Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog

Researching MBA Programs


From our friends at

Researching MBA Programs

Isn’t it ironic? Schools complain students write with a sameness that tends to blur them into one amorphous blob, and students struggle to understand the distinctions between schools because school brochures, presentations, and web sites sound stunningly similar. It can all numb the mind.

Accepted offers many tips and articles on distinguishing yourself in your essays, but this piece presents resources that will help you understand the distinctions among schools.

MBA programs are as unlike each other as you are unlike other applicants. You just need to know where to look to appreciate the differences:

  • School web sites. Go beyond the admissions section. Make sure you understand the curriculum at each and every school you consider, as well as the recruiter profile and hiring patterns for recent graduates. Check out professors’ recent research.
  • Student newspapers. Read them to get a feel for campus life and issues.
  • Student blogs. Check out The League of MBA Bloggers. Student-written journals give you a sense of student satisfaction and campus life, plus they provide a means for you to get in touch with current students.
  • B-School Forums. The granddaddy at this point is the BW Forum, but it can induce neurosis. I am really referring to the school-sponsored forums like Wharton’s S2S, Chicago’s Full-time MBA Discuss Forums, Yale SOM Admissions Forum, and CMU Teppers Admissions Forum.
  • School guides. Businessweek, The Wall St. Journal, and others publish annual and bi-annual guides. These are introductory in nature and can be a good place to start your research. When you have narrowed your choices, or if you are short on time and can’t do all that I suggest above, I recommend Clear Admit’s guides.
  • Visit the school. This is by far the best form of research, but it isn’t always practical. If you can visit, do so. If you can’t, rely on the other steps mentioned above.

If you do your homework, by the time applications are out you will know exactly why you want to attend Dream School #1.

Researching MBA Programs? is presented by Accepted, one of the oldest and most respected admissions consultancies in the world. If you would like to obtain more tips, explore its inventory of MBA admission ebooks, discover its MBA Interview Feedback Database, sign-up for one of its free e-courses, or learn more about its experienced editors, visit // And if you don’t have the time to do all the research recommended above, consider Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting. You will save tons of time by taking advantage of our research and experience.

MBA Podcaster & ManhattanGMAT


ManhattanGMAT’s very own Chris Ryan is a guest speaker on the newest installment of MBA Podcaster. This podcast is perfect for anyone who is just starting to ask questions about GMAT Prep and wants to know what steps are next. Still, at 33 minutes, the podcast offers many tips even for students who have already begun preparing for the exam.

Right click here to download the full version (33:06 – 30.2MB).

As always, you can view a full listing of ManhattanGMAT’s podcasts, visit our News and Media page.

GMAT Focus Review


As promised, from the mind of Instructor Josh Braslow, here’s a review of GMAC’s newest preparation product, GMAT Focus:’s new GMAT Focus provides a unique bank of retired GMAT quantitative questions in an adaptive GMAT-like format. The material is organized in mini 24-question quant sections, which are available for purchase through the website by following the tab on the home page for Take the GMAT. Each diagnostic costs $25, unless you buy a pack of three for $65. According to GMAC, There is no limit to the number of exams you can purchase. However, if you take the GMAT Focusâ„¢ exam more than four times you may see questions repeated. The following review summarizes my initial impressions of the software after test-running two diagnostic sections. I took the diagnostic once at full-speed (i.e. best effort), and then a second time at what felt to me around a mid-650 ability level. I also culled some statistics from 6 diagnostics taken from 2 advanced private students.

The Advantages:

1. The questions are top-notch and all of them are unique to any of the questions from other sources (Official Guides, GMAT Prep Software). In other words, you can see excellent REAL GMAT math questions that you can’t find anywhere else.

2. The questions have solution explanations, not just answers (in contrast with the free tests at When you review questions, you can click on individual questions to see the solution. You can also review only missed questions or the whole set.

3. The interface provides the test-taker with an analysis of his/her performance. Performance is gauged across three criteria, Item Type (DS vs. PS), Content (Algebra vs. Arithmetic Operations), and Application (Real/Applied vs Pure/Formula Based).

