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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

December 21, 2010


My colleague, Steve Green, has put together the following list of typical MIT Sloan MBA admission interview questions.  I suggest reading my overall analysis of MIT'S behavioral interviews, which provides detailed analysis of this unique approach to interviewing.  The behavioral interview questions on this list should also prove helpful to those preparing for Wharton interviews.


  • Walk me through your resume (FOLLOW UP)
  • What do you do outside work?
  • How do you have time for all the things that you do (referencing my resume);  
  • Tell me about your job, have your responsibilities changed since your promotion

  • Tell me about yourself, what have you been doing in the last two years.
  • Tell me about something at work you have been proud of in the last year
  • Do you have any recent accomplishments you want to share?
  • What's a personal goal that you've set for yourself recently?
  • Tell me about a time when you set a goal and moved towards achieving it.
  • Why and MBA
  • Why did you decide to apply to Sloan? Tell me your thought process.

  • How did you manage to resolve a conflict situation and move the team forward?
  • Tell me of a time when you took the risk and the outcome, what did you learn from it
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade/convince others.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to present something to someone who you did not like.
  • Tell me about a time you had a challenging interaction with someone
  • Tell me about a time you had to convince others to see your perspective
  • Tell me about a time you had to ask for help
  • Tell me about a time when your expectations were not met
  • Tell me a time when you thought outside of the box

  • Where do see your business heading?
  • How would a friend describe you? A client?
  • Tell me about a time when someone needed your help.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to step out from your comfort zone.
  • Tell me about something that you've encountered, at work or outside of work, that made you feel uncomfortable.

  • Tell me about something you've done that you're proud of.
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • Tell me about a time you convinced others to follow your plan.

  • Tell me a time when something unexpected happened to you
  • Tell me when you did something innovative
  • Tell me a time when you influenced someone
  • Tell me how Sloan ranks against the other schools you applied to.

  • Tell me about a time you led a team to a solution.
  • Tell me about a time you had to sell an idea.
  • Tell me about a time your idea was rejected.

  • What exactly do you do? What have you been doing in your position recently?
  • Tell me about a time when you mentored someone
  • Tell me about a time when you butted heads with a co-worker/client/employee
  • Tell me about a time when you were part of a team that had poor dynamics/didn't get along well.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with someone who wasn't pulling his/her weight
  • Tell me about a time when you had to decide multiple options.

  • I'm meeting a lot of people today, what is going to make me remember you?
  • Any questions for me?
  • What do you wish I had asked you?
If you are interested in my interview preparation or other graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

Questions? Write comments, but do not send me emails asking me to advise you on your application strategy unless you are interested in my consulting services. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see my post on "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant."
-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス

ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング MBA留学 インタビュー 面接

December 17, 2010


Following Oxford Said's introduction of severely high English requirements for 2010 entry, Cambridge Judge will be getting even more severe than Oxford for 2012 entry.

Oxford Said introduced new English level minimums for entry beginning in 2010:

Minimum score
TOEFL - Internet 109
TOEFL - Computer 267
TOEFL - Paper 630

In April, I commented as follows:
For applicants, especially those coming from countries where getting a 109 or higher is difficult (Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan being the ones that immediately come to my mind), this is good and bad news. It is clearly bad news for those with scores under 109 because clearly Oxford is no longer an option. For East Asians with TOEFL scores over 109,  suddenly the number of highly competitive applicants coming from their region is likely to drop significantly.

I think this is especially unfortunate for my clients in Japan, not only because it will eliminate many strong applicants from applying, but because it will likely damage the ability of Oxford to build a strong network here. Given the large percentage of company-sponsored applicants who don't have TOEFL 109 level English,  I think it is fair to say that Oxford will see a significantly reduced number of Japanese with strong professional backgrounds in the coming years.

In fact, the number of Japanese at Oxford has gone down and they are all, obviously very advanced English speakers.   Oxford is no longer a viable option for many candidates who would have considered it, but find all top US schools (except HBS), INSEAD, LBS, and IMD (GMAT score only) better options both in terms of rank and barrier to entry. 
Not to be outdone, Cambridge will be introducing new standards of required English ability for entry in 2012:

110 TOEFL! Congratulations Cambridge, you are about to have the world's highest TOEFL requirement of any MBA program!  This is a bold experiment in exclusivity designed to radically reduce non-native English speakers without extensive international experience.    I know there is a Cambridge/Oxford rivalry, but.. 

