Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Have a great Holiday season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"The Best MBA admission posts of 2009" in the Blogosphere

I had two choices to make during the month of December, wait for the application results or wait and do something while waiting. As a part of "doing something" I started reading some books; see my previous post.

Now after three books and three hundred blogposts on social media, I thought why not consolidate the best MBA admissions posts from the blogosphere - something I like to call blog-networking. So here is my first attempt to bring together the best of the best advice from my fellow applicant bloggers so that readers/applicants/bschool aspirants can benefit from a "one stop know all" write-up.

So here it is The Best MBA Admission Posts of 2009:

1. GMAT is often considered as the first hurdle in a b-school journey. This involves (speaking from my own experience) a lot of hard and organized work. Yet there are many daunting questions in the mind of test takers. Why not take some advice from a guy who shattered the GMAT with a 97th percentile score. William Wallace share in this post some invaluable advice on How to best prepare for the GMAT and answers some frequently asked questions.
Also if you need some inspiration you can also check out Rocky's debrief on his second attempt at the GMAT that he aced in his post GMAT Take 2

2. mad-bubbles, who recently got admitted to Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business (and selected as Forte Fellow), shares with us a post on What constitutes a Dream B-school. This very popular post elaborates on how to assess fit with a b-school and would definitely be a great read for anyone who is going through the nerve-wrecking process of business school selection.

3. After you cross the GMAT hurdle and have selected potential b-schools to apply to, you might want to know what are the business school application requirements and how to plan your application. To enlighten you with this information, The Dreamer has highlighted in her post "Application requirements and how to plan and meet them"a detailed check list of the application requirements.

4. Now that you have all the required information, its time to put your brains to work and start writing the essays. Essays are a very important part of your application since they become your pitch as to why you are a deserving candidate for the particular b-school. To get you started, here is a post that I wrote sometime back on The Perfect B-school Essay.

5. Once you have turned in your application, your treacherous wait begins! But hey, instead of simply waiting do yourself some good and start preparing for the final inning of your application - The Interview. To help you with this there are several resources online. You might want to check out my post on Preparing for the Admissions Interview. Here is another useful post by The Dreamer on How to prep. for admissions interview

6. If you want to know how a typical interview sessions goes, you could check out Rocky's post on his Rotman Interview report.
Another useful post on the admissions interview is by Steve in his post about his interview experience. Here he also highlights some interview questions for your reference.

I'm very sure that there are more useful posts out there. So, my dear applicant bloggers, if you think you have written a post which might be useful for the readers, please poke me with a permalink to your post and I'll definitely add it to the list above.

So I hope you all enjoyed the articles. Until next time herez wishing you a Very Happy New Year!!


Disclaimer: The Best MBA admission posts of 2009 are merely my personal opinion. This does not reflect a judgement of any kind, nor is it listed in any particular order. The bloggers' permission was sought prior to posting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reading while hibernating and some updates

Firstly let me apologize for not updating this blog. Its probably been 2 weeks since my last post. Let me briefly explain the state of my mind and my reason for not updating: I'm Blue! Thats it, I said it and thats the reason I went on a short span of hibernation.

Why blue? Well, its rather childish. Like a kid waiting for his Christmas gift, I'm simply waiting for mine, but in this case the gift would be a simple email telling me that somebody just loves me so much that they've decided to offer me a place at their esteemed business school. Now that I've turned in all my applications, the wait is just cramping my brains. The sad part is that the wait just began! phew..

Anyways, during this what-else-in-the-world-can-i-do period, I've been really happy to strike gold in 3 books. And I absolutely, truly, and positively recommend these books for anybody who has anything to do with the word "business"

1. Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki I'm a huge fan of Guy, so I might be a bit biased towards his books. But nonetheless, this book is a gem. It is simply a working manual of how to start and successfully run a start-up. But more importantly, its not a generic "you should strategically position your brand" kind of BS. Its more of a step by step, information sharing, fun-filled guide.
Bottom line: Now I wanna start a business!

2. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath I was referred to this book my the book Reality Check (notice the chain reaction!). Anyways, the Heath brothers have put an extremely comprehensive book of why some ideas stick such as proverbs or business ideas, and how to make an idea stick with the audience. The core of this book a 6 step process (abbreviated S.U.C.C.E.S) which is brilliantly explained (and made to stick) with the help of real world cases (or examples).
Bottom Line: Really sticky!

3. Snapshots from Hell by Peter Robinson This is more like a journal (or a personal blog, if you will) than a knowledge imparting book. But what makes this book such an amazing read is the truth it reflects about the business school world. In short it is the story of an atypical business school candidate and his struggle at Standford GSB! Honestly, this book, for some reason, made be long to go to a business school. Weird ain't it?!
Bottom line: Can wait to go to Hell!

So there you go a round-up of my past couple of weeks for you.

Have a great holiday season.


Monday, November 30, 2009


Purgatory: (v) the condition or process of purification of soul, in a state of grace, made ready for Heaven.

Yes I am in purgatory; being tested and purified to be chosen not for heaven but, in my case, for a b-school. IESE business school, with which I interviewed a week back, has placed me on a wait list and has invited me to attend an Assessment day. To me this is good news. Some one thinks I'm worth the test. IESE apparently does so and needs some re-assurance that i'm the right person and I'm actually happy to undergo the assessment. As per their mail its a good chance to assess my fit with the culture of the school. I'll do my best and only time will tell if I make it to (heaven?)..

Monday, November 23, 2009

Preparing for the Admissions Interview.

After experiencing an admissions interview, I thought it would be a good idea to post a write up of ways that you can prepare for the interview and to avoid disasters during the process.

So here is a list of 10 things you can do to make your admissions interview a very pleasant experience.

1. Prepare: There is absolutely no substitute to preparing for a challenge. Be it a GMAT test, a soccer game, an admissions interview or a job interview, the better one prepares, the better are the chances that he/she can emerge as a winner.
Here are some of the questions you can expect to be asked:
* Tell me about your self.
* Briefly take me through your glorious resume
* Why do you want to do an MBA?
* Why do you want to do an MBA now?
* Why do you think ___ school is the best place to do an MBA?
* What are your short term and long term goals post MBA?
* What are you motivations behind each of the big decisions you made - work for xyz company, work in ___ country, pursue ___ degree, etc.
* What do you do apart from spending a 100 hours a week writing code/crunching numbers/selling abc product?
* Why do you think you are a good fit for the program?
* Can you tell me something about yourself that's not in the application.
* Tell me one time you failed.
* Can you talk about one leadership experience.
* What would be your role in a team.

I'm sure you will be able to come up with more questions, but the important take away is - Prepare your response to these question. This doesn't mean you should write out a comprehensive transcript of what you are going to speak. Just make outlines and let your instincts drive you home.

2. Try to know the interviewer: In today's social media world its not hard to track a person. Put your effort to learn more about the interviewer. You can even send a friendly note to the interviewer just to confirm the time and place (if not already done). But don't haunt him/her. The maximum number of unsolicited emails that you can send is one. Researching the interviewer might also reveal similar interests that you share with her and thereby might be able to connect with her.

3. Read interview reports: There are several applicant/student blogs which contain interview reports where applicants share their interview experiences. These might be extremely useful to understand the nature of the interview - casual conversation type, "check-box" type, "fill the gap" type or "strictly business" type. These can help you prepare better.
Here is a link which has a huge database of interview reports for a wide range of schools -
This helped me a lot in my preparations.

4. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse: This is extremely important. Don't just write and read your responses, rehearse them. Ideally do a mock interview with your colleague, your friend, or if you have the buck, with a professional interview expert. These people can give you some positive feedback and constructive criticisms which will be extremely useful. Your scripted responses might not always be perfect, believe me!
If the above is not an option consider rehearsing in front of a mirror. This will at least raise your confidence and bring out some of your involuntary hand or face gestures that might in fact look stupid. Finally, have you ever wondered why Guy Kawasaki and Steve Jobs give such amazing presentations, always. That's because they Prepare and Rehearse!!

5. Don't get lost: There is a reason why google maps is so popular. This is coz millions of people use it. So should you. Look up the address of the interview-venue. Make sure you are familiar with the place and location. If not, try to visit the venue a day before and find the nearest parking lot. If you are interviewing in a place like New York city this might be extremely important.

6. Don't loose sleep but rise early: Preparing should end at least a day before the interview. This day should be to relax and to feel confident. Watch a movie, have a great dinner and go to bed early. On the day of the interview, wake up early enough (Note: early to me is 7am) for the interview.

