Sunday, August 19, 2012

MBA Admission for Smarties - Linda Abraham and Judy Gruen

When I first heard about this book, I was a bit skeptical, that this is going to be yet another meaningless addition to my list of books. But given that it is from, I was pretty excited to read the book. I think it is almost half a year since the book got onto my Kindle Reader, finally I could take some time to review it. 

Thank you,!

As the title suggests, this is definitely a ‘no nonsense’ guide to MBA Admissions. If writing GMAT and having a decent CGPA is one side of MBA Admissions, applying is another side of the coin. Let me tell you, it is rightly said, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else’.

As a MBA aspirant from India, let me give you a little overview about an Indian’s mindset about MBA. Indians finish their Bachelor’s degree around 20 or 21 years of age, and soon start thinking about MBA. The Indian MBA Schools offer admission even at zero years of experience. They mold you for two years and have ready placements at the end of these 2 years. Except for a few, most of them don’t even know about the career options open to them. On the other hand, some others opt for MBA after a couple of years of work experience. Most of this applicant pool need an MBA because of the fat pay check that they will receive as promised by the institute after their course, right at the start of their career. At least 90% cannot truly answer the question ‘Why MBA?’.

When I started my MBA preparation, I had the same mindset. I should say, after almost 4 months of networking and blogging, I realized that I am still not clear of why I need an MBA or in what area I wanted to specialize. I had my doubts; I was always vague about how I thought about MBA applications. And I felt I really need to find out what can get me an admission into one of the schools of my choice amongst thousands of applicants out there. There were so many areas to clear my mind about, and I didn’t know where to start.

And there came Linda and Judy with their super-awesome guide. When I got the opportunity to read the book, the first thing that stuck me was, I am still not at the point to decide my exact goal or figure out the reason for doing an MBA. I was bound by the traditional Indian mindset. This book made me think – Why MBA? Which area do I want to specialize in? What are my goals –short term and long term? Etc. etc.

What the authors have put forth are questions that every international MBA applicant probably knows in course of his research about schools and applications, but the book sort of puts them together in a specific pattern which would make you think. It helps you map your interests with your future goals and MBA application.

The book made me take a step back and look at the whole picture, analyze, and rethink step-by-step every area of the MBA application process.

Starting from setting our goals post MBA, to researching the available programs that match our career goals, qualifications of the individual with respect to the school, choosing the right school, every aspect of application has been described in detail throwing examples here and there. I could surprisingly relate myself to a lot of scenarios suggested in the book. The book also talks about how to write essays, and resumes and gather awesome letters of recommendation. It also digs into areas of interview preparation.

Neatly organized, this book in my opinion, is a must-read for all MBA applicants. I would specially suggest this for Indian Applicants who get lost in the applicant pool because of the lack of knowledge. Grab the first chapter for free here. Thank You Sarah, for introducing me to this book, or I would have missed a gem in the ocean.

Links to get your copy of the book:
Indians can get it from the renowned Flipkart site.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Immortals of Meluha

Hi Readers,

I hope you are doing good. While I was taking some time off my MBA schedule, I happened to read this book written by an Indian author, Amish Tripathi. I am sure you will like it.

Read this post on my personal blog: The Immortals of Meluha

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am back...

Hello Readers,

First and foremost, let me apologize for neither posting nor answering to your queries for such a long time. I have my reasons for doing so. First, I was not preparing consistently, owing to work and other personal pressure, and second, I was really adamant not to post unless I studied with all vigor. If I happened to post when I was not preparing with such seriousness, it would falsely satisfy my sub-conscience.

However, I took the GMAT and literally screwed it up. I would not like to discuss this any further. I am still contemplating on why everything went wrong, but in vain. Im clueless till this moment. Given that I am person who does not rest till I succeed in anything I undertake, I am determined to beat the GMAT. Right now, I am giving it a break, while having applied for one college, in India.

I will be giving GMAT after a month or two. Meanwhile, I will be regularly updating on my progress in preparation as well as on my B-school research.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Festival of Lights, MasterGMAT etc..

