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Yearly Archives: 2007

Yale’s School of Management (SOM) recently made some significant adjustments to its core curriculum. The revised program enables students to take classes organized around constituencies such as customers and employees. Meantime, Yale’s SOM is looking to change its admissions process as a whole and increase the number of international students in its class. The school also announced plans for the construction of a new building. On December 11th a forum was held to discuss these various changes. Attendees were a group of prospective students and BusinessWeek. Bruce DelMonico, the Yale Admissions Director, and two Yale students, Abby Kowaloff and Michael McLaughlin answered their questions.

When asked to describe the purpose of the curriculum changes, DelMonico explained how the new program was designed to improve students’ learning experience in a broader way. He explained that the school’s goal is to train people for leadership roles in business. To do this, students need to learn to be able to cope with all the important aspects of the business world, including leading others. The new curriculum proposes to help make this possible.Questions emerged concerning the increase of the class size. It is estimated that about 300 or so more students will be accepted per year when this construction completes in 2011.

The admissions interview process was also a major topic. The audience was especially concerned with how interviewers prepare for an interview and how quickly they evaluate once it is complete. On-campus interviews are conducted by trained second year students. These interviewers have access to candidates’ applications before the interview. The interviewer will write a report of the interview usually within 24 hours in order to accurately evaluate a prospective student.Scholarship eligibility was another concern addressed. When an application is being reviewed, it is also decided whether a student merits a scholarship. If so, the notification will be sent out at the time of admission.

SOM is cited as having one of the lowest percentages of international students among top US B-schools. The panel explained how the admissions board is looking to not only increase diversity in regards to student bodies’ fields of study, but also to expand the diversity of the students’ origins. SOM would like their student body to reflect their international focus. Therefore, ongoing strategies have been implemented to have more interviews done out of the country to recruit international students.International Experience, SOM’s study abroad program, was a major topic as well. In this program a student travels for a 10 day excursion to study in a foreign country. These travels blend cultural exploration with top-level executive meetings. If you would like to read the forum in its entirety, simply follow this link.

Posted on December 31, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Difficult people come in the forms of customers, colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors. Difficult people won’t change on their own, and, unfortunately it’s not likely that you will be able to change them. Before you let this this fact depress you, consider these tips for coping:

1.) Try to be as positive as possible. Formulate a strategy. Decide in advance what results you would like to achieve rather than concentrate on negative issues or your bad feelings about the difficult person.

2.) Express your feelings. Don’t bottle up irritation, outrage, annoyance, or feelings of hurt.

3.) Invite others to express how they feel. Seek feedback. Don’t try to guess what someone else is thinking.

4.) Use open-ended questions to inquire about feelings and opinions.

5.) In cases of dispute, appeal to a higher authority-preferably something totally objective, such as a rule book, a protocal manual, or some similar source.

6.) Keep documentation. This may not only limit or entirely avert disputes with difficult people, it might just save your hide. When your boss assigns you a major project, get the specifics in writing. If the assignment is made verbally, send a follow up e-mail or a confirming memo that states the specifics. Get the other person to sign off on it.

7.) While documentation is important, don’t let written memos become substitutes for face-to-face conversations. It is important to deal directly with difficult people in order to see their body language and to hear the tone of their voice.

8.) Go out of your way to ask difficult people for their opinion and for their help. Getting them to take interest in you will tend to give them ownership stake in your projects and your problems.Because difficult people tend not to change, their behavior is usually predictable. While you should not expect too much of difficult people at least you can prepare for encounters with them.

Posted on December 19, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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We are busy preparing for our Year-end Holiday Party today. It’s an exciting time of year when most people are reflecting on the year past and make projections or resolutions for the upcoming one. Many of our readers are located internationally, but this post pertains mostly to the US market.A recent survey conducted by Milwaukee-based global staffing firm Manpower (MAN) found that 12% of companies expect to reduce employment in the three-month period starting in January, while 22% plan to add jobs. Fewer than a quarter of employers expect to add positions in the first quarter of the new year, almost the same as a year ago, according to this survey of 14,000 companies.The numbers show a slight drop from hiring intentions during the same quarter last year, when 23% of employers said they’d increase hiring and 11% expected a decrease. They also show more pessimism than last quarter, when 27% of employers planned to increase hiring while only 9% said they planned a decline.The numbers, overall, do not represent big changes.

