Monday, May 31, 2010

How I reach out to current MBA students...


The only thing I have planned for today is to sit on my couch and go through my Veritas basic math guide.  I had the first weekend of the Veritas weekend class, this past weekend, and we went through all of the verbal sections on the GMAT.  I am not writing this post today to speak about that... that'll come later in the week.

My friend Purple Yogi (his Blogger username) posted a question on one of my previous posts, and I want to address it:

He Posted - "Anyway, I intend to check out a couple of schools in June, that is make a campus visit, what tips would you have when meeting current students and learning about the program?"

Meeting current students to learn about the program is quite different from (different from is an idiom... it's never different than) meeting AdCom members, so you need to approach it differently.  Here is what I do when I know that I'm going to be visiting a school - and I will use my Dartmouth Tuck visit, which can be found here: http://money9111.blogspot.com/2010/03/dartmouth-tuck-visit.html  as an example.

RESEARCH - I research ALL of the clubs/organizations that I think I may want to be involved in.  So at Tuck I definitely want to be involved in the LGBT group, Center for Digital Stategies, and The African Ancestry Business Association, more formerly known as Taaba.

Now one may ask - why do I need to research them, instead of just learning what they are and then asking the students about them?  Well if you can find the information on a website, then it's not something that you should ask about solely in person.

What I mean by this is - it's different to say:
"I read on the website that last year the LGBT group attended the Reaching Out conference in Atlanta.  Did you go to this conference?  Can you tell me more?"  That is a much better way than asking "Do you guys go to any conferences?"

Put yourself in the shoes of a current student.  If someone shows that they've done research and asked me a question similar to the first one, I'm going to be more open about my experience.  I'll probably go off on a couple of tangents too.  Those are the kinds of things that you want to happen, when you're speaking to current students because that's when you really get to the meat of their experiences.

You get the idea on research....

CONTACTING - This part is fairly easy even though there are many ways you can go about accomplishing this.  If you've ever been to any MBA Fairs or information sessions, and have collected business cards from current students, don't be afraid to email them.  To me that's a no brainer.  If you give me your business card, you've opened up the possibility of my contacting you.  

You can always find the contact emails of students who are the presidents/co-chairs of the organizations you wish to be a part of.  Don't think to yourself "Oh but I don't want information on that club... I want to know what life is like."  Well... while you're talking about the club...ask them what life is like for them!  They are students lol they can answer that question too - and probably want to!

INTRODUCTORY EMAIL - It takes me a while to write this.  Probably 30 minutes because I figure, this person may get 5-10 emails a week, and I don't want their stock response.  

So in the email I... 
- Introduce myself 
- Tell them how I found their info 
- Give a short background on why i'm contacting them and why I want to attend School X 
- See if we can set up a time to meet when I'm visiting.

This is what I wrote to a member of the Center for Digital Strategies at Tuck before going up there.

Good Evening ______,

My name is Richard Battle-Baxter, and I’m planning to visit Hanover and The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.  I feel like I visit the Tuck website every day trying looking for information that I missed the last time.  One component of Tuck that I'm the most excited about is the potential to become a fellow with Center for Digital Strategies.  I first learned about the center from Dawna Clark at the Tuck information session at the Yale club back in the fall.  She eased my reservations about "leaving" the ever changing digital world to pursue and MBA.  After some more research I realized that a similar center at another school would be hard to come by and that I should delve deeper. 

I just recently subscribed to the Tuck blog and was going through my Google reader and saw your Tech@Tuck post starting with "One of the perks of being an MBA Fellow at Tuck's Center for Digital Strategies..." and my eyes opened widely.  Just yesterday, I was writing about why I wanted to go to Tuck; the Center for Digital Strategies is the of the main reasons.  As an SEM Analyst for Bloomingdales.com and having worked in the digital space for about four and a half years, It's not surprising that I would be drawn to everything digital.  

On Thursday March 25th, I will be hopping on the Dartmouth Coach from NYC and heading up to Hanover to participate in the visitors events that routinely occur, minus the interview since I have not applied yet.  I will be leaving early Saturday morning which leaves me approximately 48 hours to experience all that Dartmouth has to offer.  If you're not busy and have a couple extra minutes, would you mind letting me pick your brain about the Center and Tuck itself?  It would be greatly appreciated!

Thank You,
Richard Battle-Baxter

He responded within 24 hours.  I know if I were a current student and I received an email such as that one, I would be more prone to get back to the student.  I sent an email like that one to a member of the LGBT group as well as TAABA.  

MEETING CURRENT STUDENTS - So this is the bread and butter right?  The whole reason you do the research and send the introductory email is to meet current students.  I will re-iterate here...  DO YOUR RESEARCH on the program as a whole and the specific clubs.  

When you set up a meeting with Current Students - be respectful of their time and be flexible.  If they only have 15 minutes to meet with you...MEET WITH THEM.  If they have to change the time in the middle of the day...AGREE TO IT!  Also, DO NOT BE LATE!!!

If you go out for coffee or something of that nature - OFFER TO PAY FOR THEM!  Treat them as you would treat a client.  (Sidenote - I believe AS is the correct word to use here, because I'm comparing actions = "Treat".)

