Thursday, December 25, 2008


Q. What comes after GMAT and application essays?
A. Interviews!!

Some schools interview all applicants who apply while others screen through the application packages and invite applicants for an interview. All good schools interview admitted students though so if you are aiming for the top 100 schools you will probably have to face the ad com.

Getting an interview invite indicates that the school is interested enough in you for the ad com to invest time and money to interview you. That's great news!

An interview though isn't a make or break deal. Often times, a good interview isn't a guarantee that an admit will be forthcoming. Likewise, if your nerves were all over the place during the interview, don't lose hope! Most of the time, schools look at the entire application package and the competitiveness of the next intake before making a decision.

An MBA admissions interview is like any other job interview. You need to prepare for it and thankfully, the internet is a tome of information for those who are interested in big US and European schools. One very useful resource is ClearAdmit's blog. You can also surf through forums (PagalGuy and GMATClub are very supportive and active communities) and plow through every Google result.

Besides the online resources above, here are some of my observations and strategies:-

  • Prepare yourself for the interview by selecting a few 'experiences' that you have and weave a theme around those experience (e.g. led new team, leadership; restructured IT policies, conflict resolution; etc.)
  • Understand the school's culture. If the school is big on leadership, expect to have some questions. If it's internationalism or diversity, highlight any 'cross cultural' work you've done.
  • Read the school brochure, talk to their marketing people, hit every link on the school's website. The worse thing that you can do is to turn up for the interview and know zilch about the school.
  • Be clear on your goals and why you want to do the MBA now.
  • Prepare a short informal introduction of yourself
  • Be prepared to address any gaps in your application (low undergrad scores, frequent career change etc.)
  • Lastly, stay calm and tell yourself it's a conversation where both parties are mutually engaged.
Oh and if you do want to practice your interviews, you can approach any one of us. That's what GMAT Malaysia is for!

Happy holidays :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Part 1: Tackling Quant Questions

Some members asked me what's "best" way to tackle GMAT quantitative questions. Well, I don't have the "best" answer but I have approached quant questions from different angles during my study and came out with one that suits me. You can give it a try and see if it suits you (always find an approach that you will be comfortable with).

In earlier blog, I wrote about "2-4-6" rule. I am sure someone might have invented this but let's say I gave it a name. Let's recap this rule: 2 minutes per quant question, 4 steps for "easy" question and 6 steps for "hard" question.

Now, we take this rule a few steps further. My approach to quant questions as follow:

1. When you read the stimulus and question stem, immediately take note of the topic(s) and sub-topic(s) you are being tested on. Yes, at times, especially "harder" questions, you are being tested on two or more topics or sub-topics. Therefore, your ability to syntisize the questions and pull them together helps a lot.

You might be asking what I do mean by "topic" or "sub-topic". GMAT Malaysia is using ManhattanGMAT Prep books as our guides; thus, you will find the structures in their books. As you study, you should build into yourself the principles and rules covered in each sub-topic.

2. Once you know what is being tested, immediately you should recall the principles and rules.

3. Now, apply those principles and rules to answer the question stem. Is it about Prime Factorisation? What do I need to know about prime numbers? What are prime numbers?

4. Most of time, the stimulus is in 2-3 sentences. Convert them into algebraic equation(s). This is what GMATters call "rephrasing".

5. Once you do this, you can see what the question is actually asking and at times, the answer just pops right in front of your face.

6. Look for the answer. At times, the answer is in another form e.g. in the form of inequalities. In this case, you think to know the rules of inequalities.

Okay, so much talk, show me the action. Here is one question from Official Guide (11th Edition):

PS Q26: If the quotient a/b is positive, which of the following must be true?

(A) a > 0
(B) b > 0
(C) ab > 0
(D) a-b > 0
(E) a+b > 0

This question is testing you on Positive/Negative Values and Divisibility but the answer choices are given in form of Inequalities.

When you rephrasing this question, value (a/b) being greater than 0. For a/b to be greater than 0, both a and b must be positive or negative. Either one cannot be negative, or the stimulus will not be true (in this case, the stimulus is a/b > 0).

Let's examine each answer choice.

(A) a > 0, but says nothing about b. Not determinable.
(B) b > 0, and like answer choice (A), says nothing about a. Not determinable.
(C) For a * b > 0, a and b must be positive or negative AND neither one can be negative. This is what we are looking for when we analyse the stimulus. Correct
(D) a - b > 0. If a is positive, then b must be smaller than a such that will still result in a - b as a positive number. Or, a can be negative and b can be negative such that the b is greater than a. Too many possibilities, not sure what values a and b could be. Not determinable.
(E) a + b > 0. If both a and b are positive, then this is correct. If a and b are negative, then this is incorrect. Or, either a or b is negative, then it dependable on which value is smaller negative value. Again, not determinable.

What I have done in analyzing and breaking down the stimulus is restating the stimulus into these two conditions:

i. For a/b to be greater than 0, both a and b must be positive or negative.
ii. Either one (a or b) cannot be negative, or the stimulus will not be true

And, answer choice (C) met these two conditions.

Get yourself into this regime and soon you will ace in both problem solving and data sufficiency questions.

Jimmy Low

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Feedback Welcomed

Sorry we don't have a proper guestbook. We appreciate any comments about this blog. Post them here.

Hope to hear from you.

Jimmy, Jin Keat and Soon Chern

Monday, December 8, 2008

3-Year Bachelor Degree Holders, Take Note!

In my recent MBA application experience, I was notified that I was not qualified to apply by virtue of my Australian 3-year bachelor's degree; nevermind that I have 12 years working experience on my back. In fact, some of the US schools require you to complete 4 years of study which they equate to their US 4-year degree.

Many Malaysians completed our twinning (2+1, 1+2) or distance learning/external program (3+0) from Australian, New Zealand or British universities. The Australian and New Zealand bachelor's degree are typically a 3-year study. To do a 4th year, you must do the Honors Year which is by invitation of the faculty. British bachelor's degree are 3-year study with honors.

After this experience, I hope MBA aspirants will take note of their undergraduate degree and particular attention to the admission requirements especially where the international undergraduate degree is concerned.

I have complied a list of Top 10 International and Top 10 US Business Schools based on FT 2008 MBA Ranking:

Business Schools that Accept International 3-Year Bachelor's Degree:
University of Pennsylvania: Wharton [1]
Columbia Business School (case-by-case basis) [2]
Stanford Graduate School of Business (UK bachelor's degree with honors [3])
Northwestern University: Kellogg School of Management [4]
Dartmouth College: Tuck School of Business [5]
New York University: Stern School of Business [8]
Yale School of Management (case-by-case basis) [9]
University of Cambridge: Judge Business School [11]

Business Schools that Do Not Accept International 3-Year Bachelor's Degree:
University of Michigan: Ross School of Business [6]
University of Chicago: Chicago Graduate School of Business [7]

Harvard and MIT do not specify the years of study for your non-US bachelor's degree but they demand excellent academic performance. Please check with the respective admission office.

For other business schools, please write to the Admission Office or check their Frequently Asked Questions. Do not be caught off guard when you are about to submit or finding out after you have submitted.

Best of luck!

