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One of the pieces of advice that Stacy Blackman shared in her book, The MBA Application Roadmap, is so simple that it is often ignored: If you're thinking of applying to business school sometime soon, read more!

(Here's my review of the book.)

Most of you are busy, and many of you probably haven't picked up a book for pleasure (if at all) since you started working full-time. That's understandable, but it's also hurting you.

As Stacy points out, it doesn't matter very much what you read. Find something that interests you, and learn more about it. If it relates to your chosen focus in business school, all the better. Here are some of the benefits of reading more:

  • You'll read faster. This comes in handy as you try to work through 41 GMAT Verbal questions in 75 minutes.
  • If you think about what you're reading, you'll more quickly understand the structure and strategy of magazine articles and book chapters. This, in large part, is what GMAT Reading Comprehension tests.
  • Your vocabulary will grow. Look up unfamiliar words. This is especially important if you are not a native English speaker. GMAT Verbal questions cover a staggering variety of topics, so you never know when an obscure word will appear again.
  • You'll write better. One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read quality writing. It doesn't matter whether you find it in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, or a bestselling non-fiction book.
  • You'll have more ideas for Analytical Writing Assessment essays. Every time I've taken the GMAT, I've been able to refer to something I'd recently read in my Analysis of Issue essay.
  • You'll be a more interesting conversationalist. This is a good quality in general, but it is all the more important in alumni and on-campus interviews.

What To Read?

It really doesn't matter what you read, as long as the writing is of decent quality. The old standards for b-school applicants are the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Business Week, but I encourage you to branch out from there.

I've written before about the benefits of reading high-quality book reviews; that's a great way to expose yourself to ideas and vocabulary on a wide variety of subject matter.

The most important thing is to find something that will keep you interested. Reading for pleasure is supposed to be fun (that's the "for pleasure" part), so find topics that engage you. A great place to start is Amazon's page for Business and Investing books. You'll find bestsellers, new releases, as well as more narrow lists on topics such as Leadership, Finance, and Entrepreneurship.

Here are a few that I've enjoyed that might get you started:

There aren't very many ways to make yourself a better business school applicant with a few enjoyable hours per week. Take advantage of this one.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Verbal

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type you'll face on the test. Everything you need, all in one place, including 100+ realistic practice questions.
Click to read more.