Prepare as you might for a standardized exam, your test-day strategy will factor heavily into your outcome. Anthony Russo, a senior at Summit High School in New Jersey, has taken the SAT five times. He shared that the difference between his lowest and highest test scores could be explained by test prep and strategy.
“Taking Manhattan Review’s test prep course initially raised my SAT score by 60 points,” Russo shared. “But more than that, my private tutor gave me a plan for approaching the test more tactically.” Want to boost your SAT score just by shifting your behavior? Here are a few ways to maximize your test-taking potential. These tips have helped students, including Anthony, enhance their performance to achieve results in the 98th and 99th percentiles.
- Set the right pace. Think of the SAT like a long race, each question a short hurdle bringing you closer to the finish line. Stopping too long on one question can prove disastrous for the long haul. Each question is worth the same number of points. If a question becomes too time-consuming, don’t stumble and lose your stamina. Move on to the next question, and go back to re-try the most confusing questions. Continue moving forward, answering as many questions as you can with confidence. Accuracy will prove a much more effective tool than speed.
- Start with the easiest questions. Keeping with the SAT-as-a-marathon mentality, everything starts off easiest. Your mind is still fresh, plus the SAT is organized in order of difficulty. As you begin with the easiest questions, calibrate your pace to match the level of difficulty. Don’t allow yourself to become mired down early in the game. Don’t skip around, creating a confusing and disjointed course to follow. Knock out the easiest SAT questions first and stay focused for the more challenging questions to come.
- Never question common sense. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t just choose option B and hope for the best. Use logic to answer the harder questions by turning your guess into a formidable hypothesis. Eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can. As long as you are able to eliminate at least one wrong answer, you should make a guess instead of skipping the question. If you can’t make an educated guess, go ahead and skip the question. You don’t want to roll the dice on SAT questions when you are penalized for wrong answers.
- Master the material with test prep. Cramming won’t work. To prepare for the SAT – as with the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and TOEFL – strategic test prep brings the best results. At Manhattan Review, we offer a range of prep test courses customized to the learning needs of each student. Before making flashcards and memorizing countless math formulas, try the most efficient and effective study methods. Limit your studies to what actually shows up on the SAT, and you’ll conquer the curriculum in no time.
- Practice, practice, practice. We offer plenty of SAT practice tests because they are a sure-fire way to increase SAT scores. Develop test-taking strategies like internalizing your pace. Continue taking practice tests until you finish all SAT questions comfortably and with time leftover.
Anthony summed it up best, saying, “You want to find your test-taking comfort level before you go into the exam. Manhattan Review’s SAT practice exams made finishing the test easier. It probably helped too that I knew more of the answers.“
There seems to be an interesting trend happening amongst undergraduate liberal arts programs all across the country. While it seems a course in finance or general business was hardly what undergrads were looking for, there is now a higher demand for such courses.
Business Week’s reporter Adam Fusfeld claims: “For liberal arts students, a little bit of business knowhow is a powerful thing, giving them the confidence they need to work in a business setting.” For students vying for full-time jobs after graduation, schools don’t want them to appear at a disadvantage. Hence, courses like Introduction to Accounting, Business Management, Human Resources Management and Business Communications are becoming options for Philosophy, English and History majors. Why the sudden interest in business courses? Could it be the recent ongoing economic recession?
Some schools, like Northwestern, which terminated its undergraduate business program 41 years ago, are offering certificate programs for students who have fulfilled a certain number of credits with a B-average GPA. Such types of certificates appear to appeal to students, as it’s something they can add to their resumes when applying for internships and full-time employment. Since the start of the economic downturn in 2008, there has been an increased interest in such business certificate-like undergraduate business programs all over the country.
While the United States still holds a firm stance on the importance of a broad liberal arts education during one’s undergraduate years, perhaps a basic understanding of finance and business would be advantageous to all students, no matter what their eventual focus may be. While the recession has certainly caused some negative effects on the workplace, perhaps this is an unusual advantage for all undergraduate-bound students in the future.
