Friday, April 30, 2010

7 Days until GMAT - Retake inevitable

Hello everyone... I just wanted to give an update on my life recently...  

I'm going to hop right into it...  Thursday I took a practice exam.  After 4 months of studying I saw no improvement!!!!!!  WTF I mean really?  Now I know/feel that I know more now about the test and the material than I did back in January.  The question then becomes... what is not clicking?  why is that THING not clicking?  How do I make it click in 7 days?  What if it doesn't click in 7 days?  How much pressure will I put on myself for the 2nd time around?

These are all the questions that are going through my brain right now.  I don't think it's healthy the amount of pressure and time that I've put on myself for this friggen exam.  I already know that I'm going to have to retake the exam and I'm ok with that.  In all honesty... as embarrassing as it is to say... at this point... if I break a 600 I'll be content lmao.  Just hearing myself say that makes me smile at the irony, seeing as though I kept telling myself 720 720... well a 720 is not easy.  I know it's not supposed to be easy... but I thought what I was doing would get me there.  I now realize that that is not the case.  I've also realized that saying "that that" can in fact be grammatically correct.  Granted there may not be an antecedent in the sentence, thereby making the sentence incorrect, but nevertheless one can use "that that" in a sentence.

SEE!  Now... right there.. the last couple of sentences in the previous paragraph shows me that I do know what I'm talking about.  So why is it that when I take practice exams I still make stupid mistakes?  I think I know what it is... I've been putting off tackling those stupid mistakes by saying "oh...that was a dumb mistake... ok i've recognized it... I won't let it happen again."  instead what I should have been saying to myself was "why do I keep making that mistake?"

In any event, I have left NYC for the weekend.  I am home in Jersey.  I came home because my parents wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday.  "To dinner" and "for my birthday" are prepositional phrases both modifying "out".  

Right now I lay on the couch (i no longer have a room at home... go figure!) typing this blog post.  Tomorrow morning I will wake up.. and begin reviewing all quant.  Sunday I have a free Kaplan practice exam which will be flanked with more studying.  I'm going to take the day off of work on Monday to go over all mistakes and such from all previous practice exams.  Tuesday is my final practice exam...and then I'm going to review what it is I've done up until now.

Currently, I'm at piece with the test date being Saturday.  If I were to move it back a week or two, it wouldn't make a difference in my score.  I feel that on Saturday I will be as ready as I can be given the circumstances.  I need to get one official test under my belt, and I feel that I have the strategy to kill the exam the next time.

I told Brandon (Osirus, for those of you who have been following since February) earlier today that I understand what I need to do in terms of studying the most efficiently the next time.  The second time around that I study, I will know what I don't know.

Maybe I'll surprise myself!  Wish me luck guys! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

12 Days until GMAT: CR & SC confidence increasing!

Let me start off by saying that it's OFFICIALLY MY 28th BIRTHDAY!  Woop Woop...  usually I make a big deal out of my birthday and send out birthday party invites in February through Facebook... but my priorities have changed this year JUUUUUSTTT A LITTLE BIT!  hahah...  I figured it would be a better idea to study this year for something that could potentially change my life, than waste my weekend partying.

So as the post suggests... I have 12 days until I take this god forsaken test!  I'm starting to feel very confident about my SC and CR, but I'll be honest... the confidence has not come until very recently.  My hit rate on SC is about 90% and the same goes for CR.  I will say that the PowerScore CR Bible has been a godsend.  The MGMAT CR book is great... but the PowerScore book goes into more of the typical wrong answer choices and what to look for.  During my studies, I got to the point where if I was getting a CR question wrong... the correct answer was the other choice that I debating between.  So by learning why I was making those errors has helped me...

Next week I do not to learn any new information.  I just want to drill what I already know.  This include Quant, which I have been neglecting so I can get my verbal score up.  I haven't taken a practice exam in a while yet, but I will be taking 4 more before my exam next Saturday.

My upcoming schedule is as follows:

4/27: Finish PowerScore CR Bible for the 2nd time, 30 SC, 20 CR, 3 RC, 20 PS, 20 DS
4/28: MGMAT Word Translations again, Kaplan 800 Word Translations again
4/29: MGMAT Cat Exam, RC
5/1: SC, CR, RC, PS, DS
5/2: Free Kaplan Exam and more SC and CR and RC and PS and DS
5/3: SC, CR, RC, PS, and DS - watch Real Housewives of NJ
5/4: GMAT Prep
5/5: Review types of wrong CR and RC answer choices
5/6: Review AWA - watch Real Housewives of NY
5/7: ... review all exams and wrong answers - watch DEVIL WEARS PRADA
5/8: ... just skim through idioms nothing major...  Test is at 4pm

I can't believe it's almost here!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Harvard - LGBT Open House

HBS LGBT Open House/Campus Visit


Ok everyone... so I want to update you on my Harvard Business School visit.  So Monday the 12th was an LGBT Open House event up at the business school.  I took the Bolt Bus from Penn Station at 10am on Sunday up to Boston.  It was about a 4 hour trip, which wasn’t bad at all.  I couldn’t sleep the night before due to allergies, so I slept the whole way up to Boston from NYC.  

