From the monthly archives:

November 2009

These days I do not really have time to read news about the Business Schools developments a lot. I still skim the headlines and read semi-regualarly. Now I am more concerned with my immediate MBA environment. But when I was in my preparation stage for part-time MBA I was more hungry for that kind of news and was searching for them, and actually reading a few times a week. I am talking not about the many message boards/forums, some of which are actually extremely helpful, but about main stream media.

There were many articles here and there from various sources, but at the end only one of them stood out as dependable source with regular new and relevant, sometimes amusing articles: The Businessweek section on Business Schools.

Recently, however, I stumbled upon a new media site for Business Schools news – . I read a few articles and even added it to my permanent bookmarks. It is apparently a recent startup. It has noticebly different focus from Businessweek, which mostly covers US Business Schools with rare references to the business education outside the US.

The focus of the new publication I found is international with contributing authors from all around the world, including many from the US. But for me it was interesting to discover English-language online publication where I found articles about the super ambitious Russian International Business School Skolkovo project, or adventures of a Russian student in Italian top Business School, or some recent comment on Dubai crisis voiced by current MBA.

As I said, I don’t have much time to read nowadays, but these are the two sources I still try to skim through the headlines. Check them out to see if there is something interesting there for you. Especially, for its fresh approach.

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Here is a short followup on my yesterday’s GMAT post.

In my preparation for GMAT I did not use any in-class or online prep courses. The reason is quite obvious – I was not applying to top 10-20 full-time MBA programs, which have a very high break-in GMAT score. Part-time MBA programs available in Washington, DC area, even though they are offered by very reputable Business Schools, have significantly lower entry point as far as GMAT is concerned.

After utilizing a few books and doing a few simulation tests I knew what my weakness was, namely the quantitative part of the test. But that I have known from my high school years anyways. I also realized that even though I was not an A student in math at school, the material we were studying at school in my country of origin was at significantly higher level than what most of the high schoolers in America   study. Based on the preparation materials I figured that we covered at high school what was equivalent of trigonometry, college algebra and pre-calculus in today’s USA. GMAT Preparation – Click Here!

I also learned that my biggest problem in taking the test was  the time.  While doing exercises in the beginning I was not timing myself, and I was able to crank about 55-70% of questions in quants and around 60-75% in verbal part. Once I started timed exercises, my quants slipped to just around 50- 55%, verbal was retreating just a little bit. Of course, as I was preparing and practising more, my solved questions percentage climbed slowly up.

At any rate, I knew that self-study would be sufficient for me to get the necessary GMAT score for the MBA programs I had on my list. Therefore I did not want, nor did I really need to spend money, and comparatively big money for that sake, for any in-class or online prep cources for my GMAT preparation.

 Most of the materials I used for GMAT preparation I either got online or  borrowed from a local library. There were just four books that I actually bought, because they were not available at the library. All the books I used in my GMAT preparation (in bold are the ones I found most helpful):

  • Official Guide for GMAT Review, 10th and 11th editions
  • GMAT for Dummies
  • Cracking the GMAT, Princeton Review
  • Verbal Workout for the GMAT, Princeton Review 
  • Math Workout for the GMAT, Princeton Review
  • Kaplan GMAT
  • GMAT 800, Kaplan
  • GMAT Premier Program, Kaplan
  • Peterson’s master the GMAT 2008 -probably the least realistic problems compared to real GMAT, in my opinion
  • Manhattan GMAT: Equations, Inequalities, & VICs –very good.

The last book I bought after my first fail on GMAT. I had read good reviews about Manhattan GMAT series, but I did not need the whole set. I just got the one on the topic I felt I needed more help with. I think that book really helped me with this particular topic and if I had to buy another book from the series, I would, based on my experience with this one.


GMAT Anniversary

November 28, 2009

in GMAT,MBA experience

Today is a one year anniversary of my first attempt on GMAT. To be more precise, it was not on the same date, but the same day- Saturday after Thanksgiving a year ago.

On Friday before the test I knew it was not one of my brightest decisions to schedule the test for that Saturday. Thanksgiving I spent enjoying the day with the family, overloading on turkey and accompanying holiday fare. Needless to say an idea of doing anything for the test preparation did not cross my mind. My original thought was that I would have some time on Friday to do last minute cramming. But Friday was pretty much a day to get back to my normal self. So before the exam I did not do any preparation on Thursday, not much on Friday and Saturday.


