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Jeff Sackmann "Author, Total GMAT Math and gmathacks.com" RSS Feed (Astoria, New York, USA)

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The MBA Application Roadmap: The Essential Guide to Getting Into a Top Business School
The MBA Application Roadmap: The Essential Guide to Getting Into a Top Business School
by Stacy Blackman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.14
43 used & new from $16.95

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect concise resource for MBA applicants, June 12, 2009
While I am a GMAT tutor and naturally focus solely on that part of the quest for business school admissions, it's important to keep the test in perspective. As big of a challenge as the exam can seem, it is only part of the MBA application process. Other aspects of the process, such as essays, can be every bit as challenging and time-consuming.

There are plenty of books on the market to help you get from "I want to go to B-School" to "I'm in!" but it wasn't until I recently read The MBA Application Roadmap that I found one I could enthusiastically endorse.

Authors Stacy Blackman and Daniel J. Brookings have put together a concise handbook that gives you a plan and then walks you through the steps required to get there. Blackman is well-known for her admissions consulting service, and her experience is evident throughout the book.

Most striking in the first several chapters of the book is the emphasis on getting started early. Blackman and Brookings encourage you to give yourself several months to research schools, prepare for and take the GMAT, draft essays, and manage recommenders.

The authors start from the very beginning, explaining the various factors that should go into your school selections. In my experience (and in theirs), too many students decide on one or two programs simply because of familiarity or a top ranking. Researching more possibilities will not only expand your options, but will also come in handy when tailoring your essays to each school's admissions committee.

Nearly half of the book is devoted to application essays, and this is where you'll find the most valuable advice. By necessity, most of the tips are general in nature, but regardless of your specific situation, you'll find plenty to help you improve your application package.

I wish I had always been able to point my students to this book, because it answers so many of the questions I've been hearing for years, including: How much should your essays be tailored for individual programs? Should you write an optional essay? How can you effectively handle topics such as your biggest weakness or failure? What tone should you strike in the essays?

The MBA Application Roadmap weighs in at well under 300 pages, and reads even faster than that. While it's very concise, that doesn't mean it's not valuable. Many of the strategies the authors share sound simple, but far too many B-School aspirants fail to use them. I don't want you to make the same mistake.

The book's content is divided into over fifty brief chapters, making it easy for you to use it as a reference guide. After an initial quick read (I went through it in about two hours), you'll go back to it many times as you choose target schools, draft essays, and put the finishing touches on your application package.


Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook
Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook
by Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from $0.01

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly useful, August 24, 2006
For years, Kaplan produced a math workbook that covered both GRE and GMAT material, which was an endless source of confusion for students. While those two tests have a lot of similarities, the question types and difficulty levels merited separate books, and Kaplan has finally provided that.

I hadn't seen this book before this week (it was published just this month) and I was impressed. It's not designed for the very high scorer, though I've worked with very few students who wouldn't benefit from it. The best aspects of this book are the content drills--problem sets that aren't GMAT-style questions, but ensure that you know the basics, such as dividing fractions and manipulating exponents.

There isn't a great deal of helpful explanatory material, but the math tutorials are quite a bit better than the equivalent chapters in The Official Guide for GMAT Math Review. If you're at a very remedial level in math, you probably need a tutor and/or a couple friendly algebra and geometry books, but if you remember the basics, this volume should be enough to get you up to speed.

Best of all, there's more practice in this book than just about any other GMAT resource. With about 600 questions, it'll quickly show you where your strengths and weaknesses lie. I strongly recommend this book for anyone currently scoring a 550 or less, or anyone just starting out who is uncomfortable with the GMAT Math they've seen so far.


Kaplan GMAT 800, 2006-2007 (Kaplan GMAT Advanced)
Kaplan GMAT 800, 2006-2007 (Kaplan GMAT Advanced)
by Eric Goodman
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $0.01

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not 800, but not bad, August 24, 2006
GMAT 800 is a very popular book. Whoever at Kaplan came up with the name ought to get a raise and an immediate promotion to the head of the marketing department. Everybody wants an 800, and we'd all like to think that working really hard through the materials in one book will get us there.

Of course, that's ridiculous. This book claims to have the "hardest problems," and while it has a few, that's just not true. A better title would be "GMAT 720." That's not to say the book isn't worthwhile. It probably does have more difficult problems than any other popular book on the market--it certainly contains more than any other Kaplan book or the Official Guides.

I am disappointed, however, with the way material is distributed in this book. The hardest questions on the GMAT aren't equally divided among every content area: there's more difficult Data Sufficiency than Problem Solving and more probability than algebra. However, there are only a handful of probability questions in this book, and the Problem Solving/Data Sufficiency split is heavily weighted toward the former. There are indeed more Problem Solving questions on the GMAT, but high-scoring students aiming for the top need Data Sufficiency practice more.