TYPES OF QUESTIONS - Ok that's enough yelling.. so what types of questions do you ask people? The short answer is ANYTHING!

These students remember when they were in your position.  I didn't have any questions unanswered.  Do not meet students with a piece of paper in hand with a list of questions.  You should have a conversation with them.  The questions will come to you...  Sorry this section wasn't more descriptive - actually I'm not haha... 

AFTER THE MEETING - Definitely thank them as you part ways, but more importantly, SEND THEM A THANK YOU LETTER/EMAIL.  In this email you should point out a couple things you spoke about and you appreciate their time etc etc blah blah.  Also, do not forget to ask their permission to keep the lines of communication open between the two of you.  I have learned that this is the most invaluable part of the process.  Here is what I sent as a follow up email:

Hi _____,

I wanted to thank you for meeting me last Thursday.

I had a phenomenal time during my visit at Tuck.  Sitting in on the MBA Fellows lunch was undoubtedly the best part of my trip up there.  During that lunch hour I definitely envisioned myself sitting around the table as a T'13 as an MBA Fellow.  The main hurdle in front of me now is the GMAT.  Have to bang that out from what the Associate Admissions Director told me.

I hope you don't mind that I sent you a LinkedIn request.  Also, I'll probably have more questions for you at random intervals so I'm hoping that the invitation is always open.

Enjoy your day!

- Richard

One note about this... be careful with the LinkedIn requests.  If you don't want your colleagues to know that you're looking into business schools, you probably shouldn't request 5 students from the same MBA program at the same time!  Remember LinkedIn updates and people can see who your new friends are! It will set off red flags hahaha...

So I visited Dartmouth back in March and I still email back and forth with a member of TAABA and the Center for Digital Strategies.  I feel that we have a symbiotic relationship. I don't just email them with more follow up questions, but I also ask them how they're doing.  

We are no longer in the stage of me trying to extract information from them.  That occurred during out hour long meeting months ago.  During that hour I had their time...but now...for instance - the MBA fellow at the Center for Digital Stategies HAS GRADUATED.  So there are a couple things to this point...

First... If I think I have an ally on campus when I visit again for my interview - I do not!  Well I         do... but it's not him anymore.  Also, because of the rapport that I have with him he's going to introduce me to the current Fellow of the CDS.  This way I can reach out to them and will know people at Tuck when I visit again in the fall.  

Second...Our emails since my visit have touched on his job search and his plans post MBA.  It's great to see the impact an MBA has on their lives, which is something you can't really ask them before they've graduated.

As I mentioned before, I also keep in touch with a member of TAABA.  I consider him a friend now actually.  Because I've kept the lines of communication open I can ask more personal questions that may have been slightly uncomfortable or awkward for me to ask upon first meeting him.  He's also great a giving me advice for the upcoming application process.  He's mentioned on multiple occasions that he is waiting for me to send him my essays to look over!  See things like that are invaluable and all arose from our initial meeting.

The reason I say that you should be flexible in your scheduling is because this Tuck student wasn't even the student I reached out too initially.  The first person I reached out too was unavailable and then I was going to meet with a girl and she brought this student along.  I don't talk to the female student any more, but I email back and forth with ______  about once a week.

I think if you're really gung-ho about a program you should do all of your research because you will undoubtedly get the most out of your meeting and visit.  I come from a world where I didn't know anyone with an MBA.  Thanks to BeatTheGMAT.com I think I have penetrated the barriers to entry and have entered this world of MBA's.  I don't know how people navigate PROPERLY through this process without the access.  I have now built up a rolodex of many students and alumni who I have relationships with.

Read more about my Dartmouth Tuck visit here (VERY LONG - but entertaining :-) ): 

I hope this helps Purple Yogi ;-) !  

Later in the week will be a post about my Veritas Class - Love Love Love!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ugh Be Quiet!

G'evening... today I'll talk about my Statistics Class and the Accepted.com MBA Telethon I participated in today.

Statistics - I must vent a little bit. I had my 2nd Statistics class tonight. It went well despite me not having done the homework because the bookstore is closed for renovations. It'll be open on June 1st, so I'll be the first one in line. Tonight we discussed more Standard Deviation, Variance, and Coefficients. Then towards the end of class we touched on probability.

What's weird is that during my MGMAT class, when we did probabilities I would get a pit in my stomach. Not necessarily because it's THAT hard of a topic, but more because I knew how important it would be for my GMAT prep. This time around I was more calm and not antsy. It was weird. I'll just try to take everything in. She said for next week we would do more probabilities as well as permutations and combinations.

But what really irritated me was the - I must answer everything before everyone, while i sit with my laptop open - Girl...Today this event occurred maybe 14 times. I was so pissed off. In all honesty we all know how to calculate the mean, median, and mode...why doesn't she realize that she's not impressing anyone by blurting out the answer to a RHETORICAL question? The 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th time she did it, I turned my head and looked at her, so she would realize my frustration. Then she answered a question wrong and we all corrected her! Just be quiet and take notes!!!

There was a girl just like that in my Algebra class last fall and I combated her by beating her to the punch. I won't do that this time because I'm not invested. I'll just complain to you guys.

