With the end of one year and the start of a new one, people often take stock of what they’ve done and what they could have done. We at Bell Curves are no different, and one thing we are very pleased to have done this past year is visit many organizations and institutions to help their students understand how to prepare for standardized tests. The organizations and institutions we work with share our mission of increasing diversity in higher education, and we’re always thrilled when they invite us to speak with their members or students.
Today’s guest post is co-authored by Pauline Jennett, a Doctoral Candidate in the Educational Leadership Field. A former associate director of admissions from Harvard Business School, Ms. Jennett evaluated and interviewed domestic and international applicants. Prior to joining The MBA Exchange as an Admissions Consultant, she served as director of recruitment and admissions for non-profit career development organization Management Leadership for Tomorrow, an alumni officer for Boston University, and in sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM. Ms. Jennett earned her MBA from The Wharton School, where she was a member of the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory group and studied at Instituto de Estudies Superiores de la Empresa (IE). She has a master of divinity degree cum laude from Boston University, and bachelor of business administration degree from Baruch College where she was a Baruch Scholar. She has traveled to 36 countries on 5 continents and is conversant in Spanish.
In my educational leadership doctoral program, I am taking a fascinating class on Psychological Testing. In the textbook “Assessment Procedures for Counselors and Helping Professionals” (Drummond, 2010), the authors note that “despite the lack of a clear definition of intelligence, assessing intelligence typically encompasses measuring one’s ability to understand complex ideas, adapt effectively to the environment, think abstractly, learn from experience, learn quickly, and engage in various forms of reasoning.” Any student who has ever taken the SAT, GMAT, GRE, or LSAT, among other school admissions exams, can see remnants of these factors in the testing sections and question paradigms.
Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Recent posts have included Q&As with Goreleigh Willis and Crystal Forde about their first year MBA experiences. This time around Kibra Yemane shares some of her insights and advice on her MBA experience. Kibra completed her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
I applied to business school in order to transition to a career in Human Resources. Prior to business school, I worked for a public accounting firm for about six years. While I enjoyed my time, I also realized that I was more passionate about talent management, recruiting, diversity – areas that typically fall under the HR umbrella. When I did some more research, I realized that more and more companies placed an emphasis on the HR function – and were interested in training the next crop of HR leaders through leadership development programs. When I realized one of the requirements for this program was an advanced degree, I knew the MBA was the next logical step for me.
Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Our last On the Record post was a Q&A with Goreleigh Willis. This time around Crystal Forde shares some of her insights and advice on the 1st year MBA experience.
Crystal is currently an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she is focusing on Health Sector Management and Strategy. At Fuqua she is a cabinet member of the Healthcare Club and a daytime MBA blogger, and has led a Global Academic Travel Experience Trip to India and co-chaired the Admitted Students Weekend. Prior to business school she spent five and a half years in various sales roles at Pfizer and AstraZeneca, where she had a strong track record of transforming territories by increasing market share and exceeding sales goals. Crystal holds a BBA in Marketing with Honors distinction from Oakwood University.
What’s the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?
As anyone who has taken or prepared for the GMAT realizes, there is a finite amount of general knowledge that we must do our best to master. There are however countless manifestations of questions that test this knowledge and therefore exposure to lots of questions from each general topic is highly beneficial to our preparedness for the as-of-yet-unseen manifestation we will surely encounter come test day.
In algebra, the more we practice with manipulating equations, simultaneous equations and quadratics, for example, the more likely we will be to recognize when the given information is sufficient to solve for x or not. In a geometry question, we are more apt to be able to solve for the area of a triangular region within a mixed shape if we’ve trained ourselves to spot vertical angles, similar triangles, the diagonals of squares or whatever the case may be for the particular scenario. And on the list goes. We also know that certain topics are tested more often that others and thus, though all topics matter, spending more time on the higher frequency areas gives the most payoff come test day. The two key words here are knowledge and recognition. Those two components allow us to execute most effectively.
