Students are Turning to Graduate Study to Improve Skills

With the economy still being in a very precarious state, and foreclosures and unemployment still a common occurrence, many wonder where life will take them. Americans are predictably resilient, starting new businesses, changing careers and going back to school to make the new reality work for them. Many people wonder how many students are going to grad school now that jobs are scarce and millions are struggling to make ends meet.

Test preparation companies are seeing a surge of students young and old enrolling in test prep classes and preparing for graduate study. These students want to gain new skills and sharpen old ones, making themselves more attractive in the employment market. For students looking to go to business school, it may be helpful to enroll in a free GMAT course, or enroll in online GMAT prep. These courses will prepare you for the questions that will be asked in the actual exam and will give you a snapshot of the test at a glance.

The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test is the comprehensive exam that most students will need to pass in order to apply for graduate study. Most colleges and universities require this exam, although many schools are relaxing their score requirements to allow for more students to gain entry. The GMAT is administered by independent testing sites and registered proctors and requires a fee to sit for the test. The test is comprised of several parts that evaluate the verbal, mathematical and written analytical skills of the applicant.

Many students are enrolling in business programs in order to strike out on their own and learn entrepreneurship skills that will help them manage their own small businesses. Some are going back to school to learn skills that will allow them to train for more responsibility in their existing jobs. Still others are career changers looking for a totally new field, breaking away from their previous career fields.

With the state of the economy, more students are turning to graduate study as a means to earn new skills, and brush up on old ones. Many are finding that the new reality means that they have to change the way they think about the world of work. When it comes to graduate study, students can be prepared for college admission by studying for standardized tests, taking an online GMAT prep. The possibilities are endless.

When to Take the GMAT

Deciding when to take the GMAT is an important step in the process of applying to business school. Before choosing a test date, it is critical to find out application deadlines for all of the schools where you will be applying. Most experts recommend taking the GMAT at least two to three months before the deadline to be sure that scores are returned in time for the deadline.

Still, many people will feel better having a little more time before the deadline. Taking the GMAT earlier will allow you the leeway to take the test again if you want to improve your scores. You must wait 31 days after your first test day to retake the test and can retake it up to five times within a twelve month period of time. Planning for time to take the GMAT twice can give you that extra insurance, there’s no harm in having your scores early and knowing that you are free to focus on the rest of your applications as the deadline approaches.

By allowing yourself the time to retake the test if need be, you’re likely to go into the test with greater confidence and the ability to do your best. Taking online practice tests and GMAT test prep classes before your first attempt at the GMAT can help you to gain the knowledge of both the test’s material and the test’s format before test day.

Some people may choose to study and take the GMAT immediately after receiving their undergraduate degree if they are sure that they want to go on to business school and an MBA in the near future. Studying and taking the GMAT while you’re still in the mindset of studying and taking exams can be helpful for some people. GMAT scores are good for up to five years, for this reason, there’s little fear of taking the test too early. Your good scores will still be there even if you choose to wait a year or two before applying for business school.

Setting up a calendar to have your GMAT scores done ahead of your application deadlines will save you a lot of stress as the deadline approaches. A study calendar with test dates planned, deadlines marked, and all of the information in one place will ensure that nothing stands between you and and meeting application deadlines.

GMAT Study Tips

There are many different ways to study for the GMAT. As with any important test, you will want to think about the methods that have worked for you in the past and come up with a combination of the different approaches to create a plan that will work for you. Combining a few of the many strategies is a good way to ensure that you are well prepared for GMAT test day.

Online GMAT Test Prep
Online test prep is a great way to study for the GMAT on your schedule. Online test prep can fit into anyone’s hectic life and allow you to work at a pace that’s right for you. The GMAT is taken on the computer, so studying online is another way to get used to the format and comfortable with the test’s look. There are great options for online test prep available today and students are walking away feeling well-prepared for the exam.

Practice Tests
One of the most important ways to prepare for the GMAT is by taking practice tests. Practice tests allow you to get a feel for the way the test works and how you will work best on test day. Feeling comfortable with the format of the test, a new thing for many test takers, and allow test-takers to feel more confident on test day. Practice test scores can also help you to identify areas that need more work and narrow your focus when you go back to your other methods of studying for the GMAT.

Flashcards
For many people, flashcards are a useful study tool. There’s a reason flashcards have been a mainstay of studying since grade school, they work. Flashcards are good to help you learn new terminology and master new information in a quick and easy way. Flashcards are also great for people who are studying on the go because they can go with you to work, to school, or even on public transportation for your commute.

Test Strategies
Learning some basic test taking strategies can be extremely helpful for the GMAT. Learning how to work through questions, read questions quickly and accurately, and work through process of elimination the answers can help you on test day. Time management is another important skill for the GMAT and practicing skills can make a big difference in your final GMAT scores.

