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Posting after a year and a half..! A lot has happened in the meanwhile…

I got accepted at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and there I put an end to my dreams of a B-school education abroad. That was last April, and I haven’t regretted my decision since. 🙂

It is a fantastic place to be with truly India’s best brains coming in and competing & collaborating with you. The facilities are outstanding with link-ups for exchange programs and international competitions with almost every university worth its name.  But the most outstanding aspect for me is clearly the faculty.

Wizened with decades of experience, the faculty accepts you with open arms and gives you any help whenever you want, and sometimes when you don’t ask for 🙂  India’s top consultants, finance gurus, alums with extensive marketing & sales experience, leaders & harbingers of change, all reside in this 100 acre campus. Intellectually challenging talks at 12 in the night while taking a stroll with the professor on his nightly walk routine has become a habit for me. And how I love it.

If any of you is thinking of pursuing an MBA in India, give IIM-A a shot. Chances are, you would thank yourself for the decision you took.!

PS: The academic pressure in the first year, and there is no easy way to say this, is tremendous. Nothing like what I have ever experienced in my life. And something I really really appreciate now that I have crossed that stage. So, if you are the kind who would like a more laid-back though brilliant place, this is probably not the right place for you. 🙂

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I have requested for information on the websites of almost all the B-schools I liked in my first round of long-listing. And I have started receiving those packets as well. At last count, I had received packets from MIT, Emory, Chicago Booth, Virginia & Haas. Out of these I haven’t gone through the Emory packet yet, but loved the view books of Haas & Booth. Virginia’s packet disappointed me, somehow, though I had a great fascination to Darden.

I am currently trying to figure out what schools to apply to. Considering my propensity towards Entrepreneurship in the Sustainability arena, Ross & Haas are looking like great options at the moment. Still reading vociferously though..!

AWAs

I got my AWA score as well. I scored a 6..! A perfect way to offset my not so great percentile in VA in GMAT.  🙂

My G-Score

Finally, the day dawned. I was obviously a tad nervous but was trying to show as if I wasn’t. Anyhow, I reached my centre by about 10:25 ( I was supposed to reach by 10:30, half an hour before my appointment at 11) and was immediately escorted in after signing a register. It was followed by a quick read of the instructions while the officials validated my passport and checked my appointment. A couple of scans of the veins of my palm & a briefing about the rules & guidelines later I was on my seat.

I was first asked to select my 5 schools, which I did (Haas, Ross, ISB, Duke & Emory) and then my test started off. First up were the two AWAs. The issue essay was easy and I blabbered on. I remember using Bunty & Bubli as an example somewhere, thought that the human grader might like that touch 😉 The argument essay was something easy as well, though I can’t remember the topic. Everything went fine, except for the fact that in one of the essays, I wasn’t able to click on the submit answer button, as I couldn’t finish proof-reading my essay in time.  That did bother me, even during the 10 minute break, of which I must have used 4-5 minutes. But I tried to calm myself and ate something, drank water and took a few deep breaths.

Next up was Maths, and I was quietly confident here. But my confidence was to suffer a major blow in the first question itself. No, I managed to do the question all right, and pretty easily too, it is just that it twas tougher than I had expected my first question to be. And that trend followed. Each question was a grade or two tougher than any QA question I had encountered in a GMAT PP test. But, hey, the Indian education system, prep for IIT-JEE and 4 years of Engineering in India leave you quite well equipped to handle anything that is thrown at you by the SATs/GREs/GMATs..! So, got through the QA section, always fearful of a silly mistake, and double-checking each answer. I finished it with only around 4 minutes to spare, much less than my usual (around 20-25 minutes). Another short visit to the loo and it was time for some serious work, Verbal.

Now, this was the section I had most worked on, well, everybody does. And right from the first question I was made to think. My initial few questions seemed quite tough to me, and I was heartened by that fact. So, I tarried on. Around the 7th or 8th question, I got a couple of easy ones, at least I thought they were too easy, that played on mind for about a second or two. But then I swatted that thought out and concentrated on the questions. I thought that my SCs & CRs were going well, but was not too sure about my RCs. Particularly the last one, where, I thought, at least two questions hinged on the understanding of one word, the meaning of which I couldn’t really remember and didn’t have too much time to figure out either.  I answered the questions anyway and with a heave finished the section with only about half a minute to spare.