Accepted.com MBA Telethon - So I had the intention of talking about this but I just realized that I left my notes at work. I'm not sure if anyone else called in today for a 15 consulting session but I decided too. All I had to do was answer 6 questions and send my resume, and I got to speak with an Accepted.com person and ask her any questions I had. I thought she would tell me what I needed to do in order to improve my candidacy, but it was more of me asking her questions. That was fine too except I've done so much research that I could finish her sentences. I knew everything she was going to say before she said it. I didn't get one thing out of it, but that's not to say that other people didn't.
- I just know that my weakness is my GPA. I know that I should take classes to help that situation - I didn't tell her that I was taking classes already.
- I knew who I should ask to be my recommenders...
- I knew that schools are now accepting the GRE...

Veritas Prep - Oh... BTW... This weekend is very exciting. I'll be taking the Veritas Prep weekend course. It's this Saturday/Sunday and next Saturday/Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping it will fill in the holes and supplement all of the other knowledge I've acquired. Then it'll be crunch time and my hiatus will be over.

Sidenote - on the editing nav bar at the top of my editing screen there seems to be some options missing - IF ANYONE KNOWS HOW I CAN ADD PICTURES AGAIN CAN YOU LEAVE A COMMENT? Thanks...

T T T T THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Tomorrow/Today I'm going to see Sex and The City... pretty pumped about that!

Monday, May 24, 2010

GMAT Prep - Downside

First let me say that I've updated the Business school poll on the left hand side of the screen (scroll down). When I started the poll I put schools in it that I was genuinely interested in and some that I needed to fill up space. I have now updated it with the top schools from what you guys chose and added another batch of potential schools. GO VOTE - CHOOSE 3!

So I my GMAT prep hiatus is coming to an end... I had a phenomenal time off! The downside of not studying is re-injecting myself back into my circle of friends and spending $$$$ again. It's amazing how much money one saves when he or she (almost said THEY, but that would have been incorrect) goes out.

For instance, this weekend:

Friday -
$10 at a rooftop bar in Midtown with coworkers
$6 for a cab to a bar for a friends fundraiser/birthday.
$15 for the fundraiser and a wristband for 1/2 appetizers and 1/2 drinks
$15 for 4 beers
$10 for appetizers
$15 for cab crosstown to my apt.
$10 for pizza at 3am - didn't eat it fell asleep
$10 for cigarettes

Saturday -
$10 for hamburger/fries/gatorade/chips (breakfast of champions at 1pm)
$30 for a shirt for a birthday party later that night
$30 for a bottle of Svedka
$10 for cigarettes
$20 for my omelet at the diner later that night
$XX for the cab home (yes it was one of those nights!)
> $120

Grand Total about $200 and for what? All I got out of it was some tagged Facebook photos!

Granted I needed to go out and have a weekend like that since I held back for so long. I am now looking forward to getting back into study mode. I refuse to go into hiding as a I did previously for two reasons. The first is that it's SUMMER TIME. The second is simply that it just was not productive. I burnt myself out...

Statistics Class - In any event, tomorrow I have to buy my Statistics book. I have a weird feeling that it won't be available in the bookstore! The first class was good. It was much different from (not different than....think about it.. you would say "Differs from" - thanks Brian@Veritas haha) my algebra class. So much so that multiple people knew the fraction for Pi (22/7) and someone else knew to the hundred thousandths digit for e.

There is this one girl though who tries to answer every question first, while being on her laptop. Like really girl? Put it away it's not that serious... but maybe I'll befriend her so that when we do our assignments I can have her my rolodex of go to people.

Miscellaneous: Hhmm let's see... what else is going on? I reached out to a couple students at UC Berkeley Haas who are members of Q@Haas, which is the LGBT group on campus. I really need to get all of the information out of them that I can so I can determine which school is my top choice Tuck or Haas. They are very similar but very different in a couple ways. That will be a post later down the road, where I'll list out the pros and cons of them both.

Friends update: I'm not sure if I mentioned this before but one of the girls that I met when I visited Tuck is from Canada. I email with her probably once every week. She applied R4 and found out that she was waitlisted. She's pretty happy about it and I think that goes to show that she had a great profile. I've never heard of anyone being waitlisted in R4, but I guess it can happen. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed for her!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bagged a Recommender!

Greetings all... So I wanted to bring up something that has been weighing on my mind lately. I don't really talk about work all that much on here but today's events warrant a full post on this topic. It has to do with recommendations.

So let me back up a bit... it seems as though many people have just recently begun to follow my blog. So I will tell everyone what I do as it will give you a good understanding for why today happened.

I've been working in the Digital marketing/Interactive Space/Online Advertising industry officially since 2005, when I got my first full time job. Prior to that I had an internship in college here in NYC at a start up company.

First Job - I worked at a Search Engine Marketing agency as an account manager. Here is where I learned the basis for what I do now. This was a small place in NJ but was close to the all star cheerleading gym that I coached at. After two years at this agency I decided to start working in NYC.

Second Job - I worked at a full service digital marketing agency on larger accounts. I was introduced into more of the creative process and margins and blah blah etc etc all that stuff. Here is where the story really begins... So this agency was not run properly at all. I won't go into all of the details, but just know that it was a hot mess and uber political.