If you are scoring 650 or better and aim higher, this is a great book to have. However, don't put too much stock in the tips--they aren't explained terribly well, and in my opinion they aren't even the best methods to do some of their problems. If you can comfortably do every question in this book in a reasonable amount of time, you may not get a perfect score, but you'll do very well.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2009 6:06 PM PST


Kaplan GMAT, 2007 Edition: Premier Program (Kaplan GMAT Premier Program (w/CD))
Kaplan GMAT, 2007 Edition: Premier Program (Kaplan GMAT Premier Program (w/CD))
by Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
42 used & new from $0.01

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Broad but not deep, August 24, 2006
In many ways, this book is just a different version of the text Kaplan gives to students who enroll in their classes. That isn't necessarily a bad thing--just something to be aware of if you're already enrolled in the course. The methods are the same, and I spotted at least a couple of practice questions that looked familiar.

Kaplan is famous in large part due to its 3-step (and 4-step and 5-step) methods, and of course you'll find plenty of those here. I'm not sure how useful they are outside of the classroom setting. These methods are designed to be your entire approach for each type of question on the test, and I don't think there's enough explanatory material in the book to get you to that level of confidence with them.

There are plenty of practice questions, though not as many as you might expect in a nearly 600-page book. They are split into content areas, and the back of the volume has a full-length practice test. Probably the most useful part of the book is the CD-Rom, which contains several full-length adaptive tests. Buying the book also gives you access to more practice on Kaplan's website.

Practice tests are great, and Kaplan's are the best unofficial ones I've seen, but that endorsement comes with a caveat. Kaplan has always had trouble calibrating its scores to actual GMAT scoring, and despite some recent adjustments, still hasn't nailed it. Use the adaptive practice tests to get used to testing on the computer and doing so under time constraints. Don't live and die by the test scores.

Overall? Kaplan could probably produce a much better book than this. In an effort to reach everyone and produce a comprehensive prep volume, they've compromised one too many times and come up with something that isn't exhaustive for anybody. If you're preparing entirely on your own, flip through this one in a bookstore and see how much you think the methods will help you. If you're not convinced, you should skip this one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2007 1:36 PM PDT


The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review
The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review
by Graduate Management Admission Council
Edition: Paperback
138 used & new from $0.01

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Supplement to the Official Guide, August 16, 2006
There isn't much in this book to distinguish it from the verbal portion of The Official Guide for GMAT Review, but that's ok: if there's one thing GMAT students need, it's practice questions that look and feel just like the ones on the test. While the questions in the Quantitative Review book are somewhat easier than in the Official Guide, that isn't the case (to the same degree, anyway) with the verbal, so I can recommend this to just about anybody.

Further, the difference between authentic questions and inauthentic ones (i.e., those generated by writers at test-prep companies) is much greater in verbal material than in math. I should know: I've written hundreds of practice verbal questions, and matching the voice, structure, and objectives of the original is a daunting task. Some inauthentic practice materials are better than others, but you should take advantage of all the "real" questions that the testmaker has made available.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2006 10:10 AM PST


The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review
The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review
by Graduate Management Admission Council
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.46
181 used & new from $0.01

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing's better than test-like practice, August 15, 2006
This book is slimmer than the orange Official Guide, weighing in at about 300 problems, but if you need more math practice, it's a great resource. One caveat: the average difficulty level of questions in this book is somewhat lower than that of the questions in the Official Guide. If you're already getting a 650 or better on practice tests, or if you are comfortable with the vast majority of math problems in the Official Guide, go ahead and skip this one. If you're not yet at that level, this is an excellent supplement to the orange book.

It can't be emphasized enough the importance of doing "authentic" practice questions: while some test-prep companies are better than others, none have completely mastered the exact tone and nature of GMAT questions. As these questions are written by the same folks who write the test, you can't really improve on the authenticity.

The Quant Review book does have some actual math "review" material, but it's very official in nature. Not a shortcut in sight. Buy it for the questions; read the review if you're stuck in the subway without a pencil and scratch paper.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2014 9:49 AM PDT


The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11th Edition
The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11th Edition
by Graduate Management Admission Council
Edition: Paperback
334 used & new from $0.01

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE must-have book for GMAT students, August 14, 2006
Weighing in with over 800 pages, 800 practice questions and answers, and a bright orange cover, this book is the best twenty-two bucks you'll spend on preparing for the GMAT, hands down. When you're in the market for practice questions, your number one priority is authenticity. Since the Official Guide is written by the same folks who write the test itself, it doesn't get any better than this.

There are some drawbacks. The section overviews are well-nigh worthless, and the explanations are often opaque. You'll never find the "faster way" in this book, but if you're working with a tutor, that's what he or she is for. The book claims that questions are organized by difficulty level, but there are no markers to indicate what those difficulty levels are; also, I suspect they are organized only in the most general manner.

