Accepted’s Most in 2011

Best of 2011 at Accepted.comWhat worked for you last year? At least what worked at for our readers? And that’s YOU!

Here are a few posts, articles, and resources that proved particularly popular:

Top Ten Most Visited Accepted Admissions Blog Posts of 2011

  1. Harvard Business School 2012 Essay Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  2. INSEAD 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  3. London Business School 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  4. 2011 Rankings: BW’s Best Undergraduate Business Schools
  5. NYU Stern 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  6. Kellogg 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  7. Columbia 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  8. 2012 Common Application Essay Tips
  9. Stanford GSB 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  10. Chicago Booth 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

5 Most Downloaded Special Reports of 2011

  1. 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid
  2. From Example to Exemplary
  3. Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
  4. Leadership in Admissions
  5. MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

5 Most Popular Articles

  1. Writing Your Grad School Personal Statement
  2. Go for the Goals in Your Statement of Purpose
  3. Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation
  4. MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA
  5. The Letters of Rec Too?!?

6 Most Viewed Webinars

  1. AMCAS Essays for Acceptance
  2. Law School Personal Statements with Pizzazz
  3. Highlighting Your Strengths in the Common Application
  4. MBA Reality Check: Evaluate Your Profile for Acceptance
  5. 4 Essentials in an Executive MBA Application
  6. The Art of a Gripping MBA Goals Essay

5 Most Visited Chats Pages:

  1. Duke NUS Medical School Admissions Q&A
  2. Consortium 2011 MBA Application Strategies (2012 version is here.)
  3. 2011 London Business School MBA/MiF Admissions Chat (2012 version is here)
  4. 2012 INSEAD MBA Admissions Q&A 
  5. 2011 Columbia MBA Admissions Q&A

With the year drawing to a close, I have a request. We moved to a new blogging platform in September, and since then, you folks have really stopped asking us questions. On the old blog, we frequently received profile evaluation requests and “what are my chances?” questions on school tip posts. We welcome them! And miss them in our new abode.  Don’t be shy. If you have a question or would like your profile evaluated, just ask.

And what’s the mostest of the mostest at Accepted? The absolute best? YOU! Our readers, followers, circlers, fans, friends, participants, and most of all, our clients. Thanks for a wonderful 2011.

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, founder and president of, co-author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Applicants, learn the 5 fatal flaws to avoid in your application essay, statement of purpose, personal statement, or secondary essay with our FREE special report, 5 Fatal Flaws.

3 Admissions Trends to Watch in 2012

2012 Trends1.  Continuing Impact of Rising Tuition Combined with Recession

  • The law school admissions world has been roiled by the high levels of debt assumed by law school students in anticipation of high-paying jobs that simply never materialized.  A couple of cases of alleged fraud by admissions offices have further stirred this volatile stew. In 2013, look for more transparency in reporting hiring trends for law school graduates. The ABA has already taken a few baby steps in that direction; I believe they will take more. Law schools will become more open with this data, with or without a kick from the ABA, to protect themselves from law suits from unhappy customers: their students.
  • The trend towards more openness with hiring data will spill over to MBA programs next. Look for more data in the form of numbers, not just names of companies. Other larger graduate programs will follow suit.
  • Expect more focus on realistic, well-reasoned goals in all areas of graduate admissions. The days of going to graduate school to avoid the world of work are over — unless you have very well-to-do parents.

2.  More Experimentation with Interview Formats

Wharton experimented with group interviews. Several medical schools have tried “Multiple Mini-Interviews,” or what I would call interviews a la speed dating. I also expect more programs, especially MBA and computer science programs, to try team interviews to see how students interact in a team setting. The main limitation on implementing change in this area will be cost and geography.