I started at this agency in September of 2007. I had a director leave around February...then my manager left a couple weeks after. She had just gotten married and was commuting over 2 hours each way to and from work. (this is important to remember) So essentially my two senior peeps left the company...they were the only ones who really knew what I did and what impact I had. So anyway I was put onto another team.

In August, I reminded my new boss (younger than me and was only promoted because the owners liked him...no one that reported to him liked him... and actually he got himself into a bit of trouble later down the road.)

In any event...like I said... In August I reminded him of my upcoming review. He said sure sure... 2 weeks before my anniversary I reminded him again of my upcoming review... Again he said sure sure... So then on my anniversary day I reminded him and he told me to talk to the VP of whatever title it was that they made up for this guy. So the next time I saw him he said "Oh tell ______" to remind me and we'll get it set up. So I told my boss again and he said he spoke to this VP guy. Long story short November rolled around and I still had not gotten my 1 year review. I realized that I could no longer be at this company because it was obvious how they viewed their employees.

This is when I started looking for another job. I sent my resume to one place... got the interview... interviewed again... found out that I got my current job the monday after Christmas. So I was stoked to put in my 2 weeks notice. The very day that I was going to give my two weeks notice...I WAS LAID OFF! It was glorious. I went into HR and she was giving me all of the papers to sign and what not... I was going to say something about my new job, but I refrained when she started talking about severance!

So I took my severance and went on vacation - by myself! I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico...

Ok so now you know how I ended up at my current job so let's get to the good stuff...let me just say that history repeats itself. So I started in my current position as a Search Engine Marketing Analyst in January of 2009. When I started I reported to my manager who reported to the director. 2 weeks after I started the director left, which wasn't a big deal to me. THEN... in April my manager got married. We went all the way through the summer without replacing the director that left. Then this past February my manager, who also commuted about 2 hours to work, decided to leave because she didn't have a "home" life and as a newly wed this was tough. What's ironic is that at one point in time this manager and my manager at my previous job used to work together at their previous agencies!

So once my manager told me that she was leaving I did not want to let history repeat itself and for me to miss out on a review which was to be done in April. I had some conversations with HR... with the VP of my department... to see if I would be a good fit for my managers position. My manager thought so before she left, but that's for another time. The HR person said "no that wouldn't be the next progression for you because you can't report to the VP because you know how hard she can be." Internally I rolled my eyes because that was a stupid statement, because without a manager I would be reporting to the VP. So from April until just a couple weeks ago I reported to the VP.

Here's how this impacts my recommendations... about a month ago I found out that the VP of marketing will be going on maternity leave!!! I wasn't sure how far along she was but this got me thinking. She's the only person left in our department worthy of writing me a recommendation letter, since she's been there from the start. Hold that thought... So she hired a Director who is embedded in between her and I. Thankfully this new director is an MBA graduate of Kellogg. I like her a lot but she doesn't know my work history. So she's been here about a month...and I immediately told her about my MBA plans. She was the first one "above" me whom I told but I knew she would understand. So I've been working with her for about a month and I just found out last week they they've hired a manager for me.

I know what you're thinking... why didn't you get that position and I honestly can't tell you. My company is weird. They like to hire people only to have them leave 5/6 months later.

So between the turnovers...multiple managers....VP preparing for maternity leave...and no promotion/title change, I have been getting antsy. Now I would like to say that I don't just want a promotion/title change just because... but I need more of a challenge. My work has become very routine and that's when I get bored.

I had a formal review today and I asked the VP if we could loop in my Director. She said we could if I wanted to and of course I wanted to. So after the discussion the VP called me into her office and asked if I was ok. I said that I was, but she said that she could sense that something was weighing on me. The thing that was weighing on me was the fact that I'm secretly preparing for business school all the while trying to get ahead in the company. It's tough to answer questions posed like "Where do you see yourself in a year?" or "What do you see your futuring being here?" All I want to say to those questions is... "I see myself in business school." and "Well if all works out as planned I won't be here in the future." But obviously I could not say that.

We talked about career succession and what not within the department and she basically left it up for me to decide. (next week I have to go in to her with an ideal job description of a position that I see myself in.) It was just very tough for me to have this conversation with her because I was holding back this major part of my life and I felt like I was holding back a secret from her. Anyway, I could read her face and I could tell that she was frustrated because I couldn't convey what I really wanted. As I went back to my desk I was very very torn with how to proceed.

I wanted to tell her about my business school preparation and plans, but of course I didn't want it to hinder any possible promotions. Couple that with knowing that she wants to see everyone succeed and grow. She always says that and I believe it's truly genuine. She knows that some people won't be at the company for the rest of their lives. Heck she won't even be at the company for the rest of her life.

So after my conversation with the VP I went in to speak with my director to see how she approached the situation. She played both sides of the fence which was great. On one hand she said that she understood the position I was in because I couldn't fully articulate my goals with this huge thing lingering in the background. But then she said that if the VP wasn't open to the idea that it could hold me back.