Jimmy Low

[3] For Australia/New Zealand bachelor's degree, please write to Stanford Admission Office
[6] Although FAQs stated India 3-year bachelor's degree, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Asia 3-year bachelor's degrees do not qualify for admission to Ross MBA/GMBA.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Great Tool for Self-Awareness!

Hi Everyone,
I had taken the test before I started my MBA program. In fact, the business school arranged it for MBA students. The test had given me an in depth and accurate evaluation.

Personally I think it is worthwhile. It might serve as a good reference for you before deciding which major you want to do for your MBA.

Visit the site and check it out.

They charge USD95.00 for the service.

I hope this tool helps.

All the best to everyone.

Note: If you are interested of the report. You can request to have a glance of mine.

Ewe Chean

GMAT Malaysia Turns One!

Happy Birthday GMAT Malaysia! We turned ONE on 8th December.

I hope this Support Group has been helpful in lending you our GMAT support.

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Applications are Expensive!

So you have picked out your schools, aced your GMAT, condensed twenty odd years of your life into three essays and picked two referees who will fill those recommendation forms with praises.

Now its time to part with some cold hard cash :)

Most MBA applications have an application fee and they are not exactly cheap. If you are applying to a few schools the numbers quickly add up.

Here's how much I paid:-

School A €200 = MYR920
School B USD128 = MYR465
School C USD80 = MYR292

You'll also need to factor in postage and the odd international calls to international schools.

I've used both PosLaju International and FedEx. I think I'll just stick with FedEx in the future as the PosLaju tracking system is useless. FedEx also collects packages so you don't need to go to a drop off center.

For a 3 working day document delivery to Europe/Asia it cost me almost 90 ringgit EACH.

In total, I think I spent almost MYR1.9k just for the applications. This excludes the GMAT preparation materials and test!!

If you are wincing, think about how much you'll be spending for tuition, living expenses and foregone salaries..... :)

p/s There are schools that don't charge application fees. Cambridge's Judge Business School practices a zero application fee policy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving Back What I Received

At the recent GMAT Malaysia Open Day, I shared with those present why Soon Chern, Jin Keat and I organised the Open Day. I always believe in the philosophy of sharing, particularly when it comes to knowledge.

Exactly one year ago, 5 people gathered at the other Starbucks Uptown and Soon Chern, who completed his GMAT, shared with us his experiences. One year later, 2 more guys completed their GMAT - Jin Keat and myself. The wealth of knowledge and experiences from 3 people can be harnessed and shared with others who want to embark on the same journey. While others have paved the road for us, we too should pave the road for others who will follow us. I hope that this coming group will, in a year's time, pave the same road for those who seek their help.

In my earlier blog, A Learning Experience, I shared how teaching others what you learnt can improve your understanding greatly. Stephen R. Covey, in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talked about Habit 6 - Synergize; the whole is greater than the sum of parts. Putting 3 or more heads together in our case, we can learnt from each others' successes as well as failures. Combined with Habit 4 - Think Win Win and Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand Then Be Understood, we create a whole new experience and culture that will attract others.

At my company's leadership symposium last year, I asked our Chairman what was his "biggest" failure as a leader. It took him a while to answer but what he said after that had a huge impact on me. He said, "Jimmy, if I could turn back the clock and be at your age again, I would make the next leader a better leader than myself. We always think about developing ourselves and not the person who is going to take over from us." He went on sharing how he wish he has invested more time in training his managers throughout his career. What he said on that fateful September day continues to linger in my head. I will always cherish his wisdom.

During high school days, I pasted a poster on my room wall that read:

Practice Without Theory is Meaningless,
Theory Without Practice is Blind,
Application Comes from Theory AND Practice.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavour.

Jimmy Low

Sunday, November 30, 2008

GMAT Focus and GMAT Write

In addition to the free GMATPrep Test Preparation software, GMAC now offered 2 more new tools for you to prepare for the test.

GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagonistic Tool
Using real, retired, GMAT questions, the GMAT Focus™ diagnostic evaluates your performance in critical testing categories, provides you with a highly accurate score, and ranks you in relation to previous GMAT examinees.

GMAT Write
This web-based essay writing practice tool offers you real GMAT writing prompts along with feedback on how well your essays demonstrate your ability to think critically and communicate ideas. Each practice essay will be scored in real time with the same automated essay-scoring engine used by the official GMAT exam.

You need to purchase the access rights.

Jimmy Low

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"2-4-6" Rule for Quantitative

When we prepare for GMAT Quant(itative), most of us, if not all, will devise our own "rules" in answering maths questions. Then again, GMAT is pretty mechanical, so to speak. One rule that I find useful and which others will tell you the same is what I call a "2-4-6" rule.

So, what's "2-4-6"? 2 minutes for each Quant question (37 questions over 75 mins, ~2 mins per question), 4 steps for "easy" questions and 6 steps for "hard" questions. Now, what's "easy" and "hard" question? I can't say for sure because it is up to each individual. Some of us have weak spots in certain areas say, geometry but it would be a strong spot for others. "Easy" or "hard" becomes a relative measure. With sufficient practice, your "hard" questions can be "easy".

You must be asking how do I solve an "easy" or a "hard" question in 4 and 6 steps respectively. Well, you need to. 2 mins is not a "long" time. Before you know it, reading and thinking about the question alone will take you the first 30 seconds. Searching for the answer, clicking the radio button and press "Next" will take you the last 30 seconds. That leaves you with ~60 seconds to work out the answer. If you can't do a 4- or 6- step within that 60 seconds, then you know you started on a wrong footing - misinterpreted the question, applied the whole rule(s) or formula, or forgotten the basics.

So, to apply "2-4-6" Rule, it boils down to knowing your fundamentals. As simple as A-B-C.

Jimmy Low

3 New Charters / Study Groups

We had a wonderful Open Day yesterday. A BIG thank you to all the 11 people who turned up, including the 3 mentors who shared their experiences with everyone. From their enthusiasm (and those who could not make it yesterday but still interested in GMAT), we have now formed 3 charters or study groups. Here are the respective charters' arrangement:

Bangsar Charter
Mentor: Jin Keat (jinkeat [at] gmail [dot] com)
Day: Every Saturday
Time: 10AM - 12PM
Venue: Starbucks Bangsar Village, Bangsar

Petaling Jaya Charter
Mentor: Soon Chern (cimdaa [at] gmail [dot] com)
Day: Every Saturday
Time: 1PM - 3PM
Venue: Starbucks Uptown HSBC, Damansara

USJ Charter
Mentor: Jimmy Low (jimmy [dot] gmlow [at] gmail [dot] com)
Day: Every Saturday
Time: 10AM - 12PM
Venue: Starbucks USJ Taipan, USJ 9

Those who are at the vicinity of any of the above charters are invited to contact the respective mentor for study arrangements.

GMAT Malaysia is using the following materials:
- Official Guide for GMAT Review 11th Edition
- Manhattan GMATPrep Strategy Books for Quantitative (5 Books)
- Manhattan GMATPrep Sentence Correction, and
- PowerScore LSAT Logical Reasoning for Critical Reasoning.

Other supplementary materials are up to the respective mentor.

Feel free to contact anyone of us (do carbon copy the other two) if you have any questions.

Jimmy Low

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Confirmation: GMAT Malaysia Open Day is ON!