The acceptance rate of the super-selective Ivy League is extremely low. There is a record number of high school students who are applying for college straight out of high school – more than 60 percent, according to David Hawkins, director at the National Association of College Admission Counseling. Meantime, the number of students applying for college is increasing each year. According to the federal Department of Education, this year will feature the highest number of high school graduates, 3.2, almost a million up from five years ago.
Recent admission trends indicate that even though you have a high GPA and good or perfect SAT scores, it’s not a given that you’ll get admission to your first choice school, so it’s wise to have as many back-ups as you can to optimize the final result of your college application process without waiting for another entire year. As a matter of fact, many students are applying to as many as 10 or 15 universities. This is primarily attributed to the Common Application form, which can be downloaded from the Internet and sent online to as many as 300 schools nationwide.
However, the results of this survey of first-year college students is relieving: 70% of these students say that they ended up at their first choice school, and most students are ultimately happy with their choice of college. At first this may seem surprising, especially since schools like Yale accepted fewer than ten percent of the 20,000 students who applied last year, and both Harvard and Columbia accepted just more than 10 percent, but there are many reasons why students end up at specific schools, as both the students and the college make great endeavors to find a right fit.
Applying for college is a crucial step in a person’s personal and professional developments. As an applicant, what do you hope to get out of your college years and what expectations do you want to send along with your applications? Be sure to think seriously about the environment that will be most likely to bring the best out of you:
- Know Yourself and Set Your Goals Clearly
If you haven’t decided on a college major, start taking inventory of your academic successes and interests – which were your best classes? Favorite classes? Also think about your favorite extra-curricular activities, sports, music, and even your favorite weather.
- Student Body Characteristics
Do you want to be surrounded with type-A go-getters, or coffee-shop philosophers? A highly competitive student body isn’t to everyone’s taste, and neither is a laid-back one.
- Class Size and Dynamics
What type of relationship do professors and students have with one another at your favorite schools? Large classes may mean little contact with your professors, which can be unappealing for students who want a personal relationship with their favorite academics. However, just because your favorite school is a large one, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to slip through anonymously!
- Advisory System
Will you have an advisor at your favorite school? How much do advisors guide the students’ choice of classes? Think about how much help you’ll really need – or want!
- Social Groups
How are social groups organized at your favorite school? Does Greek life dominate, or do athletics, clubs, classes, dorms, or local hangouts determine who your best college friends will be? If the social structure is different from your high school, do you think you’ll easily adjust?
- Feedback from Current Students.
What do current students really appreciate about this school? What is their biggest complaint? Are these issues you can handle?
The best way to answer all of these questions is to visit your favorite schools in advance, and keep a checklist of the most important issues for your education. If you can’t afford to visit, or the school is too far away, try to speak with as many people as you can by phone or email about the school.
A quick way of learning about university statistics is by checking out ranking websites, such as the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (www.nacacnet.org) or College Navigator (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/). These sites can help you sort schools by tuition, scholarship/financial aid opportunities, available majors, student body demographics, sports, even the quality of campus security. Also check out books like the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which have even more information about schools, quizzes, and student testimonials.
With the high price of college tuition in today’s uncertain economic climate, most students who apply for university admission will attempt to secure some financial aid. The most common form of financial aid is based on need, and is determined by the FAFSA form submitted by the student along with his or her application.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines a student’s eligibility for federal loans and other aid packages; much like submitting the application itself, sending in your FAFSA early increases your chances of receiving aid from this limited amount of funding. If you are applying for college entry shortly after high school graduation, your parents’ finances will be examined in addition to your own.
Many colleges and universities offer Merit-Based Scholarships. These are sometimes offered to students on the basis of their academic achievement in high school, or for exceptional SAT scores. Frequently, lower-ranked colleges will offer merit-based scholarships to encourage good students to attend, which improves the quality of the student body, and often makes college affordable for good students with less money. Do inquire about school-specific scholarships through your guidance counselor at school, or through the university’s financial aid office – you may need to do more than just keep earning good grades!
This brings us to Non-Institution-Based Scholarships and Grants – the least-understood source of funding for college applicants. These scholarships and grants vary widely and can be researched in many different ways. Did you know that you might qualify for a scholarship because…
- You plan to pursue a specific major?
