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

Class of 2016 – Part 1

A.K.A. League of Extraordinary 2014 Blogger Applicants

A Lot of schools have been releasing their First class video, Orientation videos and for applicants like me who are sandwiched between career goals and three mistakes of my life (Pun intended Chetan Bhagat’s Book). Such videos cannot come at a better time than now! The adrenalin kicks in and I start to blog (not write my essays) sadly the essays have to take a break! So, No mambo-jumbos about my MBA application or the experience, I will directly storm in to the spotlight! 🙂

With No further Ado, introducing the class of 2016:

(In no particular Order)


I am a huge American Football fan and I distantly support Denver Broncos (NFL) and the University of Washington Huskies (College Football). Because of football, I have become somewhat of a fitness fanatic. I recently tried Cross fit and loved it!


Ellie is a small-town girl who aspired to live in big cities all her childhood and is thrilled to find herself in Washington DC. She is an engineer by education, who hated math growing up and didn’t want to be a software engineer, so started looking for a job that would let her write and speak and landed in advisory services for CXOs. This job first took her to Delhi and then brought her to DC a few years ago. Loves both her coffee and tea and has been known to have withdrawal symptoms when attempting to live without either for extended period of time. Also reads Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and LOTR in a loop.

Writing in Transit:

I studied abroad in Hong Kong during my Junior year in college. It was a great experience and where I first grew interested in consulting. I also did the world’s tallest bungee jump in Macau. My video:


I’m from the UK and sports mad – Football (Soccer!), Cricket, Snowboarding and Formula One in particular. I play both Football and Cricket regularly and am a fanatical Liverpool FC supporter. I also love travelling and have been around Europe and SE Asia widely.
I studied Engineering at University and work in the Cosmetics industry. This means I frequently drag my fiance into beauty stores to look at the products I make. This means I incur strange looks and incur both her wrath and embarrassment…I’m looking to study for an MBA mainly because it sounds interesting in itself and will open up a whole new world of opportunities to me!


I am a dad.  I love sushi.  I love to slappin’ the bass!  My favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


I don’t watch a ton of television, but I am very loyal to my favorite shows: Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Mad Men and Walking Dead (AMC is doing television right). I really enjoy playing and watching soccer, which has to be one of my better habits because this taco addiction can’t be healthy. I once presented to my client a 10-slide, zombie apocalypse safety moment that included best practices and proper procedures…and lived!

A few words about me!

A big fat bar of chocolate is all I need to spill my secrets. And I have a pair of happy feet (which will dance to anything). I love my cycle (Firefox Rapide). I Admire Einstein, Rafa (Nadal), Steve Jobs & my dad. Not in that order.
With all those glitters and mischief.. until next time.
p.s: few more bloggers are knee deep with applications and GMAT on the way and have promised to get back by end of September. I will come up with Part 2 very soon :). Keep coming back to the blog!


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!


Review: Clear Admit’s ISB School Guide

I got a chance to grab my hands on the specially crafted School Guide by Clear Admit.  Honestly, I haven’t done much of a “research” on Indian School of Business.  Thankfully, this book came with a plateful. The book runs you through the “history” of the school – which I never considered important up until I read this book. It gave a clearer picture on the value system and vision of the school.Therefore helped me realize a connection between my dream and their value system.

Apart from that,I really enjoyed the detailed enlisting of curricular and co-curricular activities on the campus. It gave me a lot of reasons to think about what I could do apart from just graduate. The book also had very specific details such as temperature of the place apart from just the listing the facilities and clubs – it really shows Clear Admit’s commitment to provide every tiny detail of B-school experiences that an aspirant could encounter. Some of the details such as tie ups with other Bschools, the plethora visiting faculty coming from other B-schools made me realize its a global school after all as against its  name “Indian” school of business – which was the impression I had till now.

The book also had a couple of pages write up on special programs offered by ISB and grading systems as well. Woah! Isn’t that amazing? They actually prep for the class experience! 🙂 And Guess what?? The book doesn’t end there, they go a step beyond and actually talk about life after MBA – career services etc. This book is sure a pit stop for all the information you can ask for about a B-school.

I recommend the bunch of school guides for any B-school aspirant who is looking forward to learning about his or her dream school  – many of the stuff that is in there doesn’t show up on the goolge ;). Be ready, there is so much of information provided that, I am sure a single read wouldn’t be enough to grasp them all. While I am out to re-read book, you can go and grab a copy of School Guides by Clear Admit Today!

