for myself. My question: is Harvard really going broke?

Munk’s article tells a very detailed story about how and why Harvard finds itself in a difficult financial situation. Key elements include: the outsized ambition of Summers, the fact that talented, gun-for-hire traders were run out of the Harvard Management Company, an egregious error made when the administration failed to cancel interest-rate swaps (resulting in a loss of $1 billion), and an expansion plan that calls for new building after new building. Oh, and an $8 billion hit to the school’s famous endowment (as Munk points out, the amount lost by Harvard’s endowment in 2008 is greater than the entire endowment of Columbia University) and another $11 billion in outstanding commitments. The article also has an edge to it, calling out Harvard for double talk — the school avoids words like “cuts” and “layoffs” and instead favors “alignments” and “resizements” (which isn’t even a word).

For all that, what interested me most was how these incredible numbers and stories are impacting current students. What is a first year going to look like at Harvard Law School? What — if anything — will change for a junior at Harvard College? What about prospective students? For all the hand wringing and finger pointing, are things really that bad?

Well, for starters, future students of Harvard College can probably plan on getting their checkbooks back out and once again bookmarking the FAFSA page. One of the most celebrated of Summers’ many moves as president was to offer free tuition to any accepted Harvard student coming from a family whose income was less than $60,000 per year. New president Drew Faust added a policy that gave enormous tuition breaks to any student whose family made less than $180,000 (the policy stated that such students would pay no more 10 percent of their family’s income). Both of the policies are likely to be in serious jeopardy, given that Harvard’s annual budget of over $3 billion is funded in large part by its rapidly shrinking endowment.

Once those students get done paying their way to Harvard, they can expect to find their fair share of turmoil. Every building on campus features the same decor right now — signs of protest. “No layoffs” is the most common, but “save our faculty” is also quite popular. Harvard Law School is currently a sea of activism, even in the middle of July, as message boards call for student involvement to push back against proposed budget cuts and faculty/staff layoffs. Most of these signs direct students to a dedicated blog with information, events, and editorials. Visit the blog at this moment and the front page will highlight a rally that was held this morning (August 6) at the Holyoke Center. Furthermore, a quick chat with any Harvard student — from virtually any program — will reveal that the prevailing opinion on campus is that the university is actually using the endowment trouble as an excuse for “belt tightening” measures. Most students seem to feel that simply reallocating resources and showing some restraint at the top of the food chain is more than enough to correct the current budget problems, but that Harvard is being opportunistic (at best) and trying to squeeze more work out of fewer resources by attacking the bottom of the faculty and staff. Needless to say, it is not the most harmonious place to be at present time.

Finally, there is the issue of facilities. The biggest aim of the Summers regime was to turn Harvard into the “Florence of this century” and the primary method for making that happen was expansion and construction. New buildings are everywhere on campus, outnumbered only by uncompleted construction pits. When will these projects be completed? No one seems to know. Workers tending to the current law school expansion project seem to basically be operating in maintenance mode, trying to make sure that any progress to date is protected from the coming weather changes in late fall and winter. No one is even working on the massive, $1.2 billion Allston campus that will house new HBS facilities in addition to a massive science center. How will the campus look in the months and years to come?

Even if one were to set aside the stunted growth, the controversy, and the likely diminution of financial aid, there is still a nagging sense that Harvard is on hold. The grounds were poorly maintained on my visit, there was trash strewn about, and the focus is on budgets and jobs instead of programs and ideas.

For all that though, one has to assume that Harvard will find a way to resolve this situation and move on quickly, because that is what Harvard has always done. The endowment is down over 20% from this time last year, but it is still nearly $30 billion and larger than that of any other university. All of those recently completed buildings that put the school in this position are still there, ready to improve the learning experience for Harvard students. Not to say that Munk’s article was hyperbolic or that things are all smooth sailing for Harvard right now, but I can’t help but think that this profile features the low point and that things will improve from here.

Of course, even that scenario would have been unthinkable just a year ago. Stay tuned.

NYU Stern Appoints a New Dean

NYU’s Stern School of Business has just named Peter Blair Henry, currently the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Economics at Stanford University, its new dean effective January 15, 2010.

A Rhodes Scholar, Henry recently received some notoriety as the leader of the Obama Transition Team’s review of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other international lending agencies. He has also served as an economic advisor to governments from the Caribbean to Africa, Dean-designate Henry’s scholarship focuses on the impact of economic reform on emerging economies.

