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School Profile: Is the Artistic and Academic Community of Juilliard Ri [#permalink]

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New post 20 Oct 2014, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: School Profile: Is the Artistic and Academic Community of Juilliard Right for You?
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The Juilliard School was initially founded in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art. By 1946 it had become the Juilliard School of Music, and included both undergraduate studies and a graduate program. Today, the school is named The Juilliard School (known informally simply as Juilliard) and includes music, dance, and drama curricula at both undergraduate and graduate levels. It is an urban school, located in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and trains just over 600 students. It reflects an exclusively artistic education where students specialize in their artistic major in combination with liberal arts.

Over the years The Julliard School’s curriculum has evolved with the school. Initially, it was exclusively a music school with a traditional curriculum focusing on music theory, ear training, and music history. From there it embraced a program designed for composers to teach, which left the classroom application of the previous elements up to the discretion of the composer-instructors. By the 1960s, even that was abandoned in favor of the solfege pedagogy, which forms the basis for today’s music education. The dance curriculum was added in 1951, and drama in 1968, although music remains the dominant division at the school. The Juilliard School offers undergraduate degrees in music, dance, and drama; and graduate and doctorate degrees in music.

Once Juilliard students are accepted, which is through a rigorous audition process, they may choose from among several majors. Students may earn a B.F.A. in dance, which is equal parts ballet and modern dance with a three semester, 24-credit liberal arts program. The drama B.F.A. program accepts 8-10 new students per year by audition into acting or playwright programs, which also include the liberal arts core curriculum. There are 14 music majors from which to choose in the undergraduate B.M. Instrumental and B.M. Voice programs, which again include the three semester liberal arts curriculum. Multiple performance opportunities are available both at The Juilliard School and at venues in and around New York City.

The Juilliard School also offers cross-registration for students wishing to take courses at either Columbia University or Barnard College. Juilliard students are limited to one class per semester; they must be in good academic standing at Juilliard and able to demonstrate the ability to take on the enhanced academic rigor of the two schools. Approved credits earned count towards Juilliard’s liberal arts requirements. Additionally, Juilliard students have the opportunity to participate in a rigorous year-long research program to earn “with scholastic distinction” on their degrees and transcripts. A select number of students pursuing music degrees can apply for the accelerated M.M. program where they are allowed to take courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels during their final undergrad year.

All first-year students of the Juilliard School are required to live in campus housing. Juilliard has provided housing for approximately 350 students at their Meridith Willson Residence Hall in the top thirteen floors of the Rose Building next door to the school. The unique resident hall offers million-dollar views of Broadway, Central Park, and the Hudson River. It’s in the heart of Manhattan, close to the Metropolitan Opera House and only blocks from Times Square. The lobby floor has a student lounge, kitchen, laundry room, and vending machines. There is a student fitness center on the 22nd floor and a student computer and study lounge on the 19th floor.

Each floor has four student suites and two soundproof practice rooms. Each suite has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a living room with an amazing view. All suites are fully furnished and provide cable and Internet. Students can choose specialty housing options like gender specific, quiet, or substance free. Only first-year students are guaranteed housing. Older students can live off campus or participate in Housing Selection for a shot at staying in the residence hall. Juilliard assists students with off-campus housing resources. There are meal-plans available to students regardless of living on or off campus. Residence Life hosts over 100 activities including, Midnight Breakfast and Halloween Haunted House.

Students can participate in the relatively new independent student newspaper, The Yard, or just read it to stay in the know with what’s happening socially, academically, and with peers, staff, and alumni. There are no college sports, fraternities or sororities, and no traditions to speak of. What you can find is a ton of reasonably priced options for eating and hanging out in the East Village and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods, the opportunity to rub shoulders with the most artistically brilliant and talented people you’ll ever meet, and the chance to live and learn in the most exciting city in the country.

If you think you have what it takes, the Juilliard School is waiting for you to share your talents.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill
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4 Things You Control on GMAT Test Day [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 4 Things You Control on GMAT Test Day
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I recently had the chance to answer a question about overcoming Test Anxiety on the GMAT. The test-taker wanted to know how to avoid being so anxious on test day and how to stop obsessively thinking about the score before and even during the exam itself.

I wrote, “Your job on test day is to focus on the question in front of you. Not to guess at what your score might be or continually estimate how much time you have left per question.

Your anxiety is probably a result of being “at war with the present moment.” In other words, your anxiety is because you want the GMAT to already be over with the result already known. But you know that this cannot happen. You must take the test before you can get the score. This desire to skip over the actual exam and wanting to be done with the exam and know the score, this is the source of the anxiety.

If you had told yourself that you will enjoy the experience then there would be no anxiety. If you have tickets to a movie that you have been waiting to see you do not have anxiety but anticipation. You are not wanting to done with the movie, you are excited for it to begin. However, if you have major surgery scheduled, then you can understandably wish that it was already over and recovery started.

However, the GMAT is not like undergoing surgery. The only pain involved is the pain that we put on ourselves. Nothing bad is going to happen to you in that room. You are not in danger of physical harm or pain. The anxiety is based on the worry that you might not get the score that you want.

But here is the question…does it help to worry about it? 

Did it help you on that last practice test to be worried about your Quant score while still taking the verbal portion? The answer is “no.”

Anxiety ALWAYS comes from being focused on the result rather than the process. This is why the fans of sports teams are so much more anxious than the players! The players are focused on the process, they get to play the game and enjoy the game and influence the outcome. The fans are usually only happy if the team wins and as spectators they cannot even participate, so they are focused on the end result and that creates extreme anxiety.

It is never good in life to be focused more on the result than the process.

Here is what I would hope that you and others can say, “I will do my best on the exam and I will enjoy the challenge. I am looking forward to proving what I can do. I have no control over the result but I have 100% control over my effort, so I will focus on giving my best effort and the score will take care of itself.”

This may sound unrealistic but people do this every day in all areas: artists, athletes, writers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and others. And here is the secret – those who are focused on the process and taking care of the parts they can control are the happiest, least stressed, and yes, most successful.

So on test day YOU take care of

1) Being focused on the question in front of you at that time

2) Not getting distracted by the timer and questions about your score

3) Giving your best effort and really be there in each moment

4) Enjoying yourself!

and the COMPUTER will take care of the score. That part is not up to you.

Can you do that? If so you can have a much more enjoyable experience and the side effect will be a higher score in the end.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon?  We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Newland has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star! Read more of his articles here.
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Admissions Consulting Updates from Veritas Prep [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2014, 10:59
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: A 750 Level GMAT Question on Statistics!
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Today, we have a very interesting statistics question for you. We have already discussed statistics concepts such as mean, median, range etc in our QWQW series. Check them out here if you haven’t already done so:

The Meaning of Arithmetic Mean

Can You Solve these Mean GMAT Questions?

Finding Arithmetic Mean Using Deviations

Application of Arithmetic Means

Mean Questions on Median

A Range of Questions

This question needs you to apply all these concepts but can still be easily done in under two minutes. Now, without further ado, let’s go on to the question – there is a lot to discuss there.

Question: An automated manufacturing unit employs N experts. Their average monthly salary is $7000 while the median monthly salary is only $5000. If the range of their monthly salaries is $10,000, what is the minimum value of N?

(A)10

(B)12

(C)14

(D)15

(E)20

Solution: Let’s first assimilate the information we have. We need to find the minimum number of experts that must be there. Why should there be a minimum number of people satisfying these statistics? Let’s try to understand that with some numbers.

Say, N cannot be 1 i.e. there cannot be a single expert in the unit because then you cannot have the range of $10,000. You need at least two people to have a range – the difference of their salaries would be the range in that case.

So there are at least 2 people – say one with salary 0 and the other with 10,000. No salary will lie outside this range.

Median is $5000 – i.e. when all salaries are listed in increasing order, the middle salary (or average of middle two) is $5000. With 2 people, one at 0 and the other at 10,000, the median will be the average of the two i.e. (0 + 10,000)/2 = $5000. Since there are at least 10 people, there is probably someone earning $5000. Let’s put in 5000 there for reference.

0 … 5000 … 10,000

Arithmetic mean of all the salaries is $7000. Now, mean of 0, 5000 and 10,000 is $5000, not $7000 so this means that we need to add some more people. We need to add them more toward 10,000 than toward 0 to get a higher mean. So we will try to get a mean of $7000.

Let’s use deviations from the mean method to find where we need to add more people.

