Some insights from Gerry Grenham who runs Graduate Management Admissions Test® (GMAT) preparation sessions for the Smurfit school to assist our MBA candidates prepare for the test which is an element of our entry criteria. Preparation is all for the GMAT, give yourself 4-6 weeks to prepare for it to give yourself the best chance of scoring well and to familiarise yourself with the test structure and strategy.
Gerry advises that The Graduate Management Admission Test® has a number of unique features which have implications for how candidates should approach the test:
1. Computer Based
The questions are presented one-at-a-time by computer and must be answered in the order presented, without skipping any question. Candidates cannot change or return to a previously answered question. There is a heavy penalty incurred for unanswered questions. Consequently, time management and strategic answering are critical. Candidates should not spend too much on any one question (the average time should be approx. two minutes per question). To register an answer within this short time, candidates will need to quickly gauge the question level of difficulty relative to their knowledge. If deemed to be too difficult or time-consuming you should guess strategically (i.e. if one or more of the solutions presented can be ruled-out then select one of the remaining solutions at random). If the candidate has no idea of the solution then select one of the five possible answers and proceed to the next question without losing time. If there are unanswered questions at the end – guess; best to have a one in five chance of a correct answer than be heavily penalised for unanswered questions.
The test aims to ‘home-in’ on a candidate’s level of ability. It will tend to offer a number of quite straight-forward questions at the start. If the candidate gets these early questions right it progressively increases the level of question difficulty. Getting questions of increasing difficulty as you progress thru’ the test is a good sign. Remember – earlier correctly answered questions have been ‘banked’ and will boost your GMAT score. You can answer subsequent questions with increasing confidence.
3. Memory & Calculation
GMAT is designed to test general verbal and quantitative reasoning skills. It is not a memory test; it does not test knowledge of mathematic formula. Similarly, it does not test candidate ability to do complex arithmetic calculations (hence calculators are NOT allowed – candidates can only use a pen & erasable sheet supplied by the exam centre). As a consequence, numbers supplied in questions and answers tend to be ‘convenient ’ – they simplify easily by cancellation, multiplying easily in calculations and tend to have whole number factors to cut down on non value-adding calculation.
GMAT demands concentration and attention to detail. Incorrect answer options supplied appear highly feasible and reasonable – the most plausible incorrect answers, corresponding to the most logical incorrect errors, are supplied along with the right answer for each question. Candidates need to maintain concentration otherwise they will be lead to a solution that appears among the list of possible answers supplied, but is in fact incorrect.
For further information the GMAT website is www.mba.com.
My colleagues in Admissions have reminded me that the MBA Newtalk scholarship is now open and accepting applications. This scholarship is a 100% fee scholarship and is available to those considering either full-time or EMBA programme. The closing date is 26th May so get working on that application, you know the old saying ‘If you aren’t in, you can’t win’.
Further information on the application process and entry criteria is available at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/newstalk/
By the way if you are considering doing your MBA this year, and we hope you are, get that GMAT test booked as the slots start booking up later in the summer and doing this at the last minute puts unnecessary pressure on you.
On Wednesday 25th the UCD Smurfit School hosted the official launch of our annual Image Scholarship with an open evening in our ‘Women on the MBA’ series. We and Image are very keen to increase the numbers of women undertaking our programme because while there are increasing numbers we still don’t think there are nearly enough. Brian Marrinan, MBA Careers (who confessed to feeling outnumbered) did a short presentation on what the MBA careers services does to help students move to the next level and he then moderated a panel of current students and alumni who gave the benefit of their experience as women of the Smurfit MBA. It was a really interesting discussion with good insights and could have gone of far longer if time had allowed.
Many thanks to all who attended and to our panelists Catherine Butler (current EMBA class), Aoife Lucey (current full-time class), Paula Thomas (class of 2010) and Fionnula Croke (class of 2002).
It had to come to an end. A month of glorious holidays: meeting friends I’d neglected since last September; reading magazines, Christmas bestsellers, anything but case studies; and watching oodles of box-sets and movies. To ease myself back into MBA mode for Semester 2 – which according to cruel rumours was going to be even tougher than Semester 1 – the last cinema trip was to see ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ I’m not sure that much of the film would tally with our previous Business and Society module but it definitely sparked my interest for the upcoming Competitive Strategy and Corporate Finance modules!
Semester 2 kicked off at 9am on a rainy Saturday morning with a personal development seminar. We were presented with the results of survey No. 734* and I discovered that I’d been a lone ‘blue’ (altruistic – nurturing leadership style) in a team with three ‘reds’ (assertive-directing leadership style). On paper that combination shouldn’t work but somehow, in reality, it did. If I was to hypothesize, I’d say my team mates brought out my latent competitive streak, whereas I kept them from trying to outdo each other! However I think it’s mostly due to the fact that my former team mates are very hard working, smart, encouraging people, and good fun to be around.
One of the reasons I wanted to do an MBA was to see if – having worked in the non-profit sector for 10 years – I was up to the challenge of working with people from completely different professional backgrounds and mindsets. Being arbitrarily assigned to teams of people who you’ve never met before and being dependent on the team for a significant percentage of your overall results lets you meet that challenge head on. I was sorry that after getting on so well with my team in Semester 1 that we would now have to go our separate ways. All too abruptly we were assigned our new teams for the next 12 weeks. Nothing like an MBA for keeping you on your toes.
This time our new team have the benefit of knowing each other a little bit in advance. We’ve sussed each other out in class and we all implicitly know that working together is essential to success. We can get down to business quickly. Which is just as well as those rumours have proven correct: Semester 2 is tough. Brilliant, but tough. We’re less than a month in and all of us EMBA-ers are juggling work, multiple assignments, and a rainforest’s worth of readings. Not to mention the surveys. It’s a bit overwhelming, but luckily I’ve got another great team around me, a strong Wolf Pack.
