How Many MBA Programs Should I Apply To?

Applying to MBA programs can be a hectic time. Many factors are involved in the application process, but doing a little research in advance can maximize the chance of getting accepted.

The best tool an applicant can utilize is an updated book or web site on MBA programs. These tools profile various programs and contain information about the number of applications received during the previous year, the number of applicants accepted, typical GMAT scores, and GPAs. This information is usually published annually, and applicants may want to follow trends over a couple of years before applying.

Once the applicant has decided on a number of programs, the list should categorized based on how similar the applicant is to others that have been accepted. Sending applications blindly to many schools is equally as detrimental as focusing on one program. Most people suggest applying to at least five programs and applying to as many as possible. This can be difficult for applicants with limited funds. Application fees can be expensive, especially combined with the price of score reports, transcripts, and mailing. Applying to schools that require interviews during the selection process should also be thoroughly considered. If money is an obstacle, it may be wise to reconsider applying to a school where attending the interview would be impossible and a telephone interview is not an option.

Most of the applications should target programs where the applicant is similar in scores and GPA to previously accepted students. Applicants may also consider applying to a couple of schools they are overqualified for, and a school where they fall below the typical accepted applicant. Investing too many resources on programs that are beyond the reach of the applicant is inevitably a waste of time and money.

GMAT scores can have a strong influence on admission decisions and applicants will want to maximize their score. The most popular and convenient option is an online prep course. They are beneficial in their ability to cover information as well as giving sample tests and test-taking tactics. If the applicant is not satisfied with their score, they will want to give themselves ample opportunity to study and retake the test.

Navigating the GMAT Essays

Are you worried about setting yourself apart during the business school admissions process? One of your key opportunities is to deliver well-written GMAT essays. This guide will teach you the tricks to overshadowing your competitors with great essays.

The Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GMAT lasts for one hour and is divided into two essays: issue and argument. Consider the following top-tier advice:

  • Stay on topic. With only thirty minutes for each essay, you will not have time to go off onto tangents. Plan to make your points within 300 words or less.
  • Use supportive statements and cite facts whenever possible. Include your personal experience when appropriate but also rely on the evidence given by third parties.
  • Both a computer program and a human reader will review your essays. Make sure that your word choice, sentence construction, and overall flow appeal to both entities.

For the Analysis of an Issue essay, your job is not to prove that the issue is right or wrong; your job is to convince the reader to believe your position. The simplest format for the Analysis of an Issue section is the following:

  • Introduction with a background on the issue and reasons why you agree or disagree
  • Reason One with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Reason Two with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Acknowledgment of the opposing side’s arguments and ways to refute them
  • Conclusion re-emphasizing the issue and the arguments you have already presented

The easiest format for the Analysis of an Argument essay is below. For this section you must point out the flaws of the argument and convince the reader your conclusions are correct.

  • Introduction with a background on the argument and your stance on its validity
  • Point One with an emphasis on the argument’s positive aspects, using examples whenever possible
  • Point Two with an emphasis on the argument’s negative aspects (flaws), using examples whenever possible
  • Point Three listing ways in which the argument could be improved or strengthened
  • Conclusion reiterating the argument and its major advantages and disadvantages

Before your writing time is complete, review your essays. Make sure they are free of spelling errors, meet conventional grammar and formatting guidelines, respond well to the essay topic, and capture the reader’s attention.
Practice essay writing several times before you reach the testing center, so you will understand the pacing necessary to meet the time limits. GMAT test prep is available both online and in-person for essay assistance.
With advanced planning and GMAT test prep, you are on your way to furthering your education and propelling your job prospects well into the future.

Preparing to Retake the GMAT

Many people choose to retake the GMAT in order to improve on their original scores. You are allowed to retake the test once every 31 days and no more than five times in a one year period. As all test scores for the past five years (including cancellations) show on your student report, if you are planning on retaking the exam, we suggest taking it no more than three times. Beyond that, schools may not look at multiple attempts in a positive light. The good new though, is having taken the GMAT once before, you will be able to draw on your past experience and use these scores to help tailor your study plan for future tries.

