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Are European MBA Programs A Good Fit For You?

February 16, 2015

Are you applying to business school in 2015? If so, are you including European MBA programs on your target list? Here are three reasons to consider applying to European programs:

  • If you don’t want to spend two years out of the workforce.

Most European MBA programs run for 12-18 months, as opposed to the classic two-year full time American MBA. The condensed European format means that you spend less time out of the workforce. This can be advantageous financially, both because there is a diminished opportunity cost, and also because the European programs are less expensive in an absolute sense.

  • If you want a truly international career.

While both domestic and European programs draw students from all over the world, the top European programs have an eclectic, diversified student body. (At Tuck, for instance, around 33% of the class is international, while at London Business School the average is 89%.) Students in European programs benefit from learning and building relationships in a truly global community. Schools like London Business School, INSEAD, HEC and IESE also have global brand recognition, which can help graduates find employment both domestically and abroad after graduation.

  • If your GMAT or GRE is somewhat low.

The average GMAT at Harvard Business School is 730, while the average GMAT at INSEAD is 702. At London Business School, it’s 700. While these are still impressive numbers, European programs tend to place less emphasis on test scores, and have historically accepted strong American candidates with test scores that don’t reflect their potential. Nevertheless, the caliber of student and of instruction is exceptionally high at the best European programs, and graduates receive an education that is comparable to the top American programs.

I definitely encourage my clients to consider applying to European MBA programs. Depending upon your profile, goals and priorities a European program may be the perfect fit.

Karen Marks is the founder and president of North Star Admissions Consulting. She has more than 10 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star in 2012, her clients have gotten more than 3.6 million dollars in scholarships over the last two years.

GRE Issue Essay: Developing Examples

December 22, 2014

Applying to Business School

October 9, 2014

applying to bschool
When applying to business school, there are certain characteristics and experiences that distinguish and qualify applicants in the business school admissions process. Unlike medical school or law school, there aren’t any so-called “pre-business requirements.” Instead, every business school has a unique set of qualities and characteristics that they look for in an applicant.

When applying to business school, every applicant should consider the following:

1. Leadership is crucial.

The term leadership is overused and misunderstood. To successfully demonstrate leadership on your application, you need to understand what leadership is, and demonstrate it correctly. To us, leadership is more than a position or a promotion. Leadership is realizing a need and stepping up to fill it. Leadership is the ability to take initiative. It is a certain confidence in your abilities, ideas, and even your flaws. It is the ability to motivate others and so on.

2. Diversity of experiences is very important.

By the above statement, we do not mean diverse in the sense of race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. We mean a diversity of experiences and perspectives. Business schools are not looking to fill their entire class with investment bankers or consultants or entrepreneurs. They are looking for special sets of skills and opinion and perspectives that add uniquely to the classroom and beyond.

3. Explain why you’re different.

How are your experiences at your employer different from everyone else’s? When applying to business school, you will be competing against thousands of students with similar backgrounds as yours. They will be coming from elite colleges. They will be coming from the same industry. They will have many of the same skills. So, when you are approaching your business school essays and application, it’s crucial that you answer these questions: Why are your experiences different or better? What have you done that others have not?

As business school admissions are becoming increasingly competitive, it’s important to understand what the schools are truly looking for in applicants. With this understanding, you must show, and not tell, that you have the characteristics and qualities that the schools to which you are applying are looking for.

This article was written by a business school admissions expert at InGenius Prep.

Is Business School Worth It?

September 11, 2014

is bschool worth it png

An MBA degree significantly adds to your academic credentials, enables you to qualify for high-paying jobs, and helps you achieve both your personal and professional goals. Considering the time, money, and effort you will spend on applying and going to business school, it’s important that you ask yourself, “Is business school really worth it?”

Applying to Business School

Business school requires a huge commitment of time and money. If you decide to pursue a full-time business program, you will have to quit your job and give up two years worth of salary. On the other hand, if you still want to keep your job, you will have to attend a part-time business school program, in which you will be taking night classes for longer than 3 years.

The business school application process is a long and tedious journey, which involves taking the GMAT or GRE, filling out applications, writing admissions essays, gathering letters of recommendation, polishing your resume, attending interviews, and choosing the right MBA program. If you get in, congratulations! However, this is where the real work begins…

Advantages of Going to Business School

There is no doubt that an MBA degree will improve your career. Business school can be a way to rebrand yourself, switch careers, or jump further ahead in your current profession. It can also help you expand your knowledge about the business world and vastly expand your professional network. Attending business school provides very extensive business and management training by which you will discover business contacts and create many long-term, meaningful professional relationships.