By the way, for those applying for 2011 entry, the old Cambridge requirements-
-are still in place, but I bet they will be making it tougher than these numbers indicate. 

As far as UK schools go, London Business School, with its very flexible entry requirements and top rank, proves that exclusivity per se is not the best way to be recognized as a Top B-School.  For applicants who want to experience real diversity while getting the top B-school experience in the UK, I predict that LBS will be the only game in town.  For those who want to experience working with only fully bilingual/bi-cultural candidates,  Oxford and Cambridge should be your targets.  Each option has its advantages (real diversity versus fluency) and disadvantages (inefficiency versus experiencing the kind of diversity that is the part of working with those who really don't share your linguistic and/or cultural assumptions).

-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス

オックスフォード大学のビジネススクール MBA留学

December 05, 2010

Top Ten Ways of Screwing Up Your Grad School Applications

There is always time for another "Top Ten List."  Here is one more.  It is based on working with hundreds of graduate school applicants since 2001.

I can't really say that I have put these ten in order of awfulness as each can lead to its own particular disaster. Often they are combined to achieve the full effect of total rejection. This list is by no means all encompassing, but these are some very common pitfalls.

Adam's Top Ten Ways of Screwing Up Your Graduate School Applications

There is nothing like serious time mismanagement to trash your chances.  Trying to get too much into too little time is an excellent way to produce lousy application components.  OK, you are thinking, I have XX(insert number) of days (hope it is not hours) before my applications are due, so what, Adam, should I do?  Simple suggestion: Spend the 10-30 minutes required to make a schedule for yourself.  Be realistic and see what is actually feasible to get done by the deadlines.  You may have to make some hard choices, but hey, life is filled with those.

The reality is that most writing is never done.  If you asked a bunch of published authors, many would tell you that they want to rewrite or at least amend their books.  I have worked with clients who sacrifice the simple need to generate effective content with the mistaken desire to make it perfect, which often results in the previous problem, time mismanagement, as well as mistaken expectations about what creating a masterpiece will have on the admissions committee.  For me, I look for "doneness," not perfection.  Perfection is unattainable, but really effective essays that reveal your goals, personality, strengths, and passions does not require perfection.  Mostly that requires clarity of purpose and sufficient understanding of the audience that you are trying to convince to admit you.  Your writing need not be artistically elegant, but it must be easy to understand, believable, and convince the admissions reader that you have fit with the program.

3.  NO LEARNING CURVE: Working on Multiple Applications at the Same Time
One of the things that I tell any prospective client is that I only work on one application at a time because doing so results in a natural learning curve, which generates both better content in subsequent applications and also great speed.  I have encountered applicants who worked on multiple applications at once, which tended to result in them needing to reinvent the wheel because they did have a process that allowed them to learn from their own essays.  I see this problem often when I review essays for clients who are asking me for a ding analysis as part of their reapplication process. Another reason to work on one application at time is that it allows you focus on a single "advertising campaign." Especially with MBA application essay sets you need to think about the whole message being conveyed and this is much easier to do if you are focused on one school at a time.

I tell my clients that I am not part of the reality based community, I am part of the "get admitted to graduate school" community.  These are not the same thing.  The essays you are writing are mere documents designed to obtain admission. They serve no other core function. If you take pleasure in your essays, that is lovely. If they truly reflect your passions and goals, that is great, especially if that helps you to be convincing in an admissions interview.  That said, all the essays (and other application components)  have to be is a viable and believable representation of you, which is to say, "the map (the application) is not the territory (you in reality)."  Some people get confused with this and engage in such a heartfelt process of self-evaluation that they lose focus.  Sometimes this results in essays that while truthful, fail completely as documents that should be designed to generate a specific zero sum outcome.