3.  Increased Flexibility in B-School Curricula

The goal here is to increase curriculum flexibility so that students can contribute more effectively during their internships.  UCLA Anderson and Wharton introduced new curricula this year that allow students to dive deep into their areas of specialty from Day 1 and postpone requirements unrelated to their major or concentration to the second year. In response to feedback from recruiters, both schools aimed to increase the ability of their students to contribute more effectively as interns, and let’s remember that internships are try-outs for permanent positions. I didn’t see the Round 1 data from Wharton, but Anderson proudly reports that its Round 1 application volume climbed 20%; it attributes that growth largely to the curriculum reform. Anticipated appeal to recruiters and increased hiring drive MBA application volume. And higher application volume and hiring improves rankings; now that’s a real winner.  Look for more schools allowing students to fulfill non-major requirements in their second year.

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, founder of and author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Learn to avoid the five fatal flaws of application essays and personal statements by reading our FREE special report, 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid

IMD Executive MBA Program 2012 Application Questions, Deadlines, and Tips

IMDIMD Executive MBA Application Essay Questions and Tips

The IMD EMBA essay questions will generate a comprehensive view of you as a businessperson and a professional – in very succinct form.  Although the essays are not long, be prepared to put good thought into deciding what to write.  Also spend time deciding what to emphasize about a given experience or point, because you will not be able to include all aspects given the brevity.   Keep in mind the program’s targeting of seasoned managers on the brink of senior management.

Rather than in a traditional set of essay questions, the IMD application asks you a couple of critical questions within the application.

5. Description of career history

Please provide a brief description of your career history and accomplishments to date, including current duties and reporting responsibilities.  The response must be limited to 10 lines.

This line limit gives you about 130-150 words – not much.  You can either weave in your accomplishments ( selectively discussing the key ones) into your career history, or you can do a short paragraph with your career history followed by a short paragraph about your key accomplishments.  Regarding the accomplishments, include at least one recent one.  In this short essay, be specific and quantify where possible/relevant.

9. Briefly state your career objectives.  The response must be limited to 5 lines. 

This gives you a few sentences approximately.  Be specific:  roles/positions, industry, possibly geography.  Give an example of companies that interest you.  State not just what you want to do, but also what you’d like to accomplish, what impact you’d like to have in the long term (your “vision”).

10-13. Essays

Questions 10-13 should be answered on separate sheets of paper. Please re-type the questions with your answers and include your name on each page.  Please take this opportunity to present yourself to the Admissions Committee in a concise, informative and open manner.  Each essay should be a maximum of 15 lines.

NOTE: This line limit gives you about 200 words per essay.

10. Please describe three situations, business or otherwise, in which you were involved and which were of importance to you. Explain why you view them as such.

Selecting three interesting, different, and in some way pivotal situations is the key to using this essay to maximum effect.  It gives the adcom YOUR lens onto your life and career –and it gives you a chance to present a multifaceted self-portrait.  Ideally at least one of the three situations will be non-work related.  A general rule of thumb in terms of time frame is, the longer ago something happened, the “bigger” its meaning and impact should be to make it a viable essay topic.  For example, you should generally steer clear of discussing something as far back as high school – unless, for example, you escaped with your family from a region at war.  Most likely you’ll discuss things within the last five years. For the work-related items, try to have one fairly recent, and also discuss experiences that are different.    I suggest three paragraphs, each devoted to one situation.  In each, describe the situation, and then discuss why it was important to you – and if it was so for multiple reasons, focus on one or two.  Be thoughtful and insightful, don’t just state the obvious. 

11. Please comment on a situation where you failed to reach an objective and what you learned from it.

Here you have a chance to go more in depth on a particular experience.  Ideally use an experience from work, not too far in the past.  First narrate the situation, giving specifics such as where, who, when, etc.   Don’t shrink from the part where you failed to reach the objective – this is the pivot point of the story.  Explain what happened and be frank about where you fell short.  Describe your learning from it – and then add a quick sentence noting how you have since applied that learning.