Combining several study methods as you prepare for the GMAT is a sure way to learn information and be sure that you go into the test prepared and confident.

GMAT Analytical Writing Section

The Analytical Writing Assessment is one of the three parts of the GMAT exam. It is designed to test critical thinking skills and to measure the test taker’s ability to communicate information effectively. GMAT test prep is important to get test takers prepared to handle each of the Analytical Writing Assessment sections. Online test prep is often a particularly good option as it allows individuals to make their own schedule and complete GMAT test prep whenever they have free time.
The Analytical Writing Assessment is divided into two 30-minute essays. The first is the Analysis of an Issue and the second an Analysis of an Argument. Each essay is deigned to gauge the test taker’s ability to write analytically and present cohesive ideas. While the essay topics generally cover topics related to business, they should not require any prior knowledge of the subject. Taking GMAT practice tests is a great way to become familiar with the type of essay prompt that will appear on the exam.

The Analysis of an Issue section requires test takers to analyze an issue and form a point of view. There is no correct answer to this section and it is important to consider perspectives. The essay should express an articulate, thought-out position on the given issue. Test takers should draw from their own experiences, reading, and prior knowledge base t back up their opinion.

The Analysis of an Argument section tests the ability to read and critique an argument that is given in the prompt. Test takers should not bring their own views into this essay, but simply analyze the opinion that is given in the argument. The essay should consider what assumptions have been made in the argument and cite any information that could weaken the argument.

It is important to manage time effectively throughout the exam to be sure that you have time to complete each essay to the best of your ability. Preparing for the Analytical Writing Assessment can be challenging, but with the right GMAT test prep plan, you can enter the exam feeling ready to handle any essay prompt with ease.

2010 Business School Rankings

Choosing a good business school is an important decision for your education and career. It is important to take time to learn about various programs and review all of the information and rankings available. US News & World Report and Business Week are two reliable sources that rank the top business schools each year.

In 2010, Harvard Business School at Harvard University and Stanford University’s tied for first on the US News and World Report list. Third place went to the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and fourth to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The University of Chicago’s Booth School and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School tied for fifth place on the list of top business schools.

Business Week also provides rankings of the best business schools in the United States, as well as the top international programs and part-time options. Business week ranked University of Chicago’s Booth School first, Harvard Business School second and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School third. Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania came in fourth on Business Week’s list and the University of Michigan’s Ross School placed fifth.

The Queen’s School of Business in Kingston, Ontario ranked first in Business Week’s list of top international business schools. Business Week also ranked the best part-time MBA programs with Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts coming out on top. Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School placed first on this list in 2009. There are many excellent part-time programs that are designed to fit into each student’s unique situation and schedule. Through these programs, it is possible for students to continue to work or have a family while they are earning their MBA.

Admissions for the top business schools are extremely competitive. It is important to prepare an application that sets you apart from the pool of applicants. For business school applications it is important to highlight your unique experiences in work, education, and even travel. These are things that will shape how you perceive business and how your MBA will fit into your career plan.

Performing well on the GMAT is key for people who want to attend a top business school. The GMAT, in combination with the undergraduate transcript and work experience, will help to determine where you will be accepted. A solid GMAT test prep program will prepare you to excel on the GMAT. When preparing for the test, online test prep programs are a great option for people with full time jobs and hectic schedules. GMAT practice exams will help test takers to prepare for the unique format of the GMAT.

Designing a GMAT Test Prep Schedule

Designing a solid GMAT test prep schedule is essential to success on the exam. Most test takers plan to spend three to six months studying for the GMAT, but this is dependent on your personal study habits. All test prep schedules should consist of individual study time, GMAT courses, and taking online practice exams. The GMAT tests verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills, similar skill sets to the ones you studied when you were preparing for the SAT in high school. Yet this time around, the material will likely be more challenging and the test format will be significantly different.
One critical factor in deciding how long to study for the GMAT is how long you can devote to studying each day. For people who have full time jobs or are in school full time, it is best to set aside specific hours each day to fit study time into a busy schedule. In these cases, a six month GMAT test prep schedule is likely to be best. For people who can devote larger amounts of time to study, three to four months may be enough. Enrolling in a GMAT course is often a good way to stay motivated and be sure that you stay on track during your test prep.

The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT are given in a computer adaptive format. This means that you will be provided one question at a time on a computer. After answering the first question, the computer will generate another. The difficultly level will depend on how well you score on previous questions. This format is likely different from anything test takers have faced before. For this reason, starting practice tests early in your test prep, or at least two months before the exam, will help you become familiar with the format. There are 37 quantitative questions and 41 verbal questions on the GMAT. Practice exams will also help you learn to pace yourself as you work through each section of the exam.