While I am not part of the reality based community, I am not telling you to engage in implausible deception.  The moment your reader does not believe you, you are dead.  You are selling something, yourself,  and nobody wants to buy something from a lying scumbag.   The point is to come across as completely plausible both in terms of your past experience and future goals.  Admissions officers have bullshit detectors of various degrees of effectiveness.  The more prestigious the program, the better calibrated their bullshit detector will be.  Which is to say, since Stanford GSB is the hardest US MBA program to get into, you need to be a particularly convincing liar to get admitted there. As it is easier to get into HBS, you can assume the number of liars is actually higher as well.  Personally, I think honesty or at least something very close to it, is the best policy.

However disclosing more than you need to, while honest, is also a problem.  Confessions are best made to priests, your close friends, your diary, readers of your future autobiography, and/or your therapist, so be careful about what you state.  This might take the form of discussing something really embarrassing as a failure, telling a story about your love life, or including the transcript for part-time program that you did not do so well in because you were too busy with your work.  Only report those facts to admissions that you need to report and/or are in your interest to report.  PLEASE NOTE: If you have committed a crime and the record has not been expunged and you know you will be subject to a criminal background check, don't lie, but do explain the situation.

If you don't know about the program, establishing fit will be difficult.  If you are applying to No Name School of Business or No Name Law School or the No Name School of International Relations, this should not be a problem, but if you are applying to a program that is competitive to enter you better be well informed about the program.  The level of required information varies greatly, but at a minimum, you must be able to demonstrate why a particular school actually suits your professional, personal, and/or academic objectives.

Every year I save a few clients from this most basic of errors.  The first thing to do when cannibalizing your essay for a new school is to change the school name.  For some reason the folks at Chicago Booth don't like it when they are mistaken for Kellogg and the reverse is also true.  God help if you make this mistake with Columbia Business School.

The application form is an actual part of the admissions process. If you fill it out at the last minute, do a sloppy job, provide incomplete information, provide inaccurate information, or fail to include really positive information, you will be hurting yourself for no good reason.  I suggest taking these forms seriously.  Some schools, like HBS, have very short application forms with very limited space, while others, like LBS, provide a huge amount of space to write about your past.  Whatever kind of application form you encounter, use it to your advantage. For my only analysis of an application form, see here. (I hope to update this very soon, but if my clients keep bothering me, that will not be possible, so don't hold your breath).

10. SUCCUMBING TO NOISE: Listening to Too Many People
At a certain point, whatever advice you get, you need to make it actionable.  Talk to three different people, get three different opinions.  Ask an MBA from Stanford (Class of 2000) about how to approach your HBS essays, get one answer.  Ask your sister, who is attending HBS now, get another.  Talk to an admissions consultant, get a third opinion.  Read some BBS or blog (even this one), and become even more confused.  At a certain point this all becomes noise. You are the author of your fate, so ultimately you need to go with what works best for you. The more opinions you take in, the harder it will be to integrate them. I have seen applicants become paralyzed by this.  To get them to act, I don't tell them they need to accept my perspective, but I do tell them they need to accept what they think will work best for them.  For more about mentors and consultants, see here.

Reading about reapplication is also a good way to avoid becoming one.  So I suggest taking a look at this and/or this.


Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see my recent post on "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス

MBA留学 ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング

November 24, 2010

HBS Recommender Questions for the Class of 2013

In this post I analyze the HBS Recommender Questions for the Class of 2013. For my analysis of HBS essays, see here.  For my analysis of HBS interviews, see here.

I like the HBS recommendation form best because it is short and sweet. Other MBA programs torture recommenders with a series of typically 6-10 questions, while HBS takes a recommender-friendly approach.   For more about recommendations in general see my previous posts, "10 KEY POINTS FOR WRITING AN EFFECTIVE RECOMMENDATION: WHAT EVERY RECOMMENDER SHOULD KNOW" and "Further Comments on Selecting the Right Recommenders."   Another thing that I like about the HBS recommendation questions is that they are found on the HBS website and don't require registering as a fake recommender to obtain.  It is really annoying to have to go through the process of a registering as fake applicant and then registering fake recommenders in order to look at recommendation questions! I try to avoid doing that.  Some schools seem to think that no one has figured out how to get access to these things or that there is something wrong in having applicants have easy access.  Applicants need to see the questions because there is a very good chance that they will need to advise recommenders on the questions, especially if their recommenders are not familiar with this process.   Why make something that should be so easy to obtain so difficult? 

