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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.

April 23, 2010

Attend my Free MBA Reapplication Webinar

On April 28th at 9pm PST/April 29th at 1pm Japan time, I will be presenting a webinar titled "MBA Reapplication for Success" as part of the AIGAC Graduate Admissions Virtual Summit.  I will be taking questions as part of that webinar. Space is limited, but still available.  For details, see http://www.aigac.org/summit/2010.  A  recording of the webinar will be available (details to follow).

April 18, 2010

Knewton: Probability vs. Combinatorics on the GMAT

My blog's sponsor and English language GMAT content provider has provided me with the following post on the Quantitative Section. If you have not done so, consider taking a free trial of Knewton GMAT.

Knewton Tips: Probability vs. Combinatorics on the GMAT 
Rich Zwelling is one of Knewton's expert GMAT prep instructors. He enjoys using the word “com­bi­na­torics” in everyday conversation.
A friend and I were recently analyzing a particular GMAT problem. Since we’re both standardized-test geeks, the discussion naturally turned into an extended investigation into GMAT strategies. Some topics are just too fascinating to avoid!
The problem in question went like this:
Melinda and Mindy both work in a department consisting of six total employees. Their boss specifies that two workers in the department will be chosen at random to take part in a company survey. What’s the probability that both Melinda and Mindy will be chosen for the survey?
As with many GMAT problems, this problem can be solved in a variety of ways. Turns out that my friend and I chose entirely different methods—but we both ultimately arrived at the same (correct!) answer. As it turns out, our divergent strategies highlighted some key distinctions between probability and combinatorics as used on the GMAT.
1. My friend decided to go with probability to solve the problem. Here’s his thought process:
The chance that Melinda will be selected first is 1/6. If that happens, there will be 5 workers left. The probability that Mindy is the next person chosen is 1/5. Thus, the probability of Melinda being the first person chosen, and Mindy being the second person chosen, can be found by multiply 1/6 * 1/5 = 1/30.
In addition, however, we must factor in the possibility that Mindy is the first person chosen and Melinda the second. This will lead to the same probability: 1/6 * 1/5 = 1/30.
Since we’re only interested in these two possibilities (and nothing else), we add the two probabilities in order to arrive at our final answer.
1/30 + 1/30 = 1/15. This is the probability that both Melinda and Mindy will be chosen for the company-wide survey.
2.  Unlike my friend, I decided to use combinatorics to solve the problem. Here’s my train of thought:
With a group of 6 people, there are 15 possible combinations of 2 people that you can choose. This can be calculated using the combination formula, namely:
n! / [k! * (n-k)!]
In this problem, n = 6, because there are six people in all, and k = 2, since we’re looking for a sub­group of two people.  Therefore, we can figure out that:
6! / (2! * 4!) = 6 * 5 / 2 = 15 total combinations of 2 people.
So, out of these 15 possible combinations, we’re only interested in one: Melinda and Mindy. Remember, since this is a combination, order does not matter (as opposed to a permutation, where order must be taken into account). Melinda and Mindy is the exact same combination as Mindy and Melinda, since the same two people are involved.
(To explain this further: an example of a permutation would be if Melinda and Mindy were in a cycling race, and there were different prizes awarded for 1st and 2nd places. In that case, Melinda finishing first is a different scenario from Mindy finishing first. But in our problem, we don’t care who’s picked first, but only about who is in the group of 2; therefore, we don’t need to worry about order.)
So, back to the question. We’re interested in only one combination, Melinda and Mindy, out of a total of 15 combinations. Therefore, the final answer is 1/15—the same answer that my friend came up with using probability.
When we talked about this, though, my friend interrupted me. “But wait,” he said, “since it’s a combination, order shouldn’t matter, right? Melinda and Mindy is the same exact combination as Mindy and Melinda. So—how come in my solution, we added different probabilities for Melinda-Mindy and Mindy-Melinda? Order shouldn’t matter here—but it did!”
After a little bit of discussion, we realized that the order had mattered in my friend’s solution because he had looked at the situation as two different events, not two different combinations. Melinda and Mindy is the same combination as Mindy and Melinda—so if we were restrict­ing our­selves to find­ing infor­ma­tion that was solely about com­bi­na­tions, then order wouldn’t matter.
However, in this case, we were also interested in probability. The situation of Mindy and Melissa being chosen first and second, respectively, for the survey, is a distinct event from if Melissa and Mindy were chosen first and second. So, even though we know that both events concern the same combination of people, the events are different.
Problems like this can be a little bit hard to follow, as they can involve both probability and combinatorics, making it easy to confuse the two. It’s important to remember that, on their own, combinatorics deal only with finding the number of combinations or permutations in a given set of data, while probability deals with discerning the likelihood that an event or events will happen. 