Dear GMAT and MBA Aspirants,

I am pleased to inform that we have a sizeable group for the GMAT Malaysia Open Day and perhaps to start 3 study groups. Chua Soon Chern, Lai Jin Keat and I will be happy to meet you and discuss GMAT and MBA with you.

The objectives of this Open Day are:
  • To share our GMAT experiences and help you prepare for this test
  • Gauge the interest of this group to organise weekly study sessions
  • Assigning each aspirant a mentor whom you can keep in touch and seek GMAT, MBA or career advice.

To facilitate our discussion that day, you have been divided into 3 group with each of us leading the discussion as well as being the mentor for your group. During the 1 hour breakup session, you will hold discussion with your assigned mentor.

Please bring along any study materials you have and your business card for exchange.

Call anyone of us if you can't find the direction. There are 2 Starbucks in Damansara Uptown. Ours is next to HSBC.

See you this Saturday. For those who have not signed up, please email me so that I can put you in one of the groups.

Jimmy Low
P/S: BYO event. We could smuggle some snacks though.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Deciphering GMAT

GMAT is an interesting yet complex test. It tests your academic ability in quantitative, verbal (not exactly verbal as this means speech) and writing skills. When it tests your ability, it adapts to your ability too. Difficulty or easy is a perception but the test will score you accordingly.

As you should know by now, GMAT starts with 2 Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essays of 30mins each, 75mins Quantitative and 75mins Verbal. Between each major components, an optional 10-min break.

The 3 Components of GMAT

(Color scheme corresponds to color of the Official Guide book, except for AWA)

The above sub-components are self-explanatory and the respective books will elaborate more.

Many of you wonder how the components fit together. As far as Quant and Verbal as concerned, you are tested on different abilities. However, for Verbal and AWA, there is a relationship. This diagram explains the inter-relationship.

See the connections? As you prepare for Verbal (Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning), take note of what you are learning, how each of the sub-topics relates and how you will apply them in AWA and Reading Comprehension. The above inter-relationship is just a guidance. Look into past questions in the Official Guide - Verbal or GMAT Review and observe the common themes and angle of questioning.

While AWA does not affect your Total Score, AWA is still important and should not be taken lightly. How you write and score in AWA tells about the other aspects of you not measured by Quant and Verbal tests. Adcomms can request for your AWA essays and compare with your application essays. Thus, your writing style is revealed and matched.

Jimmy Low

Saturday, November 1, 2008

GMAT Malaysia Open Day - 29 Nov - Starbucks HSBC Uptown

Cimdaa and I are hosting GMAT Malaysia Open Day on 29th November 2pm at Starbucks HSBC Uptown. Those who are interested to learn more about GMAT and MBA options, do join us.

If we have sufficient number, we might form a study group starting in December.

Please confirm your attendance by emailing either me ( or Cimdaa ( your contact details or confirmation.

In the meantime, do not miss the opportunity to visit World MBA Tour - Kuala Lumpur Session at Westin Hotel (opposite Pavillion Kuala Lumpur) on 21st November. The session starts at 5pm.

Update #1:
Looks like we got a good response this round. As of 11:30PM (17Nov), we have 11 confirmed attendees. If we grow to 20 attendees, we might need a new meeting place. Watch out for more updates.

Btw, please bring along your business cards for exchange. Remember, MBA is not just about study; it is about networking and it starts now :D

Update #2:
Get ready your set of questions and there is no such thing as silly questions. Only silly not to ask them :P

We don't mind if you ask the questions we already have answers to in this blog. I like to reinforce some of them as I know they mean a lot to you when you prepare for GMAT.

Update #3:
1 week plus to go and we already have 14 confirmed attendees (as of 19Nov 1:00PM). Looks like I need to rethink the venue. Watch out for updates.

Jimmy Low

Friday, October 31, 2008

Aunty Agony Writes ....

Boys and Girls,

While the two lovely and charming gentlemen take a short break, Aunty Agony is still around to listen to all your worries and queries. I am here even on Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Now ... now ... pour your heart out. Let Aunty hear them .....

Lots of love,
Aunty Agony

P/S: Don't forget to tell those two boys how much you appreciate their efforts in sharing their GMAT experiences here. Give them a little cheer and encouragement. Bye now ....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

World MBA Tour Back in Town This November

World Top MBA is in town again. This year, the Kuala Lumpur leg will be held at The Westin Hotel off Jalan Bukit Bintang (opposite Pavillion KL) on 21st November (Friday). The event starts from 5pm to 9pm. This is your opportunity to meet the admission representatives, faculty members and alumni.

QS World MBA Tour

Participating Business Schools attending the Kuala Lumpur event
Bond University School of Business
Melbourne Business School, The University of Melbourne
Monash University

University of Toronto Joseph L. Rotman School of Management

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, MBA Program

ESSEC Business School - Paris
INSEAD France & Singapore

Europa Institut

HKUST - The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Hong Kong Baptist University, School of Business

Indian School of Business

Nanyang Business School, Singapore
National University of Singapore - Business School
Universitas 21 Global

ESADE Business School
IE Business School
IESE Business School

Cranfield School of Management
Durham Business School
Henley Management College
London School of Business & Finance
Manchester Business School
OU Business School
Oxford Brookes University
TASMAC London School of Business
University of Strathclyde Graduate School of Business
University of Westminster, Westminster Business School

Hult International Business School
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business
University of Michigan Global MBA - East Asia Management Development Center

Register online:

World MBA Tour website:

GPS Coord:
N 3 0 53 65
E 101 42 53 65

Jimmy Low

Saturday, October 25, 2008

GMAC Means Business

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has completed its initial investigation of GMAT test takers using

GMAC canceled the scores of 84 test takers. Twelve had their scores canceled and are suspended from taking the exam for at least three years because they posted live GMAT questions that they saw when they took the GMAT exam on, and 72 had their scores canceled because they wrote messages on Scoretop confirming that they saw items from the Web site on their GMAT exam.

GMAC has also sent notification of the cancellations to the schools to which these test takers sent score reports.


So, take your GMAT seriously. In addition, schools require their MBA candidates to sign a honor code. This honor code establishes a set of values that is expected by a school. You should read and observe their codes throughout your MBA studies - pre-, during and post.

Jimmy Low

Thursday, October 16, 2008

JK's GMAT Debrief

I registered for the GMAT exam on 1st of October. I created my account on, picked the center in PJ and selected a date. You can take the GMAT 6 days a week and there are options for morning appointments (between 8-9am) and afternoon appointments (1pm onwards). The GMAT is a 4 hour exam and you only have two 10 minute breaks in between so make sure you pick the time you think your brain works best. I picked a Monday morning because I was hoping for an empty test center and I know I will feel sleepy in the afternoon right after lunch. Besides, I get fidgety if I have too much time early in the day while waiting for an important exam to start. Once you've set up an appointment, it's time to whip out your credit card and pay for the US$250 exam. Any rescheduling 7 days before the exam will incur an additional US$50 while rescheduling within the 7 days will cost you an additional US$250 so pick wisely!

