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Visiting Your Target Business Schools


Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Visiting Your Target Business Schools by mbaMission

Each week, we are featuring a series of MBA admissions tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.

At mbaMission, we get many inquiries from MBA candidates who are curious about whether visiting your target business schools is really worth the time and cost and whether doing so will impress or influence the admissions committees. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that visiting an MBA program has tremendous import beyond the formal admissions process—doing so is essentially a chance for you to give the school a thorough “test drive.” Imagine, for example, that you were considering buying a $250,000 to $500,000 home. You would certainly want to check it out in person before you signed the mortgage papers, right? You might turn the taps on and off, open and shut the doors and windows, take a walk around the perimeter, and chat with the neighbors. Given that your business school education will likely cost you somewhere in that dollar range—when you take into account tuition, living expenses, and the opportunity costs of leaving your job—you should put forth the same level of effort inspecting and evaluating the place that will be both your work and home for the next two years. Read more

Practicing Sets of GMAT Problems: Mimic the Real Test (Part 1 of 3)


Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Practicing Sets of GMAT Problems: Mimic the Real Test (Part 1 of 3) by Stacey Koprince

Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.

When you first start studying, you’re going to do GMAT problems one at a time and then check your work and analyze the problem. But, eventually, you’re going to need to graduate to sets of GMAT problems that allow you to practice your executive decision-making—as on the real test.

So how do you do that? How many should you do at once? Where should you get those problems? How should you choose which ones to do?

That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about right now. Read more

GMAT Student Trends: What Do Your Fellow Test-Takers Want To Do With Their GMAT Score?


Yesterday, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC, the organization that makes the GMAT) released its annual Prospective Students Survey, a wide-ranging study of nearly 12,000 prospective GMAT-takers and graduate-school-applicants. While this survey is designed primarily to target the needs of graduate schools, there are some interesting data points that you, the aspiring student, may want to know.

Why do people want a graduate business degree?

The survey identified three main groups of people:

Career switchers (38% of respondents): these prospective students are looking to switch industries or job functions and hoping that a graduate degree will give them the boost they need to make the change successfully. People in this group are more likely than the overall pool of respondents to be age 24 or older and living in the U.S. or Canada. The size of this group has dropped by 8 percentage points in the last 5 years, perhaps not surprising as the economy has picked up since 2010.

Career enhancers (34%): these prospective students are seeking a graduate degree primarily to enhance their existing careers, whether planning to keep their current jobs or move to a new employer. People in this group are more likely than the overall pool of respondents to be female, under the age of 24, and living in Asia-Pacific, Europe, or the U.S. The size of this group hasn’t changed much in the past 5 years.

Aspiring entrepreneurs (28%): these prospective students hope to start their own businesses, possibly even before they earn their degrees, though only about 10% have already started businesses. People in this group are more likely than the overall pool of respondents to be male and living in the Middle East, Africa, Central or South Asia, or Latin America This group increased by about 9 percentage points in the past 5 years.

These three groups show some very interesting regional differentiation:Distribution of Career Goals by Region

What does that mean for you? First, it’s just interesting to know. 🙂 Second, it gives you a sense of whether you are coming from a more “common” demographic or whether you will stand out more from the crowd. If the former, then you’ll want to look for other ways to make your story stand out.

Want kind of degree do people want to get? What kind of program do they want to attend?

The survey includes some very interesting data about the types of degrees people want. First, let’s address the two main categories of degrees: MBA and specialized. A little over half of the respondents were firmly focused on MBA degrees, while about 22% said that they want a specialized degree (such as a Master of Finance). The remaining 26% were considering both types of programs (it was unclear whether they are considering getting a dual degree or whether they just haven’t made up their mind about which type of degree to get).