12. In what ways do you believe you can contribute to this program?

Identify 2-3 key ways you stand out among IMD Executive MBA applicants and elaborate on how they will enable you to contribute.  There is no formula here; it will differ for each applicant.  Some examples of factors to consider are a unique industry perspective or niche, an unusual or powerful experience at work, in-depth experience in under-represented developing region, work that deals with critical or evolving social issues, significant and high-impact volunteer work.  These are just examples.  For the top 2-3 factors you mention, describe each briefly and now how/why it will enable you to contribute.  After this substantive discussion, if you wish and if you have room, you can add a couple more points in a concluding sentence or two – but there is no need to do so. 

13. Optional question: Is there any additional information that is critical for the Executive MBA Admissions Committee to know that has not been covered elsewhere in this application?

The use of the phrase “is critical” indicates that you should not use this essay simply to further market yourself; write it only if there is an essential item not mentioned that the adcom must know in order to have a full understanding of your candidacy.  Obviously you’d need to discuss things such as an unimpressive undergrad record, gap in resume, etc.  But given the opportunity to discuss a range of issues that the regular essays present, you should not add another “interesting” experience here.

Application deadline

“As soon as we receive applications, we review them and make acceptance decisions. Typically, we respond to all applicants within 3 weeks.  You can apply at any time – it is in your best interest to apply early.”

If you would like help with IMD’s executive MBA essays, please consider’s EMBA admissions consulting and EMBA essay editing services.

Cindy Tokumitsu


 By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report,Ace the EMBA.”

Check out the rest of our executive MBA essay tips here.

Get Your MBA Smarts at 20% off through Saturday!

You want to apply to b-school as smartly as possible, right? Well now’s your chance –

MBA Admission for Smarties is on sale for 20% off the cover price for THREE MORE DAYS ONLY. Use coupon code SMART20 through Saturday, December 31, 2011 and save big on the book that will help get you ACCEPTED!

The book, written by founder and CEO, Linda Abraham, and MBA admissions consultant and editor Judy Gruen, will become your go-to guide for MBA admissions assistance on a wide spectrum of topics.

But you don’t need to take our word for it. Here’s what Leila Pirnia, Founder of MBA Podcaster has to say:

MBA Admission for Smarties is a gem of a guide designed to help savvy business school applicants research and pick appropriate schools and present their application in the most compelling way to the admission committees.”

Get your copy of MBA Admission for Smarties now!

MBA Admissions News Roundup

  • School Visits are Like Online Dating- The MBA Blog, “Por Qué….MBA?” One girl’s MBA application journey!, looks at the importance of visiting MBA programs before making any decisions about where to apply. MBA blogger Mango, visited both Columbia and Kellogg’s programs and learned about her “type” of program.  She explained that the same way you understand a lot about a person from a blind date (even though you can’t understand everything), you learn a lot about your chemistry with a school from an initial visit.  Bottom line: schools are very different on paper than they are in person. To hear more about Mango’s MBA application process check out her interview with Accepted.
  • How to Utilize GMAC Data- GMAC talks about what it has learned after giving 258,192 tests worldwide in 2011. The testing year, which ended June 30,2011, showed that GMAT test taking is down 2.2% from 2010 and 3% from 2009.
  • Plagiarism Has Got to Stop- BusinessWeek reports that is cutting down on cheating in business schools. Turnitin, a program that scans admissions essays and then compares them to a large database of essays, said there are 10-20 business schools currently using its service. Turnitin reported that a study of 453,000 personal statements from over 300 colleges and universities found that 36% were cases of possible plagiarism. While this number sounds high, since more MBA programs will likely start using Turnitin, MBA applicants should be extra careful and not “borrow” from sample essays online.
  • GMAT is Used By Over 5,300 Programs- GMAC reports that there has been an increase in different types of programs involving business management. The growth in programs is highlighted by the fact that GMAC has had to add or update 23 program code categories this year. In fact, over 5,300 different programs worldwide use the GMAT exam. To help find what kind of program is right for you, check out the different programs—filtered by GMAT program code types—at ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Will That Be Regular or Decaf? MBA Programs Host Coffee Dates Worldwide

Coffee Date with Current MBA StudentsWherever you are in the world, chances are that a current MBA student from a top school is waiting to have coffee with you. In London, Delhi, Tel Aviv, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Rio de Janiero, Zurich, Houston, and a host of other international cities, schools are dispatching current students to chat you up and get to know you better as acceptance decisions are made. Programs offering these informal meetings include Berkeley-Haas, Chicago Booth, Darden, Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, Tufts, and Yale.