"Recommender Questions for the Class of 2013"

Recommendations must be completed online. The form includes the following three essay response questions, along with other types of questions.
  • Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection? If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250-word limit)
  • Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250-word limit)
  • Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250-word limit)
You will notice that HBS is asking for no more than 750 words spread through three questions.  With other schools your recommenders will likely need to write  1000-1500 words to answer the schools questions effectively.  Some schools, in fact, provide no guidance on word count, but HBS does.  Let's look at each question.

Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection? If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250-word limit) 

Adam's Quick and Dirty Interpretation: HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE APPLICANT AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

As I emphasized in my 10 Key Points Post, "#2: YOU BETTER KNOW THE APPLICANT OR CREATE THE APPEARANCE THAT YOU REALLY DO," it is critical that the recommender establish the legitimate basis upon which they are making this recommendation.  A clear description  which is explicit about the time knowing, organizational relationship to, and extent of observation of applicant is critical.  In addition, this answer should, even though it is not stated, begin the act of advocating for the applicant (My key point #10: BE AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCATE FOR THE APPLICANT).  Given that HBS only provides a limited amount of word count for obvious praise (250 words in the 3rd question), begin doing that here.  A good way to do that is to, in the process of describing the applicant's role in your organization, highlight the ways they have added value to the organization.   It might also be useful to compare the applicant to his or her peers in the process of explaining the applicant's role in your organization.

Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250-word limit)


I consider this to actually be the ideal question for determining whether a recommender actually knows an applicant well.  After all, casual acquaintances, your dad's friend, the President of your country,and other such personages that often take the form of bad VIP recommendations, cannot effectively answer this question. As this will be a situation where you are criticizing the candidate, Key Point #7: BE CRITICAL, BUT NUANCED applies. Clearly describe what the candidate did that resulted in you providing feedback.  Next describe how the applicant responded.  An effective and applicant friendly answer here will be one where the applicant learned from and was, ideally, able to implement your feedback.  Compare this question to my analysis of HBS Essay 2: What have you learned from a mistake? as clearly HBS wants to understand both from an applicant and recommenders' perspectives how the applicant responds to mistakes, errors, and failures.  Assume that HBS believes that great leaders learn from their mistakes and they are trying to gauge the extent to which the applicant has the potential to be such a leader.

Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250-word limit)


Other schools will often ask two questions or more to address this same issue as HBS does in this one question.  What I really like about this is that the recommender is not forced to fit the applicant into a specific category. Such attempts at fitting round pegs into square holes can certainly take much time for a recommender to address. Compare  this HBS question to the extremely specific Haas rec question, In the Berkeley MBA program, we develop leaders who have “confidence without attitude”(or confidence with humility). Please comment and provide examples of how the applicant reflects this Berkeley-Haas value, and  you can easily see that HBS makes it easy for recommenders to focus on what they consider most important to say about an applicant.  This space should be used to focus on the absolutely critical selling points about the applicant that the recommender really wants HBS to know.  Core accomplishments, interpersonal and/or professional skills, and future potential are the ideal topics to write about here.  

Finally, I just wanted to mention that given that HBS has the largest alumni network of any MBA program, it is not necessarily the case that one should prioritize obtaining recommendations from HBS alumni.  If you are fortunate to have such a person who can effectively recommend you, that is great, but selecting an HBS alumni simply because they are an alumni is not necessarily smart because there will be so many of them. The most important thing is to have a recommendation that will really standout and fully convinces HBS about your past accomplishments, suitability to enter HBS in 2011, and future potential.

Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see my recent post on "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス

 MBA留学 ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング  ハーバード

    November 22, 2010

    Further Comments on Selecting the Right Recommenders

    This is a follow-up to my post, 10 KEY POINTS FOR WRITING AN EFFECTIVE RECOMMENDATION. I suggest reading that post first.

