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Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 15:56
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Best MBA Books - overview, recommendations, and comments




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Your MBA Game Plan - 3rd Edition - The Best Book on Applications & Essays (11/20/2011)
New edition released 11/20/2011
Essays: Provides 34 sample essays (unknown freshness - I need to buy a previous version of the book to compare)

Pros:
- Fairly concise and can be read/covered pretty quickly (the fact that the book is well written helps)
- I like very much the suggestions for the 4 key dimensions of an applicant (Leadership, innovation, teamwork, and maturity). The book then creates a table with these as column headings and numerous parts of the application as the rows (such as transcript, work experience, resume, LOR, essays, GMAT, extracurricular activities) and allows you to tick off each element that contributes to any of the 4
- Chart of GMAT 80% distribution scores for the top 20 programs and a few other stats/charts
- Applicant profiles - the book splits up the application tips/strategy based on the applicant profiles
- Typical backgrounds of students at the MBA programs and also their career backgrounds. (Consulting is 25%)
- Interview tips (good but not very exhaustive prep)
- Information about each of the top 30 programs with details on application strategy (what the school focuses on, what they are looking for, who is a good fit, and also some additional unofficial insights that Vertas saw from the years of work with applications to each of the schools)
- Real sample Essay Analysis (34 total essays)
- Sevearal in-depth profile examples
- Sample Resumes (5)

Cons:
- Though laid out fine, I am having a hard time finding information I have read previously. The markers on some of the essays and sections could be identified better or have some standard icons/symbols and Table of contents should be really expanded to include subsections. Right now it is not useful.
- Would be great to see things not to do/disaster stories/examples of poor fit (there are several essays at the back that are not stellar and are illustrations of exactly that) but would love to see more as well as common weaknesses and approaches to address/eliminate
- Add strategies for re-applicants
- Would benefit the most applicants who have 9 months for the entire process




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Great Application Essays for Business School - 2nd Edition - The Best Book for Essays (12/20/2010)
New edition released 12/20/2010
Essays: Covers 8 most common essay questions; Includes 22 44 real essays (22 new essays)
This is by far the best book on MBA Essays I have reviewed. It is motivating to read and contains nuggets of value on every page. Even the obvious points in the "what not to do" section are strong
Pros:
+ Fresh content - updated with latest questions, essays, themes, mistakes, figures, etc
+ Great self-diagnostic/reflection methodology
+ Real essays and real examples
+ What not-to-do section with every chapter
+ Practical - it is not a bunch of tricks or gimmicks but solid value
+ Numerous quotes from admissions officers
+ Section on Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
+ New section for Waitlist strategies with 2 case studies about successful converts from WL into Admits (Michigan Ross and Chicago Booth) - 20 pages of content following these 2 applicants

Cons:
- Essays are getting a bit dated in this edition, so awaiting the second edition
- None really
Bottom line: taking into consideration that an Admissions consultant could cost $2-4K per school, this is a great guide. I wish this book was out when I was applying.



Image
65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays, 2nd Edition

Number of Essays: 65 (41 recent essays and 24 essays that are 5+ years old)
Schools: Covers 1 school
Pros:
- The main value: you can read the essays of the applicants who got into the HBS
- 41 recent essays; this is the new edition of the book and has been updated with 41 new essays (24 are carried over from the old edition)
- There is only one essay per person (both good and bad); you get more variety but at the same time only a fraction of the picture
- The only book with recent essays (all others have 5, 7, and 10+ year old essays)

Cons:
- The main disadvantage: you see only a small piece of the puzzle and may potentially change your application for worse
- Analysis of each essay is very minimal and is not "official" per se
- Absolutely Zero advice/strategies/recommendations. The book starts off with essays

BOTTOM LINE: If you are going to a top 10 school, it is a $10 well spent. However, this book is only valuable as a reference/secondary guide. Find a good general book on essays such as Paul Bodine's Great Applications for Business School or How to get into the Top MBA programs by Richard Montauk and use them as the base and this book to compare your style, story, etc.
HBS





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MBA Admissions Strategy: From profile building to essay writing Review by Vorskl
Pros:
- excellent overview of all speps of the admission process
- it's important Avi starts with description of tools and techniques to extract your own stories, goals, value, failures etc - all the valuable material needed for high-quality essays. Follow these steps and don't skip them. 1 hour of data mining = 5 hours saved in essay writing.
- great breakdown of typical essay questions, their true meaning and traps

Cons:
- too few practical examples! Sometimes it's hard to understand what Avi means or how to implement his ideas in practice
- the book is all about profile building and essays. There is not that much info about recommendations, interviews etc.
Value for money: 4.5/5



Image
The Precision Essay Guide to Elite MBA Admissions Review by Vorskl
Pros:
- very practical. There are no filling words in the guide, all text is there for a reason
- live and funny language, yet intelligent and smart. I truly enjoyed reading it!
- precise, actionable advices (step 1-2...5 instead of vague 'get to know your goals' you can find in many other sources)
- fresh material. There are no references to topics that were popular in Clinton's times.
- authors' advices closely follow examples they included into the book, there is no mismatch.


