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GMAT Tip of the Week: Kanye West Teaches You How To Live The Data Suff [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Kanye West Teaches You How To Live The Data Sufficiency Good Life
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Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where we know precisely why you want an MBA: so you can live some of the good life. You want a better job with a higher salary and better benefits. You want to invest big chunks of that higher salary to create passive income that brings you even more money per year. And if they hate then let ‘em hate and watch the money pile up. Welcome to the Good Life.

Few are living the good life better than the author/performer of “The Good Life,” Kanye West-Kardashian. And while it may seem ironic for “The College Dropout” to provide the best advice for getting into a top graduate school, the way Kanye describes the Good Life provides you with critical advice for obtaining the good life via a high quant score on the GMAT. When you’re practicing Data Sufficiency, pay attention to Yeezy as he says:

“So I roll through good. Y’all pop the trunk; I pop the hood. (Ferrari)

If she got the goods, and she got that ass, I got to look. (Sorry)”

How does this lyric relate to Data Sufficiency? We’ll translate.

As you’re rolling through a standard Data Sufficiency problem, it’s quite common to make your decision on statement 1 alone (pop the trunk) and then on statement 2 alone (pop the hood). And since time is of the essence, you do so quickly (Ferrari). For example, you might see the problem:

Is yz > x?

(1) y > x/z

And then quickly think to yourself “if I take the given statement and multiply both sides by z, I get a direct answer: yz > x, so that’s sufficient. Now let’s look at statement 2 alone because the answer must be A or D.”

But if you’re on your way to the Good Life, you need to play the Data Sufficiency game at a higher level, and that level may be a little different from the status quo. (“50 told me go ‘head switch the style up…”) So read on:

“If she got the goods” refers to the other statement. If “the other statement” seems fairly obvious on its own, most of us will see that as very, very good. We can quickly make our determination, eliminate the last answer choice or two, and move on. But wait:

“And she got that ass, I got to look,” of course, refers to statements having “that assistance.” For example, if statement 2 in this problem were to say:

(2) z < 0

Knowing that z is negative is “that ass(istance)”. It’s clearly insufficient on its own (what about y and x?), but in giving you the goods that z is negative it’s assisting you in avoiding a catastrophic mistake. In statement 1, you multiplied both sides of an INEQUALITY by a variable, z. But statement 2 tells you that the variable is negative, which means that simply multiplying by z without flipping the sign – or at least considering that the sign might need to be flipped – was a mistake. You had to consider negative/positive there – if z were positive, you just multiply; if it were negative, you’d multiply and flip. And since you didn’t know what sign z took when you assessed statement 1 alone, statement 1 actually was not sufficient. You need statement 2’s ass(istance), so the answer is C.

And that’s where Kanye’s lyric is so important. “IF she got that ass(istance), I got to look (Sorry)” means that, while the standard operating procedure for Data Sufficiency is to adhere strictly to: 1 alone, then forget; 2 alone, then forget; if nether was sufficient alone then try them together, that strategy leaves some valuable points on the table. If statement 2 gives you information that you hadn’t considered when you assessed statement 1, you’ve got to look at how that new piece of information would have impacted your decision. Did you need to know that or not? And although this new strategic element may contradict the easy process-of-elimination that helped you learn Data Sufficiency in the first place (Sorry), it’s critical if you’re going to live the 700+ good life – difficult Data Sufficiency is structured to reward those who see the potential for clues in the question stem and in the “other” statement, those who leverage assets that may not be readily apparent to the average test taker.

Note that sometimes that new piece of information is unnecessary. For example, if the question were instead:

Is yz = x?

(1) y > x/z

(2) z < 0

You actually don’t need to know the sign. When you use statement 1 alone and multiply both sides by z, you either get yz > x (if z is positive) or yz < x (if z is negative). It’s either greater than or less than with no room for equals, so you don’t need the sign. So statement 2 isn’t always necessary, but if it appears to give assistance you’ve got to look – you have to at least consider whether it’s important, because that’s where the GMAT has set up the difficulty. On the most difficult problems, the GMAT will tend to reward those who can leverage all available information to think critically and make a good decision, so it pays to at least take a fairly-obvious-on-its-own statement and look at it in the context of the other statement, just in case.

So learn from Yeezy (who in classic yz > x form is a much greater instructor than Xzibit) and remember – the easier statement’s always got the goods, so on the chance that it’s got that ass(istance), you’ve got to look. The good life: it feels like Palo Alto, it feels like Cambridge, it feels like Fontainebleu. If you’ve got a passion for flashing that acceptance letter, when a Data Sufficiency statement looks too obvious on your own, ask yourself what would Yeezus do.

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
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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Playing the Devil's Advocate on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 23 Mar 2015, 08:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Playing the Devil's Advocate on the GMAT
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Confess it – while watching Harvey Specter and Mike Ross on ‘Suits’, many of you have wondered how ‘cool’ it would be to be a lawyer. It’s surprising how they question every assumption, every reason and come up with an innovative solution which looks as if the magician just pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

Well, in high level GMAT questions, you have a chance to play the Devil’s Advocate. If your best thought out logic says that answer has to be 2, still think why it cannot be 1. The higher level questions are quite tricky and if you play at 700+ level, you will need to be extra careful – if it seems too easy, it probably is! To illustrate, we have quite a brilliant little question from GMAT Prep.

Question 1: If 5x^2 has two different prime factors, at most how many different prime factors does x have?

(A) 1

(B) 2

(C) 3

(D) 4

(E) 5

Solution: So here is the logic with which most of us would come up – 5x^2 has two different prime factors – one would be 5 since it is already there so x must have one more prime factor. x^2  has only those prime factors that x has so 5x^2 will have two prime factors – one 5 and the other from x. Sounds perfectly reasonable and the answer should be 1 – x has 1 prime factor. In fact, it must have at least one prime factor and it cannot have more than one prime factor.

But then, and here we have a hint in the question to play the devil’s advocate – why does the question ask “at most how many different prime factors”. If there were a single value for different prime factors of x, the question would have probably said “how many different prime factors…”. There would have been no need for those words ‘at most’.

Then look at the other options. Is it possible that x has 2 prime factors? It certainly cannot have more than 2 distinct prime factors since then, 5x^2 will have more than two distinct prime factors. Actually, x can have two prime factors! x can have 5 as a factor too. Sneaky – eh? We already have a 5 in 5x^2 but that doesn’t mean that we cannot have a 5 in x^2 too. It will still count as a single prime factor. x can have another prime factor such as 2 or 3 or 7 or 11 etc. In that case, x can have two distinct prime factors.

So x can be 15 (two different prime factors) and x can be 25 (one prime factor)

Answer (B)

Note that this question has no calculations and no time consuming equations but still, this little trick makes this question quite hard. If most people get it wrong because of missing this trick, the question will be termed hard.

Now here is a trickier version of this question:

Question 2: How many prime factors does positive integer n have?

Statement 1: n/7 has only one prime factor.

Statement 2: 3*n^2 has two different prime factors.

Solution: Let’s keep in mind our learning from above while trying to solve this question.

Statement 1: n/7 has only one prime factor.

n/7 has a factor so obviously, it is an integer. Hence n must have a 7 as a factor. So we might jump to the conclusion that n has two prime factors –7 and another one which is left when n is divided off by 7. So n would be something like 7*3 so that n/7 = 7*3/7 = 3 (only one prime factor).

But what we wouldn’t have considered in this case is that n may have multiple 7s so that when a 7 is cancelled in n/7, you would still be left with 7 i.e. if n is 7*7, then n/7 = 7*7/7 = 7. In this case, n has only one distinct prime factor.

So n can have either one or two prime factors. This statement alone is not sufficient.

Statement 2: 3*n^2 has two different prime factors.

This is the same as our previous question. 3n^2 has two different prime factors but n itself can have either one or two prime factors (one of which will be 3). For example, n can be 7 or n can be 3*7. This statement alone is not sufficient.

