# Week 2- Quantitative Section Studying: Where’s the Calculator?

Last week, I kicked off my 8 week GMAT journey with some tips on registering for the test and getting your study schedule planned out. For Week 2, it was time to dig in and start studying full force!

I began with a quick glance through the my prep book and then took one of the in-book practice tests. If you need a hit to your confidence, this is the way to start! Besides being perplexed and wrong on many answers throughout the test, jumping right into a practice round was a great introduction. Rather than reading about the format of the questions and the content of the test, I could see for myself what a typical test included. The practice run gave me a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses, and thus gave me a road map for my study strategy.

From the initial practice test, I found that my weakest area was the Quantitative portion of the test. I decided to focus my initial attention for the next 2-3 weeks on this part of the test, adding more time if needed.

In talking with applicants about the Quant section, I try to warn people that they are not able to use a calculator on this portion of the test. That point never quite hit home until I started doing the math myself. Though the test writers keep the numbers fairly small and manageable without a calculator, I never quite realized how much I rely on mine for basic math. My speed calculations are going to have to improve over the next few weeks, as well as my memorization of formulas and arithmetic rules. It’s amazing how fast those skills go when you’re not using them every day!

As I’m working through the prep book and example questions for the math section, there are a few tools that have been pretty helpful:

• Error Log: What do the following have in common? Nested functions, Rules of Radicals, Combinations and Probability, Combined Work Formula, Mixture Problems…?  They’re all topics that have tricked me thus far on the GMAT. I keep a fairly detailed record of the questions I miss in the practice problems, or the topics that I can’t even remember learning about (did I miss a whole month of math in high school?) This is called an “Error Log” and it’s a recommended tool to refer to as you study and prepare. Some people keep a detailed spreadsheet with analysis of every question they get wrong. For me, I simply keep a running list in the back of my prep book, with page numbers and what I did wrong for each problem. I plan to look back on this, especially in the final “crunch time” days, to make sure I don’t repeat errors on my test day. Always remember to learn from your mistakes!
• Daily GMAT Problem: Yes, there are some days where I might not get to my studying until late at night, or maybe not even at all that day (I’ll make it up- promise!) But every day, the least I can do is answer one GMAT question. I signed up for Beat the GMAT’s Daily Math Question (Verbal Questions are also available for my later studying) that gets e-mailed to me every morning. Whether it’s staying an extra 5 minutes after work or completing the question on my lunch break, I make sure I answer the question every day. Some days it’s a confidence boost to know the answer, but other days, I learn something new. Either way, it’s a good way to fit the GMAT into your day.
• Quantitative Formula Sheets: Quick- what’s the equation for the area of a trapezoid? 2 weeks ago, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Now, it’s one more formula that I’ve started to memorize. And there’s no way around it… you have to memorize them. For me, seeing all the formulas in one condensed place is more convenient than hunting through a giant book. Also, this way, I can slip a sheet into my purse and memorize when I have 5 minutes free. While you can certainly make your own “cheat sheet” or buy a pre-made version, there are plenty of free online versions also. One of my favorites comes from PlatinumGMAT, but there are also many options on the GMATClub Forums if you look around.

I’m going to keep chipping away at these math problems, but let me know if you have another tip for the Quant section!

And PS- the area of a trapezoid is , in case you needed to know.

Four simple letters- one big test. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) seems to strike fear in the hearts of many TMMBA applicants. While I am very familiar with the test, I will admit:  I’ve never taken the GMAT myself. That’s all about to change though. My intent is to put myself in your shoes, and see the GMAT from a test-taker’s perspective. Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be blogging about my experience with the test from start to finish- passing along my tips and thoughts during the process. My hope is that with a look inside the GMAT, TMMBA applicants will see that while the test is a big task, it may not be as bad as you think.

In a survey of our TMMBA Class of 2014, 36% of students reported spending 1-2 months studying for their GMAT. Consequently, I have scheduled my test for end of July, giving me just under two months to study. To simulate the experiences that many of our students go through, I’ll be studying during non-work hours, and using many of the study techniques that we recommend at TMMBA.

