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3 Freshmen Year Blunders that You’ll Want to Avoid [#permalink]

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New post 03 Nov 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Freshmen Year Blunders that You’ll Want to Avoid
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Freshman year can be a trying time for a wide variety of reasons. Students are in a new environment, and experiencing the most independence they have had in their lives. While this can produce a lot of great experiences, it can also lead to many mistakes. Some of these mistakes are natural and even expected, and others are more costly. Whatever the case may be, here are three of the most common mistakes of freshman year and how to best avoid them.

1. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep. In the first few months of freshman year, there is so much to do and see. For many, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and ultimately the thing many students cut is sleep. For a few days, this may work, but over the course of the semester it will catch up to you. A lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to sickness, stress, and doesn’t allow you to perform your best in the classroom. While it may seem like you are missing out if you turn in early some nights, in actuality you are pacing yourself to enjoy the entire semester and not just the next few days. There is nothing worse than falling in a hole because you missed class, or were too sick to perform on a test.

The solution to this is to identify a couple of activities that are musts for you and other ones that you will do if you have extra time. If you approach extracurricular activities from this perspective, sleep won’t seem like an optional task and you won’t suffer many of the pitfalls associated with sleep deprivation. Making sleep a bigger priority than some activities that you only have a passing interest in is a great way to avoid this mistake.

2. You Skip Your Classes. Even if you are in a 200 person general education lecture hall, it still is important to go to class. First, there is a direct correlation between showing up and your academic success. Second, you never know what you will learn in certain classes. Sometimes, connecting the dots between disciplines leads to your biggest academic breakthroughs. After all, you are in college first and foremost to expand your mind.

It’s much easier said than done to get to class every day, so create an incentive for attending class. Either treat yourself to breaks, food, or any other reward or go the other way and owe a friend lunch if you miss class. Whatever system you set up, make sure you do something because it will go a very long way in ensuring your continued presence in class.

3. You Close Yourself Off. College is a time to venture out and explore. There is a tendency for many students to stick to the activities they did in high school, or not really do much at all. It may be nice to have this free time for a couple weeks, but there is a reason clubs and groups are one of students’ favorite parts about college. The bonds you make and experiences you have in these settings are something every student should experience.

To avoid this mistake, just make sure you are saying yes enough to potential opportunities. This doesn’t mean over extend yourself and get involved in everything, but if you have an inkling for something then try it out. Again, it’s important to temper the balance between being involved and being over involved. Make sure you are able to walk this fine line so your studies don’t suffer.

Need help prepping your college application? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

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

The post 3 Freshmen Year Blunders that You’ll Want to Avoid appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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How Many Business School Applications Should I Write? [#permalink]

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New post 03 Nov 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How Many Business School Applications Should I Write?
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Everyone has their dream school, and of course everyone ends up only attending one school, however, unless you are super confident of your admissibility, you will likely end up applying to several schools.  Even the most qualified candidates submit more than one application, if not for any other reason than they want to have a choice of schools.  Once you have decided to apply to business school, and carved out enough time to spend on applications, the next step is to decide how many applications to submit. But what are the criteria you are using to make this decision?

Despite a decrease in applications from 2011 – 2013 due to the bad economy, there has been a healthy rebound in application submissions in the past couple of years, which means the competition will be tough.  Yes, even Harvard Business School saw a drop in applications in 2012 (about 4% fewer), but this was never expected to be a lasting trend.  With a couple of years of decreased applications comes pent-up demand for an MBA, so it is expected that application submissions will trend upwards for the next several years.  The MBA is more valuable than ever, with recent statistics showing only 4.3% of people with graduate degrees being unemployed.

In order to have the best shot at being accepted to business school, you must have more than one target in mind.  Even the most qualified candidate is not necessarily a shoo-in at Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.  These super elite schools turn away well-qualified applicants by the thousands each year.  Notice I said well-qualified applicants — it’s not just the ones who apply with sub-par profiles who are sent packing.  At the end of the day, there are a limited number of seats in each school.

If you consider yourself to be fairly well positioned for an MBA with a good multi-year, progressively responsible work history, a good GMAT score (within the 80% range of your target schools and ideally approaching the average), and a decent story to tell, a good rule of thumb is to apply to at least three schools.

Why would you apply to more than three?  For starters, if you are targeting only the top 10, you should increase your attempts to five or six.  The mathematical yields at these elite schools are simply too low to risk rejection at all to which you apply.  It’s important to apply only to schools where you feel you are a good fit, of course, but the more you try, the more likely it will be to get into at least one school of choice.

Another reason to apply to five or six schools would be if your profile is lacking in some way.  If this is the case, you may want to diversify the schools you are targeting across a broader range of rankings. Particularly if going to business school in general this year is more important than going to a particular school, you want to make sure you get in somewhere.  Some people refer to this strategy as having “reach” schools and “safety” schools, but be careful considering a lower ranked school as a safety school, since the competition has stepped up across the board.

Finally, it might make sense to throw a broader net if you are fearful something in your application is a risk. Particularly if you have a couple of different versions of your story and are not sure which one will resonate best, you can send half your applications with one approach and half with another approach to hedge your bets.

One last thing: If you plan to apply to more than 3 schools, you may want to diversify your recommender pool.  It would be rather onerous and even rude to ask one person to write five or six letters of recommendation for you.  Three is about the limit before someone begins to resent doing it, or worse yet, does a poor or incomplete job on it.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us onFacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

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

The post How Many Business School Applications Should I Write? appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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The Best Classes to Take To Prep for Your MBA [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Best Classes to Take To Prep for Your MBA
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Whether you’re the applicant who has never taken an analytical class in your life, trying to account for a low GPA in college or just trying to refresh your memory on some dated concepts from your academic past, taking pre-MBA coursework is a great way to prep for Day One in business school. There are many different options when it comes to which classes you should take – popular and valuable business school classes like marketing and strategy may not be the best use of your time during application season.

Given that Year 1 of most MBA programs tends to be highly analytical, it makes sense to lean towards classes that showcase your analytical skills to the AdComm, as well as prepare for the academic rigor of the business school classroom.

Let’s discuss some of the best classes to take to prepare for business school:

Accounting

One of the core classes of any business school education is accounting. Although business school itself is no longer one of the major feeders in this industry, the course remains core to many functions in the financial industry. Students who have never seen or heard of income statements or balance sheets would be wise to utilize their local community college for a test run before enrollment.

Finance

Another great class to take pre-MBA is finance. Unless you are a veteran of the finance industry or an undergraduate business major, this class can be useful to prepare for the often fast-paced curriculum that first-year students experience. Many students coming from non-business functions find coursework in finance particularly challenging, but prior exposure can do wonders in reducing the learning curve here.

Statistics

Statistics is one of the foundations of many classes in business school. Now very few business school students will eventually become statisticians, but classes like marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship rely on this very important skill set. Understanding the core concepts and terminology can make the transition into this class, and others, much easier for the uninitiated.

