Overcoming Low GMAT Scores to Get Purdue, Pittsburgh & Fox Admits

Vivek Saurabh


GMAT Score – 630

Purdue, Pittsburgh & Fox


It takes a lot to get into a B-school that’s listed within the top 100 by Financial Times. The competition is fierce, so your profile needs to really stand out to even be considered.

You would never expect to get in with a GMAT score below 700.

But Vivek Saurabh did it with a 630.

When Vivek approached CrackVerbal to avail of their Application Services, he went in with a pretty solid profile. He had six years of work experience with Bosch, and in that time, he had worked with clients including Volkswagen, John Deere, and Nissan. He had received plaudits for his work from all of them.

There was just one pretty big drawback: he had scored 630 in his third GMAT attempt.

Team CrackVerbal had to find a way to circumvent this issue to ensure that the strength of his profile stood out. There were multiple challenges that needed to be tackled in order to do this.

For starters, one of the challenges was related to his present skill-set. Coming from a purely technical background, Vivek had been out of touch with the soft skills required to successfully get through an MBA selection process.

The first step of the process involved essay writing, which Vivek hadn’t done since school.


How did Vivek manage to write his essays?

Initially, he was considering hiring one of the many available services to write his essays for him. CrackVerbal advised very strongly against this for a variety of reasons.

“First of all, it’s illegal and completely unethical for a third party to write an applicant’s essays for them. Even if you choose to ignore that, you can be certain that AdComs will easily figure it out if you haven’t written your own essays,” says Arun Jagannathan, co-founder and CEO of CrackVerbal.

B-schools ask applicants to submit essays as a means to glimpsing into their motivations, aspirations and other factors that you can’t see in a resumé. Getting an essay written from a third party service cannot do justice to your personality.

Worse still, an essay-writing service will most probably supply you with a templatized essay. This may not be obvious to you, but for an AdCom that goes through thousands of essays with every round of applications, it stands out like a sore thumb.

Convinced of the pitfalls of hiring an essay-writer, Vivek decided to take CrackVerbal’s advice and take on the task of writing his essays on his own.

Once you get down to it, essay writing is actually not as simple as it sounds. Of course, you need not be a Shakespeare to do it, but you do need a flair for dramatic, impactful storytelling if you want your essay to hold its own ground.

The first step to writing a great essay is to know your story. It’s only when you know what point you’re trying to make that your MBA application essay can sound coherent. So, Vivek sat down with his mentors from CrackVerbal to brainstorm about the story he would tell through his essay.

With a mutually accepted storyline in place, Vivek started writing the first draft of his essay.

“It had been so long since I had written an essay that I took 15 days to write my first draft. The word limit provided was 250 words. I had written 3,000 words and I had no idea how to reduce it whatsoever,” Vivek says.

He shared his draft with Team CrackVerbal and they went about making suggestions, guiding Vivek through the process of editing his own essay rather than editing it themselves. The idea behind this is to maintain the integrity of the final MBA Application essay the student ends up submitting. Those have to be the applicant’s words and ideas.

After multiple rounds of reviewing and editing, Vivek’s essay was finally ready.

The next challenge was to figure out which schools he should apply to.


How did CrackVerbal help Vivek pick the right B-schools?

“Everyone wants to study at Stanford and all the elite B-schools, but we need to know if we’re going to make it or not. That’s what CrackVerbal helped me with,” says Vivek. “I didn’t know if my GMAT score was good enough to apply anywhere, but it turns out there is more to receiving admits than just the GMAT score.”

Picking the right B-schools is an art that CrackVerbal has perfected over years of working in the field. The team carries out extensive research to find the perfect fits for the profiles they receive, beginning by understanding the aspirants’ perspectives fully.

For this, aspirants are asked to fill up a Personal Applications Strategy form right at the start.

The PAS form takes into consideration an aspirant’s personal as well as professional experience, their goals, the B-schools they want to aim for and why they have chosen those schools specifically.

After this, the team at CrackVerbal gets into even further detail to try and understand more factors like geographical preferences, post-MBA goals including the industry and profile an aspirant is interested in, budgets, qualifications and scores, even the student’s character.

Almost every top B-school has a certain personality trait that they look for in prospective students. While some schools prefer the ambitious go-getters, others prefer humble and soft-spoken individuals. There is special consideration given to politically well-connected aspirants in some schools while others shun the very same trait.

CrackVerbal thoroughly and realistically evaluated Vivek’s profile.

Then, based on their findings, Vivek and the team at CrackVerbal put together a list of schools for Vivek to consider applying to.

The policy followed at CrackVerbal prescribes that you should have a framework of three categories of B-schools that you should aim to apply to.

  1. Dream Category: Schools you would love to get into, but your profile and essays will need a lot of work for you to stand a chance.
  2. Stretch Category: Schools where you stand a chance to get in with a little bit of work on your profile and essays.
  3. Safe Category: Schools you will almost certainly get into because your profile and essays are a good fit as it stands.

Accordingly, seven B-schools were finalised for Vivek.

Applications were sent out. Then it was time to wait.


The Result

“The waiting period after applications is excruciating. Just waiting to hear from someone or the other, for nearly two months – it’s really difficult and stressful. I couldn’t take it, I started to panic when I hadn’t heard from any of the schools I had applied to,” Vivek says.

After waiting for two months, he dropped a follow-up email enquiring about the status of his application.

A week later, just when Vivek was beginning to give up hope, he received an admit from the Katz School of Business of the University of Pittsburgh, with a scholarship worth ₹32,000.

This was the first of three admits that Vivek Saurabh received, the other two being from the Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, and the Fox School of Business, Temple University.


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