In year 2012 I decided to pursue my graduate degree abroad. I spent one year preparing for various admission tests, writing CVs, writing motivational letters and interviewing. All in all, I achieved my goal and now I am studying at the WU Vienna - SIMC program.
This forum helped me a lot during my application process. Here I learned everything from how to stud to which books to use. It was priceless!
Now, after I finished my application process I would like to give something back to the community. Thus, I’ve prepared a very thorough description of my application process. It covers the most frequent questions students have when deciding to study abroad.
Several months earlier, I shared this text with my colleagues in Slovenia and they really loved it. It was actually even featured by many national newspapers. Hence, I decided to prepare an international version of the text in English language.
IN THIS TEXT I WILL SHOW YOU HOW I:• got accepted to every school I applied to
• got offered a scholarship in the amount of 14.750,00 €
• went from below average on GMAT diagnostic test to 680 on the official GMAT in my first attempt
• scored 111 on the TOEFL exam after just 1 week of preparations
• managed to get in contact with a student from every school I was interested in (even though they did not have any contact info available on their website)
• chose the perfect school for me and how you can do the same
Please note that many of the tips described here can probably be found all over this forum. This is just consized summary of my experience. This text can be very helpful to all students from Europe. In Europe, we do not talk so much about the GMAT and other application process stuff so this knowledge is not as democratized as it is in the USA. So, the text will be of most help to people coming from Europe and to people outside Europe trying to get into European business schools.
Please forgive me for any typos or english mistakes. I wrote this in my free time and did not have enough time for hard core formatting.
1. GENERAL INFO
2. HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCHOOL?
3. HOW TO APPLY TO BUSINESS SCHOOLS?
4. WHAT IS GMAT AND HOW TO PREPARE FOR IT?
5. HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE TOEFL EXAM?
6. HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW?
7. HOW SHOULD I WRITE A MOTIVATIONAL LETTER? HOW IMPORTANT IS A RECOMMENDATION LETTER?
1. GENERAL INFO
1.1. WHO AM I?
Undergraduate studies: 2009 – 2013 – Faculty of Economics Ljubljana, Slovenia
Graduate studies: 2013 – WU Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, SIMC program
Applied also to:
HHL Leipzig – accepted, offered €14.750 scholarship
IE Madrid –accepted
1.2. WHY I WROTE THIS TEXT?
(As stated in the intro above): In year 2012 I decided to pursue my graduate degree abroad. I spent one year preparing for various admission tests, writing CVs, writing motivational letters and interviewing. All in all, I achieved my goal and now I am studying at the WU Vienna - SIMC program.
I have noticed that many students want to do the same, i.e. apply abroad, but don't know how and where to start. The process is so overwhelming that many fail even before they start. I was pretty successful with my applications to the best European schools so I started to receive many questions from my colleagues. First, I advised every single person via Skype but soon I couldn't manage to answer everybody due to the high volume of questions. At that point I decided to prepare a comprehensive guide that will comprise of my experiences and advices. The guide was a big success in my home country, Slovenia, and thus I decided to prepare an international version of it.
1.3. WHO IS THIS TEXT FOR?
This text has three major target audiences:
• for those who want to apply to European Business schools
• for those who are preparing for a GMAT or TOEFL
• for those who want to know how to prepare a killer CV or motivational letter
This text is for informational purposes only. Each individual is unique so you should use proper discretion before undertaking suggestions and recommendations from this text. I expressly disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information in this text.
The text is full of internet resources that are may change very frequently. Therefore, some links might direct you to the resource I had not intended. In this case, I urge you to use your search engine for finding the correct link. In case you spot such link, please let me know.
2. HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCHOOL
2.1. MAIN FACTORS WHEN CHOOSING A SCHOOL
Many students have problems deciding which school to apply to. When I first decided I want to study abroad I had the feeling that the whole world is mine. I started investigating schools in Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and even China. I remember that at one point I had 15 schools on my shortlist!
After this experience I have prepared a set of questions that helped me structure my selection process:
1. What do you want to do after you graduate?
2. Where do you want to work after graduating? (company, country)
2.1.1. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO AFTER YOU GRADUATE?
If you have a clear goal where you want to work, you will easily decide on a school. Ideally, you want to know a type of job AND a company you want to work for. Almost all business schools publish names of companies that regularly recruit their students.
You can usually find this information on the program's website or brochure. For example, this type of information for the »Masters in Management« of the London Business School can be found on the program's website and in the brochure.http://www.london.edu/programmes/msc/be ... mpact.htmlhttp://www.london.edu/assets/documents/ ... Report.pdf
In case you can not find this information for the school you are interested in, call the admission office. Their job is to help you and they definitely have this information. I would advise you to call them via the Skype software (I will further explain how to top up your Skype account for fixed line calls in later chapters).