Economics

Economics is another of the underlying core concepts fundamental to a rewarding academic experience in business school. Economics plays a role in classes like marketing, strategy, and operations. Along with statistics, economics tends to be one of the core classes that first years struggle with the most, so any coursework or training a future student can take in advance is helpful.

Although the focus here has been on academic readiness, many candidates utilize this coursework to address a low undergraduate GPA or a spotty analytical track record, as well as to impress MBA Admissions Committees. Whatever your reason for researching which courses to take, utilize the list above to make the best decision in your course selection process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us onFacebookYouTube 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.

The post The Best Classes to Take To Prep for Your MBA appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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SAT Tip of the Week: Focus on Strategies, Not Scores! [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2015, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Focus on Strategies, Not Scores!
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When most people take the SAT, they set target or goal scores for themselves. Statements like, “I need to get an 1800,” and, “I want to improve my Critical Reading by 50 points,” are common aims heard among high school students. Even though these thoughts are common (and make sense, since the ultimate goal of the SAT is to get the best score possible), it doesn’t mean that they are helpful in really improving on the test. In fact, focusing all of your energy on a target score can actually diminish your ability to perform better.

Just like how it is impossible to try to win a game (just think about it – what you’re really doing is trying to play well), it is equally impossible to try for a score on the SAT. What you’re really doing is trying to figure out how to take the test well. Given this, it is better to set goals directly involved with the specific aspects of the test than to aim for arbitrary score improvements!

Here are a few tips for healthy goal setting:

1) Focus your energy on the content of the test. This mindset puts all your energy into the nitty-gritty of test taking, and prevents distractions. Wondering whether getting a question right will bring you from a 750 to a 730 on the reading section does not make you more likely to recognize a misplaced modifier – in fact, such distraction actually hurts your ability to catch mistakes.

2) Better input, better output. As crazy as it sounds, by thinking less about your score, the more your score will increase. By getting better at each individual parts of the test, you will feel more confident about your ability to take the test as whole. In a self-reinforcing cycle, this will give you the energy to make more improvements on specifics, thereby leading to a greater overall score.

3) Take the long-term view. Focusing solely on scores puts too much emphasis on variable results from practice sections. Scores on individual practice tests can vary widely due to a variety of external factors. Focusing on long-term growth and deep understanding of the types of questions on the test will remind you that even if your score on a practice test temporarily went down (due to bad guessing, etc.), your arc of performance is bending toward improvement.

4) Don’t put yourself in a position to come up short. It is very easy to stress if you have a goal score in mind but are struggling to reach it. Avoid this dilemma by setting smaller, more content-focused objectives that you are more likely to achieve. Seeing yourself do well and accomplish your goals will give you the confidence necessary to jump into the harder sections of the SAT!

Above all else, remember that while a good score may be your ultimate goal, you can only get there by diving into the details.

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, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

The post SAT Tip of the Week: Focus on Strategies, Not Scores! appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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Should You Ask a Professor for Your MBA Letter of Recommendation? [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Should You Ask a Professor for Your MBA Letter of Recommendation?
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Most schools require two recommendations, and the typical approach is to use a current and former supervisor to do them.  But sometimes this is either not practical or not ideal, in which case it might make sense to approach a former professor.  We frequently receive questions about recommendations, one of the most common of which is, “Should I use a professor as a recommender?”  The answer to this is not straightforward, and can be best encapsulated with “it depends.”

The ideal situation for any applicant, of course, is to use current or former professional work supervisors as recommenders, but what if you find yourself in a difficult situation?  For example, perhaps you have only been working in your current role for a short time, or you don’t trust your boss to give you a good recommendation.  Alternatively, you could simply not want to tell your employer that you are considering business school since the disclosure could have negative consequences, especially if you don’t end up leaving.  At the very least, in some cases supervisors can make your remaining time with the company miserable.

If you did well in college and made a good impression in class, it might make sense to use a professor – after all, they have no skin in the game professionally.  In fact, it could actually prove to be very positive commentary on your potential if you may recall taking a couple of classes in your major from your favorite professor, who seemed to look favorably on you compared to your classmates.  But what if it’s been several years and despite your best intentions, you have not maintained contact with this professor?  This is not unusual, so don’t fret: for tenure track faculty, it is likely they are still there, doing their thing, so tracking them down is usually not difficult.  Since professors see a lot of students come and go, despite your high performance in their class, it’s best to go visit in person.  Make an appointment via phone or email and get back to campus.

Professors, like any successful professional, have big egos, so it’s always nice to compliment them on the classes you took and how much you learned.  If you are going back to this professor, it’s likely you enjoyed the classes and took away something valuable, so this part should not be difficult.  One advantage of using a professor is that they obviously are in big favor of advancing one’s education, so it won’t likely be a hard sell to convince them it’s a good idea for you to be going back to school.

Just like you might do with your boss or supervisor, ask the professor if he would feel comfortable helping you with a recommendation.  If the answer is no, it’s probably because the professor simply does not remember enough about you or your performance in class, in which case you can either try to remind him/her, or just move on, since it is in your best interest to have someone who can comment directly on your potential and performance.  This is one area that is particularly challenging for professors, since ideally, they would need to have some insight into your performance both inside and outside the classroom.

For this reason, it makes sense to track down a faculty member with whom you were involved beyond just regular coursework.  Did you take a practicum or capstone project class, for example?  Were there any professors who took the class on an international study trip by chance?  Even a faculty member who was an advisor to a club you were involved with can add the extra insight required for a good b-school recommendation.  Finally, you want to ascertain if the professor thought/thinks of you as unique compared to other students they have seen come through their courses.  If you were a standout to them, it’s likely they will better be able to articulate why to an admissions committee.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

The post Should You Ask a Professor for Your MBA Letter of Recommendation? appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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The Unexpected Perks of a Minimalist Lifestyle in College [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Unexpected Perks of a Minimalist Lifestyle in College
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Minimalist living—living with fewer items—has become something of a fad. Pinterest infographics, Buzzfeed links, blogs, and even Atlantic articles extol the environmental, personal, and spiritual virtues of tiny houses, small closets, and clutter-free living. I’ve never liked jumping onto fads, but this one resonated with me.

I brought almost everything I owned with me to college, largely because my parents’ house didn’t have much space for me to leave things behind. Through the moving process, I realized I owned a lot more stuff than I realized, and much more stuff than I ever actually used or needed: I found middle school clothes that no longer fit, letters from people I couldn’t remember, Happy Meal toys, Beanie Babies, ninth grade math homework, and more. I thought I had finished purging all the junk by the time I pulled up to the parking lot to my dorm building, but was disappointed to find that even a few trash bags later, all my things still didn’t fit into my tiny new shared room.

I began selling and donating old clothes and extra things in freshman year to save up extra cash, fit more school spirit gear into my wardrobe, and clear space in my cramped dorm room. I also promised myself that I’d only ever buy new things if I didn’t already own something similar. It was hard at first, but I found that the more unnecessary things I got rid of the nicer my life became. It became easier to keep my room clean (ish), which kept my mind clearer and helped me stay focused while studying. It was easier to choose outfits in the morning, since I only kept items I either wore regularly or really liked. Extra pocket money didn’t hurt, either.

