Biz School Admissions Blog

Perspectives from the Inside

GMAT Integrated Reasoning section: What’s the deal?

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on October 23, 2012

It has now been a full 4 months since GMAC launched it’s new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. I have been keeping my eyes and ears open to understand what it is measuring and the benefit to Business Schools in the MBA admissions process. What is the word on the street? Quite frankly, schools are still struggling with how to use the new section and what it exactly measures. Furthermore, early data shows that the majority of students are struggling on the new section. But the bottom-line is that it is very early and with additional data students will be able to find some correlation between student’s IR scores, their true ability to organize, synthesize and evaluate data to solve complex problems, and their actual performance in an MBA Program.

For those of you applying this year, my guess is that schools will take the scores with a grain of salt and explore these abilities further in interviews, looking at undergraduate courses closely to determine a student’s quantitative and analytical background (or lack thereof), and then take a closer look at actually achieved scores. While GMAC has not studied yet whether those in business and other more quantitative majors will have an advantage, I suspect that they will because they have spent more time poring over data in large databases and spreadsheets which is a big part of the new section.

One thing is already clear, those who take the time to prepare and understand the new section will do better on the section regardless of their current skills. For some this will be some major work, for others it will be like riding a bike after many years. In other words, the skills will be there and it will come back quickly. Either way my advice is the same as it always is to the prospective students I meet with, “Don’t underestimate the GMAT or your overconfidence will lead to a score not reflective of your abilities. If that is the case, I will see you in a few months and we can discuss strategies for retaking the exam”.

If you have taken the GMAT recently, I would appreciate your comments on this post so I can learn more about the test takers perspective on this new section. Happy testing and here is to those who can go one and done!

For more information on the Integrated reasoning section check out GMAC’s Integrated Reasoning Information Center:


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GMAT: Is a Study Plan Important?

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on June 28, 2011

Let’s cut to the chase, I don’t have a lot of time to write this and you have less time to read this, so YES a study plan is important, critical, vital, essential. In other words, even if you know where your going (or have navigation) wouldn’t you be better off if you had an idea of where your final destination might be. Especially since my VZ navigation frequently argues with me and recently led me to the middle of an airport in Tulsa where there was supposedly a Radisson (there wasn’t).

The study plan will be not only your road map, but your conscious on those days when you say, “Ahh, I still have plenty of time. I will do double time tomorrow”. You probably won’t. Your next question is where do I start. Usually I would create my own guide for you, but I found a great GMAT Study Plan for GMAT Novices on a GMATClub Forum:

I believe the founder of GMATClub put it together and it is a great starting place. His initial steps are very good which include familiarizing yourself with the GMAT via; taking a practice test to see where your skills stand; contacting your schools to see what you really need; and determining your weaknesses before finally creating your study plan.

There is also a sample study plan which you can add to or adjust depending on where you stand and where you have determined your strengths and your weaknesses lie. Just as useful are tips from other users such as using  puzzles and games (i.e. Soduku, Rubik’s Cube, etc.) which can be fun, distracting and really help to train you analytically. Although at some point you are going to have to put some hard, focused study time in to ensure you will not be disappointed with your score.

Finally on this forum, there are some good stats from GMAC that add a “you don’t believe you need to study,but it really does make a difference” factor. Having talked to very bright students who come to me after the disappointment of their first sitting, I would say at $250 a pop can you really afford to take a chance of going in cold.

Good luck on the GMAT and if you have come up with a great study plan or have resources you would like to share please do so via a comment. In case I haven’t said it before my ultimate goal is to share my experiences and the wisdom of my readers with other readers who are facing similar challenges related to b-school admissions.

Thanx again for reading this and I will be posting again soon with your ideas and feedback.

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The forgotten factor: Have I been admitted to the business school?

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on August 4, 2010

As we wind down the summer and we stare at a record number of undergraduates which includes both freshmen and transfers I am reminded of something I call the forgotten factor that students should consider when deciding on their undergraduate institution. I beleive this factor is second only to AACSB accreditation of the business school. AACSB accreditation has only been achieved by 5% of the business schools and should definitely be the first cut in reviewing the intitutions and business schools that you should consider. So what is this factor that is so important?