I weighed my options... and about 15 minutes later I walked into the VP's office and asked her if she had about 10 minutes. My heart was pounding incredibly hard and I basically just laid all my cards out on the table. I said that I was planning on going to business school. She surprised me when she said "I know!" I asked how she knew and she said that she could sense it from all of the classes I was taking. Then I said... so with all of the new people starting and old people leaving you're the only one still here from when I started and I would like to know if you would be able to write me a POSITIVE recommendation. She smiled and said "OF COURSE IT WOULD BE POSITIVE... WHY DID YOU EMPHASIS POSITIVE?" I told her that you're supposed to phrase it that way just in case some people say that they wouldn't be comfortable writing a positive one. (Check out the podcasts on MBA Podcaster on itunes - they speak to this).

Long story short - she's all for me getting my MBA. I said that another reason I asked her this soon was because I wasn't sure when she would be going on maternity leave. She said "Richard... even if I was away I would still write the recommendation for you!" It was a great conversation and a large weight was lifted off my shoulders. She's very supportive. I told her that I felt like I needed to tell her this so that she wouldn't think that I was just frustrated, disinterested, and holding back an announcement like "I've got a new job" or something of that nature. When she said earlier "I feel like you're holding something back", that statement weighed heavily on me.

I also explained to her that one reason I was reluctant to say something was because I didn't want her to think that me having these career progression conversations were a direct result of wanting to go to business school.

I know all of this may seem very premature but I feel that it had to be done and I'm lucky that it's out in the open. I don't think this would work in a lot of circumstances and each one is its own individual case, so please don't jump down my throat and say "YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE THAT".

I can't believe this post is THIS long... thank you to anyone who made it all the way through...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

GMAT Detox

Well hello again everyone! Nice to see you all still alive... so for the past week I have been detoxing my brain. After nearly 4 months of inundating my brain with GMAT material it was phenomenal to take a week off.

It got to the point where my GMAT books where on the floor in my room and I would step on them while going in and out of my room. My friend Brandon kept asking me when I would resume studying and my response would be "When I don't think that I should be studying in my free time!" So what does that mean? Well I don't know if anyone else experienced this but before my exam, if I had free time, I would feel guilty if I was not studying. Well right after my exam there were days when I of course I free time and I would say to myself "you should be studying" when in reality I didn't have to any more.

It's been tough to get out of that mindset. Everyone keeps asking me "so when are you going to take it again?" The answer is... I'm NOT! I'm so over the exam and I've spent so much money preparing for it that I'm done! hahahah just kidding, there's no way I could give up now BECAUSE I've spent so much money preparing for it lmao. I will retake the exam when my last three CAT exams are in the 700 range. As I said before, that's when you are truly ready to tackle the beast.

I wonder how that girl did who thought she could bring in the calculator... hhmm anyway I digress.

So last Friday I met up with Charles aka the GMATNinja for some drinks. I don't know it's always fun for me to discuss GMAT/MBA topics. I can talk about this stuff for hours...and that's exactly what we did. I think we spoke for about 3 hours... we even made fun of Businessweek for ranking Stanford 6th behind Michigan Ross. Don't get me wrong Michigan is a great great school, but does not deserve to be above Stanford in any other regard than being written in a list alpabetically!

Charles had some great advice for me and I took one of his suggestions to heart. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I enrolled in a Financial Accounting course and Statistics course at NYU SCPS (School of Continuing Professional Studies or something of that nature). Charles reminded me that I probably won't be able to study and do well in those two 12 week classes AND prepare properly for the GMAT. I forgot to tell him that I'll also be taking some marketing classes dispersed in there. Each one of those classes would just be over a weekend though, so it's not a big deal. I need to finish my Certificate in Digital Media Marketing!

In any event, I came to the conclusion that taking the classes is great and helpful, but if I don't score well on the GMAT the classes won't matter. Therefore, I need to devote more time to studying for the GMAT. As a result of that conclusion, I dropped my Financial Account course and will probably take it in the Fall instead. In my application I'll just write that I'm taking that class currently.

I'm not going to give a concrete GMAT date, but I'll just say that it'll be in the summer. Things may have gotten a little out of control the last time. I was more wrapped up in the process of studying rather than trying to retain the material.

Ok so enough about that...

Do you guys remember when I visited Dartmouth and I met the other prospective student from Washington, who was out visiting a myriad of schools? Well I still keep in touch with her, and she just took the GMAT on Saturday. She said she had been scoring in the 680 range. Well... when she took her exam she got a 730! How exciting?!?! So happy for her, maybe we'll be at the same school next year!

Another funny thing happened today... So I have a friend who went to MIT undergrad... She lives in the City now with her husband and I haven't heard from either of them in over a year. Not even on Facebook! So after brunch today with friends we walked over to the Dream hotel to go to the rooftop bar. I got stuck in the elevator so my friends were waiting at the top for me. When I got out of the elevator they're staying by the door and I say "why aren't you going up?" They said "you'll see..." So I go up the one flight of stairs and I see that everyone is in khakis and ties and it looks like a private event. So I walk back downstairs and I see a woman walk out of the elevator. She looks very familiar to me to I say Mrs. ______ she turns around and looks at me like "who are you?" I said "it's richard..." and she said "Richard... Battle-Baxter?" and I said yes.. she said "omg how are you? etc etc?" She tells me that my friend Christy was having a graduation party upstairs because she just graduated from Columbia Business School! Then I realize "oh that's why I haven't heard from her". So I go upstairs for a couple minutes and talk to her and her husband... I love the city... it can be very random at times.