I continued getting rid of unnecessary belongings as I moved through my undergraduate career, and was surprised that I kept finding unexpected perks to a more minimalist lifestyle. When increasing rent convinced me to move from a dorm room to an apartment, and then from a double room to a triple room, I had little trouble fitting my things into smaller and smaller spaces, which saved me both money and peace of mind. When I studied and traveled abroad, I left behind fewer things (and therefore didn’t need to spend as much on storage). I stopped thinking of shopping as a pastime, which saved me time and money for more important things like travel and my education. I even began dressing better, since getting rid of things I didn’t need made me think hard about what styles I did and didn’t like.

I don’t know if I’ll keep up with a minimalist lifestyle after college, but it worked wonders for me as an undergraduate, both financially and personally. Hoarding belongings is a hard habit to break, but in my experience there’s no better time to break it than in college!

Need help prepping your college application? 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.

The post The Unexpected Perks of a Minimalist Lifestyle in College appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2015, 13:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher
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On this first Friday of November, you may start seeing some peach fuzz sprouts on the upper lips of some of your friends and colleagues. For many around the world, November means Movember, a month dedicated to the hopefully-overlapping Venn Diagram of mustaches and men’s health. Why – other than the fact that this is a GMAT blog – do we mention the Venn Diagram?

Because while the Movember Foundation is committed to using mustaches as a way to increase both awareness of and funding for men’s health issues (in particular prostate and testicular cancer), many young men focus solely on the mustache-growth facet of the month. And “I’m growing a mustache for Movember” without the fundraising follow-through is akin to the following quotes:

“I’m growing a mustache for Movember.”

“I’m running a marathon for lymphoma research.”

“I’m dumping a bucket of ice water over my head on Facebook.”

“I’m taking a GMAT practice test this weekend.”/”I’m going to the library to study for the GMAT.”

Now, those are all noble sentiments expressed with great intentions. But another thing they all have in common is that they’re each missing a critical action step in their mission to reach their desired outcome. Growing a mustache does very little to prevent or treat prostate cancer. Running a marathon isn’t what furthers scientists’ knowledge of lymphoma. Dumping an ice bucket over your head is more likely to cause pneumonia than to cure ALS. And taking a practice test won’t do very much for your GMAT score.

Each of those actions requires a much more thorough and meaningful component. It’s the fundraising behind Movember, Team in Training, and the Ice Bucket Challenge that advances those causes. It’s your effort to use your mustache, sore knees, and Facebook video to encourage friends and family to seek out early diagnosis or to donate to the cause. And it’s the follow-up to your GMAT practice test or homework session that helps you increase your score.

This weekend, well over a thousand practice tests will be taken in the Veritas Prep system, many by young men a week into their mustache growth. But the practice tests that are truly valuable will be taken by those who follow up on their performance, adding that extra step of action that’s all so critical. They’ll ask themselves:

Which mistakes can I keep top-of-mind so that I never make them again?

How could I have budgeted my time better? Which types of problems take the most time with the least probability of a right answer, and which types would I always get right if I just took the extra few seconds to double check and really focus?

Based on this test, which are the 2-3 content areas/question types that I can markedly improve upon between now and my next practice test?

How will I structure this week’s study sessions to directly attack those areas?

And then they’ll follow up on what they’ve learned, following the new week’s plan of attack until it’s time to again take the first step (a practice test) with the commitment to take the substantially-more-important follow-up steps that really move the needle toward success.

Taking a practice test and growing a Movember mustache are great first steps toward accomplishing noble goals, but in classic Critical Reasoning form, premise alone doesn’t guarantee the conclusion. So make sure you don’t leave the GMAT test center this November with an ineffective mustache and a dismal score – put in the hard work that has to accompany that first step, and this can be a Movember to Remember.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

The post GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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You're Hired! 3 Ways to Handle Your First Job Interview in College [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2015, 15:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: You're Hired! 3 Ways to Handle Your First Job Interview in College
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By the time students get to college, most have experienced what an academic interview is like. The interviewer asks about your scholastic interests, the particular reason why the school or program is exciting to you, and other questions relating to academics. However, once you get to college, you will be moving on to more professional interviews for internships and potential job opportunities. Many of the same rules apply to these settings, but there are even more particulars to be on the lookout for in order to succeed in this setting. Here are a few to keep in mind.

1. GET INVESTED. First and foremost, make sure you care about the position you are interviewing for. This should be a prerequisite for any situation, but a lot of times students don’t care that much and it shows in the lack of passion they have for the position. This is a major problem and something you definitely want to avoid in order to be successful.

In relation to this, make sure you know why exactly you want the position and some of the specific characteristics of the job. While a lot of times the interviews will start out with basic questions that help the interviewer get to know you, the ultimate goal of any of these interviews is to see if you a good fit for the position. In order to prove you are the right person for the job, it is crucial to demonstrate both your ability and understanding of the task at hand. Referencing specific responsibilities and job functions will allow you to show the interviewer that you mean business.

2. SHOW YOU FIT THE ROLE. It’s important to present a picture of yourself that shows why you are a good candidate for the job. Every company wants to get to know you, but you don’t have to tell them everything about yourself. This doesn’t mean lie at all, but include pertinent information and experiences that you have had that relate to the job opening. This is your chance to tell a story about yourself, so make sure it is one the interviewer will want to read from start to finish.

3. FIND SOMETHING IN COMMON. Finally, the most important thing you should do in this interview (and any interview in general) is connect with the person asking you questions. Multiple studies show that the more someone likes you, the greater chance you have of getting the job. No two interviews are the same in terms of connecting, so your best bet is to feel the situation out.

Does your interviewer seem like the type of person who would appreciate if you ask deep, insightful questions about the position? Or more direct, specific questions about the tasks you will perform? Sometimes, it is a mix and other times they like talking about their own experiences. Whatever the case may be, it is a good idea to make sure you do your best to truly connect with the interviewer. Ultimately they are either making the decision on whether or not you get hired, or they are offering a recommendation that will play a role in the process.

If you are able to check off most of these boxes as you prepare and experience your first professional interview, than you will be in a great position to succeed and earn the position you covet. Best of luck in your interviews!

Are you uncertain about your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

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

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4 Ways Sleep Can Make or Break Your SAT or ACT Score [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2015, 18:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 4 Ways Sleep Can Make or Break Your SAT or ACT Score
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You have a big test coming up at the end of the week. You’re a dedicated, hard-working student, so you know you have to study to do well. The nights before the test, you stay up late, pushing yourself to review and learn as much as you can.

However, while taking the test, you can’t remember a lot of the information you spent so much time going over. Focusing on longer questions is more of a struggle than it should be, and you get irritated or panicked easily when you can’t figure out the answer. In the end, when you see your score, you feel that all that hard work and those late nights didn’t pay off as much as they should have. You wonder what you could have done wrong.