Long time again since I gave an update. I have been constantly preparing though. I am at my home town for a week now, for celebrating the 'Festival of Lights'. Meanwhile I happened to take the free 7-day trial of MasterGMAT course which boasts of a 120 point improvement. And blimey! This course has the power to do it. I had not taken any courses before this for the GMAT, but this course impressed me so much that I am thinking of taking the complete course. 
I have been going through the course every now and then. The best part is their flexibility and the thorough explanations provided for every bit of lesson they teach or problem they give to test our knowledge. I definitely love their course. As of now, my prep status goes like this.
I have also been working on questions from Magoosh GMAT, and I can say for sure I am improving.
Quantum CAT - Number properties
Aristotle SC - Finished the basic grammar stuff (Part 1 of the guide) : People say it is a guide to be completed before doing MGMAT's SC, and let's see. 
Re-reading the PowerPrep CR Bible.
I am reading the book 'Rich Dad Poor Dad', and so far it is just awesome. I ll update more in the days to come.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Featured on

Sarah from contacted me about a month ago, and I had an interview with her. The questions were good, and they reflected the analysis of your profile and your ideas about application to b-schools. I liked the way the questions were sequenced. You can see it published here .

Since I have not started vigorously applying for b-schools till date, I found it to be a starter to analyze my profile and my ideas about applying to b-school. Do read the interview script at the above link, and share your comments.

Practice session 1

A weekend is gone and there has been some progress. The saturday was fun filled given that we celebrated the Sports Day at our organization. It was fun @ the YMCA grounds for a whole day. I returned home late that evening all tired from the fun that day!

Sunday was a good day and I could do actually do some studying, practise, and also relax. I solved a few questions from the '1012 GMAT' book, from The Princeton Review. In my opinion these are of 600-700 level, and found them doable. I was browsing through gmatclub forums and I happened to read through a few strategies that took test takers from 650 to 700+ with disciplined practice. I promised to myself, I will stick to my schedule.

I happened to come across the link to BTG's practice questions. I've always wished that these practice questions were available at a discounted price and I was happy that this time I happened to see them on discount. I quickly got one of the packs and started taking tests. I should say, it is worth it. The environment and explanations given are crisp and clear and gives you the advantage of comparing yourself with the average scores of other Magoosh test takers.

I have taken like 6 to 7 tests on Magoosh now, and I am happy to say I am improving. I felt the need for revising the basics of SC and CR from the MGMAT SC and CR Bible respectively. I realize I need to work a lot on my quant score, I should increase it by atleast 5 to 6 points. I am looking forward to preparing for CAT (Indian Entrance Test for entry into the prestigious IIMs), which is way tougher than GMAT Quant. This will automatically improve my GMAT Quant scores.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gearing up for GMAT #2

It has been a long time since I actively posted here. Variety of reasons behind. Office, personal life, projects have taken a large part of my everyday life, giving me little time to think about GMAT. I even considered dropping the idea of a second GMAT attempt for a while. Now I am back on track, and you will regularly see updates and progress.

I took quite sometime analyzing my mistakes during the last GMAT preparation time, and the problems with my approach. I happened to read through BTG and gmatclub posts on retaking GMAT, and several other posts which gave me an idea of how to proceed from this point. I am considering changing the pattern of studying this time.

From now on, I will post some questions on my blog, so that we also have a chance to discuss on the questions, and come up with more concrete reasoning for the solution behind. I will also post my progress on a daily basis as usual.

For a push today, let me tell you what I have been doing over the last weekend regarding GMAT. Not much, but I took a few practice tests that were available on free on I should say, my brains were beginning to get rusty about GMAT. For quant, I have been looking at several questions on gmatclub forums, and answering them with the timer 'on'. It worked out quite well.

I am determined to spend extra time on my weak areas:
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Reading Comprehension
I am currently signed up for the basic free packages available on BTG and gmatclub. If you have any other suggestions, do let me know. My access to GMATPrepNow has now expired. It was one awesome source to quickly learn a lot of concepts which haunted me for a long time.

And additionally, I have the GMAT ToolKit and MGMAT FlashCards on my iPod, which help me from getting bored while travelling. I have also added a few vocabulary apps as well including a couple of classic novels of my choice.

Here are a few questions for discussion:

I will post questions like the above in my second blog, so that this one does not get cramped with lot of details.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The G-Day

Moderate preparation levels; moderate practice levels - and here I am giving a debrief of GMAT #1.

Preparation :
I booked my exam for August 23, 2011, giving a complete 3 months for preparation. And I felt confident about my plan in mind. Until the big health blow and project deadlines in office broke my regular study hours. To see my progress levels, you can take a look at this blog.