The analytical writing section of the GMAT contains two parts: an analysis of an issue essay and an analysis of an argument essay. Test takers are permitted 30 minutes to complete each essay. Reading sample essay prompts and practicing writing a solid essay within the time constraint will help you prepare for test day. There is no single correct answer to either writing sections. Piecing together a coherent analysis is more important than having prior knowledge of the topic.

By sticking to a test prep schedule, GMAT test takers can ensure that they are prepared for the test and familiar with the format. By this point in their academic career, they will benefit from a strong knowledge base and a high degree of self-awareness about their skills and study habits.

The Benefits of Online Test Prep for the GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the standardized test necessary for people planning to attend business school. The GMAT is made up of three sections: the analytical writing assessment, the quantitative section, and the verbal section. A solid plan for GMAT test prep is essential to preparing for test day. Due to the format of the GMAT, many people find that online prep is a good option.

It is important to know going in to the GMAT that the quantitative and verbal sections are computer adaptive tests. This means that the test taker is presented with one question at a time on the computer. Depending on whether or not they answer the question correctly, they will be presented with a new question. An incorrect answer will result in easier questions whereas a correct answer will generate more difficult questions. This process will continue until the end of each section.

Due to this computer adaptive test format, online GMAT prep is one of the best ways to prepare for the GMAT. It is critical for test takers to become comfortable with this format in order to be successful on test day. GMAT test prep can help people become acclimated to working with this format and be sure that they will not face unexpected challenges on test day.

In a computer adaptive environment, it is not possible to return to previous questions, skip questions, or change answers after the fact. Success is frequently determined not only by test takers knowledge of the material, but by their ability to perform within the test’s format. Online GMAT prep is a good way to give test takers time to learn the format. This will allow them to become comfortable not only with the material, but with the mode of delivery. It will also help test takers become familiar with the length of the test and work to pace themselves on test day as they move through the computer-adaptive sections.

GMAT test preparation can be a challenge for working professionals. Many people taking the GMAT have full work schedules and busy lives. Online GMAT prep is a good way to fit GMAT test preparation into a hectic schedule. It allows people to choose when and where they can prepare for the test and design a schedule that meets their needs.

Which MBA program is right for you?

The decision to get an Masters of Business Administration requires research and preparation. It can be an important step in furthering a career and the right program will open many doors. There are various types of MBA programs available and it is possible to find an option that is suited to every type of student.

Requirements
Most MBA programs require a standardized test, most commonly the GMAT. GMAT test prep can help you to gain a better idea of what you will need to study in order to do well. Online test prep is a great option for people who want assistance that fits into a hectic schedule. It is also important to find out about any GPA or course requirements from your undergraduate degree. Some MBA programs will want you to have taken a certain level of math courses, but many make it easy to complete these requirements at the start of the MBA program if need be.

Location
Many prospective MBA students will want to stay in a certain region while others are willing to relocate for the right program. It is often worthwhile to consider schools in your area or schools in close proximity to an area where you would like to live and work after completing the program. There are also many online MBA courses that can provide a flexible option to students who would like to complete their MBA primarily from home.

Schedule
Most full time MBA programs will require two years to complete. While a part-time MBA program will take longer to complete, these programs are typically designed for working professionals who would like to continue to work throughout the program. These programs will offer a full range of evening and weekend classes to accommodate this schedule. Some schools also offer an accelerated MBA course that can offer students the opportunity to complete an MBA in as little as one year. These programs will generally require a high level of dedication and an increased time commitment for the shorter period of time.

Courses
MBA programs often offer concentrations such as finance, marketing, human resources management, or non-profit management. If you have a specific interest area, these can be a great opportunity to take additional specialized courses. Each MBA program will offer different types of courses that can be used to complete the requirements. Reading over the course descriptions from prospective universities can offer a better idea of which program offers classes that are best suited to your career goals and interests.

What to Expect Your First Year in Business School

Acceptance into business school is a time for celebration, and while new doors are opened adjusting to university life can often be daunting. Any incoming student has to adjust to university life, which can often be far away from home and a brand new environment, but new business school students must face their own unique set of challenges and experiences their very first year.

Business school students should expect to learn their school’s academic expectations quickly. The curriculum for business programs obviously varies from program to program, but business schools are often much more regulated as to what a student’s courses should be each semester. In many cases, there will be very few, if any, elective courses. Therefore, students who have a strong desire to take classes outside the regular business school curriculum should work closely with academic advisers in order to create a diverse but manageable schedule.

Newly inducted business school students must also keep in mind that their time at university is limited, and that their choices are very important. Deciding right away to aim for a duel degree, multiple concentrations, certificate programs, or accelerated business tracks is incredibly beneficial and saves a lot of hassle later on, for students, parents, and administrative employees alike.

