Tag Archives: Advice

Ally AttackED the GMAT: Mission Accomplished

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I hit “submit” on my final GMAT question last Friday afternoon and instantly felt my pulse skyrocket. A few seconds felt like forever as I waited for my scores to populate on the screen.  And when they did, it showed that eight weeks of studying had been productive. Like many TMMBA students had told me, it is possible to study for 1-2 months, work full time and still achieve competitive GMAT scores.

It’s been almost a week since my test date, which has given me time to decompress and wrap my head around what worked and what didn’t. Of course everyone studies differently and has different strengths, but here are the top 8 things I wish I knew when starting the test:

 8.       Practice Practice Practice. There’s always room for more practice tests- no matter how many you do. My Kaplan GMAT book came with five online practice tests and GMAC provides additional software (free) with two tests. I felt good about completing four of the practice tests, but I could have used even more.

7.       Know when to take a deep breath. When I started reading questions without even comprehending what they were about, I knew I was starting to get overwhelmed. At this point, the only way for me to recover was to spare a few precious seconds, close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a small amount of time to refresh your brain and restart.

6.       Don’t be a perfectionist. Early on, I tried to get every single GMAT question right on my practice tests. Obviously this wasn’t going to happen, and I was taking way too long to complete the tests. Finally, I started altering my GMAT strategy so that I was OK with missing some questions. I started to learn that there were certain types of questions (mixture problems, volume questions, combined work formulas) that were taking me five minutes to complete and my answer was still wrong. I had to learn where to cut my losses, randomly guess, and focus on the areas I knew.

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Looking just a bit nervous outside of the testing center…

5.       Focus on your weaknesses. From the very beginning, I knew that the quantitative portion would be my biggest struggle. I focused most of my early studying on this portion, but then began to work more on Integrate Reasoning, Analytical , and Verbal. Still, on test day, my scores came out very lopsided. I wish I would have spent more time on my areas that needed the most work.

4.       Strategize your plan to attack the GMAT. And most importantly- stick to it. Make a study plan and hold yourself to it. One hour a day worked for me during the week, since it was a manageable time and kept my brain in GMAT mode throughout the whole week. Find what works for you and stay consistent- like vacations and skipping the gym, it’s tough to go back when you’ve taken too much time off.

3.       Testing anxiety is real- prepare for it. Does it help you to visualize where you’ll be taking the test? Go visit the testing center a few days prior (my proctors confirmed they’ll let you see the facility). Practice with a timer going so that the clock doesn’t cause stress. Do whatever you can to eliminate surprises on test day so you can focus on the test and not your stress.

2.       Drink water on test day. This one comes straight from my test center proctor. She told me that GMAT test takers are often too nervous to eat/drink, and they worry about the 8 minute breaks (you have plenty of time to use the bathroom). Thus, they don’t eat or drink before the test and as a result, occasionally faint in the testing center. Don’t make Jennifer pull out the smelling salts- make sure you prepare your body physically for the test.

And finally, the #1 thing I want TMMBA Applicants to know about the GMAT:

The GMAT isn’t everything. Sure, it’s easy to be consumed by this one test- I see how it happens! You devote so much time to studying and thinking about the GMAT, you automatically assume it must account for a huge part of your MBA application. Not true. As I mentioned in an earlier post, TMMBA evaluates applications holistically. This means that TMMBA takes the GMAT into consideration along with your professional experience, education, communication and interpersonal skills, and leadership potential. An extremely high GMAT score doesn’t guarantee admission and a low GMAT doesn’t automatically hurt your admittance. Keep the entire application in perspective as you get your scores back.

Of course there are many more tips that you may find useful as you start your GMAT journey. While I am certainly no expert on the test, I am always happy to talk with applicants about their GMAT questions or concerns, especially in regards to TMMBA admissions. Now that “Ally Attacks the GMAT” has come to a close, I seem to have a lot more time on my hands…

 Best of luck to all you GMAT test takers- attack away!

Week 7: Keep Calm and GMAT On

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In my family, instead of counting days until a big event, we count down in “sleeps”. So- in honor of that, one more “sleep” until the GMAT! Hopefully it’s a night of rest, relaxation, and preparation for the big day.

It’s amazing how quickly two months of studying goes. I remember being excited to crack open my GMAT book at the beginning of June. Now, I’m definitely ready to stop lugging that brick of a book around. Since the GMAT also gives you your unofficial scores (Verbal, Quant, and Total) immediately after the test, there won’t be any additional time wondering how I did. For TMMBA applicants, this is helpful as you contemplate our final deadline on September 1, 2013. If you want to wait til the very last moment, you could take the test on Sept. 1 and submit your unofficial scores directly to us on that date to complete your application.

