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