From Verbal Coaching to an ISB Admit: An IT Engineer’s MBA Journey

Bhavani Shankar Indrakanti


GMAT Score – 710

Indian School Of Business


The beginning of this story is quite the cliché:

An Indian IT engineer decided to appear for the GMAT so as to get into a prestigious B-School’s MBA program and he approached a GMAT training institute for help with the verbal section.

What you don’t see coming is this:

Mere months later, the same IT engineer walked away from the same institute with an ISB admit in his pocket.

Meet Bhavani Shankar Indrakanti, the hero of this story – a stereotypical Indian IT engineer who managed to break the stereotype and stand out enough to get into the country’s best B-School.


When did Shankar contact CrackVerbal?

In the beginning, when Shankar was preparing for his GMAT, he thought he needed help with preparing for the verbal section. That’s when he joined CrackVerbal’s GMAT prep course for the verbal section.

Shankar had only signed up for the verbal course because, being an engineer by profession, he felt he could handle the quantitative reasoning section on his own.

“But then I thought, although it (GMAT quant) is easy, you have to score really well. By then I had started trusting CrackVerbal more, so I thought I’d take their help to brush up on my quant as well,” Shankar says.

He is full of praise for the services provided by CrackVerbal, but most significantly, he speaks about the study material provided by the institute.

“I think the ultimate difference was CrackVerbal’s material. It primarily covers questions from previous GMAT exams, so the actual exam ends up being very similar to the kind of questions you have used during your prep. That makes it easier,” says Shankar.

The faculty at CrackVerbal consistently highlights the importance of using authentic, original study material even for practice solving. They believe it makes a huge difference to your performance on the actual GMAT test.

“The thing is, if you practice using random questions that someone has come up with, you will not be preparing for the GMAT at all. If you want to effectively prepare for the GMAT, you have to learn to face the exact same questions that you will encounter on your test day. Nothing else, no matter how similar it claims to be, will ever come close enough,” says Arun Jagannathan, founder and CEO of CrackVerbal.

CrackVerbal ensures that the study material provided to its students as a part of the GMAT prep course is put together from the most authentic source possible – the Graduate Management Admission Council itself.

Thanks to the rigorous and innovative teaching methods used by the faculty and the high-quality study material provided by CrackVerbal, Shankar scored a 710 on his GMAT.

He then started looking for admission consultancies to help him with his B-School application process. Incidentally, advice from friends led him right back to CrackVerbal.


How did CrackVerbal help Shankar with his Applications?

CrackVerbal has a comprehensive system of services meant to cater to every stage of a candidate’s MBA journey.

For Shankar, the journey began with looking to identify the right B-School for his profile.


“There’s actually a lot that goes into finding the best match. It makes a big difference to the candidate’s chances of getting in,” the consultant adds.

So, when Shankar signed up for Application Services at CrackVerbal, this was the first step. He filled out the standardized Personal Application Strategy form and the team came back with the suggestion that he should apply to the Indian School of Business.

Having made up his mind to pursue an MBA at ISB, Shankar prepared himself to go through CrackVerbal’s personalized strategy for his ISB application.

The next step was to work on ISB’s MBA essays.


What were Shankar’s greatest challenges?

The first and most prominent challenge in Shankar’s path was that he was an IT engineer. This is a challenge because IT engineers make up the largest pool of applicants for an MBA in India.

Every prestigious B-School looks to maintain a healthy diversity of backgrounds and experiences among the students of a single batch of MBA students. The idea is for them to be able to learn from each other as well as from the faculty and course material.

Thanks to this, being a part of the largest category of applicants worked against Shankar.

Given the shortage of women in business, especially the lack of female MBA students, most B-Schools also try to have a higher number of female students in the class. So, being a male applicant once again placed Shankar in a large pool of unfavorable candidates.

The only way out for Shankar was to differentiate his profile from the rest of the applicants in the same category as him.

He had scored a 710 on his GMAT when the average GMAT score at ISB is 709. This meant that his score wouldn’t help him stand out, either.

In his own opinion, though, Shankar felt he had another challenge altogether.

“Even if you have a great profile, it needs to come out in words when you’re writing your essays. Personally, I felt like I wasn’t writing my essays well enough on my own, that’s why I knew I needed help,” says Shankar.

The best MBA application essays cover a variety of topics.

“The things you’re passionate about say a lot about the kind of person you are. MBA application essays, whether at ISB or elsewhere, are an attempt by AdComs to gauge whether or not your personality fits into the ideal class they want – they want to see a personality in an essay, not a CV,” says Arun.

So, the admissions experts at CrackVerbal asked Shankar to introspect and try to think about all of the things that made him different from the average male Indian IT engineer.

An important point to note here is that CrackVerbal refuses to write applicants’ essays for them. Not only is it unethical to do so, but there’s also another very good reason.

When the time comes for an interview and an applicant seems unfamiliar with the essay, it raises suspicion.

In Shankar’s opinion, “The confidence has to come in when you speak. If you write about something you did in the first year of your college, it means you’re passionate about whatever that was. You can’t fumble when talking about it during the interview.”

After multiple sessions of reviewing and feedback, Shankar and his CrackVerbal mentor managed to put together a set of essays as per ISB’s requirements.

Soon enough, Shankar received a call for an interview with ISB.


How did Shankar prepare for his interview?

CrackVerbal’s application process includes support for interview preparation.

A variety of training options are available, including in-person as well as online interviews. CrackVerbal provides candidates with an opportunity to have mock interviews one-on-one as well as with a panel.

CrackVerbal tries to ensure that the interviewer is an alumnus of the school the candidate is aiming for.

Shankar went through two mock interviews and two corresponding rounds of feedback to help him understand what to expect and how to handle it. By the end of it, his confidence had risen considerably.

“The ISB interview will primarily test whether you have business sense or not. They want to find out if you know what you want and why you want it,” he says.

Armed with an enhanced level of self-awareness and considerable clarity regarding his goals, Shankar was ready to face the ISB AdCom.


The Result

The rigorous journey Shankar had undertaken with CrackVerbal’s support, beginning with coaching for the verbal section, finally ended when ISB extended him an invitation to join their MBA program.

Having made the best of every resource available to him, Shankar extends an important piece of advice to other ISB aspirants:

“It’s good if you speak to alumni or people who have done an MBA even before the interview stage. That’s when you understand; you get some clarity on how post-MBA roles are connected to what you did before your MBA,” he says.

Bhavani Shankar Indrakanti graduated with an MBA from ISB in 2018.


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