Back to D-Day- I’m the type of person who likes to have as much information as possible going into a situation. I’ve watched the official GMAT Video (What to Expect on Test Day) and gotten some tips online (Dealing with GMAT Anxiety, Do this, not That from GMAC). Here are the top points that I think will help my test day most:

 -Relax the morning before. Do whatever you need to do to get in the “zone”. It may be exercising, watching TV, meditation, or reading (no, not your GMAT book). Just make sure it’s something that gets your mind off of worrying about the test.

-Eat a healthy breakfast/lunch before, and bring snacks to keep in your locker for breaks. Yes- I have difficulties not eating for four hours (plus it will help keep energy up!)

-Don’t rush or feel pressed for time. There are enough stresses during the day- I know that traffic and things can only add to that stress level. I’m going to try to minimize other outer factors besides the actual test. Also- though my start time is 12:15pm, it’s recommended you are there 30 min early for check-in, etc. In my head then, my test time is really 11:45am- no later!

-Don’t cram. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I cannot truly learn anything new in 24 hours. I can review and refresh what I’ve already learned (that’s where my review sheets and error logs come in) but there’s no use in stressing myself out more.

-Remember this list of things to bring: driver’s license (or passport), snacks and water for my locker, test confirmation print-out, sweatshirt (test centers can be chilly), and a watch (to keep an eye on the 8 minute breaks).

At the end of the day, the best part will be having the test over with! Check back next week for a complete de-brief of the experience. In the meantime, I’m going to try to …  keep-calm-and-gmat-on

It will change your life forever!

Ayman Kaheel,  TMMBA Class of 2013 

A few years back I met a friend of mine after a long period of not seeing each other. My friend told me he had just finished his TMMBA at UW. “Did you find it useful?” I asked, his answer was “the world is no longer the same”. After my first quarter in the TMMBA, I understood why he said what he said, because the TMMBA student undergoes a mental change with every subject that he studies, such that he will never think the same way again.

I have a strong engineering background both by training and experience. I came to the TMMBA program thinking I will learn some business tools that can help me grow faster in my career, and boy I was wrong! The TMMBA program gives you much much more than some business tools. The TMMBA reminds me of the movie “Vantage Point” that tells a story about an event as seen from a different set of vantage points through the eyes of different characters. In the same way, the TMMBA tells you the story of starting, running, growing and selling a tech-related-business from  all different angles.. Each course you study in the TMMBA  puts one piece into the puzzle,  be it accounting, finance, leadership, economics (both micro and macro), marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, and list goes on and on.

When people now ask me about the TMMBA program, I say “it’ll change your life forever!”

TMMBA Student Resources 101

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Today, TMMBA Class 13 students (who began at the beginning of January) have their first Saturday of class at Paccar Hall. TMMBA typically hosts one class per quarter on the Seattle Campus, which gives students an opportunity to see the other Foster Facilities and experience the campus environment. All morning, I’ve been listening to students ooh and ahh over Paccar Hall. “It’s like I’m back in my undergraduate days…” is a common comment from most.

Being on campus gives students a hands-on look at many other resources that TMMBA and the Foster School of Business provides for them.  Oftentimes, the 18 months of a TMMBA student go by so quickly that they forget to take a look around them and see what else is available outside of their classes.  I encourage all students to take advantage of these many benefits and resources:

  • Lounge for Foster MBA Students at Paccar
    Lounge for Foster MBA Students at Paccar

    Foster MBA Lounge and Access at Paccar Hall: With an activated Husky Card, students are able to access Paccar Hall, Dempsey Hall, and the MBA Lounge. Even when the Paccar Building is not open to the public, students are welcome to use the space for studying and group meetings. There’s even a dedicated space just for MBA students- the T-Mobile MBA Commons. This was a popular tour stop for our students today, and no- it does not come equipped with cigars and smoking jackets. It’s a study lounge- not to be confused with students other after-class haunts.

  • IMA (Intramurals Activity Building) – I was happy to hear today that a few students have already been working up a sweat at the IMA (only prompted in small part to the TMMBA ice cream cooler I’m sure). With a Husky Card, TMMBA students are allowed access to their fitness center and courts. UW Recreational Sports programs also provides the WAC (Waterfront Activities Center) where there are discounts available on canoe and rowboat rentals.

