How to Prepare for Your Test Day
Pete talks about what was right and what he would change as he prepared.
Pete McCaffrey is an MBA student at The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University
I’m a full-time MBA student focusing on Real Estate and Entrepreneurship. I grew up in Houston, Texas and Columbus, Ohio, before going to Wake Forest University for undergrad. I’m an outdoor sports enthusiast, I enjoy traveling and learning new languages, and love adventures in general. My latest adventure is returning to school to get my MBA from The Ohio State University. With a background in project management and dreams of being an entrepreneur, my MBA is helping me launch into the development field.
Dream career: Real estate developer of mixed-use properties and historic buildings.
Before business school, I was: A business project manager for DHL. I was responsible for leading joint internal and customer teams to launch new supply chain operations.
When I’m not in class, you’ll find me: Rock-climbing, hiking, and training my dog, an American Brittany named “Gus.”
Advice for anyone thinking about b-school? Visit the campuses you are considering and think about life in that city as well as life on the campus.
My remedy for pre-test nerves: Visit the test site before the day of the test so that (a) you are familiar with it and (b) you won’t create any additional stress trying to find the location on time.
On the day before your exam, you should: Not study and do something active. Nothing you cram the day before will stick, and doing something active will help ensure a good night of sleep.
How did you fit studying for the GMAT exam into your busy schedule? I used an online program so that during breaks at work and in the evening I could chip away at studying.
How well-prepared for business school do you feel, after studying for the GMAT exam? Very prepared. After taking several years off to work before returning to school, studying for the GMAT helped refresh problem solving skills and other disciplines that had not been as applicable in my work at the time.
Make the Most of Your Campus Visit
"You’re going to be spending two years here studying, living, and growing your network and you want to make sure that it’s a place that you can really visualize yourself and that you can see yourself for a longer term."
"Hey GMAT viewers, this is Pete McCaffrey from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, MBA Class of 2016. I’m a tour guide here at OSU and I want to provide you with a few tips for your next campus tour. First, make sure that you connect with a recent alum who’s in your area and try to get their perspective on their favorite things about the campus or the program in general. It’s important to find out from those that actually attended the program what were the things they liked most and that they’d recommend visiting. Next, make sure that you get connected from them with someone that’s on campus who maybe has a similar background or career interest. Secondly, try to sit in on a class while you’re there, preferably a case- or discussion-based class. This will help you to visualize yourself in the classroom and get a feel for the culture of the classroom. Don’t feel too pressured to contribute to the class discussion, but most professors will welcome any input that you might have even as a guest. Third, make sure that you talk to students other than those that are hosting you there. It’s important that you get a variety of perspectives so that you really get an understanding of what the program is like. And talking to as many students will help to really balance perspectives. Lastly, make sure that you visit the surrounding area. You’re going to be spending two years here studying, living, and growing your network and you want to make sure that it’s a place that you can really visualize yourself and that you can see yourself for a longer term. Try to visit the areas where students currently live as well as getting recommendations from them on restaurants and local attractions. Have fun, and good luck on your next campus visit."
Going Into an MBA with a Non-Business Background
"Leadership and problem solving skills are skills that don’t change too much depending on what discipline that you’re in."
"Hey, this is Pete McCaffrey from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, MBA class of 2016. We get a lot of prospective students who are interested in getting their MBA but are concerned because they didn’t study business undergrad or maybe haven’t been working in a business field necessarily and they’re worried that they don’t have the right background to be successful in an MBA classroom. I want to talk a bit about why this shouldn’t deter you from an MBA program. The first reason is that your undergrad experience is probably a lot more relevant than you think. If you were a Liberal Arts student like myself you probably spent most of your time writing essays, challenged with consolidating complex information into a succinct argument. An MBA classroom is very similar to this, we take complex information from a variety of business perspectives and try to put it into a succinct argument by applying frameworks, theories and principles used in our classrooms. Secondly, if you haven’t been working in the business field, your experiences in whatever you were doing are probably also a lot more relevant than you think. Leadership and problem solving skills are skills that don’t change too much depending on what discipline that you’re in. In the MBA environment, we’ll take those experiences and help build upon them and apply them to a business environment. Lastly, keep in mind that there’s no prerequisites for most MBA programs. Those who have designed the programs know well that many of the students aren’t necessarily from business environments and so don’t require this kind of knowledge prior. Keep an open mind and talk with admissions counselor and an MBA program of interest if you have any further questions."
How to Prepare for the GMAT Exam and Your Test Day
"One thing that I would have done differently is I would have studied over a longer time frame."
"Hey GMAT viewers this is Pete McCaffrey from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, MBA class of 2016. If you’re watching this, you’re probably studying for the GMAT now or preparing to do so here soon. I want to provide a few tips based on my experiences of things that went well and things that I would have done differently that might help you on your own studying search. First, a couple of things that went well for me were that I took five practice tests, full length practice tests, in preparation for the full length exam. Doing so not only familiarized me with the directions and the actual parts of the exam but I was actually very well-acquainted with the time. So as I was going through the test I knew very well how much time had passed and if I needed to speed up or slow down based on my progress. Secondly, the week prior to my exam, I was in the part of town where my test center was and I drove by just to make sure where it was, knew where the entrance was and knew where the parking was. It’s really important on test day to minimize any secondary forms of stress because you’re going to have enough on your mind getting ready take the exam. By knowing where the test center is it’s going to help you get there on time so you’ve got one less thing to worry about. Lastly, one thing that I would have done differently is I would have studied over a longer time frame. I studied for six weeks about two hours a night with a full length exam every weekend in preparation for the exam. In hindsight I would have spent more time, but more importantly over a longer time period revisiting subjects from the beginning of my study period. What happened was on test day I was very familiar with the concepts I had most recently studied but very unfamiliar with the things from the start. It’s more successful to study the same things over a longer period of time than trying to cram it all into a short time frame. Good luck on the GMAT and good luck studying."
Why I Got My MBA
"There were some very important hard skill sets that I hadn’t developed that I wasn’t going to get if I continued in the world where I was."
"Hey, this is Pete McCaffrey from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, MBA class of 2016. Many of you are probably deciding whether or not an MBA is the right step for you and I want to share a bit about why getting an MBA has been the right step for me. For the years leading up to the MBA program I worked as a project manager in the logistics industry, getting large supply chain operations started up across the country. I learned a lot of very important soft skills over my years as a project manager, but ultimately decided that there were some very important hard skill sets that I hadn’t developed that I wasn’t going to get if I continued in the world where I was. I either needed to make a career change or get into a graduate school program to help develop these skill sets. Around that same time I discovered that I really had a deep interest in real estate and urban development. The combination of these factors and discussions with both MBA admissions counselors and local real estate professionals helped me understand that an MBA really was going to be the best move for getting the necessary skill sets and making this career transition. Now one year into my MBA program I can see with a lot more certainty that it’s been the right move for me. I’ve developed my financial accounting and marketing skill sets and I’ve also gotten a lot of great experiences that have helped to put my work experience in better perspective. Lastly I’ve got an internship this summer in my field of interest. And I can say again with perfect certainty that it’s been the right step for me. If you’re considering getting an MBA think critically about what it is that you intend to get out of a program and try to talk with mentors, MBA admissions counselors or professionals in your field of interest to determine if this is going to be the right step for you in your career."