    In my previous post I provided some general guidelines for selecting the right recommender:
    "It is important that you select recommenders who know you well enough to serve as effective advocates on your behalf.  Selecting someone  who has a big title or an MBA to the school you apply to is perfectly fine as long they know you and are an appropriate person to evaluate you.  That said, great recommenders need not have a super title, an MBA, or even be able to write in English! A great recommender is someone who can write convincingly of your abilities based on their experience of working with you.  A great recommender might need to have their recommendation translated into English.  A great recommender might not have the most beautiful writing style, but if they can communicate effectively, that is all that is required.  Most schools want a current direct supervisor or someone who can fill that role. Additionally senior colleagues and clients are also common choices.   All recommenders should know you in a formal professional or extracurricular context.  Causal friends and family members are not effective.  Senior colleagues are fine.  For some schools, like Stanford GSB, peer recommenders are required and should be someone who is really a peer and not a supervisor.  HBS is one of the few schools that will accept recommendations from your undergraduate or graduate school professors. Choose your recommenders carefully because who you choose is one basis on which you will be judged."

    Here are some other criteria to keep in mind:

    1. Select a group of recommenders who can best evaluate you.  Don't think about your recommenders in isolated terms, but rather as a group.  For most schools, your group will consist of two recommenders.  For Stanford and HBS, your group will consist of three recommenders.  The reason to think of recommenders as a group is because you are trying to maximize rather minimize their coverage of you.  In other words, you don't want recomenders who are going to say the same thing because their experience of you is essentially the same.  Sometimes such duplication is impossible to avoid, but, in most cases, there is always a way to differentiate between recommenders.

    2.  Think about the period of time that the recommender can cover.  Try to pick recommenders who have long experience working with you.  Selecting your current supervisor who you just started working with would not be terribly effective.  In such cases, select a previous supervisor who can serve as a better evaluator of your abilities.  While schools want recommendations from current supervisors, if that supervisor's experience of you is too limited, they can't write an effective recommendation.    Unless someone's work with you was particularly intense, I can't see much point in getting a recommendation from someone who has only known you for six months or less.  One way to select recommenders is to write down all the recommenders and consider their period of coverage.  Here is an example for someone who has been working since 2006 at the same company:

    1. John, previous supervisor, worked with me from 1/2006-11/2007.
    2. Roberta, senior colleague, has worked with me from 2/2007-present.
    3. Hugo, current supervisor, has worked with me from 1/2009-present.
    4. Alex, project leader, has worked with  me from 1/2010-present.
    5. Helen, previous supervisor, worked with me from 12/2007-3/2008. 

    In the above mix, Hugo is an obvious choice (Current supervisor for to select regardless of whether you needed 1, 2, or 3 recommendations, but who to pick next?  Since Roberta and Alex are above you, that is, they are not peers, they both can be effective supervisor substitutes.  The advantage of Roberta is that she can cover you for a long period of time.  The advantage of Alex is that he lead a project you were recently on.  If your role in that project is something you really wanted to highlight you could use him.  While John would be an option, unless there was something about your work with him that you really wanted highlighted, he is an easy one to reject because he is not in a good position to speak to your current abilities.  Helen is not effective choice because the period of coverage is very short.

    As you can see in the above there is no simple formula for selecting the right person, but if you evaluate your options you can probably narrow the choice down easily enough.

    3. Think about diversity. It is always nice if you can select a diverse group of recommenders in terms of nationality, profession, gender, linguistic abilities, and/or education.  This sends a nice subliminal message to admissions about your willingness to be evaluated by very different kinds of people.  In the above example, selecting Roberta makes sense because she has worked with you for a long period of time, but also because she is a woman.  Especially for male applicants, such a selection shows your comfort with women in the workplace. For international applicants, having both native and non-native speakers of English as recommenders is a common way to add to the diversity of who you select.

    4. The MBA factor.  It is valauble to have recommenders who have MBAs, especially from the school you are applying to, but not to the exclusion of other factors.  In other words, don't select an MBA simply because he or she is an MBA, but select them because they really can write an effective recommendation for you based on working with you. See also my comments about this issue in regards to HBS.

    5.  The VIP factor.  Just like with the MBA factor, the important thing is that the VIP actually know you.  If you dad is friends with the Senator, President, famous writer, etc. who does not really know you and has not worked with you,  such a recommendation will not help you.

