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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.

March 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC5

This is the fifth post from Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor. He will now be a regular guest blogger. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. This post is on GMAT sentence correction. His other posts can be found here.
-Adam


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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。


SC5
Diabetes(S) と動詞の間に副詞句の挿入があり、動詞以降に下線がかかっている。

(A) Diabetesはsがついているがひとつの病名で、単数扱 い。rank as(〜番目に位置する、〜の地位がある)はライティングでも使えそうな定型表現。他動詞でrank O asになる場合や、その受身でis ranked asの形になることもある。the nation’s third ...の<所有格+序数>も問題ない。surpassed by ...はdoneの副詞用法(いわゆる「受身の分詞構文」)。特にキズもなく、これが正解。

(B) 動詞がrankと複数受けになってい るのでアウト。この時点で(D)(E)もアウト。後は特に問題なさそうに見えるが、onlyは「修飾語は被修飾語に可能な限り近接させる」というルールに より、byの直前に置くほうがよい。

(C) hasの単数受けは良いとして、rankと動詞1つで片付けられるものを、has the rank ofはいかにも不格好だし、定型表現でもない。

(D) 動詞の単複呼応違反の他、causesが複数になってしまっているのも おかしい。

(E) 単複呼応違反。ただし現在完了になっている点はOK。現在形は「今位置している」で、現在完了は「これまで位置してき た」だから、意味的にはどちらも可能。OGの解説は「現在形が良いから現在完了形はダメ」と言うが、これでは理由になっていない。確かに現在形のほうが自 然だからネイティブとしてはそうしか書きようがないのだろうが、文脈によっては現在完了形もあり得るので、理屈で英語を学ぶ我々としてはそこをポイントと して(E)を切るわけにはいかない。もっとも単複呼応ですでに切っているので、試験場では現在完了について考察する必要はない。一応気になる人のために解 説した。rankの受身も、いくら能動態が良いとはいえ、そのような表現がある以上キズとまでは言いにくい。causesの複数はマズイ。

・・・ と解説してくると、GMATのSCはライティングの良い勉強になることが改めて実感される。そもそもそれがSCの存在理由だろうし、「こう書けばいいんだ よ」と教えられている感じがする。rank as ...’s ...th ...の形はぜひ覚えておきましょう。ダメな選択肢の間違いポイントも「ライティングべからず集」と考えて、ぜひ気を払っておきたい。


- 河野太一


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。

March 26, 2010

Waitlisted? Now what?

This is an updated and expanded version of a previous post.

Now that 2nd round MBA results are rolling in all their joy, pain, and annoyance have more or less emerged, some people will find themselves in that netherworld known as waitlist. For some, the wait will actually end once 3rd round results are released, but for others, the wait might very well continue, well, for months and months. For some, the waitlist will ultimately convert into a ding.

Given the large number of applicants for Fall 2010, waitlisting is not likely to become less common. Schools waitlist because they actually are uncertain whether their estimated yield- the percentage of admitted applicants who accept an offer of admision, see here for more about it- will be sufficient to fill their class. They waitlist because they don't want empty seats. They waitlist because they have too many qualified applicants for too few slots, but want to reserve the possibility of eventually letting someone in.  They don't waitlist to make applicants feel better by giving some sort of second prize.  Schools don't waitlist because their are sadistic fiends, but from a waitlisted applicant's perspective, it might feel that way.

In the rest of this post, I will provide advice on what do if you are waitlisted by an MBA program.


IF YOU ARE WAITLISTED....

1. Don't panic or become depressed. The reason you were waitlisted is because there were too many qualified applicants and adcom likes you, but they don't know that they love you yet. Now is the time to think clearly and act effectively.

2. For those waitlisted in the first round, you should, of course, know that adcom likes you, but they really wanted to see the main pool of applicants, before making any decisions. You might be waiting for a quite a while longer, but be patient.

3. For those waitlisted in the second or third round, adcom also likes you, but they are not yet convinced that it would be right to give you a spot because there were simply too many qualified applicants. Your wait could go on for months. Consider other alternatives, but don't give up because it is possible to get off the waitlist.

4. Be proactive, but not aggressively annoying, with admissions. Adcom will let you know what additional materials they will accept and you should most certainly provide them. That said, the worst thing you can do is send a continuous stream of correspondence or otherwise annoy the admissions office. If you turn yourself into an annoying freak, you can assume you will not get admitted.  

Also, keep in mind that some schools, simply do not accept any additional materials.  Wharton, for example, has the following policy:
"Candidates can expect to remain on the waitlist until the following round of decisions are released. There is no rank order to the waitlist. We are unable to offer feedback to candidates while they remain on the list. We are also unable to accept additional materials for inclusion in a waitlisted applicant's file. This policy is designed to create an admissions process that is fair and equitable for all candidates."
On their Admisssions Blog, Wharton reiterates this policy.  See here for example.  If you are waitlisted at Wharton, the only thing to really do is just wait. 

5. GMAT and TOEFL: If you can take it again, do it, if your score goes up report it. Higher scores are always helpful for any school that will take additional information.

6. Additional recommendation: If they will take one, provide it. It is fine to send more than one recommendation if the school allows it. Think very strategically about your selection(s). You don't want a recommendation that will not add something substantially different from what your previous recommendations stated. Try to use a recommender (or recommenders) who will do one or more of the following:
(a) A recommender who will provide support  to help you overcome any areas of professional and/or academic weakness in your background.
(b) A recommender who will provide a perspective on different part of your background.
(c) A recommender who will provide support for earlier or more recent period of your life.
(d) If academic recommendations are acceptable and your GPA is not great, consider getting an academic recommendation if you can get a strong one.
(e) If your English ability maybe the issue, consider getting a recommendation from someone who can speak positively about your English communication skills. This is especially important if your iBT TOEFL or IELTS score is not that high or if you think your interview was not so strong because of your speaking skills.

Additionally, many schools will also take informal recommendations from alums or current students, so if you can get one from someone who knows you, it can't hurt.

7. Waitlist essay. Write one! The typical components:
-Additional reasons why you want to attend to show your real commitment and passion for the school. Think classes, school's culture, or any other reason that would make the school ideal for you.
-Discussion of changes that have taken place in your professional career after your applied. If anything new and great has happened, you should most certainly write about it.
- New content that was not emphasized in your application. Use some combination of the following possible topics:
(a) If you did not sufficiently discuss your leadership or teamwork abilities, you should most certainly do so.
(b) Write about contributions you can make to the school based on your experience, background, personality, and network.
(c) If your academic potential was not obvious, you should try to demonstrate that.
(d) If you have SUBSTANTIAL personal or professional accomplishments that you did not discuss in your initial application, you should do so.
(e) If you did not focus very much on non-professional content in your application, focus on it here, at least to some extent.
(f) If you were waitlisted without an interview, remember to ask for the opportunity to interview.

If the length is not stated, I would try to keep it to between 500 and 1000 words. More is not inherently better, quality is, so don't write about everything you can think of. This essay is quite important, so make sure that the content is at least as good as that of your original application.