- You belong to a specific ethnic or religious group?
- You have a specific career goal?
- You or your family has worked at a specific company?
- You have participated in specific volunteer work?
- You have a disability?
- You can speak a particular foreign language?
- You are an athlete?
- You or a family member is a veteran?
- You and/or your family have experienced a particular hardship (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, etc.)?
You, as an individual, may qualify for many different scholarships, many with quickly approaching deadlines, so it is important to stay on top of things. Check out some scholarship books, like the College Board’s Scholarship Handbook, or Peterson’s Scholarships, Grants and Prizes. Register yourself on scholarships.com, fastweb.com, finaid.com, or any of the many scholarship websites right away; they may notify you when a new scholarship that fits your profile appears, so don’t forget to keep your profile up-to-date with all of your latest successes! Scholarships listed on these websites are frequently nationwide or international, and receive many applications, so don’t forget to research Local Scholarships as well, such as grants from:
- Alumni of your high school
- Local businesses and corporations
- Community groups, like the Elks, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, or Masons
- Your local Department of Education
The best way to learn about Local Scholarships to ask your school or the organizations directly in a respectful and mature way – don’t have a parent write or telephone on your behalf!
What do both National and Local Scholarships frequently require? ESSAYS!
Scholarship Essays must not only be interesting and well-written, but must address the specific nature of the scholarship itself, and answer in a clear, decisive way any question that may be asked in the scholarship application. Sometimes these questions are very explicit: “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” To be quite frank, even less direct questions, like “What does being a Polish-American mean to you?” or “What is the most important lesson you have learned as a high school student?” or “How do you think your education has prepared you to enter the field of engineering?” all require you to answer: “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” Persuasion is the goal of scholarship essays. Remember: even though there may be fewer applicants for a specific scholarship than for your favorite college, frequently there is only ONE winner.
Some tips to make that ONE winner YOU:
- Use very specific examples from your life experience (this may help you with your SAT writing section as well!)
- Adhere to the length requirements of the essay – your 500-word essay might be great, but will lose out when the word requirement is 1000 – or 250!
- Learn about the organization that sponsors the scholarship, and not just the basics. You want to appeal specifically to the attitude of the organization. Read the website, get in touch with employees, or, even better, last year’s winner.
- Make sure your style of writing matches the style of the essay question. Some organizations ask light, informal, or even humorous questions, and others are deeply earnest and serious. Don’t mix them up!
- Even if you write one hundred scholarship essays, don’t send out a single one without proofreading and asking a teacher or mentor to read it first.
- Don’t expect to do double-duty with your scholarship essays and win over the deciding committee; they’ll know if you just swapped a sentence or two from your college personal statement!
- Don’t lose out because you didn’t submit a neat, organized, attractive application!
Writing scholarship essays may seem like a daunting task, especially with the busy lives of most students, but remember this: the more essays you write, the easier it becomes. Practice will not only improve your writing, but improve your chances at winning the scholarship you need to afford college.
Colleges want students that have excellent grades and SAT scores, but these criteria are frequently not the make-or-break factors that influence acceptance, particularly at highly selective schools. Colleges have to work hard to keep or make their good reputations, just like students, and therefore need to choose the right students. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that qualified students don’t get accepted to particular schools – but that does not mean that these students are any less qualified than before they got their thin envelope!
Colleges want specific and unique individuals to attend their schools, not walking transcripts! But since colleges probably won’t come looking for you (you’re probably not worried about being accepted to college if they are!), you need to find your special niche yourself.
Remember, even when you get accepted to the school of your dreams, no college acceptance letter guarantees a good education, a good job, or a happy life. Even if you make it to Harvard, there’s no guarantee that your life will be perfect.
Who Gets Accepted?
Today, more students than ever are applying for highly selective colleges; more students overall are planning on attending college after high school, and more successful students are seeking diplomas from big-name schools. This means that many highly-qualified candidates are rejected from the most selective schools. Can you believe…
- Students with perfect SAT scores
- Winners of famous, private scholarships
… all can get rejected from the most selective (and even less selective!) schools?