Getting a good 41 days of preparation did not really get me reach my target. There was a good level of break here and there in between my prep schedule which ultimately lead me to think that I will not be able to score as much as I targeted. In course of my preparation, I realized, I was always scoring well in SC, as compared to other sections. Math is never my cup of tea, and this was something that hit me hard on my score. I would not say my verbal was too good, but at least I found it better than my Math score.

As with everyone else, RC is the weakest area, where I could not find much room for improvement, even after trying out different strategies. How much every modes I try for RC, during the test, all that stays in my mind is that I quickly finish off that particular RC quickly and move on. It came to me as a big blow on my G-Day.

Though my target score is very high, I consistently scored between 600 and 660 in all my practice tests. It was already a disappointment for me, as it is said, whatever you score in your practice tests is close to what you will score on test day. And something kept telling me, that I will score 650.

The Day:
My exam was scheduled at 10:00 am in the morning at a center just 11 km away from my house. So I decided I will start 2 hours early keeping in mind the traffic constraints. I started at 8:10 am hoping to reach at least half an hour before the scheduled test time. And to my disappointment, the traffic blocked me from all sides. Whichever different route I took, it was full of vehicles blocking the road. The biggest mistake I did was to drive my bike that day to the test. I reached the exam center sharp at 9:57 am, having informed the test center of my situation. I finally reached the center totally exhausted. And to my disappointment, the lift was nowhere close to stopping, when I reached the building.

The center was in the 6th floor and to add to all the traffic tragedy, I had to walk up all 6 floors by stairs. By the time I reached the 6th floor, my knees went shaky. I spoke to the center official, and I drank some water, and got ready for the test in the next 5-7 minutes. Given all the confusion, my mind was totally blocked, and was not functioning as much as it did during the practice tests. With just a few points to highlight my point of view on the issue and argument, I took a quick break of 5 minutes, had some fruits, and had water and started off with the Math section.

Math seemed good initially, but slowly the tiredness started creeping in. Towards the middle of the Math section, I was totally blank, and could do nothing but skip questions to compensate for the time loss. And so many DS questions at a stretch took a toll on my concentration levels. I have a mindset that I am weak in DS, and this added to the bad moments.  I was sure that my score was going down towards the end of the Math section

The break after the Math section, boosted me up at little, and verbal started off well. Though I took my chances on 1 or two questions, here and there, I was not completely off at any point of time. And I was sure that my score was not going to touch my target score.

And after scrolling through the pages after the test, I got my score.

A 650 with Q-44, and V-35 --- A mind game.. That’s what I thought, and that’s what I got.

Obviously not satisfied with my score. I have scheduled my GMAT #2 for October 31, 2011. Hope things work well this time. I am meanwhile taking a short break off preparation, reading through articles ob BTG, gmatClub forums. Any tips/suggestions to boost my score in my upcoming GMAT is welcome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Week before GMAT

Oh, and it was one hell of a week for me @ work. With project deadlines fast approaching, and the Independence Day celebrations @ office, and managing the events associated with it, I had almost forgotten that my GMAT was also fast approaching. I had little time to do my last minute prep for GMAT.

What I could do, was just wake up a little early and take a test in the morning, though I had very less time to analyze them. Actually speaking, my first practice test score was 660 as I mentioned in the last post, and apparently that was the highest score I got in all practice tests. And I realize that is purely because, I was not taking tension when I took that test.

Further on, I was too tensed just trying to make sure all through the test that I got a question right and that boosted my score. Apparently I ended screwing every test, scoring continuously like 600, 620, 630, 640 etc. My highest score had been 660 as I already mentioned.

And again, getting hardly 3 hours a day to take the test, I could not spend much time analyzing. So this is how my last week went. With so much to take at a time!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 41 - MGMAT SC

To all Indians out there, Wishing you a very happy Independence Day :)

Today, my plans were a little screwed up by the end of the day. I started with reading a chapter on CR from Kaplan 800, only to realize I got 3 of 7 questions wrong in them.

Quickly deciding on the agenda for the rest of the day, I decided to take a full length test, followed by analysis. But it so happened that my friend had come and I was unable to take the test.

I put off the idea of a test, now that the time is past evening, and most of my energy drained out. I took MGMAT SC, and reread the chapters that I had already covered, followed by Chapters on Modifiers, Verb tense, mood and voice, Comparisons, Idioms, and Odd and Ends.