Needless to say, acquiring a business degree can elevate your career. Whether you plan to work for the biggest multinational company on Wall Street or create your own start up, the right business school will prepare you to best tackle the challenges ahead.

Disadvantage of Going to Business School

Of course, all the aforementioned benefits come at a cost. If you decide to attend a full-time MBA program, you are giving up two years of salary in addition to paying two years of tuition, living, and studying expenses. It’s true that MBA hiring is quickly on the rise and that a higher post-graduate degree salary is almost a guarantee, but while in school, you will have to face the reality of being broke, drowned with debt, and having lost two years of income.

While you are still in your planning phase, make sure to look at the bigger picture and consider your future, rather than giving in to what you think you want now. If you decide that applying to business school is in fact worth it for you, setup a consultation with an InGenius Prepbusiness school admissions expert.

This article was written by a business school admissions expert from InGenius Prep.


5 Ways to Overcome GRE Test Anxiety 

July 15, 2014

1. Know The Test.

Some bad news about the GRE is it tests virtually nothing you learned in college and nothing you will work on in graduate school. So unless you’ve been practicing geometry in college or studying etymology, the GRE is going to take preparation. But there is good news: the GRE only tests a limited number of subjects, and it will test them every time. Cylinders? Yes. Pyramids? No. Make a list of the types of questions you see in your prep work – triangles, standard deviation, probability, etc. – and assess your relative level of confidence. Still struggling with permutations and combinations? Now you know where to focus. When doing your prep work, focus on the areas that need the most improvement. When doing the test, focus on the areas you score the best.


2. Practice and Review

The GRE tests a limited range of content, but knowing the range is useless without knowing how to approach the content. Think of this like Pavlovian conditioning – when you see words like “both” and “neither” in the same question, you have found a group formula question. When you take the actual test, you want your response to be automatic. The GRE is as much as knowing what to do as it is knowing how to do. Make flashcards for all of the types of math questions, how to recognize them and what to do.

Possibly the single best way to improve your score without a tutor is to do practice tests and drills, review the questions you got wrong, and ask yourself why the right answer is right and why your answer was wrong.


3. More Words = Higher Score

This might be an ugly truth, but the more words you know, the higher your score on the GRE verbal section will be. But considering that you’ve spent a percentage of your life preparing for tests and quizzes, you probably have developed methods for memorizing. Flashcards are great, but developing mnemonic devices can be a very powerful aid as well. Drilling vocab is simply the easiest and most straightforward way to raise your verbal score.


4. Start with the Questions You Know How To Do

For much of your young life, you took math quizzes by starting with question 1, ending with question 20, and doing every single question. You have been conditioned to take tests in a certain way. Do not take the GRE this way. If you know you’re shaky on circles, and question 1 is a circle question, skip it. Skip early, and skip often. The “Review” screen lets you see which questions you have yet to answer, and starting in the last 2 minutes you can go through what you have left and punch your favorite letter (it is to your statistical advantage to have a favorite letter). But if question 20 is a percent change question, and you rock at percent change, make sure you have sufficient time to do the question correctly. As a rule, the more time you spend on a problem, the more likely you are to get it wrong. It is a better use of your time to make sure the questions you ought to get right you do get right than to spend it trying to decide between two answers to a question you don’t know – which amounts to a 50/50 chance in the end.


5. Learn the Bad Answers, or Learn to Ballpark

One thing you can do to give yourself a fighting chance on questions that might otherwise be outside your range is to familiarize yourself with the way ETS constructs wrong answers. In the Verbal section, there are types of wrong answers that show up in every reading comprehension section (e.g. extreme language, bad comparisons, direct contradictions). You will know when the author feels extremely – otherwise, extreme language can be eliminated. On the math, especially on algebra questions, you can get a sense of wrong answers without a sense of how to do the question. In the math, you can eliminate bad answers without doing much math – in geometry for example, the shaded area must be less than the area of the entire figure. Eliminate accordingly.


Do you need extra help preparing for the GRE test? Find an in-person or online GRE tutor today!

Raise your GMAT Score from 600 to 700

June 17, 2014

Have you finally hit your 600 goal in your GMAT prep? Or maybe you’ve just taken your first practice test and you’re looking where to go. Chances are that if you are scoring a 600, you have already mastered a couple of strategies. For example, you can probably regularly eliminate 2-3 answers on any given verbal question. What follows are a few tips for getting the right answer more often.


