Monthly Archives: October 2009

Whether or Not to Cancel Your GMAT Score

If you’re preparing for the GMAT, at some point the question will probably run through your head: “If I finish the GMAT and feel that I did terribly, should I just cancel my score on the spot?” Of course, on test day you will be faced with this question before you see your score (I write “of course,” but many applicants actually don’t realize this!), so your decision about whether or not to cancel will be a blind bet on how well you think you did.

Our advice is this: Unless you’re certain that you bombed the test and scored well below your intended score, you should NOT cancel your score. Why not? Well, for one, you won’t know how you did if you cancel your score. Many applicants have finished the test and felt certain that they did poorly, only to find out (after deciding to report their scores) that they did even better than their target score! This is entirely possible because of the computer-adaptive nature of the test, and its ability to home in on your true level of ability — getting lots of questions that you couldn’t easily solve may simply mean that test test had taken you to the edge of your ability, and so you were struggling with the questions more than you ever did on practice tests. Even if you got more wrong than usual, you may end up with a good score.

In terms of knowing your score, the score report won’t give you a detailed diagnosis of how you did, but you will be able to see your quantitative and verbal score breakdown, so you will at least know (or confirm, if you already knew) where you need to focus your time and energy when you hit the books again.

Also, if you cancel your score, business schools will see this on your official report. This isn’t a horrible “black mark” on your report, but it’s there, and doesn’t necessarily look any better than a low score. So, keeping a possibly low score away from MBA admissions officers won’t keep them completely in the dark — they’ll still know that you took the test and probably didn’t do very well.

If you’re worried about how a low score will look on your record, know that admissions officers are forgiving of low scores, and will generally only look at your highest score. If you don’t believe that, consider this: When submitting data to the major publications for their annual business school rankings, it’s in each school’s best interest to only submit its students’ highest scores (to keep the school’s mean/median GMAT score as high as possible). Even with a low score or two on your report, admissions officers will look at your best one.

So, as much as it may pain you to click “submit” and risk sending a terrible score to your target business schools, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. You’re not gaining much by withholding your score, and you’re missing out on a shot that your score was better than you thought!

For more GMAT prep news and analysis, be sure to follow us on Twitter to get up-to-the minute news and advice about the GMAT!

HBS Round 1 Interview Update

On Thursday Harvard Business School’s Director of Admissions, Dee Leopold, posted an update to her blog letting applicants know that there are still a “significant number” of Round 1 interview invitations that have not yet been sent. And, she reminded applicants that the timing of one’s interview invite is not an indication of the strength of that person’s candidacy.

She went on to describe the interaction between this year’s Round 1 waitlist and the coming wave of Round 2 applicants:

A note about the waitlist – remember, this year we are making Round 1 decisions before we see Round 2 applications. On December 15, I expect there will be a significant number – maybe 100 or so – of invitations to join the waitlist to candidates who have NOT been interviewed. As we review Round 2 applications, we may be inviting some of these candidates to interview in the Round 2 interview timeline.

Fore more help in preparing your HBS application and prepping for your HBS admissions interview, take a look at Veritas Prep’s free Annual Reports.

How Much Do Corporate Recruiters Rely on the GMAT?

Earlier this week BusinessWeek ran an article about corporate recruiters using business school students’ GMAT scores as a way to select candidates for job interviews. While this is nothing new, the article included some interesting quotes from business school career office administrators who have advised some students to retake the GMAT to improve their chances of landing job interviews with top-tier consulting firms and investment banks.

In this tough job climate, especially, no MBA student wants to give recruiters any reason to drop his resume into the discard pile. While they may have ignored the advice to retake the GMAT a few years ago, now they’re much more willing to listen when someone suggests they should retake the GMAT, particularly when it comes from the career services office. And some schools, particularly those that may struggle to keep top-tier firms coming back to campus in this economy, have even offered their students school-run GMAT courses to help their students boost their scores.

Balancing out the seemingly increased importance of the GMAT in the hiring process, the article quotes a director of recruiting at Bain & Co., who explains that most candidates that the company would consider tend to have high GMAT scores, anyway, so the test itself doesn’t end up being a big differentiating factor in the hiring process. He even went on to say that Bain’s own research shows that there’s virtually no correlation between a new hire’s GMAT score and that person’s success on the job at Bain.

One interesting notion is that business schools’ own pass-fail systems and grade non-disclosure policies may contribute to companies’ tendency to rely more on the GMAT. These policies are in place to discourage cut-throat competition and to encourage students to focus on learning, but they also take away what is an important hiring criterion for some companies. As a result, these companies grab for the next best data they can find, which are a student’s GMAT score and undergraduate GPA. In this way, schools have shifted some of the competitiveness from the classroom to things that students must do before they even set foot in a classroom.

What does this mean for you? Honestly, if you’re going to a top-ten business school, hiring companies are more likely to assume you “have what it takes,” and will rely less on your GMAT score (although they will still ask for it) in deciding whether or not to interview you. If you’re at a lower-ranked school where top-tier firms only hire a handful of students each year, you’re more likely to need every advantage you can get to stand out vs. your peers. In this case, if your score isn’t high enough, you may want to consider retaking the GMAT.