Each of these chapters was equally interesting, the only point is to do a thorough practice before I could take another test. Loved reading through them. I did them pretty quick considering shortage of time, grabbing just the main points. Idioms was a huge chapter to read through, so I skipped here and there covering areas which I thought I was weak at.

There are advanced chapters still left, which I am planning to cover tomorrow.

Material Covered:

MGMAT SC - Pages 81 to 203.
Kaplan 800 - Chapter on CR

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Days 39, 40 - OG CR, MGMAT CAT#1

Its August and it is countdown time. I have exactly 9 days left for my GMAT. It is definitely frightening to think I cannot take out much time from my work, to prepare for GMAT. I am trying my best to find time and do some practice tests. Apparently I succeeded in taking the first effective practice test today.

I completed the OG 12th edition CR practice questions yesterday. And I should say the last 20 questions made me lose my confidence for the exam. Following this I have 3 continuous days off from work, thanks to Independence Day (Monday).

I woke up today morning, quickly went through the strategies I formulated for CR and RC, and Geometry type questions. I worked on a Diagnostic Math test from my MGMAT account today morning. I am attaching the score sheet of the diagnostic math test below.

I registered online my MGMAT SC book today morning, and was quite determined to give a full length test from MGMAT. And yes, my first test score goes as follows:

I am not even close to satisfied with my score, but it is good for a start. The last full length test which I attempted when I was ill, really scared me. But today's test has taken me out of that fear, and I hope to get better with more practice tests.

Material Covered:
MGMAT Math Diagnostic Test
OG 12th Edition - Pages 494 to 524

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 38 - Critical Reasoning

Hi Reader,

It has been a long break since my last update. My break was not because I wanted a break, but because office kept me so busy to turn to GMAT. Day and night with office work! Hectic hours! Unfortunately, this is the plight till the end of August, and I have my exam scheduled on the 23rd. I will try my best to squeeze some time out of this touch schedule and work for GMAT as well.

Updates are quite meagre for a full week. I tried CR questions from Official Guide 12th Edition. Otherwise I have been discussing with friends about applications and essays. Right now, given my busy schedule, my only target is to take as many tests as possible and complete OG.

Material Covered:
Official Guide, 12th edition - Pages 482 to 493

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 37 - Data Sufficiency

The last two days were pretty packed, with hectic office hours followed by an hour of preparation. And this time, the weekend in also packed with project-specific training sessions. I completed questions 51 to 100 during the last two days, with not so much concentration. I just managed to finish them with just 80 to 85% accuracy.

Planning to take up a practice test over the weekend or by Tuesday, given that my parents will be visiting me.

Material Covered:
Official Guide - 12th Edition -Pages 277 to 281

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 36 - Data sufficiency

Andddd finally… I tried conquering my fear about DS type questions. Not bad! Pretty decent drills and found it pretty interesting as well. Understanding how these questions actually are. Tried the DS questions (50 numbers) from OG 12. I could solve more than 45 correctly. And I guess I did not take more than 1.5 minutes for me to solve per question. But I have no idea where I will stand if I come across really challenging questions. 

And, its 3 am in the morning as I type this. Its kinda interesting to sit here and wonder about the rains outside and solve DS questions in parallel. Its nice that the rains know when to shower! :) They have so far not disappointed me in the morning when I goto office. While coming back it is always fun to get wet in the rains!

Material covered: 
Official Guide-  12th Edition- Pages 267-276 (50 questions)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Days 30 -35 - OG Problem Solving

Given that I have exactly a month left for my big day, I opened my OG, and started working on the quantitative section. It instilled more confidence in me, though towards the end I got worried. A few questions were familiar but I could not reach the exact idea within a period of 1 minute and 30 seconds. I guess I need more and more practice now.

The easiest for me was Arithmetic, wherein I could play all the tactics I learnt for my CAT exams (Indian MBA Entrance exam). Geometry was good as well, thanks to GMAT Prep Now. My biggest problem was with Coordinate Geometry, followed by Set Theory. But its all because of the lack of touch with those topics. High time I went through these topics. Questions from these topics took more than 2 minutes, and the questions from the other familiar topics took less than 2 minutes.

It had been a happening week @ office, with celebrations and event organization and work together. I had lots of fun and lots of interaction after quite a long time.

Material covered:
Official Guide 12th Edition - Pages 144-264