My dad used to tell me that the greatest time wasted is the time it takes to get started. So far, I feel like this is extremely true with the GMAT. Once I finally got up the nerve to schedule my date for the test and get my study materials in order, it felt like I was ready to go. Here’s what I did to get the ball rolling:

1. Schedule the test.  Just do it! This first step is crucial since it helps you determine your study timeline. Also, there’s something about committing to a test date that gets you motivated to crack open those books.

I recommend evaluating your calendar of work and personal commitments as well as taking a look at the deadlines that you’re trying to meet. For example, with the TMMBA final deadline on September 1, many of our students take their GMAT in late July or August. Remember that dates fill up quickly- especially for weekend tests. There are two testing centers in the Seattle area (one by Northgate, one in Renton) and they administer tests every day of the week, with different time options.

To register, I logged onto MBA.com and clicked the link to “Register Today.” After creating my GMAT profile, it was easy to schedule an appointment based on their calendar of availability. A word of caution: make sure you’re ready to commit to your date, since you pay \$250 to schedule, and you are not able to cancel or change dates without additional fees.

2. Get your study materials. GMAT studying usually happens one of two ways-  self study or private coaching/prep courses. Either way can be effective, but it depends on many factors, like time, money, and the level of help that you need. For TMMBA students, 88% of our current class chose the self-study option, and I intend to go that route as well.

To begin, I researched various GMAT prep books. Our students recommend the Official GMAT Guide, Kaplan, The Manhattan Guide, and the Princeton Review among their top choices. Whichever publisher you choose, here are a few things that I was looking for:

• Make sure your book(s) cover all 4 GMAT test parts – Quantitative, Verbal, Analytical Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning. The Integrated Reasoning portion of the test was released in June 2012, so make sure you have an updated version (especially of concern if you’re buying used copies or borrowing from the library).
• Look for practice tests- both online and in the book. Some of the best books I found included as many as 8 full-length practice tests online. Make sure there are plenty of questions available for you to work through.
• Evaluate options for digital books/materials – the book I finally settled on came with an IPad version to download. Really helpful when you don’t feel like carrying a 1,000 page book around with you for 2 months.

Also note that when you register for your GMAT, you will be able to access introductory software that contains practice questions and tests as well. It’s a great resource, though you may find you need an additional book or two as well.

3. Determine a study plan. Now- I had the book, I had the test date- time for a plan. Most coaches and GMAT blogs will always recommend coming up with a study plan, and I agree. I needed a consistent schedule that I could commit to and plan around. With my test date scheduled, I worked backwards from that date and came up with a rough outline of my study schedule (at right). Note that for me, 72 hrs seemed to be a realistic goal in terms of time commitment and the score I was aiming for. This total hours number will be different for everyone. Just be sure to have a goal and plan accordingly (then stick to it!)

With those three steps taken care of, I’m well on my way to some (hopefully) successful studying. Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks about study strategies, tips, and best practices.

Are you a prospective student studying for the GMAT? Write a comment and let us know what your approach is!

# 5 Tips for your TMMBA Essays

Tina Bassir, TMMBA Associate Director

Are you suffering from writer’s block? Are you staring at a blank sheet of paper (or blank screen) and wondering where to start? As part of the TMMBA application, you are required to submit three essays. In 500 words or less, you need to answer each question below:

1. Why have you decided to apply to the TMMBA Program? What are your career goals in the next 5 to 10 years and how will an MBA help you reach these goals?
2. In essay format, evaluate and describe your career using the four factors of the SWOT analysis framework.
3. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity or potential? Describe the situation and the impact you had on a person, group or organization.

So, where should you begin? Here are 5 tips to help you get started and refine your essays.

• Shift your approach. Don’t think about writing the “right” answer. When it comes to the essays, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. We are looking for you to give a thoughtful response, and it will be different response for each individual. Be genuine.
• Write a draft then take a walk. Or at least walk away and take a break. Give yourself time to work on the essays over a period of several days.
• Proofread. The content of your essay is important. So are spelling, grammar and punctuation. Be sure to proofread your essays before you submit them.
• Answer the questions being asked. While this may sound obvious, sometimes when you start writing, one thought may lead to another thought and so on until you are actually answering a completely different question than what was asked. Specifically, on the third essay, be sure to answer the second part of the question (describe the situation and the impact)
• Ask a trusted friend or coworker to provide feedback. Once you feel your essays are nearly ready to upload to the TMMBA Program, solicit feedback from a trusted friend.