2.1.2. IN WHICH COUNTRY DO YOU WANT TO WORK AFTER GRADUATION?
Business schools usually have strong contacts with the companies in the country where they are situated. For example, if you want to work/live in Spain after you graduate, it is probably the best idea to also study there. This way you will learn the language and get to know the culture, making you more attractive to potential employees.
This does not hold true for every school. Some business schools have strong international contacts. For example, IE Madrid does not have only great connections with the companies in Spain but also with companies all over Latin America. Therefore, IE Madrid is a great choice for someone who would like to work in the Spanish speaking world. Bottom line is that every school is unique. Prepare in advance and get to know what holds true for your business school.
2.2. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCHOOL FOR ME?
I have three suggestions: (1) visit the school (if possible), (2) talk to the current students and (3) contact the admission office. If you do at least two out of the three suggestions, you will get a very good picture about the school.
(1) A school visit was the most crucial factor in my decision making process. In the initial selection, I identified HHL Leipzig as my first choice. The school has one of the best employment records (100%), unbelievably high starting salaries, very good connections with the top tier consulting companies and is situated in the city that is rather inexpensive. It is even ranked #9 worldwide on the Financial Times Masters in Management Ranking and #1 in the specialization Entrepreneurship on the Financial Times Masters in Management 2012 ranking. However, when I visited the school I changed my mind. I just did not like the energy of the school and the city. I felt like I would not enjoy spending two years of my life there.
(2) Finding a student that is currently enrolled at the program you are interested in is easier than you might think. Use Facebook! I always tried to find a Facebook group of students of the program I was interested in. To illustrate, at the beginning of my admission process I was interested in the program Msc Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing on the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Netherlands. Thus, I typed »Msc Entrepreneurship 2012 Erasmus Rotterdam« into the Facebook search tab. Woala! The group »START Msc Entrepreneurship 2012-2013« was among the results. The group was closed so I asked to join the group. After I was accepted by one of the members of the group I sent a private message to some of the most active members of the group and invited them to a short Skype call. Students were eager to help so I quickly found one guy with whom I talked via Skype. I successfully used the same tactic for the London Business School, IE Madrid and the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien.
(3) Admission offices in my home country are terrible. Staff is unhelpful and it takes a lot of time to get information you need. Thus, I was a little bit skeptical that admission offices will be helpful in my admission process. However, they proved to be one of the best and cheapest sources of relevant information. However, bear in mind that you cannot expect objective answers to direct questions about the quality of the program (such as: how would you rate your program?). Of course they will tell you that their program is the best.
So, we need to be smarter and get the information indirectly. If you just exchange several email with the admission office, you will get a pretty good picture of the school. Usually, two or three emails are enough to get the feeling how well a school is organized and what the quality of their services is. How long did they need to answer? Did they answer all the questions you had? Etc.
Afterwards, I would advise you to call them via telephone. You can acquire information much faster through a telephone conversation than through exchanging emails. This way you can get all the relevant information from all the schools you are interested in in just one morning/afternoon. The cheapest way to do so is to buy Skype credits and call schools via Skype. You will pay only 2 cents per minute for calls to Spain, France, United States, Canada and Australia. You can check the prices into other countries on this link.http://www.skype.com/en/offers/skype-credit/http://www.skype.com/en/rates/
2.3. LIVING COSTS
Before you apply to any school be sure to calculate living costs. A formula is very simple. Monthly incomes – Monthly costs. I assume you approximately know what your income will look like but you are not so sure how to calculate your costs. In general, you should consider several categories of costs and try to determine the amount for each of these categories. You can get costs estimations from admission office or from current students. Below, you can see an illustration of the costs calculation:
Accommodation 400 €
Transport 50 €
Cell phone subscription 30 €
Books & copies 30€
Restaurants, bars, parties 100
Sports, fitness 30€
2.4. TUITION FEE COSTS
Tuition fees for the best business schools are extremely high. For example, 10 month program at the IE Madrid Business School will cost you 30.200,00 €. However, there are various scholarship options that are widely accessible to students. Scholarship options vary from school to school so I would advise you to contact the admission office as soon as you decide that you will apply there. Send them your CV and inquire on your scholarship potential. I believe that the most important factor in a successful scholarship application is the right information and right timing (i.e. not being late). You need to talk to an admission office, current and former students and try to find out which students usually get scholarship and why. Afterwards, you should adjust your CV accordingly.