0 is 7000 less than 7000 and 5000 is 2000 less than 7000 which means we have a total of $9000 less than 7000. On the other hand, 10,000 is 3000 more than 7000. The deviations on the two sides of mean do not balance out. To balance, we need to add two more people at a salary of $10,000 so that the total deviation on the right of 7000 is also $9000. Note that since we need the minimum number of experts, we should add new people at 10,000 so that they quickly make up the deficit in the deviation. If we add them at 8000 or 9000 etc, we will need to add more people to make up the deficit at the right.

Now we have

0 … 5000 … 10000, 10000, 10000

Now the mean is 7000 but note that the median has gone awry. It is 10,000 now instead of the 5000 that is required. So we will need to add more people at 5000 to bring the median back to 5000. But that will disturb our mean again! So when we add some people at 5000, we will need to add some at 10,000 too to keep the mean at 7000.

5000 is 2000 less than 7000 and 10,000 is 3000 more than 7000. We don’t want to disturb the total deviation from 7000. So every time we add 3 people at 5000 (which will be a total deviation of 6000 less than 7000), we will need to add 2 people at 10,000 (which will be a total deviation of 6000 more than 7000), to keep the mean at 7000 – this is the most important step. Ensure that you have understood this before moving ahead.

When we add 3 people at 5000 and 2 at 10,000, we are in effect adding an extra person at 5000 and hence it moves our median a bit to the left.

Let’s try one such set of addition:

0 … 5000, 5000, 5000, 5000 … 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000

The median is not $5000 yet. Let’s try one more set of addition.

0 … 5000, 5000, 5000, 5000, 5000, 5000, 5000 … 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000, 10000

The median now is $5000 and we have maintained the mean at $7000.

This gives us a total of 15 people.

Answer (D)

Granted, the question is tough but note that it uses very basic concepts and that is the hallmark of a good GMAT question!

Try to come up with some other methods of solving this.

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep in Detroit, Michigan, and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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I was thinking it using it the SD formula which uses the square root of{the sum of squares of the difference of average and each data point and then dividng the sum by N}. If u are getting my point then using this square concept I was getting 8 persons earning $5000 and 9 persons earning $10000, thus the total no of persons totals to 19. Pls guide where my methodology is mistaken.

Also, i guess the deviation being taken in SD in the explanantion provided above. then how come the author is simply using it as a difference of two data points in the series rather than the square root of the sums?? Also what does "deviation from the mean method" means/implies?? Pls explain !!
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Don't Be Redundant and Don't Repeat Yourself in MBA Applications [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2014, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Don't Be Redundant and Don't Repeat Yourself in MBA Applications
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See what I did there?  With the trend towards shorter essays, I have noticed a phenomenon in the applications which I can only describe as “redundancy.”

Shortening the essays has resulted in more questions and even mini-essays or micro-essays within the application itself, where often applicants end up repeating information about themselves that is found elsewhere in the application.

The shorter essay requirements have essentially elevated everything else in the application in importance to the point that each component needs to be firing off something unique and of value to your candidacy.

You simply cannot afford to say the same thing twice.

3 Don’ts:

  • Don’t talk extensively in the essays about job duties or volunteer experience which is covered well on your resume.
  • Don’t weaken your case by repeating yourself in the description of your Post MBA goals or some other kind of mini-question what you already presented somewhere else.
  • Don’t let your recommenders simply regurgitate some example you yourself also provided.
You can expand on an idea, but merely churning the same thing throughout the application is a sure recipe for failure.  Get it?   The idea is to hit on all cylinders in the application, leveraging each piece to communicate fresh information to build a strong case for admission.   When you repeat yourself, you are not reinforcing ideas, you are wasting precious word count and appearing as if you don’t have much to offer.

In the old days of long applications, this phenomenon would show up mostly in the optional essay only.  People would use the optional essay to try and clarify something in the application or to make the case “better.”  Schools got to the point of specifically requesting applicants avoid saying things they already said, but still applicants would repeat themselves.  Now, I see it much more prevalently across the whole application.

How do you avoid it?

Make sure when your application is almost finished that you (and ideally, someone else too) sit back and read the entire application from beginning to end.  Ask yourself if there is any redundancy, or if instead you sense a balance of good, persuasive evidence for admission.  In the areas you feel are redundant, are you just trying to reinforce a point, or is it truly just a repeat of something else that’s already in there?  If it’s the former, and you feel the characteristic or trait is worth reinforcing, try to do so in a different way.  Tell a different story or provide more detail.    It’s good to have a theme or thread throughout your application, just make sure it’s not just telling them the same thing over and over.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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What to Expect with the Video MBA Essay Questions [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2014, 08:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: What to Expect with the Video MBA Essay Questions
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Written essay questions have been the foundation of MBA applications for as long as we can remember but some leading graduate business schools have introduced a new wrinkle over the last few years. Recent technological advances have made video essays a reality within the admissions process at top b-schools around the world. However, there’s no need to worry, this new addition at schools like Kellogg, Yale and Rotman are not meant to stump you.

These video essays are genuinely so the admissions committee can “get to know” the candidate on a more personal level.  Therefore, the applicant should try to be friendly and open about the questions (while still being appropriate, of course) rather than overly stiff & formal. The video provides a little glimpse into the personality traits of all applicants. So don’t expect to see anything really tricky or challenging, such as a mini-case, these are designed to be much more personal.

Specifically, admissions is looking to see how you come across in an unscripted, conversational moment.  The important thing is to convey confidence and answer the question directly, within the time allotted, in an articulate manner.  As always highlighting the core elements of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity that business schools covet within your responses will go a long way in executing a successful response. If you’re an international candidate, take the video essay seriously. Because for admissions, this is also another way to assess the English ability of international applicants so additional prep may be required.

Speaking of preparation, do it! Prep some responses to common interview questions, again these questions are not meant to be brain teasers just personal questions you should have already sorted through, about yourself and your interest in the school, prior to completing your application.

This is the kind of thing where I do think over-preparation could potentially backfire since you don’t know what the question will be, and the objective of the exercise is to be yourself and have fun.  The important thing is to be flexible. Your personality during the video essay should be consistent with who you have portrayed yourself to be in the application (which should be consistent with who you are) while factoring how admission perceives you (young candidate, international, brain, etc). With this being said remain professional in your tone, language and dress to ensure admissions continues to view you as a serious candidate.

Finally, each video essay school has a slightly different process when it comes to this exercise. Help yourself out by reviewing each aspect of the process diligently so there are no surprises when it is time to complete.

Good luck!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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SAT Tip of the Week: 7 Steps To Increase Your Speed [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: 7 Steps To Increase Your Speed
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I have been out of my formal education, and certainly out of high school for many years now but I still have stress dreams where the time is slowly running out on a standardized test. I’m stuck on a hard problem and am waffling between two answers: “What does it mean if these two points are co-linear!” I scream and wake up in a cold sweat. If this describes your own dark dreams, you are not alone. Negotiating timing on a test is tough, but there are a few great tricks that will help you to zoom through some of the tougher sections and complete the SAT without feeling that stress.

1. Be Prepared! (Sung like Scar from The Lion King). Obvious advice is not always unnecessary advice. If you have not taken the SAT before, it will be extremely overwhelming to go through and try to read all the directions and acquaint yourself with different types of questions. Get a book (SAT 2400 In Just 7 Steps is a great one). Better yet, get a tutor or take a class. At the very least, take a practice test. The more familiar you are with the format and the types of questions, the quicker you can move on the test.

2. Use Test-Taking Strategies Immediately. These test taking strategies, like plugging in numbers, are very useful but need to be employed immediately. When the question says “some number greater than 2″ or “for all even integers”, plug in a number greater than 2 or an even integer!  Don’t sit around trying to dissect the question: start trying things! If the question doesn’t state numbers but there are numbers in the answer choices, start testing to see what answer is possible quickly! The strategies are great but they are not a last resort: they are the first option.

3. Bubble Answers Page By Page. This technique just eliminates some of the time taken to move back and forth between the test booklet and the answer sheet. Instead of doing this work after every question, answer all the questions on a page in the test booklet and then bubble in all the answers on the answer sheet. This will also help to encourage checking in between the test book and the answer sheet so that you do not skip a question and compromise your whole answer sheet.

4. Answer Line Specific Reading Questions As You Read The Passage. This is another technique that can save minutes on the reading section of the SAT. Rather than reading a passage multiple times (once to familiarize yourself with the content and once to answer the questions), answer the line specific questions as you read.  Read the line specific question, read up to lines referenced, and find the answer.  The answer is IN the passage, so this will help you to look for the answer in the actual content being referenced by the question.