Most students will start with the Diagnostic Test (section 3), which is actually one of the more challenging parts of the book. The questions, on average, are set at about the level of a 600-650 test taker. Because the diagnostic is not adaptive, your score (the book provides a conversion table) is not all that predictive of how you'd do on the computer-based GMAT.

In other words, this book is far from being the perfect GMAT resource, but because it is the one location where you'll find hundreds of authentic test questions, it's a must have. It should be at the center of your preparation from day one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2007 5:14 AM PDT


Renegade Heaven
Renegade Heaven
Price: $17.89
47 used & new from $2.04

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but worth every penny, January 29, 2005
This review is from: Renegade Heaven (Audio CD)
Full disclosure: I'm about as big a fan of the Bang on a Can All-Stars as one can imagine.

Many of their discs (like this one) feature a series of ~10 minute compositions by a reliable stable of composers, such as Julia Wolff, Michael Gordon, Arnold Dreyblatt, and Phil Kline, all represented here. While their work can be considered part of a distinct school, each composer is so unique, pursuing their own directions in post-minimalist music, that moving from one composition to the next can be jarring.

For instance, Wolff's music (such as track 1, "Believing") is intensely rhythmic with a few compelling patterns that crop up throughout her oeuvre. Gordon is often more meditative, though in such a way to prevent much contemplation: his rhythmic hooks are just as aggressive as Wolff's, but where her pieces repeat one or two bars, Gordon's will repeat a 16-bar chunk.

But I oughtn't get bogged down in the details. The trio of Bang on a Can founding composers (Wolff, Gordon, and David Lang) have become increasingly prominent in new-music circles in the last decade, and this disc is perhaps the best introduction to what they do. In a way, finding a piece to dislike is refreshing: BOAC has developed an ethos in which composers are not expected to adhere to any rules--it does mean trying out clunkers sometimes, but it makes the great works (and I find "Believing" to be one of them) all the more satisfying.


Aaron Copland: THE LIFE AND WORK OF AN UNCOMMON MAN (Music in American Life)
Aaron Copland: THE LIFE AND WORK OF AN UNCOMMON MAN (Music in American Life)
by Howard Pollack
Edition: Paperback
Price: $45.00
41 used & new from $7.86

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great approach and thorough biography, January 29, 2005
When Pollack wrote this book, Copland desperately needed a biographer, and for a initial comprehensive effort, Pollack's book more than fills the bill.

The book is a hefty 550 pages, not counting notes and index, but its unorthodox organization--the chapters are chronological, alternating, for example, a history of a few works with an analysis of some aspect of Copland's life--keeps the story moving. In fact, this organizational gambit is about the only thing that makes a life so sprawling as Copland's manageable. By grouping together everything having to do with, say, Copland and European composers, in one chapter, he makes it much easier for the reader to sink his teeth into the subject and to refer back to a topic later on.

This book is almost a hagiography--Pollack clearly adores Copland and, if anything, views him as underappreciated. In particular, Pollack seeks to revive Copland's reputation as a "serious" composer, right up there in the 20th-century American canon with Ives. Along with such staples as "Appalachian Spring" and "Fanfare for the Common Man," Pollack wants us to recognize the achievements of his later, twelve-tone works. Further, he attempts (somewhat convincingly) to show the relationship between his "popular" works and the less-accessible ones, whereas Copland's works have often been seen as belonging to different "periods."

I wouldn't be surprised if someone supersedes this biography in another 15 or 20 years, but for now, Pollack's book is a great introduction to the man and his work. Not only that, but it places Copland's ascension from struggling artist to eminent public figure in such a way to inspire young artists in all fields. A great read.


Shooting the Sun
Shooting the Sun
by Max Byrd
Edition: Hardcover
49 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, but..., January 29, 2005
This review is from: Shooting the Sun (Hardcover)
In selecting as his subject a fictional trek across the early American West, Max Byrd took a step away from his habit of writing about presidents, as he did in Jefferson, Grant, and Jackson. It seems, however, that he's not as adept without the unifying theme of the great man.

The jacket copy convinced me to move this one to the top of my reading list--it's got Charles Babbage, the pre-computer computer-maker, eccentric extrordinaire, and a wild cast of characters. Babbage's business partner arranges for an expedition to, ostensibly, observe a solar eclipse which will, incidentally, prove the worth of Babbage's machine.

There's a great book in a premise like that one, but Byrd didn't write it. There's a lot about squabbling among the expeditioners; there's a lot about people convinced and unconvinced of Babbage's wisdom and his machine's value. Ultimately, the novel tries to cover so much--1830s Britain; early computing machines; 1830s Washington, D.C.; hostile Natives in the West--that Byrd's 300 pages can't cover it all. Another 100 pages may have been enough to make this a compelling historical novel; as it is, I strongly recommend reading Byrd's "Jackson" instead. It's a longer, more specific novel on roughly the same time period, and it's much more expertly executed.


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