Knewton, Inc.

TOEFL AND IELTS Minimums at Oxford Said MBA

My post analyzing Oxford's  MBA application essay questions can be found here.

For applicants who are required to demonstrate their English proficiency, the new TOEFL and IELTS standards for Fall 2010 admission imposed at Oxford University's Said Business School pose a serious hurdle:

Minimum score
TOEFL - Internet 109
TOEFL - Computer 267
TOEFL - Paper 630
Oxford Said now requires the same TOEFL level as HBS. For advanced English speakers, this is no problem, but for many non-native applicants, this is a barrier to entry.  Given Said's decline in the Economist ranking from 27th in 2008 to 47th in 2009, this could not have come at a worse time. 

Last year, when I heard about the new requirements at Oxford, I had  assumed that they were imposed on the Business School and this does appears to be the case. Oxford has university-wide English requirements for postgraduate studies. See here.   Oxford has both "Standard Overall Score" and "Higher Overall Score" English requirements.  The MBA, as a taught course falls under the "Higher Overall Score" requirements of 109 TOEFL or 7.5 IELTS. 

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.   Consider that IESE (Economist Rank 1), IMD (Economist Rank 2), LBS (Economist Rank 8), Cambridge (Economist Rank 11), IE (Economist Rank 16), and  INSEAD (Economist Rank 23) have much lower English requirements.  Even INSEAD only requires a 105.  There is actually a significant difference between the 105 and 109 level.  Cambridge Judge, which Oxford is most often compared with, only requires 100 TOEFL or 7 on IELTS. 

To confirm that Oxford was indeed following these new requirements, I contracted them directly by sending an email to their mba-enquiries system. I posed as an applicant with 108 TOEFL score.  Here is the response I received:

"If you are a non-native English speaker, proven proficiency through TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English language Test Scheme) is a requirement for admission to the MBA programme.

Please see below details of the required minimum scores:

TOEFL (minimum score required):

109 Internet based

267 Computer based
630 Paper based

IELTS (minimum score required): 7.5

The TOEFL/ IELTS test can only be considered valid if they were taken a maximum of two years prior to the application deadline for the stage in which you are applying.

Unless Oxford admissions is simply unwilling to state flexibility on this, I assume they are not flexible. Given that they are flexible about GMAT (see here),  I assume they are actually stating inflexible TOEFL/IELTS minimum scores.

If any readers of this post are admitted to the fall 2010 entering class with less than 109 TOEFL or 7.5 IELTS, please let me know.

-Adam Markus
Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. 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 "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

オッ クスフォード大学のビジネススクール MBA留学

April 14, 2010

MBA Reapplication: Why were you dinged? Now what?

On April 28th at 9pm PST, I will be presenting a webinar version of the post below as part of the AIGAC Graduate Admissions Virtual Summit.  I will be taking questions as part of that webinar.  For details, see http://www.aigac.org/summit/2010.

This post has been updated from last year.

Was your admissions game plan for Fall 2010 a failure?

For those, who have yet to apply, do you want to understand some of the common pitfalls you should avoid?

Below are the typical reasons for rejection(stated as questions) and some of my suggestions for developing a new strategy for future applications (mostly stated as questions). I base the following on my experience helping reapplicants successfully obtain admission at such schools as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago GSB, Kellogg, LBS, and MIT.