NYU President John Sexton said, “After some time, one can read the ‘body language’ of a dean’s search committee. Seldom

UCLA Anderson Application Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the coming application season. Here they are, followed by our comments:

UCLA Anderson Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 14, 2009
Round 2: January 6, 2010
Round 3: March 17, 2010

(Unlike most top business schools, Anderson actually moved its Round 1 deadline back vs. last year, although only by five days. Note that Anderson has moved its Round 3 deadline up by about two weeks.)

UCLA Anderson Admissions Essays

For first-time applicants:

  1. Describe the ways in which your family and/or community have helped shape your development. (750 words)

    (This question has been reworded this year, but is substantially the same as last year’s first question. What’s interesting to us is that it’s been reworded to include less in the way of specifics than last year’s question. Actually, in some ways, it’s a combination of the first two questions from last year’s application. While we don’t know the Anderson admissions committee’s motivations for certain, it seems as though they wanted to “open up” the question to give applicants enough room to talk about whatever they want, instead of limiting them too much with specific requests for details. Consider answering this question on with your personal development in mind. Your tendency will be to tie it right back to your career and why you’re pursuing an MBA, but consider this input from the admissions office: “Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.”)

  2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

    (This question is new this year, and it’s a classic opportunity to employee the “SAR” method: Situation, Action, Result. The admissions committee lays out exactly what they’re looking for — not just what happened, but what you learned as a result. Be sure to spend enough time discussing this last point. Your best story may come from your professional life or your personal life; use the one that gives you the best chance to demonstrate growth and introspection.)

  3. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)

    (This question carries over unchanged from last year, and should be approached the same as most other “Career Goals” / “Why an MBA?” essays.)

  4. Select and respond to one of the two following questions. We would like you to respond to the question by recording an audio or video response, 1-2 minutes long (up to 5 MB maximum), for upload in the online application. If you are unable to submit your response via audio or video, then please prepare a written response instead. (250 words)

    a. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that embraces innovation and risk-taking within both established and new organizations. Describe an instance in which you exhibited this mindset.

    b. What is something people will find surprising about you?

    (Wow, now video, too! Last year Anderson made waves by introducing an audio response, but now, in the age of YouTube, a video response is also now acceptable. We’re not surprised that Anderson dropped one of the audio essay options from last year, which asked, “What global issue matters most to you and why,” which probably prompted a lot of “hot air” answers from applicants who were more concerned about sounding impressive than they were about giving authentic answers that revealed more about themselves. We think the Anderson admissions committee is interested in seeing and hearing how you communicate as much as they want to hear your specific answer. As we recommended last year, we think you should prepare well and make sure you deliver your answer smoothly, but a more impromptu-sounding response will sound warmer and more authentic than an overly scripted response. Lastly, have fun with this! Your response doesn’t need to be funny or wacky, but brightening the admissions committee’s day always helps.)

  5. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

    (Our advice for this type of question is always the same: Only use this question as necessary. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any.)

Reapplicants who applied for the entering Fall 2008 or 2009 class have a different set of requirements than first-time applicants. Instead of submitting two letters of recommendation and the four regular essays, reapplicants are required to submit precisely one new letter of recommendation and the two essays below:

  1. Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words)

    (The admissions committee’s goal here is clear: to be able to quickly judge how much stronger your candidacy is this year. Like all top schools, UCLA Anderson IS very receptive to receiving applications from reapplicants, but you need to show up with a a noticeably stronger application than what you submitted a year ago. What’s changed? Have you been promoted at work? Achieved a higher score on the GMAT? Taken on a leadership role in your community? This is your chance to showcase it all in a single essay.)

  2. Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken, the outcome, and what you learned in the process. (500 words)

    (Since this essay didn’t exist last year, it makes sense that the admissions committee also wants to see reapplicants’ responses to this question.)

  3. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

For more advice on applying to UCLA Anderson, visit the Veritas Prep UCLA Anderson information page. For even more advice on applying to Anderson, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports! And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

GMAT Tip of the Week

There Must Be An Easier Way

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

If you’ve been a loyal reader of this space for a year or so, you may have read something similar to this post back in the fall of 2008, but it bears repeating. Business schools aren’t particularly interested in “human calculators,” but they do express a direct preference for problem solvers — those who can efficiently make good decisions. As such, the quantitative side of the GMAT is skewed toward that kind of thinking, and rewards test-takers who can efficiently and accurately analyze numbers.