On Saturday my exam was in the afternoon. I did some very light review, as every source on preparation for GMAT recommends you to stop cramming for exam on the night before the test (I agree it is a good advice in general), so your brain has time to settle all the facts and be fresh and alert for the test itself.  Since I did not want to do real cramming, and there was nothing else I could really do before the test, that time on Saturday was basically lost. It just gave room for building more test anxiety, which is never good. GMAT Preparation -Click Here!

By the time I sat fot the test around 4 PM I was already burned out. At the test I knew I was not doing very well, particularly on the quant part which had been my biggest challenge to begin with.

I did not have a temptation to cancel my score without looking at it. My rationale was that if I paid $250 for the test and even did not do well, I at least wanted it to be learning experience, and I had to know my score to have a proper benchmark. Otherwise the money would be total waste. Also, taking GMAT was one of the testing points to see if I even was cut for the MBA in the first place. I thought, if my score was not acceptable for the part-time MBA program at my target Business Schools, then I would just have to accept the fact that it was not for me. At that point in time, and even much later, I was not yet sure that this MBA route was the right thing for me, given the serious financial and time commitment, and my age. In some way I was looking for a reason why I should not or could not do the MBA.

Using my teenage daughter’s language, the revealed score for my test was epic fail. But regardless what lingo you use it was miserable: 

  • Total score – 550/ 51 percentile
  • Verbal score – 36/ 78 percentile
  • Quantitative – 29/ 25 percentile

I considered my verbal score reasonable, but quantitative was killing me.

My first reaction to the score was: “OK, this is what I am worth. I will submit my application with this score (which I did anyways before the start of the test, by selecting the four Business Schools I was planning to apply to), get rejected and put this whole MBA adventure behind me.”

Frankly, even with this score I had a very reasonable chance of acceptance to at least three of the schools I was considering at the time, based on the class profiles of part-time MBA programs.

My full list of target part-time MBA programs was as follows (in the order of my preference at the time):

  1. Smith part-time MBA, University of Maryland (GMAT  mid 80% range: 510-690)
  2. McDonough evening MBA, Georgetown University (most selective of the four, GMAT mid 80% range: 620-700)
  3. Professional MBA, George Washington University (GMAT mid 80% range: 480-650)
  4. Kogod part-time MBA, American University (GMAT mid 80% range: 490-610)

The GMAT ranges data are taken from this year’s Businessweek ranking of part-time MBA programs. These scores are very close to what I knew from research about the programs last year. As you see, I was very well qualified for George Washington and American University part-time programs, and my chances for Smith part-time MBA were very reasonable.

Nevertheless, I considered my score a failure, as I was shooting for at least 620, in order to get a shot at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, even though it was my second choice. And even more than effect on my chances of acceptance, that score was a blow to my self-esteem. Based on the practice tests I had taken from various GMAT preparation sources, even with the awareness about my quantitative lacking, I was expecting, and would be consent with the score of at least 620.

This was one of the reasons I decided to take a second attempt on GMAT, after I recuperated from the first failure in a week or so after the test.

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MBA Recess

November 27, 2009

in MBA experience,Side Notes

When instructor in Financial Accounting II told us at the very first session that we would not have a class on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we would have to learn material for that week on our own, I felt a bit dissappointed. First, because for me personally the face time in the classroom is very important to have. Second, because the material in this particular MBA course is quite challenging for me, and I would prefer to have it explained in the class first and then to study additionally with the textbook and exercises.

Only on Wednesday afternoon I realized what a blessing in disguise was that class cancellation. At my work we received a three hour earlier release because of the eve of Thanksgiving. This allowed me to do some important errands that I had been postponing for a while. By the time I got home I realized that going to school would be a real drag. I just enjoyed my night at home thoroughly.

I also took my family to the movies that night. By the way, Fantastic Mr. Fox is absolutely hilarious. You would not think that a puppet animated movie can possibly be something really good, but it is absolutely fantastic (you are actually hinted to this in the title). We do not have a very big collection of DVD’s in our family, but this is the movie I will definitely get on DVD when it is out.

Thursday I spent almost like a typical American: lots of food, drinks, sleep, minus football, as I am not really a sports fan.

Friday, I undertook a major upgrade to my home desktop computer. I already mentioned how much I liked Windows 7 on my new laptop. That’s why I wanted to install it on my desktop too. Which I did. But the result was not as appealing as I expected.