Based on your performance in these areas, a probability (as a %) of scoring below average/average/above average/excellent in each area is forecasted. From these percentages, a final most likely rating is posited. I will speak more about the Content and Application criteria below.

4. The diagnostic provides statistics (correct/incorrect and average time) for the set of 24 questions. These statistics are also shown across the 3 criteria (Item Type, Content, and Application). The interface provides the student with an active link to review only questions which were INCORRECT or on which the student GUESSED.

5. A per item breakdown is displayed so that the student can click on specific missed questions or see results across a specific criterion by filtering with one of the buttons. You can select only questions from a particular category to review (e.g. algebra). You can also flag only questions that you guessed on and see what the average time was, which can be very useful.

Some potential drawbacks:

1. The Accuracy of the Prediction is not established. The software scores you by giving you a predicted range for your raw quant score based on your performance on the 24 questions (assuming that there are no experimental questions). The raw score is a range: i.e. 49-51, 37-45, etc. Besides the fact that they assert only an 80% confidence in the interval, the size of the range can vary quite a bit. In the eight diagnostics I have looked at thus far, I have seen ranges from 2 points to 8 points. The general trend, as expected, seems to be that as the performance goes down, the size of the range gets bigger. When I scored perfect 24/24, I received a 49-51 prediction. When I answered 13/24 correctly, I received a 37-45 prediction.

I can report that for one of my students, the diagnostic proved to be rather predictive. He scored 46-50, 47-51, 43-49 on his 3 diagnostics and last week scored a 48 on the actual GMAT.

2. The explanations are not stellar (in a typical Official Guide kind-of-way). The explanations leave something to be desired. In many cases, they are very algebra-heavy and unintuitive. They are highly reminiscent of the Official Guide explanations, which many students haven’t found entirely helpful.

3. The criteria of Content and Application don’t appear to be that helpful. The Content criterion will not be immediately useful to many students, as the categories are taxonomically too broad (e.g. Arithmetic Operations) to recommend concrete steps. The same is true for the Application criterion, as it’s not very helpful to know if a problem is practical or theoretical.

Final Note – Overall I would recommend the GMAT Focus product to my students. The appropriate time for its use seems to be after one has done ALL Official Guide problems, and during the final weeks before one’s exam.

New GMAT Prep Math Resource from GMAC


GMAC has decided to supplement their GMAT Prep tests at (excellent resources by the way, if you haven’t downloaded them, though you may want to conserve them for later in your preparation) with a new math-only set of diagnostic tests.

The new diagnostic is located at A couple of our Instructors are going to be going through this resource and evaluating it in the next number of days – we should have a ‘review’ of it in the next week or so.

However, early returns are that it’s VERY useful and instructive. It’s also fairly cost-effective, as GMAC is charging $25 for single use, $65 for a Bundle of 3 Math Diagnostic Tests. So if you’re looking to evaluate your math skills, this is a great way to do it.

GMAT Prep in a Hurry


Below please find an article by Chris Ryan about how to study for the GMAT in a hurry in a structured way.  Some of the tips may be useful even to those who have a little bit more of a runway .

How to Prepare for the GMAT in 14 Days (If You Absolutely Must)

by Chris Ryan, Director of Instructor and Product Development, ManhattanGMAT

You are under the gun. Maybe you’re on a waitlist, and the school wants a retake. Or you really need to apply this round, and you’ve been putting off the GMAT “ but now you’re facing the music.

How do you prepare to take the GMAT in just 2 weeks?

Let me clearly state that more time would be better. You can’t just cram for the GMAT, because you’re not just learning facts; you’re learning skills, and skills take time. I do believe that you can quickly cram in a lot of material, but ideally, you’d have substantial recovery time (just as your muscles need, after a workout) to absorb and to practice, so that the material becomes your own.