Now this is probably where I erred... while I started studying for the GMAT in June I did not maintain a disciplined regime. I will hit the books on some weekends, polishing up my rusty maths skills and doing the exercises. Only after I registered for the exam did I really start to study hard for the GMAT and boy did it hurt. This is not a glorified IQ exam. The GMAT is TOUGH! In hindsight, my advice is to take a timed GMAT CAT before you schedule (and pay) for the exam. Manhattan offers a free CAT and its the closest (with the exception of GMATPrep) to the real thing.

You've probably heard this before but I'll say this again. The OG is the BEST example of the type of questions that you will encounter on the GMAT. No other study guides come close to the OG in terms of question prose and difficulty. The other thing I found out is that attempting a timed GMAT exam is completely different from answering questions without the pressure of a timer. Use the GMATPrep software that comes with the registration. Do not skip the AWA in your mock exams. Remember the GMAT is both a test of your intellectual capability, focus and stamina. Trust me, in the real test, you will be tired in the verbal section. I did 2 mock exams on the GMATPrep, one from Manhattan (it's free) and one from Kaplan. If you tried the Kaplan CAT exams, dont' worry about the skewed low scores. I reserved one GMATPrep CAT exam for the day before the exam. I got 650 and 690 on the GMATPrep tests. Not stellar but within the 80th percentile range.

Fast foward to test day. I arrived early at Phileo Damansara I, the test location, and parked in the basement. My advice is to park in Eastin because it cost me 11 bucks in Phileo. I think Eastin operates a 5 bucks per entry system. The test centre is quite pleasant and comfortable. Nice open spaces and bright red sofas. I passed my passport to them and they checked the details againts my record in PearsonVue's database. Your DOB and your name must match exactly. I was then asked to sign on an electronic pad (similar to those credit card machines), pose for a picture, and then place my index finger on the fingerprint reader. I was a little disappointed that the new palm vein recognition sensor was not utilised. It's a really cool technology that scans the distinct vein patterns in an individuals hand and it's faster than the fingerprint reader. (OK I'm a geek)

There were 2 other candidates who will take the GMAT with me (so much for the deserted Monday morning theory...). We were asked to read the terms and conditions and then we were required to place everything (keys, handphone and even coins!) in the locker. You will not be allowed to take anything into the test centre. The test administrator will then give you a laminated writing pad, a marker and some ear plugs. TEST THE MARKER as one of us had a dried up marker. The ear plugs are optional but I had to use it, which leads me to my next point. The test centre doubles up as a learning centre for a host of other courses. I was unlucky enough to have my test scheduled with an ongoing lecture. While the test rooms were quiet and separated from the rest of the office, it is right next to the lounge area and you will have people moving around outside the frosted glass doors.

The test room itself is really small and there are four cubicles. Each with a PC. Above the tables are three CCTV cameras so the entire test is recorded. Room temperature was pleasant. The test administrator will login and start up the GMAT CAT. Before the exam starts, you will go through the introduction cum tutorial screens similar to GMATPrep and you will then be asked to pick 5 schools to which your official GMAT scores will be sent. You do not need to know the institution's GMAT code as the school list is exhaustive. If you do not pick the schools on test day, you will be required to pay US$25 for the official scores to be sent to the MBA schools.

Now to the test itself.. the AWA went pretty ok. It's a good way to warm up before the Quant and Verbal section. I took the 10 minute break after the AWA to freshen up. In the quant section, I struggled a bit. I was hit with loads of DS and number theory problems (more than my prep tests). These were my weak points but I knew I had to soldier on and take the questions one at a time. I paced myself pretty well. The formula I used was to attempt 11-12 questions for Quant and about 13-15 questions every 25 minutes. It's better to break down the test to 3 sections than to limit yourself to 1.5-2 minutes per question. After the quant section, you are given another 10 minute break. Took the break, rested my eyes, freshened myself up again and got myself ready for the Verbal section. Remember to allocate some time for checking in and checking out of the test room. To check in and check out, the test administrator will need to take your finger print. It's pretty quick and painless but 10 minutes is really short so give yourself some allowance for the check in procedure.

The verbal section was quite tough. I was pretty confident about my CR and RC before sitting for the GMAT but the questions I got this time were really tricky and I had to guess for quite a number of the CR and RC questions. SC was pretty much similar to those you'd find in the GMATPrep and OG. By this stage of the test, I was pretty tired and it was difficult to focus on the questions. I will read the questions but I found that I needed to read it 3-4 times to digest it. Many times I had to verbalise the questions just to force myself to stay focus. I finally reached the last question with 2 minutes on the clock. I took as much time as possible and then clicked 'Next'. The ordeal was over :)

I filled up some questionnaires and finally the most important section, the score report. If you were expecting a 700 pointer GMAT debrief, this ain't it. I got a 630. I was quite disappointed frankly as I was hoping for something around 650. I've thought about retaking but upon reflecting, the schools I'm aiming for aren't the typical 700 pointer schools. The GMAT is important but it's not the only criteria. It's going to be a competitive year for business school admit but do not strike out a 'dream school' just because you tanked in the GMAT. Some elite schools have large GMAT spread but other elements of your admission package will need to be superb. Re-taking is another option but be realistic. Two 'low' GMAT exams will only reinforce the fact that the scores are not an anomaly. In the end its up to you.

Ok that's all from me.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Top 10 Business Schools That Are The Toughest to Get Into

Article provided by The Princeton Review
(From MSN Encarta)

You can’t be scared of a little competition, but these schools might give you a reason to sweat it a bit. The Princeton Review examined institutional data at the nation’s best 296 business schools and found that these 10 business schools were the toughest to get into. How competitive admission is at the business schools you’re considering is influenced by a number of factors including the average undergraduate GPA of the entering class, average GMAT score, and the percentage of accepted and matriculated students. You’ll find typical responses from admissions officers in the profiles of each school below. Rankings are listed in order, with No. 1 being the toughest.

1. Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
The top criteria for admission are "intellectual vitality," "demonstrated leadership potential" and "personal qualities and contributions" -- Stanford looks for community leaders, so the "impact [you made] on [your] workplace" matters much more than your job responsibilities. The GSB admissions office says that candidates should not include academic recommendations unless they reflect work experience (as a T.A. or research assistant, for example). Students report a broad range of GMAT scores, with a median of 720 (the GRE is also acceptable in some cases), and a median TOEFL score of 283.

Students who considered Stanford University also looked at Harvard University.

2. Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
A "reputation as the best business program in the country" makes Harvard Business School one of the top prizes in the M.B.A. admissions sweepstakes. Applicants lucky enough to gain admission here rarely decide to go elsewhere. The school’s full-time-only program is relatively large; approximately 900 students enter the program each year. Academic ability, leadership experience and unique personal characteristics all figure prominently into the admissions decision.

Students who considered Harvard University also looked at Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

3. Columbia University (New York)
The admissions department at Columbia notes, "Columbia Business School selects applicants from varied business and other backgrounds who have the potential to become successful global leaders. Their common denominators are a record of achievement, demonstrated leadership and the ability to work as members of a team." The school also reports, "By design, efforts are made to admit students who add different perspectives to the learning experience." Admission to the program is extremely competitive.

Students who considered Columbia University also looked at Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.