General Tips

These tips should help any test-taker in the verbal section, whether your test is tomorrow or two months from now.

  1. Review Your Practice Questions. It is not enough to do drills and practice tests to monitor your results. One of the single best ways to improve your score is to go through every question you got wrong (or better: every question, right or wrong) and understand why the right answer is right, why the wrong answers are wrong, and why you chose as   you did. The Verbal section can be surprisingly formulaic, and seeing the tricks and traps from the opposite end will make you more familiar with the test.
  2. (in Reading Comp and Arguments) Predict the Answers. This is one of the biggest overall tips for working in the Verbal Section. This isn’t recommended for grammar questions, because your predicted response might not be listed. But the answers in the Reading and Argument questions are designed over a period of years, and they are intended to trick you. If you know what you are looking for before you approach the questions, you’re less likely to be led astray.
  3. Don’t Try to Figure Out How You’re Doing, While You’re Doing It. Because the GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test, trying to work out how you’re doing based on how difficult the questions are is insidiously tempting. But 20% of the questions are experimental and will have nothing to do with how well you’re actually doing. And what’s difficult for you isn’t necessarily what’s difficult for the GMAT. Focus on the work; think about the results when you’re finished.


The Long Haul

Hopefully, your test date is still a few weeks away; ideally, you have at least a month. How can you begin improving your performance in the verbal section other than simply run through practice tests? Reading Comp is probably the section that is most difficult to simply improve.

  1. Read, read, read. And not just GMAT reading comp passages, although read those, too. Read difficult literature. Read the New Yorker or the Atlantic. Read literary criticism. Read some of Poe’s short stories. Why? Not only will this improve your reading speed, not only will this make you more comfortable with grammatical constructions we ignore in our speech, but it will also force you to think about the main idea of a passage or about the author without questions. After you read a text, try and express the main idea or what you learned about the author in your own words.
  2. Work Every Day. Test prep is a bit like preparing for a swimming meet. You want to be in the water every day. While this passage might be about ants and that passage is about the Industrial Revolution, the questions follow certain patterns. Practice. Practice and practice. By the end, you want to be breathing this stuff, completely familiar. Do a practice test at least one a week, but no sooner than 3 days before your actual exam.


The Short Term

  1. Memorize the Most Commonly Tested Grammar Errors. There are a billion rules of English grammar. Fortunately, the GMAT does not test all of them. In fact, it tests the same 6-8 errors far more often than it does the others. Design a strategy of what to look for and how to know what’s right. For example, start with pronouns. They are easy to spot and easy to check that they agree with their antecedents and are not used ambiguously. After that, move to subject-verb agreement, etc.
  2. Learn the Wrong Answers. GMAT uses a few formulas when it designs the wrong answers in the reading comprehension. Answers tend to recycle language directly from the passage, or take correct ideas from the passage and make them more extreme. You can get rid of these early, allowing you more time to work on the remaining answers, or at least raise your chances for the random guess.
  3. Practice Argument Patterns. The cool thing about argument patterns is after you learn them, you begin to see them everywhere. Advertisements and newspapers abound with analogy and sampling arguments. Memorizing the patterns allows you to trust your thinking and move through the patterns faster. And again, learn the wrong answers.


Next Step Test Preparation provides you with a one-on-one GMAT tutor  for the price of a crowded lecture-style prep course. Email us or call 888-530-NEXT (6398) for a complimentary consultation.

An Introduction to the GRE Webinar Recording

May 15, 2014

This is a recording of a webinar we recently conducted.  Rich Carriero leads the session and discusses everything a student needs to know about the GRE.  Rich has over 10 years of experience teaching the GRE and has worked with well over 500 students to help them achieve their GRE goals.  Watch this recording if you want to learn:


  • What the GRE is really testing.
  • How to approach questions on test day.
  • How the GRE is scored.
  • What a CAT is.
  • How to effectively prepare for the GRE.


Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one GRE tutoring programs nationwide.

GRE Math Test-Day Tips

April 1, 2014

Or — How to manage time on the GRE math section

Many students simply do not know how to approach the GRE quantitative section without attempting to solve the problems mathematically.  Although the quantitative section does require some math knowledge, attacking each question mathematically using causes a huge time deficit and the test taker does not complete the quantitative section.  This is lackluster to state the least.  There are many ways to approach GRE quantitative questions without getting embroiled in disorder and confusion.  Here are a few GRE quantitative tips to help you on Test Day.

