Getting into Kellogg with a GMAT 650

Visha Chadha


GMAT Score – 650

Kellogg School of Management


The Kellogg School of Management has ranked within the top 10 business schools in the US for decades. Across the entire board of ranking portals and publications, Kellogg has consistently remained one of the most sought-after b-schools in the US.

With average GMAT scores soaring comfortably above 700, Kellogg has an acceptance rate of about 20% over the years.

It’s safe to say that there is very serious and intense competition among students hoping to get into a school like Kellogg. For all practical purposes, if you got anything below a 690 on your GMAT, you wouldn’t even bother applying there because you’d be sure you wouldn’t make the cut.

Visha Chadha applied to Kellogg with a GMAT 650.

And she got in.


What was Visha’s profile like?

Visha was an electrical and communications engineer who had earned her undergraduate degree from the Delhi College of Engineering.

She joined the Noida offices of Interra Systems, a California-based software company, as a tester in the Electronics & Semiconductors division. After gaining some experience over a couple of years with Interra, Visha joined AMD in Bangalore.

After three of years working on developing microprocessors with the semiconductor multinational, Visha decided it was time to advance to the next step of her career.

Unlike a fairly significant number of MBA applicants who decide to get the degree after growing dissatisfied with their existing jobs, Visha had planned to get an MBA well in advance.

“This is something I had decided in the final year of my undergrad. The USA was always preferable as there is more exposure, but I wanted to get a few years of experience before pursuing an MBA,” she says.

Undoubtedly, the kind of clarity she had about getting an MBA and what it would do for her, played greatly in her favor.


How did Visha handle her low GMAT score?

Visha had many things planned out for herself well ahead of time.

“The original plan was to pursue it (MBA) after gaining 4-5 years of work experience. Unfortunately, despite many attempts, my GMAT score remained around 650,” she says. “So I decided to turn my focus to the other aspects of my profile.”

Visha attempted the GMAT over and over again in the hopes of improving her score, but it didn’t materialize.

What she did next is the most critical part of Visha’s MBA journey.

In spite of being told by almost everyone around her that she would never get into a top-10 B-school, Visha refused to give up.

Popular belief places disproportionate amounts of importance on a candidate’s GMAT score. The truth is that the score is only one part of the application that a candidate submits when asking a b-school for admission.

There is a multitude of factors that are taken into consideration when a b-school decides whether or not a candidate should be given an admit. That means there is a multitude of things prospective candidates can work on apart from their GMAT scores.

Visha had been an active and outgoing person, which means she had inadvertently addressed a lot of the other factors that top B-schools take into consideration while evaluating a candidate’s profile.


How did CrackVerbal help Visha overcome this challenge?

Even if you score a 710 on the GMAT, there will be approximately 71,000 people who have scored the same or higher than you in the last 3 years. Since GMAT scores are valid for five years, there may well be over 80,000 people with the same score out there, looking to get into a top B-school.

In short, Visha was facing a MASSIVE challenge, trying to get into Kellogg with a score that was well below the average that Kellogg is known to accept.

She would need to stand out very prominently to even be noticed by the AdComs.

When Visha came to CrackVerbal, the only thing she had going for her was her own determination to make it into a school like Kellogg.

“The student’s willingness to do what it takes makes the biggest difference to how much we can help them,” says Arun. “If a student wants to do the impossible but expects us to wave a magic wand to make it happen, things get tough. But when the student is willing to go the extra mile – that’s when the magic can actually happen.”

After reviewing the case in great detail, the team at CrackVerbal decided to make a few edits to Visha’s profile.

To her benefit, Visha had a variety of achievements and experiences under her belt and these were not simply things she did to earn bragging rights. She had truly learned from her experiences and grown from it, which added substance to her very personality.

The task at hand was to make her essays and profile reflect her charismatic personality.

B-schools typically accept candidates who have interesting knowledge and experience to offer their batchmates. The idea is to create a rich cohort of students who can learn not only from the professors but also from each other.

If Visha could convince the AdComs that she had unique knowledge, skills, and experiences that would benefit the class as a whole, she would certainly stand a good chance of getting in despite her low GMAT score.

CrackVerbal experts went over Visha’s profile, making additions and modifications to include details of her rich cultural and extra-curricular experiences.

For example, Visha had worked with a variety of NGOs throughout her life and this had exposed her to various pertinent issues over time. She had developed a magnanimous world-view as a result, and was able to provide a very different perspective on things.

Including little facts like these and describing their effect on her personality gave her an edge that would be rather uncommon compared to the majority of MBA applicant profiles.

“A lot of applicants add things which aren’t true to their profile, which shows when you speak to them. If your extracurriculars are genuine, it really adds value,” Visha says. “Make sure you have actually done something substantial instead of listing things for the sake of it. It really helps to differentiate your profile from the rest.”


The Result

CrackVerbal had Visha reminisce and introspect a great deal to draw on all of her experiences in life and find out the way she had grown from them. This gave her profile as well as her approach towards an MBA a fair amount of depth.

According to Arun, “When your mind is clear and you know what you want and why you want it in significant detail, it inevitably comes across as impressive. That goes a long way when it comes to convincing an AdCom that you’re a good fit in spite of whatever shortcoming your profile may have.”

That sums up the overall effect that CrackVerbal’s entire process and approach had on Visha as she went through the rigors of applying to her dream B-schools.

Soon after submitting her applications, against all odds, Visha received an admit from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, from where she acquired her MBA.


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