In any event, I'm done writing now... and I have to get up at 8 for work. Until next time! Peace out folks

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GMAT Exam - Debrief

Get a drink.... a snack... sit back and enjoy!

So... now that exam day is over and I've had time to take a step back and relax aka get totally wasted on Saturday, I feel that I can purge my brain of the experience. I'm going to swallow my pride here and be very candid with everyone. I hope this can help someone somewhere...

As many of you know I took the MGMAT in-person 9 week class. Prior to taking the class it's recommended that you take a practice CAT. I did this and got a 590. Now let me say that this class is a TON of work. I remember towards the middle of it I had to take a break and not look at any GMAT material because my head was spinning. I won't go too much into my classroom experience because I'm sure it's documented somewhere in my blog... I want to get more into exam day.

The Sunday before my exam I took a practice exam and scored a 520! Yeah that's a terrible blow to the confidence! That was by far my lowest score ever. So then I started freaking out because I got 12 out of 14 SC's correct, but only 4 CR's correct. Up until that point CR had been my strong point so I was at a loss for words. I took monday off of work to study. I ended up sleeping until 1pm but told myself that it would be better to start getting lots of sleep. That night I studied CR and RC - clearly it didn't do me any good. Tuesday -> Friday I didn't do any hardcored studying. I reviewed old exams...

One good thing that I did.. and I think this is clever haha... I generated the MGMAT assessment of all of my CAT exams. I clicked into Verbal... sorted by question type... I wrote down all of the idioms that I had missed since the first CAT exam... I recorded them on my iphone... and played it back to myself while at work... while on the subway... I will never forget that the idiom is "Think of X as Y" amongst others.

So exam day... I woke up at 9:30 and showered and went to the Dartmouth Tuck event @ the Kaplan center. It was great that this event was from 11am-1pm because it kept my mind off of the exam at 4pm. After the event I went home... took another shower - to kill time... reviewed the basics to writing the essays. Did 2 SC's... 2 CR's...a couple geometry problems and random quant problems. I didn't even look at the answers because I didn't want to be discouraged going into the exam. I just wanted to get my brain working again.

It was a nice day outside... and I walked to the testing center. As planned I avoided Times Square! I had my headphones on and I was rocking out to some dance remixes. When I got to Rockefeller center I started feeling nervous. It was very weird because I felt like I was walking to the torture chamber or electric chair. Everyone was walking by my and I was saying to myself "Doesn't anyone realize where I'm going right now and what this exam means?" So I get to 500 5th Avenue and go into a zone. Nothing was going to throw me off once I walked through those doors.

I hand the security guy at the desk downstairs my ID. I walked through the same turnstile and took the same elevator that I took during my dry run. I got into the testing center, which felt like a doctors office and the woman began to give me instructions and told me to read some papers. After that I asked her where the bathroom was and went in. When I got back I sat down to have my picture taken - now this is the funny part... As I'm sitting down having my picture taken, a Woman/Girl must have been about 25/26 comes in with her Longchamp bag slung over her shoulder, huffing and puffing. She starts talkign loudly asking me questions as if I'm the administrator. I just smiled and nodded. Then she asks the administrator what she can bring into the exam with her and the administrator of course said "nothing but your ID and your locker key". The girl said - "I CAN'T EVEN BRING IN MY CALCULATOR?" The look on the administrators face when she said that was absolutely priceless and I will never forget it. I had to laugh when I heard this, because it was just that comical. It was a little refreshing to get in a laugh.

So I took my picture... she did the palm vein scan thingy... and I went to take the exam. I sat away from the door and I didn't have ear plugs I had those huge aviation headphones lol. I kept them on during the essays because people were typing, but I took them off during the Quant section because they were a little cumbersome and I could hear myself breathing lmao.

The essays were intuitive... they were more like a hiccup in the exam. I wrote the intro... 3 examples - one offering a suggestion... and then the conclusion bringing everything together. I used about 3 minutes to set up each essay just jotting down notes...After both essays I took my 8 minute break.

Again here I went into a zone because I had practiced time and time again. I went to the bathroom... got my Gatorade... got my crackers.. and sat down and had a conversation with the administrator. While I was out there another girl came out and just sat down. I'm like "wait.. people don't bring snacks? and something to drink?" I guess we're a rare breed. So I went back in with about 3 minutes to spare... sat down... took a deep breath and said.. "Ok remember to watch the time!"

I did pretty well on time and finished the Quant section with about 1:30 to spare then I took my next break. I had to go to the bathroom again which is rare, but oh well it happens. I got back.. went to my locker.. got my crackers and Gatorade and sat down for about 5 minutes. Then I did some stretching before going back in. I felt very confident about tackling the verbal section. Now let me talk about this verbal section if I may...

