An Insight into Understanding the Profile of a Typical ISB Candidate

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you curious to know what will it take to get into ISB?
Or maybe you are wondering, “how do I enhance my profile to get an admission to ISB?”
Perhaps you want to know the kind of placements offered at ISB? And whether it fits your career goals?
Well, fret not.
You have come to the right place.
In this article, we will dig into data from the ISB Class of 2018 and see what mystery it unravels.
We will deep dive into specifics such as what the GMAT scores for the latest batch are, the average work experience the class has, the placement profile, offers rolled out and so on.
Well, let’s get started by answering the top questions most applicants have about the Indian School of Business (ISB)

1. What are the typical profile requirements of a student to be selected at ISB?

Well – there is no one type of person who gets into ISB.
Students came from a variety of different profiles and work experiences. There were students from merchant navy, there were dentists, there were army majors who had spent time in Siachen, there were startup founders,…….and the list is endless.
There also were people who came from traditional backgrounds: coders and testers in the technology domain, some who had spent years in the manufacturing shop floor, and bankers who spent most of their waking hours looking at balance sheets.
ISB will gauge your application profile basis the following parameters:
      a) Academic credentials
      b) Leadership potential
      c) Personal Interests
To help ease out your research, we have written about this “myth about ISB MBA applications” in detail on our blog!
So no matter what your experience level is – chances are that if you have a good story to tell, ISB will listen to you.

2. What was the average GMAT score in 2018 at ISB?

The average GMAT score at ISB increased in 2018 as compared to 2017.
Average GMAT score at ISB for the Class of 2018 is 707.
The Class of 2017 average GMAT score was 704.
So if you really want to get into ISB next year, you need to make sure you work towards a score of above 707.
Read this article to understand the real secret behind GMAT scores for ISB.

3. What was the average GRE score in 2018 at ISB?

After ISB started accepting GRE scores last year, this has been a question many students have had.
Well, the secret is finally out:
The Average GRE score at ISB for the Class of 2018 : 324
To score a 324 you probably need about a 165 in Quant and a 160 in Verbal. This corresponds to roughly the 87th percentile in Quant and the 70th percentile in Verbal.
Sounds doable? Then perhaps GRE is the test for you!
Still thinking? Read our blog on GRE scores for ISB.

4. How many female candidates were accepted to the ISB class of 2018?

The total intake for the 2018 batch was 857, out of which 31% (272 students) were female candidates.
Women applying for an MBA at ISB would like to know that in 2017, the class consisted of 30% women, (apparently an increase since 2016).

Also we estimate that the number of female applicants to ISB is lower than 30% that means (all things being equal) as a female applicant you have higher chances to getting in.

5. How many years of work experience does a typical ISB student have?

In 2018, a majority of 507 students had a work experience between 3- 5 yrs, followed by 270 students who had an experience of 5-10 years. There was just one student from defense background who had more than 20 years of work experience.
Here is how the class of 2018 looks:

This is good news for students having fewer than 2 years of experience and those having substantial work-experience. Also remember, many of those students with 2 years experience could be coming from the ISB YLP intake.
For those who are just starting your career – remember that 5% of the ISB class were in the same boat when they applied last year.
And those with 10+ years of experience – remember that if the 23 students who made it to ISB last year could do it – so can you!
Here’s the work experience breakdown of the 2018 batch:


6. What are the various professional backgrounds that students in ISB class have?

When reading this data – beware of confirmation bias.
Don’t assume that since 70% of the students at ISB were Engineers – hence ISB prefers Engineers.
You couldn’t be further from the truth!
Typically a lot more Engineers apply to ISB. We are willing to wager a bet – perhaps 90% of applicants are Engineers!
So it is not necessarily an advantage 🙂

Also to a lot of people asking: if your academic background is average – can you still make it to ISB?
The answer is yes.
We have worked with students who have had backlogs in their graduation and were still able to make it to ISB.
In 2018, if we look at the educational background of the applications, the list was dominated by Engineering graduates. Here are the top 3 undergraduate degrees students at ISB had:
    Engineering : 606 students
    Finance & Accounts : 72 students
    BBA/BBM : 51 students
The rest were from other backgrounds – Medicine, Media & Communication, Economics, Mathematics & Chartered Accountants.

7. What are the feeder schools at ISB?

Along with the usual suspects the IITs (36) and the NITs (36), VTU has an equal number of students, making it a three way tie for the top position.
Next on the list is Manipal University which sent 21 students followed by Sri Ramaswamy Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (SRM), in Chennai which had 8 alums in the ISB class of 2018.
There were also students admitted from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in Anantapur, Sardar Patel Institute of Technology and St.Xavier’s College (University of Mumbai), Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering in Mysore, Hansraj College in Delhi, Krishna Inst. of Engg. & Technology in Ghaziabad, among other institutions.

8) What were the job placements in at ISB like?

More than 98% of the students who graduated in 2017 claimed to be employed within three months of graduating with a salary bracket between 14 lakhs – 17 lakhs.
Remember that salary usually has a performance linked variable component – so not the entire amount would be “take home”.
Recruiters from consulting and IT/TES constituted 20% to 21% of the total number of offers rolled out, followed by BFSI, healthcare and pharma.
Leadership programs in general at ISB came from companies such as Aditya Birla Group, Axis Bank, Amazon, Bharti Airtel, HCL, HUL and Ashok Leyland among other big players.
Recruiting companies for General Management and Strategic Planning roles included:
    • Accenture
    • ABG
    • Infosys
    • Lodha
    • HUL
    • P&G
    • Godrej
    • Hero Motocorp
    • Max Healthcare
In 2017 too, a majority of the candidates received placement offers from the IT and the consulting industry.
In 2018, ISB witnessed a 39% increase in the number of recruiters participating in the current placements season with over 400 companies.
Read this article to know more about the typical post MBA careers at ISB.

9. Has CrackVerbal helped students get into ISB?

Sure! We have plenty of students who make it to ISB every year.
We helped Sivaprasad score a 750 on his GMAT exam.
In his words, “CrackVerbal’s Verbal course helped me in a great way especially their Sentence Correction classes. They’re all about the basics. I only practiced using their given material. I would say their material is the key to my GMAT score”, and he got placed in ISB.
Sreejith Ramachandran, who also got into ISB, wrote a detailed debrief about his GMAT experience on our forum. Read it here.
If you want to read a few more CrackVerbal student success stories, click here!
That’s the GMAT.
If you’re looking for MBA admissions, read about Gautham – An Engineer’s journey from NIT to ISB.
Or you could read a few more MBA admission success stories, here.
Everyone has a different story to say, and we think ISB will listen to each one of you.
What you really need is a way to tell this story, in a compelling way.
We hope this article helped you understand ISB admissions, placements and profiles.
Do let us know if you liked this article, and if you would want to know how we can work together to get you into ISB this year!
If you’re applying next year, and need help with building your profile, we’re just a click away 🙂

Plan your MBA Admissions Process through GMAT : The step-by-step guide

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Applying for an MBA through the GMAT is scary. We know.
The amount of information you need to read, process, and make sense of? Even more scary.
But don’t worry.
We’ve got you covered!
In this article, we will guide you by providing step-by-step plan to cracking the GMAT and applying to a b-school of your choice.
It will also help you set daily/weekly goals, and help track progress.
This guide is broken down into 4-phases, each giving you the perfect tools and techniques you need to plan your MBA admission process through the GMAT.
It’s time to get over the fear and start planning.
(Note: Depending on the phase you’re in, skip to the relevant section)
Phase 1: Study and take the GMAT (January to May)
Phase 2: Research about MBA applications (March to August)
Phase 3: Work on your essays and applications (July to October)
Phase 4: Prepare for Interviews and Admissions (October to December)


Phase 1: Study and take the GMAT

Let’s be honest – the most important part of the MBA application process is having a kickass GMAT score, right?
Don’t get fooled when people say b-schools look at only your application profile and that GMAT is a prerequisite.
It’s not.
In fact, it is the first thing that the admission committee is going to look at. Make it your leverage.
Given that you cannot alter your admission profile post submission, you can most definitely re-work on your GMAT score.
Just two things:
    1. If you are taking the test for the first time, plan to keep some buffer time. (incase you want to retake the test before sending in your application profile.)
    2. And if you are retaking the test, check if you have enough time to study and work on your application profile. (yes, worst case scenario, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
But why put in half-baked effort when you can ace it the first time?
Don’t worry – with a proper study and focused effort of a few months, you can definitely get the score you need to get into a b-school of your choice.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1 : Understand the GMAT syllabus and how the GMAT algorithm works
Step 2 : Collect essential GMAT resources & build a research repository
Step 3 : Create a GMAT study plan
Step 4 : Start studying and do the right things to motivate yourself.
Step 5 : Take multiple GMAT mock tests
Step 6 : Schedule the GMAT test and take it.
Make sure you bookmark the links above. It will help you structure your GMAT test-prep plan.
We hope this 6-step test-prep plan helps you prepare for the GMAT.
However, if you are facing a roadblock at any point, feel free to get in touch with our training experts.



Resources :

Want to find out about some of the best advice on the GMAT? Read the articles below:

All about the GMAT

Changes in the GMAT

3 month GMAT study plan

Mistakes test takers commit while preparing for the GMAT

Things you should know before taking any GMAT Practice Tests

You are all set up for Phase 2 now.

Phase 2 : Research about MBA Applications

If you thought taking the GMAT is the toughest part, think again.
What should you be doing in this phase?
There are two things you need to focus on:
    1. Build your profile for an MBA
    2. Shortlist the right b-school
This phase is crucial.
Now that you have an essence of what your GMAT scores are, the score will add immense value to your MBA application profile and give you the confidence to shortlist schools that match your profile.
It should also give you an insight into your post MBA career goals.
Let’s get started!

a) Build your profile for an MBA

A lot of you are wondering if you are good enough to get into a top school. Especially, if you hail from an over-represented demographic profile such as Indian – IT – Male.
Here’s where your fear of “what can I contribute to the class that’s different?” kicks in.
For a successful MBA application to a top b-school, it’s important to have something in your profile that really stands out.
They will expect you to showcase :

Pick something that will stick in the minds of the admission committee.
Here are a few ways you can go about building your profile :

Plan out the what’s, how’s and why’s of these achievements being a part of your profile. Think of ways it will add value to the b-school, your career and your MBA degree.
We’re sure you already have something already in mind. But just in case, here are
40 ways you can build your MBA application profile.

Now that you know how to build a profile, let us tell you how shortlisting schools for an MBA works.

b) Shortlist the right school

When you see the website for most schools – they show the same sunny day, the manicured lawns, and the impressive facade of their majestic buildings.
How do we really spot the great ones from the not-so-great ones?
Well, selecting the right MBA program for you is more art than science. It involves a variety of different variables such as:
   1. Location: India or Abroad
Geography changes the way you approach building your profile, and the choosing a b-school.
Pan out your pros and cons of each location and see what works best for you. Maybe you can get family for friends to help you settle in.
   2. MBA program vs. career aspirations
Understand the ratio of people being placed from your dream b-school to a company/sector of your choice. Ask yourself if the odds are good enough to meet your career aspirations.
   3. Duration of MBA & Finance
Here’s where your inner finance guru comes into play. Estimate the cost of living in the city you pick + the course fees (if you have a scholarship, lucky!)  
Second thing you will have to close on is the duration of the course (1 year or 2 years)
   4. GMAT score
Most top b-Schools have a strict cut-off score for the GMAT.  If your score is above average, that’s great.
If not, make damn well sure that your profile mind-boggles the minds of the admission committee members.
Need help picking the right b-school? Read this.
You can also follow these good-to-have tips:
    Subscribe to b-school newsletters
    Join their public forums – helps keeping you up-to-date with events/queries
    Get in touch with the alumni (we recommend LinkedIn…it’s the easiest way)
Now that you know the right way to build your profile and shortlist on a b-school, let’s jump to Phase 3!


Resources :

3 Factors that GMAT accepting B-schools Want to See in your Profile!

How To Select The Right B-School For You

How To Finance Your MBA Especially When You Don’t Have Enough Money

GMAT Section Select Order : Everything You Need To Know


Phase 3: Work on your essays and applications

The admission committee reads and assesses a lot of essays.
Essays are designed to help the admission committee understand the aspects of your personality and mental make-up.
They want to know the real you.
Here is a checklist to help you prioritize.

MBA admissions checklist & requirements:

    An above average GMAT score is key to increasing your scholarship chances.
          Read this: A solid GMAT score to understand how a good score helps your career post an MBA.
    Experiment with the way you portray your best-self in your application essays.
          Read this article on what typical B-schools look for an application essay to get a clearer picture.
    College transcripts – Keep the necessary college transcripts at an arm’s length. Don’t flutter around later like a headless chicken.

    Letter of Recommendation – Try and identify your recommenders early on – it’ll save you a lot of time later on.
          If you need more input on what aspects to avoid while choosing recommenders, click here.
    Other requirements – Some schools may require you to take the TOEFL. You can read more on that here.
And with that checklist in place, you should be good to go.


Resources :


5 Ways AdComs test your Communication Skills

Sample MBA Application Essays for Top B-Schools


Phase 4 : Prepare for Interviews and Admissions

If you’ve come this far, it means that the b-school is considering you very seriously for admission.
This is the time when a lot of people who have sent in their applications would have started receiving their interview calls.
The personal interview is the last and most crucial point of interaction between the applicant and the school, where ‘fitment’ will be assessed.
The biggest question on your mind right now should be – ‘How can I ensure that I give the best personal interview of my life?’

    Review your application multiple times with a fresh mind (run spell checks too). Always keep an eye out for news and updates.
          Make sure your content is credible and backed by facts.
    Communication is key – verbal and non-verbal.
         Express your ideas in a way that best portrays you. Stick to simplicity and honesty.
    The sign of leadership is to communicate with clarity with the intent of helping yourself and the place you work for.
         B-schools are impressed with when a candidate has a crystal clear vision of his goals.
If you want an in-depth explanation of how MBA interviews work, click here.
While you wait for the b-schools to get back with the results, start planning your logistics. Here’s a checklist to follow:
    Plan your finance (tuition fees, visa, tickets and other expenses)
    Apply for your visa (avoid delays, and keep buffer time, just in case)
    Befriend fellow peers (join the college forum and know your peers)
    Check for pre-MBA courses (gives you insight into how the school and course is)

And you’ve made it!
We wish you all the best with your GMAT exams, and your MBA application.
You can also watch this video where our Founder and Admissions Expert Mr. Arun Jagannathan explains the four phases of planning an MBA through the GMAT.

And if you are stuck anywhere, you always know you can reach out to us!
Good luck!

Top 7 Reasons to Do an MBA!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

We seem to be living in an era where everyone – from fresh graduates to those with some years of work experience – seems to want to earn an MBA degree! Often, people make this decision without really knowing how an MBA helps or how to get one.


Given all the information available on the internet, the biggest blunder most MBA aspirants commit is to start preparing for their MBA application without answering the fundamental question – ‘Why MBA?’

Why MBA’ may be one of the shortest questions in the professional world, but it is also one of the most important ones. For one, you will be making numerous sacrifices on your professional and personal fronts in order to get the MBA tag. It will be a life-changing experience for you; possibly the second most important decision in your life. (I think you can guess the first one.)

As a Chinese proverb says,

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!

If you are toying with the idea of applying to an MBA program, you need to have a Pre-Application Plan before anything else. Yes, you may have done your bit of research on B-Schools or even taken your GMAT, but if you do not have a clear idea about WHY you want to pursue an MBA, it is going to be a tough (and perhaps unfulfilling!) journey.


2 Categories of MBA Aspirants:


There are basically two categories of MBA aspirants, especially in the Indian context:

1. Those who have just completed their graduation or are in their final year. These people typically take the CAT journey.

2. Those who have some years of work experience (typically two to six years) and whose objective is to reach their maximum potential in their professional life. This could entail either Career Progression or a Career Shift. These people typically follow the GMAT route.

2 Common Reasons to Do an MBA:


However much you try to be diplomatic and politically correct in your essays, recommendations and interviews, the truth (that even MBA Admissions Committees are aware of) is that most MBA aspirants want to earn an MBA degree because:

1. They want to earn more money

2. They hate their current job

biggest reason to do an mba, mba for more money, mba for more job satisfactionHowever, if these are the only two reasons you wish to do an MBA, you have a very limited and short-term perspective; because after a point, neither of these aspects will mean much to you.

For example, if you are a senior manager at a reputed IT company, and your job involves client interaction, business development, international travel, etc., you need not do an MBA at all as you will already be earning well and will have an envious job profile, too.

However, if you want to enhance your knowledge and perspective, or want a life-changing experience, you may still consider doing an MBA.

So, if you present these two reasons to the MBA Admission Committees you will definitely be considered as a misfit to their MBA program. There is such a thing as brutal honesty! 🙂


You need to have more value-based and well-thought-out reasons to pursue an MBA.


Here are the Seven Real Reasons to do MBA:


1. Career Progression

Typically, a professional begins his/her career with an operational role. Being fairly smart, hardworking and result-oriented, you get promotions and reach a decent position in the management.

You now have a good academic profile and good work experience. What happens next? After a few years, you start feeling stagnated. This could happen after three years or it may take 10 years for you to reach such a stage.

This is because in today’s performance-oriented professional world, most of the people around you also have the same qualities and credentials that you possess. At this point, it is crucial for you to ask what unique traits you have that will differentiate you from the herd.

The answer is: an MBA degree. Actually, not just any MBA degree but an MBA degree from a premier business school. An MBA from a top B-School will help you make a quick transition from a mid-level role to a senior management position, where you will have the opportunity to take strategic decisions.

If you browse through the job descriptions of senior positions across industries, you can see that MBA is the preferred degree, though perhaps not mandatory. Consulting is one profession where an MBA is mandatory to grow to an Associate or higher level.

The lack of an MBA degree may not be a show-stopper but it will be a huge reason for career stagnation.

2. Career Shift

What are the chances that with your current education, role and experience, you can actually switch to any other role or industry? Very little!

Consider this situation – you have been in IT for the past five years, but with time, you realize that your true calling is marketing. What steps can you take to make a switch?

You can take up small marketing projects over the weekends – Read about marketing on the internet and make changes to your resume – Take an online marketing course.

Even if you manage to get past the interview for a marketing role, you would still be joining at an entry level. Your great IT experience will not help you much to get a senior level role in marketing.

It is here that an MBA program can help. In fact, one of the most important reasons why professionals choose to do an MBA is to change career tracks smoothly.

3. Knowledge

An MBA from a top business school may set you back by about INR50 lakhs for a 10 month course. The figure may be even higher depending on the location of your school and the duration of the program.

This works out to about 1.2 lakhs per week. In India, you may end up spending 20 lakhs for a similar MBA program. Imagine spending such a huge sum of money just to gain knowledge!

Wouldn’t it be prudent to quit your job for a year and browse the internet to get all the knowledge in the world?

However, the truth is that the knowledge that will help you progress in your career will not be found only in books or on the internet. The interaction and intellectual debates that you will have with your professors and peers at a B-School will be extremely enriching.

Secondly, the pedagogical methods employed in top schools are very innovative and effective – these include case studies, presentations, projects, research papers, etc. If you are joining a typical two-year MBA program, in the first year you will have the core curriculum consisting of marketing, accounting, finance, statistics, economics, management, organization behaviour, etc.

These subjects lay the foundation of your understanding of business. To be a future CEO, you need to have a 360 degree view of how to run a company and manage people. The language of business is the language of money.

Apart from the core subjects, B-Schools offer a plethora of electives, usually in the second year, depending on the stream you want to specialize in. It is at this point that you need to have a very good idea of your career path so that you can make full use of your MBA program.

4. Networking

What is networking?

Knowing people? Getting contacts?

Yes, knowing people is a big part of networking, but surely it is not just that!

Even with all the social media hype, how many people from your college are you in touch with? 20? 50? At the most, 100! Even at work, how many people do you really know? Your immediate superiors, your team, and the people you meet at the cafeteria.

And what happens once you quit your current job and meet your ex-colleague after two years in a mall? You may even find it hard to remember his/her name! So, according to this definition of networking, it means you are ready to spend 1 crore just to know 100 more people!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, what is networking all about? Networking at business schools means that you will be carrying the same tag as thousands of alumni.

You may or may not have studied together, but if a Harvard alumnus receives an email or a job request from another Harvard alumnus, or is interviewing a candidate who went to the same school, there will be an immediate bonding between them, something like an Old Boys Association!

We all want to be identified as part of a group of high achievers. Doing an MBA from a reputed B-School gives you a great opportunity to network with smart, talented people who will hold top strategic positions in major companies or will be great business leaders someday.

5. Brand Equity

An MBA degree is certainly a feather in your cap. But an MBA from a top B-School is a more brightly colored feather! You can feel this difference within India itself. All things being equal, there is a big difference if you do an MBA from a lesser known B-School in your region and if you graduate from a top school such as ISB.

As most recruiters are aware of how difficult it is to get into a top B-School, an MBA degree from such a school holds a lot of brand value.

Employers already know that you have cleared the first level of acid tests: high GPA, high GMAT score, essays, recommendations, the tough interview itself and of course, a very rigorous MBA program.

Just like gold, an MBA from a reputed B-School gives you a certified hallmark that you are competent to become a successful leader in the near future. As the job of assessing a candidate is already done by the MBA Admissions Committee, recruiters are well-assured of your potential.

6. Self-Growth

What do you really learn at a B-School?

Most importantly, the confidence to be somebody who matters, in your professional life.

A reputed B-School program gives you the opportunity to think in the direction you want to. Whatever goals you may have had before joining an MBA program, once you join, you may realize that your true calling lies elsewhere.

The entire classroom experience, interaction with faculty and peers, student activities, case studies, all these may radically change your perspective, both personally and professionally. Many MBA students discover a new person in themselves once they graduate from business school.

The irony of life is that when you were a student, you had no responsibilities, but you also lacked the right perspective. Once you started working, gradually, you learned who you are, what your potential is, but at this stage you are so burdened with responsibilities that you don’t get the chance to follow your passion.

An MBA gives you a second chance in life to do what you always wanted to do. It gives you the independence of a student’s life as well as the perspective of working for many years.

7. Change of Geography

There must have been instances when you wanted to move to Australia or Canada or any other foreign country to work there. In your current role, you may be able to move to an international market as a C++ coder but definitely not as a project manager.

An MBA, say from Stanford or INSEAD can help you understand the foreign market well, increase your international network, learn about the requirements for an international career and get exposure to a totally different culture and way of life.

Do you identify with some of these reasons why you should do an MBA? At the end of the day, it’s all about your passion, your career and your long-term goals. Before you even think of applying anywhere, analyze why exactly you wish to pursue an MBA and articulate it well in your essays and interviews.

A systematic approach to following your dreams will make your MBA journey meaningful and enjoyable. 🙂

Hope this post makes a positive difference to your MBA plans! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Head over to our E-book library for more useful information on GMAT/MBA!

The Secret Behind the GMAT Score for ISB

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You would agree that it is almost impossible to get anyone to answer this question:

What is the GMAT “cutoff” required for ISB?

There are varying answers:
Some people tell you not to apply with a sub-700 score.
While others tell you the story of their cousin who got in with a 640.
Worry not! In this in-depth article, you will find the answers to all your questions related to the GMAT scores required to successfully apply to ISB.
We will also look at the trend over the last 10 years, the highest and lowest scores at ISB during this period, and look at the mid 80% range of the students.
Take a peek into the differences in the GMAT scores at the Hyderabad campus, and the Mohali campus, and finally you will get a framework to apply to your specific profile.
We pulled out the data from the ISB website.
Some of it exists in ISB PGP class group
And for some historical data, we had to resort to some hacks (such as using wayback machine to look at the archived data).
We went all the way back to 2006 because we reckon that 10 years are about as much as you need.
Let’s get started!

1) What have the GMAT scores been at ISB?

Here is the average GMAT score at ISB over the last 10 years:

Average GMAT Score at ISB from 2007 to 2017


[tr][th]Year[/th] [th]Average GMAT score[/th][/tr]

[tr][td]2017[/td] [td]707[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2016[/td] [td]704[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2015[/td] [td]700[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2014[/td] [td]711[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2013[/td] [td]711[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2012[/td] [td]710[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2011[/td] [td]712[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2010[/td] [td]709[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2009[/td] [td]716[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2008[/td] [td]714[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2007[/td] [td]707[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2006[/td] [td]706[/td][/tr]


Here are a couple of things you will notice straight away:
1) GMAT scores have 7 in the most significant bit. For the less technically inclined, what I meant was – you have scores in excess of 700 in all the 10 years 🙂
2) The highest average GMAT scores for any year was 2010 with a whopping 716. The lowest average GMAT score was in 2016 with the number just at the border of 700.
Let us look at the same data from a perspective of analysing the trend. This time we are changing it to Class of 2007 and Class of 2017.

Let’s be honest: there is no such trend.
But if you do want to read into it – you can perhaps see a spike around 2010 but the average scores are now back to what they were in 2007.
The biggest drop was for the ISB class of 2016 for which the number dropped from 711 to 700.
Takeaway: Though the class size at ISB has been increasing (just in 2012 the class size was 574, while this year around 812 students graduated), the average GMAT scores have consistently been hovering above the 700 mark.

Okay, so this is a lot of data thrown at you. What does this mean for you? Read on!

2) What GMAT score do I need for ISB?

If you are reading this article this far, it means that you are in one of the following categories:
1) You have taken the GMAT, and are not sure if your scores are enough.
2) You have not taken the GMAT, and are wondering how much would be enough.
Let us tackle the second category first.
If you have NOT taken the GMAT, go ahead and score as high as possible.
In our experience, there are fundamentally three things that ISB looks for:

1) Clarity of vision that shows you are a person who can get what you want.

In our opinion it is very, very important that you figure out what you want to do with your MBA degree.
If you have not seen the ISB essays for this year, do check the ISB essays 2017-18 now!
However, this is the part that really cannot SEPARATE you from the rest.
It is a hygiene factor: necessary but not sufficient.

2) History of excellence that tells them that you have the potential to lead.

This is stuff that cannot pretty much change.
You need to have taken interest in the world around you.
If you spent the entire summer goofing around, watching GOT, there’s not much hope.

3) Pedigree that is shown through GMAT, Undergrad institute, and Employer brand.

You wish you could have studied harder in the 12th to get into a better college – or have gotten a better rank.
You wish you could change your marks at college – (never knew inorganic chemistry mattered in life 🙂 ).
You wish a better performance in the campus interview would’ve gotten you that dream job.
Here is the deal:
You can stop wishing.
And start studying for the GMAT!
Now, let us look at the last bit of data: the mid 80% range.
What this means is, you stack all the students in order of their GMAT scores and remove the outliers.
Outliers are the extreme cases: say someone like an astronaut-turned-monk-turned-olympic-athlete got in with a 600 🙂 (<- just kidding!).   Interestingly this data is not available for the class of 2007, and again not published after 2015.    

Mid 80% Range for Years 2007 to 2016


[tr][th]Year[/th] [th]Average GMAT score[/th][/tr]

[tr][td]2007[/td] [td]660-750[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2008[/td] [td]660-760[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2009[/td] [td]680-760[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2010[/td] [td]670-760[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2011[/td] [td]670-750[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2012[/td] [td]670-750[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2013[/td] [td]680-750[/td][/tr]


What can we interpret from this?
– You pretty much need to have a GMAT score above 670 if you are not an outlier. In other words, a 650 will be of no use if your profile is average.
– Getting a score around 750-760 will put you in the top 20% – not the top 2%. In other words, it is not a big deal if you have a 760 on the GMAT.
– In general, this data also means that if you are in an over-represented demographic such as IT or Finance, you need to make sure that you bulk up your GMAT scores.
Read how one of our students teamed his 750 GMAT score with his profile to impress the Ad-com members at ISB.


3) What else can we interpret about GMAT scores needed for ISB?

Let us try to see if we can get some more juice.
Good news is that we did get data for the GMAT Score range. More importantly, we got the comparison between the ISB Hyderabad GMAT scores and ISB Mohali GMAT Scores.
Bad news is that we did not get data for all years.

GMAT Range for ISB for the Class of 2007 to the Class of 2017


[tr][th]Year[/th] [th]GMAT Range @ ISB Hyderabad Campus[/th] [th]GMAT Range @ ISB Mohali Campus[/th][/tr]

[tr][td]2007[/td] [td]600-780[/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2008[/td] [td]600-780[/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2009[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2010[/td] [td]600-780[/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2011[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2012[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2013[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2014[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2015[/td] [td] – [/td] [td]NA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2016[/td] [td]600-760[/td] [td]610-760[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]2017[/td] [td]600-770[/td] [td]590-770[/td][/tr]


– = Data was not found on the ISB website
NA = Not Applicable as the first graduating class of ISB Mohali campus was in 2016
Here are some interesting observations from this trend:

1) What is the lowest score ever at ISB?

The lowest GMAT score EVER was 590, scored in 2016 by someone who got into ISB Mohali campus.
Except for that, the lowest score seems to be 600.
So, if you have a GMAT score lower than 600, don’t even think about applying to ISB

2) Is there a difference in GMAT Scores at the Hyderabad and Mohali campuses?

There is almost ZERO variation in the scores for the last two years. This pretty much means that there is no difference in the two campuses as far as GMAT Scores are concerned.

3) What is the highest score at ISB?

Let’s admit it: this is more of a voyeuristic question 😃
The highest score ever at ISB was a 780.
However, interestingly in the last few years the highest hasn’t been more than 770.

4) Can I apply to ISB with a sub-650?

As we mentioned above, with an average profile, try to shoot for a higher than 650 score.
So what if you have a 620? Or a 650? Should you use the application money to buy beer instead?
Our advice – you have a fighting chance, provided you are a diverse candidate.
Otherwise, as we said above, build your GMAT muscle.
You might want to read how one of our students from a non-IT background made it to ISB with a 670 on the GMAT.

Okay, so with that said, you have enough to think about your own GMAT scores for ISB.
Did you like this in-depth article?
If yes, let us know in the comments below.
We can even skim through and predict your chances at ISB with your GMAT scores (and profile).
[button href=”” style=”emboss” size=”medium” textcolor=”#ffffff”]Get your Profile Evaluated![/button]

Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 12 minutes

If you’re applying to the Johnson School of Business at Cornell, you have come to the right place. In this article, I am going to take you through the details about the program as well as analyze the MBA application essays for 2017-2018 so that you know how to approach the essays.


First, let’s look at the program itself. Cornell is an Ivy League school, it’s one of those large universities with a very good brand name. In the Johnson MBA program, if you look at the class size, it’s a lot smaller than many of the large programs. In that sense, you have a large university set-up but you have a very small program size. If you’re looking at an MBA program where you get to be a part of a university infrastructure yet have the bonding, connection and bonhomie of a small class size, Cornell is the program you should be looking at. That’s one important point.


The second point is, in terms of location, it’s really beautiful. It can get cold but it’s a very beautiful location. It’s about three to four hours from Downtown New York – Manhattan. It’s probably a bus drive away.  In terms of location, it’s a lot of better than some of the schools in the Mid-west which are in the middle of nowhere. In that sense, though it is not a Columbia to be right there in Downtown, it’s still accessible.


The third thing is perhaps a unique feature of the Johnson program. They call it immersion learning. All the students at Johnson have a very career focused experiential program where the students starting the second semester of the first year get hands-on career training. You get a practical experience in whatever you’re learning. That is  a big difference in Johnson as opposed to other MBA programs. In fact, the student management opportunities are enormous. Just to give you specifics,  BR Ventures and BR Consulting, both at Johnson School of Management, provide opportunities to the second-year students to actually manage a venture capital fund and a seed stage consultancy. Those are the kind of opportunities where you can roll up your sleeves and dig into real world experiences. In fact, there is also The Cayuga Fund, an MBA fund, where you have a chance to oversee a portfolio of eight million dollars. It’s a hedge fund. Why is this important? It’s important if you’re the kind of person who feels that apart from theory, you are kind of a doer, you’re a  a kinaesthetic guy, and you learn by doing. In that case, the Cornell program could be ideal for you because there is so much of your own doing, your own experiences, along with the knowledge you gain from an MBA.


2017-2018 SC Johnson School Of Business MBA Deadlines


October Round

Application Deadline: October 5, 2017

Initial Notification: November 15, 2017

Deposit & Official Transcript Deadline: January 10, 2018


November Round

Application Deadline: November 15, 2017

Initial Notification: January 10, 2018

Deposit & Official Transcript Deadline: March 1, 2018


January Round

Application Deadline: January 10, 2018

Initial Notification: March 15, 2018

Deposit & Official Transcript Deadline: April 23, 2018


April Round

Application Deadline: April 5, 2018

Initial Notification: May 1, 2018

Deposit & Official Transcript Deadline: June 1, 2018




SC Johnson School Of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018


The first essay is the goal statement. What Johnson has done here is very interesting. What they have done is, they realised a lot of people don’t know how to write a goals essay. Maybe they haven’t watched my videos or haven’t read my articles. While writing, people just meander, and they go all over the place. The point is, they are not specific. The school, as I have said in my other videos as well, requires you to be very specific with regard to your goals. What is it that you really want to do?  If you see, it explicitly states, “if invited to interview, you will have the opportunity to elaborate further and should be prepared to connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.” They are actually mentioning in a way that they don’t expect you to say “Why”. Let’s keep out the “Why” part. Let us just focus on the “What” part. In most career goal essays, the “Why” part is also required to tie your past experience to why you want to do whatever you plan to do. In this case, you don’t need to worry.


Here is what it reads:


Goals Statement


A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout admissions process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience.  To the best of your understanding today, please share your short and long-term goals by completing the following sentences:

Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.

Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:


In 5 – 10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.

Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:



Example of Completed Statement:

Short Term Goal: Immediately post-MBA my goal is to work as a(n) Consultant at Accenture within Media and Technology.

Long-Term Goal: In 5-10 years post-MBA my goal is to work as a(n) Founder and President within Nonprofit.


You have the role, company and the industry. Which one? Pick any that you want. You need to pick your targeted goal, targeted job company and the industry that you want to work in. The same thing gets repeated in your long-term goal. They even specify how long a long-term should be, 5-10 years.


Now, a couple things here. First, your best friend is LinkedIn. Make sure that you go to LinkedIn, and research about people who have graduated, and people with experiences similar to yours. So don’t look at someone who probably went to an Ivy League in the US, born and brought up in the US and is working on Wall Street. You need to make sure it is your background, be it in tech, be it in finance, whatever is your background, that background. Try to see if you can get people who are not Americans but Indians or anyone else who doesn’t have a PR status in the US. Now that you found the person you need, find out what it is that they are doing. Look at people who are now at one-year or two –years after they have graduated. That will give you a good sense. It will give you a good sense of the kind of companies that are recruiting and the kind of typical roles that you would get.


Now, if you want to ask, I would say “Employability” plays a huge role. You don’t want to put something that is so weird that not many people can get that job. That cannot be held against you but they are going to look at it and say, “Is this guy going to get this job? And if not, he is probably in the wrong place.” Pick something, for example, I know that some of the largest recruiters like Amazon recruit heavily from most schools, including Cornell. You have the top consulting firms. You have the top tech firms like Microsoft and Google. So try to pick an employer who has employed people with your kind of a background and look at the title and role they have. What do they join as? Do they join as Poduct Managers? Then you talk about the companies and the roles, which go hand-in-hand, and then the sector. Is it e-commerce? Is it technology? Is it finance? Is it consulting? “I want to be an associate at Mckinsey working in the consulting sector”, or something like, “I want to be a Product Manager working at Google in the tech space.” You have to be very clear.

Now coming to the 5-10 years which is your long-term goal. In this part, there are two things you could do. The one thing you could do is that you could think of a career path that is a progression along this. For example, if you’re a consultant, you want to talk about being an engagement manager or maybe a partner. If you’re going to be a Product Manager, let’s say you want to be the Vice President of Products of a start-up. So that’s one path. Now the second path that you can take in the longer term is something that is allied to what you have done but is completely different. For example, you can talk about entrepreneurship. You could say, “I did consulting (or a tech role). I was a Product Manager in Google for five years, and in five years down the line, I want to be a founder or a co-founder, or a CEO or maybe even a CTO at a tech company. At my own company perhaps, and work in the high-tech sector, work in the healthcare sector.” Whatever sector interests you.  You could play that card as well.

Going back to what I said before, make connections on LinkedIn. It is also very important for the next essay. I am going to be talking about that but if you haven’t really created your LinkedIn profile, please do so today. My LinkedIn profile is down below (LINK). If you want to connect with me, I’ll be more than glad to connect with you.



Essay 2#




The second essay is the impact essay. Now, the essay clearly states “Whether doing the program or following graduation, our students and alumni share the desire to positively impact the organizations and communities that they serve”. Remember, I told you about the experiential learning. This kind of ties with that part. “To help you explore your potential for impact, we encourage you to engage with our students, alumni, faculty and professional staff”. Very important, when they say “We encourage you.” It goes on to say, “You can choose to connect with them via e-mail or a phone or in-a person during one of our campus or off campus events”. If you’re not from the US, perhaps it’s not applicable to you. “As you seek their input and insight, please be respectful of their time and prepare a few discussion points or questions in advance.” Why they have given this background is very important because the actual essay question is going to follow.



Impact Essay


At Cornell, we value students who create impact. Please indicate the opportunities for the impact that you’ve identified through engagement with our community and describe how what you learned has influenced your decision to apply to Johnson. (500 words)


Many people, the moment they see this essay, just blindly carpet bomb all the people on LinkedIn who are from Cornell. It really pains me because I have a lot of my alumni students who are current Cornell students who come and tell me, “ We mostly get messages like, Hey, can you please look into my profile and tell me if I got a good chance.” You just blew your chance, you just blew the opportunity to have a meaningful engagement with someone. Nobody can say if you can get into a B-School. Even I cannot say that. Remember, the probability is above 0% and below 100%. Nobody can say that 100% you’re going to get in, and nobody can say you have 0% chance of getting in. Somewhere, it is a probability, it could be 30%, 50% or 60%. What you should do is to be respectful; you should understand that they are busy and they have a hundred other things to do. Do your research and look at the profile to see if there are any common connections. That’s one thing you can do. See if there is any common connection through whom you can get introduced. See if you could approach them, talk about some similarities in your past. Be very specific in what you want to ask. You have a background in “XYZ”, now give them a summary.  What is it that you want to ask them about? It’s very important that you do so. Now that you have connected with them, it’s very important that you put that in your essay. Now that you’ve connected with them, you know what the story is.


It’s important for you to pick two or three opportunities. Remember, these are opportunities while you’re at Cornell, or maybe life beyond. Things that a Cornell/Johnson MBA can equip you with. As I mentioned earlier, we spoke about the investment fund. Do you want to be part of it? Just don’t say it because everybody is saying it. What is it in your background that you can bring to the table? Have you done investments before? Are you good at quantitative modeling? Is there anything else that you can bring to the table? Talk about how you could create an impact, and also say what you will gain from this experience. It has to be what I will give and what I will get.


Pick two or three opportunities for impact, and you need to say, “Why is that a reason for you to apply to the Johnson program?”. It’s very important that you tie it. It should read in such a way that someone says, “Wow! This guy has done his research; he has spoken with people. He is very clear, these are three opportunities that he has identified, and this is how he going to contribute, this is what he going to learn, which is why Cornell/Johnson is the number 1 choice for him. They have kind of twisted the “Why Johnson MBA essay” in a slightly different way but that’s really what it is. As I have said earlier, that’s because they value student contribution so much.



Table of Contents


This is the table of contents essay. They say “This is your opportunity to present yourself as an individual. We encourage you to think about your proudest accomplishments, moments  of adversity that have been overcome, interesting personal highlights, that will help us to get to know you as a person and potential community member”. hey really want to know about your life. They want to know the highs and lows and not the boring resume. They want to know something interesting, something that pops out, something that makes them feel, “I want to meet that person.” That’s the goal. After reading it, they should say, “Wow! I want to meet this person, I want this person in my class.” Are you able to articulate yourself that way? Let’s look at the specific prompt.


Table of Contents Essay


You are the author of your Life Story. Please create the table of contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube, etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.

Maximum file size is 5 MB. If you choose to submit a written Table of Contents, please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 5 minutes.


First of all, what I want you to do is, sit down, chronologically write down all of the things that you have done in your life. Maybe something interesting about the place you were born. Maybe you can talk about that, maybe that’s a story. What about your education? Is there anything interesting? Don’t tell me what degree you have. That, I already know from your resume. Talk about something interesting. Did you learn anything about yourself? Maybe you met your childhood sweetheart and you got married to her. Maybe that’s the most interesting thing about your education. You can also think of a great story about your life, which can be put here. It’s very introspective. What about work? Where did you work? What was your biggest challenge? What did you accomplish? Now, remember each of them very clearly, remember that it’s table of contents and not the content.


What actually happened? They will get to know the details of it later. At this point, they want to know, “What was the life event?” Once you have listed out all of your life events, just write it down. As I have said, it’s not just professional but also personal. When you were born, when you got married, or when you had a kid. Whatever it is, just write it down. You could also write about adversity, for example, you had a major accident, you were in hospital for three weeks and that taught you something. Put it over there.


Once you have put all of that down, I would say the “How” is actually of lower importance. If you’re a creative person, you would figure out a good way to express this but if nothing else, make sure that each of these points kind of stands out. For example, let’s say that one of things you want to talk about is about when you got an opportunity to face an audience and you had stage fright all of your life and it took a lot of grit and determination to face an audience. Can you put a YouTube link? Yeah, even it’s a small hand held mobile camera that someone took,  like a shot, or maybe you have your own personal blog and you wanted to express yourself. Make sure you link it here.


Essentially, you need to keep it very concise. Don’t try to elaborate things. They are not wanting to know “Why”. Just because it is 500 words, don’t exploit it and write paragraphs. It should be one heading followed by a small blurb. The heading can be very interesting. For example, the heading could be, let’s say you want to talk about the time you got laid off and you started hunting for a job and you realized that you don’t want to go back to the job you were doing earlier and you wanted to do something new. Now that’s a lot of things. The heading could be “Second innings” and you could say, “After an unsuccessful attempt at my first innings of the….I started my second innings doing…..” Just one sentence. Just a small blurb.  


So, you would have:

<Title> <Blurb>

<Title> <Blurb>

<Title> <Blurb>

<Title> <Blurb> …..

Maybe five or six. I am imagining you’re somewhere under 30, or just about 30. I don’t think your life can have 15 to 20 chapters. That’s perhaps what I would do. Don’t worry about the “How” part. You could figure out a way to be creative, maybe express it differently, or put it in the form of a chart, but I wouldn’t bother too much about that.



Optional Essay


This essay is required for applicants seeking re-admission and should call attention to the steps taken to strengthen one’s candidacy. Candidates may also use the optional essay to call attention to items needing clarification or to address any gaps in experience.


My advice always for the optional essay is to write about a huge gap in your experience or your education or something that couldn’t be written anywhere else. Don’t try to retrofit a story just because it didn’t find a place elsewhere.


There is also this Roy H.Park Leadership Fellows Program essay. This is available only to a US citizen who is applying for a two-year MBA program. If you find it in your application form and you’re an international applicant, I am sorry, it’s not for you. I just wanted to let you know.


If you’re applying to the Cornell Johnson MBA program, I would be interested to know how your application is going. Are there any questions? Are you stuck at any point? Is there a way in which we can work together? Please let me know by clicking this link below.


Insead Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I will discuss the INSEAD Business School, which has campuses in France and Singapore. If you’re looking at applying to INSEAD this year, you have come to the right place.


First, let’s look at the program. What works for INSEAD is the one-year program. It’s actually crunched and more like 10-11 months rather than a year. It offers accelerated learning and if you’re looking for a one-year program, this is definitely one of the top three one-year programs in the world today.


Secondly, INSEAD is truly international. Although most of the US B-Schools have diversity, with 30 to 40% of their class coming in from outside of the US, theirs are predominantly an American programs. It’s the same thing if you look at Europe. However, if you look at INSEAD, the kind of diversity that you have, the kind of geographies that you have with about 40 to 50 different nationalities every year in the program, you see a program that is truly international. I think that’s a huge plus.


One more thing that probably works well for INSEAD is the fact that it has dual campuses (France and Singapore). It is possible for you to take advantage of the exchange opportunity; you can do some courses in the other campus. Thus, you can get a mix of both.


I think one thing you need to look at when applying to INSEAD is the fact that because it’s such an international program, they require you to have some amount of international background. Make sure you go to the website and read their admission criteria. The criteria are:


  • Ability to contribute

  • Academic capacity

  • Leadership Potential

  • International motivation (adaptability and flexibility in multi-cultural environments)”. Unless you have experience working very closely with people from different cultures and different geographies in your home country, this is going to be a little tough. You need to have some amount of international exposure. Just keep that in mind while you’re applying for the INSEAD program.


2017-2018 INSEAD Business School MBA Deadlines


INSEAD has two intakes


September 2018 Intake


Round 1 – Sept 20, 2017

Round 2 – Nov 29, 2017

Round 3 – Jan 24, 2018

Round 4 – Mar 7, 2018


You also have the option of the January Intake, that’s the beauty of it. The flexibility is that you can join by September or you can join in January. If you’re looking at January 2019, the deadlines are:


January 2019 Intake


Round 1 –  Mar 14, 2018

Round 2 –  May 2, 2018

Round 3 – Jun 20, 2018

Round 4 – Aug 1, 2018




Insead Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018


You have four job essays and three motivational essays. We have had students getting into INSEAD almost every year for the last many years, and one thing I can tell you is that for all the other schools one week or 10 days is doable but for INSEAD, it takes a lot more.You need to factor in more time for your application. Now, let’s look at the Job essays.



Job Essay #1


Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of the budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)


You need to have a short answer. Now, the deal with this is  that it is a crunch or a summary of your overall career progression. Don’t try to copy paste your CV over here. Try to be slightly more human in your approach. Try to describe it in a way that a layman can understand because many of these essays are going to be looked at by people who may not be in your industry. See, for the resume that you send to prospective employers, you assume that since they are in the same industry, same domain, they understand a lot of jargon.

For example, don’t write “Ten Thousand LOC”, instead, write “Ten Thousand lines of code”. You need to make sure that you explain in simple terms.


A key thing is that the question also talks about the “…results achieved.” You need to be able to quantify what you did, it’s not just what you did. Just don’t go to the company’s portal and look at the job description for your particular title and copy/paste and say “I developed…I designed….I managed”. You should talk about what  the result was. There is a very simple framework that you could use:  Situation, Action, and Result. You could talk about the background of the project given to you, what you did in the project, and what the result of the project was. You could easily break it up into three parts.



Job Essay #2


What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)


Obviously, they are not just looking at the title so don’t say that “I am a manager and I’ll become a senior manager.” You need to also explain what the senior management role would. entail Perhaps you need to quantify it. For example, if you’re currently handling ten accounts, as a senior manager, you would probably be responsible for 50 accounts, so you need to basically quantify the role.



Job Essay #3


Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)


Don’t try to keep this in the resume format. When you graduated, what were the options you had? Why did you pick your first employer, was there a reason for you to do that? After that, why did you pick the second employer? What was the learning that you had with the first employer? What was the learning that you had with the second employer? You need to gradually take them through the journey of your life.


Again, try to be brief. Don’t try to elaborate too much. Don’t try to dramatize it. In fact, this is not an essay where you should bring quotes and emotions and all that into the play. To some extent, keep it dry. That’s what your third job essay is going to be like. One key thing is, “Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.” You’re not just telling them what you did but also “why you did” “what you did.”



Job Essay #4


Discuss your short and long-term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)


Here, the deal is that they are not looking at why you want to do an MBA. So tell them, “what is it that you want to do eventually in life?” If you’re not applying, this is still what you want to do. For example, “I want to be a Product Manager. As a Product Manager, I feel that I am going to be responsible for the life-cycle of a product. I feel I will be able to affect and influence the way users deal with the particular problems faced.” That is what they want to hear from you. You can dream about your long-term. It may not be as concrete as your short term but you could say that you eventually want be in a role where you start your company where technology is going to directly affect in a particular area that you are passionate about. You can have slight leeway in not being very specific but don’t try to pick a bizarre thing. One mistake that people make is that they are good at writing short-term goals but when it comes to the long-term goal, they say something like “I want to be an entrepreneur.’  You want to be “an entrepreneur” is too vague. You need to be slightly more specific. Tie it to your motivation, your passion.


Now, let’ discuss the optional job essays.



Optional Essay


If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.


First, if you’re currently unemployed, it’s okay. You don’t need to sweat it but you need to show them how you are constructively utilizing your time. You cannot say, “I quit my job, and I am preparing for the GMAT and applying to INSEAD.” Instead, you can say, “I am taking these courses and I am making sure that I am investing in myself so that I can develop further professionally”, or you can talk about your personal reasons for which you have taken a sabbatical. Whatever the reason be, write it. Make sure that you’re not telling them you’re sitting at home and binge-watching Netflix, and goofing off.


Also if you have plans to quit to do something meaningful to you. Well, one of my students who went to INSEAD this year, went and took his pilot license because that was his dream since childhood. He wanted to be a pilot. So he said, “I am going to take this opportunity and spend 2 to 3 months getting my pilot license.” Now, that’s something that is not related to an MBA. People don’t try to see how you’re putting all these dots in this perfect linear curve which is leading towards your goal. It’s okay to do things that appeal to your passion even if it doesn’t link directly to your MBA goals but if it is, please mention it here.



Motivational Essays


Motivation Essay #1


Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).


This is a slightly complex essay. Let’s go through it one by one. You need to talk about two or three life incidents, hobbies, things that have happened to you, and things you did but out these two or three things that you’re going to talk about, you need to be able to cull out the strengths and weaknesses that you’ve discovered in yourself. The strengths and weaknesses cannot be isolated and your stories cannot be different. They have to be merged together.


Let me give you an example. One of my students spoke about how she grew up in a joint family and she said, “Growing up in a joint family, the one thing that I realised was that I always had to share my things and initially, it was very tough because as a kid I would want everything I would get. Every time my parents would get something, they would get five of it because there were five other kids growing up in the same family.” Then she spoke about how that deeply influenced who she was today and how she spun it as positive. Now, going ahead, she spoke about a particular thing that she gained from her father. Her father was someone who believed that you have to go all out and give it your best, and at some point she became slightly high strung. It was always like you had to go for the kill. You always want 100%;  it’s not that you’re expecting this from just yourself but it’s something that you’re expecting from others as well. Once she started working, she realised that sometimes you “Let perfection not be the enemy of getting things done.” She realized that there were constraints that she had to work around and not everything goes according to plan but as humans we need to know how to deliver the maximum. Not 10/10 but even if she got 8/10, she learned to be fine with it. This was a potential weakness. She said, “I still go back to the urge of perfection but now I have perhaps come to terms with this fact.”


You talk about a couple of strengths, you talk about a weakness or two, and then you kind of weave your stories into it. At the end of the essay, what does INSEAD really want to know? It wants to know who you are as a person. What are the gifts? What are the gaps? One mistake that people make in the weakness part is that they kind of mask the weakness by saying that it is a strength. For example, in the earlier example, she said, “Perfection is my weakness and it’s not something that I am proud of.” However, people say, “Oh, I am a perfectionist but you know what? Sometimes I have to deal with these people who don’t understand who I am.”  Or here is another example of incorrect weakness, “I work so hard. I am a hard worker and I don’t know when to stop. I work for 16 hours a day.”In this example, they try to showcase that as a weakness. A weakness has to be slightly more genuine.


That’s pretty much the first essay we have. As I have said, you need to tie it up together. 500 words, two strengths, and one weakness, 150 words to develop each story. That’s 450 words, then the starting and finish will be 50 words. 500 words will nicely cover it all.



Motivation Essay #2


Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned(approximately 400 words).


Very clearly, 200 words for success, 200 words for failure. In the 200 words for success, talk about why you are proud of it. It does not have to be something that is earth-shattering but something that you personally relate to well. Maybe it’s a small thing that you did at work that completely changed your perspective towards leadership. It states “Explain why.” why are you proud? It’s not just the “What’ but also the “Why”.


The second part, “….Where you failed…” Here,what people do is, they say, “I failed but then eventually, I succeeded.” No, it has to be failed. There is really no escape, you failed and it was a spectacular failure. You learned, you fell flat on your face but you know what? You got up. You bounced back. You learned so much about life. In fact, as I have mentioned earlier, in Australia, there is an elite air force where they ask this question, “Have you failed?”, and if respondents say, “I have not failed”, they are actually not considered for the elite corps. The reason is, if you haven’t failed in your life you don’t know what failure is and B-School can be a tough place. They want people with very high EQ. That’s a huge part of the whole B-School experience, which is why the second essay is about your failure.


It’s not so much about what happened, it’s okay if you have made mistakes because everyone makes mistake but what really matters is, “What did you learn?  How did that impact your relationship with others?” You also need to talk about how this success and failure have changed you as a person. If you haven’t thought about it, it’s a good time to think about it now. As I said, EQ is a quality that INSEAD looks for in their applicants.



Motivation Essay #3


Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words)


One of the things that INSEAD or any other B-School looks for is leadership qualities. So now, what do you mean by leadership? Leadership Is when a person says, “My life is not just going to work, coming back home, watching TV, and going to sleep. I am passionate about certain things”, and a leader will typically have one more thing he is going to pursue on the side. You need to pick what it is and quantify it but more than the ‘What’, again I will tell you, it’s about the “Why”. Why is that cause so dear to you? Why did you not pick something else? Why did you pick that sport?Why do you jam with your band every weekend? What about music inspires you? What can other people learn from you? 300 words is plenty of space to elaborate on that part.


Optional Motivation Essay


Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words)


This is the usual optional essay. If you have any gaps in your education or work experience, the optional essay is the place to address it, or if you feel that there is something that the Admission Committee needs to know, you can write about it. Make sure that this is not something that you’re trying to retrofit, like a story which does not fit anywhere else. Don’t do that. You’re better off not writing this essay than writing something for the sake of it.


I know there is a lot for the INSEAD essays. If you’re applying this year and you think there is any way in which we can work together and we can help, please let us know by clicking the link below.


Harvard Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I’m going to talk about the Harvard Business School MBA program, and its application essay. Firstly, with Harvard Business School, brand credentials are really gold plated. When you think of an MBA, Harvard is the name that comes to your mind. That’s the top selling point for Harvard Business School. In terms of global reach, whichever country you go to, it really gives you the passport of having an alumni network, and having credentials that people will take seriously. The name recognition is a huge thing.


The second thing is the case study method. Harvard really invented this thing, where they said, “We don’t want to teach you by theory, we don’t want to teach you by putting a ppt but we will actually give you a scenario so that students themselves participate”. Everyday, you don’t just walk into class and try to hack it and try to wing it by speaking something. You have to conduct your research the previous evening before you walk into the class. You need to have all your points noted down. You need to make sure that you’re able to present a very cogent argument either for or against the study that is mentioned over there. Remember, if you’re thinking that class participation is going to be easy, you’re wrong. Remember that you’re going to be surrounded by peers who are probably as rabidly competitive as you are. Everybody there wants to make sure that he/she gets their points across. It’s not very easy.


From our students who’ve been to Harvard, we have learned that there is one more thing that is special about Harvard. They have seen that public speaking and confidence level really shoot up in the two years. You are really confident of expressing your thoughts,  of dealing with objections, and of putting your points in a way that can be received better by the other person. You learn all of this at the Harvard Business School.


Next, you’re on the Harvard University campus, and you have various other departments at Harvard. Thus, in terms of infrastructure, the diversity of the student population, and in terms of taking courses/electives in other departments, I think there’s a tremendous opportunity here. You’re in Boston, you’re just across the road from MIT. It’s really a great place, and though it gets a little cold in the winter, it’s a great place to be.


Harvard Business School MBA Deadlines


Round 1 – Sept 6, 2017

Round 2 – Jan 3, 2018

Round 3 – April 2, 2018


So let’s look at the deadlines.


