MALIBU, CA--(Marketwire - May 1, 2012) - A recent series of interviews with Veritas Prep graduate school admissions consultants shows that simple errors plague many graduate school applicants: not highlighting extracurricular activities, using the same applications for multiple schools and not answering honestly when asked for a personal weakness. These common mistakes, along with other findings, were revealed in the interviews that took place earlier this month.

These admissions consultants assist graduate school candidates with the application process, but nearly all formerly served on admissions committees at top-ranked American universities.

The five most common mistakes mentioned by the admissions consultants were:

  • Brushing over a lack of extracurricular involvement
  • Using the same application for multiple schools
  • Passing off a positive trait when asked for a weakness
  • Coming across as boastful
  • Lack of self-awareness, including post-degree goals, reason for wanting to pursue an advanced degree, personal values, etc.

Those interviewed agreed that downplaying a lack of extracurricular activities is an obvious omission to admissions committees. Traditional graduate school applicants have been focused on career development and may have not spent enough time developing their community involvement, the consultants said. They suggest explaining a lack of volunteer history or even highlighting any activity enjoyed outside of work can fill in that gap and make for a more well-rounded application.

It's assumed that most applicants will apply to more than one school. But, many consultants said they have noticed an application that was clearly copied and pasted. Neglecting to address the unique requirements of each program is a missed opportunity and an easy way for admissions directors to pass up your application, many said.

Another common theme that emerged was that many applicants tend to incorrectly answer the "What is your greatest weakness?" question. Many consultants said that a real answer needs to be given, not a strength worded in a negative way.

A related mistake applicants often make is they come across as boastful. While there is nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments and conveying what you bring to the table, arrogance is unattractive. Consultants instead advise applicants to let their letters of recommendation speak on their behalf -- let someone else gush about you. It'll be more authentic.

Additionally, admissions committees want to get to know applicants and gain an insight into their goals, motivations, values and other personal attributes -- what makes them tick and how they might fit into the program. According to the interviews, many prospective students lack the self-awareness. Applicants should put thought equity into those things and make sure they come across in the application.

Among their tips for success: Be yourself. Every one of the Veritas Prep admissions consultants agreed that there is one major way to get a graduate school application noticed: originality. A far cry from decades ago when a high test score and fancy title would get you in the door, today's market is incredibly competitive. And more potential students not only have the common attributes for grad school success, but also other skills that make them desirable to the top schools in the nation. According to the experts, admissions committees are ready to see something different -- and that could be a candidate's ticket to their first choice school.

The Veritas Prep admissions consultants also offered additional tips for success:

  • Spend time on introspection and actually incorporate that material into your overall narrative and essays
  • Make the resume a snapshot of your candidacy
  • Have someone who will level with you review your essays
  • Allow enough time to prepare thoughtful applications
  • Apply to the institutions that will be a good fit for you; do not just pick schools for their name brand cache

For more behind-the-scenes advice from former admissions officers, download the full report: "Behind the Curtain of Graduate School Admissions: Veritas Prep Admissions Consultants Reveal Common Mistakes; Tips for Success."

In addition to the report released today, Veritas Prep is also making two extra guides available to prospective graduate students: The Guide to Writing Great Admissions Essays and The Guide to Graduate School Financial Aid. To download the free guides, or for more information about Veritas Prep and its services and resources, visit

About Veritas Prep
Veritas Prep is the world's largest privately owned GMAT preparation and admissions consulting provider, offering industry-leading programs to help applicants improve their test scores and gain admission to the world's best graduate schools. Founded in 2002 by graduates of the Yale School of Management, Veritas Prep now offers live GMAT prep instruction in more than 80 cities worldwide, as well as interactive online courses available everywhere. Additionally, Veritas Prep offers industry-leading admissions consulting services for applicants seeking admission to the most competitive business schools, law schools, and medical schools in the world. Visit for more information.

Contact Information:

Lindsey Mikal
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