Drumroll please. The question is besides being admitted to the University am I being admitted directly to the business school or will I have to apply after 1 or 2 years? Sounds simple enough, but as a School where freshman and transfer students are business school students from day one I know what an avantage it can be. Here are just a few of the positives:

1. The stress of whether you will be admitted into te business school is off. You can concentrate on your courses in you first year knowing that you are already a part of the School. This stress can be pretty intensive as some of the most competitive schools. Just think, what would you do if you worked your tail off to get into a business school and then were not admitted. Would you be willing to change majors, would you transfer, or would you try again (possibly increasing the length of your bahelor’s degree.

2. Your advisor(s), both faculty and student, will be assigned to you and you will have access to them from the moment you register from classes during orientation. This is important because you want to understand the many directions you can go as a business graduate and be able to decide if business is the right major for you. At University of the Pacific, our Associate Dean of the business school teaches a Dean’s seminar for all freshman students where faculty from most of the concentrations come to the seminar and explainn the options if you deice on an Accounting concentartion vs. Finance vs. Marketing vs. Arts and Entertainment management. While you actually won’t decide on a concentration until you Junior year you should understand your options early so you an begin to research employment trends and directions within each discipline (i.e.Marketing- Brand management, Market research, Marketing communications, etc.).

3. If you are undecided, most of your first year courses are what we would term pre-professional (such as Calculus, Economics, Statistics, Public Speaking). Most of these will also ususally count for general education electives, so if you decide (God forbid) that you do not like business you are taking courses that will count toward degree requirements for most other majors.

4. You will be introduced and have access to the business school career management staff. These folks can offer some great resources to aid in your research in determining possible career directions. This is important because at somepoint I would suggest you do 1 or even better 2 internships in the area(s) you are considering. Most of the time the internship will help you decide what you don’t like or would not consider, but for many I also see the light come on and the passion begin to develop for their area of concentration. This certainly makes your concentration courses in your chosen area more interesting and meaningful and may give you a jump start in today’s competitive employment market.

While I am only presenting the positives in this post, I hope this will put this factor on the minds of students and their families as they filter through the deluge of marketing materials and information that they receive from their prospective universities. If you ever have any questions or would like some help navigating the process I can be reached at (209) 946-2629 or I look forward to being of any assistance to readers who find my business school admissions blog; whether it is to answer your simple questions or for those of you who like me are 1st generation college students to aid you throughout the college admissions, selction and financial aid processes.

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The 5 stakeholders in the admissions process

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on April 29, 2010

OK, I know I haven’t been the most active blogger but hopefully my posts will help those applying to MBA Programs and provide insight for my colleagues who are working in recruitment admissions at B-schools. Today’s topic is really for those who are past the ” should I get my MBA?” and are at the “I need to really think about my B-Schools and begin to develop a strategy for each of them?”. Which means you are probably looking at applying for admission in the next year or so. This topic is really designed to get you into the mindset or psyche of an MBA admissions committee. I need to warn you it can sometimes be a dark place, but the committee has a lot of stakeholders to please. Let’s take a look at the 5 key ones:

Other students: The goal is to find bright, talented students with lots of experiences who can play well with others. This balance of student backgrounds, geography and mindset can be delicate and we all no one apple can definitely spoil the whole bunch.

Faculty: Faculty have similar immediate needs as students. Usually they will also say they are looking for students who will challenge them, but for many they are really looking for those who will help them to stretch and support their teaching and research goals. This need is sometimes impossible to meet, just yesterday it came up that one faculty member was adamantly opposed to a candidate, while another was a strong supporter. These timebombs must be diffused quickly by supporting the decision with facts that support the decision.

Recruiters: Generally, recruiters are looking for quality candidates who are valuable and recruitable. With the trend at many full-time programs toward younger students, we as the MBA Admissions committee need to look for what experiences beyond just professional work experience and look for the well-rounded nature of students. The critical part is defining the potential of these younger candidates. Sometimes we do get it wrong, but many times we get it right with the help and hard work of our career management professionals.

Alumni: Similar to recruiters, we need to keep in mind the potential of a candidate to be a good alumnus and work hard to develop a professional network that will benefit the alumni. Thanx to technology such as facebook and linkedIn these network are getting wider and wider but will the candidate take advantage of these resources to help this network to develop.

University: The University and the B-School is looking for the same thing, a lifelong advocate for the them that will carry the flag and proudly advocate on behalf of the University. Beyond this, they want numbers. With the competition between business schools intensifying each year and potential students becoming more saavy having these advocates is critical to promoting the brand and program. In most cases their word of mouth can really make or break a program.

