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Do I Really Need an Admissions Consultant? [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Do I Really Need an Admissions Consultant?
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The admissions statistics can be terrifying. Just under 9% of all applicants got into the Ivy Leagues in 2014 and the numbers seem to get impossibly lower every year. So how can I set myself apart compared to the thousands of other applicants?

As you’re starting the college application process or as you’re starting to think about preparing for college, you may be asking yourself if you really need an admissions consultant.

Like with many of life’s questions, the answer is both no and yes.

For students who are self-directed and know exactly how to approach college applications, the answer may be no. Not everyone needs an admissions consultant. Usually students who are driven, self-directed, and have a great sense of themselves are students who are most successful completing applications on their own. For those who choose not to work with a consultant, parents can play an important role. Parents can help their children through every step of the process – research, match, college visits, application deadlines, and completing each component of the application – or the student can take responsibility for each of these items themselves.

Some students may just need a little bit of help. These students tend to be those who are meticulous and able to work without much direction, but could possibly use a bit more help with finding their voice and expressing themselves creatively and uniquely. Students who just need some help brainstorming topics for their essays and need help digger a bit deeper to write compelling applications may find that a consultant can really provide the extra push that they needed.

Other students (and parents) may find that they need more help through each step of the process. These students may find that a consultant provides a great deal of value because they are able to answer questions and solve problems on the spot, which can save everyone a great deal of time and angst. These families may find that a consultant is the additional help they need to not only keep the process going, but to ensure that the process is a smooth one. Students who are applying to college as the first in their families or those who need more one-on-one attention through the process may benefit from working with a college admissions consultant.

So how can admissions consulting help me get into the top colleges?

For those students who are looking to get into the top colleges, working with an admissions consultant may provide the extra edge that sets them apart from the thousands of other students applying to these schools. An admissions consultant can help you find your unique strengths and help to ensure that you have highlighted those attributes in your application components. The can help you engage in rigorous self-reflection to ensure that your personal statement is an accurate representation of your personality and passions. They can help you to package your application in a way that is authentic and compelling so that you have the best chance of getting into your dream schools.

Still have questions about college admissions?  Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

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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Fishing for the Right Answer to Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 21 May 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Fishing for the Right Answer to Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions
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While preparing for the GMAT, there will be certain question types that will appear over and over again. If you’re studying math, you know that you’ll see at least a couple of exponent problems that you’ll need to solve through algebra. If you’re studying sentence correction, you know that you’ll see at least a couple of misplaced modifiers that need to be modified in the correct answer choice. Some question types are so obvious that you know you have to prepare for them, even if you somehow manage to not see a single one on test day (kind of like fishing).

However, there are other question types that you rarely see on the GMAT. Questions about the volume of spheres (or the winds of winter), or conjugating verbs in the subjunctive mood just don’t come up that often on the GMAT. This means that some people feel like they can skip these lessons and concentrate on the “big fish”, as it were (more fishing analogies).

The problem is that, when you inevitably stumble upon a question you haven’t bothered to prepare for, you start panicking. Sometimes, the panic is not noticeable, but subconsciously you begin to lose confidence and wonder how you’re going to answer this question. The sad truth is that there’s a good chance you’ll have to take an educated guess and move on. This isn’t so bad, as long as the negative effects are limited only to the question being asked. Unfortunately, these qualms tend to linger with most test takers for at least a few questions afterwards.

The best strategy for someone who wants to do really well on the GMAT is to know every type of question that can be asked of you. Understandably, you should spend more time on the broad topics that are sure to be covered more frequently, but there should not be any “oh gosh” moments on the GMAT (unless you took the exam in the ‘50s) to zap your confidence.

Let’s look at an example and what to do if we’re really not sure what to do on a question.

Economic analysts predict that by 2030 populations of urban areas will have increased by 60%. This will have tremendous impact on the demand for water in these areas. The increased demand will exhaust the local supplies of water and potable water sources will be drawn to urban areas from longer distances, resulting in a dramatic rise in the price of water.

Which of the following roles do the two boldfaced portions play?

A) The first is the conclusion of the argument; the second is a prediction that serves as the basis for the argument.

B) The first is a prediction that serves as the basis for the argument; the second is the conclusion of the argument.

C) The first is a conclusion that serves as the basis of the argument; the second is a prediction that follows from the conclusion and is used to support the argument.

D) The first is a prediction that serves as the basis for the argument; the second is a prediction that follows from the conclusion.

E) The first is a prediction that serves as the basis for the argument; the second is a consequence that follows from the prediction and is used to support the argument.

Questions that ask about the roles of boldface sections fall under the Method of Reasoning subsection of Critical Reasoning.  These questions are somewhat rare on the GMAT, and as a result students don’t tend to have much experience with them. Trying to decipher them without much experience is eminently doable, but a little practice ahead of time will help ensure that your grade doesn’t sink on test day (I’ve definitely jumped the shark with these water metaphors).

The beauty of roles of boldface questions is that they’re asking you to evaluate two phrases, and the answer choices contain two elements. This means that you can look at them one at a time, independently of the other half of the answer choice, and eliminate the choices that don’t match up to your expectations.

Let’s look at the first section “Economic analysts predict that by 2030 populations of urban areas will have increased by 60%.” The five answer choices all have a selection that ends with a semi-colon to describe this phrase. Looking at the choices above, A and C state “the first is a conclusion of the argument”, while B, D and E state “the first is a prediction that serves as the basis for the argument”. This section certainly seems like a prediction (the third word is even “predict”), but let’s dive into the passage more to identify the conclusion. This should be easy; as you’re tasked with finding the conclusion for any strengthen or weaken Critical Reasoning questions.

Using the “why?” test, it becomes apparent that the conclusion is the last line: “resulting in a dramatic rise in the price of water.” Why? Because of the increase in demand. Why? Because the increased demand will mean water will come from further away. Why? Because people are moving more and more to urban areas. Why? (I feel like Steve Austin here) We don’t know that, it’s just stated as a premise. Now that we’ve identified what the conclusion of this passage is, we can more convincingly knock off incorrect answer choices.

The first section is clearly a prediction, and the conclusion of the passage is the following sentence, so we can eliminate answer choices A and C because they do not correctly identify the role of this phrase. We then move on to the second bolded section of the passage: potable water sources will be drawn to urban areas from longer distances. Looking at the second half of the three remaining choices, we have:

B) “The second is the conclusion of the argument”

D) “The second is a prediction that follows from the conclusion”

E) “The second is a consequence that follows from the prediction and is used to support the argument”

Since we’ve already identified the conclusion of the passage, we can quickly eliminate answer choice B. The conclusion is that the price of water will increase given the increased demand, so answer choice D inverses the relationship between the bolded section and the conclusion. Logically, the fact that water will need to be drawn from further away will contribute to the increase in the price of water, not the other way around. Since this is used to support the argument, answer choice E will be the correct choice.

Logically, you should spend most of your time on question types you know are going to show up on the exam. That means that there may be some instances of seeing question types for the first time on test day. If that happens, remember that the GMAT is primarily a test of how you think, so use the same logical tenets you would use on any other question. Here, we identified the conclusion of a passage, eliminated answer choices inconsistent with our analysis, and ultimately found the only correct answer choice. If you do the same on test day, you’ll end up with a whale of a score.

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.
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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GMAT Tip of the Week: Snoop Dogg Keeps Your Data Sufficiency Ability O [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2015, 09:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Snoop Dogg Keeps Your Data Sufficiency Ability Out Of Limbo
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Whenever you’re picking numbers on a Data Sufficiency problem, you have to keep one image in your mind: Snoop Dogg at a limbo contest. How will that help you master Data Sufficiency? How can the Doggfather help you beat the Testmaker? Well think about the two questions that Snoop would be asking himself constantly at such a contest:

1) How high can I get? (Snoop’s general state of mind)

2) How low can I go? (Because you know Snoop’s in it to win it)

And that mindset is absolutely crucial in a Data Sufficiency number-picking situation. On these problems, the GMAT Testmaker knows your tendencies well: you’re predisposed to picking numbers that are easy to work with. Consider an example like:

If x is a positive integer less than 30, what is the value of x?

(1) When x is divided by 3 the remainder is 2.