For example, as soon as I decided to apply to the HHL I started gathering information about financial options. On their website I saw that each year four students receive “the Scholarship for Effective and Responsible Leadership” in amount of 15.000,00 €. The requirement for this scholarship is an extensive essay on a certain topic. Through several cell phones I was able to identify that the structure of the essay was critical decisive factor. The scholarship committee was most interested in students’ ability to structure their thoughts and write a nice structured essay. Once I understood what the Scholarship committee was looking for my job was much easier. I have prepared a very structured essay and was fortunate enough to be offered 14.750,00 € of scholarship.
2.5. ARE TUITION FEES WORTH IT?
Do not take tuition fees for granted. Costs of some programs are simply not worth your money. Even though some programs might be on the top of the rankings, your return on investment will not be sufficient. There are many programs that offer better value for money but are not so famous. Especially in Europe one can find many programs that are completely free of charge yet of high quality.
I would like to mention very interesting research done by Ruiz Philippe and Gourmel Benjamin. The authors claim that current business schools rankings have certain flaws and experimenting with a new ranking based solely on a return on investment. On this link (scroll down to the title “Results”) you can find their ranking of business schools according to a return on investment.http://scientificrankings.blogspot.com/ ... tvmlo.html
2.6. HIDDEN COSTS
If you decide to join one of the elite business schools, you might have some super rich colleagues. These colleagues might/will have much deeper pockets, allowing them to eat at fancy restaurants every day. Keep in mind your budget and don’t overspend just because you want to socialize. You will definitely have enough time to socialize during classes.
3. HOW TO APPLY TO BUSINESS SCHOOLS?
3.1. WHAT ARE THE BUSINESS SCHOOLS' APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS?
Every school has unique requirements but the most common are:
• GMAT (or GRE)
• TOEFL (or IELTS)
• Transcript of records
• Motivational letter
• Recommendation letters
• Application fee
You can find the exact requirements of a program you are interested in on program's website.
3.2. HOW DO I APPLY TO THESE SCHOOLS?
Applications are usually sent online. In rare occasions you will additionally need to send some documents via regular post. An online application can be found on the program’s website, usually under a subpage titled “Online Application” or similar. You will receive a username and a password, enabling you to finish your application in several separate sessions. This means that you can fill out just the personal information today and upload GMAT results or some other documents later.
I would advise you to start an online application as soon as possible. Some schools have very specific requirements and the sooner you know all requirements the more time you have to prepare. For example, IE Madrid requires three “describe yourself” essays. If you start the application sooner, you will know what lies ahead so you have more time prepare these documents.
3.3. HOW MANY SCHOOLS SHOULD I APPLY TO?
You can apply to as many schools as you want. However, I suggest you choose just two or three schools. Usually application fees cost somewhere between 100,00 € - 200,00€. Therefore, it is costly to apply to many schools. My suggestion would be to apply to your two top choices. In this case you do not pay big sums and you still have a plan B if your first choice fails.
3.4. CAN I APPLY TO A SCHOOL EVEN THOUGH I STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED MY CURRENT PROGRAM/DEGREE?
Yes you can. For instance, many students apply to masters although they still haven’t graduated. If this is your case, you will have to present a transcript of records with the study obligations you have completed so far. And if your application is successful, you will have to present the official diploma before registration.
3.5. WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?
Every school has different application procedures. In general, we can divide schools in two groups: (1) schools that have rolling admission and (2) schools that have fixed deadlines.
(1) Majority of the best schools in the world use rolling admission. Students can apply anytime during the application procedure as long as there are empty seats available. Applications are considered in the same order as they are submitted. For example, application that arrived on 10th of September will be considered before the application that arrives on 10th of October.
If you apply to a school with rolling admission, try to apply as soon as possible. Majority of student agree that you have better chances if you apply sooner. But do not panic if you cannot do so. Schools always leave some open spots until the very end of an application window.
(2) Some schools use fixed deadlines. The example of such a school is WU Wirtschaftsuniversität. It has three fixed deadlines: 8th of October, 8th of December and 8th of March. This means that all applications that arrive before the 8th of October are considered together. The same holds true for an application window that arrives before 8th of December and 8th of March. Do not worry if you can not apply to the first fixed deadline. Schools usually devote same number of spots to every deadline. For instance, program with 60 empty spots usually accepts on average 20 students in each of the deadlines.
All in all, I would advise you to apply as soon as possible. This way you can do a thorough reserch on scholarship options and even save some money. To illustrate, my friend applied to his first preference already in September and he received the answer in the beginning of October. Fortunately, he was accepted. Because he applied so early he strategically applied only to his plan A. He knew he has enough time to apply to his plan B if plan A fails. As a result, he was able to save several hundred euros. If he applied in March or April he wouldn’t have time gap to apply to only one school and he would have to pay several application fees.