Using both statements, n could have one or two prime factors i.e. n could be 49 (only one prime factor – 7) or n could be 21 (two prime factors).

Hence, even using both the statements, we cannot say how many prime factors n has.

Answer (E)

Now this question might not have seemed very complicated since we discussed the logic in the first question above. Remember to play the devil’s advocate in high level questions.

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!
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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This is How You Can Be Successful on the ACT! [#permalink]

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New post 23 Mar 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: This is How You Can Be Successful on the ACT!
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The following interview comes from Test Prep Store. Test Prep Store recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with Jonathan Er, one of Veritas Prep’s expert ACT instructors, to inquire about the ACT and get his take on the questions that many college applicants would like to ask with regards to ACT prep courses and how to be successful at achieving their desired ACT score.

1. How do you personally ensure that students who are struggling end up with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful on the ACT?

No two students approach the ACT with the same set of skills or the same grasp of concepts. If anyone has difficulty with the lesson, I try to find out what knowledge we share, and then I steadily build on that while maintaining flexibility in my explanations. I also regularly communicate with my students so I can track their progress and address issues or concerns as they arise.

2. If you could give three pieces of advice to future ACT test takers, what would they be?

First, Practice and review. You (and your instructor) should seek a proper balance between learning material, practicing questions (as many real ones as possible), and reviewing whatever time permits.

Second, Be specific. The ideal study session, anywhere from 30-90 minutes long, should exclusively deal with a single test subject, perhaps revolving around one problem set or one tricky concept. You should set goals that are verifiable, often in quantitative terms, such as how many questions you want to answer and review, how many terms you want to learn, etc. And you should be intent but realistic about reaching your target score, which can still be flexible (hopefully upwards!)

3. Is there a common misconception of the ACT or of what is a realistic ACT score?

On the East Coast the SAT is emphasized while the ACT is overlooked, and the situation is reversed in the West. Colleges are usually fine with either test (although you should confirm with specific schools), so you shouldn’t feel that you can only take one or that you must take one over the other. However, I do think the ACT is better aligned with what is taught and assessed in most high schools and that it should receive more attention where I’m from.

Read the rest of the interview here!

For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Shay Davis
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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Succeed on Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions with This Causation Tip [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Succeed on Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions with This Causation Tip
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Oh, causation on the GMAT.  Why do you cause so much stress in people’s lives?

Success on many Critical Reasoning questions really comes down to understanding whether one thing (“X”) causes another thing (“Y”) or not. For example, I moved to New York in 2007. Shortly thereafter, there was a huge drop in the New York stock market. Did I cause the crash (Y) simply by moving to New York (X)?

Of course I did! But that’s beside the point.

Take a look at the following question from an MBA.com practice CAT:

The growing popularity of computer-based activities was widely predicted to result in a corresponding decline in television viewing. Recent studies have found that, in the United States, people who own computers watch, on average, significantly less television than people who do not own computers. In itself, however, this finding does very little to show that computer use tends to reduce television viewing time, since_______.

Which of the following most logically completes the argument?

Let’s not even look at the answer choices yet. We can do quite a bit of “pre-work” on a question like this before the answer choices begin to sway us in various directions.

In the simplest terms, the argument states that some believe:

An Increase in Computer Usage (ICU) causes a Decrease in Television Watching (DTW).

And this makes some logical sense, right? We only have a certain number hours per day, and if we spend some time on our laptops, we might not have as much time to catch up on Girls and Shark Tank.

The argument then goes on to state a bit of evidence that seems to support the initial prediction:

Computer Owning (not quite the same as ICU, but in the same ballpark) actually correlates with Watching Less Television (DTW).

However, the argument then, a bit paradoxically, states that even though “Computer Owning and DTW” seem to happen at the same time, it is not the case that “ICU causes DTW.” Interesting.

Well, whenever you see a case like this on the GMAT, you’re better off coming up with a possible answer or two before checking out the answer choices. When the GMAT says that “X and Y happen together, but X did not cause Y,” a very strong possibility is that “Z” actually caused Y. What is Z? Z is anything else that might have caused Y.

Here are some possible answer choices that would work:

  • People can generally only afford either one computer or one television (implying that ICU doesn’t cause the DTW, but the price of a computer might).
  • Computer owners tend to be overworked professionals who have very little leisure time (implying that ICU doesn’t cause DTW, but a pre-existing condition of computer owners is strongly correlated with DTW before the computer usage is even mentioned).
  • Computers create an electromagnetic field that disables televisions from turning on (implying that ICU doesn’t cause DTW, but the physical properties of owning a computer might).
  • Computer owners, at the point of purchase, were forced by the Illuminati to sign a document swearing never to watch television under the penalty of jail time (implying that ICU doesn’t cause DTW, but intense pressure from an underground fraternity might).
At this point, you might be saying, “Whoa, those answers were totally out of left-field.” Indeed, you’re right. When the argument concerns X’s and Y’s, and we’re looking for a Z (something else that might have caused Y), then the correct answer might very well be out of left-field. Do not eliminate an answer simply because it seems random or unexpected. Instead, simply focus on the chain of logic. If your out-of-left-field Z supersedes X as the primary cause of Y, you’ve done a great job of weakening the causal link between X and Y.

Now let’s look at the real answer choices:

(A) many people who watch little or no television do not own a computer.

(B) even though most computer owners in the United States watch significantly less television than the national average, some computer owners watch far more television than the national average.

(C) computer owners in the United States predominately belong to a demographic group that have long been known to spend less time watching television than the population as a whole does.

(D) many computer owners in the United States have enough leisure time that spending significant amounts of time on the computer still leaves ample time for watching television.

(E) many people use their computers primarily for tasks such as correspondence that can be done more rapidly on the computer, and doing so leaves more leisure time for watching television.

Boom. Answer choice C basically says that ICU doesn’t necessarily cause DTW, because the demographics of computer users correlate strongly with DTW independently of actually using the computer. While this answer choice does not exactly provide a direct cause of DTW, it does strongly weaken the causal link between ICU and DTW, and that should be your main goal.

Does a “Z” always represent the answer on GMAT causation weakeners? Not always, but it occurs frequently enough that it’s worth spending 5-10 seconds coming up with one or two Z’s on a question like this. If nothing else, doing so can help solidify a more complete understanding of the argument.

Hopefully this Blog Post (BP) will cause you to Do Well on Your GMAT (DWYG). When was the last time BP caused something good to happen?

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 David Ingber
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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Why You Should Go Clubbin’ in College [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2015, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Why You Should Go Clubbin’ in College
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Class is only one part of the college experience. It is an essential part of higher education but there is much more to college life. In additional to your academic pursuits an important component of overall learning and development is participation in extracurricular activities.

This includes clubs, intramural sports teams, social and professional organizations. High school provides a taste of the various opportunities for involvement that exist on a college campus. In college, there is a club or group for any interest or passion. Whether it is ultimate Frisbee or a literary society, there is a high probability that a club exists.

There are many reasons extracurricular activities take on added importance at the collegiate level; namely igniting one’s passion and expanding one’s social circle. People join groups in college because they have a desire to explore a subject deeper. Clubs are a great way to try out a variety of interests and see what topics really excite you. The time commitment can vary depending on the group, but the potential for growth and learning is huge. It’s best to test out a bunch of opportunities and settle on a few groups that you can dedicate energy to and make an impact. The tangible and intangible rewards of getting involved in a group are huge. From building skills and making connections to making friends, extracurricular groups can really enhance your college experience.

The social aspect of extracurricular activities is one of the biggest benefits. While some friends are certainly made in the classroom, the majority of friends you make in college will be from living arrangements and extracurricular involvement. Part of the reason is that your extracurricular activities unite people with similar interests. Having a common bond is inevitably a catalyst for building connections and making friendships. Whether it’s joining the same fraternity, playing on the same intramural sports team, or volunteering for the same social action club: engaging in activities with people who have similar interests to your own will engender friendships. It also helps build a smaller community within the larger college campus, which is a nice comfort for students who may feel a bit lost among massive university populations.

