Being a Student Ambassador, I have been asked about advice regarding preparing for the GMAT a lot lately. I thought that it would be a good idea for me to pen down my thoughts out in the open for everyone’s benefit. Please take my advice with a pinch of salt as it is purely my opinion.
I believe that preparing for the GMAT is a three-part exercise – 1. Assessing your strengths and weaknesses, 2. Maximising your RoI w.r.t your score, and 3. Giving the exam. Let me elaborate on each of them in detail in the text that follows.
Assessing your strengths and weaknesses: This simply comes down to giving a couple of mock tests before you start your preparation. I strongly recommend GMATPrep for this as it is as close to the actual exam in terms of difficulty and format as possible. You could also take other mock tests freely available from sources on the internet which give detailed break up of your weaknesses such as Kaplan’s Free GMAT Test here. Whatever your test might be, that objective must be to figure out areas that need most work.
Maximising your RoI: Now that you have identified areas that require most of your efforts, its time to focus on them and nail them. Not all sources of preparation are good for everything. I felt that while Kaplan was pretty good for the quantitative and AWA sections, it was sorely inadequate for the verbal section (where Manhattan guides were extremely useful). That said, the most important sources for preparation are the Official GMAT guides of course.
Now that you are preparing well, it is always a great practice to see how much you have progressed. I believe that nailing the GMAT is all about adequate practice. Keep giving as many tests as you can. Some of the free resources I felt were incredibly useful were: VeritasPrep and the Economist GMAT Tutor. Take as many full length tests as you can so that you have an intuition about the time and format.
Exam Day: All you have to do is to remember all the work you put in and stay calm. If you are feeling that that exam is getting harder, it only means that you are doing well. Be cognizant of the time left and the questions left to be answered at all times. You will have a greater penalty for not attempting than getting some questions wrong.
Well, that about sums about the generic advice I can give on this topic. However, if you feel that I could help you with something specific, feel free to reach out to me or a leave a comment below.
London Business School offers all the students an incredible opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the industries they want to work in by taking them to the industrial hubs. The student clubs also chip in with their own treks serving the same purpose – but in a more informal setting.
Global Immersion Field Trips (GIFTs) vs. Treks
- Organized officially by London Business School – So, a bit more formal
- Usually take place during the term vacations
- Take place all over the globe – are more dependent on emerging trends
- Organized unofficially by the student clubs – So, much more informal
- Usually take place during the term – so you have to ensure either that you have no lectures during the trek, or get the relevant permission from the program office
- Usually take place in locations in and around Europe
Both GIFTs and treks require interested students to apply to secure a place on the trek as they usually are in very high demand. The application process usually require you to write a couple of short essays (yes, again!). These essays usually try to gauge you on three core parameters:
- Motivation: Why do you want to attend the trek and how does it fit in with your future plans?
- Career objectives
- Industry cultural fit assessment
- What you bring to the table?
- Past experience in the field
- Network in the field of interest of the trek
- How do you plan to prepare for the trek?
As always, while you are writing your essay, ensure that you substantiate what you write with your background and experience, and more importantly be authentic.
- Munich/Milan GIFT – Industry/Supply chain management
- Paris GIFT – Fashion
- Shanghai GIFT – Asian/Emerging markets
- Silicon Valley GIFT – Technology/Entrepreneurship
Hope this was useful and feel free to contact me/leave a comment in case you need any further information.
I have recently started my Masters in Management study at London Business School. I wanted to pen down my experience with application in the hope that it will be useful to prospective students.
A key idea to understand while applying to graduate schools, and business schools in particular is that the selection is not solely based on your past performance and future potential, but also your fit with the university.
Many students are baffled why they could not gain admission with very good academic and professional record. Fit is a very important factor as it determines how well you represent what the university stands for and if they can see you as a flag-bearer for the school. This can seem alien to many students where admission is granted based purely on performance in specific entrance examinations.
Resume Overview: http://www.linkedin.com/in/akasina9
Test Scores: GMAT – 730/800, TOEFL – 115/120, GRE – 324/340
- Creating a career path: Have a clear career plan (preferably both in the short-term and the long-term, both in alignment with each other)
- Check the prerequisites: As much cliched as it might sound, ensure that you satisfy all the prerequisites in terms of academic and professional requirements. If in doubt, contact the admissions representatives before you begin your application. It can save a lot of wasted effort if done upfront
- Take the required standardized tests: Give yourself enough time to prepare well for the standardized tests such as GMAT. Though they are not the sole guarantors of your admission, a good GMAT score goes a long a way in creating a favorable impression of your application
- CV: Keep your CV concise, current, accurate and gap-free. Refer to this post for tips about writing a better CV
- Essays: Be as authentic as possible in your essays. Do not try to blow things out of proportion or fake your way through. The admissions committee is experienced enough to call your bluff. Before attempting to write your essay, research well about the school and about yourself – in terms of what you want to do and what the school has to offer. This results not only in a much more cogent essay but also in understanding your fit for the school
- Recommendations: Recommendations carry an enormous weight to your application. A well written and insightful recommendation from a manager who knows you well is much better than a generic recommendation from a CEO. And a self-written recommendation is a strict no-no. Refer to this post for a better understanding about recommendations
- Interview: Interviews are logical extensions of the application. The admissions committee was impressed by your application and has decided to get to know you better to assess you, your abilities and your fit. As long as you were authentic through the application process, this should not be stressful for you. However, it pays to know your application inside out and think of possible questions that the interviewer might have as he/she reads your application. If possible, participate in some mock-interviews, and always have background information about the interviewer
Tips for applicants:
- Think thoroughly and deeply regarding what you want do in your career. Discuss with colleagues, friends, family and as many people as possible. It gives you a greater clarity about your priorities and definitely shows in your applications
- For the GMAT, I strongly recommend two books: (1) The Official GMAT Guide, and (2) Kaplan GMAT Premier. For the AWA section, have a generic format (available online as well as in the recommended books)
- Be authentic. I cannot stress on this enough. Know what you want and be true to that. If you get rejected because you were true to yourself, it just means that the school might not be ideal for you
- Graduate school application is a give-and-take process. Schools are competing as fiercely for you as you are competing for them
- Reach out to current and former students, and student ambassadors from the program you are targeting. Getting their views gives an inside perspective on things which will be invaluable
Most of the views expressed above are my personal views, their appropriateness depends solely on their use and the nature of the user.