Most of the students come and ask, “what does it really take to get into Harvard?”. Harvard is looking for significant impact that you’ve made, either in your education, or in your experiences, or maybe even in your extra-curricular activities. You cannot be an average guy. You cannot be a mediocre guy; you cannot just have good grades and average experience. To give an example, let’s say you did your engineering with a score of 70%, and then went to work for a large IT company. You’ve worked there for four years and you did routine stuff and maybe a little more here and there but pretty much stuck to that. You have also participated in a little bit of an NGO activity or a hobby that you’ve pursued. You’re average.


Unfortunately, if you’re looking at Harvard, you need to have something that pops out of the paper. Something that makes people say, “Wow!”. People are not looking at a hundred things. One of our students, Raviraj, got into Harvard.  was from IIT Bombay, with a 750 GMAT. All of the things were in place, but what really made a difference was that he started a company while he was still in his fourth year at college. It got picked by a lot of media houses. In fact, he was featured in 27 different publications. He was also featured in Business World, Business Week and on Young Turks on CNBC. He made a huge impact. Now, here is the funny part, his company did not do well and they actually folded in. But the bigger thing is the experience that he had. There was something he did that was very significant. Something that had a huge impact. For that reason, he was able to put in a strong candidature at Harvard.


Let’s now get into the actual essays that you have.




Harvard Business School MBA Essays 2017 – 2018


Essay 1


As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (No word limit)


There is no word limit and it goes on to say, “Don’t over think, over craft or overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language and that those of us who don’t know your world can understand”.


So don’t give me a lot of jargon and don’t expect me to understand a lot. I already have your resume, I already have your recommendation letters, I have your undergrad transcripts, I have your entire work experience, I have all your achievements, I have your GMAT scores with me, I have your Quant and verbal split. I have everything about you. I know all of this and now tell me something else about you. Now if you think about this at a very fundamental level, what Harvard is really looking at is that one story that inspires you. That one thing that gives me the “Why” about you. “What’ I already know but the “Why” I need know. Who’s the person behind all these achievements? What is the real inspiration behind what you do in life?


I will give you an example of a student who had applied to Harvard. He essentially had an entrepreneurial venture in the social space. Hewas into micro-financing and microcredit. He spoke about how he grew up in a family where his father and grandfather were farmers, and he saw the hardships that they went through. While growing up, he realized something as simple as taking loans. Farmers are usually affected by the vagaries of the weather. Sometimes, the monsoons are good, and sometimes they are bad. Invariably, they went to the local money-lender who used to arm-twist them and make them pay through their nose. That’s why he said that growing up and looking at these experiences, he realized that this was something he wanted to set right. He did not know how to do it, but education was the answer. He said, “I went to college not knowing what I would do to fix the scenario but I worked hard and got educated here, and went on to do my Bachelors in St. Stephen’s College in Delhi.” He then went on to get his Master’s. He also said, “When I went back and contributed, I felt in some sense that I am vindicating my parents, my grandfather, and my ancestors because this is something that they faced.”


Talk about something that is very close to you. Something that is personal to you, something that talks about impact because everything in Harvard is about impact. Are you a person who can make a strong impact in the world? It could be through anything, it could be through technology also. If you’re a technology person and you think Harvard is your calling, how will technology have an impact on the world? You need to understand that for Harvard, you can no longer talk about the small things. You need to talk about the larger vision. This essay also has the scope of what you want to do because that’s not mentioned anywhere. You need to talk about your experiences, your background and how you will change the world. I know it’s not easy but that’s how this essay has been designed. It requires you to think and brainstorm. It also requires you to talk to your friends and family, and really put in that core message. Once you have the core message you want to convey, you can blow up the other parts and figure out how to say what. ‘Why” is the core of this essay.


If you’re applying to Harvard, and would like to connect with us, go ahead and click the link below. We can help you draft your essays and can help you brainstorm.


USC Marshall School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Welcome to this article in which we will discuss the USC Marshall MBA program. They have two programs, the one-year IBEAR program, and the two year program. The former is a one-year accelerated international MBA for mid-career professionals. The average age of students doing this program is 33; it’s meant for people who want a quick accelerated one year program.


However, the main program we’re looking at is the two-year degree, which is their flagship program. A couple of things about the USC Marshall program that you need to know up-front if you’re applying this year. The first is that Marshall has a focus on global outlook. They use their location on the Pacific rim. They have the “Pacific RIm Education” program, which is their prime program, and requires international travel of all students. This is something that differentiates it from other schools.


Apart from the global perspective, because it’s in California, the location makes a huge difference. Southern California has great weather. It is as India as you can get in terms of  weather, culture, and people. It’s one of the best places to be in the US. Because of the location, you have a tech focus, and an entrepreneurial focus. You find a lot of tech companies in the LA area, in Southern California. There are a lot of opportunities to work for exciting new start-ups. I think that’s a huge draw for the USC Marshall Program.


The third important factor is the emphasis on team-work. They believe that since classes are often small, the student body as a whole allows each student to receive a great deal of individual attention. The students participate in a lot of programs that are conducted on campus. A student has to work with other students, so teamwork is a huge focus at USC Marshall.



2017-2018 USC Marshall MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: October 15, 2017

Decision Notification: December 31, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018

Decision Notification: March 31, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: March 1, 2018

Decision Notification: May 15, 2018


Round 4

Application Deadline: April 15, 2018

Decision Notification: June 15, 2018


Round 5

Rolling Admissions*





2017-2018 USC Marshall Essay Questions


Essay 1


What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (100 words)


With 100 words, you don’t have a lot of leeway to talk about things. If you remember, in the usual career goals essays, we talk about how you go from where you are and how an MBA will help you. No such options here. We have to be very specific..What do you want to do after your MBA? Tell them the role, and give an example of the kind of companies you want to work for. “I want to work for the Retail Leadership Program at Amazon.” Maybe that’s your dream. You probably want to talk about what you would do in that role. You have 100 words so you can  probably have a little leeway to explain in a sentence, “In such a role I would be doing….”


Remember that you have 100 words; keep it tight and steer clear of things that are generic. Don’t say something like, “I want to be in a general management position” or “I want to be in strategic position.” Be very clear. “Associate Consultant at McKinsey working in their LA office” –  you have to very specific. Now that was the easy part. If you know what to do, writing it is easy. (100 words)



Essay 2


Please respond to ONLY ONE of the following essay topics. (500 words)

    1. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates outside of the classroom during your time at USC.

    2. You have been asked to design a course to be taught at the Marshall School of Business. Please provide a title and description for the course.

    3. What has been the most interesting day or moment in your life and why?

    4. You have been hired by the Marshall MBA Admissions Committee to create an essay question for next year’s application. Please state the question and answer it.


Option 1#


A B-School experience is not so much about what you learn in the classroom. It’s a lot about what you learn outside the classroom. What we are really looking at is, “what is it that you would do with your classmates?” You can talk about extracurricular activities. If you have a passion, let’s say, cycling, you need to say how you will bring that passion to Southern California, to the USC campus. Talk about how you would encourage your classmates to follow your passion and help them perhaps take their mind off studies. You can also talk about anything that differentiates you. I would suggest that you pick two or three traits. Although it is 500 words, you need to flesh out the details. You need to say what it is that you have done, and then you need to talk about how you will contribute. It’s going to take 100 to 150 words. You could probably talk about three specific things that you can contribute. Try to steer clear of professional things.


Option 2#


Not just the title and the description, but I am assuming you would want to say why you want to pick the course. Why do you think it’s important? First, please make sure that it’s not the course that is already offered by the school.


I am going to give you a very general guideline of what to write. Talk about something which is futuristic. Talk about something that would probably be required in this changing world. For example; “How to manage millennials” Now, if you don’t know what a millennial is, go ahead and Google it. Managers are getting worried about how they can manage these guys who grew up in the last 20 years with the internet on their fingertips. Maybe you would want to talk about something futuristic like that.


Options 3#


You need to say what is the most interesting day was, but more importantly, you need to say why. For example, a student once wrote, not for this essay, but for something similar, “My most important day was the day I got married, not so much for the fact that I got married.” It’s a very Indian custom that the parents of both the boy and the girl need to meet and agree. In this student’s case, something went wrong. The parents were not on talking terms, and the boy and girl decided to get married with the help of their friends. He went and negotiated with the girl’s father and with his own parents, and somehow got them all together.


He said, “More than me getting married, my family is very important to me,and that is why this day is important.” Now, the idea is not to just talk about the event. That would be shallow. You need to say why it’s so important. In this case, his family was important and he also said, “This gave me the confidence that I have this inner strength. “When the times are weak and dark, I am able to take this inner strength, and push myself to achieve what I want to do”. This should be something else that they can know about you.


Option 4#


Here is what I would do. I would pick this if none of the first three resonates with me. Let’s say there is no specific day in my life I can remember. It happens, right? If you don’t have anything to say, leave it. Let’s look at , Option 2#, the contributions. I really don’t have three contributions that I can make. You leave that one too, and let us say there is no specific course that comes to my mind. What else do you think that Marshall would like to know about me?


What you can do is, you could spin it a little bit and could talk a little about why it is important for you and Marshall. For example, you could say “One essay that I would like Marshall to talk about is, “Your biggest failure, the most spectacular failure. The reason I would like to know this is because in my life, I learned from my failures.” You can go ahead and talk about your failures and what you have learned. You can also say “More than the successes in life, it is the failures that teach people things that make them who they are.”


That could be an interesting spin of you putting your story while underscoring the fact that this is an important aspect that you wish to see in your classmates.


Optional Essay


Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (250 words)


As always, you can talk about your educational gaps, experience gaps, or something that you think is necessary for the admission committee to know and they would not know through the application form. It could be stuff that you plan to do in the future, let’s say you plan to take a course in 2018.


What you should not do is retrofit stories that could not find their way elsewhere. Don’t do that.


I hope this article was useful. I wish you all the best for your application to the USC Marshall Program. I know it’s a little tough; I know it’s the first time you are probably writing essays. If you think there is any way in which we could work together, just click the link below, and we could get in touch.


UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re applying to the Kenan Flagler program at the University of Northern Carolina, you have come to the right place. In this article, I am going to take you through the program and the application essays for 2017-2018.


Kenan is a good top 15 program. If you look at the various B-School rankings it appears at the top although it’s not in the top 5 programs. It’s definitely a very good program. We have talked to several of our students who went to this school, and one thing the students talk about is the school’s focus on “Leadership development”. Kenan Flagler has something called the “Leadership Initiative” where it brings a lot of guest speakers and exposes the students to them. They also have something called the “Star Program”. You can check this program on their website. The program gives the students the opportunity to gain real world experience in leadership. These are the things that you want to look at when applying to the program.


Secondly, Kenan has a strong international focus. They have an MBA exchange program, and a vast network of partner schools. You can do a semester in another school that is part of the network program.


You also have the ‘Global Business Project Program” wherein the students work for companies in various regions of the world. Furthermore, they also have the “Working Languages Program’, where they teach you foreign languages such as Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, and more for students who plan to use those languages in their career. If you’re looking at a very global expand where you are not limited to the US, you can check this program.


2017-2018 UNC Kenan-Flagler Deadlines


Round 1 (Early Action)

Application Deadline: October 16, 2017

Decisions Released: December 11, 2017

Deposit Due: January 8, 2018


Round 2

Application Deadline: December 4, 2017

Decisions Released: January 29, 2018

Deposit Due: April 16, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: January 15, 2018

Decisions Released: March 12, 2018

Deposit Due: April 16, 2018


Round 4

Application Deadline: March 12, 2018

Decisions Released: April 23, 2018

Deposit Due: May 7, 2018





2017-2018 UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay Questions


Essay One (Required)


Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA. Explain how your professional experience has shaped these goals, why this career option appeals to you, and how you arrived at the decision that now is the time and the MBA is the appropriate degree. Additionally, please briefly address a backup plan should your short-term goal not come to fruition for any reason. (500 words maximum)


This is a classic career goal essay with a few twists. Our strategy should be the same. First, make sure that you talk about your career progression until now. It’s very important to talk professionally, and personally to say what it is that you bring to the table with an MBA or without an MBA. What is the value you would be able to give? What has been your experience? This is not a  replacement for your CV. your CV details your employment history. It details what you did. Here, they want to know what your progression has been. Now that you have talked about all of these great things you have done, you need to say where you see yourself going from here. That becomes your second paragraph. Four years ago, when you started your career, perhaps you did not know what you wanted. Now that you have had all this exposure and you did all these great things, you realize your actual goal is to be ‘X’, ‘Y’ or  ‘Z’. You need to mention that career goal. It has to tie to what you have done. Don’t say, “I have been in the IT industry but I want to be an investment banker, because my Quant is good and I have a 51 in GMAT” or something like, “I did my engineering and I am analytical in my approach.” Don’t make it like that. Give it a very clear fit with what you have done. In this second paragraph, you say what your long term and short term goals are. As I have maintained, short term goals have to be specific whereas with long term goals, you have the leeway to be slightly more generic. As long as you’re able to connect the dots. So that is your second paragraph. Let’s look at the third.


In the third paragraph, you can explain how else you can reach there. Is there any other path to reach there? If you feel that there is an alternate career path to reach there, talk about it here. Tell them about that path. You also need to tell them why the MBA is the best degree for you to get there and when you say an MBA, you need to say t “why a Kenan-Flagler MBA is the best program to getting there.”. So this pretty much becomes your third paragraph.


500 words are enough for you to build a good story. You need to first say what you bring to the table. You need to tell them that now that you have done all of this, what is it that you want to do. Next, say what ways there are for you to get there, including an MBA from Kenan-Flagler. You can write about 150 words for each of these parts. Then you can use 50 words for a strong opening and finishing.


Two very important things:


They specifically ask you for an alternate backup career path, in case your short term goal doesn’t materialize. So I would say, keep your long term goal as it is. Keep two paths to get there with your short term goals.


Next, they very specifically ask you why “now”, so you need to specify why “now” is the correct point to do an MBA, and why now is the point of inflection in your career. Until this point, you couldn’t have done it but at this point, you’re able to figure it out.



Essay Two (Optional)


What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (300 words maximum)


Not just do you need to tell me what the special qualities about you are, but you also need to make a pitch of how you will contribute using those qualities in the MBA program. My suggestion, for 300 words, don’t pick more than two qualities. You can say something like “I am different because….I have this…..particular trait”. Here is an example of what one of our students had written:


“If you were to summarize me in one word, it’s passion. As Yoda said, do or do not, there is no try. If I take up something, I am so passionate about it. I give my 100% doing that. People have asked me, why I am doing this. If I am doing something it rather be worth my while or I might not do it. That same passion, I want to bring to Kenan-Flagler. I want to participate in” and he went on to list a couple of things he’d like to participate in, based on what he had done in the past.


Passion became one point. So 150 words gone. For the next 150 words, pick another adjective that describes you. So that’s how I would play this essay out, but not more than two qualities. If you’re going to write three qualities for example, it reduces the words available for each quality to 100. One quality might be less and three qualities might be more. Choose a good fit. I have seen successful applicants writing about just one quality, and I have also seen applicants writing about three qualities being successful. So you can pick either one, two, or three. Just make sure you’re able to flesh out the details.



Essay Three (Optional)


If your standardized test scores are low, or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum. (300 words maximum)


According to me, if you have done engineering, chartered accountancy, or if you have done any of the professional degrees from India, youprobably meet the requirements.


This essay could be applicable only for a candidate with a Humanities background. If you’re from the Humanities background, or you have a score lower than 48 in Quant in the GMAT, you can probably take any of the online courses to build an alternate transcript. In fact, you could ask them if there are any ways in which you can improve your profile by showing quantitative rigour. If you’re an engineer and you have a good Quant score of 48 and above, don’t worry about this essay. It’s optional for you.



Essay Four (Optional)


Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? (300 words maximum)


This is one of the places where you can tell them something that is very important. Don’t try to retrofit a story that you just couldn’t find another place for. Don’t do that. Typically, you would talk about the things that you have probably planned to do before you join the program. The things that you cannot put in your resume but have planned. For example, “I plan to learn Spanish next year, and I hope to be in Level B by the time I join the program”. Great! This makes sense to put in here. But don’t put anything that otherwise is just a story about your past.


So that’s pretty much what we have for the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program. We’ve had a lot of students who went there, and we keep in touch with them. If you feel that we could help you in any way, if you’re stuck in any part of the application, we would love to help you, so go ahead and click the link below.


Kellogg School Of Management Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I will talk about Kellogg School of Management, and its MBA program. If you’re looking at applying to Kellogg this year, well, you have come to the right place.


First of all, let’s look at the Kellogg program. One thing about the program is that people think of Kellogg as a marketing school but truth be told, all the Ivy League schools that are on the top ten aspire to be the next Harvard. If you think about it, Harvard is not really known as a marketing school or a finance school but is known as a general management school. The same goes for Kellogg. Yes, It’s great for marketing and there is no denying it, but if you look at it from a B-School perspective, it gives you a great opportunity in other areas as well, such as consulting. Hence, my suggestion is, don’t look at Kellogg as only a marketing B-School, don’t try to beat it down. Kellogg probably doesn’t want to hear it because it wants to be known as a general management program.



What is unique about the program?


Team-Based Learning

A lot of learning at Kellogg is team based learning. What you mean by team based learning is that you are essentially put into different teams. This means that for a particular project while working with your team, if one person is not pulling his weight, or you’re not getting along well with another person, well, it’s too bad. You still need to make it work, because they think that this is what will happen in real life. In real life, you can’t go crying to your boss and say, “I don’t like this guy. Why don’t I change my team, or why don’t you change his team? ” This is the beauty of team-based learning.


Team-based learning also comes into student involvement.Kellogg prides itself for its student involvement. You can find that most of the clubs and communities in Kellogg are student run. That’s the huge highlight of Kellogg.


Kellogg Community


The second important factor is that they emphasize on the Kellogg community. They are proud of the fact that they essentially have the students network with the alums for their professional development. I have heard about this from Kellogg alums; our CrackVerbal students who have been there.The Kellogg network is very strong. One of our students who got into Kellogg is now interviewing the incoming class. That’s the kind of involvement the students have. They are very driven and passionate about giving back to the Kellogg brand name.



With that, let’s look at the application deadlines.


2017-2018 Northwestern / Kellogg MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 20, 2017

On-campus Interview Scheduled by: September 22, 2017

Decision Notification: December 13, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 10, 2018

On-campus Interview Scheduled by: January 12, 2018

Decision Notification: March 28, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: April 11, 2018

On-campus Interview Scheduled by: April 13, 2018

Decision Notification: May 16, 2018





2017-2018 Northwestern / Kellogg MBA Essay Questions


Essay 1


Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value.  Tell us about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value.  What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)


In this essay, you have to talk about an incident that is in some sense, larger than you. It’s very important for us to focus on “This is a leadership experience, where you had created a lasting value”. The word “Lasting value” is something that is beyond you.


A mistake that a lot of students make is that they talk about a personal accomplishment. They write something like, “I was working on this project and we had a deadline and someone had to step up the plate…someone had to roll up their sleeves and do it…I worked a couple of all nighters….I went and convinced people from other departments and I made it happen.” Making it happen is one thing but building something that is going to last even when you’re not there is another.

Contributing or volunteering for an NGO is one thing. Setting up an NGO where there are people who are going to contribute even after you, is another thing. It is very important for you to pick something that is larger than you; that’s the key thing here.


The second thing is, for building the story, you can use a very simple framework. You can talk about what I call as “The Start Framework”.


   • S – Situation

   • T – Task

   • A – Action

   • R-  Result

   • T – Takeaway

   • What was the background when you came in?

What was the task that you were assigned? You need to be very specific. Don’t say, “We were supposed to do this.”. Tell them what you were supposed to do.

   • What was the action that you performed?

   • What was the result of the action?

   • What were your personal takeaways? What did you learn from this experience about yourself?


Situation, task, action, result, and takeaways. That’s how I would build this essay. Each framework with 90 words. One more thing is that people tend to not focus on the takeaways. You need to talk about what you learnt. So make sure that you don’t miss it because that is a crucial part of this essay.



Essay 2


Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)


This a typical career goal essay. What we need to do for the career goal essay is to divide the essay into three parts.

The First part – Write about yourself


How have you grown in the past? Write a paragraph which describes your growth journey.  Who were you when you started as a fresher? Who are you today? What have you learned about life?  How has that made you a better person?



The Second part


Now that you have grown so much, what have you come to realize?

When you look ahead, what are the kind of goals you want to pursue?

In order to pursue those goals, what is it that you need to equip yourself with?



The Third part


Now that you have figured out the things you want to equip yourself with, how would an MBA, specifically a Kellogg MBA, help you achieve that?


Okay. So you have three parts :

   • Where are you?

   • Where do you want to be?

   • How do you intend to get there?


That’s how I would break up this essay.This essay is about 450 words. You can write about 150 words for each paragraph. Obviously, in 150 words, we shouldn’t end up describing way too much as the space will not be enough. Don’t repeat things that are found in your resume. Don’t tell Kellogg what it already knows.



Optional Essay


My recommendation for the optional essay is to write about something like a gap in your education or work experience, or if there is something important that you want to tell the school but did not have the opportunity to do so anywhere else in your application form.


Do not use this space to retrofit a story that you probably thought would be interesting but did not find a place to write. Don’t do that; you would do yourself a greater disservice by retrofitting.


I hope this article was useful. If you’re applying to Kellogg this year, as discussed, we have worked with successful candidates who have gone to Kellogg so we can help you. We would love to hear from you, so go ahead and click the link below.


MIT Sloan School Of Management Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome to this article in which we will look at the MIT Sloan School of Management. If you are looking at applying to MIT this year, you have come to the right place.


Let’s first look at the MIT Sloan MBA program. The first thing you think of when you look at MIT, is Technology. You think of the focus MIT has on technology and engineering. You might think that MBA is isolated, but it’s not. You need to understand that it’s a university system. You can actually take courses in the technology programs that the other departments have. Even if you’re pursuing an MBA, you can still take an elective from other departments, and being on the MIT campus, you have a different way of looking at things. MIT is obviously a big place for a technology focus.


Second, MIT Sloan is one of the few programs which has a very condensed core. You just have the first semester where you are required to take the core courses, and the rest of it can be based on electives. You can pick and choose whatever you like. Very few schools have this flexibility so it’s a big plus point.


Third, in terms of international flavour, MIT Sloan has the maximum number of international students for any top MBA program.That’s again a huge plus if you’re looking at diversity among US MBA programs.


Finally, maybe because of the technology focus, MIT also has a strong focus on entrepreneurship. In fact, it is said that if all the companies out of MIT were to form a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP in the world. That’s the kind of history of entrepreneurship that you have in one single place. This is definitely a huge place for people who come from a tech background. If MIT is something that you have been dreaming of, you should be looking at the MBA program.


MIT Sloan 2017-2018 MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 25, 2017

Decision Notification: December 19, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 17, 2018

Decision Notification: April 3, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: April 9, 2018

Decision Notification: May 1, 2018





MIT / Sloan Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018


Cover Letter


MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).


You can see that there are a lot of questions asked. Don’t get lost. Just read it a couple of times, make sure you get a sense of what it is. Remember that you need to write in 300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation.


You need to be writing a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program, taking into consideration “Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions”. Now, first of all, what do you mean by “Standard Business Correspondence”?. Well, you need to first address the letter to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions, MIT, and then you need to write the content of the letter.


What is the difference between writing a letter as opposed to writing an essay? You are writing to a person, so make sure that your 300 words exclude the addresses and salutations. The actual meat of it is you talking about something more than one can get from your resume. Think about it. They have your resume, they have your application form, your recommenders and to top it, they also have your GMAT scores and undergraduate transcripts. They have everything about your working experiences so do not repeat what they already have. Pick the one or two things about you that they don’t know. Perhaps you’re an innovative thinker, maybe you are a problem solver. Maybe you believe in problem solving under frugality (or in India, as they say, “juggaad”). What have you done?  Maybe it’s a small motor pump that you took out from the engine and used for something completely different. Showcase through examples. One thing about MBA applications is, always give examples. First list down four to five traits that you think define you well. You can talk about innovation, risk-taking, leadership, team working, for example. Whatever you want to pick, pick and list out. You have 300 words. You can pick two things, and convey them in 300 words. Make sure you flesh out all the details, and tell them why you are unique. Tell them what it is that you hope to get through the MBA program, and what you are going to learn from the program. It’s really important that you pick those two things.


Now that you have told them who you are, talk about why MIT Sloan particularly excites you because you are this person.  What at MIT excites you? Why do you think it gels so well with who you are as a person? For example, if you spoke about innovation, you can have come to the “Mecca of Innovation”, but you have to be very specific. Mention the academics and non-academics pursuits that you want to get out of the program. You may not really be able to get it all out because you have the 300 word limit. You may not be able to write about your post-MBA goals, and be specific, but you can mention “This is who I am, this is what I am going to get from the MIT program.” Then allude to your post-MBA career without getting into the depth of it.


That is how 300 words should be structured. You can be creative in the way you want to express yourself but make sure you’re going to pick one or two important aspects. One mistake that people do is that they talk about ten different things. It just loses the focus of the message. Don’t do that, two should be the maximum.



Video Prompt


Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief video statement.

You will need to use an internet-connected computer, with a webcam and microphone.  As part of the application review, the Admission Committee will evaluate your response to see how you express yourself and to assess fit with the MIT Sloan culture. The simple, open-ended question is designed to help us get to know you better.



   • Please make sure you are using a working Internet connection not wireless or shared wireless connection. If your Internet is not a strong signal you will not be able to upload. Please also make sure you have the most up to date browser.

   • You will need to use an internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone.

   • We suggest using Google Chrome* or Firefox as your browser.

   • If using Google Chrome – please click the camera icon in your browser to allow the site to access your microphone. If you are having issues with your microphone please re-start your computer for Google Chrome to access your microphone.

   • Once the video statement question is viewed you will have 60 seconds to prepare, and then 60 seconds to record your answer.

   • You will only have one attempt to record your response.



Now, you’re introducing yourself. What you wrote in the cover letter is very different. You’re not going to introduce yourself to your classmates by saying “I am an innovator, I am a problem solver.” Instead, you need to talk about something about you, perhaps something more personal. Maybe you can talk about what you expect from the MBA program. Remember that you have only 60 seconds, and 60 seconds is very less. If you have a very long South Indian name, maybe 60 seconds gets consumed over there. You have to be very prudent in what you say. Be casual.


You just need a simple camera phone and it’s all sorted. Today’s phones come with very good picture quality and video quality. Now you need to make sure that you keep the camera in front of you. Keep it very simple, and nothing fancy. Make sure that the lighting is bright. That is an another mistake that people make. Don’t keep the light source behind you. You would look like Gautam Buddha. The light source should be in front of you so that your face looks clean. Also, make sure that your surrounding is clutter free. Make sure that the voice is being captured very clearly; again, your phone microphone will do its work so don’t really sweat too much on that.


When you’re speaking, take as many retakes as possible. Keep saying the same thing, do it for like 20 to 25 times in front of the mirror before you come in front of the camera.


Initially, when you start, you will become very conscious. Do you know how I know this? Well, I have done this, and I have been in your shoes. I know you get very conscious when you see the camera. Sometimes, you know capturing that moment is for posterity, and you feel a bit stressed, but here is the thing, if you keep doing this multiple times, you will get the hang of it.


What is it that I should speak?


    • Speak about yourself. Be casual.

    • Talk about your interest

    • You can even include a quirk

    • You can say what you love doing


For example, “I love gaming and I challenge all you counter-strike aficionados to come challenge me for a game.”


Something of that sort; make yourself sound interesting. I should be able to look at the video and say, “this is the guy/girl I would like to meet.” That’s really the intent of the video essay.


Optional Essay


Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format (200 words or less).


You can use this essay to convey your gaps in education or gaps in employment, or use it to convey something that you couldn’t say anywhere else. But please don’t try to retrofit stories that you couldn’t fit anywhere else. Don’t feel pressured to write anything over here.


I know it’s not easy, especially if you haven’t done a video essay before. It can be tough. If you would like us to help you with your application to MIT, please let us know. You can click the link below.


University Of Michigan’s Ross School Of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I will discuss the Ross MBA program at the University of Michigan. If you’re looking at applying to Ross this year, 2017-2018, you have come to the right place. In this article, i will analyze the MBA application essays, which by the way, if you haven’t noticed, has changed.


Firstly, let’s look at the program. Based on our discussions with students who went to Ross, we understand that a specialty at Ross is their MAP ( Multidisciplinary Action Project). With MAP, what happens is that you actually do consulting as part of a team. This is real field work; you’re solving real problems. You won’t be just looking at the MBA as a way to gain knowledge but also to actually apply the knowledge you’ve gained. I recommend that you to go to their website, and read more about MAP.


The University of Michigan is one of the largest public universities You have around 40,000+ students, undergraduates and postgraduates from various disciplines. You will get access to that network, to various departments, and you can take electives from some other departments. That’s a huge advantage as opposed to many MBA schools that are standalone business schools.


The third important factor is the focus on operations and manufacturing. You have the Tauber Institute of Global Operations. If you’re looking for operations, you’re definitely in the right place. Although Detroit isn’t doing well in terms of being a manufacturing hub, in terms of operations, logistics, and supply chain, Ross is the place to be. It is definitely one of the top schools when it comes to specialization in operations.



Michigan / Ross MBA Deadlines for 2017-2018


Round 1

Application Due: October 2, 2017

Decision Released: December 15, 2017


Round 2

Application Due: January 2, 2018

Decision Released: March 15, 2018


Round 3

Application Due: March 19, 2018

Decision Released: May 11, 2018




Ross School Of Business MBA Essay Analysis 2017-2018


Short Answer Questions




   •  I want people to know that I:

   •  I turned an idea into action when I:

   •  I made a difference when I:





   •  I showed my resilience when I:

   •  I was humbled when:

   •  I am out of my comfort zone when:



   •  I was aware that I am different when:

   •  I find it challenging when people:

   •  A valuable thing I have taught someone:


In each of these groups, you have to pick one prompt and write your answer in less than 100 words. Now, if you have started writing application essays, you know that fewer than 100 words can actually be very, very tough. As Mark Twain said once, “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter.” Writing fewer words is a lot harder than writing more.


Let’s look at each of these groups and analyze them.




   •  I want people to know that I:

   •  I turned an idea into action when I:

   •  I made a difference when I:


So now you need to complete the prompt. If you look at all of these prompts, it’s about you they want to know. Is any advantage of picking one response over the other? Absolutely not! Don’t even try to game this by saying “this response is better than the other.” This is going to completely be your personal choice.



   •  I made a difference when I:  


Well, I don’t know when I made a difference. Maybe I haven’t thought about it, so I don’t have to pick that. I am just giving an example here. If you have no idea about it, you don’t have to pick it.



   •  I turned an idea into action when I:


I have a lot of ideas, but have I really turned them into actions? Maybe yes? Or Maybe not? Ican’t think of many.



   •  I want people to know that I:


Now I would like to say something about myself, right? This is probably easy, and there is something that i really want to say. I would probably pick this prompt. Now, Icould use this same justification for the second or third prompt. I am not saying the first is better than the others but that’s really the thinking process you need to have. What is unique to you? What is personal to you? Which of the following prompts best resonates with you? That’s what you need to look at.





   •  I showed my resilience when:


Tell them something that you bounced back from. Some failure that you faced. Some dejection, some frustration. Tell them how you were able to work on it.



   •  I was humbled when:


When I got to know something that is larger than me.



   •  I am out of my comfort zone when:


Tell them something that they would want to know about you as a person. With 100 words as the limit, you can write only three or four sentences, so talk about the “What” and don’t forget to spend time explaining the “Why”. People do not understand just the “What” so you need to tell them “Why”.


For example, “I was in my comfort zone when…My manager assigned me to lead a team of people who came from diverse backgrounds with  different function expertise and I had to show them the path to what was really required in this project.” Well, great! You know what? I didn’t learn anything about you. You need to tell me why it was a challenge. That is the point I am interested to know about. So what should you do? You need to keep it simple and say “When I was asked to lead a multi disciplinary project with people from various geographies because I  had only dealt with people who think in a similar manner as I, and I had to put myself in other people’s shoes. I had to show empathy. The moment you start speaking more about you, the Admissions Committee comes to know who you really are.





   •  I was aware that I am different when:


What makes you different ? It could be anything. It could be your way of thinking or maybe it’s something else. What is it that makes you different? Tell them.


   •  I find it challenging when people:


What is it that people do that you find yourself being challenged?


   •  A valuable thing I have taught someone:


As I said, more than the story, focus on the “Why”. In 100 words, you can probably devote 20 words to the ‘What” and the remaining 70 to 80 words  can be devoted to the “Why”. You can focus on the “Why” more, so that they get to know about you. When they read it , it must make them say “This is the person I would like to meet”.



Career Goal Essay


Please share your short-term and long-term career goals. What skills/strengths do you have that will be relevant to your career goals? How will Ross prepare you for your goals? (300 words)


300 words can be challenging because there is lot to cover over here. This is how I would structure this essay.

First, talk about your career so far.Give a quick synopsis. Give them a summary and don’t tell them too much.but show them progression.

“This how I was when I graduated, this is who I am today.”


Next, tell them  what you see for yourself. What are your short term goals? Talk about your function, industry, geography, companies you would like to work  for, job functions you would have in these companies.  Whatever it is, be very specific when it comes to short term goals. The huge mistake that people make is that they keep it very general. They say, “I want to get into a general management function. I want to be in a strategic role in a company.” No. You need to be more specific in what you say.


You do have some leeway when you talk about your long term goals. You can afford to say, “This is what I plan to do. This is what I intend to do.” You have a lot of leeway here because long term goal is 5 to 10 years. There is a little room for you to be creative here. However, you still need to have something that ties back to your education, experience, MBA, short term goals and all of it in your long term goals. So don’t make a blanket statement like, “ I want to be an entrepreneur.”, or something crazy like, “I want to save the world”, or “I want to save whales.” Whatever you say, it should make sense, so be carefull in what you say.  It cannot be a flight of fancy.


Then comes the third part. How are you going to bridge the gap ? This is where you are, and this is what you need to do. What is the delta? What is the bridge? The bridge has to be the MBA. Tell them what it is that you need in order to bridge the gap. Do you need knowledge ? Do you need to be a different person? Does your perspective have to undergo a change? Do you need the network ? Do you need the brand equity of the school Tell them all of your requirements.You need to tell them specifically hat in the  Ross program will help you address this delta.


So that becomes your third part. Overall, there are three parts.


   1. Your journey so far

   2. Short term and long term goals

   3. How an Ross MBA can help you in this goal.

For the first part, you can look at 60 to 70 words, for the second part, you can utilize another 120 words. With this, you’re left with 100 words for the third part. 300 words can be a little tight. So it’s important that you work this well. Work on the language to cut down the extra words so you can get your message out in 300 words.



Optional Essay


Talk about gaps in your employment, talk about gaps in your education and you can also talk about something like,a low GMAT score. Something that you think they should know. Don’t try to retrofit a story just because you’re not able to place it elsewhere. You do yourself a big disservice. Don’t say things that they don’t need to know. That’s the thumb rule i have for all the optional essays.


So yeah, we have covered a lot for the Ross MBA Program. If  you’re applying to Ross, we can help you; we’ve had many students who applied to Ross in the previous years. We would like to see if we could work together. Please go ahead and click the link below, and drop in your comments. I will be more than happy to respond to each one them personally.


Tuck School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome to this article in which we will look at the Tuck MBA program at Dartmouth, walk through the essays, and discuss what is unique about the program.


Firstly, Dartmouth is one of the Ivy League schools in the US. So Tuck has rich reputation in that sense, but if you ask what is really unique about the program, it is the community spirit that you see in Tuck. It’s a small class, and it is not next to a large city. In that sense, it’s “tucked” away. Due to this bonding you have in two years, you form a deeper network with the alum, and your classmates. That can be seen as an advantage.


In the US, the culture of colleges plays a huge role. If you’re okay being in a big city, maybe Columbia is what you should be looking at, but if you would like the warmth, the small class size and the bonding, Tuck is the place you should be. This should reflect in your application essay where you say why this particular style resonates best with you.


Another important factor is that they don’t have a Ph.D. program so the entire focus in on the MBA program. All the professors are 100% devoted to taking classes for the MBA program.


If you look at the Tuck program, they speak about General Management. It’s known for leadership and general management. That’s a very strong theme that comes with the program and if you see “The Center for Leadership” at Tuck, you will see that they have various concentrations where the largest department by far is Strategy and Management. Therefore, if you’re looking at general management, and developing your leadership skills, Tuck should be the place for you.


Dartmouth / Tuck MBA Deadlines 2017-2018


Early Action Round

Applications Due: October 4, 2017

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: October 31, 2017

Admissions Decision: December 15, 2017


November Round

Applications Due: November 1, 2017

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: November 10, 2017

Admissions Decision: February 9, 2018


January Round

Applications Due: January 3, 2018

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: January 31, 2018

Admissions Decision: March 10, 2018


April Round

Applications Due: April 4, 2018

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: April 4, 2018

Admissions Decision: May 11, 2018


First Round Consortium

Applications Due: October 15, 2017

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: October 31, 2017

Admissions Decision: December 15, 2017


Second Round Consortium

Applications Due: January 5, 2018

Applicant-initiated Interview Complete: January 31, 2018

Admissions Decision: May 9, 2018


Let’s look at the application deadlines. You have the early action round which is similar to Duke. If you apply for an early action round,  and you’re made an offer, it’s a binding offer, which means that you will not apply to any other schools. You need to be very clear whether Tuck is one of your top choices. If it is your top choice, please apply to the early action round.


It’s either the early action round, the November intake, or the January intake. Do not look at the April intake, especially if you’re an international applicant. Now, students say “between early action round and the first round, am I at a disadvantage with the first round becoming the second round?”. Not necessarily, but if Tuck is not your top school of choice and you end up applying in the early action round, what may happen is that you get an offer but you’re waiting for the other schools. You may not be able to take up the offer. That’s why you have to be a little careful.



Tuck School Of Business MBA Essay Analysis 2017-2018


Essay 1


What are your short and long-term goals? Why is an MBA a critical next step toward achieving those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically? (500 words)


Three questions, 500 words. Here is how you break it down. First, you need to be talking about your career so far. It’s not a rehash of your resume but a quick synopsis of your career progression to date. You can tell them, “This is where I started…this has been my journey…but at this juncture in my life… this is what I see ahead.” Something you couldn’t have seen three years ago. What is the clarity you have about your life and career? That becomes your short-term goal. Once you have your short-term goal, you have to be specific about the function, industry, and geography. All of it has to be very specific. One mistake that people make when writing the short-term goal essay is that they are vague. Don’t be vague.


However, in the long term goals, you can be vague. When I say “vague”, I don’t mean that you put some generic statement like, “I want to be an entrepreneur 20 years down the line.” No! Five to ten years down the line is long enough, and you can say, “five to ten years down the line, this is what I hope to do with my life.” If you want to pursue entrepreneurship, you should be talking about the areas in which you’re going to start your own venture. There is some leeway to be generic and at the same time, you need to have something that ties your past experience, your MBA, and your short-term goal into your long-term goal. That pretty much would be your second paragraph. In the first paragraph, you write a synopsis of what you did, in the second paragraph, your goals and in the third paragraph, you say that if you’re here and this is your goal, this is your bridge. What is stopping you from getting there? That really is the reason you want to do an MBA. You want to look at the specific thing that you want to learn from the B-School. Is it knowledge? Is it different perspectives? Is it brand equity and the network? Whatever your requirements are from an MBA school, you list that in the third part.


In the final part, for each of the characteristics that you have mentioned you require from a B-School, say how Tuck is uniquely positioned to meet those requirements. My suggestion is take up the opportunity to connect with Tuck alum from the website; they call them the Tuckies. Make sure that you connect with some Tuckies, people from your background, and try to understand more about the school, try to understand the culture and the community spirit at Tuck.


That pretty much is going to be your 500 words. You have four paragraphs, roughly about 120 words for each of the paragraphs, and of course you can use your judgment, maybe 80 words in one paragraph and 150 in another. That doesn’t matter. According to me, 500 words is more than enough for you to articulate clearly. Just one point here. For the question,“Why are you interested in Tuck specifically?”, please refrain from making general statements. Don’t say something like “World-class infrastructure” or ‘Globally renowned faculty”. Every top school has it, so you need be very specific.



Essay 2


Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Wisdom encompasses the essential aptitudes of confident humility, about what one does and does not know; empathy, towards the diverse ideas and experiences of others; and judgment, about when and how to take risks for the better.

With Tuck’s mission in mind, and with a focus on confident humility, tell us about a time you:

received tough feedback,

experienced failure, or

disappointed yourself or others.

How did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)


Now what this essay is really asking you is to help them understand you as a person. In Australian Elite Corps, they have this as a question, “Have you experienced failure?”, and if you respond with a “no”, you are not considered suitable. Why? Because they feel that people who have gone through failure understand life better. They know what it takes to bounce back.  What this essay is really looking at is sometime when you did something that you’re not proud of. It could be a failure. Again, there is a trap over here, a lot of students make this mistake. They don’t really reveal the failure, they don’t reveal when they disappointed others. They will say something like, “Oh, this was a failure but eventually, it was a success”. No, it has to be a failure! It has to be a point where you fell flat on your face, where there were no options left. All you have to do is pick the broken pieces and move on. What is more important is not what happened to you, instead, it is how your response was. Did it really affect your sense of judgment? Maybe you stopped trusting your judgment, and then it took some time for you to regain confidence. Perhaps you also realized that sometimes it’s not possible for us to control the outcome, we can just control the decision.


That’s probably the learning you had, or probably the learning that you had was that it is important for you to trust others. Whatever the learning be, you need to make sure that you devote a significant portion of this essay to that learning. It’s not about the failure part. It’s about what you learned from it. How were you able to grow as a person? It’s very important. Again 500 words, plenty of words for you talk about this aspect.



Optional Essay


Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere and may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.


For optional essays, talk about either a gap in your education or employment, or say something that really could not be said anywhere else. Something that you probably planned to do and that might affect your MBA candidature, but don’t try to retrofit stories that you picked to tell the Admission Committee that you were not able to tell anywhere else. That’s not what optional essays are meant for, and in fact, you do a bigger disservice to yourself by mentioning something you shouldn’t be talking about.


That’s all we have for the Tuck MBA application process. If you’re applying to Tuck this year, just go down and click the link below. We’ve had students who went to Tuck so we understand the program well, and we would love to share our knowledge with you. We could work together.


Columbia Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In this article, I will discuss the Columbia MBA program. If you’re looking at applying to Columbia this year, 2017-2018,  you will find this article useful as I am going to discuss the school, and the application essays.


When people talk about Columbia, the first thing that comes to mind is Finance. Yes, it’s very strong for finance and if you look at it, it’s a virtual cycle. Often, when people at Wall street want to take a break, they end up coming to Columbia. They do their MBA and get back to Wall street, and after a few years, when they want to recruit, guess where they come? Columbia again! So it’s a nice symbiotic relationship they have with Wall Street.


You must have a heard of Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing. He taught at Columbia. So in terms of its reputation and finance, Columbia is very strong. It’s known as a very strong finance school.


The second thing is the New York City location. The fact that you’re right there in Downtown New York, Manhattan, where there is a melting pot of culture. So many diverse things, so many people. I think very few schools can boast of a location like that. That’s a huge plus that Columbia has. If you look at their website and application, you’ll see that they also exploit this aspect. They also say “Hey, it’s our location and nobody can offer you this location!” You may have all the money in the world but you can’t be in the heart of New York. In terms of not just culture but also the kind of connection that you have with companies, the Who’s who is headquartered in New York. I think that plays a huge role.

Now let’s look at the deadlines.


Columbia MBA Deadlines for 2017-2018


August Entry

Early Decision Deadline: October 4, 2017

Merit Fellowship Consideration Deadline: January 5, 2018

Regular Decision Deadline: April 11, 2018



Application Deadline: October 4, 2017




Columbia Business School MBA Essay Analysis 2017-2018


So now let’s look at the essay questions that we have. Essentially, we have three essays. Over the years it has been constant, and we’ve had students applying and getting into Columbia and what I am saying is based on the discussions we’ve had internally with them.


Essay #1


Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3 – 5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)


First off, they are saying “I know what you have done; don’t bore me with that. That’s the information I will find elsewhere in this application.” 500 words to talk about your goals. That’sa lot of words if you think about. They require you to be very clear about the function you want to be in, the industry you want to be in, and the geography you want to be in. Usually, if you’re trying to change your career, you want to make sure that you’re not changing all three. You’re probably changing two out of the three which means if you’re coming from India as an applicant, your geography anyways gets changed. You’re left with industry and function. You need to make sure that you’re at least sticking to the same industry. If you have come from the financial sector industry, you’d want to stick to the financial sector industry. Maybe your function changes, or maybe it remains the same, but you want to be in a different industry.


Another thing is that in a place like Columbia, it’s not necessary that only finance professionals go. Think about it! If you’re Columbia, you aspire to be a Harvard or a Stanford, and nobody even asks you what your specialization in Harvard or Stanford is. That’s a general management program. Even in Columbia, it’s is not a Masters in Finance program. You’re going for an MBA program. You can go for consulting, or you can go for product management. Even tech companies are headquartered in New York.


Whatever you want to pick, make sure that you’re able to clearly articulate what you’re going to be doing. If you’ve not already done so, here is a tip: Make sure you go to LinkedIn, and look for people who have graduated from Columbia. People who are in a similar industry. Try to connect with them, and understand more about what it takes to get that job. The school is also looking for employability. They don’t want this guy saying, “I want to change everything about me. I was a software programmer working in Bangalore and suddenly I want to become an investment banker without even having an idea of what it takes.”


The second part of the question says, “…in your imagination, what would be your long-term dream job?” Let your thoughts come out freely. Nobody is going to judge you. I would say they would judge you only through your short-term goals and they are not going to judge you through your long-term goals. They are really looking at, “What is your passion?” In my short-term goal, yes I would like to look at employability and a little bit of passion but if you were to take all of this away, ‘Who is it that I really am?” What is it that I really want to do with this canvas called Life?” How would I like to paint it?”  That’s what they really want to know, and I think you should dedicate at least a good 150 to 200 words for your long term goal; it gives a great opportunity to express who you are. Dedicate about 250 to300 words for your short-term goals. Be very specific in the short-term. For the long-term goal, you can be slightly imaginative, expressing your own personal choices of what you want to do in life, for the next 200 words or so. That’s how 500 words can be played out for the first essay.



Essay #2


The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 Words)


The whole idea about this is essay is about the business school experience. Two years of staying in a place like New York can be overwhelming for a lot of people. They just don’t know what to do, and they go berserk. They go to B-School, they want to do a little of this, and a little bit of that, plus there is a huge opportunity cost, and there the cost of an MBA. All of this playing in your mind, and you really can get lost.


What this essay is really saying is, “What is it that you want to do?”There is really nothing like a right answer or a wrong answer for this. You could say, “My priorities are really to experience the student life.” You don’t need to talk about academics. It’s okay. You can say, “I want to use this opportunity to network with people. I want to bring my Columbia credentials and go out into the city, and meet people.” If that’s what you wanted to do, make sure you say so. There is really no harm in saying that, or if you feel that you are really there for the knowledge, and your priority is to sit in class, attend lectures, and learn from the faculty, learn from the kind of resources you’re going to have in the B-School, that could be your answer.


There is nothing such as right or wrong.  Pick your priority. 250 words, a very little leeway for you, so you need to stick to the story. You need to get directly to what you have to say.


Essay #3


Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)

a: Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.

b: If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?


Firstly, neither of the two essays has an edge over the other. I have had students coming and asking me, “ Which one should I pick to maximise my chances?” In Columbia, 50% of the incoming class is going to pick one essay and the other 50% is going to pick the other essay. There is really nothing that discriminates one essay over the other. Let’s look at these essays


A.Remember what you’re passionate about in life. If you remember, in the first essay, we spoke about what your career goals, long-term goals are, and what you really want to do. I would imagine that this has to somewhere connect with that. You cannot have a long-term career goal not involving your passion. You need to make sure that you kind of tie that. You don’t want to talk about your career in this essay, but keep the generic theme.


  1. Pretty much whatever you want to express, express it here. They are just trying to see “Is this person interesting?, would I like to meet this person? Is he the person I would like to see in my class for the next two years?” Be imaginative and creative. I have noticed that students who are expressive may sometimes write weird things. I am using the word “Weird” but they end up really popping out of the paper. They just come out of the application paper. That will compel the reader to say, “This guy is interesting and I would like to meet him.”


These are the points  I would like you to keep in mind for the third essay.


Optional Essay


Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 words)


You can talk about your academic gaps or work experience gaps if you have any to talk about. Otherwise, stay clear. Don’t try to retrofit a story that did not find a space for anywhere else.


Columbia Business School is one of the schools for which you have to write a lot. If you compare it with other schools, they don’t require much writing, but this one has a lot to write. Make  sure you get your application form done as soon as possible. Don’t prolong it, the essays can take a long time to write.


If you think there is a way in which we can help you, please feel free to click the link below, and let us know. We would be glad to connect with you and see how we can be a part of your MBA journey.


University Of Oxford Said Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which we’re going to discuss the Said MBA program at Oxford. If you’re looking at applying to Said Business School, here are a couple of things you need to know. Firstly, at this business school, similar to Cambridge, you have this huge connection to the Oxford University system. In fact, if you go to the Said Business School website, you will see a lot about Oxford and you might ask, “why is there such a big deal about Oxford?” It’s because you’re not just looking at the business school which is relatively new but are also getting access to a university that is 700-800 years old. In fact, one of the students who had gone to Oxford said, “One of the first things you do when you join the college, is go on a parade where you walk through the streets of Oxford, wearing black robes and hats, and eventually go to the amphitheatre and the chancellor of Oxford actually addresses the students, believe it or not, in Latin. There is a lot of tradition, a lot of pride. You are Oxford educated! Nobody is going to say what you did there but it’s the university with brand equity.


Second, it’s a great one-year program. If you’re looking at accelerated learning, one-year is a relatively lower opportunity cost. I would definitely pick Oxford as one of the top 5 to 10 schools in the world that I would apply to if I am looking at a one-year program.


The third thing is that Said Business School also prides itself for having a practical approach to an MBA. It’s not just academics.  During the one-year, there are also lots of assignments; there is exposure to real world problems. That’s the other important part of the education. If you look at most European MBAs, they are more qualitative in their experience. They want to make you grow as a person. They want you to have a growth mind-set. While a lot of US schools have more quantitative rigor. If this is the kind of school you want to experience and you want to create a better version of yourself,  Oxford Said should be the top school for you.


These are some of the aspects you need to be looking at for “Why Oxford?”.


Now let’s look at the application deadlines.


2017 – 2018 Said Business School Deadlines


Round 1 – Sep 29, 2017

Round 2 – Jan 5, 2018

Round 3 – Mar 16, 2018

Round 4 – May 11, 2018



Said Business School MBA Essay Analysis 2017-2018


Essay 1


Consider a statistic or trend that shocks you. Why is it important to you and how could it be changed for the better?  (Maximum 500 words)


The first thing is to note, “something that shocks you”, and not “something that surprises you.” What would shock me? Something would shock me because I have my own personal guideline.  I have my own sense of ‘what is right and what is wrong”.

So very clearly it’s in conflict. Maybe it is a poverty figure, maybe it is about how people are consuming more calories. You have all this soda and fast food by which people are getting obese, even in a country like India. It could be anything, so first,  what is the statistic or trend and why is it important to you?  There has to be a personal connect.


One mistake that people make in this essay is that they talk about something like poverty and they say, “Oh! I am so moved by this statistic.” However, what have you done about it? The question states, “why is it important to you, and how could it be changed for the better?”  These are the two questions that you should actually focus on. How does it matter to you?


For example, one of our students wrote about geriatric problems. When people grow old, they tend to have mental illness like dementia. He was shocked that in a place like India, there is not a lot of respect given to people with such issues. If a person goes to a psychiatrist, people just say that he has gone mad. It’s very insensitive in India. So he said, “I was very shocked…”, and he also quoted statistics about people growing old in India without proper geriatric care, especially for mental illness. He said he had personal experience with his grandfather. He said, “I grew up in a household where I saw him, and it pained me.” There is a personal connection to it.


“How could it be changed for the better?”. He had a couple of plans and suggestions. Also, after his grandfather passed away, he had done a few things. He worked for an NGO which took care of old age homes and shelters. That’s what you have to do with 500 words. You have to cover the following points:


• Statistics, and ‘why it shocks you.’ This is very important. Don’t assume that the reader will know why it’s shocking. You need to tell them why it’s shocking, based on the personal parameter you have.


• Why is it important to you? You could have picked any other cause, that’s why you need to tell them why you picked this cause. Say something which has a personal thread to it.

• What is it that can be done to make it better? – You should have already started doing something about the issue, and it should not be like you’re going to wait for 15 years and do nothing about it, and then one day you hope to change it. You can talk about tiny baby steps you have already taken in doing so.


500 words, that’s plenty of space for you to write. Don’t worry, saying “will this will improve my candidacy for the MBA program?” They are just looking for smart and interesting people. They want to see whether this guy has something interesting to say; is he passionate about a cause? One leadership trait is being passionate about something. You pick any leader and you’ll see that he or she has this one particular thing that they feel passionate about, and they have actually done something in that area. That’s what they are really looking at.



Essay 2


Is there anything not covered in the application form which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you? (Maximum 250 words)


For this essay, pick either:


1. Something that is a gap. For example, a gap in education, a gap in experience, or some anomaly in your GMAT score that you would like to explain.


2. Something that you plan to do but perhaps it’s too early to put the information into your essays. For example, you have a year to join the school, so you can say something like, ‘I would like to let you know that I plan to get my B Level certification in German. That’s something in the future but you think it’s important for the Admission Committee to know.


Either of these two pieces of information can fit into the 250-word essay.


That’s pretty much what we have for the Oxford Said MBA program, and if you’re applying to the program this year, please let us know if we could work together on this, by clicking the link below.


Goizueta Business School, Emory University Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I will tell you what you need to know about the Emory MBA program, and the Emory MBA essays for the application season, 2017-2018.


Let’s discuss the features of the Emory MBA program. Over the last few years, CrackVerbal has sent many students to the program, and we can help you from our experience.


First, the school offers a one-year program as well as a two-year program. All of you who are looking at a one-year program in the US must certainly look at Emory.


Second, Emory has a university attached to it. What people don’t realize is it’s not just an MBA school that you’re going to but a school that has a university eco-system that is attached to it. For example,  the hospital at Emory. If you remember the Ebola virus, there were two American doctors who went to Liberia and when they came back to the US with Ebola, they were actually treated in Emory. They were the first cases in which Ebola was treated successfully; guess where it happened? In Emory. It’s not just the MBA school but also the university system that you should look at. One more thing about Emory is the location. It’s situated in Atlanta. Atlanta is one of the southern states, and a huge hub. In Atlanta, you have Coke, whose CEO, by the way is after whom the college has been named, the Goizueta School of Management. You also have AT&T and a bunch of other companies in Atlanta. If you are looking at an MBA program, my advice is to stick to a program which is near a large city so that your employment chances go up.


That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the program.