If this story sounds familiar, as it should to many ambitious high schoolers, it’s because you’ve experienced for yourself how sleep deprivation can hurt your performance on test day. Getting enough sleep is one of the most crucial steps you can take to achieve your highest potential score. Here’s how to make sure sleep deprivation isn’t holding you back:

1. Know how much you need. Several recent studies have shown that high school students are chronically sleep-deprived. Sleep scientists agree that adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and teenagers probably need even more. If you’re consistently falling behind these numbers, you’ll need to make some changes in your schedule if you really want to get that high score you’re after.

2. Know you might not realize you’re sleep-deprived. Most people assume that as long as they don’t feel tired and drowsy, they aren’t really behind on sleep. In fact, studies show a person can become used to sleep deprivation to the point that they no longer recognize that they’re tired. However, the negative consequences of sleep deprivation still persist. Just because you’re not yawning, it doesn’t mean you’re fully awake and alert.

3. Know what the consequences are. Sleep loss can cause a host of problems for any high-achieving student. Lack of sleep leads to lapses in focus, difficulty memorizing new information, inability to recall important words and facts, problems with multitasking, increased irritability and stress, and quite a few other issues. If you want all your studying to pay off on test day, you have to eliminate these problems. Put simply, you have to get enough sleep to be the best test-taker you can be.

4. Know how to catch up. It’s not enough just to sleep 8 or 9 hours the night before your test. Due to a phenomenon called “sleep debt,” sleep loss actually accumulates over time. Essentially, every time you sleep 5 hours instead of 8, you fall that much further behind the sleep you need. The only way to catch up and get back to your peak self is to sleep well for several nights in a row. You’ll need to plan ahead and make sleep a priority in the week before the test.

Stay well rested and you’ll be at your best on test day! Good luck with the SAT tomorrow!

Are you uncertain about your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

By Cambrian Thomas-Adams

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Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: The Tricky Critical Reasoning Conclusion [#permalink]

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New post 09 Nov 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: The Tricky Critical Reasoning Conclusion
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As discussed previously, the most important aspect of a strengthen/weaken question on the GMAT is “identifying the conclusion,” but sometimes, that may not be enough. Even after you identify the conclusion, you must ensure that you have understood it well. Today, we will discuss the “tricky conclusions.”

First let’s take a look at some simple examples:

Conclusion 1: A Causes B.

We can strengthen the conclusion by saying that when A happens, B happens.

We can weaken the conclusion by saying that A happened but B did not happen.

How about a statement which suggests that “C causes B,” or, “B happened but A did not happen”?

Do these affect the conclusion? No, they don’t. The relationship here is that A causes B. Whether there are other factors that cause B too is not our concern, so whether B can happen without A is none of our business.

Conclusion 2: Only A Causes B.

This is an altogether different conclusion. It is apparent that A causes B but the point of contention is whether A is the only cause of B.

Now here, a statement suggesting, “C causes B,” or, “B happened but A did not happen,” does affect our conclusion. These weaken our conclusion – they suggest that A is not the only cause of B.

This distinction can be critical in solving the question. We will now illustrate this point with one of our own GMAT practice questions:

Two types of earthworm, one black and one red-brown, inhabit the woods near the town of Millerton. Because the red-brown worm’s coloring affords it better camouflage from predatory birds, its population in 1980 was approximately five times that of the black worm. In 1990, a factory was built in Millerton and emissions from the factory blackened much of the woods. The population of black earthworms is now almost equal to that of the red-brown earthworm, a result, say local ecologists, solely stemming from the blackening of the woods.

Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the conclusion of the local ecologists?

(A) The number of red-brown earthworms in the Millerton woods has steadily dropped since the factory began operations.

(B) The birds that prey on earthworms prefer black worms to red-brown worms.

(C) Climate conditions since 1990 have been more favorable to the survival of the red-brown worm than to the black worm.

(D) The average life span of the earthworms has remained the same since the factory began operations.

(E) Since the factory took steps to reduce emissions six months ago, there has been a slight increase in the earthworm population.

Let’s look at the argument.

Premises:

  • There are two types of worms – Red and Black.
  • Red has better camouflage from predatory birds, hence its population was five times that of black.
  • The factory has blackened the woods and now the population of both worms is the same.
Conclusion:

From our premises, we can determine that the blackening of the woods is solely responsible for equalization of the population of the two earthworms.

We need to strengthen this conclusion. Note that there is no doubt that the blackening of the woods is responsible for equalization of populations; the question is whether it is solely responsible.

(A) The number of red-brown earthworms in the Millerton woods has steadily dropped since the factory began operations.

Our conclusion is that only the blackening of the woods caused the numbers to equalize (either black worms are able to hide better or red worms are not able to hide or both), therefore, we need to look for the option that strengthens that there is no other reason. Option A only tells us what the argument does anyway – the population of red worms is decreasing (or black worm population is increasing or both) due to the blackening of the woods. It doesn’t strengthen the claim that only blackening of the woods is responsible.

(B) The birds that prey on earthworms prefer black worms to red-brown worms.

The fact that birds prefer black worms doesn’t necessarily mean that they get to actually eat black worms. Even if we do assume that they do eat black worms over red worms when they can, this strengthens the idea that “the blackening of the woods is responsible for equalization of population,” but does not strengthen the idea that “the blackening of the woods is solely responsible for equalization,” hence, this is not our answer.

(C) Climate conditions since 1990 have been more favorable to the survival of the red-brown worm than to the black worm.

Option C tells us that another factor that could have had an effect on equalization (i.e. climate) is not responsible. This strengthens the conclusion that better camouflage is solely responsible – it doesn’t prove the conclusion beyond doubt, since there could be still another factor that could be responsible, but it does discard one of the other factors. Therefore, it does improve the probability that the conclusion is true.

(D) The average life span of the earthworms has remained the same since the factory began operations.

This option does not distinguish between the two types of earthworms. It just tells us that as a group, the average lifespan of the earthworms has remained the same. Hence, it doesn’t affect our conclusion, which is based on the population of two different earthworms.

(E) Since the factory took steps to reduce emissions six months ago, there has been a slight increase in the earthworm population.

Again, this option does not distinguish between the two types of earthworms. It just tells us that as a group, the earthworm population has increased, so it also does not affect our conclusion, which is based on the population of two different earthworms.

Therefore, our answer is C.

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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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A Survivor’s Guide to College Apartment Living [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: A Survivor’s Guide to College Apartment Living
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I love college, and I love my apartment—I’ll be sad to leave. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t have my share of rough spots along the way.

Before moving out of my freshman dorm I had never lived apart from my parents before, much less found my own apartment, chosen my own roommates, or paid my own bills. The learning curve was steep.