8. If you have not visited the school and can visit the school, do so. Make a point of letting admissions know this, either in your waitlist essay or through contact with them.  VISITING (or even visiting again) CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  For schools where you can actually meet with admissions, making a personal appeal is worth the effort.  Showing your commitment to a school that is open to such an appeal can result in a positive outcome.  Note:  The personal appeal approach does not work at all schools.  It is especially does not work if admissions has told you that they cannot meet with you.  It also does not work if you are simply not good at selling yourself.  My clients who have succeeded at this, have, in general, been highly charismatic individuals.

9. Get a fresh perspective on your application by rereading it now. By doing so, you will probably have a good idea about what kind of recommendation to get and waitlist essay to write.

10. If you had an interview, how did it go? While it might not be easy for you to fully remember or assess it, think critically about your interview experience.  If you have done well on other interviews, did this one go as well?  While it is obviously too late to do anything about any interview that was not ideal, thinking about your interview experience might very well help you figure out where the problem was and consider how to approach future interviews.  Unless you are certain that your interview went well, assume the interview was at least part if not the entire problem.  Schools seemingly place a different level of value on interviews.  At HBS and MIT, for example, interviews are conducted by admissions staff who have taken the time to review your application completely, so assume a waitlist there, at least partially reflects the fact that compared to other candidates you were good, but others received an overall higher evaluation.  For schools like Wharton or Columbia, where interviews are conducted blind,  assume the interview is just one factor.  For schools that put a huge emphasis and have intensive interviews, such as  IMD, HEC, and LBS, assume the interview was certainly a critical factor for why you are now waitlisted.

11. Consider seeking the advice of an admissions consultant. If you have already worked with one, you can go back to that person if you are otherwise pleased with their work. They know you and they could help you put something together that caught admissions' eye. On the other hand, you might want to pay for a fresh perspective. I offer waitlist, reapplication, interview, and comprehensive consulting services.

12. Do you need a PLAN B? If you are waitlisted and/or dinged everywhere you applied, it is now time to start thinking about whether you are going to apply for more schools for 2010, reapply for 2011, or expand your career in some other way. Whatever the case, you need a Plan B in place. If you are thinking about applying to more schools for Fall 2010 or just reconsidering school selection in general, please see here.

Best of luck and may your wait be short and culminate in admission!

If you are interested in my waitlist counseling 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 recent 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 大学院 合格対策 MBA留学

March 25, 2010

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC4

This is the forth post from Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor. He will now be a regular guest blogger. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. This post is on GMAT sentence correction. His other posts can be found here.
-Adam


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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。


SC4
Of句が history,で終わった後の主節に下線が引かれている。Ofが文頭に来ると意味が取れなくなる人が多いが、「(複数のもの)の中で」という意味の単な る前置詞。

(A) moreがあるので後ろにthanを探す。(A)はasだからアウト。ちなみに文の最後のlittle more thanはセットでthree decadesにかかっているから、このthanは関係なし。none isの現在形もおかしい。Of句の中にはhave sweptと現在完了形が使われているが、これは「これまでに起こった移民のなかで」と、過去から現在までをまとめてふり返っているから。一回一回の「移 民」自体は過去に起こった事実なので過去形でなければならない。その証拠に後ろのbroughtは過去形になっている。

(B) これも後 ろがas。it may be thatも冗長で、副詞のmaybeで十分。none isの現在形がおかしいのは(A)と同じ。

(C)  maybeをperhapsで置き換えるのはOK。itが何を指しているのかが不明。というよりも、it is none that is全体が意味不明。it isのisはともかくとして、none that isのisは過去形になるべき。

(D) (C)と同じで it is none that wasがよく分からない。

(E) 明らかに簡潔で、wasの時制も、more ... thanの対応もOK。「〜よりも集中的であったものはない」→「最高に集中的であった」。


-河野太一


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。

March 24, 2010

INSEAD MBA Essay Questions for January & September 2011

This post is a greatly revised version of my previous INSEAD essay analysis. Most notably, it covers the two job related essays. that I have previously not written about. 

I am posting my analysis of INSEAD's essays for the January and September 2011 Intake. The questions are taken from the PDF. INSEAD has continued to not change their application.  Given their multi-year approach to applications and deadline listings, I guess it is hard for them to change. Actually, I think they ask the right questions, so maybe there really is nothing to change.

Over the years, I have had an opportunity to work with a number of clients admitted to INSEAD. I have had four clients admitted for January 2011.  I had four clients admitted for 2010 (Two for September and two for January) and you can find a testimonials from three of them here. Additional testimonials from clients admitted to INSEAD can also be found here.

Two Job Related Essays

As both questions are concerned with the applicant's professional experience, I think the following from my interview with Deborah Riger, the INSEAD MBA Programme's Assistant Director of Marketing should be kept in mind:

"ADAM: Regarding professional experience, what to do you look for in younger (very early twenties) and older (late twenties or thirties) applicants?

DEBORAH: For all applicants we want to see a track record of professional accomplishments that sets them apart from their peers. For those with only 1-2 years of professional experience, they must demonstrate something distinctive in their profile, perhaps they have started their own company. I would suggest, it is in the benefit of all younger applicants to work for a minimum of two years before applying to business school as they will get more out of the programme if they have experiences to reflect back on. For older applicants, we are looking for a strong professional track record and clear goals toward career change or advancement. If an older applicant has been in the same role for five years that might not demonstrate potential for growth, overall ambition or success relative to his/her peers."

Based on my experience with INSEAD applicants, the above statement from Deborah seems completely accurate.  INSEAD is relatively forgiving of those with limited (1-2 years) of professional experience as long as there is something distinctive about their background, but for most applicants, INSEAD is expecting to see a clear pattern of career growth.  While INSEAD can actually be quite flexible about the level of international experience that an applicant has, when it comes to those with 3-10+ years of experience, career growth really matters.  The comment about applicants in the same position for five years is also really telling as it points to the fact that INSEAD is looking for applicants who are not complacent.  Keep in mind that an INSEAD admission committee consists of faculty and alumni and the later, in particular, are likely to have clear expectations of what good career growth looks like. 

I think it is also important to keep in mind that a business background is not a necessity for admission to INSEAD, but that good professional experience is.  See here.  Based on my experience working with clients coming from a variety of professions, I can say that having a non-business, but solid professional career, can be a real advantage.

Keep in mind that INSEAD does not require a CV or resume.  Therefore the two essays below are critical pieces of the application. As you will see, the INSEAD application has relatively limited space to discuss your past experience in typical resume style.  You should consider that these two essays will really provide INSEAD with their primary interpretation of your career.

Also note that is that unlike the other essays (see below), the word count for these two questions is not approximate.  I have taken this to mean that as far as these two questions go, it is actually best to write no more than 250 words.


1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words) 

This is a very straightforward question for most applicants. For those who are unemployed, I suggest you write about your last position held. 