7. Dress to impress: I know this is a cliche statement, but hey it is a fact. Merely wearing a suit and a tie doesn't qualify for this. Wear something that will make you look smart, professional, business school material and most importantly, un-artificial.
(For women, I'm sorry my level of expertise in dressing is limited when it comes to women's clothing. )

8. Come to the point, fast: This tip was given to me when I was doing Step. 4. The first thing to do while responding to a question is to answer it. It may sound like a duh, but this is very important. Don't build your point with a background. Answer the question first and then you can build your supporting statement. The advantages are two fold: You will not bore the interviewer and make her wait for the answer, and you will come out as a more organized person.

9. Don't panic when the tide is high: There might be instances when you could be thrown off-guard with a unexpected question. Just don't panic. If you cannot come up with anything within 5 secs, ask the interviewer for a few seconds to think. Its perfectly fine. Remember there is not correct answer, you will be judged by the way you answer.

10. Don't forget to smile: Do you like talking to person who never smiles and looks like a moron? You don't have to answer this obvious question but remember that the interviewers are also humans with the same mind set. So smile and if you can, make the interviewer smile too. This will be win-win situation.

11. Be Thankful: Here is an extra point. Be courteous enough to send a thank you note to your interviewer. After all, she has taken the time to listen to your story. So send a thank you note and the more genuine it is the better.
And oh, try to include at least one topic that you spoke about during the interview just to remind her who you are.
As always please feel free to add your interview tips in the comment section for the benefit of all.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Applications - Halfway through the process.

The last month was extremely frantic. I turned in three applications and managed to do my best with the essays for all of them. As mentioned in my previous post (The Perfect B-school essay), I have tried to infuse "who i am" in to my essays rather than merely providing data sheets about my awards and professional accomplishments. So with that i have successfully submitted my application to five b-schools. I intend to apply to three more schools. (to read more about how i picked my schools click here)

Till date i have received two positive responses - interview invite from ESADE and IESE business school. I am extremely happy about it and have pledged to work really hard to do my best during the interview. I have made contact with the current students who were extremely friendly and were really helpful in answering my questions about the school, the program and the life in Barcelona. Their attitude to connect alone says a lot about the student body and the schools' atmosphere. :)

I promise to keep you all updated on the latest, till then enjoy this video.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perfect B-school Essay.

I have been researching on this topic for a long time now in order bring my essays as close to perfection as possible. I thought of sharing some of these points here with all and hope this would help someone out there. Please note that there would be absolutely nothing ground breaking but just a humble collection of facts.

so here it goes:

1. Do you believe what you write? If not be assured that no one else is going to. If you say that i wanted to be a leader since age 12 you are just wasting time & valuable word space. Instead focus on why you wanted to be a leader, what or who inspired you and show proof by writing events which motivated you. When you read an essay make sure you believe it. If you do so your job of convincing the reader will become easier.

2. Focus is on the terms "Why and how". Be it a career goals essay, your strength and weakness essay, or achievements essay, the focus is never on "What". Of course you need something to fulfill the 'What' part but adcoms are more interested in the Why and How part.

3. Why MBA is a question behind every other question. This is absolutely one aspect the committee will looks for - you motivation and need for an MBA! Herez one guy with his career progress and aspirations - "I have been working for the IT consulting industry for 5 years and have led.. blah blah blah... I even was quickly promoted to a team manager. In this position i ...blah blah blah... In the long term i want to become a "Technology consultant" handling multiple projects and would like to make the world a better place." Well, does this guys really need an MBA for this? I don't think so. With a few more years of experience he'll definitely get there. After all, he just wants to be in the same field, same function, so why an MBA?

4. Enough of your work. Who are you? I spoke to a guy who recently got admitted to a top b-school and during his interview, he was told that the most interesting essay that he'd written was not his work as a Consultant for McKinsey nor was his multi-million dollar cost saving project with a top i-Bank. It was his vacation trip to Brazil and his adventure there.
So here the moral of the story - B-schools need something fresh, something that tells them who you are as a person and what actions do you take is the most casual non-professional ventures.

5. Generalities generally go to the garbage. Avoid generalities. Period. My greatest strength is my leadership. I am a great team player and i'm a great problem solver. These are great assets but you should atleast be able to quote one specific event in your life where you have demonstrated these. Remember "facts and stories" are stronger than the typical b-school quality manbo-jumbo.

6. The optional essay is NOT a conclusion essay. Most schools give you an optional essay at the end. This essay is only to be touched if you have one very important fact/story/incident/factor which you have not mentioned anywhere else in the application or in any of the essays and which could get you admitted. If not skip the trouble. Never use this as a space to just provide a statement of conclusion.

7. Honesty is the best policy. This probably goes even without saying. I was reading an essay from Richard Montauk's book and it read - I would be lying if i say i have a clear cut career path pre-decided. I have a few options and want to use the MBA to decide on whats best for me. This dude got an admit to a top-5 b-school in the US. Lesson learnt - Don't fool around. Just be honest.

8. Indulge me, honey. Do you like to read a boring book? Can you read the same book 100 times over an over? can you work at a place which asks you to analyze statistical reports 8 hours a day and 6 days a week for 6 months? If no is your answer to one of these, then you'll be surprised to know that every adcom member does this for a living. Why don't you cut them a break. Write something interesting, captivate their attention and give them a breath of fresh air. Start with a strong hook, and make your essay interesting. You don't have to write an journalistic article but atleast write about something that the reader hasn't already read a 1000 times.

9. Stick to the word limit.
There are two negatives to going over the word limit. One is that you are taking an undeserved advantage over other applicants who stick to the word limits. Second is probably even worse. You are at a risk of irritating the adcom by making them read another long essay. Either case, it will work against you.

10. Recycling is good but not so good with b-school application. Re-using a well written essay for another b-school application is a nice idea but just copying the same text word-for-word is stupidity. Although all schools give you the same MBA degree, each school has its own strength and focus. This calls for tailoring your essays to address those strengths and requirements. Even an essay like the career goals will reveal your fit with the school. So use it but be sure to tweak it!

11. Microsoft has given you the 'Spelling and Grammar check' functionality to use. Need i say more.

If i come across any thing else i'll add it to this list. Please feel free to comment below if you think any other factor would be helpful in writing the perfect b-school essay.

Happy writing!!

A Presto!

Monday, September 28, 2009

INSEAD - Done!!

Finally today at exactly 12pm I hit the submit button and my application has made its way into the admission committee's file cabinet - Fingers, toes, arms and tentacles crossed. I believe I have given my best in the application and i hope my recommenders have supported my essays too. This moment was very exciting but at the same time, since it is my first application, i was nervous too. Now that i have lost total control over the admission process, the wait begins!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

5 days to deadline

30September is the day when i'll loose total control over my candidacy at INSEAD business school. That day would be the round 1 deadline for their September 2010 intake. Its actually funny that i still have some control over my candidacy but i'm not sure what to do with it!! lol. Anyways, all the formalities are done - the supporting document are sent, recommendations will reach by this weekend and data forms are filled in. So all thats remaining are the essays. After 6-7 drafts of 8 gruelling essays with a stingy word limit ranging from 200 to 500 words, I am almost there at the finish line. I plan to submit my application (online) with the essays on probably the 28th of September (or 29th utmost). My mom specifically asked me to submit it after the 26th, as that day according to Hindu astrology, my days of suffering will come to an end :) Mom - Whatever you say!!

That was the good news, bad news is that i have 7 more schools to go with the next deadline coming up very soon, 16 more day to be exact.

More on that soon..

Monday, September 14, 2009

The MBA Fair, my travel experience and applications.

The last weekend i attended an MBA fair conducted by the MBA Tour. I had a chance to meet with the adcom reps of various schools and discuss my application and my fit with the schools.

From my experience here are some tips to make the most out of an MBA Fair:

1. Preparation: Do your research well in advance and come prepared to the fair. get the schedule and highlight the presentations that you want to attend and dont forget to research well on the schools in which you are interested.

2. Ask questions: you will never get the attention unless you initiate conversation. So prepare questions that you want to ask the representatives. But never make the mistake of asking questions whose answer you could easily find on their website. Here are some of the worst questions you could ask:
* Do you have exchange programs?
* Whats your tuition fees?
* When is your application deadline?
* What did you say your school's name was?? (this may sound funny but one guy actually asked this in the middle of the presentation..)
These questions give a feeling that you are not really interested in the program and have not even taken the pains to check their website.

3. Network: These events are a great networking opportunity. Be sure to carry extra copies of your resumes and your Business cards. If you dont have a b-card - Make one!!