5. Skip Questions You Don’t Understand Immediately. There will be time to come back and attempt these problems, but if you don’t know how to start, skip the problem quickly.  The last thing you want is to sit there and ponder over a question when there are three after that you could easily attack.  It’s not giving up to skip a problem and come back to it.  When you know you have all the problems that you know how to attempt down, go back to these problems and do the first step to see if this step leads to another.

6. Know The Common Writing Errors. If you are aware of the most common errors that pop up on the writing section, it is much easier to spot them.  In each answer choice you can simply run through a mental checklist of what kinds of errors are possible then check to see if these errors are present.  This is especially helpful with the harder questions when uncommon phrasing is used in an attempt to confuse the test taker. Once an error is identified, it is also much quicker to go through answer choices as a test taker must merely find the answer choice that fixes the error and does not create a new problem.

7. Practice. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The same way you learn time management on the SAT: PRACTICE! This goes hand in hand with “Be Prepared”, but it deserves its own section because the only way to get good at time management is to feel how long twenty five minutes is and how it feels to take too long on a problem.  Time yourself taking some practice sections, you will notice yourself better able to deal with the stress of the timed test as well as an increased ability to manage your time.

With these tools in hand the dreaded SAT timing need not be the stuff of nightmares.  At the end of the day, the most important thing is to develop your test taking techniques and practice them in timed contexts.  So don’t get anxious, get prepared!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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School Profile: Why Oberlin is the Most Liberal of the Liberal Arts Co [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: School Profile: Why Oberlin is the Most Liberal of the Liberal Arts Colleges
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Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Ohio is a self-described “ideal laboratory in which to study and design the world we want.” From its beginnings in 1833, Oberlin has been a progressive school dedicated to social justice. Twenty years prior to the Civil War, Oberlin had already graduated the first black student to attend the College, George Vashon, who went on to be one of the founding professors of Howard University. They were the first college to admit students regardless of race in 1835, and the first to admit women in 1837. Oberlin’s abolitionist stance and active roles in both the Underground Railroad and the ensuing U.S. Civil War cannot be overstated. The College has remained committed to progressive causes throughout their history.

More than 2,900 students call Oberlin’s 440 acre suburban campus home. The vast majority are enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences, but over 400 students are enrolled in the Conservatory of Music, one of the nation’s best music schools. The competitive conservatory admits fewer than 10% of the applicants who audition for the coveted seats. Nearly 200 students choose the five-year Double-Degree from the liberal arts college and the conservatory of music, a rare opportunity.

Oberlin offers degrees in 47 majors and 42 minors. The most popular degrees by enrollment are music performance, biology, and political science/government. Beyond their disciplines, students must take coursework in arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, processes of quantitative reasoning and writing, and languages and cultures that aren’t their own. Two semesters are separated by a four-week winter term of self-directed study. Students must complete three winter terms to graduate.

Other academic opportunities at Oberlin are Study Away, which is primarily studying abroad for a semester to a year, but not all Study Away options are outside the country. Entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported through the Oberlin’s Creativity and Leadership Project, where students’ great ideas can come to life. Oberlin’s Experimental College, or ExCo offers for credit classes in virtually anything imaginable, given by other students, community members, and faculty. Students can apply 5 ExCo credits toward graduation requirements.

Oberlin students joke on Internet message boards that Oberlin “puts the liberal in liberal arts.” Its reputation as a “hippie school” comes from its long history of progressive thought behind meaningful action, its Experimental College, and its Student Cooperative Association. Oberlin College embodies the philosophy of standing for something, even if you are standing alone, and have a rich history of social justice. If you have racial, ethnic, or gender hang-ups, this is definitely not the school for you. If you desire to be the change you want to see in the world, you’re in the right place.

Oberlin is enthusiastically committed to banning Greek fraternities or sororities, which has the full support of the student body. The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, therefore, is the school’s primary student-led social organization on campus. The students run four housing and dining co-ops, three dining only co-ops, and a grocery store. Roughly one-third of Oberlin students live in Cooperative Housing. OSCA also runs co-ops in film, photography, biking, and more; membership is open to faculty, staff, and Oberlin community members to foster a culture of camaraderie between students, the college, and the town.

Oberlin College has nine men’s and ten women’s NCAA Division III teams that compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Their football team’s claim to fame is being coached in 1892 by John Heisman, after whom the Heisman Trophy is named, and going 7-0 that season. They also hold the dubious distinction of being among the five worst Division III football programs for several years. The school’s Yeowomen (Rhinos) Rugby team has enjoyed the most success of both men’s and women’s teams. Both men’s and women’s Ultimate (Frisbee) club teams have enjoyed regional and national success. The Oberlin College Recreation Center serves not only the students, faculty, and staff, but alson the Oberlin community.

You would be hard-pressed to find another college that values tradition more than Oberlin. One of the most curious, but prized traditions at Oberlin is their art rental program. Black Friday type lines form overnight at the beginning of each semester outside Allen Memorial Art Museum for a chance to get an original Picasso, Renoir, or Warhol to display in their rooms. The program, which started in the 1940s, allows students pay $5 for the privilege of having a piece of art for the semester. Drag Ball is a playful annual event borne from student activism in the 1980s to support Transgender Awareness Week. It features professional performers and DJs, a main stage and runway, and three dance floors, and is held in the Student Union. Illumination, which began in November of 1860 to honor President-elect Abraham Lincoln, continues today to honor Oberlin graduates. On Commencement night, thousands of Japanese lanterns illuminate the night on Oberlin College campus and several streets in town. This is a smattering of Oberlin’s many traditions.

If you are progressive in your thought, are enthusiastic about applying action to it, and are committed to making the world a better place, Oberlin is your kind of school.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill

 
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Answer the Why in Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Answer the Why in Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions
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The most common question type that people tend to waste time on is Reading Comprehension. More than any other question type on the GMAT, students report reading and rereading the same sections of a passage, only to find themselves at the bottom of the page having retained no information. There are many reasons for this, from fatigue to mental inertia to daydreaming about the end of this test. However, it’s fairly common to have not internalized all the information in the passage, and still be able to answer the question asked.

Why would this be? (Rhetorical question) The passage may discuss many different facets, but each question is typically about one specific thing. As such, you don’t need to know everything; you only need to know about the information being asked in the problem. Better than that, the questions on Reading Comprehension passages can be categorized into four broad categories. This means that you can prepare for any question that could be posed, even if you haven’t read a word of the passage yet (like book reports in high school).

Today I’d like to delve deeper into one of the question types: Function questions. Function questions, like an inquisitive toddler, seek only to ask “why”. Why would the author say this? Why would this issue be mentioned? Why would the author use that specific word? The question is more interested in asking you “why” than in asking you “what”. In these instances, we must determine why something was mentioned, be it a word or a sentence, and what function it served in the passage.

The first strategy on these questions is always to read the surrounding sentences. The context often provides the framework for the passage or word in question, and helps explain it in a larger sense. The most important words will be contained in the sentence before or after what you’re being asked to evaluate, but the entire paragraph may be relevant to the issue. We expand our search in concentric circles from the epicenter and evaluate the entire context in order to ensure we capture the essence of what’s being asked.

Let’s look at an example of a function question and how to approach this type of Reading Comprehension question. As on the exam, we will begin with a passage and then the question:

Nearly all the workers of the Lowell textile mills of Massachusetts were unmarried daughters from farm families. Some of the workers were as young as ten. Since many people in the 1820s were disturbed by the idea of working females, the company provided well-kept dormitories and boarding-houses. The meals were decent and church attendance was mandatory. Compared to other factories of the time, the Lowell mills were clean and safe, and there was even a journal, The Lowell Offering, which contained poems and other material written by the workers, and which became known beyond New England. Ironically, it was at the Lowell Mills that dissatisfaction with working conditions brought about the first organization of working women.

The mills were highly mechanized, and were in fact considered a model of efficiency by others in the textile industry. The work was difficult, however, and the high level of standardization made it tedious. When wages were cut, the workers organized the Factory Girls Association. 15,000 women decided to “turn out”, or walk off the job. The Offering, meant as a pleasant creative outlet, gave the women a voice that could be heard by sympathetic people elsewhere in the country, and even in Europe. However, the ability of the women to demand changes was severely circumscribed by an inability to go for long without wages with which to support themselves and help support their families. The same limitation hampered the effectiveness of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association (LFLRA), organized in 1844.