Last but not least, I am grateful to Clear Admit for offering me this opportunity to get nearer my goal! I appreciate all the effort that you put in this book and all other school guides that you offer! It is definitely a boon for us aspirants and a big TIME saver!! 😀 Thanks guys!

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Absolute Madness

I have been there done that! Er, been where? Done what?!? Caught up getting most of Inequalities &/or absolute value questions wrong and going absolutely mad about it.

Here is some interesting thing I found out today. Inequalities and absolute values are best solved by imagination. Not like the ones where you imagine Luke Skywaker zooming through the Empire, but like the one that has axis and is called number lines. Well, that’s enough marketing for what I am about to tell. Let’s get down to business!

Absolute value is nothing but modulus. Heck! I know that, tell me something more! Ok, so here is a thing Modulus is the distance between Zero and that NUMBER. Yup, you probably knew that as well! But, are you using it to your advantage?

Take for example. |x-1|; the value of (x-1) lies between -1 and 1 on the number line. Therefore if, X should lie between 0 and 2 because X lies one step ahead of X-1. So just move your line. Simple as that.

Shall we test the absolute simplicity of the concept?

Is r=s?
(1) -s<;=r; Says R lies between S and -S inclusive. Insufficient

(2) |r|>;=s ===>; Says R lies beyond S and -S inclusive. Insufficient.

Combine those two. We get, R can be -S or S. =>; Insufficient. Therefore, E.

Get that? Its that simple.

Shall we try a bit tougher one? How about this:

Is |x+y|>;|x-y|?
(1) |x| >; |y|
(2) |x-y| ;|x-y| =>; Remember Modulus is distance from Zero to a number. In what all cases, will cumulative distance between x and o and y and zero be greater than distance between x and y where, x and y are some number? Only if they are in the same side of the axis.. Simply put, This question is asking if x and y have same signs or not.

(1) |x| >; |y| ==>; Nope, this doesn’t tell me about their signs. Insufficient.
(2) |x-y| ; Ah, get back to number line. in what cases is Distance between x and y ; Awesome, exactly what we are looking for. Hence, B.


Please free too go through GMATCLUB.COM posts such as this to get more practice.


A Recall..

Let me cut to the chase, things I did in my second GMAT preparation are:

1. Attitude:

First time around, my attitude wasn’t great. I focused on Quantity (I would’ve solved about 2000 questions in all) and not on quality. Worst of all, if I went wrong somewhere, I used to get depressed and waste my time. This time, I told myself, if I went wrong somewhere, I am not going to worry about it, but use it as an opportunity to learn something. I really had to work on my attitude. I took help of a lot of online materials – one the best i could find was – Stacey Koprince. I didn’t follow it to the dot, but I definitely borrowed a lot of  ideas. If you are starting out or in any stage of preparation and are looking to tweak things a bit, Please do read her articles. They are amazing!

2. Strategies:

Getting your strategies, is probably the most important thing I did. I used my failures(mistakes) as an opportunity to tune my strategy. Every time I went wrong somewhere, I asked myself, why did I go wrong, where did I loose my focus, how can I get it right the next time. I made a note of it all. It’s not an error log, but strategy log – Like if I see a SIGNAL word, I look for parallelism and if I find x>y, I say to myself x,y can be +/-1,0,+/-.5. Like that I built it up. This came to a couple of pages, but fact is during the exam, I cannot recollect it all. So, on the final couple of days I worked on over all strategies. My final strategies looked something like this.

Verbal Strategy:

1. There is only one correct answer. All others have to be wrong
2. If you find no correct answer — read the answer choices again slowly, do not resort to the second best option.
3. Read ALL THE ANSWER choices.

Quant Strategy:

1. Read the question once completely.
2. Then note downs clearly what is given — the values and the variables.
3. Read the question again – what is exactly asked? Interpret it in your own words.
4. Simplify the question in to simple variables or expressions.
5. Restrictions – Implicit or Explicit? => Like absolute value is +ve always, Integers, whole numbers, natural numbers. [Revisit Restrictions if answer is bit ambiguous]
6. If you are unsure about a concept spend couple of seconds using test cases
7. Try to eliminate answers and save time

Heck yah, they are simple and obvious. But, believe me, we often loose out on the tiniest and easiest details. When it comest to building your strategy, making mistakes is the best thing you can do! 😀 Believe me, I was updating my strategy up until last day! Even now, I can improve a lot on it, so don’t settle down once you get your strategies done. As you keep practicing, you will realize you might need to update it quite often. Believe me, its ok to do that!