As I sat filling the survey/information questions at the end of the test, all I could think of was how I must have screwed my VA & how many careless mistakes I must have made in my QA. But, secretly I was hoping for a score around 780. I thought I had done enough to get that. After a never-ending list of questions, my score came up. I had gotten a 760…! A 51 in QA  & a 41 in VA landed me in the 99th percentile with 760. My first reaction to that score was, well, damn it..! I had wanted to beat my mentor’s score of 770 real bad. But it was not to be. After my initial pang of disappointment (41 in VA with a 91 percentile, I thought I could/should have done loads better than that), I reasoned that 760 ain’t a bad score either. At least I won’t be giving the test again.. 😀

I was quite excited about my score. So I called home and told my mum, got a call from a dear friend, and also called up the guy who had been guiding me throughout. With my test over I could now think about a fay or two of complete rest and then the grind of the application process would begin. But for now.. I am content..! 🙂

The Last Mock Test

A couple of days before the GMAT I gave GMAT Prep 2 for the 3rd time (As I have noted before, take, take & then take once more the GMAT Prep test). For some strange reason I was not feeling very “into it” while giving the test. I wanted to take e full test, writing down both the essays, but laziness stole over me and I conceded defeat. I just glossed over the essay topics, wrote down a few points, felt OK and moved on to QA.

As I said, I wasn’t very serious (2 days before the GMAT and not serious… that scared me..!) while giving the test. I had the laptop in my lap, I was on the bed and that too in a half-lying position. But anyways, started off with QA, went ahead with the normal speed till one question stumped me. It was about the Least Common Denominator of two fractions. Now, LCM I know, GCD & HCF too, but what in the world was LCD? I panicked. Had I grabbed myself up right there & then, I would have figured out the meaning of LCD in a jiffy, I mean how hard can it get, really? Least Common Denominator, LCM of the denominators of the two fractions, you dummy..! Nevertheless, the shock of coming across an unknown term in GMAT Maths was a bit too much and I squandered away at least 3 minutes before coming to my senses and deriving the definition. This just goes on to show that keeping your wits intact is the most important thing while giving any exam, let alone GMAT.

Anyways, moved on with QA and finished it with about 18-20 minutes to spare (my usual, as a matter of fact). Felt OK. And without taking the break moved over to Verbal.

My moment of panic in QA notwithstanding, my lackadaisical approach continued in this section. I was back to my half lying position, trying my best to answer the questions as quickly as possible. Still, the questions were going by at their usual pace. Around 1 question every 1.5-2 mins on an average. Almost all questions were new, but this being my 6th GMAT Prep in all, some questions were bound to repeat. And they did. I came across a couple of questions that I remembered having solved earlier. But neither of them were tough, and I am sure that I would have gotten them correct had I been seeing them for the first time. By about the 20th question, I felt that the time left per question was dipping dangerously below 2 mins (That is my usual status at around this time of the test). I tried to pick up my speed, and to my delight I was able to do so without too much fuss. I did come across a few toughies with pretty close choices, and I wasn’t absolutely sure in a couple of them. But I managed to finish my paper with around 12-15 mins to spare ( I can’t remember the exact time). All in all, I did not feel very good about my verbal, I thought it went kind of average. And the maths was just as always.

And then I checked my score and I was really (shmreally !) delighted for the first time in my prep. I got a 790..! With a 51 in both sections..! I couldn’t believe my eyes, I got a 51 in Verbal??? Seriously..!! Hehe, well, I had actually managed to get 3 QA questions wrong (all of them stupid stupid mistakes), but the big surprise was that I got all correct in VA..!

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine for some time, but I did make sure to come back down..! Throughout my preps I had tried to make sure that I never got overjoyed by my scores, and I wasn’t going to do that just 2 days before my test..!

But all in all, a great test, marred by just one thing, that I didn’t write the AWAs.