1. Were you realistic? If there was one overall reason for failure that I would point to, it would be lack of realism about the process. Usually this involves ignoring one or more important factors:
-Specifically ignoring the rate of admission, average GMAT and/or iBT TOEFL / IELTS test scores, and GPA required of those admitted are all highly likely to result in applying to schools that an applicant has very little chance to enter. See below for more about this.
-Age. I don't blame applicants for this one entirely because B-schools often have an all inclusive message about who they admit that is not quite the real case. This is especially true in regards to age where it is very clear that programs can't say they will not let in older applicants, but actually they usually don't. For example, applying to Stanford GSB or HBS after the age of 30 might be worth trying, but your chances for admission (compared to the average rate of admission) are not great. HBS is fairly direct about the age issue (see my earlier post on the subject), but Stanford does not choose to deal with this issue in an honest and forthright manner. For those over 30, look at average age and age range when considering where to apply. Try to ask admissions privately about this issue, you might get a straight answer or not. (See my interview with Kirt Wood from RSM who gave a very clear answer on this issue.) Applying to most top programs once you are in your mid-thirties may very well be a complete exercise in frustration and once you are past 35, the chances for admission at many top programs appears to be slim. For those in and/or approaching their mid-thirties or older who want a full-time MBA experience, I think programs such as the Sloan programs at LBS, MIT, and Stanford as well as USC IBEAR are all very suitable. An EMBA is always an option.
-Last minute applications: Developing great applications takes time, doing them at the last minute is one of the easiest ways to increase your chances for rejection because it is highly likely that your essays were not well written, sufficiently strategic in the way they marketed you, and, possibly, not even proofread. I have worked with multiple reapplicants who had application errors and/or contradictions that created the appearance of dishonesty and/or caused confusion.  Last minute work was often the cause for these problems.  
-Lack of substantial research into/networking for the programs being applied to. If you did not make full use of each schools' web-based information, did not attend admissions events, did not visit campus, and/or did not communicate with alumni or current students, you probably did not know enough about the schools you applied to make an effective case for why you fit at them.  Some applicants take such a passive attitude to learning about how a specific school fits them that the "Why MBA? Why Goals" essay is not really customized to establish fit with a specific school. 
-Did not obtain sufficient and/or effective advice on your applications and application strategy from mentors and/or admissions experts (see below).
One thing I have found about successful reapplicants is that are highly realistic. Reality is a harsh teacher, but one you cannot afford to avoid.

2. Did you really know about the programs you applied to? How was that reflected in your essays? Did you merely restate obvious information about the school or did you show exactly what aspects of it will meet your academic and professional goals? Did you demonstrate a clear connection to the program? Did you even think about fit? Stating unremarkable things based simply on reading the website or brochure is not enough, you need to show why a specific program really fits your personality and goals. If you had an interview, how effective were you at establishing fit? Did you ask good questions to the interviewer?  Could you express how passionate you were and how much you had to contribute to the school?

3. Was there a problem with the way you expressed your desire for an MBA or your goals?Actually almost every re-applicant I have worked with had a serious problem clearly articulating their goals. If you think your goals might be the problem, read this and complete the table you can find there. Were your goals based on any research? Were they interesting?   Did your goals take present difficult economic circumstances into account?

4. Did your essays fully demonstrate your potential as a student and a professional? Did you come across as a unique applicant? The way you write about who you are and what you have done is a major way that admissions evaluates this. More specifically: Could you clearly express selling points about yourself in your essays? Did you provide sufficient details about what you did combined with a sufficient explanation for why? Are your essays about you or just about what you have done? Are your essays mere extensions of bullet points on your resume or do they tell effective stories about you? Do you really understand the essay questions? How effective were in writing about such common topics as contributions, leadership, and/or failure?

As is usual for Chicago GSB admissions, they have provided some great advice, this time on the topic of reapplication. If you plan to reapply to Chicago GSB or are just looking for general reapplication advice, I suggest reading GSB's "Making a Fresh Start." I especially liked the following very useful advice that is really applicable for any applicant:

Show us why you're different. Each year thousands of students apply to business school and yet many qualified candidates are not offered admission. With MBA admissions growing more and more competitive each year, it's really important to stand out in the crowd by attempting to differentiate yourself from those of a similar profile. Tell us about your challenges, interesting achievements, unique perspectives and stories.

Showing admissions why you are unique is something that all applicants should really focus on. For more about, please see my earlier post on being unique

5. Did you put a sufficient amount of time into writing your essays? Writing great essays usually takes time and multiple drafts. Did you write multiple drafts of your essays? Were your essays quickly written? Did a significant amount of thought go into them? MBA essays don't have to be literary masterpieces to be effective, but they do need to be well thought out and polished.

6. Did your resume (CV) present your professional, academic, and extracurricular experience effectively? A great MBA resume requires effective presentation of your past experience so that an admissions committee can gain insight into your potential to succeed in the MBA program and in your future career. A great resume is also an effective agenda setting device for an interview. Did your resume contain clear statements about your accomplishments? Did your resume honestly and effectively represent the full range of your experience? Did your resume showcase your potential as a manager, businessperson, and/or leader? Was your resume user friendly? 