Cons:
- the books feels too thin..
- Chapter 5 - Major essay types - contains too few examples

Grading: 4.5/5
Great value for little money. Adding extra examples (into Chapter 5) would make the book one of the best essay guides on the market.




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MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools Review by bb
Pros:
Section on setting goals
Good self-assessment section
Research (how and where to learn about schools)
Addresses the common questions such as School Visit, R1 vs. R2, How many schools to apply to, etc
Each chapter has a good summary at the end
Goes into how AdCom's evaluate applicants
Writing Principles
15 essay examples that seem current
Very good LOR advice
Good bschool resume tips

Cons:
Overview of what schools are looking for is a bit weak and the intro is slow.
Specific essay topics section is short
Name - it is hard to take the book seriously
I would love to see more essay examples, esp specific ones or full packages



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How to Apply for an MBA - MBA Prep School
Pros:
- Good content and practical tips; no fluff. 209 pages get to the point, though the font is too big at times (could have made it shorter)
- Good points about how not to get dinged (I really liked this section - it is pretty good). You can almost call this book, how not to get dinged
- Chapter review sections are helpful
- Good layout and formatting (well done ebook with good illustrations, not just a bunch of text)


Cons:
- eBook only format


Image
Outdated! Business School Essays that Made a Difference, 3rd Edition
Number of Essays: 61 Outdated Essays: from 2002
Schools: Covers 15 schools
Babson, Case, Claremont, Tuck, Gozueta, Sloan, Rutgers, Tulane, Booth, Tippie, Ross, Montana, Kenan-Flagler, Simon, McCombs

Comments:Each essay comes along with comments and critique from the author and admissions professionals (they give their perspective/feedback). In addition, the first third of the book has great general admissions/essays overview. It covers a general strategy "How to craft your essays", Common essay questions (what they are really asking), English grammar check list, interviews with students and also admissions directors from a number of the top 20 schools. Gives you an idea/perspective into what they are looking for in the essays and how decisions are made.



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Outdated! Essays That Will Get You into Business School 3rd Edition

Number of Essays: 56 Warning: 5 Essays are from 2001 and 51 are from 1996
Schools: Covers 16 schools
Wharton, Darden, Tuck, Kellogg, HBS, Stanford, Wharton WEMBA, Yale, Columbia, Ross, UCLA, Booth, Sloan, Haas, Lauder, Fuqua






General MBA Application Strategy

Image
How to Get into the Top MBA Programs, 5th Edition
Pros:
- All-in-one book (covers every stage of the application process)
- Includes 67 Real Essays covering 31 specific Topics (however, there are some really old ones)
- Great sections on Recommendations (do's and dont's as well as what is appropriate), also good section on interviews.
- Has helpful insights (framed sections) that provide additional insight from admissions officers of schools on various topics such as gmat score split, recommendations, retaking gmat, etc
- Sets the proper expectation in terms of time needed for the process. Most people underestimate the time needed to take the gmat, write essays, proofread them, and then have time for a job/family.
- I found insights from admissions to be very valuable (in many sections of the book). Most of the time, they don't tell you some big secret, but get a confirmation about a certain process (waitlist for example or application review) is very helpful and comforting that you are on the right track

Cons:
- Does not provide any information about schools specifics (???). It is called how to get into the top business schools but actually does not cover the top schools in detail
- Extra stuff (starts from Why MBA & types of MBA programs and ends with post-acceptance information, though frankly, for most, it will be the substance in between that will matter the most). Only about 400 pages out of 600 are the meat, which is plenty actually
- Some outdated parts that have changed since
- Some Essays are outdated (some are 10 years old - ouch). They are also really long. In the past 5 years the length has been cut down to just a page or even less.



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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 18:29
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Just my $0.02 -- I wasn't a big fan of Montauk's book.

The stats for MBA programs are completely off (due to GMAT inflation over the last ten years), and the some of the sample essays are atrocious -- I'm shocked some of these people got into B-school, they couldn't tell a story with a coherent point. Additionally, he quotes a lot of B-school AdCom members and most of the advice is either really trite, ("Be Yourself. We want to get to know you as a person.") or it directly contradicts other advice in the book.