3.6. HOW DO SCHOOLS INFORM CANDIDATES ABOUT THE DECISION?
You will probably receive an email or a phone call. If your application is successful, you will receive a study contract either via regular mail or electronically via email.
3.7. SHOULD I MAKE THE DECISION WHICH SCHOOLS TO APPLY TO BEFORE I TAKE THE GMAT AND TOEFL?
It’s not necessary but I would advise you to do so. I would advise you to select your top 3-5 schools before taking GMAT and/or TOEFL. Why? You will have to send you official test score reports directly to schools you apply and this, i.e. sending score reports, can only be done by the company that conducts the test.
You can send your official score to several schools for free if you indicate these schools BEFORE you take the exam. On the contrary, you will have to pay 28$ for sending additional GMAT score report and 18$ for sending additional TOEFL score report.
You are eligible for sending 5 free official score reports on GMAT and 4 free official score reports on TOEFL.
4. WHAT IS GMAT AND HOW TO PREPARE FOR IT?
4.1. WHAT IS GMAT?
Students from all over the world want to study at the best universities. You can imagine how difficult it is for admission officers to choose between students that come from different cultures and backgrounds. An average grade in India cannot be easily compared to an average grade in Germany. Thus, business schools need some kind of a standardized test that will allow them to compare students.
GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test is exactly this kind of a test. GMAC, the company that conducts the GMAT, claims that GMAT score is the best indicator how well the student will do on the program.
The structure of the test:
Part of the GMAT test Number of questions Time available
Analytical writing assessment 1 30 minutes
Integrated reasoning 12 30 minutes
Quantitative (Maths) 37 75 minutes
Verbal (English) 41 75 minutes
TOTAL 3h 30 minutes
(1) Analytical writing assessment is an essay in which a student needs to address a short passage.
(2) Integrated reasoning tests student's ability to analyze data given in different formats (graph, table, text, etc.)
(3) Quantitative exercises test student knowledge of math (geometry, algebra, etc.)
(4) Verbal exercises test student's knowledge of English language and logic. http://ali.sdsu.edu/Client/WordPress/2013/03/gmat.jpg
4.2. WHAT TYPES OF EXERCISES CAN BE FOUND ON GMAT?
In this chapter I will focus on Quantitative and Verbal exercises because Analytical writing assessment and Integrated reasoning are pretty straight forward and less important.
Problem Solving (PS)
Data Sufficiency (DS)
Sentence Correction (SC)
Critical Reasoning (CR)
Reading Comprehension (RC)
Example of Problem Solving exercise https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/g ... em-solving
Example of Data Sufficiency exercisehttps://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/g ... ufficiency
Example of Sentence Correction exercisea-mutual-fund-having-billions-of-dollars-in-assets-will-136018.html
Example of Critical Reasoning exerciseranger-higher-than-normal-temperatures-are-to-159169.html
Example of Reading Comprehension exercisein-an-unfinished-but-highly-suggestive-series-of-essays-the-159239.html
4.3. WHAT IS THE RANGE OF GMAT RESULTS?
Official GMAT result is comprised of three sub results
Part of the GMAT test Range of results Interval
Analytical Writing Assessments 0,0 – 6,0 0,5
Integrated Reasoning 1-8 1
Quantitative + Verbal 200 – 800 10
The most important result is the one between 200 and 800. Usually business schools in Europe only take this result into consideration. The basis for the result is not a number of correct questions versus all questions but a percentile. For example, the result 700 means that you scored better than 89 percent of students that took the GMAT. Take a look at the table below to see percentiles for some of the results:
4.4. WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT GMAT IS CAT?
CAT is an acronym that stands for the Computer Adaptive Test. It is a test that adapts to students performance during the exam, i.e. you need to solve easier questions in order to earn harder questions.
For instance, you start with the first exercises of the Quantitative section of the GMAT. The test gives you a question that is worth 450 points and you solve it correctly. The next question you get is worth 500 and you solve this one correctly as well. After several correct answers you get a question that is worth 740. Unfortunately, you solve this question incorrectly. Now, test’s algorithm gives you a question worth 710. You solve this one correctly and you earn a question worth 720. And so on… You get the picture.
4.5. WHAT RESULT DO I NEED TO BE ACCEPTED TO SCHOOL X?
First of all, let me warn you that GMAT is not the only factor that affects your application. That being said, I do believe it is the most or the second most important because it is the only one standardized. Yet, a good GMAT score will be undermined if you send a CV full of grammar mistakes, act unmotivated during the interview, etc.