Since my computer is quite old, the video adapter is not capable to support the cool visual Aero effects. And the manufacturer would not have updated drivers, as that video adapter is obsolete and long retired. Moreover, I was not able even to use native resolution 1680×1050 for my display. 

Next to go was my scanner as there are no drivers for it either. My Norton Ghost 10.0 which I installed to recover my backed up files would also have some minor errors at installation, but at least it worked.

In general Windows 7 did work, but the cool visual effects were gone and along with them I would have to sacrifice even some basics I got used to. After some emotional struggle I decided that the marginal benefits of partially handicapped Windows 7 were not really worth the sacrifice of the basics I already had with XP. So I reverted back to Windows XP.

Frankly, I had been considering a clean re-install of my XP even before Windows 7 became available, as my system had been running since summer 2005 and had a lot of clutter that slowed it down quite a bit.

Anyways, this is a recap of my Thanksgiving recess. As much as I love to spend time studying for my MBA classes, I really needed a little break, just to slack back and relax for a couple of days. On weekend, however, I will have to get back into my study mode, to tone my brain for the final two weeks of classes and after that – the final exams.


Part-time MBA Marketed

November 25, 2009

I was thinking about what different names part-time MBA programs go by. The most obvious generic name describing the essense of these programs is obviously plain and simple, no thrills – part-time MBA. But, of course, the Business Schools would want to differentiate themselves from each other and to emphasize distinctive features of part-time programs […]

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Part-time And Executive MBA – Which is Right for You?

November 24, 2009

Shortly after  I set my sight on getting an MBA degree, and started doing prelimenary research, I realized that part -time MBA programs come in more than one flavor. They are all similar in that you do not have to interrupt your career (if it is indeed a career, not just a job) or even leave […]

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Kozlowski – Not a Stranger Anymore – an MBA Textbook Case

November 23, 2009

Today I was skimming through the news and ran into an article headline about Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco. Before, I would most likely skip reading the article based on the title. I did not really remember a Tyco scandal of some 5-6 years ago, and the name was not telling me much. But now it is […]

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Mid -Term Decision Making Exam-Done!

November 22, 2009

Today I took my first exam in this half-term. As I said earlier in my posts it had to be downloaded from the Blackboard and after completion submitted to the instructor via Blackboard too. Most of my instructors in MBA program use the Blackboard quite extensively. Of course, no one uses even half of the features […]

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Normal Distribution, Financial Accounting And the Aha Moment

November 21, 2009

I just got the aha moment, and since it’s too late at night to share my joy with anybody at home (everyone is fast asleep for quite a while now), I will spill my joy in this blog. There are two events that lead to the moment. Chronologically the first one was on Wednesday, when […]

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GMAT Score for MBA Applicants

November 20, 2009

GMAT is one of the major hurdles to overcome in pursuing admission to an MBA progrram. No wonder then that a big deal of attention is paid by every applicant to scoring high on this test. I’ll talk a bit about this as now is high season for GMAT taking, because of the second, and […]

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Mid-Term on Decision Making

November 17, 2009

Just as I was about to slide in complacency about final exams being in a not-so-immediate future, I realized today that I have a mid-term exam on Judgment, Uncertainty and Decision Making due by the end of this coming Sunday. The exam is being administered via Blackboard, so it can be done “from the comfort […]

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Quants and MBA Anxiety

November 16, 2009

This past Wednesday when I left my class in Financial Accounting I had a sheer anxiety attack. It was not a panic attack yet, as there are no half-term finals for at least another 4 weeks. But it was really very scary.  This was not based only on my feelings of inadequacy from the class in […]

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Part-time MBA to Part-time PC Technician

November 14, 2009

It is 2 in the morning on Saturday. I just got my laptop set up the way I want it (hopefully I can also say, that it was not just a whim, but I really need it that way). I am so excited that I want to spill my joy and share a bit about my […]

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Brand New Laptop for Freshly-Minted MBA Student

November 2, 2009

This weekend I finally bought my personal laptop. I was originally thinking to hold off a purchase till I get a passing grade for my second class – Financial Accounting. But with the homework requirement in my Judgment, Uncertainty and Decisions (JUD) class to use not just Excel, but also a special proprietary add-in for […]

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Moving to Designated Hosting

November 1, 2009

This Sunday I was planning to move my blog from to a designated hosting. I have been on wordpress free blog hosting for two weeks. I found a blog theme (template for the appearance) which was reasonably satisfactory for my needs at the time. Got a handle on the backend of the wordpress blogging interface […]

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