(2) When x is divided by 5 the remainder is 2

On this problem, most can quite quickly eliminate statement 1, as x could be 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, or 29. Typically your quick-thinking methodology will have you look at 3, then add the remainder of 2 (producing 5), then start looking at other multiples of 3 and doing the same (6 + 2 gives you 8, 9 + 2 gives you 11, and so on).

And similarly you can apply that logic to statement 2 and eliminate that pretty quickly. The obvious first candidate is 7 (add the remainder of 2 to 5), and then you should see the pattern: 7, 12, 17, 22, and 27 are your options.

So when you look at these quick lists and see that the only place they overlap is 17 (17/5 is 3 remainder 2 and 17/3 is 5 remainder 2), you might opt for C.

But where does Snoop Dogg’s Limbo Contest come in? Look at the range they gave you: a POSITIVE INTEGER (so anything > 0) LESS THAN 30 (so anything <30). So when you combine those, your range is 0 < x < 30. Then ask yourself:

*How high can you get? Well, on either list you’ve gotten as close to 30 as possible. The next possible number on the first list (5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29…) is 32, but they tell you that x is less than 30 so you can’t get that high. And the next possible number on the second list (7, 12, 17, 22, 27…) is also 32, but again you’re not allowed to get that high. So you’ve definitely answered that question well.

*How low can you go? On this one, you haven’t yet exhausted the lower limit. Look at the patterns on those lists – on the first one, all numbers are 3 apart but you started at 5. If you move down 3, you get to 2 (2, 5, 8…). And 2/3 is 0 remainder 2, so 2 is a legitimate number on that list, a positive integer that leaves a remainder of 2 when divided by 3. And on the second list, you started at 7 and kept adding 5s. Move 5 spots to the left and you’re again at 2, which does leave a remainder of 2 when divided by 5. So upon closer examination, this problem has two solutions: 2 and 17.

The GMAT does a masterful job of setting ranges that test-takers don’t exhaust, and that’s where the Snoop Limbo mentality comes into play. If you’re always asking yourself “how high can I get and how low can I go?” you’ll force yourself to consider all available options. So for example, if the test were to tell you that:

x^2 < 25 –> This doesn’t just mean that x is less than 5 (how high can you get) it also means that x is greater than -5 (how low can you go)

x is a positive three-digit integer –> make sure you try 100 (how low can you go) and 999 (how high can you get)

x > 0 –> You might want to start with 1, but make sure you consider fractions like 1/2 and 1/8, too (how low can you go? all the way to 0.00000….0001), and try a number in the thousands or millions too (how high can you get?) since most people will just test easy-reference numbers like 1, 2, 5, and 10. A massive number might react differently.

In triangle ABC, angle ABC measures greater than 90 degrees –> remember that “how high can you get” is capped by the fact that the three angles have to add to 180, but this obtuse angle can get up even above 179 (how high can you get?)

x is a nonnegative integer –> the smallest integer that’s not negative is 0, not 1! How low can you go? You’d better check 0.

3 < x < 5 –> it doesn’t have to be 4, as x could be 3.0000000001 or 4.99999999

So keep Snoop’s Limbo Contest in mind when you pick numbers on Data Sufficiency problems. Don’t just pick the easiest numbers to plug in or the first few numbers that come to mind. The GMAT often plays to the edge cases, so always ask yourself how high you can get and how low you can go.

(and for our readers who prefer East Coast rap to West Coast rap, feel free to substitute this with the “Biggie (how big a number can you use) Smalls (how small a number can you use)” method and you can end up with a notoriously big score).

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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Getting to Know the GRE: What is Analytical Writing? [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Getting to Know the GRE: What is Analytical Writing?
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There are three sections included on the Graduate Record Examination, also known as the GRE. They are the verbal reasoning, quantitative, and analytical writing sections. Most students are familiar with the reading (verbal reasoning) and math (quantitative) sections of the test, but some students may be wondering: What is analytical writing?

In this section of the test, students are required to craft an argument essay as well as an issue essay based on a written prompt. At Veritas Prep, our team provides students with practical strategies on how to approach these essays, as well as what to include in them. In short, we give students the tools they need to tackle all sections of the GRE, including the analytical writing section. With help from Veritas Prep, any student can enjoy success on this section of the exam.

What is Analytical Writing?

A student who is skilled at analytical writing is able to clearly express an argument, as well as provide sufficient support for it. In order to become skillful at writing issue essays, a student must be able to anticipate the arguments of someone who holds an opposing viewpoint. More importantly, the student must know how to refute those arguments. Organization, clarity, and logic are all elements of a successful analytical essay.

The Analytical Writing Section on the Exam

The analytical writing section of the GRE requires students to write both an issue and an argument essay (PDF). The issue essay requires a student to take a side on a particular issue and offer evidence defending his or her point of view. The argument essay, on the other hand, requires students to evaluate the validity of the argument outlined in the prompt and then explain why the argument is or is not valid. Our talented instructors at Veritas Prep provide valuable tips to students on how to approach and plan out each type of essay. Students who take GRE prep courses with us learn how to create an effective essay regardless of the topic. Our instructors know that GRE graders don’t focus on a student’s point of view on a particular issue. Instead, they focus on how well a student expresses his or her ideas.

How to Practice for the Analytical Writing Section

Choosing a prompt and writing a practice essay is one of the best ways for students to improve their skills in analytical writing. GRE practice essays can also help students learn how to craft a convincing essay within the 30 minutes they are given on test day. Students working with Veritas Prep instructors can have their practice essays critiqued by the experts. Our instructors offer practical advice to students on how to improve on the weak areas of an essay. Students who work with our tutors learn essay-writing strategies that effectively prepare them for the analytical writing section of the GRE. Analytical writing tips and techniques give students the confidence they need to write essays that will truly impress the test graders.

Utilize High-Scoring Essays

It’s very helpful for students to read successful essays written by other students. This gives them a good idea of what GRE graders are looking for. Our professional instructors go over sample essays with students in order to point out the specific elements that contributed to an essay’s high score. So, when a student writes a practice essay, he or she knows what to include and what to leave out. When it comes to the GRE, analytical writing tips are only valuable when they come from individuals who’ve mastered the test.

Read Articles to Prep for the Analytical Writing Section

Reading various articles in newspapers and magazines can also be helpful to a student who is practicing for the section on analytical writing. GRE essay prompts sometimes feature current issues. A student who reads well-written editorials in the newspaper is able to see all of the elements required to create a convincing argument. Also, a student can absorb how writers present evidence to defend a particular point of view on a controversial issue.

Students who take our GRE prep classes benefit from working with experienced instructors and first-rate study resources. Our tutors are experts at providing the support and encouragement a student needs to be successful on the test. Contact our offices today to ask about our online courses and get the advantage over your peers on the GRE!

Are you studying for the GRE? We have an online GRE course starting in July! And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
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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The Symmetry Puzzle on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Symmetry Puzzle on the GMAT
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A few days back, a student of ours asked me this question – in which cases is symmetry useful to us? Honestly, I don’t think I can create an exhaustive list of the topics where it could be useful. The first thing that comes to mind is of course, Geometry. Circles/equilateral triangles/squares/cubes are symmetrical figures. Symmetry helps us simplify questions which are based on these figures. We have also seen the uses of symmetry in dice throwing. In arrangements too, symmetry helped decrease our work substantially.

Today, let’s look at a puzzle where symmetry helps.

Question: A spider is sitting on one corner of a cube. It wants to get to the most distant corner but it can crawl only along the edges of the cube and cannot revisit a place where it has already been. In how many different ways can the spider go to the most distant corner?

(A) 6

(B) 12

(C) 18

(D) 24

(E) 30

Solution: The question is a puzzle type combinatorics questions. It seems like we will have to painstakingly calculate the various paths that the spider can take. But notice that the figure we have is a cube – a symmetrical figure. Let’s draw the figure to see what the question is asking.

 

Image

Now, assume that the spider is at A. In that case, he has to go to F – the farthest vertex from A. Every vertex has only one vertex farthest to it. C, E and G are equidistant from A but they are in the same plane. F is further off than C, E and G. So it needs to go from A to F:

Step 1:

It can crawl only along the edges so from A, it can take three different paths – AB or AH or AD. As far as F is concerned, all the points D, H and B  are similar.

Step 2:

Now, from each of these 3 points, the spider has two path options. If it is at D, it can crawl on DE or DC. The third path from D leads back to A but the spider is not allowed to revisit a place. So there are only two forward options for it – DE or DC.