You want to focus on both major responsibilities and major results.  Since results (accomplishments) are likely to be specifically connected to responsibilities, I would prioritize them in your description. I think for many applicants, the easiest way to organize this essay will be in terms of discussing their 2-4 most important results and/or responsibilities.  Here is one possible organizational scheme.

1. Brief introduction indicating the nature of the position and employer. 50 words.

2. Most important responsbility that lead to a result.  50-100 words. 

3-5. Subsequent responsibilities-results. 25-100 words.

The Details:  If you don't have employees working during under your supervision, you should still indicate any project-based and/or team-based leadership. As with a resume or CV include any numbers that will help INSEAD understand the extent of your results or responsibilities.   Even approximate quantification is better than no quantification if it helps to positively showcase your career.

Keep in mind that you should be focused on your job, not on your personality.  Interpret your job, don't just summarize it. Explain why the work you do is significant.


2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This essay should be a growth story.  If it is not a story that shows how your career has positively evolved, it is unlikely to be very effective.  You might be unemployed at the moment, but what has been the trajectory so far?  Did you take a big risk along the way?  Point that out.  We each have our career ups and downs, especially anyone who has taken risks.  Don't shy away from discussing the risks, but the overall focus of this essay should be positive.  In my experience, INSEAD rewards those who take risks and does not look kindly on those that stay in the same position for five years or more. Change or become boring!  If you have been working in the same position for five years or more, you will need to really show how you have demonstrated growth in terms of results or responsibilities, which would have been primarily discussed in Job Essay 1.

In terms of organizing this essay, think about the key turning points in your career.  Help INSEAD understand how you have evolved professionally.  Assume that you are being judged critically and consider how to both effectively and honestly present your career.  

The final part of this question is what I would call an "opportunity cost" question, in other words, by going to INSEAD, you will be sacrificing the opportunity to take the next step at your current employer.  If you are unemployed, the way to handle this question is to discuss the kind of position you would obtain if you were not seeking an MBA. For everyone else, I think you should be realistic, but also present the best possible version of your next position, which will show that you are seeking an MBA to move beyond what would follow without it.  A bad answer to this question would involve identifying a next step that is the same as the short term goal you discuss later in Essay 4 because this would undermine much of the value of obtaining an MBA.  I think INSEAD asks this question not only to determine whether you have a clear sense of your career trajectory, but also to confirm that you have thought deeply about what you are sacrificing by pursuing an MBA.  Given the need to analyze your entire career development, for most applicants, I would suggest providing a brief (50 words or less) answer to this part of the question. 


The Essays
For  the main essays, word count is always listed as "approx."  I have taken this to mean that about 10% over is no problem and will not be noticed.  I always think of this "approx" issue as a personal judgment.  If you need 450 words for a 400 words approx essay, I know it is not a problem. 

1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)
With a question like this I think it is important to understand that you are actually being asked to think about your strengths and weaknesses in terms of your overall personality and development. What is important here is provide both an analysis about specific characteristics of yourself and something memorable about your background.

Obviously the strengths and weaknesses should be ones that relate to your character, not to a skill set. Given the word count, I suggest focusing on no more than about two strengths and two weaknesses. I would try to give fairly equal consideration to both weaknesses and strengths.

EMBRACE WEAKNESS!
I find that many applicants resist writing about their own weaknesses, yet to do so reveals self-awareness and maturity. While I think it is necessary to practice good judgment when writing about weakness, I think it is also important that you provide something beyond the routine.

One standard defensive strategy that many applicants seem drawn to is to write about knowledge or skill areas where they are weak, but this is not suitable for INSEAD's question because they want you to stress personal characteristics.

STRENGTHS
Compared to weaknesses, strengths are easier for most people to write about. Given the limited space here, you might find it helpful to write about a topic here that is discussed in greater detail in another essay.

IS IT A GOOD STRENGTH OR WEAKNESS?
Some questions to ask yourself:
1. Does the strength demonstrate one's potential for future academic and/or professional success? If so it is a probably a good topic. If not, why does INSEAD need to know about it?
2. Is a weakness fixable? If you are writing about a weakness that cannot be improved upon through your program at INSEAD, why do they need to know about it?
3. If your strength or weakness is not related to leadership, why does INSEAD need to know about it?

Finally, if you are having difficulty thinking about your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your future academic and professional goals, please see my analysis of Essay 5 because in it I discuss how to think about strengths and weaknesses in relation to goals.


2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)
Some key things to keep in mind when answering this question:
-Accomplishments reveal your potential to succeed at INSEAD and afterwords.
-Accomplishments reveal your potential for contributing to your classmates.
-Everyone has had accomplishments, so it is easy to compare applicants.
-What you consider to be an accomplishment are real tests of your self-awareness and judgment.

The following grid is the kind I have used successfully with applicants preparing this question:
(CLICK TO ENLARGE. )

How to use this grid for outlining your answer to Question 1:

Row 1: "Stories."
The first thing you need to do is think of the accomplishments. These will eventually take the form of stories, so that is what I call them. A few things to keep in mind:
  • Your accomplishments maybe personal, professional, or academic.
  • While it is very important that your accomplishments be distinct so as to reveal different things about you, there is no single formula for what their content must be. It is quite possible that you might have three professional accomplishments or one personal/one professional/one academic or two academic/one personal. It will really depend on your background.
  • The key consideration is that each accomplishment must be substantial and that you can explain why that is the case.
Row 2: "What skill, value, or unique experience is being showcased?" Your accomplishments need to reveal valuable things about you. Some will call these selling points, but more specifically they consist of skills, values, or unique experiences. One might use a specific accomplishment to emphasize one's leadership skills, another to show one's ethical values, and another to explain a significant barrier that was overcome. The point is that each accomplishment must at its core reveal something key to understanding who you are.

Row 3: "What potential for success in the MBA program or afterwords is demonstrated?" You may or may not be directly stating this in the essay, but you should think about what each accomplishment reveals in terms of your potential. INSEAD Adcom will most certainly be considering how your accomplishments demonstrate your potential to succeed at INSEAD and afterwords, so you should as well. One key way of thinking about the MBA application process is to see it as a test of potential. Potential itself can mean different things at different schools and so you must keep in mind differences between schools and in particular must pay close attention to what schools say really matters when they assess applicants. Please click here to read about what INSEAD values in applicants. Please keep in mind that a core part of your own application strategy should be determining which parts of you to emphasize both overall and for a particular school.

Row 4: "Will this be a contribution to others in the MBA program? How?" Just as with potential, think about whether your accomplishments demonstrate your ability to add value to other students at INSEAD. Given space limitations, it is not likely that you will be explaining how one or more of your accomplishments will be contribution, but rather this is a strategic consideration. The dynamic nature of study groups at INSEAD is very much based on what each student contributes. Think about whether any of your accomplishments demonstrate how you will likely add value to other students INSEAD experience. Not all substantial accomplishments will have this quality, but many will.

