Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My MBA application journey - From GMAT Prep to Acceptance

"Hard work certainly goes a long way. These days a lot of people work hard, so you have to make sure you work even harder and really dedicate yourself to what you are doing and setting out to achieve." - Lakshmi Mittal

The above quote by the great Mittal is really my matra and this is what i believed in when i started on this journey. There were a great deal of challenges and difficulties that i faced but what kept me going was the ultimate goal! MBA is what i wanted to do, this would take me to my destination and i wanted to give in my 100 percent to get there!

I started this blog back in February, 2009 and at that time I had no idea what was ahead of me. I still remember my first post on 9th February 2009. That was the day when I first laid my hands on the "Official Guide for GMAT Review". That was the day I promised myself that I'll put in my sole into the GMAT preparation and give-in my best shot towards my business school application.

So without further ado here is a timeline representation of some of the important events that followed that day:

Feb 9, 2009 - I prepared a GMAT gameplan - a time table of how I'll be taking on the GMAT. Ordered 5 books and dowloaded the beatthegmat flashcards by Eric. More Info

Feb 18, 2009 - Took my first Diagnostic test from the official guide. Did pretty well!

Mar 2, 2009 - Took my first GMAT CAT (GMATPrep 1 downloaded from - didn't go well.
Mar 16, 2009 - Took my first Manhattan GMAT CAT

Apr 1, 2009 - Found out about GMAT Focus - that was a true gem!

Apr 20, 2009 - My first 700 score in a practice test!

Apr 22, 2009 - Influenced by all the GMAT gurus in the Beatthegmat community, I started an Error Log to record all my errors and started going throu' them once every 2 days along with the flash cards.

May 1, 2009 - A very anxious day indeed with GMAT in 24hrs!

May 2, 2009 - GMAT Day (Attempt 1) - scored a 640 (Q44 V34). Was disappointed with the score and decided to re-take.

May 4, 2009 - Back on with preparation! Analyzed what went wrong and tried to come up with solutions. (You can read about it here)

May 7, 2009 - Scheduled my GMAT (attempt 2) for 19th June.

June 1 to June 8, 2009 - Took 4 practice CATs and averaged around 720! It was a real moral boost.

June 19, 2009 - One of the worst days of my journey - GMAT attempt 2 - 620!! Herez some realization.

June 24, 2009 - Back in the game for another attempt. This was the first time i met Charles - the best tutor in NYC.

July, 2009 - Rigorous practice. And this time with tougher materials such as LSAT critical reasoning book, GMAT Focus, and others. (More info)

August 8, 2009 - Realized something - I'm a horrible standardized test taker. GMAT (Attempt 3) - 640, Again! (More Info) I decided to stop wasting any more time on GMAT started the b-school hunt with my 640!

August 9 to 11, 2009 - Prepared a list of parameters that would help me select 6-7 b-schools that i'll apply to. Shortlisted a few schools in Asia and Europe. (More Info)

August 15, 2009 - Prepared an outline for essays. First stop - INSEAD! Quite a bold move eh! :)

August 24, 2009 - INSEAD essays first draft - ready!

Sep 1 to 24, 2009 - went over 4 more drafts of INSEAD essays.

Sep 28, 2009 - After 6 drafts of essays, finally submitted my INSEAD application.

Sep 29, 2009 - Submitted my application to University of Hong Kong (I still haven't heard back from them :))

Oct 4, 2009 - ESADE Application submitted - after 3 drafts of essays!

Oct 6 to12, 2009 - IESE essays - done with my 3rd draft of essays.

Oct 15, 2009 - ESADE invited me to interview - this was one of my happiest moments since it was my first interview invite!!

Oct 23, 2009 - IESE Application submitted.

Oct 26, 2009 - IESE Invites me to interview within 3 days - That was the fastest response i've got.

Nov 1 to 20, 2009 - Interview preparation along with NUS Business school application essays.

Nov 5, 2009 - INSEAD dings! I kinda expected that.

Nov 13, 2009 - NUS Application submitted.

Nov 22, 2009 - ESADE Admissions interview (face to face with adcom). I still remember that day. It went amazingly well and I was quite confident on making it.

Nov 23, 2009 - IESE Interview - My longest interview but was a fantastic experience with a super friendly adcom!

Nov 25, 2009 - IESE Waitlists me and invited me to an Assessment Day on Jan 31st! It was a 2 months wait!