I did not think that the questions were anything like the ones I saw in the MGMAT SC guide. I went through that guide about 4 times and thought I had everything nailed down. Considering I got 12/14 correct in my last practice exam I thought I was on track. The two questions I got incorrect were idioms so my SC confidence level was very high. I did see some SC questions with 3/2 splits, but that's not what threw me off. The language was different. I don't even think the SC was anything like the SC in the beginning pages of the OG or the Verbal Review guide. Something was off and it's hard to explain. I think I studied the SC guide TOO much. I studied it so much that the language in the book became second nature and I probably thought I knew more than I did.

The CR and RC sections didn't seem to much different than what I had seen before. It's funny how with RC you can talk yourself into an answer whether it be right or wrong. I got one Resolve the Paradox question in CR and I smiled because I like those for some odd reason. I may not get them all correct but I like seeing them, I'm weird.

So anyway... I finished the verbal with 2 minutes to spare and then had to answer those questions at the end. You know.. address... undergrad institution... blah blah who cares? Then I got to the "do you want to see your score" screen and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I put my hands over my eyes as if I was at a scary movie, which I don't even do anyway, and then I clicked YES. I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest - hands still over eyes. Then I started peeking through my fingers to look at the last two numbers. I knew that if I saw an 80 or 90, then my score would be a 580 or 590. I knew that if I saw a 20 or 30 then I might have been able to end up with a 620 or 630. Unfortunately, I saw an 80 so then I uncovered my eyes and saw the 580.

I looked at my split and wasn't surprised by the 36Q because all in all the questions were too simple. Now you may be thinking "well if they were so simple why did you get them wrong?" well... You know when a question is simple or difficult. There were too many simple questions so I was making stupid errors. I was surprised by my Verbal score of 34. I was devastated more because I haven't seen an increase in my Verbal score even though I was going at that hard. There's no reason why I cannot get 40+ in Verbal. I need it to click before my next exam. I'm willing to do whatever... this is crazy!

Now here are some tips that I would like to address that I've heard but didn't take to heart:

1. When people say that you're ready to take your exam when you've hit your target score on your last 2/3 practice exams. BELIEVE THEM! IT'S TRUE. I should not have been surprised by my score at all. I went into the exam thinking "maybe this time it will be different!" Let me help you out... IT WON'T for most of us... yes there are some anomalies out there, but don't put yourself in that position. I think people who have been scoring maybe 700/710 can surprise themselves with a 720/730 sure... but to everyone out there scoring SUB 600 on their practice exams... I say this with love, learn from my mistake... you will NOT surprise yourself with a 650. No... it won't be different for you... listen to those who have come before you!

2. Writing the essays before practice exams... DO THIS...period! I started doing this towards the end of my studies... it helps with stamina during the exam. I did not feel that the exam was too long because I did this.

3. Do NOT just go through as many books as possible just to go through them. Trust me.. it doesn't help that much. I have all of the MGMAT guides, OG Guide, Verbal Review, Quant Review, PowerScore CR, PowerScore SC, that 350 page Quant PDF, an Algebra Book, and a Geometry Book. I've been through them all and still got a 580. The QUALITY is 100% better than QUANTITY. Unfortunately for me these books have been exhausted and I'm tired of looking at them to be honest haha.

4. Memorize as many idioms as possible. There's nothing worse than encountering a SC problem and narrowing down the answer choices and you see that the only difference between two remaining answers is a stupid idiom. You will beat yourself up over it and spend too much time. Memorize these! I have 3 poster boards on my bedroom wall with Idioms on them. So yes when I'm getting dressed I'm staring at Idioms. I know that "rather than" is more formal than "instead of" ;-) Who wants to sit down an memorize idioms anyway? Just put it on your wall... you'll get it.

5. Something else that I didn't do which I now know is UBER important... you should spend some time... I won't say as much time... but SOME time reviewing the correct answer choices and why they were correct from CAT exams you took. Why? Well... I know when I took CAT exams I would have to guess on some answers...well some of those I inevitably got correct, even though I may not have known the reason. Then when looking at my exams, I would only focus on the questions I got wrong. Well what about the ones I guessed on because I didn't know how to do? At the very least, mark which questions you don't know, so that if you get them right you can still go back to check.

All in all... this exam is beatable and after having experienced the whole thing once... I'm more dedicated to beat it! This 580 will be nothign compared to my next score. Hope this helps at least one person out there... and if you've gotten this far I commend you... sorry I tend to ramble!

- Richard

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The GMAT has not seen the last of me!

580 full debrief tomorrow - off to go drinking now

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 hour and 30 minutes

Hey everyone... I'm still pretty calm. It's a gorgeous day

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Game Day! GMAT Today!!!!

So yes yes I know it's 12am and I'm awake on the day that I'm supposed to take the GMAT.  Did you really think that I would be able to go to bed on time today?  Ha you're joking.  This is the reason I'm glad my exam is at 4pm.

So the real question is...  How am I feeling? I'm feeling confident.  I have my game plan... I've done as much preparation as my body could allow for the last 4 months.  Will I have any regrets tomorrow post-exam?  Not at all, which is exactly where I wanted to be mentally.  I've made some mistakes along the way, but the important part is being able to learn from them.  I'll be able to do just that, so I'm not worried.