    6.  The willingness factor.  The more willing the recommender is, the better.  It will not be great if you have to select someone who is not committed to helping you.  If someone says they can do it, but lack enthusiasm and are sending you mixed signals, you should really look for someone else.

    I hope the above suggestions help you in your recommender selection process.

    Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see my post on "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

    -Adam Markus
    アダム マーカス


    Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC21

    This is another post from Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. This post is on GMAT sentence correction. His other posts can be found here.


    河野塾代表の河野太一です。年来の友人であるAdam Markusさんのご厚意で、"The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition"の解説ブログの内容の一部をこちらにアップさせていただくことになりました。オリジナルは河野太一のGMAT OG12解説でご覧いただけます。なお、オリジナルのほうは予告なく内容を変更することがあり、ここに上げたものと相違があることがありますのでご了承ください。私のこれまでの記事やGMAT以外の話題についてはこちらをご覧ください。

    (A) Neuroscientists, havingまでを見た時点で、Neuroscientists が主節の主語、havingは現在完了形のhaveをdoing副詞にしたものと考え、後ろにカンマと動詞を探す。すると, areがあって、複数受けなので数の呼応はOK。havingからカンマまでは特にキズは見当たらない。itsもthe brainを指していると素直に考えて問題なし。


    (C) amassingが直接Neuroscientistsにかかっているため、これは後置のdoing形容詞と解釈でき、意味は「今まさにamassしてい る」となる。SCに慣れてくればこの時点でダメだろうと予測がつく。後ろを見ると, and areとなっているから、やはりNeuroscientistsがなくなって、これで完全アウト。

    (D)はhave amassedが主節の動詞となっており、これはOKというか、むしろ好感度は高い。後ろはどうか。adulthood,までは他の選択肢と変りなく、問 題なし。下線部の後ろはnow drawing ...となるので、(A)とは逆に、今度は後ろがdoing副詞になる形だ。doing副詞というのは、-ingの「同時感」を基本とした表現なので、主 節と副詞句が示す物事がほぼ同時に起こっているというのがコアの感覚。ただし、もちろん主節のほうが主体であり、副詞句のほうはサブ情報的な扱いになる。 したがって(A)と(D)の比較では、どちらが主体的な情報になるべきかを考えなければならない。ここはやはり「多くの情報を集めたので、今や結論を導き 出そうとしている」と考える、すなわち前の情報がサブで、後の情報がメインと考えるのが自然であろう。(D)では「今や結論を導き出そうとしていて、多くの情報を集めた」となってしまう。また、doing副詞が「同時感」を基調とする以上、「過去から現在までをひとわたり見渡す」時制である現在完了形と一 緒には使われにくい。主節には(現在が基準時であれば)現在形か現在進行形が来るのが普通だ(OG解説が言いたいのはおそらくこのこと)。ここは「多くの情報をすでに集めたという状況が同時的にあり、それで今は結論を導き出そうとしている」→「多くの情報を集めたので、今や結論を導き出そうとしている」の ように、「同時感」から派生して「理由」を表すようになったdoing副詞と見ることができる。

    (E)は基本的に(D)と同じ構造なのでアウト。over the ... yearsがamassed,の次に来ている理由がわからないので、違和感が増している。

    こ の問題は結果的にhavingを含む選択肢が正解であった。ここで「havingは正解にならない」という「ルール」について一言。以前にも書いたとおり、この「ルール」は実際には「正解になりにくい」であり、正解になる可能性も現にこのようにある。そのことはこの「ルール」を教える人も知っているので、ちゃんと「正解になりにくい」と表現しているはずだ。しかし、習っている側の頭では、必ずしもそのようには処理されないことがある。どんなに講師が正確な発言を期しても、多くの生徒の頭には「havingを見かけたら即切るべし」と刷り込まれてしまう。習う側に「時間を節約しなければ」という強迫観念 があり、また「苦しまずに楽に解きたい」という欲求もあるからだ。この問題では、「havingルール」を教えられた人は(A)を即座に切ってしまい、振り返りもせず、(D)あたりを正解にするだろう。(A)を見て、「待てよ、このhavingは大丈夫そうだぞ」と思える人はほとんどいないだろう。なにせhavingを見たら切るようにバイアスがかかっているから、havingの違いを見抜こうなどという意識は働かないはずだ。筆者には、このあたりが「一 発切りルール」の限界に思える。正攻法で、ひとつひとつの選択肢をニュートラルに見て、不自然なものを切っていくという姿勢のほうが、結局正解率が高く、 時間も短縮できるのではないか。完了形をdoing副詞にする用法があり、しかもそれほど珍しいとまでは言えない表現である以上、このSC21ではその可能性を考えるべきであるし、そうすれば簡単には(A)を切れないはずだ。もちろんhavingの正解率が低いのは事実なので、「ルール」が間違っているわけではない。しかしなぜ正解率が低いかといえば、haveを-ing形にする必要がないところを無理矢理にhavingにした選択肢が多いからだ。 havingが何でもかんでもダメとGMATが考えているわけではなく、一定のレシピに則って間違い選択肢を作る結果そうなっているだけなのである。そし て、そのような無理矢理感のあるhavingは、「ルール」によらずとも大抵の場合は容易に見抜けるのである。