4. Small talk: Be prepared to make small talk and never feel shy to socialize. I met this lady at the lobby and started a conversation. 10 mins into the conversation i realize that she is the Associate dean of admission for one of my target schools!!

5. Dress to Impress: Dress appropriately. You are going to this fair coz your are interested in a business program. So act like a professional. Formal attire or at least business casuals would convey a good message.

6. Eat well: The events last for a whole day and believe me it is really tiring!! So make sure to drink lot of fluids and eat well whenever you get a chance. Make sure you are as fresh at 4pm as you were at 9am!!


My Vegas Trip

Like i mentioned in my previous post i had been to Las Vegas!! I also made it to the Grand Canyon and Zion national park. This definitely is the most amazing vacation i've ever had!! Had lot of fun. Here are some recommendation based on my experience:

* If you are in Vegas make sure to have at least one buffet at the strip. They are all normally good but my recommendation is Le Village Buffet at the Paris hotel!!

* Book your rental car from your own place of residence. Rental car costs at Vegas are ridiculous!!

* If you are in Vegas, make sure you visit the Grand Canyon and/or Zion National park. One of a kind - must see.

* If you gamble weekdays are the best time. Minimum bets are really half of what they are during weekends.

* And finally if you can AVOID US Airways - They have the crappiest of service!!

On the Applications end, I am almost done with my INSEAD essays. Just a few final adjustments remaining. I also have started my essay for HKU MBA program. So hopefully that would be second in line followed closely by ESADE. Will keep you all updated with the latest.

So thats it for now. Have a great week ahead!!

zài jiàn

Friday, September 4, 2009

Off to the Sin City!!

The exact word to express my feeling during the past couple of weeks is "Dizzy". Essays, b-school research, talking to students, talking to alumni, mailing the schools - wow i need a break and that's exactly what I'm getting this weekend.

The first monday of September every year is a holiday in the US. Its the Labor day. I'm not sure how much the term "Labor" comes to mind when one thinks of it, but there is something that comes to mind hearing that - Long Weekend!! And this long weekend i'm going to Vegas. I'm taking 4 days off from this grueling experience of B-school application and planning to sooth my brain cells with the lights of Vegas and the splendor of the Grand Canyon.

Will get back with my experience at the Sin city, not all of course as the saying goes "What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas"!!

So long folks have a great weekend.

P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my friends at Clear Admit who were extremely kind enough to send me a B-school Guide of INSEAD. Its simply amazing. Lots of information on the school and i can safely say that this guide is as close as it gets to a school visit !! Thanks Clear Admit!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cost of an MBA Vs. Return on Investment

This is the topic which is probably the most discussed one on any MBA forum you visit!! Not only is this the decision maker for any wannbe MBA but also the most important parameter that is used by prospective applicants to sort out their b-school list. I thought i'll put in my 2 cents towards this discussion here only blog!!

So whats the most important parameter Cost of an MBA or its return on investment? Is it wise to take a loan of a hundred grand with the hopes that the school's ROI is 2.5years or is it wise to go to a less expensive school atleast not worrying about the mammoth educational loan? Well the answer is not simple atleast to me.. But this is one of the factors that i took into consideration while sorting out my list of B-schools. Atleast in the current financial times, when getting a job in itself is a huge task which is not ease by the MBA tag behind you name, debt is a huge concern.

This led me to come up with this thought process. The market is going to regain its strength sooner or later. As history shows, Crisis and depression are temporary and hopefully in a couple of years this weak economy would be a thing of past like the great depression of the 70s. But an MBA is permanent. It is a once in a life time opportunity to advance once's career or to change it.. So if i have an opportunity to do an MBA from a school like INSEAD which costs around 80 to 90 grand would i take it.. Sure why not!! Ofcourse its a huge debt, but even if the current economical state prolongs the ROI, the value of the MBA always remains with me and I would be able to reap its benefits atleat in the long term.

On the contrary, if i do an MBA from a 3rd tier school which costs me half of Insead's cost but I'd have to compromise on its reputation and the program experience and if the school projects a placement record of 50% - how much of a value addition am i gaining? Probably not much!! Well what good is a inexpensive MBA program if it does not get me a good job?? People might argue that getting a job is ones own hands, and effort will definitely pay off. To these people here is my question - Do you really believe that? I dont. A wharton grad would have a better chance getting a his or her dream job than a Florida State grad!! Thats the painful truth - Reputation does matter and reputation has a price!!

So I'd take my chance with the future ROI rather than loosing my sleep over some inexpensive which does not take me to where i want to go!! Now there is another part to this discussion. From where and how do i come up with the money. Most of the top schools have their own financial aid office which assists students in getting a loan. Schools like IESE (which btw is extremely expensive) provides guaranteed loans to international students. Here again the reputation of the school plays a major role. The more reputed the school is the more likely are banks to sanction a loan. Most students don't even consider applying for scholarships in the belief that it might be a difficult task. In fact there are several external scholarships that one can apply for but of course this needs extra effort. One simple Google search would bring up many results of these external scholarships. And btw there are people still studying in Wharton, Columbia, NYU, INSEAD, LBS and IESE paying over a hundred grand for their MBA. They would be the best source of information on financing the MBA. So i believe proper research and some added effort would lead to a favorable outcome.

Anyways i guess i was able to put across my point. I'm not an expert in this matter, not even close to one. So kindly consider the above as my personal opinion.

Here are a few links that'll give you some expert opinion.

Business week ranks schools based on their ROI

Forbes Magazine ranks b-schools annually based on their ROI

A podcast from "MBA Podcaster" on how to calculate ROI.

On a personal note, I guess I'm make some progress with my essays, working on my third draft which i hope to complete by 10th of this month!!

My apologies for making this a long post.
Nothing more for now...


Monday, August 24, 2009

Reaching out for information on B-schools.

Now that i'm done with my first draft of essays for INSEAD, the majority of my time is spend trying to reach out for information on the schools and finding more about their mba programs. The best sources of information about a business school are undoubtedly its current students and Alumni.

I've managed to get in touch with atleast one person from each school that i'm applying to with the exception of IESE and ESADE. Fortunately, all the people i tried reach out graciously agreed to talk to me and to answer my questions about the school and the program. Last week was and this week is tightly scheduled with phone calls all over the world. This way i think i'll have a good idea about the schools and an insider perspective of the programs they offer.. This information is extremely valuable for my essays, and the way i approach each application.

Another task this week is to revisit all the INSEAD essays and give it a nice polish. Hopefully my second draft would fill in gaps in the essays and increase the effectiveness of the information the essays deliver.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Essays, books, document collection and more..

This week has really been tiring, both physically and mentally.. Lots of thinking and lots of paper work. Phew.. I started off with INSEAD's essays, and needless to say its been exhausting. INSEAD requires you to write 8 essays and the toughest part is that it gives you only 250 words in most of them to put forth your entire autobiography. If you thought writing essays was a weekend job - think again..

I'm on my 6th essays - the treacherous cultural shock essay and hope to complete my first draft by this week. The reason why I started off with INSEAD essays first is mainly because of 2 reasons: 1. its deadline is the first to come 2. its exhaustive question set. Once i complete all my 8 essays i'd have my entire life - past, present and future in paper. This would form a solid foundation to work on my successive applications. The downside is that, as with any job, the more you do it the better you get. So my best application would be the one that i put together after 2 or 3 schools.. But i'm willing to take this chance as my odds of getting into INSEAD are kinda less, thanks to my splendid performance in GMAT!!

Getting your transcripts sounds easy right - Wrong. Especially if you've done your undergrads from India!! My university in India has atleast 100 ways of how to make things harder for you!!! What i dont understand is why are there so many rules? Its my transcript, and whats the big deal giving it to me. Hell I'm paying for it!!
Anyways I've done all the tap dancing needed for the transcripts and hopefully they will be on their way in another 2-3 weeks. I've also spoken to my 'recommenders' and they have no problem writing one (actually 8) for me.

Finally let me leave you with some book recommendations which would definitely make the application process less painful.
* "How to get into the top MBA programs" by Richard Montauk: This book is a direct substitute to an Admission consultant!! A must have..
* "MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing" by Avi Gordon: A very practical book on how to bring out your best in your essays.
* "Snapshots from Hell" by Peter Robinson: makes an excellent casual read. And you thought getting into a b-school was the difficult part..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Selecting B-schools and stepping into the essays!!