7. Did you really address any potential concerns that an admissions committee may have about your suitability as a candidate? Even though there is always an optional question available for this purpose, did you make use of it? If there was something you wanted to avoid discussing, maybe you should consider doing so.  Assume that if you are aware of a possible problem with your application (test scores, GPA, work record) that admissions will be too.  If you have something effective to say about you concern(s), I suggest addressing them.

8. How were your interviews? If you did interview, were you well-prepared? How do you judge your own performance? Did you practice enough? Are you good at interviewing? For non-native speakers: Are you good at interviewing in your own language? I believe that the only effective way to prepare for interviews is to be over-prepared: You need to appear relaxed and comfortable talking with the interviewer, to be ready to address the hardest questions, to be comfortable with your own selling points and the stories that support them, and have to have enough knowledge about the school to show a passion for it. If you were dinged from one or more schools that offered you an invitation to interview, chances are great that you really need to work on your interview skills. If you know that you are particularly weak interviewing, consider applying to at least some schools were the interviews are not considered very hard.

9. How were your recommendations? Did your recommendations honestly and effectively endorse you? Did they contain sufficient detail to help an admissions committee understand your selling points? Did your recommendations really evaluate both your strengths and weaknesses? Were your recommendations authentic or is there any possibility that an admissions officer would be concerned about their authorship? For more about recommendations, see here (Note: I have not posted an MBA specific recommendation post).

10. How good was the advice you received from other people about your application(s)? In addition to yourself, who read and advised you on your essays, resume, interview(s), and/or other aspects of your application process? Alums, mentors, admissions consultants or counselors, editors, and/or ghostwriters? While I would not suggest blaming those who advised you, you may want to seek out new or additional advisers. Of course if they told you that your essays, resume, or some other aspect of your application were weak and you did not address it, they were providing good advice. Additionally if they expressed concerns about your likelihood for admission, their advice might be good (beware of those who always hedge their bets).

If you relied extensively on an editor or paid a ghostwriter and seem to be getting dinged quickly, you have discovered the pitfalls of those highly dubious strategies. Consider writing your own stuff, getting an ethical and professional admissions consultant to advise you, and/or discovering the potential of your voice.

If you used an admissions counselor or consultant and did not get any good results, find someone else.
  Even if you like the consultant and even if that consultant was me, I would advise you to consider using someone else.  If the consultant was able to get you to the interview stage, but you could not pass the interview, the consultant's application advice was likely to have been solid.  If the consultant told you that you would have a very difficult time of it, you might still want to work with him or her.  Sometimes first attempts simply don't work.  It does not hurt to ask the consultant you were working with, to offer their perspective on your problems. Test scores, work experience, and application decisions that you have made might not have anything to do with the consultant.  Still, If your counselor had limited experience, this is pretty much an indicator that you should have gone with someone experienced. If your counselor seemed exhausted or rushed, you also have a problem because this person is unlikely to be able to be devoted to helping you enough. If you purchased a counseling service and not the services of a particular counselor, I would not be surprised if you encountered someone overworked. After all, one critical difference between consultants who work for themselves and those that work for someone else is the amount they make for the work performed. Those that work for someone else make considerably less per hour and often have to work more and under higher pressure than those that work for themselves. Regardless of whether you use an individual consultant or a service, the issue will always come down to the specific advice you are being given, which means the particular person you are working with. In addition to contacting me, one good resource for finding a new counselor is through the Association of International Admissions Consultants where you can find a directory of my colleagues around the world who are committed to providing high level service to their clients.

11. Was your GMAT within the school's 80% range? Was your GMAT below average? Obviously if your score was below the 80% range, you should assume your chances for admissions were less than the stated admissions rate. If it was was within the range, but significantly below the average score, you should assume that it was a contributing factor to your results. I am not saying to apply only to schools where you are within the range (see my earlier post on this issue), but I would suggest taking account of the risk in terms of (1) school selection, (2) the number of programs you need to apply to, and (3) expectations for success. As far as reapplication goes, studying GMAT is almost always necessary for those with less than a 700 GMAT. If your GMAT was 700 or higher and you were rejected, GMAT was almost certainly not your main problem.

12. Was your GPA equal to, above, or below the average reported GPA for the school? If it was below, this may have been a factor against you. If you GPA is significantly below the average GPA and your GMAT is equal to or above the average score, did you write an optional essay? Did you highlight your academic potential in some way to counter the issue of your GPA?