Three years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • While apartment hunting, find a balance between high rent and comfortable living. Stay within your budget because college is expensive, but if at all possible don’t sacrifice your happiness and peace of mind; college can be hard and stressful, and often the thing you’ll want most is a comfortable room to retreat to when the going gets tough. The deciding questions to ask aren’t whether you really like high ceilings or whether you just have to have a gas stove instead of an electric one. Instead, check whether the walls are insulated, whether appliances are clean (or cleanable) and functional, and whether you’re sure you can afford it. If you’re living with roommates: Do you have enough space to avoid living on top of one another? Do you feel safe in the area? If forced to choose, remember that budget and comfort come first, and that you’ll only be there at most for a few years.
  • Consider subletting. It’s more short term, but it’s probably cheaper and it’s a great way to meet new people.
  • Any room or apartment, no matter how small or old or dark, can be made a lot more livable with a little love and care. If you choose a less attractive room or apartment in order to cut costs, bring in lights, rugs, furniture, or other décor to brighten it up. Room décor doesn’t need to be expensive (think Ikea or secondhand stores), and a few well-chosen items can do wonders. It’s worth the fairly small investment to have a nice place to call home.
  • Choose your roommates wisely. Roommates are a great way to keep living costs down and to make great friends. However, roommates you don’t get along with can be worse than not having roommates at all. Before committing to spending a year or more sharing a room with someone, consider whether your personalities mesh well, whether one of you is messier than the other, whether he/she is financially stable enough to pay his/her part of the rent on time, etc.
  • Having less stuff will make both moving and living a lot easier. Clutter occupies the living space as well as mental space, even if you don’t notice it, and will affect your roommates as well. Throw away or donate things you don’t need and keep tidy in order to make a small space feel bigger and more comfortable.
Remember, you’ll want to find a place that is safe and quiet so that you can be successful in your studies and also balance your social life. Happy apartment hunting!

Are you still trying to figure out how to handle your college applications? 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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How Much Time Should I Be Putting Into My Application? [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2015, 13:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How Much Time Should I Be Putting Into My Application?
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Fall is a very busy time, whether or not you are adding b-school applications to your agenda. Football games abound; the summer weather breaks, providing more opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or viewing the changing foliage. Additionally, work on the job often picks up in the fall, since many corporations operate their fiscal year in sync with the calendar year.

The final quarter of every year is often the make-or-break run towards profitability for the entire year. In addition to wrapping up the current year’s business, there is also planning for the new year to be done. And that’s not even considering the holidays, which descend upon us all like a Tsunami – so much so, that the last three months of the year might just as well be called “HalloThankMas”.

Applying to business school during this time can sometimes seem overwhelming. In addition to working your full time job at a high level, impressing your boss and seeking challenges, you also must be involved in your community and simultaneously prepare for the GMAT, as well as write several application essays – not to mention tracking down the obscure summer semester transcript from that class you took away from your primary institution, as well as meeting with potential recommenders. For this reason, it makes sense to get started on the process as soon as possible.

As sending in your business school applications is such an involved process, it’s difficult to definitively say exactly how much time you should allocate to get it all done. Much of the issue depends on how organized you are and how well you manage your time. Clearly for a procrastinator,  it will take longer, or if you are a poor writer, you will need extra time with a proofreader to get your story right. Generally speaking, you should be spending four to six weeks in total on everything. Keep in mind, this includes a visit and tour of your target campus plus an interview. With applications being released in most cases in mid-July, this gives you on average about three months until the first round is due (with less time for those interested in early application deadlines) – more than enough time.

“But what if I am applying to several schools?” you may ask. We certainly hope that you will, since putting all your eggs in one basket would be a poor strategy. The secret here is to leverage the general work you must do for any application for all your applications, effectively reducing the marginal time to complete an additional school’s package quite substantially. While each school has different requirements, you will find that in general, most business schools are looking for similar information – namely to explain why you want an MBA, why one from their school, and why now? Additionally they will all want to know what you have done personally and professionally, what you plan to do post-MBA, and how these two things are related.

Once you have spent the time revisiting your own experiences in your mind and organizing your story and approach, you will find it easy to translate this rough information to just about any school’s application. As a matter of fact, we have seen clients knock out last minute applications in just a matter of days if they have already applied to other schools. The good news is, once the heavy lifting is done on your first two or three applications, we often find clients able to crank out several more without too much additional work.

Most schools are looking for the same information, so explaining why you want the MBA, why now is a good time to pursue it, and why you want to go to a particular program are all fairly transferable answers to questions from school to school. At Veritas Prep, we can help you streamline the process and keep you on task. Let us know if we can partner with you in the process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

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Standing Out as an International Applicant from India [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2015, 17:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Standing Out as an International Applicant from India
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One of the most competitive MBA applicant pools year-in and year-out is the vast crop of talented applicants originating from the subcontinent of India. Every year, top business schools are flooded with qualified Indian applicants that present a bevy of challenging decisions for admissions committees around the world. If you’re a member of the Indian applicant pool, it is important to understand how the admission committee will view you – having a good handle on this can help a smart applicant properly strategize on producing a “winning” application.

With so many candidates and so few spots available, it is more important than ever for Indian applicants to create an admissions package that stands out from the masses. But how is this done?

Let’s discuss some different ways the typical Indian candidate can create an application package that stands out from the competition.

Work Experience

The Indian applicant pool is known for being predominantly populated by one of the country’s biggest industries: the IT industry is by far the biggest pipeline of MBA talent coming out of India. This fact feeds into the reputation of the “homogeneous” Indian applicant, and “homogeneous” is rarely ever a good buzzword when it comes to gaining admission into business school.

For many application-ready candidates, this is a tough area to stand out in. But there are still some things to do for those candidates in the early stages of planning for their MBA, or those already in the midst of application season. For those in the early stages, this can involve pursuing industries that align with an area of interest, particularly if that is outside of the IT industry.

For those already within their target industry, taking on leadership opportunities in an existing role or exploring development in other areas or functions of your current job can present a strong growth trajectory. Whatever stage you are in as a candidate, the key here is to showcase yourself as a high-potential future leader with the flexibility to succeed in multiple work functions and industries.

GMAT Scores

This one is pretty simple – with so many applicants flooding the business school pipeline; it is critical for a competitive Indian applicant to achieve a strong score on the GMAT. What is a strong score, you may ask?

Many Indian applicants come in with above-average GMAT scores, which makes this aspect of the admissions process particularly competitive. With so many high-performing applicants coming from this region, admitted candidates often report GMAT scores that exceed school averages.

Generally, you will want to aim for around +20 points above the average score for your target program, with anything above that, of course, being increasingly more beneficial for your application.

Education

Education is another fairly competitive area that is pretty unique in comparison to the typical structure favored by U.S. educators. Coming from a nation with a unique ranking system and some high-profile colleges, this is an area where international Indian candidates can try and stand out. Another common item on the transcript of the Indian MBA applicant can actually be an MBA. It is not uncommon for candidates to pursue a second Western MBA after already completing one in-country, so if this is you, make sure to have a clear rationale on why a second MBA is necessary.

