MBA in the US - the Real Stuff NO FLUFF !!!

I’m taking classes for CAT with the hope that it will improve my quant scores on the GMAT Is anyone doing the same? What are your thoughts on this plan?

I'm taking classes for CAT with the hope that it will improve my quant scores on the GMAT

Is anyone doing the same? What are your thoughts on this plan?

welcome lazerbud.

our admin, allwin is taking GMAT, u can contact him.

do u need to prepare for quant gmat

i dont think so .. seen the papers found quant very easy

Yes, you do have to prepare for the GMAT. The test gets progressively harder so you must've seen the very easy questions.

Neha, Thanks for the info, I'll try and chat Allwin up!

read this stuff somewhere so thought wud put it up. tho slightly out of context ..

here you go ........

Deconstructing Business Schools.

It wasnt easy for me to get straight answers regarding business school admissions. Ive tried to summarize real answers after speaking with several students and admissions committee members from schools such as Michigan, Tuck, Wharton, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, CMU, Kellog, Columbia, Berkeley and INSEAD. Hope this is useful.

1. Can you get into any respectable B-School without a GMAT?


2. How important is the GMAT score?

Very. Its very important to get a 700+ score to get into a top 10 B-school Most schools claim that its not very important, the unsaid part of the statement is that, you shouldve done something special to have them discount a low GMAT score.

If you have several years of experience then a good GMAT score counts even more. B-School curriculum is intense and there is a high correlation between a high GMAT score and being comfortable with the course load in the program.

Transcripts from schools outside of the US dont count as much. If you hv an international degree (outside the US) a high GMAT score is imperative

3. What are the essays about?

You need to answer five basic questions. Most essays are built around getting the answers to these questions.

3a. Why MBA?

3b. Why a particular school?

3c. Why now?

3d. Short term goals

3e. Long term goals

4. Why are essays required?

Challenges faced by a CEO are abstract. People who've not been in-charge of a venture cannot relate to these challenges therefore find essays a bore and having no purpose. Essays expose that difference.

Essays bring out the candidates' vision, articulation and stamina to push things through. These aspects are intangible but absolutely essential to the candidates long term viability as a business leader.

5. How do I know which school I should apply to?

Min requirement to ge into a Top 10 US B-School

700+ GMAT score + 5 years of experience + reasonable GPA + very very articulate.

(Don't assume you hv good communication skills. Be objective. Imho, B-Schools expect their average student to carry on a conversation about nothing at all with a total stranger. If you can only talk about things you know like work, technology, cricket but find yourself stumped when confronted with talking about the weather, the Boston Red Sox, or emotional strain living in New York after 9-11, consider yourself challenged.)

6. Should I apply to schools outside the US?

No. A MBA degree from outside the US is not recognized by corporations here. People have a tough time finding a job out of INSEAD, the top international B-School.

7. How much time is required to prepare for the GMAT?

Three weeks. Spend at least 3 hours a day.

Take at least 20 practice tests. Write the essays at the beginning of the test. The essays are not a big part of the application. If you have trouble concentrating for long periods try and finish the essays in 15 minutes instead of the allotted 30.

Read Woe is I by Patricia O Conner and another on Critical Reasoning. Visit Princeton Reviews discussion boards at

Avoid Kaplan. Go through the GMAC Official guide, Princeton Review and LSAT guides for practice.

Get additional tests at You can buy second hand gmatplus tests at the website.

8. Do Kaplan classes help?

No. They are too expensive about $1100 for 11 sessions once or twice a week.

9. How many schools should I apply to?

Make three tiers and put three schools in each. 9 schools are plenty.




10. Which school(s) is right for me?

First, read through the rankings. There are six rankings in order of importance

1. Business Week Rankings. Started in 1988, published once in two years.

2. Financial Times

3. U.S. News and World Report. Published yearly

4. Wall Street Journal Rankings. Started in 2000 published yearly.

5. Economist Intelligence Unit Rankings

6. The Economist poll of polls

A good summary of these rankings and the criteria involved can be found at

11. How do I know which school is right for me?

Schools stress about FIT. Factors to consider, coursework focus, and brand/ranking.

12. How much does the program cost?

Most programs cost ~$30K in tuition per year. Some state schools cost $20K a year.

Everyone manages to get 0% loans if admitted to a top school. Once admitted the school will take care that you get a loan.

13. Where should I interview?

On campus.