Check out the graph below. Of the people considering only an MBA program, about 32% were most interested in a full-time 2-year program and 27% were aiming for an accelerated full-time 1-year program. For those considering only a specialized degree, Master of Accounting and Master of Finance programs are by far the most popular programs.Top Preferred Program Type

The report did not indicate what these numbers looked like in the past, but I would speculate that more people today are interested in a shorter study timeframe than 5 years ago. As the economy picks up, people don’t want to spend a full 2 years out of the work force, particularly those who are looking to stay in the same industry after graduate school. (This is just my anecdotal take based on the questions and comments I hear from students in my classes and on our forums.)

The below data reflects two combined categories: those who know they want a specialized degree and those who are still considering both types of degrees. There are distinct preferences by region for the two most popular specialized degrees.Master of Accounting and Finance Preferances

There’s strong interest in a Master of Finance degree in Asia-Pacific and Europe. Those considering a Master of Accounting degree are most likely to live in the Asia-Pacific region or the U.S.

Want to read more?

If you’d like to read more, hop on over to the GMAC website and download the full report. If you have any interesting insights to share, or want to discuss something you find intriguing, let us know in the comments!


The GMAT® is property of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. All data cited is from GMAC’s 2015 Prospective Students Survey.

Manhattan Prep Instructor Wows With Record-Setting Jeopardy Win


3-24-JeopardyYesterday, the whole wide internet was shocked by the Jeopardy dominance of “This dude Michael”, but here at Manhattan Prep we weren’t surprised at all.  We already knew that dude was smart and we knew that dude had the mathematical wherewithal to bet $7,000 without batting an eyelash.


Here at MPrep we know that dude as Michael Bilow (one of those people who command such respect that he must always be talked about using his last name lest anyone in earshot mistakenly attribute an anecdote or joke to some less deserving Michael).  On Jeopardy, he lived up to his legend taking  home the fourth highest single-day winnings in Jeopardy history: $57,198.


Michael Bilow joined the Manhattan Prep family in 2011 using his perfect GRE score and spectacular teaching chops to secure a role as an LA-based GRE instructor. A few years later we realized we needed more Bilow in our business so we asked him to join the Marketing Department. He took a position as our Business Data Analyst, while continuing to teach GRE classes and pursue his PhD. After seeing him flawlessly juggle those responsibilities, we never had any doubt that he would take the Jeopardy world by fire.


By now the whole country knows of Bilow’s intellectual prowess, but we know so much more. Michael is a dedicated practitioner of improv, a delightful presence in Google Hangout meetings, and a stylish dresser. We can’t wait for his next trip to the New York City headquarters so he can buy us a drink with his winnings after he takes a quick a nap in a tutoring pod.


Congrats, Michael Bilow!  Keep it up!


Want a Better GMAT Score? Go to Sleep!


2-12-Sleep-GMATThis is going to be a short post. It will also possibly have the biggest impact on your study of anything you do all day (or all month!).

When people ramp up to study for the GMAT, they typically find the time to study by cutting down on other activities—no more Thursday night happy hour with the gang or Sunday brunch with the family until the test is over.

There are two activities, though, that you should never cut—and, unfortunately, I talk to students every day who do cut these two activities. I hear this so much that I abandoned what I was going to cover today and wrote this instead. We’re not going to cover any problems or discuss specific test strategies in this article. We’re going to discuss something infinitely more important!

#1: You must get a full night’s sleep

Period. Never cut your sleep in order to study for this test. NEVER.

Your brain does not work as well when trying to function on less sleep than it needs. You know this already. Think back to those times that you pulled an all-nighter to study for a final or get a client presentation out the door. You may have felt as though you were flying high in the moment, adrenaline coursing through your veins. Afterwards, though, your brain felt fuzzy and slow. Worse, you don’t really have great memories of exactly what you did—maybe you did okay on the test that morning, but afterwards, it was as though you’d never studied the material at all.

There are two broad (and very negative) symptoms of this mental fatigue that you need to avoid when studying for the GMAT (and doing other mentally-taxing things in life). First, when you are mentally fatigued, you can’t function as well as normal in the moment. You’re going to make more careless mistakes and you’re just going to think more slowly and painfully than usual.
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Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: September 26


free-gmat-classDo you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. The SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan GMAT’s live online Complete Courses (a $1299 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their MBA to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan GMAT’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching: September 26, 2014! 