Similarly, if it is at H, it can crawl on HE or on HG. If it is at B, it can crawl on BG or BC. So the total number of paths that we have found till now are  3*2.

Till now, we hope you did not face any problems.

Step 3:

Now comes the tricky part. The spider is at one of three vertices – E, C or G. Assume it came the AD – DE route and is now at E. There are multiple ways in which it can reach F. The obvious one is directly from E to F. But it can also go to F via H because it has not visited a number of other vertices (H, G, B, C)

There are three ways in which it can reach F now:

  • directly E to F
  • a three path EH – HG – GF
  • a five path EH – HG – GB – BC – CF
This takes care of all the ways in which it can reach F from E.

Since we found 3 different paths from E, it is obvious that we will find 3 different paths from C and from G too. It is a symmetrical figure and hence we don’t need to calculate the number of paths from each point. In any case, we have 3 ways to reach F now.

So total different paths to reach the farthest vertex = 3*2*3 = 18

Answer (C)

Hope you see how symmetry helps us reduce our work substantially.

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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Harvard Business School Application Essays & Deadlines for 2015-2016 [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Harvard Business School Application Essays & Deadlines for 2015-2016
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MBA applicants, start your engines. A handful of the top U.S. business schools have already released their application essays and admissions deadlines, it’s that time of year when we start digging into them for you. Today, we’re going to start with the business school with the biggest name and the earliest Round 1 deadline: Harvard Business School.

After years of slimming its essays down to the point where it had only one essay and even made it optional, HBS has changed course this year. The school has an all-new essay prompt, and it’s no longer optional. The essay becoming mandatory again actually isn’t huge news; in a recent blog post, HBS Admissions Director explained that, not surprisingly, every applicant submitted a response. So, no point in making the essay optional and confusing the issue. There’s one essay in the application (not counting the Post-Interview Reflection), and you’re going to write it if you want to get into HBS.

Without further ado, here are Harvard’s deadlines and essays (including the “Post-Interview Reflection”), followed by our comments in italics:

Harvard Business School Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: September 9, 2015

Round 2: January 6, 2016

Round 3: April 4, 2016

Harvard still has the earliest Round 1 deadline in the business, although the school’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year. To give you an idea of how much this deadline has crept up over the years, back in 2008 HBS’s Round 1 deadline came on October 15! Harvard’s Round 3 deadline moved up two days this season, but that’s the only change this season.

Harvard Business School Admissions Essays

  • It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself. Note: Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them. We suggest you view this video before beginning to write. (No word limit)

    Harvard went with an entirely new essay prompt this year. Last year’s “What else would you like us to know?” question seemed effective, but this change tells us that the HBS admissions committee is still trying hard to break applicants out of the habit of writing overly formal essays that don’t tell them anything interesting. While Harvard is normally a trendsetter, this year the school follows in the footsteps of schools such as Stern and Fuqua, which have used similar questions in recent years.

    By trying to put you in the shoes of students who have already gotten in and are now introducing themselves to their classmates, HBS wants get you to write with as natural a voice as is possible. In fact, in the blog post that introduces this question, Dee Leopold urges you to imagine “saying it out loud.” Of course, you will (and should) put more thought into this essay than you would put into what few words you might say to break the ice in Aldrich Hall.

    Any essay you write here still needs to help you do at least one of the two things that all successful MBA applicants do — demonstrate fit with HBS and also stand out in a very competitive field of applicants. Resist the urge to go for a gimmick, but don’t be afraid to truly listen to Leopold and actually let your hair down a bit. What brought you to this point in your life? What do you want to do after HBS? (Remember, write in the voice of someone who’s already gotten in.) What do you like to do outside of school and work? What gets you up in the morning? What would you say in your verbal introduction to get a laugh out of your new friends?

    Of course, the challenge is that there’s a lot that you would normally emphasize in a more traditional essay (“Why an MBA? Why now? Why HBS?”) that you probably wouldn’t say as you’re speaking to your new classmates. While in a traditional essay you might want to go on and on about how your minimal community involvement is actually something you’re really passionate about, how much time would you really spend on that in a verbal introduction? So, those things need to come out in your resume, your recommendations, and — should you get that far — your admissions interview.

    Overall, we bet that applicants will still err on the side of being too formal (and to wordy!) with this essay. One way to combat this is to actually record yourself doing a verbal introduction of yourself, and then, once you have a complete draft of an essay, compare it to see how much it matches it in terms of tone and length (not necessarily in terms of exact content). If your written piece is much longer or much more formal than your verbal sample, you know you have a bit more work to do to get to what the Harvard Business School admissions committee wants to see. We expect that most great responses will take up less than 1,000 words (maybe even more like 500 words) here.
  • Post-Interview Reflection: Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection through our online application system. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.

    The Post-Interview Reflection gives you a chance to include anything you wish you had been able to mention in the interview, and to reframe anything that you discussed but have since thought about a bit more. You will submit this piece within 24 hours of your interview.

    Especially since this letter has no word limit, the temptation will be for you to cram in half a dozen additional things that you wish you had covered in the interview. However, less is always more — keep the note limited to no more than two or three core ideas that you want to highlight. Ideally you covered all of the important things in the interview already, but of not, then this is a chance to hit on those here. Keep in mind, though, that sharing these ideas in the interview is always going to be more effective than cramming them into this note.

    Finally, be realistic about how much this letter will help you. Chances are that it won’t turn a dud of an interview into a terrific one in hindsight. Do NOT go into the interview with this note already drafted; let it truly be a reaction to the discussion, which was hopefully an interesting and provocative one. If your interviewer reads this note and it sounds like a replay of an entirely different discussion than what he or she remembers, that will only serve to hurt you come decision time.
Every year we help dozens of applicants apply to Harvard Business School. Want to see if you have what it takes to get into HBS? You can get a free profile evaluation from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum
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Professors Do Not Bite: How I Made Friends in College (And What I Lear [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2015, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Professors Do Not Bite: How I Made Friends in College (And What I Learned)
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No one believes me when I say it today, but I was on the shy side in high school.

I’ve come a long way since then. I teach SAT and ACT classes to groups large and small, I thrive in both lecture halls and class discussions, and I’ve become very social. I was helped along in my growing process by the fact that socializing in high school is, in many ways, quite different from socializing in college—the impetus I needed to proactively build social confidence. I wasn’t expecting the difference, so I was surprised at the number of new things I had to adapt to. A few of the most memorable:

  • Recognizing that professors don’t bite. I’ve taken classes with some truly extraordinary researchers, all of whom were much more knowledgeable and experienced than me in nearly every subject we discussed. I once recognized fifteen minutes too late that I was speaking with the researcher who wrote most of the core literature on the theory we were talking about. It took me some time to build up enough confidence to approach professors, but I’m happy I did; I’ve gotten excellent advice, letters of recommendation, and academic insight from many of them. Professors are very much human, usually happy to help explain things, and almost always very forgiving of inexperience. After all, you’re there to learn!
  • Spending time with people outside of my immediate age range. A four-year age difference is considerably more noticeable in high school than it is in college, if only because the physical differences between high school freshmen and seniors are much more obvious than those between college freshmen and seniors. I routinely mistake graduate students for undergraduate freshmen and vice versa; only yesterday I discovered that a friend of mine is not, in fact, my age, but seven years older than me. I spent my first year in college clinging tightly to a group of people my own age, but over time I learned 1) how to relate to people of different ages and in different life stages, 2) how valuable that skill would be in the real world, and 3) that age really is just a number.
  • Having to go out of my way to stay in touch with people. It was often much easier for me to maintain friendships in high school than in college since my high school had less than 2,000 students, and since I saw many of the same people every school day. UC Berkeley, by contrast, has 34,000 students spread over almost two square miles of campus classrooms, most classes don’t meet every day, everyone’s schedules are less in sync with one another, and very few of my friends are in my classes. This may not be as true in smaller schools or in different academic environments, but at least at UC Berkeley I’ve found consistently that I and most people I know have had to get used to actively making time for close friends and for socializing in general. Unless I make my friends a time priority, I rarely get to see them at all.
  • Attending a large and diverse school. I hadn’t thought much about school size before coming to UC Berkeley, but I’m very happy I chose to come to a large and diverse college. It’s hard to stay in touch with people I meet unless I go out of my way to, but I get to meet new people every day and am exposed to students from all walks of life. I learn more about the world from the people around me than the content of my classes, and have become more socially adaptable and culturally sensitive. I have friends at smaller, more homogenous colleges who tell me they love the familiarity and community there, but I’m sure I made the right school-size decision for my own personality and goals.
Still uncertain about college? We can help! 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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SAT Tip of the Week: Here is How You Break Down Your Score Report [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Here is How You Break Down Your Score Report
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Last week, SAT scores became available online. Generally students focus on one number: the overall total out of 2400. Some will focus on the breakdown of the three sections: reading comprehension, writing, and math to see which areas they excelled in and which still need work. This bird’s eye view evaluation is a good way to measure your overall progress in terms of your score, but looking at it from such a distant perspective does not give you the tools you need to improve for the next test.