Husky Stadium

  • While we’re on the topic of fitness and sports, TMMBA students are always eligible for student tickets to Husky Athletic Events.  Some sporting events (baseball, volleyball, soccer) are free with a husky card, while others (men’s basketball, football) are subject to additional, discounted costs. Student tickets go fast for these events, so make sure to plan ahead for season or single-game tickets.
  •  UPass: Every UW student has a UPass which comes with their Husky Card. The U-PASS provides students with a variety of low-cost transportation options—from buses, commuter train service and light rail, to vanpooling and discounted carpooling. No activation required- once you get your Husky Card you’re ready to ride.
  • Foster Centers and Events:  The various Centers, including the Business and Economic Development Center, the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Global Business Center- all welcome involvement from TMMBA students. Foster also hosts events, like the Leaders to Legends Breakfast Series and Meet-the-Firms. For an updated list of events, take a look at the Foster Calendar.
  • Finally, one of the advantages of being a student at the University of Washington is the world-class library system available for use. Today, a representative from the Foster Business School library came to speak to students about the amenities at their location in Paccar Hall. Available to students are recent business publications, database access, librarian assistance and much more. Whether it’s the Foster Library or one of the many other University Libraries, these student resources are not to be forgotten.

Husky Card

As you can see- many of these resources require a student to have their Husky Card. Getting a Husky Card is free to students, and only requires a visit to the Husky Card Offices. Other Husky Card benefits include discounts from a variety of merchants, free admission to UW Museums, access to UW Zip Cars, and many more.

In writing this, I know that there are still many other UW/Foster/TMMBA resources that I am not mentioning. From business cards to MBA clubs, to TMMBA Career Services and sponsorship affiliations, there’s always more to get out of the TMMBA experience. Hopefully, sometime between classes and homework and team meetings, our students will find time to take advantage of them all! Because TMMBA students always need one more thing to add to the to-do list…

Seasoned students and alums offer advice to new students

Starting the TMMBA program is exciting! There is a lot to learn, people to meet, and skills to build.  18 months is fast and it can feel a bit like a roller coaster ride at times. So, how do you stay on and get the most of your ride?  Current students and alumni have some advice to offer new students about to embark on their 18-month TMMBA journey.

  • Sit down before classes begin and think about what you want to get out of TMMBA. You can get as little or as much out of it as you want. 18 months is fast, so knowing what you’re interested in and who to network with is critical.
  • Trust the system that TMMBA has put in place. Much of the first quarter is about getting out of your comfort zone and adjusting to the new schedule and pace. Embracing the change with open arms will make your life at TMMBA more productive and enjoyable.
  • Use OneNote to take notes, and preferably in the cloud so they are stored remotely and updated across all of your devices instantly. Focus on setting a process in place early on for note taking and referencing.
  • Network and take advantage of all the additional opportunities offered by the program and the university, don’t see any of the aspects of the program as a “burden or distraction” but rather as an opportunity.
  • Find the best collaboration software for your team, and adopt it early; whether it’s Gmail or SkyDrive or Facebook Meeting Invites – getting a head start on where you will receive team updates and schedule meetings is critical in ensuring that you spend minimal time on managing this stuff.
  • Talk to your classmates. Learn about who they are and what they do. Make an effort to spend time with them outside of class. Turn them into your friends and contacts. The knowledge brought to the program by the students is immense and valuable and it is yours for the taking.
  • Prioritize, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and work with your study group! (And don’t forget to party every once in a while :) )
  • Focus on time management, do not procrastinate, and pre-read for class.
  • Be honest with your team mates about your expectations and desires for the program. Getting off to a good start is important and will set the tone for the rest of the program.
  • It’s only for 18 months. Make best use of the resources available to you.
  • Finish all of your reading ahead of time so you can socialize at dinner before class. You’ll have plenty of time to spend with your study group so break away from their safety net and use the time to get to know your other classmates, especially those in the other section.
  • Have fun. Network.

TMMBA Faculty Spill the Beans on their Favorite Resources

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director

There are so many books, websites, and resources for business professionals that it can be hard to find the golden nuggets in the mix. I recently caught up with two TMMBA faculty members and asked for a list of favorite resources they would recommend to students and alums. Here’s what they said:

Debra Glassman, Senior Lecturer in Business EconomicsProfessor Debra Glassman

Glassman has been at the Foster School since 1992 and began teaching Domestic & International Economic Conditions in TMMBA in 2011. Her specialties include international finance, global macroeconomics, international trade policy and institutions, and European business. When I asked for her recommendation, she suggested publications from the Federal Reserve. Here’s why:

Publications from regional Federal Reserve banks have articles that are short, timely, and accessible to the general business reader.  Examples include (but are not limited to) the “Chicago Fed Letter,”, the Cleveland Fed’s “Forefront,” and “The Region” from the Minneapolis Fed.   You can search topics across all Federal Reserve publications using http://fedinprint.org.

Warren Boeker, Professor of ManagementProfessor Warren Boeker

Professor Boeker teaches Strategic Management of Technology & Innovation during the fourth quarter of the TMMBA Program. He specializes in competition, corporate strategy, entrepreneurship, and international business. He has seven go-to websites and blogs on his list:

Boeker also recommends the book Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson.

What are your favorite business resources?