No specific reform can be directly attributed to the Lowell workers, but their legacy is unquestionable. The LFLRA’s founder, Sarah Bagley, became a national figure, testifying before the Massachusetts House of Representatives. When the New England Labor Reform League was formed, three of the eight board members were women. Other mill workers took note of the Lowell strikes, and were successful in getting better pay, shorter hours, and safer working conditions. Even some existing child labor laws can be traced back to efforts first set in motion by the Lowell Mill Women.

So after a lot of text (340 words), we can finally look at a function question. However, a rudimentary understanding of the passage would be helpful, so let’s can sum up some of the main elements of this text before proceeding. The passage is concerned with worker rights in 1820s at the Lowell Textile Mills, and at one point, these workers went on strike for better conditions. In the end the women who worked there couldn’t do much for themselves but their efforts led to many other workers acquiring better rights, and their legacy is unquestionable (also they may have founded LMFAO). Now that we understand the broad strokes of the passage, let’s look at the question:

The author uses the word “ironically” in the 1st paragraph to indicate that

(A) None of the people who ran the Lowell Mills expected that the workers would organize to express dissatisfaction with working conditions.

(B) The women who worked at the Lowell Mills did not realize how fortunate they were to work at such a place.

(C) It could be considered surprising that an early effort to demand better working conditions began in an environment that was especially designed to promote worker satisfaction.

(D) The people who created the working environment for the women at the Lowell Mills did not really understand what it was they needed.

(E) It was unusual for women workers of the time to organize, regardless of their work environment.

This question is asking about a specific word in the first paragraph, so we can already get a sense that correctly answering this question will hinge entirely on what we retain from the first paragraph. This would be an ideal opportunity to go back and reread the first paragraph (go ahead, I can wait). Apart from discussing how young the women were, the paragraph spends a lot of time going over the conditions of the workers. Specifically, the conditions seemed designed to assuage any fears about the workers’ condition. After several lines about how great the conditions were, and then states that “ironically, it was here that dissatisfaction with the conditions brought about a strike”

There’s a definite disconnect between extolling the features of the slave labor textile mills, and the fact that people actually revolted. The connection is that it’s ironic that a strike would begin here, of all places, as everything was designed to promote worker satisfaction. That’s our prediction, and one of the answer choices should more or less match that prediction. Looking at them one by one we can determine which answer is correct:

(A) None of the people who ran the Lowell Mills expected that the workers would organize to express dissatisfaction with working conditions.

This is close but it’s not about the organizer’s expectations, it’s about the fact that these conditions were likely better than everywhere else. Also the use of the word “none” is strong language and should raise eyebrows. What if one person expected it but nine didn’t? Would it still be valid? It wouldn’t be, which means this choice is incorrect.

(B) The women who worked at the Lowell Mills did not realize how fortunate they were to work at such a place.

How fortunate they were to be working long hours for low wages? Granted other jobs may not have been any better, but the author’s tone here is not this aggressive or patronizing. We cannot defend this choice.

(C) It could be considered surprising that an early effort to demand better working conditions began in an environment that was especially designed to promote worker satisfaction.

Bingo, this perfectly matches our prediction and will be our correct answer. We will evaluate the two others for completeness’ sake, though.

(D) The people who created the working environment for the women at the Lowell Mills did not really understand what it was they needed.

This may or may not be true, but it wouldn’t be ironic. (We could solve this issue with some sensitivity training!) This choice is incorrect.

(E) It was unusual for women workers of the time to organize, regardless of their work environment.

This is true, but again, it is not ironic. The irony is that the conditions were comparatively good, not that it was women organizing together. This choice is incorrect.

It’s important to remember that for many Reading Comprehension questions, having a full 360° understanding of the passage is not required to get the correct response. In this instance, it only took the information contained in the first paragraph to determine that the correct answer was C. Often, simply understanding a single paragraph or sentence can unlock the answer and allow you to move to the next question.

For function questions, the immediate context needs to be evaluated and then the function of the word (or paragraph) becomes apparent. I will delve into the other question types in subsequent blog posts, but for now hopefully you can practice putting the “fun” in function questions.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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Busting Some GMAT SC Myths [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2014, 18:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Busting Some GMAT SC Myths
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Today we will bust some SC myths using a question. The following are the myths:

Myth 1: Passive voice is always wrong.

Active voice is preferred over passive voice but that doesn’t make passive voice wrong.

Myth 2: The same pronoun cannot refer to two different antecedents in a sentence.

A pronoun, say ‘it’, can refer to two different objects in a single sentence, but it should not refer to two different objects in the same clause since that creates ambiguity.

We will explain these two points to you using a sentence correction question:

Question: Once the computer generates the financial reports, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

(A) Once the computer generates the financial reports, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements balance.

(B) Once the computer generates the financial reports, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, named such because it demonstrated the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(C) Once the computer generates the financial reports they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, which demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(D) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(E) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, named such because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

Solution:  Let’s split the sentence into clauses:

-          Once the computer generates the financial reports,

-          they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet,

-          so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

Find the decision points. The first clause is in active voice in the first three options and in passive in the other two. Both are correct.

The first decision point is they vs it. Should we use they or should we use it? The first clause talks about two things – computer (singular) and financial reports (plural). What do we want to refer to in the second clause? What do we use to program a balance sheet? A computer is used to program something. Reports cannot program anything. They can be used while programming but they cannot program. Hence, the use of ‘it’ would be correct here.

Only in options (B) and (D) do we use ‘it’ (singular) which refers back to the computer (singular). It cannot refer back to financial reports (plural). So eliminate options (A), (C) and (E).

Now comes our next decision point – we have to choose one of ‘named such’ and ‘so named’. ‘named such’ which is used in option (B) is awkward. Also, we use the past tense of the verb ‘demonstrate’ in option (B). This is not correct since a balance sheet is so called because is always demonstrates the balance of every element. It did not demonstrate it only in the past. Hence we need to use simple present tense.

This leads us to option (D). Everything is taken care of here.

Here are a couple of points about option (D):

(D) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

Sometimes, people eliminate it because it uses passive voice “the financial reports are generated by the computer”. Be aware that passive is not wrong. You have learned active passive in school. Passive is just a bit weaker form of writing than active and hence, given a choice, active is preferred but not at the expense of grammatical correctness! Using passive is not incorrect.

At other times, people have problems with the use of the pronoun ‘it’ for two different antecedents

it (the computer) is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet,

- so named because it (the balance sheet) demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

An OG problem has been pointed out here:

Starfish, with anywhere from five to eight arms, have a strong regenerative ability, and if one arm is lost it [animal] quickly replaces it [arm], sometimes by the animal overcompensating and growing an extra one or two.

The above answer is incorrect since the pronoun ‘it’ refers to two different antecedents in a single clause. Note that the pronoun ‘it’ refers to two different antecedents in the same clause. It is hard to understand what ‘it’ refers to.

But that is not the case in our option (D).

The first ‘it’ clearly refers to the computer since there is only one singular antecedent before it.

The second ‘it’ in the third clause clearly refers to the balance sheet because the clause talks about the balance sheet: … company wide balance sheet, so named because it …

There is no ambiguity of pronoun reference here.

We can’t re-iterate it enough – don’t try to learn up ‘rules’ for sentence correction. Every so called “rule” is not applicable in every situation. Use logic!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

 
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How Can I Improve My Focus on the GMAT? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Oct 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How Can I Improve My Focus on the GMAT?
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A student recently asked, “How do I learn to focus long enough to make my study sessions worthwhile? While studying for the GMAT I can only study for about an hour at a time.”

My response is, “This is a clearly a problem, not just for study sessions but also for the GMAT itself which requires 4 straight hours of focus.

Luckily, there are simple ways to improve your focus, and these techniques will not only allow you to focus as you study for longer periods of time, but will also have other benefits throughout your life. I have been doing a lot of research into brain science and the GMAT recently, and one thing that comes up in even book or article that I read is meditation/mindfulness. The latest scientific research supports the conclusion that the number one way to increase your ability to focus is to begin a simple meditation and mindfulness practice. 

Meditating is much easier than you think!
When I mention “meditation” people think that I am talking about sitting in an uncomfortable position and meditating for hours at a time. They assume that it has something to do with adopting a particular religion or belief. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meditation and mindfulness basically mean being present wherever you are and not letting your mind wander. In other words, focusing!