For more advice – check out this blog post by TMMBA Director, Tracy Gojdics as she explains the SWOT analysis essay.

# Apply by June 1 for Extra Benefits

Tina Bassir, TMMBA Associate Director

There are three great reasons to apply to the TMMBA Program by June 1st. First, we will reduce the \$1500 acceptance deposit by 50%. Second, you get to select your class day – choose between the Monday or the Wednesday section. (more about the class schedule) And third, start participating in TMMBA events and activities. From career services to guest speaker events, there are many options to expand your thinking and start building relationships with others in the TMMBA network.

Don’t forget, we are here to help. We host Application Workshops every month, and we’re available to meet for an individual conversation to answer your questions about the admissions process. (View Application Requirements)

# Welcome to the newest class – TMMBA Class 13!

• Take the GMAT –
• Submit application to TMMBA, UW Foster School  –
• Sign acceptance paperwork –
• Meet my new classmates and study group (TMMBA Welcome Reception) –
• Begin classes!! – Nov 26

Earlier this week, a group of 72 students came together to meet each for the first time. This is the beginning of a journey that will include 18 months of classes and continue with a lifetime of relationships, resources and new knowledge for solving business problems. The Welcome Reception is the first event for the new class; followed by TMMBA Immersion Week starting on Nov 26. After this intense week of classes and program information, students will pick up classes again with the regular schedule in January. (one evening per week and every other Saturday)

Students in the new class (Class 13) represent a diverse range of work experience, backgrounds and companies (listed below).

 Accenture Airbiquity, Inc. Amazon.com BE Aerospace Best Buy Buildingi Canyon Creek Cepheid Classmates Online, Inc. Clearwire Cray, Inc. EMC Corporation Ericsson Corporation Expedia FedEx Gagenau Genie Industries HTC Corporation IBM Corporation Kessler CPA & Consulting Labinal, Inc. Microsoft Corporation Milgard Manufacturing Moxie Software NAES Corporation NCSoft Corporation Nokia Paccar Inc Profusa RealNetworks Player Robinson Construction Co Stoller Consulting Terex The Boeing Company The Walt Disney Company ThyssenKrupp Aerospace T-Mobile USA University of Washington US Marine Corps UTC Aerospace Systems Varolii Corporation Vertafore VMWare Corporation Woodinville Fire & Rescue

# Monday Myths: Part III

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

It’s the Monday you’ve all been waiting for- our final Mythbuster post of this series. Our first Monday Mythbuster post covered GMAT Scores and when to submit your application, while last Monday’s post tackled misconceptions about managerial experience and letters of recommendation. To wrap it all up, I’ve got three more TMMBA Myths for you- right in time for our September 1 final application deadline. If you’re still thinking about applying, we look forward to reviewing your application. Waiting for next year? That’s fine too- hopefully these myths help you get to the bottom of the application process.

## “ [ (GMAT x 3) + (50 – Work Experience) + (Recommendations/2 + GPA) ] / 3.333”

Truth: That equation above is not our formula – and you won’t find one here at TMMBA. We don’t believe in complicated ranking scales and unintelligible formulas to choose an incoming class. Admission is not a science. There are too many obscure, qualitative, immeasurable aspects to arrive at a simple number. Besides, if we could do that, wouldn’t the Admissions team just be replaced by automated computing systems?

Bottom Line: Prospective students aren’t reduced to simple stats during the application process. Every application is different, and has different strengths and weakness which are not explained by numbers and formulaic criteria. The TMMBA selection process is holistic, and based on a variety of factors.

## English Majors need not apply

Truth: Who is going to write the papers if we don’t admit English majors?   We’ve had students who have studied English, History, Communications, Archaeology, Theatre & Film and over 15 other major fields of study.  Varied educational backgrounds enrich the class as a whole, and we strive for diversity with every class we admit.

Bottom Line: One certain major won’t prevent you from getting into the program. Rather, it is your performance while obtaining that major, and what you’ve done with your degree, that will truly influence your admissions decision.