Consider looking at the answer choices BEFORE reading the question to have a better understanding of how to approach the problem.  Although this sounds unconventional, it helps many GRE test takers not get frustrated and flustered when tackling  a math question.

TIP ONE:  If a question has integers (whole numbers) in the answer choices, then start with answer choice C and plug the value into the problem.  Here is a fundamental, non GRE example to make things easier.

2x = 10

a)      2

b)      3

c)      4

d)      5

e)      6


Begin with answer choice (C) and plug it into the expression.  So, (2) (4) = 10.  This statement is not true because (2) (4) is equal to 8.  You can now determine not only that answer choice (C) is too small, but also that answer choices (A) and (B) are also too small and can be eliminated.  This fundamental example is not a true test day showing, but allows you to see how you don’t have to use algebra to solve any test day problem if you don’t want to.  This technique is extremely helpful on more difficult math problems.


TIP TWO:  If a question has percents in the answer choices, always start with 100 to offer a more realistic approach to a difficult question.  Here is an example to support this:

A car increases its initial speed by 30 percent and then decreases by 10 percent.  What is the percent increase or decrease of the vehicle?

a) 15 %

b) 16 %

c)  17 %

d)  18 %

e)  Cannot be determined.

Where you tempted to pick (E)?  Most GRE test takers would be because they do not have the original speed to work with.  Next Step Test Prep teaches a savvy GRE test taker to start with 100, so the vehicle’s initial speed is 100.  The vehicle then increases 30%.  This means we multiple (100) (.3), which equals 30.  So the car’s new speed is 130.  Then the car decreases its new speed by 10%.  This is where a lot of GRE test takers make a huge mistake.  Many people would simply subtract 10 from 130.  This is wrong because 10 percent of 130 is not ten!  However, in a timed test environment many people make this exact error and cost themselves a lot of valuable test day points.  (130) (.10) = 13. So we subtract 13 from our new speed of 130 and see that the correct answer is 17.  This is a very common GRE quantitative question type and one worth revisiting many times before test day.


TIP THREE:  When there are variables in the answer choices, pick number instead of doing the math!  Many people want to dive to and attack questions algebraically and ends up with an answer choice that isn’t even offered!  This promotes frustration and vexation that is unnecessary.  Picking numbers makes the math much more manageable. For example:

A company charges as follows:  a dollars per day for the first b days and then (a +1) dollars per day for each day over b.   How much will the cost be for a journey of

c days if c>b.

a)      (a + 1)(c –b)

b)      c(a+1) –b

c)      ab +bc – b

d)      b(c-a) +ab

e)  (ab -2) + (abc – 10)

Taking a deep breath and thinking this problem through in simpler terms makes your test day experience a much better one!  Pick manageable numbers so you can quickly notice any simple math errors.  Don’t make the math harder than it needs to be.  Let a = 2, b = 3, and c = 5.  Be sure to follow the constraints of the question!  So, ask yourself “is c>b?”  So is 4 > 3.  It is, so we are ready to tackle the question.

This company charges a dollars per day for the first b days.  So that means this company charges $2.00 per day for the first 3 days.  This means for the first three days, you spent (2) (3) = $6.00.  Then, the company charges (a +1) dollars per day for anything over b days.  So you will pay (2 + 1) or $3.00 per day for any days over 3 days.

Your total journey is 5 days because we arbitrarily selected c = 5.  So we spent $6.00 for the first 3 days.  However, we traveled 5 days total.  This means we traveled two extra days (5 total days – the 3 days we already calculated).  The two extra days we pay a premium price of $3.00.  So our total money spent is 6 from the original three days and another 6 for the additional two days at the premium price.  Our total amount spent is $12.00  Great!  Then you look at the answer choices and plug in the same numbers to see which answer yields 12.  This is not an integer question, so we need not start with answer choice (c).

Let’s begin with (a).  (a +1) (c – b).  Remember, a = 2, b = 3 and c = 5. Don’t change your numbers when testing the answer choices.  (2 +1)(5– 3).  So, (3)(2) = 6 not 12.  This is an incorrect answer.  Now let’s try (b).  5(2+1) -3,  so (5)(3) – 3 = 12.  This answer is correct and you completely avoided setting up an algebraic expression.  This is a much easier and manageable approach for Test Day.

TIP FOUR:  One must know number properties to master the GRE quantitative sections on Test Day.