Application

A common knock against the Indian applicant is the non-data portion of the application process. A lot of focus tends to go into the GMAT, and not enough on other more nuanced elements of the application. This reputation feeds into the “homogeneous” reputation of the Indian applicant, as the opportunity to differentiate is often missed.

Extra-Curriculars

Undergraduate engagement is important, but continued engagement is also key. The focus in this area should be on leadership within these activities and not just participation. Don’t be afraid to leverage these experiences for other areas of your application as well – your ability to share highlights and impact from your engagements will go a long way in establishing these as meaningful experiences in your application.

Essays

Be interesting! Too many essays are bland responses focused on writing what the candidate feels the AdComm wants to hear. Breakthrough essays will be introspective and passionate responses that provide a unique insight into a candidate’s personal and professional background and goals. Avoid generic responses and use language that builds a narrative that cannot otherwise be gleaned from a resume or transcript.

Understanding the perception of your applicant pool is a key first step in creating a strategy to differentiate your profile from the masses. Use these tips as a starting point to creating a breakthrough application that showcases you as a unique candidate.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and 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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Burn the Which! On the GMAT, That Is... [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Burn the Which! On the GMAT, That Is...
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It’s Halloween as I write this, but by the time you read it, November will be upon us, and you’ll be several days into a serious candy hangover. With that in mind, you’re probably in the mood for something boring and self-disciplined — or just to throw up — and I couldn’t think of anything that better accomplishes both than a little bit of sentence correction.

Unless you were a big reader in high school (or you’re a incorrigible grammar nerd, the type who brightens up when I use the word “incorrigible”), sentence correction is probably your least favorite part of the GMAT. You should know English, you do know English, but the GMAT wants you to feel like you don’t, and it’s amazing the rest of us can even find the will to live while we listen to you talk. It wasn’t bad enough for the test writers to undo years of hard work with your therapist to forget your high school math; now they’re making you feel inadequate about your own language (or in some cases, a language you busted your butt to learn as an adult).

Like it or not, however, that’s the game here: testing the subtle differences between everyday English, the sort you speak and type and are reading from me right now (“This is him! Who were you looking for?”), and black-tie, formal English, the kind you use to lose friends and alienate people (“This is he! For whom were you looking?”). And no word — see how I started that sentence with “and”? I’m on your side! — better stands for this distinction than “which”, a seemingly simple, everyday word that you and the GMAT test writers will be fighting a brutal war to control.

In your world, after all, “which” is used to describe anything. In your world, “He was being such a jerk, which was totally uncalled for,” or, “I took the GMAT this morning, which was the worst thing I’ve done since I felt off the stage in the first act of that school play,” are perfectly grammatical. In the GMAT’s world, however, they aren’t, and it’s all because of that “which”. In your world, “which” can describe the gist of the sentence, but in the GMAT’s world, it describes the noun that precedes it. Luckily, there’s an easy, 99% accurate way to test GMAT-approved usage of “which”:

CORRECT: (non-human noun), which (phrase describing that noun)

INCORRECT: almost anything else

So these are correct:

“The sun, which is actually a star, was once considered a god.”

“My car, which has multiple dents, two differently colored front doors, and a dog sleeping on it, is a bit of a fixer-upper.”

“I finally saw Wayne’s World 2, which I’ve been hearing about for years.”

In each case, “which” directly connects a noun to a phrase that describes that noun. The sun IS actually a star, my car DOES have multiple dents, and Wayne’s World 2 WAS what I’d been hearing about (I’ve been living under a rock since 1992).

As obnoxious as this rule is — and by no means do I encourage you to follow it in your own writing or speech — it’s easy to remember on test day. If you see “which” begin a modifier, make sure that it’s next to the noun it describes. If it is, lovely! If it isn’t, burn that which!

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SAT Tip of the Week: Asking Questions to Answer Questions [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Asking Questions to Answer Questions
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SAT Critical Reading passages are known to be a bit…well…boring. They can range from obscure 19th century literature to scientific articles on the principles of walking. Although some students might find these forays into otherwise-never-read writing interesting, most students are understandably turned off by what they have to read. I never blame students for feeling this way; what I do fight against is letting a lack of interest in a passage detract from a student’s score.

Even though it is hard, it is crucial to be engaged in a passage even if the content isn’t exciting. The best way to get yourself to be engaged and prepare yourself to answer the passage-based questions is to have an internal dialogue with yourself as you read. For me, I’ve always found that asking questions is a great way to stay on task and think critically about the passage at hand. Here are a few good general questions to begin the process of activating your internal voice when approaching SAT reading passages:

  • How does one part of the passage relate to the rest of the passage?
  • What purpose does placing this section of the passage here serve the author?
  • Where is the author using evidence, and where is he or she sharing his or her opinion?
Equally important is asking questions internally once you get to the actual SAT questions relating to the passage. Actively questioning the answer choices is a great way to make sure that you understand the question and don’t get tricked by trap answer choices. Here are a few good questions to ask when attacking a specific problem:

  • Was this actually stated in the passage, or is it merely plausible? (Remember – avoid assumptions!)
  • Where does the author support this claim?
  • Does the answer fit in with how I understood the passage? With how the passage was directly written?
Keeping a running dialogue of these types of questions helps you both to remain focused and to identify correct answer choices.  Let’s see how this strategy can be applied to a real SAT problem. Consider the following passage:

The Space Race, which occurred between 1957 and 1975, began when the Soviets launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into space. For the Soviet Union, Sputnik was a tremendous technological achievement. For the United States, it was an embarrassing wake-up call. The United States had previously been regarded as the forerunner in the new field of space exploration, but Sputnik proved that the Soviets were viable contenders for that role.

When I read that passage, a couple key questions come to mind. Some questions occur as I read, others afterwards; it is important to know yourself in order to realize when your internal dialogue will be beneficial and when it will be distracting:

  • How (or does) the author define the Space Race?
  • “Wake-up call” seems figurative. What does the author mean by it and where can I justify that?
  • What is the value in talking specifically about the events in the Space Race?
Once you’ve thought about or answered these questions, it’s time to go on to look at the SAT problems. Keep the understanding you derived from your questions in mind as you think about how to approach the problem presented to you. Now lets look at a specific question related to the passage:

The author most likely uses the phrase “wake-up call” in line 5 in order to:

(A) emphasize the bitterly competitive nature of the space race

(B) highlight the need for the United States to begin its own weapons development program

(C) imply that the Soviets did in fact contact the United States government to notify them of the launch

(D) convey the shock and humiliation the United States felt when it heard about Sputnik

(E) suggest that any American attempt to launch a satellite at that time would be doomed to fail

My favorite strategy is to ask a challenging question directed at each answer choice. This ensures that I am critical of each answer choice and don’t give any answer the benefit of the doubt. The best questions are ones that are framed in such a way that they either eliminate or affirm an answer choice, since this obviously leads you to the correct answer on the problem.

For answer choice A, I’d ask: Is the space race bitterly competitive, or is bitterly too extreme a word?