University of California -- Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
When looking at applicants to Haas graduate programs, the school considers all of the following in determining admissions status: "demonstration of quantitative ability; quality of work experience, including depth and breadth of responsibilities; opportunities to demonstrate leadership, etc.; strength of letters of recommendation; depth and breadth of extracurricular and community involvement; and strength of short answer and essays, including articulation of clear focus and goals."

Students who considered University of California -- Berkeley also looked at Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of California -- Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania.

5. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
Wharton is among the most selective M.B.A. programs in the country. On average, the school receives between seven and 10 applications for each available slot. The school’s Web site notes that "approximately 75 to 80 percent of all applicants are qualified for admission." Applicants are evaluated holistically by at least three members of the admissions committee. All prior academic experience, including graduate work and certifications, is considered. GMAT scores also figure into the decision. Quality of professional experiences, career choices and stated goals for entering the program are all carefully reviewed. Committee members also look for evidence of leadership, interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial spirit and good citizenship.

Students who considered University of Pennsylvania also looked at Harvard University, Stanford University and Columbia University.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)
Completed applications to the MIT Sloan M.B.A. program include a cover letter, two letters of recommendation, post-secondary transcripts (self-reported prior to interview; if called for an interview, applicants must provide official transcripts), a current résumé, four personal essays, supplemental information and GMAT or GRE scores. The school requires additional materials from applicants to the entrepreneurship program, the leaders for manufacturing program and the biomedical enterprise program. The nature of the program favors candidates with strong quantitative and analytical skills, as well as those with strong personal attributes including leadership, teamwork and ability to make decisions and pursue goals.

Students who considered Massachusetts Institute of Technology also looked at Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Yale University and University of Pennsylvania.

7. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)
The admissions committee at Yale University School of Management seeks accomplished students with highly diverse professional and academic experience. Recently admitted students come from a range of backgrounds, including such unlikely fields as jewelry design, athletics, medicine, nonprofit organizations and the performing arts. The school does not publish any specific admissions standards; however, the class of 2008 had an average GMAT score of 701 and an average college GPA of 3.4.

Students who considered Yale University also looked at Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania.

8. New York University
NYU’s admission’s committee strives to create a business school community that is as vibrant and diverse as New York City itself. In addition to having a strong academic background, Stern students are leaders in a wide range of fields, bringing diverse expertise and experiences to the program. The entering class of 2008 numbers just over 400 and boasts an average undergraduate GPA of 3.4. The class’s average GMAT score was 700, with a range of 640–750.

Students who considered New York University also looked at Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago.

9. University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Applications to the University of Michigan M.B.A. program must include undergraduate transcripts, GMAT test scores (on average, successful applicants score 700), TOEFL test scores (for international students), letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a résumé. The school also looks at an applicant’s record of success, clarity of goals, and management and leadership potential. The program does require previous work experience and, though not required, interviews are "highly recommended." There are many minority recruitment efforts, such as the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, Robert F. Toigo fellowships in finance, the National Society of Hispanic M.B.A.s conference, the National Black M.B.A. conference and many more.

Students who considered University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor also looked at Duke University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.

10. Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.)
Like many other schools, Tuck wants to know that you love it for what it is, not only for what it can do for you; show that you have researched the school thoroughly. The class of 2009 reports an average GPA of 3.5 and GMAT score of 713.

Students who considered Dartmouth College also looked at Columbia University, Harvard University, Northwestern University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.

MSN Link:

Jimmy Low

P/S: Believe in yourself and your potential, and live your MBA Dream!

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Hunting Season, Again!

Guys and gals, are you ready for another hunting season? I hope you got your "hunting license" (GMAT, resume, essays, recommendations) ready 'cos this season's "fowls" are going to be low. Admission Offices (AdComm) worldwide are expecting many applications this year as professionals plan to go back to school.

In my earlier posts, I wrote about choosing b-schools according to ranking and more importantly, according to the specialisation(s) that you want to do. It is now time to narrow down to your last 3 schools - 2 schools which you think you can compete to enter and 1 "safe" school, which you can "easily" (such a thing??) get into. Anyway, whichever schools you want to go to, they (the schools) demand the BEST of you. So, get ready your shotgun, er, I meant pen and give them your best prose.

Good luck.

Jimmy Low

Sunday, September 28, 2008

GMAT Malaysia has its own "Aunty Agony"

Thank you to many of our followers who wrote in to me. I am glad this blog has been helpful to you to some extent. Where me or Soon Chern is able to assist, we do our best.

Taking a lead from the "Aunty Agony" columnists in many weekend dailies, I thought it will be nice that GMAT Malaysia has its own "Aunty Agony" :o) (Btw, "Uncle Agony" doesn't sound catchy nor why would anyone wanna listen to an old fart)

Here is the first letter from Ms. J.

"Dear Aunty Agony,
I'm still struggling with the preparation. I'm already half way thru the GMAT official guide and thought I was ready for it till I took the Prep test :( It felt like a notch higher. Think I'm not grasping the concept well at this short period of time or maybe I need to diagram before answerin but it's time consuming which I could spend on the next question or just do more drill..........."

Hi Ms. J
Aha, you have tried the GMAT Prep. Good. That's give you a realsimulation of what the real GMAT is. So tell me when you think youwent wrong. List them down and do a diagnosis.
From your email, you mentioned abt not grasping the concepts,diagramming and time spent. Let me start with the last one.

Time: Time: You will never have enough. Remember you have max 2mins per quant, 1.5mins per verbal. If you can solve the quant in less than 2mins and less than 6 steps, you better guess and move on. Spending more time/steps will kill yr chances of high quant score. If you spend more, means you did not get the concepts. Go back and reread and practice.

Diagramming: I am a visual person. Diagramming helps me. It shld takeless than 30sec to diagram and fill in key info. The answer may justpop out. Spending 30sec diagramming might be better than spending 1min reading the question n figuring what it is trying to say. I amsure you which is a better use of time.

Concepts: This is the foundation for anything, GMAT or otherwise. So,if you grasp the concepts, then practise until you do. Better tostrengthen yr concepts now than during test. You dont get a chance on exam day.

So, hit the books and get the 3 right. If you are not ready, dont takethe test. It's also about readiness and mental preparedness. Neverrush into getting to B-school. Some takes 2 yrs to prepare for GMATand 3 yrs before applying for the school.

Good luck.

Lots of love,
Aunty Agony

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All the Best in Your MBA Study, Ewe Chean!

Finally, one of the founding members of GMAT Malaysia is going to do his MBA at the University of Hull, UK. Ewe Chean has been instrumental in getting a few of us together and started GMAT Malaysia.

I had lunch with him this afternoon and we talked about GMAT and career. I am glad that he is now pursuing his MBA dream and I wish him all the best and enjoy life there. I almost wanted to whack him when he replied that he will try to enjoy life. WHAT you mean "TRY to enjoy life"? So here is a virtual whack for him *DOOSH* :D

As for me, coming soon :D

Jimmy Low

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TopMBA Career Guide 2008


Dear MBA Aspirants
The latest TopMBA Career Guide is out. Happy reading!

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quiet Study Period

Dear MBA aspirants,

Thanks for your emails on GMAT in general and the study group in particular. The group is presently taking a quiet study period for our own examination preparation.

In the meantime, you may write to me if you need clarifications. Please check this blog for future plans.