Truth: Not so- there’s a large interpersonal component that doesn’t come through in your paper application. We spend time to meet with prospective students for a reason! Your interviewer is paying close attention to your interpersonal skills, the answers to your questions, your ability to explain your achievements, and much more. TMMBA is a very personal MBA program- and the interview is a critical, personalized aspect to compliment your application.

Bottom Line: Put your best foot forward in your interview. It’s an essential component to a strong application and admittance into the program.

And with that, it’s time to put the myth-busting to rest for a while. I hope these past few Mondays have given you some insight into the “truth” about TMMBA admissions. Don’t forget: if you ever have a question about the Admission process- or anything TMMBA for that matter- feel free to send us an email (tmmba@uw.edu) or give us a call (206.221.6914). We’re always here to straighten out the truth.

# Monday Myths: Part II

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Happy Monday Mythbusters! Today we tackle two more common TMMBA Myths- one regarding leadership experience, and the other about the letters of recommendation. Take a look at last week’s Myth #s 1 and 2 for even more myth de-bunking. As always, leave us a comment or e-mail (tmmba@uw.edu) if you have any myths you need solving.

Truth: While it may seem contradictory, formal management experience is not required for admission into TMMBA. To us, applying for your MBA signals a desire to gain the tools necessary for effective leadership. We do strongly encourage showing examples of leadership in your application; whether it is in your career, in a volunteer capacity or in other areas. As criteria for admission, we look at leadership potential and the motivation to develop these skills.

Bottom Line: You may not have the title or the legions of direct reports, but that’s not a problem for your TMMBA application. Getting your MBA means you’re working towards becoming a leader- show us your potential in the TMMBA application.

## Getting a CEO to write my letter of recommendation means a lot more than a lower level manager.

Truth: There’s no checkbox that we mark for “esteemed status” when we see your recommender’s name and title. We only require a recommendation from your current supervisor and a professional reference. To the admissions team, status and title don’t matter as much as quality of the recommendation. It’s not who you know- but who really knows YOU. We’d rather have Joe Smith- your colleague for seven years- write a thorough and detailed recommendation than a short, vague statement by Jeff Bezos.

Bottom Line: Don’t get hung up on the name and title of your recommender. Select someone who will give the most comprehensive insight about you as an applicant.

Still have questions about the application process? Take a look at the Application Requirements for more information. See you next week when we straighten out two more common admissions myths!

# Monday Myths: Part I

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Who doesn’t love to start their Monday with a little myth de-bunking? At TMMBA, we want to help applicants get beyond the rumors and misconceptions to help them submit their best application. Over the next few Mondays, I will be posting some of the most frequent myths that we hear from applicants and prospective students, and in response-  the TMMBA truth.

## A perfect GMAT score guarantees I’m in.

Truth: Achieving the “holy grail” of an 800 (or even a 750-790) GMAT score doesn’t guarantee you anything, besides maybe bragging rights around your cubicle.  While the GMAT is a required portion of the application, the admissions team uses that number in conjunction with many other factors to determine if a student should be admitted. For TMMBA, we’re looking for more than just numbers and off-the-charts intellectual ability. It’s also important that you are well rounded both professionally and personally- showing the ability to interact with others, contribute to your class, and handle the rigors of the program.

Bottom Line: The GMAT is one component of the holistic selection process for TMMBA. A perfect score doesn’t give us any information about your interpersonal skills, leadership ability, or professional experience.

## I have to wait until my entire application is completed online before hitting “submit”.

Truth: You can submit your application anytime that you have filled out your online profile, uploaded your resume and essays, and designated your recommenders. In fact, by submitting with an incomplete application, it helps us to keep in touch with you and get your application processed faster, once complete.

Bottom Line: If you’re waiting on your GMAT, recommendations, or an English proficiency test, click submit anyway! That way, we can get your file in order so it’s ready to be evaluated as soon as your final component is in.

Stay with us Mythbusters- next Monday we’ll tackle two more myths on our road to the TMMBA truth. In the meantime, let us know what questions you may have regarding TMMBA misconceptions. We’ll do our best to get the truth out there!