Sunday night I had a friend come to my hotel and just shoot the shit.  I hadn’t seen her since she graduated in 2003, so it was good to catch up.  She has a friend in the HBS admissions office, but I didn’t play that card at all.  There’s really nothing to play actually... not like he can get me in!

So Monday rolls around and I wake up at 7:15.  I get in the shower...  go have a cigarette outside - the usual morning ritual.  I get in a cab which was $12.00 from my hotel to Spangler Hall.

Let me just say this before I continue...  The HBS campus is absolutely gorgeous!  It’s the most manicured campus I’ve visited thus far.  All schools should take note at how HBS keeps up their campus because it’s definitely one to envy.  At first glance, as I was walking up to Spangler Hall there were a myriad of students walking to class in packs.  Their attire was like that of any other business school...  jeans... or khakis...  sweaters... blah blah... 

So I get to Spangler Hall at 8:30.  I was about 15 minutes early, but that was ok because there were already a couple of prospective students at the continental breakfast.  Spangler Hall was gorgeous... all of the buildings are gorgeous - Minus the dorm residences...but I’ll get into more of that later... Spangler has very high ceilings with columns.... I’m trying to think of an analogy to make...  ok got it.. think of the townouse that Miranda Priestly lived in in the movie Devil Wears Prada... THAT’S Spangler Hall.  

Spangler is where the dining halls are and the large study lounge which would be equivalent to that Stell Hall at Dartmouth, except the Spangler Study area was about three times the size of Dartmouth’s, which makes sense since there are 1800 Students at HBS and 500 at Dartmouth.  I didn’t see an equivalent study area when I visited Yale, but I’m sure that once they get their new campus it’ll be incredible.  

So during the opening breakfast I sat at a table with some other prospective students.  I believe one guy worked for Goldman Sachs, another one for GM, the one kid that I met during my Tuck visit, and I’m not sure what the girl did.  Two current students were also sitting at the table with us talking about their experiences and what not.  They didn’t seem stuck up or anything of that nature, which was contrary to a popular belief I had.  

We all talked for about 30 minutes and then one of the professors kicked off the day.  Her speech/introduction was very funny...candid...and genuine.  She spoke to how Harvard really supports the LGBT community.  Unlike at most schools where the LGBT club persuades the admissions office to host events, at Harvard the initiative comes from the admissions office.  She also spoke about what HBS looks for in candidates and what qualities a prospective student/current student must have in order to get and give the most from/to the HBS community.  

This part of her speech was very important.  If I were to paraphrase and be blunt it would go something like this:  “Be out in your application, otherwise HBS won’t know that you’re gay.”  This makes perfect sense in that for gay students it’s tough to be 100% convicted to what you believe in, if you’re not 100% comfortable with yourself.  At HBS you will be challenged purposely, and if you are so self-conscious that it holds you back, you will dread your HBS experience.  Plus you’re hurting your classmates because you won’t be giving your all for them to learn from.  

She didn’t say this to say that everyone who is gay and who apply to HBS should be out.  But she was stressing the fact that even if you’re not out... you better be fine with that internally, which in my opinion... some are.  I personally know what it’s like to not be out at work and be in situations where I felt uncomfortable with either myself and thinking that I had to portray myself in a certain manner... even situations as simple as having to give a presentation and wondering whether or not people are listening to what you’re saying, or analyzing your mannerisms.  It’s just unecessary, so she was saying that as a Gay student you should be unapologetic for yourself.  Oh and yes she was gay too.  

Anyway... I digress....

So yes she spoke... and then we split up into I think 3 groups, to go on our class visit.  Let me back up for a second... before we all got to HBS we were emailed a 22 page Case study to read before our arrival.  The case study that I received was about Huffingtonpost.com.  I was pretty excited to read it for a couple of reasons.  I read the Huffingtonpost every day, well every weekday.  Another reason is that the case study touched on online advertising and ways to monetize the website.  This is the industry that I work in so it definitely held my attention.