This is a great opportunity to show a school representative how invested you are in going to that program. While these are obviously very informal events, you can still burnish the profile you have already established in your MBA application by showing up with intelligent questions and observations about the program and the school community. While at a general school reception or fair you could get away with asking more general questions (though even at those events your questions should demonstrate basic knowledge of the program beyond what is easily seen on the school’s web site) at a coffee date like this, well into the application season, you’ll want to go a little deeper in showing your awareness of and fit for the program.

Don’t go overboard trying to make a good impression. Be yourself, listen to others, but take the opportunity to ask questions and offer observations that show how dialed in you are to the happenings at the school. These questions and observations can be about any of the following:

  1. A recent or anticipated change in the curriculum or with a specialty track that you hope to join.
  2. Live chats you recently participated in, and what new insights you gleaned from it.
  3. Recent communication you have had with a current student or staff member. This isn’t to name-drop, but to show your ongoing investment in knowing what is happening at the school.
  4. Student-led symposiums or other initiatives – show that you know what’s happening with the Berkeley Nanotechnology club, Dartmouth’s Summit on Health Care Delivery, Yale’s Women in Management club, or other clubs in which you have an interest.
  5. Ideas you have for a case competition or club. Or perhaps thoughts on narrowing down choices among elective classes.
  6. Plans your spouse or partner has to relocate and find new work near the school.

So pull up a chair, warm your hands around a hot cup of coffee, and show your school of choice that you already feel part of the team.

Judy GruenBy Judy Gruen, MBA admissions consultant since 1996 and author (with Linda Abraham) of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Download our free special report, MBA Fairs: Advancing Your MBA Ambitions, for an insider’s look into the world of the MBA fair – what to expect, what to do, and what not to do. 

INSEAD MBA Admissions Interview Available Online

INSEADIf you attended our recent INSEAD Q&A then you know that Kara Keenan, the Assistant Director of Marketing for the Americas from INSEAD, covered a wide range of admissions topics, offering some excellent advice to our INSEAD applicants. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation in which Kara discusses the benefits of an INSEAD MBA – if you are thinking about applying to INSEAD, then read on!

Linda Abraham: Dine asks, “Why should students choose an INSEAD MBA over other prestigious MBA programs in the States?”

Kara Keenan: Again, one of the advantages is the one-year/ten-month nature of the program; a great return on your investment. We cover 80% of the course hours of the two-year program in ten months, so you definitely get the vast majority of the material. It’s certainly an intensive program, so in that regard it might not be for everyone. Especially in the beginning of the program – in your core courses – there’s class Monday through Friday. You’ll spend a lot of time in class compared to a U.S. school where there’s no class on Fridays and things are taught at perhaps a slower pace.

I think another advantage for INSEAD is that our students have more experience. The average years of experience for INSEAD students is five years, whereas at some of the other U.S. schools it’s more like two years. So, if you’re more experienced and you would like to be with your peers, I think you’ll definitely get that at INSEAD and you’ll learn a lot from them, as well. Even if you’re coming with two or three years of experience, you might be in a study group with someone with seven or eight years of experience. You can really share and learn from one another; I think, perhaps at a more significant level than at a program where most people have one to two years of experience. I think that’s something nice.

Also, if you’re looking for an international career and international experience, I think there’s really no comparison to an international MBA program versus a domestic one.