Construction companies expect one of the larger drops, with 23% of employers saying they expect to curtail hiring, compared with 16% in the same quarter last year. Seventeen percent of employers in this sector say they expect to increase hiring, down slightly from 18% last year.

Wholesale and retail saw a slight drop, with 21% of companies saying they planned to increase hiring, down from 23% last year. Eighteen percent plan a decrease, up from 17% last year.

In the finances and real estate sector, plans to increase hiring remained steady at 21%. But the number of companies in the sector that planned to hire less than last year grew to 9% from 7%.

Hiring levels are also projected to vary regionally.

Nineteen percent of companies in the Midwest reported they would increase hiring in the first quarter, down from 26% during the previous one. Thirteen percent of companies were planning a decline, up from 9% last quarter.

The West continues to have the best outlook, with 29% of employers saying they planned to increase hiring, down from 33% last quarter. Eleven percent of employers said they planned to decrease hiring, up from 10% last quarter.

The South dipped slightly, with 23% of employers expecting to increase hiring next quarter, down from 26% last quarter. Eleven percent expected to decrease hiring, up from 8% last quarter.

The Northeast also saw a dip, with 21% of companies saying they planned to increase staff, down from 25% last quarter. Thirteen percent of employers in that region said they planned a decrease, up from 10% last quarter.

The survey doesn’t ask why employers choose to increase, decrease or maintain their staffing levels. The mortgage crisis or possibility of a recession could be reasons, but the survey can’t say for sure.

Posted on December 18, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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During a normal business day, we have countless verbal interactions that we take for granted. But the simplest communication should not be overlooked. The language you incorporate in your business relationships can have a tremendous impact on your success. Well-handled verbal responses strenghten your visibility in the workplace and showcase your upper-management potential. Someone with a high verbal IQ speaks effectively with fluency and flexibility. Having control of your words, using accurate language, and delivering your speeches with confidence all contribute to an overall strong verbal IQ.

Here are a few tips on projecting a positive verbal IQ:

1.) Anticipate what is most likely to happen in your encounters with people and prepare possible scenarios.

2.) Avoid talking too much.

3.) Concentrate on solutions rather than on problems.

4.) Be honest and sincere.

5.) Think before you react.How you phrase your words is a crucial aspect of business relationships. Therefore, take the time to carefully craft your language.

Posted on December 11, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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During the recent two years, many business schools have revamped or retooled the curriculum of their MBA programs . This is designed to better prepare students to manage and thrive on new challenges in an ever-changing global business world through a more profound intellectual experience and more effective training on leadership development. These modifications allow students to customize their MBA programs with a greater selection of electives, an increased number of half-semester core courses, more exchange programs for studying aboard, smaller classes, a closer integration of in-person and online class participation, and more week-long intensive courses.

Deeper, Smaller, Broader

So what are those key improvements? In a nutshell, MBA curriculums have been remodeled in 4 major aspects:

1.) Content – More real-world relevant courses, more interdisciplinary courses (such as legal and international relations courses), and more collaborative effort – Harvard Business School, for example, offers the opportunity to cross-register for courses in other select graduate programs. So do many other top business schools. More extra-curricular lectures from business professionals and on-site projects with corporations or governments.

2.) Configuration – Broader spectrum of electives allow you to construct your own study program and make your B-school academic experience unique. The weight of core courses as requirements for the degree is lowering. Many core courses are also offered in half-semesters to let you take many different courses within a semester’s time. For example, about half of Columbia Business School’s core courses are half-semester.