Anyway... so I follow my student to the classroom, and got my first look at the other buildings on campus.  I remember thinking to myself... “WOW NOW THIS IS A BUSINESS SCHOOL!”  That’s not to say that the other schools that I’ve visited were sub-par... but I think everyone who has visited HBS and seen the insides of these buildings would corroborate my story.  I don’t even know how to describe it.  I kind of felt like I was in the UN building walking by conference rooms full of national delegates.  HBS definitely has money and it’s very obvious when you walk the hallways.

I go to my classroom with about 8 other students in my group, and we find seats in the back of the classroom.  For some reason I thought the classrooms would be larger than they were.  I’d say there were about 60 students + the 8/10 LGBT students, plus two parents who were sitting in on the class.  The energy in the class was a level 10.  Students were talking in small groups of say ¾, laughing… discussing stuff…  doing what people do before a class.  Our student rep told the professor that we were sitting in on the class and we got a round of applause from the students.  Like I said there were also two parents sitting in on the class and they got a standing ovation.  Guess it’s common there… 

The professors at HBS are facilitators… they don’t lecture, although I’m sure they are physically able to.  This professor was very hyper and would race around the class calling on people to finish someone’s point or rebut their point.  Then the professor started letting the students call on their fellow classmates.  So for instance if I was finishing a thought and backing myself up, I would then call on someone else who had an opposite opinion and I would have to defend myself against him or her.  I can totally see this playing out in every boardroom across the country.  I would say the professor talked a total of 10 minutes throughout the duration of the class.  It was really something to see it in action.  

After the class it was lunchtime.  We were given brown bag lunches and were put in these study rooms with about 6/7 other prospective students along with 2 current LGBT students.  There was this one prospective student who couldn’t fully grasp the concept of the HBS Case study method.  He asked “So you guys don’t really do problem sets?  What would I have learned after debating with my classmates for an hour and a half?”  And then he just sat back in his chair with his arms folded.  I think she should look at MIT Sloan as that would be more his speed.  

During the discussion with the current students I just sat back and listened to the comments and questions.  They were very general and it was pretty much the same questions you would hear at any other school…internship that….  Life at HBS this….  I will note that about ¾ of the students in that room (excluding current students) were 2+2 candidates.  I am 27 – will be 28 next week, and I was definitely the oldest one out of the bunch.  

After lunch we went back to one of the classrooms to sit and talk with the admissions director and someone in financial aid.  All of this was standard, but I did have a moment when my heart sank.  There was this one female who raised her hand and said, “so… I’m married…  it’s not legally recognized in most states, but what would that mean in terms of me getting financial aid.”  Luckily Massachusetts recognizes gay marriages and all that jazz… but it was the first time that I had witnessed someone asking that question who would genuinely be affected by the answer.  Most of the times with my friends and I it’s just what ifs….

After the discussion with the Admissions director and the person from the financial aid office, we went on our campus tour.  We were in a group of about 10.  We walked all through the halls, which you can definitely get lost in.  Then our guide took us outside and around the campus… this is very anti-climactic because to be honest, a lot of the buildings we just saw from the outside and he would point and say this is X and that is Y.  There were also some buildings that he said he didn’t know what they were and that as a student we’d never have to go in them.  I just shrugged that off.  I will say that the library is gorgeous.  There aren’t many books at all, but it would be a great place to study.  We also got to see the dorms which… hhmm.. yeah were VERY small.  I didn’t expect the rooms the to be large, but the buildings and hallways could have been larger.  The building I went into made me claustrophobic.  They had communal bathrooms but there were separate showers.  I dunno about all that…not at this age…


After the campus tour we went to sit in on an LGBT student panel Q&A.    This was fun to see current students being very candid with each other and us prospective students.  There were two women and four guys up there.  Two of the panelists were the two students that were sitting at my table during the breakfast.  Since I’m writing this so far after my visit, I can’t really regurgitate what was said.  Probably a little bit of this and a little bit of that … ;-)  They did say that one of the benefits of being out at HBS and in the LGBT club was that you have about 60 other members and the bond that you have is tighter than one that you may form in another club with 300 members.  I can definitely see this as being a plus… and in terms of networking… it would be one of the main reasons for me to go to HBS… (if I score high enough on the GMAT and get in).  

After the Q&A session it was time for some drinky drinks at the LGBT reception, which was in this mediocre(ly) sized lounge(y) room with a fireplace.  I laughed when I walked in because I was expecting hors d'oeuvres and some munchie food... but when I walked in there were some California rolls... hummus... and vegetables with dip....  "how stereotypical of an LGBT event" i thought to myself hahaha...  oh and there was a bunch of wine and a little bit of beer!  Gotta know your audience I suppose.  