For the entire Q&A, please view the INSEAD transcript or listen to the audio file on our website. You can also read up on INSEAD-related news and advice by visiting the INSEAD B-School Zone and our blog post, INSEAD 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

To automatically receive notices about these MBA admissions chats and other MBA admissions events, please subscribe to our MBA event list. To listen to the Q&A recordings on-the-go, please subscribe to the Accepted Admissions Podcast. ~ Helping You Write Your Best



Law School Admissions News Roundup

  • USC Tax LL.M. On Hold- Finally, a law school taking a cue from the current legal market. USC Gould School of Law has decided to shelve its tax LL.M. program due to the recession, The National Law Journal reports. The program would have been the school’s first LL.M. offered to domestic students (it already offers one for international students). Although LL.M. programs are viewed as good “revenue generators” for schools, and ABA-approved law schools have conferred 65% more LL.M. degrees between 1999 and 2009, USC is taking the recession seriously, and won’t offer more degrees as just a money-maker scheme. The school still has ABA approval for the program and can “pursue [it] in the future if demand for the credential improves.”
  • Uniting Law and Business- As the world becomes more interconnected, law schools “are placing increasing emphasis on commercial law and business knowledge, often through innovative joint ventures with business schools,” the Financial Times reports. In fact, about 40 percent of this year’s FT Innovative Law Schools’ listing of LL.M. programs offer joint courses in conjunction with business schools. The University of Chicago has recently started its “Law and Economics 2.0 Initiative,” while the Reading University Law School in the U.K. has founded the Centre for Commercial Law and Financial Regulation together with Henley Business School, and the schools now collaboratively offer three LL.M. degrees.
  • Useful Advice for Law Applicants and Students- U.S. News and World Report offers five ways in which future or current law students can “maximize their opportunities.” For prospective students, try to get your application in as early as possible—ideally, by the end of November, and certainly by the end of December. Also, be wary of your online presence, but take advantage of social networking. When applying, consider schools’ specialties, and once a student, determine if you should focus your studies as well in a specific area. Once you’ve received financial aid offers from schools, leverage them to get more from the school of your choice—just make sure to be completely truthful in negotiations. It is best to get legal experience even before law school, to verify it’s the right path for you. But otherwise, pursuing these experiences as a law student is still worthwhile.
  • Sustainability Law Certificate Offered at John Marshall- John Marshall Law School in Chicago will now offer a certificate in sustainability law, which “allows J.D. students to center their sights on the hot topic of sustainability and its increasing importance in real estate, transactional and regulatory work,” reports the National Jurist. Courses in sustainability law were already offered at John Marshall, but now there is a specific program dedicated to the field.
  • Pace to Launch Solo Incubator- Pace Law School will open the Pace Community Law Practice, a solo incubator, in September 2012. A solo incubator is a “school-supported law firm geared toward helping recent graduates learn how to run their own practices,” according to The National Law Journal. Between five and seven recent Pace grads will work at the practice and will attend seminars while offering inexpensive legal assistance. The University of Maryland School of Law, the City University of New York School of Law, and The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law have all recently opened solo incubators, and more schools are looking into it as well. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Top Ten Most Common GMAT Idioms

This post is courtesy of our friends at Magoosh.Magoosh Logo

On the GMAT, very few concepts are more daunting than idioms. There are several reasons for this. First off, there are literally hundreds of them to memorize. Secondly, and related to the first point, many are arbitrary. For instance, we regard X as, but we do not consider X as, or for that matter to be (see below).

Indeed, idioms have been known to change over time. A preposition that is considered (remember no ‘as’ or ‘to be’) barbaric in a formal context can, as long as it is bandied about enough, eventually be accepted as correct usage. Of course you do not need to learn the history of idioms, simply which idioms are likely to show up on the GMAT.

Even then, not all 500 possible idioms are weighted equally. Some are more likely to show up than others. So without further adieu, here are the top 10 idioms you have to know for the GMAT.


Require that X be Y

Correct: The new regulations require that prospective employees be
subjected to rigorous screening.

Incorrect: The new regulations require prospective employees to be subjected to rigorous screening.


Estimate to be

Correct: The fossils are estimated to be more than 65 million years old.