3.) Delivery – More high-tech equipped classrooms with more frequent use of the Internet. Smaller class sizes. Classes are taught in seminars that maximize active participation and deeper intellectual involvement. More courses are taught by two or more faculty members as a team.More interaction with faculty advisors. For example, at Stanford Graduate School of Business, your faculty advisor partners with you to select the courses that fit with your personal background and interests.

4.) Format – New curriculum models. For example, Yale’s MBA program did away with the traditional self-contained subject courses such as marketing, finance, and organizational behavior. Instead it starts to offer an Integrated Leadership Perspective course focusing on managing internal and external parties such as all levels of employees, customers, competitors, and investors. The goal is to tie together all that students learned in the first year in a holistic manner.

What prompted these changes?

Many top-rated business schools had not developed new MBA programs in nearly 30 years. Why all the changes now?The major reason for the changes is one framework of business education simply won’t work anymore. Interdisciplinary studies and experience-based learning foster the kind of creativity, leadership, problem-solving skills, critical and independent thinking, business ethics, and cultural sensitivity necessary to succeed in real-world business.

The impact of the dot-com era and an increasingly dynamic, global economy are two main catalysts for curriculum changes. MBA programs now incorporate more courses specifically geared toward e-commerce, digital media, and information technology. Programs also look beyond textbooks to incorporate more interactive learning into the classroom. The growing significance of communication in a global context also translates into a stronger emphasis on foreign language study and traveling abroad within MBA curriculum.

Finally, many top business schools have changed due to new dean and program director appointments in the past few years. These new personnel bring years of experiences, fresh perspectives, and great initiatives to instill new energy into well-established institutions in a competitive and adaptive MBA education world.

What Is Required of the Schools?

To take the program to the next level, those schools need significant funding from their respective parent institutions to support new facility, new equipment, increase in faculty and more. Both Stanford and Columbia are in the midst of expanding their business school campuses.As we can see, a lot of more work is ahead for all the top institutions. To educate next century’s business leaders, all the business schools need to stay at the forefront of the changes.

Posted on December 10, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Our students have often times come to us for special advice on Critical Reasoning as they found it hard to improve their scores on it. Here are a few special tips:

  • There are additional real GMAT tests for sale on www.mba.com in pdf files. It is about $25 for 3 tests.Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension are the two areas that require inherent skill sets and knowledge. There are limited shortcuts. You need to find the best way you can read fast and comprehend accurately.
  • Locate a LSAT book and do the Critical Reasoning problems from there. They are harder than the GMAT. It will be a good practice. You need to read editorial columns of a top English newspaper on a daily basis to improve your Reading Comprehension.
  • Private tutoring will be helpful. We have seen our students improve over 1 month’s time.Visit our online recording library at manrev.webex.com and focus on watching the sessions on Critical Reasoning. You can have unlimited access beginning at US$150! We look forward to sharing with you our GMAT, MBA, and career success stories, experiences and advice!

Posted on December 10, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Many of our non-native English speakers will find these tips useful. A mastery of euphemistical expressions can serve you well professionally. These subtle and politically correct phrases are often vague and subject to individual interpretation. They are most useful when you want to avoid being:

Direct

Negative

Obvious

Over-bearing

Here are some quick examples:

Inclusive
Meaning
: With an objective view; without prejudice or bias.
Example
: We should use inclusive language in our report so that it addresses to the needs of all parties.

Anomaly
Meaning
: Something wrong; An unsatisfactory and unexpected inconsistency.
Example: He is usually very accurate. His last research article must be an anomaly!

Finesse
Meaning
: To achieve an objective through less than honest means.
Example
: Even though he is not very capable, he somehow finessed his way to top management.

Stretch The Truth

Meaning: To be dishonest
Example: When he bragged to his friends about his salary, he was stretching the truth. His actual income was much less than he said it was.

Take Something Under Advisement
Meaning
: To consider something. (Often connotes that it will be ignored; used for more formal occasions.)
Example
: I came up with some great ideas for the new ad campaign. My boss said she’d take my ideas under advisement. I guess she didn’t like them as much as I did.