After much thought and career analysis I have made one decision which made the b-school selection task a tad easier. I have decided not to apply to any of the American b-schools. Don't get me wrong here, American schools are great, but they just don't fit into my needs and goals. Here are the reasons why i made such a decision:
1. My desire to work in Asia
2. 2year program = more $$$
3. My requirement for an international program
4. Student diversity - the most diverse program in US would probably have around 25% of its students from outside US as opposed to schools in EU and Asia where international students account for over 70% of the total intake.
5. Need for a change.

These reasons are not universal but it helped me make a decision. So what are the schools that passed my acid test?? Take a look:

* INSEAD - singapore (This might be a stretch)
* may be a couple of schools in China - need more research to be done..

* IE Business school
* Rotterdam
* ______ (TBD)
* ______ (TBD)

Hopefully this would be the list from which i'm going to apply to 6 schools, and hopefully I'll get into atleast one of them (fingers crossed)

I've started on my first essay which is my career post graduation. And like every applicant the first essay is bone crunching!! huh!!. I've become like a writer or a journalist carrying my scratch pad with me always and jotting down random thoughts. I have set a personal deadline to finish the first draft of 9 essays by 20th of this month. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Its time to cut to the chase!!

Warning: If you are going to take a GMAT test this week then DO NOT READ this post..

I'm a bad Computer Adaptive test taker.. Period. Needless to say, my third attempt at GMAT was not fruitful either!!! But now its high time to cut the chase and focus on my applications. I did manage a good quant score but my score on verbal was ridiculous. The feeling when i saw my verbal score was not surprise. It was pure shock!!. Lets just say that i got the same exact score as my highest score :(

But anyways i truly enjoyed this gmat journey and I'm happy that I did my part by giving my 110% to into my preparation. So I would like to take this moment to congratulate myself for the effort and thank my girl friend for being there and putting up with me throughout this journey of mine. Without her i could not have done it. I want to thank my parents for their support and blessing which was a driving force that kept me going. I also want to thank all the wonderful people here and the ones that i met through this blog who supported me immensely and encouraged me to go on. Finally, I want to sincerely thank my coach - Charles ( He is the best tutor one can ever have and i have learnt immensely from him no matter what the score says. If i had to do it all over again i would undoubtedly take his help in a heartbeat!!! I recommend him to anyone who wants some extra help with GMAT.

This doesn't mean I'm quitting my MBA dreams.. Nope absolutely not!!! My goal is not to score a 780 in GMAT. Rather my goal is to do an MBA from a good b-school and I'm still gonna fight for it. Although now I have to work a lot harder on my essays, i feel i have some good stories to tell the adcom. Hope things work out well in the end. I'm in the process of finalizing my b-school list. And once i am done with it i'll share it here.

The race is not yet over, its just begun!! Have a good day folks!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

GMATPrep, GMATFocus and some more studying..

With exactly 1 week left to study, I took a GMAT Focus test yesterday. I faced some tricky quant questions and as usual i got a score saying my range is 42 to 48. Ya never mind the score. But i got some great practice. IMO Gmat focus would give you the quant questions of the same difficulty level as would the real test. So took one test to get myself familiar with the difficulty level. Reviewed every question, went through the explanations given and took notes on the concepts. I also took a GMATPrep test today and ended up with a 720 - Q48 V41. Verbal seems to be fine but i got a lot of repeats here. Planning to give another GMATPrep test next week to wrap up my practice tests sprint and then I'll just review all the concepts that i've noted. The time for brutal struggle has passed and now I'm mentally preparing for my big day. Also no matter what i score - I'll take it coz i know i've worked hard for it!!

I dont think i'll be blogging for a week, will be back here with my Scores!!!! So wish me luck!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Phase 2: Practice, Perceive and Pitch!!

For the past 3-4 weeks my preparation has been specifically targeted at my weak areas and areas where the possibility of a score increase is directly proportional to the square of my efforts. I was solely concentrating on sentence correction and critical reasoning.
My typical week would be to do a set from the logical reasoning section from the LSAT section and do a set of 25 sentence correction questions from the Official guide books. This in my opinion has helped me a lot in spotting errors in reasoning (for CR) and in answer choices (for SC). I never really studied for quant because i think my efforts in quant prep would be directly proportional to the inverse of my over all score. Yes, thats exactly what i think. Throw me a quant question and i can solve it, i'm sure. What this means is that i have nothing much to Study in quant. All i need is practice.

Borrowing a quote from Cliff Gladwin, "cometh the hour, cometh the man", I feel the time has finally come for me to shift gears, and get down and dirtly. My routine with the 'efficient scoring' areas (SC and CR) proved to be very useful. I have developed a mental habit to think the right way and spot the flaws. Now with 3 weeks remaining for my GMAT, I am officially going into phase 2 - Practice, Perceive and Pitch!!! While continuing to strengthen the weakness, i'm also starting my quant practice. I have a lot of GMATClub tests remaining and i plan to do at least two every week. I had taken a few of them in the past and i think they are very good. I would also be doing sets of 25 quant (PS/DS) questions from the Official guides. My verbal practice would include those brutal reading comp passages from LSAT super prep, CR and SC from the OGs and some extra questions from various other mixed sources.

However the most difficult part of my following weeks of study would be the "rise at 6am" schedule. I have my test at 8am so i am planning rewind my mental clock and get adjusted to rising before the sun.

I'm planning to keep phase 2 active for 2 more weeks and then i'll move to phase 3 - Introspection!!

So thats my rough plan for the coming weeks. Let me leave you with a video that i recently saw and loved. TC.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some useful information..

I was reading this very interesting write-up on Business Week and i thought i'll post the link for those who haven't read it. The article stresses on originality, self-reflection and career objective and gives a lot of good tips on how to write a strong application essay. Here is the link -> How to Write an MBA Admissions Essay

Prior to this article BW also posted another very useful article about the new admission criteria for B-school admission. Very interesting read. Here is the link for that -> New criteria for B-school admission

Monday, July 13, 2009

Climbing up the ladder.

Its been roughly two and a half weeks that i re-started my preparations and with the help of my new tutor, I've been making some good progress or atleast i like to think so! I've been doing a lot of SC and CR questions and have a strong feeling that my verbal muscles are starting to develop. I did a complete autopsy of the SC section from the official guide book, solving and analyzing all the questions and trying to find out all the errors in each of the answer choices for the entire set of 113 questions. Took a lot of work but the result was amazing. I never thought that re-doing all the same questions again would help me. But it did.

Here is a tip or a take away: if you found an answer choice wrong in sentence correction, dont stop there. Try to find other errors in the same answer choice. Odds are that there are more than one mistake in the sentence that makes it wrong!!

I've also started doing some LSAT logical reasoning questions. After taking the GMAT 2 times i know the level of toughness of the questions. LSAT has some obnoxiously tough and lengthly logical reasoning questions. I hope this would take away the shock when i see a tough question in GMAT!!! Also they make for some great practice. I've starting my quant preparations from this week. Hope to improve my quant score by 5 points, and to get this i need to grill on some really tricky questions.

In other news, my friend Rocky Balboa craked the gmat with a 740 and had a great pre-application interview with Rotman, one of his top choice school!! Congrats pal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Jukebox - whats that gotta do with GMAT and B-schools? The term actually symbolizes this post. I have so many things to write about that its going to sound like a mixed tape - a jukebox!!!

First things first, last weekend i sat down with my tutor and analyzed what went wrong with my GMAT and he came up with some really logical reasons. Thanks to him, he also came out with some possible solutions. Oh and btw this guy is absolutely brilliant. So in case you live in New york city and want to take up some tutoring i absolutely recommend him. Shoot me an email and i'll give you his details!! So coming back to my preps - I've started off with verbal (duh!), for the next two weeks i'll be doing the entire SC section for the OGs. Not merely answering them but writing down the reasons for eliminating each answer choice. With this i guess my tutor will be able to give me some good insight as to where i stand.

Secondly, as you all know the long weekend officially starts tomorrow. Not for me. I'm flying to Chicago today and vacation starts today, yeeyy!! This trip is going to be packed, lots of places to see, and lots of things to do - Hancock building, Shedd Aquarium (btw its the world's largest indoor aquarium in the world), Chicago food festival (free yummy food), Navy pier, Skyline cruise, July 4th fireworks, and partying!!! oh my dad has subscribed to this blog so i'll not go deep into the partying part!!! :) so thats going to be fun, plus it will take my mind off the nerve wrecking preparation thats been going on for the past 5 months!!!

I recently came across this facebook application. This application helps you to track your score on gmat practice tests, shows you a performance graph, shows you all the application deadlines of the popular B-schools and has a reader. You can use this reader to read the popular blogs like Hella's list, clearadmit, accepted, stacy blackman etc. Sounds fun right, check it out (GMAT_MBA_News).