Explore your freshman year and find the areas that really pique your interest. It may seem overwhelming at first, but over time, you’ll see which groups fit you best and dedicate the majority of your time there. From here, you can make the most of your time in college outside of the classroom. Happy Applying!

Need more guidance in planning for college? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

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.

 
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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3 Ways to Identify Alumni from Your Business School [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2015, 17:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 3 Ways to Identify Alumni from Your Business School
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A key reason why many applicants decide to pursue an MBA is the tremendous network available from some of the world’s top programs. Networking opportunities that exist with current students, and in particular the thousands of alums working at top companies around the world, represent a strong incentive for many to pursue an MBA. Once on campus, it can often take a little bit of legwork to put your alumni network to work for you.

MBA alums often cherish their experiences in business school, and the value of contact with older alums, so don’t be afraid to utilize these resources to make the most of your alumni network while on campus:

MBA Alumni Database

This is the low hanging fruit of alumni outreach for students. Most schools have well-maintained and up-to-date alumni databases so get comfortable with accessing this tool. When reaching out to your MBA alums, be patient. Remember these are busy working professionals at demanding and high profile jobs so your email may not always be their top priority. Connecting with alums should be seen as a long-term investment so exercise patience and focus on building a relationship that spans not only your two years in business school but also your entire professional career.

Recruiting

During the recruiting process you will have an opportunity to meet many alums. The great part about meeting alums via the recruiting process is that your interests are immediately aligned. These alums can add a tremendous amount of value for you as you work to identify the job of your dreams. These connections are forged in a few ways. Employers create lists of target or interested students and will connect these students with alums at their companies. These alums will help provide information about their specific firm as well as life working at the company. Utilize these alums to gain information about the firm and the industry as a whole. Do remember however that these alums are agents of the company, so they will still evaluate every interaction they have with you, and it is important to remain professional at all times.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another a great way to connect with alums. One of the most valuable aspects of using LinkedIn is that alums can quickly review your professional background and see that you are a classmate from their MBA program. Many school specific groups also exist on Linkedin with some even being sub-divided by career industry and function so take advantage of this very targeted resource.

Make the most of those powerful alumni networks that business schools brag so much about. Reach out early and often to unlock the power of your network!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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. Find 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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How to Showcase Teamwork Skills in Your MBA Applications [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2015, 08:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Showcase Teamwork Skills in Your MBA Applications
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Teamwork skills are a crucial element of conducting modern business today, and business schools are increasingly placing a major emphasis on identifying applicants with these skills. Although this skill can be an area of development for an applicant prior to starting business school, it is important to highlight past examples of teamwork in order to stand out from the masses.

Much of your work in business school and beyond will involve completing deliverables with others. The more clearly you can showcase a track record of skill development here the better your chances of admission into your target school. The focus here should be on what you uniquely contributed to the team as well as how your interaction within the team helped drive success for the group as a whole.

There are a few areas within your application where you can share your teamwork skills:

Academics

Think back on your undergraduate experience and identify examples from your academic career that show you as a team player. When thinking purely academically, group projects and case competitions are some of the more obvious places to pull anecdotes from. Academic examples can sometimes be a bit less interesting so make sure you are painting a complete picture of why this experience was impactful for you.

Extra-Curricular / Civic Obligations

Your extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom and the workplace are a great place to pull examples from. These experiences tend to be very interesting and also help to highlight a multitude of other interpersonal skills like leadership, creativity, and determination. Categories to parse anecdotes from include greek life, athletics, volunteer activities, and student clubs. Keep in mind all readers may not be familiar with the extra-curricular activities in your life, so provide enough background to inform the narrative. Information like size, participants, and money involved help to add context to these examples.

When identifying examples as a professional, the same approach should work. Sharing your reasoning for why you are involved in each activity may also open opportunities to show your passion for a particular topic like health, nature, or the environment.

Work Experience

You should not only pull examples from your undergraduate experience but also pull them from your professional career. Remember you are applying to business school to further your career so schools love to know how you have developed teamwork skills in your pre-MBA professional career. These examples should probably be the easiest to uncover for your application. Work to identify examples where you have excelled as a member of a team. Think of the context of the situation and the overall business impact and select the situations where you have delivered meaningful contributions that paint you in the best light as a candidate.

Showcasing a strong track record of engagement is one of the best ways to signal to admissions that you will be equally engaged once you return to campus as a grad student.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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. Find more of his articles here.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Become a Math Master Before Test Day with These 2 [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Become a Math Master Before Test Day with These 2 Tips
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A lot of times on the SAT, students worry about the level of rigor and complexity associated with some of the more difficult questions on the math sections. Some people assume that in order to really succeed on the test, they have to be advanced in mathematics and skilled in high level topics. In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The SAT tests students on concepts from Algebra 1 and 2 as well geometry. At the same time, it focuses on quantitative and logical reasoning. There is no calculus anywhere on the test. The test makers do this because some students don’t take Algebra 2 until 11th grade. The difficulty doesn’t come from the concepts, instead it comes from the way questions are phrased. Once students are able to understand this and break down questions to see what the SAT is really asking for, they realize most of the math section comes down to somewhat simple arithmetic. This is why it is essential to have the basic fundamentals down in order to truly succeed come test day.

Simple concepts are one of the most important, yet underrated, aspects of the SAT math section. Here are a few things to master before test day.

  • Understand the Relationship Between Fractions and Decimals
It’s good to have a basic understanding of the relationships between fractions and decimals. What I mean by this is knowing right away that ¼ is equal to .25 or ⅔ is .666 repeating. It goes farther than this though. If you can study deeper and understand that ⅙ is about .166666 and ⅛ is .125 you will have a much easier time understanding certain questions. Translating decimals to fractions is difficult for some students, but it makes solving problems a lot easier. This is something you can’t do both ways on a calculator. You can certainly divide 2 by 7 to figure out what 2/7 is but how would you know that .375 is ⅜ unless you have good facility with the relationship between fractions and decimals.

This will never come into play with an answer choice, instead it will help you get to the correct answer choice in an efficient and effective manner. This will apply to a wide variety of questions on the test, and is very important to master.

[*]Know Basic Multiplication and Square Roots[/list]
Remember third or fourth grade when you had to memorize the times tables? Well, it will come in handy again. Knowing right away what 12*8 is or that 9 squared is 81 will save you time and help cut down human error on the test. It would be good to do a quick refresher on all the times tables up to 15, as these are the most common on the test. It may seem elementary but I can assure you that it is extremely helpful on the actual test.

The squares come into handy when figuring out Pythagorean theorem or looking at squares. Anytime you can cut down a few seconds on the calculator or writing out simple multiplication will leave extra time for other problems and checking your work.

Master these two things, you’ll fly through the math section on the SAT! Happy Studying!

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!

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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Find Logical Meaning in Sentence Correction Questions on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Find Logical Meaning in Sentence Correction Questions on the GMAT
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One of the hardest things about Sentence Correction is that it tests so much more than just grammar. Many students erroneously conflate Sentence Correction problems with high school grammar problems, and this can lead to avoidable mistakes on test day. Indeed, the rules you learned in high school still apply, but you must be able to recognize them among various other potential problems.  It’s fairly simple to spot an agreement error on a verb (there are one problem) or a misplaced comma (good, job bro), but sometimes you have to eliminate an answer choice because the sentence just doesn’t make sense.

Think about a sentence like “This table has four arms.” Grammatically, the sentence is flawless (although I use the term loosely). However, from a logical point of view, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Tables are colloquially said to have “legs,” even if these don’t exactly fit the Darwinian definition of the term, but they are not typically said to have “arms”. On the GMAT, this sentence is as incorrect as “This table have four arms,” but it’s much harder to see for most people. The error lies not in the grammar, but in the meaning.