13. Did your TOEFL meet the school's minimum stated requirement? If your score was below the minimum, did you discuss this in the optional or some other essay to make the case for your English abilities? At this stage, you need to improve your score for Fall 2010 admission. If your score on TOEFL is really weak, have you considered taking IELTS? Some applicants actually will do better on this test than on ibt TOEFL. It is not easy to prepare for a new test, you might really want to try it out and see which test is better for you.

14. Were you realistic about school selection? I think you need to look at the portfolio of schools you applied to and ask yourself the following questions:
-Did I apply to programs with low rates of admission?
-Did I apply to enough programs?
-Did I apply to a wide enough range of programs?
See my posts on ranking such as "The 100" for some strategies for selecting schools.

15. Were you honest about the way you presented yourself in your whole application? As a strong advocate for honesty, I have a bias for this particular approach to the process. If you are getting dinged after misrepresenting one or more aspects of your experience, you might want to consider that it is the job of admissions officers to eliminate liars. Liars get through anyway, but not all of them. If you have over-marketed yourself, you may also have come across as less than authentic.

I know that getting rejected is no fun, but if you are committed to the process, I think you can make your next round of applications a success.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC8

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。

The ... big bang theory holdsがSVで、holdsの目的語となるthat節に下線。holdは「〜と考える、主張する」。

(A)  まったく問題ない。 ten to twenty billion years agoも「100から200億年前」でOK。from A to Bを覚えている人は多いだろうが、このようにfromを伴わない表現もある。cf. Bacteria like anthrax are infective within two to three minutes of exposure. (Google) 「beganは過去形なのに、has beenは現在完了だからダメ」などという訳の分からない「時制の一致」を持ち出さないこと。「同一センテンス内の動詞の時制は同一でなければならない」 というルールは存在しない。beganは過去に起こったこと、has beenはそれ以来現在まで続いていることを示しているだけ。主節のholdsが、この文が「現在基準」であることを示しているから現在完了も問題ない。 ago(過去)やever since(現在完了)といった「時制インディケーター」も存在し、完璧。

(B) 「時制の一致」を拡大解 釈している人が引っかかってしまいそうな選択肢。「andの前後とも過去完了形で、時制が揃っている」という理由で選んではいけない。過去完了形は「過去 を基準としてそれ以前をふり返る」時制。(B)では主節のholdsが現在形、後ろは過去完了形となり、「過去」が存在しなくなる。どちらの過去完了形も 「基準なき過去完了」で、ダメ。

(C) the beginning ... was an ... instantとなっており、実に不格好。「物事=継続時間」という言い方は通常しない。cf. The meeting lasted (for) two hours./*The meeting was two hours.(*は不適切な表現)。関係代名詞thatが指すものも不明。もしan ... instantを指すのであれば、後ろの動詞has expandedと意味的につながらないし、時制もムチャクチャ。

(D)  <hold O to be>で「Oが〜であると考える」という表現があることはある。to have beenの形は本動詞とtoの後ろの動詞の時制がズレていることを示すための時制表現で、OK。しかし動詞がbe動詞では結局「物事=継続時間」になって しまう。関係代名詞thatの先行詞も相変わらず不明。

(E) <hold O to do>で「Oがdoすると考える」を意味する表現はない。しかもand以降のhas been expandingと形が揃わなくなるので、has been expandingは主節の動詞holdsと並列されていると考えざるを得なくなる。すると、The ... big bang theory has been expandingというつながりになってしまって、意味を成さない。ここで「本当に<hold O to do>はないのだろうか」などと考えてコーパスを調べるのは時間のムダ。「素直に<hold that SV>を使いなさいね」という、出題者からのメッセージと考えておこう。


河野塾で はTOEFL/IELTS/GMATの個人授業を提供しております。なかなかスコアが上がらずにお悩みの方、きめの細かい効果的な個人指導をお求めの方 は、ぜひinfo@konojuku.comまでお気軽にお問い合わせください。

April 07, 2010

GMAT Tip from Knewton: Speeding up your Reading Comprehension

My blog's sponsor and English language GMAT content provider has provided me with the following post on Reading Comprehension. If you have not done so, consider taking a free trial of Knewton GMAT.

Speeding up your Reading Comprehension

Kalyan Dudala is one of Knewton's expert TAs, so he’s full of ideas that can supercharge your GMAT prep.

Rocking the at Reading Comp section depends on two limiting factors: (1) The rate at which the information you’re reading enters your brain and (2) what your brain is able to do with that information. The latter, being able to act on information, is a composite skill that is acquired through years of learning.
Fortunately for test-takers, the first factor — your speed of reading — can be seriously increased with a few simple adjustments in technique. You can learn how to read faster as long as you’re willing to put in the practice. Here’s how to do it.

