What was your score for the first time?
I got 720 in the first attempt and then I got 750. For the first time, I prepared on my own, but for the kind of score I was targeting, I thought I could use a better GMAT score and I’m capable of getting a better score.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I’m basically an engineer, graduated from NIT Suratkal in 2012. Subsequently, I joined EY in the operations consulting role and slowly shifted into strategy consulting. I still work with EY as a management consultant. It has been five years now.
What motivated you to do MBA via GMAT?
I was always keen to do an MBA because I felt more inclined towards the business aspect than any of the technical roles that I had encountered through my engineering. I had done some technical internships and I also had a chance to intern with EY. I realized that I’m more inclined to the business aspects of work. I had the idea, then, that I should probably do an MBA. Just generally talking to people, I realized I wanted to get more perspectives because what I have seen is, typically, in Indian MBA programs, you can join IIM as a fresher. That was one of the options I was considering. So, I even gave my CAT, but the reason I decided to wait and look at doing an MBA abroad is the access to perspectives and the diversity you get is unparalleled when you compare it to the Indian MBA programs. Even if you look at the top programs like IIM and ISB, a lot of Indians, unfortunately, have a similar background – engineering – and I’m one of them. I did feel that going outside will give a better perspective in terms of people from other areas and other countries. I also had a long term goal of working for a multinational company and I felt, from that perspective, working abroad for a few years will help develop my profile further and prepare for future jobs in that kind of role much better than an Indian MBA would. And obviously, once that’s decided, GMAT is a mandatory requirement.
Could you tell us about the challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
I initially studied on my own and gave the GMAT a shot. The number one challenge is getting back to the studying mode because the first time I gave the GMAT test I had worked for about three and a half years and trust me, getting back to spending time studying really does take something. You basically forget a lot of things and the entire practice of studying goes out of your system. I think that was one big challenge. I think it is very important to get the fundamentals right when it comes to GMAT. The first time around, while I knew the formulae and went through the questions and understood the GMAT format, I think there were a couple of key things missing, which helped me do better the second time. One of the main things is to actually look at GMAT as a pure test of common sense and logic. I think the mentality a lot of Indian students have is they tend to look at formulae and solving specific types of questions, hoping that you’re prepared for similar questions. In GMAT, you have to go back to the first principles and think about common sense and logic more than just formulae. Secondly, I think you need to be mentally and physically prepared for it.
What kind of research did you do prior to coming to CrackVerbal?
My research might not have been as extensive as others’ research because I knew a couple of people who attended CrackVerbal who gave me some good feedback. I did enquire about two other institutions. I attended a couple of trial classes, one by Aditya and the other by Arun and I was impressed with Aditya’s approach in solving maths. Engineers mostly think that we are good at maths, but I think his whole approach in understanding GMAT was lacking in my approach before and Arun’s method of conducting the verbal classes made my decision simpler.
How do you think CrackVerbal helped you?
I think it should not be too much of a challenge for people who have a strong academic background to get a score of 680, 700, or 720 if they just put in the work. Getting that 30-40 point increment above that, I think that’s where external coaching can help you. From that perspective – going back to basics and looking at a whole new approach to solving GMAT problems, especially in quant, which I was exposed to through Aditya at CrackVerbal, I think that really made a big difference to my score. At the end of the day, my verbal score improved by two points, but again, from 39 to 41 is a sizeable jump.
What can you say about the support team, apart from the faculty?
I interacted with Likkesh and Prateek and both were very supportive. They took a lot of effort – I had a special situation where I was retaking the exam after 9-10 months and at 720 I was in two minds. So even though I’d forgotten some things, I was very keen to prep for a month and immediately take the exam again. In terms of customising the classes to crunch everything down to 3-4 weeks and cover all the topics, I got a lot of support from the team to that end. They even scheduled the mocks, gave me access to faculty whenever needed, even followed up with me after my GMAT. They enabled me to take full advantage of the faculty and resources at my disposal.
What are your future plans and how are you going about preparing for it?
