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 . . . )
[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 When Veritas contacted us to let us know that certain information in this 2007 article was outdated, we agreed to post updates.]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.
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.
Those of you in New England will be excited to know that our next Business School Admissions Panel will take place at the Boston Center, on Wednesday, April 25th.
Admissions Officers from Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern) are all scheduled to attend. Our last panel discussion in Chicago was a huge success, with many questions answered and much insight gained.
For more information, or to register, just go to the main site or click here. It’s a great opportunity to get some of your questions answered, and get a better sense of the admissions process straight from some of the people who will be evaluating you (including, of course, how they weigh and interpret your GMAT scores).
Your GMAT Scores are good for 5 years . . . but to which date?
At our business school panel in Chicago earlier this month, specific schools clarified their policies:
a. At Chicago GSB and Kellogg, your scores are good if they are within 5 years of your application date.
b. However, at Harvard, the score should be 5 years before your matriculation date, which may be a year after you apply.
As a result, if you took the test 4 or 5 years before you plan on applying, you should check the specific policies at the schools in question. Still, for most people this is a total non-issue, as 4 or 5 years is plenty of time during which to apply to business school after taking the GMAT. Good for you if you’re planning ahead!
The ManhattanGMAT Practice Test Assessment Reports have officially gone live.
If you are a student at ManhattanGMAT, simply go to:
There, you will have the option to Generate Assessment Reports. Simply mark which practice tests you would like to include (the more tests the better, generally).
We have already received tremendous positive feedback regarding this new feature of the practice exams.
Hope that you’re as excited about this latest offering as we are! It should be of immense value to students in helping to define their relative strengths and weaknesses in preparing for the GMAT.
Most students, during our interactions with them, assume that it’s a bad thing, from a business school’s perspective, for an applicant to take the GMAT more than once. However, this is not really the case. In fact, many business schools see taking the test more than once as a sign of persistence and perseverance, and positively regard the applicant that wants to get into the best possible program.
But what if someone embodies the extreme, taking the GMAT 5 or 6 times? Last week, at our panel in Chicago, we asked admissions officers from 3 top schools, Harvard, Kellogg, and Chicago GSB this question, with interesting results:
Harvard – HBS asks you to self-report how many times you have taken the GMAT, and if it’s five or more, they tend to discount the top result a little bit as a result of preparation.
Kellogg – 5 or more times taking the GMAT is also regarded as a slight negative in relation to one’s score, similar to Harvard.
Chicago – The number of times one takes the test is irrelevant.
They all agreed, however, that taking the GMAT 2, 3, or 4 times was not any cause for concern, and that they would only consider the applicant’s highest score.
So the takeaway for applicants is that you should get the best score you can, and feel comfortable that you have up to 4 tries without doing your application any harm. When you’re up to 4 though, you may want to accept your highest GMAT score as given and proceed with your applications at that point, at least for certain schools.
Several interesting points came out of the Admissions Officer Panel held at our Chicago center this week. Possibly the most interesting was that Harvard Business School, represented by Assistant Director of MBA Admissions Nereyda Salinas, is focusing on increasing applicants to its program directly out of college. To back up this commitment, Harvard is offering undergraduate applicants:
1. Waived application fee (ordinarily $235);
2. Deferral and/or Postponement – HBS may either defer your admission to another year if you’d rather work for a year, or also postpone your admission if they feel another year or two would help you develop as an MBA candidate; and
3. Feedback – Harvard will give feedback to any college senior denied admission.
Sure enough, all of the above is indicated at Harvard’s website:
I think this would be very surprising to most young applicants, as most people believe that business schools want you to develop a long work history before applying.
Still, don’t be discouraged if you’re applying to Harvard and you graduated a while ago – many applicants to HBS remain professionals who have been out of school a good long while.
We’ll have a couple of other insights from our panel early next week from Chicago GSB and Kellogg.
There are a few exciting developments coming out later this month concerning the MGMAT 6 full-length adaptive exams that I wanted to let visitors know about.
The MGMAT tests have always given very detailed feedback and explanations in terms of what you got right and wrong, and how long you took on each question. Students have always found these detailed explanations to be invaluable.
However, by the end of March, students will have the added ability to compile and combine data across multiple tests as well. In other words, if you take 2 or 3 or more MGMAT adaptive exams, you will be able to run a report that uses data from ALL of your tests to point out your strengths and weaknesses, in terms of format and question type (e.g. Data Sufficiency, Sentence Correction), content (e.g. Number Properties, Verb Tenses) and timing. These reports will add explanatory depth to student test results, and will, we believe, make a valuable tool even moreso.
(If you’ve already taken MGMAT adaptive exams, not to worry. You’ll be able to run reports based upon your past exams! So your reports will already be chock full of results to work with.)
In addition, by the end of March, we will be offering one full-length adaptive GMAT test for FREE. We think that access to this diagnostic practice tool will help many students in their preparation.
Again, we are very excited about these developments, but even as the assessment reports become available, we’re working on other possible innovations and improvements . . . we’re also continuously open to other suggestions as to how we can best serve our students. So keep the ideas and suggestions coming!
We have had a number of reports that the number of Data Sufficiency Questions (previously pegged at 15 of the 37 Quantitative questions) has been fluctuating. A couple of recent test-takers have reported numbers higher than 15 in the past two months.
GMAC has not confirmed it, and does not share information. But we will be keeping an eye on this issue, and hope to have confirmation in the next several weeks.
In the meantime, if anyone has any data regarding this, let us know via comment.