Most of business schools publish an average GMAT score of previous generations. For example, London Business School published document MiM Employment Record where you can find out that the average GMAT score of the 2012 generation was 685. What does that mean for you? It means that you will probably need to score above 630. Bear in mind that the AVERAGE is 685, meaning that some students have lower and some students have higher scores.
However, if you plan to apply for a scholarship, I advise you to aim at a score above average.http://www.london.edu/assets/documents/ ... Report.pdf
4.6. HOW HARD IS GMAT?
In my opinion it is hard. It was the hardest test I ever took. To illustrate, if you browse gmat internet forums, you will find study plans that take 3 months. Despite that, it is not mission impossible to get a good score. If you take your time and study properly, you will achieve the result you want and need.
Personally, I had the most problems with the length of the test. It is three and a half hours long with just two short breaks. If we sum up the time you spend in the test center (registering, taking picture, metal detector, etc.), we will get the number close to four and a half hours. Therefore, it is not only a test of knowledge but also a test of long-term concentration and stamina.
I believe that a perceived difficulty and thus preparation time is hugely dependent on the country you live in. Each country has a different school system so students from different countries have different levels of prior knowledge, which is the main factor.
4.7. HOW TO PREPARE FOR GMAT?
It all depends on your prior knowledge. I would advise you to first tackle theoretical concepts and then solve exercises. In the chapters 4.9., 4.10. and 4.11. I explain this in further detail. I wrote those chapters for total beginners. Feel free to skip some of the parts of a study plan if you feel comfortable with them.
4.8. HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO PREPARE FOR GMAT?
I have heard everything from 2 weeks to 4 months. There is no one-size-fits-all advice that I could give you. You will just have to figure it out on your own. Some need more time and some need less. It depends on your prior knowledge and work ethics.
Usually, somewhere between 100-200 hours is required for 700+ result and around 75-150 for 600+
4.9. WHICH GMAT THEORETICAL CONCEPTS DO I NEED?Manhattan GMAT
5th edition pack is the most thorough set of guides on the market. It consists of 9 books that cover every single possible theoretical concept on the GMAT. The first five books cover math concept, the next three verbal concepts and the last two Integrated reasoning and Analytical writing assessment. Yet, I wouldn't advise you to buy all of them. First, try to solve several questions of each type and identify your weak areas. Buy guides only for those topics.
The only other source I would suggest you to use is this article about the structure of Analytical Writing Assessment.how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
4.10. WHERE CAN I FIND EXERCISES?
I would advise you to devote the bulk of your study time to exercises. The best way to prepare for GMAT is solving official GMAT exercises. GMAC publishes Official Guide books that comprise of several hundred retired questions. You can find the books with these exercises below.
Analytical Writing Assessment (also called AWA)
No theoretical concept or book is necessary for this part of the exam. You can find list of all possible essay headlines in the link below. These are actual headline you can get on the test day.all-awa-topics-for-gmat-collection-official-list-from-gmac-82734.html
Integrated Reasoning (also called IR)
Book not necessary. Solve just the GMAT prep Software exercises.
Quantitative Official Guide 13th
Edition (also called OG)
Verbal Official Guide 13th
Edition (also called OG)
4.11. AN EXAMPLE OF A STUDY PLAN
Buy Official Guide 13th
edition and solve 10-20 questions of each type to get to know the question structures. Review mistakes & read explanations.
Solve Diagnostic test in the Official Guide 13
, on the page 20. and 27. Identify weak areas and buy Manhattan GMAT books
Solve all questions from OG 13
. Read explanation of every question.
Do the GMAT Prep Test. Identify weak spots.
Do Integrated Reasoning exercises in GMAT Prep Software and write 3-5 AWA essays.
Solve questions from Verbal and Quantitative Review books.
Do the 2nd GMAT Prep Test.
4.12. WHAT IS AN INTEGRATED REASONING?
Integrated reasoning is a relatively new section of the GMAT exam. It was introduced in the July 2012. As a result, this section (1) is not so relevant and (2) there are not many exercises available.
(1) GMAT score is based on percentiles. Why is this important for the Integrated reasoning? Sample of student that took this section is still small, indicating that IR score is not so reliable. Consequently, business school will probably not devote much attention to your IR score. Hence, you should not spend too much time preparing for IR.
(2) You will not find any IR exercises in the books I recommended in the chapter 4.10. But do not worry about that. If you will prepare well for Quantitative and Verbal section, IR will not be a problem. IR consists of exercises that test the same theoretical concepts covered in Quantitative and Verbal section. The only difference is that these exercises are in a different format (graph, text, etc.)
The GMAT Prep Software consists of sufficient IR exercises. If you solve those, you will prepare well.