Row 5: "Why does Adcom need to know about this?" If your accomplishment has made it this far, chances are it is substantial. That said, I have two simple tests for determining whether an accomplishment really belongs in this essay. The first is whether INSEAD really needs to know about this accomplishment. After all, you might consider getting the love of your life to marry you to be one of your most substantial accomplishments, but will Adcom care? If an accomplishment does not reveal (whether stated or implied) potential and/or contribution, chances are likely that it is not significant enough.

Row 6: "Is this something Adcom could learn about you elsewhere? (If "YES," find another accomplishment)" The second and final simple test I have for determining whether an accomplishment really belongs in this essay is based on the idea that something that is totally obvious about you to anyone looking at your resume and transcript is probably not worth mentioning. If you were a CPA, having an accomplishment that merely demonstrated you were good at accounting would not be worth writing about. Instead it would be important to show something more specific that reveals something that is not obvious by a mere examination of the basic facts of your application.

Finally, as I mentioned above what you include here is a real test of your judgment, so don't just write about your obvious accomplishments. Think deeply and come up with a set of unique accomplishments that reveal distinct, interesting, and the most important things about you that will compel admissions to want to interview you.


3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

This is a fairly standard failure question. That said, it is important to remember that the objective you fail to reach is your own personal objective and not necessarily one imposed on you. You might very well succeed from the perspective of others, but fail from your own perspective.

In terms of discussing the effect, I suggest you focus on what you learned.  It is critical that you learned something meaningful about yourself.  While not stated, you may very well find that one way of showing what you learned is to discuss how you applied your lesson to a new situation as this could be "the effect."

The basic components of an answer:
1. Clearly state what the objective was.
2. Clearly state your role.
3. Clearly state your failure to reach your personal objectives.
4. Explain the effect in terms of what you learned and perhaps also how you applied what you learned.

The word count is limited, but, if you can, show how you applied what you learned to a new situation because the application of abstract learning to a new situation is a key indicator of real learning.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)
THIS IS A FUTURE DIRECTED QUESTION
Unlike some other "Why MBA" questions, INSEAD is not asking about the past. You will write about that in the other essays. Instead focus on your goals and the skills that you will obtain at INSEAD that will help you accomplish those goals. Please see my analysis of Stanford Essay 2 as it mostly applies with the exception that Stanford asks about "aspirations" and INSEAD asks about "goals." This is not much of a difference, but it does mean that you should, at least in terms of your short-term goal, have some specific learning objectives that contribute directly to a future career plan. You should certain offer a vision for your intended future, but given the short length of the INSEAD program, it really is quite important that you give them a clear future plan.

As with other schools, I strongly recommend becoming informed about INSEAD. Attending admission events, meeting alum, and making full use of INSEAD's online resources is critical for making the strongest possible case for why your goals require an INSEAD education. You should most certainly look at INSEAD KNOWLEDGE and listen to some INSEAD Knowledgecasts.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics: a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

One core characteristic of those who are admitted to INSEAD is that they are international in their perspective and experience:

I have found that it is usually those with extensive international experience that have the greatest likelihood for admission.  That said, in my interview with Deborah Riger, I asked her about this issue:

"ADAM: Is it possible to be accepted to INSEAD without having international experience?

DEBORAH: Yes, it is possible to be admitted without significant experience outside of your home country. While it is important for all applicants to show their international motivations in their essays, it is especially critical for those who lack international exposure to do so. Applicants need to share how they are comfortable and confident in their own culture, why they are seeking out the international exposure in the MBA and sharing perhaps how the world has come to them at home."

Both options for Question 5 are really great ways for INSEAD to gauge your global perspective.

a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you?
This is a very standard question that frequently gets asked in interviews and has appeared on a number of MBA applications. It is also a question with significant room for saying something stupid and potentially fatal to your application. Some topics to avoid:

1. Topics where you negatively stereotype another nation: Martians are argumentative, so I was surprised to learn that some of them are not.

2. Topics where you are the victim: The Martians lied to me and as a result I lost the contract to a local provider.

3. Topics where you don't actually learn anything: This situation taught me the importance of human communication.

Successful versions of this topic almost always involve real learning. I suppose it is possible for something to mean much to you without learning something important, but I can't recall a successful version of this essay that did that. After all to be shocked is to experience something outside of your previous understanding. Getting shocked teaches something important that changes your perspective. This may lead to a new career decision, a new way of looking at oneself, a new way of interacting with other people, or a myriad of other possibilities.

b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country?
American Adam's bad answer: Learn how to tip.
Why is that answer bad? It certainly is useful to know how to tip. I can think of almost nothing more annoying in the US than our system of tipping. Every time I go back to the US, I am at a loss. Doesn't this make for a good topic? NO, BECAUSE IT IS OBVIOUS, IS COVERED IN EVERY TRAVEL GUIDE, AND WOULD GIVE ADMISSIONS NO REAL INSIGHT INTO YOUR ABILITY TO HAVE INTERESTING AND USEFUL THINGS TO SAY ABOUT YOUR OWN COUNTRY. Uppercase is used here in the hope that I don't have to read another version of this essay where the writer says commonplace things about their own country that any tourist would know. And yes, we all know it is useful to learn the local language, so please don't suggest only that!

If you write on option b),  think deeply about how your knowledge of your country will contribute to your fellow classmates at INSEAD. INSEAD is a place were students really have the option of getting to know (and drink with) people from all over the world. It is truly international in a way that no American program could ever claim. This question directly relates to your ability to show how you will be an effective representative of your own country to your classmates. They will, to some extent, depend on you for their knowledge of your home country. Don't tell them the easy stuff they can get by flipping through the first few pages of a Lonely Planet travel guide to your country. Give them real insight. The kind of insight they could use if they were going to move there.

Now while the question is not in regards to your classmates, I think it is useful to think of it that way so that you focus on writing something that would actually be interesting and useful to someone moving to your country. Decide on one or two pieces of really great advice and provide examples to justify their importance. Since this foreigner will be living in your country, assume they will also be working there. You don't have to write on a business related topic, but if you have a good one, do so. Try to have fun with this one. 

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (200 words approx.) This essay is optional.
This is a completely open question. While you might very well need to tell the Admissions Committee something negative, such as an explanation for a low GPA, I would suggest using at least part of it to tell them something positive about you. Feel free to write on any topic that will add another dimension to Admissions' perception of who you are. I would not treat it as optional unless you truly feel that the rest of your essays have fully expressed everything you want INSEAD to know about you. I don't suggest writing about something that would be obvious from reviewing your application, instead tell INSEAD that one or two additional key points that will give them another reason to admit you.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are looking for a highly experienced admissions consultant who is passionate about helping his clients succeed, please feel free to contact me at adammarkus@gmail.com to arrange an initial consultation. To learn more about my services, see here.
-Adam Markus
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This online survey should take just 10 minutes to complete.  We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Friday, April 9th - and AIGAC will be giving away an iPod Touch and two iPod Shuffles as a token of our gratitude!  We’ll also be sharing the results of the survey this spring to help candidates better understand the nature of today’s applicant pool.

