First Attempt: No
Please take us through your background
I did my engineering in Bangalore, and in my final year I did an internship with a start-up in Patna which wanted some website and development work done. It was a finance firm but while I worked on the coding aspect, I was also interested in the firm from a holistic point of view. I didn’t limit myself to just my brief. The CEO was pretty happy because he felt that apart from my work, I also took an initiative to understand the business.
After my engineering, I began working at HCL in the software domain. I was lucky to have a great manager who allowed me to work on various aspects like Project Management, apart from my work as a software developer. So in my 2.5 years at HCL, I managed to learn a lot about the business, except the senior management related roles.
Somewhere around this time, the CEO from the startup informed me of an opening at their firm. I was in constant touch with him. It was a marketing role and I was more than happy to take it up since, HCL being a large company would not offer me too much to learn. I also wanted to get into marketing and this was a great opportunity for me.
What sparked the idea of an MBA?
I always wanted to enter the marketing domain but that left me with two options – a Masters in Marketing or an MBA in marketing. After I spoke to a lot of people, including family who knew me well, they suggested I opt for an MBA since it’s more generic and a Masters program would be too focused and limiting for me.
How did you approach the GMAT?
I had already taken the CAT several times but didn’t make it. Additionally, I felt that people who get into IIMs are mostly freshers. Since I already had about 2.5 years of work experience, I believed that I might not get to learn as much. This is when I decided on the GMAT since it would allow me to apply to both Indian colleges and programs abroad.
I felt I should study for the GMAT myself as I had already taken the CAT many times. But it just kept getting delayed for various reasons so I decided to enroll in a class.
I attended demos at Ivy GMAT, CrackVerbal and Manhattan Review. I had attended the CrackVerbal demo after the Ivy one and it was Arun’s class on Sentence Correction. After I experienced his class, I was totally convinced because of his amazing style of teaching and the methods he applied. It was so different from the others and I felt this was the best. It’s evident that he is passionate about teaching unlike the other centres.
He wasn’t just an instructor, but he was truly dedicated to it. The quality of the questions and the level too were a cut above the rest. Ivy and Manhattan didn’t have very challenging questions. I rarely get challenged with verbal, but at CrackVerbal, I was really challenged. I think Arun knows the GMAT better than anyone else and this fact really stood out.
So I enrolled for the verbal classes and then for the Quant classes. Because of my CAT experience, I felt quant would be pretty easy but I was in for a surprise. My very first class was so tough I walked out of the class dejected. But then the Quant instructor informed me that CrackVerbal wants to help you understand your current level, so that you can improve to a 50-51 level on the GMAT.
What was your GMAT journey like ?
I took my GMAT twice, the first time I had a good verbal score but a low quant score, I got a 680. After I spoke to the experts at CrackVerbal, I was coaxed into writing it for the second time. This time I focused on my quant preparation more and I got a 690 with a better score on the quant.
I didn’t want to give it once again because my deadlines for applications were fast approaching. I was constantly encouraged by the academics team at CrackVerbal to start my application process because I was running out of time.
I even requested the academics team to help me solve the questions and it was so nice to see that they took time out and help me figure out my mistakes. It shows how dedicated they are to helping to improve your score and understand where you are going wrong.
How different are the CAT and the GMAT? Can you apply your experience with the CAT to the GMAT?
They are very different. The CAT is merely an exam, it’s more about practicing a lot so you can learn the question patterns. GMAT on the other hand is more challenging, it’s a journey and not just an exam. It tests you on various aspects and really makes you think. It’s a lot more exhausting as well.
The verbal on the CAT is easy but the verbal on the GMAT is extremely difficult because you have to apply yourself. It’s not just about practicing but more about the right strategy. CAT doesn’t require any strategy; it’s just writing the test. The admission process too is very difficult in terms of the GMAT, you have to really know what you want and why you want to do an MBA. The CAT is not like that, it’s nothing compared to the admission process here.
How did you choose the MBA programs?
I had attended which really helped me plan out my application process and answered all the questions I had regarding the admission process. The first thing I did was look at the rankings. I then realised that the ranking is not the parameter I should be looking at. I then looked at colleges based on location. I looked at the US, Canada & the UK as a back up. I wanted a 2 year program because it would help me make a career switch much better.
I then looked at the marketing departments, the professors, the blogs, and delved into the details. I narrowed it down to 8 schools which were very different from the 5 schools I sent my scores to after my GMAT. This included Schulich School of Business from Canada Throughout my research process, I would keep speaking to the application services team at CrackVerbal that guided me through the process. I selected Manchester Business School, Pepperdine, Illinois, Atlanta, and a few others. In Canada it was Schulich school of business and Rotman.
How did you go about your essays for the application process?
I had already fallen behind with the application process. I wrote my first draft and was shocked to find that the CrackVerbal experts were not pleased. My second draft too was not good. So I kept working at them, I chose the most challenging essay to work on first as I felt this would help me put things in perspective. I ended up writing 25 essays in all for all my applications!
The best part about working with CrackVerbal’s applications team was that I was made to write my own essays and though the first draft and the final draft had the same substance, the final draft was amazing compared to the first one. It was a really great experience. I had also consulted with others outside of CrackVerbal and they would simply ask me to provide points so they could write the essays. But at CrackVerbal, my essays were completely transformed and it was a brilliant experience.
What was your interview experience like with the schools?
I had attended a lot of info-sessions conducted by colleges. I had a one-on-one chat with the panelists of Schulich School of Business, Manchester & Pepperdine. I was amazed to find after my chat with them, that they had already gone through my essays and treated my discussion with them as my interview. So I didn’t have a formal interview. I would say for this reason, it’s very important that you treat it like an actual formal interview because you never know if they are evaluating you then and there.
Though they say they won’t evaluate you from an application perspective, I think it’s human tendency and it will definitely play a role in your selection. Schulich School of Business and Pepperdine had a very casual discussion with me. Manchester was more challenging but they were all good. I had also gotten an interview call for Terry for which I had opted for CrackVerbal’s interview services. My mentor was Pradyot and he was very straightforward and would not sugar coat your problems. I think this is important because it will mentally prepare you for the toughest interviews and this preparation will make your actual interviews seem extremely easy. This experience with CrackVerbal really helped me stay mentally prepared.
Which schools did you convert ?
I got into Schulich School of Business, Pepperdine & Manchester. I immediately dropped Manchester as it was my backup and I was more keen on the other two. I finally decided on Schulich School of Business after researching the two programs and evaluating their pros and cons.
Any words of advice to other aspirants?
I would say treat the info sessions as an actual interview and be well prepared with specific questions, not generic ones. It’s also your chance to make an impression with them. Make sure you dress the part, in formals. Carry out a lot of research, speak to alumni, professors and get all the details you can. For the GMAT, Crackverbal is the best, you wouldn’t need anything else and the program is more than enough. For the applications, keep aside a lot of time to prepare for them.
I think keeping aside 3 months to write your essays alone would be helpful since it’s your entire life story which you are writing! Aim at the Round 1 deadline instead of delaying it for later as you would be at a loss otherwise.