14. Which rounds should I apply in?

Apply in the first round to smaller schools, which take 500 odd students a year. Examples MIT, Tuck.

Apply in first or second round for larger schools like Harvard, Wharton and Kellog.

Never apply in the third round.

15. Who should I get recommendations from? How many are required

Immediate boss at the present firm. Another immediate boss at previous firm. Professors are a big no-no.

Harvard requires 3 recommendation letters.

Most other schools require 2.

Do not send more than the required number of recommendation letters.

16. Is it better to get a recommendation from a VP or someone who knows you well?

VP is preferred.

17. Is it better to work for a big company or small?

Doesnt matter. How you articulate what you did is more important.

18. What should I highlight in my resume? (Due to Ajay Dawar)

The CARLA principle. Context, Action, Result, Learning, Applicability

19. What should I bring out in my essays?

Leadership. Challenges. Innovation.

20. Does knowing an alumnus help? What about students in the admissions committee?

Yes. Students will give you a feel, maybe some tips but no direct impact.

21. My Impression about B-schools I visited

Tuck: Very heavy on sharing and teamwork. Everyone knows everyone else. Alumni very helpful. 80% live in dorms on campus. Middle of nowhere. Nearest airport 30 miles away. Very very cold.

MIT: Too geeky. Students have raw intellectual power. Everyone knows everyone else. Alumni helpful. Everyone lives off campus.

Harvard: Class size of 900 divided into sections of 90. Everyone is a section knows everyone else. Big on brand. Do as you please. 60% live on campus

Wharton: Class size of 1500 divided into clusters of 240, which in turn are divided into cohorts of 60. Very loose bonding, no one lives on campus. Very smart people.

MIchigan: Middle of no where. Very very cold. Geeky. Focused student body.

Chicago: Very corporate culture. Raw intellectual power of candidates. Focus on established industries.

Kellogg: High on team spirit and feeling good. Very very helpful alumni and students.

Berkeley: Disconnected student body.

22. Why do I need to do an MBA?

Networking, brand (which opens doors) and coursework teaches you rules of thumb on how to build a business.

23. Where can I read sample essays?

Avoid reading samples essays available at Barnes and Nobles. Be honest and write your own. Don't consult a professional its not worth it.

24. Should I go to a big school or small?

If you care about bonding with people go to a small school otherwise definitely a big school. Brand and alumni connection is most important thing one goes to a B-school for. Everything else is pretty even among top schools.

25. MIT essay evaluation procedure.

First, one reviewer, whos being doing this job 25 years reviews and writes comments.

Second another guy does the same. Then a third person reviews is independently. Then they sit down in a room and discuss the application. Student is admitted only if there is consensus.

26. Part time or Full time.

Even though the coursework is the same, a part time MBA doesnt let you network at the same level neither is the brand that heavy. Students are not fully committed to the program.

The only time a part time MBA makes sense is because it saves you money.

27. What about IIM and ISB?

Bad idea. Low on brand and diversity of student body. Most business learning occurs by learning through experience of others.

This option is ideal for people who would love to tackle business challenges in India. Anyone who wants to work internationally should only consider US schools.

28. Can I get academic recommendations?


29. How do i get into a B-School if my background is average? (GMAT 680-710, 5 yrs of IT experience)

Believe in something like your life depends on it.

Super Paste Job pal. That is uber helpful .. Its been a while since I saw no nonsense advice as above.

5 years.. Um... Ahh... I am too young.. sheesh...

Great post......

thanks for the info pal...


WHich schools are good if one is not sure of working internationally and is more keen on knowledge etc, and there are enough possiblities of financing by way of TAs and less a loan as possible...any help available..score of 730 about + 7yrs of exp..?

WHich schools are good if one is not sure of working internationally and is more keen on knowledge etc, and there are enough possiblities of financing by way of TAs and less a loan as possible...any help available..score of 730 about + 7yrs of exp..?

Not sure about financing options, but the stats are in line with the top 10 colleges out there in the US. But I don't get what you mean by .. Not sure of working internationally. Intend to come back ? Not take part in the placements ? etc etc ? Need to be in SE Asia only ? ISB ?


Aha.. you're going for it ? Do check out the business week forums to get a feel of it.


Well, hats off to Capreal for such a great post. But like PG said, I'm just a baccha and will have to wait for 4 more yrs to gun for GMAT but its great to know how it works. And ppl, anyone aiming for ISB cause i guess they ask for only 2 yrs exp but again the fees is too high and i'm not sure abt the ROI, so any ppl interested in ISB can discuss abt that here...

sandy A.

any ppl interested in ISB can discuss abt that here...