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March 21, 2010

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC3

This is the third post on GMAT sentence correction from Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor. He will now be a regular guest blogger. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. His other posts can be found here.
-Adam


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GMAT OG12解説

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。


SC3
Although 節はtheir own works,まで。主節と、その前に入る挿入句に下線が引かれている。

(A)  Although節に過去完了形が使われているから主節も過去完了、と考える人が多いが、そのような「時制の一致」のルールは存在しない。そもそも「時制 の一致」とは、日本語と発想が異なるケースが目立って有名になりすぎてしまった「大学受験文法」であるから、一旦忘れてケースバイケースで考えたほうがよ い。過去完了形は過去時を基準として、そのまた過去をふり返る場合に用いる。until 1900というと1900年が基準になってそのまた過去をふり返っているようだが、実は現在時に基準がある。あくまで現在の視点から、「〜が一定期間続い た」あるいは「〜がない状態が一定期間続いた(否定語が前にある場合)」という事実が過去にあったと述べているだけ。その「一定期間」の終点が「1900 年だった」と言っているに過ぎない。この議論は時制がよほど分かっている人でないと難しいかもしれないので、単純に「untilとセットになる時制は過去 時制」と覚えておけば、若干の例外はあるものの、実質的な支障はないだろう。特にGMATの選択肢において過去形と過去完了形の戦いになった場合は、「基 準なき過去完了」が負けるケースが圧倒的に多い。推測だが、ネイティブスピーカーでも「基準なき過去完了」を間違えて使う人がいるための意図的出題ではな いか。
ともあれ、この問題では(A)の過去形は正しい。ところがuntilの作る句と、否定語notの位置がおかしい。untilと否定語が セットになる場合は、通常否定語は前に出てnot ... untilの語順にならなければならない。begin to doの形はOKだが、seriouslyの位置が気になる。beginにかけたいのなら、本動詞beginの前に置いたほうがよいし、to studyにかけたいのであればstudy以降に置くべきだ。

(B) (A)との比較で言えば、まずuntil 1900の後ろのカンマの有無が気になるが、これはどちらでもよい。beginの後ろはto doでもdoingでもOK。上記の理由で過去完了形がアウト。

(C) not untilの語順はOK。not untilの後ろが倒置になるのは、本来後ろにあるべき否定語を前に出したための倒置で、よくある形。倒置になる前はscholars and critics were to beginだったことになるが、このbe to doの形(「be to不定詞」などと呼ばれる)が問題。be toは助動詞的に動詞の前に挿入され、意味的・文法的にbe going toに近く、「(これから)〜することになる」が基本意味。untilは過去の一点において何かが終わる(物事がそれまで続いた場合)、あるいは始まる (物事がない状態が続いた場合)ことだから、わざわざbe toを挟む理由がない。理由がなければ「〜することになった」よりは「〜した」のほうが簡潔。

(D)  it was not until ... thatが定型表現であって、thatをwhenに変えた形はダメ。almostは1900の直前に置くべき。厳密に言えば、almostは副詞であり、 1900は名詞なので文法ルールには反する(むしろ副詞句until 1900の前においたほうが理屈としては整合する)が、What time is it? It’s almost nine.のようにalmostと時間を隣接させるのが決まった言い方。意味的にもalmost 1900というのは1899とか1898年のことだから、やはり年代に隣接させたほうがよく、untilと隣接させると、almostが意味的に untilにかかるのかと思えてしまう。

(E) これまでのすべての問題点を解決しており、これが正しい。it ... that構文が冗長ではないかという点がやや気にかかるが、これが定型表現であることと、上記の様々な問題点のほうが罪が重いことから、ここでは心配な い。

ちなみにAlthough節には過去完了形が使われているが、こちらは1900年頃を基準時としている。1900年頃の時点では「興 味の告白」や「ネイティブアメリカンのスタイルの真似(を試みた)」という行為が完了していた、ということ。つまりこの部分は1900年が過去の一点、 18・19世紀がそれ以前、というとらえ方なのである。この過去完了形を「現在完了の過去バージョン」と取るか「大過去」と取るかは微妙。「その時までに 行為が完了し、行為をしたという経験(事実)をその時には持っていた」ととらえれば前者。confessやpretendは瞬時的動詞だから、「過去より も以前に起こった瞬時的行為」とも考えられ、それであれば後者。筆者は前者だと見ている。なぜならconfessやpretendは瞬時的行為であるが、 瞬時的行為を一度でもしてしまえば、「その行為をした」という事実はずっと残る。ここでは、「1900年までには、誰かがすでにその行為をしたという事実 が存在した」と受け取れるのである。しかしこの両者の判断はどちらともつかない例も多く、どちらに受け取っても大差はない。どちらともつかないからこそ2 通りの解釈が生まれ得るともいえる。

ところで「1900年も19世紀ではないか」と思った人はスルドイ。確かに1900年においては 19世紀はまだ続いている。言い換えれば1900年の時点では19世紀はまだ過去になっていないので、「過去の過去」とはとらえにくい(almostがあ る が、1899年でも1898年でも「19世紀が終わっていない」事情は変わらない)。これも筆者が「現在完了の過去バージョン」と考える理由のひとつであ る。


-河野太一

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。

March 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC2

This is the second post on GMAT sentence correction from Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor. He will now be a regular guest blogger. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. His other posts can be found here.
-Adam

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野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC2

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。


SC2Although節 内の主語がa surgeで、動詞が下線部になっている。many economists以降が主節であることを確認。

(A)  直前の単語はsalesだが、主語はあくまでa surgeなので、haveでは数が合わない。この時点で他の選択肢の頭を見るが、切れる選択肢はなさそう。一応後ろも見ておくと、there is構文がある。「回復がある」よりは「回復している」のほうが良いのは日本語でも同じ。これを本ブログでは「あいまいなthere構文」と呼ぶ。この点 もポイントとなりそうな予感を抱いて次の選択肢を見る。

(B) raisedは文法的にはOK。ただし過去形を使ってしまうと、「希望を もたらした」のが過去のこと、すなわち「終わってしまったこと」になり、「じゃあ今はどうなの?希望は再び失われてしまったの?」というイジワルな疑問も 浮かぶ。many economists sayが現在時制、mightが未来時を表すと思われることから、この「希望がある状態」は現在も続いていることが分かる。「過去に起こったことの効果が 現在も続いている」感じを表すのは現在完了形のお仕事であり、この時点でもはや(D)が正解くさい。が、はやる気持ちを抑えて後ろを見ると、there beingでアウト。there構文ですら「あいまい扱い」なのに、さらにVing化する意図が分からない。これらの構文は「それしか表しようがない」と いう正当な理由がない限りはダメ。

(C) 過去完了形は、過去を基準として、「それまでに続いていたこと(現在完了の過去バージョ ン)」、ないしは「それまでに終わっていたこと(大過去)」を表す。ここでは基準となるべき過去時が存在しない。このようなものを本ブログでは「基準なき 過去完了」と呼ぶ。beingは、beという本来static(静的)な動詞を、-ingをつけることで「わざわざ」動的にする用法であり、これも正当な 理由がない限りアウト。

(D) hasの数、時制とも問題なし。hopes thatのthatは同格の接続詞で、これも問題なし。副詞finallyがbe動詞と補語の間に挟まるのも、よくある語順で問題なし。「起こっている回 復がある(there is a recovery ... under way)」ではなく「回復が起こっている(a recovery ... is under way)」となっているのもよい。

(E) raisedが過去形なので、やはり(D)に劣る。a recoveryに直接finally under wayを付けるのは、後置の形容詞句だから、文法的にはアリ。ただし「起こっている回復に対する期待」よりは「回復が起こっているという期待」のほうが良 く、同格節できちんとSVを用いている(D)には負ける。


-河野太一

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。

March 17, 2010

Have time to do a survey?