In the last several years I have read many books and articles on topics like the ability to focus and how to be more productive and happy – The crazy thing is that every author researching these topics has mentioned meditation and mindfulness. You cannot be focused, you cannot be productive, and it turns out that you cannot even be happy if you do not learn to pay attention to where you are and what you are doing.

How to practice mindfulness? The best-seller author Tich Naht Han talks about brushing your teeth as a chance to focus on the ritual of brushing. Washing the dishes is a chance for you to be present and focus on the dishes – rather than basically ignoring the washing or brushing as your mind races everywhere (this is what we normally do)!

Mindfulness really just means that you are paying attention to where you are and what you are doing (yes, it does sound a little like Yoda from Star Wars). So if you are walking your dog that is what you are focused on, not the things at work you failed to complete today. And if you are at work then give your full attention there and do not worry about the fact that you need to walk the dog later!

“Meditation” simply means that you are taking mindfulness to another level. You are focusing on one thing and noticing when your mind wanders. It is a simple as that. You can meditate on the sunset and really notice the colors as they change. You can meditate on a song and really hear the notes. And as mentioned above you can meditate on your toothbrush or your dish scrubber, too.

One of the most common meditations is to sit quietly in a comfortable chair (or walk slowly if you prefer a walking meditation) and focus on your breathing. Simply say “IN” as you breathe in and “OUT” as you exhale. Do not try to prevent yourself from thinking about other things. Just notice when your mind does wander and bring it back to the breath again. So you are sitting in a chair and softly saying “IN” and “OUT” and suddenly a thought comes into your mind “I should be studying for the GMAT!” Just notice the thought and bring your focus back to the breathing. Then a thought pops up “I am wasting my time sitting here” again just acknowledge it and bring your attention back the breathing. Do this for just 5 minutes and believe it or not you will probably have better focus throughout the rest of the day.

In her ground-breaking work “The Willpower Instinct” Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. writes of a student who had LOTS of trouble focusing. He was concerned that meditation would be impossible for him – this is because he thought that meditation required an empty mind for long periods of time. His meditation was really bad! He was constantly having thoughts pop up and had to keep bringing himself back to the breathing. He felt like he was “failing” at meditation!

Yet this student found that just 5 minutes of what anyone would consider very bad meditation had great results for him. The rest of the day he was much more focused. You can try five minutes of meditating each day right? Maybe first thing in the morning? 

The scientific research shows the impacts that small amounts of meditation actually have on the brain. From “The Willpower Instinct” (page 25)

  • Just 3 total hours of meditation (so 5 minutes a day for 6 weeks) led to scientifically significant improvements in attention and self-control!
  • Just 8 weeks of daily meditation led to increased self-awareness and increased gray matter in the areas of the brain that control your ability to focus.
  • Just 11 hours total of meditation led to changes in the brain that were visible on brain scans.
  • Meditation actually increases blood-flow to the areas of the brain that help us to focus and to have self-control!
And one more thing – your happiness depends on your ability to focus on what you are doing! A recent study by Harvard psychologists found that a wandering mind was correlated with unhappiness. In fact, the actual activity that a person was doing had less impact on their level of happiness than did their focus (or lack of focus) on the current activity. Lack of focus seems to lead to lack of contentment. (Source Harvard Gazette)

So you can actually be very content studying the GMAT, if you can just cultivate your ability to focus on it!

Plan on taking the GMAT soon?  We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Newland has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star! Read more of his articles here.
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5 Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants and How to Overcome  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 5 Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants and How to Overcome Them
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Military applicants to business school represent a non-traditional applicant pool but nonetheless a demographic that is consistently represented each year in the application process.  That said, it is no secret that many of the gatekeepers at top MBA programs most often have very little real world experience with the military.

While admissions committees tend to value the leadership experiences and professionalism military candidates bring to the MBA classroom, misperceptions can abound about other areas of strength and weakness among military applicants.  Accordingly, a critical part of your MBA application strategy should include understanding what these misperceptions and stereotypes are and how to overcome them in your application.

 Top 5 Most Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants (in no particular order):

1. You don’t have control of your military career.

Use your applications to talk about the opportunities you have created for yourself and challenging roles you have taken on of your own volition.  Let the admissions committees know that you aren’t simply moving up the ranks because it is time, but rather seeking out challenging assignments and driving your own career.

2. You don’t have experience thinking outside of the box or coming up with creative solutions.

As a consultant I find this misperception most frustrating and damaging because, regardless of service, most of the military clients I’ve worked with are not only coming up with creative solutions, they are doing so in stressful scenarios with limited resources.  Don’t be afraid to highlight these experiences!

3. Your teamwork skills may not be as robust as your civilian peers.

Teamwork is an important quality the admissions teams seek from all applicants and the military applicant pool is no exception.  Admissions committees can be cautious about applicants who spend too much time talking about top-down leadership.  Make sure to emphasize your lateral, team-based leadership as well in order to help admissions committees understand you are great at working in a group setting as well as at giving orders.

4. You are a good leader but not necessarily a good follower.

This idea is based on the notion that as an officer you are trained to lead subordinates.  But as anyone who has served understands, you also follow a chain of command.  While your MBA applications should always emphasize your leadership experience it can be an effective strategy to include a well-placed mention of when you have let someone else take the reigns.

5. Your recommenders don’t really know you that well.

Recommendations can be an important point of distinction for military candidates in the application process.  It isn’t uncommon for military recommendations to come from supervisors who are accustomed to writing military performance reports.  The style of military performance reports is predicated on effusive language (my #1, best of, etc.) and military supervisors may make the mistake of using that same approach in academic recommendations.  Without the use of specific examples, this can come across as being distant or reflecting a supervisor who really doesn’t know you all that well.  Coach your recommenders to give specific examples of your successes, compare you directly with your peers and discuss your potential for success outside of the military.

As you develop your application with these considerations in mind you will differentiate yourself from your peers and assuage any perceived concerns the admissions teams may have about your ability to perform in their program and excel in the private sector.   Just as you would prepare a briefing with your target audience in mind, prepare your MBA applications with the same awareness.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting. Take a look at her other post here.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take Our Live Online Class [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2014, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take Our Live Online Class
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The future is now, and that does not simply mean that we must all Instagram pictures of puppies  wearing hats on an hourly schedule (that said, it would be a shame to keep such pictures to yourself). There has never been a greater capability of connecting with people across the globe, and this means that learning does not simply have to take place in an “in person” classroom.  Live Online classes and tutoring allows eager students to access the best educational methods for SAT prep.

1. What is this technology?

Online platforms are not simply a Facetime call. They are actual online classrooms that utilize the same tools of an in person classroom but from the convenience of the students own home.  From virtual whiteboards that can be manipulated, to file sharing that allows green transfers without printing. These classrooms can feel just as intimate as some regular classrooms, and more intimate than many others. Online classrooms provide an avenue for real time responses to questions, voice and video communication, and the ability to pose questions without raising a hand or disrupting the flow of a lesson via chat and private messaging functions. As a teacher, I am able to simultaneously use multimedia resources, including videos, 3D models, and Powerpoint presentations, while commenting and expanding on these ideas through the video and audio chatting.  The most astounding part of all of this is that it all can happen from anywhere that has an internet connection and can incorporate the vastness of internet resources into the lesson.

2. What are the benefits?

The greatest benefit of all of this is convenience.  I know as an instructor, a huge portion of my time is devoted to scheduling when to meet with my students, which must incorporate travel time, the potentiality of traffic at different times of day, and many other logistical considerations.  This is also a big issue with my students, many of whom are jetting from soccer to violin lessons and after to some charitable work before trying to make it to a tutoring session.  Imagine if just the time in the car or train could be eliminated from a few of these activities?  Online learning can be done from home, school, or sitting by the soccer field with a wireless hotspot.  This saved time can equal hours more constructive work time or even a few more hours of much needed sleep. Online learning can also provide real time feedback for work.  I can have my students do practice problems or even full sections from standardized tests and have access to what they missed and what topics should be covered in seconds.

This type of digital learning can connect some of the best teachers in the world, not simply with students in their close communities, but with anyone who has access to an internet connection.  I have personally worked with students from the Dominican Republic, Chile, Switzerland, and throughout the United States.  Many locations do not have a large number of instructors with the same familiarity with the material and experience in teaching these fields that the instructors at a highly effective organization like Veritas Prep possess. Many of the Veritas instructional practices that I have found most useful are difficult to convey to students who don’t live close enough to facilitate a face to face meeting with an instructor unless these online tools can be utilized.  Because of the convenience of this type of meeting, online learning also tends to be more cost effective for many students.