Tailor Your GMAT Test Prep

Your GMAT test prep for the second time around can focus more heavily on the areas you struggled with on the first test, be it quantitative, verbal, or the writing assessment. You may feel that you just need to review some sections before test day and spend significant amounts of time on areas that were a challenge on your first GMAT. Immediately after taking the test, you may be able to look up questions that threw you off the first time you took the test, having these challenges in mind for your studying will give you a good starting point.

Online GMAT test prep will help you to cater your plan to meet your needs — even more important now that you have a better grasp on which areas will be a challenge. Taking practice tests along the way will help you to gauge how your scores are improving on the way to your second test.

Draw on Your Knowledge of the Test

Having already taken the GMAT once will also help you to relax and do your best on test day. You’ve been in the exact situation before and may have an even better idea of how they test will go than you did from your practice tests before the first attempt. You can focus on the content and feel comfortable with the computer and the format of the test.

The GMAT can be very different from any other test you have taken in the past, especially in that you cannot go back and change your answers in the verbal and quantitative sections. Having experienced this in a real test setting can help you the second time around, especially if you were anxious about the test format the first time you took the GMAT.

Even when you’re taking the test for the second or third time, it is important to maintain a solid study schedule and continue to review material and take online GMAT practice tests. Doing so will help prevent your scores from decreasing, help you to improve your test taking abilities, and keep the material fresh for the next test.

Top 10 MBA Programs in the World

The Financial Times ranks the top MBA programs in the world each year. Many of these top schools are located in the United States, while others on the list are located in the United Kingdom, France, Singapore and China. For students looking for an international experience, there are many excellent options located all over the world.

1. The London Business School ranks as the world’s top MBA program. Tuition for the London Business School is 49,900 British pounds sterling or approximately $78,850 US dollars. This tuition is for the entire 15-21 month program and includes reading materials.

2. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School ranked second on the Financial Times list of top MBA programs. The MBA program costs $46,600 per year.

3. Harvard Business School at Harvard University in Massachusetts costs $46,150 per year.

4. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in California also ranks as one of the best MBA programs in the world and costs $51,321 per year.

5. Instead, sometimes called The Business School of the World, has one campus in Fontainebleau, France, and another campus in Singapore. The MBA program costs 52,000 euros, approximately 68,800 US dollars.

6. Columbia University’s Columbia Business School in New York costs $49,728 per year.

7. IE Business School in Spain costs 53 200 euros, approximately 70,380 US dollars.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Sloan School of Management costs $48,650 per year.

9. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business costs $49,020 per year.

10. Hong Kong UST Business School in China ranks as the tenth best MBA program in the world and costs $53,900.

To prepare for applying to graduate programs, check out a popular, online GMAT course.

The Top 10 MBA Programs in the United States

The top 10 MBA programs in the United States are ranked by US News and World Report each year and while the same schools often place near the top, the order does frequently change from year to year. The following are the rankings of the best programs in the United States from 2010. Each school’s tuition is listed at the 2009-2010 cost for a full-time student. Choosing the right school requires research about the program, but looking into the top universities can be a great place for potential MBA candidates to start.

1. Harvard University’s Business School tied with Stanford University for the top program in 2010. Harvard costs $46,150 per year.
2. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business tied with Harvard for the top program in 2010. Stanford costs $51,321 per year.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Sloan School of Management costs $48,650 per year.

4. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management costs $49,074 per year.

5. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business costs $49,020 per year.

6. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School costs $46,600 per year.

7. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business tied with the University of California Berkeley on the list of top MBA programs. Dartmouth costs $47,835 per year.

8. University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business tied with Dartmouth College on the list. In-state tuition is $36,472 per year, making it the best value on the list for California residents. Out-of-state tuition is $45,672 per year.