Because of that, Veritas Prep GMAT tutors have long encouraged their students to become adept at using fractions to simplify calculations on the exam. Simply put, GMAT problems are much more efficiently solved using fractions than using long division or decimals. Recently, your author had a chance to put this practice in to real-world use when he had to confront the daunting…. metric system!

While driving through France to personally investigate the topic of last week’s blog post, the Tour de France bicycle race, I encountered road signs that all expressed distances in terms of kilometers, a unit of measure that doesn’t quite satisfy my American appetite for knowledge of “are we there yet?”. However, driving a foreign car while navigating roundabouts with signs posted in French didn’t leave me with much mental capacity to calculate mileage using the 1 kilometer = 0.62 miles conversion… until I decided that 0.62 is almost exactly 3/5.

Using a fraction like 3/5, instead of a decimal like 0.62 (or even 0.6) allowed me to quickly convert kilometers to miles to satisfy my desire to know how far it would be to the next gas station, restaurant, or exit. 150 km? Simply divide by 5 and multiply by 3, and I could quickly determine that it was approximately 90 miles.

On the GMAT, just like while driving, you will want to avoid tedious calculations. Using fractions will allow you to make quick calculations and decisions without the mess or stress (rhyme unintentional) of handwritten calculations.

To receive more GMAT Tips of the Week, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Duke (Fuqua) Application Deadlines for 2009-2010

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business hasn’t yet released its application for the coming year, but the school did recently release its application deadlines for 2009-2010 (click on the “When to Apply” tab on the Fuqua site).

Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

Duke (Fuqua) Application Deadlines
Early Action Round: October 6, 2009
Round 1: November 12, 2009
Round 2: January 7, 2010
Round 3: March 9, 2010

(Note that, unlike most other schools’ Early Action rounds, Fuqua’s is binding; schools normally call it “Early Decision” when it is binding. We only recommend applying via Early Action if your heart is set on Duke. If you are admitted, you must submit a non-refundable $3,000 deposit by December 10, 2009. Interestingly, you only need to submit an official transcript once you are admitted.)

For more advice on applying to Fuqua, visit Veritas Prep’s Duke (Fuqua) information page, and be sure to follow us on Twitter!

GMAT Tip of the Week

No Chain!

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

This weekend, some of the best-conditioned, hardest-working human beings on the planet will complete one of the most grueling challenges known to man. At the same time, some of those not taking the GMAT will finish the Tour de France, a similarly daunting challenge. What can you, as a test-taker, learn from the champions of the grand Tour?

Perhaps the buildup to yesterday’s stage, an Individual Time Trial that pits man against clock (much like the GMAT), is the best illustration of a Tour tactic that will help you succeed on the exam. If you watched the pre-race coverage, you likely saw footage of the elite riders – Armstrong, Contador, Sastre – spinning along on bike trainers in anticipation of their races. Their motions looked effortless, as they spun small gears for a visual effect that looked like they were riding bikes without chains. The goal? To build a healthy heartrate and facilitate the range of motion they would need to employ throughout the race without burning unnecessary energy or taxing themselves beyond a basic warmup.

What does this mean for you?

The day before you take the GMAT, and the morning of the exam if you have a later-in-the-day appointment, you’ll likely have enough nervous energy that you’ll want to go through more practice problems, or (Heavens, no!) take a final practice test. However, like the Tour riders, you’ll want to save your mental stamina and preserve your conditioning and confidence for the event that truly counts. At this point in your studies, you should be a well-conditioned “GMAT athlete”, with “ranges of motion” in the form of strategies and progressions that you employ for each type of problem. Accordingly, you’ll want to practice those progressions to satisfy your nervous energy and warm up for the exam itself, but you certainly don’t want to tax yourself counterproductively, and the nature of the GMAT offers another nasty byproduct of last-minute preparation – you could accidentally hit a particularly-difficult patch of problems and, via happenstance, distraction, nerves, or any combination thereof, make a few errors that will strike a blow to your all-important confidence heading in to the test.