In fact, there are two broad categories of illogical meanings on the GMAT. The first is the type described above: A sentence that just doesn’t make sense. The second type can be more subtle, as it constitutes the array of answer choices that change the meaning of the sentence. This error often occurs when the structure of the sentence is changed and no longer meshes with the rest of the sentence. A typical example would be changing from “Human beings have skulls…” to “The skulls of human beings”… Within the underlined portion, everything can seem fine. But if the rest of the sentence is discussing how human beings are remarkable adaptable creatures, this simple switch can have serious ramifications as it changes the meaning dramatically. Originally, human beings were remarkable creatures. Now only their skulls are remarkable creatures, which is completely nonsensical and thus not a valid sentence on the GMAT.

Let’s look at an example and see if we can keep the meaning of this sentence.

The Buffalo Club has approved tenets mandating that members should volunteer time to aid the community.

A) that members should volunteer time

B) that time be volunteered by members

C) the volunteering of time by members

D) members’ volunteering of time

E) that members volunteer time

This sentence is not particularly long, and the underlined portion is only five words, so each word should be weighed carefully. Most of the words are not underlined, so the sentence tells us that the Buffalo Club is mandating something specific, and the goal of this endeavor is to aid the community. The only options we have are the few words (Malcolm) in the middle of the sentence.

Using the original sentence (answer choice A) as a benchmark, we see that the club is mandating that members should volunteer their time. This sentence doesn’t have a glaring grammatical error, but the logical error here is quite noticeable. Mandating something means that it is required, so the verb “should” is illogical within the sentence. It’s like telling someone that they’ve arrived late to work for the past two weeks, and that they’re definitely fired. Maybe. Answer choice A is illogical because the word “should” contradicts the logic of the sentence and undermines the entire message.

Answer choice A is the only one to use the word “should”, so we cannot use that decision point to knock out any other choices. However, A does correctly begin with the word “that”, which is a correct idiom to be used with mandated. When something is mandated, it must either be “The club mandated that Ron win” or “the club mandated the victory be awarded to Ron”. Either way, the directive must be clear, and Ron must be declared the victor (now that’s what I call a win-win situation). Answer choices C and D can be eliminated because they do not follow either idiom of the verb, and the meaning of the sentence is distorted.

This only leaves answer choices B and E. Let’s evaluate answer choice B first, and we quickly notice that the sentence is more verbose than it needs to be. Furthermore, the sentence is switched to the passive voice because “time” is now the subject of the sentence, not “members”. Since the members are being mandated to do something, they must be the subject of the sentence, not the time they are volunteering. Answer choice B can be eliminated.

This leaves only answer choice E, and it is indeed the correct answer. Comparing it with answer choice A, it is exactly the same, except that it removes the superfluous “should”. In reality, the members are being mandated to help out the community, and this is non-negotiable (House of Cards’ Victor Petrov style) so there is no room for ambiguity by adding in a rider.

On the GMAT, the difference between a correct answer and an incorrect answer often comes down to which selection actually makes sense. Nowhere is this more common than on sentence correction problems, where the inclusion or exclusion of one word can dramatically alter the meaning of a phrase. Indeed, if you master the strategies of logical meaning on the GMAT, you will (not should) do well on the exam.

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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Take Notes on Critical Reasoning Questions to Increase Your GMAT Score [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Take Notes on Critical Reasoning Questions to Increase Your GMAT Score
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Imagine that you were tasked with writing questions for the GMAT. You have to produce questions that have a clear answer but will trip up a certain percentage of test-takers. How do you do that reliably? The most straightforward way I can think of is to simply inundate the test-taker with information. What elicits the loudest groans during Reading Comprehension? Long, technical passages. What is the most unpleasant thing to see in a Data Sufficiency question? Lots of complex information in the question stem.

It’s not that these questions are asking you to do hard things, but the information overload makes it hard to determine what it is that you have to do. In fact, there is a vast body of literature demonstrating that the human brain has fairly circumscribed limits when it comes to working memory. Certain questions are designed to exploit this hard-wired deficit.

So how do we combat the brain’s working memory limitations? As we learn more and more about how working memory functions, researchers have discovered effective techniques for improving it. One technique, which I mentioned in a previous post, is mindfulness meditation. Another proposed technique is the judicious use of certain kinds of brain-training games. (Note that the research on the efficacy of brain training is decidedly mixed. Some studies show a robust improvement in general fluid intelligence. Other studies conclude that the improvements participants make in the game are not transferrable to other realms. I’ll explore this in more detail in a future post.)

Though I am a proponent of practicing mindfulness – both for improving standardized test scores and for boosting our mental and physical health – and I certainly have nothing against brain-training, the best way to combat the strain that the GMAT puts on our working memory is simply to write things down. There’s no need to juggle all the dizzying elements in a complex question in your head. Break hard questions into smaller, more manageable bites.

Consider the following GMATPrep* Critical Reasoning argument.

Kernland imposes a high tariff on the export of unprocessed cashew nuts in order to ensure that the nuts are sold to domestic processing plants. If the tariff were lifted and unprocessed cashews were sold at world market prices, more farmers could profit by growing cashews. However, since all the processing plants are in urban areas, removing the tariff would seriously hamper the government’s effort to reduce urban unemployment over the next five years.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

  • Some of the by-products of processing cashews are used for manufacturing paints and plastics
  • Other countries in which cashews are processed subsidize their processing plants
  • More people in Kernland are engaged in farming cashews than in processing them
  • Buying unprocessed cashews at lower than world market prices enables cashew processors in Kernland to sell processed nuts at competitive prices
  • A lack of profitable crops is driving an increasing number of small farmers in Kernland off their land and into the cities
When I read this and try to internalize all the information, I can actually feel the strain. It’s unpleasant. So let’s boil this way down. When there is a tariff, domestic farmers are forced to sell to domestic producers. This is bad for farmers because they don’t have access to all relevant markets, and it’s good for domestic producers, because they’re competing against fewer potential buyers. As an arrow diagram, it might look like this:

Tariff –> hurt farmers –> helps domestic producers

The argument is about removing the tariff, which would, presumably, produce the opposite result. Now the farmers benefit because they have an additional market to sell to, and the domestic producers are harmed because they have to compete with foreign producers to buy the raw cashews. Our new arrow diagram would look like this:

No Tariff –> helps farmers –> hurt domestic producers.

The argument’s conclusion is that because removing the tariff will harm the domestic producers, the end result will be rising unemployment in cities. So we can tack that on to the arrow diagram:

No Tariff –> helps farmers –> hurt domestic producers –> rising unemployment in cities

If we want to weaken this argument, we want an answer choice that shows that removing the tariff will not cause unemployment to rise in cities, but rather, that not having a tariff might be good for the urban employment rate. (And note the scope here: we’re talking about urban unemployment. Attention to language detail is always crucial in CR questions).