4.13. HOW TO REGISTER FOR GMAT EXAM?
You can register for the GMAT exam on the website http://www.mba.com
. Click on “New user” in the menu and fill out your personal information. Then login into your profile. Move a cursor over a »GMAT ®« button; chose a »Schedule a GMAT Appointment« in the drop-down menu. Afterwards, follow the instructions.
Registration of a GMAT exam costs 300,00$. Payment is made with a credit or debit card.
4.14. WHAT IS AN ERROR LOG?
While preparing for GMAT you will need to solve several hundred exercises. Unless you have a super memory, you will forget which questions you solved wrong. Thus, you need to keep an error log
, which is a list of all the exercises that you solved incorrectly. I advise you keep a separate notebook or excel sheet with this list.
4.15. HOW MUCH TIME PER QUESTION DO I HAVE?
As I already mentioned, GMAT is a very time demanding test. You need to be very careful about how much time you spend per question. Make it a habit to not take too long for a question. You can use the following guideline:
Question type Maximum time per question
Quantitative (PS and DS) 2 minutes
Sentence Correction 75 seconds
Critical Reasoning 2 minutes
Reading Comprehension (reading) 3 minutes
Reading Comprehension (question) 90 seconds
Why is this important? There is a severe penalty if you do not solve all the questions in each section. In case you do not solve several questions you can score much lower than if you would try to guess them.
Another thing you can do is to practice in 75 minutes sessions and answer 37 questions for the quant part or 41 questions for the verbal part.
Read more about the pace keeping on this link http://goo.gl/s5QdSA
4.16. HOW DOES THE TEST DAY LOOK LIKE?
Almost everything you need to know about the test day is described in this video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kK-QuuZeuw
4.17. ARE THERE ANY BREAKS DURING GMAT?
Yes, there are two breaks that last 8 minutes each. The first one is after the IR part of the exam and the second one is after the Quantitative part of the exam.
4.18. HOW DOES TAKING GMAT MULTIPLE TIMES AFFECT MY APPLICATION?
In my opinion, it has no or little effect. I have spoken with several business schools' employees that confirmed my opinion.
When a student takes the GMAT exam his scores are sent directly to the school. But the score is not sent to a school via regular mail and there is no recruitment officer that opens an envelope and takes a look at your exam. Schools are notified electronically that they received a new score. Usually, they do not take a look at every single notification they receive. They verify your GMAT score when and if they intend to accept you. At that point a school will verify the result that you have specified in your application (the highest score).
4.19. WHICH PART OF THE DAY IS THE BEST FOR TAKING GMAT?
Morning. GMAT exam is a long and exhausting exam that will test not only your knowledge but also your concentration and stamina. Thus, it is important to be well rested. Ideally, I would schedule a GMAT exam for 9 or 10am.
4.20. HOW LONG DO I NEED TO WAIT FOR GMAT RESULTS?
You will receive an unofficial score right after finishing an exam. This result consists of result from Quantitative and Verbal parts of exam (200-800) and IR part of the exam (1-8). The official score is sent via email within 3-4 weeks. This result will also comprise of AWA result.
5. HOW TO PREPARE FOR TOEFL EXAM?
5.1. WHAT IS TOEFL?
TOEFL is an acronym for »Test of English as a Foreign Language«. In essence, it tests English skills. It is usually conducted on a computer (also called TOEFL ibt).
Part of the TOEFL test Number of questions Time available
Reading 3-5 paragraphs 60-100 minutes
Listening 6-9 paragraphs 60-90 minutes
Speaking 6 exercises 20 minutes
Writing 2 essays 50 minutes
TOTAL 190-260 minutes
5.2. WHAT IS THE RESULT SPECTER?
You can score anywhere from 0-120 points. Each of the four sections is worth 30 points.
5.3. HOW THOUGH IS TOEFL (COMPARED TO GMAT)?
It should be easy for people with a good command of English knowledge. If you have successfully taken the GMAT, you will probably have no problems with the TOEFL. In comparison to GMAT, TOEFL exercises have no tricks. Exercises are designed to merely test your knowledge.
5.4. HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR THE TOEFL EXAM?
It depends on your prior knowledge of English language. I assume that the majority of students in Central Europe have above average level knowledge of English language and so I will propose a study plan based on that assumption.
First, I would advise you to take the GMAT before the TOEFL. During your GMAT preparations you will tackle all the major topics that are also part of the TOEFL exam. Consequently, you will have to prepare for the TOEFL less time.
Second, for a reading and a listening part of the TOEFL you do not need to learn any particular theoretical concepts. On the other hand, a preparation for a speaking and a writing part is crucial. Most importantly, you have to familiarize yourself with these two unique sections and prepare some frameworks for answers.
