Articles published in May 2010

Behind the Whiteboard: Dave Malloy

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Here at Manhattan GMAT, we care deeply about the quality of our instructors. We only hire people who have both prior teaching experience and a 99th percentile GMAT score. We also pay them the highest salary in the industry “ $100 per hour “ so that they are motivated to do the best job possible.

One great thing about the way we treat our instructors is that it allows many of them to pursue their other passions, whether it’s teaching underprivileged children in urban areas, or creating new and exciting companies. We hire so many intriguing people that we wanted to showcase some of their many talents and interests.  And so begins our new series: Behind the Whiteboard, where we tell you about the non-GMAT related talents of some of our instructors.

Our first instructor to be featured on Behind the Whiteboard is Dave Malloy, who recently won an Obie!

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Is an MBA Synonymous with Money?

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With all the recent discussion about teaching ethics in business schools, some of us may have started to forget another factor involved in choosing to attend business school: moving up the pay scale.

It’s good to remember that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau , there is about a 20% increase in salary between a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, and that’s taking into account all of the Master’s degrees out there!

Yet it seems that to make a lot of money you may have to spend a lot of money. A new study commissioned by Bloomberg BusinessWeek has found that there is in fact a correlation between an MBA’s average salary and where he or she went to business school.

Harvard, where students spend an average of $106,000 for their two years of education, comes in first. According to the study, the median income for HBS grads over a 20 year period is $3,867,903. Wharton is second and has the highest average salary at graduation: $137,000.

But if you’re looking for a large percentage increase in salary over time, check out George Washington University, where the average salary increase in 20 years is 114 percent.

It looks like  getting an MBA from a top school has its benefits. Added incentive to get a great GMAT score!

More MBAs Being Recruited by… Casinos.

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Sometimes, we like to take a Friday here on the blog to spotlight fun, exciting, or unusual career paths open to MBAs. Today’s edition: Ever considered a career in gambling?

No, we’re not suggesting you follow in Maverick’s footsteps.  According to this Business Week article, casinos have begun to see the appeal of candidates with MBAs. Once upon a time”say, in the 50s”casino managers got their start as dealers in the pit, and many didn’t even have a college degree. But as corporations have taken over and competition has intensified, things like marketing and human resources are increasingly important. So the industry wants fresh blood with the kind of formal business skills acquired in MBA programs. Meanwhile, business schools are stepping up their gaming-related offerings. “The employers are just waking up to the education of business students,” says Chris Roberts, director of DePaul University’s School of Hospitality Leadership.

Students have responded to the ramped-up recruiting efforts. And why not? As Harrah’s marketing analysis manager Dan Wyse tells the magazine, “We are selling fun, and we’re an entertainment option.” Attendance at Harrah’s most recent Stern recruiting event jumped sharply, attracting more than 100 students. Meanwhile, many of those already in the gambling business are returning to school for an MBA.

The bottom line:  even if you’re not in a traditionally MBA-heavy field, you still might benefit from a business school degree.

Building a Business School from Scratch

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It’s easy to forget how complicated a world-class business school really is. But if you want a good look at one’s inner workings, watch as Johns Hopkins gets the Carey School of Business off the ground. This Business Week article is a revealing look at what goes into a top MBA program.

Known primarily for its medical and public health schools, Johns Hopkins’ business offerings have traditionally been limited. But a $50 million gift from banker William Polk Carey has the university dreaming big. They aren’t simply going to start a business school; they aim to create one of the world’s best.

But the obstacles they must surmount first are considerable”and enlightening. First, the school needed a dean. They chose Yash Gupta, who brings more than a decade of experience and a proven knack for fundraising. Then Gupta began to gather building blocks: students, faculty, and funding. Students had reservations, but Johns Hopkins’ cache won over enough applicants. Gupta has wooed 31 faculty members to the school and hopes to triple that number in 5 years. And then there’s the issue of the curriculum. We’ve already written a bit about the program’s plans to integrate ethical education more thoroughly than other schools. A new program is an opportunity to do things differently”but the development process isn’t easy.