2017-2018 Emory Goizueta MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: October 6, 2017

Notification Date: December 1, 2017

Deposit Due: December 22, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: November 17, 2017

Notification Date: January 26, 2018

Deposit Due: February 23, 2018 (International & One-Year) / April 18, 2018 (Domestic)


Round 3

Application Deadline: January 3, 2018

Notification Date: March 9, 2018 (Domestic) / March 16, 2018 (International)

Deposit Due: March 30, 2018 (One-Year) / April 18, 2018 (Two-Year)


Round 4

Application Deadline: March 9, 2018

Notification Date: Rolling (One-Year) / May 4, 2018 (Two-Year)

Deposit Due: Upon Notification (One-Year) / May 15, 2018 (Two-Year)




Emory Goizueta MBA Essay Analysis 2017-2018


Essay 1


Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 words)


If you look at it, it may not be necessary to start with your goals. You could also give a quick summary of what you have done until now. This does not mean regurgitating what is on your resume, this is not about what is in your application form. It is more about your own personal journey and has to talk about your professional strengths, your past experience, and your personal attributes. You write maybe 100 to 120 words on this and then you get on to the second point which is on what you want to do from where you are. Talk about where you have reached in your career, and then the natural progression to get to the next part. While writing about the short term post MBA goal, remember to write down details of the function, the industry you’re going to work in, and the geography you’re going to be at.Try to list a couple of companies, and specific programs within the company that you would like to apply for. Ensure that you do your research. One thing that could kill you is, picking a short term goal that is improbable. Something that will not fit with your background. You need to make sure that the goal is aligned to what you have already done, and if there is a slight change, you need to justify why you are equipped to handle that change.


That’s pretty much 300 words. You can use about 100 to 120 words talking about yourself, and another 150 words talking about the short term goal in detail, and then you have 30 to 40 words, which you can use for an introduction and conclusion. Make sure that the introduction and conclusion are fairly strong so that you have a packed essay.



Essay 2


The business school is named for Roberto C. Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who led the organization for 16 years, extending its global reach, quadrupling consumption, building brand responsibility, and creating unprecedented shareholder wealth. Mr. Goizueta’s core values guide us in educating Principled Leaders for Global Enterprise. Provide an example of your leadership – professional or personal – and explain what you learned about yourself through the experience. (300 words)


This is a leadership essay. You’re looking at principled leadership. What you need to pick is something where you went above the circle of concern. This could be a time when you were supposed to do something but took the initiative, the ownership of going beyond that. It could be very small. The question says “Professional or personal”. So it may not be work. One mistake a lot of students do is talk about something that is run of the mill. They say something like, “I was doing this, and my manager quit. We weren’t able to find a replacement, and I took a step-up responsibility, led the team, and executed the project.” Well, the problem with this story is that it is very common.


Write something that is unique. Something that gives me an insight into who you are, and also something that tells me more about your leadership style. Are you a consensuc building leader? Are you a leader who believes that taking affirmative action? Is that what differentiates you?


Whatever the reason be, you need to first talk about your background, the situation you were put in because that is very important for you to talk about what you did. In the second part, you can talk about the actual action that you took.


So you have the background, your action and third, you need to talk about what you learned. If you look at the essay, it clearly says “What have you learned about yourself through the experience?” What are the takeaways? You could say “Before I went into that situation, I did not know certain aspects of leadership but then, I got to know about them”. You need to tell them what you learned about yourself.


Let me give you an example. One of our students who got into Emory a few years ago had written this story. He said that when he was in his hometown, he managed the Ganesh Pandal, which is a religious thing that happens every year in India.  We install an idol, and for about a week or so there are a lot of activities around the occasion. He volunteered to be the President of the local association. On the face of it, it looked very simple because in his corporate life he had dealt with managing projects. He thought, “how hard can it be?”


In that one week, he learned everything from accounts to logistics to supply-chain to all kinds of corporate management jargon. The student said that whatever he needed to know about management, he learned through that experience. Earlier, he had a very different view on leadership. He thought leadership was where you work without variables changing too much. He realized that leadership is about making a decision when you don’t have enough information. He became a lot more comfortable making decisions even when he did not have all the information at his disposal. The student spoke in a very touching way about how he grew as a person.


As you can see, this is a very simple example but you can think of something that has happened to you, and write about it. Again, don’t restrict yourself to only professional experiences; even personal experiences will count here.



Essay 3


Complete one of the following statements. (250 words)

• I am passionate about…

• The best piece of advice I’ve received is…

• The best day of my life was…

• A personal goal I want to accomplish is…


I am passionate about…


They are not looking at the “What”. The mistake people do in answering this question is they talk about the “What”.


The best piece of advice I’ve received is…


They don’t want to know just what the advice was. They want to know other things like when did it happened. You can say, “Initially when I heard this advice, I was not very receptive. My father gave me this advice when I was going to college and I never bothered about it, but when I started working, his words came back to me, and I realized how true it was and now it is the founding principle behind what I do.”


The best day of my life was….


Maybe it is the time you got married. The idea here is not to just talk about the act but what went behind it. Maybe you got married, both the sides did not agree, and you had to go through a lot of personal hardship and that’s when you realized your emotional strength, the core that you have, and THAT was the realization.


The more important thing here is the “Why” and not the “What”.


A personal goal I want to accomplish is…


Here, don’t just talk about your personal goal but tell them why it is your personal goal, and why not any other goal. Maybe you want to start your own orphanage. Why? Maybe when you were a child you went through something, or maybe a personal experience you have observed that deeply affected you. They really want to know you as a person.


Students come and ask me, “which is the better response?” There is nothing like a better response. Whichever statement you pick, after you have written, they should be able to look at it and say, “Is this a person that I would like to meet in person? Would I want them in my school?”. That’s the kind of question you need to ask yourself after you have written your statement.



Essay 4


Share with the committee and your future classmates a fun or noteworthy fact about you. (25 words)


This is the shortest essay with 25 words. People usually say “What do I write?” Again, don’t think of this sentence as something that is going to have an impact on your MBA. Just say something that makes people say, “Hey, this guy is interesting”. I’ve had people who have talked about all kinds of things. One student talked about the way he is addicted to solving Sudoku first thing in the morning.People have spoken about how a special sweet that they make is something that is their specialty because they put cinnamon at the end. Talk about things like this; people don’t really care. Make it fun, make it frivolous. Don’t get serious in this essay.


So I hope you got all the information you were looking for, and you have some sense of what you need to be doing for the essays. Just one point over here is that you have the usual optional essay. In this essay, you can talk about any gaps in your academics or in your work experience. You also have the re-applicant essay, which essentially is about your short term goals.


Optional Essay


If you have additional information or feel there are extenuating circumstances which you would like to share with the MBA Admissions Committee (i.e. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance issues or areas of weakness in application). (250 words)


For this question, make sure that you’re talking about something different, and not repeating what you’ve already said the first time. Talk about the delta progress that you have made.


I hope this video was useful to you. If it was, and if you need us to help you with your application to Emory, please go ahead and click on the link below.


McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University Essay Analysis 2017-2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I am going to talk about Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business. If you’re looking at applying to this school in 2017-2018, you have come to the right place.


First, let’s talk about the college itself.  McDonough is part of Georgetown University, which is one of the oldest universities, and is located in Washington DC; most politicians’ children have actually gone to this university. It has a very good alum network, and that is a huge plus point. Another plus point is that being in Washington DC, the university is part of a large city. Hence, its location is great!


Now, apart from the great alum network and the location, what differentiates this program is the international focus and global experience. For example, in the second year, they have the Global Experience program as part of the MBA curriculum where students are given practical consulting projects in numerous international locations. That is one example of the kind of international focus they have. In fact, if you look at the whole curriculum, it has a lot of focus on international business. This is because Georgetown University itself has the School of Foreign Services. This is definitely one top reason for you to apply.



2017-2018 Georgetown McDonough Deadlines


Round One

Application Deadline: October 10, 2017

Notification Date: December 20, 2017

Deposit Due: February 15, 2018


Round Two

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018

Notification Date: March 25, 2018

Deposit Due: May 1, 2018


Round Three

Application Deadline: April 2, 2018

Notification Date: May 15, 2018

Deposit Due: June 1, 2018


Round Four

Application Deadline: May 1, 2018

Notification Date: June 1, 2018

Deposit Due: June 7, 2018 



2017-2018 Georgetown MBA Essay Questions


Essay 1:


Describe a defining moment when you were challenged and exceeded expectations. (The moment can be a professional or personal one. If personal, then please also include how it had an impact on your professional development) (500 words or fewer)


This is a classic essay where you’re talking about that one moment in your life, or that one thing that you did which possibly defines you. 500 words is a lot of space for you to craft out a good essay. Pick something where you felt that more than the impact it caused others you learned a lot from the experience.  You want to pick something through which you had an impact on others, but remember that the question says, “Describe a defining moment when you were challenged and exceeded expectations.”  Now think about it. Expectations can be very low, you may have overcome the expectations, you might have done well above them. Here, you have to tell them more than what you did; say what it did for you!


After you pick the story, you can use the standard START framework. You talk about the SITUATION – When did this happen? What was the background? What do you think would give gravity to the whole story?  Consider all this while describing the situation. The second thing to cover is the TASK. What were you supposed to do?  What was expected of you when you walked into the situation?. Third, the ACTION. What was the action that you did? What did you eventually do? Did you go and look at the scenario and think something can be done? What action did you take? Fourth, the RESULT. What was the result? Remember that you’re talking about the “Defining moment when you were challenged and exceeded expectations.” The last factor is the personal TAKEAWAYS. This is very important. What were the takeaways?  You have to cover the situation, task, action, result, and takeaways; I would probably spend a lot more on the takeaways. What did I learn about myself? Did it help me in other areas of my life? If it did, how did it help me? The B-School is trying to understand you as a person; that’s what the really want to know. Who are you? Is this the person they would like to see in their class?. You need to bring a personal aspect to the story. More than the occasion, I would say what you learnt should be the larger, overarching thing.


Video Essay:


The required video essay is an opportunity for you to bring life to your application. Please introduce yourself to your future Georgetown MBA cohort in a one minute video. The Admission Commission would like you to appear in person during part of your video and we strongly encourage you to speak outside of the experiences we can read on your resume. Use this video as an opportunity to bring life into your application.


Don’t repeat the things on your resume. However, you need to introduce yourself to your cohort, which is your team. What is it that you’re going to say in one minute, which is not already in your resume? You should pick just two or three things you want to share about yourself because 60 seconds will be done very quickly. Share certain things that are personal to you. Maybe you want to say “My name is…”, followed by an adjective, then go on to describe what that adjective means in your context. Talk about your hobbies. Say how you would like to share that hobby with your classmates. You’re bringing your personality into this. What they really want to know is, “if I look at you, are you a paper tiger? Or are you a person that I would like to talk to? Are you a person that I would like to interact with? How good is your communication? Are you able to maintain eye contact? What is your body language?


You don’t need any fancy equipment. One thing people ask me is, “Do I need to get it professionally shot?” These days, with the kind of phones we have, all you need is to keep the phone at a particular place and shoot the video.

  • Make sure that the source of light is not behind you but is on your face or even above you.
  • You need to be confident, you need to use your hands. You need to be yourself.
  • You can take as many retakes as you want. Maybe you’re going to first get comfortable talking and then take the final version.
  • You can have it directed. Maybe your friend who holds the camera, who gives an unbiased opinion about the video, could also help you.


Optional Essay 1:


If you are not currently employed full-time, use this essay to provide information about your current activities. (250 words or fewer)


If you’re utilizing this essay, remember it is not about having a full-time job as long as you can show them that you are creatively engaged in any activity, and utilizing your time well. Maybe you are taking some online courses. You have 250 words and you can tell them anything else in your application that has not been covered. Ensure that you talk about something that is relevant. Don’t try to fit in some story because it did not find a place elsewhere. Talk about what you would probably do in your future, maybe there is some course that you are planning to do next year, or any other passion that you would like to pursue. Maybe you want to learn to play guitar before you join the B-School.


Don’t just write another story, like, “At work, I was given an opportunity to do this and ….”. Don’t do this.


Optional Essay 2:


Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words or fewer)


Re-Applicant Essay:


How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (500 words or fewer)


So that’s pretty much what we have. If you’re applying to Georgetown McDonough, please go ahead and click the link below. We’ve had a lot of students who went there in the past, and we can share our experience of what it takes to really get in. So.


London Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to this article in which I am going to be talking about the London Business School MBA program. If you’re looking at applying to the program this, 2017-2018, you have come to the right place.


Let’s look at the program. What are the highlights of the London Business School program?


First, if you have been to their website you see a lot about the fact that it is in London, similar to what Columbia does because it’s in New York. London Business school – the name itself has the location of the B-School. You really are in the financial capital of the world, and location plays a huge role. The reason why geography plays a huge role is because when a recruiter comes to a particular college, he is going to come to the college to which he has easy access. Most of the top companies will have their headquarters in London. For that reason, London Business School is a top choice in terms of location.


Second, although London Business School is in the UK, it doesn’t necessarily mean that only UK folks come in. You have a lot of people coming in from Europe, a huge representation from Asia, and people coming in from the US and Canada. It has a nice international mix and there is a lot more international diversity here than you would find in US programs.


The third highlight is the flexible scheduling the London Business School offers. You have the 15-month option, 18 month option, and the 21-month option. You can even arrange your schedule so that you can pursue a second internship. This flexibility of scheduling and flexibility in the course are a huge draw for this B-School. You might want to look at their website for more details.


The next aspect is the experiential learning. This is something that a lot of schools are talking about these days. This school talks about organizational audit and global business experience, both of which are required of all students. Experiential learning gives the students a way in which they can apply classroom knowledge in real world scenarios. Schools are now focusing on practical knowledge rather than just theoretical knowledge. If you are a person who believes that you like to apply what you learn, London Business School would be a great place for you.You would have a simulated real life environment. You’re not actually taking the same risks, but you get to explore what you would do in real life.


Another important point is that because of its financial connection with the city of London, London Business School has a lot of people getting into the financial sector.


Having said all of this, one thing I would like to bring to your attention is that if you’re an international applicant, an Indian who is applying to London Business School, you also need to be aware of the economy right now, with the impact of Brexit. One of my students was placed in a tech company and the tech company was not able to get her a visa that year. They actually got her back to India, got her a visa for the office in Switzerland, and from Switzerland, she was moved to London. What I am trying to tell you is that if you’re smart, if you’re good, and if the company wants to hire you, they will. Large companies will figure out a way to work around the process.  



London Business School Deadlines 2017-2018


Round  1

Deadline: September 15, 2017

Interview Notification: October 5, 2017

Decision Notification: November 22, 2017


Round 2

Deadline: January 3, 2018

Interview Notification: February 1, 2018

Decision Notification: March 27, 2018


Round 3

Deadline: March 2, 2018

Interview Notification: April 5, 2018

Decision Notification: May 22, 2018


Round 4

Deadline: April 20, 2018

Interview Notification: May 10, 2018

Decision Notification: June 19, 2018





2017-2018 LBS Essays


Required Essay


What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School program contribute towards these? (500 words)


You have your post-MBA program goals, your prior experience, and then you have the London Business School MBA Program. How will all three of these fit? You have 500 words, and here is what you would do. Break it down into three parts. In the first part, you need to talk about your prior experience, that’s how the flow would go. You need to talk about what you have done so far in your life. Bring it to a stage where you say, “this is what I have done, and this what I have come to realize. When I started my career, I didn’t know what I wanted but now after my career of 4 to 5 years, I have realized that I want to get to the next level.”This is where you need to talk about your post-MBA career goals. Be specific. Try to say what kind of industry, what kind of job role you’re looking at.


You have spoken about your background, you have spoken about what it is that you want to do after your MBA, and then you talk about what it is that you need in order to get there. You might want to talk about what roles that would entail, and what you need to equip yourself with. That becomes the second paragraph.


Then in your third paragraph, you need to say what you will gain from London Business School that will help you meet these requirements. It’s very important that you tie London Business School back to the requirements:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you want to do, and what you need
  3. How London Business School will help you get there

Sounds simple? You have 150 words for each of the three parts. A strong start and a strong finish – maybe another 50 words. So all put together, 500 words.



Optional Essay


Is there any other information you believe the Admission Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?


In this essay, you need to make sure you’re writing about either a gap in your academic life or your professional life, or it could be something that you plan to do but did not find any place to talk about it in the application. Don’t use this space to retrofit another story. One mistake that students make is, “ By the way, since you’ve given me this opportunity for an additional essay, let me tell you about the one time when I did this great project”. Don’t say something like that.


I hope this was useful. If you’re applying to London Business School this year, just go down, and click on the link below. We would love to help you, and work with you in your application process.


Cambridge University – Judge Business School Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome to this article in which we’ll discuss the Judge Business School at Cambridge, UK. If you’re applying to Judge this year, 2017-18, you have come to the right place.


Let’s first look at the program. The first thing that sets Cambridge and Judge apart is that though the B-School is relatively new,  have this connection to this university, it’s a tradition! Cambridge is over 800 years old. Just imagine! That’s a lot of history. This is where Sir Isaac Newton actually held Chair. This is the place where the whole university system started. These are things that very few schools can boast of!


The second aspect is, If you’re looking for a one year program then yes, Judge has a  great one year program. There are very few one-year programs. Typically, you have two-year programs but the UK usually has a one year program, and of course, Cambridge is one of the best. A one year program entails accelerated learning, so if your opportunity cost is high, this might be the place for you.


The third thing is the fact that you’re in an English speaking country if you’ve decided to go to the UK.  The economy and Brexit apart, it’s an English speaking country, and it is culturally very similar. From an Indian perspective it makes a lot of sense to go to UK rather than to a place like France and Spain where language can be a huge constraint for you. Also, back home in India, and in many the other Asian countries, Cambridge has a brand value. You’re going to be Cambridge educated for rest of your life.


The last aspect, about the program itself is their curriculum. If you look at the website, they talk about their unique curriculum where they say it’s not just going to be about learning within the classroom but also through all the other activities that you do outside the class, be it Business Plan competitions , conferences that you will attend, or exchange programs, and so on. In fact, this is true for typical European MBA programs as opposed to US MBA programs. US MBAs have a  very quantitative rigour, while in a European MBA, UK MBA, it’s a lot about the experience and the ideas to transform you in that one year.



2017-2018 Cambridge Judge MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 8, 2017

Round 2

Application Deadline: October 27, 2017

Round 3

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018

Round 4

Application Deadline: March 9, 2018

Round 5

Application Deadline: May 4, 2018




2017-2018 Cambridge/Judge Essay Questions


There are three main essays that the Cambridge MBA application requires.


Essay 1: Please provide a personal statement.

This is similar to a Statement of Purpose, which you may have heard of when you were in college.  It must not exceed 500 words, and must address the following questions:

• What are your short term and long term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?

• What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?

• If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future?


Essay 2: What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (up to 200 words)


Essay 3: Describe a situation where you had to work jointly with others to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from the experience? (up to 200 words)  



Essay 1


Personal Statement


This is similar to a Statement of Purpose, which you may have heard of when you were in college. Let’s look at each of the questions.


  • What are your short term and long term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?


What is the function, what industry, what geography, and what are the potential employers and f titles you can potentially get? You must be very specific, especially for the short term goal. For the long term goal, maybe it’s okay if you’re not so specific; you can talk about personal aspirations, something that is more of a passion. You have a little leeway to talk about other things. However, whatever you say, it has to be aligned with what you have done. Which is why the second part asks “ What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?” This tells them that you’re the best equipped to reach those goals. So it’s very important for you to make that connect.


  • What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?



Here, they ask for very specific things that you’re going to be doing. So again here, there are looking at whether you have the required focus. Have you already planned on what you’re going to be doing in Cambridge? Maybe you want to work in Europe, in which case you’re probably learning another language. One of our students who went to Cambridge actually learned German. In India, we have Max Mueller Bhavan; he learned German from there.  The whole idea was to say that he was already equipping himself for a career in the UK.


Another student who wanted to get into the financial world, and had a CA ICWA finance background, ended up taking a CFA. He took CFA level 1 and 2. Why? Because you’re already equipping, you’re not putting everything on an MBA degree and saying that you’re banking on this MBA degree to get a job. This is before you get an MBA.


Then, within the MBA program, what is it that you would like to do at Judge. There is a plethora of options; what is it that you’re specifically looking at doing? Articulate this well.


  • If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future?


In this case, my suggestion would be to not tread the unsure path. You need to tell them you’re very sure about this but you could possibly talk about a Plan B. Plan A could be to get into consulting, but your Plan B could be to get into operations within a company. The reason behind providing Plan B is to make the school comfortable that this is a person who knows that sometimes the best of our plans don’t work out and we need to have a back-up in place. They wouldn’t want someone coming and saying, “I am putting all my  eggs in this one basket called Cambridge MBA.”


How would you structure these 500 words?


My suggestion would be to first talk about your background. Who are you? Where is it that you come from? What do you possess? Based on this, where do you want to go? What are your short term and long term ambitions? Then talk about what you are going to do to bridge the gap. This could beat the MBA program or outside of it. So I would probably put around 150 words for each of the three parts and then 50 words for the starting and the finishing. Make sure that you have a strong start, and a strong finish. All put together, this essay should be about 500 words. Again, this is a very classic career goals essay.



Essay 2


What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (up to 200 words)


The term “spectacular failure’, if you search for it, you realize it’s a management term that is sometimes used to say, “it’s a huge failure but it’s a failure from which I learned something.” I have heard that in Australia they have elite fighter pilots, and one of the questions that they ask them is “Have you failed at any point of your life?” and if they have not failed, they are actually NOT considered for the program. Guess why? Because they feel that if they have not handled failure, they will not know how to handle failure in the future. It is not a shame to admit failure. A lot of us wonder how we can tell someone that we failed. Well, trust me! Everyone fails in their life at some point or the other.


What is important here?


How did you bounce back? What did you learn? How does that make you a better person? How are you able to apply this learning to all your future endeavors ? That is what they are looking at! Don’t worry! Whatever your failure, don’t try to mask a success by talking about failures. Some of the mistakes students make is that they start writing “Oh, my project was in the doldrums. We had this….and we’ve been making losses…but…” and they eventually talk about how they eventually became successful. Don’t do that. If it’s a failure, just say you cut your losses and moved on.You could pick a personal or professional incident;  it could be something you learned from a relationship, or maybe something that you learned at work. Just describe the failure, and what you learnt.



Essay 3


Describe a situation where you had to work jointly with others to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from the experience? (up to 200 words)


A lot of your MBA experiences is going to be about teamwork. Most of the events, conferences and competitions are all student run. Hence, they are looking for someone who can gel well with others. Here, I would probably first talk about the differences, the diversities in the team. It is very easy to gel well with people who have very similar experiences but if you worked in a team where people have different backgrounds, different experiences, different exposure, you need to say how you were able to build a consensus.  The idea is not to say that you wielded a stick and told them that this was how you wanted it, but say whether you were you willing to let go of something, did you negotiate on something. So they would like to know more about this.After you have done this, say how you became a better person as result of that. How do you take this forward?.


I will give you an example of what someone had written about team-work. He said “One of my biggest problems was dealing with another team member. The problem was that whenever I asked him for anything, he would always say he couldn’t do it, and he would never go out of his way to help me. He is a negative guy.” Then he wrote that was one instance when the team member actually came to him and said “Hey, you know, I feel that you’re struggling at this point. Would you like me to help you?”  and he helped him in that particular case. The writer of the essay then asked the team member why he always said he wouldn’t do something when he was clearly helping now.  The team member answered, “Whenever I help someone, I would like to do a 100%. I don’t want to extend my help and then make you feel that I am here and I am not able to work on my promise.” That is the mindset he got to know. It’s always about learning something. That’s the whole idea behind an MBA experience. That’s what this essay is about.


So this is pretty much what we have for the Cambridge MBA Program. If you’re looking at applying to Judge we would love to see if we can work together on it. Why don’t you just go ahead, and click on this link below!


Wharton School Of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this article I am going to discuss the Wharton MBA program. If you’re looking at applying to Wharton, you’ve come to the right place.


Let’s first look at the Wharton MBA program and what differentiates it. As we all know, it’s an Ivy League school. It’s part of the three schools, considered to be the elite trio – Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.


What I think truly differentiates Wharton is that though it is known as a finance school, more importantly, it has a certain quantitative rigor to it. There is a lot of focus on quantitative skills, analytical skills and a lot of rigorous thinking. If you’re a person who likes that, Wharton is the place for you. Can you apply to the financial industry? Sure! Can you apply to consulting?  That’s also possible! I don’t think you should look at Wharton as a pure finance school. I know it’s known for finance but the quantitative focus is a larger bet.


Second,  among all the top schools, Wharton has the most diverse profile. It has the highest percentage of international students among the top schools, and that provides you with rich classroom experience and outside classroom experience. It is not just the country they represent but also the functions. In that way, Wharton is truly global.


Third, you probably have to pick the flexible curriculum. There is a fixed core course but you have the flexibility right in your first year to pick a lot of electives. This is great for people who feel they don’t want to have the rigidity of a course where they are told what they have to study. Once you’re done with the basics – statistics, accounts and economics and all of the required courses, you can pick and choose what you want to do. I think that’s another big draw for people applying to Wharton.


2017-2018 Wharton Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 19, 2017

Interview Invitation: October 31, 2017

Decision Release: December 14, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 3, 2018

Interview Invitation: February 8, 2018

Decision Release: March 30, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: March 27, 2018

Interview Invitation: April 12, 2018

Decision Release: May 10, 2018

Now coming specifically to the deadlines, again, no surprises here.



2017-2018 Wharton Essay Questions


Now, let’s look at the specific questions that Wharton has. It has two essays



Essay 1 (Required)


What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)


Now, if you think about it, it’s very specific, and a classic career goals essay, which you cannot answer by just saying what you will get from a Wharton MBA. You have to first say what it is that you need from a Wharton MBA, and in order to say that, you also need to say what it is that you’ve done so far.


It kind of goes back to the same three step process. Tell them what it is that you have done so far, what it is that you see ahead of you and hope to do in your future. Now that you have said what it is that you hope to do, tell them what you need to reach that goal. Once you say what you need in order to reach there, in the last part you need to say how specifically Wharton can help bridge that gap.


S500 words gives you enough space to write a pretty detailed and descriptive essay. In the first part, tell them what you’ve done, where you are in this career juncture, and what you see ahead; this would include your short term and long term goals.


In the second part, say what you hope to do to equip yourself to achieve those short term and long term career goals?


In the third part, describe how specifically a Wharton MBA will help you achieve your goals. Use the standard 150 + 150 + 150 words for the three parts and maybe 50 words for the beginning and ending.



Essay 2 (Required)


Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)


Interacting with people from Wharton has given me insight into what Wharton is like. On our panel, we have Aruna who is an MBA from Wharton. Some of my former colleagues are from Wharton, and we have had students going to Wharton. One thing that say when we talk about the Wharton MBA program is the fact that most of the student activities are student run. This means that you volunteer to go talk to an alum to get him on campus. Don’t expect the college to do this for you. From that perspective, what they really want to know is, what it is that you will contribute to the Wharton community.


400 words is a lot of space. I would perhaps pick two or three specific things that I bring to the table. For these two or three things, you need to talk about both, what you can give, and how you will benefit, or what you will gain.


Let us say that your interest is in science. Now, what does an MBA student really require from science? But you could say that you have an interest in astronomy and you would like to show your classmates how astronomy can be interesting. You can maybe say that when you look at the star filled sky in Philadelphia, you could show them certain constellations. It’s about what you can contribute to the community.


What I gave you is just a small example. It could be a sport; maybe you practice yoga. You could say that you like to practice yoga and it helps you calm your mind. In an MBA, people get overwhelmed with a lot of things that are thrown at them. You can say that at such times you could probably take a yoga class. Maybe every morning, you could conduct yoga classes.


It could be anything, but you need to say what it is that you can give to the community, but remember that teamwork is a two way street. You can also say what you would benefit from it. What would you benefit from teaching astronomy to others? Maybe it’s a personal passion that you have. Maybe teaching yoga would allow you the opportunity to practice yoga.


Whatever you write, pick two or three things. 150 to 200 words to explain each of these would give you enough space to elaborate. Otherwise, you talk about 10 things, and it will look like a checklist that you’re ticking off. It would be like you went to the Wharton website, looked at all these things and wrote“I want to be a part of the Consulting club”, or “I’ll be part of the Cricket club”. Don’t do that, just stick to two or three ways in which you can contribute.



Essay for Re-applicants


Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words).


You also have the option to write an essay, say, if you have had gaps in your education, or your experience, or there is something else that you think could not fit anywhere else in the application essay. In this case, you utilize this space, but one piece of advice that I always give to the student is, “Do not try to retrofit something that could not find a place anywhere else, just because you have another 250 words to write.”


I hope this article was useful to you. If you’re applying to Wharton, and if you would like to know more about how we can help you with your application, just go ahead, and click the link below.


Yale School Of Management Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s look at Yale School of Management. What really makes Yale different from other B-schools? What makes it unique?


1. Yale is one of the original Ivy League schools. The term “Ivy League” is used for a set of schools which are 100+ years old; they have ivy creepers. Yale is one such school. The School of Management is a relatively new school but Yale has the brand equity that makes it “gold” standard for employers in the US, and across the world.


2. Another thing that Yale prides itself for is its innovative curriculum. If you go to Yale’s website, they tell us that in their curriculum, they do not go discipline by discipline but rather understand that management is the relationship among multiple disciplines that constitute any company. That’s the best thing you can talk about in your essays and interview with Yale.


3. Yale has just about 300 students when compared to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, which have a larger number. With just 300 students, the class is a very intimate group, and you get easy access to the professors. The culture is not as competitive as it would be in larger classes simply because you know all your peers well.


4. Yale has a good connection with the financial center of the world which is in New York because Yale is in New Haven, which is close to New York. You have many Yale alumni in New York city; in the business district, so the connection with the financial market is also very strong.



2017-2018 Yale MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 13, 2017

Decision release: December 6, 2017


Round 2

Application deadline: January 4, 2018

Decision release: March 27, 2018


Round 3

Application deadline: April 18, 2018

Decision release: May 17, 2018



2017-2018 Yale MBA Essay Question


Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)


So, what really is this commitment? This commitment may be a particular idea or particular cause that really is your passion in life. This commitment can also be the one thing that drives you.


One of our students from CrackVerbal faced the same essay question last year. He was a technology geek. He loved technology, and believed that every problem in the world can be solved by technology. When he had to write this essay he went back and wrote on how he started something on his own, along with his full-time job.


He also mentioned in his essay what he felt technology could do to fix problems.He spoke about how he had the patience to complete the research for which he had filed a patent application, while he was at his first job.


If you look closely here, he did not speak about his interest in technology but rather how he felt technology could solve problems in the world. This statement perfectly matched his goal to be a product manager after completing his MBA. The idea here is not to say why MBA, but to talk about you.


Most of the B-Schools are focusing on this line of thought where they want to know who you are. When it comes to writing essays, most of us make a common mistake. We search for information about the school, and write a few nice lines about why this B-School, and why it’s a perfect fit for you.


Considering these factors, schools like Yale take a first step in analyzing you thoroughly. They will want to know, “Is this person interesting?” So when writing this essay, make sure you don’t write too much about the B-schools and why an MBA.


A student from CrackVerbal, while writing this essay, mentioned his commitment to helping people who did not have the same opportunities he had.


He did his schooling at Ramakrishna Mission in India.  During his school days, he decided that he had to do something to help people around him. This zeal continued while he was in college, too. In his essay, he also talked about a major calamity which happened in India, where he volunteered, and did sizeable on-ground work for two weeks during the floods.


The most important thing that moved the essay forward was the kind of personal commitment he had.  It wasn’t just writing a cheque to some orphanage saying that he was committed to the cause. He rolled up his sleeves, and helped those in need.


Although he was applying for an MBA from a business perspective, in his everyday life, he realized that this was a privilege he had, and helping others was a commitment he had. This very strong statement pushed his essay through.


You can pick that one thing that has been a thread throughout your life, and this one idea can have multiple instances. You don’t need to worry about it having to be just one incident.


Make sure you’re running a thread which talks about all of these instances. Make sure that all these instances are under a super thread, which is basically your idea; your commitment.


This process is not easy, and it requires a lot of brainstorming.


That’s what happens when a student comes to CrackVerbal for the application process. We spend the first few sessions just talking through their stories, trying to understand the student a little better.


If you feel that we can help you, go ahead, and click the link below.


UCLA Anderson School Of Management Essay Analysis 2017- 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this article, we will discuss what you need to do if you are applying to the Anderson School of Business at UCLA for their MBA program. If you look at the UCLA Anderson Program, one thing that strongly resonates with the students is the location. As they say about the restaurant business; the same thing goes for MBA schools as well, location location location. You are talking about LA, which is pretty much California. In terms of the economy, and more than the economy, when compared to most other states in the US, California comes close to India. Not only in terms of the weather, but also with the people being inclusive. You will never feel out of place when you go to a place like LA because it is very diverse.


Apart from the location, if you look at the program, the strength is relatively small with 360 students, and the faculty to student ratio is very low. This gives you more of an intimate feel as opposed to what you would find in larger schools.


The other important factor to look into is the career orientation at UCLA. The UCLA program is deeply focused on preparing students for their desired careers. You will see that in terms of the first year course, the way it is arranged, the 20-week experiential project, all of this is aligned to be more career-focused. This is very important to help you get a job, especially when you are going on an F1 (Student) visa.


The last part is the entrepreneurial focus; Anderson has a huge network of entrepreneurs, and the mindset of the B-School is to participate in -School competitions and the start-up movement. If you’re interested in entertainment and media, LA is the place to be, and Anderson itself focuses highly on media and entertainment.



2017-2018 UCLA Anderson Deadlines


Round 1

Deadline: Oct. 6, 2017

Decision Release Date: Dec. 15, 2017


Round 2

Deadline: Jan. 5, 2018

Decision Release Date: March 29, 2018


Round 3

Deadline: April 12, 2018

Decision Release Date: May 24, 2018


Again, There are a lot of applicants from India. If you ask which three schools in the US receive the maximum applications from Indians,  UCLA is one of them. A lot of people from the tech sector apply to the US, and most of them have similar stories. So it’s very important that you use the essay to differentiate yourself. 750 words is a lot of space, and there is a lot of scope.



UCLA Anderson Essay Question 2017-2018


First-Time Applicants (Required Essay):


We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)


Remember, “best results are achieved when you“

• Success

• Think fearlessly

• Drive change

Now, why are these three things important?  you look at the Anderson website, you can find that this is the motto, the mantra that they have as a school. They are just trying to see if students applying to the B-School resonate with this mantra. You have 750 words – hence, there are very clearly, three parts to this essay. You can write 250 words for each part.


In the first part, you have to talk about your journey. What is it that you have done so far in your life? Please do not regurgitate your resume; that’s not the intent. They already have your resume and application with them. In about 250 to 300 words, try to tell your story. Write not just your story, but your successes and failures too. Write on how you these three qualities resonate with you, and how you have been able to taste them. Instead of just saying that these three qualities perfectly resonate with you, say why they resonate with you. You need to describe the “why”. It’s very important for you to spend a good 250 to 300 words talking about your journey, talking about why these three factors have been instrumental in your life.


Now for the second part:  you have done so much in your life. At this career juncture, what is it that you see when you look forward? What is that post you aspire for? That position you look forward to? What is the industry that you want to work in, and where do you see yourself? It’s very important that your short term goal is crisp. You need to communicate the function, industry, the geography, the kind of companies you are going to look for, and the possible titles. It’s a lot of R&D on your part. You need to have a very fixed short time goal.


However, you can be a little lenient in your long term goal. You can be a little flexible. Don’t be very vague, for example, don’t just say you want to be an entrepreneur, and leave it like that. It should be something more finite but you can keep your long term slightly more relaxed. Make it five to ten years. Nobody is looking at 20 years, and you can keep your short term as two to three years, which is immediately after you graduate. When you’ve finished articulating your long term and short term goals, you can start with the third part of your essay.


The third part should be about what you feel you require in these roles that you do not possess currently, and that you will get from the UCLA/Anderson experience. This now becomes the delta; the first part is about where you are, the second part is about where you want to go, and the third part is the bridge because it is how Anderson is going to help you get where you want to be. One thing I always say is that whenever a school asks you “why this school?”, do not make generic statements. Students typically say,  “It’s LA”, and “It’s California”, or they write about the school infrastructure, which the school already knows! How does it matter to you?. You need to tell them how these facts about the Anderson School will benefit you.


You need to also add how you can contribute to the UCLA Anderson experience. You talk about what you can get, and about what you can give.


With 750 words, although you have space to be a little creative, once you start writing, you could realize that 750 words can get tight,  especially when you have just one essay.


If you would like CrackVerbal to help you in any way in your MBA journey, please go ahead, and let us know in the link below.



Optional Essay:


The following essay is optional. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. Please note that we only accept written essays.


Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)



Re-Applicant Essay:


Reapplicants who applied for the MBA program starting in 2016 or 2017 are required to complete the following essay:


Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)


Good luck!


The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In this article, I will look at the Chicago Booth MBA program, its application essay, and how you tackle it.


One of the advantages of the Chicago Booth program is that the university that Booth is associated with boasts of six noble laureates since 1982. The program has a very strong finance focus, and to add to it, it is in Chicago, which is a huge hub for the financial sector, in that area. Approximately 40 % of the Booth graduates go back into the financial sector.


Chicago Booth’s website talks about the flexibility they offer in the program, You have professors teaching both the weekend and evening MBA. Hence, you can take the course in the evenings or weekends, apart from your full-time MBA. There is good flexibility in the program, it is good for Finance, and Chicago being the Finance hub make for great points you can put into your essay for “why Chicago Booth?”


2017-2018 Chicago Booth Deadlines


Round 1

Application deadline: September 21, 2017

Decision released: December 7, 2017


Round 2

Application deadline: January 3, 2018

Decision released: March 15, 2018


Round 3

Application deadline: April 3, 2018

Decision released: May 17, 2018


One thing that Chicago Booth has done traditionally has been essays, This time, it’s a set of six pictures; each of these pictures captures what they call a Booth moment. The whole idea is that a B-School can mean different things to different people. The one thing I usually tell my students and applicants is that the reason the B-Schools want to understand why you want to choose a particular school is because they want to understand your goals. Think about this scenario. You’re walking down an orchard and there are food bearing trees on both sides; you can pluck as many fruits as you want provided you know what you’re going to make at the end of the journey. If you want to make a fruit salad, you need to know what fruits you need to pick.


A lot of times people don’t know what they want to do at the end of two years. The B-School experience can be overwhelming because there is so much to do. For example, if you go to the library, every single issue of Harvard Business Review since it started would be available to you. There are so many business plan competitions, There are so many great professors coming and teaching you these great courses that really get you excited; the ones that give you goosebumps and make you think, “Wow! I really want to learn this!”.   However, if you don’t have a goal, you could get lost, so Booth is really trying to see what it is that you hope to get from the Booth MBA experience.


Let’s do it! I will go through all the six visuals, and give you a background of what you could express for each of the visuals.



2016-2017 U. Chicago Booth Essay Topics:




View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tells us why.


Presentation/Essay Guidelines:


Choose the format that works for you. Want to illustrate your response visually? Submit a slide presentation. Like to express yourself with words? Write a traditional essay. Use the format that you feel best captures your response, the Admissions Committee has no preference.


Determine your own length. There is no prescribed minimum or maximum length. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.


Technical Guidelines:


File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.


Accepted Upload Formats: Acceptable formats are PDF, Word, and PowerPoint. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.


Multimedia Restrictions: We will be viewing your submission electronically and in full color, but all submissions will be converted to PDF files, so animation, video, music, etc. will not translate over.



Six visuals


Visual 1 – Person walking down an art gallery.


The first visual you see here is a person walking down an art gallery. The key is given: one of the nearly 500 conceptually challenging pieces which inspire conversation and push people to think differently.


The whole idea is not about the art but looking at the piece of art from a broader perspective. How do we interpret

Art? We interpret it in different ways. If you are a person who likes to think differently, Chicago Booth gives you an opportunity to think differently. That should be your theme. If this painting resonates with you, you need to talk about something in your background where you were inspired to think differently, and then say what you did in that situation.



Visual 2


Let’s take the second one, two Boothies (that’s what they call the graduates of the Booth School) remain grounded even when standing 1353 feet above the city streets of Chicago. This one is talking about how you essentially are a team player. If you feel that this resonates with you, you could take this topic.


For example, Many of us have gone through the motion where we have succeeded because of someone else. You can probably pick stories that say how you succeeded because of somebody else, or you have been part of someone else’s success, and how sharing the bonhomie is what really makes you tick.



Visual 3


This visual is about a fun-filled Spring Break in Central America, where you see a group of Boothies with sharks. The whole idea is whether you are  a person who does not see an MBA as purely an educational journey but rather a journey to do things that you have perhaps never done before, and perhaps will not get the opportunity to do when you go back to your corporate life after you finish your MBA program.



Visual 4


This visual talks about diversity. It is about a student snapping a photo of friends at a school-wide celebration organized by multiple student groups in recognition of the support and diversity within the Booth community. If you look at it in terms of Indian, or even an Asian perspective, there are a lot of opportunities where people have seen diversity. emember diversity could mean anything: it could be economic diversity, social diversity, or it could be just diversity of thoughts.  Again the whole idea here is you’re looking at MBA as a whole journey to actually explore diversity. When you’re confronted with different thoughts, different viewpoints, is when we are really challenged, and we grow.



Visual 5


This is a visual of a student taking notes during an afternoon class. The unique perspectives and individual insights of each student play a vital role in Booth’s classroom experience.

Let’s be honest, though there is a lot of fun and frolic, one of the reasons you want an MBA is for the in-depth knowledge that they wish to gain.  After working for a few years, you’ve now realized what you don’t know. You now want to learn more. How will the Booth experience help you realize this goal? That is the way this visual resonates with you.



Visual 6


This is an image of the central pulse of Booth, which is the Harper Center, the atrium where “it all” happens. This is the place where lasting friendships form, ideas take place, and Booth comes to life! In other words, you’re talking about the Booth network; what does the brand equity of Chicago Booth mean to you. Is that why you’re pursuing an MBA? To just have access to this enormous network of highly talented and gifted people.


Whatever the case be, there is nothing like one image is better than the other. I have had students come and ask me, “which one do you think is the one that will increase my chances?” It doesn’t work that way. You need to pick one that really resonates with you because not just in the essay but also in the interview, you need to be talking, and you need to have one consistent image of you coming across, and that will happen only when you’re true to yourself.


It doesn’t matter which one you pick. How do you express yourself? Do you want to write an essay? Sure? Do you want to create a slide show? Sure.  If you want to create just a graphic? That is also fine. We had one student, who for something similar to this, created a collage of all his life moments. He used text and arrows to show each of his life moments, and how that defined who he was.


There was another student who created a graph which goes almost like a stock exchange graph, and he had pointed to the high point in his life, and when the arrow went down, he said it represented that he flunked in his fourth year, so his stock price went down.


You need to express yourself freely. You need to be creative but at the same time don’t worry too much. People are worried whether text would work, or whether they should create a presentation. Pick the medium that you’re comfortable with.  Booth also stipulates that your file can be a maximum of  16 MB, so make sure that you convert it into pdf.


If you feel that you need to have a discussion with someone, or if you want to have a brainstorming session on what to write and how to write, we at CrackVerbal would be glad to help you.


Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re looking at applying for the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) program this year, I can tell you what you need to know about the Stanford program, and how to address the very tricky essays for 2017-18.


Well, first let’s look at the Stanford program. Arguably, it competes with Harvard as one of the top B-Schools in the world. Stanford has a class with very high GMAT scores, and a very diverse peer set.


Now let’s look at Stanford’s real USPs. The first is, Stanford has just 400 students and if you want to compare it with Harvard which has about 900, Stanford takes pride in the fact that it has a small class so there is a lot of bonhomie among the students. There is more connection and personal touch, which dovetails to a personalized program.


Starting from the first year itself, you can pick the electives. Stanford allows the students to tailor their courses. This aspect, and the small class size makes the program more personal than let’s say Harvard. But there is another thing about Stanford that is very unique. Stanford is in the heart of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley, as we know, is the birthplace of most of the significant technology players – Google, Yahoo, and Apple. If you think about it, it fosters this sense of entrepreneurship. It’s a very cultural thing in Stanford, where you’re enamored by all these entrepreneurs around you. You get inspired by them, and you want to start something on your own. So, if you’re an entrepreneur in the technology space, the bay area is where you need to go; Silicon Valley is where you should be. What other place than Stanford for this?


Stanford MBA Deadlines – 2017-2018


Round 1

Application Deadline: September 19, 2017

Notification Date: December 14, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 10, 2018

Notification Date: March 29, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: April 4, 2018

Notification Date: Mid-May 2018


Let’s get into the essays if you have not already done so. You may have already realized that the biggest challenge is the first essay.



2017-2018 Stanford GSB Essay Questions


Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (750 words)


For this essay, we would like you to:

Do some deep self-examination, so you can genuinely illustrate who you are and how you came to be the person you are.

Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.

Write from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you.

Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”


This essay has been there for several years, and we’ve helped many students from CrackVerbal in writing this essay. So one thing I usually say about this essay is that you need to pick that one grain, that one single thing. I will give you some a couple of examples, which will help you understand the thinking process.


One of our students from CrackVerbal who was in IT wrote about how he had gone to Nigeria and was actually mugged by armed robbers who kept a gun to his head. He had a providential escape; he was an inch away from being dead as such people are often high on drugs. He said that it was the point when he realized what matters. This was not Stanford asking him a question but a question he asked himself. He said, “I was away from my family. What would have happened if I died?  Would people really remember me for the money that I earned, or the stuff that I have?” He realized that what mattered to him the most was the people around him. “People” could be family, friends, or the community. He then quit his job, came back to India, and started something in the area of social entrepreneurship. He wanted to give back to society because he felt that the biggest legacy he could have was what he could give back to society, not what he could take from society. That’s the kind of story that gets you thinking, right? What is that one thing! In this case, what mattered most to him was the impact he could create.


There is another story of a student who had written about how he actually he had worked in various sectors, and he then picked entrepreneurship. He said why being an entrepreneur meant so much to him. Here again, it is about impact. How he was able to give back, and in this case, it was not “not for profit”; it was a “for profit” organization, but he said that the biggest jumps that happened in the history of human civilization happened because someone somewhere decided to do things differently. There was some innovation that was happening; not invention but innovation, there is a difference. Someone said they are not going to do something in this way, but were going to do it in a different way.  That’s when progress really happened for mankind. What really mattered to him was innovation; doing things differently. He said he was not someone who was happy with status quo.


When you have 750 words, it’s a lot. You need to take multiple stories and thread them to an underlying theme. You could have a story of when you were growing up, a story of what happened in college, a story of what happened at work, but all of this must be woven into the underlying theme. It’s very important that you bring in your personal aspect. Don’t make it look like a resume. Don’t make it look like some bullet points you’re reading through. It should be personal; it should be about you. It should make them want to meet you because you sound interesting; make them wonder what else they can learn from you. That’s the kind of impact you need to have!



Essay B: Why Stanford? (400 words, or 450 words if applying to both the MBA and MSx programs)

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.

Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.

If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.


If you think about this essay, it cannot be answered by going through the laundry list of things Stanford is known for. In fact, that’s the biggest trap people fall into when they try to address this essay. They go to the Stanford website and say, “oh, it’s in Silicon Valley’. How does that matter to you? Then people write that Stanford has a great network, but you need to write how the network matters to you.  You need to connect “why Stanford” to your personal cause; what is it that you want to do, and how you think that Stanford will enable you in that mission, in that journey.  Unless and until you make that connection, it’s a waste of your time.


Here’s a litmus test. For every sentence that you write, ask yourself, “Is this a sentence only I could have written?” because it has to be unique to you as it ties back to the requirements you have from a B-School. If it is going to be a sentence that anyone could have written, it’s probably not going to be worth the real estate of your application essay.


We’ve discussed the two essays; there is also an optional essay. As I say for most optional essays, make sure that the optional essay covers something that addresses something that is deficient; it could be a gap in your employment, or a gap in your education. It should be something that you think is important information for them to know. The mistakes which students make in optional essays is that they try to retrofit a story. It’s like, “I have this bunch of stories that I want to tell a B-School. I have gone through five of them;  there are these two orphan stories and I don’t know what to do”. Then you see an optional essay, and you say, “Wow! Here is the time for me to plug it in.” Don’t do that. You will do more disservice to your application by writing things that are random than by not writing anything at all. Keep that in mind, and wish you all the best for your Stanford MBA application. If you think you want an another pair of eyes to look at your application, if you want someone who is been there and done that to vet your stories, someone who comes from maybe an Indian perspective or way of looking at it, someone with an Ivy league MBA. If you think that would help, let us know, using the link below.


University of Virginia Darden School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to this article, where I am going to discuss the Darden MBA program, and Darden’s application essays 2017-18.


If you were to look at what Darden is known for, what its USP is, it has to be the case based method. In fact, if you look at the website and talk to their alumni, (we have students from CrackVerbal who went to Darden), that’s the one thing that differentiates Darden from the other B-Schools – the case based method, which you realize, is a derivative of what Harvard does. Apart from the case based method, the specialty of Darden is that it a small, close-knit community and it is away from major towns, unlike New York, Columbia, Harvard, and Boston. It’s a relatively small town.


Darden has a ritual called first coffee, for example. After the first class, the entire Darden community comes together and for half an hour to forty minutes, have coffee; they interact. The reason why I am pointing out this ritual is that it gives the sense of its culture; it involves a smaller community where the students bond with each other. This translates into a stronger and deeper network, even if the network is small. That’s pretty much what I would are the unique, salient features that set Darden apart from other schools.


2017-2018 UVA Darden MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: October 5, 2017

Round 2

Application Deadline: January 9, 2018

Round 3

Application Deadline: April 3, 2018



2017-2018 UVA Darden Essay Topic


“When preparing for class at Darden, students formulate an opinion on each case before meeting with their learning teams and class sections. When encountering different views and perspectives from their own, opinions frequently shift. Tell us about a time when your opinion evolved through discussions with others.” (500 words maximum)


You need to understand fundamentally what Darden is looking for in this. B-schools are moving away from the very traditional questions such as “why Darden?”. This is because they know that everyone has access to the internet. Now with access to the internet, everything is out there. So I can live a very vicarious life, with the internet. I can follow whom I want on social media, and get a lot of information. Hence, they want to understand the applicant from the softer perspective. “Let me try to understand how he would be if he were to come into the class.” That’s the whole idea. What Darden is really looking for is how you would react if you’re sitting in the classroom for a case study.


It is very important that you have to give a background to this. You cannot start and directly talk about what happened, and why you changed your opinion. You’re already given a setting and I am assuming if you’re at work, you could give a background about the project, what this person was, was the person a colleague?, was he your subordinate?, what kind of a relationship you shared, and what the gravity of this project was. If it was on the personal side, was he your friend or relative?, how close were you to this person?, etc. You need to provide the background so people understand the dynamics involved. We have 500 words, and that is enough to work on the background part.


Then you come with the actual difference of opinion. What did you believe or what was the differing opinion you had? Then you talk about why you realized there was merit to the other point of view. So, you need to give your point, the other point, and why you felt that the other point had merit.


Finally, you can conclude by saying how you as a person have changed because of this new perspective that you had in life. All of us go through this one ah ha moment when we realize that there is something else to the way we did things, and how our perspective changed.


I can give you an example of one story that one of our students from CrackVerbal had written. This student said that in the way she worked, she believed in efficiency. She had a very clear checklist of how things should be and she would just work on optimizing the list when it came to work. but then she had a colleague and what she noticed about the colleague is that the colleague would always question, and say, “why can’t we do it differently this time? We have always done it this way; why can’t we do it differently this time? Let’s have a different approach to it.” Initially, this student had this inertia, some resistance, and she would say “this is how we have always done things, and we know it works”, and the other person would say, “how do you know that this isn’t the better way to do things?” That clicked! She slowly started accepting that instead of just optimizing and improving the efficiency, sometimes it makes sense to be completely disruptive. If you think about it, most innovations happen when we are disruptive.


I remember Steve Jobs once said that if he had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said, “a faster floppy disk”.


The student learned that there are multiple approaches to doing things, and one has to constantly innovate and experiment. Now, this was an example. Whatever your story be, you need to make sure that you’re able to showcase how it helped you in life. So this short essay of 500 words is easy and manageable but picking the right story is going to be the key to cracking this one.


If you need any feedback, or if you need us to have a look at your application essay and give our opinions, just click the link below.


Duke – Fuqua School of Business Essay Analysis-2017-2018

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Welcome to this article! In this article, I am going to show you what you need to do if you’re looking at applying to the Duke Fuqua MBA program 2017-18.


Let us first understand what we can about this school, especially if you’re an international applicant or if you’re applying from a country like India.


A lot of US B-Schools take their culture very seriously. If you go to the Duke website, they talk about Team Fuqua. Team Fuqua is essentially about how collaborative they are in spirit. This aspect is different from Harvard, or other larger college, which do not pride themselves for their team spirit. Fuqua has a huge advantage when it comes to demonstrating its pride of bonding. If you reach out to people who have been alums, you will see that most of them are happy to help you.


We’ve had many students from CrackVerbal joining Fuqua. In fact, every year, we’ve had one student who has gone to Fuqua. We have Mansha, who got into the program last year, and you can see her interview here.


The second big thing about the Fuqua program is the healthcare specialization; it is hard to miss. Duke Fuqua School of Business is connected to the Duke University, which has one of the best healthcare programs.


In terms of location, Duke is in North Carolina, where there is a research triangle. Thus, if you’re looking for healthcare, Duke is the place to be. However, if healthcare is not your cup of tea, don’t try to retrofit it inside your story or into your essays.


Thirdly, Duke is famous for the way the curriculum is structured. If you look at its curriculum, in the first year, the program has a lot more electives, and the actual courses are a lot shorter. It gives you the flexibility to choose a lot more electives.


By the time you complete the first year, you’re ready for your summer internship; you have the right stories in your resume, and in the interview you can express your interest by saying why you took these electives, and how you’re in a better position to do well in the job.  


In this respect, Duke Fuqua is different from other B-Schools where the first year is rigid, and you have to go through a bunch of core courses. Most of the students who apply to Duke from CrackVerbal India are looking at it as a top 10 B-School. Duke is usually ranked somewhere in the 7 to10 range, depending on which ranking you look at, be it US News, Business Week, or Bloomberg ranking.


By just looking at the data, the average age is probably slightly higher, but you really don’t have to read too much into this. The important thing is the GMAT score.


The average GMAT score ranges from  640 to 670. In my experience, students who apply to Duke have typically got in with a range of 710 to 740. You definitely need to get into the right zone which is the lower 700s, if you’re looking at realistic chances.


Now, coming to something very important. Duke is said to have an Early Action Round. The Early Action Round this year is by  the 12th of September.


What is an Early Action Round for Duke?


One of the important things about Duke is the Early Action Round. So what really is this Early Action Round?

A huge problem that many colleges whose ranking is in the 7th to 25th range  face is that many students are looking at applying to other similar schools as well.


The person who is applying to Duke is also applying to HAAS Berkeley and Darden. The metric that Duke would look at is the yield percentage, that is, the number of people to whom offers were made to how many really took up the offer. B-Schools really work on that number, they really want a high yield percentage.


So what Duke has done is that it has this binding offer. If you apply to the Early Action Round, you are really telling them that you’re  going to join them, and you won’t apply to any other school. If you are made this offer and you decide to take up this offer, you will not apply to any other B-School. You can see how it makes sense for Duke.


They have a pool of very competent people that they are admitting, and they know that these people are going to join the program.


From the student’s perspective, how will this help?


It is better than applying in Round 1 or Round 2;  you have an advantage and a probability of getting a seat. Not many schools have this advantage of an Early Action Round, but Duke has it. If Duke is the school you’re looking at, please go ahead and take this offer.


Now let’s get to the meat of it, the application process.


2017-2018 Duke / Fuqua Deadlines


Early Action

Application Deadline: September 12, 2017

Interview Notification: September 26, 2017

Decision Notification: October 19, 2017

Deposit Due: December 8, 2017


Round One

Application Deadline: October 10, 2017

Interview Notification: November 9, 2017

Decision Notification: December 15, 2017

Deposit Due: February 14, 2018


Round Two

Application Deadline: January 3, 2018

Interview Notification: January 30, 2018

Decision Notification: March 15, 2018

Deposit Due: May 4, 2018 (Domestic) / April 26, 2018 (International)


Round Three

Application Deadline: March 20, 2018

Interview Notification: April 11, 2018

Decision Notification: May 1, 2018

Deposit Due: May 11, 2018 (Domestic and International)



2017-2018 Duke / Fuqua MBA Essay Questions




Required Short Answer Questions


Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

What are your long-term goals?

Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?


First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself


Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.


The question that most of the students have is, “what do I write, and what are the possible things I can write?” 25 things is a lot to write. This is not one of those essays for which you can do an all-nighter to complete. It’s very important that you plan this essay well. What you need to do is to create the following buckets:



The first bucket should include personal information about you – It could be the place where you were born, something about your siblings, something about your parents, or something about the city in which you grew up.


I will give you a couple of examples. Some students from CrackVerbal wrote about both their parents being teachers, and how they got to understand early in life that teaching is such a noble profession. Someone spoke about their name, mentioning that the name is very interesting, and what it actually means in Sanskrit. It’s just a random fact; you don’t need to have each and every fact saying why you need to get into an MBA program. Don’t try to retrofit it. People have spoken about their siblings; one student mentioned an interesting thing saying, “we are three brothers but the eldest one is 10 years older to me, so it’s almost like he is my surrogate father.” These are some of the interesting things you can write from a personal aspect.


Then the second bucket could be hobbies, or even quirks that you have. For  example: “I like riding my bike late at night, I sometimes go on a 30 to 40 miles trip. I see that it sometimes clears up my thinking. I just go out on the road without really thinking too much, and by the time I am back I just have this moment of clarity.”


You can also talk about a particular hobby that you picked up when you were in school, maybe you are a trivia quizzer, and you like quizzing. Pick something which is interesting that you did when you were in school or college. It could also be at your work. One of my students had written this, “Whenever I look at a car registration number, I look at the four digit number, and start mentally doing the math. I see whether it is divisible by 4, and whether it  is divisible by 6, or if there is any unique combination that I can get out of the numbers” She also went on to say that this was possibly one of the reasons why she played Sudoku.


The third bucket could be things that are in relation to work, slightly more professional, maybe an NGO involvement that you have had, or something else at work, maybe something that your colleagues call you. Write anything but try not to make it into a bullet point that should go into your resume. That’s definitely a NO but you can pick something interesting from your professional life. Here is an example:


One student had written how he figured out a solution in the company, and it got them recognition and he actually had his name in the annual newsletter for the company. He said, “that was my biggest achievement in life.”  It could be about small things that you did, with great outcomes you got out of them;  something that really excited you.


The last, fourth bucket could be something internal, something that is introspective, something about you as a person.


For example, you could talk about things like:


What are the qualities that really define you

What are the adjectives people would use to describe you

For example, you could say “I am a person who would like to be constantly challenged at work…” That’s probably one of the things you can write.


hese are the buckets, or broad categories in which you could divide the 25 things. If you really look at it, you just need about four or five in each of these buckets. Don’t keep it for yourself, go and ask people. Maybe you can ask your friends and family, “what are the things you think are unique about me?”, and you can then have a list of 40 to 50 things, and slowly cut it down.


Again, this is not so much about them deciding whether you’re fit for an MBA but they are really seeing, “is this person interesting?”, “Has he or she done enough things in life? Have they done enough introspection themselves?”


That’s what this essay is really looking for. “Would I want to meet this person for a face -to-face interview? Would I want the person to be part of our school for the next two years?” eep that as the focus of this essay.


Second Required Essay


Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.


Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

As I have said, it’s a huge part of Team Fuqua. They want people who are not here to just take take take…. but rather give give give…. They want to know what you can contribute. The best way to approach this is to probably pick three or four things that you can contribute. The mistake which most of the students typically do in this essay is that they go to the Fuqua website and pick a laundry list of 500  things and then just write one line for each. Please don’t do that. Pick three or four things that are central. For example, you’re in technology, so you need to pick something that you’re going to do in technology.You can say you want to be in the technology club. Tell them what you can contribute and what you can take from the club, and it should be personal. Write three to four points, each one having about 250 to 300 words. You need to have an opening and an ending. It will take at least two pages. Pick only 3 to 4 things, and not 100 things.


Optional Essay


If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).


Students ask, “should I write the optional essay?” Write the optional essays when you feel that there is something really important for you to say. The common mistakes I have seen students making over this essay is that they just feel like there is one thing that they want to say, and they just try to fit in an accomplishment, which really doesn’t make any sense. Here are some of the things that you could possibly add.  


  • If you have had an academic break,

  • if you have had a break in your employment,

  • if you want to explain a poor integrated reasoning score in your GMAT.

  • If you want to talk about something, for example, “I have my own network and I would like to let you know that though I believe in career advancement and placements help me, I would also like to rely on my network. ”

Write anything which can explain and improve your candidature.



Texas McCombs Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes


If you’re looking at applying to the Texas McCombs MBA program 2016-2017, stay with me, In this article, we will discuss Texas McCombs, and its MBA application essays.


The advantage about this program is the location. After California, Texas comes close in terms of great weather and opportunities. It’s a place where there are a lot of significant cities like Dallas.


Secondly, in terms of the program, there is a huge focus on the energy sector. So, if you belong to the energy sector, Texas is the best place for you. The best thing is that Texas McCombs has the center for energy, finance education, research, and a lot of other programs that help you if you’re in the energy sector.


Apart from this, I’ve learned from our students who went to the Texas McCombs program, that a lot of the campus life is driven by the students. There are a lot of competitions such as the business plan competition, investment competitions, and much more, all run by the students.


Thus, you can get an actual experience of working in cross functional and multicultural teams. All of this happens while you’re still a student!


The student experience, the diversity, and the fact that the students run so much by themselves is a huge plus. Now let’s look at the application deadlines.

2017-2018 UT Austin McCombs MBA Deadlines:


Round 1

Application Deadline: October 10, 2017,*

Decision Notification: December 19, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 9, 2018

Decision Notification: March 29, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: April 3, 2018

Decision Notification: May 10, 2018

*Priority deadline for scholarships and fellowships.




2017-2018 UT Austin McCombs MBA Essay Questions:


Essay 1

It is the first day of Texas MBA orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

Write an essay (250 words), OR

Share a video introduction (one minute)


Introducing yourself is more than just giving your name, especially when you have only 250 words and you say, “my name is….” and then go on to say where you did your graduation, and go on in that vein. They do not want you to read out your resume. This is the common mistake which most of us make. So, what are they looking for? They are looking for “Who you are” as a person. You need to get creative.


If you feel that you can do well in front of a camera and give a great video with your best expressions, you can do it; you don’t need any fancy equipment. You can just use a good camera phone.


A one minute video, or 250 words are similar. Your one minute video may speak out 250 words, and your 250 words may speak for a one minute video.


So what is it that you want you to say about yourself?


   • Something that is not on your resume

   • Pick an adjective.

   • Pick something that is interesting about you.

Ask yourself how you can define yourself with just one word. It has to be something more personal than the data on your resume. That data is boring.


Talk about yourself, your opinions are more interesting than data.


What they want to know:

   • Would I like to meet this guy?

   • Would I like him to be in the class of 2019?


Essay 2


Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your two years as a Texas MBA student, and how that experience helped to prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)



If you look at this essay, you will find a slight shift in the tense. Rather than looking through the lens of the future, where you talk about how you think Texas MBA can help you,   you will talk about the future where you’re looking at your experiences at Texas McCombs, and reflect on it.  


With most MBA programs, you would like to focus on three things:

  1. The courses you took, and how they helped you get a job

  2. Your experiences with your peers and the quality of students you dealt with, and how they made you a better version of who you are

  3. The broad network you built, and the ability to brand yourself for the future.


You can pick these three points because you have 500 words,  which provides you with plenty of space to write about 150 words on each point. Make sure you have a good start, and a good finish. So you have these three points;


   1. Your electives and courses

   2. Your experiences

   3. How the alum network, the brand equity, and the long investment for your future has helped you.


Optional Essay


Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)


Typically, you write an optional essay if you’re a reapplicant, or if you want to explain a gap in your education or career.


Don’t just try to retrofit some story that you’re not able to write elsewhere.


As an international applicant from India, don’t even think of R3 because you need to keep some buffer time for the processing of your visa, and to get your MBA funds sanctioned.


The other thing which you should know about the Texas McCombs program is the GMAT score. Indian applicants should note that the average GMAT score is a lot more than the score you see on the website. Don’t get misled by the average GMAT score that you see there. A lot of Indians apply to this program just like they do to UCLA and Emory. You need to be careful with your GMAT score. Anything below 700 is not recommended.


If you liked this article, and would like us to help you with your application journey, Click Here.


Tepper School Of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Applying to Tepper School of Business as an Indian applicant


If you’re looking to apply for an MBA program at Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, you’re in the right place.


In this article, I am going to discuss the program, essay questions and how you can frame your responses to those questions.


Tepper is one of the top schools where most of the Indians apply. When I say Indians, I am talking about the technology folks!


If you’re a technology geek and you’re looking at Tepper, I have good news and bad news for you.


The good news is that you have come to the right place; we can help you! Carnegie Mellon has always been on the leading edge of technology.  The CMU Tepper MBA program itself is well known for its management science education. It has very good placements for technology professionals.


The bad news is that there are so many people from Indian IT applying for this program; you need to make sure that your application is kind of different. The GMAT scores have been shooting through the roof, so you need to have an above average GMAT score when applying to Tepper.


2017-2018 CMU Tepper MBA Deadlines


The four stages of applications, referred to as rounds, are as follows:


Round 1


Application deadline: October 4, 2017

Decision notification: December 13, 2017

First Deposit and Re Vera Release: February 15, 2018

Second Deposit: May 6, 2018


Round 2


Application deadline: January 4, 2018

Decision notification: March 14, 2018

First Deposit and Re Vera Release: April 16, 2018

Second Deposit: May 6, 2018


Round 3


Application deadline: March 9, 2018

Decision notification: May 9, 2018

Deposit Deadline and Re Vera Release: May 21, 2018


Round 4 (For part-time only)


Application deadline: April 20, 2018

Decision notification: May 23, 2018

Deposit Deadline: May 30, 2018


As an international applicant from India, don’t even think of R3 because you need to keep some buffer time for the processing of your visa, and to get your MBA funds sanctioned.


Let’s dig into the actual essays you need to write for Tepper.



Required Essay 1:


Imagine that you meet up with a member of the admission committee at an airport while on a layover. You have an opportunity to make a memorable impression. Use this essay to introduce yourself. Include any information that you believe is important for the committee member to know about you both professionally and personally. (Maximum 300-350 words, 12-point font, double-spaced)


This essay is not about your academics, profession, or any data point which is already covered in your application. If you log in to the Tepper portal you will find that the application form is extensive. There is a lot of information that is collected about you.


This is what Tepper is trying to say they want to know about you. Make sure you tell them the following:


   1. Tell them why you are interesting

   2. Tell them why they need to choose you

   3. Tell them why they need to have you in their program for two years


Remember “memorable impression” is something that is unique. 300 – 350 words is a huge constraint; you realize you hardly have two paragraphs before the essay is over.


One thing you need to be aware of is, do not say something that most people would say. To understand this better, let’s take an example of a person called Amit who is applying to Tepper.


Amit has been working in technology for the last five years. He has scored 740 in his GMAT. He has solved a fairly high number of complex problems for his clients. Imagine that this is the guy you’re going to compete with.


Now, you decide what it is that you want to say about yourself.


Try to pick one theme.


For Example:


One of our students from CrackVerbal who applied to Tepper tackled this essay saying he is a problem solver. He called himself a problem solver and defined problem solving as ‘innovation with frugality’. He also said that there is a term for it in India, “Jugaad”.  He told them that right from his school to his college the problems that really excited him were the problems that came with constraints. The problems which made him say “I can do this but I cannot do that” or ” We have to solve this but we do not have the bandwidth for it”.


He told them what he can do to solve a problem under these constraints. He realized that a start up was the place for him, and not the large companies. He clearly mentioned that this is who he is, and he cannot fit in large companies because this problem solving with frugality comes only in an early stage startup.


The funny part is that he has worked in large companies. Working in large companies told him what it is that he didn’t want to do.

Another student from our CrackVerbal wrote about her passion for teaching. She said that  at school she was the person who would go around helping friends the day before an exam. She helped everyone around her who needed help in understanding concepts. This continued even until college; in her dorm room, the entire class would assemble the day before the exam, and she would teach them what they could expect in the next day’s test.


She also told them how she took this teaching to her workplace. To her, teaching was her way of giving back what she learned from her teachers. She never planned to make a career as a teacher but did it out of sheer passion, and the joy it gave her.  In a way, she saw this as an opportunity to give back to society.


So, say something more about yourself which is not on your resume. You really need to pick that one thing, that one adjective that defines you, and then blow it up. Make sure that you put it in a way that is interesting.


They need to see your interesting part. Make them want to meet the problem solver, the teacher – your interesting part.


A big mistake people do is that they write 100 things such as, I am dedicated, I am hardworking, I am sincere, etc. You say ten things about yourself,  and they will forget about you. Tell them one thing, and make it memorable. This is what an elevator pitch is about.


Optional Essay


Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have been able to convey otherwise. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.

If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.


There is no set word limit for this essay. The guidelines you need to follow for this essay are:


Write something that they don’t know about you. It could be a gap in your career or education, or it could also be something that you think is important for them to know.


I hope this article was helpful. We have worked with many students who have gone to Tepper. We also understand this space well. If you feel we could help in anyway, please click the link below.


A Guide to choosing the right MBA program

Reading Time: 18 minutes

One question that frequently pops up in a MBA aspirant’s mind is – ‘How do I go about choosing the right MBA program?’

This is probably the second most important decision of your life, after the one you make about whom to marry! ☺

In terms of your commitment, an MBA costs you 1 to 2 years, and between 50 lacs to 1 crore on an average ( including opportunity costs).

The difficulty of choosing the right MBA program is further aggravated by the fact that all the brochures and websites look the same and talk the same language!

But let us begin with a more fundamental question –

Why would anyone do an MBA?

There are two reasons we keep hearing again and again:

My job sucks: Many of us are stuck in jobs we don’t enjoy. Maybe the work is boring, maybe there is no easy way up, maybe we just want to start over. An MBA seems like a very alluring ticket out of boredom.

I want to make more money: For good or bad, we live in a capitalist market – and a lot of us seem to want to make more money and retire rich. An MBA seems like a good option to achieve this end.

But, these are reasons you would ( should not) not put down in your application.
If you were to look deeper, beyond just money, there are many valid, real reasons why an MBA will help your career.

Career progression-

In some positions, in order for you to reach a particular position, it is mandatory to have an MBA. If you look at a typical IT profile, you eventually become a project manager because of your skills. But after that, becoming a delivery manager or a VP is not as easy. What has taken you so far may not be enough to take you forward. What does it take to be successful at the start of your career? You need to be smart, hardworking and show results. After a point, once you reach middle management, you will realise that everyone else on the table has similar traits which is what bought them there. At this stage, an MBA could be your differentiator.

Career switch-

This is applicable for people who are still in the early stages of their career. ‘I got into IT, because there is no option but to do engineering- the only companies worth paying something those days were IT companies. When I looked at the package, I didn’t think I would end up doing mundane work. But now with experience, when I look forward, the future looks really bleak, my potential lies in something else.’

Does that sound like you?

An MBA gives you the pedestal to reach out to another career.

It’s not easy to switch careers after a certain number of professional years have passed. If you have 10 years of experience and you’re 32, your chances of breaking into the financial belt are slim. In fact, it may not be worth it because after 10 years of experience, you don’t want to start at the bottom of the ladder once again. But if you are aiming to shift your career after 2-3 years of working in one area, an MBA fits the bill perfectly.


An MBA is not really going to make you an expert in anything. Knowledge is important but how much of what you learnt in school or college do you remember? Probably very little. When you go to a Bschool, you have a better appreciation and perspective of the business world, but in terms of pure cold knowledge, you won’t learn much that you can’t learn from a book.

B-schools don’t want you to be an expert or manager, but a leader- a CEO. You’ll have a lot of people reporting to a CEO- HR, Sales & Marketing, Finance. On an average, the span of control of a CEO is not more than 6 reportees. The idea is that each one of them manages the entire vertical by themselves.

For example, in the technology field, is the CEO expected to understand technology and argue with the techie on why a particular architecture should be in that way? No. He only needs to understand what is the cloud and how it will affect the total cost of ownership of his solution, how to implement or leverage IT for whatever he’s doing.

Similarly, if you deal with Sales, you just can’t go and say to your salespeople “My next target for you is 5 million dollars.” They will tell you how the market is poor and give you dozens of reasons as to why the target can’t be met. As a CEO, can you stand, look eye to eye and say, “these are the numbers and this is how we’re going to do it. “

Take finance for example. This guy has a truck load of charted accountants working for him. Are you going to say that you know more accounting than him? Probably not right? However, you do need to know enough of finance, you need to know how equity is raised in a company, how underlying money is being utilised and so on. You need to know how to read a balance sheet and recognize patterns in it.

If you look at HR, one of the toughest jobs that a CEO has is the mandate that is usually given when he enters the company. The morale of the company is very low and you are expected to charge them to have a high performance team. It’s like you went to college, got 50000 graduates who have no clue why they’re there, put them on bench and you’re expected to somehow magically transform them on how they see the company and how they see the future. But that’s a challenge right. Sometimes the HR would say, “There’s no need to worry, some other company is having a 20% acquisition. We can have a 17% acquisition.” The right question to ask at this point would be, “Why should our company have 17% acquisition? “

So coming to the point, an MBA at best, is a general management program teaching you cross functional skills. It is not expected to make you an expert in any one field. You need to be a generalist rather than a specialist – this is the knowledge that an MBA imparts to you.


This is a word you keep hearing. So what is networking? Do I go to a B-school to build my network? How do I measure it? Do I measure it by the number of people that I add on Facebook? Or the number of connections I’ve made in LinkedIn?

I think a lot of people have a misconception that networking is the number of people that you directly know. But it’s not that. The way in which you need to probably look at this is how many people do you know who in turn know people who are important enough.

If I were to give an analogy, you are surrounded by 10 other powerful people who have large networks. If you have 500 such connections and each of them in turn have 500 connections, you actually have 250000 connections- the actual reach you can access.

How do I know each of these guys? Here’s the good news. When you graduate from a top B-school, the whole world acts like an old boys’ school association- that’s the truth. People like you not because they know you but because you went to the same school. How many times has it happened to us that we meet someone who happens to come from the same city as we do, or went to the same school and the first conversation that you strike up is “Hey, so good to see you. What happened to that guy? That teacher we had? Which dorm were you living in? and so on.

So the point is, people know you only because you graduated from the same school. They don’t know you because you added them on Facebook or LinkedIn. But eventually, if you were to add them – if you tell them you’re an alumnus from Stanford, they would become your friend. Now, how do you leverage that? Let’s say you’re a businessman. There are 180 places where HBS has an alumni association. If you go to Botswana and you want to set up your business over there, you just need to go to HBS Botswana chapter and you’ll probably find a couple of people who are going to help you deal with the government and the local policies.

Of course you need to know people, but it’s important to know people who are in turn powerful.

Brand Equity-

What does brand equity mean? It means the recognition or the value of your title. Let’s assume you were to come across someone who has an MBA from a top school – the moment you hear that the person has an MBA from Stanford, you automatically confer a high level of intelligence and smartness upon that person that would otherwise take a person a few months to prove.

A lot of times I’ve seen that in consulting when there is a client case, the manager would come in and say “Hey, we got the new associate on role. Don’t worry he’s a smart guy- he’s an MBA from Harvard.” The moment they say this to the client, the client is assured. He assumes that he’s perhaps got one on the best minds to work on his case. So brand equity definitely helps.


This is a question that usually comes when people have accumulated more than a few years of experience. Usually self-growth occurs when you start working- you spend a couple of years of doing the same thing. And then, one day you wake up and say- “Hey, you know what? I don’t want to wake up to the sound of the buzzing alarm and the grind of the traffic and get to work and sit in this little cubicle tucked away somewhere in some corner of my company’s premise. I’m looking for something a lot more fulfilling in my life.”

An MBA helps you take out 2 years of your life and give time to yourself. This is something that a lot of people won’t accept readily, but I think it’s a great way to think about an MBA. So think about all the financial instruments that you’ve invested when you probably started your career. Think of fixed deposits, think of the stock market.

Probably, the only financial instrument, if I could call that one, is your career. The biggest investment that you want to make is in yourself which is why self- growth is a very important aspect.

Probably the last time you had the freedom to learn and grow on your own time was when you were in college. At that point of time, you had the independence, but you did not have a perspective. Now, when you’re working, you have the perspective, but unfortunately you do not have the independence and the time.

What an MBA does is it gives you that independence along with the perspective because the next time that you’re going to get the same independence for a year or two is probably after 35 years – after you retire.

Change of Geography-

You have lived in India, worked in India and India’s been all that you have known, but let’s say you now want to go and work in the US. But, you don’t want to work as an entry level programmer and the chances of going through an Indian company through L1 seem to be very slim.

Whether you want to go to Singapore, Europe or the US, an MBA gives you an opportunity to explain to them that you’ve been in this culture for the last 2 years and you’ve have taken so much course work, you’ve worked with peers and professors, all of whom understand this culture. The entry-level barrier drops steeply when you have studied in the country you want to work in.

Choosing the right MBA program

Post MBA Goals-

The first thing you want to ask yourself is what is it that you want to do post your MBA? Can you specify which country you want to work, which industry you want to work in, what is the kind of title you’re looking at. It is very important that you look at your post-MBA goals and fit in the MBA program that will help you realise your goals. For example, if I want to be a consultant at McKinsey and I end up going to a B-school where McKinsey does not even come for interviews, then the chances of getting into McKinsey are next to zero. Be clear about your post MBA goals and how your MBA program fits into it.

1-year v/s 2-year courses-

The second question that I keep hearing a lot is whether I should go for a one-year program or a 2-year program. According to me, if you’re above 30, if you’re married, have kids, you already invested in a house, then probably a one year is meant for you.

If you’re 24, you have a couple of years of college experience and you don’t have any liabilities, probably you should be looking at a 2-year program. Especially if you’re deciding on a career change, a 2-year course is always preferable over a 1-year program.

Is there a thumb rule or a way in which I can decide whether one year is better or 2 years is better? It’s like neither is better- it’s just a question of where you are. It’s a very subjective question. Usually what happens is, the people who are struggling with this question would be 28, about to get married – they are just around the threshold- they are not 22 and unmarried. Nor are they 32 and married with kids- they are somewhere in between – this zone is where the confusion is.

2 years is more expensive but you also have an opportunity to do your internship- it’s a lot easier on you mentally because you have time to assimilate the course. One year is obviously going to be relatively inexpensive because you finish it off in half the time but one complaint that I’ve heard from a lot of people who did a one-year course is that it got over so fast that they wished they had more time. So it’s a call that you need to take.


The third thing is that you need to also be very clear on the Geography. As I mentioned earlier, that if you want to work in the US, then probably you shouldn’t be doing an Indian MBA or MBA in Europe and vice versa. If you want to eventually work in India, why would you want to do an MBA from the US? So the question eventually becomes- India vs Foreign MBA.

Should I apply for ISB or Greatlakes or XLRI v/s should I apply for a top b-school abroad? According to me there are pros and cons so let’s look at the pros and then the cons.

So what works for an Indian MBA is – Most of the times you have a non-collateral loop- for example if you get into ISB, you probably have 8-9 nationalised banks waiting for you. You just have to hand over your degree certificates and whatever else they require to give you a complete loan for the course.

When you are to apply to a foreign b-school, it is a little tougher for you to get the loan. So, that’s one thing that you need to consider.

All your experience and education has been in India which means that your maximum network is in India and there are maximum chances for you to get a job. Because if you think about it, this is a culture that you understand, this is a culture that you very readily fit in and people know you. So that I think works for an Indian B-school.

I’m assuming that if you’re going to be applying to an Indian b-school, you’re an Indian citizen, then you don’t need to really worry about visa. Whereas if you were to look at the schools abroad, that usually becomes a very big problem.

If you go to US, while you’re studying there, you have an S1 visa. Post that, for a period of 12-24 months, it’s called the Optional training period (OTP) during which time you have to find an employer who can give you an H1B1 visa- H1is the work permit.

About 3 years ago, I used to think that UK is probably the easiest place for you to go post MBA to get a job but that has changed. They used to have something called as HSMP – Highly skilled migration program which is now being scrapped and now it is almost very tough. It is very hard to get a visa post your MBA in UK. So things keep changing.

On the flip side, here’s what works for an International b-school

Brand equity-

So IIM and ISB, these are all great brands within India, but the fact is if you look at the global arena, it cannot really beat the brand equity that a Harvard or a Stanford or a Wharton MBA has. It is almost like a global passport that will take you anywhere that you want.

The second thing you need to consider for a foreign MBA is that most of these MBA’s – they have various departments. You can optionally take courses across these departments. So the variety of electives that they offer is mind boggling if you go to say, one of these top schools.

So Harvard means you also have access to Harvard law, it means you also have access to Harvard medicine and the alumni base of these institutes is huge. Every year Harvard churns out 1000 MBA’s and maybe 10-20000 other different streams which means that over a period of time because these schools are 100 years old, the kind of depth that you have in alumni in terms of internationalisation is pretty huge.

The third part that probably works for them is that it is really a passport to a global career and you have a very international mix. Lot of people want to do an MBA because they want exposure to different perspectives.

Although Indian b-schools have little variety in that sense, that they take people from different backgrounds, its predominantly Indians. If you go to an IIM or PGPX or if you go to an ISB, you can be guaranteed that majority are going to be Indians, but not true for example, a school called IMD in Switzerland- they have a batch of around 90 students and usually the nationalities represented are between 45-50 and even of the others, it is not necessarily an Indian staying in India. It could be an Indian staying in Singapore or US.

So the kind of diversity that you have in terms of culture is probably a lot more when you look at a foreign MBA.

Specialisation/ Expertise-

Though it might sound a little contradictory to what I said earlier which is that MBA is a general management programme that provides you with a cross- functional exposure, the fact is you don’t become a CEO by becoming a deputy CEO or becoming associate CEO. There are no titles like associate CEO or deputy CEO. You essentially are going to end up becoming a CTO or Senior VP Sales or CFO or COO in order to become the CEO.

So MBA will essentially help you rise along these individual growth paths. So that’s what an MBA does, it helps you reach the pinnacle of these individual growth paths before you eventually end up thinking of becoming a CEO. If I were to choose between specialisation/expertise and the school ranking, I would probably choose school rankings.

For example, a school called Babson in the US specialises in entrepreneurship. If I get a choice between Babson and MIT, I would still go in for MIT because even if they don’t have a proclaimed specialisation, I know for a fact that MIT in terms of the brand, in terms of the network, in terms of the infrastructure and facilities would give me a far greater reach than Babson.

Just to give an idea, if I were to take all the companies that were started by MIT graduates and if that were to be a country, it would have the 5th largest GDP in the world. So you can imagine the size of something like MIT. But all things being equal, you know for a fact that Kellogg is good in marketing, you know that Columbia is good in finance, Wharton is good in finance, etc.
So there are some stereo typical specialisations that we want to consider which is aligned with what we plan to do.

Profile Fitment-

This is one thing where you’ll have to be conscious. It is important that you do that and try to ask yourself, “Is this the class I really want to be in? Do I want these classmates to be the ones who I’m going to spend one or two years with?”

I’ll give a very simple example. Take IIM PGPX- the average age is 34 years and when you compare it with Stanford, the average age is 24. So not only do I have a question mark whether I’ll get into a program where the average age is a lot lower than my age, but I also want to know if I want to sit with people who are 34 and more mature, who probably can understand the conversation, who have the depth of experience that I have rather than with people who are just starting off their career- they are also equally smart.

On the other hand, if you’re 25, you probably want to sit in a class where the average age is around your age rather than sit with a bunch of oldies- if I could call 34 year olds that. Make sure your profile is fitting into what the school has to offer because at the end of the day, it’s what you learn from them which is more important and a coronary to that is also accepted. So be very clear that you don’t end up applying to 5 schools which are going to be very picky.

If I’m going to apply only to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and MIT, then I’m going to tell myself that with my profile I may get in but there is a chance that I may not get in – in which case I choose not to do an MBA.
But if you’re very clear that you want to do an MBA this year and you’re ok to go to beyond the top 5 or 10, just pick 3 categories:

Dream schools– Schools that you really dream of getting into. E.g.: Harvard, Wharton’s
Reach category– I can get there, It’s a stretch but I can get there.
Safe category– Now what happens is its easy for me to get in but the question I have to ask myself is “Do I want to get in? Do I want to be in that school?” It’s very important that you don’t lay all your eggs in the same basket.

Typical Post MBA Career Paths

Product management & Marketing

Project & Delivery management

IT Consulting


Hedge Fund & PE

Venture Capital

Investment Management

Investment Banking




Strategy Consulting


Just one thing, be careful not to confuse IT consulting with strategy consulting. These are 2 different things so when you look at IT consulting, it is where the Accenture’s of the world come in and strategy consulting is where the Bains and McKinseys of the world come in. So they are slightly different in that orientation.

So lot of IT guys end up doing one of the 3 things. If you get to be the product manager of Microsoft or Google or any of these awesome IT companies that have pure product management or delivery management roles, you will end up taking care of large turnkey projects or you could get into IT consulting where typically you’re working with enterprise software such as CRM or SCM or ERP.

When it comes to finance, it requires a lot of background work to get into hedge funds, PE and venture capital. You need to very well networked and you already need to know key people before you get into a b-school.

But investment management and investment banking are two areas that you can get in; it requires a lot of quantitative skills especially something like investment banking which will require you to structure these but with obviously a knowledge of finance.

With regards to entrepreneurship, people ask if they should do an MBA before they get into a start-up. My personal opinion is probably not. You don’t want to start a business with a 100k loan on your head.

But if entrepreneurship is few years down the line then I definitely think you should consider it because that time your student loan would have gone, you would have got significant experience and built your network and you know exactly what you’re getting into . That’s also the right time to leverage the brand equity of your MBA.

I think sales has a lot to do with personality. So just ask yourself if you’re cut off on a sales role. Can you handle the pressure of taking a monthly quota, quarter after quarter? If that’s you, then an MBA is a great way to get into sales.

Marketing has digital marketing, offline, PR- there’s a whole bunch of things that come under marketing so these are all valid post-MBA careers.

You need to be very clear on what is it that you’re planning to do and how do I actually get there. These are 2 questions you need to ask yourself.
North American Schools

Great economy

Land of opportunities

Great schools

In North America the economy is still great. If you think about it, all the top IT companies, great product and service companies are there. It’s a land of opportunities- you really get a break, you can rise as far as your potential can take you. Not many countries can say that but the US and Canada can help you do that. It has great schools that has helped build MBA so they know what they’re talking.

M-7: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg
Top: Haas, Darden, Fuqua, Ross, Tuck, Duke
Mid: Marshall, Kelly, Krannert
Canada: Richard Ivey, Schulich, Rotman

Most of the programs in US are 2 year programs, whereas in Canada there are some great one year programs. In fact, in US I think there are only 3 programs which are 1 year- top programs like Cornell, which offers a one-year program for those who have a master’s degree. Then you have Kellogg which offers a one-year program if you’ve already completed a set of prerequisites. And you have Emory which provides you a one-year program if you have the relevant experience and background.

APAC Schools

Closer to home

Growing economy

Relatively inexpensive

It helps since these schools are closer to home. Some of them are advanced countries but still growing. So lot of growth options are there. It is relatively inexpensive but it’s not going to be less than 20 lakhs or so.

Australia: Melbourne Business School, AGSM Sydney
Singapore: NUS, NTU
Others: HKUST Hongkong, AIM Manila, CEIBES China

Schools in Australia like MBS have started an accelerated one-year program. Other than NUS and NTU, SUM in Singapore is also there for people with a slightly higher level of experience.

One question that a lot of people ask is, “How good is AIM Manila?” The point is you can’t ask a very objective question. There is nothing like how good or how bad. It is subjective- what is it that you want to do? If it helps achieve your career goal, it’s a great school but if it doesn’t help achieve your goal, either you have to reset your expectations or you have to choose a different school.

So instead of asking that, ask yourself what is it that you want out of a program and whether the program will be able to deliver it. None of the programs can guarantee anything. There is nothing like 100% guarantee.

You will have a reasonably safe probability that you’ll end up doing something. So if you go to Harvard, you can have reasonably good probability that not now, but 10 years down the line the brand equity will help repay the loan.
European Schools

Good Schools

Easier work permits

Great culture/ quality of life

What has changed over the past few years is the easy work permit. It isn’t as easy as it was earlier. It has a great culture. Just imagine, SDA Bacconi is in Italy- who doesn’t want to spend 2 years of their life in Italy – going to Rome and Milan and all these nice places.

Mid: SAID, Judge

Others: SDA Baconni, Rotterdam, Eramus, IESE, ESADE, HEC

A lot of people ask if INSEAD is a Singapore college or French college. The idea is, INSEAD started its campus in France and even now the admission happens out of France. You can choose whether you want to be part of the French or Singapore campus. But you have to be good enough to get into INSEAD in the first place. So I’ll still put it as a European school.

The reason I put SAID Oxford and Judge Cambridge as mid-tier schools is not because they are mediocre. They are awesome schools- think about the brand that they carry. They carry the brand of Oxford and Cambridge – this is as gold plated brands you can possibly get.

Plus, they offer a one-year program if you’re interested. Probably what works against them is right now the economy and the fact that these are relatively US Schools. Oxford has been there since 1300 or 1400s, but these schools have started relatively recently so in terms of the alumni penetration and a lot of other things, they are probably not up there as some of the top US b-schools are.









SPJain, Dubai

On our website, we have listed all the programs which take GMAT score, so you might want to check that list because this list constantly keeps getting updated as more and more schools have started to accept GMAT scores. ISB and the PGPX programmes offered by most of the top IIMs are pretty much the most preferred schools.

XLRI has a great 1-year general management programme. GLAKES started GLIMS- Great Lakes Institute of Management Studies, a one-year program in Chennai. SP Jain has an international global MBA with one campus in Dubai and another one in Singapore, so you actually get an option to do it in Dubai or Singapore.

You also have a part time course offered by IIM Bangalore called PGSEM, so those of you who have a few years’ experience and are okay with a part time MBA, would want to consider this. The forms of this are already out for this year and the deadline is around December and they take GMAT or CAT scores.

You can google for Businessweek MBA rankings or check the financial times for the current year rankings. With this list, you would be able to think about where is it that you should apply.

Pro Tip: Curious about how to start off your own journey towards an awe-inspiring GMAT score ? Try out our free GMAT Online Trial course.

Mays Business School, Texas A & M University essay analysis 2016-17

Mays Business School essay analysis
Reading Time: 5 minutes

So the essays that we are going to be looking at in this video are from Texas A&M University, Mays Business School.

Location-wise, it’s a great place. Also, Mays Business School has a pretty good ranking. This is one of those underrated B-Schools that a lot of people ignore but I would seriously recommend that you have a look at the school.
Great infrastructure, great faculty, great reputation and it’s a school which is in Texas. As I said, location-wise it is advantageous, because of where it is.

Essay 1


What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? To the best of your ability, please describe the type of position and type of organization you plan to target. How do your experiences to date align with this goal and how will the Mays MBA program assist you in reaching this goal? (Maximum length: 2 pages, double-spaced)

The maximum length indicates that you have roughly around 600 words.
I usually use a thumb rule of around 300-350 words per page, so keep the length to 500-600 words.
I will give you a very simple structure. Split it into three parts.
The first part that you need to talk about is the fact that you are looking at a very specific post-MBA goal.
This is where people end up missing it out. They say things that are very generic. They say, “I want to get into a general management position”, “I want to get into consulting”, and “I want to get into finance”
Now that’s a very broad term. What they’re really looking at (this is where you can probably make a note) are:
What is the industry?
What is the function?
What is the geography?
For example, the industry could be technology. The function could be product management. And the geography could be West Coast.
This shows that you have a very specific goal. If you have these three, then you should also be able to tell who your dream employer is, what is the typical title of people at such roles (So you could say, “I want to be a product manager at Google). So you have a very specific title and you have a very specific company. It has to be at this level of detail.
So I would say, that more than writing the essays, you probably need to think through what is it that you want to do.
Once you’ve written this, now you need to talk about how your experiences are aligned to this goal. This means, you cannot just wake up one day and say, “hey, I want to be a product manager. Seems to be cool.” You need to tell what in your background (it could be a professional experience or it could even be some personal traits that you have) equip s you for this career path.
Are you very analytical in nature? Is it that you worked in a hardcore technological field?
What is it that helps you get to this career point?
The only people who need to be super cautious are those who are looking at a career switch.
So if you were in engineering and you want to get into finance, you need to back it up.
Otherwise you just need to plot a line from point x to point y as to how you think your background helps.
Now, you obviously don’t have everything you need to get to that point. Otherwise you would have done that without an MBA. So what do you do?
In the third part, you specifically talk about how Texas A&M University and specifically the Mays Business School is going to help you get there.
What are the tools that it would give you?
What are the skill sets that you would like to learn?
How would the network and the community help you?
All of these are very crucial. One thing I always maintain—don’t write platitudes. Avoid sentences that say world class infrastructure and renowned faculty—they know everything. Don’t tell the B-school what they already know.
Tell them how they will be able to help you. Tell them how you will contribute to the program.
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Essay 2


Please select three of the following prompts to answer. Each of your three answers should be no more than 100 words in length. Please clearly identify which prompts you are addressing.
• My greatest passion is….
• The most important lesson I have learned is….
• I am unique because….
• My biggest challenge has been….
• The best advice I have received is….
• My greatest professional contribution is….

The beauty of a fill-in the blank structure that it clearly tell you what to write. There’s no chance for you to meander. So focus on completing the blank. Think of it as a fill in the blank. Once you complete the blank, you have a sentence.
Let me give an example:
• My greatest passion is….
My greatest passion is helping others
Now this is my mission statement.
I now have about 80 words to say why helping others is my greatest passion.
Often, it’s human nature that you’re attracted to something. So you can say that as a child I’ve always been attracted to helping others. And then give proof of how you’ve helped others.
• The most important lesson I have learned is….
Second one, it is not the lesson itself but why that lesson is important. What have you learnt? How have you been able to implement it in life?
• I am unique because….
Unique means special. It doesn’t mean one in the world. If that is the case, they would have said, “I’m a freak because…”
So it’s not something that only you have, but it’s something that could be a little different. For example, there are people how have actually performed on stage in front of an audience of thousands of people.
That’s a very rare quality to have. So, if you’ve done something offbeat, you should pick this one.
• My biggest challenge has been….
It is not just knowing what the challenge is, but why you perceive that to be a challenge and how you’ve overcome that. Again, this gives an insight into who you are as a person.
• The best advice I have received is….
Let me finish this for you….that I should not be so self-critical. Now, why are you self-critical? How do you overcome that? How is that reflected in the way you approach work? Again, 100 words, keep that in mind.
• My greatest professional contribution is….
This one has to be really big. It cannot be something that is normal. It cannot be something that you did well. It has to be something g more than that.
I would pick this only if I have done something really big and significant at work and I really want to showcase it. Otherwise, you’re probably better off licking the other softer aspects.
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Optional Essay


If you would like to share additional information with the Admissions Committee, please do so here. Suitable topics include gaps in post-college work experience and concerns about academic/test performance. (Maximum length – 1 page, double-spaced)

As I have always maintained about optional essays, use it only if you have something unique to say, something that is not addressed anywhere in your candidature.
So if you have a GMAT score of 630-640, you need to mention it over here.
If you have a gap in your work experience of 6 months, while pursuing a startup idea, you should mention it over here. Apart from that just let it be.
Thanks a lot for being with us. In case you think we can help you with your applications, please feel free to let us know, we’d be more than glad to have a look and see if we can help you in your MBA journey.
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McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin-Essay Analysis 2016-17

McCombs Essay Analysis 2016-17
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In this video we’re going to be looking at the McCombs School of Business. It’s based out of Texas, good location, but more importantly, a great Tech school. So in case you’re interested in technology or operations, this would be a great school for you to apply to.

We’ve had students who got into the school in the past and we’ve received positive reviews about the school.

Essay 1


The University of Texas at Austin values unique perspectives and cultivates a collaborative environment of distinct individual contributions. It is the first day of orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life.Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.


Write an essay (250 words)


Share a video introduction (one minute)

This is probably the question that’s troubling you the most. You must be thinking, “Should I write an essay or should I shoot a video?”
There’s one thing that you need to understand. The medium of expression will not be used against you.
They’re not going to say, “Oh well, why did this guy write, why didn’t he shoot a video?” Or they’re not going to say, “Why did he shoot a video? Did he pick the easy way out?”
There will be enough people coming in to the class of 2019 by writing an essay as there would be people who would come in by shooting a video. So don’t stress too much on that. I’ve seen a lot of applicants stressing way too much.
Now coming specifically to what you need to say, both in the essay and in the video, the focus at McCombs is on team work. They have these group studies and they believe, a lot of value that you’ll derive from the MBA program, is from your peers rather than what happens inside the classroom.
So for that reason, this particular pitch has to be based not on what you’ve done, but based on what you can give them.
What is it that you bring to the table?
What are the transferrable skills?
It could be something very specific. For example, you know a particular technology or maybe you’re very good at creating a website.
However, you also need to talk about the personal aspects. Sometimes we tend to ignore that. So mention what it is personally that makes you interesting.
After watching the video or reading the essay, here is the question that you’re going to ask yourself, and maybe you get someone else to watch the video or read the essay and ask this: “Is this guy or girl interesting enough for me to meet”?
If they find you interesting to meet, trust me, your job is done. That is what you can do with these essays.

How do you make yourself interesting?

Pick one or two professional points and one or two personal points. The one-minute video, you probably have the chance to speak about just two qualities. The same way, in the 250-word essay, you have the chance to just pick two qualities.
So pick one professional and one personal out of an initial list 2-3. That’s how you need to go about the first essay.
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Essay 2


Based on your post-MBA goals and what drives you in your personal and professional life, why is the Texas MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage in our community? (500 words)

This essay is slightly traditional.
The whole idea is that your post-MBA goals have to be mentioned. Without that, you won’t be able to tell why a Texas MBA is ideal.
You also have to mention what drives you in your personal and professional life. People assume that this is given. This is however not given; it is something you have to state.
The structure for the 500 words:
1st 100 words: quickly summarize what you have done and quickly get to the point where you talk about your post-MBA goals.
Second, talk about why those MBA goals mean whatever they mean to you.
Why are you passionate?
Why is that goal the right goal for you?
Why are you the best person to meet that goal?
So the first paragraph, you talk about what your post-MBA goals are. In the second paragraph, mention why that goal, and what is it that you need to achieve that goal.
So not only have you talked about what the goals are, what makes you tick, what makes you get there, you also need to say what is it that is currently deficient that is not letting you meet those goals.
In the last paragraph, very specifically mention why McCombs’ program is the best program for you to meet those goals.
Now you have to talk a lot about how you plan to engage in the community, because if you look at the school, it’s a lot about being a tightly knit student community. So a lot of these student programs, a lot of these clubs are student-run.
What it means is that you need to volunteer. They need to see if you’re a giver.
Are you a person who has done something in the past?
What is it that you’ll do at McCombs?
What are the specific clubs that you’ll be interested in?
How will you participate?
So a lot of that can be written in these 500 words.
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Optional Statement:

Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
It’s been given very specifically what you can include. If you don’t have anything to write about these things, please don’t attempt the question.
I hope you’re able to write a winning essay. In case you need any help, or you think we can give you feedback on your application, please let us know. We’ll be more than glad to help you in your journey.
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Foster School of Business, Washington—Essay Analysis for 2016-17

Reading Time: 4 minutes

So the school that we’re going to be looking at in this video is University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

One thing about Foster obviously is the location. Being in Seattle, you have Amazon, you have Microsoft, you have Starbucks, but more importantly Amazon and Microsoft are the two giants of IT.
Being right there in Seattle helps—it’s not just recruitment for these two companies but also a lot of ancillary companies, a lot of consulting companies that work for these two larger organizations.
So that’s what we’re going to be looking at. A lot of Indians end up applying to Foster as well, especially for those who are from a tech background.

Optional Essay


Please include this essay if you have additional information that you believe would be helpful to the admissions committee in considering your application. (500 words maximum)

Three essays, third one optional, you know the rules for the optional essay—write only when you think there is something important. If you think it’s not important, perhaps it’s not.
Usually I would encourage writing only gaps in academics, gaps in work experience or something that is very pressing for you mention there. Apart from this let’s take the first essay.

Essay 1

Post-MBA Plans– Tell us your ideas about what lies ahead for you in your career. What are the gaps or deficiencies currently preventing you from pursuing these potential career paths? How do you plan to use your time in the Foster MBA program to fill these gaps and advance your career? (750 words maximum)
Though 750 words are plenty of words, we need to structure it very well.
You cannot tell the first part until and unless you walk them through your career progression till date.
Remember this is not a repetition of your CV; this is not a repeat of what you’ve written in your resume. This is stuff that tells others how you have grown. That upward trajectory should come through.
You’ve grown, no doubt, but at some point you’ve hit a glass ceiling. You’ve arrived at this point in your career where you say, “I’ve done so much but now I’ve realized that I have to go to the next point”.
What is that next point?
You have to be very clear as to what lies ahead of you in your career.
So complete the first paragraph telling what lies ahead.
In the second paragraph you start off with what are the gaps or deficiencies you’ve identified.
What are the things that you need to equip yourself with?
It could be like a Swiss army knife. You might need multiple tools to equip yourself for that career path.
So you need to ask yourself, what it is that you need to achieve that career goal.
In the third paragraph, be very specific.

Why Foster?

Don’t keep it generic. Don’t just say great faculty and excellent infrastructure. It has to be very specific to Foster. So that forms the last 250 words.
So 250-250-250, in 750 words, your entire structure is done.
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Essay 2

Inspiring Experience Essay – Please tell us about an experience that inspired or confirmed your decision to pursue the MBA. (500 words maximum)
Here is the deal. You have to talk about something that made you think about why you should pursue an MBA.
Now if we go back to the first essay, it has shown your career progression and what you want to do next. But, you haven’t said why you want to do it.
This is the essay where you want to talk about why you’ve felt that career path is important for you.
Let me give you an example.
There was someone we knew, who got into Foster last year. He wrote about his experience of being a developer and about most problems that he would face that were technical in nature.
But after a few years he realized that more and more of technology wasn’t getting him anywhere. But he had this opportunity to work with a product manager. And he said, that really opened his eyes.
He said, “I saw that the product manager sees the same world, but I tend to have a limited perspective of looking at things only from a technical standpoint while he had a wider approach to looking at things. Working with him on that project for 6 months made me realize that I wanted to be a product manager.”
Obviously the other product manager had an MBA so that also motivated him to do an MBA. He realized that though he could take up other courses, this was the shortest and cleanest path to get there.
So try to make sure that you also touch upon a personal angle—as a person what attracts you towards the career path.
The first two essays, if crafted well, should get you an interview call and what you say afterward can help you get into the B-school.
In case you think there’s a conversation we can have and if you need any help, do let us know. We’ll be glad to be a part of your MBA application journey.
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Jones Graduate School of Business Essay Analysis 2016-17

Jones essay analysis
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The school that we’re going to be looking at is the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.
Being in Texas, we see a lot of Indians applying to this school. We’ve also got students who’ve got scholarships in the past. So if you’re applying to Rice, let’s go ahead and take a look at the essays they have.

They have essentially two essays. The first essay is a standard goals essay.

Essay 1:

Describe your short-term and long-term goals, and how the MBA will help you to achieve those goals. Include in your discussion: Why is now the appropriate time to pursue an MBA and why are you interested in obtaining a Rice MBA? (750 words)
This has 750 words, that’s a lot of real estate for you. Make sure you don’t mess it up by writing a lot of things. It’s very important that we structure it properly so that the question gets answered.
Here is how I would put the structure:
In 250 words describe what you’ve done so far.
See, it’s very important that you talk about your life accomplishments, but don’t make it into a replica of your resume. It should be a short career progression—this is what I learnt and this is where I’m at this juncture in life.
You need to stop the first 250 words at a point where it says that it says at this point this guy has done so much, what else do you think he can do?
The next 250 words is where you need to invest in talking about at this juncture in your life, why is it personally and professionally the most apt time for you to pursue an MBA? What is it that you want to do?
Sometimes it could also be a moment of epiphany. Like, “I started my career, things were working fine but at this point I realized I have this aha effect. I just said, ‘Wow! This is what I want to pursue next.’”
And the moment you looked at what you wanted to pursue next, you also realized that there were certain challenges that you had to overcome. What are those challenges? What are the things that you need to equip yourself with, to do well in this career path?
A lot to write, but do it within 250 words.
The third paragraph is, now that you know what you need to equip yourself with, how specifically would Jones Graduate School of Business, help you achieve that?
I’ve said this multiple times, steer clear of platitudes. Don’t give reasons such as world class university and excellent infrastructure. Be very specific. That’s the key.

Essay 2:


Choose between the three options:
A. “Describe a defining moment or event that changed your life.” (300 words)
B. Tweet: “If you had to tweet something to the world for the first time about yourself, what would you tweet?” (140 characters)
C. Video: “Introduce yourself to your classmates in a 90 second video.”

You’re probably thinking which among the three you should select. Here’s the deal: the B-school is not going to base your admission on the choice. So it’s not like Tweet is less effort so it’s considered any less than say a video which perhaps takes more effort.
What I would suggest is that look at the kind of person you are. What would best showcase who you are?
For example, if you’re a person who feels that you’ve got the personality, probably put yourself on a video.
If you feel you’re witty or you’re like an ad copywriter who can write this very smart tweet about himself, then you probably want to pick that.
Or if you feel you’re more prosaic in your methods and you think there is a great event that could showcase to the AdCom who you really are, then you probably want to pick the first one.
First try to figure out who you are and then try to pick the medium.
Now very briefly on each one of these.

“Describe a defining moment or event that changed your life.” (300 words)

It has to be a defining moment, but here is the mistake that most people do. They will spend the entire 300 words talking about the defining moment.
Instead talk about the defining moment and also tell why it defined you. Don’t leave it to the reader’s imagination.
It is very important that you actually go ahead and explain the impact of that event on your life and how it’s changed you. How you are now a different person than who you were before the event.

Tweet: “If you had to tweet something to the world for the first time about yourself, what would you tweet?” (140 characters)

If you have to introduce yourself through a tweet, it has to be witty, it has to be remarkable. It’s not a simple sentence. If you’re going to think in terms of a sentence—I’m an engineer who’s worked for four years at so and so company—you’ve lost the plot.
It has to be extremely witty. Be cautious if you’re not a copywriter, if you’re not the kind of person who tweets a lot, this might be a challenge for you.

Video: “Introduce yourself to your classmates in a 90 second video.”

Keep the video simple, for example this one we’re shooting on a camera phone.
You just need to make sure that the lighting is fine, ensure that the voice is clear.
If you want to get in front of the camera, if you want to introduce yourself, what would you say? Again, don’t speak about what is already there on the resume. Say something new, something interesting.
Make those 90 seconds memorable.

Optional Essay


You may use this essay to discuss anything else that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you, or to provide information or clarification on any aspect of your application. (Maximum 750 words)

As always, you have an optional essay. For 750 words, you might be tempted to write a lot more, but here is my advice, don’t write anything that doesn’t make sense because the optional essay is meant for something that is glaring, that they could not figure out from the rest of your essays.
It could be something like a break from work, poor undergrad scores or something that’s really consequential.
Think of it this way: you’ve completed the interview, you’ve left the room. Then suddenly you remember something, you come back to the interview room, you knock the door and you say, “Excuse me, I just wanted to say one thing about myself that will help me understand my candidature”.
Now think about it. Would you come back and say, “Hey, by the way, I also won this competition at work”?
It doesn’t really make sense. It has to be something that’s impactful. Say, “There’s one thing I wanted to let you know, there’s a gap of 6 months in my employment. That is the time I took a sabbatical because I wanted to explore a startup idea”
So that’s all about the essays.
Please go ahead and apply to Jones Graduate School of Business.
If you need any help from CrackVerbal and you feel we can help you craft a winning application, we’ll be more than glad to help.
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The Secret of Maximizing your Time at MBA Information Sessions

MBA Info Sessions
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Many top MBA schools in the world are coming to India to attract top quality applicants. Though a few host independent info-sessions, most prefer coming as part of MBA conferences.
There are 2 such events coming up.
1. The MBA Tour.
Click on the below link to get more information and register for the event.
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2. The MBA Tour.
Click on the below link to get more information and register for the event.
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If you are reading this article then you probably have an MBA session coming up.
Are you are just curious.
Or you believe in preparation 🙂
Whatever the case, this article is all that you need to know EXACTLY how to nail the MBA Info sessions.
These could be sessions held by individual schools or an MBA event conducted by organizations such as The MBA Tour, Access MBA Tour, or QS MBA Tour.
In this in-depth article, I will show you how exactly:
1. Why you should maximize the time spent on these info sessions (and avoid some costly mistakes).
2. How you can really act as a “cool customer” – and maybe strike up a conversation that leads to a positive first impression.
3. What questions you should be asking them and what you should be wearing – to make the maximum impact.
Does this sound like a deal?
Read on!

4 Reasons why attending an MBA info sessions might be a good thing for you

Why would I need to attend an MBA info session? Why can’t I just read them up on the website / look up on social media.
Especially since MBA events held in cities such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad involve a lot of travel (considering many such events are held in 5-star hotels in the central business district during workday evenings).
However, such info sessions can provide you with valuable information that you cannot otherwise get from the website.
Here are 4 reasons to attend an MBA admissions event:

1. Compare various MBA programs on offer and choose one that’s right for you.

Have you decided if you want to pursue a full-time MBA or a part-time MBA or an Executive MBA or a Global MBA or even an online MBA?
Also a lot of times while talking to a school rep or an alum – you get a “feel” for the school. The culture exudes in the way the people talk about their MBA experience – make sure you clued in on that.
I have had many students tell me that MBA information sessions are sometimes like a blind date.
There will be ones that you will hate, and ones that you will fall in love almost instantly!

2. Explore Networking opportunities

An MBA fair is a brilliant opportunity to network with admission officers and MBA alumni. While admission officers can provide direct assistance with your applications, ex-students will be able to provide you with an overview of campus life.
Remember to ask for the college representative’s contact details, so that you can contact them at a later date to stay informed of other info sessions/open houses and visit the campus if you get a chance.
It is also recommended that you talk to the alumni present at the event. This will give you a fair idea of their experiences with the school, the support they’ve received and the exposure they’ve got.

3. Learning how to finance your MBA

An MBA info session can be a great place to learn about different financing options.
This is a great opportunity to know how other students who have been admitted in the past have dealt with financing. In most cases – this might have been through loans, so you can dig a deeper into that.
You can also get information about the various scholarships offered by the school. If there are none – you get to know that too.
Apart from the colleges, you can also connect with financing companies such as Credila and Prodigy Finance to learn more about their loan offerings.
It is good to do your homework so you know what you are getting into.

4. Learn more about student visas

An MBA admissions fair is the perfect place to find out more about global B-Schools, their admission requirements and the course fee.
You can also learn about the student visa rules and regulations for different countries and accordingly make an informed decision.
Make sure you are asking specific questions about both ease of getting a student visa as well as the opportunity to convert it to a work visa post the program.
You can get to know about the placement of the batch that graduated the same year (or the previous year). How hard or easy is it for students to get the work visa.

Pro Tip: Many times the reps might end up giving you information that is “off records”. That is, stuff they cannot put on the website or on official mails but stuff they share in a casual conversation.

Now let us look at some simple tips to make the most out of an info session.

How to look superior to others in the MBA Information Sessions?

CrackVerbal has been associated with various MBA fairs and info sessions since 2010 and has seen very closely the kind of interactions that happen in such meets.