Understanding the behavior of numbers will save you a lot of time on quantitative questions.  If you understand the behavior of numbers, you can plug appropriate choices in to any equation.  For example:

If x and y are prime numbers, such that x > y, which of the following cannot be true?

a)      x ^y is even

b)      x + y is always prime

c)      yx is always odd

d)      x – y is always prime

e)      b(b-a) is always odd.

You must know a quick set of prime numbers for the test.  The definition of a prime number is a positive integer with exactly two distinct positive integer factors, which are 1 and the positive integer itself greater than 1.  In other words, the number 1 is NOT prime. This is very important for the GRE!  Next Step encourages students to use 2,3,5, and 7 as their prime number sets whenever possible.   Prime numbers cannot be negative and 2 is the only even prime number.  Let x = 5  and y = 3 because these are prime numbers that are easily manageable and fit the constrant x > y.  Now plug these numbers in to each answer and find which CANNOT be true or must be false.

However if you know your number properties then you don’t’ need to do the math.   For this problem x always must be odd because it always must be greater than y.  Y could be odd or even depending on which prime number you select.  So y could equal 2 or y could equal an odd number.  This means you cannot state that raising x to y power is always odd, answer choice (a) must be false and it the correct answer.  For example:  if y = 3 and x = 2 then (a) would equal 9 and that is odd.  However if y = 5 and x = 3 then (a) would equal 125 and that would still be odd.  The number property you must know for test day is an odd number to a power will be odd regardless of whether it is raised to an even or to an odd power.  If you know this, then you would need to plug and chug numbers for each answer and get yourself confused.  Timing counts on the GRE and number properties can save you a lot of valuable time!

We at Next Step Test Preparation have tons of Test Day tips to help your GRE preparation be much easier. We hope you perform well on Test Day!

Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one GRE tutoring programs nationwide. 

GRE Math Basics: Circles

March 31, 2014

Circles:  knowing that all measures of a circle are related through the radius is very helpful for Test Day.  In circle problems, we should always mark the radius and write down the relevant formulas.  There are only a few formulas to memorize for GRE circle geometry.  However, being able to apply these formulas and switch from one to the other will make all the difference on our Test Day performance and timing!

Every circle problem on the GRE comes down to using the radius to find some other measure!

An arc is simply a part of the circumference, and a sector is part of the area of a circle which is formed by two radii, and the arc they intercept.  If we know the radius of the circle and the degree measure of the arc or sector, we can calculate the

Length of arc   =  inscribed angle  =  area of sector

Circumference      360 degree            area of circle

For example:  To find the area of the sector with a central angle of 90 degrees, given a circle area of 64 pie,  simply multiply by the measure of the central angle over 360 degrees.

64 pie ( 90/360)  = 64 pie (1/4) = 16 pie

Join us next time when we’ll discuss translating words into mathematical expressions on the GRE.

Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one GRE tutoring programs nationwide. Contact us for a free GRE consultation. 

GRE Math Basics: Triangles

March 17, 2014

Mastering Triangles on the GRE

Understanding the basic properties of triangles can be an amazing savings of time and frustration on the GRE. Once you’ve mastered triangle properties, you’ll find that many geometry problems become quite simple. But — you must invest the time and energy to internalize the properties!

These are the most common triplets and combinations on the GRE.  Instead of having to toil through the Pythagorean triplets to understand the relationships of triangle side lengths, have these memorized.  Your ability to simple plug in numbers instead of calculating saves will save you a lot of time and leaves less room for error.  These triangles are consistently tested on the GRE.

 GRE 3:4:5 triangles

6:8:10 (multiplying all the numbers by 2)

9:12:15 (multiplying all the original numbers by 3)

12:16: 20 (multiplying all the original numbers by 4)

15: 20: 25 (multiplying all the original numbers by 5)

 GRE 5:12:13 triangles

10: 24: 26

15: 36: 39

GRE  7: 24:25

14:  48: 50

These are some of the more uncommon Pythagorean triplets that may be used on the GRE.  However, you might want to memorize them instead of working out a^2 + b^2 = c^2.





1 0 1
3 4 5
5 12 13
7 24 25
9 40 41
11 60 61
13 84 85
15 112 113
17 144 145
19 180 181
21 220 221
23 264 265



GRE Specialty right triangles


45 degrees      45 degrees      90 degrees

X                      X                      X radical 2



30 degrees      60 degrees      90 degrees

X                      X radical 3       2X


There is a lot of stuff that needs to be memorized here, but it is well worth it.  It will translate directly into points on Test Day!  Practicing triangle problems will help many of us commit these formulas to memory.  Being able to see the connection between the different shapes makes memorizing much easier!