So now you see why the name Jukebox!!! Thats all i've got for now. Herez wishing all the American readers a very happy long weekend and all non american readers a very happy weekend!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back in the Game!!!

Ok so after all the mourning, grieving and sobbing I'm back in the game. Now that i've completely exhausted all my resources - practice tests, books etc I have a big challenge ahead of me. How do i improve? After much thought i've decided to take some profession help. With my current state of mind, i dont think i'll be able to do a good job identifying my weaknesses and putting together a totally new approach to my preps. So i hired a tutor. Well not the $250 per hour big shots from the "Big 5" (you know what/whom i mean!!) Anyway i found this really enterprising independent tutor in NYC and he was the first guy i talked, to throw some really good suggestions. So hopefully we will be able to put together a game plan for the 3rd attempt (the word make be nauseous).

Oh and I just got my scores on the AWA section. I got a perfect 6.0. Pretty happy with that.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I've got some bad news and a warning to test takers.

I gave my GMAT last friday for the second time, hoping to improve on my previous score. But, I ended up with a disappointing 620. Thats 20 points less than last time!!! I was so shocked and disappointed when i saw the score - i just sat there staring at my score for 5 mins. I have no idea what went wrong.

One word of caution to prospective test takers - The questions in GMAT were a lot tougher and trickier than those in the Official guides and the GMATPrep tests. So my advice is prepare hard, use a lot of other sources for your preparation, and finally practice, practice and practice.

Now with that disppointing performance, i'm in a bad situation right now. My scores certainly do not reflect my ability and i have nothing to prove to that effect. Should i take it another time - I dont know. I dont know how to improve as i had given my 100% during my last preparation. I seek the advice of my revered readers. What do you say???

Monday, June 15, 2009

'The Final Push' as the G-day approaches!!

The test day is right around the corner, and I'm certainly feeling much more confident that the last time. I hope this is a positive trait. I'm planning to give my preparation a final push in these last days, just to boost my scoring probability up a notch!! (fingers and toes crossed)

The make or break parameter is going to be the Verbal section. Hence thats where i'll be targeting my efforts in this final week of preparations. Planning to reviews all the official guide questions from my error log, and will try to understand what few things can make a big change!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

10 Days to go - Averaging at 7xx in practice tests

I never thought a practice test can bring so much joy and uplift your spirits so much until yesterday. I took a MGMAT practice test yesterday and scored a 730 (Q49 V41). When the score popped in the screen i said "woow". Although i'm really happy, i'm pretty nervous too as now i've raised the bar and my personal expectation is higher now!!! With 10 more days to go I am, simply put, pretty nervous and curious. I haven't finished reviewing the test yet but from the results i can say that although i made the same number of mistakes as last time (when i scored a 700), I got a lot of 700-800 level question correct and did not get more than 3 questions wrong back to back. This might be the reason why the score went higher than last time. This strenghtens the long held theory about GMAT that its not the number of questions you get right but the level of questions you get wrong which affects your score.

So I have finally entered the final round of preparations. This week I'll continue the practice drill as last week and will also review the questions from the Error log towards the end of the week. I have some word problem topics that i need to re-review from the MGMAT book. So hopefully this week I'll have lunch with some word problems!!! Sounds like fun, isn't it. Hope its worth the effort!!

Nothing more to shout about. Will try to update my status later this week. Till then peace out everybody!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Taking your GMAT preparation to the next level.

Why does one need to take it to the next level? Whats wrong with the current level? Well the answer is simple - if you wanna score high you need to prepare harder with some advanced tools/materials. This post is solely for that purpose. I would like to give my perspective on some of the advanced GMAT preparation materials available to people looking to score higher.

Just like preparing for an Olympics 100m race, when preparing in your backyard gym mostly wouldn't yield you a medal let alone gold, preparing to crack the 90 percentile range on a GMAT requires some advanced materials. I personally feel from my experience and from the experience of fellow test takers that the GMAT is actually getting harder or atleast is harder than what is was 5 years back. I have come across some prep materials which contain such tough practice questions which would take off the shock when you take the GMAT after chewing the Official guides several times.

The GMAT Club tests - These are practice tests prepared by the founders of the GMATClub forum. They are highly regarded for their really tough Quant test. Their set contains 25 quant tests and 6 verbal test. Although i haven't tried the verbal tests yet, their quant tests are pretty impressive. They have detailed answer explanations and their blog contains organized links for the dicussion of each question. I felt the price to be reasonable at $79.99 for the entire set or $12.50 for ea if i'm not wrong. Learn more here -

EZ Solutions advanced Math Workbook - This book is prepared by a company called EZ Solutions. This is a work book so dont expect review material here. Although they have a whole line up of topic specific review books. They have a very extensive list of questions and they provide detailed (very detailed) answer explanations. Their question structure is not GMAT-like (with 5 answer choices) but its like a high school exam type of structure only with more tricky questions. Overall i can say that it has really helped me get better. And @ $19.99 you can't go wrong with this.

Manhattan GMAT challenge series - These are also a very good tool to boost your Quant preparation. They contain 250 questions with a difficulty level of 700+. They are honestly the most difficult of the lot. $29.99 for one year access.

Manhattan GMAT Practice test - These are my favourite practice CATs after GMATPrep. Their questions are difficult and more challenging than GMAT and their post exam analysis is excellent. Each question is categorized according to the topic that was tested with the difficulty level and also provide a free diagnosis. 6 tests for $39.99 (one year access). Hint: if you planning to buy any of their strategy guides then dont buy the test set separately. They come for free!!

Kaplan 800 - This book is supposed to be for the Mission 800 student (did the name give it away!!). But i didn't think the quant part was really 800 level. But the verbal questions tend to be more difficult. I just bought this book when i was going thro' a book buying spree!!!

Also want some guidence for tough verbal questions, here is some advice from Jeff Sachmann of GMAT Hacks -

Hope that helped somebody on their way to cracking the gmat!!

Good luck!!

P.S. I would like to thank all my readers all over the world for their interest in my blog. I never expected 16 readers to subscribe to my blog the very next day after i add the subscription service. Thanks!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A 700 in GMATPrep, pretty good ain't it!!!!

The great optimist that i am, I'm pretty happy with the way things are going lately. Took a gmatprep yesterday and scored a 700 (Q48 V38). The quant started off with some easy candies but then slowly the questions started becoming tougher. The last 10 questions were all word problems. And actually i had to guess and move on with the last 3-4 ones to finish on time. So for the most part, word problems = upper bin problems. Need to work on them. Verbal was actually very stable. I got less number of wrong answers in verbal than quant. But couldn't finish it as the time ran out when i finished the 39th question.

Overall, i'm happy with the results and with that positive note I'm going on to week 5 - the practice drill week. Every day this week I'm planning to practice (timed ofcourse) a set of Verbal questions from OG-12 and a set of quant questions - EZ solutions, GMATClub test (oh actually these contain awesome upper-bin questions).

And btw did i tell you that i attended the IE Business school's information session last week in NYC. The event organizer was an alumni and she was great in answering all our questions. If you are wondering why i went to an Info session of a Spanish school - well you'll have to wait till my i'm done with GMAT, which is when i'll post my target schools and my reasons for picking them :)

Take care and be well!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random Update - 3 weeks into preps

After 3 weeks of prep, yesterday i took a Practice test. I took the 6th MGMAT practice test and scored a 700 (Q49 V35). I was actually surprised with my quant score as the questions were very tough. After the test i realized that questions 2 to 12 were all 700-800 level questions and managed a hit rate of 8/12. Pretty cool, isn't it. But I was actually stuck on some questions and took a long time to crack them. Verbal was not bad so to speak. But CR questions were really ambiguous. I thought some of them didn't make any sense, may be i need some more practice.

With that good score to motivate my spirits i'm moving on to the 4th week of preparation. This is the final week of review according to my plan. I have lots to complete this week - Manhattan word translation guide, Kaplan Verbal Work book and the EZ solutions book. From next week on my practice drill starts, so i got to finish up with the studying part this week.

P.S. The long week end was amazing. A good relief from all the preps. saturday i went to a water park to cool my heels and Sunday i had lots of fun bowling and playing 8-ball with my friends.

Friday, May 22, 2009

INSEAD's Second life Info. session

I'm so sleepy right now that i might type in what i'm currently dreaming!! I woke up today at 3a.m. to attend INSEAD's online information session. The session was preceded my a Master class and was scheduled at 9am GMT+1!!! That meant i had to wake up at 3am to catch the session.