Here are the top 3 kinds of people who attend such seminars/info sessions:

1) Curious Cat
He has come over with little clue about what he wants from the session.
He has definitely not taken the GMAT nor is he aware of B-school admissions processes.
As the name suggests, he is just curious to understand how this whole thing works.
He can be spotted by the way he goes from one stall to another collecting brochures but not really engaging in a conversation with any admissions representative.
2) Anxious Anna
This one has perhaps taken the GMAT and has some idea about MBA applications.
However, our friend is also trying desperately to find answers to questions such as “Will I get admission to your school?” or “What scholarships will you offer me?”
However, she is busy hopping from one booth to another desperately trying to find someone who will answer in the affirmative.
But as the questions are way too subjective, she will never get an answer!
3) Cool Customer
This one is really assured and is typically seen only at a few select B-school booths.
The person has already researched on the school and therefore has very specific queries that pique the interest of the MBA representatives.
He/she knows what to look for and is seen engaging in a meaningful conversation with the MBA admissions person
Typically the person is seen having a dossier in hand – with important stuff such as a 1-page business resume, and a list of specific questions for the B-School rep.
So who do you want to be? Don’t bother answering – it was more of a rhetorical question 🙂
Remember that the AdCom members are keeping their eyes open for people who are smart, articulate and can make for a good fit for the program.
There have been instances when they have started a conversation at an MBA info-session and have ended with an offer once the candidate applied.
If you really want to see yourself in the 3rd category, here is a checklist of 4 things that you can do to look “cool” in the eyes of the admissions committee.

1. Assess your goals and needs

Before you attend an MBA fair, ask yourself the following questions:
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
Why an MBA? How will an MBA help you achieve your academic and professional goals?
What are you looking for in the ‘perfect’ business school?
How will you contribute to the school, as a student?
Here’s how you can present your profile to the Admissions Committee.
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Once you have your answers to these questions, it becomes easier to assess the resources you have in hand, your academic and professional eligibility, your budget and then decide on the kind of schools you’d like to pursue.

2. Make a list of schools that you will be visiting

Have a good idea of the schools that are going to be visiting in the seminar/fair, so do the background research by Googling everything you can.
What is the ranking of the school in a particular geography (you may want to check out Bloomberg, or US News)
Look at the geographic location – does it have any locational advantage?
What are the various specializations offered – are these in my areas of interest?
What is the program cost and does it fit in my budget?
[button target=”blank” href=”” style=”emboss” size=”medium” textcolor=”#ffffff”]Learn how to select the right B-School[/button]

3. Decide on the criteria for choosing a B-School

Once you’ve done some basic research, fix certain criteria to further shortlist colleges of your choice.
Ask a few detailed questions such as:
What is the student profile like?
Do you know anyone from that school on Linkedin so you can connect with?
What are the companies that recruit from these colleges?
Which industries do the students bag the most jobs in?
What social activities do the colleges focus on?
What is the approach to learning?
Once you have a comprehensive checklist of criteria and schools, it will become easier for you to visit different booths and strike up an appropriate conversation on the day of the fair.

4. Prepare to sell yourself

Carry a 1-page business resume.
If not above, just carry a sheet that gives a high-level summary of your profile such as GMAT, Education & Experience, along with major extra-curricular activities.
While you hand over a copy to the representatives, you can start your 60-second elevator pitch (link). This makes the conversation crisp.
Ensure you get their business card so you can write to them later.
Thank them for their time, and always put in a word of praise (based on what you have read up) as it is courteous to do so.

5. Post-Event contact

Once the MBA fair is over, you need to make it a point to follow up with all the school representatives you’ve spoken to.
Write an email with a short “thank you” and summary of the conversation
Stay in touch by adding them on LinkedIn or following them on twitter
Visit further open house/info session that is conducted by the school
See if you get an opportunity to interview with them face to face
Request them to connect you to alumni
If possible pay a visit to their campus

2 Factors that influence your image in the Info session: What you ask and what you wear?


1. What to ask the MBA representatives at the event?

Ask questions, lots of them!
Don’t think too much about approaching a school’s admission officer. They have come all the way to answer your queries.
As mentioned earlier, ask them questions that are relevant, well-researched and insightful.
Not just to impress them but also because these questions can help you choose a school that’s aligned with your requirements.

Another tip is:
For all questions you can end with “Is there anything else that you think I should know?” or “Is there anything else that you think is important for this”?
Make sure the Admissions Member is able to provide you pointers that you may have NOT anticipated.

Also, remember: Don’t ask for data – ask for opinion
The value should be given to the person’s perspective and not to something google-able. So try to pick their brains by asking things specific to your case.
Here is a table that can help you:

2. What attire to wear during such MBA events?

You don’t want to be wearing full formals and end up feeling odd in the crowd.
You don’t want to wear your pair of khakhi shorts and sandals either.
You want to wear something that is in middle: makes you look professional yet not over-dressed.
Step in Business Casuals!
(img src:
Here are a few “thumb rules” that will help you decide:
Would you wear this for an interview?
Can you go to a fine dining restaurant after the event?
Is this something you typically wear to meet clients at work?
If you answer these questions honestly, you will get the answer.
Bottom line: be comfortable whatever you are wearing!
Now that you are all set to go, get going on that list of questions you want answered at an Admissions event.
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Why is Donald Trump Great News for the Indian Student

Donald Trump for Indian students
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Okay let us face it – you were not expecting him! You were also expecting to take the GMAT or the GRE for a Masters program abroad.
Here is the news that might surprise you – Trump might be better for you than Obama who actually imposed more regulations such as jacking up the H-1B fees.
Here are 3 reasons why Trump getting elected might actually be good if you are planning to study in the US soon for your MS or MBA.

1) The US Dollar Rates might tank

If you see historically, the dollar rates have been on the rise since the last 10 years. It means what would have cost 40 lakhs about 10 years ago is now going to cost about 65 lakhs.
dollar rates over 10 years
But with Trump getting elected, the dollar rates might just go down. What this means for you is that your tuition rates might go down by 10-20%. So maybe 2017 is the best time for you to apply to a grad school.
Why would the dollar rates tank? That is simply because the markets (and the world in general) don’t know what to expect. It is one of those black swan events that hits you on a warm Wednesday afternoon.

2) He is not really against Indian Students

If you notice most of his election campaign rhetoric was against illegal immigrants. Building a wall was against Mexico and imposing trade restrictions was against China – nothing to do with India. The smart, educated (and benign) Indian students who go there, need not worry.
Here are a few comments he made to the Fox network:
“Whether we like that or not, they pay, et cetera, et cetera but we educate a lot of people, very smart people. We need those people in the country…….Many people want to stay in this country and then want to do that. I think somebody that goes through years of college in this country we shouldn’t kick them out the day they graduate, which we do,”
Read more about Trump’s comment:
So clamping down on those exploiting the H-1B visa, such as the IT companies in India, may actually help students who have put in their money and careers at stake to get a US education. To be honest, any change in the system is welcome because the current one is flawed.
Just read how students from top MBA programs have issues with the current quota system:
Here is how fast it takes for the H-1B visa ceiling to be hit!
H1 B Visa Ceiling

3) Trump has been elected as the President – not a Dictator

Though Trump as the US Presidents does have certain powers vested in him through the post, he is certainly not a monarch.
Remember that the US system of government – divided among three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial – is intended as a structural system of checks-and-balances. Though Trump’s presidential power will be vastly strengthened because his fellow Republicans retained control of the two houses of the US Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate – he just cannot pass one crazy law.
The US government works a lot through Congressmen who lobby for certain bills to be passed. Do you think the companies such as Amazon are going to let him pass any legislation that restricts their growth potential? No way!

Closing thoughts:

US is still the land of opportunities. Heck, if California were a country then it would have the 6th largest GDP in the world – ahead of France, India, Italy and Brazil.
Read more about America’s growing economy.
Plus it has an awesome University system – you don’t have many countries that can boast of a Harvard and an MIT in the same town – or a Silicon Valley with a Stanford and a Berkeley. This alone puts US as a go-to destination if you are looking at studying abroad.
Yes, H-1B visa issues will be contentious but Trump or no Trump can’t take away the opportunity to experience the education and culture that only the US of A can promise.
Planning for an MBA in US this year?
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Sample MBA Application Essays for Top B-Schools

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do you have a goal in life?

I’m sure you do. Before we get down to the goal, let’s look at a scenario.

You’re working as a senior software engineer for a reputed company. You earn a great salary but you know that eventually you want to start your own company. However, you realize that you need to work on your business acumen a tad bit more and an MBA from a good B-school will be the perfect move to help you do so. So you write the GMAT, you score exceedingly well, and take it for granted that you’re going to the Harvards and the Oxfords.

Simple, right? Unfortunately for most of us, it isn’t that simple.

As you apply to business schools, you’ll see how most of them require a set of documents to be submitted as a part of the MBA application. These usually include you academic transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, a letter of recommendation, resume and application essays.

Of all these, writing an MBA essay can prove to be quite a complicated task for most applicants. I’m sure you’re here because you aren’t absolutely confident about crafting a winning essay.
You may have it in you to get admitted to a top B-school, but how can you assure the Adcoms the same?
You got that right—through your essays.

The 3 Basic Types of MBA essays


1. What are your goals?


The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

2. What are your long-term goals?

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
(500 words each)


Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. It should be written as if you were talking to someone at a social gathering detailing your career path with the rationale behind your choices. Discuss your short and long term career aspirations. (350 words)

Learn from a sample essay written by a student who got through to INSEAD.

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

What are your short- and long-term goals? Why do you need an MBA to achieve those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically? (500 words)

Emory University Goizueta Business School

Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 words)

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

What are your short and long term goals and how do you see the Cornell MBA enabling you to achieve both? (500 words)

2. Why MBA?

Fisher College of Business

Why do you wish to earn an MBA? Why do you wish to earn an MBA from The Fisher College of Business? How will the Fisher MBA program assist you in achieving your immediate career goals? (750 words)

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Why Smith? Why an MBA? Why now? Be sure to include your short-term and long-term career goals. (300 words)

Washington Foster

Please tell us about an experience that inspired or confirmed your decision to pursue the MBA. (500 words)

IIM Ahmedabad

What do you expect to gain from the PGPX Programme at IIMA? (500 words)

Check out this sample essay written by an IIM A applicant.

Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

Describe your short-term and long-term goals, and how the MBA will help you to achieve those goals. Include in your discussion: Why is now the appropriate time to pursue an MBA and why are you interested in obtaining a Rice MBA? (750 words)

3. Why You?

Said Business School, Oxford

What should Oxford expect from you? (500 words)

Here’s a detailed analysis of an essay that an Oxford applicant submitted.

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

List 3-5 attributes or characteristics that best describe you. (3-5 word maximum)

Olin Business School, The Washington University

At Olin, we pride ourselves on our close-knit community and aim to know every student by name and story. In an essay of no more than 500 words, please introduce yourself as you would to your future Olin classmates. (500 words)

Mendoza College of Business

At Mendoza, we encourage our students, faculty, and staff to Ask More of Business. We embrace a threefold commitment to achieve this goal:
• Individual Integrity
• Effective Organizations
• Greater Good
Tell us about an experience in which you lived out one of those values. (two double-spaced pages)

Indian School of Business (ISB)

If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal/ professional life that you are most proud of .What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? (400 words)

Here’s a sample essay written by an ISB applicant.

These essay topics are given with the intention of getting to know the real you (not what’s on your resume but who you are, over and above the details in the application form).

These essays need to be thought out and written with great care. MBA essays help your personality shine through. They communicate why you are a great fit for the school, how you can make the most of your time at college and what you can give back to the university.

Do you want to know how to write the perfect MBA application essay? If so, you should check out our sample MBA Essay Guide.

Why the Sample MBA Essay Guide?

Our new 35-page essay guide contains 5 sample MBA essays written for B-schools such as IIM, Oxford, INSEAD and ISB. While there are several resources that will provide you with tips and tricks to draft your essays, there’s nothing better than real-life examples that have actually been selected by some of the top B-schools in the world.
That’s exactly why we’ve selected a set of essays that will inspire you to write your story such that everybody would want to read it.

Show me the difference!

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech-Essay Analysis 2016-17

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this video, we’re going to be reviewing the essays for Georgia Tech Scheller. First up, about this B-School, I think Georgia Tech is a great place for operations and technology. It’s in Atlanta, which is a great hub, one of the southern states.
So I think, all in all, great school if you’re in operations and technology. In fact, the school makes no bones about the fact that, “don’t come here if you’re a closet investment banker or if you have one of those other goals. But for these career paths, it’s a great school to be.
There are two required essays, one optional essay. The tricky part here is, they say there’s a 4000 character limit. So when you look at 4000 characters, it is roughly around 700 odd words. So 700 words is enough for you to write a proper, well-structured essay. There’s a lot of space over there.
So let’s take the first one.

1. Respond to one of the topics below (Required):
A) Describe a risk that you have taken and discuss its impact on your life.
B) If you could trade places with someone for one day, who would it be and why?

There is no right answer. We want you to be yourself, creative, and thoughtful in your response.
Do not overthink which of the two essays is going to be better. Or that Scheller has this ulterior motive to see which essay you’re going to pick. Trust me, people are going to join the batch, half of them are going to pick one essay, the other half would have picked the other essay.
So rather than focusing on that, focus on yourself.
1. A) Describe a risk that you have taken and discuss its impact on your life.
Have you taken a risk? If you haven’t taken a risk, the first essay is pretty much useless. So what is that risk? A lot of times people make this mistake of not really describing the risk. They describe the situation and they assume that reader would know the risk involved.
So first you have to talk about the risk itself, the decision that you made, what was the risk, what were the pros, what were the cons? In most situations, you’ll have something that would have worked but the lack of time, lack of information, lack of some other resources made you make that decision without knowing what would come.
It also tells me something about you. It gives me your profile as a risk taker.
What kind of risk taker are you?
Did you quit your job to start your own company? What was going on in your mind?
I want to know more about that. I don’t want to know the risk itself. It is important that you mention it, but give me an insight into who you are.
Why did you take that risk? Now talk about the impact of that action. Maybe it was positive, maybe it had some negative tones, maybe there were certain things that did not go as per your plan.
Are you regretful?
Do you have this tinge of bitterness as to why you did that?
If so, don’t mention it. But let them know a little more about the aftermath of that decision. Where are you today, because of that decision? 700 words are enough for you to write a great story. Very important that you craft it well. And as I said, just make sure you pick these points.
1. B) If you could trade places with someone for one day, who would it be and why?
Now again, though it might sound like a flight of fantasy that you say, “oh I want to trade my place with say, Modi, and I want to be the prime minister of the country”, remember this is not a school essay. It’s a B-school essay.
A business school wants to know your thinking. They want to know more about who you are. So don’t make it into a flight of fantasy where you say “I wish I were superman” or “I wish I were a movie actor”. They are really looking at what your passions are, what it is that you really want.
If I could give an example, I could say I would like to be Salman khan, not Salman khan the movie actor, but Salman Khan from Khan Academy, because I really admire what he does, I really admire the way in which he is able to influence education, the way in which he has been able to figure it out and he was able to introduce all these video courses.
Now that could be my personal inspiration. But, here’s the deal: it also tells something about me. As an educator, as a mentor, as a coach, it’s aligned to what I want to do. But if I were to say I want to be Salman khan, act in movies, it doesn’t make sense. So that’s where you have to be very clear.
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Next one: very standard, post-mba goal essay.

2. Why an MBA and why Georgia Tech? (Required)
Describe how your experiences, both professional and personal, have led you to the decision to pursue an MBA at Georgia Tech. Discuss your short- and long-term career goals and how Georgia Tech is best suited to help you achieve your goals.

Here is what I would suggest as structure—create three parts.
The first is, talk about your background. Talk about what you have done. Talk about your career progression. Don’t make it a repeat of your resume. It has to be something that says, “look, very quickly, let me summarize, this is how my career trajectory has been. Now that I’m at this point, what is it that I want to do.
That is your second paragraph. What is it that I want to do? Be very specific, talk about the industry, talk about the function, talk about the kind of companies that you’d like to work for and tell me what are the things that you need to do well in that role.
In the third paragraph, talk about very specifically, why Georgia Tech, why Scheller.
It has to be very specific. You cannot put platitudes like statements such as, “Georgia Tech is a great school.” They already know that. You don’t need to tell them that.
Why is it such a great school for you?
So again you have to go back and fit in what you’ve written in the second paragraph.
As I said, 700 words are enough for you to write a nice career essay. One more thing here is, that it talks about your long-term career goals. Yes, short term is important, but also give a sense of where you want to go.
So long term should not be 50 years but it could be maybe 5-10 years down the line. Just give them an idea of what direction you’re going in. for example, you could say entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship. That should be enough.
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The third essay is an optional essay
Optional Essay:

The Admissions Committee believes that the required essays address issues that help us learn about you and understand your candidacy for the MBA program; however, you may provide us with any additional information pertinent to your admission that has not been previously covered in the rest of the application. Feel free to discuss any unique aspects of your candidacy or any perceived weaknesses.

I would use this essay just if I feel there is something really important that I feel I could not say in the first or the second essay. There is a space where I could write about stuff that really expresses this particular point.
For example, low GMAT scores. That’s a classic case where you say, “I got a 660 but hey, look at my college grades or look at the kind of work that I’ve done. So GMAT is not a true reflection of my true potential.” If you want to say that, this is the essay to say that.
Note: There is a 4,000 character maximum (including spaces) for each essay, so please be sure to keep that in mind should you choose to work on the essays in advance.
So all the best for your Georgia Tech Scheller application.
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INSEAD Essay Analysis for 2016-2017

INSEAD Essay Analysis
Reading Time: 10 minutes

You’ve scored well on your GMAT and now you’re thinking of applying to some of the most sought after schools in Europe. I’m sure INSEAD is on your list, and you’re racking your brains over the writing of the essays. But, worry not because today we’re going to be doing an analysis of the INSEAD essays.
Watch the in-depth, comprehensive application essay analysis:


Blog Contents

Job Essays

Essay 1
Essay 2
Essay 3
Essay 4
Optional Essay

Motivational Essays

Essay 1
Essay 2
Essay 3
Essay 4
Optional Essay

As always, they have the four job essays and they have the four motivational essays. The difference really between the job essays and the motivational essays is that the job essays are “What you do” and the motivational essays are “Who you are”. So fundamentally, that’s really the difference.
Now, in terms of writing essays, you can be creative in the motivational ones but not so much when you’re describing your job. The very word “description” is asking you what you are doing and what you want to do.
Let’s look at the job essays, starting with the first one.

Job Essays


Essay 1:


Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)

It asks you to summarise your current job, your nature of work, major responsibilities, the number of employees, the size, the clients and the results achieved. Now why is this different from a resume? Or why wouldn’t you just give a resume and have a look at it?
There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that a resume does not have a very standardized format. So they want to make sure that they are able to capture key information such as the responsibilities and the budget. They want to make sure that it gets mentioned. That’s number one.
Number two, if you look at it from an inside perspective it is easier for them to go through all the essays in one flow and get a sense of who you are, rather than looking at multiple documents, checking your CV and then looking at your essays. It just keeps it cohesive; keeps it in one place.
One advice over here is: Be data-driven. Be very specific in terms of numbers. Again, the way you write it has to be very clear, it has to be very crisp, has to talk about what you’ve done and it clearly says “your current job”—so stick to that and talk about what you do.
This is an essay that gives them a preamble or a background to the other essays. Think of it from the perspective of the person who’s reading your application. He has the application package. This is the first application he is going to read. This gives him a sense of who you are.
So obviously, as much as possible, the impact of what you’re able to do through your job will make a difference in the way he perceives you.
Thus it’s extremely important that you talk about the size of budget and the kind of clients. It may happen that you want to focus on one area.
For example, let’s say you are in sales. Very clearly, you would not have a budget, but you probably talk about the kind of clients, the kind of revenue that you’re hitting.
If you are, let’s say, in marketing, yes, you could talk about the budget that you get. You could talk about the impact that you’re trying to create. Whatever it is, make sure you keep the focus on impact.
Now that they have read the first essay, they go on to the second one.

Essay 2:


What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)

Here, your goal has to be realistic. So you obviously want to mention what your boss is doing, what your manager is doing, talk about how long it would take and also talk about perhaps the kind of differences between your job role and that job role.
So, don’t say I’m an associate director and I’ll become a director. They really don’t know the difference between what an associate director is supposed to do and what a director is supposed to do. You have to spell it out.

Essay 3:


Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)

This is a very interesting question because you are not going to give a chronological order of what all you’ve done. You also want to talk about why you did what you did.
Why did you get your first job in that company?
What did you really learn?
What is it that you felt you were wanting more?
What are the challenges that you wanted more of?
Why did it lead you to that specific second company?
Again, what did you learn over here?
So, try to talk not just about the stuff you did but also the rationale behind your choices. As I said earlier, it is about what you’ve done—maybe you’re not very creative about the way you’re responding but you have to tell about why you for that particular career path.
One more thing over here would be in terms of the word limit. In the initial draft, write as long as you want to, but eventually it is recommended you keep this to a few hundred words, not more than that.

Essay 4:


Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

The detail here is with or without an MBA from INSEAD.
What is it that you want to do? What is it that inspires you? What is it that you want to be? What is version 2.0 of yourself?
Once you’re able to talk about that, almost unfettered, not really thinking about justifying it to INSEAD, this is where the essay’s response would really come out.
How long term should it be? Maybe 5-10 years. Don’t make this a crystal ball gazing 25-30 year long term.
Talk about your career aspiration from a function, industry, geography perspective; the kind-of-impact-you’ll-produce perspective. You may want to throw in your dream company, your dream title—all of that is okay.
Coming to the motivational essays—one that could be a little tricky, a little tough. Unlike the job essays where you have to provide data and then massage the data, motivational essays are not so straightforward.
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Motivational Essays


Essay 1:


Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).

This is not a straightforward strength-weakness essay. You can’t write two strengths, write two weaknesses and get it done. This essay is really asking who you are.
Who is this person who’s written the first four essays?
Why did he make those career choices?
Why does he want to do what he wants to do?
Can I understand more about you?
If I were to meet you tomorrow, would I be able to recognize you as the person who’s written these essays?
That is what they are really looking for.
Give special emphasis on the “examples” part. A lot of what we do, the decisions we make are a function of what we have experienced in life.
For example, this student grew up in a joint family. Because she grew up in a joint family, she was taught right from childhood to share her things with others. She always realized that, “there’s nothing that is mine”. Even the toy she got for her birthday, she would share with her cousins and vice versa.
What this taught her was a sense of adapting, a sense of giving; a sense where she wasn’t self-centered and she had a more giving nature. She said, “If I were to look back at my career, it’s this giving nature, where I walk into a place of work and I actually try to think of ways to help others”. This trait got her to where she is in her life.
So sometimes it’s good to talk about personal incidents, let’s not try to make it into a very corporate thing. You can give your work-related experiences too, e.g. if it is something that was at work, where you had a difficult time, sure you can give all of those experiences. But try to keep it personal.
Coming to the weaknesses, they don’t really want to know what the weakness is, to keep you out. They are trying to understand what the weakness is, just to see if you’re a self-aware person; if you are in touch with yourself. Do they know who the real person behind all these achievements is?
And that’s where the weakness comes. If you end up saying things like, “I work too hard”, you end up sounding very shallow. They say this person doesn’t really know who he is. I’ll again give an example of what someone had written for his weakness.
He said, “I grew up in a very strict background and my father was a person who said, ‘we are here to work’. He himself was a workaholic, so I never enjoyed childhood. I was great at studies, I went to college, I used to look at all these people enjoying themselves and I used to think that they are goofing around; they are not utilizing their time.
But it’s only in my mid-twenties that I realized that’s also a part of life. This is a weakness. Even today I find it very hard to unwind. I’m always very tightly wound. I’m trying hard to overcome it. Have I completely overcome it? Probably not.”
So that gives a complete picture of who you are. You have 500 words so that’s ample space for you to talk about two positives and perhaps one area of improvement.

Essay 2:


Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (approximately 400 words).

This is not really about what you did, but what you learnt from that. The focus of this essay should be not on the stories (because you have 400 words and you can’t possibly describe the entire experience).
But you should be able to give the readers a teaser of what you went through and spend a significant portion of this essay talking about what you learnt. When you talk about an achievement, it’s something that made you proud.
Why did it make you proud?
Was it something you wanted?
Was it retribution?
Was it a feeling of being vindicated?
What was it that you were going through?
What does it tell them about you?
Similarly, the fact that you failed is not the problem.
What did you learn from this failure?
Were you able to bounce back?
How does that make you a better person today than you were when you did not experience the failure?
In 400 words, focus more on two meaningful stories.

Essay 3:


Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way (approximately 300 words).

This is an essay that has been in the INSEAD application forever. They have had various ways in which this essay has been worded. But what you want to take care in this essay is to not talk about something shallow.
For example, don’t say, “I went to Europe and I saw the way they were clothed” or don’t say, “I went to the Middle East and saw the way they were clothed”.
It’s obvious you would know the way they are clothed in those places. That shows your lack of awareness. This is talking about cultural diversity, and cultural diversity is not in the way someone dresses. It is in the way someone thinks.
So again I’ll give an example here of one of our students who had got through INSEAD.
She wrote in her essays that when she went to the US, she saw her colleagues spending like crazy, saving typically hardly less than 10% of what they earned.
Coming from a very conservative Indian background, she obviously had the habit of saving money. She found it very hard to understand why people were being such spendthrifts.
That’s when she went back, she understood that after World War II, there was this huge surge in capitalism; how they were born in an environment where they were taught that the more you spend, the better it is for everyone else.
That’s really a shift in mindset. It doesn’t mean that she suddenly started spending more. It’s just that she became more aware and 6-8 months down the line, she was less critical of people who perhaps were spending more than what she did. So, you have to be slightly more self-aware.
And leaders are typically high energy people. They are not going to come home, download a movie from the torrent, eat Maggi, watch the movie and go to sleep. They’d probably do something else, something that makes them interesting.

Essay 4:


Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words).

Now again, this essay is not so much about what you did but what you learn from it.
How does that make you a better person?
If you’re going to be sitting next to me in  the class, what am I going to learn from you?
And leaders are typically high energy people. They are not going to come home, download a movie from the torrent, eat Maggi, watch the movie and go to sleep. They’d probably do something else, something that makes them interesting.
And I’m pretty sure you have something that makes you interesting.
What is that one x-factor that is a conversation opener? When you walk into a party and say, “Hey you know what, I do this”, and people come and say, “Hey, that’s interesting”—put that over here.
So that’s really what it is. 300 words, a lot of space for you to not just tell what you have done, but also as I said, what you have learnt.
And then you have the final one, which is the optional essay.
Now there are two optional essays, one optional essay, which is the gap essay, which comes as part of your job essays and the other which is part of the motivational essay.
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Optional Job Essay:


If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.

The gap is pretty clear. If you have more than two months gap, you probably need to explain why you’re not working.
Again, my recommendation, do not try to make this into a sob story. Do not try to say, “Oh, I was laid off”. Make it look as this is what happened and give a very practical reason of why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you’re truthful, you don’t need to worry about it.

Optional Motivational Essay:


Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words)

This is true for all optional essays. After the interview, you are about to leave the room, but then you suddenly remember something really significant that could tip the scales in your favor. And you want to come back, you want to knock on the door,  and say, “Excuse me sir, may I come in?”, what is that one thing that you would say?
If you want to say, “Oh well, by the way, you know what, when I was in college I won this particular quiz competition”, they are going to think, why did this guy come back?
But if you’re going to say something significant that is meaningful and something that you did not have the opportunity to cover anywhere else in the essay, then definitely this is the place for you to put it.
So, go ahead, tackle the INSEAD essays with confidence.
If you have any feedback for us, please let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below.
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Columbia Essay Analysis 2016-2017

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This year, Columbia has retained the essay questions of last year, with trivial tweaks. The most trivial of the lot is the increase in character limit of the short answer from 50 to 51 what purpose, we wonder! 🙂

Based on our experience of working with clients last year, we realized that while the first and third essay prompts are fairly straightforward, many students wonder how to answer the second essay prompt.

If this has been bothering you too, read on to clear the clouds in your head and pen a winning Columbia application!

One more note before we start. Unlike most other B-schools that give you a word-limit, Columbia offers a word range – a minimum and a maximum number. This could leave you wondering how much is right. Our suggestion is to not worry overly about the length. Keep your focus on making your story compelling!


CBS Short Answer Question:


What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (51 characters maximum)

51 characters isn’t much leg-room to work with, so you’ll have to keep it really, really brief.

For example,

Product management in the technology industry
Category manager in an e-commerce company
Business development in financial services

There’s really not much room for creativity with a character limit of 51 characters, so just keep it precise and unambiguous.

CBS Essay 1:


Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them?

This essay is practically unchanged from last year, except that the word limit has changed. It was 500 last year; this year, the question prompt offers you a range – 100 to 750 words.

However, we cannot imagine how a 100 word essay could do justice to this answer. And of course, you should not even attempt to do so, because that would be a colossal waste of essay ‘real-estate’. We believe that you would be better off writing at least 500 words, and if you can manage it without making it look like fluff, even 750 words.

So, is this just another Goals essay?

Not quite..

There’s a significant difference in this essay as compared to most other B-schools’ Goals essays, in that it asks you not to talk about what you have done so far. This is made explicit in the first sentence – “Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date.”

Therefore, you can kick off the essay with a description of your career goals, possibly with just a passing reference to the past (purely optional).

Here’s a basic framework for this essay –

Career Goals (250 – 300 words)

You may not be accustomed to talking about your career goals in this much depth, because of the constraints that most other schools place on the length of the goals essay.

But this is good news! Because you can elaborate this in much detail, you can differentiate yourself amongst other candidates with similar aspirations.

So what can you really do besides stating your short-term and long-term goals?

1. You can write in a vivid and compelling manner about WHY these are your goals – that is, what are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and experiences that led you to pick this goal.

2. You can write about what learning and experiences you hope to derive from your future roles. As you mention your goals, especially your short-term goals, make sure that you specify the industry, the function and possibly the geography you would like to work in. You can go so far as to mention specific companies you would like to work for.

3. You can (in fact, you should) write about how your short-term goal will help you meet your long-term goal.

Why MBA (100 words)

Now, talk about the next steps you need to take in order to reach your goals. If you think an MBA program is necessary, you are probably seeking opportunities to grow and learn. Someone from a technical background might want to understand the business side of things to get a fuller context. Someone from an operational perspective might want to grow into a role that involves more people management.

For every job there is some growth, or some career “next steps” that are possible. If you are in a role that has no such career progression then either you are not thinking hard or you don’t need an MBA.

Now talk about the two or three absolute “must haves” for you to get into that role. It could be the brand credentials of a top MBA for consulting. It could be the general management aspect of looking at things for someone in a finance career stream. It could be the wider perspective your teammates offer, that might make you a well-rounded Product Manager.

Why Columbia (250 – 350 words)

As you paint a picture of why CBS is right for you, you will find that you have a generously sized canvas. So pore over the website, speak to alumni, read up on forums – do what it takes for you to understand the CBS MBA program thoroughly!

Then, and only then, shortlist the programs/initiatives/curriculum/anything else that you want to elaborate on. As you do this, keep in mind that you will need to use some of your research material to answer the next question. So, keep the Why Columbia section in this answer succinct.

Though it is not explicitly asked for, you also have to subtly answer the question ‘Why you for Columbia’. In at least two to three sentences, write about how your unique background and experiences will help you contribute to various platforms at Columbia.

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CBS Essay 2:

Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York immersion seminars; in project based Master Classes; and in school year internships. Most importantly, our students are taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”?

At first glance, you may wonder how this question is different from the ‘Why Columbia’ section of the first essay. There are two differences. Firstly, this question encourages you to talk about not just CBS, but CBS as the ‘center of business’. That is, you can touch upon the larger eco-system around CBS. Secondly, as you answer this question, your focus should be on the specifics of how you will utilize the various resources that are offered to you.

Do not simply re-state the opportunities that are available..In fact, the essay prompt itself has got that out of the way! Talk about how you will leverage these opportunities to learn and do what you need to.

You will need to rely heavily on research to answer this question. Remember that the Columbia essays have traditionally placed a huge degree of importance on fitment. It’s not that other B-schools do not have this focus..but Columbia, by giving you more room to answer this question, clearly wants you to think this one through. The word count range is 100 to 500, but we suggest that you write as close to 500 words as possible.

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CBS Essay 3:


CBS Matters , a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (100-250 words)

So far, you’ve been all business. This essay is an opportunity for you to let your hair down and talk about you, the person, rather than you, the professional.

If you haven’t yet done so, read up about CBS Matters.

Imagine that you were to make a presentation of this essay to your cluster-mates. What would your intention be? Most likely, not just to introduce yourself, but also to engage your cluster- mates and set the foundation for a bond to develop. What would your tone be? Replicate this tone in your essay as far as possible – be informal, without resorting to flippancy.

We suggest that you max out the word-limit on this essay. With 250 words of real-estate, you would be best off picking only a few key themes/hobbies/fun-facts to talk about. Do not attempt to fit in too much information – you might end up with an essay that is nothing more than a bunch of points thrown together.

This is one of those essays where the vantage point of a friend or an acquaintance could come in very useful. If you are not able to think up interesting things to write about, seek inputs from those who know you well.

There you go! We hope that our take on the Columbia essays helps you frame a winning application to Columbia this season.

If you have any feedback for us, please let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

If you’d like to discuss your Columbia essays with us, or have our experts review them, we’d be happy to help! Just click on the below button if you’d like some help with your essays.

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Ross Essay Analysis 2016-17

Ross Business school essay analysis
Reading Time: 7 minutes

This year, Ross has retained the same set of essay questions as last year, with a couple of tweaks. Traditionally, the Ross Adcom has placed a high value on authenticity and ‘down-to-earthness’ very highly – keep this in mind as you answer the Ross essays. Also be aware that Ross lays a very strong emphasis laid on communication skills (which also explains why it has a team exercise as part of the application process). This means that the presentation of your essay is going to matter as much as the content of your essays. Make sure that your essays have a compelling narrative, a carefully laid-out structure and no grammatical errors.


Essay 1 :


What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Ross has been using variations of this essay prompt over the past couple of years. However, a marked difference this year, as compared to last year, is that Ross asks you what you are proud of outside your work.
This means no corporate jargon, no ‘I increased sales by ‘x’ percent’, no ‘ cracking this deal got me an early promotion’.
This question speaks to you as a person. It deserves an authentic personal answer drawn from the deeps of your being.
Here’s the good part – The open-ended nature of the question means that there are many ways in which you can choose to answer. A few ideas:
1. A narration of a concrete accomplishment – for example, how you started a neighbourhood community to keep your locale garbage-free.
2. A story of personal transformation – for example, how you struggled with an unhealthy habit and later kicked it.
3. A story of interpersonal courage – for example, how you mentored a group of children from distressed backgrounds, how you repaired a relationship gone south etc.
4. A theme that underpins your life – For example, how resilience has been your biggest strength and how it has saved you from the doldrums time and again.
This is just to give you some samples; not to limit your thinking. Please feel free to think outside this list 🙂
As you pick a story, keep these pointers in mind –
1. Let honesty be your starting point – We’ve seen in earlier years that authenticity and down-to-earthness appeal to the Ross Adcom.
2. Think big and think ‘impact’ – The story/stories you narrate should have had a larger impact on your life, to answer the second part of the prompt, i.e. how does it shape who you are today? Therefore, do not pick an isolated incident with short-term benefits. Choose something that has truly transformed your life for the better.
If you are having trouble with zeroing in on a story right away, here are a few things you can do to coax your brain to develop a killer story.
Make a list of three to five incidents and traits about yourself that you are really proud of. Once you have a long-list, examine each of these for impact, on yourself, on another person and on the community.
Remember that the impact may not be direct, and that’s ok too. For example, your resilience is purely personal, but the effect of that resilience can be widely felt -say in a circumstance where you had to motivate a bunch of disheartened people working with you.
Since this is a question that hinges on perspective and introspection, get a rounded opinion. Consult your friends and well-wishers for opinions on which of your stories conveys maximum value.
Now that you’ve zeroed in on a story, how do you present it? We suggest the tried-and-tested START framework.
What was the background to the problem? What was the enormity of the issue? Why did you come in? What did it mean to you? Make sure you give the reader enough background. This is like the first few scenes in a movie in which every character is described. This is to ensure you drive home the point about WHY it was so important for you.
Explain clearly the task you had at hand. This could either be an explicit job role or something you assumed without being told. In either case you need to ensure you explain what is it that you were trying to achieve.It is important that you give a clear picture of WHY you chose to do that set of actions. What was the thought process behind it? Give them a glimpse of who you are.
What did you do? Did you face any resistance? Did you have to change your plans midcourse? What was the biggest challenge that you DID NOT anticipate? A lot of writers spend almost 90% of the essay talking about what they did. Here is where you have to be careful. You need to be crisp and clear. Don’t get into too many details.
What was achieved because of this? Did people save money? Did it help a particular client? Did you get a promotion or a reward or excellent ratings?
Here is where you address the second question in the prompt, that is, what are the long-term implications of this incident on your life? Think this through in detail. Do not be short-sighted as you think of takeaways – think about lessons that have served you/will serve you over the long haul! Most importantly, write from the heart. Be poetic and not prosaic.
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Essay 2:


What is your desired career path and why? (up to 250 words)

At 250 words, you have to be economical, even stingy, with your words.
The fact that Ross has reduced the length of this essay from 400 words last year, to 250 this year, indicates that they only want the crux of your career story. Essentially, you have to touch all the salient points without getting into the details.
The Start (100 words):
Clearly state your post MBA short-term and long-term plans. Don’t use obscure statements such as “get into general management” or “want a leadership position”. That is code for “I have no clue what I want to do but want to surely boss around a lot of people”.
However, note that its ok to be relatively vague about your long-term goal. With jobs getting created and destroyed every year, it is not very feasible to guess accurately what you will be doing 10 years down the line.
The Middle (100 words):
After that you need to talk about why are you the best person to get there. Start with a brief summing up of your career so far. Talk about what you have learned at work (without laying out all the minute details) and what makes you ready to take the leap to your future goals.
Next, you need to talk about why you seek an opportunity to grow. Someone from a technical background might want to understand the business side of things to get a fuller context. Someone from an operational perspective might want to grow into a role that involves more people management.
For every job there is some growth, or some career “next steps” that are possible. If you are in a role that has no such career progression then either you are not thinking hard or you don’t need an MBA.
Note here: Avoid references to how you hate your job or how your manager is a tyrant. Anything negative would go against you. Focus on the positives. Talk about how you are eager to take up opportunities that will help you grow in life. Show them the ambition, not the frustration.
Now talk about the 2 or 3 absolute “must haves” for you to get into that role. It could be the brand credentials of a top MBA for consulting. It could be the general management aspect of looking at things for someone in a finance career stream. It could be the wider perspective your teammates offer,that might make you a well-rounded Product Manager. It could be all of these.
The End (50 words):
Though Ross is not asking ‘Why Ross’ explicitly, you would do well to answer it briefly. By this point, if your writing is clear and crisp, it should be a no-brainer on WHY you should be doing an MBA. It should focus on WHY Ross.
Steer clear of generic stuff. You don’t want an MBA because it has “world class infrastructure” and “renowned faculty”.
Do your research. Talk to current students/alumni. Attend info sessions. Read up as much as you can about the school. If possible, even make a trip to the Ross campus! In short – pull out all the stops to ensure you understand why Ross is a good fit. Don’t do this to impress the Admission Committee. Do this because your decision is going to cost you the next 2 years and a lot of money. You better be sure!
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Essay 3 – Optional Statement:

This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.
Did you note two things?
1. There is no word-limit mentioned. Wow, all those other things about yourself that you haven’t got the space to write about..can you write about them here? Like that hobby you picked up two years ago, or that event you conducted at work? No, definitely no. Because, as the question says..
2. “This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application”
So Ross is not handing out an additional sheet of paper so you can write about your accomplishments or your leadership qualities or your fitment. Rather, this is just a placeholder for all important information that is not covered elsewhere in the application.
Let the examples given guide you – completion of coursework, gaps in employment, poor academic scores. Use this section to offer critical information that could mitigate weaknesses and/or enhance your profile.
Before we wind up, we recommend that you read this excellent short post from the Ross Admissions Director, Soojin Kwon. Though this was written last year, the advice is equally relevant this year!
New Essay questions to Michigan Ross MBA application
You may also find this webinar from the Ross AdCom useful as you apply to Ross –

There you go! We hope that our take on the Ross essays helps you frame a winning application to Ross this season.
If you have any feedback for us, please let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below.
If you’d like to discuss your Ross essays with us, or have our experts review them, we’d be happy to help! Let us know by clicking the button below!
Get your MBA essays reviewed

Harvard Essay Analysis 2016-17

Harvard Essay Analysis
Reading Time: 5 minutes

This year, HBS has brought back its question from the 2014-2015 application season. And what a whopper of a question it is!
The world’s most elite B-school presents an essay prompt that is very simple and direct to all appearances. But as you have probably found out, open-ended and vague essay prompts give many MBA aspirants the jitters.
Have you worried yourself to death reading the essay question many times over?
Have you wondered what on earth makes a good answer to this prompt?
Read on..You’ll soon find yourself on solid ground again! 🙂
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?
There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.
As usual, HBS leaves the word limit to your discretion, leaving you with two questions –
1. How much to write?
2. What to write?
How much to write:
Let us start with the easier question of the two. Though HBS does not offer a word-limit, it has long preferred conciseness and clarity over meandering, prolonged narratives – indeed, which B-school wouldn’t prefer it?
Our suggestion is that you write in the range of 650 – 1000 words. There have been winning stories told at well over 1000 words, but most of the effective HBS essays we’ve seen are shorter. If you think your essay is the exception, the rare story that deserves over 1000 words, make sure that you get your essay reviewed by smart friends and/or consultants who can tell you if your essay needs cutting down.
What to write:
The very first thing to remember is that your essay should reveal your personality and your values, not your accomplishments. In short, do not make it a meandering version of your resume. Also, do not pick many accomplishments and try to weave a common theme. It will probably look forced and you could be caught out.
Rather, what you should do is read between the lines of your own profile.
Yes, you led that crazy, messed-up project in your first year at work and knocked the socks off your manager by turning it around..but what gave you the courage to take on such a difficult task in your very first year?
Yes, you were a national-level swimmer all through school and college, and you’d participated in many international events too. But how did being a sportsman positively influence your work and your relationships?
If you’re really struggling with picking a story, we suggest that you begin by compiling a ‘kitchen sink’ document, where you list down your accomplishments, big and small.
Next, in the same document, list your life and career goals.
Next, jot down any positive quality you think you possess – leadership or otherwise.
Add to the mix any significant inflection points in your life – any period of significant personal/professional change. Think about the drivers and influencers of your life at that point in time and note that down too.
Over a few days, keep adding to this list, without judgement and without reserve – until you have a laundry list of your achievements, attributes and aspirations, and the salient points of your personal development.
Now, begin the process of picking a story from all the threads you have put down. You are trying to weave a coherent story, one where your abilities meet your aspirations, and are ably supported by your past accomplishments and choices. Keep this mind as you pick a topic for your essay.
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Here are a few ideas for your story –
• Talk about the impact you hope to make, at HBS and in your life ahead. Support this by looking back and ruminating on the impact you have already made.
• Flesh out a bullet-point in your resume; however, give it context, meaning and soul.
• Write about the challenges you have faced and how they have altered your life-story.
• Talk about what activities/causes are most important to you and what you have done to contribute to these things that you care about ( If you are doing this, make sure that your essay does not sound a rehash of the answer to Stanford GSB’s ‘What matters most to you’ essay prompt.)
As your story begins to take shape, remember that your best bet is in authenticity. However, you also need to be aware of the traits that HBS values highly. The HBS identity has always been tightly coupled with leadership – this is the big one. Quoting from HBS website, they are also looking for high ‘analytical aptitude and appetite’ and ‘engaged community citizenship’
We’re not suggesting that you build your entire story on these qualities and leave out everything else. However, it is essential that you find points of intersection between who you are and what HBS wants – the greater the overlap, the better your chances are.
If you are applying to Harvard this year, there are two things we want you to internalise, before you get off the ground –
1. You should really, really personalize these essays.
HBS hasn’t given you any signposts to tell you if you’re going in the right direction.
This essay prompt does not lend itself to a template, or even to very specific advice about what to write. So, you need to use your intelligence, heart and discretion all the way (possibly throw some timely help from friends/professional consultants into the mix)!
However, we don’t mean to put you into a funk by telling you how tough this is going to be.
In fact, we at CrackVerbal believe that there’s something very beautiful about the HBS essay, something few schools offer ( usually only the elite ones) – You get to tell your story your way!
Leopold, Admissions Director at HBS, has this to say- “We have no pre-conceived ideas of what ‘good’ looks like. We look forward to lots of variance.”
Many of you probably have a gem of a story in your life, something you’re sure makes you a better person and professional – but something that does not fit naturally into the confines of a standard essay question. Well, this essay invites you to lay it out in all its glory.
Dizzying possibilities, to sum it up!
2. You should pull out all the stops!
This essay isn’t for the faint-hearted. Remember, you are trying to make arguably the best B-school in the world want you!
The truth is, the relative importance of your essays in your application, depends on the other pieces of your profile.
If your other stats and your resume are spectacular and they’ve already done most of the talking for you, your essays have a lighter job on their shoulders – they just need to present supporting evidence. You just need to ensure that your essays don’t let you down – that is, that you do not damage your candidacy by coming across as brash, ignorant, or simply annoying.
However, if your stats nearly make the cut, and your admit is in the twilight area between accept and waitlist, or waitlist and reject, that’s where your essays could really bring home the trophy.
If your other data points are simply not up to the mark, even a prize-winning piece of storytelling may not save you.
Of course, since you can never be sure where along the spectrum you lie, the only thing you can do is pull out all the stops to produce the best HBS essay you possibly can!
This kind of involvement means that you’ll probably have to devote a lot of time to drafting and fine-tuning your essays; much more time than you’d need to write a more structured ‘goals’ essay or ‘achievement’ essay. With deadlines looming in September, we recommend that you start thinking about your essays now!
We hope that this take on the HBS essays helps you frame a winning application!
If you have any feedback for us, let us know in the comments section below.
If you’d like to discuss your HBS essays with us, or have our experts review them, we’d be happy to help! Let us know by clicking the button below.
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ISB Essays Analysis for 2017- 2018

ISB essay analysis 2017 2018
Reading Time: 10 minutes

So you’ve checked out the ISB application portal, and noted down the essay questions.
You’re now sitting with your fingers hovering over the keyboard ( or pen hovering over paper, if you’re old-fashioned that way 🙂 )
You stare at the blank page and the minutes tick on..and you’re thinking, what now??
Here’s where we come in! Last year, our analysis was the most viewed essay analysis of the ISB essays. This year, we bring to you yet another authoritative and comprehensive analysis!
In this post, we will show you a clear and effective structure you can use for your ISB essays, so that you can present the best version of yourself to the AdCom.
Read on for our analysis and break-down of each ISB essay of the 2017-2018 admission season!


Watch this video and learn how to write your ISB essays



ISB Essay 1:

If we were to admit just One more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you?
Word Limit : 500 words


What ISB really wants:

Imagine your closest competitor in the applicant pool. Give him/her a name and flesh out the details.
So you have done your undergrad from NIT? Your competitor has gone to IIT!
You have a GPA of 8? He has 9!
You have a GMAT of 720, you say? Well, he has a 730!
Basically, this person is roughly in the same league as you, but scores better than you on all data points.
So why should ISB pick you?
This question is what you need to answer through this essay.

How you should answer this:

We recommend the P-E-B ( Pitch – Example – Benefit ) as an effective approach to answering this question.
( Is there another approach? Sure, this question leaves a lot of room for flexibility. If you can think of a different approach, let us know in the comments section 🙂 )

1. Pitch:

Think about it – ISB has your grades, your GMAT score, your resume, and all other sundry details in other parts of your application.
So, what is the one unique thing that you want to tell them which will tip the scales in your favor?
If you have heard any of Steve Job’s speeches, this is the “one more thing moment”. This is the time in his speeches, when after talking about all the cool features, at the very end, he gives out yet another killer feature to wow the audience. Or take this analogy: If you had an hour long interview and after it got over, just before leaving, you turned around and said “One more thing” – what would it be?
Make your pitch stick in the reader’s mind. Read the below examples-
“I am very hardworking and meticulous in what I do. I never give up and always have a “never say die” attitude. I also work very well in teams, and can coordinate with people from diverse backgrounds.”
“I am like the “Wolf” in Pulp Fiction. I like to solve problems. Throw anything at me, and you have the man who can get you the answer”.
We don’t know about you, but if we were the Ad-Com, we’d want the person behind the second pitch! 🙂
There are two takeaways we want to point out to you from this example –
a. Say little, and say it well
Do not crowd too many ‘good qualities’ into your pitch. The minute you put down too many traits, the impact and power of each one gets diluted.
b. Be creative and original
Do not write a cookie-cutter essay that anybody else could have written instead of you. Bring your original voice into your essay!

2. Example:

As in any B-school essay, you need to substantiate the claim you have made with examples. Here is where you do it.
Do not try and fit in too many examples – use either one or two.
Whether you use one example or two, make sure you use the STAR structure.
The STAR structure essentially breaks down any story into 4 parts:

S -> Situation

T -> Task

A -> Action

R -> Results
#1 Situation:
What was the background to the problem? What was the enormity of the issue? Why did you come in? What did it mean to you? Make sure you give the reader enough background. This is like the first few scenes in a movie in which every character is described. This is to ensure you drive home the point about WHY it was so important for you.
#2 Task:
Explain clearly the task you had at hand. This could either be an explicit job role or something you assumed without being told. In either case you need to ensure you explain what is it that you were trying to achieve.It is important that you give a clear picture of WHY you chose to do that set of actions. What was the thought process behind it? Give them a glimpse of who you are.
#3 Action:
What did you do? Did you face any resistance? Did you have to change your plans midcourse? What was the biggest challenge that you DID NOT anticipate? A lot of writers spend almost 90% of the essay talking about what they did. Here is where you have to be careful. You need to be crisp and clear. Don’t get into too many details.
#4 Result:
What was achieved because of this? Did people save money? Did it help a particular client? Did you get a promotion or a reward or excellent ratings? Don’t repeat what is already mentioned in the “Achievements” section of your application form. Just touch upon the impact it made to the organization and to you. Be poetic and not prosaic.


Now that you have established the quality that you think is rare and valuable to ISB, tell them how you will put it to use at ISB. For example, if your pitch is that you are very resilient and competitive, how will these drive you to perform at ISB? Don’t be wishy-washy and vague…Get specific and tell the AdCom why you belong at ISB!
For instance:
“Having proved my mettle at an early stage in my career my confidence grew by leaps and bounds. I believe that this early display of leadership (‘early display of leadership’ is the pitch) sets me apart and makes me a worthy member of ISB’s student pool. I am confident that I can add significant value to ISB by taking the lead in the activities of the ‘Women in Business’ Club.”
“Having developed the ability to strive for personal change and improvement (‘constant personal evolution’ is the pitch), I believe I will be better placed as a leader to drive disruptive change in order to steer organizations in the right direction. I bring to ISB this commitment to constantly shape a better life for myself and others, and I hope to put it to use by mentoring my peers in the Senior Executive Club”
Want to see these tips in action? Read a sample essay answer that we’ve written!


ISB Essay 2:

Describe your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those?
Word Limit : 300 words

What ISB really wants:

In one word – Goal-clarity!
ISB wants to know why B-school makes sense for your career.
They want to know whether you know what you’re getting into.
And..They want to know whether you are getting into it for the right reasons.

How you should answer this:

The Start (100 words):

Clearly state your post MBA short-term and long-term plans. Don’t use obscure statements such as “get into general management” or “want a leadership position”. That is code for “I have no clue what I want to do but want to surely boss around a lot of people”.
However, note that its ok to be relatively vague about your long-term goal. With jobs getting created and destroyed every year, it is not very feasible to guess accurately what you will be doing 10 years down the line 🙂
After that you need to talk about why are you the best person to get there. Here is where you talk about where you currently are in your career. What you have learned at work (not too technical) and what makes you ready to take the leap to your future goals.

The Middle (100 words):

Next, you need to talk about the opportunities to grow. Someone from a technical background might want to understand the business side of things to get a fuller context. Someone from an operational perspective might want to grow into a role that involves more people management. Someone who is an analyst might want a more client-facing role by becoming a consultant.
For every job there is some growth, or some career “next steps” that are possible. If you are in a role that has no such career progression then either you are not thinking hard or you don’t need an MBA.
Note here: Avoid references to how you hate your job or how your manager is a tyrant. Anything negative would go against you. Focus on the positives. Talk about how you are eager to take up opportunities that will help you grow in life. Show them the ambition, not the frustration.
Now talk about the 2 or 3 absolute “must haves” for you to get into that role. It could be the brand credentials of a top MBA for consulting. It could be the general management aspect of looking at things for someone in a finance career stream. It could be the wider perspective your teammates offer,that might make you a well-rounded Product Manager. It could be all of these.

The End (100 words):

Here is where you need to talk about why an MBA from ISB is going to help you get those skills. By this point, if your writing is clear and crisp, it should be a no-brainer on WHY you should be doing an MBA. It should focus on WHY ISB.
Steer clear of generic stuff. You don’t want an MBA because it has “world class infrastructure” and “renowned faculty”. That is stuff even IIPM could claim!
Do research. Talk to current students/alumni. Attend info sessions. Read up as much as you can about the school. If possible make a trip to the ISB campus! In short – pull out all the stops to ensure you understand why ISB is a good fit. Don’t do this to impress the Admission Committee.
Do this because your decision is going to cost you the next 1 year, and over 30+ lakhs (including lost opportunity costs). You better be sure 🙂
Want to see these tips in action? Read a sample essay answer that we’ve written!


ISB Essay 3:

Please use this space to provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB.
Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know.
Word Limit : 200 words

What ISB really wants:

With just two mandatory essays, the folks at ISB understand that you may not be able to convey everything that is relevant to your application. Hence the optional essay!
ISB is not really looking for anything different in this essay – they’re just seeking more information to help them make up their mind about you!

How you should answer this:

There are 3 categories of people who would benefit from this:
If you applied previously then this essay is MANDATORY for you to write. It should focus just on what has changed in your application. You should talk about what else has happened in this time (GMAT score improvement or taking up a new project). You should also write about the additional responsibilities at work that you might have undertaken.
If you received feedback on your previous application, then do mention a couple of things that you have done to understand it better. Maybe you spent time talking to some alumni from that school. Maybe you took up a course in Coursera to know more about your chosen post-MBA career.
Don’t focus on the minor details and get too tactical. Think of the bigger picture – what were their main concerns last time and how can you best address them in this essay.
Applicants with a break in education or employment:
If you got poor grades in college or have a gap in employment then this is the best place to address it. Tell them when the break happened and the reasons for it.
A big danger sign is when people start writing a sob story about how they fell ill or how fate played a treacherous game. Steer clear of that version. Tell them the reason but quickly shift gears to talk about how the experience has made you stronger/better and why ISB shouldn’t really worry about this gap.
Also a month’s break in employment or slipping beyond the top 25% of your class is not that big a deal so don’t bring the spotlight to things that you think area problem, that ISB may not consider a problem.
Applicants who want to talk about another Wow Factor:
Remember the other 800-pound gorilla has a higher GMAT, better work-experience and in general – better pedigree than you have. So here is where you show ISB that “you are who you are”and that you are better in many other ways.
You can talk about your family background or something unique about something that could NOT have been covered in the earlier essays. We see a lot of applicants using this to talk about one more project at work or one more detail that they could not fit in anywhere else. Wrong approach.
Instead tell them about your dream, your passions – about what has made you who you are today. After reading the essay, the person should say “Wow! I didn’t know that”.
But do remember – The question says, write this only if there is something really significant you want them to know. This is not the place for minor accomplishments. Use this only if you have something really strong to say that you couldn’t say elsewhere!
We have written this so anyone applying for ISB this year has a clear idea of what to write. Hope it helps you write a winning set of essays.
We realize that those who are new to MBA Applications writing might find this word limits tricky. Either you speak your mind at length and risk rambling; or you come to the point too quickly and lose the soul of your story. It’s a tight-rope walk all the way! Don’t lose heart..It takes some effort, but you can do it, as others have done before you!!