Third, I advise you to buy just one book for TOEFL preparation: TOEFL Official Guide
. It consists of detailed description of test's structure and sample questions. Skim through the first part and devote the majority of preparations to exercises. This book is encompassed with the CD that include three practice tests. In my opinion, this CD is the best source of relevant exercises for the TOEFL.
Sources for TOEFL prep:
1st part - Reading TOEFL Official Guide
2nd part - Listening TOEFL Official Guide
3rd part - Speaking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4lzrCpndC0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-n_nOBDLd4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMUWevT3o8Ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2dU1JqlWS0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02XxCCGJppYTOEFL Official Guide
4th part - Writing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytubzmj_j94http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul2OTUqMGqkTOEFL Official Guide
The example of study plan
Quickly skim TOEFL Official Guide
book, solve 1x reading +1x listening on the CD
Watch all speaking videos (table above), learn beginning of sentences by heart + 1 x set of speaking exercises on CD
Watch all speaking videos, revise beginning of sentences from yesterday, + 1 set of speaking exercises on CD*
Watch both videos regarding a writing section, learn beginning of sentences by heart, + 1 set of writing exercises on CD
Solve 1x reading exercises, 1x listening exercises, 1x writing exercises, revise beginning of sentences for speaking & writing
Solve one entire exam (CD)
Revise everything + focus on weakest section
Feel free to shorten the proposed study plan.
5.5. TOEFL SPEAKING PART
As I have already mentioned, TOEFL is a computer test. Therefore, TOEFL speaking part is a kind of speaking to a computer. During the test, you will have headphones with a microphone that will record your answers.
Speaking section consist of audio recordings and/or short reading passages. Your task is to provide an optimal answer as a response to these recordings. Optimal answer has two main components: (1) length and (2) content. You are supposed to answer in an exact time frame. For example, you will have only 30 seconds to reply to some questions. After that, your microphone will shut down and your reply will not be recorded any longer. Secondly, you have to answer exactly to what a question is asking. All in all, the best way to tackle this question is to learn sentence beginnings from the Youtube videos (table above) by heart.
5.6. HOW DO I REGISTER FOR THE TOEFL EXAM?
You can apply for the TOEFL exam online. First, you have to register and login. Second, click the “Register for a test” text. Afterwards just chose an appointment that suits you the most and pay with your credit card.
The price of the exam is 220$.http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/register/
5.7. ARE THERE ANY BREAKS DURING THE TOEFL?
Yes, there is a mandatory break that lasts 10 minutes, between listening and speaking section.
5.8. WHAT IS THE BEST TIME IN A DAY FOR THE TOEFL?
Morning. The TOEFL is just as lengthy as the GMAT. I suggest you to book an appointment as early as possible.
5.9. HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR TOEFL SCORE?
Usually, a result comes in two parts. First, you receive an email and then you receive an official ETS TOEFL score certificate. I received my email in one week (some friends told me they waited 2-3 weeks) and the certificate in two months.
5.10. CAN I APPLY TO MY SCHOOL EVEN THOUGH I STILL HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE OFFICIAL CERTIFICATE(BUT HAVE RECEIVED AN ONLINE SCORE)?
Usually yes. I am not sure about all business schools but the ones I applied to were reasonable enough. I emailed them that I will not receive an official certificate early enough and asked them if I can use the screenshot from my ETS profile and they agreed.
6. HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW?
6.1. HOW ARE INTERVIEWS USUALLY CONDUCTED?
Most schools use Skype for conducting interviews but there are some exceptions. For example, I had to do a live interview for the SIMC program at the WU Vienna business school.
6.2. WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS?
Why did you apply to our school? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your biggest successes so far? Describe your biggest success and explain why it is so important to you. Describe one personal failure and explain what have you learnt. What do you think your strengths are? What about your weaknesses? What can you bring to our class? Walk me through your CV and explain some statement.
6.3. HOW IMPORTANT IS AN INTERVIEW?
I believe it is very important. With a good GMAT score you show you are intellectually capable and with a good interview you show you are “socially capable”.
6.4. HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW?
Ask a friend to role play an interviewer. Let him/her ask you questions from the 6.2. And do it in English (or use language in which the interview will be conducted). Practice articulation (show that you can speak English), energy (show that you are motivated) and content (show that you are smart).
Most importantly, analyze your motivation. You should be able to tell very specifically why you would like to study at their school. Read the program’s brochure, schools website, talk to current students, etc. Do everything to gather as much data as possible. Afterwards, prepare a story that connects your strengths to program’s specifications.