For B, C, and E, I’d ask: Are the details from the answer choices actually present in the text? Respectively, does the US need to make its own program? Did the Soviets contact the Americans? Is there a suggestion of failure?

For D, I’d ask: Does a wake-up call usually go along with shock?

Answering these questions, I found that “bitterly” was, in fact, an inaccurate description of the situation; the US had no discernible need to start a program; there was no mention of any notification; there was no suggestion of failure; wake-up calls do involve being surprised, which goes along closely with shock. Through this analysis, I can eliminate choices A, B, C, and E, leaving me with just the correct answer, which is D.

As you can see, asking the right questions and keeping yourself engaged is a great way to stay focused and think critically about SAT passage-based reading questions.

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, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

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4 Tips for Taking Advantage of the Upcoming Holiday Break [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 4 Tips for Taking Advantage of the Upcoming Holiday Break
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Winter break is upon us!

The seasons are starting to change and we’re all starting to anticipate the holiday break that is merely weeks away. While the break is certainly a good time for relaxing, drinking some hot cider and spending time with family and friends, there are opportunities to get ahead while catching up on your sleep, too!

Here are four things to keep in mind for the upcoming holiday break.

  • Network. You’re already going to be chatting with your friends & family, but now you can start these conversations with a purpose. Reach out to people who may have attended a school you’re applying to or someone who is currently a student. Pick their brain about student experiences, tips for the final stages of your application or prominent academic programs. Your best scoop on a college is an insider’s perspective, so take advantage of the people around you this holiday season who may be able to offer some good insight.
  • Get involved. There are always a dozen ways to be involved in your community over the holiday breaks – whether you coordinate a book drive or cook and serve food to the homeless, the holidays are always a great time to give. If you don’t see the community service opportunity you’re looking for, create something of your own! It will be a satisfying experience, and college admissions committees will be happy to see that you took initiative to support your community.

[*]Fill out the FAFSA/CSS Profile. These applications for financial aid become available on January 1st, and your holiday break is a great time to get ahead on this process. Imagine how good you will feel knowing that this is completely taken care of when the March 1 deadline rolls around![/list]

[*]Relax! High school can be stressful, and these breaks are given to you for a reason. While you shouldn’t sleep your break away, it is certainly recommended to take advantage of your days off and allow yourself to refocus. Give yourself some “me-time” and get yourself mentally prepared to kick off the New Year on a high note![/list]
Be sure to use this time away from school to focus on your next academic adventure – college! Enjoy your winter break!

Need help prepping your early college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

 

 

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The Skinny on MBA Essay Word Limits [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2015, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Skinny on MBA Essay Word Limits
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You have spent considerable time collecting valuable work experience since college and even more time reflecting back on this experience as you prepare to apply to business school, possibly even making notes or an outline on how you plan to ideally relate your story to the admissions committees. Now that the application season is well underway, your stomach sinks as you see your target school has put a 250 character limit on describing your post-MBA goals, or a 400 word limit on explaining why you want to go to their school. Worse yet, your aspirations for Harvard Business School begin to wane as you see their one essay this year has no posted word limit—is this a trick?

Word limits on essays have always been the bane of applicants everywhere, but it is important to remember the purpose of the word limits before diving in. The word limit is not there to try and catch someone going over the count by a sentence or two. Although the admissions committees want to get to know you through the application as thoroughly as possible, years of reading essays has demonstrated a need for them to put some kind of guideline out there, lest they receive novellas from hopeful applicants who do not know the meaning of the word “restraint”.

So what does a word limit really mean? It means you now have a guideline straight from the committee itself in which to govern the amount of information you give them. And in doing so, you are communicating more than just the story on the page.

If you leave it short, they will see you as possibly not having enough to say and therefore in need of another year or two of experience. If you go too long, they may view you as someone who is lacking in communication skills or worse yet, has poor judgment or thinks rules do not apply to them. So you see how the subtext can be just as important as the text itself.

So what do you do if you simply can’t seem to cram your story into the required word limit? One method is to take advantage of the “optional essay,” where many schools give you a bit of extra space to communicate something you wish they had asked you about or something you feel is pertinent to their decision on your admission that you just couldn’t fit into the main essays. Additionally, you should know that most schools are not counting every word, hoping to catch someone breaking the limit so they can reject their application.

You must realize that schools impose the limits for two reasons: 1) to keep people from writing a novel and thereby putting onerous demands on the admissions team to read it and 2) to challenge applicants to condense information into a digestible chunk of relevant evidence for admission. In the business world, deals are won and lost by the ubiquitous one page executive summary, so it’s a good test of your executive level potential to communicate concisely and accurately.

And about that Harvard essay…remember that HBS has a long history of challenging applicants both in the classroom and in the admissions process. Their stingy word limits are notorious, so to have no restriction on this year’s essay at first blush may seem out of character. Keeping their history in mind, however, an applicant would fare well to continue the tradition of economy on the application and try to limit the essay to one typed page, or under 1000 words (which is roughly the number of words they have allowed in the past under the multiple essay system). What you should write about in that one page is an entirely different topic.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

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Undecided: 3 Reasons to Go to College Without Choosing a Major [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Undecided: 3 Reasons to Go to College Without Choosing a Major
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If you are anything like me, you change your mind on things all the time. A month ago I liked vanilla ice cream; now I like chocolate. 4 years ago I listened to Eminem; now I listen to Coldplay. I used to believe in Santa Claus; now I’m a bit more skeptical. I could go on, but the point is that I’m 18 years old and my views shift almost constantly. This is totally normal. After all, I would be a pretty boring person if I always stubbornly stuck with the opinions I developed as a little kid. At this point you might be thinking: what relevance does this have to college? Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Even though many kids believe that it is okay (even good!) to have an open mind, there seems to be one problematic and common exception to that rule: deciding on a college major before getting to college.

It sometimes seems like high school students feel like they have to have a defined major and path for their life before even showing up for the first day of college. How many 18 year olds already know by that point in their life what subject they love the most and want to study for 4 years? The world of academia is so wide and complex that a high school education just doesn’t expose students to all the possible fields of study they can take. In my opinion, going in to college undecided does a lot more good than harm. I understand this might be totally contradictory to what you hear from parents, teachers, friends, etc., so here are three reasons why it’s great to be undecided.

  • There’s more to school than the typical core subjects. High schools mainly offer course in traditional disciplines like math, history, and English. In college there are a world of possibilities that many students have likely never heard of. The people who want to decide on a major before getting to college likely will choose something they’re familiar with, thereby cutting off their chance to study a less well-known subject. Only an open-minded student will be cognizant of taking advantage of, say, an Egyptology department!