Because of these potential factors, envision your final 24 hours of GMAT prep as a “bicycle ride without a chain”, going through the thought process of questions you’ve done before to remind yourself of the step-by-step progression you’ll use, the errors you’ll need to anticipate and correct, etc. In this way, you’ll remind yourself of all the things that you know how to do well, without the potential for fatigue or self-doubt that could unravel the preparation you have already done. The GMAT is an endurance event, and as any well-conditioned endurance athlete can tell you, the taper is a crucial part of any training regimen as one allows himself to conserve energy and build confidence heading in to the event. You have trained like a champion – in the time immediately before your exam, prepare yourself to perform like one!

GMAT Tip of the Week

Mind Your Own Business

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The GMAT verbal section can be distracting if only because of one truth: Sentences (for correction) or reading comprehension passages must be about something. Whether it is a technical topic (immunological reactions, biological discoveries involving microorganisms) or a business-related subject (the rise of multinational corporations, the origin of hedge funds), questions on the verbal section will take place within the context of some kind of subject matter. Traditionally, the GMAT uses academic subjects such as:

  • Natural Sciences (astronomy, biology, etc.)
  • Social Science (history, political science, etc.)
  • Business Related

As a test-taker your reaction to these subjects can take multiple forms, but usually falls in to one or two major categories: bored/intimidated by something you don’t like or understand, or engaged/interested by something that intrigues you. In either case, you’re likely to be distracted, either by your distaste for the subject of by your enjoyment of it. Don’t forget, though, that you’re not reading the sentence/paragraph/passage for the value of the knowledge contained within it! Your job, regardless of the topic, is to perform a specific function:

– Sentence Correction: identify and correct flaws in the grammar
– Critical Reasoning: answer the question presented following the paragraph(s)
– Reading Comprehension: prepare yourself to answer 3-6 questions about the scope, tone, and purpose of the passage

Because of that, do not either become intimidated by technical concepts that you don’t understand (you don’t need to understand them comprehensively) or entertained by concepts that can lead you on a path of tangential thinking (be careful for an engaging business-related passage, which may seem like an oasis in a desert of boring subject matter). Keep your focus on performing your function for the question, and realize that business schools are not looking, in particular, for biologists, history buffs, astronomers, or poets. Regardless of the topic, your job remains the same: answer the question!

For more GMAT tips, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter! Also, sign up to take a free practice GMAT test to see where you stand.

A B C – Always Be Cinematic

Is the absence of failure, success? Can one fail successfully? Can a businessman that has all but sold his soul to an M&A tycoon ever get back on the right path towards the asymptote of success? These are the types of issues that are explored in our revolving list of top business movies of all time.

Top Business Movies of All Time:

10. Pretty Woman: Not just another cinderalla story, but an interesting look at the life of an M&A tycoon with a heart of gold.

9. The Secret of My Success: This movie should be required viewing at top 5 consulting firms, just for the buzz words alone. Michael J. Fox helps an ailing corporate dinosaur synergize, become proactive and rediscover the inner bottom line!

8. Baby Boom: The glass ceiling is shattered in this gripping comedy that examines the difficulties of being an independent entrepreneur and a single mom. It also examines the awkward and ill-fitting suits that women had to wear in the 80’s.

7. Boiler Room: This thrilling movie examines the multiplicative effect of minor fraud and stars Giovanni Ribisi and that guy that was in Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon.

6. Barbarians at the Gate: The title of this movie pretty much explains what M&A is all about.

5. The Player: The dark nature of the film industry is brought to light in this anxious comedy starring Tim Robbins.

4. The Hudsucker Proxy: The true and completely factual story behind the invention of the hula hoop has nothing to do with this movie, but it does take a thrilling look at boardroom politics.

3. Trading Places: This hilarious 80’s comedy examines important social issues like when it is best to buy and hold pork belly futures – a gripping view of the commodities market.

2. Glengarry Glen Ross: Based on the play with the same name, this movie single-handedly generated over 8 million memorable quotes about Sales. “What’s my name? I drove here in an 80,000 dollar BMW – that’s my name.”

1. Wall Street: If you haven’t seen this gritty movie about business ethics, insider trading, and 80’s power suits, then you have no business in business. This movie will teach you things about business that you just can’t learn at B-School. You’ll learn all of the important things that you just wouldn’t learn anywhere else: importance of playing racquetball with other like minded 80’s power brokers; knowing how to get your foot in the door at major corporations; knowing how to extract and utilize valuable insider information. Most importantly, this movie helps us trace Sean Young’s career from Hollywood nobody to Hollywood somebody and back again.