Dear Readers,

Help an IE MBA student out by taking part in one or both of the following surveys over the next few weeks:

Survey 1: For Everyone interested in learning
 
 
Survey 2: For Teachers or people who would like to teach ANY subject, skill or hobby privately
 
 
Also, if you know anyone who you think would be willing to take this, please do so.
-Adam

Guest Blogger: 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説 SC1

I am pleased to announce that Taichi Kono, author of two textbooks on TOEFL and one on TOEIC and a highly experienced TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT instructor, will now be a regular guest blogger. Most of his posts will be in Japanese. This post is on GMAT sentence correction. All of his posts can be found here.
-Adam
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Hi, I'm Taichi Kono. I offer explanations for "The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition." Everyone knows the explanations provided in the book are not remotely thorough or helpful. My explanations are detailed, even to the point of being dense, but I'm sure that following my line of thought, test takers will get a pretty good idea of "how to think" in the GMAT. Sorry, but currently the explanations are offered solely in Japanese.

Visit my school's website at http://www.konojuku.com
The content shown here comes from 河野太一のGMAT OG12解説

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。

GMAT OG12解説

SC1
The Glass House Mountains...(S) were(V) sighted...(C)。James Cookまでで主節は完成。

(A)  theyがMountainsを指すのはOK。supposedly becauseはbecause節(副詞節)に副詞がかかる形で、文法的にはOK、意味的にも「おそらく(一般に推定されているところによれば)〜の理由 で」となり、OK。次のitsが何を指すのかをチェック。後ろにsheer wet rocksが続いているところを見ると、指したいのはMountains以外あり得ない。単複が合わないので、ダメ。

(B) (A)の itsがtheirになっている点はOK。この時点で他の選択肢のお尻を見ると、すべてtheirなので、切れる選択肢はなし。(B)に戻ると、 becauseがandに変わっているため、「名付けられて、そして岩が光っていた」となり、意味的に不適切。andは等位接続詞なのでand以下も主節 と同等の扱いになり、副詞節ではなくなってしまう。したがってsupposedlyをかけることもできない。そうするとsupposedlyはwere namedにかけるしかなくなり、この部分も意味不明になる。

(C) Ving副詞の意味上の主語は(基本的に)主節の主語に一致する と いう原則から、namingしたのがMountainsになり、ダメ。

(D) who so named themはOK。これはwho named them so というSVOC型が元にあると考えられる。soは副詞なので厳密には補語とは言えないが、意味的にThe Glass House Mountainsを指し、「そのように名付けられた」の意味になる。くり返しを避けるための表現。このsoが倒置で前に出た形。似た形の表現にin so doing(そうすることによって、その際に)がある。これもin doing soが倒置になったと考えられる。

(E) itが Mountainsと合わず、アウト。supposedlyがsince節の中に入り込んでいるために、「おそらく」が「岩が輝いていたこと」にかかって しまう。岩が輝いていたことは確かな情報であるとは限らないので、これもアリといえばアリ。しかしどちらが自然かといえば「おそらく名付けられた」のほう が自然なのは明らか。



-河野太一

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。

March 08, 2010

Knewton: What Not to Not Do with Multiple or Complex Negations on the GMAT

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

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It’s Wordy, It’s Awkward, It’s… Correct!

What Not to Not Do with Multiple or Complex Negations on the GMAT

Alex Sarlin is a Content Developer at Knewton where he helps students with their GMAT prep.

The GMAT has a limited bag of tricks up its sleeve to disguise incorrect answer choices. Think of the test-makers as politicians caught in a fib; they can exaggerate (extreme answer choices), skirt the subject (irrelevant answer choices), twist the truth further (distortions), or draw dubious inferences to throw you off their scent. In the end, though, any politician will tell you that the most efficient way to get away with a lie is to simply confuse your accuser into submission. The GMAT usually does this by using negation and reversals in unexpected and mystifying ways.
Negations are words that reverse the meaning of a sentence. They include adverbs and adjectives, such as not, cannot, unlike, or without, and verbs that negate their subjects, such as neglect, deny, reverse, refuse, or counteract. Negations can make parsing sentences into a nightmare, especially during the GMAT, when reading quickly is a key skill. Dealing with negations and reversals effectively is doubly important for non-native English speakers, for whom unraveling complicated sentences is sometimes even more difficult.

Consider the following statement:
Employees with children are just as responsible as those without children.
That makes sense. Now, let's throw in a reversal such as you would see on the GMAT:
An employee with children at home is no more likely to neglect his or her work duties than is an employee without children at home.
It's already getting a bit ugly and difficult to parse, but after a moment, we can recognize that “no more likely to neglect his or her work duties” means the same thing as “just as responsible” does. Let's add a few more twists:
Unlike the inconclusive results of research conducted on employees with and without disabled older relatives, the results of one recent study found that employees with children at home are no more likely to neglect their work duties than are employees without children at home; however, the same cannot be said for such employees' attentiveness to housekeeping duties.
Wow, that's a mouthful! There are many, many negations and reversals in this sentence, all of which are there to make the core meaning of the sentence difficult to spot.
Never fear! There are methods to handle negation and reversals on the GMAT that are sure to make it less stressful.

1. Train yourself not only to notice, but to physically feel any negation words that pop up in an argument, passage, or answer choice.
Did you notice the “not only” at the beginning of the last sentence? We hope so. By “feel,” we mean that you should train your brain to be on high alert as soon as you spot a negation; when you read “The CEO denied the charges that his management style had sunk the company's financial situation, but not that it was responsible for the rise in employee morale,” that very first “denied” should color the way you read the entire rest of the sentence; everything after that point is being denied, and any further reversals must fit into that framework as well.

2. When multiple negations appear in a sentence, they can, but don't always, cancel one another out.
a. Unlike Renaissance scientists, early Medieval scientists were not expected to perform impartial experiments.
b. The new vaccine could not decrease the rate of infection among the antelope population.
In (a) above, the negations cancel one another out; we can be sure that Renaissance scientists were expected to perform impartial experiments. In (b), though, we cannot know whether the vaccine increased the rate of infection or whether the rate of infection stayed exactly the same. "Not decrease" does not necessarily mean "increase"... but it could! Think logically! Furthermore, incorrect answer choices often play on this double negation trick; if (b) was in an argument, the GMAT would be likely to offer an incorrect answer choice that states “The rate of infection among the antelope population has increased since the introduction of the vaccine.” This is not necessarily true, and would be an invalid inference and an incorrect answer.