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where to Take GMAT in Malaysia?

Since I received many emails on this, I might as well blog it.

All registration, rescheduling and payment are done online via Register yourself if you have not done so. Make sure your information is correct as whatever info you provided will be reflected in your GMAT official score report (yes, you can still change the info even on that test day).

Bookmark this page - All you need to know about GMAT is found here.

There are only 2 test centres in Malaysia:

a. Central Region
Word Ware Distributors SDN BHD (next to Eastin Hotel)
Level 3, Unit 10, Block F Phileo Damansara
1Jalan 16/11, Off Jalan Damansara
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 46350Malaysia
Tel: 603-76652911 (Speak to Willy)

GPS: 3 12 67 N, 101 64 34 E

b. Northern Region
Alpine Reliance (M) Sdn Bhd
1-3-16 Krystal Point Corporate Park,
Jln Tun Dr Awang
Bayan Lepas, 11900Malaysia
Tel: 604-6422333

GMAT schedule:,frameless.htm?action=appointmentSearch&SSLSwitch=1

Those from other states/regions, you will have to fly in/drive/take bus/taxi or cycle to either centre.

The fee per test is US$250. Every rescheduling costs US$50, if done 7 days before the test date; else, another US$250.

Good thing about Malaysian test centres, there are not many takers in a day. On average, there are only 200 test takers in Malaysia in any year compared to 2000+ and only 1 centre in Singapore. You could have the whole room to yourself.

Good luck!

Jimmy Low

Friday, May 2, 2008

New Posting on Data Sufficiency

If you are looking for help on Data Sufficiency, read my updated posting - Data Sufficiency - Sufficient or Not?

Jimmy Low

A Learning Experience

It has been awhile since I blogged on GMAT. Since my last posting, I have received 5 enquiries about GMAT and how the beginners should start preparing for this "ultimate" test. 2 of these enquiries came from my colleagues. My company provides "internal" scholarship to potential leaders to further their education particularly on Master of Business Administration (MBA). I am one of these leaders intending to pursue my MBA next year (2009).

In my Jan 26 posting, I wrote about the resources that GMAT aspirants should have. The faster you get yourself started, the better. Don't waste time if you know what you want - your aim is MBA. GMAT is one of those "things" you must have to get you there.

GMAT Malaysia started by 5 young chaps. We got together one evening and spoke about how we can get together each Saturday and help each other out in our preparation. I am still making myself available every Saturday at our GMAT hangout in Starbucks HBSC Uptown to meet with anyone who interested to know more and study together.

I hold on strongly to this philosophy in whatever I do - "You learnt best when you make someone understand what you learnt" - be it at work, at my curricular activities, or at study. If the other person cannot understand what you are saying or teaching, it means you have not understand it yourself. I find this a powerful concept. I was a tutor during my final undergraduate year and my students came to me and thanked me for making accounting easier to understand. At work, I spent time explaining concepts - finance and technology - to my colleagues and bosses.

As a reward, my teaching strengthens my own learning. When I teach, I am reinforcing my own learning. The questions that my "students" asked help me think on "my feet" and some of my colleagues used to say "you can hear his brain working" *blushed*

Jimmy Low

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hit At Least 40 in Verbal and You Have A Home Run

Sometime back, I blogged about the importance of GMAT and the average GMAT score of the Top 50 USA business schools. Today, as I revisited my GMAT strategy, I discovered that the Verbal section is too important for anyone to miss; especially non-English native students.

(Source: Manhattan GMAT)

To score above 700, your Verbal score must be at least 40/60 and/or your Quant hitting 50/60 to pull your overall score up. No joke! What a pressure to do well.

Jimmy Low

Friday, February 29, 2008

Unravelling the Mystery of GMAT

Mention "GMAT" and many people will ask either "What is that?" or "Geez, that's one tough exam". Here is a video recording from Manhattan GMAT that I found useful in helping GMAT aspirants to understand more about this test especially in strategizing for this big test.
(Source: ManhattanGMAT)

Jimmy Low

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After the GMAT, What's Next?

So you've finished the GMAT - scores the 760 that just makes you glow with pride. What next?

Well, assuming that you've planned to do an MBA, now is the time to narrow down the schools that you intend to apply for in Round 1. You could;

a) select by ranking,
b) select by interest,
c) select by fit - hard to do.

Selecting by Ranking is by far the simplest. Just go to Businessweek or USNews or even Financial Times and look at the top schools. In general the schools will be ranked like

Grade A+: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton (maybe - some people say yes, some people say no)
Grade A: Chicago, MIT, Columbia, Kellogg, Tuck (possibly), INSEAD, LBS
Grade A-: Ross, Duke, Darden, IMD
Grade B+: Yale, Hass, Anderson, Judge (Cambridge - maybe), Said (Oxford - maybe)

rest of the grades = rest of the schools = I know you don't really care.

The Grade A+, A (excepting INSEAD and LBS) and some of the A- offer loans up to the cost of attending the program to international students. Very important, because in Malaysia, our education support for an MBA is absolute crap. It is nearly impossible to get an education loan from any bank in Malaysia (local/foreign) without putting up property as collateral. Yes, they suck. The banks here don't support a higher education. So what are you going to do? You had better get into a Grade A+/A school. No other options if you're planning to finance your education by loans.

Selecting by interest is also pretty fun. In general every top school is damn good at what they do. Except, some schools are better known for certain things - like finance or marketing. A very brief list (I haven't sat down to classify everything) goes a bit like this

Finance: Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, MIT (?)
General Management: Tuck, Harvard, Darden, Ross
Marketing: Kellogg
Entrepreneurship: Haas, Stanford

Again, I might be wrong, but the list goes something like that. But take it with a pinch of salt - because Investment Banks do recruit from Harvard for finance, and Consumer Goods do recruit from Chicago/Wharton for marketing. But it's just saying that the schools are _better_ known for their specialty. So don't say "Oh noes! I'll never work for Coca-Cola if I go to Wharton." because not only could you work for Coca-Cola, but you could also be selling prophylatics for Durex.

Selecting by fit is probably the hardest but the most important (if you can do it). What does it mean? Simply it means will you fit well with the school? Will you be able to hang out at Chicago and like that lifestyle vs. going to Tuck and being in the middle of nowhere? Will you be comfortable checking out chicks at Harvard with the Type-A people (apparently, but i think it's just a rumor) or would you prefer getting warm and fuzzy at Kellogg?

How do you check for fit? Talk to students, talk to alumni, visit the school - picture yourself there. But heck, you're Malaysian, what do you care about true fit? Just get into the best ranked school that you can and be a superstar :) Remember, if you can survive in Malaysia, you can survive in ANY business school! Whoa!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Next GMAT Study Session - 8th March

For those who are interested to join the next study session, we will begin on 8th March at our usual venue - Starbucks HSBC Uptown at 2pm. See my first blog for the location map.

We are using Manhattan GMAT Prep booklets for our revision (We do not endorse any prep materials. If you wish to use other prep materials, by all means, go ahead.)

