December 23, 2006

Chill, all you new admits!!

So, Wharton, Chicago GSB and many other schools (LBS too) have started sending out their admits. All I'm sayin' is - alright there! curb your enthusiasm! Chill!!

(click image for full size)
Oh, BTW, I still haven't written about my second interview. Maybe tomorrow. I'm also half-way through a post called "GMAT trade-offs" which may be useful for many test takers. Should be done in a couple of days.

Congrats to all those who have been admitted!

December 22, 2006

Visits to my blog

It's interesting - I'm seeing a continuous increase in hits to my blog. I have Google analytics linked to it, and it's interesting to see the trends. Look at the screenshot below,

You can see that US obviously has the greatest hits, but India follows next when you take a single country concentration (yes, Europe isn't a country, sorry ;) ). This explains the misery of being an Indian ..heheh. Not many from China - which could explain that a lot of Chinese applicants possibly look into their own web sites. Not much from South America either. Nothing from Africa. And it greatly upset me to see no hits from Antarctica - the penguins clearly don't like my blog.

One could argue validity, but this is a growing trend on my analytics chart because I'm seeing more than one place referring to the site. Interestingly, I found a couple of incoming hits from - not sure how - has to be some indirect referral.

Anyway, just thought I'll put this up. I'm hungry. I need to eat. Or I'll die. I saw all these Wharton admits come out today, makes me wonder if I should have applied to Wharton - you know, just for kicks? My personal situation does not permit me to take a 2 year MBA course..but still. Anyway, too late.

December 20, 2006

An inspiring journey/and my second interview is over

So, there's this enthusiastic guy who never gave up, sweated while waiting for results, and then finally made it to the prestigious Chicago GSB. Be inspired.

That did not stop me from taking a potshot at him ;) but we're all in this ...waiting.

In other news, my second interview for INSEAD is over. It went well. I'll write more about it soon. Now - the final waiting game begins!

December 17, 2006

Next interview is a lunch interview

So -- my next interview is a lunch interview. Can't say I'm too happy about that. I'm usually quiet while eating, and I'm not exactly an etiquette expert. So here's a discussion going on at the GMAT club. If you had an experience like this - how did it go?

(if you must ask - yes, I did draw the cartoon myself, and used Adobe photoshop to color it up. Click on image to see a bigger size.)

The first INSEAD interview

So, last week I finally had my first interview with an INSEAD alumni (one more to go). The interview was in the evening and nice enough for me, it was just a 15 minute drive from home.

The interviewer works for a large corporation. I was on time to the interview (just managed to escape a freeway traffic jam), and he came down to meet me within minutes after being called from security. The introduction was pleasant, and he seemed pretty friendly.

The standard questions were, of course, "why INSEAD?" and "why MBA"? and surprisingly, no "why now" (I'm 30+ so I'm not exactly in their age range). For both questions, I think I had clear answers because I do know precisely why INSEAD and why I need an MBA now.Once we got past that, it was really free wheeling discussions for nearly an hour on a variety of topics on my industry, his experiences in INSEAD, what MBA did to him, his own career moves post INSEAD etc. Post INSEAD, he had switched career thrice - one a major pharma, then one of the world's largest consumer product companies and now where is currently. The point that the degree opened diverse doors was evident from the range.

What I really liked about it all was that firstly, he did not treat me like an imbecile who has no clue why I need an MBA now. So there no unnecessary probing and cross questioning there. Secondly - he was very positive about his experience and impact on his life because of INSEAD. This is important - because when you talk to an alumni, you want to come out with a good feeling about the school you want to join. You want to know, from their own expeirence, that it did good to them.

The interview lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and he did spend quite a bit of that time talking about his experience - which, as I mentioned, was something I appreciated. Once the interview was over, I came home and sent a thank you note.

Only time will tell if it made a difference. It was a good step, and of course - it doesn't mean much if I get dinged. But at least it wasn't a disaster and it definitely made me think I was making the right choice as far the school was concerned. The next interview is the coming week, with a pretty senior person - a partner in his firm. I'll update the blog once that is done.