To the answers:

  • Hard to see how the use of the by-products will shed much light on urban unemployment. Out of Scope.
  • Other countries? We’re talking about urban unemployment in Kernland. Out of scope.
  • This one is interesting. We know that removing the tariff benefits farmers. If more people are farming than processing, it stands to reason that more people benefit from the tariff’s removal. But does this tell us anything about urban unemployment? The farmers don’t live in the city. The producers do. So if those producers are hurt, urban unemployment can still go up, even if they’re outnumbered by farmers. No good.
  • We’re told specifically that if the tariff were lifted, cashews would sell “at world market prices.” Any benefit from selling at below market prices could only be realized if there were a tariff. But we’re trying to show that removing the tariff is a good thing! This answer choice does the exact opposite.
  • This is correct, but requires a little unpacking. Remember that the tariff hurt the farmers. So back in the tariff days, the farmers were struggling, and, according to this answer choice, were forced to flee to the cities. There’s no reason to believe that these farmers had jobs waiting for them, so this chain of events would raise urban unemployment. But, if we remove the tariff, the farmers benefit, and if farmers are doing well, they won’t have to flee to the city, which would actually reduce Exactly what we want. (Note also that we’re talking about urban employment. This is the only answer choice that even mentions cities.)
This was a tough one. The point here is that the best way to grapple with complexity is to distill information into digestible bits. Write down what you want in a single phrase or two. A full paragraph laden with terminology can be hard to work with. A simple arrow diagram, like “No tariff –> lower urban unemployment” is far more manageable. You have a scratch pad for a reason – to give your working memory a break.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: Want to be a RC MVP? Get Down with OPP. [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Want to be a RC MVP? Get Down with OPP.
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Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where we’re pneumonic by nature.  We’ve talked about being a Sentence Correction MVP, about using the STOP method for Reading Comprehension, about the SWIM categories for Critical Reasoning.  We’ve warned you that results can be rocky when you’re trying to finish quant problems ASAP and we spent just about all of our time talking about the GMAT.  But we’d have you shaking your head and saying WTF if we didn’t cover the most noteworthy and, yes, naughty acronym of all time: OPP.

Yep, we’re down with Naughty by Nature’s OPP, particularly as it applies to Reading Comprehension.  What do we mean by that?

Well…

OPP, how should we explain it. Let’s take it frame by frame it…the way you should be reading GMAT RC passages.

O is for Organization

P is for Primary

the last P?  Well it’s quite simple. It’s Purpose.

That’s what you should be looking for when you read each paragraph – frame by frame, so to speak – of an RC passage.  Organization refers to words that signal the author’s intent.  Details are rarely important on Reading Comp questions, and when they are you can always go back to them.  What you’re looking for are signals to tell you why the author is presenting those details.  Organization words come in a few varieties;

Transition words like “however,” “but,” “conversely,” etc. let you know that the author is changing directions.

Continuation words like “also,” “furthermore,” etc. tell you that the author is continuing along the same point.

Concluding words (“therefore,” “thus,” etc.) help you identify clear conclusions.

And overall, looking for signals of the author’s purpose is the way to approach your first read.  You likely won’t remember the details – the quant section is long and grueling as it is – and you don’t have to.  But you’ll always get a “What is the primary purpose?” style question and on those you can’t go back to a particular detail – you have to have understood the general intent of the author.  So as you read, remember that “Why” – the author’s purpose or intent in writing about the topic – is more important than “What” the author was writing about, largely because you can always go back to find the “What.”  Furthermore (there’s one of those words…), if you’ve followed the author’s intent you’ll have a better sense of where to look for particular details.

Let’s consider an example using, why not, the lyrics to OPP themselves.  If you follow Treach’s first few lines of each verse (which serve musically as paragraphs), you should see what’s going on:

Verse 1 begins:

OPP, how can I explain it.  I’ll take it frame by frame it. To have y’all jumping, shouting, singing it.  O is for Other, P is for People scratching a temple. The last P, well, that’s not that simple.  It’s sort of like…

Verse two begins:

For the ladies, OPP means something different. The first two letters are the same but the last means something different…

And if you don’t read much past those two sections – each of which contains familiar symptoms of organization – you should have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.  What’s the author Treach’s main point?  If you see an answer choice that suggests something like:

“To explain the meaning of OPP and how it differs for men and women”

or

“To demonstrate the challenge of the last P in OPP because of how it differs for men and women.”

You’re in great shape – just from paying attention you know that paragraph one introduces the concept of OPP and begins to explain the ever-challenging last initial, P, and that paragraph two deals with the difference in OPP for men and women.  From the organization and a focus on Treach’s intent with each paragraph, you should have a reasonable time with the Obligatory Primary Purpose question.

But what about the details, you might ask?

Detail-oriented questions are most easily answered by noting clues as to where to look for a particular detail.  Detail questions on this topic might include:

“Why does the author feel that explaining the last P can be so challenging?”

For that, you’d want to look in the first paragraph where he first notes that “the last P, well, that’s not that simple.”

“What does the author suggest is the primary difference in OPP between men and women?”

There you’re likely looking at the second paragraph, because you know it deals specifically with the difference.

The important concept – looking at OPP, Organization and Primary Purpose – not only helps you read at the right level to answer the general questions, but also helps you efficiently get a mental roadmap of the passage so that you know where to look for the specifics. And you should ALWAYS go back to the passage for specifics.

So if you want to get your GMAT verbal score to the 99th percentile by nature, get down with OPP: Organization and Primary Purpose. The details will be there when you need them but your primary purpose is to get through the passage efficiently and to understand the broader picture.  Why did Treach, himself, gloss over some of the more particular details, namely the last P?  According to rapgenius.com it was to get more radio airplay and, yes, to allow the song to be played for the youth at school dances.  And so heed the same advice: in order to get into more schools, don’t worry so much about the specific details (at least not at first).  But make sure you’re down with OPP.

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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Direction and Determination: Keep Your Eye On the Prize [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Direction and Determination: Keep Your Eye On the Prize
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Teachers, students, parents, Buzzfeed, and Hollywood pretty much all agree: College is awesome.

They’re right. Many high schoolers tend to think of college primarily in academic terms–which isn’t wrong, since it’s hard for someone who has never attended college to fully realize how much social, emotional, personal, intellectual, and sometimes even spiritual growth happens there. College students discover that they have more freedom and independence than most of them have ever experienced in their lives, so they quickly begin exploring new ideas, new friend groups, and new ways of thinking. In this fascinating, and sometimes dizzying, rush of new experiences and self-discovery, it’s easy to forget that the whole thing will only last about four years.

As a UC Berkeley undergraduate approaching the end of my junior year, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my time here: things I did right, things I could have done better, and how quickly everything happened. I probably should have kept my room cleaner, and actually attended a few more lectures instead of webcasting them. I haven’t entirely recovered from the trauma of my freshman year fashion choices. On the upside, I’ve become more focused, curious, and self-aware, and I did well enough in my classes and internships that I feel more or less confident that, by the time I graduate, I’ll be well prepared for graduate school and the working world.

I owe most of what I did well to some advice from a good friend of mine, who graduated two years ago. In my freshman (her junior) year, Jen and I stopped into a history professor’s office hours to ask him about a cool book he had written. Towards the end of the conversation, he asked us about our post-graduation plans. I was caught off guard: “Err, I don’t know yet. I’m just a freshman.”

He laughed. “Don’t worry about it. You’ve got a lot of time left to figure that out.”

After we left his office, Jen rolled her eyes. “I hate it when people say that. Everyone tells freshmen and sophomores they have so much time, and then boom–June happens, and suddenly they have no time at all. There’s no in-between. First you’re just another college student having fun, but three hours of someone else’s commencement later you’re an adult, and you’re supposed to be ready to get thrown into the real world. I wish someone had told me that earlier.”

Jen ended up doing perfectly well for herself. As I speak she’s traveling the world, supporting herself with a fantastic paid internship, space for promotion at her company, and two adorable cats. She’d be the first to tell you, though, that she might have saved herself a lot of stress, panic, and waitressing hours if she had started preparing for her dream career in her sophomore year instead of in her senior year. After two and a half years of low grades and sporadic class attendance, she realized in her junior year how unprepared she was to start a career in a competitive field. She began spending most nights locked in her room, applying to internships and storming through homework in an (ultimately futile) attempt to raise her GPA by taking extra courses. She ended up coming back to Berkeley a year after graduation to take a few more classes, since her first internship had shown her that she was missing some key technical skills. In her first four years she had been a scholarship student, but that money didn’t carry over to her return to school; to afford it she picked up an extra job on top of her already daunting schoolwork load.