Adjustment
Meaning
: A reduction.
Example
: The unexpected adjustment in my salary was announced by my boss this afternoon. I have to cut down on my expenses to make my ends meet each month.

Selective
Meaning
: Dishonest
Example
: He was quite selective in telling his boss the reasons the tasks didn’t get completed.

Bend the Rules
Meaning
: Compromising set standards; To be flexible.
Example
: The company’s vacation policy may seem strict, but our department has been known to bend the rules every now and then.

I Hear You
Meaning
: I heard what you said but have a different opinion.
Example
: I hear you, but I think that if we were to buy that stock we’d be taking a huge risk for little gain.

Strong Language
Meaning
: Curses; swear words.
Example
: We know our boss is serious when he starts to use strong language.

Careful With One’s Money
Meaning: Financial caution. Withholding financially.
Example
: Our boss is very careful with his money. Sarah realized that she needed to be much more careful with her money.

Close With One’s Money
Meaning
: Stingy; not generous with money.
Example
: Don’t ask Chuck for a contribution to the bonus pool for all the assistants! He is so close with his money that it is not possible for him to chip in just a paltry $20.

Posted on November 27, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Today we would like to take a look at the benefits and limitations of a computer adaptive test. Not that we can persuade the GMAC to bring back the paper test; Rather, we would like you to be acutely aware of the upside and downside of taking such a test in order to best acclimate yourself to the test environment.

In general, a CAT greatly increases the flexibility of test management. The key benefits include:

  • Tests can be taken year around at any registered centers.
  • Unofficial Scores are available immediately, expediting the B-school application process.
  • Tests are individually paced so that a test-taker can choose a more suitable time of the day to take the test and special requirements for the disabled can be better accommodated.
  • More accurate scores can be provided by a CAT over a wide range of abilities than by a traditional test.

For test-centers

  • Minimal training of test administrators is required.
  • Test security is increased because hard copy test booklets are not distributed.

For test-makers

  • Test question pools and scoring method can be updated centrally and distributed at once later. Cost can be decreased while quality and speed can be improved substantially.

Despite the above advantages, computer adaptive tests have numerous limitations, and they raise several technical and procedural issues. Here we just focus on the limitations for the GMAT.

  • Test-takers need to perform equally well when reading a passage, question or graph on the computer screen as on the paper. The same applies to writing an essay.
  • Test-takers need to maintain a relatively high level of comfortableness with taking a test on the computer, which means that they should not make simple mistakes such as not selecting the correct answer before continuing. Other examples include that test-takers are not usually permitted to go back and change answers, requiring them to do away with their long-time paper test-taking habits. And we all know “Old habits die hard”!
  • With each examinee receiving a different set of questions, there can be perceived inequities.
  • There is a limited pool of test questions with the most desirable characteristics of a CAT item. This means that test security in the long run will be affected as people may try to remember the harder questions and compare notes with others. This issue can be addressed by expanding the question pool. Otherwise, it will degrade the test quality, or a longer test would be needed.

Conclusion: Practice makes perfect! Prepare with more CATs. Read long articles on your computer screen. Take mock tests in a setting similar to your test center during the same time period of a day. Reduce your response time in the areas you are best at, for example, getting your Sentence Correction time down to less than 1 minute per question. That way you can save time for the question types that you are less confidence about and achieve an overall higher total score!

Posted on November 19, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Whether you are writing an admissions essay or drafting a report for work, these helpful tips are sure to create polished works:

Simple, Direct, Precise, Alive, Concise, Coherent, Convincing! Those are your targets.