The whirlwind of the UCD Smurfit MBA life kick started right from the first day of classes, so having a night off just to get to know the faculty, staff, everybody, and their loved ones outside of the classrooms were quite refreshing.
The night started off with a drinks reception in which full-time MBA and EMBA students mingled and shared our experiences so far into the programs. We, the FTMBA students, quickly found out that our schedule faded compared to the hectic work-study-family balancing act of EMBAs.
Moving forward to the dinner, watching a video of the very first alumni talking about their time at UCD Smurfit 50 years ago made us appreciate better the rich history and excellent tradition of the school.
As a mini-representation of how accessible and diversified the program is, half of my table was international students from the US, Malaysia, China and Vietnam, the rest consists of Irish students and even a professor. The multitude of differences between nationalities, age, background and experiences made for an amazing sharing session. Ciaran and Orla even made sure to visit all tables and ensure we all had a good time.
To cap off the night, we went down to the Dark Horse, a local watering hole, and celebrated Pete’s birthday. Congratulation, Pete!
“This is how you prepare an income, profit and loss statement. This is how you prepare a balance sheet. Any questions?”
“Good, these are your assignments for Thursday.”
Two months’ worth of accountancy lectures at undergrad level, dexterously squeezed into two hours. The pace was set for the rest of the week.
It’s not that the lecturers assume students have considerable previous knowledge of the subjects. There’s just a lot of work to get through. The best thing to do is to jump straight in. The only comfort being the reassurance that others have gone through the same process in the past and lived to tell the tale.
I would like to use this blog post to set the record straight about a common misconception about the Irish. Despite what you may have heard, read, or seen; the Emerald Isle’s beverage of choice is in fact coffee. As a new MBA student you are told that you’ll be drinking lots of coffee to get through the year. What they neglect to mention is that they try to get you hooked on it from the start.
The UCD Smurfit MBA Foundation Week started early last Monday morning with all the new students, both full-time and part-time, gathered in the Main Hall mingling and making small talk. Everyone was exchanging names and nationalities and work histories over cups of coffee, generously provided by the university.
There were speakers and info sessions and team building activities throughout the week. And the whole time coffee was never more than two hours away. The unspoken question on everyone’s mind was, “How long until the next break?” Not because everybody needed a fix (although for some that’s exactly why) but the coffee break became something more. It was chance to speak with your classmates and bond with new people over something familiar. Despite our diverse backgrounds it was the simple, shared experience that brought us together.
Perhaps that is the Irish way: coming together for a chat and getting to know each other. The coffee is just an excuse to get together.
The foundation has been laid. The relationships are growing. And the coffee is still flowing.
Every once in a while, I look back on the journey in life so far and look ahead to what the future has to offer. One of those introspective trips planted the seed of thought of changing the status quo. I could feel a void that a change in job/role or internal organizational training couldn’t fill.
The business side of a venture has always interested me and I felt that an MBA from a world-class institution would lay a strong foundation to build a career upon. Having lived in Ireland for almost six years now, the UCD Smurfit MBA was at the top of my list. A bit of information gathering over internet, talking to alumni and attending a breakfast lecture session helped me make up my mind.
As I’m gearing up for a change of direction, here is my take on the expectations from the MBA @ UCD Smurfit.
Experience a world-class business education.
Learn from diverse peers both inside and outside of the classroom.
Build a good network of people with shared interests.
Get a wider perspective on business to enable my transition to more commercial focused roles from my past operational focused ones.
Have a bit of fun and form great friendships for life.
So this is me, Sundar (you may try Sundaresan Balasubramanian for a tongue twister), a Full-Time MBA student with nine years of global work experience in telecom with the likes of Ericsson and Verizon, looking forward to an amazing journey ahead.
Would you believe it? Another year has come upon us. The expression groundhog day has been used a number of times in the past weeks. The new incoming MBA classes have completed both the Foundation Week (an intensive induction programme) and their first week of lectures culminating this evening with the annual Welcome Dinner.
Now that everyone is in the door, we invite all our MBA participants and their partners to dinner to celebrate the successful transition on to the UCD Smurfit MBA. This dinner hosted by the MBA Office takes place on the first Friday night of the new semester.
Before we pass over to our new friends, the MBA Office would like to congratulate one of our outgoing MBA participants, Zahira Sukran, who has won the UCD International Blog Competition, which is a great achievement. Zahira was a Full-time MBA on a scholarship from her home country, Malaysia, and her blog documented her personal experiences of doing the UCD Smurfit MBA and living in Dublin. She also provided regular contributions to the MBA Blog during her time in UCD Smurfit. Her award winning blog can be found at http://mbamoon.blogspot.ie/ and a favourite of ours is http://mbamoon.blogspot.ie/2013/04/good-bye-kinsale.html
This blog will now be taken over by a new batch of eager bloggers who will keep it alive and interesting throughout the new academic year.
After a busy week in Brazil and China on the International Study Trip, respectively, my colleague Roisin and I are now back in the “real world” in Dublin. With the MBA students still on Spring Break (and indeed some still in Brazil and China) this is a time for us to start focusing in more detail on the MBA programme 2013/2014.
This is always an exciting time for us, planning, keeping, chopping and changing, organising and indeed meeting applicants and participants for next year. As we speak, I am drafting up my first communication to the 5 (maybe 7?) students coming to the UCD Smurfit MBA programme on exchange in September and indeed also to those who have already confirmed that they are ready to start the MBA Programme fulltime in August. Happy and exciting days ahead!!