Learn more about the SVS program and apply to be one of our Social Venture Scholars here.

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

What Kind Of Critical Reasoning Question Is This? part 2


Last time, we talked about Fill in the Blank CR questions: what are they and how do we tackle them efficiently? If you haven’t already read that article, go ahead and do so.

Then, come back here and test your new-found skills on this GMATPrep© problem (it’s from the two free exams). Give yourself about 2 minutes (though it’s okay to stretch to 2.5 minutes on a CR as long as you are making progress.)

“Which of the following best completes the argument?

“A new machine for harvesting corn will allow rows to be planted only fifteen inches apart, instead of the usual thirty inches. Corn planted this closely will produce lower yields per plant. Nevertheless, the new machine will allow corn growers to double their profits per acre because ________________

“(A) with the closer spacing of the rows, the growing corn plants will quickly form a dense canopy of leaves, which will, by shading the ground, minimize the need for costly weed control and irrigation

“(B) with the closer spacing of the rows, corn plants will be forced to grow taller because of increased competition for sunlight from neighboring corn plants

“(C) with the larger number of plants growing per acre, more fertilizer will be required

“(D) with the spacing between rows cut by half, the number of plants grown per acre will almost double

“(E) with the closer spacing of the rows, the acreage on which corn is planted will be utilized much more intensively than it was before, requiring more frequent fallow years in which corn fields are left unplanted”

Step 1: Identify the Question

The blank line tell us that we have an argument in the “complete the passage” format.

Read more

What Kind Of Critical Reasoning Question Is This? Part 1


I was talking to a student today about Complete the Passage CR arguments (people also call these the Fill in the Blank questions). The student was struggling with these and talking about them as though they were their own category. The problem: they’re not actually a separate category at all!

Try this GMATPrep © problem out (it’s from the free set that comes with the software) and then we’ll talk about it. Give yourself about 2 minutes (though it’s okay to stretch to 2.5 minutes on a CR as long as you are making progress.)

“Which of the following best completes the passage below?

“People buy prestige when they buy a premium product. They want to be associated with something special. Mass-marketing techniques and price reduction strategies should not be used because ________________

“(A) affluent purchasers currently represent a shrinking portion of the population of all purchasers

“(B) continued sales depend directly on the maintenance of an aura of exclusivity

“(C) purchasers of premium products are concerned with the quality as well as with the price of the products

“(D) expansion of the market niche to include a broader spectrum of consumers will increase profits

“(E) manufacturing a premium brand is not necessarily more costly than manufacturing a standard brand of the same product”

Step 1: Identify the Question

The blank line immediately leaps to eye of course: as soon as you see that, you know you have an argument in the “complete the passage” format.

What kind of question type is it? Actually these fall into one of the regular types that you already know: Strengthen, Weaken, Find the Assumption, Inference, and so on. The trick is that it’s a bit harder to tell which type.

The majority of Complete the Passage questions are Strengthen. The second most common category is Find the Assumption. Typically, if you see the word because or since right before the underline (as in this problem), then you probably have a Strengthen question. The word because (or since) indicates that the correct answer will add a piece of evidence to support some statement. You’ll need to read the argument to be sure, but you can have a pretty strong hunch.

Step 2: Deconstruct the Argument

This is likely a strengthen question, so it should contain a conclusion.

Here’s what I thought and wrote while I did the problem. Your own thought process won’t be exactly the same as mine and, of course, your notes will probably look quite different, since we all have our own ways of abbreviating things. (Note: S = strengthen; at first I put a question mark next to it because I wasn’t 100% sure until I finished the argument.)

If the conclusion is NOT to use mass-marketing techniques and price reduction strategies because of some reason, then that reason must support that conclusion. This is, indeed, a Strengthen question.