Finally, to meet their goal of recognition as a major, top-choice international business school, the Carey School of Business will have to clear one more difficult hurdle. The program needs accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Johns Hopkins brand weighs heavily in Carey’s favor, and by leveraging the university’s expertise in public health and medicine, they already occupy a valuable niche. But the school also needs to launch a major fundraising campaign, while boosting its alumni network and career services offerings.

It’s worth a look if you’re considering places to apply. Johns Hopkins’ efforts demonstrate all the moving parts in a business school”and all the important features you should take into account.

Manhattan GMAT Supports Educational Causes

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We at Manhattan GMAT are happy to announce the launch of our first annual MGMAT Grant Program, designed to support organizations that prioritize the same standards and spirit as Manhattan GMAT.  Manhattan GMAT staff and instructors from around the country submitted applications to recommend worthy non-profit organizations to receive the grants. Winners were selected based on how closely the goals, standards, and values of the organizations match those of Manhattan GMAT.  We are pleased to award our 3 Instructor Grants for 2010 to the following non-profits:

2010 Instructor Silver Grant ($1,000):
Phoenix Collegiate Academy

2010 Instructor Gold Grant ($1,500):
North Oakland Community Charter School

2010 Instructor Platinum Grant ($2,500):
International Association For Human Values (Youth Empowerment Seminar)

We are excited to be supporting these impressive organizations and look forward to seeing all the great work they do this year!

We will also be awarding the first Manhattan GMAT Staff Grants “ totaling $10,000 “ to worthy organizations this year.  Stay tuned for an announcement of the recipients!

How Best to Learn from the GMAT Forums

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Lately, as I’ve been discussing test questions with people on the forums, I’ve realized that a lot of students aren’t using the GMAT forums to discuss those test questions in the optimal way. I’m defining the optimal way to mean the way in which students will learn in order to boost their scores the most. I’ll go out on a limb and assume that most people do have a goal of learning in the way that boosts their scores the most. 😊

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of the best way to learn; different things work best for different people. But there are certain principles that are universal—and we can use those principles to devise a best practice method for using the forums to maximize our learning.

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How the GMAT Relates to Business School

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The GMAT is a necessary hurdle on your way to business school, but sometimes it’s hard to see why. What do these multiple choice questions really have to do with a masters in business administration? If this question plagues you, take a look at this recent post from the GMAC. It explains exactly how two types of questions”data sufficiency and critical reasoning”measure abilities required by business schools.

Data Sufficiency. This question type, which requires you to determine what’s necessary to solve the problem, is ultimately a test of your ability to weed through minutiae for the important details. And sorting through information is an essential skill set, given the data-rich nature of the modern business environment, says Booth School of Business professor Pradeep Chintagunta. To successfully manage in this environment requires translating the data into usable information, he says, adding, The skills tested by the Data Sufficiency part of the test are consequently critical to managerial decision making.

Critical Reasoning. These questions probe your ability to evaluate the relative strengths of arguments. If you can handle a critical reasoning question, you’re prepared for collaborative b-school projects requiring you to judge others’ ideas. And those projects, in turn, are designed to get you ready for the real world. MBA programs can provide students with decision-making processes, says Valter Lazarri, MBA director of the SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan, but they need a raw ability to connect facts, to detect patterns, to discriminate true causation from spurious correlations.

Of course, it is easier to sort through information when you understand its substance”hence our content-based curriculum.  And don’t fret if you’re struggling in these areas. With diligent practice, you can develop your natural abilities.

A Case for Business School

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A recent piece at Forbes.com argued that because business schools focus on succeeding in large financial institutions, they tend to ignore some of the issues faced by would-be entrepreneurs. The article concluded that business schools need an overhaul to be useful for entrepreneurs. But is this really the case?