I promise no matter what my score is later I will update you even if it's just a post with my score.  I may not post it on BTG if I'm embarrassed, but I owe it to you guys.

Oh btw... did anyone see that Times Square was on lock down again because of another bomb scare?  See!  It's good that I did my dry run trying to avoid it lol... can you imagine if I was walking along to my exam and all of a sudden I'm quarantined inside of a building because of a bomb scare?  Yeah I would be soooo pissed off!

Anyway... I'm going to go for a walk once my iphone charges a bit more... then I'm going ot get my suit ready for the Tuck event at the Kaplan center.

Tomorrow will go just fine if I stay on time with the Quant section!

Wish me luck guys and gals!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Calm b4 the GMAT Storm - 4 DAYS!

So first off... I would like to thank everyone for wishing me good luck on Saturday.  I truly get excited when I check my email and see that I have another post on my blog...keep'em coming!  You guys are definitely helping me through this process!

Kulmiye - your post gave me a slap in the face - much needed i might add.  I need to be confident.  I've realized that I do know what I know.  I know all of the information that will be thrown at me on Saturday regardless of my scores.  Saturday will just come down to me putting it all together.  The ONLY way I'll be able to put the pieces together is by staying calm... I can do this right?  I mean it's just a test with a buncha questions that are worded awkwardly to throw me off?  I just need to see through the matrix.

I did not take the Kaplan exam on Sunday because the moderator guy said that it was not a CAT exam.  I didn't feel that I needed to take 3 hours away from studying, to do a non-cat exam.  So I just did a MGMAT CAT exam instead.  This was the beginning of my short lived depression.  I scored the lowest on this CAT than I had EVER.  The only good thing that came from taking this CAT exam was that I got 12 out of 14 SC corrections right.  I was very thrilled about that.  I proved to myself that I could do SC at the caliber that would be needed to score well on the Verbal section.  Now for the downside.... I think I had been drilling SC so much that I completely underestimated CR, which had been my best section out of all GMAT problems.  Actually that's not true... I have about a 95% hit rate in Geometry, but CR was always one of my highest scoring sections.  Here's a picture of my studying on my deck when I went home this weekend:

I think on that last CAT exam I got 4 CR's correct.  I decided not to read to much into that and just call it an anomaly.  I've realized that I do the best on sections that I'm looking forward too and that I'm calm for.  During one of my MGMAT Cat exams... out of the first 18 questions.. I had 1 sentence correction.  I don't think that will happen on the real exam... at least I hope not... or... maybe I hope so... because I like SC now.  OMG I didn't think the day would ever come where I would say that.  I guess I can say that about the test as a whole... I like trying to figure out the pieces to the puzzle.  Now I see why some people score 750 and try to take the exam again to get 800's.  I don't agree with it... but I can see why they would have that drive.


So I've heard horror stories about people going to the wrong testing center...  not being able to find parking.... etc etc blah blah... so I decided to do a dry run to the test center.  I don't have to worry about parking or anything since I live in NYC.  I'm not even going to take the subway for fear of it breaking down with me on it.  I live in Hells Kitchen (Midtown west(ish)) and my test center is right by Bryant Park.  So on Monday - on my day off.. I was "sick"  ::cough cough::  I decided to time myself and take a walk.

Now I'm sure you guys heard about the bomb scare in Times Square on Saturday.  As a result of the bomb scare I decided to try to avoid Times Square.  Getting blown up on my test date would not be an ideal situation.  So I took a different route and encountered another issue... the issue being.. Mario Lopez filming something... so I had to dig through a crowd of people.  Of course I had to take a picture just to show you guys that I'm not lying.

So I took a couple of pictures and kept it moving...  I got to the Pearson building on 5th avenue and thought... ok that's enough... then I wanted to see what would be required for me to get up to the floor.. all I needed to do was show my ID at the security desk and he said 31st floor.  So I go to the elevator...  go up to the floor... saw the office where I would go... and clocked my time at 35 minutes.  I was walking really slow.  I could easily do that walk in 20 minutes, but I'm not going to be rushing on Saturday.

So that's that... last but not least... and this is my favorite part haha... So last week I got an email from the Kaplan center up the street from me...  Apparently Dartmouth is having an admissions event at the Kaplan Center on Saturday from 11 - 1.  I think it's basically an information session.  I WILL be in attendance.  Yes I know you're asking yourselves "Isn't your exam Saturday?"  Yes it is... So I will wake up around 9:30am... eat breakfast which will probably be Dunkin Donuts - I'm addicted... Then I'll go to this info session until 1... come home... probably go over things like what to do for AWA and stuff like that... then 3:15pm I'll start walking over to the testing center.  

After the exam I will come home... update my blog - MAYBE!  and then I have to hop on a train to go back to Jersey to go out with some friends... either way a drink will be in order.  If you don't see a blog post from me on Saturday you know it didn't go well.  If I do post.. it will just be my score!

OH!  I almost forgot... I'm kinda upset that Avatar isn't rentable on itunes!  I was looking forward to watching that Friday night.  Do you guys have any other ideas?  Nothing serious... 
Copyright © 2012 · museodeartecarrillogil , All rights reserved | Proudly Powered by