Now, put all of these stakeholders together and you have a very complex set of considerations. With each of these stakeholders pulling in sometimes very directions the life of an MBA Committee member can be for lack of a better word, hell. In some ways, every admit is a gamble and you have to be very careful when you double down, hold on your current cards or hit on 18. I am not sure what I meant by this analogy, but I felt a good card analogy was needed.

For those of you applying to B-Schools remember how complex this process can be and this means you must be clear, concise and direct as to your profile, potential to contribute to these key stakeholders during your Program and throughout your career path wherever it may lead you.

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7 Strategies for Improving Your GMAT score (while not breaking the Bank)

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on March 2, 2010

As it says in my profile I have been in University admissions for the last 20 years and assisting students throughout the entire MBA admissions process for 12 of those years. I know you have a limited amount of time, energy and money. My goal with this first (and future posts) is to help provide you with some tips for navigating the MBA Admissions process.

Today’s topic is one of my personal frustrations as every year I counsel individuals who academically are excellent candidates but they struggle on the GMAT exam. I know you are thinking but Chris the MBA admissions process is holistic (probably one of the favorite words of every admissions officer-including me). That is true but the bottomline is that the GMAT score is important in the MBA admissions review.

Knowing the importance of the GMAT, here is some advice I often provide to students investigating MBA programs and looking to maximize their GMAT scores (in random order):

1. Take time to train yourself mentally (and physically)

2. Don’t Underestimate the exam

3. Take advantage of free software and information

4. Pay attention to content, as well as, strategies

5. Become very familiar with the exam

6. Know when you need outside help

7. Practice! Practice! Practice!

1. Take time to train yourself mentally (and physically)

I like to equate the preparation for the GMAT (or any standardized exam) to training for a sport. I love basketball and I know to stay in shape I must play regularly, eat lots of bananas and occasionally let my body rest. You too should follow this advice in your GMAT preparations. I usually recommend studying one section at a time and taking a practice test after each section, then taking a full four hour practice exam. Then for good measure repeat the entire process.

2. Don’t Underestimate the exam

You think you are frustrated by the exam, we on admissions committees around the world feel the same frustration. My biggest frustration is with those overconfident individuals who review the content and determine they don’t need to study. I hope that they are prepared to shell out another$250, because studies say they will likely be back after they have properly prepared. There is no magic formula but be sure to put the proper amount of time in and save yourself some time and money (and grief).

3. Take advantage of free software and information

I believe all student considering an MBA should start at Definitely the definitive source for the basics about MBA education and the GMAT exam. In particular download the free GMATPrep software which serves a good resource for your practice exams. There are many other free resources out there on the web, but be careful of the psycho poster who may be trying to lead you astray. You will know these sites because most of the advice is counter intuitive.

4. Pay attention to content, as well as, strategies

Two strategies in particular that should be part of your training regimen are learning to eliminate answers (ideally 2 to 3) in less than a minute.  Also, pay attention to what is really on the exam. Just as bad as under-preparing is over-preparing. I think I spent two solid days learning geometric formulas (i.e. circumference of a cone, area of a cylinder) which were not a part of the exam. It really is more of an analytical exam than a mathematics exam.

5. Become very familiar with the exam

If anyone actually reads this blog, I have a GMAT Preparation sheet I can send to you that will review the basics, give some basic strategy tips and give you some resources I would recommend be a part of your preparation. Just email me,, and I will be happy to send it to you.

6. Know when you need outside help

At some point we all need a little help (some of us more than others). If you have taken the exam once and your score was far below your practice scores, you may need a more controlled environment to study in. At this point, I would recommend you look at some of the test prep services and see what they can offer. They can help you to determine some additional strategies to make sure you are ready to get the score that will make you competitive.

7. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Bottom line is that getting ready for this exam should be a long term project. For some a few months but for most probably more like 4-6 months. It is important that you work on both your strengths and your weaknesses. As I mentioned earlier there is no substitute for hard work and putting your all into this important training.

Whew! Well this is my first post. If you made it this far you must be pretty serious about doing well. Be sure to show that enthusiasm and desire to succeed throughout the MBA admissions process. Good Luck and Happy Training!

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Hello world!

Posted by pacificmbatiger67 on February 19, 2010

This is my first blog. I am hoping to provide some insider perspective to students who are considering business School. At first I plan to focus on MBA. Then eventually undergraduate topics and even further down the line my perspectives on how economic factors in California and the US are affecting business students (the last one may be a stretch).

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