Tuesday, June 20, 2006


It's been great seeing the Class of 2009 bloggers beginning to post! I've also received a handful of e-mails and thought I'd share some Q&A's. (Note: My answers may be biased towards my own experiences.)

Q: I have just started my GMAT prep and am confused about how to proceed.

To begin tackling the GMAT:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the test format. Two essays, the verbal and math sections - how much time each, how many questions each, what types of questions are given, etc.
  2. Then take a practice test. Take a free test.
  3. See how you score. Where are your trouble areas? Now you know where to focus most of your study time.
  4. The best book to use is the Official Guide. It contains real questions from past GMAT exams. Any question that you miss, take your time to really understand the correct answers. There are common "types" of questions that will appear repetitively on the test.
  5. Register for the test: http://www.mba.com and use the test date to motivate you to study.
Q: I am going through a strange phase of the GMAT prep, kind of loosing steam. How can I overcome this?

We get restless because: 1) you just want the test to be over with, 2) you are becoming more scared and excited of the actual outcome, and 3) you can't wait to be knee-deep in the actual applications. :-)

Everyone has different study methods that work for her, but a couple things that may help are:
  1. Pace yourself. Don't try to cram so much studying in one sitting! This becomes overwhelming. Some people frantically do practice tests one after another. I gave myself 3 months of study time and tackled one practice test per week. The rest of the week I would do practice problems, slowing down to carefully pick through my trouble areas.
  2. Set goals. To get through the entire Official Guide book aim to finish 30 problems every day or whatever number you choose. For the problems you miss, make sure you understand WHY the solutions are correct.
  3. Do you get nervous taking tests? If you're anything like me, I may sing beautifully during a rehearsal, but my voice croaks and my knees shake during the actual performance. Often they tell performers to pretend the audience is naked so the funny image helps them relax. If you're nervous on tests, tell yourself, "There's nothing to worry about. I can do this! I will ace this test!" Repeat this to yourself aloud. If you freak out over each wrong answer, you'll just worry and stress out more until you can't focus (and then careless mistakes are made). Find a way that helps you relax before each practice test. I think more clearly when I'm calmer.
  4. Breathe. If you're mind is racing and your palms start to sweat - take one deep breath in and let it out slowly. Take a couple more if you need to. Those 10 seconds you spend calming yourself down is nothing compared to the 75 minutes you have to do all the problems.
  5. If you still can't focus when you're studying. Put it down. Take a break. Go out and watch a movie, and then come back later with a clear mind ready to study.
Q: Does it makes sense for me to look into schools now and start their essays or should I think about it after my GMAT score is out?

Yes, start researching schools now. On GMAT test day, you can select 5 schools to send your score reports to for free. Take advantage of this by walking into the test knowing which schools you're *hoping* to apply to.

For now, put most of your time into studying for the GMAT. I aimed to take the test once and score above 700. (Fortunately, this happened.) In the meantime, do keep an eye out for when schools post: 1) 2006-2007 deadlines and 2) next year's application. (Some essays questions may change year to year.) Also, start brainstorming on the common essay questions:

  1. Why an MBA? Why now?
  2. Long-term & short-term career goals?
  3. Why school X? -- For each school you apply to.
  4. Leadership experience and something you learned from it.
  5. Teamwork experience and something you learned from it.
Remember: Time is limited. From now until your application due dates you should map out a timeline for your: 1) GMAT study, 2) essays, 3) recommendations, and 4) filling out the applications.

I leave you with some GMAT links:

GMAT Forums
GMAT Prep Help

Friday, June 09, 2006

Talk About Lazy Days...

I have sailed off in the same boat as Marina and MBA Jackass, riding the waves of summer laziness. And, this may be my final summer under the Californian sun...

With the move ahead who knows where I may end up in the future? Return to the Bay Area? Stay in Chicago? East Coast? Asia? Europe? Australia? My 1st-year internship, my new career, my future family... I'm open to the possibilities.

In the meantime, my summer laziness has brought many summer surprises:


  • Jun. 11: Girls For A Change Closing Ceremony @ San Jose Tech Museum (I will miss my Mission San Jose High School team! *sniff*)
  • Jun. 13: Friend visiting from New York.
  • Jun. 16: 2006 GMAC® Conference Event with Marina
  • Jun. 17: Friend visiting from Boston.
  • Jun. 21: Chicago GSB Class of 2008 Bay Area Event #2!
  • Jun. 22: Girls For A Change Coach Thank-You Party
  • Taking a Community College Accounting class to prep for b-school.
  • Seeing every possible doctor before I lose my medical insurance. (An allergy test shows I'm allergic to cockroaches!! Funny!)
  • Filing for financial aid. $140K debt, here I come!
  • Mid-July: Shanghai
  • Early August: Tokyo
  • Mid-August: Taipei
  • Jun. 23: Next Stanford GSB update (Jun. 1st update: Still waitlisted)
  • Jul. 14: Final MIT Sloan update
  • Sept. 5: Chicago GSB LEAD begins