Many slower readers rely on ineffective reading processes such as subvocalization (reading softly/“in your mind”) and fixation (repetitive reading).
Subvocalization is a very common problem that severely restricts reading speed: it takes much longer to actually say a word than it does to simply “recognize” it and move on. The difficult bit, if you’re a subvocalizer, is forcing yourself to actually adopt an alternate method of reading.
Fixation is equally tricky. While repetition in reading may sometimes be merited or even necessary, in most cases it’s just an idle bad habit. Estimates in the speed-reading industry suggest that 33% of people habitually reread text. I, for one, find myself returning to parts of passages for all sorts of ridiculous reasons—including liking a particular word or turn of phrase. Savoring language is essential to enjoying the aesthetics of what you read, but it isn’t particularly well-suited to a standardized testing environment like the GMAT.
If any of the above problems sound familiar (or if you’re just curious), try some of these DIY approaches to improve your reading speed. With practice, you can develop a reading method that isn’t as time-consuming as your current one. Even modest improvements can have a large cumulative effect on your RC performance.
Simple speed reading exercises
While the following exercises utilize different methods, the underlying goal of each is the same: to increase your “eye span,” i.e. to force you to read more words at once than you normally would. The best readers are able to read entire sentences simultaneously and, more importantly, can process the information contained within them.
All of these exercises focus on raw speed, but don’t forget the all-important “comprehension” part of RC. The trick is to read as quickly as you can while still retaining the information in a passage.
1)      The Hand Trick
Place your palm flat against the reading surface with the first line of text to be read above the side of your hand. Now move your palm down the page at a regular speed and read the text that is exposed while keeping pace with the movement of your palm.
2)      The Finger Trick
Place your index finger (or mouse pointer) on the first group of words to be read. Now move your index finger horizontally in a discontinuous manner, “jumping” from point to point in a sentence. This forces you to read words in groups instead of individually.
3)      The “Card” Trick
This one works best with a 4×6 photograph. Place the photograph above the first line of text you are about to read. Then, begin moving the photograph down at a steady rate while attempting to read the text before the photograph descends over it. This forces you to pay attention the first time you read a given passage, since you will not have the opportunity to revisit it.
Want even more tips? Here are some very cool resources to improve reading speed. You can test your speed to start by following the link below. If you’re into serious speed, watch these five video lessons for more tips from the pros (they’ll use your tested speed as a baseline). After that, speed-reading comprehension is just a matter of practice.
Measure Your Reading Speed

Knewton, Inc.

Register Now for Free Online Graduate Admissions Summit

As a member of AIGAC, (the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants), we are excited to announce the first ever AIGAC Graduate Admissions Virtual Summit.  The AIGAC Summit, taking place on April 28, 2010, is a free, online event addressing many of the issues faced when putting together a graduate school application.

Admissions experts from around the world will be weighing in on topics including law school admissions, internationalizing the MBA experience, evaluating your candidacy for medical school, and joint-degree programs, amongst other subjects. The webinars, chats and articles will offer advice on writing compelling essays, self-assessment, interview preparation, TOEFL & GMAT strategies and re-applications; as well as specific tips for engineers, international students and Fulbright applications.

Where else can you benefit from the expertise of so many experts who collectively have 100+ years of experience? Thanks to the day-long format across multiple time zones, you can join in from your computer no matter where in the world you are.

Visit http://www.aigac.org/summit/2010/ to learn more about the AIGAC Graduate Admissions Virtual Summit.  You will need to register for each hour long event that you plan to attend; you may attend as many as you wish.  

I will be conducting a seminar on reapplication. 

Hope you can make it!


April 04, 2010

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC7

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。

As SV, SVという構造の後ろにもうひとつSVを付けろと言われている。

(A) 後ろに付くSVには接続詞ないしはその類が必要。(A) では関係代名詞の省略が想定できる。であれば関係代名詞の後ろは不完全、つまり名詞が1つ欠けていなければならない。ここで名詞が入りうるのは concededの後ろ。するとconcedeが自動詞か他動詞かが問題になる。自動詞であればconcedeの後ろに名詞の不足はないことになり、関係 代名詞の省略という想定は成り立たない。結論から言うとconcedeは自動詞も他動詞もあり。英語には自動詞他動詞どちらの用法も持っている動詞が多 く、判断に迷った時は前後の意味から推測せざるを得ない場合もある。concedeを「譲歩する」と覚えていれば、the mass market salesとto rivalsから、「ライバルに譲った売上」→「ライバルに負けて取られた売上」と理解できるだろう。すなわちconcedeが他動詞で、後ろには目的語 が抜けており、その目的語の役割は省略された関係代名詞が果たすと想定され、文法上問題なし。しかしこの選択肢、そもそもtheyがマズイ。theyが指 すものは意味的にthe companyであろうから、数が合わない。As節ではitsで受けているので、数の違反は一層明らか。