After that, it was down to finalizing the 5 schools I wanted to report my score too. Checked out a few sites, read a bit, and even talked a bit to an ex-colleague (who is off to a smashing B-skl in a week’s time), and managed to thrash out my final 5. They were :

  • Michigan / Ross
  • ISB (duhhh…)
  • Emory
  • Haas
  • Fuqua

More on why & how I selected these 5 leaving out a few of my favorite schools later.

With just over a day to go, I just went over Manhattan’s SC guide once more, as well as the Kaplan 800 SC part. Also went over the idiom lists, did a few RC & CRs from Kaplan 800 (just to keep in touch with everything), revised my maths formulae, and read a bit of Deathly Hallows  again.. And that was it.. Time for G-Day. How I fared at it is a topic for another post..!

2 days & counting…

Well, I am almost there now. My GMAT is just 2 days away. It is down to frantic revisions, going through the AWA lists & reading blogs now..! And, of course, deciding the 5 schools where I want to send my scores.

It is the last one which is occupying most of my mind-space (and none of my time) currently. I have finalized two, but I am nowhere near finalizing the other 3. And I am not really researching anything either. The funny thing is that I know that this is horribly wrong, but right now, at this instant, all I am thinking is that I’ve got 2 days left …! 😀

Apart from this, the last 3 weeks have not been as tense or as frantic as I had thought they would be. I have been studying quite leisurely, taking the odd FLT, practising a few AWAs, revising the OG 10 & 11 (I haven’t even looked at OG 12. I decided that it is too late now anyways…!) As for the last week, I took 3 days off from work, and there is this weekend, giving me 5 continuous free days to study. Here is what I’ve done in a little more detail…

I started off with the AWAs, and found the ‘Analysis of Argument’ to be very similar to the CRs. Not at all essay-ish, if you know what I mean. I found that, almost always, one has to look for flaws in the presented argument, looking for weaknesses in the evidence provided. My strategy is to list down 3 main assumptions, attack each one of them, mentioning how their fallacy could wekane the argument and how some evidenc supporting them wold have strengthened the argument. That constitutes the 3 paragraphs that make up the body of my essay. The introductory paragraph as well as the closing paragraph are a bit more static. Once you have a template to work with, all you need to do is to modify the set pieces a bit to suit the argument at hand.

The ‘Analysis of Issue’ however is a completely different matter altogether. The template to be used here is much more generic, and has to be modified a great deal more on a case to case basis, as compared to the template for teh argument essay. However, I have  a set rotine for these as well. I make a list of points in favor of and against the issue, without any bias. Then I decide which side I have more (& better) material to argue for. And then I start off with that side. I make it a point to present three points in favor, recognize one shortcoming but presenting, at the same time, some fact to mitigate the shortcoming/criticism. I try not to deal in superlatives and have a moderate tone throughout this essay. Of course, this essay breathes on examples. You need to substantiate what you say, and what better way than examples. You would often read, that give as many examples as possible. That is a great tactic. But OG 11 presents another one, which cannot be used for every issue, but when used, could work out great. Use just one example, but carry it throughout the argument, highlighting the different facets of the example to support the different points your are talking about.

Well, that’s my strategy for AWAs. I would love to write on it on more detail, but now is not the time. Along with dealing with the AWAs, I have :

  • finished the OG 10 SC part
  • revised OG 11’s RC & CR sections. I still haven’t finished the OG 11 PS & DS sections. I think I should do as many of the later questions as possible.
  • Finished Kaplan 800’s verbal part.
  • Also, I have given a couple of more tests, this time for the whole 4 hours, AWAs included. I gave :
    • GMAT Prep 1 (3rd Round) : 760 (Q51, V44)
      • My score has dropped this time. Though I got the same Verbal score, my overall score reduced.
    • Kaplan 4 : 700 (Q50, V39)
      • In what was my secod worst Kaplan test, I achieved my best true score. I am not counting the scandalous Kaplan Test 2 where most of my questions were repeated. This time none was.
      • This also means that I have got a 50 in QA in all Kaplan tests. I always make some silly error or the other.