In order to do this, the best thing you can do is look even deeper into the section breakdowns, to look at the types of questions you missed and which specific areas you should devote more time to, and which you can be confident in for future tests. Areas are specific. It’s not just how many math problems you got correct, but actually figuring out how many geometry type questions you got right and how many you missed. An evaluation at this level will provide the insight necessary to allow you to succeed.

For writing, it’s helpful to break down your essay as well as the multiple choice questions. The essay is a more holistic review. Look at your score, and reread the essay from a grader’s perspective. Was your word choice too simplistic? Was your organization of paragraphs confusing or did it flow? Identify the areas of weakness, and make a note to start honing in on these facets of the essay for future practice tests. At this point you know what your strengths are on the essay; it’s time to improve the weaknesses.

In terms of the multiple choice section, figure out which specific skills you are good at, and which you need help with. If you scored exceptionally well on grammatical relationships between words, but struggled on phrases and clauses, then that is the area you should devote the majority of your preparation time moving forward. While it may be easier and more fun to reinforce your strengths, the true score growth comes from carefully targeting your weaknesses and making sure you are able to improve on them on future practice tests and the real thing.

For math, you should see how you did on the easy questions vs the medium and hard ones. The best thing to do to raise your score is to make sure you answer all the easy ones correctly. If you are still making errors, do your best to clean those up before moving onto the medium and hard questions. In terms of breaking down the specifics, it’s similar to the writing breakdown. If you are doing well in Algebra and Functions, but struggle in Data, Statistics, and Probability then do more data and statistics problems.

Finally, for reading the first thing to do is check out how many sentence completion problems you got wrong. If you got less than 17 out of 19, the first thing you should be doing to move up your reading comprehension score is to memorize vocabulary. It is the simplest way to boost your score. After this, find if you are struggling with meaning of passage questions or literary element problems. When you do passages moving forward, be especially cognizant of this in order to improve your reading comprehension skills.

Your SAT score report provides a wealth of information; you just need to know how to use it. If you follow these steps, you will maximize the opportunities given to you. Best of luck prepping for the June 6th exam!

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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Don't Let Your Prior Knowledge Get in the Way on GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 28 May 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Don't Let Your Prior Knowledge Get in the Way on GMAT Questions
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As a true Canadian, I’m always on the lookout for questions that are specifically about Canada. Sometimes a question is about trains travelling from Toronto to Montreal, and other times a Reading Comprehension passage deals with a certain Canadian prime minister. Sometimes, the question is just very polite!

Whatever the Canadian content, I’m always happy to see a question concerning something I already know, because I feel like I start with a leg up on the question. Indeed, I’m motivated whenever I see a question about a familiar topic, but I’m particularly excited when it’s aboot Canada (see what I did there?).

In actuality, questions that arouse your own interests can be dangerous. This is because they can sometimes cloud your judgment or make you feel like you know something that isn’t explicitly stated in the text (I know a 6 cylinder car accelerates faster than 4 cylinder car…). While this may be true in the real world, don’t forget that you can’t bring any outside knowledge with you to the GMAT.

The reason behind this is simple: anybody should be able to solve the question with the information provided in the question. Yes, you might already know something pertinent to the situation, but you cannot use it to solve the question unless it’s explicitly stated in the question. Especially on Critical Reasoning questions, these red herrings can come influence your decision without you even noticing it.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t get excited when a question mentions your favorite team; it just means that you have to maintain your objectivity regardless. I may be one of very few people who get excited when he sees a GMAT question about hockey, but as a Canadian I have to a duty to share as much hockey as possible with the world (and sing the national anthem before every home game).

There are 16 teams in a hockey league and each team plays each of the others once. Given that each game is played by two teams, how many total games will be played?

A) 120

B) 169

C) 196

D) 230

E) 256

Now, ignoring that most leagues don’t play perfect round-robin tournaments because they are time consuming, but this question could be adopted to any sport of choice (perhaps even WWE wrestling) and would be solved the same way. I enjoy the casual mention of hockey in this problem, but you’re free to imagine your favorite sport instead if it makes seeing the pattern easier for you.

Let’s approach this in a brute strength manner first and refine our strategy as we go along. Each team will have to play each other team in the league. This means that the first team, which we’ll call team 1 for simplicity, has to play against team 2, team 3, team 4, etc up until team 16. This would comprise of 15 matches for team 1. Next, we consider team 2. Team 2 already faced team 1, so that game is off the books, and their schedule would start against team 3, then team 4, etc, up until team 16. This would lead to 14 separate matches.

We seem to have something of a pattern here, but let’s do a third team just to compare our hypothesis (H0: It will be 13 matches. HA: We’ll have to find another way). Team 3 has already faced teams 1 and 2, meaning that their schedule begins at team 4, and then goes on to team 5, etc up until team 16. This does indeed add up to 13 more games being played. The pattern seems to hold up logically, every team plays one fewer game than the last because they’ve already faced any opponent with a team number lower than theirs.

Now, this approach gives the correct answer, but yields a difficult sequence to be summed: 15+14+13+12+11+10+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1. We can shortcut this calculation because the sequence is comprised of consecutive integers, which means the total will be the average multiplied by the number of terms. Since the terms run from 1 to 15 (easier to see this forwards than backwards), the average is (1+15)/2 or 8, and there are 15 terms. 15 x 8 is 120, answer choice A, and this is the correct answer.

The brute force approach is rarely the best strategy, but it’s worth noting that it does get you to the correct answer. You can also shortcut this calculation by ignoring the fact that some teams have already played against one another in your initial count. That is to say: Team 1 has to face 15 opponents, and Team 2 has to face 15 opponents as well. Team 3 will end up facing 15 opponents too, and eventually all 16 teams will face 15 opponents, meaning the total number of games should be 15*16. This math isn’t trivial, but you can get to 240 relatively quickly. The problem with 240 is that you have double counted all the games (i.e. 1 vs. 2 and 2 vs. 1). Simply taking this product and dividing it by two will eliminate the double counting and yield the correct answer of 120.

The final strategy I want to point out here is that we’re essentially making all the unordered pairs of a group. This means we can use combinations to get the correct number.  If we have n = 16 teams, and we’re trying to make all the combinations of 2 teams (k = 2), then we have a combination of the form:

n! / (k! * (n-k)!)

This formula gives us 16! / (2! * (16-2)!).

Solving for the subtraction gives us:

16! / (2! * 14!)

Simplifying by eliminating the redundant 14! from both numerator and denominator gives:

16 * 15 / 2.

This of course simplifies to 8 * 15 or the aforementioned 120. No matter the approach, you should get the same result, which is still choice A.

The GMAT will ask you all kinds of questions about topics you’ve never heard of, but sometimes it will contain a topic that’s near and dear to your heart. It’s okay to be a little elated; you need some positive moments during the 4 hour GMAT marathon. Just keep in mind that the question will be like any other problem, you solve it using the information contained in the question and your hours of GMAT prep. If you do that properly, you’ll be able to put the puck in the net on test day.

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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Pacing Yourself and Avoiding Burnout: Length of the GRE [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Pacing Yourself and Avoiding Burnout: Length of the GRE
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Most standardized tests, such as the SAT or the ACT, take quite a bit of time for students to complete, and the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is no exception. There are three parts to this exam: the verbal reasoning, quantitative, and analytical writing sections. At Veritas Prep, we help students prepare for this lengthy exam. Our online GRE prep courses provide students with the test-taking strategies they need to work through each section with confidence. Consider some information that answers the question, “How long is the GRE test?”

How Long Does the GRE Take?

