Monthly Archives: September 2014

GMAT Preparation Advice From A 760 Test Taker

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: September 28, 2014)

In a recent conversation, I asked a colleague at BCG to tell me about her experience preparing for the GMAT. Since she ultimately scored an impressive 760 (99 percentile), I suggested that she share her experience with MBA Admissions Advisors readers, which she gladly agreed to.

Can you tell us a few words about yourself?

I graduated in May 2013 with a Masters of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Engineering from Polytechnique Montreal (Quebec). Since then, I have worked for 1 year in management consulting. I took the GMAT in order to apply for a top MBA program and I intend to enroll in September 2015.

What was your score on the different sections?

Verbal: 42 / 96%
Quant: 50 / 89%
Total: 760 / 99%
AWA: 5.5 / 80%
IR: 6 / 67%

 How long did you prepare for the GMAT? How intense was your preparation (weekly hours)?

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My HBS Interview Experience

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: September 12, 2014)

What It’s Like to Interview at HBS

My invitation to interview at HBS came on the first day that the admissions committee began emailing candidates. It was a relief, to be sure, but it also was undoubtedly a bit nerve racking. Three days later, I received a follow up email, this one with a link to an online portal where I would actually schedule my interview. I chose an afternoon spot on a Monday on campus in Boston. It allowed me to fly up from Washington D.C. during the weekend, ensuring I would be settled in and wouldn’t face any logistical snags come interview day.

The morning of the interview I kept completely free. I wanted to make sure I was well rested and unrushed. At noon I attended a luncheon hosted by the HBS admissions committee for applicants interviewing that day. We had sandwiches and made small talk in the back room of the Grille, a staple of the HBS dining circuit. There were a few of us there, and we each took turns asking relatively low-risk questions of the admissions staffer that had joined us.

After an hour or so, lunch wrapped up, leaving me about 90 minutes before I was scheduled to be at Dillon House, the admissions building at HBS. I walked across the Charles River and had a cup of coffee, rehearsing my answers to the most basic interview questions (strengths, weaknesses, why an MBA, why HBS). By that time I was wishing I had scheduled my interview for a little earlier. Time seemed to be passing pretty slowly.

I started heading over to Dillon House about 2pm, arriving 10 minutes before my scheduled interview. When you walk in the door, there is a short hallway with a big glass window on your left, so I could see the receptionist through the glass pane well before I could actually say hi to her. I greeted her warmly, and she told me to take a seat while I waited for my interview to begin. I did, playing with one of those mini Zen gardens you find in offices sometimes to keep my mind from wandering.

Sure enough, at 2:30pm on the dot, an admissions officer walked out to greet me. She walked with me about 30 feet to a small office in the back of Dillon House, and along the way we made small talk about my trip in to Boston that weekend.

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How long should your HBS essay be?

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: September 5, 2014)

The HBS round-one application deadline is less than a week away, leaving a lot of candidates scrambling to make the finishing touches on their essays. Inevitably, applicants also seem to be left wondering whether their HBS essay is the “right length” or what the “ideal word count” is for their essay. Without a suggested word limit from HBS to guide you, it’s a reasonable question to ask.

Ultimately, you have to let the content dictate how long your essay will be, but over the past year we’ve been able to collect enough data at MBA Admissions Advisors to make some reasonable guesses as to how long successful HBS essays typically are. The below histogram represents just that — an educated guess based on a limited sample — and while I cannot guarantee it is perfectly accurate, I hope it serves as a rough guide and useful datapoint as you consider the length of your essay.

But it’s worth stressing again that content is king and should ultimately dictate your essay’s length. If you’re looking for advice on the content of your HBS essay, you can check out our detailed post here or reach out to us through our free consultation service; we’re happy to chat about your essay ideas, essay length, or your profile more generally.

The above represents our best guess — based on a reasonable but limited sample — of how long successful HBS essays are typically.