  1. Reduce Sentence Length to establish strong, clear meaning.
  2. Order Words for Emphasis.
    • Put strong words at the beginning and at the end of a sentence.
    • Space out key words. Do NOT repeat a distinctive word unless you intend a specific effect.
    • Put odd and interesting things next to each other. Help the reader learn from contrast.
    • Do not be afraid of using small words. Big words are not always the best or most useful for getting your points across to the reader.
  3. Avoid Needless Words or Stuffy Language.
    • No excess prepositional phrases
    • Use words in replace of phrases
    • No redundancy; minimize repetition
    • Watch for unnecessary adverbs such as very, really, quickly
    • No vague qualifiers, e.g. some, kind; avoid “it is”, “whether or not”…
  4. Use Strong Verbs. Use passive verbs to highlight the receiver of an action.
  5. Emphasize Results, Concrete Figures. Use concrete and specific details that appeal to the senses.
  6. Establish Impressive Overall Style.
    • Form a pattern in your writing, but then give it a wrist to add variety.
    • Vary sentence length to set a compelling pace for the reader.

Summary:

  • Convey clear, complete thoughts.
    • Do not couch too many ideas in one sentence.
  • Choose every word carefully.
    • Make sure they are precise and most appropriate for the context.
  • Minimize redundancy. Strive for effectiveness.

Posted on November 15, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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Scores, Percentiles and Their Significance

On the traditional test, all questions were worth equal points. On the GMAT CAT each question is assigned points based on the level of difficulty. There are three factors that determine your final score. The first two factors have the most bearing on your score.

  1. The number of questions you answered correctly.
  2. The difficulty level of each question you answered correctly.
  3. The range of cognitive abilities tested by the questions answered correctly.

We discussed the third factor in our previous edition. In effect, this is measuring how well rounded you are in all areas. An individual who scores well in only a few areas will have a lower score than another individual who scored well in all areas. The way that your performance in the various tested topics is quantified is by standard deviation. The deviation between different areas is calculated and the more you deviate [i.e. higher standard deviation] between each section, the lower your GMAT score. This third factor doesn’t have as much weight on the final score as the number and difficulty of questions.

The initial (raw) score from the GMAT CAT is the ability level that corresponds to the response pattern on the administered questions. The two raw scores are combined (not the scaled scores) to form a total scaled score from 200-800. The raw score is also transformed to the Quantitative or Verbal scaled scores. For Verbal and Quantitative sections the scaled score ranges from 0 to 60.

In your score report you are also given a percentile score. This percentile means that you scored better than that percent of the testers. Percentile rankings are based on the entire GMAT test-taking population during the three most recent years. So if you got a score in the 85th percentile that means that you did better than 85% of all the people who took the test in the past three years. While GMAT scores are only a part of your overall application, a high percentile rank demonstrates that you are better than most people in the Verbal and/or Quantitative areas.

For Verbal, you will be in the 99th percentile if your scaled score is at or above 46. In comparison, it is much more competitive in Quantitative. The 99th percentile requires a scaled score of 51. This means fewer people score on Verbal than Quantitative. So make sure you don’t drag your total score down because of a mediocre performance on Verbal.

There is a degree of error with the GMAT as with all standardized tests. The standard error of difference for the total GMAT score is about 41, according to Graduate Management Admissions Council. This means that the difference between the total GMAT scores actually received by two test takers could be within 41 points above or below the difference between the test takers’ scores of true ability. The standard error of difference for the Verbal scaled score is 3.9, and for the Quantitative scaled score 4.3. Research also indicates that a test-taker will most likely earn a Total score within about 30 points of a score of true ability. Your Verbal and Quantitative scaled scores are probably within about 2.9 points of your true scores.

GMAT scores are a relatively reliable predictor of academic performance in the first year of a business school program. Studies have shown that the median correlation between GMAT scores and first-year grades was 0.41 (perfect correlation is 1.0). Comparing 0.41 to the median correlation of 0.28 between undergraduate grade point average and first-year grades, you can conclude that business schools do have a strong incentive to see good GMAT scores from applicants. Because there is a degree of error, we all should exercise caution in comparing two scores. That is why other parts of your business school application are also as crucial to your admission.

Posted on November 14, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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