Week 1 (15 Mar) - Number Properties
Week 2 (22 Mar) - Fractions, Decimals & Percents
Week 3 (29 Mar) - Equations, Inequalities & VICs
Week 4 (5 Apr) - Word Translations
Week 5 (12 Apr) - Geometry
Week 6 (19 Apr) - Sentence Correction
Week 7 (26 Apr) - Critical Reasoning
Week 8 (3 May) - Reading Comprehension
Week 9 (10 May) - Analytical Written Assessment

For those who are using other prep books, please read up according to the above topic to synchronise with the rest of us. You will gain the most if you come prepared with your questions.

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Financial Times 2008 MBA Rankings are Out!

Not only are MBA aspirants nervous about their admission results, the B-schools are too. Annually, Financial Times publishes the global ranking.

And this year's Global Top 10 are (2007 ranking in parentheses):
1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton (1)
2. London Business School (5)
3. Columbia Business School (2)
4. Stanford University GSB (3)
5. Harvard Business School (3)
6. Insead (7)
7. MIT: Sloan (14)
8. IE Business School (11)
9. University of Chicago GSB (6)
10. University of Cambridge: Judge (15)
more ...

USA Top 10 B-Schools (2007 in parentheses) are:
1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton (1)
2. Columbia Business School (3)
3. Stanford University GSB (3)
4. Harvard Business School (3)
5. MIT: Sloan (7)
6. University of Chicago GSB (5)
7. New York University: Stern (6)
8. Dartmouth College: Tuck (7)
9. Yale School of Management (9)
10. Northwestern University: Kellogg (11)
more ...

Talking about competition ..... Whao!

Jimmy Low

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Now, Where Should I Start?

Well, as a first timer like myself, naturally you will want to know what GMAT is. Wiki explains it all. If you want something more official, then go to the "horse-mouth": The Graduate Management Admission Council.

One website that you should not miss is the This is your one-stop centre for anything related to MBA including registering for GMAT in your country.

What books do you need and where to get them in Malaysia? Let's start with the books.

a. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 11th Edition (or the latest) aka OG aka Orange book, in short.

This book is a MUST have. Hey, this book is from the creator of GMAT. How can you not have a copy of over 800+ past years questions? This is your GMAT bible. Make sure you pray to it each night. However, I find that the Math review - refresher on the mathematical concepts and English grammar rather "weak" (my personal opinion). The book did state that it is not mean to be a textbook. So, this means you need other books to supplement your studies.

GMAC also produces the Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review (green book) and the Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review (purple book). For me, the Orange book is suffice.

b. What other supplementary books do you need? There are plenty in the market - Kaplan, Princeton Review, McGraw-Hill, Manhattan, Barron's to name a few. Go to the bookstore and check them out. Compare them and find out which will help you in your revision. Each of us has our own personal preference.

c. GMATPrep Test-Preparation software. This is a simulation of the real GMAT. Download the 26MB file from

Where to get these books? Head for Kinokuniya Bookstore at KLCC. They have a good selection of GMAT materials. The OG books (orange, purple and green) each costs about RM120-RM140. The other supplementary materials are about the same price too.

So, can you afford to buy many books? Maybe not. GMAT is a "costly" affair. Each test will cost you US$250 (or RM825 at exchange rate of RM3.30 to US$). Books and other herbal supplements will easily cost you another RM600-800.

d. Download a stopwatch at

This is a timed exam. During your preparation, you want to pace yourself as you progress and adopt and adapt to the "right" speed of answering questions. Typically, many people will advise you to spend 2 minutes for each quant question and 1 3/4 minutes for each verbal question. I have tested this method and it did not work in my favour. In fact, it created more stress than necessary.

Medium and easy questions can be answered in less than 1 minute while tougher ones will take more. As I progressed, I found that I could complete a set of 31 quant questions within 30-50 mins out of an allocated 62 minutes, while a set of 31 verbal questions can be completed within 35-45 mins out of an allocated 57 mins. The no. of errors I made for each set of questions, on average, are less than 3. Thus, I have found my pace and the stopwatch helps me get into that rhythm. Bear in mind, you have a stopwatch during the real exam. Wall clock or watch does not help.

Now, that you know what you are getting into, be prepared.

Jimmy Low

How Important is GMAT?

Of course it is important. Else, why would you and I stress yourself over it? Despite many b-schools claiming that there is no minimum GMAT score, think about it again. Why would there even be a GMAT if it is not needed? GMAT is a common benchmark to rank our academic ability.

Take a look at the top 50 schools ranked by GMAT.

Look at those above 700 and above. These are your prestigous/elite business schools. They are also your top 10 schools listed in Financial Times, BusinessWeek,, etc. Wherever they are listed, you can bet your last dollar that GMAT is an important criterion. Like some said, "getting a higher GMAT score puts you in the consideration list (besides your application essays, work experiences, curricular activities, leaderships, etc.); a lower one puts you in a disadvantage position."

Check the class profile of the business schools you are considering. Study the GMAT score range, and the mean (or median if there is one). You want to aim at least the mean score or higher. I don't think you want to tip their GMAT scale south by being one of those at a lower range (imagine your future classmates are the higher end ones). Gosh, don't I stress you out enough?

Hey, we all want to be in the best. So, show your best and score high.

Jimmy Low

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ready, Aim, Score .... Know Your GMAT Score Matrix

As I was learning more about GMAT strategy, I came across this website. Manhattan GMAT explains more about GMAT and its scoring system. If you know where you need to be strong in - quant(itative) or verbal, you can basically predict your GMAT score or focus more attention to.

(Source: Manhattan GMAT)

Let's see. To score at least 700, you need to hit 40 out of 60 on quant and 48 out of 60 on verbal. Each question is statistically weighted for its difficulty and being an adaptive test, you need to make you get more questions correct. While each test will be unique, for a 700 score (40 quant and 48 verbal), you should probably (best guess) get 33/37 correct for quant and 36/41 correct for verbal.

Again, while this gives you some leeways for guessing and making errors, you would probably want to put in extra efforts to score higher.

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Data Sufficiency - Sufficient or Not? (Updated)

(Note: Since my last posting on this topic, I have learnt new techniques on answering Data Sufficient questions. Please reread this section for the new knowledge)

The Quantitative (Quant) section is divided into two sub-categories: Problem Solving (PS) and Data Sufficiency (DS). Out of 37 quant questions, about 13/14 questions or 1/3 will be on Data Sufficiency. For most of us, Problem Solving should be easy to score. However, I find DS more challenging:

  1. We have been taught to solve problems, not on whether the information is sufficient to solve a problem; thus, the tendency to spend time and solve it.

  2. We learnt by rote. We memorize workings and through practice, perfect our speed in answering problem solving questions.

Data Sufficiency tests us on the quantitative concepts and principles; the foundation. You are to decide whether the statements — either individually or in combination — provide enough information to answer the question.

(A) If statement 1 alone is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 2 alone is not sufficient.
(B) If statement 2 alone is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 1 alone is not sufficient.
(C) If both statements together are needed to answer the question, but neither statement alone is sufficient.
(D) If either statement by itself is sufficient to answer the question.
(E) If not enough facts are given to answer the question.

Here is a tip that I find helpful and is represented by these two triangle (below)

Now, which to use - AD/BCE or BD/ACE?

A and B refer to Statement (1) only and Statement (2) only respective. Depending on the question stem, which statement is easier to understand? Let's take this example.