I bought the book in the summer of 2007 and applied in Fall 2008, so its possible there is a new edition that is better. In general though, I would recommend getting it from your local library and seeing how useful you think it is.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 19:03
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Hi bb,

I found, 'The best business schools admissions secrets' by Chioma Isiadinso, very good. Easy read, covers all main application topics thoroughly and focuses on the applicant developing and highlighting a 'personal brand'. The writer does this in a non-gimmicky way, which I liked. I thought it was great for my first MBA application book.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 21:34
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Thank you!
I just purchased How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs... waiting for that in the mail.

Interested in the Princton Review @ Isiadinso book as well

Update: I just finished the Great Application Essays for Business School book and found it very informative. The book does mainly focus on just applications but gives some pointers for the letters of rec part too. Easy and quick read ~ 168 pages.

I think if you're having some trouble with the creativity or the themes of your essays, this is a great book to read, sleep on what you read and tackle them the next days.

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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 21:47
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Just my $0.02 -- I wasn't a big fan of Montauk's book.

The stats for MBA programs are completely off (due to GMAT inflation over the last ten years), and the some of the sample essays are atrocious -- I'm shocked some of these people got into B-school, they couldn't tell a story with a coherent point. Additionally, he quotes a lot of B-school AdCom members and most of the advice is either really trite, ("Be Yourself. We want to get to know you as a person.") or it directly contradicts other advice in the book.

I bought the book in the summer of 2007 and applied in Fall 2008, so its possible there is a new edition that is better. In general though, I would recommend getting it from your local library and seeing how useful you think it is.


Thanks for the feedback - I thought it was the best MBA Applications book I have found so far, at least for starters. (I have the 2010 edition). I liked the Princeton Book but it was 50 pages vs 500, so does not come in comparison. With that, I am fully in agreement with you - the essays are really old and it has a few other issues - for sure. Any other book you would recommend instead? I am very open to recommendations!!!

P.S. Also, I am trying to look at these books from a perspective of an applicant and somebody who does not have my or possibly your knowledge from hanging out on GC (for years in my case), so take some of my thoughts with a grain of salt since they may not be written for you per se, but this is also why I would love feedback, since I am trying to think like a newbie and that may not work very well.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 21:50
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Hi bb,

I found, 'The best business schools admissions secrets' by Chioma Isiadinso, very good. Easy read, covers all main application topics thoroughly and focuses on the applicant developing and highlighting a 'personal brand'. The writer does this in a non-gimmicky way, which I liked. I thought it was great for my first MBA application book.


Thank you for the thoughts. I am actually not very impressed with the book. I have read/skimmed through about a third of it and put it down. I have also read through Amazon reviews and found many rave reviews written by single posters, and that turned me off. I also think the whole concept of writing a book titled "Best Business Schools Admissions Secrets" and not actually including any in the book was lame.

On the positive side, the "personal brand" theme is very very good - I liked that concept very much and esp that it goes through the entire book and ties it together.

(The author even puts gmatclub as a resource at the back of the book, which I appreciate)

If anybody else feels that it is a worthy book, please let me know, or perhaps could you post your review here? Also would love to hear how it compares to other admissions books, esp any ones listed here. The goal is to have the best of the best!

Thank you!
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 21:59
Paul Bodine's book is popular on the forums (currently out of print; used copies available on amazon; new edition coming in Dec/Jan 2011).

I also recently obtained a copy of Alex Chu's book, which I found very comprehensive (PDF only version); Kindle version available as well for $50.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 04:31
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As a current applicant in the middle of the application process, I've found Paul Bodine's book to be the best resource when it comes to essay brainstorming/writing. I agree that the essays in Montauk's book seemed boring and didn't really tell a story. Bodine's book is a great starting point and is an easy and logical read. It really addresses how to look at the essay sets as a whole and prepare your stories using a holisitic approach.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 07:25
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Thank you everyone for the comments. I have added a Star-Rating system underneath the books, please feel free to provide your feedback/rating about each of the books.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 10:35
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''I also think the whole concept of writing a book titled "Best Business Schools Admissions Secrets" and not actually including any in the book was lame''

Haha, excellent point. I hadn't really thought of how badly matched the title and actual content of the book were. There were very few actual 'secrets'. You may have a lot of trouble thinking like a newbie because you can't really ignore all of the lessons you've learned throughout the years! For me, as a first book, I was just looking for one source of factual information regarding the whole application process. From essay brainstorming to what to do if waitlisted etc. In a broader sense the book was indeed sub par but I had nothing to compare it to! Do you think Montauks book is the way foward for me at this stage? It seems like Bodines wouldnt be that far off the book I read as Bodine seems to be a good 'starter' book. Cheers!!
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 17:55
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I found Avi Gordon’s MBA Admissions Strategy to be very useful. It clearly explains the need to have a theme/message underlying all aspects of your application, and it categorises the pool of possible essay titles well. Good emphasis was also put on the planning process which helps you understand your own profile and makes essay writing much smoother. I guess none of that is groundbreaking, but I liked his style nonetheless. Without it, my app would have been a mish mash of unrelated anecdotes.