An article published several days ago in Tech Crunch says that it is not. The author, Professor Vivek Wadhwa, explains how his MBA helped him move up through the ranks as a programmer and ultimately succeed as an entrepreneur. My MBA classes seemed to fit our business needs like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Even obscure topics like corporate finance came in handy, in IPO discussions with investment bankers and later, in raising capital for my own company, he writes.

In another insightful blog post, entrepreneur Steve Blank says the decision to go back to school is a little more complicated. He argues that at the beginning an MBA might not help you as much, but as a company matures, it becomes an essential tool for running a business smoothly. He writes, as startups grow, []the skills people need at each step of a company’s growth evolve and change. The skills required when they were an 8-person startup trying to ˜search for the business model’ wasn’t the same set of skills needed now that they were a 70-person company ˜executing the business model.’

Wadhwa ends his article explaining that The point is that education is the best investment that one can make. Unlike stocks and bonds, education never loses value; and when you add experience, it gains even more value. Perhaps he has a point.

Layering in Data Sufficiency Questions

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This week, we have a follow-on article from Chris Ryan, Manhattan GMAT’s Director of Instructor and Product Development. Chris introduced the concept of layering to us in this article on Sentence Correction. Layering is a technique used by a test writer to make a question more difficult. Today, Chris is going to show us how layering works in data sufficiency questions.

Note: I’ve repeated the introduction from the first article below, in case some of you haven’t read that one. If you did read the first one, the first few paragraphs will be review for you.


We all know that the GMAT is a computer adaptive test, and computer adaptive tests give us questions based on the difficulty level that we earn as we take the test. How do the test writers at ACT (the organization that writes the GMAT) determine which questions are harder than others?

First, ACT engages in a process called “normalization,” wherein all freshly written questions are tested by actual test takers to determine what percentage answer the questions correctly (we know these questions as experimental questions). If too many people answer correctly, the question may need to be toughened up. If too few people answer correctly, the question may need to be dumbed down. ACT is looking to assemble a pool of questions that covers a range of difficulty, from cakewalk to mind-bending, and the test takers help them do so.

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Ethics Education Gaining Ground in B-Schools

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As you may have heard from our partners at MBAmission, HBS has announced its new dean: Nitin Nohria, a professor of business administration. As this Washington Post article points out, one especially interesting aspect of Harvard’s pick is that Nohria has long advocated administering a voluntary MBA oath to create responsibly and ethically. He’s at the forefront of a push to provide MBAs with a more solid background in ethics. Harvard President Drew Faust called Nohria’s appointment an important moment for the future of business. It certainly marks a turning point for business school curriculums.

For years, voices in academia have called for greater emphasis on ethical education for MBAs, but now they seem to be entering a new era of influence.  The Wall Street Journal reports that a recent survey of business-school administrators ranked ethics as currently the most important subject for students. An overwhelming majority of schools surveyed advocated a stakeholder approach to inculcate a sense of corporate responsibility. That growing consensus has translated into new courses and, in some cases, made a significant impact on the entire program. In building the curriculum for Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School, dean Yash Gupta chose to weave ethics into many courses, rather than cordoning the subject off into a single semester. “We’ll teach students about decision making ” behavioral, rational, how the brain functions ” in the first year, but we’ll also give them chances to make decisions,” he says.

This isn’t simply an academic notion, either. Companies are looking explicitly for ethical qualities in their new hires. According to the Journal, Pascal Krupka, MBA director at France’s Rouen Business School, “Companies, when they used to come to the school, they used to start with ‘We want talented people,’ but now they start their speech with ‘We need people with very good ethics.’

Plus, as the USA Today suggests, the financial crisis has energized this movement in business management education. “If we don’t teach people to sort of look around and have greater peripheral vision, then we’ve just set ourselves up for the next crisis,” says Stephen Spinelli, president of Philadelphia University (and co-founder of the Jiffy Lube).

Whatever the impetus, look out for changes in MBA programs across the world.