Of course, business students will have to adapt to campus life in their first year. This includes adjusting to living in a new place in many cases, or getting used to commuting to school every day. New people and new experiences are part of everyday life, during classes and downtime alike. Many business school students take advantage of extracurricular activities, from sports to special interest clubs, in order to connect with other students and create lasting memories during their first year at business school.

Nevertheless, the business school experience is unique from that of a regular college freshmen, as the business track involves constantly relating to the applicability of knowledge to the real world. No matter the program, business schools tend to focus on the entrepreneurial spirit and quality experiences. First year business school students should already think ahead about companies or organizations they might like to intern for, paid or unpaid, in order to gain experience. At many schools, these internships can take place during breaks or concurrent to the school year and often count for academic credit.

This real world centric outlook should be very important during a student’s first year in business school, as keeping career minded is one of the wisest outlooks a student can adopt. Many business schools have specialized career centers for internships, part time jobs, and longer employment opportunities both during the first academic year and later on. This allows for lasting ties to form between a student and the career center, making it easier later on when the student requires assistance, guidance, or references.

First year business school students should also expect to get involved in the community around their school. In many business programs, community service is heavily encouraged and sometimes required for graduation. Service opportunities not only form bonds between students, but allow students to understand the community and make a positive impact.

Every business school is different, but a first year business school student should expect to find challenging academic work, innovative classroom experiences, new bonds with peers, and a pathway to savvy business sense and skills that last a lifetime.

The Top 5 GMAT Mistakes Students Make

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) first came about in 1953 when graduate business schools realized they needed another way to find out whether prospective students were truly qualified to be seriously considered for admission in their programs. Having a straight 4.0 grade point average and/or excelling on the SAT exam was not enough to ensure that students had the aptitude to succeed in graduate business studies.

The GMAT is a standardized test that measures sufficiency in analytical writing skills, quantitative reasoning skills and verbal reasoning skills. Each section has a fixed number of questions or essays that must be completed within an allotted amount of time. It sounds easy, especially if you have always done well in school. However, the GMAT measures more than whether you are good at math, reading and writing. Reasoning, analysis and problem solving are what the GMAT is really all about.

If you are serious about doing well on the GMAT, it is imperative that you prepare well. Unfortunately, many prospective graduate business school students tend to underestimate this very important step. The wise candidate can learn from others’ mistakes in both preparing for and taking the GMAT, thus minimizing the potential for error. The following list of things to avoid while preparing for and taking the GMAT should help you get the score you need.

1. Not doing GMAT practice tests at all.

No matter which source or method you choose to prepare yourself for the GMAT, make sure to take timed GMAT practice tests. Many students that get poor scores on the GMAT only read through the material either in a book on on a website. Only by taking several practice tests can one truly simulate the true rigors of the GMAT.

2. Not practicing enough

Another common mistake that graduate business school applicants make is to put off studying and practicing until maybe a month or so before the test. This is not nearly enough time, even though many people think they have it nailed. A good three or four months of proper GMAT test prep is necessary to really get familiar and comfortable with the exam.

3. Not pacing yourself.

One thing that often leads to lower GMAT scores is taking too much time on questions and then not being able to finish them all. If you time each section of questions exactly the same way they will be timed on the test, you will learn to pace yourself properly and not allow yourself to get distracted or bogged down when it really counts.

4. Doing the practice tests but not examining each wrong answer closely enough to learn why it was wrong.

An extremely important part of doing the GMAT practice tests is learning what you are doing right and wrong, and why. In fact, this one of the main reasons you are doing practice tests at all. If you understand the reasons behind why you make errors on certain types of questions, then you will be much less likely to make those errors at all. These errors can be grouped into two different classifications: Process Errors and Conceptual Errors

  • A process error happens when the student answers the question wrong because they made a mistake in the process of solving the question. In this case, the student feels at lease somewhat comfortable with the concept, but made an error in the process. In analyzing this type of mistake, the student should familiarize themselves with the process of solving the problem within the given conceptual parameters. The GMAT is all about problem solving, thinking through the question, and how you reach the correct conclusion with the given process.
  • A conceptual error occurs when the student does not have enough of a grasp on the concept that the question is testing. If this is the case, then it will not matter how many times you see how to solve the problem. It will be difficult to solve the problem (without guessing) unless you understand the underlying concept that the question is testing for. In this case, the student should review concepts deemed important to the GMAT and revisit the practice question with new found understanding.

5. Not reading the test questions carefully enough.

Many of the questions on the GMAT exam are intentionally tricky and it is easy to misread, misunderstand and thus give the wrong answer. Read each question very carefully, at least twice until you are completely sure that you understand what is being asked. Attention to detail is a crucial asset in graduate business school, and if you don’t have that, then you may not have what it takes to succeed.

If you follow these tips on what to avoid when preparing for and taking the GMAT examination, you should be okay. Just remember that the GMAT is not about what you know, but about your thought processes and how you analyze and work through problems.


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