All posts by erw

Preparing for the GMAT

Erin Aselas, Class 9

Don’t worry. Like me, many of my fellow students in “Class 9″ hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom for several years, much less subjected themselves (ignore the passive voice) to standardized testing. When I decided to take the GMAT in summer of ’08 I had not taken a math class since 1994. I had forgotten nearly everything and had to “relearn” math. Fortunately, with the GMAT there is a limit to what you “have to know” and you can study just that.

Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for a KAPLAN diagnostic/information session and take a practice exam. This introduction class is a free and you will leave it with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. There are KAPLAN education centers around town including the U district.
  2. Make a plan to study. Either take a KAPLAN review course or get books to self study. I wanted to take a class, but I didn’t give myself enough time. I had to take the exam in three weeks, so I relied on several GMAT books.
  3. Schedule the exam before you start to study. Force your hand. If you have a deadline looming you are much more likely to stay on a straight and narrow path.
  4. Take practice exams (essays and all) at least 4 times (I think GMAC offers two free CAT exams online when you sign up for the exam. I’d take one of those first and one last becasue they are the best). Simulate the exam exactly how you will take it at the center. So honor the time restraints, take breaks only at the scheduled times, etc. Also try to take the exam on the computer versus on paper. Take your practice exams at the same time of day that you will take it at the center.
  5. Focus on your weaknesses, but do not forget about your strengths. You need practice with both. I focused on the math about twice as much as the verbal, but I still did study the verbal despite early indications that I would do fine on that section.
  6. Make flash cards. I know it’s old school but they work.

Info on books/programs I liked/used:

  • Kaplan’s GMAT book and CD-ROM was decent, but the simulated tests were about 100 points harder than the actual test. Which was a bit startling the first time I took it. So keep that in mind, if your Kaplan exam results are below your GMAC practice exam scores then it just may be Kaplan and not you. The GMAC practice exam is a good predictor of performance.

Don’t worry, I did it in three weeks having no working memory of mathematics. You can do it too!

Complexity and simplicity — all at the same time

Erin Aselas, TMMBA Student

Last Saturday was the first day of the second quarter. As usual we had two classes and I was struck by the polar opposite lessons I learned in each class.

In the first class, I was awed by how complicated global economics can be and how it really takes a formal education to start to even scratch the surface of understanding it. I kept thinking how my family loves to debate the economy and identify who’s to blame for today’s crisis, where it all began, etc. But now I know it is not that simple. In fact, I don’t even know why the lay person even tries to understand the economy — the cable news networks dumb it down so much that they just make you feel like you know what’s going on, but you really don’t. We talked about 57 (OK I’m probably exaggerating) different economic indicators and how they all tell a slightly different story. It was so complex and humbling.

My second class was corporate finance. Now here I had the opposite experience. I used to think that financial reports were so complex that you would need a ton of expertise to even begin to figure out what is going on with a company’s financial situation. However, I have learned that in the course of a quarter I can really start to take a look “under the hood” of a company and really “get” what is happening. It is all coming together and at times seems pretty simple. If you just learn the tools to analysis, you can apply it to most financial situations and glean valuable info. It’s pretty exciting that in three short months I am already experiencing “break-throughs.” Which I think is saying a lot considering my liberal arts background.

Why I chose the UW TMMBA program

Erin Aselas, TMMBA Student

I have to admit my decision was not exactly calculated, but rather more a result of a gut-check. I went to the open houses and attended some classes at the other local MBA programs, but the UW TMMBA program seemed to resonate with me the most. I think although I am on periphery of technology, I was drawn to this program because I tend to enjoy the personality and the curious nature of technology professionals.

As a prospective student, I sat in on a class. I think it was managerial accounting (which to me was great, however probably not everyone else’s first pick). Anyway, I was impressed with the program, the faculty, the classroom discussion and the individual students in the classroom – pretty much everything. I highly recommend sitting in on a class so you can check things out first hand. This program is not only a large financial commitment but a huge time commitment. Make sure this is right for you – if it is, you’ll love it. (OK “love” is a strong word especially as I just coming off finals, but…you know what I mean.)