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Journey to my MBA

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Job, GMAT and Stuff

I have some good news. I got a new job. I'll be heading technical continuing education at one of the major local Universities in the area. It's a rather entrepreneurial position requiring sales, marketing, staff hiring and education strategic planning.

I think the program works well as a platform for my career goals to learn broader business functions. I like helping others and the thought of working in an academic leadership capacity is very exciting.

On the GMAT front, I've come to some conclusions about the quality of GMAT education from Veritas, Manhattan GMAT and other GMAT prep programs.

Through the Veritas class, I've created some new friends and have been motivated to stay focused on my GMAT studies.

Here is what I think about Manhattan GMAT and Veritas.

Verbal Prep
Manhattan GMAT - reasonably well done. The primary focus of the program is to build some basic grammar, logic and process to do well.

Veritas - The best verbal prep overall. The foundations for Sentence Correction are excellent. The overall guidelines for handling Critical Reasoning is well done. A strategic approach to CR and understanding logic arguments appear to be a good foundation. Reading Comprehension is quite average. In fact, a Kaplan or Princeton Review book has about the same quality of pointers in this area. Manhattan is better with RC than Veritas by 40%.

Quant Prep
Manhattan GMAT - When it comes to handling every classification of problem on the GMAT, the study books are hands down, the best I've ever found. If you're good with math, you may not need much math help to begin with.

Veritas - Provides a good overall review of Quant. However, Veritas focuses on theories, tips and guidelines in handling certain kinds of problems. Veritas spends only an average amount of time presenting procedural step by step ways to handle certain problem types. Whereas Manhattan greatly excels in the step by step (without being too elementary) very well.

I'd have to say that Manhattan GMAT approaches GMAT prep like a good teacher who is trying to help students take theory and put it into practice. In one word, Manhattan GMAT is "practical". Veritas has some of this practical teaching as well, but the material is more textbook-ish. In one word, Veritas is about "guidelines".

Both programs provide all the basics one needs to do well on the GMAT. Kaplan and Princeton Review books don't provide even a majority of the basics. Here's my overall rating:

I've been receiving a lot of e-mail questions about what GMAT prep to take. People! Don't look for the easy way out. Stop treating GMAT prep like Microwave cooking. Any program spread out over a couple of months will always be better than a boot camp weekend GMAT format. Unless you're bright and are smart as heck.... I would never touch a weekend course, nor would I recommend them to anyone.

The GMAT is not just a test of smarts, but of logic, stamina and preparedness. Take the easy way out of GMAT prep and you'll probably do poorly. For you geniuses out there... you're lucky.
Here are some scenarios that I'd suggest if you're really needing specific guidelines on GMAT prep. (In order of what I consider your best bet). In each case however, I'd highly recommend that one purchase the Manhattan GMAT set of study books.

Manhattan GMAT class
>Veritas class
>Manhattan GMAT online class
>GMAX Online
>mlicets GMAT Prep
>Princeton Review Class
>Kaplan Class
>Manhattan GMAT Weekend course (not recommended)
>Veritas GMAT Weekend course (not recommended)

Final clarification. The review that I've written is primarily written as a critique of the prep study material for all companies that I've written about. This is not a review or critique about the quality or quantity of the questions in each program or book. The official Guide is and WILL always be your best bet for GMAT practice problems. The Kaplan books have problems that are difficult (many would say harder than the actual GMAT) but definitely worth purchasing to go through. The princeton review books are good for practice problems as well. Although, most would say that the problems are a bit easier than the actual GMAT. I agree with both generalities made about the two. Regardless, Kaplan, Princeton and the Official Guide (a.k.a. OG) are your best sources of practice problems. Even though the study material is not stellar, they are worth their weight in the content of the problems they have.
MIT-Sloan: Business Week interviewed Rod Garcia of Sloan recently. Rod, is the Admissions Director. He was head of admissions at Univ of Chicago GSB about 7 years ago before moving to Sloan.

Some interesting points were
1) Quality applicants are able to demonstrate patterns of achievement.
2) Applicants that stand out have two sets of core competencies. One is seen through past performance/demonstrated success (work, grades, and GMAT scores) The other attributes are are things like leadership, the ability to influence people and decisions, hunger, motivation, setting goals and achieving them, as well as innovation and creativity.
3) The sources used to judge core competencies is demonstrated through hard data, as well as recommendation letters coming from work. Rod has often obtained requests from people who want to submit a third recommendation letter. While helpful, those recommendations don't demonstrate the data MIT looks for.
4) Sloan asks for specific data and examples -- like the impact the candidate has had on a person, group, or organization -- from the applicant's direct supervisor. Sloan also asks for the characteristics they would like to change about the person. The more specific examples the recommender can provide, the more legitimacy Sloan gives to the letter.
5) Sloan also looks at soft skills. One of the essay questions asks applicants to tell Sloan about a time when applicants had a difficult interaction with a co-worker. The underlying principle here is that past behaviors are good indicators of the future. These personal attributes are the things people rarely change through education. Source

CMU says hacker broke into computers
More than 5,000 alerted to possible identity thefts.

Great.. another school.


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