When I took my most recent official exam in June 2013 (click here to read Amphibious Assault, a post about my water-logged testing experience), one question caught my attention. The question caught my attention not because I got it right or wrong, but because I knew I wasn’t answering it as effectively as possible. This problem is a classic example of how the GMAT is not only a challenge to your knowledge but also about how well you recognize when the knowledge you have is being tested. The lesson for you here is that even someone like me, who has been teaching GMAT non-stop for 4 years and scores in the high-700s, will get stumped on the occasional problem. The key is to not let one problem prevent you from getting your best score, and to always use your knowledge AND recognition in concert!
So you took the GMAT and are not happy with your score.
First and foremost, you should not be feeling depressed by your score, even if that score is not what you wanted or what you expected. The GMAT is often difficult to do well on. Take the next few days to assess what you did to prepare, whether you did as much as you could or should have, and how you could have done more to ensure you have the score you wanted. Assess whether the course you took or tutor you worked with was really in line with your learning style and whether you should have recognized that earlier and done something to make the course or tutoring more effective. Finally, stop beating yourself up if you did not get what you wanted or expected. It often takes a couple stabs at the test before you settle down enough to achieve your best score. To provide you some perspective, the arithmetic mean (a little GMAT speak for you) score is 544 and 78% of test takers score below 650, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.
The human brain is a miraculous organ. Neurons and synapses firing so quickly, processing so much in the tiniest fractions of a second that even the most powerful of computers still have not matched its complex computing capability (even if IBM’s Watson can kick the best human butt at chess and Jeopardy). Together with your experience, your brain can be a powerful tool to avoid traps and tricks on the GMAT. That is, if you let it.
I tutor and teach and counsel hundreds of GMAT test-takers every year. And I’m consistently amazed by how often students ignore “warning signs” their brains are frantically trying to flag. I call these warning signs “mind bumps.” A mind bump occurs whenever you read something that, at first or second glance, strikes you as strange, odd, or nonsensical. Given that they’re almost always rooted in reading (just reading, not Reading Comprehension per se), these mind bumps are ubiquitous on the GMAT, occurring with enough regularity on both the Quant and Verbal that they should be used as a valuable tool to improve your score.
Some of the more difficult Sentence Correction questions for test-takers are those that have a lot words in the underlined portion, which can create confusion and indecisiveness. The difficulty can be compounded when the underlined portion doesn’t seem to have any obvious errors but nevertheless “sounds” bad. SC questions that have these characteristics can, however, be better managed with the right approach. Let’s take a look at an example and then outline how to tackle it:
Questions that involve the summation formula, whether on their own or one component of a more complicated problem, often trip test-takers up for the simplest of reasons: figuring out “how many items” are in the set can sometimes prove tricky. One way to avoid the headache of trying to remember the rule for each different kind of limitation (consecutive even/odd/other, inclusive vs. exclusive, whether the set starts/ends with an even/odd), is to simply employ a strategy that will quickly and consistently allow you to determine the number of items in the set: patterns.
Before we delve into how, let’s review the summation formula and when it’s used. The summation formula:
∑ = (# of Numbers in the Set)(Largest Number + Smallest Number)/2
It has always been a love hate relationship with the GMATPrep software. Every version of it has had some major flaw, but at the same time you have to love the thing because it houses the only official GMAT CATs available. In any event, each revision of the software has come with incremental improvements (happily 2.1 brought GMATPrep to Apple computers! woot!), and the new GMATPrep 2.2 continues the slow crawl forward.
Installation was a snap. I downloaded it, double clicked the install package, agreed to the terms and conditions, and entered my log-in information and within minutes I was exploring the new GMATPrep software. I have had many install and functionality issues with the last version so this smooth sailing was a nice surprise.
What’s new? There have been some solid organizational improvements in Question Pack 1, as well as a very critical functionality upgrade.