(B)  (B)もtheyがダメ。previouslyの位置も気になる。would have doneは「〜したであろう」と、現在から過去をふり返って推測する語法(いわゆる「仮定法」)。その「推測」部分(であろう)は助動詞wouldが担当 するので、「過去には〜したであろう」と言いたければwouldに副詞句を隣接させるのがよい。したがって(A)の修飾位置は良い。(B)だと previouslyがto rivalsにかかってしまい、「過去にはライバルたちに譲ったが、今は別の人たちに譲っている」かのような誤解を与える。要は「修飾語被修飾語近接ルー ル」違反。theirも数の呼応違反。

(C) in the pastがwouldの前に出ているが、wouldに隣接しているのでOK。受動態も、能動態のほうが良いだろうが、意味は通じているので取りあえず通 過。previouslyがin the pastと重なっており、redundantでアウト。

(D) previouslyとin the pastがやはりredundant。ただしin the pastは位置的に、名詞rivalsを後置修飾している可能性もある。するとwouldを修飾しないのでredundantではなくなるが、「過去のラ イバルに譲っていた」となってしまい、「じゃあ今のライバルには譲り続けているの?」という疑問が湧く。どちらにしてもダメ。

(E) こ れまでの問題点をすべて解決しており、問題なし。


河野塾で はTOEFL/IELTS/GMATの個人授業を提供しております。なかなかスコアが上がらずにお悩みの方、きめの細かい効果的な個人指導をお求めの方 は、ぜひinfo@konojuku.comまでお気軽にお問い合わせください。

April 03, 2010

Money: Ask for it!

Imagine a situation where you have been admitted to three graduate schools (MBA, MPP, MPA, MS, MA, PhD, LL.M, or anything else) for Fall 2010 and the programs are offering you the following scholarship packages:
School A, your top choice, has offered you nothing.
School B, your second choice, has offered you a 50% tuition waiver.

School C, your third choice, has offered you free tuition.

Assume that the total cost for tuition and living expenses at the three schools is the same. Assume your criteria for ranking these schools is based on some combination of your overall sense of fit, program rank, program reputation (brand value),  expected post-degree starting salary, and location.  Assume you actually either have the money or can obtain loans to go to attend any of these schools. Finally, assume that you have just received all three offers.  What is the next thing to do?


The worst situation is that School A can  say that they are unable to offer you any money.  They can't withdraw their offer of admission, so without being rude, just politely explain your situation and ask them for money. Don't lie about what Schools B and C are offering you and be willing to give School A the details.  School A might not offer you anything and you might very well decide to go there anyway, but it never hurts to ask.

The above suggestion is based on observing what some of my clients do. They don't always succeed at getting more scholarship money, but often they do.  I am not professional negotiator, so I can't tell you the best way to actually negotiate, but I can tell you that it never hurts to ask.


April 01, 2010


It was announced earlier today that HBS would be radically changing its curriculum.  According to Dean Light, "Case study is so 20th century, therefore as my last major act before I retire, I am happy to announce that we will be going 100% project based. This change may seem sudden, but I thought, well, why not create a management challenge for the entire faculty and new dean?"

Dean Jay Light 
HBS Dean Jay Light
Some of the faculty have reacted rather badly to the change.  Professor James E. Austin was in a state of shock after the announcement:
Rumors about a case study bonfire have yet to be confirmed.
More Information can be found here.
-Mada Sukram

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC6

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。

the chambers (S) ... were (V) closed (C)。repairがcleaningと結ばれる名詞であって動詞でないことは、「the chambersがrepairする」という意味のおかしさと、repairの後ろに目的語がないことから分かる。主節に続く前置詞句、ないしは接続詞節 に下線が引かれている。

