bschool admit

The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare. – Bobby Knight


Lessons on the go

Thanks giving is over already. This means only one thing, round 2 application deadlines are right around the corner, wishing you all the very best for this season! Hope this article, helps you in someway.

I haven’t posted in almost a month ‘cause I have been fretting too much than actually doing (Ah, doen’t that happen often!?). With the deadlines for round 2 is just around the corner. I began the essays with sheer pressure to not give up on my dreams. The reason I postponed my essays because, the first one I started with – career goal essay got me nowhere beyond 3 sentences. I was frustrated that I couldn’t come up with a career goal essay in a week (original target). So, I left it at that. And that became a month.

But since I began writing, everything else other than career goal essays, things have been moving a bit faster (not as much as I expected, but at least they are rolling). After a month of sitting and reading many “I will teach you how to write great MBA essay” guides, I thought I mastered the skill. So, I wrote my first essay just a few days ago and was utterly confident, it was a killer essay and sent it for a review. Only it came back, with the most dismal remark – it is good, but what is the point. I was too much in to the “stories” , the build ups, I lost sight of the whole point. That’s when I turned back to basics, reading essay guides and realized – Holly SHIT! This is all there -Where the essays could go wrong, what should it contain all of that.

Even if this is coming to you at a later stage, I want to share with you one of the most valuable lessons for writing an essay.

  1. DONOT start with reading guides first. You will probably end up learning nothing because whatever it says is pretty obvious for anybody! I mean common, who would keep writing a story and not attend to the actual question? Who would explain about their career goals and forget to mention why? So, you got nothing to learn, ‘cause you already know it.
  2. Sit down and write your career goal essay. Let’s face it, you go to write it sometime later, so why not now! Trust me, no matter how flashy the other essays are, the admission council is more interested in this than other essays. Besides, once you have the clarity of mind you can thread other essays to support this. This makes sure the adcoms get a very vivid picture of who you are in those couple of minutes (2-3 tops) that they spend on your application.
  3. Write one more essay – like past experience, accomplishments etc. The reason you have to write two essays, is that you will have a pattern. Everybody has a patter – their unique style of writing that often gets repetitive. You have to find yours and be aware of it and try not to bring monotonous feeling to the readers.
  4. Get those guides, take notes – personal notes. While you are at those guides, you will realize your weakness and strengths. This will greatly help your essay writing skills.
  5. Use the forums/friends/relatives/tutors to get expert view. Many admission consultants usually offer free consultations. If you are clear about what you would like to understand more about the admission process, you can make good use of free consultation.
  6. Choosing a consultant. I don’t have one. But I got great help (thanks to social network). Choose one, if you are pressed for time and if you don’t have an experienced hand (relative or friend who has done MBA) who are ready to spend time with your for essays. The review session alone would take 3-4 hours in total for each essays – given the number of reviews it would require!
  7. Most important thing of all: Remember this, you are not going to get your essays right in the first go even if you are a journalist. So, be ready to cut the crap, cut it again and again until you get a clear message across.

Here is the list of free essay blogs/videos that you get online.

  1. Admissionado – Amazing for essay guides for free!
  2. MBA Mission – Keeps you in touch with what’s hot in admission season
  3. Stacy Blackman – Great tips on application interviews and lots more.
  4. GMATClub (videos)  – They are celebrating 10th year and 1million posts with series of webminars related to GMAT and admission from myriad consulting agencies. Great Stuff.
  5. Beat the GMAT (videos) –  another set of amazing videos, some are even specific to Indian/Chinese applicants

Have fun!



Guide to Using GMATClub

Introduction: The reason i am starting such guides is because, i feel people can save a lot of time (which i wasted in exploring things) and focus on job in the hand – Crack GMAT.  To get used to such voluminous amount of resources that forums such as GMATClub can offer, it takes a lot of time. A good thing about these guides is that you can best use the forum, with less investments in terms of time and resources. Please note,this is not a sponsored post and the views are strictly personal. I am just doing for the sake of sharing and nothing else.

I have a confession to make, more than half of my first GMAT Prep was spent in GMATClub. I love that forum. The founder bb(i don’t know his real name 😦 ) is very responsive. The members bb(founder), bunuel( Zeus of Math forum, GMATClub’s resident Math forum moderator), walker (the man behind GMATClub’s iphone Apps), GMATLA, Whiplash(Lady behind Bang Bang notes) are very kind. The members in general are motivated to share. GMATClub also has got Experts from various test prep training companies such as Manhattan, Kaplan,GMATPill, E-GMAT etc. who actively participate in the forum and give guidance whenever it is required. GMATClub also has facilities to get your profile rated as well.GMATClub also runs a blog, if you are too lazy to participate in the activities, you can always sign up for the blog feed and with that you get Daily portion of GMAT Quant and Verbal question. That’s good because, if you not doing any preparation on a particular day, at least you can do the two problems just to be in touch. Said that, GMATClub does have a New to GMATClub?START HERE page. But i found it too long and too distracting, in the sense that, there were just too many things i wanted to check out, but finally lose my focus on why i came there in the first place! So, here is my Guide to GMAT Club.