3. Let yourself be a ping-pong ball.
The worst thing you can do is to plow through negations without noticing that they are there; instead, let them bounce your understanding of the sentence around freely, back and forth, until the meaning becomes clear. Practice on this sentence, which has no less than seven negation words or reversals:
Although neither a lack of iron nor a lack of vitamin B12 is a guaranteed predictor of anemia, a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells, both of these deficiencies may, in the absence of other countervailing measures, cause the condition.

4. Don't be afraid to re-read sentences with complex negations and to rephrase them in your own words.
An extra few seconds of reading is always better than choosing an incorrect answer. Speaking complex sentences out loud helps many test-takers as well (but not too loudly; mind the others in the room!).
Good luck, and one last piece of advice from us at Knewton:
Never forget to avoid ignoring negations!




 

March 07, 2010

Steve Green on the GRE'S PPI

Below, Steve Green discusses the PPI.  If you are taking GRE, this is a post worth reading. 
-Adam

Did you sign up for the GRE?  If so, then you have the option to register for the Personal Potential Index (PPI)

Disclaimer:  For four of the past five years ETS has hired me to be a reader for College Board Advanced Placement exams in the subject of Comparative Government and Politics.  My work with ETS has been limited to this exam only and is unrelated in any way to all other ETS exams, including the GRE.  The opinions expressed in this blog post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETS.

Last summer the Educational Testing Service (ETS) released the Personal Potential Index, which its website advertises as the “First Large-Scale System for Evaluating Personal Attributes.”  The aim of the PPI is to provide schools and applicants with an additional method for assessing the likelihood of graduate success. This new index originated in Project 1000, a decade-long study at Arizona State University that researched evaluations with an aim to increasing the number of underrepresented groups in graduate programs.  Anyone who registers for the GRE may also sign up for the PPI at no additional cost.   Others, including anyone who took the GRE before May 1, 2009, must pay a fee of $20.  In this post I'm going to summarize what the PPI is and why ETS produced it and then I'll offer my opinion on who, if anyone, should register for it.

WHAT THE PPI IS
The PPI produces a score based on assessments of six attributes:  knowledge & creativity, ethics & integrity, communication skills, teamwork, resilience and planning and organization.  Up to 5 people – chosen by the applicant- use a numerical scale to evaluate the applicant on each of these attributes as well as add additional comments.  The PPI asks the evaluator to score the applicant in relation to other university students the evaluator has known.  The mean scores of each attribute plus an overall score represents the PPI, which, along with comments from evaluators, is sent to graduate schools.  

The PPI is not an aptitude test and does not require any action on the part of an applicant beyond providing contact information for up to 5 evaluators and list of up to four schools to receive the results.

HOW THE PPI WORKS
Applicants select up to 5 evaluators who can rate the applicant on the 6 attributes listed above by assigning a value of 1 to 5 on four variables for each attribute. Variables include “Is intensely curious about the field” (knowledge & creativity), “speaks in a way that is interesting” (communication skills) and “behaves in an open and friendly manner” (teamwork), along with 21 other variables.  Click here to watch a short ETS video about how the PPI works.   Go to the ETS PPI Main Page to find links to a sample PPI report, such as would be sent to a graduate school, as well as to a copy of the evaluation report and the 24 variables listed on it.

WHAT YOU DO
When you register for the GRE you can set up an online account for the PPI at ETS (go the PPI Main Page).  In your account you list graduate schools you would like to receive your PPI score as well as provide the contact information for up to 5 evaluators. (ETS will send reports to 4 schools for no extra charge and to additional schools for $20 each.)  Although you have the right to view each evaluator’s assessment of you, you have the option to waive that right.

You may produce different PPI reports that are completed by different evaluators: You are not limited to the same evaluators for every report.  ETS allows you to choose up to 25 different people to evaluate you within the PPI system.   Therefore, if you decide to register for the PPI, then I suggest you strategize about whom and which combination of potential evaluators would be best for you for each program.  Obviously, you will need to think carefully about who can say what about you- and for which programs those assessments might matter most. In theory, your positive attributes should be universally valued. In fact, your evaluation will reflect your best skills as they were seen in a particular time and place.  If you have a lot of professional experience but are applying
 
WHICH PROGRAMS REQUIRE THE PPI AND WHERE IS IT OPTIONAL?  
Apparently, the PPI is required by some graduate programs but is optional at most.  You will have to check with your target programs to find out. ETS did not seem interested in sharing with me which schools actually require the PPI.  Last September, I contacted Mark I. McNutt, Manager, Media & External Relations for ETS, and asked him if he could provide a list of schools that accept or require the PPI.  He said he did not have that data available and, although he kindly sent me a link to press releases later, he did not send me the list of programs that accept or require the PPI.    That was in September, 2009.   Now, in March, 2010, I cannot find that information on the website. (I also notice that the press releases have not been updated since July, 2009.) 
SHOULD YOU REGISTER FOR THE PPI?
I provide a list below of reasons why you may or may not wish to request a PPI score.

Before asking 5 people to devote time to trying to evaluate you on 24 different variables you should FIND OUT IF YOUR TARGET PROGRAM EVEN CARES.   If the departments to which you are applying don't require the PPI then you may gain NO STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE BY SUBMITTING A SCORE.  After all, the adcom cannot fairly judge others compared to your PPI if no one else submits one (because no one else has to submit one) but IF a school accepts your PPI, and you want to submit one, then great- please proceed to the next section

YOU MIGHT WANT TO REGISTER FOR THE PPI IF:
  • One or more of your target schools accepts a PPI report AND/OR
  • You believe your personal traits distinguish you:  You feel like your GPA and GRE scores alone, or in combination with each other, do not accurately represent your potential for success and you believe some combination of the 6 attributes measured on the PPI contributed to your academic and/or professional success as much if not more than your intellectual ability alone AND/OR
  • The PPI can shine the spotlight on those personal attributes you describe in your statement of purpose (SOP).  Since a good SOP contains detailed examples of personal traits that, in addition to brainpower, drive your accomplishments, the PPI can offer not only collaborating evidence to your claims, but additional evidence of other exceptional traits.  (After all, you cannot write about all 6 personal attributes much less the 24 ways they are measured on the PPI evaluation.)

If PPI is an option and not a requirement, then I think you should register for it IF and ONLY IF one of the two points above applies to you.   In that case, be sure you can identify between 3 and 5 people in a position to carefully evaluate the 6 attributes of the index.   I think one or two evaluators are insufficient to provide enough additional information about you. Three or more can illustrate a pattern to your personal qualities, especially in combination with the contents of your recommendation letters.   However, quality, not quantity, is the most important factor to consider when seeking evaluators so only choose those best positioned to judge your personal attributes in relation to others.  Such people include a university professor, a supervisor, a coach or director, or a mentor, among possible others.  As with recommendation letter writers, do not ask family members or friends to complete a PPI evaluation for you. Obviously, if you can identify a larger pool of potential evaluators then you will be able to consider who and what combination of people will help you most for each particular program.  