Nevertheless, the session was extremely useful. Apart from the general information about INSEAD (which you can find on the school's brochure) there was an elaborate Q&A session. I had a chance to clear many of my questions. One thing that they kept saying was "Dont worry too much about your GMAT. As long as your score are over the 70th percentile on both Q and V, you are good." Thats really a good news especially coming from the admissions staff. They also provided statistics of their class of '09 placements. I wonder how come the recession never affected INSEAD!!! hmmm.

So overall it was worth waking up that early. Oh and for ppl who are not familiar with "second life" its like a virtual world where you create an 'avatar' and you can roam around the second-life-world. It allows you to teleport to various places from Harvard University to the streets of Japan, virtually ofcourse.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

GMAT classes - if you are on a budget!!!

Disclaimer: This post is not meant as any form of advertising for the services mentioned in the post. It is based truly on my own views from my personal experience. You may take it as a suggestion from a friend.

Some times it doesn't work your way. Sometimes you might need a little outside help, and thats why we, while preparing for the GMAT, read blogs, post questions, discuss in online forums or hire a tutor or join a coaching class. But for me this is not possible. I am on a strict budget and I cannot hire any services. All i spend is on books. Then i found the GMATFix Live online classes. I have attended 4 classes and found them to be very useful. Some tricks and tips that are not in the prep-books could come from a class and a trained veteran in test taking. Patrick, who conducted these classes, was one such trained veteran. One of the things that i like about the Live classes was the overall 'NO BS' feel that came from the classes. The classes are pretty straight forward - Some tips and take aways, followed by some examples to get you familiar with the concept and then straight on to GMAT questions from the Official Guide. Where one can (as i normally do) bombard Patrick with all the questions and get his reasoning and thereby understand the topic. I really liked that.

Pretty good for a class isn't it. But thats not the best part. The best part is that 5 of his 16 (i believe) classes are free and the other classes are $19.99. I obviously have signed up for all of his free classes and after being through 4 of them i think i'm going to sign up for some of his paid ones too!!

So if you want to get some outside help and if you dont have the big bucks, and if you want to cut the philosophy of GMAT test taking and need straight-to-the-point help on topics, then you should check out this.

Oh talking about that i gotta go and catch up with my number properties. So till then if you have any questions hit me with it. I'll be here!! :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Quant week begins.

Last week, was the Verbal review week. I went through the Kaplan Verbal workbook and the Kaplan Premier program book last week and did some practice routine from the OG12 book and the Kaplan practice set. Although I'm definitely not done with my verbal prep I have done some good work in enhancing my verbal skills. I'm planning to go back to verbal review during week 3 (next week).

As the title indicates this week is going to be the Quant Review week. I've started off with the Manhattan Guide for number properties, followed by the MGMAT guide for Word problems during the next few days. Planning to practice question sets of 37 from the official guide. My "Muscle building routine" would be my practice from the EZ solutions advanced math workbook.

This week's schedule:

Number Properties - 2 days
Word translation - 2 days
Relevant exercises - everyday
Practice set - 37 questions from OG12 on Thurs & Fri
Practice Test on Sunday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Good Day, yestesterday.

So now that i have all the tools for prep in my box, i have started off with the Kaplan book. One thing that I liked was their strategy for RC. It works!!! I tried to use their strategy and the outcome was a 100% strike rate!!! So yesterday i started my practice drill with the OG-12. Did 41 questions from the 3 verbal sections and got all of them correct. Thats actually the first time that I have got that kind of a result. But I still reviewed all the answers.

Plan for the rest of the week:
1. Do a set of 20 questions from Kaplan on SC + review (Today)
2. Do a set of 5 passages from RC + review (Today)
3. Another practice drill on Verbal - 41 questions + review (Friday)
4. Take a Kaplan CAT on Sunday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

GMAT Retake scheduled!!!

I just scheduled my date with the GMAT!!! I'm taking it on the 19th of June at the same center. The difference is that I got a 10:30am slot, which would be so much better than my previous 8am slot. This means i can sleep for an extra two and half hours - wow!!

I have come up with a strategy to review and strengthen my foundations on various topics. It looks like a 5 week boot-camp with rigorous training and practice. I hope this time I'll be in a better shape to face the beast!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Going back to Basics - A few new tools for retake.

So after my unsatisfactory performance in the GMAT, I've decided to bounce back with a new strategy. There were a few areas where i was not 100% fluent and this resulted in some serious time wastage during the test.

Problem 1: Although Quant is my strong hold, I find that word problems and number properties are my weakest links. I need to rebuild my foundation on these topics to a point where i dont have to sit at think of a way to approach them during the test. I need that "Ahha" feeling whenever i see those problems in the test.
Solution - Topic specific preparation and for this i have bought the Manhattan GMAT strategy guides for Number properties and Word Translation.
Preparation length - 2 weeks

Problem 2: I nail those easy problems but a tough one can mislead me. So i need sufficient practice of those toughies..
Solution: EZ Solutions Advanced Math Workbook. I have read many good reviews about this book for tough quant questions. One of them read "After finishing this book, OG11 was a walk in the park"
Preparation length: Throught the preparation period

Problem 3: I easily fall into traps of the tough SC questions - Questions where the entire sentence is underlined, or questions where there are multiple modifiers, multiple clauses etc. I get confused.
Solution: A second review of the Manhattan Gmat's SC guide.
Preparation length: 2 weeks

Problem 4: Inconsistent performance in RC.
Solution: Practice passages from OG-11 and OG-Verbal review, and read The NY Times everyday.
Preparation length: Everyday throughout the preparation period.

So as i mentioned, I need to go back to my basics and built my foundation. Although officially my prep. has already started, my study time table would start from 5/7/09. I haven't booked my test date yet but i've decided to do it next week after deciding on how long i need to prepare this time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My GMAT journey continues.....

Oh boy what a weekend it was!!! LAst saturday i took my GMAT and score a 640 (76 percentile) with Quant 44 (70 percentile) and Verbal 34 (69th percentile). Needless to say, i'm a bit disappointed with the score, but since i cant change the past, I've decided to tame my future and hence I'm planning to re-take it in a month or a month and a half.

But the most difficult part of retaking is that i have absolutely no idea how to change my prep or how to improve. Planning to take a couple of days to come up with a plan B that would improve my score the next time. But there is one thing that i know to improve my score. By being healthy!!! I was actually coughing my lungs out at the test center!!!

Ah anyways, I would appreciate any input from my peers at the blogosphere!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

22 hours left!!!

It all comes down to this!!! 3 months of hardwork and stress, and now the beast is right around the corner!!. I have 22 hours left before i face it. Yesterday I took off from work and did a rehearsal of the test - woke up at 6am, took a shower, had a light breakfast and started a practice test. I took the second GMATPrep test that i had saved. I finished with a 670 (Q48 and V35). I felt that i was comfortable during the test, but some careless mistakes took away some points. I hope to do better tomorrow. Some of my mentors from BTG told me to walk in the test center feeling like a superstar. Thats what i'm gonna do tomorrow. :) A superstar yeah!!

Would post my experience after my test. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Haunted by those careless mistakes? Avoid them.

This is by far the worst nightmare of anyone taking the GMAT test - The careless Mistakes. And indeed, i'm no exception. Careless mistakes are on an average costing me from 10 to 30 points on the GMAT practice tests and with a hope to overcome such disasters i'm going think aloud and write down some points that i need to keep in mind while taking the test.

1. Read a question once and read whats actually been asked twice. You might be able to solve for "x" but is the question asking for x or X-5?

2. Think before jumping in to solve. Maybe the question is way too easier that you anticipate. Yesterday i took a test and there was a question asking me to find the coordinates for a point C. I started off solving but through the mid way i figured out that C is in the III quadrant and so the value is x should be positive and Y should be negative. Guess what there was only one option matching this criteria!!! So think before you act!!!

3. Go easy when solving equations. There were more that a couple of instances when i made silly mistakes like 6/2=4 when i solved an equation in a hurry. So take it easy and concentrate. These easy questions are the stepping stones to a good score.

4. Analyze all the options vertically for SC questions. Find the differences and eliminate rather than going by the ear. A 3:2 question is your best friend.

5. Take a deep breath when the RC passage is as dry as the sand of sahara!! Do not loose focus as this is your golden chance to maximize your score!! Silly mistakes happen more often when the brain is tired!!

6. Smile when the questions become merciless!!

There maybe more ways to avoid silly mistakes but i think if i can keep these in mind I'll be able to improve my score drastically.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great tool for GMAT Prep - An error log.