So here are the deadlines:
ISB Round 1 deadline: October 15, 2017

ISB Round 2 deadline is January 15, 2018
If you have any feedback, do let us know in the comments section below. We would also encourage you to share it with others who might benefit from this.

If you want us to have a look at your ISB essays or discuss whether your stories make sense then let us know by filling the form below. 


The MBA Summit – All the MBA Gyaan you need!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The CrackVerbal MBA Summit took place on the 10th of April at the Nahar Heritage Hotel in Bangalore. This much-awaited event kicked off with close to 150 MBA aspirants who came with a lot of questions on their mind.


Every event has a purpose and the MBA Summit had one too- Read on to find out what happened!


Life and Careers after an MBA


The event began with a panel discussion on ‘Life and careers after MBA’. The panel comprised of 4 panelists from diverse industry backgrounds representing the 4 major post- MBA careers: finance, marketing, operations and consulting.


Read on for a few sound-bytes from each of them!


panel 1


Pradyot Anand | Sr. Manager of Business development at Dell | ISB


Pradyot has a total of over 12 years’ professional experience in general management, management consulting and technology functions.


Here’s what Pradyot had to say –
“It’s very important that you explore your own network and that you do not rely solely on the B-school’s placements to do the work for you. Even though I got offers from abroad, I decided to work in India as I was more focused on my short-term goals rather than long-term goals.”


Shrikant Singh| Sr. Category Manager at Amazon | ISB


Shrikant has 7 years of professional experience. He is a Category Manager for Pets Supplies and Grocery at Amazon India.


Here’s what he had to say –
“A lot of us think that because we get into ISB, we’re rockstars. The reality is that once you’re in, you need to focus on surviving and standing out amidst your competition, every single day of the year. And when it comes to taking up a job, don’t look only at the monetary benefits. Even if a job doesn’t pay much but the job role excites you, go for it!”


Sannidhi Jhala | Area Key Accounts Manager at Coca-Cola Beverages | ISB


Sannidhi has 8 years of professional experience in Marketing. She independently handles the key accounts and business expansions for a few regions for Coke India. Sannidhi has a major in Marketing from ISB.


Sannidhi says –
“You can change your career objectives during your MBA- I changed from wanting to do Operations to getting into Marketing. At the end of the day, if you’re able to project your interest clearly in your resume, then you’ve made it. I wanted to clearly project my interest in marketing. I used to participate in competitions and clubs during my MBA to substantiate my interest with my experience.”


Naveen Kaushik Rajan | Investment Associate at Small case | NUS


Naveen has 9 years of professional experience in the Finance domain. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. He has an MBA degree from National University of Singapore.


Here’s what he had to say-
“Understand your expectations well in advance so that your MBA is aligned with your post career goals. Do you look at brand or growth when choosing an MBA program? You may get into a top B-school, but ultimately growth matters. It’s always better to look at the larger picture- where do you want to see yourself 3 years down the line. Choose your program with the career you expect to see yourself in.”


All the panelists agreed that when it comes to your MBA Applications, your story and your pitch matter. And probably the most important thing you need to possess is clarity of thought!


MBA for Technology Professionals


Next on the plate was quite an interesting session. We had Sudhakar Kuckian, Purdue Krannert alumnus and Senior Director at Neo Group, brief us on how an MBA can help technology professionals.


Here is the crux of what Sudhakar had to say –

“If you want to continue as a coder, data analyst and scientist, it is best to do a Master’s Degree. If you want to move to the business side of the picture, MBA helps give a diverse look to your career.
There are a lot of new courses in technology that are coming up as part of MBA programs. B-schools like Harvard, Stern are looking at adding new courses as part of their program.”

Why choose a Global MBA program over Indian MBA?

The next session on the ‘Value of a Global MBA’ was taken by Rakshit Kejriwal, an alumnus of the prestigious Columbia university and co-founder of the start-up DropKaffe.
To quote him, ‘The main reason why people choose a global MBA is because of cultural diversity and global exposure. However, a huge advantage which you will realise better post your MBA is that a global MBA has a strong alumni network. Aim at the Top 20 schools for a global MBA. It’s not just about brand value. If you need a job tomorrow, you will have a strong network to fall back on.”
He also spoke about ‘How to finance your MBA’. “Finance is important but should never be a showstopper. Other than scholarships, some B-schools offer student loans at really low interest rates and repayment only when you start working.”, he said.
Finally, he spoke about the difference between a 1 year and 2 year MBA programme.
“If you’re branching from tech to business or finance to marketing, it’s better you do a 2 year MBA. Companies consider your profile relevant only when you have work experience and 2 year MBA programmes give you a chance to intern after your first year. Don’t look at finishing your MBA quickly- make a prudent choice. If you’re looking at accelerated growth, a 1 year MBA is good enough.”

MBA students of 2017- Journey and Strategies

The second panel discussion with CrackVerbal students Rituparna, Sachin Kumar, Aayam Ankan and Rakshaki was quite informative. Rituparna and Aayam are going to ISB this April, while Sachin and Rakshaki are headed for Terry and IIM-B respectively. Each one had a personal story and experience to share.
Sachin bagged a full scholarship at Terry with a 700 on the GMAT. How? He was the moderator for an online football forum that was very popular on the web. His story and the way he showcased it got him there. Quite interesting! Talking about his GMAT experience, he said “GMAT is a standardized test of readiness for MBA more than intelligence. Don’t rush. Take time and prepare.”
Rituparna stood out on his essays with a profile of a failed venture on a biking adventure.
“You should build your profile gradually. Impressing your Adcom doesn’t mean you join an NGO because you need an interesting story. There must be value attached and some significance to yourself. Whether you have a positive or a failed venture- it should be one that impacts you and has a story to tell”, he said.
Aayam said, “Take more responsibility at work. Approach your manager for different roles and responsibilities. This way you are already proving your skills to the school. It also adds to the leadership and initiator factor.”
Rakshaki added, “It’s always better to get your LOR from your immediate supervisor and advisable to be honest with your supervisor about your MBA, but that differs from person to person. Also, when it comes to financing your MBA, provided you have reasons you can validate, write to B-schools about your need for financial aid.”

MS vs. MBA

As the event drew to a close, the last session was taken by Deepak Mohan and Neeraj who enlightened the crowd with a discussion on ‘Why an MS over MBA?’
Deepak plans to do his MS in IS from Fosters School of Business after getting admits from both Fosters and Carnegie Mellon. He chose an MS IS over an MBA because he felt it was more beneficial in a niche domain like IS.
Neeraj did his MS in Data Analytics from Arizona and completed it in just 9 months. Since he had already done his MBA and was working with IBM, he was more focused on doing his masters in data analytics. He got an L1 visa from IBM to work in US.
The key takeaways from this session were –
• The importance of understanding your expectations and accordingly align your course to your career.
• If you do an MS, you have an OPT period of 1 year, whereas an MBA will grant you less than that. The OPT period gives you enough time to stay in the US and look for a job after your Masters.

Here’s what a few attendees at the event had to say:

“The Summit was a hit and helped me in analyzing various aspects of my career”– Raghunath Reddy
“Thanks for the fantastic session! I must say the entire gamut of MBA Admissions was covered. It’s hard to find such insightful sessions anywhere else.”– Rakshith
“I’m quite impressed by the MBA Summit. It gave me a sense of direction listening to the perspectives of industry experts and admitted students”– John Jose
“The MBA Summit was really useful. Thank you to the entire team at CrackVerbal for making it happen.”– Neelesh Ravi
“The MBA Summit was a success. It was really helpful for beginners like me. Thanks for creating such a nice platform for interaction.”– Archana Gowda
While the event came to a close, a crowd of around 150 satisfied individuals took home real experiences and advice to enrich their MBA journey ahead.
There’s more where all this came from! If an MBA is on your mind, we are here to help.
Click Here for a Free Profile Evaluation to get one step closer to your dream.
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MBA Interviews – Everything you need to know!

MBA Interviews
Reading Time: 19 minutes

So you’ve received that MBA interview shortlist you were eagerly awaiting for? Congratulations! 

If you’ve come this far, it means that the B-school is considering you very seriously indeed for admission.
In the words of Wharton Admissions Director JJ Cutler – “We’re not looking for reasons to deny someone; we’re looking for reasons to admit someone.”
The biggest question on your mind right now should be- ‘How can I ensure that I give the best interview of my life?’
We’ve compiled this guide to MBA interviews from many years of working with diverse interview candidates applying to top B-schools all over the world.
This article is categorized into six chapters, for easy reading.
(I) Interview Format
(II) What B-School Interviewers look for
(III) Cardinal Sins of an Interview
(IV) Preparing for your Interview
(V) What to do on Interview Day
(VI) Commonly asked MBA Interview Questions
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(I) Interview Format

B-school interviews come in all shapes and sizes. Let us discuss the various types of interviews you may face. With respect to the amount of prior information the interviewer/ interview panel has about you, there are two kinds of interviews:

(a) Blind Interviews

ch1- blind interviews

In a blind interview, such as those conducted at Kellogg, Duke and Tuck, the interviewer does not have access to your essays. This makes the interview very  open-ended. This can be either an advantage or a  limitation, depending on how you look at it.
a. The advantage is that you have greater control  over the direction of your interview, if you word  your answers carefully. In a blind interview, the  interviewer is trying to figure out who you are, and  is likely to ask open-ended questions such as ‘tell me  about yourself’. This kind of question makes it easier to speak about the things you want to.
b .The flipside is that, with very little context, the interviewer comes with no preconceived notion about you. You start from square one, so to speak. All the accomplishments and opinions that you carefully worded in the essays cease to matter, because your interviewer hasn’t read them. You have to be on your toes to portray a comprehensive and impressive picture of yourself.

(b) Comprehensive interviews

Girl looking at a plant through a magnifying glass

In a comprehensive interview, such as those conducted at Harvard, ISB and LBS, your interviewer has access to your application. Again, this comes with its pros and cons.
a. What is good about this kind of interview is that a strong application means that the interviewer is likely to have an unconscious positive bias towards you, even if to a small degree. One more positive is that at least some questions are likely to come from what you have already written about yourself- which is your comfort zone.
b. The other side of the coin is that you are likely to be probed much further about what you have written, which means that you have to be very prepared indeed! You need to add further value to what you have already said in your essays and resume- this will require deeper introspection on your part. With this understanding of blind and comprehensive interviews in mind, let us look at the common interview formats B-school aspirant’s face.

(1) In-person Interview  with  the AdCom

ch1- 1

This is an interview with the AdCom member, either on the B-school campus, on in your city/ country. Some schools that follow this approach are Harvard and MIT Sloan. The advantage of this format is that you get to present yourself directly to the person with the most influence in the decision process. These interviews are likely to be comprehensive interviews, where the interviewer has prior knowledge of your application.

(2) In-person Interview with Alumnus or Student

Manager shaking the hand of a customer
This is a one-on-one interview with an alumnus (at any place – could even be a coffee shop) or student (on campus). Some schools that follow this approach are INSEAD, Oxford and Kellogg. This could work to your advantage since the interview is likely to be more informal and relaxed, especially if you can strike an interpersonal connect with your interviewer.
The limitation is that there is an additional link in the communication between you and the AdCom, which may cause a gap in understanding. However, do not worry unduly about this because AdComs choose students and alumni they trust will give an accurate representation of the interview.

(3) Phone or Skype Interview with Adcom, Alumnus or Student

Hispanic woman working in home office

Most schools follow this approach in cases where an in-person interview is not feasible. It may be more difficult to showcase your personality in a skype interview- however, if you are able to strike a connection over this medium, it can make a huge positive impression! This is because most corporate teams of this age are cross-cultural, and being comfortable with such media is a very necessary skill to possess in the business world of today.

(4) Panel Interviews

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This is an in-person interview where you will face multiple interviewers. Your interview panel can comprise a mix of Adcom members, students, faculty and alumni. The advantage to this mode of interview is that your success does not hinge on the connect you strike with one individual, and that the decision is likely to be more holistic. The difficulty is that you need to prepare yourself to engage with all panelists and to be quick on your feet and answer questions from two or three people instead of one. Indian schools such as the ISB and the IIMs follow this interview format.


(II) What B-School Interviewers look for in you


(1) Authenticity

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Until you walk into the interview room, the only thing the AdCom knows about your personality is what you conveyed through your essays. Now, they are trying to figure out the person behind the essays. Do you really mean what you said? Are you for real?
»What can you do?
Soak up your essays! Internalize them. Get your story right. Also, allow the AdCom to see you as a person, not a cardboard cut-out of the ideal B-school candidate. Be frank about your strengths as well as your failings. However, a word of caution here. There are weaknesses it is best not to bring up in an interview- for example, if you’re actually confused about what you want to do after an MBA, it might be best not to bring that up in conversation 🙂

(2) Communication Skills

ch2- 2

You may have aced the essays with impactful sentences and a heartfelt tone, but can you speak well too? One of the primary skills of a B-school graduate and leader is excellent articulation. So if you can speak clearly and with confidence, you are going to earn yourself a lot of brownie points.
»What can you do?
Speaking well is an art developed over many years, so don’t worry if you do not feel like a communication guru yet. However, there are simple, actionable tips you can work on. For one, pace your conversation well. Do not be too rushed. If you find yourself fumbling for words, just slow down, appear thoughtful and take a sip of water or tell your interviewer that you need a minute to think. Plan your opening line and your finishing line. Even following a few such tips will reap rich benefits with respect to the quality of your interview.

(3) Creative Thinking

ch2- 3

Can you think under stress? If you do not know the answer to a question, how do you think and what do you say? As you know, professional life is full of sticky situations where you may not have the answers and still have to plough your way through a situation or a conversation. This is the reason why your interviewers might ask you tricky questions that require creative thinking (or curveballs, in interview lingo).
»What can you do?
Practice! Have your friends conduct mock interviews with difficult interview questions. Just exercise your thinking muscles regularly in the weeks or days leading up to the interview, and you would definitely have done yourself a favor!

(4) Clarity of Goals

Human brain function grunge with gears

To a panelist, one of the most attractive things about a candidate is his/her goal clarity.
Can you articulate your goals in specific detail, and back it with data when required?
Can you give a realistic plan of how you are going to achieve your goals?
Do you know your target industry/ function well enough to answer basic questions about it?
The answers to these questions are crucial.Answering these questions in a half-baked way, without adequate conviction, could kill your interview. ‘I don’t know what management consultants do, but I’m sure I can figure it out at B-school’, is not an acceptable answer.
»What can you do?
Be prepared to answer detailed questions about your post-MBA goals. Research on the web, connect with people on LinkedIn- do whatever it takes to gain more clarity about your post-MBA goals.

(5) Leadership and Team Orientation

ch2- 5

‘This is almost too obvious- but probably the two most important qualities that you will need as a professional climbing up the ladder, are how you lead and how you function in a team. Hence, these are definitely traits that the AdCom is evaluating you on.
»What can you do?
Prepare extensively for questions about leadership and teamwork. Also, while you prepare for other questions, reflect on what your answers are indirectly saying about your ability to lead and work in a team.

(6) Confidence

ch2- 6

Your confidence is a parameter that is going to permeate and influence your entire interview and the rest of your career, for that matter. Actually, make that confidence and self-belief- because the interviewer is on the lookout for not just how you portray yourself in front of other people, but how you competent you feel on the inside (a very smart interviewer can get a sense of this).
»What can you do?
If you have a naturally confident persona, great! Just be wary of not appearing over-confident. If your confidence could do with some extra help, you can read the following sections for hacks to present the most confident version of yourself.
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(III) Cardinal sins of an Interview


(1) Trying too hard or too little

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While it is good to think through your answers and evaluate the potential impact they will have on the panel, there is such a thing as taking it too far. If you are trying to give ‘ideal’ answers to every question, rest assured that the interview panel will see through you. After all, they’ve done this more times that you can count. Show your unique personality, your strengths and weaknesses- do not be a cookie-cutter MBA applicant, saying only what you perceive as the ‘right’ things.
On the other end of the spectrum lies the mistake of appearing as though you don’t care if you get in or not. B-schools are looking for people who are genuinely committed to getting in. If the message you’re communicating is that you can take it or leave it. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have that choice!

(2) Appearing over-confident or under-confident

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You have to display a confidence level that is in the right range. Don’t go overboard and brag too much- it is difficult to work with, or even like somebody, who has too high an opinion of themselves. On the other hand, a B-school interview is not the place for unnecessary humility either. If you do not showcase what you have done and what you plan to do, nobody else can. What you have to aim for is a quiet confidence that speaks for itself!

(3) Not doing your research enough


This is a crucial point. You cannot go in with half-baked information about your goals, post-MBA industry or the B-school itself. You can cause a lot of damage to an otherwise great interview with your ignorance on crucial points about your goals and career., over-prepare! The aura of confidence and assurance that comes from really knowing your intent and subject thoroughly is unbeatable.


(IV) Preparing for your Interview


(1) Decide what to wear

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They say that it takes only 7 seconds for somebody to arrive at a first impression about you. Think about it- just 7 brief seconds! How much you communicate to the interview panel in these 7 seconds is crucial- and the clothes you wear speak very loudly in these initial few moments. Make your wardrobe selection as early as possible- preferably, as soon as you have the interview letter in your inbox.
For men, whether you’re applying to an Indian School or a US School, the attire remains the same- Suit up! And make sure your suit is dry-cleaned and wrinkle free, well ahead of time. For women, if it’s an Indian school you are applying to, either Indian formals (such as a crisp cotton salwar) or western formals ( a formal skirt/pant, shirt and jacket) should do. For international B-schools, do as they do and stick to western formals.

(2) Practice with Diverse Questions and Interviewers

ch4- 2

Prepare from a wide breadth of interview questions. To start with, you can refer our common interview questions section at the end of this e-book. Also, try and get more than one interviewer to conduct mock interviews for you, so that you can get a holistic perspective. If feasible, video-tape your interview so that you can observe your body language and make necessary corrections.

(3) Sort out the Logistics

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Make sure that you anticipate and sort out any logistical issue you may face on interview day. For a Skype interview, this could mean ensuring that your internet connection is fine and ensuring that you have a backup laptop/phone and a backup internet connection (such as a data card).
For a coffee-chat interview with an alumnus, this could mean acquainting yourself with the location of the coffee-place, and maybe even trying a dry-run with a mock interviewer at the same location. For an in-person interview with the AdCom, this could mean visiting the school a day in advance and familiarizing yourself with the topography of the school.

(4) Decide how you are going to open and close the interview

ch4- 4

Know that every interview is likely to have atleast a few curveballs that are thrown at you – especially if you have performed reasonably well, and the panel is looking to decide if you’re a ‘good’ fit or a ‘great’ fit for their college. How do you prepare for these tricky questions? For starters, conduct an interview in your head. Ask yourself tough questions and write down the answers.
Ask your friends to each come up with one very tricky interview question, and try to answer those.It may not be very likely that you will get the same questions on the actual interview, but your mind will be better able to confront a difficult question, with all this practice. You can read our section on tricky questions here.

(5) Prepare for the tricky ones

ch4- 5

Know that every interview is likely to have atleast a few curveballs that are thrown at you – especially if you have performed reasonably well, and the panel is looking to decide if you’re a ‘good’ fit or a ‘great’ fit for their college. How do you prepare for these tricky questions? For starters, conduct an interview in your head. Ask yourself tough questions and write down the answers.
Ask your friends to each come up with one very tricky interview question, and try to answer those. It may not be very likely that you will get the same questions on the actual interview, but your mind will be better able to confront a difficult question, with all this practice. You can read our section on tricky questions here.
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(V) What to do on Interview Day


(1) Visualize Success

ch5- 1
On the day of the interview, wake up early, eat well and keep yourself hydrated. Get to the venue early and try this exercise in visualization.
1. Think of an incident in your life that you are very proud of.
2. Picture yourself in that moment, with all the joyous, powerful sensations coursing through you.
3. Do this a few times before you enter the interview room, so that you are in the best frame of mind to tackle your interview challenge!

(2) Smile a lot

ch5- 2
A pleasant demeanor and a smiling face will have a powerful effect on the tone of your interview. This is because of the ‘mirroring effect’- during a conversation, we unconsciously mirror the expressions of the other person. As difficult as it seems, do this even if you are in the middle of a stress interview, with an interviewer who looks uninterested, bored or irritated. If you maintain a positive presence throughout the interview, you can actually ‘de-stress’ a stress interview.

(3) Stay Calm

ch5- 3
You do not have to be the Buddha, or Master Shifu, while attending an interview. Some amount of stress is ok, and even good for your interview, since it will help you be alert and on your toes. If you feel yourself freaking out in the middle of an interview, the best advice we can give you, at the risk of sounding obvious, is to take a few (not-very-obvious) deep breaths, and sip some water.
If you have been asked a question and have temporarily blanked out, it is perfectly ok to tell the interviewer that you need a minute to think about the answer. Recite your favorite calming-down mantra, and give the question your best shot.

(4) Ask the Right Questions

ch5- 4
A special note here- when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, please refrain from asking when you will be notified of the results, though that may be uppermost on your mind 🙂 Ask thoughtful questions, for which you cannot find the answers elsewhere.
For example, you can ask the alumnus what he/ she enjoyed the most about B-school, or in what area his/her learning curve improved dramatically.

(5) Strike a Conversational tone

ch5- 5

Think of a B-school interview not as a quiz, but as a conversation with your interviewers. This means paying attention to all of the below points –
1. During the early minutes of the interview, try to establish a rapport with a little small talk.
2. Make eye contact consistently during the interview.
3. If you’re not clear about what the interviewer is asking, ask for a clarification.
4. If you are not clear about what of atmosphere you need to create, imagine the entire interview as though it were a conversation with a friendly manager at work ( in other words, be friendly, but not too informal).

(6) Write a Thank-you Note

ch5- 6
Well, you’ve given your interview your best shot! What can you do now to improve your chances? The last arrow in your quiver is the thank you note. Write a simple, heartfelt note to your interviewer, expressing your thanks. You can briefly touch upon something memorable from the interview that you appreciated. Close the note with a statement to the purpose of how excited you are at the prospect of joining their MBA program. Keep your note brief- a few paragraphs at most. Now, sit back and wait for your results! 🙂


(VI) Commonly asked MBA Interview Questions


(1) The Basic Questions

ch6- 1 basic

The below questions are what we would call the fundamental, ground-level questions you can expect in a B-School interview. In other words, it would be madness to enter an interview unprepared for any of these questions 🙂 We recommend that you start your interview preparation with this bunch of questions.
1. Could you walk me through your resume?
2. Why MBA?
3. Why do the MBA now?
4. Why our school?
5. What are your short term/ long term post-MBA career goals?
6. What are your 3 greatest strengths?
7. What are your 2 greatest weaknesses?
8. What do you think will be the biggest concern of the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application?
9. Do you have any questions for me?

(2) Academic Experience

ch6- 2 academic

1. What was the most rewarding aspect of your undergraduate experience?
2. What are you most proud of about your undergraduate period?
3. Why did you select this undergraduate major? Would you have changed your decision today?
4. To what do you attribute your strong academic performance?
5. In which campus activities did you participate? What did you learn or gain from this involvement?
6. Have you ever dropped a class? Why?
7. Which college classes did you like the best/ least? Why?
8. Do you think you received a good education?
9. Do your grades accurately reflect your ability?
10. Were you financially responsible for part or all of your college education?

(3) Work Experience

ch6- 3 work

1. Describe your work experience (in general or with specific employers).
2. What did you find most frustrating at work?
3. What kinds of changes would you make at your work if you could?
4. Do you have any opportunity for innovative thinking?
5. Could you describe an incident where you disagreed with a superior? How was this settled?
6. What aspect of your job do you most enjoy? Why?
7. Of what accomplishment at work are you most proud?
8. If I ask your manager what he/ she values in you, what will he/ she say?
9. What problems have you solved in your previous positions?
10. What have you disliked in your job with employer X?
11. What are some recent responsibilities you have taken on?
12. What do you think it is about yourself that enabled you to earn achievement?
13. Describe a typical workday.

(4) Career Path

ch6- 4 career

1. Why did you leave job A for job B?
2. What will you do if you are not accepted to any of the MBA programs you applied to?
3. What will you do if you are not accepted to our MBA program?
4. Why did you choose to do X?
5. Describe your ideal job after completing the MBA.
6. How does your education or work experience relate to your career goals?
7. Don’t you think that your career path has been a little disjoint?
8. If you do not bag a job in the area you like, what would you do next?

(5) Leadership and Teamwork

ch6- 5 leadership

1. Give me two examples where you demonstrated leadership.
2. How would others describe your leadership style?
3. What do you think is the right way to get things done through others?
4. What would you do if a team member wasn’t pulling his own weight?
5. What qualities should a successful manager possess?
6. Could you name someone you view as a strong leader? Why?
7. Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?
8. Give me an example of your teamwork experience.
9. Do you prefer large or small companies? Why?
10. What kinds of people do you enjoy working with?
11. What kinds of people frustrate you?
12. What kind of people struggle to work with you?

(6) Introspective/ Personal

ch6- 6 introspective

1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Have you ever done any volunteer work? What was it?
3. Were your extracurricular activities worth the time you put into them? What have they taught you?
4. What do you like doing outside of work?
5. Tell me about something in your life you would have done differently if you had the opportunity.
6. What 3 adjectives would others use to describe you?
7. Can you recall a creative/ innovative activity of yours outside work?
8. Tell me about a time you took a risk and what the experience was like.
9. If you were to establish a set of values and beliefs on which to build a business, what would they be?
10. What do success and failure mean to you?
11. Tell me about a time in which you failed.
12 How do you make big decisions?
13. What would you like to change about yourself?
14. Discuss any experience you have had abroad.
15. Describe a life experience that had a strong impact on you?
16. What do you get passionate about?
17. Do you get bored or feel stagnated? How do you resolve boredom?
18. What is one thing you want to convey as your interview comes to an end?

(7) Behavioral/ Situational

ch6- 7 behavioral

1. In dealing with a customer, think of your most difficult situation and tell me how you handled it.
2. Give an example of a case when you felt your boss made a bad decision and explain how you would have handled it differently.
3. Describe a time when you had to bend the rules a little in order to accomplish a goal.
4. Describe a situation where many different things had to get done at once and how you handled it.
5. Describe a disagreement you had with your boss. What did he say? What did you say?
6. Describe a major problem you have faced on the job and how you handled it.

(8) The MBA Progam

Opus College of Business

1. What are you looking for in our program?
2. What can you contribute to your class?
3. Why do you think you would enjoy your chosen area of study?
4. What clubs are you considering joining?
5. It’s two years after graduation, what three words would your MBA team members use to describe you?
6. Which other B-schools are you applying to?
7. If you got into our B-school and B-school ‘X’, which one would you go to and why?

(9) Curve Balls

ch6- 9 curveballs

1. What is the most interesting conversation you have had this week?
2. Explain something to me as if I were an eight-year-old.
3. Tell me something you want to start doing, something you want to do more of, and something you want to do less of.
4. What is the one thing I would have never guessed about you, even after reading your application?
5. Assume you’re a cell phone salesman and I’m a goat herder in Spain. How would you convince me I need to buy one of your cell phones?
6. See that paperclip on the table? Sell it to me.
7. What is the worst thing you’ve heard about joining our B-school
8. How many truck tires are there in the United States?
9. How would you evaluate me as an interviewer?
10. Why are manhole covers round?

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Improving your MBA profile – 40 ways to an awesome MBA application!

Reading Time: 21 minutes

Most MBA grads will tell you that an MBA from a premier B-school can change your career and life in general in a myriad of amazing ways.   Most of them will also tell you that getting into a top B-school requires you to have a stellar B-school profile and a rock-solid application.  


If you have your eyes set on a B-school this year or next year, you probably fit in one of the below categories:  


1. You have great work experience, but are hampered by an average academic record. Or, you are an academic achiever, but you’ve worked at a lack-lustre job for a few years, without much to set you apart.  


2. Your career and academic performance have both been noteworthy, but you are not sure if you have that ‘x’ factor in your profile which can differentiate you amidst a set of similar achievers.


3. You have had a great career, an academic record that you can be justifiably proud of, and a differentiating factor or two- but you are wondering what you can do to improve your chances even further!  


Well, there’s a lot you can do! We have compiled a list of 40 things that can add sheen to your application. Some of these ideas will directly benefit your profile, while some will have an indirect bearing. Even working on a handful of these tips will improve your candidacy and impress the adcom!



1. Learn a new language


 improve MBA profile


With B-schools trying to increase diversity in their classrooms, working knowledge of a foreign language will boost your profile. And did you know that learning new languages helps improve brain function?


It is observed that learning new languages results in improved conversational abilities, better study skills, and heightened concentration- all of which you can channel to help with the GMAT and your interviews. So go ahead, enrol for a language course and impress the adcoms with your knowledge of French, Spanish or what-have-you.   To do next : Check out DuoLingo, a great app for learning a new language! Need more inspiration?Watch this TED talk about how to hack language learning!



 2. Start a Small Business 


    improve MBA profile


Try your hand at a start-up idea. Start small- you could even try a solo venture. You can work independently as a part time photographer, web designer, caterer, or handmade artifacts designer online. Though this is a microcosm of the business universe, you will get exposure to the world of pricing, marketing, and other business functions.


  To do next : The internet is choc-a-block with ideas for entrepreneurship. To start with, you can find some interesting business ideas here. Read this page to understand how you can use Facebook to take your business to your customers.  



 3. Volunteer in your Community


 improve MBA profile


Besides giving you a wider, more humane perspective, the experience of volunteering for your community can improve your ability to take initiative and hone your interpersonal skills. A volunteering stint could also be a great place for you to network.


You could take the initiative to conduct seminars and talks for school kids on awareness about issues like drug abuse, sexual abuse, adolescent health, staying safe online, etc. Imagine the multitude of skills you can learn through such an experience! You will learn how to communicate across age-groups, you will hone your speaking skills, and you will learn valuable facts about these issues that you could dispense to the benefit of everyone around you.


What’s the B-school angle, you ask? This will reflect to the Adcom your commitment to social responsibility, your ability to take initiative, and your organizational and leadership skills.  

To do next : Check out iVolunteer, a social enterprise that has a presence in most major cities in India and that can help you find the right volunteering experience for you.  


4. Pursue your favorite Sport 



If you gave up your involvement in a sports team in school so you could focus on academics, it is now time to pick up where you left off. Playing sports inculcates the ability to work in a team to achieve a common goal. This ability is highly desirable in an MBA candidate.


So gear up, round up your new team, and get going! You may also find this to be a great stress-buster during your MBA admission process.   To do next : If you’re interested and are looking for team-matesor a playing arena, check out Playo, GroundWala or Athletto.  

 5. Learn to play a musical instrument



Almost nobody is immune to the charms of a talented musician. But how will learning a musical instrument help you impress an Adcom, you ask? Well, being able to play a musical instrument will not just add to the versatility of your B-school profile, but will act as an indicator of qualities such as discipline and creativity. You can also show the adcoms that you’re never too old to learn something new!


To do next : Like everything else in life, musical education has gone online too!   Check this link for some of the best resources on learning an instrument online.

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 6.  Sign up for a MOOC 



Take up an online certification course (or courses) through Coursera, Udacity, or edX. There is a plethora of courses offered online. A course related to the subject you will be studying in your MBA will show the adcoms how serious you are about your goals. You can also do courses on leadership, creative thinking, etc. that will help you develop your skill-set.  


To do next : You can check out some of the best websites that offer online courses here.    



 7. Participate in a new Adventure Sport 



When was the last time you lived life on the edge? There are many benefits to dabbling in adventure sports such as river rafting, rock climbing, or bungee jumping, whether as a newbie or as a hard-core enthusiast. One of them is that it displays to the adcom your willingness to take risks and indulge in the spirit of adventure.   Success, as they say, lies outside your comfort zone- and the adcom is on the lookout for candidates who are willing to step out of their comfort-zone to pursue success.  


To do next : Check out the best adventure sports activities to pursue in India.  



 8. Write a Blog



Whether writing has been an interest of yours or not, you will find that polishing your writing skills will pay off when it comes to MBA admissions.Writing in a blog will give your recruiters credible proof of your flair for communication.   Also, writing a blog will give you visibility and give you a channel to put your perspective out there. To write informed blog posts, you will have to read a lot – this will help you improve your research abilities. For all these reasons and more, a well-maintained blog is definitely a way to up your B-school profile.  


To do next : Read about some great tips to start a successful blog and decide if this is something you would like to pursue.  



 9.  Contribute to your Alma Mater 



When you give back to your alma mater, it shows your commitment to the institution – this will reflect well on you since top B-schools look for candidates who would be part of their strong and committed alumni network.   You can contribute to your alma mater financially, or show support as a guest lecturer or student mentor. The alumni-alma mater relationship is a mutually beneficial one- your contributions will benefit your alma mater by helping it uphold its popularity, and this will in turn contribute towards ensuring that the brand value of your education does not diminish.  


To do next : Start by reading this article on how you can contribute to your college. Go to your college website, check out the alumni page, and take it from there!  



 10. Travel to a new place 



“Nothing opens your mind or your eyes like travel.” Travelling opens you up to new geographies, cultures, and economies. The experiences you gain while travelling will develop your ability to relate to others, to negotiate well, and work with people from different backgrounds. So take some time off work to travel through all the countries you have always wanted to see!   


A more interesting way to do this would be backpacking. Backpacking is a great opportunity to find joy in ambiguity and soak up experiences you never imagined undergoing. Backpacking is now made more exciting by concepts like You will get to be a host to international travellers visiting your locality.   As a host, you may open your home for travellers to stay, or be part of events where you can meet travellers in different cities. Meeting new people and gaining exposure to cultures from all over the world will add a great deal of shine to your MBA profile.  


To do next : Need some inspiration? Start by reading a couple of excellent travel sites here and here! Want to get started? Check out this travel app!  



 11. Learn the basics of Finance 


This is an important one if you do not have a background in management studies. A sound knowledge of the concepts like capital budgeting, capital structure, dividend policies, and risk and return is important to your post MBA job. Show the adcoms that you are dedicated towards your goals!  


To do next : Check out these online resources to learn the basics of finance!    



 12. Continue a long lost Hobby 



Playing the guitar, illustrating, dancing…did you do any of these while in school or college but later lose touch with it because of your busy work life? Now’s the perfect time to take your dancing shoes out of the closet and brush the dust off. You can also become part of meet-up groups to interact with people who share a similar passion. Hobbies give you joy, keep you creative, act as an outlet for stress, help you refocus on work- and look great on your B school resume!  


To do next : Here are some cool hobby clubs you can explore.  



 13. Do your bit for the Environment



Many B-schools prefer candidates who have made a positive impact to the world around them (some schools, such as Said, Oxford, are very particular indeed about this aspect, as evidenced by their essay questions). Join a group or organization that works towards making the world a greener and cleaner place.  


If you commute to work on bicycle instead of a car, you can be part of or start a bicyclers’ club. Or, you could start a club on a local scale to plant trees in your locality. You can help in waste management by doing simple things like advocating waste segregation in households, encouraging the recycling of paper and plastic, etc.   


There are also youth groups in India’s cities that focus their efforts on beautifying their cities- join one of these to feel part of a larger whole and collect material for your application essays!   To do next : Check out organizations that are doing great work in this space an explore if you can be their next volunteer!



 14. Attend conferences related to your field




Attend conferences on topics in the area you want to work in post your MBA. You will find that there are several conferences taking place in the management institutes in your city. These are not just opportunities to gain knowledge and network with professionals, but they give you an enhanced perspective that will definitely show through in your essays and interviews with the Adcom.  


To do next : You can find out here about conferences happening this year, and take part in the ones happening in your city. You can also check the conference pages of various premier B-schools and attend the ones that are open to public (check upcoming ISB conferences here.)  


15. Work for a Startup



If you look back, our parents’ generation experienced career progression in a slow and steady fashion. No matter how sincere and talented they were, it was not easy for them to disrupt this pace and accelerate their learning curve.  


Today, however, we have a profusion of founders and CTOs who are yet to hit their mid-twenties- because it is the age of the startup! How does working for a startup benefit you? Well, it could be a crash-course in leadership, dealing with ambiguity, managing stress, multi-tasking and so many ‘more useful skills!  


If you’ve worked for a startup, especially one that’s on the rise, it tells the Adcom that you had the aptitude to survive in a dynamic workplace and that you had the courage to take the risk of working in an uncertain environment.   To do next : Begin to explore the startup ecosystem and the best startups to work for here and here.  



 16. Become active on Twitter


Having a lot of followers on Twitter extends your influence- you’ll have social authority, and you can spread ideas and influence people. Posting valuable content that is worth retweeting, and commenting on relevant and trending news will increase your presence on the platform and bring you more followers. So, use your Twitter account to show the adcoms how influential and up-to-date you are when it comes to current events and trends.  


To do next : Read this Harvard Business Review article on managing your socia presence. And then, start tweeting! 🙂    



17. Get involved in your Society’s General Body




Become a member of the Resident Welfare Association for your housing society. You can play a role that suits your interests. For example, you can work as secretary and conduct regular meetings to discuss the concerns of individuals, or you can even maintain the organizations’ funds as a treasurer.


You can also organize events in your housing society. Take charge of organizing a festive celebration, a cultural event for kids, a charity drive, or a fund raiser. This experience could have the potential to make for a good story in your essays. This experience will display your ability to take initiative and hone your team-playing skills.  


To do next : Here’s a guide to apartment associations. Start by attending the next association meeting of your society to explore if this activity interests you.  



 18. Pick an ambitious project at work




For a great MBA profile, it is important to have a spike in your career in the last one to two years. So, pick up challenging projects at work that relate at least a little to the career path you aspire to pursue post your MBA. Take up responsibilities that you could use to build a story for your essays.


Most schools ask you to describe an instance where you showed leadership and/or problem solving skills. Start building experiences early on so you can pick the most impressive one of all your stories.

 To do next : Read this and this. Initiate a one-on-one meeting with your manager and tell him/her that you want to take on high-visibility opportunities at work. Also, keep a constant lookout for new opportunities – read all company newsletters, network more within the organization and pay utmost attention during all those long meetings and conferences 🙂  



 19. Volunteer/ Work with Teach for India




Spend some of your free time on weekends volunteering at Teach for India. You can work as an assistant teacher in their classrooms, or in administration. Alternatively, you can apply for the Teach for India fellowship, which makes for a strong entry point to an MBA.


Either way, a stint at Teach for India will definitely add a great deal to your profile.


To do next : Visit the Teach for India website and read about the experiences of TFI Fellows.  



 20. Read a new book every month



Reading keeps your mind stimulated and improves your speaking and writing skills. It will also indirectly help you with writing an impressive application essay, and you will probably never fumble for words in an interview or group discussion. So get a library or kindle membership, as the case may be, and use your time well with the pages of a book.  


To do next : Here is a list of 50 books you need to pick up now, as an MBA aspirant. If you’re interested in finding out what others like you are reading, you can check out this social network for readers.

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 21. Join a Fitness Program




Following a fitness regime will make you energetic and disciplined, which will help you in all aspects of life, including your MBA admission process.


And if you have always been a fitness enthusiast, you can start a fitness club in your community, which will also credit you with leadership skills and the ability to take initiative.  


To do next : Find a fitness program that strikes your fancy- whether it be yoga, dance, zumba or cross-training, and stick to it. If you find yourself wavering, get back on track by reading inspirational material, such as this.


 22. Try your hand at something creative





Having a creative hobby, such as painting, pottery, or illustrating can add a touch of uniqueness to your profile. A creative skill, especially a self-taught one, reflects the fact that you are self-motivated and dedicated. Also, a creative hobby will train your brain to think more creatively even when it comes to work. You can engage your interviewers in an interesting conversation about your hobby that can set you apart from other candidates.


To do next : The sky’s the limit here! Are you wondering where to start? Here are some great hobby ideas.



23. Master your negotiation skills



Negotiation skills are an asset in any career path you choose. But when it comes to MBA admissions, it will help you greatly during your interview. Some positive results of mastering negotiation skills are the ability to communicate better and the ability to persuade.  


You will be able to see the perspectives of all parties involved in a discussion, become better at understanding the nature of a discussion, and talk your way into making your interviewers understand why you are a perfect fit for their school.


To do next : Get started by enrolling for an online course on negotiation.  

 24. Take part in Cross Functional Activities at Work




Cross-functional and cross-organizational events require a specific kind of leadership skill-set. They will require you to plan, coordinate with a team that has no formal structure, and delegate work to people that you may not even know.


A few examples of such activities:- When your team is hiring a new member, try to participate in the hiring process. You can help develop the selection criteria, participate in the interview, and give your inputs while making the final decision. Being a part of this process can reflect positively on your credibility within your organization, and show that you understand what makes for a great employee.


You can take part in the training process for new employees in your team, and conduct sessions in your area of expertise. Or you can act as a mentor to a junior to help him or her with their professional growth. This will further enhance your own skill level and will be a testament of your own professional development.  


To show the adcoms that you take initiative and are a leader, start a club at work. It can be based on an interesting hobby or a skills development club such as Toastmasters. Your unique hobby and the activities you organized for it can make your profile stand out among others.


  To do next : Speak to your HR manager or reporting manager to understand how you can pick projects that cut through teams. If you would like to explore Toastmasters, read this link on how to start a ToastmastersClub.  



25. Junk TOI and start reading “The Economist”




Reading a ‘serious’ newspaper/magazine can do wonders to the way you perceive the world and articulate your ideas. The Economist covers news on international and regional economic trends that will help you understand the workings of the business world.


It carries articles on current events in politics, finance, business, science, and the arts from all regions of the world.   You will not just be updated on news, but will get to read thoughtful analyses of important events. This kind of reading will sharpen your skills to put across well-structured arguments about various topics in your essays and interviews.  


To do next : To start with, check out The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Affairs.  



 26. Write a Personal/ Daily Diary




This may not be something that will have a direct impact on your profile, but the benefits of writing a daily journal will definitely have a positive impact on you. Writing everyday will help you clarify and disentangle your thoughts and emotions, and you will be better at expressing yourself.  


When writing a journal, you do not just write about an incident, but you go into the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’- that is to say, you introspect. Also, putting something down on paper creates a sense of accountability, and therefore you can use your daily diary to document your progress and stay on the straight and narrow path.  


To do next : Did you know that you can now keep a personal, private journal online? Here’s how.  



 27. Learn the basics of Data Sciences




The job of a data analyst is most definitely an exciting one and one of the highest paid jobs. Even if this isn’t your post MBA dream job, a basic knowledge of data sciences will greatly benefit you in the heavily data-driven business world we are forging into.When you are able to manipulate and analyze data, make inferences and predictions, you have an edge when it comes to a job promotion or an MBA admission.  


To do next : Sign up for an online course now to gain data science skills!  



 28. Become a Wikipedia Editor




Anybody can be a Wikipedia editor and work anonymously, but it requires a little effort to become a trusted member of the Wikipedia community. You can create a Wikipedia account and user page to get credit among the community. Creating an account will give you the ability to edit some articles that are locked from anonymous edits.


Also, being a Wikipedian, you will get to be part of meets like Wikimania and Wiknics, where you can socialize with fellow Wikipedians from around the world. How does this benefit you as a B-school aspirant? It adds to your coolness/quirkiness quotient!  


To do next : Read up about how to become a Wikipedia Editor.  



 29. Volunteer Overseas




Take a sabbatical from work and enroll for an overseas volunteer program through organizations such as Global Vision International and Projects Abroad. You can work in a country of your liking in areas like community development or wildlife rescue.  Such a volunteering project is a great way to broaden your mind regarding social and environment issues and to broaden your network. Needless to say, an overseas volunteering stint is not something everybody is into- and hence, it could really help you differentiate yourself at a B-school.  


To do next : To know about some interesting projects abroad, check out this link.  



30. Practice your Oratory Skills




Having awesome public speaking skills is as desirable a quality in an MBA candidate, as it is in life. Make use of every such opportunity you get at work to hone this skill. With good public speaking skills, you can reach out to and influence a larger number of people. The ability to talk well to a large group of people is also a vital step towards becoming a great leader.


If you’re having trouble getting up on that pedestal, you can join a public speaking club and get an oratory make-over!  


To do next : Find out if your organization or neighbourhood has a Toastmasters community you can join!  



 31. Meditate




Practicing mindfulness (through meditation, zentangling or whatever else strikes your fancy) improves both physical and mental health. It is proved to reduce stress and improve working memory and attention span. So, try practicing mindfulness as it would be a great way to clear your mind and prepare for your interviews.  


To do next : Here is a fantastic site on the practice of mindfulness in daily life. You can check out apps like Headspace and Take a Break to help you get started.



 32. Create a YouTube Channel and Post ‘How-To’ Videos




If you have a skill you are proud of,what better than sharing it with the world? You can create an explainer video series for any topic you can imagine! You can be as creative as you want when making your videos, using different techniques like animation, live-action, or anything else you can think of.  

Posting how-to videos and gaining followers on your Youtube channel is not only a platform for you to show off your skills in that particular topic, but is also an opportunity to exhibit your creativity and increase your circle of influence.  


To do next : Learn how to make a great how-to video.  



33. Become a Top Contributor on Quora





You can become one of the ‘most viewed writers’ on Quora by answering queries on topics you are an expert in. Contribute frequently and thoughtfully, with quality answers and solutions. Pick specific topics that are related to your field of study so you can project your academic seriousness to the adcoms.  


To do next : Read up about how to become a top writer here.    



 34. Spruce up your LinkedIn Profile




Make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile updated with your professional experience and skills, recommendations, and resume. Other than this, you can write quality articles on LinkedIn.


Since your connections as well as others can follow your posts, strong content can get you the right attention as you are already addressing the right professional audience on LinkedIn. Write articles that could be featured on LinkedIn Pulse as that will give you visibility amongst millions of users. This can help you gain a large number of followers and opportunities to engage with readers.


  To do next : Read this article for tips on how to create a killer LinkedIn profile.  



 35. Kick an Unhealthy Habit




Losing those extra pounds or getting rid of an addiction is not that easy. It requires patience and a strong will power. So a feat like this shows that you are determined and focused. Not to mention, it would be good fodder for the ‘What are you most proud of’ essay that is common to many B-schools. Also, healthy habits keep you positive, and this will benefit your candidacy.  


To do next : Read this thoughtful article on how to kick a bad habit. Introspect! Look at what changes you’d like to make to your life, if any.    


 36. Contribute to Newspapers and Magazines




Write to newspapers and magazines and get yourself published with a byline. You can write in the form of a letter to the editor, voicing your opinion on a current issue, or you can write an article for a magazine about the latest developments in an area of your interest.   Most online publications have a ‘Write for Us’ section where you can submit your article.


A publication in a renowned newspaper or magazine will show to the Adcom that you are up-to-date on important issues, that you care enough to voice your opinion, and that you are articulate enough to be published!   To do next : Research publications that are aligned to your areas of interest.


Check out the ‘write-for-us‘ or ‘contribute’ section to figure out how you can get your articles published.  



 37. Join a Political Party




Being part of a local political party will get you involved in the grassroots problems of your society. Awareness of governance policies and an in-depth awareness of the problems faced by your community prove your social consciousness. You can diversify yourself as an MBA candidate through your involvement in politics. Also, you can experience leadership in a completely different environment.


To do next : Read up on how to join a political party here.    



 38. Be very active on GMAT/ MBA Forums




Be helpful! Share all that you’ve learned with your peers on GMATClub, BTG and any network you are following. Reciprocity is a powerful human emotion- if you help out fellow aspirants, you are widening the network of people who are at some stage likely to help you in return. Staying active in the B-school aspirant circle will also ensure that you stay updated about all new developments and trends in this space.  


To do next : If you haven’t done so already, create an ID on GMATClub here and BeatTheGmat here.



 39. Consider Part-Time Teaching




A teacher needs excellent interpersonal skills to interact with students and communicate ideas to them. The fact that you have had experience as a teacher would reflect your ability to articulate well and to guide a group of people. You can take up a part-time teaching position, or you can simply take tuition classes at home- both could make your profile look more desirable.  


To do next : To start out on this path, you could upload your profile here.  



 40. Visit the B-School Campus




Visit the school you want to get into through freshman visits or group visits programs. You will have an opportunity to interact with students and the admission committee and also have a guided tour of the campus. This would give you a clearer picture of what the school is looking for in a candidate, and interaction with current students from the program you are applying to is always an added advantage.  


To do next : Check out this article for useful tips on how to conduct your B-school campus visit.



 Now that you know all the things you could do to improve your profile, here are two important points to keep in mind while you polish your B-school profile.  


First, choose activities that would help you break the stereotype people would fit you into if they wanted to. For example, if you are one amongst the over-represented IIM (Indian IT Male) population, joining an NGO might not really distinguish you that much, because a LOT of Indian aspirants tend to have NGO experience on their resumes. Try and pick something unexpected that will stick in the minds of the Adcom.   For example, if you are an accountant and showcase a skill that is not expected of an accountant, such as writing poetry, your profile will be memorable.  


The second crucial point is that you need to understand the art of storytelling. Telling their stories well is not a skill that comes very naturally to most B-school aspirants. However, with a little guidance and practice, you can master the art of presenting your story in such a way as to make it sound unique and unforgettable.   How do you get better at this? There are some great books available on pitching your B-school application well. Besides, you can also reach out to application consultants to help you frame a winning B-school application!  


Click here for a downloadable PDF version of this article   Download E-Book



Profile Evaluation Crackverbal


Carey Business School – An Overview

Reading Time: 8 minutes

A few weeks ago we had executives from John Hopkins – Carey Business School fly down from the United States to visit us at our Koramangala Center to do a small presentation of what Carey Business School has to offer to our MBA/MS applicants. Check out the presentation on slideshare below:


Carey Business School from CrackVerbal




Johns Hopkins as a university is known for the medical school and the hospital, but is also famous for the school of engineering, the school of public health, and now the newest school, Carey Business School. Their curriculum consists of a global MBA, some one-year specialty Master’s degrees, and dual degrees.


Hopkins, founded in 1876, was always a university, America’s oldest research university. Carey Business School is a new school, founded in 2008 as a stand-alone business school. Although before that Johns Hopkins was still in the business education sector, there were just part-time programs that spanned across Washington DC and Baltimore Maryland.


Though a new school, they have a large number of business alumni. The concentration / specialization for the MBA or a one-year Master’s degree include Enterprise Risk Management, Finance, Marketing, Healthcare Management, Real Estate and Infrastructure, Entrepreneurship, and Information Systems. They also offer dual degree programs that are offered through schools either at Hopkins, or other schools in the region.


The Global MBA


This is a traditional 2 year MBA that involves two major experiential learning projects through its timeline. During the first year, international students do something called a Summer Intensive, which is an orientation just for international students followed by an orientation for all students.
During year one, the focus is on all core business and management courses. This course has a class strength of about 40-60 students.

Innovation of Humanity and Discovery to Market are the two experiential learning projects that a student will be looking at. Innovation for Humanity focuses on developing economies and dwells around a social entrepreneurship/social enterprise type of project that has a positive impact on the local community.
Discovery to Market focuses on working with scientists or researchers who have a discovery that is yet to be evolved into a marketable product. The student will play the role of a consultant and come up with a business plan – from the research phase, patent research, all the way through the investment phase – and make a final recommendation.

Master of Science Degree (One Year) 


These are specialized and focused Master’s degrees. There are thirty six credits. This program consists of a small number of business foundation courses, irrespective of the concentration that a student chooses.
But for the most part, the focus will be on the functional core such as Marketing, as well as electives, which are sub-areas of the subject that the student is studying. They are spread out between the Washington DC and Baltimore Maryland campuses, and Baltimore Maryland is just fifty miles or so north of Washington DC.


The Dual Degree Programs


You can opt for an MBA/JD, the Juris Doctor, for being an attorney with the Maryland School of Law. You can also opt for an MBA/MD with Hopkins School of medicine. There is also an MBA/MA course in Design Leadership on offer.




Carey Business School currently has 76 full-time faculty under the research and practice discipline. They are complimented by teachers from all the other schools from Hopkins. They have visiting scholars, guest lectures (academic and professional) corporate, senior professional instructors (folks that are actually out there working in the corporate world, for the government, or for an NGO).
They maintain an office in the school, and they bring their special perspective from whatever industry they are in to the students and to the school.


Career Development office


They begin working with the student from the time he/she accepts the admission offer. They will reach out to the students and assign to them a career coach, particularly, for the Global MBA, and start working with them, getting an idea of what is that next step you need to make in your career when you graduate.
During school, there will  always be workshops, and boot camps. The Career Development Office will provide you with opportunities to sharpen your interview skills and to sharpen your resume before heading out to the outside world.

The other half of Career Development is involved in corporate relations. They maintain/create new relationships with the various companies that have hired Carey Business School students as interns or employees.
Carey Business School hosts info sessions where job prospects from all over the world are presented. They have companies that come from all kinds of functions making their placement chances very versatile.

Application Process: Online Applications Only


No. of Essays: 1


Statement of Purpose: Not required but resume is mandatory


Competitive exam to take: GRE or GMAT for MBA/MS


Recommendation Letters: Minimum 1


TOEFL/IELTS: Mandatory


Transcripts from Bachelors degree: Mandatory


They also offer merit scholarships. Everyone who applies is eligible. There is no separate application. When you apply, they are also considering you for the scholarships that range from about $10,000 all the way up to full scholarships in exceptional cases. The same footing for international and domestic applicants applies. The letter of admission mentions the amount of scholarship an applicant receives.

Check out the presentation below!




1. What is the average GMAT score required to get an admit?

It depends on the program. For example, for the global MBA it is about a 650, for the master of finance it’s a 700, and the rest range close to 650.


2. Does Carey Business School currently have Indian students pursuing Master’s of Marketing?

Currently Carey Business School has 2 Indian students out of 120 students. For certain programs like Master’s in Marketing, Real Estate, and Healthcare, they actively look to admit students from other regions to participate. Hence, scholarship options will be plenty.


3. What is the class size of an MBA program?

They have a class of 100 students at present and are looking to increase their class size actively from next year.


4. What is the mix of students? What different industries are they from?

Carey Business School has students from practically every background. There are students that come from a typical business background. They have students coming from engineering, IT, the medical field, politics, and the arts. They don’t focus towards a particular background as a prerequisite for the MBA.
It can be any field, as long as the work experience for the MBA is present. No work experience is required for a Master’s program. The only mandatory requirement is an undergraduate GPA performance and the GMAT/GRE.


5. How much work experience do you recommend for the MBA?

The preferred minimum is 2 years for a Carey Business School admit. The average is five. In rare cases students are given an admit with little to no experience, but that requires a pre-requisite of a high GMAT score along with a close to perfect GPA with a lot of professional experience such as work with an NGO, etc.,  that could replace professional work experience.


6. What are the  experiential projects like at Carey? Are they  in-house projects or real-time projects?

It’s a real-time, outside-of-the-school project. In the case of Innovation for Humanity, the students start in the first semester and they’re taught how to do this type of consulting. At the same time, they’re put in a group with other students and assigned a client somewhere in a developing economy and they start working remotely with that client while they’re being classed.
During semester breaks they actually go to that place and work one-on-one as consultants for that client. Besides working on projects, they have no connection to the school. So it’s not a made up project. The second project is science based. Clients have a science based discovery, a patent, or an invention, that needs to be developed into a marketable product.