3. How can you troubleshoot?

It used to be the case that online learning was very passive and did not allow for participation from students.  Now, this is no longer the case.  While it can still be tricky to not have the ability to go around a classroom and examine work being done, with web cams and still cameras, students can simply show me their processes and I can diagnose issues with approach or method and demonstrate an improved method in real time.  It used to be that it was a challenge to obtain a reliable internet connection.  Now that the internet has become so ubiquitous, if I have some technical issue with my computer or my internet connection, I can simply switch locations to a nearby coffee shop, or move to another device to conduct my lesson.  As time goes by and internet distribution technologies become even better, these problems will only become less and less frequent.

The potential applications of the widespread use of cameras, microphones, and wireless information transfers are limitless, but with education the ability to utilize these to aid with didactic processes is now.  For anyone who is on the fence about this technology, I would encourage giving it a try.  It might be surprising how personal and effective this seemingly cold new technology can actually be.  Happy studying in the new technological world, and keep those puppy pics coming!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.
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Should I Cancel My GMAT Score? (Hint: Probably Not) [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Should I Cancel My GMAT Score? (Hint: Probably Not)
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Last year, I wrote an article for this blog discussing the pros and cons (and pros and cons and pros) of cancelling your GMAT score. At the time, you had to sit through an entire 3+ hour exam, go through every question asked and then be offered the possibility of cancelling your score without ever knowing what your grade would have been.

Needless to say, many people opted to cancel their scores out of fear that a disappointing result would reflect badly on them and hinder their chances of being accepted into the school of their choice. The overall takeaway of my article was that most people felt that they did badly on the GMAT, and therefore tended to cancel their scores more often than they should have.

Lo and behold, in the summer of 2014 the GMAC (the FIFA of the GMAT) decided to change this policy and allow students to see their scores before deciding whether or not to cancel them. This decision was met with jubilation and applause (by me) from most prospective students, as this situation was entirely preferable to the previous circumstances. However, some students still are unclear when they should cancel their scores and when they shouldn’t. As such, I figured this would be a golden opportunity to revisit this topic and discuss cancelling your scores under the new world order.

First, let’s begin with the bad news. If you cancel your score, you are not refunded your 250$ fee for taking the exam. Nor can you retake the exam the next day; the same 31 day waiting period applies. Perhaps most jarringly, your record will still indicate that a score was cancelled, meaning that there will still be some record of the GMAT having been taken, just no accompanying score. Finally, if you do decide to cancel your score, you can subsequently change your mind and ask for the score to be reinstated, although this will incur an additional cost of 100$, and must be done within 60 days of the test date.

Let’s begin with some valid reasons why someone would consider cancelling their scores. Firstly, if you sleep very badly the night before or something goes very wrong in your personal life (worse than Menudo breaking up), you may be incapable of concentrating properly and your score will consequently suffer. In these situations, when you know you can do significantly better, it may be a good idea to cancel your score. Another instance would be if you took the exam and got some score, perhaps a 600, and then retook it and scored 450, a considerably worse result. Since the goal is to try and show improvement from one GMAT to the next, a marked decline could send the wrong message to the schools of your choice. This is another instance where cancelling your score may be a legitimate option.

If we explore some of the situations where it may be less advisable to cancel your score, we can start with a good rule of thumb: If it’s your first GMAT, you should (practically) never cancel your score. Why? Because if you cancel your score, you remove your baseline GMAT score. The best case scenario may be to take the exam once, ace it, and never look back (or possibly go back to teach it years later), but the reality is most people end up taking this exam more than once. The current average number of times someone takes the GMAT is about 2.7, meaning that many people take the exam two or three times before getting the score they want. If you’re aiming for a 650, and only get a 550 on the first try, then subsequent scores will demonstrate perseverance and determination, two skills sought after in business professionals. Cancelling your first score will only raise questions as to how badly it went (210?) and why you elected to remove the only thing on an otherwise blank canvas.

Sometimes, you score a 600 the first time, decide you want a 650, and retake the exam and only get a 610 or 620. This shows some improvement, but many people become depressed that it doesn’t show enough improvement, especially if they studied for several months to achieve this moderate increase. Again, cancelling this updated score will only raise questions as to how badly the test went, and a small improvement is still an improvement. Most GMAT schools take the best GMAT score as their reference, so even a 10 point progress from 600 to 610 could be enough to make a difference in your application. The same principle applies if your score went down slightly, say to 580. While a slight decline isn’t cause for a celebration, it’s a minor hiccup that demonstrates that you can consistently stay within the same range. Also, cancelling a slight drop opens the possibility that you did very badly on this second attempt and opted to cancel the score, artificially exaggerating how poorly the test actually went.

Sometimes, the idea of cancelling your score will come up before you’re even done with the test. Halfway through the verbal section, when you’re wallowing in the fact that you guessed the last three questions, your brain may take solace in the idea of cancelling the exam score. Sometimes you’ll contemplate it during a difficult stretch in the quantitative section (sometimes even on question 1!). The fact that you can now see your score before deciding whether to cancel it is a huge benefit in your choice as it removes the guesswork from the equation. No matter how badly you think you’re doing, at least you can see the score, make a decision, and even potentially reverse that decision within a couple of months.

When it comes to cancelling scores on the GMAT, the rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t cancel your score unless some “force majeure” or act of God came into the equation. The rule change allows us more flexibility in our decision making process, but the same factors must still be considered. If this is the first time you take the exam, your score is higher than any of your previous scores or if you just feel like you’re stinking up the exam (figuratively, not literally), you probably shouldn’t cancel your score. If your score truly is abysmal, then you can take a page from Pacific Rim and say “We are cancelling the apocalypse!” and be confident in your decision. The GMAT is designed to be tricky, but at least all the guesswork about cancelling your score has been removed for 2014 and beyond.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: The Most Common Wrong Answer to Any GMAT Problem [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2014, 12:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: The Most Common Wrong Answer to Any GMAT Problem
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The GMAT is more than just a math or verbal test – it’s a reasoning test.  And so it’s important to think not merely about content, but also about the strategy games that the authors of these questions play with that content.  One mantra to keep in mind is “Think Like the Testmaker”, reminding yourself to pay just as much attention to why the wrong answer you chose was tempting (how did the author trick you) as to why the correct answer was right.

Arguably the single most common trap the authors set for you is evident in this question, which we invite you to answer before you read the rest of this post:

Uncle Bruce is baking chocolate chip cookies. He has 36 ounces of dough (with no chocolate) and 15 ounces of chocolate. How much chocolate is left over if he uses all the dough but only wants the cookies to consist of 20% chocolate?

(A) 3

(B) 6

(C) 7.2

(D) 7.8

(E) 9

Now, we don’t want to gloss over the math here but there’s plenty of opportunity to practice with word problems and ratios in other posts and resources, so let’s cut to the true takeaway here.  Most students will correctly arrive at the amount of chocolate used by employing a method similar to:

If the 36 ounces of dough are to be 80% of the total weight, then 36 = 4/5 * total.

That means that the total weight is 45 ounces, and so when we subtract out the 36 ounces of dough, there’s 9 ounces of chocolate in the cookies.

So…the answer is E. Right?

Wrong.  Go back and double-check the question – the question asks for how much chocolate is LEFT OVER, not how much is USED.  To be correct, you’d need to go back to the 15 original ounces of chocolate, subtract the 9 used, and correctly answer that 6 were left.

What’s the trap?  GMAT questions are frequently set up so that you can answer the wrong question.  If a question asks you to solve for y, it typically makes it easier to first solve for x…and then x is a trap answer.  If a question asks you to strengthen a conclusion, the best way to weaken it is likely to be an answer choice.  If a question asks for the maximum value, the minimum is going to be a trap.

The most common wrong answer to any problem on the GMAT is the right answer to the wrong question.

So take precaution – to avoid this trap, make sure that you:

  • Circle the variable for which you’re solving, or write down the question at the top of your work.
  • Jot a question mark at the top of your noteboard on test day, and tap it with your pen before you submit your answer to double check “did I answer the right question?”
  • Keep track of your units in word problems (minutes vs. seconds, amount used vs. amount remaining) and double check the units of your answer against the question
  • Make note of every time you make that mistake in practice, and as a more general tip be sure not to write off silly mistakes as just “silly mistakes”.  If you made them in practice, you’re susceptible to them on the test, so make a note to watch out for them particularly if you’ve made the same mistake twice.
Few outcomes are more disappointing than doing all the work correctly but still getting the question wrong. The GMAT doesn’t do partial credit, so on a question like this falling for the trap is just as bad as not knowing how to get started.  Get credit for what you know how to do – make sure you pause before you submit your answer to make sure that it answers the proper question!