Anyway the reception consisted of prospective students mixing and mingling with each other, while current students embedded themselves in each groups conversations.  It was actually very interesting.  I just stood back for a bit to observe and try imagining myself attending school there with those types of people.  Again I felt old in the room.  (I'll be 28 next week)... The types of LGBT people ranged from the very queeny (terminology we use to describe someone who is overly flamboyant) to straight-acting.  

I struck up a conversation with someone else who was in Fashion retail...  he works for Piperlime, so we discussed our backgrounds and then a current student joined us because prior to HBS he was a buyer for the Gap (I think he was a buyer).  Nonetheless I had to get out of there after a while to get back to the bus depot.  On my way out I said goodbye to a student who was also going back to NYC and we compared departing times and realized we would be on the same bus.  Of course we said we would sit by each other and keep each other awake while we tried studying... DAMN GMATs!

I did feel that during the reception... the current students felt that they had better things to do.  They probably did, but to me it felt like they were forced to be there.  I mean come on.... free alcohol?

So then I go collect my stuff and start talking to a female prospective LGBT student.  We had been together a lot during the day so we decided to walk out together.  It was interesting because she used to be in the military and she said that she was comfortable being out (that Don't Ask..Don't Tell.. is such a crock!) in the military, but it was when she started working in the corporate world that she didn't feel comfortable being out.  HHmm interesting...So then we walk out... we trade information (I still have not heard back from her)... and I collected my belongings and headed to the bus depot.

As I'm sitting in station waiting for the bus... the student who I compared departing times with showed up... he was with someone else who was at the event with us.  They ran into each other on their commute over.  So we chit chatted it up...  sat next to each other on the bus... Facebooked and LinkedIn each other - yes I know those two nouns are not verbs... YET!  Verbification.... gotta love it...  

Let me make this part short...  Got home around 1:45am... took a cab home...  got in bed... woke up... went to work...  

Sorry guys that this took so long to get up... but as you can see... it's very long...  All in all it was a great visit!  HBS is one of those schools where, if you get in... you go...  We'll see if that holds true.. I'm not sure... I definitely got a better feeling from Tuck though!  

For those of you who do not care about the LGBT agenda very much..just take it for what it's worth.  I wanted to put a lot of detail in this post for that random LGBT prospective who may find this blog down the road.  This is the type of information that I myself would be looking for online.  So hopefully this is interesting to some people.  

Being a prospective LGBT student really adds a different level of complexity to our decision.  If you think that it shouldn't... you're incorrect.  Think about it if the tables were turned.  Think about if you were looking at a school that you really loved but out of say 250 people... 6 were straight and the rest were gay.  Even if you love gay people and are comfortable in that situation... it's still something to mull over.  Ya know.. being in that situation for 2 years...Sometimes you just want people around you that understand you, it's as simple as that.  

But I'll get down from my soap box now...  16 days until my GMAT!  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

...and I'm Back

Sorry guys for the absence!  I've been really busy with studying.  I was also going to post my debrief on my HBS visit tonight, but it's not done yet.  I'm typing it up in word first because it's THAT long.  I'll be able to post it tomorrow...  I PROMISE!

So I've been doing a lot of studying lately.  I have 3 weeks to go and it's crunch time!  If you remember waaay back in January, I'm not sure if I posted it, but the night I signed up for my MGMAT class, they were giving away a free 2 hour online workshop to those who attended the seminar that was also occurring that night.  I opted for the 750+ Sentence Correction workshop since that's my weakness.

It went very well.  I learned about breaking down a sentence to it's core.  I know this seems very simple and basic but being able to break down the sentence is one thing.  Knowing how to work with it and evaluate it is another.  The class focused on the latter.  I then did the SC question bank provided by MGMAT in the student center.  I don't think it was a good idea to do the question bank right after the workshop because the workshop focused on advanced topics whereas the question bank did not.

My mind was on that 750 level while trying to answer the questions and I forgot about the basics.  I was trying to use the methods I had just learned for advanced questions to analyze the easier ones.  It didn't turn out so well.  So be warned that if you take that workshop, do not study easy SC corrections right after.  Maybe take an hour off or something to clear your head.

Very short post tonight guys... it's time for me to go to sleep!  I'm trying to get myself into a regular sleeping schedule.  I'm taking medicine for my allergies so that the anti-histamine can build up in my system.  It's been giving me a lot of trouble lately to the point where it's difficult for me to finish exams comfortably....like to the point where I have to go to the bathroom and get myself together for 10 minutes (yes while time is running).