CrackVerbal helped me with my applications as well. I’ve already gotten into ESADE in Barcelona and I’m waitlisted at Johnson Cornell. I have also applied for a couple of more colleges in the second round.
Could you elaborate on the services as far as the application services are concerned?
I worked personally with Arun for three or four colleges. There was great one-on-one support and I got timely access and quality feedback from Arun. Everything was customised to the story that I wanted to pitch and I got support for the specific colleges I wanted to apply to. CrackVerbal helped me narrow down my choice from numerous options to the ones that were best for what I wanted. They really considered all possible aspects from geographical location, class size, to companies known to recruit heavily from certain universities. It was very comprehensive.
What advice would you like to give for the aspirants planning to do GMAT or wanting to study abroad?
The only advice I would give is think about the right school to take full advantage of the MBA experience. Just speaking to students from colleges I wanted to be in gave me great insights and helped me make my choice. The opportunities provided by top universities abroad are enormous. This is one of the most important decisions of your life. Don’t get caught up only in your GMAT prep, take the time to talk to students and figure out your best fit.
How much did you score in your GMAT test?
I scored 770.
That is an impressive score. Was it the first time you took the test?
No. It was a second attempt. Although I did fairly well the first time, I scored 710 but I felt I could do much better. That made me take the test the second time and it worked out.
Great! That’s quite an achievement. Can you tell me something about your background?
I actually studied mechanical engineering and after that I started working in a data analytics firm and up until very recently, I was with them. I’ve just started an internship at an asset management company in Mumbai. Besides, I have cleared Level 2 of the CFA Exam.
Could you tell me about the preparations you went through and the challenges that you faced?
Yeah, in terms of preparation, I think I stuck to the official guide, that is the OG for Quant and Verbal, and CrackVerbal’s Guides and advanced documents that Crackverbal had given. Even the instructors mentioned that it is better to stick to two-three sources. I agree with that. More than the questions you deal with, I think what you take back from the questions is more important.
How did you hear about CrackVerbal?
I had actually gone to CrackVerbal about four years ago. While I was doing my engineering, I was contemplating applying for the 2+2 or YLP, one of those programs. At that time, I had heard about CrackVerbal online, visited CrackVerbal offices and attended a couple of programs but decided not to do that and instead give it a few years. So this time, it was just a matter of calling them back because the experience was really good.
How do you think CrackVerbal actually helped you?
First of all, the instructors are really good, not just in terms of how they manage to break it down and really understand how a student would approach studying the whole thing, but also in terms of the strategies. I think the time hacks – the more you start doing mock tests and reaching the fag end of your preparation, you start realizing how important the strategies they give are. All the time-saving strategies add up together. That was a major difference point. One more thing is how ready the instructors are to make as much time as you want. No matter how many doubts I’ve had, I’ve always gotten the help I need on email as well as in person. Everyone is really supportive. I’m not the only one, there are so many students – so, the time they make is really appreciated.
Can you point out one specific feature that interested you or you liked in the entire course?
One thing that I really, really liked – this actually happened after the classes when I was taking all the mock tests. There was literally a phase where I’d take a mock test, I would come out and then whatever I didn’t get right, I would sit and discuss with Aditya, the quant instructor. He would explain to me everything that went wrong. It was a kind of instant feedback that really helped me a lot.
What would you say about the support provided by the team, apart from the instructors?
I have interacted with Likkesh and Prateek. They helped in mock-test scheduling and arranging classes that I missed. Divya responded to my emails promptly. All of them were approachable.
What are your future plans?
Firstly, I’m hoping to hear from some college.* Besides that, like I said, I’ve just started this internship which will keep me busy for a few months. This is in the asset management field, so for me, it is a shift into the career path that I always see for myself.
What advice would you like to give for the aspirants?
I think more important than the number of questions that you do is the takeaways that you get. On the exam day, be calm and confident; don’t try to do a lot of questions before the exam and make sure you’re in a good headspace when you’re walking in. And don’t underestimate your hunger, carry a snack along! Don’t worry if you feel like you’re getting too many easy questions during the exam.
*Update: Sushiksha is now studying at Saïd Business School of the Oxford University.
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