[*] It’s nice to explore without being swamped in requirements. Students who are pre-decided on a major often find their course decisions dictated primarily by requirements. On top of general education requirements, underclassmen who have already decided their major can feel pressure to start knocking off requirements for their major too, limiting their ability to freely explore their ever-changing interests. Undecided students will feel less constrained by onerous requirements and will instead have more liberty to branch out.[/list]

[*] There’s no pressure to stick to your original plan. For many people, it’s a fact of human nature that we are hesitant to give up on things once we have started them. While sometimes this is a good thing, when it comes to choosing a college major it can be very pernicious. Ideally your choice in college major is dictated by what subject you feel most passionate about. When students come in fiercely decided on a certain major but then realize they don’t like it as much as they thought they would, stressful conflicts arise as to whether they want to stick to the original plan or change direction entirely. By coming in undecided, students won’t have this conflict, and instead will be able to make their major decision based on their current feelings, not their past promises.[/list]
I’m in the midst of my freshman year and am still exploring all my options. When people ask me what I’m majoring in, I give them the same answer I’ve been giving since my college search started: I’m undecided, and I’m proud of it.

Do you need some guidance with your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

By Aidan Calvelli

 

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Use Number Lines on the GMAT, Not Memory! [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Use Number Lines on the GMAT, Not Memory!
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I’ve written in the past about how the biggest challenge on many GMAT questions is the strain they put on our working memory. Working memory, or our ability to process information that we hold temporarily, is by definition quite limited. It’s why phone numbers only contain seven digits – any more than that and most people wouldn’t be able to recall them. (Yes, there was a time, in the dark and distant past, when we had to remember phone numbers.)

One of the most simple and effective strategies we can deploy to combat our working memory limitations is to simply list out the sample space of scenarios we’re dealing with. If we were told, for example, that x is a prime number less than 20, rather than internalize this information, we can jot down x = 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, or 19. The harder and more abstract the question, the more necessary such a strategy will prove to be.

Take this challenging Data Sufficiency question, for example:

On the number line, the distance between x and y is greater than the distance between x and z. Does z lie between x and y on the number line?

1) xyz < 0

2) xy <0

The reader is hereby challenged to attempt this exercise in his or her head without inducing some kind of hemorrhage.

So, rather than try to conceptualize this problem mentally, let’s start by actually writing down all the number line configurations that we might have to deal with before even glancing at the statements. We know that x and z are closer than x and y. So we could get the following:

x____z_______________________y

z____x_______________________y

Or we can swap x and y to generate a kind of mirror image

y______________________x_____z

y______________________z_____x

The above number lines are the only four possibilities given the constraints provided in the question stem. Now we have something concrete and visual that we can use when evaluating the statements.

Statement 1 tells us that the product of the three variables is negative. If you’ve internalized your number properties – and we heartily encourage that you do – you know that a product is negative if there are an odd number of negative elements in said product. In this case, that means that either one of the variables is negative, or all three of them are. So let’s use say one of the variables is negative. By placing a 0 strategically, we can use any of our above number lines:

x__0__z______________________y

z__0__x______________________y

y__0___________________x_____z

y__0___________________z_____x

Each of these scenarios will satisfy that first statement. But we only need two.

In our first number line, z is between x and y, so we get a YES to the question.

In our second number line, z is not between x and y, so we get a NO to the question.

Because we can get a YES or a NO to the original question, Statement 1 alone is not sufficient. Eliminate answer choices A and D.

Statement 2 tells us that the product of x and y is negative. Thus, we know that one of the variables is positive, and one of the variables is negative. Again, we can simply peruse our number lines and select a couple of examples that satisfy this condition.

In our first number line, z is between x and y, so we get a YES to the question.

In our third number line, z is not between x and y, so we get a NO to the question.

Like with Statement 1, because we can get a YES or NO to the original question, Statement 2 alone is also not sufficient. Eliminate answer choice B.

When testing the statements together, we know two pieces of information. Statement 1 tells us that either one variable is negative or all three are. Statement 2 tells us that, between x and y, we have one negative and one positive. Therefore, together, we know that either x or y is negative, and the remaining variables are all positive. Now all we have to do is peruse our sample space and locate these scenarios. It turns out that we can use the same two number lines we used when testing Statement 2:

In our first number line, z is between x and y, so we get a YES to the question.

In our third number line, z is not between x and y, so we get a NO to the question.

So even together, the statements are not sufficient to answer the question – the correct answer is E.

Takeaway: on the GMAT there’s no reason to strain your brain any more than is necessary. The more concrete you can make the information you’re provided on a given question, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to properly execute whatever math or logic maneuvers you’re asked to perform.

*GMATPrep question courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.

The post Use Number Lines on the GMAT, Not Memory! appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Should Entrepreneurs Go to Business School? [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Should Entrepreneurs Go to Business School?
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Should budding entrepreneurs go to business school? It’s a question we get asked very often and it’s always a difficult debate. In some cases it makes sense, in others not. So let’s break down both options:

Against Business School 

In general, business school can be a very expensive proposition. So as an entrepreneur you will probably be asking yourself, “Why spend all this money on business school when I could just invest it in myself and my startup?” Many entrepreneurs would also say spending two years on attending business school is a waste of time.

Apu Gupta, who Co-Founded Curalate and is a Wharton MBA graduate thinks you can’t learn entrepreneurship in a classroom: “I think the notion that you can go to business school to learn to be an entrepreneur is a misnomer. I have always found it odd that people go to business school to study entrepreneurship. If you want to study entrepreneurship, you need to go and be an entrepreneur.” Also, there are now many online resources now where people can take MBA-like classes, learn some of the same skills they would in a business school classroom and not have to pay nearly as much, if anything at all. For example, the University of Illinois just made their MBA classes free online at Coursera.

For Business School

So why do we think it can actually make sense for entrepreneurs to go to business school? There are a number of reasons. First, business schools are consistently investing in their entrepreneurship programs. They have seen the rise of students either wanting to work for startups or be an entrepreneur themselves, and they are responding positively. During any random week at just about any top business school there will be some kind of pitch competition happening, giving students the chance to flex their creative muscles and present their startup idea to local experts.

Additionally, most schools offer some kind of entrepreneurship class or lecture series for their students. For example, Harvard Business School offers courses like “The Entrepreneurial Manager,” “Entrepreneurial Finance,” “Launching Technology Ventures,” and even a field course in entrepreneurial sales and marketing. Some schools are even custom designing their curriculum – investing in entrepreneurship centers or creating additional certificates for would-be entrepreneurs.  For example, the Michigan Ross School of Business has created a Master of Entrepreneurship degree in collaboration with the Michigan College of Engineering that comes with a built-in funding ecosystem.

Secondly, despite the fact that business school networking is typically geared to those looking for full-time jobs, it still provides an awesome opportunity for entrepreneurs to network. Imagine being in a sea of talented people who are as motivated as you! Do you think you could find a few people who might also want to work on your project? How about a professor that would serve as an advisor for your company? Or even potential funding opportunities from alumni and local investors?

Obviously at the end of the day business school is a very personal choice, and we think it is important to think about both sides of the argument when debating whether or not entrepreneurs should go to business school.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

The post Should Entrepreneurs Go to Business School? appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Should Entrepreneurs Go to Business School?   [#permalink] 13 Nov 2015, 13:01

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