Through all this, she has been sure to instill in me a determination to plan my education better than she did. It’s largely thanks to her urging that I applied to internships even before I felt academically ready to do so, and that I accepted an internship offer when it came. That first internship ended up being vital to my understanding of my field, and gave me skills and experience that helped me to land my next position. What I learned from my internships later informed my class choices, extracurricular involvement, and study abroad plans. I learned from Jen that, although it’s important to appreciate all the responsibilities, parties, and new experiences that come with college, it’s just as important to make sure that I never forget to develop my career plan too. Just as she said, throughout my freshman and sophomore years, my peers, professors, and advisors assured me that I had plenty of time to figure out what I wanted to do after college, but the moment I became a junior I never heard that assurance again. My schedule was almost immediately eaten up by career fairs, networking events, mock interviews, and workshops. I appreciate Jen’s advice more than ever now that I’ve seen the truth behind it for myself.

It’s never too late to start planning, but it’s never too early either.

Need more guidance in planning for college? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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Identifying and Correcting Run-On Sentences on GMAT Verbal Questions [#permalink]

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New post 30 Mar 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Identifying and Correcting Run-On Sentences on GMAT Verbal Questions
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On the GMAT, most sentence correction questions involve compound/complex sentences with multiple phrases, clauses and modifiers. Hence it is very likely that you will see some run-on sentences on your test. In the complicated sentences that we get on the GMAT, it is very easy to overlook that we are dealing with run-on sentences.

A run-on sentence has at least two independent clauses which are not connected properly. There are various ways in which a sentence may be run-on. Here are some of the most common circumstances:

  • When an independent clause gives a suggestion/advice/command based on what was said in the prior independent clause:
GMAT is a very tricky test, you should work hard.

Here, we should either split the two clauses into two sentences by putting in a full stop or we should put a semi colon between the two clauses.

[*]When two independent clauses are connected by a conjunctive adverb such as however, moreover, nevertheless. [/list]
My grandmother is supposed to travel tomorrow, however, she is not feeling well.

Here, we should either split the two clauses into two sentences by putting in a full stop or we should put a semi colon between the two clauses

To read more on conjunctive adverbs, check out this post.

[*]When the second of two independent clauses contains a pronoun that connects it to the first independent clause.[/list]
Marcy is thrilled, she got permission to go to the school dance.

Although these two clauses are quite brief, and the ideas are closely related, this is a run-on sentence. We need to put a full stop or a semi colon in place of the comma.

Now that we have an idea of what run-on sentences are, let’s look at a GMAT Prep question where this concept is tested extensively.

Question: The Anasazi settlements at Chaco Canyon were built on a spectacular scale with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each, were connected by a complex regional system of roads.

(A) with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each, were

(B) with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each,

(C) of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms, each that had been

(D) of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms and with each

(E) of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms each had been

Solution:

Consider option (A): Remove all the unnecessary elements and get the skeleton of the sentence (primarily the subject and the verbs):

The settlements were built on a spectacular scale…, were connected …

The action verb “were connected” has no subject here. If it were to have the same subject as the first clause “the Anasazi settlements”, then there should have been a conjunction joining the two clauses together. This is a run-on sentence.

Consider option (B): The problem of run-on sentence has been rectified here by using past participle instead.

The settlements were built on a spectacular scale with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each, connected by a complex regional system of roads.

Remove the non essential modifier “of up to 600 rooms each” and you see that the 75 carefully engineered structures were the ones connected by a complex system of roads. Now it all makes sense.

To read more about participles, check this post.

Let’s look at the other options too.

Option (C): You cannot say “built on a spectacular scale of more than 75 structures”. You need “with” instead of “of”. The same problem exists with options (D) and (E) too.

Also, in option (C), the use of past perfect “had been” is not justified.

Option (D): As discussed above, “scale of” is incorrect in option (D).

It is also illogical “and with each connected” doesn’t clarify what of each is connected by roads.

Option (E): As discussed above, “scale of” is incorrect in option (E).

Also, it is a run-on sentence.

The settlements were built on a spectacular scale of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms each had been connected by a complex regional system of roads.

The two different clauses do not even have a comma in between here. Also, the use of past perfect “had been” is not justified.

Hope you understand run-on sentences a little better now.

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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My Test Prep Journey to Scoring a 710 on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 31 Mar 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: My Test Prep Journey to Scoring a 710 on the GMAT
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The Veritas Prep program allowed me to reach my GMAT goals and re-learn all of the quantitative skills that I had forgotten over the past several years. I am an Army veteran, six years out of college, and Veritas Prep was the perfect program to teach me the skills I needed to succeed on the GMAT. I am thankful for the quality of the curriculum, and also very appreciative of the generous scholarship from Veritas Prep through the Service2School organization. Throughout the self-study lessons, I could always count on the on-demand videos to deliver engaging, thoughtful content and guide me through the lesson of the day. I particularly enjoyed Brian’s humorous references (the “alge, brah” joke stands out): The human element to the videos definitely helped me to remember many topics and leverage them on test day.

My goal was a score over 700, and I knew that I needed a structured, high-quality program to help me to get a top 10% score. After looking at several programs, Veritas Prep stood out as the one that would work for me. On day one of the program, I was contacted by Colleen Hill, who told me how to get started and offered her time for any questions I had throughout the course. I have to admit, I did not expect an actual person to contact me; it was a pleasant surprise! Upon receiving my materials in the mail and logging on to check out the online resources, I was again impressed by the quality of the materials. I found that I was more and more excited to begin the course. With everything organized and a thirty-day plan ahead of me, I began the course.

The curriculum was demanding, as I worked through it over a thirty-day period, and well-balanced to where I didn’t feel that I was ever losing ground in either quant or verbal. While working through the lessons, I could also always take comfort in the fact that if I didn’t understand a specific question, I could use the online homework help as a resource. Homework was challenging, which was great, and I found the explanations covered anything that I had missed when it came to why the correct answer was right, and why the wrong answers looked tempting.

When my test day finally came, I felt confident. I felt that the Veritas Prep practice tests had provided a very accurate measure of the difficulty of questions that I faced. Throughout the test, I remembered the lessons, always looking for logical ways to answer the question and leveraging a mastery of the content. I felt calm and confident throughout the test, and when I finished I had a 710. I am ecstatic at that score, especially as it is my first attempt, and I can attribute it to nothing but the exceptional quality of the Veritas Prep curriculum.

For someone who is looking for high-quality, comprehensive preparation for the GMAT, Veritas Prep should definitely be their first choice. I want to give a sincere “thank you” to Colleen and the rest of the Veritas Prep organization; you have helped me get a head start on my journey towards an MBA.

Veritas Prep is a proud sponsor of Service2School.

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!

By US Army Captain Chuck Wood
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3 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills in Business School [#permalink]

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New post 31 Mar 2015, 15:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 3 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills in Business School
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Leadership skills are one of the top skills students hope to develop while in business school. However, what few students consider is how they will develop these very important skills. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just gain leadership skills by showing up to campus on your first day of business school. Focusing on a few key areas during your business school experience will allow you to reach your goals as a future business leader.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Extra-curricular involvement and club activity is a fun and natural way to develop your leadership skills. Taking a leadership role in a student club can provide you with a great opportunity to lead your peers. Managing the day-to-day infrastructure of a student club can be an excellent way to test out management techniques learned in the classroom and from past professional experiences. Leadership in these extracurricular activities can also provide you with interview fodder during recruiting season. Companies are looking for recruits who possess intangibles – like leadership – to become future leaders in their organizations. Leveraging lessons from your extra-curricular experiences can help you stand out as a strong candidate for potential employers.

Academics

Another key area where you can develop your leadership skills is in the classroom. This is a great opportunity to lead classroom discussions, group projects, and presentations. Again, working with some of the world’s best and brightest young business students during your time in business school is great prep for what one can expect in the workplace. Proactively seizing opportunities in and out of the classroom will aid in your development as a leader.

