Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Term One

Term One went by like a whirlwind- with many exciting experiences and so many fond memories.

Week one commenced with Orientation Week, which was jam-packed with information about not only to topics we would be undertaking, but the social side of the MBA and what we would have the opportunity to take part in outside of the course.  Incredibly, the entire week was run by students from last years cohort, who gave up their time to introduce us all to the year we were just embarking upon.  Their passion and enthusiasm for Cranfield and the MBA course was very apparent, and something that is quite inspiring.

The week was filled with lectures, learning challenges, social events, representative elections, and the first time we would meet our learning teams.  The cohort this year comprises of 80 students, from 31 countries, and a wealth of knowledge and professional backgrounds.

The highlights of the week were international night, and the cabaret.  During international night,  everyone donned their national dress (I opted for zinc cream, an aboriginal print scarf, and an inflatable crocodile kindly left to me by Todd, last years scholarship recipient).  This outfit was, however, clearly outdone by the gorgeous sari's, kimono's and brightly coloured outfits of many of the other countries.

Cabaret night was a hilarious evening, demonstrating the amount of talent (or lack thereof) amongst the cohort.  From gentlemen in drag, to singing, dancing and sporting demonstrations, there were many laughs shared by all. 

From the outset, it was certainly clear- the people I am sharing the course with are pretty amazing, very supportive and will make this year nothing short of incredible.

As the term progressed, it was clear just how busy the course would be- in lectures for half of the day, then in learning teams for the other half (or more) and then back home for some individual study.  On top of this was all of the social activities- of which there are always many- assignments, and of course business competitions to enter.  There is certainly no excuse for being bored at Cranfield!

The lectures have been amazing, with some clearly inspiring lecturers, including Andrew Kakabadse- rated in 2011 as one of the Thinkers50 top 50 business minds in the world.  His lecture on boardroom management left everyone inspired and ready to take on greater challenges.

We have been given business talks by visiting organizations, including BP, Johnson and Johnson, AT Kearny, Adidas and many more- the careers department works tirelessly to assist us in learning so much more about our future career goals, and aiding us in achieving them.

The faculty and support staff have been amazing.  The school runs like a well oiled machine, with assistance always at the ready, and staff always prepared to offer a helping hand.  The facilities are incredible, and even though we are located in the country side, this is an added bonus, as everyone gets to know each other so much better, through living, working and socializing with each other.

So far, I cannot rate my experience highly enough.  I came into the course feeling a little aprehensive and concerned about my abilities, but there is such a group focus on getting everyone through, supporting each other and helping one another achieve our goals.  As we commence term 2, I am excited to learn new topics and share some amazing new experiences.

Monday, 15 August 2011


This test deserves its own section. Don’t be fooled into thinking because you were great at Maths or English in high school you will be able to remember it all now- for most of us that was a while ago! There are questions designed to challenge your problem solving skills, and abilities to work out data sufficiency. The reading passages can be quite convoluted, and are designed to make your mind wander as you read them. You need a score of at least 600 to get into Cranfield. No 600 score, no scholarship.

The bottom line- plan early.

Allow time to sit the exam twice if you need to- if you get through on the first attempt, that is great, if not, you have time for redemption. After attempting the exam, you must wait 31 days before you can attempt it again. Don’t let this rule you out of contention for the scholarship. Read the information available on the website, (www.mba.com) and know what you are in for- arriving early, providing identification, including a thermo-palm print, and other people coming in and out of the exam room, starting at different times. Ask for ear plugs, and if they offer you a choice of seating, make sure you are comfortable. Take your breaks during the exam, take these moments to recollect your thoughts and stop brain fatigue from setting in. For most of us, it has been a long time since we have sat a 3.5 hour exam!

Start studying.

Do not be fooled into thinking a few days refresher is enough to get you through this. Download the software available free from the GMAT website. This will assist you in getting to know the software you will be working with during the exam, and will certainly ease anxiety about what to expect. The software provides review sections and practice tests- initially, I thought I would be ok, but my first attempt on the practice software, I only managed to score 510!
I combated this in several ways- I contacted the daughter of a work colleague who had just finished year 12, and arranged a couple of tutoring sessions. It felt odd at first, but it just reminded me of some of the formulas.
I also went back to practicing my times tables- a must when you are completing the exam without a calculator.
I also looked online, and found there were several GMAT prep courses available. I enrolled in the Knewton Online GMAT prep course (https://www.knewton.com) – which was a worthwhile investment- they have a 50 point increase or your money back guarantee. This course was perfect for me- although I had the opportunity to participate in interactive classes, they were generally not at convenient times, so I took the “on demand” classes. This meant I could work at my own pace, when I wanted, where I wanted, pausing wherever I needed to. There were practice exams, and good hints about if you needed to guess, how to do it, and when to do it. There were 13 classes and 6 practice exams in all, written by the people who designed the GMAT test. I would certainly recommend doing this class, allowing at least 6 weeks for completion. In the end, my score jumped from that initial 510 to 660- and a score of 6/6 for the essay component. I cannot speak highly enough about the Knewton course, the tech support, the teachers, and the benefit I gained from it.

Get organized

Don’t forget to check when the GMAT exams will be held in your area. They weren’t very frequent in Adelaide, yet in Melbourne and Sydney, there were daily sessions. This will need to be taken into consideration when planning your scholarship application.
Now that all of that is said and done- add it all up, if you are in an area where there are frequent exams, or are able to travel to one of these cities, then you need to allow at least two and a half months before the scholarship deadline to ensure that the GMAT wont close the door to your scholarship application. If you are in an area where the tests aren’t frequent, you will need to plan for more time. If you don’t need to re-sit, that is great- all the more time to prepare your applications- but it is nice to know you have the option if you need it.