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin
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A 750+ Level Question on SD [#permalink]

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New post 03 Nov 2014, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: A 750+ Level Question on SD
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A couple of weeks back, we looked at a 750+ level question on mean, median and range concepts of Statistics. This week, we have a 750+ level question on standard deviation concept of Statistics. We do hope you enjoy checking it out.

Before you begin, you might want to review the post that discusses standard deviation:Dealing With Standard Deviation

So here goes the question.

Question: Given that set S has four odd integers and their range is 4, how many distinct values can the standard deviation of S take?

(A) 3

(B) 4

(C) 5

(D) 6

(E) 7

Solution: Recall what standard deviation is. It measures the dispersion of all the elements from the mean. It doesn’t matter what the actual elements are and what the arithmetic mean is – the standard deviation of set {1, 3, 5} will be the same as the standard deviation of set {6, 8, 10} since in each set there are 3 elements such that one is at mean, one is 2 below the mean and one is 2 above the mean. So when we calculate the standard deviation, it will give us exactly the same value for both sets. Similarly, standard deviation of set {1, 3, 3, 5, 6} will be the same as standard deviation of {10, 12, 12, 14, 15} and so on. But note that the standard deviation of set {25, 27, 29, 29, 30} will be different because it represents a different arrangement on the number line.

Let’s look at the given question now.

Set S has four odd integers such that their range is 4. So it could look something like this {1, x, y, 5} when the elements are arranged in ascending order. Note that we have taken just one example of what set S could look like. There are innumerable other ways of representing it such as {3, x, y, 7} or {11, x, y, 15} etc.

Now in our example, x and y can take 3 different values: 1, 3 or 5

x and y could be same or different but x would always be smaller than or equal to y.

- If x and y were same, we could select the values of x and y in 3 different ways: both could be 1; both could be 3; both could be 5

- If x and y were different, we could select the values of x and y in 3C2 ways: x could be 1 and y could be 3; x could be 1 and y could be 5; x could be 3 and y could be 5.

For clarification, let’s enumerate the different ways in which we can write set S:

{1, 1, 1, 5}, {1, 3, 3, 5}, {1, 5, 5, 5}, {1, 1, 3, 5}, {1, 1, 5, 5}, {1, 3, 5, 5}

These are the 6 ways in which we can choose the numbers in our example.

Will all of them have unique standard deviations? Do all of them represent different distributions on the number line? Actually, no!

Standard deviations of {1, 1, 1, 5} and {1, 5, 5, 5} are the same. Why?

Standard deviation measures distance from mean. It has nothing to do with the actual value of mean and actual value of numbers. Note that the distribution of numbers on the number line is the same in both cases. The two sets are just mirror images of each other.

Image

For the set {1, 1, 1, 5}, mean is 2. Three of the numbers are distance 1 away from mean and one number is distance 3 away from mean.

For the set {1, 5, 5, 5}, mean is 4. Three of the numbers are distance 1 away from mean and one number is distance 3 away from mean.

The deviations in both cases are the same -> 1, 1, 1 and 3. So when we square the deviations, add them up, divide by 4 and then find the square root, the figure we will get will be the same.

Similarly, {1, 1, 3, 5} and {1, 3, 5, 5} will have the same SD. Again, they are mirror images of each other on the number line.

Image

The rest of the two sets: {1, 3, 3, 5} and {1, 1, 5, 5} will have distinct standard deviations since their distributions on the number line are unique.

In all, there are 4 different values that standard deviation can take in such a case.

Answer (B)

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
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How to Utilize the Re-Applicant Essay [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Utilize the Re-Applicant Essay
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A year ago you put together what you thought was the perfect application at your dream school and when the smoke cleared things did not quite work out as you expected. So you’re back at it again, a year has past since your last application, and you’re ready for another shot at admissions glory at your dream school. Of course you spent the year wisely improving your profile and now its time to tackle the re-applicant essay, but what should you include?

The optional essay should be all about showing admissions how you have changed (and hopefully improved) in the interim time between applications. The first step should be conducting a personal year in review. Take inventory of all the great things you accomplished over the year and frame them for admissions. Let’s look at the ideal areas candidates can mark improvement in their profiles in the re-applicant essay.

GPA/Courses:

Did you suffer from a low GPA or poor performance in analytical classes? Show the admissions team how you improved or counteracted past poor performance. If you took additional coursework or gained another degree in between applications this is a great place to showcase all of your hard work.

GMAT:

The GMAT tends to be one of the biggest reasons students believe they are denied admission. If you made a major improvement on your GMAT, share it in this essay. But don’t stop there. Share your hard work and how this score is a more accurate reflection of your aptitude and watch as potential red flags disappear in your profile.

Resume:

Were you really ready for business school? Some applicants suffer from lack of work-related accomplishments, impact, and management experience resulting in tough news come decision day. If you have received a promotion, more responsibility, led others, closed big deals or otherwise made a major impact at your company – the school wants to know. Don’t waste this opportunity to highlight the great work you did during the year. Additionally, changing jobs or careers warrants a mention as well. New roles can really show growth, round out a candidate’s profile, and eliminate skill gaps for the applicant.

Career Goals:

Have your career goals changed or even simply been refined? Lack of clarity with regards to career steps post-MBA can signal lack of research and immaturity when it comes to the process. Schools want to admit candidates they feel can be placed in their careers of interest. If in the past you have identified goals that don’t sync up well with your background or the specialties of that particular school, this may have been a reason for being denied. Re-evaluate your goals and make sure they are well aligned with your background and your target school. Don’t let this opportunity to explain any changes in your career trajectory pass you by.

If you’ve done your job in between your last application, writing the re-applicant essay should be the final piece in helping you claim a spot on decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Writing Section [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Writing Section
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For many students, the writing portion of the SAT is the easiest section to study and prepare for. There a variety of contributing factors towards this phenomenon, but most importantly is the set structure of the writing sections.

Every test will start with the essay. Every test will end with a ten minute, fourteen question writing section. Somewhere in between section two and section seven will be a twenty five minute, thirty five question section. If there are two, you can quickly identify that the writing portion is the experimental section on the test.

The structure provides a measure of comfort to students as they prep for the test. While the math and reading comprehension sections are also fairly predictable, they still have a degree of variability that is not present in writing. Students feel more assured as they enter the test, knowing it will start and end the same way all of the practice tests have. This mental boost plays a major role in helping students get in the right mindset to succeed on the writing section. In addition to this inherent bonus, there are some other easy tips and tricks that can help any student significantly improve their score.

Come in with your essay already written. The prompt is not revealed ahead of time. However, SAT prompts almost exclusively focus on very broad topics. If you have solid examples ahead of time that you feel comfortable applying in any context, you will ace the essay. It is best to use a variety of examples, pulling from current events as well as your education in literature and history.

Most essays should follow the same template on the SAT. The only real difference between practice essays and your real one will be the explanation of your evidence. You should have a template that you feel comfortable with and have it ready to go prior to the test. This will substantially boost your essay performance. Additionally, when you leave the first section feeling great about the test, it can pay off later as you will be mentally engaged and ready to conquer the meat of the test.

Use order of difficulty to your advantage. On the two writing multiple choice sections of the test, the order of difficulty increases as the questions continue. On the twenty five minute section of the test, numbers one through eleven increase in difficulty on each problem. It restarts and continues from number twelve to twenty nine. Thirty through thirty five are improving paragraphs, and the rule does not continue there. On section ten, it will be a straight increase as number one will be the easiest and fourteen the hardest.

While it’s pretty simple to understand this, taking advantage of this structure is a bit harder. Knowing this, it is important to do all the easy ones first. You don’t want to leave any points on the table by spending too much time on a difficult one, and not having time to even analyze an easier question. Furthermore, sometimes some of the more difficult questions will seem like they have no error. A lot of times, these are idiom type questions and are harder to spot errors. Be cognizant of this fact and really examine the question in detail. That being said, if nothing sounds wrong don’t hesitate to go with no error as there are generally a few questions that are correct.

Ignore prepositional phrases. This is something you should be doing on almost every question. I see the most benefit on these with subject-verb agreement questions. There will be three or four questions on each test where the error becomes readily apparent the minute you ignore the prepositional phrase. Just from these questions, you can see a tremendous jump in your scores.