December 14, 2006

First INSEAD interview over


I just finished my first interview with an alumni. I'll put a write up soon :) The next one is next week.

Anyone else finished theirs?

December 11, 2006

INSEAD alumni Interviews confirmed

Both my INSEAD interviewers confirmed their date and time today. Very prompt and courteous, and by the end of next week the interviews will be over and the wait for the final decision begins!

Wish me luck! I really don't have the appetite to apply to another school :)

December 07, 2006

The first signs of a good alumni? (INSEAD)

I received a mail from INSEAD stating that I would need to schedule 2 interviews. Names and contact information of both the interviewers were forwarded to me. One of them stays about 45 minutes drive, and the other is about 15-20 minutes (nice of the ADCOM to find someone closer home instead of far away, and the opportunity was available when you consider New York and Boston are both the nearest big cities)

I proceeded to mail them asking for their time to interview me. I was pleasantly surprised when both of them responded within a day, and both were accommodating enough to ask me to suggest a convenient time and place for me! Of course - I responded saying I would be happy to accommodate their schedule and be where they wanted me to be.

This is my first brush with admissions etiquette, and I can tell you I was glad to see both the timeliness and the friendliness of the response of both the interviewers. I'm hoping to have a good interview session with both of them and hopefully convince them to put in good words for me!

The Strategy of Trade-offs in GMAT

I'm going to post a rather long note about the importance and strategy for "trade-offs" when you prepare for GMAT (for that matter, any standardized time based test). I hope some of you GMAT preparers will find this useful and help your planning.

GMAT tests you on three broad categories (apart from the actual content - Quant and Verbal)

  1. Ability to handle time pressure without panicking
  2. Ability to make intelligent assumptions
  3. Ability to make quick judgments on what you can solve within a given period, and what you cannot.

Regardless of your technical acumen, if you are poor at one of the above points, you will find yourself at a disadvantage at the test center. One of the issues with many preparers is the inability to plan realistically. Any test preparation must be done in accordance with realities of the test taker. Strategies are not made in a vacuum, they are borne out of a set of cirumstances that best fit the eventual course. For a test like GMAT, one would have to look at

  1. Past history and performance in standardized tests. Are you a good test taker?
  2. Test taking temparament. Are you "cool headed", nervous, do tests give you anxiety?
  3. Skills relevant to the test. Are you very strong or weak in Quant? Is your english well below average?
  4. Preparation time - how much time do you have for your preparation? 10 weeks? 1 year?
  5. Target schools - what kind of scores do your target schools look at? 600? 700?
  6. Applicant pool and demography - do you belong to very competitive applicant pools? Does that require you to score higher than most others?
  7. Financial resources - how much can you spend in preparation and training?
A good strategy makes an makes an honest assessment of each of these points.

I've seen in many discussions that test takers are hung up on a score, often with utter disregard to realities that dictate what they could reach. It's often "I want to score 750, what do I do?" - and then they get upset at poor practice scores, and then panic at the actual exam. It might be more relevant to ask, before you begin, if "Do I need 750? can I get 750 given my current skills and circumstances? What am I willing to do to get that score?" You might be surprised that in many cases, you really do not need such a score, or that it is realistically difficult and therefore your strategy needs tuning thereby substantially altering your preparation style. For an average appplicant, preparation for a target of 680-700 can be hugely different from trying for a 750.

Step I - Plan a goal score that is based on an honest self evaluation.

Once you have a number in mind, begin to assess your chances and your course of action.

Step II - Pick your battles wisely

Let's face it, if you suck at permuations and combinations and you had 100 hours to study quant- you do not want to be spending 70 hours trying to "master your combinatorics" and spending the other 30 hours on all other topics. In my case - I took a stand early on. In GMAT, the perm/comb questions are far and few in between, but number properties rule. So I spent most of my time practicing number properties, and decided that I would tackle simple combination problems and if they were hard - I would make a wild guess using my elimination techniques. Bottom line, I was not going to sweat about not cracking every question.