Articles published in April 2007

Boston MBA Admissions Panel Wrap-Up

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The Boston Business School Admissions Panel took place last week, with 4 top 10 programs in attendance – Harvard, MIT Sloan, Columbia, and Northwestern.

One of the interesting trends was that MIT Sloan joined Harvard in favoring applicants from undergraduates. MIT, like Harvard, will waive your application fee is you are still an undergraduate, and will consider deferment. See MIT Sloan’s website for more details. (Click here for the past blog posting on Harvard’s similar policy).

It should be noted that this is still somewhat unusual among top schools. The admissions officer from Northwestern/Kellogg commented that they did NOT consider undergraduate applicants, as they require some work experience after college for successful applicants.

Another interesting fact from MIT Sloan – the admissions office emphasizes the recent experience of its applicants more heavily (i.e. what you’ve been doing the past 2 years) than what applicants did earlier in time in making its decisions.

More info to come from the business school panel later in the week.

GMAT “Official Guide Stopwatch”

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One of our students (a very bright guy from the McKinsey corporate class) last month described a common problem with studying for the GMAT. He wanted to sit down and do timed blocks of practice questions, but it was cumbersome for him to use a stopwatch and time each ‘lap’ or question precisely, particularly when working out of the Official Guide. It was also an issue to record his answer choices for each question for when he wanted to review the set. He suggested that we come up with a practice center interface that would simply let students take timed practice sets of questions.

Not being too proud to immediately run with someone else’s idea, we decided to do just that! In our practice center, starting May 1st, students will find a blank interface that will simply record and time their answers to a series of questions, with the questions determined by the student. This way, students can work out of the Official Guide and still get practice with selecting answer choices on a computer screen (as with the real GMAT test), as well as have each of their questions precisely timed and recorded.

We hope that this ‘stopwatch’ proves helpful to all of our students. We will also have something interesting that one can do with the right and wrong answers from Official Guide questions in the next couple of weeks (hint – it involves an Excel spreadsheet that records one’s progress through the Official GMAT Review Guides . . . )

Veritas Prep vs. ManhattanGMAT

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[Note: This posting was updated in August 2009 and again in July 2011 to reflect new information. It is our intent to accurately represent our competitors. When Veritas contacted us to let us know that certain information in this 2007 article was outdated, we agreed to post updates.]

The biggest differences between Veritas and ManhattanGMAT are the Instructor hiring and training processes.

Veritas DOES NOT conduct an in-person audition with its prospective Instructors. Every other test prep company (including Kaplan and Princeton Review) at least sees teachers in action before hiring. Veritas, perhaps because it is hiring far and wide, chooses to forego an in-person audition, instead conducting phone or online interviews exclusively.

The training process is even more surprising – prospective teachers are simply sent materials in the mail, and then after another brief phone conversation, they’re considered prepared and trained to go in front of students. [Update: Since the posting of this article, Veritas has instituted a 100+ hour teacher training program.] Most Veritas Instructors have never met anyone from Veritas in-person by the time they start teaching. The first time we heard this from a former Veritas Instructor, we thought it was an anomaly. But after receiving confirmation from numerous other sources (including more than ten other former and current Veritas Instructors who all gave the same account), this actually seems to be their training process. For first-hand accounts, click here.

In our experience, it is simply impossible to determine how good a teacher is over the phone from afar. There have been dozens of instances during which a candidate sounded great over the phone (and met every qualification), only to do a subpar job during the teaching audition. (MGMAT flies all candidates to New York for an audition)

It’s understandable on many levels why Veritas would choose to compromise in this way – they serve over 60 cities all over the world, and turnover must occur. If you’re hiring your 1st Instructor in Columbus or Dubai (two of their markets) or replacing a departing Instructor, it would be logistically difficult and expensive to fly someone to Ohio/Dubai to interview and train this Instructor candidate. But this is exactly when training and screening are most needed.

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Use of Official Guides for GMAT Review

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Last week, I was speaking to a student at the beginning of a course, when she made a surprising comment. She mentioned that she had completed a Kaplan course, but was seeing the Official Guides for the first time with us. Even though many of our students are refugees from Kaplan, I still found myself stunned at this; how could she have completed a full GMAT class without ever seeing the only publicly released questions from GMAC?

It turns out that Kaplan, for some reason, does not use the Official Guides! The only plausible reason I can think of for this is that the Official Guides, as the exclusive property of GMAC, cost a substantial amount of money to provide to students. There is no real ‘licensing’ of the content; you simply have to buy the books and give them to students.

Apparently Kaplan, looking at the vast number of students it would have to buy books for, decided that its own materials were superior to those provided by the writers and administrators of the actual GMAT test. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still find myself a little bit chagrined at Kaplan’s response to a choice between serving your students and serving the bottom line. It may represent, in some small part, the difference between the priorities of a large public company that has to hit numbers every quarter and those of a smaller, privately owned enterprise that can focus on providing the best offering possible.