Students taking the GRE can expect to be at the testing location for approximately three hours and 45 minutes. This amount of time varies depending on how long the break periods are. Students are given 30 minutes to complete each of the two sections of the verbal reasoning test. They are allotted 35 minutes to finish each of the two sections of the quantitative test. For the analytical writing test, students have 30 minutes to complete each of the two essays.

Total Number of Questions on the GRE

How long is the GRE test? In terms of test length, there are 40 total questions in the verbal reasoning section and 40 in the quantitative section. As for the analytical writing section, students must write one issue essay and one argument essay. In short, there is a lot of material for students to complete on the GRE.

Preparing for the GRE

Some students have concerns about becoming overtired or burned out before they complete the GRE. This is a valid concern considering the length of the exam. However, there are ways for a student to avoid burnout on test day. One of the best ways to do this is to take timed practice exams. Some students become stressed and burned out during the GRE because they are rushing to finish test questions before time runs out. By taking timed practice tests, a student can establish a relaxed test-taking pace that they can use on test day. At Veritas Prep, we show students how to avoid spending too much time on puzzling questions. Our professional instructors use their practical experience with the GRE to teach students how to approach and tackle difficult test questions.

Tips to Follow When Taking the Exam

One tip for students to remember when they encounter a difficult question is to skip the question and return to it later. Puzzling over a question for too long can interfere with a student’s test-taking pace. Plus, looking at a difficult question for more than a few moments can start to affect a student’s confidence level. Once the student answers all of the other questions in the section, they can return to the skipped ones. Students must use different tactics to solve difficult questions. For instance, a student who is stumped by a question related to a passage in the verbal reasoning section can go back and look through the passage in search of keywords. These words can lead the student to the correct answer option. Veritas Prep instructors have a large supply of tips that can assist students in dealing with challenging questions in any section of the GRE.

Advice for Test Day

How long does the GRE take? We know now that it takes well more than three hours to complete. Besides taking practice tests and establishing a test-taking rhythm, there are some other things students can do to make sure test day goes smoothly. For instance, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to the test. Not surprisingly, wearing clothing that is too tight can become more and more uncomfortable as the test period continues. Also, a student should dress in layers in case it is cold at the testing location. In addition to wearing comfortable clothing, students should eat a protein-rich breakfast so they have sustained energy through the test period. They should avoid sugary foods at breakfast so they don’t run out of energy before the test is complete.

Veritas Prep uses quality study resources to assist students in preparing for the GRE. Students with questions about our courses can check out our frequently asked questions page to find quick answers. Call or email us today and let us help you prep for the GRE.

We have an online GRE course starting in July! And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
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3 Ways 2nd Year MBA Students Can Help 1st Year Students [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Ways 2nd Year MBA Students Can Help 1st Year Students
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The first year on campus at business school can be a very challenging time for many students.  For some, this brings about a new city, new friends, and a return to the classroom after years away. There is very little that can prepare many students for all of this change. Who else could understand what a 1st year student is going through in this very specific circumstance? 2nd year students, that’s who! The proverbial upper classmen of the business school world are a 1st year student’s best bet on navigating life as an MBA.

Here are a few areas a 1st year MBA can utilize their more experienced classmates:

Life

Where should you go grocery shopping? Which hair salon is the best? What’s the closest vegan restaurant? These basic questions can often be a challenge for incoming students as they transition to a new community. 2nd year students are the best source to address all of these life related questions that are so integral to surviving the two years of business school. Of particular help are student clubs that cater to needs of students like the affinity, international, or lifestyle groups on-campus.

Academic

2nd years are also key when it comes to handling academics on-campus. Knowing the best classes to take and when can help 1st year students make better decisions when it comes to maximizing their academic experience. Timing is a major factor with academics because some classes can help prepare students for internships in certain industries like marketing or finance so might make more sense to take during the first year. Other classes require a lot of work so may not make sense to take during heavy recruiting periods. 2nd year students in similar career paths can provide a lot of context when selecting which and what time to take certain classes.

Recruiting

Recruiting advice is one of the best uses of 2nd year students on-campus. An easy way to tap into the right classmates is via campus groups. Each major recruiting track i.e. marketing, finance, consulting, etc. will have a campus group focused on providing support in the recruiting process. These career focused campus groups are led by 2nd years that have already gone through the process and should serve as a resource for 1st years. These groups will often match-up 1st year students with experienced 2nd years to encourage mentorship throughout recruiting season.

Make the most of your 2nd year classmates during your first year and avoid all of the mistakes of inexperience by utilizing the bevy of resources available on-campus.

Applying to business school? 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. You can read more of his articles here.
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2 Possible Ways to Solve this GMAT Quant Question [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 2 Possible Ways to Solve this GMAT Quant Question
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Process of elimination is only next to number plugging in popularity as a strategy for solving Quant questions on the GMAT. I am not a fan of either method. Yes, they are useful sometimes, and even necessary in some questions but for most questions, I like to use logic/reasoning.

That said, there is a set of questions in which we should think of these strategies. Number plugging is very useful when you have one or two variables in the options. Algebra can be time consuming in these cases because of equation manipulation required.

Similarly, some questions beg you to use the process of elimination. Their question stem goes something like ”which of the following options can be the value of x?”, “which of  the following options cannot be the sum of a and b?” etc. These questions are framed like this because often they have multiple solutions. x could possibly take many different values but the options would have only one of them. So it makes sense to check which values x can take from the options. Let’s look at one such instance of a tricky question where process of elimination can be very useful.

Question:

A list of numbers has six positive integers. Three of those integers are known – 4, 5 and 24 and three of those are unknown – x, y and z. The three unknowns are known to be distinct. It is also known that the mean of the list is 10 and the median lies between 7 and 8 (exclusive).

Which of the following CANNOT be the value of any one of the unknowns?

(A) 13

(B) 12

(C) 11

(D) 10

(E) 5

Solution: The question gives us concrete information about mean – it is 10 – but not about median – it is between 7 and 8 (exclusive). What can we say about median from this? That it cannot be 7 or 8 but anything in between. But we know that the list has all integers. When we have even number of integers, we know that the median is the average of the middle two numbers – when all are placed in increasing order. So can the average of the two middle numbers be, say, 7.1? Which two positive integers can average to give 7.1? None! Note that if the average of two integers is a decimal, the decimal must be (some number).5 such as 7.5 or 9.5 or 22.5 etc. This happens in case one number is odd and the other is even. In all other cases, the average would be an integer.

Since the median is given to be between 7 and 8, the median of the list of the six positive integers must be 7.5 only.

Now we know that the mean = 10 and median = 7.5

Method 1: Algebra/Logic

Let’s try to solve the question algebraically/logically first.

There are 6 elements in the list. The average of the list is 10 which means the sum of all 6 elements = 6*10 = 60

4 + 5 + 24 + x + y + z = 60

x + y + z = 27

Median of the list = 7.5

So sum of third and fourth elements must be 7.5 * 2 = 15

There are two cases possible:

Case 1: Two of the three integers x, y and z could be the third and the fourth numbers. In that case, since already 4 and 5 are less than 7.5, one of the unknown number would be less than 7.5 (the third number) and the other two would be greater than 7.5.

The sum of the third and fourth elements of the list is 15 so

15 + z = 27

z = 12

So, two numbers whose sum is 15 such that one is less than 7.5 and the other greater than 7.5 could be

5 and 10

6 and 9

7 and 8

x, y and z could take values 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12.

Case 2: The known 5 could be the third number in which case one of the unknown numbers is less than 5 and two of the unknown numbers would be more than 7.5.

If the third number is 5, the fourth number has to be 10 to get a median of 7.5. Hence, 10 must be one of the unknown numbers.

The sum of the other two unknown numbers would be 27 – 10 = 17.

One of them must be less than 5 and the other greater than 10. So possible options are

4 and 13

3 and 14

2 and 15

1 and 16

x, y and z could take various values but none of them could be 11

Answer (C)

Method 2: Process of Elimination

Let’s now try to look at the process of elimination here and see if we can find an easier way.

The three unknowns need to add up to 10*6 – 4 – 5 – 24 = 27.

Two of the given options are 5 and 10. They have a median of 7.5 so lets assume that two of the unknown numbers are 5 and 10 (5 can be one of the unknowns since we are not given that all six integers need to be distinct). If two unknowns make up third and fourth numbers in the list and have a median of 7.5, their sum would be 15 and the third unknown will be 12 (to get the mean of 10). This case (5, 10, 12) satisfies all conditions so options (B), (D) and (E) are out of play.