The Game Plan:
How can you increase your odds of acceptance into a school that is not only prestigious, but that will give you the best shot at an exemplary education? Research colleges thoroughly; sometimes colleges are just looking for someone very specific – an oboe player for the orchestra, a star quarterback for the football team, a speaker of Korean to help improve the language department, or a student council star to take over campus government.
Use your Interview to find out whether your specific skill set is particularly desired by a specific school. Your interview is not only a great way to make a good impression on the admissions officers, but also the easiest way to find out about the kind of students that each college needs. Come prepared, and don’t be afraid to ask very frank questions about the student body. It will not harm your chances; in fact, your serious interest in finding the best match for you can only reflect positively on your application.
Recommendations for College Students Eager to Enroll in Business School
If you are in college and interested in entering an MBA program immediately after graduation, getting accepted is not likely to be easy. Since the weak economy has put many young professionals with work experience out of jobs and many of those more mature students are applying to MBA programs, schools are less likely to be filling their classes with the less experienced. Yet, hope is not lost. This may be precisely the time to consider some alternative ways to achieve your MBA goals and bide time in school while the markets recover.
For current undergraduates as well as business school bound high school juniors and seniors, looking into various MBA options early may pay off. Universities as diverse as Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Rochester and Indiana University offer ways for students to complement their undergraduate degrees with an early MBA.
Harvard Business School allows juniors to apply to a program in which they are guaranteed a spot at HBS after they complete 2 years of work. During their junior year, applicants take the GMAT and complete an application. Applicants are notified of acceptance in the fall of their senior year. After completion of their undergraduate degree, accepted 2+2 students enter the work force. The jobs they take need to be approved by the business school. Though the HBS program does not shorten the length of time a student spends in school, both students and HBS are ultimately well served by the 2+2 program. It allows students to be able to focus on gaining work experience and enjoy the comfort of already being admitted to a top-MBA program, and the school is guaranteed a committed and experienced student.
The Kelley School of Business offers an Accounting program in which undergraduates can earn both an undergraduate degree and an MBA in just five years. This opportunity, open to juniors majoring in Accounting or Finance at Indiana, gives students the possibility of earning an MBA with an Accounting concentration in just one extra year and also relieves them of the GMAT requirement. Indiana has excellent job placement statistics and consistently pumps out solid MBAs with the high level Accounting skills valued by businesses.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
The William E. Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester offers another 5 year option for undergraduates of the University of Rochester. Interested students apply early in the spring semester of the junior year and begin MBA level coursework as seniors. Students will still need to take the GMAT in order to apply. This program is a great option for Rochester students as the University currently does not offer an undergraduate business degree. The University also offers several fellowships geared toward the more youthful aspiring MBAs, those with less than 3 years work experience interested in an MBA at Rochester.
Tepper School of Business also has opened its doors to Carnegie Mellon Computer Science majors that are interested in applying to business school and gaining an MBA and Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science in just 5 years. Applicants still will need to gain admission by submitting an application, resume, GMAT, essays, interview and recommendations, but they are offered the bonus of gaining an MBA from a top school with just one additional year of schooling. Though ultimately the Department of Computer Science determines eligibility, good grades, high scores, internships and maturity go a long way toward gaining acceptance.
Other schools too offer similar 5 year or early acceptance programs for undergraduates. So young applicants, take a closer look at alternative programs that are out there!
At most top MBA programs, interviews are a required and important part of the application. Even where they are not required, they are generally recommended by admissions staff.
The interview offers admissions committees the opportunity to access a candidate’s ability to verbally communicate who they are. They see a candidate’s charm, beyond their written expression and their ability to think on their feet. Overall, a candidate should aim to behave in a manner that encourages conversation and open discussion. However, this requires practice. A few guidelines are the following:
· Aim for consistency with the written application. Candidates should be sure to review essay questions prior to the interview and make responses align with their written responses.
· Research the school. You may even want to have knowledgeable questions in mind for the interviewer related to the school’s program.
· If you tend to be nervous in interview situations, find a way to relax yourself.
· Be honest!
· Be prepared especially to explain your weaknesses and make them strengths. Avoid using the old, “I’m a perfectionist line.”