They have an info session you might want to attend.


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recd a mail on gmat preps frm some yahoogrps .. tis pretty exhaustive. coming from a 740 guy .. mite be helpful for some ..
here you go ..


Disclaimer - i am also a prospective, take whatever I say with a pinch of salt - it worked for me, but may or may not work for others!:-)

Have been seeing a lot of "help with GMAT" kind of mails though, so I thought I should reply this time - hopefully it will be helpful to people...

To start off, I got a 740 (Q:50, V:41, AWA:6) with a month of studies of average 3-4 hours a day - I was even hard-pressed for work at that time, doing almost 16-17 hour days! Literally gave up on my sleep during that time....:-(

The secret is to be really focussed, and more importantly to know your weak link in what GMAT tests, and put in a more concerted effort on that front! For me, for instance, it was Verbal...

To give more context on how I went about it...
Baron's, Princeton Review, Kaplan, Arco
Princeton is the closest to what the actual GMAT is like, while Kaplan is the toughest - actually doing Kaplan can give you an inferiority complex..:-(
For essays- Arco has published a book that contains all the 230+ essays that can appear in GMAT. The complete list, btw, is downloadable from gmac site!
Also, ETS has published a question bank of over 1400 questions that have appeared in its test over time. It is called the "Official guide to GMAT"

The books are pretty expensive though - I spent about 5-6000INR on the books!

If you buy the original boooks, each of them comes with preparation CDs, which have atleast 4 full length tests, and practice questions.
Also, when you register for GMAT ( ETS site , you can opt to get the Powerprep CD delivered to you.

Links for online preparation :
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I did the PowerPrep tests and links for Diagnostic.
I had primarily focussed on Verbal though, as I didnt have any problems with Quant (you guessed it - I am an Engineer!)
For the essays, I just read all the essays in the Arco book I have mentioned above, and made notes of points that were good. Basically, I categorized all the 230 essay-topics into 8-10 major types, and prepared some broad outline as to what to write for a particular type.
Also, prepared a template for the two essays - about 100 words each - that I crammed up . And thats about it!

I started with the links for warm-up, and getting used to the pattern..
Did the powerprep tests for diagnostic..
Solved Kaplan and Princeton cds for practise..
Used the tests there to see my progress in terms of score!
did the complete "Official Guide" - back to is especially useful fr verbal - coz there is some amount of repetition from there - in the real tests!
and I did the Arco for essays...

the "Official Guide" has 1472 questions...
I broke them into small practice tests for quant, verbal and RC...and timed them! Also, in the "Quant", "Verbal" and "RC" sheets, I was tracking my progress, I even had a hour by hour "Study Plan" - about which test was to be taken on which day kinds!)
The remaining time, went in checking my answers and revisiting the mistakes I made, as also making notes for the essays, etc..

quant was never a pb fr me, but if at all it is fr you... class 10th level maths ka revision may help - start from there ...
For Verbal - I spent a couple of hours at the very beginning on one particular book I have always followed for

what u must do for essays is gets your thought process started from before itself - go thru the complete list of the 230 Essay topics!

It is not rocket-science though, you just need to approach it correctly to "crack" it...And dont try too hard - it sometimes backfires!:-)



- amit

I needed that ! Nice post Amit. Haven't checked those online links. Will def. use them for further preps. If you come across any more comprehensive posts, do let me know.

I'm currently using Princeton, Kaplan and OGR.

My RC/VA SUCKS ! Took the powerprep test and landed up with a 60%ile score in RC/VA ...GRRRR !

My RC/VA SUCKS ! Took the powerprep test and landed up with a 60%ile score in RC/VA ...GRRRR !

agar tum aisa bol rahe ho baap to gareeb junta ka kya hoga....

VA/RC requires some effort. else is a cakewalk .... lets see ....
agar tum aisa bol rahe ho baap to gareeb junta ka kya hoga....

AND I am not kidding

Twice took the powerprep and landed up with similar percentiles in the RC/VA Arena. So working on that section. QA seems quite manageable.
pagalguy Says
Twice took the powerprep and landed up with similar percentiles in the RC/VA Arena. So working on that section. QA seems quite manageable.

d00d...i guess u know that VA is Verbal (English)..and QA is Quant (Maths)...
i get this feeling that u mixing them up 😉