7. What are the specific details looked for in the application essays?

The topic asks for an instance where you built something. It’s the time when you took the initiative and the leadership to create either a process or a new entity. This is an instance where you saw a need for something, you came up with an idea to fulfill that need, and you took it all the way through to the end.
What they’re really looking for is examples of taking initiative and showing leadership, and being able to manage a complex project.Also, they look for good writing, proper grammar, and proper spelling. When you have negative things in your background, such as a low GPA, address it and explain why it happened in the optional essay.
They also let people do a video essay, so a lot of people have taken advantage of that to give a better idea of their background, what they are looking for, and what they are trying to get out of the MBA.


8. What are the TOEFL and IELTS cut-off scores?

TOEFL: 100, IELTS: 7


9. Is the TOEFL/IELTS mandatory? Can it be waived off?

It is mandatory. It cannot be waived off.


10. Can you give us some information about the 3-year and 4-year undergrad courses?

For the three-year degree, WES will evaluate an Indian three-year degree as being equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. If you meet the two criteria—you’re school is rated ‘A’ or better by NAAC, and you graduated in division one or with distinction above division one—their policy is to say your degree is equivalent to a four-year bachelor’s degree.
If you don’t, unfortunately you cannot be admitted without having perhaps having a post-graduate program or one of those one-year programs to give you that fourth year of post high school education.


11. Are there a lot of cases where students make a career shift to Healthcare Management?

Yes, there are students who have done that. At least 50% of the students are making major career changes, and Healthcare Management is one they’ve been pursuing.


12. What is the cost of living?

Most graduate schools in the US do not have housing for students. All students usually live quite close to either of the campuses, because there is a shuttle that goes back and forth. The school has a lot of online resources to help you find places to live.
We set up a Facebook page for the incoming class so that they can connect with each other to find roommates and connect with the previous class to get advice and recommendations.


13. What functional areas do students wind up working in post their MBA?

By a slight majority they wind up in consulting—IT, healthcare, and general management consulting. Second is Healthcare Management. Third is the category, ‘other’. This is the big mix of all the different industries you can imagine. Fourth is IT.


14. How is the Indian undergrad GPA score evaluated when compared to US standards?

The credential evaluation system knows the nuances of all the schools in India, and they put the grade scale on a US perspective.


15. What do job recruiters prefer between an MS and an MBA?


It varies based on the type of job. Sometimes recruiters say they want an MBA student with a concentration in a certain area, but it can also be opened up to MS students that have a degree in that same area. At least in the US, the MBA has a longer shelf-life and more recognition, so to say.


It is a generalist degree—you’re getting marketing, finance, operations, HR—you’re getting so much at once, that when you move up the ladder, you tend to already have had some exposure to the basic elements.
Whereas, if you have an MS in finance, that’s great when you’re an analyst, but ten or fifteen years later when you’re looking for something else you might need a different skills set. An MS degree is easier to get into, because they don’t require work experience. But the job you get coming out is not the same as that of the MBA student.

Has that got you interested? Check out snapshots of other popular B-schools as well!
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ISB Essay Analysis for 2015-16

ISB Essay Review for PGP 2016-17
Reading Time: 12 minutes


Click here if you looking for the latest ISB Essay Analysis (the 2016-2017 application season).


The ISB essays pose an interesting mix and have something for everyone to write about. Some of the previous essay topics were tricky and not everyone could have written about them with ease. This year it sticks to a very standard format of 3 essays and 1 optional essay. Out of the 3 standard essays, one of them gives you an option to choose between two essays.


The overall approach to the essays should be to compare yourself to someone else with a similar but only slightly better profile. So if you have done your engineering from Delhi College of Engineering then think this guy has done it from IIT-Delhi. If you have a GPA of 8.5 then assume this person has a GPA of 9.0. If you have a GMAT of 730 then assume this person has a 750. If you have worked for a good brand name – say TCS then assume he has worked for a better one – say Microsoft.


In short – if on paper this person has an edge over you in terms of PURE numbers then what is it that you would do to make ISB sit up and look at your profile. What will make them say “Wow! We got a guy who is very interesting”. If you don’t have an answer to that – then maybe it is time for you to start thinking.


A total of 1100 words for the essays so there is a lot of room for you to play around. However, those who are new to MBA Applications writing might find this word limit very tight. Also, I have kept the tone and grammar of this analysis very “conversational”. In some places I could even be grammatically wrong. Like this.
However, when you write the essays I would recommend you think through the writing part. It has to be articulated well – clear and crisp is the mantra. (We do have a service for those struggling with the word count and grammar.)


ISB essay 1:


If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? 


(word limit: 300 words)


If you have heard any of Steve Job’s speeches, this is the “one more thing moment”. This is the time in his speeches, when after talking about all the cool features, at the very end, he gives out yet another killer feature to wow the audience. Or take this analogy: If you had an hour long interview and after it got over, just before leaving, you turned around and said “One more thing” – what would it be?


In short, this question is asking you – What is your WOW factor?


Remember to use the START framework to compose your answers. This essentially breaks down any story into 5 parts:


S        ->      Situation

T        ->      Task

A       ->      Action

R       ->      Results

T        ->      Takeaways


#1 Situation:


What to write:

What was the background to the problem? What was the enormity of the issue? Why did you come in? What did it mean to you?



Make sure you give the reader enough background. This is like the first few scenes in a movie in which every character is described. This is to ensure you drive home the point about WHY it was so important for you.



“While Traction Technologies always had a policy of “employees first”, they did have to make the hard decision of laying off people if they had to continue being profitable. I walked into the office everyday morning knowing that this could very well be my last day. The cafeteria crib sessions were like group therapy for us.” 


#2 Task:


What to write:

Explain clearly the task you had at hand. This could either be an explicit job role or something you assumed without being told. In either case you need to ensure you explain what is it that you were trying to achieve.



It is important that you give a clear picture of WHY you chose to do that set of actions. What was the thought process behind it? Give them a glimpse of who you are.



“However, I soon realized that it was negative energy that was getting spread. I did not want everyone to wear a sad face everyday. So I decided to replace the everyday crib session with a “brown bag lunch session” where we would talk about the latest technology. Not only would it help us focus away from the negativity but also it would also help us in retooling incase we got some other job opportunity.”


#3 Action:


What to write:

What did you do? Did you face any resistance? Did you have to change your plans midcourse? What was the biggest challenge that you DID NOT anticipate?



A lot of writers spend almost 90% of the essay talking about what they did. Here is where you have to be careful. You need to be crisp and clear. Don’t get into too many details.



“Only 6-7 people turned up for the 1st session as many thought it was company-sponsored and hence were put off. Upon getting to know it was their “friends” who were conducting it, the numbers swelled over the next few weeks to over 50. The debates were animated and a lot of ideas were exchanged in these informal sessions.”


#4 Result:


What to write:

What was achieved because of this? Did people save money? Did it help a particular client? Did you get a promotion or a reward or excellent ratings?



Don’t repeat what is already mentioned in the “Achievements” section of your application form. Just touch upon the impact it made to the organization and toyou. Be poetic and not prosaic.



“My CEO personally called me for a meeting where he praised me for my leadership, saying “Ashok, you really know how to push your circle of influence”. I felt an immense sense of pride but it also made me wonder about what he had said about me.”


#5 Takeaways:


What to write:

Read the question stem again: What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? A few more questions to make you think: How did this change you as a person? What do you look back to and remember the most? How does this reflect on you as a person? What is it that you would do differently because of this experience?



Be personal. This is not a place to give a bullet list of things. Nor is this a place to brag. Also tie it with WHY this is such an important achievement for you.



“I think this achievement stands out because it revealed something about myself that even I did not now. It showed me that I am a servant leader – someone who leads from the back. Secondly, it told me that though at the start of our careers, we feel we have limited influence,  only when we really try, do we know how much we are capable of.”


If you see, the example takes you through the story of Ashok by providing you a ringside view of what happened in his life and how he was enriched by the experience.


Get Your ISB essays reviewed


ISB Essay 2


Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal / professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, why and the outcome?




Describe a (only one) situation in your personal / professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn?

(word limit: 300 words)

At the outset, it does NOT matter which essay you pick. Final ISB Admits would have an equal mix of people who chose the “risky decision” and people who chose “diversity”.  So don’tover-think this.
In other words, pick the story that YOU think makes more sense. Don’t think of it from the Admissions Committee perspective. Let me rephrase it: Don’t even TRY to think of it from the Admissions Committee perspective.

#1 Risky Decision

Part 1: What was the risk?
A lot of times the writer assumes that the reader knows the risks involved. The assumption could be flawed. For example: “We realized two days before the deadline that we couldn’t meet it”. Now unless you explain the gravity of the project you cannot assume the reader knows about it. It could be a small change request being worked on by a 1-member team, as part of an inconsequential maintenance project, or it could be a major online feature go-live for Flipkart for which marketing has already been done.  You need to tell the reader about the risk.
Part 2: Why did you decide to take the risk?
So what were the options available? Maybe there were none and this was not really a calculated decision. Maybe you chose the risk in the face of grave personal danger for a larger cause. Whatever it is – make sure you spell it out clearly.
Part 3: How did you take the risk?
Was this a blind gamble or were you monitoring the outcome periodically and making changes to your approach? I hope you pick the latter. As a potential ISB candidate you don’t want to come across as someone who cannot think through a situation. After all, one of the biggest risks is doing an MBA! 🙂
Also provide some insights into team-work i.e. did you take everyone into confidence while making this decision, did you understand the implications well, what did you do when things did not go your way.
Part 4: Why did you take the risk?
This is the part ISB is more interested to know – what does this tell them about you? What did you learn from it? How does that make you a better person today? It is not the risk itself but the person behind the decision to take the risk that ISB is looking for.
A lot of times people think they should only write about risks that they succeeded in. Not true! You can write about risks that you took that did not turn out the way you wanted them to. For example you can talk about how you took a risk of putting your money in a wrong investment. Or maybe about how you quit your job thinking you will have your own startup but it didn’t materialize. Or maybe about how you bet on the wrong guy for a job.
It is okay to fail. It is more important to realize the lesson behind it. However, remember that the narration of a risk that did not lead to success has to be evocative and insightful to have an impressive effect.

#2 Diversity

A similar essay prompt has been used in INSEAD for many years now. The advantage here is unlike the INSEAD one – don’t think just geography. Think financial background. Think language background. Think educational background. *Anything* that makes the other person different from you is good!
Some of the most successful students we have had have spoken about something that changed the way they think about others. Here are some examples:
One applicant went to the US for the first time in her life and saw how people spent money without saving much. At first she resisted the idea but slowly understood that this is how people in the US work and appreciated how this fosters new ideas and helps the economy grow. This is how diversity impacts you.
Another applicant went to Germany and saw his PhD guide’s son stop studying after high-school to explore his passion for skiing. At first he was shocked but soon realized the beauty of a culture that lets people decide for themselves. This is how diversity changes the way you think.
If you see none of these stories are about diversity that stems from ignorance of another culture. For example, to say I went to France and was taken aback that they drink wine with every meal is not talking diversity. It is talking “stupid”.
It is not okay to just talk about the diversity. You also need to talk about how it impacted you.
Here is where you talk about how it has changed you as a person. How you now look at things in a new light. And how you hope this adds value to the class at ISB. It is important to reflect upon this incident and showcase yourself in a better light.

ISB Essay 3


What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there?


(word limit: 300 words)

This is a classic Goals essay. So what you need to do is create a start, a middle-part, and an end.

The Start (100 words):

Clearly state your post ISB Career plans in black and white. Don’t use obscure statements such as “get into general management” or “want a leadership position”. That is code for “I have no clue what I want to do but want to surely boss around a lot of people”. If you are unable to put your career goals in unambiguous terms then perhaps you can get some professional help.
After that you need to say why are you the best person to get there. Here is where you talk about where you currently are, in your career. What you have learned at work (not too technical) and what makes you so special.

The Middle (100 words):

Next you need to talk about the opportunities to grow. Someone from a technical background might want to understand the business side of things to get a fuller context. Someone from an operational perspective might want to grow into a role that involves more people management. Someone who is an analyst might want a more client-facing role by becoming a consultant.
For every job there is some growth, or some career “next steps” that are possible. If you are in a role that has no such career progression then either you are not thinking hard or you don’t need an MBA.
Note here: Avoid references to how you hate your job or how your manager is a tyrant. Anything negative would go against you. Focus on the positives. Talk about how you are eager to take up opportunities that will help you grow in life. Show them the ambition, not the frustration.
Now talk about the 2 or 3 absolute “must haves” for you to get into that role. It could be the brand credentials of a top MBA for consulting. It could be the general management aspect of looking at things for someone in a finance career stream. It could be the wider perspective your teammates offer,that might make you a well-rounded Product Manager. It could be all of these.

The End (100 words):

Here is where you need to talk about why an MBA from ISB is going to help you get those skills. By this point, if your writing is clear and crisp, it should be a no-brainer on WHY you should be doing an MBA. It should focus on WHY ISB.
Steer clear of generic stuff. You don’t want an MBA because it has “world class infrastructure” and “renowned faculty”. That is stuff even IIPM could claim!
Do research. Talk to current students/alumni. Attend info sessions. Read up as much as you can about the school. If possible make a trip to the ISB campus! In short – pull out all the stops to ensure you understand why ISB is a good fit. Don’t do this to impress the Admission Committee.
Do this because your decision is going to cost you the next 1 year, and over 30+ lakhs (including lost opportunity costs). You better be sure  🙂

ISB Essay 4 ( optional)


Please use this space to explain any career breaks / provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB.


(word limit: 200 words)

There are 3 categories of people who would benefit from this:
If you applied previously then this essay should focus just on what has changed in your application. You should talk about what else has happened in this time (GMAT score improvement or taking up a new project). You should also write about the additional responsibilities at work that you might have undertaken.
If you received feedback on your previous application, then do mention a couple of things that you have done to understand it better. Maybe you spent time talking to some alumni from that school. Maybe you took up a course in Coursera to know more about your chosen post-MBA career.
Don’t focus on the minor details and get too tactical. Think of the bigger picture – what were their main concerns last time and how can you best address them in this essay.
Break in education or employment
If you got poor grades in college or have a gap in employment then this is the best place to address it. Tell them when the break happened and the reasons for it.
A big danger sign is when people start writing a sob story about how they fell ill or how fate played a treacherous game. Steer clear of that version. Tell them the reason but quickly shift gears to talk about how the experience has made you stronger/better and why ISB shouldn’t really worry about this gap.
Also a month’s break in employment or slipping beyond the top 25% of your class is not that big a deal so don’t bring the spotlight to things that you think area problem, that ISB may not consider a problem.
Include another Wow Factor
Remember the other 800-pound gorilla has a higher GMAT, better work-experience and in general – better pedigree than you have. So here is where you show ISB that “you are who you are”and that you are better in many other ways.
You can talk about your family background or something unique about something that could NOT have been covered in the earlier essays. I see a lot of applicants using this to talk about one more project at work or one more detail that they could not fit in anywhere else. Wrong approach.
Instead tell them about your dream, your passions – about what has made you who you are today. After reading the essay, the person should say “Wow! I didn’t know that”.
I have written this so anyone applying for ISB this year has a clear idea of what to write. Now the only thing left is to start writing.

So here are the deadlines:

ISB Round 1 deadline is 15 Oct 2015
ISB Round 2 deadline is 15 Jan 2016
If you have any feedback,do let us know in the comments section below. I would also encourage you to share it with others who might benefit from this.
If you want us to have a look at your ISB essays or even discuss whether your stories make sense then let us know by filling the form below.

Get Your ISB essays reviewed

A Guide to asking the right questions about MBA Admissions at MBA fairs

GMAT MBA fair What to ask Do's and Don'ts
Reading Time: 3 minutes

You have been there – you have done that, but at the end of it all, none of your questions regarding MBA Admissions were answered to your satisfaction!
Is that a thought you relate to?
Well, maybe you were asking the wrong questions, or asking the right questions in the wrong way.

Before I deep-dive into the list, here are 2 generic things that you need to remember when clearing your doubts about MBA Admissions at MBA fairs:

1) Leave questions open-ended

For all questions you can end with “Is there anything else that you think I should know? Is there anything else that you think is important for this”? Make sure the Admissions Member is able to provide you pointers that you may have NOT anticipated.

2) Don’t ask for data – ask for opinion.

The value should be given to the person’s perspective and not to something google-able. So try to pick their brains by asking things specific to your case.

Tips MBA GMAT MBA Admissions Fair

Pro Tip: Want to know the different types of people you will meet at an MBA Info-session? Check out this blog on ‘Staying cool at MBA info-sessions’ to get impressions right!


Here’s a list of specific questions about MBA Admissions and how to ask them:

crossWhat not to ask: Extent of scholarship awarded or any such information found on their website.

cool-green-tickWhat to ask: Their thoughts on how typically Indian candidates such as yourself fund their education

crossWhat not to ask: Generic questions such as the placement scene for that year, or questions about salary ranges, or “campus placements”.

cool-green-tickWhat to ask: The kind of companies in your industry and function that they have alums in and if possible any tips on what such companies look for in post-MBA roles.

crossWhat not to ask: % of international students or any such google-able data about the demographics

cool-green-tickWhat to ask: Enquire if there are people with similar backgrounds as yours. If you are really interested (only if you are) should you ask for introductions.

crossWhat not to ask: Whether you will get in

cool-green-tickWhat to ask: What are the typical things that an applicant should keep in mind while applying to that particular school?

crossWhat not to ask: Generic question about groups and activities in the college campuses.

cool-green-tickWhat to ask: Specific groups and activities that might be of interest to a candidate like you.

Now that you are all set to go, get going on that list of questions you want answered at MBA info-sessions.

Did we clear all your doubts? Still got questions? Let us know in the comments below!

Pro Tip: Curious about how to kick off your mission to your dream business school? Download this free e-book – A guide to GMAT to get started.

The CrackVerbal Alumni Meet 2015

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The CrackVerbal Alumni Meet was held on the 28th March ’15 at Hotel Nahar Heritage, Bangalore. There was excitement, fire and thrill that kept all of us waiting for our 12 mighty heroes who came down to address future MBA aspirants.


Our Alumni Group consisted of the following people:

Sreejith (760) – Indian School of Business

Naveen (740)             – Michigan State University

Sumeet (730)             – McGill University

Ajinkya (710)            – Indian School of Business

Swati (700)              – Saïd Business School, Oxford

Vatsal (700)             – Saïd Business School, Oxford

Harsha (750)             – Kenan -Flagler Business School

Paul George (650)     – University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign

Shailika (700)           – Indian School of Business

Apoorva (700)           – Indian School of Business

Garv (750)               – Ross School of Business

All of them come from diverse backgrounds with some of them coming from the dreaded Indian IT male background. They told us about how they conquered the GMAT, sold their story to the B-school and finally secured an MBA admit to their dream School.


The session opened with our first panel – Naveen (Michigan State University), Paul (University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign), Garv (Ross School of Business) & Harsha (Kenan -Flagler Business School)


All of them were engineers with an IT background and so the first question that was thrown to them was on how they managed to differentiate their “typical IT profile” to the B-schools. Paul, one of our panelists had a very unique take towards this question. He emphasized that IT is not the culprit that makes it hard to be different but it is the person and his passion that differentiates each and every one. There has to be some clarity of thought towards how a person feels about his MBA – What he wishes to do, what he wants to learn and if the future after his MBA is aligned with his passion.


So it all boils down to knowing what you need to do in life before you do your MBA!


Moving on, the next question that was thrown to the panel was the number of times that they would advise someone to take the GMAT?


As a majority of them had appeared for the GMAT more than once, they responded that the number of attempts on the GMAT doesn’t matter, it is the score and there is no limit on the number of attempts one should take till the target score is achieved. The pressure, the tension and expectations all lead to a very turbulent feeling while taking the GMAT, so take as many mock tests as possible.



One of the questions that was heavily stressed on was, how can one finance his own MBA? According to our panelists, when it came to taking a loan it is very important to consider not only the tuition fees but also the living costs in the city where you would live.


Though it is tough to get a scholarship at a top B-school, somewhere around the top 20, you would be able to leverage a good amount of scholarship by using your score and your profile.


However, Garv had a very different take on this question. He felt that it was important to focus on the GMAT before even beginning the college selection process because schools would only accept scores in their range. Also, research on the average GMAT score required for Indians at your preferred B-school. And, even if you don’t get any scholarship but feel this is your dream school and your ROI would be greater than your investment. You should take the leap of faith!



The second panel had a lot of ISB admits – Sreejith, Shailika, Apoorva, Ajinkya as well some Global MBA admits Sumeet, Swati, Vatsal, . This panel was hosted by an ISB – Alumnus himself, Al Ameen (also a faculty at CrackVerbal.)


The session started off with an ISB vs. Global B-schools battle between our panellists. They emphasized on why ISB was better while the others took the side of Global B-School. Ajinkya who got into one of the top 2 B-Schools (CEIBS and ISB) in Asia had a unique take on this. After doing some research he concluded that CEIBS has really good placement records only for the local Chinese students. On the other hand ISB offered both diversity and placements for their students.

The Global B-School panel emphasized on the fact how the Said School of Business, Oxford would add value to their resume. After connecting with some alumni, they realized that it is not hard to find a job post your MBA either in the UK or India. Vatsal who had already worked in the UK felt that although placements are hard, it all came down to networking with the right people to get the right job.

Sumeet Singh who got an MBA admit from McGill University said that Canada also has budding B-Schools which offer a lot of placements especially for International Business expansion. He mentioned how McGill has programs dedicated to that particular subject.

Al-Ameen trying to portray Arnab Goswami brought the topic of whether it is easier for a Women to get an admit B-Schools. Is it easier for a woman to get an admit? All the male panelists came out in unison saying “Yes” since they prefer a diverse background!

And as the saying goes, “all good things come to an end” and this last view on B-school diversity, marked the end of the CrackVerbal Alumni meet. All in all this event was eye opening for a lot of students. There was emotion, drama and at the end of it all a pinch of fairy dust that invoked tremendous inspiration to all our MBA aspirants who were present in the room.

Read about our next edition of the same event, the MBA Summit, conducted in April 2016!

Are you still wondering if you can get into a top B-School this year? Let us help you!

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How to build a perfect application for a Top B-school

Reading Time: 16 minutes

The MBA application process can be quite overwhelming if you’re just starting out! Learn how to plan your  MBA  application journey all the way to your dream B-school!

Application Process Deconstructed

Welcome to Part 2 of the series- Introduction to MBA and GMAT application process. In the first part of the MBA and GMAT application process, we looked at what is it that we can look for while selecting a b-school and what are the questions you need to be asking yourself when you look at an MBA program- why you want to do an MBA.
In Part 2, we will be completing the application part while looking at what does an MBA application process involve and what do b-schools look for.
You have to understand how the process works so this is an overview of how b-schools selecttheir students. B-school select for approximately about 6-8 months. So when does it start?

Pre- Application Process

(start as early as possible –
Steps to follow:
It starts with a pre-application process and that is nothing but the activities that you need to do in order to be ready for the application.
Following are the activities:

1. Take the GMAT

This is as simple as it can get. You have to take the GMAT to apply to most top b-schools. Be sure that you’re ready for the exam. Don’t take the exam 2 weeks before your deadline because let’s say, God forbid, something was to happen and you have to take the test again. It will not give you an opportunity to reschedule the test. Try to take it as early as possible.

2. Identify your recommenders

Apart from GMAT, you have recommendations. This is where you have the college requiring you to write in with the names of 2 people who have worked with you in a professional capacity. So make sure you’re able to get the recommenders in place. Identify, talk to them, tell them that you’re interested in an MBA, try to get a buy-in from them. A lot of times, just before the applications, I’ve seen a lot of applicants running here and there.

3. Get your college transcripts

Transcripts are nothing but mark sheets provided on a single page. You don’t need to worry about it in the end. Just apply for it- a lot of b-schools have an online procedure – you can apply using that.


4. Get an idea of the MBA programs you want to apply to

In the first part, we spoke about how to select the right program and the right b-school for your MBA.

Application Process (August- February)

Steps to follow:

1. Fill in the online application

Go to the college website, create a username and password. Provide all the details they ask you for- education, experience, extracurricular, co-curricular etc. Fill out all those details.

2. Send email link to recommenders

There will be a lead where you’ll have to give the email address of your recommenders, so the earlier days of giving a hardcopy letter are gone. It’s all through email. So the recommenders would have to give their email address and this email id cannot be [email protected] It has to be from the official email id.

3. Write your essays

You have to essentially fill in the essays that you’re writing.

4. Interview with the schools

If you’re selected after the first initial assessment, you might be called for an interview, so you go and take the interview.
Aug- Feb is when the actual deadline starts. The deadline means this is the time before which you need to apply. Usually, there will be 2 deadlines. For example, ISB typically has a deadline somewhere starting Sep end- Mid Nov. US schools have their deadlines in October & January, while some spill into February. Apply well before the deadline. If you already have all the required data with you by July, apply to one school in Oct, one in Nov, one in Dec. Try to spread because this is actually labor intensive work. You have to sit and write all the essays and it takes a lot of time. So, be careful on that part.

Post-Application Process (Admission to joining)

Steps to follow:

1. Figure out where you are going to get your finances from

Financial planning is very important and that’s a separate topic altogether that we would be covering in one of our later sessions.

2. Apply for VISA

In case the MBA is not in India, this is necessary.

3. Try connecting with people who are joining the same batch

A lot of times you’ll be able to get very valuable information from them. These are questions such as “What food items do I need to take? How are you getting your funding? Is there any pre-requisites?”


4. Take any pre-MBA courses as required

A lot of times b-schools may look at your transcripts and say “Hey, you seem to be a smart guy but you want to make sure that you are able to do well when you come over here. Why don’t you take this extra course on accounting or excel?”
Make sure you put a tick on these check boxes. This is essentially how the process works. Now we’ll quickly go through each part.

About Recommendation letters


Detailed and well written recommendations

Don’t bother too much about the title. A lot of people get fixated on the fact that they need to get it from a senior VP or MD of a company. It’s not true. You can get it from a project leader or project manager, but what is more important is that he can write well.

The biggest mistake that people do is they take is from people who are so high up the hierarchy that they really don’t have the time to write or they may not know you as well. So rather than getting a very short piece written by someone higher, I would rather have a pretty elaborate personal recommendation coming from someone who has worked with me professionally. Some people take it from their immediate reporting managers, some may even take it from a client. The cliental recommendation is also considered to be pretty good.

Authenticity is important

I’ve seen a lot of places where candidates have come and say that the recommender doesn’t have time and he wants the student to write something for him. My advice is please don’t do so. Ethics is obviously one part but the other part is also you’re really cheating the process- you’re not being true and if you’re going to get into a b-school without ethics then it’s probably going to have a large bearing on what you’re going to do post that. But also from a perspective that if you’re going to write your essays and if you’re going to write your own recommendations, trust me, anybody can see through. With my experience, I can just look at it and say, “Hey, this guy who wrote the recommendation is the same guy who ended up writing the essays.”

Provide relevant information

Make sure you “prep” them in advance by providing a copy of your CV, your application essays, as well as having a conversation with them around your motivation. Tell them why you’re looking at a particular b-school and what your opinion is. Get them involved in the process and get their buy-in for the whole MBA thing as early as possible.
It may be a good idea to provide the recommender with some inputs on your achievement over the period considered. Go with a sheet of paper with 10 things you did over the last one year so that they don’t have to rack their brains to think of your achievements. So you’re basically helping them.

Ask in advance

More importantly, try giving recommenders ample time. Remember that, you don’t just have to approach them for one school. You might have their recommendation required for multiple schools and also remember that they are not giving recommendations only for you. They might not tell you on your face but the fact is they have multiple people who they’re going to be working with.

About College Transcripts

In the US, the standard GPA is calculated out of 4. However, this is not true for most Indian schools, so make sure that you do not try to convert it to a 4-point GPA. Make sure that you are providing just the numbers that you have with you.
You will be surprised that a lot of these foreign b-schools have heard a lot about the Indian schools. They know how hard it is to get in, what IIT’s are, what NIT’s are, they know how hard it is to pass certain courses. They know the value of the transcripts. So, all of it is something you don’t need to worry about.

Finally, when you’re filling in your application, make sure you have the transcripts in advance. You have the transcripts and you know what needs to be done.

About Essays

Each school requires you to fill in an online form which will contain a lot of detail about who you are- your education, experience etc.
Apart from this, you will also be writing various essays, which will assess your motivation to join a b-school. We will be looking at each specific essays in the slides later on.
Remember that all essays come with a word limit. Some of the schools have even a PowerPoint presentation. In fact, ISB this year is going to come up with a 90-second video. It is sacrosanct that you stick to the word limit. If it says 90 seconds for a video, make sure your video ends in 87 or 88 seconds.
Do not repeat information that is found elsewhere in your application. A lot of people make the mistake of repeating their resume. Think about it as valuable real estate. If you have 700 sq. ft. of land and you’re going to build a house, you’d probably want to optimize each square feet that you have available. The same applies for word limit- make sure you’re able to maximize it.
Be honest. It should come naturally to you but it’s very hard since we tend to google to see what other people have written and in that course, we end up plagiarizing. Write what you really think is what you want to tell. Don’t write what you think the Adcom wants to hear.

About Interviews

Most schools these days prefer an interview before they select you so be prepared for a personal interview.
They’re usually announced within a month of the application deadlines. Check your admissions person to be updated on this.
There are 2 types of interviews-one taken by the admission committee and the other taken by alumni. When you take it with the admissions committee, they know your background. They already have your essays and applications, so they know what needs to be asked – the questions are very overall in that sense. But it could be taken by an alumnus as well. In the case of an alumni interview, it is usually a blind interview. It means that your profile is not known to the person who is interviewing you. He hasn’t gone through your CV or your application, so he’s just going to meet you like a blind date.

A lot of interviews are conducted in person, especially for large schools. For example, if it’s an Indian school, you’d probably go down to Hyderabad for an ISB interview or Chennai for a Great Lakes interviews. But if it is going to be a foreign university, many times if you apply well in advance, the admission committee comes down for a lot of these MBA tours. So during that time, they may end up interviewing you or if nothing else, they may end up having an interview over phone or skype. Skype has come up as a preferred medium of connectivity.
Be prepared to be asked questions outside of your application. A lot of people tend to think of an interview as a quiz program. Like the guy is going to ask you 5 things you’ve written in your application. It’s not! It’s usually a very friendly conversation. You’ll be surprised to know that a lot of times the guy isn’t really checking what you’ve written. That’s where the Indian aspect comes in, where we think they are cross questioning what we want to do. But this person just wants to assess your personality. He wants to know about your communication, whether you’ll be able to gel well with a team, what are your rationale, what you’ve written in your application- is it a true reflection of who you are or did you just go to this MBA Application specialist and get your entire application written.

Overview of MBA Essays

So each school as I said, may require anywhere between 3-5 essays, and these essays are based on a variety of different things and schools have their own rationale. Now, what is it that these schools look for when they put the essays?
I would put it this way. Think of yourself as a person who is applying and you have a goal or reach. An MBA is basically a loop through which you’ll have to pass through. We’re looking at a person who can articulate his goals well. Where do you want to go and where are you now? It’s very important that you know your gifts and gaps and how an MBA will help.
If you’re able to answer these 4 questions, honestly, most MBA essays will be a lot easier.

Why MBA?

In other words, what is your short term and long term goals and explain how an MBA will get you there? So be as specific as possible, especially with your short-term goals. A lot of people tend to write in generics. They say, “I’m in a technical role and I want to get into management.” That is not a good enough answer.
For you to make a transition from technical to management, you can as well take the PMP and become the project manager. MBA is more than that. So you have to be very specific. You have to tell what is the job title, what is the industry, what is your domain, what does a typical day in your life post-MBA look like? You’ve to be very precise when you’re giving the answer.
One great resource that you can use is LinkedIn. So if you’re looking at a b-school, try to see where are the graduates from this b-schools actually headed to, which industry do they go to. If your dream company is Procter & Gamble, the question to ask is “Is P&G actually hiring from these b-schools?” What is the career state of a person 3 years down the line in P&G after he’s graduated from this particular b-school? So these are questions that you need to answer. Alumni can be a great source. So you reach out, you ask them a nice question, they’ll be more than happy to answer that for you.
Don’t upsell or undersell. Don’t say you want to be a CEO 2 years after you graduate. That sounds kind of stupid and don’t say, “I want to become a project manager- that’s my career goal” That also sounds crappy because to become a project manager you don’t have to invest so much of time and money that an MBA requires you to do.
I’ve heard a lot of students say, “I don’t have the faintest clue what I want to do post-MBA. What do I do in that case? “My advice is you still need to know what you want to do- not just for the b-schools, but for yourself. But to justify the investment of time and money and energy that’s going to go into a 2 year MBA program or a one-year MBA program, you need to very clear where it is going to take you. So if you don’t have an idea, no problem. Sit, think and try to figure out answers to this.

Why now?

This is something b-schools ask sometimes in a direct or indirect way. Why is it so important that you have to apply this year or this round? Why can’t you wait till next year? Or why didn’t you apply last year? You’ll have to show that your career is in a point of infection- the trajectory is at that exact precise moment where an MBA is going to catapult you to a far greater distance where if you had taken at a different point in your career, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s very important that you think about this.

Why you?

What is it about you that makes you believe that you are best suited for an MBA? What is your academic potential? They look at your undergraduate school, your GPA, your GMAT. There is very little that you can change over here, apart from your GMAT scores, but the fact is if you’re from IIT Delhi, 9.5 GPA, computer science, obviously it’s going to be a lot better than going to a mid-tier or a lower rank school in India and scoring 40 or 50%.
But GMAT is definitely a great equalizer. One objective measure by which all b-schools know who you are and where you stand. The other thing that b-schools understand is that one or two years that you actually spend in a b-school does not magically transform you into a leader. It’s going to make you understand leadership better. But you have to be a leader within.
Which is why they look at certain traits of leadership potential. So they look at your career progression. If you think about it, career progression is a great way to see if you have the leadership potential because the organisation that you worked with- they are the people that see you day in and day out, knowing whether you are doing well, whether you are lacking in some areas, constantly giving you feedback, seeing if you have improved and if you have, give you greater roles and responsibilities which usually lead to larger titles which in turn leads to promotion.
A promotion will come only when you have a certain amount of leadership to take up the next challenge. The other way in which they see leadership is also extracurriculars. So why is extracurriculars important for leadership? Because a leader is just not a person who is going to be stuck in a 9-5 job, come back home, watch TV and go to bed. A leader is someone who usually has more interests than just work. It could be anything. As long as you’re able to show that you’ve been able to constructively utilize your time. That’s all you need when it comes to extracurriculars.
One misconception that students seem to have is the whole deal about NGO work. The origin of this myth is probably from the US because in the US, culturally it is accepted that you do NGO work. It’s a lot easier to do it in the US. So if you’re going to show how I spent my spare time constructively, a lot of these guys who went to top b-schools showed NGO work. However, in India, it’s okay not to show NGO work.
It’s okay if you’re going to say that on weekends you were working on a start-up idea or you were busy practicing with your band or busy biking across Nandi hills. Whatever your passion is, they just look at some way in which you have constructively channelized your passion. According to them, that is leadership. It is not necessarily working for an NGO.
The third thing they look at is the kind of work that you’ve done – how much of it is cross-cultural, how much of it is cross-functional. So, one misconception that again has come is the fact that if you’re in IT, you are actually disadvantageous. There are more people applying from the IT pool than from probably any other pool, especially in India. However, within the school also, they look at the quality of work that you’ve done. So if you’ve worked in a large company, they want to see if you actually took the initiative and did something which actually cut across.
Were you an individual contributor? Were you a guy who was sitting alone a corner cubicle or were you a person who actually interacted and knew the functions of other departments? Were you a person who groomed this innate managerial leadership quality within yourself? Did you work with people outside India? If you’ve had the opportunity to travel outside India, that is taken as a big positive because they then know that this person has cross-cultural experiences. He knows how Europeans work or how Americans work. So that’s seen as a great plus in today’s global environment.
Finally, a marketing term, which is called unique selling proposition. So all this being equal, what is it that unique quality that you bring to the table? This is where students tend to struggle or they’re not able to articulate their USP. My advice is to go and talk to your friends, talk to people who know you well and ask them, “What is that one adjective which really makes me who I am?” So it could be, for example, Arun the helper- a guy who helps everyone. In which case you need to go back and look at your profile and say, “Can I bring that as a theme? Can I tie that back to why I want to do an MBA?’ Or if someone says- Amit the Analytical guy, the guy who can reduce everything to metrics and numbers.


These are things which you really need to introspect. These are not things which will come to you immediately. So you need to put in a lot of effort, trying to find the answers. But the sooner that you do it, the easier it will be for you. In fact, my suggestion is to ask yourself these questions even before you take the GMAT.

Why us?

Probably this is one question that you wait for after you take the GMAT- why do you want to apply to this particular school? What is your motivation to apply to the school? Again, one mistake that a lot of students do is they write this clichéd statements saying- “You have world-class infrastructure.” Frankly, what does world class infrastructure mean? Do you want to say they have a broadband internet or air conditioned libraries? Mostly all schools these days have these. So you have to be very clear because think about it, what will you say for Stanford that you cannot say for MIT?
Whatever statement you can say for Stanford, I can challenge you that you can probably say that for MIT as well. It’s very hard, but you have to go in-depth, talk to students, try to gauge what is the culture and the unique things that the school has to offer. Try to see if it fits in with your own perspective of what you want out of a b-school. It’s very important that you do the research and very important that you articulate it.
There was a question asked in on the Berkeley essays- What have you done to know more about our school in the past one year? Frankly, if you’re going to be writing this application 3 weeks before the deadline, there’s no way you’re going to escape this question. What would you say? That you watched YouTube videos or that you googled for them? Because it’s asking you what you did in the whole year. So this is a dead-end question. You really cannot fake your way through this question.
Other interesting questions from Stanford GSB included-
What do you value most in life and why?
This is a long-running question since many years and sometimes it can be very hard to answer it.
Kellogg asks- Tell us something about you that would surprise us. The common retort that I have from students is, “I could tell them stuff that could not surprise, but shock them. I want to surprise them and not shock them.” The interesting thing is Kellogg asks you this question after almost 4 or 5 questions when you have exhausted everything you have to say about yourself.
My advice is to think through the b-school application; think through what you have to offer to b-schools. It’s very important that you start this process even before you take the GMAT.
Did that clear all your doubts about the applications process? Leave your comments below!

Pro Tip: Curious about how to start off your own journey towards an awe-inspiring GMAT score ? Try out our free GMAT Online Trial course.

5 Ways AdComs test your Communication Skills

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“Communication” is a key skill that top hirers look for in applicants nowadays. GMAC recently conducted a survey of nearly 600 employers and they ranked communications skills, on average, twice as important as managerial skills.
Therefore the selection procedure to the top B-schools across the world is designed such that they are able to take-in candidates who are already effective communicators. One more reason this makes sense is because MBA by itself requires effective class participation, adaptability and teamwork.


Source: GMAC (2014) Corporate Recruitment Survey


When a candidate finishes his/her MBA and steps into the real world to seek a job, it is assumed that he/she possesses the entire skills package – core business knowledge as well as strong analytical, quantitative and technical skills. Now imagine a situation where a candidate actually possesses all of these skills and is still not recruited.
One key factor here could be “Lack of Communication Skills”.


What is the point of having all the skills if a person is not able to share those with his/her team-mates or articulate into words whatever he/she wants to say?


So let’s look at 5 ways how prospective students are tested for communication skills by B-schools and what can be done to improve or highlight these skills:


AWA Test Scores

The AWA section on the GMAT matters. Some students take this section way too lightly. Scoring respectably on this section is very important because you don’t want the admission committee to doubt your written communication skills.One good way to improve your score on the AWA essay is to practice writing essays along with full length practice tests.
In fact you can send those essays to us and our team of experts at CrackVerbal will review it for you. Our experts will not only pinpoint your weaknesses but will also provide you with a definite strategy to improve.


In Interviews AdCom sees whether the candidate can express his/her views clearly. Though a lot of basic questions like, “Tell us about yourself…”, “Why MBA…” and “Why now…” sound clichéd, it’s important to prepare well for each one of these e.g. If you are a person who uses lot of fillers while speaking, you could rehearse the answers with a friend.
Sometimes coming up with a short and interesting write-up about yourself can probably do the magic too. Practising in front of mirror can be of great help as you become more aware of your body language and gestures. You will know how to use your hands better to communicate effectively. Make use of the 3C approach and make sure all your Cs are in place to crack it.

Application Essays

Here your written communication skills are on display and the AdCom looks for clarity and consistency. Preparing well thought answers to the questions and doing your homework well helps a lot. The better you do your homework, the better you will be at answering the questions with confidence. This is one place where you can mention all the things you have achieved in the past to highlight what you bring to the table as a student.
But at the same time it is also important to not go overboard. Being realistic is the key. Finally the essays should give the other person a pretty good idea about who you are as a person. CrackVerbal has a team of in house experts from the top b-schools to assist students with their application essays.

Letters of Recommendation

If you are yet to apply to programs and you intend to ask your current supervisor for a recommendation in the next year or so, start thinking about your communication skills and how others perceive those. Because some applications require evaluators to score students among peers in areas such as communication skills.
It’s a good idea to choose your recommenders intelligently -A recommender should preferably be a senior person you know in the organisation with whom you have worked extensively in the past. He/she should know you and your career goals well. Educate your recommenders and when you actually approach your supervisors for recommendation, make sure they understand exactly what skills you would want to be highlighted and what not.

Video Essay/ Group Discussion

These are some creative ways how B-Schools can get a peek within you for a duration of 90 seconds and get a real feel of who you really are. On one hand applicants may find this intimidating but on the other hand, if a clear strategy is planned out to deal through it, you can turn this into a great opportunity by making that FIRST excellent impression. Let’s dig a little deeper into each one of these :

Video Essays: How long are 90 seconds actually? I’d say a one page document with double line spacing. It’s a good idea to be ready with a well-rehearsed script before you start shooting the video. You could call a friend and rehearse on the phone to receive feedback. Use that feedback to improve your script, tone quality, voice modulation etc. and once you have perfected that you could graduate to the video.


Group Discussion: Assuming that you are up to date in your knowledge of current issues and have no problem in putting your points across in an urbane manner, two things that can help during a group discussion are:

Being a good listener
Being a good speaker

You have to do both of these together in some way. You have to juggle between both of these intelligently. Have you ever played that game where two people hold the skipping rope and move it? The other players have to intuitively enter the rope, jump a few times and then exit. This requires some practice.
Start listening actively – this is easier said than done. Most of us listen to reply and not really focus on what the other person is trying to say. Start listening for the sake of listening. And speak only when you feel that you actually have something unique to say that will add value to the discussion.


Did you face any obstacle due to lack of communication skills during your MBA selection process? We’d like to hear your story. Leave your comments in the comment section below!

Want to know more about Application processes for B-School Admissions? Check out for our E-Book library!
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3 Factors that GMAT accepting B-schools Want to See in your Profile!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Top B-schools that admit through the GMAT decided that to see potential and future leadership, they could look at 3 broad things:



Academic Potential:

1. What are your GMAT Scores – including your split in Quant & Verbal?
2. What is the reputation of your Undergrad school & the course that you took? (They have a pretty good idea of the Indian educational system so don’t worry!)
3. What was your GPA over the entire course? (including any upticks such as – moving from a lower GPA in the 1st year to a higher GPA by the last year)
4. Did you take any MOOCs? Did you write any other professional exams? Do you have any certifications?

Leadership & Diversity:

1. At work have you done anything inspirational?
2. Outside work have you been involved in anything? It could be anything – ranging from volunteer work at NGOs to your own startup ideas.
3. Do you come from a disadvantaged background? Do you have any interesting experiences? Have you travelled? Do you know how to mix cocktails? In short – anything that makes you interesting?>
(Helpful Hint: Check out our comprehensive article about how to improve your MBA profile and impress the AdCom!)


Clarity of thought & Personality:

1. What are your short term goals?
2. Why should we select you?
3. Why do you want to do an MBA to reach there?

4. Why did you pick our institute to do an MBA?


If you have a good answer to the above questions then you have made it to Harvard  –  WhartonStanford – you name it.


The good news is that some of the Indian schools such as the rong>ISB have been started after the same model. So once you take the GMAT you realize that it is ONE among the several inputs they take to make an overall assessment of your candidature.

Want to get a detailed information about B-Schools all over the world? Check out our B-School info page
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MBA 2015 Round 2 Deadlines – Your last chance

Reading Time: 1 minute

Here are the list of schools you can still apply too !! Prepare for your GMAT with our CrackVerbal Fastrack Program and meet your deadlines !

Give it your best shot and make it to a Business School this year !

1,NUS,Oct 1st – Jan 31st 2015,Feb 1st – march 31st 2015

2,IMD,Feb 1st 2015,April 1st 2015

3,IE BSchool,Rolling Admission

4,IESE Spain,Jan 13th 2015

5,IMD,Feb 1st 2015,April 1st 2015

6,York-Schulich,Jan 7th 2015,April 30th 2015

7,Queens Canada,March 14th 2015,June 13th 2015

8,Harvard Business School,Jan 5th 2015

9,Wharton,Jan 5th 2015

10,Ross,jan 5th 2015

11,Tepper(CMU),Jan 4th 2015

12,Duke(Fuqua),Jan 5th 2015

13,Kelley(indiana),Jan 5th 2015

14,Georgetown (McDonough),Jan. 5 2015

15,Dartmouth (Tuck),Jan 6 2015 (January Round)

16,Texas-Austin (McCombs),Jan. 6 2015

17,Chicago (Booth),Jan. 6 2015

18,Stanford Graduate School of Business,Jan. 7 2015

19,Northwestern (Kellogg),Jan. 7 2015

20,Cornell (Johnson),Jan. 7 2015

21,UC-Berkeley (Haas),Jan. 7 2015

22,Virginia (Darden),Jan. 7 2015

23,UCLA (Anderson),Jan. 7 2015

24,Yale School of Management,Jan. 8 2015

25,MIT (Sloan),Jan. 8 2015 (Second & Final Round)

26,Vanderbilt University (Owen),Jan. 13 2015

27,INSEAD,Jan. 14 2015 (September 2015 Intake)

28,New York (Stern),Jan. 15 2015

29,North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler),Jan. 16 2015

30,University of Washington (Foster),Jan. 20 2015

31,Columbia,April 15 2015 (Final Regular Deadline)
You can go through this blog for more information on Meeting Round 2 Deadlines

4 Things You MUST know about Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“What is an MBA loar?” a student asked me last week.
“Loar?” I was flabbergasted. “I have no clue!”
“Everybody seems to be talking about MBA essays and loars!”
“Loar?” I wracked my brains. Then realization dawned. “Oh! You mean LORs?”
LOR is the acronym of Letter of Recommendation, an essential component of your MBA or Master’s application. In this blog, we’ll talk about 4 things you need to know about letters of recommendation for B-school applications.

Despite what the name suggests, it is often NOT a “letter” of recommendation

Many Master’s or PhD programs will ask you for 2-3 actual letters of recommendation – starting with To Whomsoever It May Concern… However, the requirement for B-schools is slightly different.
For MBA applications, you will need to submit the names and contact details of your recommenders and the school will send them a web form. This web form will have some rating questions (for e.g. Rate the communication skills of the applicant in comparison to those of his peers: top 10%, top 25%, top 50%, bottom 25%) and some short answer questions (for e.g. What piece of constructive criticism have you offered the applicant? How did the applicant respond?) The word limit of these short answer questions could be from 50 to 200 words.

Your recommenders need to have an official email ID

The recommenders you choose must have an official email ID as this serves as a verification of their identity. For e.g. [email protected]. No personal IDs such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. will be accepted by B-schools. For all they know, the person behind this ID could be you or your friend or relative!
So if your recommender is a freelancer or retired or works for a small business that does not have its own domain, then you may have a problem. One solution that schools suggest is to submit a hard copy of your recommendations, sealed and signed by the recommender. To avoid delays in mailing such a hard copy, make sure you plan for these well in advance.

Recommendations from family members & professors is a strict No-No

Schools discourage recommendations from family members for obvious reasons – they may give a biased view of you. So if you work for a family business or have co-founded a company with a family member, you cannot use him/her as your recommender. You will need to approach a mentor, client or vendor for this.
If you have more than 2 years of work experience (which is the minimum eligibility for most MBA programs) your recommenders must be people you have worked with. They can be from your workplace or from the company with which you volunteer or a company for whom you offer freelance services. But no going back to your professors from college!
However, if you have very little work experience (less than 2 years) and you have worked with a professor outside of class – for e.g. as a research or teaching assistant – you can approach him/her for a recommendation.

It is a BAD idea to write your own recommendations

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am still surprised by the number of students who tell me that their recommenders have asked them to write their own recommendations.
“I will submit whatever you send me!” your manager might say. Should you take up this offer?
Of course not!
Apart from the (obvious) reason that writing your own recommendation is unethical, this is also a foolish decision. For one, the admissions committee will be able to spot underlying patterns in your writing style in a jiffy – they will know that the same person has written the essays and the recommendations.
B-schools also engage external agencies to do a audits or verifications of information that applicants submit. What if they call up your recommender and he/she has no clue what is written in the recommendation?
Both these possibilities can damage your chances of getting an admit. So, DO NOT write your own recommendations. Instead, make your recommenders’ lives simpler by sharing relevant information such as your profile highlights and your essays with them well in advance.
Still Wondering if you can get into a top B-School this year? Let us help you!
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“The Competitive Edge: What an MBA means for the Indian market”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Highlights of the Access MBA Panel Discussion on “The Competitive Edge: What an MBA means for the Indian market”


CrackVerbal had participated in the Access MBA Tour on 29th Oct, 2014 at the Taj Gateway in Banglore. The Admissions team at Crackverbal, participated in the panel discussion on “Competitive Edge: What an MBA means for the Indian market” along with Namita Thitta, part of the India admissions team of IE Business School.


Here are the highlights of the discussion:


What role do rankings and accreditation play in school selection?


Accreditation’s and Rankings are two sides of the same coin. While accreditation add to the credibility of the school’s brand, rankings help to promote it.


However, you should not go just by rankings while short-listing schools. Use them in two ways:


To learn about school names you have not heard of previously. For instance, ESADE Spain or Emory Goizueta are great schools, but which are not familiar names.


To understand roughly which schools fall in the top, mid and lower tiers. The specific rank or position does not matter as much.


Is entrepreneurship or being part of a family business considered as work experience?


Of course yes! Even a failed entrepreneurial venture is seen positively by B-schools. They value your learning and experiences during make you an asset for their MBA program. The only challenge that you may face here would be while choosing recommenders. B-schools require recommenders to have an official email ID and many family businesses may not have that. Also, most B-schools do not accept recommendations from friends or family. So you may have to think creatively when it comes to selecting the right recommenders.


What determines the kind of scholarship you get?


The GMAT score plays a key role in merit-based scholarships. As long as your GMAT score is much higher than the average at your target school and you have applied early in the admission cycle, you can expect a good scholarship. Niladri Chakraborty, a student of CrackVerbal with 750 on the GMAT and some excellent career milestones won a USD 90,000 scholarship to UNC Kenan-Flagler last year


Other determining factors include your career progress, awards and recognition, and demonstrated leadership instances. Read this blog to know how Adcom members look at your profile.


Many schools offer specific scholarships for Asians, women, and those from developing countries etc. Before applying, make sure you thoroughly research all the scholarships and financial aids that B-schools offer and identify which ones you have the best shot at.


Which is better, a one year program or a two year program?


There is really no one right answer! It depends on what your individual requirements and constraints are. If you have less work experience or are planning to make a career switch, a 2-year MBA is a better fit as it gives you an internship opportunity to get some experience in the new domain.


If your work experience is on the higher side, you have a family, or are looking for career progressions without being away from the industry too long, a 1-year MBA is probably a better fit.


It’s no surprise that European MBA programs (mostly 1 year) have a higher average work experience/age than US MBA programs (mostly 2 years). Read this blog on one year versus two year programs to know your best MBA fit.


How important are test elements like the GMAT in the selection process?

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3 things you MUST know about GMAT scores for Top business schools

must know things about gmat score
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“What is a good GMAT score?”


The person who asked this question was someone who had recently given up hopes of belling the CAT and had just started exploring the GMAT. He had little idea how complicated this question is to answer 🙂


Until a few years ago, everyone wanted to somehow just cross 700 because this was considered a great GMAT score. But now, the average GMAT score itself at many top business schools is 700+! So does that mean you need a higher score? If so, how much do you need? 720? 750?


Here are 3 things you MUST know about GMAT scores for Top business schools:


1. The higher your GMAT score is, the better your chances:


I can almost see you rolling your eyes and saying “Duh-uh!” But hold on – let me put things in perspective! The higher your GMAT score is than the average score at your target school, the better your chances are.
This means that if you are aiming for a top business school with an average GMAT score of 690, say Said Oxford or Texas McCombs, then 720 is a great score. But if you are aiming for business school with an average of 732 GMAT score (Yes, Stanford!) then 720 is not going to be a major advantage.


2. The GMAT score is a key factor that decides the amount of scholarship you get

The higher your GMAT score, the better your chances of getting a large scholarship because business schools want students with big numbers on their profile, who will drive up their average GMAT score (which in turn will impact the schools’ reputation and ranking)

3. The GMAT score may play an important role during your post-MBA job search

When you look for post-MBA roles, you may find that some recruiters will be interested in knowing your GMAT score. Take, for instance, consulting companies. These prefer candidates with high GMAT scores. So if your post-MBA goal is management consulting, then you must aim for a 720+ GMAT score.

However, the GMAT score is NOT the only thing that matters in admission decisions.

Top business schools look for multiple parameters while evaluating applicants: academic potential is just one part. The other significant areas are:
1.Quality of work experience – your performance, career progress, employer, nature of work etc.
2. Leadership – initiatives and experience at and outside of work
3. Goal clarity – how clear are you about where you want your career to go?
4. Diversity – what uniqueness do you bring to the classroom? Personal experiences interests, activities, perspectives and viewpoints… and so on.
Thus, by highlighting how well you are doing on these other parameters, you maybe able to offset an average GMAT score and convince a school to interview you. And that is another chance you get to convince your dream school to take you!
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you pick the right schools/programs, your GMAT score need not be a handicap at all.
For instance, applying to a mix of Ambitious, Reach and Safe schools. Take a step back and evaluate your career goals. And then ask yourself, do I need to go to a Top 10 B-school to achieve these goals? For instance, if your goal is to become a Business Analyst at Deloitte (or a similar company), then you don’t need to go to Wharton to achieve it.
It’s good to be ambitious and apply to top programs – but if it is important that you join an MBA program next year, then increase your chances by applying to some Reach and Safe schools also.
The second question to ask yourself is Do I even need an MBA degree? For instance, if you are keen on a career as an equity researcher, a Master’s in financial engineering or quantitative mathematics may be a better idea than an MBA. You could even consider applying to a specialized program such as the Kellogg MMM or the Krannert STEM MBA.
Are you still wondering if you can get into a top B-School this year? Let us help you!
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Sub-700 GMAT Score – What are your chances at ISB?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Do I need a 700 GMAT score for ISB?”

This is a question we are asked almost on a weekly basis. And if the person asking the question has an average Indian IT Male profile, our answer has so far been a regretful ‘Yes’.

For the class of 2015 at ISB, GMAT score is 711 on average and the mid-80% of the ISB class had scores ranging from 680 to 750. So it stands to reason that someone with a very average profile must aim to beat this average GMAT score for ISB.

Though ISB has been saying for years that diversity is a key factor in their admission decision, some CrackVerbal students with very good profiles but a less-than 700 GMAT score have been dinged in previous years without even an interview call. Some of them had strong international experience, stellar work experience at a startup, and so on.

Though dinged at ISB, they did manage to get admits to other internationally ranked schools (INSEAD, Rotman etc. among them.) So, despite the rare exception, the 35+ students we’ve sent to ISB in the last two years mostly have 700+ GMAT scores.

However, this year, we are observing a welcome trend shift at ISB.

Of the many students we helped with their ISB applications in Round 1, quite a few with strong essays but a less-than-average GMAT score for ISB (<700) have received interview calls.