· Support your answers with examples.
In practice sessions with friends or co-workers or individually (ideally still aloud), practice the following themes:
College and (Graduate education if applicable). Why did you attend the college you did? What was your experience like? How were your classes? Which ones in particular stand out? What were your college extracurricular activities?
Job. Why did you choose the job(s) you chose?
MBA. Why? Why now? Why at ___? Where else did you apply? What is your top choice? Where would you like to work in short and long term? What curriculum methods interest you?
General. Tell us about yourself, according to your resume. Where do you see yourself in five years? Why do you leave the house each day? What is your opinion on random business issues (ethics, current markets)? How would people describe you, including friends, co-workers, and supervisors? Describe your style of leadership, your approach to ethical questions. Describe your strengths and weaknesses. Rate yourself in terms of motivation, teamwork, organization, loyalty, work ethic. If money was not a worry, what would you do?
Today’s post is dedicated to US students looking to finance their MBA studies or non-US students looking for ways to fund a program of study in the US. The process of finding aid, whether it be need or merit based, can be trying although not impossible for students everywhere. In the end, you will need to decide if financing a business education is a good investment for you.
- Need-based Loans in the US
Both US and non-US students have the opportunity to apply for need-based loans. The process and loan providers are different for each group, however. One of the first places to look is a federal loan such as the Stafford loan, which has an 18,500 USD limit. The Stafford is available to US and non-US students but for the latter is more challenging: A non-US student must have a cosigner that is either a permanent resident or a US citizen. Some schools, such as MIT Sloan, will even commit themselves as a student’s cosigner.
The Stafford loan is a good first step because of the generally low interest rates associated with a federal loan vs. a private loan. In fact under a subsidized federal loan, the student pays no interest accrued while in school.
- Merit-based Scholarships
Research other opportunities that your MBA program of choice offers. Merit based scholarships are a possibility and should be researched despite the difficulty and competition associated with scholarships. In many cases, non-US applicants will be placed in the same pool as US students, which increases the competition. This should not be a deterrent because if a student is not granted the scholarship they may be put into an applicant pool for a different scholarship by the organization that will be granting them the aid.
Many programs also offer Teaching Assistant positions or fellowships. Each school is different, so again, check with your programs of choice.
Some MBA program have impressive financing options. For example,Wharton has a daunting price tag at 40,000 USD per year, but students typically secure summer internships at where they can make between 10,000 and 40,000 USD. Wharton also allows the student, either US based or international, to borrow up to 130,000 USD with varying interest rates to finance the student’s education and living expenses for the two years that they will be studying. Thomas Caleel, director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Wharton describes the school as “need-blind.” Their admission is based on merit exclusively yet the school guarantees financing for any student.
- Special Opportunities for non-US students
For non-US students, the International Education Financial Aid website offers a robust database for research financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The Institute for International Education has a similar database. Additionally, one can investigate via the US State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural affairs program called Education USA. This program is a network that provides information on studying in the US and importantly, includes information of getting aid.
- Acquiring financial aid takes persistence, focus, and organization. Look at the website of the school you are interested in and get detailed information on the financial aid services they offer.
- Remember: First look into a federal loan, and then do research on private loans to receive more aid. If you are not based in the US and require financial aid, research opportunities listed in the sites above.
- Be organized in your debt management. If it is possible, go visit the school’s financial aid offices.
- Realize that an MBA is an investment. The average salary of a MBA holder after graduation is 88,600 USD per year. It is difficult to put a price tag on the friendships, knowledge, and networks you will develop in B-School. Is this an investment you want to make?
- Pace It to Ace It – Test Taking Tips for the SAT
- Specialized Business MS Degrees on the Rise
- Three ways to ace your MBA Admission interview through proper prep
- Applying for an M.B.A.: Reading Between the Lines
- The Ten Toughest Business Schools to Enter
- Basic Strategies to Conquer the GMAT
- The Profile of the 2011 GMAT Test Taker Demonstrates Growing Diversity.
- Business School Scholarship Application Advice
- The Changing Face of Executive MBA programs
- Business School Reapplication: To do, or not to do?