# The SWOT analysis essay and the four questions we are (really) asking – Tracy Gojdics, Director & Class of 2007

One of the application essay questions asks applicants to analyze their career using the SWOT technique.   As a student you’ll become quite comfortable with SWOT analyses, but as an applicant it can be a bit confusing.  The information below is provided to help you as you think about to write for this required essay question.   We’ve taken the S, W, O and T and translated them to the four questions we are really asking.   I hope this helps as you contemplate your essay.   Upon completion you’ll not only feel better about having the essay done, but you’ll have a great career analysis to boot!

You will want to convey what you think your 3-5 competitive advantages/strengths are in thinking about your career and where it is today.  Be sure to explain each.

Ex:  I am a skillful negotiator.  I have negotiated numerous important contracts for my organization, which have resulted in lower costs and increased services from our vendor partners.   While negotiating contracts is part of my job, it is also something I enjoy doing and have mentored others in my organization through the negotiating process.

2.   W = your weaknesses.  Your weaknesses = What do you need to improve?

The admissions committee isn’t looking at your “weaknesses” so much as they are looking for whether or not you know what you need to improve as it relates to your career.   You should discuss 3-5 areas for improvement.

Ex:   I’m not a strong public speaker.   Giving presentations is something that I have been working on for the past year as I am sometimes asked to give presentations to various groups.  I get very nervous and am not super comfortable presenting, but recognizing this I have enrolled in a corporate class on giving better presentations.

Unlike strengths or weaknesses, opportunities come from your external environment. You might think that “getting an MBA” is the answer we are looking for, but you’d be wrong.  Advancing your career means being proactive.  How are you being proactive with your career?  Discuss 3-5 things you are doing or could do to enhance or advance your career.

Ex:  Attend targeted association meetings.   Because I am interested in Product Management I have attended several speaker events and workshops through the Product Management Consortium.  Attending these events has also broadened my professional network.

4.  T = Threats.   Threats = what could derail your career?

Just as with opportunities, threats come from your external environment.   The economy may always be a threat, but how is it a threat?  What else might be a threat?  Think about your product or service, your competitors, your customers, the global landscape or your industry as a whole.  These are just a few ideas to help get you started.  List and discuss 3-5 things that have or could derail your career.

Ex:   Our customers decide to go with another provider.  As budgets get tighter and margins begin to shrink, many of our corporate customers are talking with multiple vendors and are no longer willing to stay with our company just because that is what they have been doing.   The competition is fierce and losing customers would mean deep cuts to our organization and my unit in particular.

# Dinner and discussion and classes… oh my!

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Last Tuesday’s “Taste of TMMBA” was a busy night for prospective students here at the Eastside Executive Center in Kirkland.  With an agenda that mimicked a typical class night, prospective students were able to try their hand as a TMMBA student for an evening. Their “test-drive” of TMMBA included:

Dinner and Discussion: In the dining hall, both current and prospective students could be found enjoying a dinner conversation that was animated and boisterous. We hope it was also informative- we encourage those thinking about TMMBA to speak with students and alums. Their wealth of expertise and TMMBA experiences is invaluable for those making a decision about the program.

Class 1: Taste of TMMBA attendees were treated to a crash-course in Finance with Professor Lance Young. Using an example involving Google stock, prospective students learned about Valuation, Net Present Value, and more.

Class 2: Perennial faculty favorite Pat Bettin whetted students’ appetites for “Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness.” Speaking about transformational leadership and the correlation between job performance and job satisfaction, Pat presented thought provoking material with many great take-aways.

Opportunity to meet other prospective students: Taste of TMMBA welcomed not only prospective applicants, but also a handful of newly admitted TMMBA students. Handshakes and business cards were exchanged as some students met their classmates for the next 18 months. Especially for those still considering the program, it was a chance to see who they would be interacting with if they became part of next year’s cohort.

If you’re looking to get a similar “taste” of TMMBA, I encourage you to visit a class, where you will be paired with a student host for the night. You still get to enjoy dinner, sit in a class, and interact with current students. Dates are available through August.

Thanks to all who participated in Taste of TMMBA on Tuesday. Current students, prospective students, faculty and staff- you all helped to make it a fun and informative event!