9. Columbia University’s Columbia Business School tied with New York University and costs $49,728 per year.

10. New York University’s Stern School of Business tied with Columbia University and costs $43,100 per year.

The Average Cost of MBA Programs in the United States

Earning a Masters in Business Administration can be an important step in your career. For professionals in business, finance or other related fields, it can be a step towards significant career advancement. Earning an advanced degree can also be a serious investment that often requires significant planning and budgeting to make it a reality.

An MBA program has its straightforward costs, such as tuition, but it has other costs as well. You will not typically be able to work full-time during an MBA program and must consider the loss of income during the time period as part of the cost.

The average cost of an MBA program in the United States is between $40,000 and $60,000 per year and the standard program is two years. Many schools help students to budget actual costs by laying out not only the cost of tuition, but the cost of supplementary materials as well. For example, Harvard Business School costs $48,600 in tuition each year along with an addition $4,650 program support fee that covers textbooks and web-based program materials.

The majority of people entering business school have some work experience. This will be helpful in guiding them towards the right program and giving them support as they make decisions to advance their career within a company or look for a new job. Some employers will be able to provide financial assistance to employees whose careers warrant the investment in an advanced degree.

Working professionals may want to consider programs that cater to people with full-time jobs that cannot afford to take the time off to complete a degree full time. Another alternative is to look into accelerated programs that focus on a heavy course load in a shorter period of time to help shorten the period of time when students must go without a full salary.

Making the decision to go to business school is an important decision and an investment in your future career and potential earnings. Depending on your projected career path, earning the degree is an investment that stands to quickly pay for itself.

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.

GMAT To Include Integrated Reasoning Section Starting June 2012

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently announced changes to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) that are set to take effect June 4, 2012. The test, called Next Generation GMAT, will include an integrated reasoning section. The goal of this new section is to provide insight into how the test taker will perform in today’s information-filled business environment.

The integrated reasoning section will evaluate the test taker’s ability to evaluate and synthesize information from multiple sources. These sources may include graphs, charts, and spreadsheets. Test takers will also be asked to evaluate trade-offs, interpret visual data representations, and determine probability and statistics. While question types are still in testing, the GMAC predicts that some questions will have multiple parts and more than one correct answer. They have not yet decided whether partial credit will be an option on these questions.

For the past four years, the GMAC has conducted surveys of business school faculties in order to evaluate the current test and pinpoint improvements that could be made to the test for the future. The integrated reasoning section is the primary result of these surveys. Faculties expressed the need for incoming students to be able to integrate data, work through complex problems, and make statistical inferences. Next Generation GMAT seeks to make the test more applicable to business schools by asking test takers to complete problems that are similar to the work they will face once in graduate school.

The GMAT will still take three and a half hours to complete. The 30 minutes integrated reasoning section will replace one of the two essays in the analytical writing section.

Currently, the GMAT analytical writing section contains one Analysis of an Issue essay and one Analysis of an Argument essay. The Next Generation GMAT will only include one essay, but students could be assigned either an Analysis of an Issue prompt or an Analysis of an Argument prompt. Therefore, test takers will still need to prepare for both types of essay during their GMAT test preparation. Business school admissions officers have stated that the two current essay test scores are highly correlated. For this reason, they anticipate that one essay will continue to provide a fair and accurate measure of test takers’ abilities.

Scoring on the Next Generation GMAT will change only slightly. The verbal and quantitative sections of the GMAT will remain the same and will continue to be scored on a scale of 200-800. There will be a separate score for the single essay in the analytical writing section and a second separate score for the integrated reasoning section.

The GMAC assures future test takers that more information about specific question types and sample tests for Next Generation GMAT will be available closer to the time of the test’s release. A GMAT course will help people planning to take the GMAT after June 2012 to prepare for the test, including the new section. Developing a comprehensive study plan is the best way to ensure success on the GMAT. Making time for GMAT test preparation and taking Next Generation GMAT practice tests are generally the best way to enter the exam confident and prepared.

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.


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