If you’re in business school and are considering retaking the GMAT to help your chances of landing a lucrative job, consider the GMAT prep classes that Veritas Prep offers. And, as always, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!

New Business School Guides from Veritas Prep

Last week Veritas Prep introduced an important new resource for business school applicants: Veritas Prep Annual Reports, in-depth insider’s guides to the world’s top MBA programs, available free to everyone.

While there’s no shortage of available information about the most competitive business schools, many applicants find that most of these schools tend to talk about the exact same things: “A global perspective… An integrated curriculum… Leadership… Hands-on learning…” Read any school web site or brochure, and you’re sure to come away with at least two or three of the same traits or features. But they can’t all really be the same, right?

That’s where Veritas Prep’s new Annual Reports come in. They answer the questions that every applicant should know before applying to a top business school: What are the school’s strongest academic programs? What kind of student tends to thrive there? Who are some of the program’s most popular courses and professors? And, maybe most importantly if you’re an applicant trying to get into one of these schools: What qualities does the admissions office look for in its applicants?

Each of these business school guides contains the combined knowledge of multiple admissions experts, current students, and recent alumni from a top business school. We’ve named them “Annual Reports” to demonstrate their timeliness — every year we will update each report to reflect the latest news and trends at each school.

Just visit the Veritas Prep Annual Reports page and register to receive your free reports!

HBS Interview Invitations Coming October 16

In a post on the Harvard Business School admissions blog last Friday, Dee Leopold wrote that HBS will release its first interview invitations starting October 16. She went to great lengths to stress that the admissions office doesn’t know how many it will send in a day, so you shouldn’t bother asking! That said, she does expect that they won’t send as many per day as they did last year. So, we could see a steady trickle of interview invitations between now and December 15. Most of the school’s admissions interviews will take place in Boston and other large cities in the month of November.

And for those applicants who stay awake at night worrying that their interview invitation got lost somewhere on the Internet, Dee offers this reassurance:

Don’t worry about whether our email will get lost and we’ll give away your interview spot. We don’t do that. We’ll find you. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we haven’t lost anyone yet!

If you’re looking for more advice on applying to HBS, Veritas prep has just released a series of free reports on the top business schools (including Harvard, of course). Just visit this page to register for free and download your free HBS report.

Duke (Fuqua) Cuts MBA Application Fees for Campus Visitors

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University just made an interesting move, announcing a new application fee reduction program for applicants who schedule a campus visit or register to attend a local information session. Applicants who do one or the other before they submit their applications will only pay $50, rather than $200, to submit their applications.

Why would Fuqua make such a move? The announcement gave a nod to the rough economy, but here’s the real meat of the announcement:

We feel strongly that visiting with Duke admissions officers, students, and alumni in person is incredibly helpful in understanding the Team Fuqua culture.

So, basically, Duke is putting its money where its mouth is, and is saying, “We’re so convinced that you’ll love it when you visit that we really want you to come visit or at least meet with a Fuqua admissions representative.” Of course, a visitor may also decide that Fuqua is in fact NOT the place for him, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing — better for the applicant to realize that sooner rather than later.

There’s a lot that we like about Fuqua, but its place in the business school rankings means that every year its draws applications from some people who really have their eyes set on any ranked school, and they apply to Fuqua although they’re really hoping that they get into a higher-ranked program. Fuqua’s move not only encourages applicants to get to know the school better (which is always a good thing), but also sends a subtle message of, “If you’re not interested enough to come visit or meet with us, then we’re raising the bar a little more for you.”

It’s an interesting strategy… If you can’t be bothered to visit the school or meet with Fuqua representatives when they visit your town, then can you credibly claim that Duke is where you want to be? If you still want to apply, then fine, but know that you’ll be going up against lots of applicants who have visited Fuqua or met with someone from the school.

Some have speculated that Fuqua made this move to “slash prices” and attract more applicants, but we suspect that this is really more of a quality play than a quantity one. We don’t know if it will work, but it sure will be interesting to see.

For up-to-the-minute advice on applying to Fuqua, you can follow us on Twitter!

World MBA Tour Visitors to Get a Taste of a UCLA Anderson Business School Class

Los Angeles-area MBA applicants have a unique opportunity to attend a business class before you ever even begin your applications. UCLA Anderson professor Sanjay Sood will be leading a sample MBA class at the OS World MBA Tour this Saturday, October 3rd at 3:00 p.m, in Downtown Los Angeles.

Professor Sood specializes in cutting edge research in marketing management, brand management, advertising and consumer behavior. This class will be a great experience for prospective applicants interested in learning more about what class is like at UCLA Anderson.

Adrian Aguirre, one of the school’s Associate Directors, and some current UCLA Anderson students will also be on hand to answer questions about the school and its admissions process.

Event Information:
World MBA Tour
When: Saturday, Oct. 3rd at 3:00 p.m.
Where: World MBA Tour Wilshire Grand Los Angeles
Register at: http://www.topmba.com

For more advice on applying to UCLA Anderson, be sure to follow us on Twitter!