Step 3: State the Goal

The goal on Strengthen questions is to find a new piece of information that makes the conclusion at least a little more likely to be valid. I’m trying to validate the idea that you should NOT use certain strategies. (Note: in Complete the Passage format, sometimes the correct answer won’t really be new; it will mostly just restate something that the argument already said. This is acceptable as long as it strengthens!)

Why not? The first two sentences said that premium products are all about prestige and “something special.” If you’re trying to sell premium products, then, mass-market techniques probably aren’t going to make people feel “special.” Likewise, a reduction in price doesn’t scream “premium product!” We expect premium products to cost more and we don’t expect everyone in the world to have them.

I’m going to keep that in mind while I examine the answers!

Work from Wrong to Right

The correct answer is (B).

Note that answers (A) and (D) both seem to go along with the idea that we might want to use mass-marketing techniques or price-reduction strategies. Both are trap answers designed to catch someone who didn’t notice or forgot that the conclusion says these strategies should NOT be used.

Looking for more help on Critical Reasoning? Check out the Master Resource List for Critical Reasoning.

Take-aways for Complete the Passage formats:

(1) These are not a separate question type. A “complete the passage” question falls into one of the same categories as all other questions; you have to figure out which it is.

(2) Most often, these questions are Strengthen (as in the above case) or Find the Assumption. If you see the word because or since right before the underline, you probably have a Strengthen question. If you see something else, then you may have an Assumption question instead.

(3) As with any CR question, the key is to identify the type of question and follow the standard process from there!


* GMATPrep © questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.”

How to prep for the GMAT in 14 days if you absolutely Must


Prepping in 14 days is obviously not the ideal situation. There are limits to how much you can learn in such a short period of time.

Still, sometimes people get stuck. Maybe you haven’t gotten the GMAT score that you need to be competitive at a particular school and 2nd-round deadlines are fast approaching. Maybe you’re on a waitlist and the school has indicated that your chances would be better if you could lift your score. Whatever the circumstance, there are some things that you can do to try to achieve a score boost in a short period of time.

Make no mistake: you’re going to have to work hard! You’re going to live, sleep, and breath the GMAT for the next two weeks. You’ll also need to set realistic expectations for yourself: nobody is going to jump from a 500 to a 720 in two weeks.

Getting Started: Time and Resources

First, if you can take these two weeks off of work (or at least some of the time), then do so. You’re about to undertake a mental marathon; you can’t waste brain energy on many other mental tasks and still get through your GMAT tasks effectively.

If you can’t, then cancel all of your other plans. Outside of work, you’re only going to be working on the GMAT.

Second, it’s important to identify your study resources and set up a solid plan from the start. You don’t have the luxury of trying something for a week (or even a few days!) and then discovering that it isn’t working for you.

At the least, you need the materials in the below list. The starred (*) materials are made by GMAC (the company that makes the real test); GMAC’s materials consist of real, past GMAT questions.

It’s best to practice using real problems, but note that practice problems don’t actually teach you how to get better at the test. You’ll also need material designed to teach you how to get better—this is what test prep companies do.

  1. *The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 13th Edition
  2. *GMATPrep CATs (practice exams)
  3. Additional practice exams that give you performance data (any test prep company, including ours, sells these)
  4. Materials that teach you all of the math and verbal facts you need to know as well as strategies for answering different kinds of math and verbal questions
  5. Test-taking strategies, including time management, educated guessing, and so on

Items 4 and 5 might come in the form of books, online lessons, classes, or even private tutoring. Expect to spend some money, particularly because you’re trying to do this in 14 days!

Day 0: Read Two Articles

Before you do anything, learn what the GMAT really tests.

Next, learn about the second level of GMAT study.

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GMAT Challenge Problem Showdown November 25, 2013


We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!

Here is this week’s problem:

Which of the following is the largest?

(A) 227.3

(B) 318.2

(C) 511.1

(D) 79.1

(E) 115.1

Read more