Once you’ve decided to go ahead and go through with the application process, you’ll probably start your search on the Internet. I didn’t know anyone who had gone to business school and I knew that I really wanted to go, so I had to do all that I could in order to gather the necessary information. I perused ALL of the relevant message boards and websites namely: Beat The GMAT, GMATClub and Poets & Quants. Poets & Quants had just started the summer that I was applying, so there wasn’t much content on that website.

Beat The GMAT became my equivalent of Facebook. What I mean by that is that anytime I opened up my computer, I would normally log onto Facebook first. When I was going through the application process, Beat The GMAT became my first destination. I used it for different reasons though. Back when I was on the website everyday, I used it a lot for help with certain GMAT problems pertaining to Sentence Correct, Critical Reasoning, Quant problems and just general MBA Admissions questions. My activity became very robust on that site and people started coming to me with their questions.

When that started to happen, I started posting more and more within the common MBA Application forums. It was then that I realized that not everyone had done and/or was doing as much research as I was and that I had something to offer. I began to make a lot of friends on that website and ultimately starting helping the Beat The GMAT team as a project manager I guess one could say. For those of you applying now – have you heard of the MBA Watch on Beat The GMAT? I’m sure you have! Well, myself and now a friend at Tepper initiated that and worked with the developers at Beat The GMAT to create it. Hope you’re getting valuable use out of it.

In any event, this section isn’t about ME, but rather about YOU! So now that you know my history with Beat The GMAT you’ll understand how I see one being able to utilize those websites when going through their own application process.

If you’re studying for the GMAT, definitely use the message boards for help with questions that you may be stuck on. Both Beat The GMAT and GMAT club have a global presence, so if you post a question with something that you may be hung up on, within a couple hours (if not minutes) there will be a response.

With that being said, remember that not everyone thinks like you do though so explanations may not work FOR YOU! Also, on those websites, not all of the answers may be correct. This could be a positive or a negative. I say that because people will “fight” back and forth trying to justify their answers. That COULD be a positive if you like reading that type of thing. Me personally, I was so lost most of the time with GMAT content, that I didn’t participate in those types of discussions and just let the users fight with each other. When they did arrive at an answer then I would try to understand why they were right. Then I would just move on to the next one. I couldn’t be bothered with people arguing. In my head I was like, “um... really? It’s not THAT serious!”

So that’s the one section of those sites. The other sections of those sites are where people ask questions related to MBA applications or post questions about certain schools. This is where I ultimately decided to spend most of my time because it was something that I could understand and relate too. I saw a lot of what I would consider “obvious” questions on there where I would think to myself “HAS THIS PERSON DONE ANY RESEARCH AT ALL?” and I would also get irritated when people would repost questions, but that’s all pointless. But I realized that again, this was usually people’s first encounters with the business school admissions process and they were doing research just as I had done.

TIP 1: What I do want to say about these sections of the websites, and these websites in general. DO NOT USE YOUR REAL NAME OR PICTURE! When I was applying these sites were not frequented (or maybe they were) by administration, staff, or current students at schools. Now, however, these sites have become more sophisticated and

show up in Google or Bing (but who really uses Bing?) searches. This isn’t to say that it happens all the time or anything of that nature, but just manage your online profile at all times.

For me, I knew that given the traction of my blog that I had no shot at being anonymous. So I just embraced that and ran with it, but that’s not the case for everyone else out there right? There probably isn’t anything worse that keeping a “true” profile on those sites and potentially having the question come up in an interview, “Which other schools did you apply to?” and then with a little digging they find out that you lied in your interview or that you were actually bashing the school you applied too. Just be careful with what you put out there in the ether.

As a student, there were times when I would go to one of the websites and see a username that I recognized because it was usually the First Initial & Last Name of someone who was either currently a classmate or a 1st year. To be nosey, I would go back to see which schools they were talking about as their top schools mainly on BeatTheGMAT. I say this not to say that everyone does this because I can assure you that they do not – BUT, I would advise you to be weary because if I can do that, then so can an admissions officer.

Write about profile evaluations and why they don’t work on the message boards.