With just 2 days left, I am suddenly realizing that I still have a lot to do. I need to go over the Manhattan SC guide once more, and definitely revise my idiom list. I also have to give GMAT Prep 2 for the final time. I have to finalize my school list, I have to revise the math formulae, and even do as many questions as possible. I also have to go over the AWA list and I am sure that I must ave forgotten somethimg..! 😀

Hey, I forgot something else too. I went and checked out the GMAT centre. There is only one in this city. Even though the directions were printed on the GMAT receipt, the metro construction did make it a little tougher to find the centre. Pearson’s office is located in the Ysusf Sarai community centre, right behind the big Indian Oil buidling. Only after I got there did I realize that I had visited the neighbourhood before, but never on my own, and certainly a long long time back. If anyone is looking for directions :

From AIIMS go towards IIT. After about a kilometer ( I know the printed address says 3 kms, but that’s bull),  you will see the huge Indian Oil Building on your left. It has a huge electronic display board on the top, where usually the temperature or some interesting statistic is displayed. If you still can’t find teh building, well, it has a grid like facade, mustard & grey-black grids, like a chess-board. You will get it now. The directions tell you to take a left after the building, but the metro construction has ensured that that turn is now blocked. So instead of frantically searching for the next left, peacefully proceed till a point where is a guided U-turn for the traffic on the other side, and take a left turn. Keep going straight, take the first left (it will be a crossing). And then again keep going straight till you hit a T-point, and take left. Go straight and you’re there.
People coming from the opposite side (from IIT towards AIIMS), keep going straight till you reach the Aurobindo Place market on your left (It has a big Wimpy’s store on its far end, you can’t miss it.) Take the guided U-turn right there, and immediately go left ( against the traffic, slightly.. 😉 ) If you do not want to break the law, then well, you better turn right from the red-light just before this U-turn, right at Aurobindo Place market. Once you take right, follow the directions in BOLD in the previous para.

Well, that’s all I have to say now. The next time I blog here will be after my GMAT. Till then.

PS : There is one thing that I must add. Take the GMAT Prep again, over & over again. 3 times, 4 times if you have that much time. They are worth it. Everybody says that they best simulate the actual GMAT, well, that isn’t hard to believe, looking at who makes them. But still, I have done them a total 2.5 times in my prep ( so far). I will found out very soon whether sticking my neck out of the sand and giving this advice was actually worth it 🙂

The Final Leg

Call it fatigue, laziness, pig-headedness or anything else for that matter, I stayed away from the blogosphere for more than a month, trying to concentrate on office work as well as my studies, not to mention the extra (non-office, non-study) work that I have taken on (well) from office.

Enough rambling, my stats for the last one month:

  • I completed my OG 11, almost over with OG 10 SC (using Manhattan’s topic-wise split)
  • Took up Kaplan 800 & going over it now (RC & SC.. Will pick up the rest soon)
  • Gave a lot of FLTs. And here are my scores :
    • Kaplan 1 : 670 (Q50, V37)
    • Kaplan 2 : 740 (Q50, V41) – This was a sham, the CD stopped working on laptop, had to reinstall on my desktop and gave Kaplan 2 there. Many of the QA & Verbal questions were repeated. Hence, a pointless exercise actually.
    • Kaplan 3 : 670 (Q50, V37)
    • GMAT Prep Round 2:
      • GMAT Prep 1 : 770 (Q51, V44)
      • GMAT Prep 2 : 770 (Q51, V44)

That is my test status. Befpore moving on, I have to add that had I not known that Kaplan’s FLTs usually give shockingly low scores, and are pretty challenging in the Verbal part, I would definitely have been thinking of bunking my GMAT plans for now. But thanks to all the gurus of GMAT gyaan, because of whom I was pre-informed of this trait of the Kaplan tests, I am not unduly worried.

Also, I must add that a few times I found the Kaplan answers (I think all of them were in QA) to be absolutely wrong. However, getting a score of 50 3 consecutive times is not very pleasing, considering the care I put in to ensure that I do not make any silly mistakes, which, more than anything else,  have been my nemesis in QA.

Apart from this, I am now looking to book a date within the next month. I am yet to start on AWAs, but I hope that’s okay. I will start on them soon. And then there is Kaplan 800 that needs to be finished, idioms to be sorted out and OG 11 to be gone over again.

Amid all this I have definitely not done anything about the apping process, yet. Don’t really think that I will be able to start on that till my GMAT. Let us see…!