Read more

Advice for the Verbal Section of the GMAT


Here’s the latest in our Content Series, by Chris Ryan, Director of Instructor and Product Development, ManhattanGMAT:

GMAT Strategies for the Verbally-Concerned

Last time we talked about strategies for the math-challenged. But what if you have the opposite issue?

Maybe you can solve equations just fine; it’s this fuzzy language stuff that gets you down. Maybe your teachers never gave you a good solid foundation in grammar.

Maybe English isn’t your first language, in which case I sincerely admire you.

Or maybe you’re not so bad at English, but you want to do great on the verbal because you’re actually really worried about the math “ and you want to get all the points you can.

Whatever the cause is, you are concerned about the verbal side of the exam.

Fear not! Here are five strategies to guide you.

Read more

Wharton, NYU, Columbia Admissions Officer Panel


Late last year, we were fortunate enough to host an Admissions panel with Admissions Officers from 3 of the top MBA programs in the world: Wharton, NYU, and Columbia, represented by Ainsley Parker, Alison Goggin, and Victoria Hess, respectively.

If you missed it, have no fear, as we got it on tape (with some help from our friends at MBAPodcaster)! Click here to access a podcast.

Happy listening!

If you’re not that great at math . . .


GMAT Strategies for the Math-Challenged

by Chris Ryan, Director of Instructor and Product Development, ManhattanGMAT

The thought of algebra gives you hives. You’d rather discuss any topic but prime numbers. And you bitterly wonder why geometry is tested on the GMAT “ the Graduate Management Admissions Test, after all. It’s not like you want to be an architect.

Well, the GMAT is what it is: a hoop to jump through for business school. Whether knowing rate times time equals distance translates to academic and financial victory (or not!) is a moot question. You want to get an MBA. And crouching between you and that degree is the giant spider of middle- and high-school math.

You’re not alone. Many other b-school candidates share your apprehension. But in order to beat the GMAT, you’re going to have to revisit some math skills that you likely haven’t had to use in 5 “ 10 years.

What are math skills? There are three types, all tied together:

Read more

MGMAT’s Founder in Action


A front-page article featuring the founder of ManhattanGMAT in Today’s New York Times:

Would six-figure salaries attract better teachers?

A New York City charter school set to open in 2009 in Washington Heights will test one of the most fundamental questions in education: Whether significantly higher pay for teachers is the key to improving schools.

The school, which will run from fifth to eighth grades, is promising to pay teachers $125,000, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance. That is nearly twice as much as the average New York City public school teacher earns, roughly two and a half times the national average teacher salary and higher than the base salary of all but the most senior teachers in the most generous districts nationwide.

Read more

Write Essays, Win Cash Prizes for B-School

gmat cash prizes

While the monetary rewards of business school can be tremendous, oftentimes the cost to get there can be great (and we don’t just mean the emotional trauma of grueling work). However, for those applicants looking to ease the financial burden of b-school, look no further. Without further adieu, we present to you the Beat the GMAT Scholarship:

ManhattanGMAT is proud to announce that we will co-sponsoring the annual Beat the GMAT scholarship once again this year!

Beat The GMAT is an MBA discussion community dedicated to helping business school candidates achieve their full potential on the GMAT and in the b-school admissions process by connecting them with the best resources available. To this end, Beat the GMAT has teamed up with ManhattanGMAT and Stacy Blackman Consulting to provide scholarships for the third year in a row. The 2008 program will provide over $15,000 worth of prizes to 5 deserving individuals. Prizes include GMAT registration subsidies courtesy of Beat the GMAT, admissions consulting services provided by Stacey Blackman Consulting, and free enrollment in a 9-week ManhattanGMAT prep course.

It is the hope of Beat the GMAT and our sponsors that the scholarships will make a profound impact on the lives of five deserving individuals, said Eric Bahn, founder of Beat the GMAT.

Applications are due May 1, 2008, and winners will be announced May 22. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must meet the following requirements:

¢ Finished college, or in final year of college
¢ Plans to redeem awards in the next 12 months
¢ Has a PayPal account to receive cash prizes

For further details on how to apply, visit //