Articles published in April 2007

Boston MBA Admissions Panel Wrap-Up


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”


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 . . . )

Use of Official Guides for GMAT Review


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.