Some such profiles include:

Female, Civil engineer, 5 years experience, GMAT 640

Male, Media sales professional, 10+ years experience, GMAT 650

Male, Research analyst, 4 years experience, GMAT 660

Male, Software engineer, 7 years experience, GMAT 680

Male, Software engineer, 5 years experience, GMAT 690, Re-applicant

Having worked closely with these students to craft their application essays, we know for a fact that despite their non-unique profiles and average GMAT score for ISB, they had really strong, interesting stories to tell. And that really seems to be the clincher for the interview invite.

A webinar conducted by ISB on September 30th interestingly featured an alumnus from the class of 2014 who got into ISB despite a 610 on the GMAT. And if you look closely at what ISB’s admission emails and updates this year say, there is a distinct emphasis on “application essays” and “profile” and not so much on the GMAT score.

Based on these trends and a few conversations with admission team members, we suspect a radical shift in the ISB admission committee’s focus this year while short-listing candidates for interview – those with strong stories but an average GMAT score (between 600 and 700) are being seriously considered for admission. So the average GMAT score for ISB this year may be less than you think!

So, those of you planning to apply to ISB in Round 2, don’t let your sub-700 GMAT score stop you – go ahead and apply! Just make sure that your essays are able to convince the ISB admissions committee that you are someone interesting and full of potential. You have strong chances of being interviewed at ISB.

Our analysis of this year’s ISB essays along with tips & advice is HERE – check it out for an additional advantage.

Wondering if you can get into ISB this year? Let us help you!

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Interview with IIM Lucknow IPMX Prof. Anita Goyal

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In a conversation with IIM Lucknow IPMX professor Dr. Anita Goyal about the admissions process, Noida campus, placements and more.


1. What makes the IIM Lucknow IPMX different from other Indian 1 year MBAs? What are the unique aspects/ highlights of the program?

We are the only IIM with an exclusive campus for our executive program. The IIM Lucknow IPMX is the flagship program of our Noida Campus. We started this in 2005 with the goal of bringing Executive Education to the NCR region. The NCR location helps in better industry interface due to proximity of potential recruiters.
Industry leaders are often invited on campus for interactive talks or workshops with students. Adjunct faculty specialized in different areas is available, if required. As the campus is near a commercial hub, student life is benefited in multiple ways. Executive students’ families find Noida very suitable as schools for kids, markets and offices of spouses are nearby.
The IIM Lucknow IPMX is a 4 term program instead of 6 terms in a year. Hence students get adequate time to learn the concepts in class. We have a strong international immersion module with our partner schools, which gives students a chance to learn of global management practices and appreciate the cultural diversities in managing business.

2. What are the key parameters on which the IIM Lucknow IPMX admissions committee evaluates applicants? What is the weightage given to each of these?

Past work experience, GMAT score, Statement of Purpose (SOP), two recommendation letters, written ability and personal interview. Weightage criteria may change year on year. All components are important.

3. What is a “competitive” GMAT score to gain admission to IIML IPMX?

The IIM Lucknow IPMX admission committee looks at the overall profile of the applicants. The GMAT score is not the only criterion. An average GMAT score with some great work in the past is definitely a strong application and vice versa is also true. Based on past data, a GMAT score of 600+ with strong work experience should make your application competitive.

4. Could you give us some stats related to the current placements for the IPMX? A few top recruiters and hot sectors for jobs?

At IIM Lucknow, we don’t disclose our placement statistics. We have always stressed on our knowledge development. Though we can assure you that our placements are at par with any leading institute in the country.
We maintain strong relationship with the corporate world. Our students have been placed in sectors like manufacturing, IT, consulting, banking, medical, media etc. in the past. Major roles offered are like product manager, program manager, VP, center head, Sr Consultant etc. In executive education each student is unique. Everyone has their own background, hence it’s near impossible to generalize the placement trends for an executive management program.
IPMX recruiters include: Accenture, Amazon, Dabur, Deloitte Consulting, Deutsche Bank, Edelweiss, Fidelity, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, KPMG, Microsoft, Mindtree, NIIT, Oracle, PwC

5. Any tips or advice you would like to share with aspirants?

Stellar work experience could make up for a below-average GMAT score – so take a chance and apply! There is no application fee except for your effort!
Inspired by Anitha’s story? Want to know if you can get into IIM Lucknow too? Let us help you!
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ISB Essay Analysis

Reading Time: 6 minutes

ISB’s application essay questions have been pretty much consistent for the past 2-3 years with their focus mainly on 3 aspects: career goals, differentiating factors and accomplishments.

This year, however, when we did the ISB Essay Analysis, we observed 3 major changes:

There is a lot more room for applicants to express their personality and creativity. The focus of the essays has expanded to include areas as interesting as

1. Innovation

2. Perspective change

3. Out-of-the-Box Thinking that Backfired!

4. Team-based learning

Of course, the usual questions on career goals and the value you bring to the ISB class are also there.

The essays offer more choices and seem to cater to a wider range of applicants. For example, the third essay asks you to pick 1 out of 4 widely different themes. Similarly, the first essay asks you to cite personal examples or observations about others. This kind of maneuvering room was certainly absent in previous years’ essays.


The total word count has been reduced to 800 from 900 last year. This is in keeping with the trend of B-schools world-wide.

Let’s look at each essay question in detail:

innovationEssay #1: Innovation or doing things differently, it is said, is a key to future success. Could you substantiate or negate this idea based on your experience. Please provide examples from your own experience? Either examples of your own innovation or examples of others whom you have worked with. [300 words]

First of all, don’t assume that you have to necessarily agree that innovation is key to success. (Interestingly, essay #3 has a question that asks you about how your attempt to do something different went awry)

Second, note the definition of innovation – “doing things differently” – and the fact that it is a key to “future success”. That means, you get points for making an attempt, even if that attempt has led to a short term failure. So if you tried to bring about a department-level process change in your organization, but it met with a lot of resistance and friction in the short term, if it led to a long term positive outcome or shows signs of slowly gaining acceptance and approval, it could still be a good story for this essay.

Third, you have the freedom to choose your own example or those of others “with whom you have worked.” This means no talking about Steve Jobs (unless you have actually worked with him! 😀 So if you have a truly interesting innovation story to share, more power to you; while telling this story, focus equally on both what you did and the outcome.

But if you don’t have your own story, don’t worry – you aren’t going to be penalized. Just look around for a good story of someone else’s innovation. Make sure you focus on your own observations about this innovation and its role in future success and share your learning from it.

pathEssay #2: Applying to and enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the future and how you expect to benefit from the ISB experience in achieving your goals. [300 words]

This is again a refreshing variation of last year’s career goal question that simply asked the applicants their immediate post-MBA goal. Here, we cover the entire spectrum of your career: roles, decision drivers & influencers, future goals and why ISB. The challenge is to say it all in 300 words. 🙂

The best way to tackle this essay is to start with a bulleted list. If you are one of those truly passionate about your core education and have continued in the same line, begin with the first decision you made: your choice of undergrad degree. But if you belong to the other half who just wandered into an engineering program, you may want to skip ahead and talk about your first role and why you accepted it.

Pick the highlights of your career – the highs and lows, the learning, the most significant experiences. Don’t pick more than 3 because you will otherwise face a word limit crunch. If you made job or role or career switches midway or undertook a Masters education, talk about why you did so and what you gained by doing this.

Next, articulate your future goals – where do you see yourself working in the next 6-7 years? Try to be as specific about this as possible. Why do you need an MBA to get there? And why is NOW the best time for you to do an MBA?

Weave these reasons in with why ISB specifically – what can the ISB PGP offer you that other programs cannot? Why are you the right fit for ISB? Make sure that you tell a story when you write this essay and that all the dots are connected and flow well.

changeEssay #3: Choice A: This experience completely changed my way of thinking [200 words]

Who should attempt this prompt? If you have experienced a sea change in your thinking or perspective as a result of an incident, a person or an experience, you should attempt this essay.

For example, you had the chance to work onsite in an unconventional geography such as Mexico or Poland. Or you had an inspiring conversation with a Tibetan monk on a trek to the Spiti Valley. Or you suffered a major personal upheaval (death, financial trouble, health concerns, relationship issues…)

Any of these could have made a strong and lasting impression on you and changed your perspective. Any of these can make a good story for this essay. Ensure that while telling the story, you use the Situation – Action – Result framework. Additionally, the Before/After change in your perspective must be crystal clear to the reader.



differentChoice B: An instance when you went out of the ordinary to achieve something significant, but in hind sight feel you could have done better. [200 words]

Who should attempt this prompt? If you are a maverick or an innovator who loves trying out new things and new ideas, or who cannot stop himself/herself from fiddling with the way things are done, you may have a good story to tell here.

Have one of your brilliant ideas backfired? It is nothing to be ashamed about! You know what they say – better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all. Or something like that. 🙂

Use this essay to talk about how and why you tried to do something in an unconventional way, what happened when you did, a post mortem of why the idea did not work, and finally, what you learned from it.

PS: Make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of blaming the system or your team or your organization for why your unconventional idea did not work. 🙂

teamChoice C: Tell us about your role in a team that made a significant contribution to the organization. [200 words]


Who should attempt this prompt? This is ideal for someone who has an interesting team story to tell – at work or outside of it. Note that the keywords here are “your role”, “team” and “significant contribution”. So, your story must span all these touch points: • The team’s goal and the challenges you faced? • Your role within the team? • Steps/approach did the team take to reach the goal? • The end outcome? • Your learning from the experience

Make sure that your contribution isn’t one-dimensional. i.e. don’t just say that you brought in your technical or functional expertise. This part is good, but what more did you contribute? Did you help resolve conflict? Did you bring in fresh thinking and new ideas? Did you assume a leadership role to drive the project? Your role has to be something bigger and you need to communicate it effectively.

group-studyChoice D: Contribution to peer learning and engagement with the ISB student body are important aspects of the ISB experience. What contribution do you expect to make in this direction during the one year at ISB. [200 words]


Who should attempt this prompt? If you have some truly unique perspectives to share as a result of either your work or your experiences, attempt this prompt. For instance, if you have run your own company or worked in significant roles in a startup or your job has taken you to multiple geographies, you will have significant experiential learning to share in the ISB classroom and this is an essay that lets you talk about these.

When you tell your story, remember that the focus should not be entirely on YOU and what you have done, but on how your experience and learning can help you add value to your peers’ learning at ISB.

Wondering if you can get into ISB this year? Let us help you!

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CrackVerbal Alumni Meet 2014 – A Snapshot

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We had organized a CrackVerbal Alumni session on 23rd March where we invited some of our star alumni to interact with present students and others in a panel discussion format. Their profiles varied from game designer to doctor.


The Panel Consisted of:

Niladri Chakraborty (GMAT: 750, UNC Admit)

Saurabh Gupta (GMAT: 750, ISB Admit)

Bhupati Reddy (GMAT: 680, XLRI GMP Admit)

Abhinav Singh (GMAT: 680, XLRI GMP Admit)

Jayashree Bhat (GMAT: 710, ISB Admit)

Dr. Bhargava Swamy (GMAT: 710, ISB Admit)

Moderator: Arun Jagannathan, Founder – CrackVerbal


We Covered 4 Main Focus Areas:

GMAT Preparation

School Selection

MBA Applications

Choosing Recommenders

Here are Some of the Salient Inputs from the Panel:


GMAT Preparation

Bhargava: Most of what determines your score on test day happens in the weeks and months of prep before the test

Saurabh & Niladri: 3-4 months is an ideal preparation time frame for most high scorers

Bhupathi: However, if you have specific weakness areas, you must take the time to work on them and fix those gaps

Jayashree: just because you think one area is your forte – be it Quant or Verbal – don’t take your performance for granted. Focus on both sections.

Niladri: You don’t need to refer to any material apart from the Official Guide, the CV Guide and the CV Advanced Documents. Together, these contain ~2000 questions – that is more than enough practice.

B-school Research

Niladri: go to the websites of your target schools and download the Career Statistics for the past few years. Don’t go by school ranking; see whether the school can help you achieve your goals.

Saurabh: Use LinkedIn to look at the profiles of the graduates and students of your target MBA programs; this will give you a good idea of the opportunities the school can give its students.

Arun: Check out the Poets and Quants website – it has a plethora of information about different business schools and programs, and will aid your research.

Jayashree: While a 2-year MBA is generally preferred for a career switch, it is upto the candidate to convince the recruiter of his/her ability to transition to a new and different career after a 1 or 2 year program. The duration by itself doesn’t guarantee anything.

All panelists: Indian applicants with a typical engineering/ or technology background need to work harder to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

MBA Applications

All panelists – Taking the help of expert admission consultants makes a real difference to the essays and interview performance.

Bhargava – the initial brainstorming with CrackVerbal helped clear his thought process and helped me realize what AdComs look for, and how much I needed to think.

Niladri – the brainstorming sessions with CrackVerbal laid the right foundation for the applications. Arun kept probing me to think of how every story would differentiate me from the crowd, and how it was unique to me. While writing the essays, I would call the team for help many times every day.

Saurabh – The difference between my very first draft of essays for the evry first school, and my last set of essays, is drastic, and I should thank CrackVerbal for that. I got a lot of useful inputs and they went out of their way to help me fine tune my stories and make them better.

Abhinav – try to build a story in your application; each of the essays must be an essential component of that overall story you are trying to convey to the reader. And with CrackVerbal’s help, I was able to build that.


Choosing Recommenders

Saurabh – choose your recommenders carefully and prep them well with a copy of your essays and a list of your achievements. Maybe get them a gift for their trouble!

Bhargava – I let my recommender write on his own; when I read it, I was surprised at how many insights he had about my profile. There were things I hadn’t known about myself. So sometimes it is also a good diea not to “lead” the recommender if he/she knows you well enough and can write effectively.

Arun – NEVER use personal IDs for recommendations. “[email protected]’ isnt acceptable! Make sure your recommenders have official IDs. In fact, many schools do not accept personal IDs for recommendations.

Want more detailed insights about all the B-Schools in the world? Check out our B-School info page!

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Do entrepreneurs need an MBA?

MBA Entrepreneurship
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Arun Jagannathan, the Founder & CEO of CrackVerbal has devised a simple test to assess your need for an MBA if you are an entrepreneur by nature. Take the test now and tell us your scores! 🙂

Entrepreneurship – A Rising Trend

In almost every MBA batch of any reputed B-School, one can find a certain cluster of students who have joined the program with the clear goal of starting their own venture instead of following the secure route of high-paying jobs. Though some people may feel that such a move is unnecessarily risky, these folks are not to be blamed, because the spirit of entrepreneurship runs in their veins!
Most entrepreneurs have some unique traits that set them apart from others – perseverance, an appetite for risk, leadership qualities, the ability to innovate and the foresightedness to grab opportunities at the right time and place.
So if some people are simply made to venture into entrepreneurship, the question begs to be asked – do they really need an MBA or is it just a passing fad? Is it really worth spending so much money on an MBA program, when you already know that you will be investing substantially in your business idea too?
Conversely, what is driving more and more entrepreneurs to get formal education and training in business management? What value addition will an MBA program provide? In our search for answers to this question, we, at CrackVerbal, surveyed some young entrepreneurs to understand their views on the subject.

Straight from the horse’s mouth!


Abhinav Jain – Founder, Alitum Solutions

The dynamic Abhinav Jain is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore. For the past 1.5 years, he has been fully engaged in his start-up Alitum Solutions, a firm that helps companies grow, by setting up business performance systems that aid de-centralization of management, inter-departmental collaboration etc. Abhinav feels that his MBA program helped him immensely to acquire practical & diversified business knowledge and develop key contacts that might come in handy in future.
The course also enhanced his self-confidence and prepared him to deal with different types of people and situations. Though he confesses that the MBA degree was accompanied by societal pressure to take up a regular job, it also worked in his favor. Abhinav has the confidence that owing to his IIM B degree, he can get back to a corporate job any time and this gives him reassurance. He believes that the educational loan he has incurred is like any other debt that accompanies entrepreneurship. So he was already mentally prepared for it.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? Be true to yourselves and be convinced just why you want to do an MBA!

Amit Sharma – CEO, Go Untucked

Self-motivated Amit Sharma is the founder of Go Untucked, an online apparel shopping website that prides itself on trendy designs at reasonable prices. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has been working full-time with his startup for 2 years. He asserts that the MBA program has provided him with a general management perspective and helped him to ‘THINK BIG’.
His stint there also helped him to create a strong network of contacts, which he feels, is crucial to develop and expand his business. Amit doesn’t think that societal pressure is too much at this stage as he has learnt to take independent decisions with full faith in himself. What he feels is the hardest part of this journey is the debt that comes along with the MBA program and the entrepreneurship.
Amit’s take on the relevance of an MBA? A formal degree is not necessarily required to start your own business or even in the early stages of growth, but to scale up and raise funds in the long-run, such a program will definitely be of great use!

Nitin Pulyani – Founder, a socially adaptive learning platform

ISB alumnus Nitin Pulyani, a true IT-aficionado, established a socially adaptive learning platform for competitive tests. Nitin rationalizes the need for an MBA program for entrepreneurs by stating that a well-knit MBA program helps to augment networking and build up a strong business perspective.
For him, it was a smooth transition from corporate life to business as he knew exactly what he wanted and just needed self-motivation to turn his dreams into reality. The flip side, Nitin feels, is that it is quite hard to manage an educational loan as well as investment involved in his venture. However he feels lucky as his spouse is also earning.
His message to budding entrepreneurs? An MBA degree is certainly not mandatory –go for it only when you are clear what you want from it and how it will help grow your business!

Sameer Kamat – Founder, MBA Crystal Ball

Sameer Kamat a Cambridge University MBA, is the founder of the 1.5 years old MBA admission consulting firm, MBA Crystal Ball. He strongly feels that the knowledge, education and everything else in the MBA program was fantastic but most importantly the brand value of his alma mater worked for him! As his current venture involves helping other MBA aspirants to get into the top international schools, the Cambridge tag enhances his credibility.
After completing his MBA, Sameer moved into mergers & acquisitions, a highly sought-after field. So the general expectation from him (mostly implicit, though a few well-wishers were vocal about it) was to stick around and make lots of money. His transition from a high-paying job to a start-up did not happen with a bang -it was gradual. Only when he was convinced that the new venture had serious potential, did he transition out completely.
Sameer attended a 1-year MBA program and was lucky to have got a couple of scholarships as well. So, though the loan was a concern in the initial years, he was able to quickly pay it off and save a little as well, for a rainy day. That made his jump into entrepreneurship easier!
The words of wisdom from Sameer? Stop assuming that an MBA will convert you into successful entrepreneurs overnight! Entrepreneurship is more about having the right attitude, passion & skills and less about having a fancy degree. Start early and take small (calculated) risks. Have a ‘Plan B’ in case things don’t work out. And most importantly –keep faith and don’t let small failures stop you from trying!

The Bottom Line

Thus, while their inherent qualities fuel the spirit of an entrepreneur, the right MBA program can provide you with:

Business acumen and perspective


Credibility with your business associates


A network of contacts and like-minded professionals

Inspired by all the Entrepreneur’s story? Want to know any related informationabout MBA? Let us help you!
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TOEFL Vs IELTS Which Does One Pick?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you are planning an MS abroad, an additional requirement apart from the GRE will be an English Language Test. The most popular ones are the IELTS and TOEFL.
Understand that both TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing Services) are intended for students planning to do their higher education at a foreign country.
Typically, a student whose first language isn’t English will be required to take one of these English Language Tests. Both these tests evaluate students on four functional areas: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking. How they do this though, varies.

Which of these tests do you write?

Short answer: Find out which test the universities you’ve shortlisted accept. Write that test!

But of late, universities have begun accepting either of the test scores. In this case making a decision on which to write can be difficult.
To make a decision let’s figure out how these tests are different.
The obvious difference is that IELTS is a paper based test, TOEFL is a iBT, which expands to internet Based Test. The TOEFL is taken on a computer. Beyond this let’s take a closer look at the tests section wise.


While writing is done on-screen on TOEFL, responses are to be handwritten on the IELTS.
This could be a factor for those who have either very slow typing speeds or those who have an aversion to writing on paper!


IELTS conducts its speaking module separate from the other sections. It is either done right after the written test is completed or perhaps a day or two after. One is required to speak to an examiner, luckily the kind of questions that the examiner can ask is highly structured.
TOEFL on the other hand requires you to speak into a microphone (that is recorded on the computer). Your responses will be recorded and there will be a stipulated amount of time for preparing and speaking (not unlike IELTS). For example you will be given a 15 second window to prepare a response and a period of 30 seconds to speak during. There will be an onscreen timer that tells you the time you have remaining.
Of course this will be a concern only if either speaking face-to-face with an examiner seems extremely daunting or you are completely incapable of speaking to a computer as a timer ticks away!


Listening on the IELTS is straightforward,you’ll have to listen to the respective tracks, you’ll have some questions on your test sheet which you will have to answer! How it gets tricky is that you’ll be required to make sense of pictographic data and relate it to what you are listening to.
Students find one thing about the IELTS very frustrating: the recordings of people speaking with accents that could range across the whole of Europe. This is a big problem with a lot of people who have difficulty perceiving foreign accents!
TOEFL on the other hand integrates listening with reading and you will have to respond either by writing a response or speaking out your response (this links back to Speaking and Writing)
Listening should be a point of concern to make a decision on if foreign accents baffle you – god forbid you are played a lecture given by a Scottish man!


Reading on the TOEFL will have a very similar look and feel as does the GRE reading. It will obviously not be as mind wrenching though. Reading on both and TOELF and IELTS are more or less comparable except for the fact that one is done on a computer and the other on paper.
There are many other pivotal differences between the IELTS and the TOEFL could help you make a decision between the two. The best way to figure this out is by taking an official mock test of each of these tests and getting a feel of the test first hand.
Do you have any questions about these two tests? Leave your comments below and our GRE experts will respond!

The Do’s and Dont’s of Financing your MBA

Reading Time: 4 minutes


If you’re reading this, you’ve either got an admit to a B-school or you’re considering applying to one. Either way, good for you. This post is to help you on financing your MBA.
An MBA will, most probably, be the costliest acquisition you will make in the next ten years. Hence, it pays to do your homework and get things right.

Things to budget:


1. Tuition

The average tuition for a two-year MBA program exceeds $60,000. If you attend one of the top business schools in the U.S., you can expect to pay as much as $100,000 or more in tuition and fees. Obviously, this number will be lower for one-year programs.

2. Books and Supplies

Includes course material, laptops (some schools such as NUS, mention configurations), and stationery.

3. Food

If you can cook, good for you; but budget for cost of supplies and time constraints, which might force you to dine out.

4. Personal and Health

Personal items, including your clothing and other necessary supplies, such as toiletries and utensils. Health Insurance is mandatory. Check with the schools on their policies.

5. Housing

Depending on location and type of accommodation, this could be a significant cost.

6. Transportation

Budget for daily transport and necessary overseas tours or trips.

7. Entertainment

B-school can be grueling and a timely break will prevent burnouts. Also, considering you will be living in that country for some years, it is a good idea to immerse yourself in the culture and experience life as a native.

8. Cushion

Always wise to budget about 5-10% of the overall budget for unexpected costs.
Websites like Numbeo and Living Wage can give you a fair indication about the cost of living.
We would advise you to connect with alumni of the respective schools to get a more pragmatic picture of the same.

Reducing your costs:


1. Scholarships / Fellowships

Most schools offer scholarships based on need and merit. Do check out your eligibility for these opportunities. The chances of availing fee-waivers are indirectly proportional to the ranking of the B-school. For instance, if you have a GMAT of 690 and the average GMAT at your target school is 650, you stand a higher chance to get an admit and a scholarship at this school.. Duke Fuqua is one of the rare top 10 B-schools that regularly gives 100% fee-waivers to international students.
Chicago Booth and Stanford GSB also offer substantial India-centric scholarships. But, the number of such scholarships doled out is very small and the bar to land them is quite high. So have realistic expectations from B-school scholarships when you plan your MBA finances.
Watch out for:
– Government initiatives
– Private Endowments (For instance, the ArcelorMittal Scholarship awarded to Kellogg students who show a potential and interest in working in emerging economies.)
– Research Organizations’scholarships
– India Centric Scholarships: For example, the Reliance Scholarship, which offers 5 full scholarships for Indian students going to Stanford on condition that they return to India after two years of working abroad to contribute to the development of the country; The scholarships offered by the Tobaccowala Foundation of India to Indian students at Chicago Booth etc.

2. Research and Teaching Assistantships

Paid teaching and/or research assistantships are available each academic year in most B-schools. This is a unique opportunity to make some extra money while also getting the opportunity to work with some of the school’s pioneering faculty members as they develop cutting-edge research and breakthrough industry innovations.
However, most courses are rigorous and may not leave much time for part-time work on campus.

3. Company Sponsorships

Some companies, especially Fortune 100 corporations, assume partial or the entire cost of an MBA program (assuming one earns satisfactory grades). This is an ideal situation for many professionals. But, of course, it might entail working for the company for a stipulated period of time post-MBA. So if your goal is to continue working for the same organization after your MBA, try to get your employers to sponsor you. 🙂

Student Loans

The bulk of your MBA costs would be financed through student loans. Although RBI has directed banks to facilitate financial assistance for students pursuing studies abroad the eligibility for these loans varies depending on the bank.
Some parameters on which to evaluate a bank loan are:

1. Interest rates

Interest rates vary depending on the bank’s benchmark prime lending rate (PLR).
Some B-schools have affiliations with international banks, which might offer cheaper interest rates.

2. Collateral required

Most banks will ask you for some kind of a collateral. If you are joining a top B-school, this requirement might be waived. Credila, a subsidiary of HDFC, is a specialist in educational loans and is open to funding up to 80% of your cost.
For US-based B-schools, the popular option is to go for co-signor backed loans. i.e. a guardian in the US will guarantee that if you can’t pay the loan back, he will. So now would be a good time to get back in touch with your rich relative in the US!

3. Repayment schedule

Generally, repayment is in the form of equated monthly installments (EMIs) and commences one year after completion of course or six months after securing a job, whichever is earlier. The repayment tenure can be from 5 to 7 years.
See FAQ, here
See country specific options here


Although the cost may appear to be staggering, investing in an MBA will serve you well for 20-30 years of your professional life. The key element to bear in mind is ROI.
Start your research today to make an informed decision!
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B-school Selection – The first step

Harward University
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The obvious first step is to look at your experience, GPA, GMAT and misc factors to understand what is a
(a) stretch school – dream school but chances are low
(b) reach school – chances are high but not in top 10/20
(c) safe school – it is the school where you will get a sure shot admit but is not high on the rankings etc (I am against this concept personally as I feel you rather not do an MBA than do it at a place you will never be proud of).
Over and above these “hygiene” factors you should consider the following 4:

1. Geography:

Some areas are better than other PURELY based on personal preference. India (obviously), Australia, Singapore, UK and US are the top 5 destinations. Then you have Countries in continental Europe, Philippines (Manila) also can be considered. Various factors here – post-MBA job prospects, ability to get VISA, English-speaking etc etc

2. 1 year v/s 2 years:

Various factors (a) current experience (b) social responsibilities (read marital status/kids) (c) post-MBA career options are the top 3 to make/break the decision.

3. Specialization:

Though I have said this before let me reiterate that Brand Name >> Specialization. So you will have more Management Consultants coming out of Harvard than say Darden. Or more finance guys from Wharton than say Stern. Or more entrepreneurs from Stanford than from Thunderbird. Thats’ the way it works. However if you are looking at marketing then you have Kellogs, for finance there is Colombia etc. So keep this in mind (what the school “’specializes” in) before going ahead.

4. Minor points:

Case-study might be more appealing to some, background of students admitted and their career progression as shown by say linkedin, a friend who is an alum might influence your decision, location – small city v/s big city, size – small class size and close-knit v/s large (Harvard has 800+) etc. can be reasons.
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Someone asked me to write my thoughts on this profoundly philosophical question. It is so complicated that people fail to find answers even *after* an MBA. Heck, it makes the Kennedy assassination look like an open and shut case 🙂
Firstly, look at what an MBA help you achieve. An MBA, is at best a “general management” program. It is not a specialization even if you choose to take up some electives during the second year. Let me clarify by giving an example.
Let us presume that you get to be a CEO, CIO, CFO, CTO ……. in short any CXO, it equips you with general tools and tricks of the trade for you to do your job effectively. Think about it, you will have a dozen CAs working for you, so it is pointless to know the nitty-gritty of Mercantile law.
You just need to be able to pick up a balance sheet or a P&L statement and make sense. Rather go a step beyond what is the obvious and figure out the subtle implications. You are not expected to even understand each account the marketing team is handling. But you are expected to look at a sales graph and understand what is going right, and more importantly, what is going wrong.
You should be able to look at a sales report and figure out what is working and what is not. When the HR teams gives you the attrition rate, you ought to be able to make sense out of it and figure if its okay or not. If not, you should be able to figure out how to plug the leak.
Secondly, if it is a top school it gives you credentials and opportunity to build a network. Someone from IIM-A need not “prove” himself as hard as someone from say Mahaveer Jain Institute of Management Studies. What would otherwise take possibly weeks or even months of hard work from the latter is immediately granted to the former purely on basis of the pedigree of the institute.
In a country like India, which is so hung up on academic credentials, it makes a huge impact in opening doors, in giving opportunities, in shortlisting resumes, in impressing interviewers. All the more if it is used along with solid networking. If you have thousands of your breed out there chauvinistic enough to hire you any day, you already start with a heads up the day you get the admit.

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But having said all this, if there is a reason to do an MBA for me it would be more because an MBA affords you an opportunity to take out two years of your life away from the remote corner of your isolated cubicle tucked away on B-wing at the 7th floor of one of the many buildings your company owns, away from the skulduggery of having to deal with socially challenged project managers who thinks working 14 hours a day including weekends is what the company pays you for, and more importantly – away from the realization that the rest of your life things are going to be pretty much the same. If you ever felt about doing a Rang de Basanti with your career, MBA seems to have a simple and seductive formula to effect the change.

Let me quote something that I had written someplace earlier. There are 2 extremes in the work arena. On the left side you have the most productive people (who actually do the work). For eg. a junior programmer spends every second that he is working producing actual code. On the far side you have the non-producers i.e. people who produce nothing tangible. At the end of the day they don’t grow food, they don’t help sick people, they don’t write code etc.
These are CEOs, lawyers, management partners, program managers etc. But the kick is – the left side gets paid the least and the right side gets paid the most so if you plot $ on the y axis its a 45 degree line. Almost everyone spends their time trying to traverse that line so the further to the right side you begin the sooner you get where you want to go. MBA helps us traverse that line faster. It gives you an opportunity to land that dream job with an ace company with a crackjack role.
With an ordinary BE + couple of years Software experience there is no way you are going to get to be an Investment Banker on Wall Street. Or a top notch consultant with McKinsey or BCG. I am not saying its impossible but the pigeonhole is simply too deep. An MBA I feel is one of the few reliable routes to a career change.
But at the end of it no amount of opportunity can really be of any use unless you have the ability to utilize it. Leadership is not about making decisions, it is about making sense. It is an ability to thrive in chaotic circumstances, to cut through the ambiguity and show a path when none seem to exist.
Leadership is about being passionate in whatever you do, in infusing a sense of ownership, commitment, pride and loyalty in not just yourself but everyone around you. Leadership is something no MBA – be it Harvard, Wharton or Stanford- can teach you.
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6 reasons why you should pursue an MBA by CrackVerbal

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What Do B-schools Look for When They Interview You? – The 3 C’s

MBA Interviews
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to this week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdom and one question that I’m going to be answering today is – What do B-schools really look for when they are trying to interview you? This is the time when a lot of people who have sent in their applications, would have started receiving their interview calls.

So remember these 3 things whenever you think of an interview :

A. Content 

Does this person know what he is talking about? Make sure you go through each and every thing that you have written in your application. Make sure that you have a good idea – for example if you say that you want to get into Finance, post MBA, then pretty much you should be able to answer questions such as,
“What do you think will happen if the interest rates were to go up?” or,
“Why do you think the Rupee slipped against the Dollar?”.
So these are the things that you need to know. If you say Product Management they could ask you questions, again not very theoretical questions but things like,
“Tell me a product feature that you like in say Google.” or
“Tell me a product company that you think has a very bright future.”
They want to make sure that you know your stuff.

B. Communication

Second thing apart from content is communication. How well are you able to express your ideas. You want to focus on body language, you want to focus on tone, clarity, clarity of speech and ensuring that your answer comes out as clearly, as crisply as possible. One suggestion that I have for this is please go back again to your application and prepare for some standard questions like,
“Why do you want to do an MBA?
“What brings you here?”
“Why this particular school?”
“Tell me an achievement that you are proud of?”
“Tell me what are your weaknesses?”
“What do you want to do post MBA?”
“Tell me something about yourself?”
– Typically many interviews start that way. Make sure you are very clear in your communication.

C. Clarity

When you look at clarity, they are really looking at clarity of vision and specifically looking at what you want to take away from B-school, what is it that you want in life. The tip over here is be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not. For example if they ask you what you want to do post your MBA, be very clear, say you want to get into Consulting, you need to be able to say,
“This is what I want to do.”,
“I’m very clear this is how a school such as ISB is going to help me.”,
Be genuine, don’t try to sound confused. If you don’t know something be open, say,
“I don’t know but I can hazard a guess.”
“I can still try, I can attempt this”,
but don’t try to get caught in your own tangle.
For example there are people who have mentioned adventure sports in their profile which they have attempted once, like bungee jumping. But if you have done it only once, there is only so much you can know. So you kind of start digging your own hole. Be very clear and specific in what you talk.

These are the 3 tips that I had – Content, Communication and Clarity. I hope it was useful & I hope to catch you next week.


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What to Avoid When Choosing Recommenders

letter of recommendation
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to this week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdom. The question that I typically get asked is about choosing recommenders. Here is a slightly different spin to it – how not to choose recommenders or how not to approach recommenders. I think one big problem that a lot of applicants have is they end up choosing a recommender.

For example if it’s a boss, they know they have to approach the boss, but they just develop cold feet, they feel awkward to reach out to the boss early on.
What happens is they keep waiting till a point where the application deadline is almost a week later and they approach their boss, especially when the boss is busy, he’s doing something, they go accost him and thrust the application and say, “I’m going to send you a link, can you take out the time and look at the recommendation?”


Now what happens in this case is:

a) The boss is not comfortable doing it.
b) Too short a time and he probably doesn’t have enough data.
c) He could also feel a little offended or he could feel he’s going to lose someone, so he may not write the best recommendation possible.

How do you get over this?


Try to identify your recommenders early on. In fact, the earlier the better. You don’t even have to tell them which schools you’re applying to. The best way is not to discuss this in the office environment, maybe you can take him to the cafeteria, take him to a coffee shop. If he drinks, maybe you can even take him out for a drink. Tell him what you really want to do. Why you want to really do an MBA.. What are the things that you hope you will achieve in life from an MBA Genuinely ask his opinion, let him give his two cents. Get him committed to the plan. Nobody is going to come and say you shouldn’t do an MBA. They will say, “This is my opinion and this is what I feel.” Take their opinion into cognisance and keep them updated.


After a couple of months, gently blow this topic and say, “Would you like to be my recommender and you know how much it matters to me.” At that point, hardly anyone will say no. Most of them will agree to it and because you have got them committed to the process, they are also more willing to give you a feedback.

When the time comes, give them at least a month’s notice in advance. Send them the link. One way you can prep them is give them your application form, give them your resume, give them things that they could possibly use in order to write the recommendation. At no point should you encourage them to give the recommendation to you and ask you to write it.
I think it’s unethical plus trust me when I say the college would definitely get to know, who wrote the recommendation. Get them to write the recommendation, prep them, give them some data points which they can use in order to write it.

In a nutshell, if you have enough time and if you are able to plan it well, recommendation letters can be a lot easier if not they can be a nightmare.


I hope you liked this and as always if you have any feedback, feel free to comment, and let us know. I would personally respond to your queries. Thank you!

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Financing Your MBA

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to another week of Wednesday Wisdom. Today I’m going to talk about a question that is probably bothering people even before they get started with the whole GMAT preparation. The question is – How do I finance my MBA?

Essentially if you look at it, there are about 5 basic ways in which you can sponsor yourself:

1. Loans

Those that are offered by the college through banks with whom they have exclusive tie-ups. In short if you go to ISB, you probably have a dozen nationalized banks which are waiting to give you a loan. Or if you were to go to a top school in the U.S. such as Harvard or Stanford, you definitely don’t need to worry about getting funding, i.e. getting a loan.
They usually have an exclusive tie-up. Many other schools, especially the ones which are slightly lower down the order, I would say starting rank 10 onwards, many-a-times, they don’t have such a tie-up which means they would probably be able to give you 20-30% but not the 100%. But that is the number one option, especially for a top school.

2. A loan from India

The loans from India are collateral and non-collateral. Non-collateral loans can be offered against your admission to a top B-school, but typically their cap is somewhere less than INR 10 Lakhs, maximum. But typically around 5 to 6 lakhs. If you look at collateral loans then pretty much you know the interest rates that typically work and it is going to be against property that you will mortgage. The upper limit however, could be very high depending on what is it that you have mortgaged.

3. Self Finance

This is something that a lot of people ignore. But when you look at self finance, you’re going to look at every little thing. You don’t look at just the bank account but you also look at mutual funds, provident funds, maybe gratuity. You’re looking at all the money you have invested in other places like bonds or fixed deposits. If you have a bike or a car which you sell, you can get money out of that.
If you are living in a rented house you probably have a deposit so you can get the deposit back. It could be something even as simple as liquidating an asset on OLX, it sounds stupid but really a lot of people sell off electronic stuff they have got and may not use. So you could possibly look at getting money that way.

4. Soft-Loans

Something that a lot of people do not consider. Typically you get a soft loan from friends, family and what is known as “fools”. But really you want to get a loan from someone who can lend you about 5-10 Lakhs for a couple of years and you really have your word of honour. It’s maybe an uncle in London who can give you 10 Lakhs and you can always pay him once you start working.

5. Scholarships

What happens in scholarships is that a lot schools offer scholarships but just that you cannot bank on your MBA just by scholarships. You have to be a little careful with that one. Having said that, a lot of schools which especially after the rank of 15, 20, if you have a very high GMAT score and if your profile is very good, offer substantial scholarships.
We have had students at CrackVerbal, and I’m happy if you contact us, we can share some profiles where they have got as much as 70-80% of their tuition expense waived off. Which meant that their MBA was done in maybe around 20 Lakhs. So there are scholarships, for example there is a Reliance-Stanford scholarship which offers 100% of your Stanford MBA in return of you coming back to India and working here. There are some clauses you might want to look at, but scholarships are definitely an option that you could consider.
In a nutshell, 5 things – You either get a loan from a bank that the college is tied up with. You get an Indian loan against collateral, or no collateral. Third, look at self finance. Fourth, look at soft-loans from friends and family and fifth scholarships.
Thank you and if you have any questions, feel free to comment we’ll be glad to help you. Thank you! 🙂
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Achieving the MBA Dream Without the CAT

Plan A Plan B
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hello and welcome to this session of Wednesday Wisdom. Since the CAT results are out, a lot of students have come and asked me, “I didn’t do as well on CAT, is there anything else that I can do?”.


One thing that I advise to students and that I would be advising to you is – you really have to think about what you want to do apart from CAT? For the last 3 – 4 months, you’re studying for CAT, but really, is CAT you objective in life? CAT is not the objective right? Your objective  in life at a larger level is to do something productive, do something meaningful, do something with your talent and potential.


In order to maximise the talent and potential, you have chosen to do an MBA. From step 2, you boil down to step 1 and then in order to do an MBA, step zero was the CAT. Assume, CAT is not there, try to think of another way to get to step 1.


One advice that I have for everyone is please, do look at GMAT. One thing that people don’t realize is GMAT is used for Indian B-schools. For example T.A. Pai Manipal is accepting people through GMAT. We have great one year programs such as Great Lakes, we have programs such as ISB – ISB is in fact open to freshers, they have something known as the Early Entry Option, where freshers can apply and get an admit. We also have the great global schools.


And another myth is, “We need 4-5 years of experience.” – not true. Most of these schools are more than happy to take people with even 2 to 3 years of experience as long as there is something that they have to offer to the incoming class.


This is where I really want you to think. Don’t worry about CAT, focus on step 1 which is really to get a great MBA and for that I would request that you consider taking the GMAT.

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MBA Application Strategies for Round 1, Round 2 & Round 3 Deadlines

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdoms talks about application strategies for the Round1, Round 2 & Round 3 MBA application deadlines.



So one question that we keep getting asked is whether the 1st round, the 2nd round and the 3rd round of the applications – do they really matter?


First let me give you an idea of how these rounds work – when you apply to a b-school, typically, there are 3 rounds in which you can apply. You can either apply in round 1 which is in October, Round 2 which is in January or Round 3 which could be as late as March.


Now all things being equal, it is better to apply to the best schools that you want to, in the 1st round. Which means if you have a choice between say Haas Berkeley, which is your number 1 school and Krannert Purdue as your number 2 school, it is better to apply to Haas in October because you will typically get to know the decision and you would need to make a payment by say end December.
So you would apply to Krannert Purdue, depending on whether you get an admit from Haas. So all things being equal, try to apply to Round 1 as opposed to Round 2.


Having said that, one common myth that people have is that if I do not apply in Round 1, my chances are going to be slashed by 50% – not true. My advice is to apply to the school with your best possible application. Which means if you apply with a 650 GMAT score in Round 1 and a 720 GMAT in Round 2, you will definitely have a better chance in getting through that school with the Round 2 720 GMAT. So put in your best application.
Having said that, the schools that you want to most get into, try to use that in Round 1 and the second preference schools in Round 2. So that way you get to know the decisions.


Now coming to Round 3 which is going to be in March – the only problem for international applicants in applying in the last round is that by the time the decisions come, you need to take care of your I20 which is essentially required for your Visa, you need to take care of your finances, you need to take care of your tickets.
There are a lot of things that you need to do and sometimes 3 months that you get from the time the decision is made till the point you’re going to join the college could be a little too short for your comfort.

So net-net – Round 1, Round2 & Round 3, probably that’s how I would stack in order of preference. Thank you.


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3 Mistakes ISB Applicants Make: Tips From ISB Alumnus & Admissions Panelist Pradyot Anand

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When it comes to ISB (and more generally MBA) admissions, getting an interview short-list is only the first step. While there is no guaranteed formula to convert an interview call into an admit, there are a few things that are guaranteed to not get you the admit.
In this post, I want to elaborate on 3 common mistakes I’ve observed aspirants make during the interview.


1. Under Preparation:


Take it for granted that the interview panel has already read your application pack and is therefore interested to know more about you. So even if the question is the same as what is asked in the essays, be prepared to go in-depth in terms of the hows and the whys. Don’t merely repeat your essay. Given the word limits, it is hard to get into any depth in the written essay and the interview is a medium to get into the nitty gritty.
For example, if you have written that you want to get into consulting, be prepared with an understanding of the consulting industry, major companies and the kind of work they do, where in the hierarchy do you see yourself immediately and 3-5 years post MBA, what skills are needed to get into consulting, and how will you utilize the one year at ISB to gain those skills.


2. Unrealistic Goals:


Most B-schools like go-getters and those with a can-do attitude. However, there is a difference between setting aspirational, yet realistic, goals and lofty goals that will remain out of reach. Be it in terms of 3-5-10 year post-MBA career goals or what you will do while at the school, ensure that your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) and tie-in with your strengths and past experience / credentials.
If you have never been in the top 10% of your class and have a GMAT score of 660, it is unlikely (although not impossible) that you will be in the top 10 at ISB and be the most sought after student by companies. Similarly, if you say you want to change the world and make a big social impact in 3 years post-MBA, what are the chances of that happening given that you will have to service student loans immediately after MBA?


3. Lack of Demonstrated Interest in the School:

At the end of the interview, most panels will give you the opportunity to ask questions. Do not say “I have none”. Ask genuine questions that demonstrate interest in the school, and tie-in with what you bring to the table and what you expect from the school. The difference between a good question and a bad / poor one is that a good question is reasonably specific and personalized such that the answer helps you evaluate whether the school fits you (the overall admissions process will decide whether you fit the school).
For example, asking how someone with your kind of a career background made an industry shift (if that’s what you are interested in doing) using the resources at the school would be a good question. Poor questions are extremely general and serve no purpose. Examples include asking the interview panel for their experience while at the school or information already available through the website and / or roadshows.
In my experience, even candidates who are good (and whose profiles are extremely interesting going by their applications) tend to sometimes make these mistakes. These mistakes are secular in the sense that I’ve seen them committed by aspirants from various backgrounds, both genders, and at various stages of their career. The fact that you have been shortlisted for an interview means that the school is serious in considering your application for admission. Do make use of that opportunity and avoid these mistakes that have cost many an aspirant.
Want to know more about ISB? Check out the ISB info page.
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TOEFL Preparation – The Ten Commandments!

Reading Time: 5 minutes


This is the month of the year when most of you are thinking, “I have taken the GRE and I have another ten days for the TOEFL. Is it really enough?”

You are also asking, “I have prepared for the GRE. Will that help for the TOEFL?”


The TOEFL is an acronym for Test Of English as a Foreign Language and is usually a requirement for many universities abroad as an indicator of your ability to communicate in English. This includes reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. Here are Ten Commandments you must follow during your TOEFL preparation:


Commandment: 01 – Thou shalt know the structure of the TOEFL.

The TOEFL comprises four sections – Reading, writing, listening and speaking:

Reading: 3 passages / Approximately 39 questions / 60 minutes or 5 passages/ Approximately 65 questions / 100 minutes.

Writing: Independent task that asks you to write an essay in about 250 words in 30 minutes / Integrated task that asks you to Read, Listen, Comprehend the information in both and write an essay in about 150 words in 20 minutes.

Listening: Academic Lectures and Campus Conversations have to be listened to and questions need to be answered.

Speaking: There are 6 questions in speaking; 2 of which require only speaking, 2 of which require to Read, Listen, Comprehend and speak and 2 of which require you to listen and speak.

Unless you know what is expected of you in each section, you will not be able to perform well in it. For example, in Integrated Writing,you must know that your essay comprises points from Reading and Listening. If you don’t know this, you might not take down relevant information from the passage and the track. The purpose of having Independent and Integrated writing is just to ensure that your comprehension of English is tested in situations as close to real life as possible.

Commandment: 02 – Thou need not read the Reading passage while doing the Reading section.


The questions in the reading section are in the order of the passage. This means that you don’t have to really read the passage in detail or make maps unlike in Reading Comprehension on the GRE.So just go ahead with the questions and start working with them. Also there are two facts that you can use to your advantage:


(1) You can move back and forth between questions in the same passage

(2) The subject of the question is highlighted in the passage.

(3) The questions are sequenced such that you can easily guess the location of the answer. That is, if the answer for the first question is in Line 3 and the answer for the third question is in Line 7 then the answer for the second question is definitely between Line 3 and 7.


Commandment: 03 – Thou shalt remember that the last question in the Reading passage is based on the whole passage.


The last question in Reading is usually a summary or a sort question. And this depends on the entire passage. Since you would have already read the whole passage in parts for the other questions, you should ideally not have a problem answering this question. Also remember that this last question usually carries more than one point on the test.


Commandment: 04 – Thou shalt take copious notes on the Listening section.


The key to doing well in the Listening section is to take copious notes. This also applies more to the Academic Lectures as they are long and heavy to comprehend. However the god-send here is that these lectures usually talk about a process or a description of something, thereby making it very easy to take notes.


You could draw or use whatever signs/symbols/shorthand you like to capture the highlights. A caveat here is to not start writing down everything verbatim as this is unnecessary and will just tire you out.


Commandment: 05 – Thou shalt stick to a 4 paragraph structure while writing.


It’s best to stick to a 4 paragraph structure while writing essays on the TOEFL.


Paragraph 1:  Introduction, which should contain the direct answer to the question being asked.

Paragraphs 2 & 3:  Contain the body of your essay.

Paragraph 4:  Conclusion, which summarizes the takeaways from your essay


Commandment: 06 – Thou shalt give personal examples on TOEFL writing.


While popular examples are recommended in your GRE AWA essays, remember that the task on the TOEFL tests personal preference and hence it is apt to give at least one personal example.For instance, consider a question that says, “Given an hour extra a day, what would you prefer to do; 1. Go for a long walk listening to your favourite songs 2. Snuggle with your pillows and take a much-needed power nap.”

Saying “The famous environmentalist XYZ prefers going on a long walk when given some extra time as he feels that it gives him more time to enjoy nature.” in response to this question does not make sense. You must simply talk about your personal choices.


Commandment: 07 – Thou shalt use the Note taking “T” while taking notes on Integrated Writing or Integrated Speaking.


While doing Integrated Writing or Integrated Speaking which involves reading a passage, listening to a track based on the passage and then writing or speaking based on what was discussed, remembering points might be very difficult as there is a just too much information.


So, even though the points in listening may not be in the same order as they were in reading, you can match them up while taking notes, or later, while brainstorming before you write.


Commandment: 08 – Thou shalt not stammer or use too many fillers while you speak


Your actual Speaking time on the TOEFL will be very less – around 30 to 60 seconds. But the pressure is what makes it challenging. As a result, you may end up stammering or saying “Er… ummm…” etc. when you fumble for words or points. Practise extensively beforehand to avoid such situations as using fillers will eat up the time available for you to speak and reduce your speaking score.


Commandment: 09 – Thou shalt be very clear and organised while giving answers in the speaking section.


Remember to use the time given for prepping very effectively. Always make use of one standard template for your answers.

Your direct answer to the question / The main point of the answer.
Reason – 1 / Point – 1
Reason – 2 / Point – 2
Reason – 3 / Point – 3
Summary line


Commandment: 10 – Thou shalt keep calm and tackle the TOEFL 🙂


All this information may seem a little overwhelming at this point of time. But a bit of prepping and a lot of confidence will ensure that you handle the TOEFL well.

Use the TOEFL ETS Guide and mock tests – they are as close as possible to what you will encounter on the actual test.

Worry not, thou shalt sail through the TOEFL – All the Best!

What are your problem areas on the TOEFL? Leave a comment and our experts will guide you!

All right, so you know how to tackle the TOEFL! What next? Read our quick 15-minute guide on all aspects of the GRE!

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Can I Make It To Round 2 Deadlines?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Are you a Late Latif who’s been planning an MBA since the beginning of time, but have got around to booking a date in late November 2013? 🙂
Or are you a GMAT re-taker looking to improve your score?
The question that’s foremost in your mind right now would be –
can I make it to Round 2 deadlines? Will I have enough time to prepare my application?

This is a very subjective question, and frankly, there’s no good objective answer!
How long it takes you to write your essays depends on how much thought and research you have already put in – if you have already introspected long and hard about your post-MBA goals, and researched your target school/program well, you would have answers to the standard questions B-schools ask:

1. Your goals
2. Why an MBA?
3. Why this particular school/program?
4. Why you?

CrackVerbal’s MBA application clients typically take anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks to complete their application from start to finish. i.e. from the initial brainstorming to define their essay strategy to multiple rounds of revision of the essays. This is adequate time to write your essays, provided you have the answers in your mind.


Contrary to popular belief, preparing for the GMAT and for your MBA application are not necessarily sequential processes. 🙂


As you prepare for the GMAT, simultaneously spend time doing your research on B-schools and introspection on your own profile and goals. You can even start drafting some of your essays.


Here’s a step-by-step approach to drafting your application essays:


1. Begin with a story outline for every essay
2. Expand this outline by writing everything you want, without worrying about the word limits.
3. Keep this aside for a couple of days and come back to it. On reading what you’ve written, you will find that you can trim out many of      the details you’ve put in, and include other points.
4. Keep repeating steps #2 and #3 till your essays are more or less in place.
5. Show the essays around – to friends, colleagues, family or experts. Each will have a different perspective.


Some tips to get your essays reviewed:

Don’t show your essays to too many people because too many inputs will just confuse you.
When you pick reviewers, make sure that you pick a good mix of people who know you at work, outside of work, and who do not know you at all. I would say, 3-4 reviewers is a good number to go with – not more than this.
Do remember that you do not need to incorporate all the feedback you get – the final decision is yours. So, rather than take feedback verbatim, think of the underlying problem the reviewer is pointing out, and try to address that.
For instance, if someone asks you to include a specific incident in your essays, before going ahead and writing about it, ask yourself why this incident is significant. Does it bring out a certain quality or trait of yours that will add value to your application? Then perhaps there is a better way to bring this out, other than by citing the suggested incident.

Below is the link for some free resources that will help you in your MBA application process.
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Post MBA Careers in Technology

postmba careers- tech
Reading Time: 3 minutes

You are bored with your job – the long working hours, the coding or the calls, and the same old deliverables. You start thinking of ways to get out of this rut. As the luxury of the corner office (or maybe just a larger cubicle) beckons the better-manager-than-coder within you, you wonder if there some way you can take a shot at management.


Here is the good news: there are some excellent career paths in store for you, provided you have a strong interest in technology. You can go down this path the easy way (through an MBA) or the hard way (keep at it for more years and go up through the ranks). On second thought, the MBA route isn’t particularly easy – but it is still relatively faster. 🙂

But what about non-IT folks who want to work in technology?

Gee, it is rare to see someone from a non-Tech background wishing to make a breakthrough into this field – but if you do fall into this category, remember that more than anything, you will need to justify in your B-school application:

Your passion for and knowledge of technology, irrespective of what field you are in currently
Why you want to make a career switch to technology at this stage in your career

This is because, at the end of the day, you need to have strong tech fundamentals and a keen interest in the field, to don a leadership role.


Career Paths in Technology

Previously in this blog series, we covered 2 of the most popular post-MBA career paths in technology: Tech Consulting and Product Management.

Let us now look at two of the other technology careers available to MBAs:


1. Project Management:


If you are tech-savvy, and are looking for a post-MBA career path that requires you to be a technical expert, but also handle managerial functions, then project management maybe your cup of tea. A technical project manager is responsible for organizing and managing projects from start to completion.
He or she has to find the fine balance between technical expertise and managerial skills. This role involves project scoping, scheduling, budgeting and managing risks associated with delivery. A project manager will have to manage the internal project delivery team, as well as customers, and will be a single point of contact for all matters related to the project.


Typical Career Path in Project Management




What Does It Take To Build A Career In Project Management?

Technical expertise
Excellent communication skills
Negotiation skills
Work management skills: organizing, delegating etc.
Analytical and problem-solving skills

2. Analytics:


Big Data seems to be the watchword in the industry right now and analytics is considered one of the hottest areas to be in right now. By definition, a business analyst’s job is to analyze datasets, systems and business models from the perspective of identifying trends and business needs, designing processes and translating business requirements in terms of technology. A business analyst may be given other titles also, like process consultant, functional analyst, systems analyst or systems architect, depending on the organization.


Typical Career Path of a Business Analyst




What does it take to build a career in Analytics?

Data modeling & statistical skills
Technical expertise
Eye for detail and spotting trends
Communication and storytelling skills

B-schools renowned for Technology

MIT Sloan, Tepper, UCLA, Haas, Cornell Johnson, Boston University, Krannert, Scheller, Olin, Fisher, ISB, IIMB
Read our previous blog post in this 5 part series on Post MBA careers: Operations
Are you wondering if you can get into a top B-School this year? Let us help you!
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5 Things You Should (& Should Not) Ask the Admissions Team at MBA fairs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Before I deep-dive into the list, here are 2 generic things that you need to remember:


1) Leave questions open-ended


For all questions you can end with “Is there anything else that you think I should know? Is there anything else that you think is important for this”? Make sure the Admissions Member is able to provide you pointers that you may have NOT anticipated.


2) Don’t ask for data – ask for opinion


The value should be given to the person’s perspective and not to something google-able. So try to pick their brains by asking things specific to your case.


crossWhat not to ask: Extent of scholarship awarded or any such information found on their website.