So I've found that proper sleep and medication helps...


Monday, April 12, 2010

GMAT Scholarship

FYI - Just some friendly promoting...

Beat The GMAT is now accepting applications for the fifth annual Beat The GMAT Scholarship Competition, co-sponsored by Grockit,KaplanKnewtonManhattan GMATThe Princeton Review, and Veritas Prep.  The Beat The GMAT Scholarship is one of the largest GMAT scholarship programs in the world, with nearly $60,000 in awards distributed to date.

Also... I just got home from visiting Harvard | Business | School, will post an update tomorrow!

Monday, April 5, 2010

G-Day Scheduled!

I can't sleep right now @ 4am so I decided to update my blog... yes I have work in 5 hours... but I frequently pull all nighter... I'm weird don't worry I know.

Well well everyone... it’s definitely been a while since my last post. I know that I keep saying that every single time that I start a post. oh well you can get over it right? So a lot has transpired since the last time I posted. I'll update you on my weekend:

On Friday I went home to Old Bridge, NJ for a friends Birthday party.  I was at work today and my friend texted me asking if I was coming home for Easter. I said that I wasn’t and he told me there was a party... so when i hear “party” the alcoholism side of my brain immediately asks “Free Alcohol?” So I hopped on the bus and in about 50 minutes I’ll be partaking in some liquid courage - as if I need it. Anyway... back to the issue at hand

For starters... I SCHEDULED MY GMAT EXAM! I officially feel the pressure now... my exam date is May 8th! Now I can officially say that I have a D-Day, instead of speculating. It’s amazing how much pressure one feels once they’ve paid the $250 and have received the confirmation email. For me it was a sigh of relief as well as a rude awakening. The rude awakening was the realization that I’m really in this thing for the long haul. You would have thought that the rude awakening would have come when I enrolled in my MGMAT class, but nope.. that wasn’t it.

I suggest that everyone looking to take the GMAT... you schedule it immediately, even if it’s some time in the future. It’s incredible what happens when there’s a time when you don’t want to study and you remember that there’s a finite number of days left before D-Day! It has definitely helped me focus. Every free second I have, I’m usually studying. Actually that’s a lie... last night I watched Real Housewives of NYC. (I’m Team Jill...if anyone cares).

Also this past week, I sent out thank you emails to everyone I spoke to and met at Tuck. it took me about 2 hours to do so. I met so many people and I know that they all talk to each other and I didn’t want to send them the same email. Now it might be selfish of me to think that they would really want to talk about me, because I’m sure they get a lot of students like me up there every day. But hey you never know right? Plus I want to keep the line of communication open between us, so I wanted to make the emails personal. The admissions committee member that I spoke too didn’t receive an email. i went across the street from my job to Sam Flax.... bought stationary and cards and hand wrote a short thank you letter to her. It’s definitely early in the process so I doubt she’d remember me, but again... you never know.

On Saturday I hopped back on the bus back to NYC.  I was itching to go out and party but remembered that my exam date is right around the corner.  I ended up doing 20 SC problems and then falling asleep!  I guess I was just that exhausted from the night before.

On Sunday I woke up really late... I dunno what's going on with my body.. maybe I'm getting sick - I'm not sure.  When I woke up I did 34 Critical reasoning questions timed and 20 more SC timed.

Maybe I should explain my schedule for the next 2 weeks.

Sunday - SC and 17 CR questions from the Official Guide
Mondays - 2 questions in every single chapter  in the MGMAT Quant study guides, then review
Tuesdays - 20 SC and 17 CR questions from the Official Guide
Wednesdays - 2 questions in every single chapter  in the MGMAT Quant study guides, then review
Thursdays - 20 SC and 17 CR questions from the Official Guide
Fridays - 2 questions in every single chapter  in the MGMAT Quant study guides, then review
Saturday - Practice Exam & review all practice exams

I haven't figured out what to do before the two weeks that I tackle the GMAT Verbal Review & GMAT Quant review guides.  I'm going to ask my friend Brandon (Osirus) what he thinks I should do.  He took the Veritas verbal course, so I think he'll have some words of wisdom for me.  Right now I'm thinking that I should do the SC 1000, since that's my weakness - CR used to be my weakness, but my hit rate is increasing.  My goal for my next practice exam is to get above 40 in verbal.  My highest score thus far is 35, after three exams, because I had been focusing on Quant.
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