Now we are left with two options 13 and 11. Check any one of them and you will know which one is not possible. Let’s check 13.

From the given options, any number greater than 7.5 must be either the fourth number or the fifth number. 13 cannot be the fourth number since the third number would need to be 2 in that case to get median 7.5. But we have 4 and 5 more than 2 so it cannot be the third number. So 13 must be the fifth number of the list. We saw in the case above that if two unknowns are third and fourth numbers then the fifth number HAS TO BE 12. So the already present 5 must be the third number and the fourth number must be 10. In that case, the leftover unknown would be 4 (to get a sum of 27). So the three unknowns would be 4, 10 and 13. This satisfies all conditions and is possible. Hence answer must be (C). 11 will not be possible.

Let’s see what would have happened had you picked 11 to try out. If 11 were the fourth number, to get a median of 7.5, we would need 4 as the third number. That is not possible since we already have a 5 given. So 11 must have been the fifth number. This would mean that the already present 5 and one unknown 10 would make the median of 7.5. So the third unknown in this case would be 6 (to get a sum of 27). But 6 would be the third number and the median in this case would be (6 + 10)/2 = 8. So one of the numbers cannot be 11.

Answer (C)

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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5 Things You Need to Do in Order to Go to Graduate School: A Checklist [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 5 Things You Need to Do in Order to Go to Graduate School: A Checklist
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Many undergraduate students who plan to continue their education after they graduate want to know how to apply for graduate school. First, they should understand that there are several steps in the process of applying to schools.

There are a few documents that must be submitted to a college or university along with an official application. It’s a good idea for students to have a checklist to refer to as they move through the steps of applying for graduate school. Consider some of the materials that should be included with a student’s application.

1. GRE Results

The Graduate Record Examination, or the GRE, is a test that measures a student’s skills in writing, reading and math. Graduate school officials who are evaluating an application factor the results of a student’s GRE into their decision. It’s a wise idea for students to take the GRE about a year before applying to graduate school. The fee a student pays to take the GRE includes payment to have test results sent to four graduate schools. If a student wants to send test results to more than four graduate schools, he or she must pay an additional fee for that service. Students can get help preparing for the GRE from our talented team of instructors at Veritas Prep. We use first-rate study resources to provide students with test-taking tips and strategies. Our online courses teach students how to simplify problems in every section of the exam. Our knowledgeable team is proud to assist students as they work toward earning their best possible scores on the GRE.

2. Locate Transcripts

Another important document students must include with their graduate school application is a transcript. Most graduate schools want a student’s final transcript. In addition, there are many institutions that ask for a copy of a student’s undergraduate diploma. Students can get a copy of their final transcript from the office of the registrar at their university.

3. Fill Out the Graduate School Application

Of course, applying for graduate school also involves filling out a school’s official application. Most universities and colleges allow students to do this via their school’s website. A student must create an account in order to have access to a graduate school application. There is usually a fee for submitting an application to a graduate school, which can be paid online. It’s important for students to fill out every part of the application. If there is information missing on an application, a school may put it aside, creating a delay in the process.

4. Ask for Recommendation Letters

Students who want to know how to apply for graduate school must learn all about letters of recommendation. Many universities and colleges require students to include letters of recommendation with their application for graduate school. Letters of recommendation can be written by instructors, employers, volunteer project leaders, and mentors. These letters give graduate school officials insight into the academic skills and talents of an applicant. Also, they describe the motivations of a student as well as his or her personal strengths. These letters serve to paint a clearer picture of a student for graduate school officials. Students should check the specific requirements of the schools they are interested in to find out how many letters to submit. As a general rule, students should have at least three letters included with their application.

5. Create a Statement of Purpose Letter

A statement of purpose letter is also known as an application essay. This letter conveys the reasons why a student wants to earn a graduate degree in a certain field. It is also a student’s opportunity to express why he or she is an ideal candidate for the graduate school program. The application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are all necessary, but they don’t give graduate school officials a good look at the actual person behind those documents. This essay should be well-organized and free of spelling and grammar errors. It’s helpful for students to practice writing this essay to make sure they include everything they want graduate school officials to know about them.

Students who want to know more about our GRE prep classes may contact our helpful staff via email or telephone. Our professional instructors at Veritas Prep want to play a part in helping students get into their preferred school to earn a graduate degree.

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2 Ways to Improve Your Pattern Recognition on GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 2 Ways to Improve Your Pattern Recognition on GMAT Questions
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In 1946, a fascinating study about chess masters revealed that, for the most part, they had unexceptional working memories. This finding flew in the face of conventional wisdom, which held that chess masters must have had photographic memories to absorb thousands and thousands of scenarios they’d encountered throughout their years of training. Instead of relying on superior recall, it turns out that they were simply better than most at recognizing patterns.

Similarly, for all the dizzying content the GMAT requires you to internalize, the exam, more than anything else, is about pattern recognition. There are two ways we can improve at pattern recognition. The first, and most obvious, is that by doing many practice questions, our brains, like those of the aforementioned chess masters, will subconsciously absorb recurring patterns.

The second is to learn to recognize certain signposts and triggers that indicate what’s being tested. In Sentence Correction, for example, there are certain classic trigger words for parallel construction, such as “both,” “either/or,” and “not only/but also.” As soon as we see one of these constructions, we can immediately zero in on this part of the sentence and evaluate whether the items that follow the signpost are parallel to one another. If a phrase begins with “both in x,” for example, I know I want to see the parallel construction, “and in y,” in that same sentence. All of the other grammatical, stylistic, and logical considerations can temporarily be put aside. Once I’ve resolved this issue, if I’m left with more than one answer choice, I’ll look for other differences, but I’ll likely have narrowed my possibilities so much that the problem will be much less taxing than it would have been otherwise.

Take this Official Guide* problem, for example:

Many of the earliest known images of Hindu deities in India date from the time of the Kushan empire, fashioned either from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or Gandharan grey schist.

A) Empire, fashioned either from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or

B) Empire, fashioned from either the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from

C) Empire, either fashioned from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or

D) Empire and either fashioned from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from

E) Empire and were fashioned either from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from

The moment I see that “either” I’m focusing on this part of the sentence. Now watch how quickly I can eliminate incorrect options:

A) “either from spotted sandstone of Mathura or grey schist.” I want “either from x” or “from” I don’t have a second “from” here. A is out.

B) “either the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from grey schist.” See what they did here. Parallel construction begins when we see the parallel marker “either.” Now there is no “from” before the first item, but we do have it before the second one. “either x or from y” is not parallel. B is out.

C) “either fashioned from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or gray schist” Now we’re back to the original error of having “from x or y” rather than the desired “from x or from y.” C is out.

D) “either fashioned from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from grey” A little better. We’d prefer “either fashioned from x or fashioned from y,” but at least we have the preposition “from” in front of both items. But now read that full first clause, “Many of the earliest known images of Hindu deities in India date from the time of the Kushan Empire and either fashioned from the spotted sandstone…” Well, that doesn’t make any sense. We’d want to say that the images date from the time of the Kushan Empire and were fashioned from the spotted sandstone. Without the verb “were,” the sentence is incoherent. Eliminiate D.

E) “either from the spotted sandstone of Mathura or from grey schist.” Now we see it. “either from x or from y.” We have our parallel construction. E is correct.

Let’s try another example*:

Thelonious Monk, who was a jazz pianist and composer, produced a body of work both rooted in the stride-piano tradition of Willie (The Lion) Smith and Duke Ellington, yet in many ways he stood apart from the mainstream jazz repertory.

A) Thelonious Monk, who was a jazz pianist and composer, produced a body of work both rooted

B) Thelonious Monk, the jazz pianist and composer, produced a body of work that was rooted both

C) Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, who produced a body of work rooted

D) Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk produced a body of work that was rooted

E) Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk produced a body of work rooted both

Again, we see one of the parallel trigger words. In this case, “both.” So the first thing I’ll do is examine the items that follow the parallel marker, “both rooted in the stride piano tradition.” If I begin a phrase with “rooted in x” I’ll want to follow that with “in y.” Notice that not only does the original sentence fail to do this, but the portion of the sentence we wish to change isn’t even underlined! Because we cannot produce a parallel construction here, we’ll need to eliminate the parallel marker “both” altogether. That means A, B, and E are all out. Now let’s evaluate C and D.