Internships

Internships represent a professional environment to flex your leadership muscles. MBA interns are often given serious responsibilities that involve leading work streams and working with junior staffers. Utilize these opportunities to continue your growth while learning from your more experienced counterparts. In major MBA tracks like management consulting, investment banking, and brand management you can even expect a mentor to help guide you through your internship experience. Leverage these mentors to help you identify areas within your role to lead. Remember, just because you do not have formal leadership responsibilities does not mean leadership opportunities do not exist in your role. Carve out your own path if possible and show your employers that you have what it takes to become a future leader at the firm.

Leadership can exist anywhere. Canvas these categories to ensure you leave school as the business leader you strive to be.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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. Find more of his articles here.
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SAT Tip of the Week: 2 Tips to a High Score on the Essay [#permalink]

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New post 01 Apr 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: 2 Tips to a High Score on the Essay
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Using sophisticated vocabulary and writing really long paragraphs in high school essays has been a subject of intense debate. Some teachers love the added eloquence when a student includes a few large words, while others mark down for the use of a thesaurus and overstating what has already been written.

When it comes to the SAT essay, the answer is not nearly as ambiguous. Adding a few big words is extremely helpful and can even bump up your score. You will also want to be mindful of the essays requirements. Two things are important to note when tackling the essay…

  • A few fancy words is the key. Turning the SAT essay into Webster’s Thesaurus will definitely hurt your score as the readers will see through this ploy and mark you down. Instead, rely on a few advanced words that you are very comfortable with and sprinkle them in early on. Three or four advanced vocabulary terms is usually sufficient. Using these types of words early on makes a great first impression on the reader, and if everything else is in place, it can truly be the difference between a 10 and a 12. It’s important to use these words correctly, so make sure you are extremely comfortable with them. The worst thing that could happen is using a word incorrectly in the first paragraph as that will be a terrible first impression for the essay grader.

[*]Think like the grader. It is important to remember that readers do not spend that much time on each individual essay. They have hundreds to read each day and spend anywhere from 1-3 minutes scanning through and checking off the boxes that help them formulate a score of 2-12. It’s important to make sure they are able to check off all the boxes. This means filling up both pages, creating an organized five paragraph essay, and using examples from history and literature that show the reader you are an educated student. Do all of this right, and you should get at the minimum, a score of 10.[/list]
The reason using advanced vocabulary is so appealing is literally everyone can add great words to their essay. It doesn’t take a skilled writer to learn how to properly use capricious, paragon, and inhibit for example. Advanced vocabulary, if used correctly, is one of the most effective tools on the essay. Be sure to organize your paragraphs and follow the essay guidelines so that you fit the “look” of the SAT essay as the graders scan it over.

Follow these two tips and the higher score will follow. It really is that simple on the SAT essay!

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!

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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Developing Your Reapplication Strategy: Part 1 [#permalink]

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New post 01 Apr 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Developing Your Reapplication Strategy: Part 1
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Finding out you got rejected from your dream school often raises interesting questions.   Should you settle for your second or third choice, or should you hold fast to your MBA dream and re-apply to the same school(s) again next season?  High achievers often try to go for their target school again.  Recognizing you are likely more knowledgeable about the process by now, there are still a few things you should know before diving in with a reapplication.

With a nod to your resiliency, you hopefully have first spent some time formulating a plan B for this go-round.  It’s fine to re-apply to your dream school, but you if you happen to get rejected again next season, you need to have a fallback, or really, a plan C—to go for a program you’d be satisfied attending even if it’s not your top choice.  Life is too short to spend three years trying to get into grad school, and if you haven’t been able to impress the committee for two years in a row, it may simply not be in the cards for you to go there.   Often we see clients becoming enamored with a particular school, when in reality, they could receive the same or very similar education and tools (and networks and contacts and jobs) from another school.  We are all for dogged determination, but at the end of the day, we want to see you get your MBA and not spend half your career applying to school.

With that, let’s talk about a reapplication strategy.

One of the most valuable things you can use in this situation is feedback on why you didn’t make the cut last time.  Some schools will actually provide this information if you ask for it, so don’t be shy about reaching back to them.  If you are applying to a school in the top 10, you may not be able to get specifics from the admissions teams on why you didn’t get in due simply to the number of applications they receive, but you can still seek this information from outside sources by confiding in a colleague or contact who has their MBA or perhaps some insight into the process.  At the very least, you should sit down with your application and try as objectively as possible to see where you may have come up short.  If you have trouble finding such shortcomings, it may simply be the case that there were too many applicants similar to you in the pool last year, and the resulting mathematical odds did not go your way.

Assessing your weaknesses is critical to a reapplication, since you may find favor with the same admissions committee that rejected you in the past if you can somehow inoculate the concern.  Of course there are the obvious weaknesses such as a sub-par GMAT score or low GPA, or perhaps you went to a low-ranked state college (nothing you can do about that now of course except to maybe take a course or two at a better school).  The tricky part comes in the more subtle components of the application.    We’ll dive deeper into this area in the next post.

Want to craft a strong re-application? 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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When Do You Have Enough Information on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2015, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: When Do You Have Enough Information on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions?
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Habitually, data sufficiency questions give students cause for concern on the GMAT quantitative section. This is primarily due to the fact that data sufficiency questions are rarely seen in high school and college, and are therefore relatively unknown to most prospective test takers.  If you remember the first data sufficiency question you encountered while studying for the GMAT, it may have looked like it was written in another language.

In many ways, data sufficiency questions are like being in a foreign land. Even if you understand the rules, you’re often not as comfortable as in your native environment that you’ve acclimated to over many years (e.g.  an Englishman in New York). It is normal to feel a little discombobulated, especially at first. However, once you’ve done a few (hundred) data sufficiency questions, you tend to get a feel for the question type. One issue still eludes a lot of test takers: When is it enough?

Data sufficiency is asking about (drum roll, please) when the data is sufficient. It’s pretty easy to disprove something if you can find a counter-example right away, but if you struggle with finding definitive proof, how long should you try to work at it.

Suppose a question asks whether X^2 = Y^3, that is asking whether any perfect square is also a perfect cube, you could spend a lot of time meandering towards a solution. What if we try 2^3, which gives 8? Well 8 isn’t a perfect square of any number, so we keep going. 3^3 is 27, which isn’t a perfect square of any number either. How far should we go? The next number, 4^3, gives 64, which is a perfect square, so we found an example relatively quickly, but we could conceivably spend several minutes calculating various permutations. Imagine a question asking if X^2 = Z^5 and see how long it would take to find an example.

The good news is that the question is almost always solvable using logic, algebra and mathematical properties. The bad news is it’s not always obvious how to proceed with these definitive approaches, and the brute force strategy is often employed. We can try various options and see if any of them work, while at the same time looking for patterns that tend to repeat or signal the underlying logic of the situation. While this strategy certainly has its place, it can sometimes be very wearisome.

Let’s look at a data sufficiency question that highlights this issue:

W, X, Y and Z represent distinct integers such that WX * YZ = 1,995. What is the value of W?

   WX

* YZ

_____

1,995

  • X is a prime number
  • Z is not a prime number
  • Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.
  • Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.
  • Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.
This question can be very tempting to start off with brute force. We can limit our choices by looking at the unit digits. If the unit digit of the product is 5, then there are only a few digits that are possible for X and Z. They all have to be odd, and, more than that, one of them must be exactly 5, as no other digits combine to give a 5. If one of them is 5, the other one is some odd number, 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. Unfortunately, multiple options exist at both prime (3, 5 and 7) and non-prime (1, 9) for these digits, so it will be hard to narrow down the choices (where’s a dart board when you need one?)

Let’s look at this problem another way, which is: these two numbers must multiply to 1,995. We know one number ends with a 5, so we arbitrarily set it to be 25 and see what that gives if we set the other number to be 91. That comes to 2,275, which is way above what we need. How about 25 * 81, that yields 2,025. That’s too big, but just barely. How about 25 * 79? That will give us 1,975, which is slightly too small. We can’t get 1,995 with 25, but that’s all we’ve demonstrated so far. We can eliminate some choices as number like 15 can never be multiplied by a 2-digit number and yield 1,995, but there are still numerous choices to test.