YOU SHOULD NOT REGISTER FOR THE PPI IF:
  • It is not accepted by your target schools AND/OR
  • You do not believe you can obtain helpful evaluations from at least 3-5 people for any reason AND/OR
  • You do not believe it would be an accurate measurement of your potential AND/OR
  • You have a high GRE score, excellent GPA and reasonably expect supportive letters of recommendation then you may reasonably conclude that you not need to provide additional evidence of your potential for success.  

ATTENTION APPLICANTS FROM CULTURES WHERE IT IS DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN THE "STANDARD" 2-3 LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS:   If you come from a society in which professional supervisors and academic advisers are reluctant to write letters or recommendation and/or will simply not support an employee's or a student's plans to leave their current institution for oversees study, then THE PPI PROBABLY IS NOT FOR YOU.   I think this issue is a potential BLIND SPOT FOR ETS's plans to make the PPI a commonly used tool by graduate programs.   It is already difficult to the point of impossible for applicants in some cultures to obtain 2-3 conventional letters or recommendations from the person best positioned to comment authoritatively and in detail about them.   Finding a substitute for a supervisor that is acceptable to their target programs is already a challenge.   To expect these same applicants to feel comfortable asking an additional 3-5 people to evaluate them would put them in a highly uncomfortable position within their own culture.  In other words,  if the PPI becomes a requirement, then it will put many international applicants at a serious disadvantage.  (I cannot imagine too many US graduate programs want to risk a decline in international applicants so my guess is they are resisting any requests to make the PPI a requirement.)

I work with many international clients who face enormous difficulties obtaining recommendation letters from their supervisors because the supervisor opposes their plans and might fire them if they do not get into a program or because the supervisor is simply too busy to bother take the time to help someone who is planning to leave "the team." Furthermore, asking someone to write a recommendation letter and/or complete an evaluation for a grad program is considered an imposition: Many try to avoid fulfilling such requests and many try to avoid asking more than the absolute minimal number necessary. 


In conclusion, as my comments above suggest, I am not convinced the PPI is useful for most people, especially for many international applicants.

YAYS & NAYS: WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT THE PPI
The ETS website contains this endorsement of the PPI from Michael J. Sullivan, Director of the Hispanic Research Center, and Program Director of Project 1000, Arizona State University:  "I expect the ETS Personal Potential Index to help level the playing field for students who… have not done particularly well on standardized tests…. Having the PPI evaluation as an option helps to show a broader picture of the applicant — that they're more than a GRE score."

Carol Lynch, who is Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder and who has served on the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools, as well as the GRE Board. According to Inside Higher Ed, she expressed that one motivation [for creating the PPI] was dissatisfaction with letters of recommendation. ‘Some of the things we're trying to get at here appear in some letters, but most do not; some letters are helpful [in making decisions] and some are not…There are some busy faculty members who write the same letters for every student.  And it's amazing how many students are in the top 10 percent" of those taught by those writing letters. By asking very specific questions in the index, the new measure should yield better information.
In contrast, according to US News & World Report, the University of Southern California’s dean of admissions and financial aid, L. Katherine Harrington, believes the best recommendations are individualized letters and is not sure a standardize form would have any value.
A more generalized criticism comes from Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.  He told Inside Higher Ed, “it is difficult to differentiate between genuine attempts to improve the admissions process and calculated efforts to sell more products.”  


 For questions regarding this post, please contact me at h.steven.green@gmail.com. To learn more about my graduate admissions consulting services, please click here.
- H. Steven ("Steve") Green, グリーン・ハロルド・スティーブン


大学院

Knewton on GMAT Verbal: It’s Wordy, It’s Awkward, It’s… Correct!

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

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It’s Wordy, It’s Awkward, It’s… Correct!
Joanna Bersin, is a Content Developer at Knewton where she helps students with their GMAT prep. 

Like a salesperson trying to trick you into purchasing an expensive item by appealing to your emotions, the makers of the GMAT try to trick test-takers into both “buying” grammatically incorrect answer choices by making them concise, and eliminating answer choices that are grammatically correct by making them appear awkward and unwieldy.

How do we usally avoid splurging on unnecessary purchases? We train ourselves to shop wisely, basing our decisions on a range of criteria and not solely on what "seems" to be the most attractive option in the store. We focus on specific features, using logic to compare items. How can you choose the correct answer on test day? You don’t just listen to your ear; first make sure that each sentence you eliminate violates a concrete rule of English grammar. When choosing between the remaining, seemingly error-free, constructions, use the differences between the options to identify errors; all other things being equal, always pick the less wordy, less awkward, and more active answer choice.

But buyer, beware: The test-makers, like salespeople, want your ear to tell you what to do. Before going into “negotiations” with these tricksters, it’s best to learn some of their most common tricks.

First, make sure to hold on to wordy and awkward but otherwise error-free constructions. The test-makers especially like to make choice A (the original sentence in the prompt) sound particularly awkward, even when it is the only error-free option. This encourages test-takers to eliminate it immediately, and then to waste time picking between the remaining options. They want us to think “This is the ‘sentence correction’ section, our minds tell us, so this sentence, especially a wordy and awkward one, must need some correcting."  But not necessarily!

Next, do not waste time struggling with pronoun-antecedent errors in complex sentences. Because it is easy to spot a pronoun within a sentence, there is not much that the test-makers can do to create errors with an underlined pronoun. Therefore, do not let pronoun use distract you; check for a logical antecedent, and make sure that the pronoun agrees with this antecedent in number- and move on. On the GMAT, a pronoun is even allowed have two physically possible antecedents within a sentence as long as only one of these antecedents is logical.

On questions dealing with parallelism, items that are linked must be the same part of speech. Options that follow this rule are sufficiently parallel. Once you are choosing between sufficiently parallel options, look for other errors. On tough questions especially, the GMAT-makers will often make the most parallel-looking option incorrect for some other reason, luring you to into choosing it over a sufficiently parallel option without other errors.

For example:
"For the play, the creation of a humorous script and the care of choosing from a cast are important."
And:
"For the play, the creation of a humorous script and the care with which the cast is chosen are important."
… are both parallel. The first sentence uses "of" after "care" and looks even more parallel than the second sentence. However, the less parallel-looking option, the second one, is grammatically correct and logical, whereas the more parallel-looking option is awkward and does not have a clear meaning. "The care of choosing from a cast" does not make sense. 
Don't be fooled; appearances aren't everything.

Finally, when down to those final two options, plug each back into the original sentence and check for sentence logic. An underlined portion itself may read error-free, but, when read in the context of the entire sentence, the meaning of the sentence formed may be illogical. Which option clearly places all modifiers, especially adjectival ones, as closely as possible to the words they modify? Which choice connects clauses logically?

The salespeople use the same tricks over and over again. Learn the gimmicks and buy only what you came for.

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