C) the clause, “who produced a body of work…” is set off by commas and functions as a modifier of Thelonious Monk. This means that the clause is incidental to the meaning of the sentence. But if we read the sentence without the modifier, we get, “Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, yet in many ways he stood apart from the mainstream jazz repertory.” Well, that doesn’t make any sense. “Yet” should connect two full clauses, but in this case, it connects the noun phrase, “Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk” to the full clause, “in many ways he stood apart from the mainstream jazz repertory.” This is incoherent. Eliminate C.

That leaves us with D, which is our answer. Recognizing the pattern and focusing on parallel construction allowed us to ignore the rest of what was a fairly complex sentence.

Takeaways: The GMAT is less a test of memorization than it is an exercise in pattern recognition. There’s no getting around having to see many examples of questions to prime our brains to recognize these patterns on test day, but there are certain structural clues that provide insight into what a particular question is testing. If we internalize those structural clues, suddenly the patterns we’re tasked with recognizing become far more conspicuous.

*Official Guide questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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 David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.
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Escaping Senioritis: How to Still Have Fun Without Failing Your Classe [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Escaping Senioritis: How to Still Have Fun Without Failing Your Classes
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According to Urban Dictionary, senioritis is: “noun. A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.”

Once in a long while, Urban Dictionary is right—and this is one of those times. After college applications have been submitted, seniors often feel little incentive to continue trying hard in high school. Why care about high school classes, if college classes will be more interesting and informative? Why do homework, if your GPA has already been submitted with your applications? Why pay attention in class, when you can daydream about how cool college will be in just a few months?

Here are a few good reasons to resist the temptation, and a few tips on how to keep your head in the game.

  • Know that your senior year grades still count. Colleges can, and do, ask for your senior year grades even after they’ve seen your college application, and sometimes even after you’ve received an acceptance letter. Often, that acceptance letter is conditional on your maintaining your grades through to graduation. Once in a while a college will even retract your acceptance if you haven’t done so. Your grades still matter, even if you don’t feel like they do.
  • Know that good performance in your senior year classes can still offer advantages in college. High AP scores and strong math and English grades can often help you skip prerequisite classes or qualify for advanced classes. Honing your basic academic skills will help you enter college more prepared for more rigorous work. It’s more tempting to slack off in your hard classes than in your easy ones; remember that your harder classes may be the ones you stand to gain most from.
  • Know your course schedule for Fall. To see how much your senior year high school courses might help you in college, check your college’s online course catalogs and read about the courses you plan to take. Knowing exactly what you can gain from staying focused in senior year can help motivate you to power through these last few months.
  • Recognize that your free time will be much more enjoyable after you’ve finished your work. It’s much easier to relax when there aren’t English essays floating around in the back of your mind, even if you think you’re really good at ignoring them.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it. This is an old-fashioned, often repeated study tip, but for good reason: done right, it works!
  • Make time to slack off. Senioritis is famous because it’s real, pervasive, and occasionally unavoidable. Don’t give in completely to it, but do recognize that you probably do deserve some free time, especially after finishing all your college applications. Feel free to kick back once in a while to daydream about your next four years—but when you’re done, sit back up, grab your pen, and churn through that math assignment. Your future college self will thank you.
Senioritis got the best of you? Are you uncertain about your college application? We can help! 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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SAT Tip of the Week: Should I Retake the SAT? [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Should I Retake the SAT?
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By now you have received your SAT score in the mail. For some, it will be a welcome relief. You will have achieved your target score and can concentrate on college applications for senior year. For others, you missed the score by a wide margin and are dead set on retaking the test. For these two groups, there is no true analysis or consideration for taking the SAT again. However, not everyone falls into one of these categories.

Some students will have done well, but feel they can do better on a certain section or feel with more time and preparation they can get a substantially better overall score. Others feel like they didn’t put enough time in and are nervous about the time commitment the SAT takes, but still feel that they should take it again. There a ton of different scenarios for students in terms of thinking about whether they should retake it or not, and here are some important factors to consider.

Can you do a lot better on one specific section? Most schools, large public universities non-withstanding, take super scores. This means that they will look at your best score on individual sections, even if they happened on different test dates. So, your score is enhanced if you did particularly well on math and reading in May and then focused on writing for the October test. This is one of the tricks that allows your score that is reported to college exceed your abilities for any one single test. It is a huge hack on the SAT, and if you are in a position to bring up one section it is highly recommended to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Did you not put forth a full effort? The SAT isn’t like school. During a normal class you have periodic quizzes that matter to your final grade, so you are extrinsically motivated to prepare. For the SAT, the only score that matters is on the day of the test. Up until that point, students can convince themselves and rationalize that they will work harder the next week and on the next practice test. Unfortunately, some students will perpetually procrastinate until the day of the test when they ultimately receive a lackluster score. This happens to a lot of students so don’t feel bad if you are in this group. Instead, you should get ready for the next test and use the score as motivation to constantly improve and work harder to make sure the next test is reflective of your true abilities.

Were the test day intangibles off? Even if you prepped fully, there are those students who slept poorly, felt under the weather, or had a small desk. There are a host of reasons that could lead to a sub-optimal performance on the day of the test, and some students may feel like they tried their best and don’t want to take the test again. If something like this happened to you, it is highly recommended to retake the test. Testing conditions on average are pretty good, so the chances are high that the next time you take the SAT, you won’t deal with outside issues and achieve a score reflective of your ability.

There are many more reasons to take the test again, but here are three of the most prominent. Best of luck with your further preparations for the test!

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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What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interivew [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interivew
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So you finally got those pesky business school applications out of the way and after a few weeks of waiting, you receive the great news that you’ve been invited to interview with your dream school. Now, on the prep side you have it all together, you are ready to ace your interview but with one not so minor question. What to wear!

This seemingly innocuous question tends to create as much anxiety as in any other aspect of the admissions process. This commonly stems from overthinking by the applicant but also a lack of overall comfort with this type of interview. For most candidates they have also not interviewed in some time, which can make the whole process daunting.

Now when it comes to dressing for success, treat the MBA interview as you would a traditional job interview, which for men involves a traditional suit. Keep it simple guys and wear basic colored suits and simple collared white or blue dress shirts. You can get a little more creative with your ties, but your choice of dress should not be something that even registers for your interviewer.

Now for women the same rules apply. Treat your MBA interview as if you were interviewing for a job. Interview day is not the time to take any risks; keep it simple and let the quality of your background and how you communicate it speak for itself.

Increasingly, MBA programs are evolving their interview practices. Programs like Kellogg and the Yale School of Management have incorporated virtual interviews and essays into their application process. You should treat dressing for these virtual sessions a bit different. For the remote virtual interviews, same rules apply; well at least for the upper half of your body. You want to dress business professional.

However for the video essays, that have become increasingly popular, business casual is more appropriate. Defer to the specific directions if provided but if not keep it neat and clean with your choice of clothing. For men, collared shirts or polo shirts with no jacket are acceptable. For women, aim for neat and clean with appropriate dresses, shirts and blouses. Same rules as the men, your wardrobe should not be a distraction, thus keeping the focus on the content of what you are communicating.

A common rule of thumb is over dressing is better than under dressing, but if you can follow some of the guidance above, you will be dressed for success and in the perfect position to make the most of your interview opportunity.

Applying to business school? 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. You can read more of his articles here.
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What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interview [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interview
Image
So you finally got those pesky business school applications out of the way and after a few weeks of waiting, you receive the great news that you’ve been invited to interview with your dream school. Now, on the prep side you have it all together, you are ready to ace your interview but with one not so minor question. What to wear!

This seemingly innocuous question tends to create as much anxiety as in any other aspect of the admissions process. This commonly stems from overthinking by the applicant but also a lack of overall comfort with this type of interview. For most candidates they have also not interviewed in some time, which can make the whole process daunting.

Now when it comes to dressing for success, treat the MBA interview as you would a traditional job interview, which for men involves a traditional suit. Keep it simple guys and wear basic colored suits and simple collared white or blue dress shirts. You can get a little more creative with your ties, but your choice of dress should not be something that even registers for your interviewer.

Now for women the same rules apply. Treat your MBA interview as if you were interviewing for a job. Interview day is not the time to take any risks; keep it simple and let the quality of your background and how you communicate it speak for itself.