    もちろんこのSC21のような問題を仮に落としたとしても、「ルール」に頼ったほうが総合的に時間節約、点数アップにつながるのだ、という見方もあろう。それはその人の考え方次第だ。筆者も、「ルール」という表現はちょっと強すぎると思うが、「こういう表現は正解になりにくい」という「傾向」は大いに知っておくべきと考える。 GMATに慣れてくると、正解も間違いもある程度ニオイが感じられるようになるので、「ニオイでわかるでしょ」と解説することすらある(そして一部から非難を浴びる)。ただ、それが問題を解く際に前面に出てくるのではなく、あくまで正攻法を基調とし、「傾向」は知識として脇に携えておく、ぐらいの感覚がよいのではないかと思うのだ。「ニオイ」も、あくまで正攻法で多くの問題を解いていった結果体得されるものであって、最初から知識として詰め込むようなものではない。生徒と話していると「どうもルールに振り回されているなあ」と感じることがある。「ルール」を絶対視し、「効率的に解こう」と焦るあまり、何でもかんでもルールでぶった切ってしまって、思わぬ誤答をしたり、正解がなくなってしまって最初から考え直すハメになったり。そうして何だかワケがわからなくなっているGMAT学習者は、潜在的にかなり多いのではないかと筆者は疑っている。そのような人は、選択肢を正面から見て、文法的に間違っているものと、表現として適切でないものを切る、という姿勢に戻したほうがスッキリするのではないか。もちろんそのためには正確な文法知識と、大量のインプットによる「正しい英語の感覚」を身につけなければならないのは確かだ。結局は、その苦しみを受け入れて乗り越えようとするか、苦しみを避けて姑息な手段に逃げ込もうとして「策におぼれる」か、という姿勢の問題に還元されるのではないか。



    November 17, 2010

    Wharton's100% Behavioral Interviews: A Change Badly Implemented


    Any school has a right to change its policies and procedures.  Wharton certainly had the right to change its interview style.  That said, moving to 100% behavioral interviews without letting applicants know is just particularly mean and nasty for those unlucky enough to have been unprepared for the change.  Now that the cat is out of the bag,  whether Wharton writes about it or not, applicants who look at sites like mine and GMAT CLUB's will know.  So basically it means that those who look for unofficial information will have a vast informational advantage over applicants who just read what is on Wharton's site and have expectations for a standard interview.  Wharton's site says only "Interviews may include behavioral questions." This is an outright deception as reported interviews are now 100% behavioral.

    From my perspective, it is a pity that the Wharton MBA holders who now manage admissions at Wharton could not grasp the basic unfairness of their approach.  This is particularly bizarre given that MIT SLOAN has been using behavioral interviews for years and much to their credit, provides a guide about what to expect from a behavioral interview. It is a pity that no one at Wharton could not have bothered to ask Rod Garcia how to effectively prepare applicants for what is, after all, a very specific and non-standard form of interviewing.

    Hopefully Wharton admissions will take into account that many 1st round interviewees were not informed about their policy change.  It certainly is odd to have a situation where some applicants will know exactly what to expect and while others are caught completely off-guard because of the faulty implementation of something as basic as testing logistics.
    -Adam Markus
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