Let say that your dream school is located in the UK and that the program is a two year full-time master that also offers two internship semester. For example, you can say that one day you would like to work in the UK (the school in UK) and that you are very interested in entrepreneurship and management consulting. And you are still not totally convinced whether to go into entrepreneurship right away or get some experiences at the management consulting beforehand. Therefore, you could really use these two internships so that you could decide. And so on…
7. HOW SHOULD I WRITE A MOTIVATIONAL LETTER?
7.1. HOW IMPORTANT IS CV?
In terms of importance, I would put CV after the GMAT, the TOEFL and an interview. With very good scores at these requirements you should have no problem at successful application.
Yet, there is one exception that can add additional value or be a deciding factor: good internships (P&G, McKinsey, BCG, PWC, etc.) are a huge added value. To have an internship in those companies you usually need to get through a very difficult hiring process. Such hiring process might be even tougher than the application process at business schools. Therefore, having a good internship on your CV shows that there is something special about you and this increases your value in comparison to other candidates.
By good internships I mean well-known multinational companies (PWC, McKinsey & Company, BCG, SAP, Oracle, Cisco, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, AT Kearney, Procter & Gamble, Henkel, KPMG, JPMorgan, etc.)
7.2. HOW SHOULD I STRUCTURE MY CV?
You can find tons of CV templates on the internet. Choose one that suits you the most. I would like to point just out one thing: keep the length to 1, maximum 2 pages. I heard that some schools in DACH region (Swiss, Austria and Germany) still recommend 2 page CVs because it just looks more.
7.3. HOW TO PREPARE A MOTIVATIONAL LETTER?
I have a very strong opinion about motivational letters. Imagine that you are working in an admission office of a very good business school.
Many students want to apply to your schools and thus you receive hundreds of applications and also motivational letters. And your job is to read every single one of them. After first "127" motivational letters you find out that they almost all follow the same pattern so you just stop paying too much attention to these letters. But every once in a while there is a motivational letter that stand out and you just love to read. Standing out can really increase your chance of successful application.
How can you be one of those? There are many possible methods. It is up to you to be creative and come up with something different. But I will briefly explain my method that you can use. I wrote a motivational letter that consists of my life stories and connected them somehow to schools programs.
Usual motivational letters consist of: (1) students’ experiences (jobs, etc.), (2) where they see themselves in the future and (3) how do these two previous points ((1) and (2)) relate to the school they apply to. The problem is that students write these points directly. They use phrases such as »I believe I am a good team player, I work hard, I am motivated, I see myself in X company, etc.«. I bet I can find these key phrases in more than 80% of motivational letters.
I suggest you to use stories instead. Write how you started to like economy, business, finance or whatever it is that you like. Describe three or four stories, using them as a leverage to expose your strengths and motivation. Ultimately, you should conclude with the paragraph that connects your life stories and goals with the school you apply to.
Structure of alternative motivational letter
Experience: stories, anecdote, etc. (one story = one paragraph) (I used 4/5 of the motivational letter on stories)
Justification of school selection: leveraging stories (just one, last paragraph)
7.4. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE RECOMMENDATION LETTER? WHICH PROFESSOR SHOULD I ASK FOR IT?
The same story goes for recommendation letters. I believe they are not critical success factor. I believe that recommendation letters are even more alike than motivational letters.
However, there is again one exception. If you know a professor that has an excellent reputation at the school you are applying to, you have a huge advantage. Sometimes a recommendation of such a professor can be so powerful that even your GMAT score will be almost irrelevant.
So, which professor should you ask for a recommendation letter? In case you are not so lucky to be in a position described above, I suggest you take an easy way. Just ask a professor that knows you well AND responds to your emails quickly. Usually, these professors will write you a letter faster. You might even help him by sending him a draft with some ideas how to write that letter. Furthermore, try to contact a professor as soon as possible. Send him/her an email at least two weeks or a month before, giving him enough time.
8.1. CAN YOU REALLY NEGOTIATE WITH BUSINESS SCHOOLS?
Yes. Most private schools are pretty open to negotiations regarding the tuition fee. Once a school decides that you are a good candidate they will try to attract you to their school. They want to have the brightest students in their class so they are somewhat open to decreasing your tuition fee if they see a huge value in you.
I found out this coincidentally. So, a friend of mine got accepted to two schools. One offered her a scholarship X and the other offered a scholarship Y. She decided to go to the school with scholarship X because it offered better financial options. She sent an email to the school Y, explaining that she will not join them because she received better offer elsewhere. Next day they sent her an improved offer. This is just one example out of several similar ones I've heard.
Therefore, it is possible to negotiate. Just be sure you are really in a position to do so.