Incorrect: The fossils are estimated as more than 65 million years old.


Prohibit X from Y

Correct: The ban will prohibit those without adequate documentation from purchasing guns.

Incorrect: The ban will prohibit those without adequate documentation to purchase handguns.


Believe X to be Y

Correct: Astrophysicists believe the recent disturbances in radio transmissions to be a result of solar flares.

Incorrect: Astrophysicists believe that the recent disturbances in radio transmissions to be a result of solar flares.


Consider X Y (no ‘to be’)

Correct: Most musicologists consider Joseph Hayden the father of the sonata.

Incorrect: Most musicologists consider Joseph Hayden to be the father of the sonata.

Incorrect: Most musicologists consider Joseph Hayden as the father of the sonata.


X expected to Y

Correct: Tax rates are expected to increase next year.

Incorrect: Tax rates are expected to be increasing next year.


Not only…but also…

Correct: Idioms are not only difficult to memorize but are also easy to mix up.

Incorrect: Idioms are not only difficult to memorize but are easy to mix up.



Correct: Studies show that neither studying alone nor in groups is optimal.

Incorrect: Studies show that neither studying alone or in groups is optimal.


Just as…so too…

Correct: Just as caffeine can boost arousal so too can vigorous walking.

Incorrect: Just as caffeine can boost arousal vigorous walking can also.


Prefer X to Y

Correct: The blue macaw prefers lush tropical habitats to the dry climate found in the southeastern part of Brazil.

Incorrect: The blue macaw prefers lush tropical habitats over the dry climate found in the southeastern part of Brazil.


This blog post was originally posted here.

A Six-Item Checklist before Hitting “Submit”

Your College Application ChecklistYou’re eager to click “Submit” after spending so much time working on your college application…but WAIT! Don’t hit “submit” before going over your application one last time and making sure each of the following six items are checked off your to-do list:

1. Your application presents an accurate, holistic picture of you.

Check (and then double check) that each section of your college application presents you at your very best. The adcoms want to gain a clear picture of who you are as an individual and future student at their school. Make sure that all information is accurate and that each section complements the others, similar to how a single puzzle piece can be combined with others to create a cohesive, complete picture.

2. You’ve shown the adcoms why you should attend your target college.

Admissions readers want to get to know you for the sole purpose of determining whether or not you’d be a good fit for their school. Show how you’re a perfect fit by expressing (if not explicitly, then implicitly) why School X is perfect for you – what you will gain from the program, as well as how you will contribute to it.

3. Your recommenders got the job done.

Two things here: You want to make sure that your recommenders filled out the paperwork and sent it in on time, and that they did a good job. Your role in all this is to choose the best recommenders – that is, people who know you well and who will provide specific examples of those characteristics that they claim you have.

4. Someone has looked over your essays.

Your college essays aren’t complete until you’ve had a second set of eyes (or third or fourth) review them. Recruit a family member, friend, or an editor to read your essays and provide constructive criticism. Don’t be shy or defensive; you want to be made aware of every error so that you can fix it before the buzzer.

5. You’ve proofread your entire application.

Your essays aren’t the only application elements that need editing (though they may require the most attention). You should proofread your entire application for spelling, grammar, and stylistic errors. Everything should look neat and clean and should read clearly and smoothly, and most of all, error-free. You’ll have an easier time catching errors if you read your personal statement out loud during this final proofreading stage.

6. You still have some time.

Rushing your application may force you to conduct a less thorough final edit, or to skip filling out a section entirely. The last thing you want is to spend so much time on an application, only to submit something sloppy because you lost track of time. Submitting a day or two early will ensure that you’re submitting your application because you’re truly ready to do so, and not because you have 6 minutes before it’s too late, so you’d better send it in before you miss your chance. Additionally, servers are often overloaded due to heavy last-minute volume. Play it safe.

Have you completed your checklist? Are you sure? If so, then you should confidently hit “Submit” and heave a sigh of relief. We’re all rooting for you! ~ Helping You Write Your Best