3. Focus on basics:

Get your basics right. Yup, it’s probably another simple thing. But, if foundation is not strong, how much ever your are trying to improve, you are going to fail. Sit with your materials, take a topic, learn, unlearn, learn till you get 90% accuracy. [I did that for only a couple of topics because I ran out of time, so skipped may be that’s why I got just 38 in Verbal.] This is something Ron Purewal said, while practicing Sentence Correction – say you are doing Subject Verb Agreement, look out for only S-V agreement in the practice questions, if you have found the flaw, move on to the next question, DONOT solve the question. Because, to solve the question you need to good at more than one topic, when you clearly are just mastering one topic, there is a pretty good chance you will not solve the question rightly and hence get demotivated. Do this sort of practice till you reach that 90%-100% accuracy only then move on to the NEXT question.

4. Build your stamina:

Once you are done through basics, move on the tougher problems. I barely did that for verbal, cause I wasn’t that good at it. But for Maths, i worked pretty hard on 700+ questions. I was good at maths 600 Level, but 700 level I was pathetic. What 700 level needs is way different than what 600 Level needs. 700 Level needs LOGIC, quick understanding of question and expecting answers. Only way to do that is practice, practice, practice but along with it keep building strategy [refer Bunuel’s posts]. Beyond 600 level only thing that’s going to help you is strategy. Like keeping watch for words like CONSECUTIVE sets. Believe me, there are 700 level questions where you catch this point – consecutive sets the standard deviation 1, you can blow the problem in a matter of seconds! A couple of words on RC. I am not a voracious reader and I am definitely NOT good at RC. But, to improve RC there is only one thing you need to do. Practice every single day – 3-4. If you missed a day do 6-8 the next day, but practice every single day. The reason is simple, for RC you cannot sit for hours together like you do for SC and CR and build your strategy. RC you got to build it step by step – one day you might be really good, other day sloppy, so on an average, there is a better probability of you to come up with a good strategy for RC when you do it for days together.

5. Don’t bother about your scores:

Most important thing I learnt not to do was to bother about scores. Why is that important? Because I realized every time I got thinking about scores, I was wasting my time and energy, either fretting about it or day dreaming about it. Both of which are not going to help me get anything. So, don’t bother about scores too much. Bother enough to build a better strategy and that’s all you got to bother about. To many “bothers” in this paragraph! 😉

This is pretty much my experience. Hope you got something out of it. 🙂 All the very best.. 🙂 

I have uploaded a couple of documents – Strategies, exceptions & Bunuel’s notes in DOWNLOADS section do check them out.

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After my recent debacle, i analyzed my mistakes. To put it in a sentence, my foundation, method of preparation and method of attacking a problem needed a big overhaul. So, I decided to focus more on the “subject” matter in verbal. Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that i collected from the material online and from my own experience.

1. Focus on quality not quantity.
This specially applies to verbal and not quants. In Quants, more the practise more is the speed, as there is no confusion between right and wrong answers. But verbal it is not so. Verbal has got to do more with understanding basic concepts. So volume wouldn’t help if basic isn’t strong! Thus instead of focusing on materials such as 1000 series(non-GMAT types) focus on OGs and GMATprep. But spend quality time on each and every question.

2. Well the obvious question is how to spend quality time? It is pretty simple. While answering a question, read all the options and reason out why each option is wrong or right! That will actually improve your learning ability vs time curve by a very high margin! Instead of spending time on answering 5 question and going wrong on 3 questions. Spend the time on 2 questions and analyze every single option!

3. Review. Ok now you are done with a question. You could. E right or wrong. If you are right, go through the explanation and find out if there is some other way to reason out. Don’t ever move on to the next question/ session before doing the review. If you went wrong find out in what concept you went wrong – put it in your error log.

4. Make a list of questions you went wrong and review it in the end of the a study period – one or two weeks.

5. Before you sit for your study always go thru what you did yesterday – helps retaining concepts. Go thru error log as well so you don’t repeat the mistakes!

6. Make a separate question bank of really tough problems – the ones you too a long time to solve and still went wrong – keep them for final days. Make sure you tag them with their topics as well – that way you don’t miss out on any topic and it will be a great material for full fledged revision as well!

7. Don’t worry about timing too much in the beginning. But make sure you are not too slow. Taking 2 min for SC QUESTION is OK in the beginning. But taking 4 minutes is bad. Hope you get the idea!

Hope this article helped you! Don’t forget to send me your suggestions!

In the coming weeks, i shall post the section wise strategies – as and when i experience good and bad things during preparation!