All the debriefs that i read of successful GMAT-beaters, recommend keeping a log of all the wrong answers while practicing. I never realized the significance and value of this until today. Yes, i had been keeping an Error Log and have logged all the questions that i got wrong while going thro' the Official Guides.

This week I started to re-visit all those questions that i got wrong. Surprisingly, i found that while redoing all those questions, i made the same exact mistakes as the previous time especially in the SC section. Then i went back and reviewed the answers and this time i nailed my mistakes. I now know for sure the reason that i picked a wrong answer and this knowledge is very very important. I repeat the knowledge of why I picked the wrong answer is extremely important. I also know for sure that in future i would never make the same mistake - after two times you gotta learn from them right?!!

I would have made the same darn mistakes if i faced those question in the real test. But now thanks to this excellent tool i would never again make those mistakes again!!!

Here is how i made an error log. I took a spreadsheet and made four columns and named them Question number, Reasons for mistake, Re-take - Correct/wrong and Comments. I created 4 similar spreadsheets with the same columns and logged in the data every time i solved a set of questions from the four sections - PS, DS, SC, and CR.

Hope this would help others in their prep too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Its always exciting to see a 7XX score!!!

I was getting worried of not seeing a 700 score in my prep transcript before my test day. But thank God i made it happen. Last week i took 2 practice tests. One Power prep and one MGMAT.

Last friday i took my second powerprep, not too bad. I scored a 670 (Q44, V 36). But i think i could have done better. To my surprise i made some really silly, in fact stupid, mistakes in Quant that i could've avoided them to raise my score to a 680. But thats what i did and after revising i promised myself to be careful next time. sigh!! Sunday afterternoon, i took another practice test - Manhattan GMAT CAT 5. I decided to be very careful and took my sweet time to finish the first 10 ques. Once i saw that time was sprinting away, i started accelerating and at times i saw questions which i knew for sure were typical MGMAT like - involves lot of steps and calculation. So i moved on with calculated guesses. After the Quant section i felt i had done pretty well. I turned on my rice cooker with some rice for dinner, drank some green tea and got back into business with the Verbal section.

I was relatively comfortable with the verbal section. The first RC was one subject which actually interested me - one with a cell wall enzyme and that sort. Wow another tip - Be interested in what you read. Its helps in answering ques and you'll get to learn something new. Timing was spot on and when i finished the section, the clock was still counting down - 2:45... 2:44... 2:43.... When i clicked on the view report i was so happy; there it was a nice sweet number - 700 (Q47, V39). I broke my previous record on quant and on verbal!!! yeah!!! (Does this sound like a debrief?? well cant help it i am excited!!)

With hardly 10 days to go i hope to keep up the steady improvement. This week for the first time i'm going to spend 2 days reading for the AWA. I have never touched this section, but i guess bloggers can afford that!!! :) I got to look up some templetes for the essays and note some significant events that i can point out in the essays.

This weeks plans - Study essay templetes, Take the Knewton's free Prep test, Finish the PS and DS questions from OG 11 and practice some RC!!!

(Any comments/suggestions from my esteemed readers would be greatly appreciated!! )

Monday, April 13, 2009

BTG scholarship - a blessing for test takers.

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Its not a 700 but close.....

I was happy yesterday when i completed my 4th MGMAT Cat. I scored a 670 (Q46, V35) which is my highest score yet. Now i feel that i can actually crack the monster.

Again this time, the quant section was very lengthy and to be honest i had to pause the timer as there was now way one could have solved some of the problems in 2mins. But, the experience was wothwhile. Silly errors were limited this time as expected after taking more than 7 CATs. There were a few questions in Combinations and probability that chock me. Two things that i learnt and had applied were plugging in numbers and backsolving. Infact these techniques saved me a lot of time when dealing with complicated word problems and VICs.

The verbal was not bad at all. Thanks to Manhattan GMAT's SC guide, i have managed to bring my strick rate up on the SC. RCs turned out to be unpredictable. I usually manage to nail the easy ones but a tough RC can throw me off balance. The solution is simply - practice which i'm planning to do this week. I am going to do 4 RCs everyday of this week, hopefully that should take care of the RC section. Since i've exhausted all my CR questions from the Official guides, i'm going to rely on the CR questions posted in various forums like BTG.

With exactly 3 more weeks of prep left, I am going shift to top gear more from this week. This week would involve redoing all the questions that i got wrong from the OG. I'm glad i made an error log containing the questions that i got wrong while practice. So this week's to-do list would be:
* CR question bank from MGMAT
* 4 RCs everyday from OG
* GMATFocus test 3

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yet another 650 but this time its from MGMAT

Another 650 post.. I know its getting really boring to read my posts of me nagging over my scores but unfortunately i dont have anything better from my GMAT world. So here we go again..

I am scared of the Manhattan GMAT CAT exams. Period. Not only are they very lengthy and tough they are low scoring as well. Their quant especially is gruesome. But hey I'm fine with it. The motivation that i have is once you've faced the devil you probably wont be scared of the dark!!! I seriously hope the GMAT is not as tough and lengthy as this one. After the quant section yesterday i was so exhausted that i had to take my supper before beginning the verbal. One word of caution - never do this. Take the CATs completely before taking such breaks.

What i noticed this time was that the number of mistakes was more than the number in my previous MGMAT cat, but i managed to answer a lot of 700-800 level questions and i guess this brought my score in the 650 ball park. Else i would have been slapped with a 540!!.

Another 3 weeks to go for the G-day. Although i have exhausted all the verbal questions in the OG and the OG-Verbal book, i plan to revisit them in the next couple of weeks. My error logs is also getting in a lot of entries and by this week end i'm planning to give them a second shot.
I seriously dont want another 650 thrown at me. This week i'm determined to go thro' hell to get that sweet 7xx score!! Lets see how it goes.

This week is no different from last week with regards to prep -another mixed workout. Planning to take either the Knewton practice test or the last GMATFocus test. Haven't decided yet. And i'll wrap up this week with another MGMAT on Sunday. Will update with my progress.. Till then peace out!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whats with me and 650?

Is it my safe place or my happy place? I have no idea. Yup i'm talking about my GMAT practice test score. Another 650!!! I recently took the PowerPrep test 1. Ya you heard it right, i took the GMAT's last generation CAT practice test. I got this software from one of my forums and i thought even if they contain old GMAT questions, thats fine; they are GMAT questions after all. I came across some questions that i have already seen in the OG 11. But atleast 80% of the questions were new and gave me something new to practice on.

Coming to my score - i scored 45 in quant (my highest yet yaaaeehhh) and a 32 on verbal :((. Now i noticed one thing with power prep software. It valued only 28 of the 37 questions in quant and 33 of the 41 ques in verbal and the rest were considered experimental. I didn't quite like that coz it was just meant for practice & i would've preferred if it would have verified those experimental ones too. But whatever.... So i got 7 wrong in quant and 11 wrong in verbal. I made some mistakes that i could have avoided. Damn it. But like always i reviewed all the questions and making sure that i understand the inside story and the technique and made sure that these mistakes wont happen again.

Now i have 2 more CATs from GMAC.. GMATPrep 2 and PowerPrep 2. Planning to take the power prep next week and the GMATPrep2 during the second last week. Oh btw I'm on to my last week of GMAT prep. Next month at this time i'll be busy biting my nails and wiping my sweat out at the Pearson center. I have made a last month game plan for my prep which i'll save for another post.

So this week (according to my last month plan) its going to be a mixed work out - 3 days for verbal and 3 days for Quant. I also have planned one GMATFocus test this week mostly i'll take that tomorrow. The main CAT for this weekend is the dreaded MGMAT CAT!!! I seriously hope to do better in that!! wish me luck...

Peace out everybody!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recent additions to my resource list...

I recently came across these resources and I have added them to the list of my study materials. One is GMATFocus. This is a Diagnostic test (quant only, NO verbal) consisting of 24 questions in quant. The question set is assembled by the best source of GMAT questions - GMAC, the people who conduct the real thing... It costs $25 dollars for one test and you could buy a set of 3 tests for $65. I agree is expensive but i decided to get the set of 3. In case you are debating on whether to buy it, then here is my reasoning.. Think of it as an investment. Your are going to spend around $50k to $70k on your business school, loose 1-2yrs of pay, and spend a lot in living costs while doing your MBA. If you are determined to spend this amount to obtain your mba then i think $65 would be like a drop in the ocean but it would be well worth the money spent. You get 72 new original GMAT questions to work on. Moreover, GMATFocus, unlike GMATPrep, gives you an indepth analysis at the end of each diagnostic test and tells you your exact weakness so that you can concentrate on that part. Now enough of my review and here are some review on it by some experts - Manhattan GMAT review and Jeff Sackmann's review.

