First Attempt: No
Can you tell us a little about your professional background?
I graduated as a computer science engineer from Sir M. Visveswaraya Institute of Technology in Bangalore in 2014. Right now I work for AIG Analytics and Services Pvt. Ltd. I have been there for about 4 years now. I work as a catastrophe modeler. The role basically involves supporting insurance underwriters. We do the risk assessment for the underwriters.
Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I actually had the idea of doing an MBA at the back of my mind towards the third year of engineering. I wanted to get into a managerial role, but I had to explore the corporate world before I could pursue my MBA.
I gave my first attempt of GMAT in 2014 and I scored only a 600 which was not enough for me to get into a good business school. So I decided that I would first take a shot at the corporate world to understand what it takes to become a manager or a business graduate.
What mistakes did you make the first time you wrote the GMAT?
The first time, I made the mistake of crunching through a lot of material and free resources, solving a lot of questions. Rather than understanding the GMAT, I was just processing a lot of material. It was only later that I realized that the GMAT is more of a pattern based exam that you have to crack.
So how did that change the second time?
So the second time I gave the GMAT, was in August, 2016. I took one year to prepare this time. It was an on-and-off preparation because I was trying to juggle it with work. I started maintaining an error log this time to keep track of the sections where I was making a mistake. In this, the Crackverbal material really helped me. I would look at the 700- questions in the CV Prep material and analyse where I was going wrong.
Can you talk about your Crackverbal classroom program experience?
One thing I noticed is that the instructors at Crackverbal have a very good understanding of the GMAT, almost on the level of the GMAT test-makers themselves. So initially I went only for Verbal classes but later felt like I needed help with the Quant section as well. Arun was my instructor for Verbal and he taught everything so smoothly. The second time round I managed to score a 710.
How did you select your B-schools to apply to?
So I mainly focused on the US. I also focused on a couple of schools in Europe like Rotterdam School of Management in Netherlands and Said School of Business, Oxford. I chose all of these schools based on the post-MBA employment statistics in those regions and I felt US was the place to do an MBA. I had applied for fall of 2018 and I had applied to 7 schools. I noticed that European schools stress a lot on work experience, 3 years at least.
What was the application experience like?
The first time I applied I made it more about my GMAT score, essays and how well you can personalise your essays. I would look at a lot of essay topics and basically gather a lot of material and practice by trying to put in within the word count. But I realised that it is more than just those things and you need to craft an overall profile that is strong and makes sense. Schools focus on a lot more, like diversity factor, work experience, undergraduate background and more. The first time, I got an interview call from 2/7 schools and then after the interviews I was rejected by both. That’s when I realized I need to focus on the overall profile.
So how did you go about it the second time?
The second time I did more research on all the universities to understand the diversity factor, job prospects in the region and what each university specialized in. This time my essays were more focused about my achievements and my professional experience and how I could leverage it in the MBA program. There were a few additions to my profile this time round because I had just gotten a promotion and international experience and it really helped me a long way. This time I applied to 7 schools and got interview calls from 4 of them.
How were your MBA interviews?
I went through 2 cycles of interviews. The first time was when I applied for 2018 fall. One of the interviews was in Rice University. It was scheduled for 30 mins and a second year student took my interview. He began asking me the cliched questions like “Tell me about yourself”, “why MBA?”, “Why Rice?” and then it moved towards questions like “How would you handle a team?”, “What is your idea of leadership?” and so on. So what I realised is that I was running out of time and it was like he was setting the tone of the interview. So when I asked for a review, he told me that my responses were lengthy and should have been shorter. So I took these tips and used them to my advantage the second time round.