Nov 27, 2009 - ESADE dings me! I was totally shattered. I still have no idea why but now i understand that there is someone up there who controls your reins. Everything happens for the best!!

Dec 4 to 10, 2009 - HKUST application essays - draft 1,2 and 3.

Dec 12, 2009 - HKUST Application submitted.

Dec 15 to 31, 2009 - The dreadful WAIT!

Jan 1 to 15, 2010 - Applied to Tsinghua University in China, Interviewed and Waitlisted :(

Jan 29, 2010 - Two days before the big event - IESE Assessment day, I get dinged by HKUST!

Jan 30, 2010 - IESE Case presentation - Sample class by Prof. Mike Rosenberg from IESE B-school.

Jan 31, 2010 - IESE Assessment day - A fantastic experience interacting with 30 brilliant applicants from over 15 countries. A whole day of team activities.

Feb 1 to 10, 2010 - Waited impatiently for the IESE results!

Feb 11, 2010 - The day my dream came true - Got accepted to IESE Business school!

Like World cup is to soccer, Wimbledon is to Tennis, an acceptance is to an applicant blog. I waited 12 months for such a post and I can't be happier.

I couldn't have done any of this without the love, support, and encouragement of my parents and my girl friend. I would like to dedicate this admission to them. Amma, Appa and Vrush - this one is for you!

I also want to thank many people who have played an important part in my journey:

Eric Bahn for Beatthegmat
Rocky for all the support
Avi Gordon - MBA Studio and his wonderful book.
Richard Montauk, for his book
ClearAdmit and Accepted for their amazing resources
The entire MBA blogging community
All my readers for their constant support and encouragement.
Alumni and Students of IESE
Nick Vujicic for inspiring me when i was low. (Check this out)
Guy Kawasaki for sharing his knowledge and teaching me a lot.

My apologies for making this post so long. If there is one take-away from my MBA application journey (apart from persistence) that I'd cherish life long is this acquired addiction of Blogging. So I'll be back here soon with another post.

Till then, hang in there and have fun!

Muchas Gracias!


  1. Wonderful post !! Seems like you are also from south India ? Where are you from Hari ? I am from Bangalore.

  2. Thanks madbubbles.
    Oh yes I'm from south! Part tamil and part malayalee!

  3. Guys, sorry for the color mishap on the post. Not sure what happened!

  4. Hey Hari. Wonderful post. I have been following your blog secretly on my Google Reader since the last 3 or 4 months and I (having given GMAT more than once) learnt a lot from you.

  5. Amazin Chambdu.... U deserve this more than anyone i know!!
    Godbless ya :)

  6. Hi Hari,

    Many Many congrats and even more !! You did it mate !! Kudos ...


  7. you are definitely an inspiration buddy. lets meet sometime, before you pack your bags to Barcelona.


  8. Sure Sree no problem. Drop me a line if you would like to meet up.

  9. wow your story sure is an inspiring one!!! Thank you SO much for writing this and lifting my story is the same. I took a kaplan course, was consistently scoring 690/700, felt very prepared and BAM! 640 on GMAT day. Determined it was just bad luck, I signed up again. Took a few more practice tests, a 700 and 2 690s, I was confident. Well today was GMAT 2 and I got a 620 (just like you!). My top choices are just about the same as yours: ESADE,IESE, IE, INSEAD! I was feeling really down about the reality that I probably won't get admitted with my GMAT score, but was really just lifted right up back on to my feet reading your journey. Thank you for giving me hope!!!

  10. hey hari...

    i scored 590 on my 1st and 2nd attempt 3rd attempt resulted in a 530....your blog means a lot to me..

    gr8 to read your blog..i know many have said this before me..but i still want to say...very informative and very inspiring...thanks..and yes congrats..atb for your journey ahead..

  11. Very interesting topic will bookmark your site to check if you write more about in the future.

  12. Hi Hari,
    You are from Chennai???
    and me too.......

    Nice post and gave me a gud insight.....

    by the by,I am asking a question in many forums but I am not getting the reply ...the question is:

    How to write a need based scholorship essay ?(we have to justify y do v need this scholorship - when the bank provides 95% of expenditure as loan)

    I have planned to apply to ISB R2 this nov...
    if u can throw some light on how to write essays (or gimme a ebook) would be a gr8 help...

    Thanks in advance..!!

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