I have always been confident that with time, I must get a western education. After participating in an exchange of students and visiting Harvard ten years ago, I did not even issue what and why, just a dream which over time developed into a goal.
In this article I would like to share the experiences in preparing to enter and describe a few personal observations, which I think will be useful for those just starting their way to the top schools. I tried to focus on those factors that are especially important for children from the former USSR, in particular from the Ukraine. I hope my experience will help you quickly and successfully reach a goal.
A couple words about me. At the beginning of my preparation I was29 years old and I served as head of the marketing department in one of the foreign companies involved in telecommunications. First of all, I learned how to pass exams and how to prepare for applying for MBA programs.
Because the GMAT is the primary requisite test, I looked through the resources that it is desirable to use for training. The site www.admissionsconsultants.com contains a list and brief reviews of recommended books.
Necessary books for self-training book which I recommend are on the site: www.amazon.com.
For more independent training refer to the library resources of Kiev Centre American Council (Melnikova Str, 63) www.americancouncilskyiv.org.ua / AlumniCenter
In Kiev, there is an opportunity to engage in courses to prepare for the GMAT. But for me, they proved quite insufficient. The main result of attending these courses was my acquaintance with people like myself interested in getting a western education. Most of us continued to prepare ourselves by the exchange of information, and the friendly support and assistance in the use of the resources for training.
The total time of preparation for the GMAT took me around a year and a half. Perhaps, for some two years seems too long time to prepare for this exam. But by the time I was promoted and was responsible for marketing, not only in Ukraine but also in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (a total of 12 countries) and had quite a busy work schedule and a lot of travel. Accordingly, the time that I could give for the exam preparation, had considerably declined. Two years for admission is considered to be sufficiently long, and I do not suggest that it takes so much time to just start training. But looking at the result, I am very happy that I reached the goal, and will proceed to one of the top schools, which is part of the eight best schools of the world, ranking third in Europe after INSEAD and LBS of the study Financial Times 2008 - ie Business School www.ie.edu.
I have filed papers in several schools in the United States, Britain and Spain. Also consider the option of Australian schools (Australian market at the moment is developing dynamically, especially against the backdrop of slowing development in Europe and Japan, as well as the crisis in the United States). With the help of correspondence by e-mail, I could clearly imagine the attitude of various schools to the students. The point is that after communicating with some of the top schools, it appears that they relate to students as a means of statistics. These school is not interested in the student and his destiny, and are only interested in their performance ratings. As an Admission Director whom I met in Kiev said “Such schools render a person in the room with a figure.” I prefer the normal human relationships and the mutual interest of the school and the student. I should also mention that ie Business School is one of the few, in communication with which you feel full support in all matters, from filing to registration of the loan at the bank and the search for housing in Madrid. Incidentally, the school entered into an exclusive contract with the bank Caja Madrid, and in contrast to other European top schools helps students obtain credit in the bank for a very low percentage (about 5.6% per annum) In addition the list of scholarships is quite impressive. As far as I know, all the students from the Ukraine received scholarships from the school and I am also grateful to the school for a scholarship, which was handed to me.
At the end of June 2008 I had finally been released and I was able to visit for the first time IE Business School Madrid. At the first meeting at the school (the so-called "Open Day" gives prospective students information about the school, arranges a meeting with alumni and students and conducts tours of the school. Interestingly ie Business School has developed its own exam, which you can sit in place of GMAT. The school places great emphasis on its leading position in the training of entrepreneurs. Most of the polling of the programmes last semester focuses on entrepreneurship, in fact those students, who have chosen the profile of entrepreneurship, also have a chance to get a diploma and to develop their business ideas. To this end, the school attracts a large number of investors who are exploring business plans, the most interesting of which eventually get a good ticket in life. I also want to note one very attractive bonus for me in learning at ie Business School - despite the fact that the program is taught in English, all graduates of post-school are even fluent in Spanish, which, after English is one of the most popular languages in the world
Now a bit about the "most horrible" part - the exams. Upon the expiration of six months intensive training, I still was not satisfied with the achieved level. While my training schedule was tough enough: every night after work until 11 pm, every Saturday in the library of American Council, and Sunday, at home. In summers 2006 and 2007 the first years of my leave in the morning until late at night were also given to prepare for the exam.
Initially, I felt that my level of English was good enough - in fact I have almost all the time in the office communicated with foreign colleagues in English, leading to all business correspondence and presentations in English. So I tried to concentrate on the mathematical part, which eventually proved the wrong tactic. In fact, the exam is very important for the verbal part - just for a better score. The logic is simple - a huge number of people for who English is not their native language take the annual examination, and quite naturally, a large proportion of errors are accounted for in the verbal part of the exam (although fair, it should be noted that even native speakers have to prepare quite thoroughly, exploring rarely used words.) The overall score in GMAT is dependent on the results of responses to complex tasks, which increasingly are referring to verbal portion of the exam.
Giving special attention to the preparation of this part of the examination will greatly help to improve your score. Also note that the GMAT has its own criteria for the correct English language (this applies to section Sentence Correction)
Apart from the need to pass the GMAT language tests TOEFL or IELTS, very often the question arises which is better to sit first GMAT or TOEFL. From my point of view, if you have done a successful GMAT, the language test will seem easier.