The CA Who Got Into Questrom School of Business!

Akshay Phadke


GMAT Score – 720

Questrom School of Business


Finance professionals are an over-represented group in the pool of MBA applicants to US B-Schools. So when CA Akshay Phadke decided to pursue an MBA, he knew he would have to take extra efforts to stand out.

Thanks to his prior experience with public exams during his CA, Akshay had a different and healthy approach towards the GMAT, but that wasn’t enough by itself.

Let’s take a look at the secret element in Akshay’s story that helped him succeed!

What was Akshay’s profile like?

Akshay had an interesting approach towards the GMAT – he found it interesting because it tests logic and concepts instead of plain theory. For someone with a background that involved rote-learning entire Acts of Law, one can see why this would be appealing!

After completing his Chartered Accountancy final in 2010, he went on to get an advanced diploma in management accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 2011.

But Akshay had started his professional career as a consultant with Grant Thornton India in 2010 itself. By 2013, he was engaged in two separate roles simultaneously. He worked full-time as a Lead Analyst at the Eaton Corporation and on the side, also managed an investment portfolio as an independent investor and advisor.

It was in 2013 that Akshay decided to pursue an MBA.

In his own words, “I realized that there was more to just number crunching and financial reporting. I wanted to understand how these numbers influence and impact the other functions and dynamics of a business. So, I decided to pursue an MBA.”

When did Akshay contact CrackVerbal?

Akshay had signed up for CrackVerbal’s GMAT training classes in 2013 itself. Within months, in November 2013, he took his first attempt at the GMAT and scored 610.

“I believe I went wrong the first time since I had not given myself sufficient time-based practice. I knew I could do better and so decided to re-take the GMAT, but this time I ensured I had a disciplined schedule for my GMAT prep,” he says.

Not one to wait for unnecessarily long, Akshay decided to attempt the GMAT once again in June 2014.

“It doesn’t necessarily take very long to prepare for the GMAT if you know what you’re doing. It is not a theory-heavy exam. If you’re familiar with the way the exam works, that itself goes a long way in getting a good score,” says a GMAT faculty member at CrackVerbal.

Accordingly, Akshay spent a lot of time familiarizing himself with the exam itself – the GMAT exam pattern, scoring algorithm, and many other aspects of how the GMAT works.

The well-directed efforts paid handsomely when Akshay secured a 720 on his second attempt in July 2014.

“CrackVerbal’s Forum helped me understand different perspectives on GMAT questions and learn how NOT to approach a question. The Academics Team at CrackVerbal was very quick in their responses (something I liked the most) and they also threw light on the right direction to solve and approach a question,” he says.

Happy with his latest score, Akshay decided it was time for him to start applying to the b-schools that he wanted to get into. That’s when he signed up for CrackVerbal’s MBA Application Services.

What advice did CrackVerbal give Akshay for his essays?

“The only way to stand out and still come across as authentic is to actually be entirely authentic. Spicing up your profile and adding fictitious embellishments is a really, really bad idea because no matter how well you do it, the AdCom will figure it out,” says Shreekala Kurup, co-founder and Director of CrackVerbal.

CrackVerbal operates on some simple and sound principles. One of those is that fudging details just to get in is bad not just ethically but it may also turn out to work against you if you get in.

“AdComs are not just sitting there to judge you. They’re also trying to judge if the program they offer is properly suited for what you are after,” Shreekala says. “If you manage to pull off a miracle and somehow fool them by adding fake experiences, hobbies and the likes to your profile, you might end up being a misfit in your class.”

The idea is this:

Lying to an AdCom serves you badly because AdComs try to evaluate you on multiple levels in order to see if you’re compatible with the program as well as the cohort that you will become a part of if you are admitted.

So, for a variety of good reasons, the team at CrackVerbal strongly advised Akshay to be frank and straightforward in his MBA application essays.

What procedure did CrackVerbal follow for Akshay’s MBA Applications?

The standard procedure for MBA Applications at CrackVerbal follows a simple pattern.

Akshay started out by having a brainstorming session with the personal mentor assigned to him. The aim was to formulate a list of b-schools to apply to and then to go over everything he would need to successfully complete his applications to those schools.

When it came to the MBA application essays, the process began with a brainstorming session to outline what each of the essays should mention and what should be left out. This is when the applicant and mentor mutually decide an outline and a flow for the essay.

With the basics of each essay in place, Akshay proceeded to write his first draft. There were multiple rounds of editing during which his mentor helped Akshay fine-tune and polish his story to eliminate any lack of credibility and errors, making his essays goo enough to present to an AdCom.

The team at CrackVerbal and Akshay then moved on to gathering Letters of Recommendation for his applications. Even though the major part of the work in this regard is to be done by third parties, CrackVerbal helped Akshay figure out the best way to choose recommenders.

Soon enough, the application process was complete.

The Result

Akshay had applied to UNC Kenan Flagler Business School, Fuqua School of Business at the Duke University, and Questrom School of Business at the Boston University.

He took CrackVerbal’s support for the first two and did the Questrom application on his own based on the advice he received from CrackVerbal for the first two.

He managed to differentiate his profile from the rest effectively and received an admit into the Questrom School of Business at the Boston University.

When asked for any advice he’d like to give other MBA aspirants, he signs off with, “Start early and have a plan! The initial channelizing of thoughts regarding your post-MBA goals plays a critical role in your applications. Clarity of short definitive goals is a must!”