Increasingly, MBA programs are evolving their interview practices. Programs like Kellogg and the Yale School of Management have incorporated virtual interviews and essays into their application process. You should treat dressing for these virtual sessions a bit different. For the remote virtual interviews, same rules apply; well at least for the upper half of your body. You want to dress business professional.

However for the video essays, that have become increasingly popular, business casual is more appropriate. Defer to the specific directions if provided but if not keep it neat and clean with your choice of clothing. For men, collared shirts or polo shirts with no jacket are acceptable. For women, aim for neat and clean with appropriate dresses, shirts and blouses. Same rules as the men, your wardrobe should not be a distraction, thus keeping the focus on the content of what you are communicating.

A common rule of thumb is over dressing is better than under dressing, but if you can follow some of the guidance above, you will be dressed for success and in the perfect position to make the most of your interview opportunity.

Applying to business school? 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. You can read 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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Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016 [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2015, 18:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016
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Stanford GSB has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2015-2016 admissions season. After making some pretty significant changes to the essay prompts last year, the Stanford admissions team has only made one minor word count tweak (actually adding 50 words!) this year. As a result, our advice mostly remains the same. Keep reading to see Stanford’s relatively unique questions, and how we recommend that you go about answering them.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines

Round 1: September 22, 2015

Round 2: January 12, 2016

Round 3: April 5, 2016

The biggest change here is that Stanford Round 1 deadline is 10 days earlier than it was last year, pushing into September for the first time. Just as is the case with HBS, putting together a winning Stanford GSB application will require getting started no later than the beginning of August. Stanford’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines each actually moved back by a few days.

Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 9. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words suggested, out of 1,150 total)

    Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the MBA admissions essay landscape over the past few years, this question manages to hang on. Before you start to work on this essay, consider the advice that the Stanford MBA admissions team provides: “Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.”

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.

  • Why Stanford? (400 words suggested)

    Wow! Stanford is giving applicants 50 more words than it did last year! Otherwise, this essay prompt carries over unchanged from last year. Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Get into private equity and get paid.”)

    Definitely resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details that tie back to you (think about your past and your future) as much as they tie to Stanford. Many applicants will read that “distinctive opportunities” advice and think “The scavenger hunt is on! Let me find something no one else will write about!” but that misses the point. Stanford wants to know that you’re applying for reasons other than the fact that it’s such a platinum name in education, so spell out how You + Stanford = A More Effective Business Leader.
Note Stanford’s Take on “Feedback” Vs. “Coaching”

Stanford includes some noteworthy language re: what is an acceptable form of guidance to seek as you craft your application essays. As the admissions team writes:

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application — perhaps once or twice — and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

We appreciate that Stanford spells this out, and we couldn’t agree more with the school’s stance. If you can’t even write your own essays, then you already know that you’re not Stanford GSB material. For more than 10 years we have been helping people apply to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we have done it (pretty well, we might add) without writing essays or putting words in our clients’ mouths.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum
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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Avoid the Tempting Trap Answer on GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Avoid the Tempting Trap Answer on GMAT Questions
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When looking through answer choices on Critical Reasoning questions, there is always one correct answer to the question. After all, it wouldn’t be fair if two different answers were both legitimate responses to the query being posed. However, just because the other four answers are incorrect, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t tempting. In fact, there is usually one choice the exam is pointing you towards selecting, even though it isn’t the correct option. This is often referred to as the sucker choice.

The sucker choice is an answer that seems to answer the question on the surface, but in actuality it is only a red herring. Answers like this will frequently provide redundant information, or play into your preconceived notions. As an example, if a couple has two children, and you’re told that child A is taller than child B, you’d naturally think that child A is older than child B. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, as the children could be adults (ironic, no?). A taller child does not necessarily imply an older child, but it’s certainly an assumption a lot of people would make.

Other examples of the sucker choice involve providing known information on a strengthen/weaken question, or giving an answer choice that seems reasonable but not 100% assured on an inference question. The choices will always seem reasonable, and in many cases, they will be the most popular answer choices selected. In many ways, the sucker answer choice is like smoking. It seemed like a good idea at the time, it feels good, and it can be bad for your (GMAT) health long term.

Let’s look at a question that deals with this very topic:

A system-wide county school anti-smoking education program was instituted last year. The program was clearly a success. Last year, the incidence of students smoking on school premises decreased by over 70 percent.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument in the passage?

(A) The author of this statement is a school system official hoping to generate good publicity for the anti-smoking program.

(B) Most students who smoke stopped smoking on school premises last year continued to smoke when away from school.

(C) Last year, another policy change made it much easier for students to leave and return to school grounds during the school day.

(D) The school system spent more on anti-smoking education programs last year than it did in all previous years.

(E) The amount of time students spent in anti-smoking education programs last year resulted in a reduction of in-class hours devoted to academic subjects

On this Critical Reasoning weaken question, it’s important to note the conclusion and the supporting evidence. The conclusion is the middle sentence (The program was clearly a success) as that is unmistakably the author’s main point in this passage. The evidence is everything else, but especially the last sentence, because a decrease of 70% of student smoking on the premises would seem to support the author’s conclusion. We’re tasked with weakening this conclusion, so we must find evidence that refutes this evidence or otherwise makes the conclusion less likely to occur.

There is one trap answer on this question that a lot of students gravitate towards. I’ll let you reread the choices to see which one you singled out (cue jeopardy music).

The answer choice that most people like is B: students who smoke stopped smoking on school premises last year continued to smoke when away from school. After all, the logic seems sound. If students stopped smoking at school, and we’re trying to weaken the conclusion, then it would follow that students smoking everywhere else (at home, in the street, at the Peach Pit…) would weaken the conclusion. Furthermore, this is new evidence that seems to perfectly solve every element we care about. Many students select B here and move on with nary a thought that they just fell into a GMAT trap. (It’s a trap!)

Let’s re-examine the conclusion. The conclusion stated that the program was a success, and the program was defined as a county school anti-smoking education program. This means that the students were being educated in an effort to reduce smoking at school. If incidents of smoking at school decreased by 70%, then the program was a success, regardless of whether the students were smoking elsewhere. Indeed, the goal of the program was to reduce smoking in school, and answer choice B does not weaken that conclusion. It weakens the goal of curbing out smoking altogether, but that is a slightly different conclusion that is beyond the scope of this particular argument.

As such, answer choice B seems like a logical answer, but fails to meet the necessary criteria to be the right response. This means that we need to peruse the other four answer choices to identify the correct choice.

Answer choice A, “the author of this statement is a school system official hoping to generate good publicity for the anti-smoking program”, implies that the author may have a hidden agenda. While this may be true, it doesn’t account for the 70% decrease of on-campus smoking, so it doesn’t do a good job of weakening the argument given the evidence presented. We can eliminate this choice.

Answer choice C, “Last year, another policy change made it much easier for students to leave and return to school grounds during the school day” does indeed weaken this argument. If your only evidence is the decrease in smoking on campus, then any alternative explanation as to why that happened weakens your argument. The students may not be smoking on the grounds anymore, but they are still smoking at school, just a little further away than before. Indeed, the smoking policy may have had absolutely no effect on students’ habits whatsoever, greatly weakening the conclusion.

Answer choice D, “The school system spent more on anti-smoking education programs last year than it did in all previous years” actually somewhat strengthens the argument. If the school system put a lot of money into the program, then it would be more likely to succeed. Even if the school overspent, the success of the program is determined by the students’ smoking habits, not the program’s budget.

Answer choice E, “the amount of time students spent in anti-smoking education programs last year resulted in a reduction of in-class hours devoted to academic subjects” is also somewhat tempting, because it introduces the concept of side-effects. In the real world, we might do something that has unintended consequences, and look back on the decision as a mistake. Side effects don’t affect the success rate of the program, so this answer choice can be eliminated.

As we saw, answer choice C is the correct selection. However, it may not be the most common selection on this exam, as another answer choice was more enticing for a lot of students. The GMAT is designed to provide tempting answer choices that almost solve the issue at hand, but fall short in one crucial measure. On test day, be wary of these tempting sucker choices, or your exam score will go up in smoke.

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.
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

_________________

Marisa

Veritas Prep | Veritas Prep Representative

Save $100 on live Veritas Prep GMAT Courses

Veritas Prep Reviews

Kudos [?]: 157 [0], given: 2

Avoid the Tempting Trap Answer on GMAT Questions   [#permalink] 04 Jun 2015, 11:01

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