I picked up Montauk’s book too, don’t think it was any more useful that Gordon’s despite being several times larger.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2010, 00:41
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''I also think the whole concept of writing a book titled "Best Business Schools Admissions Secrets" and not actually including any in the book was lame''

Haha, excellent point. I hadn't really thought of how badly matched the title and actual content of the book were. There were very few actual 'secrets'. You may have a lot of trouble thinking like a newbie because you can't really ignore all of the lessons you've learned throughout the years! For me, as a first book, I was just looking for one source of factual information regarding the whole application process. From essay brainstorming to what to do if waitlisted etc. In a broader sense the book was indeed sub par but I had nothing to compare it to! Do you think Montauks book is the way foward for me at this stage? It seems like Bodines wouldnt be that far off the book I read as Bodine seems to be a good 'starter' book. Cheers!!



I have heard good things about Paul's book (from reviewers on Amazon and people here). However, it is a book focusing mostly on Essays rather than an application progress. Once I get a copy (in a few days). I will share my thoughts and whether It is the best overall book or if Montauk is still at the top. One thing I have against Montauk's book is that he wrote same books on Law Schools and Colleges, but i am not sure how damaging it is to quality.

The other thing I am realizing (I have ordered previous editions of his book) is that some of this material may be very OLD, and I am trying to verify.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2010, 00:43
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planettelex wrote:
I found Avi Gordon’s MBA Admissions Strategy to be very useful. It clearly explains the need to have a theme/message underlying all aspects of your application, and it categorises the pool of possible essay titles well. Good emphasis was also put on the planning process which helps you understand your own profile and makes essay writing much smoother. I guess none of that is groundbreaking, but I liked his style nonetheless. Without it, my app would have been a mish mash of unrelated anecdotes.

I picked up Montauk’s book too, don’t think it was any more useful that Gordon’s despite being several times larger.



Thank you. I have pre-ordered the latest edition but it is still not out yet :(
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/033524 ... 0335241174
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2010, 07:36
bb wrote:
Rux10 wrote:
''I also think the whole concept of writing a book titled "Best Business Schools Admissions Secrets" and not actually including any in the book was lame''

Haha, excellent point. I hadn't really thought of how badly matched the title and actual content of the book were. There were very few actual 'secrets'. You may have a lot of trouble thinking like a newbie because you can't really ignore all of the lessons you've learned throughout the years! For me, as a first book, I was just looking for one source of factual information regarding the whole application process. From essay brainstorming to what to do if waitlisted etc. In a broader sense the book was indeed sub par but I had nothing to compare it to! Do you think Montauks book is the way foward for me at this stage? It seems like Bodines wouldnt be that far off the book I read as Bodine seems to be a good 'starter' book. Cheers!!



I have heard good things about Paul's book (from reviewers on Amazon and people here). However, it is a book focusing mostly on Essays rather than an application progress. Once I get a copy (in a few days). I will share my thoughts and whether It is the best overall book or if Montauk is still at the top. One thing I have against Montauk's book is that he wrote same books on Law Schools and Colleges, but i am not sure how damaging it is to quality.

The other thing I am realizing (I have ordered previous editions of his book) is that some of this material may be very OLD, and I am trying to verify.



Great thanks bb!
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2010, 11:41
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Updated the description of the
65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays, 2nd Edition Book
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2010, 17:30
I always look at the credibility of the people writing these books. I think that the Princeton Review is a credible source composed of people that know what they are talking about so I would give this book a far better rating. Much better than a book with a single author that may only have an mfa.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2010, 17:44
matthewf2u wrote:
I always look at the credibility of the people writing these books. I think that the Princeton Review is a credible source composed of people that know what they are talking about so I would give this book a far better rating. Much better than a book with a single author that may only have an mfa.


I have to strongly disagree with this. As far as the GMAT and bschool goes, Princeton Review is at the bottom of the 'knowledge' list. The name 'Princeton Review' raises insignificant credibility in the bschool universe. Also, b/c of the apparent multiple authors, who really knows who is writing the chapters of the book? A book with a single author such as Paul Bodine (in the business of bschool consulting for a number of years) is a far more credible source IMO.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 00:47
I found "Great application essays" useful for me.
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 06:37
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Re: Best MBA Books [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 20:57
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In regards to the response of the Princeton Review I can see where you are coming from. I enjoyed this book for essay writing purposes mainly and not for an overall sense of what the MBA process is like.

In the back end of the Princeton Review Essay book there are some profiles of past MBA applicants which were very interesting to me considering that my scores and career achievements were very comparable.
Re: Best MBA Books   [#permalink] 22 Aug 2010, 20:57
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