If you are a just looking. That is you don’t know what GMAT is and you are just looking. Then you should visit: Well, i am not kidding, that’s the first place you should start. But, once you have a very vague idea – that is you know there are 4 sections AWA(something), IR(Something), Quants(Maths) and Verbal(English). Then you can move on to Scoring but before that just go through the forum in general, just to get the feel of GMAT questions. If you spend about One hour, you will get comfortable with the idea of GMAT and the forum.

If you are a Beginner. That is you have decided to take GMAT period.

You should first take a diagnostic test ( I would recommend a full length test (BTW they are available for free). Based on that, go through the study plans – Novice and Advanced GMAT Takers and Ultimate Verbal Study Plan(esp for non-native speakers). Once you have figured out your study plan. Study. If you are confused about what courses to enroll, what books to buy, check out their reivew on books and various courses (specially helpful, in saving a few bucks on courses!)

If you are in the intermediate stage. That is you are 1-2 months in to preparation and are done with basics.

You should slowly move on to GMATClub Tests and then from 500+ level questions to 700+ level questions. These are available on the Forum Index, the first post under every section is a directory of 500-700+ level questions. At this point of time, i would recommend you atleast finish off 500 and 600 level questions fully. To be clarify a point,  the levels are not that accurate as most of the questions are posted by members and that, they generally rate the level according to their own level of difficulty. So, if you get a 700+ question under a 500+ or vice-versa don’t be surprised. But, said that, usually the levels are pretty accurate lets say, 85% accurate.  There are about 10,000+. So, ideally you don’t need any other resource. I mean ideally because, the “practice” itself  might not be actual representation of experience of GMAT test, as GMAT test is adaptive, where as here, it is not. You still can go for GMATClub Tests. While doing your test make sure you make some sort of Error Log;it lets you keep track of where you are going wrong. It is one of the most important thing to do other than preparing.

If you are in the final stages of preparation. That is you have got about a month left.

This is the time you bring in the dragon. Literally. This is the time you start referring Bunuel‘s posts (for the love of god, they are one of the best and quickest way to answer a question) for Quants. Solve 700+ level questions. By this time, you probably are good at basics and know your weaknesses too well. Work on your weaknesses. And in areas where you are strong at, improve your speed. They don’t have much  materials for verbal, but they sure have a hell a lot of super good questions for quants.

PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers’ Dozen

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS ; 9 Devil’s Dozen!!!

(Above is just cut and copy of Bunuel‘s signature, so, don’t bother copying it.)

No matter which stage you are in you can always use some motivation – Share your GMAT experience section and you can find a lot of relevant materials to download for free including – grammar books, IR guides, 1000 Sc questions, 700+ level question banks. For that you can go to GMATClub’s Holy Grail – Downloads section.Be warned, it is too tempting to download a lot of stuff from there, but you would probably end up not using many of it. So spend some time, at least a few hours to choose what you are comfortable in working with  From the top my head, here is a list of things, you must download:

1. Official Guide Grids, There are various versions, choose the one you like.

2. Error log. Same applies.

3. Notes. Say you have Manhattan books, you can download Slingfox’s Notes and save time preparing yours. You can just edit it, to suit your style. 😉 If you don’t have powerscore CR book, there are couple of notes available. That pretty much summarizes Powerscore CR. You save time and money you see 😉

4. Check list.You can choose any checklist from what is there. But, make sure it suits you. I liked Whiplash’s Bang Bang – SC/CR! (This is for a few days before GMAT, till then stay off, or just refer it to create your own checklist. )

Couple of  Useful Links: (trying my best to keep you from getting distracted, but these links just clawed their way up to this post ;))

10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying is a very good read for preparation as a whole and test day do’s and don’ts!

Timing Strategies
Good read, if you are thinking of improving your time. Strictly for Intermediate+ folks only.

One Stop Guide to 6.0 i AWA You can check it out on the final few weeks. It is the best AWA guide i have ever seen!

Last but not least, make sure you BOOKMARK THE TOPICS which you feel are difficult or have a really easy method to solve it, so that you can use it for you last day for revision!

gmat club bookmark

Click that button, available at the end of a every post/reply

If you are looking for chapter wise questions, you can make use of their tags.  Using Advanced forum search. you can filter out more than one search tags. For example if you check Difficulty-700 and pronouns – all the tags with 700 difficulty and all the tags with pronoun will be listed. But, if you want to work on 700 difficulty – Pronoun questions, make sure you check Search for all tags (Select tags from single column only) under search tags.

All the very best folks!

If you find it useful, don’t forget to let me know! It keeps me motivated to spend extra time in writing such posts!
Next Week Guide on Using Social Networks and internet to get the best deals on courses and materials.