Knowing all this, with a lot of practice and preparation, every student has the ability to ace the writing section. Best of luck and happy studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminarevery few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.
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Think Inside the Box on Tricky GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2014, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Think Inside the Box on Tricky GMAT Questions
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When dealing with questions that ask us to compartmentalize information, there are two major sorting methods that we can use on the GMAT. The first, and perhaps more familiar concept, is the Venn diagram. This categorization is very useful for situations where information overlaps, as it allows a visual representation of multiple categories at once. However, if the information provided has no possible overlap, such as indicating whether something is made of gold or silver, or if they’re male or female (Bruce Jenner notwithstanding), the preferred method of organization is the matrix box.

The advantage of the matrix box is that it highlights the innate relationships that must be true, but that are not always easy to keep track of. For instance, if a box contains 100 paperclips, some of which are metallic and some of which are plastic, then if we find 40 paperclips made of metal, there must necessarily be 60 that are made of plastic. The binary nature of the information guarantees that all the elements will fall into one of the predetermined categories, so knowing about one gives you information about the other.

The matrix box allows you to catalogue information before it becomes overwhelming. Anyone who’s studied the GMAT for any length of time (five minutes is usually enough) knows that the exam is designed to be tricky. As such, questions always give you enough information to solve the problem, but rarely give you the information in a convenient manner. Setting up a proper matrix box essentially sets you up to solve the problem automatically, as long as you know what to do with the data provided.

Let’s look at an example and what clues us into the fact that we should use a matrix box.

Of 200 students taking the GMAT, all of them have college degrees, 120 have been out of college for at least 3 years, 70 have business degrees, and 60 have been out of college for less than 3 years and do not have business degrees. How many of them have been out of college for at least 3 years and have business degrees.

A) 40

B) 50

C) 60

D) 70

E) 80

The principle determinant on whether we should use Venn diagrams or matrix boxes is whether the data has any overlap. In this example, it’s very hard to believe that a student could both have a business degree and not have a business degree, so it looks like the information can’t overlap and a matrix box approach should be used. Before we set up the matrix box, it’s important to know that the axes are arbitrary and you could put the data on either axis and end up with essentially the same box. We can thus proceed with whichever method we prefer. The box may look like what we have below:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

Less than 3 years

Total

Without filling out any information, it’s important to note that the “Total” column and row will be the most important parts. They allow us to determine missing information using simple subtraction. If we have the total figures, as little as one piece of information in the inside squares would be enough to solve every missing square (like the world’s simplest Sudoku). Let’s populate the total numbers provided in the question:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

Total

70

200

With these three pieces of information, we can fill out the remaining “Total” squares by simply subtracting the given totals.

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

80

Total

70

130

200

Now all we would need to reach the correct answer is one piece of information: any of the remaining four squares. Luckily the question stem will always provide at least one of these, as the problem is unsolvable otherwise. Problems may be tricky and convoluted on the GMAT, but they will never be impossible. Looking back at the question, there are 60 students who have been out of college for less than 3 years and do not have business degrees. Plugging in this value we get:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

60

80

Total

70

130

200

Using a little bit of basic math we can turn this into:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

70

120

Less than 3 years

20

60

80

Total

70

130

200

And finally the completed:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

50

70

120

Less than 3 years

20

60

80

Total

70

130

200

The question was asking for how many students have been out of college for at least 3 years and have business degrees, but using this method we could solve any potential question (Other than “What is the meaning of life”?). Since the number of students with business degrees who have been out of college three years or more is 50, the correct answer will be answer choice B.

In matrix box problems, setting up the question is more than half the battle. Correctly setting up the parameters will ensure that the rest of the problem gets solved almost automatically, and all you have to do is avoid silly arithmetic mistakes or getting ahead of yourself too quickly. Remember that if the information doesn’t overlap, it will likely make for a good matrix box problem. On these types of questions, don’t be afraid to think inside the box.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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The #1 Avoidable Mistake in MBA Applications [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2014, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: The #1 Avoidable Mistake in MBA Applications
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As application deadlines loom ever nearer, the cutting realization that you’re running out of time to submit can set in.  If you find your anxiety level rising, it may be because you have put things off along the way and they are now stacking up on you, causing stress.  Classic procrastination is a dangerous enemy to business school applications in particular, since the assignment is pass/fail.  It’s not like in college, where you would receive a letter grade or score from your efforts.  Maybe you didn’t get that ‘A’ grade you would have liked, but your ‘C’ got you through without much damage.

With b-school applications, it’s all or nothing, and watching your seat go to someone else is a cold reminder that you “shoulda-coulda-woulda,” had you only stayed on top of the deadlines.

One particularly devastating effect of waiting until the last minute comes in the form of quality degradation of your application materials.  Sixty percent of admissions officers site careless mistakes as a reason for an applicant’s rejection, and careless mistakes are far more likely when rushing to put final touches on an application.  The reason is simple and it ties into the classic Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Psychology actually dictates that the more anxiety behind a process, the more focused you will be on the “big” stuff—did you answer all the questions, are all the required materials included, did you arrange to have your transcript and GMAT score sent, etc.  What gets lost are the finer points, the details, and to paraphrase another idiom, that’s where the devil is.  Admissions committees are very adept at spotting a comma splice or a misspelled word.  Keep in mind that spell check will not point out the problem with your having said “conversation” instead of “conservation” or vice versa, as long as they are spelled correctly.

This is why having an objective third party evaluate your essays and materials prior to submission is so important.  When you hurriedly look over your own essay for the 1000th time in the waning hours until the cutoff, your brain ceases to see errors that will jump off the page at someone who reads it for the first time.  The problem with procrastination is, your carefully selected third party evaluator may or may not be at your beck and call at 1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time when the deadline is midnight Pacific and the clock is ticking away.

I always recommend clients finish essays at least a week or two before they are due.  Ideally, you can have all your schools done early, since often, working on subsequent schools can help identify ways you can go back and improve the earlier apps.  If you put your applications “on ice” and then go back to revisit them before submission, you will not only see them with fresh eyes and potentially improve them, but you will also eliminate the stress which comes with an 11th hour submission.  Plus don’t forget about Murphy’s law.   Schools are very unsympathetic to missing deadlines due to server crashes, slow computer uploads or power outages.   Even when things are out of your control, there’s always the fact that you could have avoided problems if you’d only submitted earlier.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.
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How to Get Started on Your Business School Application Essays [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2014, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Get Started on Your Business School Application Essays
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You’ve made the decision to apply to business school and you begin sorting through a virtual pile of applications essay topics. You’ve written essays throughout high school and college, and for some candidates even other graduate programs like law school, but these business school essays are different. The schools seem to want something a bit different from you this time around.

Business school essays differ from other traditional essays because of what they require of the writer. Succeeding with this unique type of essay requires introspection, maturity, clarity, focus, preparation, and of course good writing skills don’t hurt either. Understanding that these are the necessary inputs is the first step in creating breakthrough essays.

The next step, and probably the most important, is creating what I like to call “mini-stories.”  The thought behind these mini-stories is that they are designed to be independent of the essay questions asked by schools and more-so select anecdotes that you choose to reflect the 4 dimensions of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity emphasized by many MBA programs. The focus is on highlighting your strongest and most in-depth personal, professional, and extra-curricular life experiences. You will later apply these mini-stories to specific essay questions asked from each school.

To get started I would aim for 5-8 mini-stories covering a diverse set of experiences. With each story include a short description and then some supporting bullets describing some of the players involved and why the situation was transformative. Make sure to especially highlight the impact and what you specifically learned from the experience. After you have created your set of mini-stories its time to utilize all of your hard work. Now don’t start writing any essays yet, you’re not quite ready.

I’m sure you’ve already done a bit of research but take another pass at exploring your target schools and their unique DNA. Review recent press clippings, news and information published by the school, and hold conversations with current students and recent alums to get an in-depth feel for the program. Now take a look at the essay questions of your target schools utilizing your recent review of the school to identify not only what the question is directly asking you but also what the school is seeking to learn about you.

Once you determine this for each school match up your mini-stories to the corresponding application essay. As you decide which mini-stories to select keep in mind that each school specific set of essays should showcase the diversity within your profile and paint a complete picture of your candidacy. So be judicious with your essay selections and make sure each one builds upon the other. The essay writing process does not have to be daunting, follow these steps and you will be writing breakthrough essays before you know it.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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