The second one is the Manhattan GMAT's flash card set. Amazing set of flash cards covering various sections of quant such as Number properties, eqns, decimals, percentages, geometry, word problems etc., and Secntence correction. There are a total of 202 flash cards and the best part is its Free!!!!!!!! Here is the link - Manhattan GMAT flash cards.

I'm planning to take one diagnostic test from GMATFocus today. I will update this post with my views after taking the test.

Update: I just took the first GMATFocus test and here is my review - The first thing that comes to my mind is that it was tougher than the GMATPrep, and definitely tougher than most problems in OG11. The problems that i encountered today needed a lot of calculations. GMAT questions are supposed to be solved in less than 3 steps, but the answer explanations of some of the questions in GMATFocus involved 5 to 10 steps. For eg. one problem required to form 2 different equations, then apply a condition to one and then solve the equations to get the value for a variable and then substitute that in the eqn. to get the other value. It was easy but took me almost 160-180 secs. I got a question on Permutation and i had not reviewed this section at all.

The result is presented in a detailed fashion showing you your estimated scaled GMAT quant score, section-wise and topic-wise strike rate, time taken to solve right answers and wrong answers, number of them guessed etc etc. What i didn't like was their overall scaled score prediction. They predicted my score to be within 40 - 47 with 80% confidence. Well, i guess after completing all the three tests may be i'll get some insight to where i stand!!!

So overall the experience was good, and it was a very good practice of some new questions.

Verdict - Recommended.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kaplan Onsite Online Test Drive

I had registered for the Kaplan Online test drive at their facility in New York city. Its was a free event. The test was scheduled at 1pm and started by around 1:30pm. For somebody who is planning to take this test, let me tell you one thing upfront. Its the same test that is found on their website. But i would strongly recommend anybody to go to their facility and take the test. Till yesterday, i had been taking all my practice tests in the comfort of my bedroom. But this test was a very good experience to me. Taking a test at a new place along with lots of people, with the sounds of others clicking and all those distractions makes it similar to the real test day experience which definitely is not going to be in my bedroom!!!

So more about the test now.. The questions in quant were pretty much similar to the one that you encounter in the OG11. But the verbal was really tough. I got 4 monsterous RCs, each atleast 6 paragraphs long. I felt confident while i was doing the quant, and scored a 42, which i think is not at all a good estimate of my score... I got 31/37 right and still scored a 42??? No idea why? But since some of my friends from various forums had told me not to bother about the Kaplan test score as they are scored very low, i didn't care much about the score..

As i said earlier, the Verbal was tough. After the quant section (completed the section with 14 mins remaining) i took a break. Washed my face and came back to tackle the Verbal. The gatorade that i had taken gave me the electrolytes ;) to concentrate on the verbal.. I faced the first RC after about 6-7 questions. It was huge but i did well and got all of them correct. I got 2 wrong answers in the first 15 questions and then it was a downfall from there... I ended up getting only 25 correct out of 41!!!! I knew exactly where i had lost my focus. After the 3rd RC which was the most frustrating of all the passages, i completely lost focus and got 5 consecutive questions wrong. Then a couple right and then again 2-3 wrong. This continued and i ended up with a 32 in verbal, ouch!!!!

But anyways the experience helped me get an idea of taking the test in an external environment. Also i think i can crack the quant section, I've been getting less than 10 mistakes in the past 2 tests and i'm feeling more confident. Verbal is really pulling my score down and I need to overcome this weakness of mine. I've almost completed the MGMAT SC guide with a few Idioms from the list to go. I think i'll revist the Modifiers and the parallelism chapters and review them again since they are the most commonly tested portion in SC. I'll also go throught the kaplan800 SC section to get my self familiar with the tougher sentences. Moreover they have practice sets catagorized into sections. Hopefully this will help me in the SC sections.

So like always here are my goals for this week.
1. Review Modifiers and Parallelism chapter from the MGMAT SC guide.
2. Practice 41 questions in the SC, CR and RC sections from OG11.
3. Review Kaplan800's SC section and do the practice sets.

I'm planning to take the MGMAT CAT this Sunday. Hopefully my verbal would show some improvement!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finally i see some light, a ray of Hope.

Yesterday, i started off with the Manhattan GMAT CAT2. After doing 35 problems in quant and spending 74 minutes, i messed up with the browser and the test reset itself and the whole test became void. I got frustrated and went out of my house to get some fresh air to cool my heels and think of an alternative. I was determined to know where i stood after a week of Verbal grind. Thank God it was not cold outside. One cup of coffee, and the idea struck me. "Why not retake the GMATPrep1", i thought loud. So i opened the GMATPrep software and clicked on GMAT cat 1. I dont know what i did with it last time, the software never recorded my last test. So i went ahead with the CAT1. I did not want to touch the CAT2 and i was saving this for the last week of prep.

Surprisingly, i could not see any repetitions from the last time. I expected atleast 30% of the test to contain questions that i had already come across during my last attempt. But no. Atleast i didn't remember a single question, and i had to manually solve them. I was a bit tired to be honest as i had wasted 75 minutes concentrating on every quant question before voiding my MGMAT cat test. So i took some extra time with the questions which resulted in me not being able to complete the quant section. My time expired with 3 more quant questions to go. I did not worry much because what i really wanted to test was my Verbal status after studying verbal for a whole week and honestly, i worked hard.

I had a good start with verbal and was surprised to see 4 relatively short passages in RC. The SC and CR questions were not as difficult as it was to me last time. I finished with 1 minute to go, and i saw a 640 score this time. What made me happy was that my verbal score had jumped from 28 (last time) to 36 which was in the 80 percentile range. Quant was still stuck on to 41. I cant complain, i never touched the quant part whole of last week other than going through the flash cards that i had prepared.

I reviewed and found that my guessing ability by eliminating the wrong answers were much better now. Even in the quant questions this proved to be useful when i stumbled upon some toughies.. I would say that this week my weakness would be Quant, especially the percenteges, probability and number properties area!!!

So this is my plan of action for this week - Finish the Kaplan Math workbook. Practice 41 verbal questions (timed) everyday from the OG Verbal review book. Practice as many quant problem in the number properties and percentage section and learn the probability basics.

I have scheduled an onsite GMAT CAT test with Kaplan for this saturday. Although ppl consider Kaplan's test as more difficult than the G, I'd get some practice with the tougher questions.

Monday, March 9, 2009

MGMAT CAT 1 - Time to reflect on my plan

After a week of prep, combining both Quant and Verbal and practicing the questions by timing them (using the practice grid), i gave my Manhattan GMAT CAT1. One improvement that i found with my preparation, was my timing. I could finish the quant and the verbal section in the allotted 75 mins. Eventhough MGMAT test questions are more calculation oriented i had enough time, and when i finished my verbal section i had 3 mins to go!!! One point to my timing methodology.... yeahhhhh..

But not all was great!!! My score was again down, huh. Although i had expected to see my scores in the 600 range, i managed only a 580!!! I blame this on my Verbal ability. I scored a 42 in my quant and could have scored more if i had used the correct method for 4 of the questions. So these being concept errors i'm happy that i had a chance to learn more. I learned the table matrix method for solving over-lapping set problems and understood one princple that a number can be either +ve or -ve or even Zero for DS questions. I never thought about the Zero part!!! Two good entries into my flash cards. Careless errors are less this time revealing my concentration in the problem. Thats good.

Verbal is my weakness, Period. I understand that if my verbal score, which was 28 :(, was as good as my quant score (42) then my score would have atleast lingered in the upper 600 range if not 700!! The solution is simple. I'll focus on Verbal for the entire week.

Thanks to the beatthegmat forum again for providing me the most valuable resources on verbal. I managed to download various study notes and flash cards from various people (thank you so much and sorry i'm not good with names, to credit). I have planned to complete the SC prep this week using the Manhattan SC guide and all the notes/strategies that i've downloaded.

Short term goal (this week):
* Finish Manhattan GMAT SC guide
* Review all the study aides downloaded
* Practice (timed of course) 41 questions everyday (15 SC, 13-14 CR and 4 RC passages) and review all answers.

Long term Goals:
* Improve on Verbal section - A score of 30-35 in the next MGMAT CAT would reflect improvement.

So thats my plan for the week. Please comment or email me in case you have any suggestions/advice/question/comment.

Hopefully my next CAT would lead me into the 600 range, where i would feel more comfortable.