It’s pretty easy to see how the brute force approach when you have dozens of possibilities will be very tedious. There’s another element that’s even worse, which is let’s say you manage to find a combination that works (such as 21 * 95), how can you be sure that this is the only way to get this product? Short of trying every single possibility (or calling the Psychic Friends hotline), you can’t be sure of your answer.

This problem thus requires a more structured approach, based on mathematical properties and not dumb luck. If two numbers multiply to a specific product, then we can limit the possibilities by using factors. We thus need to factor out 1,995 and we’ll have a much better idea of the limitations of the problem.

1,995 is clearly divisible by 5, but the other number might be hard to produce. The easiest trick here is to think of it as 2,000, and then drop one multiple of 5. Since 2,000 is 5 x 400, this is 5 x 399. Now, 399 is a lot easier than it looks, because it’s clearly divisible by 3 (since the digits add up to 21, which is a multiple of 3). Afterwards, we have 133, which is another tough one, but you might be able to see that it’s divisible by 7, and actually comes to 7 x 19. Finally, since 19 is prime, we have the prime factors of 1,995: 3 x 5 x 7 x 19.

How does this help? Well there may be 16 factors of 1,995, but the limitations of the problem tell us that we only have two two-digit numbers. Thus something like 15 * 133 breaks the rules of the problem. Our only options to avoid 3-digits are 19*3 and 5*7 or 19*5 and 3*7. This gives us either 57 * 35 or 95 * 21. At least at this point we’re 100% sure that these are the only two-digit permutations that combine to give 1,995.

Let’s get back to the problem. Statement 1 tells us that X (the unit digit of the first number) is prime, which knocks out 21 from the running. However the three other options all end with a prime unit digit, meaning that any of them are still possible. At this point it’s very important to note that the problem specified that W, X, Y and Z were all distinct integers. Since they must all be different, the option of 57 * 35 is not valid because the 5 is duplicated. As such, the only option is 95*21, and the prime number restriction confirms that it’s really 95 * 21 (and not 21 * 95). Variable W must be 9, and thus this statement ends up being sufficient.

Statement 2 essentially provides the same information, as Z is not a prime number and thus necessarily 1 given our choices. This confirms that the multiplication is 95 * 21 and W is still 9. Either statement alone is sufficient, so answer choice D is the correct option here. It’s important to note how close this question was to being answer choice B, as the non-prime limitation ensured we knew where the 1 was. But the fact that these digits had to be distinct changed the answer from B to D, reinforcing the adage that you should read the questions carefully.

This question can be solved without factors, but it is very hard to confidently answer it using only a brute-force approach. Solving through mathematics and number properties is not always the easiest route to success on data sufficiency. Sometimes you can write down a few options and see exactly how the problem will unfold, but if you use concrete concepts, you’ll know when it’s been enough.

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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Developing Your Reapplication Strategy: Part 2 [#permalink]

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New post 03 Apr 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Developing Your Reapplication Strategy: Part 2
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Before you dive in, take a look at Part 1 of this post.

One of the most common reasons for rejection for business school applications is when the applicant’s career vision is not clearly connected to what they did in the past, or simply failing to convey a passionate, compelling case for why they needed the MBA.  This often comes down to a simple failure of message.  It could be that the overall picture that was painted was not articulated in a way that captured the attention of the committee.

How was your fit with your target programs demonstrated?   Was there something in your application that communicated a poor match with their culture or curriculum?  These are the questions that can truly drive you crazy, since it’s largely guesswork.

Whether or not you can isolate and address a weaknesses in your application, however, is not nearly as important as communicating to the committee what you have done since last year to make you a better candidate this year.  This is the number one most important issue to consider when re-applying.  In fact, many schools will only require one essay for a re-applicant, which is basically some version of “what has changed to make you a more viable candidate?”

This is where you should focus, and hopefully you recognized this task soon enough after your rejection last year so that you have spent the past 12 months making things happen to improve your candidacy.  From bettering your GMAT results, to getting a promotion at work, to seeking out new leadership opportunities, there is really no limit to what you can do to improve your profile.  If those efforts happen to directly address an identified weakness, even better.

Many schools show favor to re-applicants.  Some say your odds go up 30% when you reapply.  Maybe schools like the determination they see, or appreciate the demonstration of passion for and commitment to their program. Or perhaps re-applicants simply work harder in the 12 months between seasons to sharpen their attractiveness as a potential MBA candidate.   Whether it’s self-fulfilling prophesy or statistical advantage,  there are good reasons to try again at your target schools, so long as you give some thoughtful analysis to why you didn’t make it and apply some concerted effort into new achievements to enrich your profile.

You have several months ahead to get going on a new plan, and then another whole year before you’d have to matriculate.  Be intentional about seeking out challenges which will truly impress the admissions committee and reveal a stark contrast and improvement over the profile you just submitted and saw rejected.

Want to craft a strong re-application? 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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5 Best Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen [#permalink]

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New post 03 Apr 2015, 12:01
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 5 Best Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen
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If you’ve gone to a few college fairs and admissions events, especially if you’ve already been accepted to a college, you start to hear the same things over and over again. Specifically:

  • Go to office hours.
  • Don’t skip class.
  • Have a financial plan.
  • Make sure you finish your graduation requirements.
  • Explore the career center, clubs, and other resources that colleges have to offer outside of classes.
All of this is excellent advice. After all, you probably wouldn’t have heard each one of these fifty times each if it weren’t. I’d go as far as to say these are probably the best five pieces of advice an entering college freshman should hear.

That doesn’t mean, though, that they should be the only advice you hear. Here are the next five best pieces of advice I heard coming into college—things which were repeated much less often, but which ended up contributing to my college experience almost as much as the first five did.

1. Don’t pack your schedule five days a week from 8am to 6pm, like you used to do in high school. Unless you’re willing to make some serious social or personal sacrifices, it doesn’t work. It really just doesn’t.

2. On a related note: Do some research on classes you plan to take before you actually sign up for them. Look for an online syllabus, or ask the professor (or a former student) for a copy of a recent one. About how many hours of study should you expect to commit outside of class time? What subjects are covered? Is the professor listed on ratemyprofessors.com? Did other students like the class, and why? If it’s a required class: Do you have the option of taking it another semester? Do multiple professors teach it, and can you choose which professor you take it with? It’s much easier to sign up for the right classes than to have to drop them later (and to have to scrounge for space in replacement classes.

3. Make friends with your professors. Not just for letters of recommendation, or for networking purposes; make a real effort to get to know them. They are some of the most interesting, well-educated, experienced people on campus, and more often than not they’re quite happy to get to know you too. I’ve gotten some of my best life and career advice from coffee breaks with professors.

4. Take courses outside of your major. Your college offers access to a huge breadth of knowledge, and it would be a shame not to explore beyond your corner of the academic world. Entering new fields of study can introduce you to people you wouldn’t otherwise meet or relate to, help you discover new passions, and even enrich your understanding of your own subject.

5. Keep a record of your college life. I, for instance, like to journal. Some of my friends like to take lots of pictures. Whatever medium you choose, remember to document the best and the worst of these four-ish years. It’s astonishing how quickly we forget the little things, like the feeling of walking into a new apartment for the first time, or the best pizza the dining hall has to offer. Once in a while, when I’m feeling nostalgic or in need of a pick-me-up, I flip through the early pages of my journal and rediscover a little part of my past that makes me laugh, or reminds me how far I’ve come since that first year in the dorms. My mother still has her sorority scrapbooks, and likes pointing out how terrible her hair used to be, and what her pledge sisters—later, bridesmaids and best friends—looked like before they started dressing professionally. It’s easy to snap a picture or scribble down a few notes, and well worth the time.

Best of luck in your applications!

Need more guidance in planning for college? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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