(A) due toはまとめて1つの前置詞と考えればよく、文法的にはOK。ただし「湿気のため閉館された」となる点が気になる。「湿気があるレベルに達したこと」が閉 館の理由であるはず。湿気があること自体は、もしそれが低いレベルに留まるならば、閉館の理由にはならない。moistureに受身の形容詞 exhaledが後置されるのはOK。関係代名詞whichがtouristsという人を指すとは考えにくい。するとmoisture ... tourists全体、すなわち親玉であるmoistureにかかるのかといえば、それであれば意味的に制限用法にすべきようにも感じられる。残る可能性 は「旅行者が湿気を吐いた」という内容そのものを指すことだが、前がSVになっていない上に、「前の内容を指すwhich」自体がGMATでは御法度。こ れだけでは切れないにせよ、かなりアヤシクなってきた。itsが指しうるものがmoisture、the pyramidを始めとしていくつかある上、意味上はthe chambersを指すのが最適と思われるため、この時点でほぼアウト。such ... so thatで完全アウト。suchとas/thatの組み合わせは<such ... as +名詞><such ... that SV><such ... as to do>の3パターンを覚え、さらにそれぞれにsuch as/such thatのように隣接するパターンがあることを知っておこう。

(B) やはりdue toが気になる。had raisedの過去完了形は主節のwereを基準時とした「それ以前」なのでOK。関係詞節をmoistureと隣接させたことにより修飾関係が明確に なった分、(A)のwhichより優れる。therebyは単なる副詞なので無視すればよい。問題はdoingの副詞用法で使われているraising。 関係代名詞thatの後ろに置かれているため、意味上の主語がthat節内の主語であるtouristsの可能性と、主節の主語であるthe chambersの可能性が出てくるが、「湿度を上げた」のはmoistureであろうから、どちらにしてもおかしい。such ... thatはOK。wouldは「推測」の助動詞willの過去形なので、「(閉館の時点で)これからcrystallizeするであろうレベル」となる。 予防的に閉館した可能性もなくはないが、違和感はある。

(C) because節のSVがtourists were exhalingであるため、「旅行者が湿気を吐き出していたために閉館した」となってしまう。後ろにwhich had raised ...が続くとはいえ、違和感は拭えない。過去進行形もアヤシイ。部屋が閉館された時点では旅行者がexhaleした行為は終わっていたはず。which の前にカンマがあって非制限用法になっているため、moistureを指す可能性と、tourists ... moistureまでの内容を指す可能性が生じ、あいまい。within themのthemはtouristsとthe chambersの両方を指し得るが、the humidity withinと隣接させることよってthe chambersであることが示唆されていると考えれば、さほどのキズではない。OGの解説にもthemについての指摘があるが、まったく説明になってい ないのが笑える。such thatは問題。suchとthatを隣接させた場合は、suchが直前の名詞にかかるのではなく、SV such that SVの形で、SVとSVを順接で結ぶ意味合いが強くなるからだ。ここではsuchはlevelsにかけて「that以下になるようなレベル」と言いたいは ず(そうしないとlevelsが単なる無冠詞複数になってしまう)なので、やや疑問が残る。wouldも依然気にかかる。

(D) due toの代わりに前置詞表現のbecause ofを置いているが、(A)(B)と問題点は同じ。raisingの前にカンマがないために、これはdoingの副詞用法ではなく、名詞tourists を後ろから修飾するdoingの形容詞用法(いわゆる「現在分詞」)と受け取れる。旅行者は間接的に湿度を上げているかもしれないが、やはり raisingはmoistureにかけるのが妥当であろう。とはいえ、このraisingがmoisture ... tourists全体にかかると考えるのもmoistureとraisingの位置が離れているだけに無理があるし、どちらにしてもあいまい。 levels so high ...はOK。先ほどのsuch that隣接と違い、形容詞highが名詞levelsを、so ... as toに挟まれる形で後置修飾していると考えられるからだ。

(E) どうもスッキリする選択肢がないので、(E)がダメだったら悩んでしま うところだが、助かった。moisture exhaledの後置修飾、接続詞becauseを用いてmoisture (S) ... had raised (V)の主述関係を明確にしたこと、such ... that、とすべて問題なく、これが正解。themのあいまいさが気になるが、(C)で述べたようにthe chambersを指していることが示唆されており、キズとしてはマイナー。the stone was crystallizingは、部屋が閉館された時点でまさに進行していたことだから、過去進行形でOK。


河野塾で はTOEFL/IELTS/GMATの個人授業を提供しております。なかなかスコアが上がらずにお悩みの方、きめの細かい効果的な個人指導をお求めの方 は、ぜひinfo@konojuku.comまでお気軽にお問い合わせください。
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