Go -- go -- go. Bang away, get it done, head down, not starin' forward but lookin' down and gittin' it done.
That's the theme these days. Work is hell and apps are here and there are a helluva lot of decisions to make. Targets: Kellogg, Wharton, Harvard. Second Targets: Haas, NYU. Third Targets: I don't know.
I've been speaking with several post-MBA contacts in marketing. I've also been chatting with my non-MBA friends in marketing, mostly tech industry. I'm confident in my stats, my story, my ability to identify and sell my key messages. My primary focus is post-MBA job research -- making sure I know my story for interview day.
The Goal: Write down my focus, and practice saying it (out loud) until I can do it in 30 seconds. Wny? Well, every interviewer will ask the same question... why MBA... why us? After my spiel, I'll practice articulating key points.
Sell myself. Sell my goal. Sell my vision.
Good to see the MBA-blogosphere is picking up. Good luck to all MBA bloggers... Forrest, Sghama, Paaji, Axechick... and the rest of you. Class seats await us... somewhere!
I've been checking the BusinessWeek B-School Message Boards lately, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on one's point of view. There's some informative stuff there, but the characters and conversation can also reflect a fifth-grade schoolyard.
I arranged a conversation last week with recent top 3 MBA alum. working in marketing for a F500. She had a lot of great advice and offered many candid thoughts on the application process, strategies she used to get accepted, her current career path, etc. My current field has very, very, very few MBAs... it just isn't needed to climb the ranks. It was nice to hear from someone with a similar background who had catapulted (quite successfully) into another field via MBA.
And finally, work has been happening... too much. Work is insane right now -- I'm averaging 12-hour days of non-stop intensity. Oh I miss vacation...
First, let's all take a moment and recognize the 2-0 Ducks for successive wins over Houston and Montana. Next week's game vs. Fresno State will be a tough one... and it's followed by a tough Pac-10 conference schedule... but the Ducks look GOOD this year.
Secondly, here's a quick and dirty test day recap -- hopefully a potential GMAT taker finds some good information or insight in here:Essays:
Last Year: 4.5 out of 6.0This Year: 5.0 out of 6.0
I improved this year's score by actually using a strategy (Kaplan). I think last year's scores reflected my OVERLY concise writing style. Kaplan advised a lot of repetition of details in the intro and conclusion paragraphs. I would never write in this style at work, but I used this method on test day. Also, for the 'argument' essay, Kaplan advised that instead of just pointing out weaknesses in the author's argument, as I did last year, that I actually make 'suggestions' that would help strengthen it.Math:
Last Year: 43 scaled score, 7oth percentile.This Year: 44 scaled score, 73rd percentile.
BRUTAL section. I'm pretty sure I got the first five questions right. Between questions 5 and 15, I was on the receiving end of one probability problem, one complex combination problems and one 'dependent probability based on a combination' problem. These are my MAJOR areas of weakness. Last year I saw only one question in these topic areas -- and it was in the last five questions of the test. I also saw 3 geometry problems, including a triangle INSIDE a cylinder... nothing I had seen before.
I felt strong during the first five questions and again during the last ten. I finished the section with 3 minutes left. The middle 22 questions severely tested my 'not freaking out' ability. I tried to take each question as it came -- forgetting about it after I had chosen my answer. I guessed ALOT. I couldn't even eliminate wrong choices on some questions.
I performed well on proportion and number property questions. I was runnin' scared on combined work, geometry, combination, permutation and probability. In retrospect, I would not have focused so much of my prep on the ETS Official Guide (finished every question in the OG, then worked the last 100 questions in each section (DS, PS) again) Instead, I would have focused in on my areas of weakness -- either through additional outside practice material or by hiring a GMAT math tutor.
I'm not *thrilled* about a 73rd percentile, but I'm happy for both improving my score, even if just slightly, and for not panicking and tanking the entire section. Overall, I feel the score is close enough the the rumored '80/80' guideline of top-tier admissions departments. As an undergrad business major, I have dozens of credits in accounting, economics, finance, calculus and statistics... and an A minus average across them all. This should help balance any possible worry about my quant abilities.Verbal:
Last Year: 36 scaled score, 81st percentileThis Year: 41 scaled score, 93rd percentile
Although the math section left me a bit rattled, I took my full five minute break, splashed my face with cold water, did some deep breathing and a bit of stretching, then tackled the Verbal section with all the mental focus I could muster.
I only spent only 10% of my prep time on Verbal strategies, but I was confident that I could nail this section. I made a concerted effort to practice the Kaplan 'mental focus' strategies that I learned. To that end, I spent much more time on each and every RC and CR problem. I pretended to have a strong interest in every passage and argument stimulus, thoroughly reading and taking notes on each problem.
For RC, I saw two business passages, two social science passages, and one physical science passage. Some answers were difficult to locate... I had to buckle down and re-read appropriate sections, then mentally talk myself through the logic of each answer. The process of elimination was HUGE in helping identify the correct answer.
For CR, I saw every topic area possible. Most questions asked me to either identify an assumption or to identify a weakness. A couple of problems asked me to 'choose which statement logically flows' from the stimulus... sort of a reverse CR.
For SC, nearly every sentence was LONG. If I immediately identified an error, I wrote down the error on my scratch paper, then looked for that specific error in the answers. If the answer choices didn't reflect that error, I would use the process of elimination. If I had any doubts or was forced to choose between two 'seemingly correct' answers, I ALWAYS chose concisely written, 'active voice' answers over all others.
I finished the section with three minutes left, compared to last year, when I finished with 14 minutes remaining.
As my scaled score indicates, even a two-point increase on this section can raise a percentile score significantly. I'm most proud NOT of the percentile increase, nor for employing better strategies, but for not allowing my experience with the math section to impact my performance on verbal.Overall:
Last year: 650, 85th percentileThis year: 700, 93rd percentile
Would I have liked to nail a 720 or more? You bet. However, I'm extremely pleased to have raised my score more than 30 points, which is the average margin of error. I'm happy that I took the time and the energy to retake the exam. Most importantly, I proved something to myself and I came out of this entire experience with a renewed sense of self-confidence and a stronger sense of self-reliance. Now... I'm ready to tackle the application process!
Thanks to everyone (you know who you are) who helped me out during test prep. Thanks also to my fellow bloggers, Sghama, Forrest, Paaji and others, who posted encouraging and congratulatory comments!
A worthy foe, I must pay the GMAT some respect. In particular, I bow down to the supremacy of the GMAT math section. However, when the match was said and done, only one of us could be victorious. IT WAS I!!!!
Today I nailed a 700 (my exact goal) on the GMAT. I feel calm, cool and confident heading into R1 and R2 applications with an 'average' score. Last year a 650 got me in the door (waitlist) to Kellogg, but eventually contributed to mynon-admission.
More to come on the details of test day... in particular, my ongoing battle with GMAT math and some observations on the whole damn thing. For now, Jack Daniels is calling my name.
I wanna be sedated?
The countdown is on. I have one day between now and test day. Although I feel more prepared, practiced and confident than my first exam sitting last August, I am a bundle of nerves. Fortunately, I've always dealt well with standardized test formats and the stress that comes with.
I've performed well in recent practice exams but I decided not to take any full-length tests this week. I don't need the confidence boost that comes with a good score or the confidence drop that comes with a score below expectations. I decided to practice my timing through 10-20 problem increments rather than through a four hour practice exam. I'm hitting about a minute & twenty seconds per problem at this point.
I've also weighted this week's review towards math problems... honing in on 'number properties' and 'properties of sets.'
That's it for now.