Class A and class B took the same test. The average (arithmetic mean) score for class A was 79.5. What was the average score for all the students in both classes?
(1) The average score for class B was 80.5.
(2) Class B had 25 fewer students than class A.

For this question, you need these variables to solve the question:
a. average of Class A (given)
b. average of Class B
c. no. of students of Class A and B or ratio of Class A and B.

Statement (1) only average of Class B is given. Not Sufficient; eliminate A and D.
Statement (2) only does not tell us how many students in Class A and what's the average of Class B. Not Sufficient; eliminate B.
Both Statement (1) and (2) also not sufficient because the missing part is still no. of students in Class A or the ratio of Class A and B students. Eliminate C.

The correct answer is "E" and I took less than 1 minute. By rephrasing the question stem and knowing what information you need, you can play the elimination game. I started with Statement (1); which alone is will not solve the question, thus, immediately eliminate answer A and D. You have increased your chances of finding the right answer from 20% (1 out of 5) to 33% (1 out of 3).

You can also tackle this question starting with Statement (2) as folllows:

Statement (2) does not tell us how many students in Class A and we do not know what is the average of Class B. Not Sufficient; eliminate B and D.
Statement (1) alone does not tell us about no. of students of Class A and B or their ratio. Eliminate A.
Both Statement (1) and (2) also not sufficient because the missing part is still no. of students in Class A or the ratio of Class A and B students. Eliminate C.

Whether you use AD/BCE or BD/ACE, you can still come to the right answer. Then does it matter which one? Well, whichever statement (1) or (2) is "easier" for you to start. If Statement (1) is "easier", then use AD/BCE, use BD/ACE. After some practice, you should be able to master this technique and shave 1 minute from "easy" data sufficiency questions. If half of data sufficiency questions, say 6 questions, are "easy" ones, you have saved 6 minutes which you could use to tackle 2-3 "difficult" questions.

Look at the triangle again and visualize how it works. After a few attempts, you should be able to master this triangle. Draw this triangle at the start of your test and use it whenever you come across DS questions.

Jimmy Low

P/S: As you noticed, I use the quote/unquote marks when I mentioned "easy/easier" and "difficult" questions. What is "easy" for me might be "difficult" for you. It is a question of relative difficulty. But, with a strong foundation and more practice, you can handle them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Young MBA Network

I found this link on Young MBA network in my Facebook group. It's new but give it a try.

If you have Facebook, look for me at

Jimmy Low

Monday, January 21, 2008 B-School Rankings by Specialization

While the likes of BusinessWeek and Financial Times rank B-schools based on broad criteria, I searched and they publish US rankings based on specialization. I hope this helps you in choosing the US B-schools you are interested to apply

Business Specialties: Finance Ranked in 2007
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
University of Chicago
3. New York University (Stern)
Columbia University (NY)
Stanford University (CA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
Harvard University (MA)
Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
University of California–Berkeley (Haas)

Business Specialties: Management Ranked in 2007
Harvard University (MA)
Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
Stanford University (CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)
University of Virginia (Darden)
Duke University (Fuqua) (NC)
University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
Columbia University (NY)

Business Specialties: International Ranked in 2007
Thunderbird (Garvin) (AZ)
University of South Carolina (Moore)
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Columbia University (NY)
Duke University (Fuqua) (NC)
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
Harvard University (MA)
New York University (Stern)
University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
University of California–Berkeley (Haas)

Business Specialties: Marketing Ranked in 2007
Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Duke University (Fuqua) (NC)
Columbia University (NY)
Harvard University (MA)
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
Stanford University (CA)
University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
University of Chicago
10. University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)

I list the top-10 US B-schools for the common specializations/concentrations that by Asians will taken (I presume). If you need the top 11-2o or other specializations, please contact me.

Jimmy Low

BusinessWeek's Business School Rankings & Profiles

Here is a BusinessWeek guide for those who are looking for business schools

Some of us have applied to a few business schools. We can share with you our personal experiences and expectations. While whatever we share with you is based on personal experiences, we recommend you to speak to the Admission Director for a formal reply or the school alums or current student(s).

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" - Derek Bok

Jimmy Low

Sunday, January 20, 2008

GMAT - GrandMother of All Tests

I have reached a point in my career where getting an MBA - in my case, I want a reputable US MBA - will bring me on my next career wave. Getting into top 10-20 business schools is my immediate aim. Most business schools require GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) as part of their admission criteria. For those top 10-20 schools, we are talking about a score of least 700 out of 800.

It takes a strong will and discipline to prepare for GMAT. I have been revising for the past 2 months and I must say this test is like no other tests I have taken before. Having not done maths for 16 years (I thought that that was the last time I would ever touch Pythagorean theorem and wonder what the heck is "parallelogram"), it is back to school again. I have devoted at least 2 hours most nights (since I am pretty exhausted from work). Being in the telecommunications industry is no help either as this industry, to me, is the most dynamic industry to be in. You grow white hairs faster by being in the industry than anywhere else (ask Dato' Jamaluddin Ibrahim). Spending time revising for GMAT gives me an opportunity to get back to books and be ready for first year MBA.

In the process of preparing for GMAT, I learnt many new things from the quantitative and verbal sections. No calculator is allowed for quantitative section. When was the last time you did not use a calculator? This little gadget is part of your working life that the gadget is never far away from us. Even our handphone has calculator function. Without a calculator, the quantitative test "forces" you to work with pen/pencil and paper, and solve the problem quickly. Our brain needs this kind of sharpening sometimes. Also, it "forces" you to see the problem from a different angle and deduce an answer quickly. I have applied this at work and I am pleased that I can now solve problems in a much quicker and "out-of-the-box" approach.

The verbal section covers reading comprehension, critical reasons and sentence correction. I like all three. When I read and prepare proposals, I am more selective in my choice of words and express myself with greater clarity. As a manager in the COO's Office, I attend many presentations and as l listen, I begining to question the assumptions and each statement made. What's the presenter trying to say? What is he implying? As I start thinking what was said and the hidden message, I sharpen my listening skill and thought process. This puts you at a different level. Sentence correction is about correctness, concision and clarity. Whenever I write, I am mindful of 3c's.

While the GMAT journey may be tough, and not many choose this path, I am glad I took that first step. It prepares you for a different experience. I would recommend managers to take them even though they may not pursue an MBA immediately. After all, the GMAT result is valid for 5 years. You won't regret doing it.

For me, it is the ultimate test - the GrandMother of All Tests.

Jimmy Low

GMATPrep Installation

We all know how important the GMATPrep is. After all, it's the only official question prep from the GMAC. Unfortunately, you can only take the test twice - that is, until you reset the program. And how do you do that? Easily apparently. This information was taken from

Original post


I've actually found a much easier way to get past the GMAT install issue.

All you have to do is go to: C:\Program Files\GMATPrep\exams

make a folder in there called old_exams_set1

Copy in:
practice test1.log
practice test1.xact
practice test2.log
practice test2.xact

These files only exist if you took the exams... put them in old_exams_set1

Then just go back to C:\Program Files\GMATPrep\exams and delete

practice test1.log
practice test1.xact
practice test2.log
practice test2.xact

Now the software is "reset" and doesnt know you've taken the exams.