ISB plans to set up second campus; to go global

Source: Business Line

The Indian School of Business (ISB) will be setting up another campus in India besides actively exploring the feasibility of going to foreign shores.

“There has been a consensus in our board that an additional campus in India is highly required keeping in view the growing image of the school,” Prof. M. Rammohan Rao, Dean, ISB, told Business Line here.

The school, however, has not zeroed in on any location for the proposed campus and was currently weighing various options.

Further, the school is also mulling launching a campus abroad as well. “All these goals and strategies to be adopted are being hammered as part of Vision 2030 on which we are working for the last six months,” the Dean said.

To cater to the growing demand from the corporate world, the school will also ramp up its class strength from the current 425 to 560 from 2009-10. “We are constructing another student’s village to support the increased numbers,” Mr Rao said.

Consequently, the permanent faculty would also be doubled to 45. “In addition to doubling, we will be introducing special incentives/programmes to attract talented faculty and retain them,” he said. As of now, ISB has seen only two faculty quitting from a team of 22 in the last three years.

To increase its focus on research, the six-year-old school would introduce pre-doctoral course from the next academic year.

“It would be a two-year foundation course in methodology and one’s basic area of interest/research. After completion the students would be sent to the New York University and other universities with which we have tie-ups for doctoral programmes,” the ISB Chief said.

A dedicated centre of leadership innovation would be launched next month.

“This will also take up extensive research on best management practices and on what takes to be a successful global leader.

“We are trying to synthesise some of the management/leadership principles enunciated in Indian economy, philosophy and culture with the current corporate needs,” he added.

On the funding requirements for the expansion, the board members are ready to extend significant funding. “There are many options and the exercise is on,” he said.

ISB Interview Invite!!!

The fact that I am a reapplicant did not quite instill that excitement in me on receiving the interview invite email. I will be satisfied only by winning the complete battle, that is, on a final admit. But, I have put in a lot of effort this time into my essays, I must say. On reading my previous essays (was waitlisted previously), I could feel the innocence of a young applicant and an immature mind. It has been two years now and my essays, and of course my personality, show a lot more maturity in terms of my aspirations and my experiences.

Of course, this is a personal opinion and it would matter only when the ISB adCom feel the same. For me, the tryst for an MBA had been a very long journey and I will share my story with everyone once I get into a program. This journey would end where another journey would start on a separate dimension. Enough of philosophical blabbering, my interview is on 23rd January, 2008 in Hyderabad at 2 pm.

Now is the time to reopen all those emails on the isb-pgp group where R1 applicants have shared their interview experiences. The first thing would be to collate all of them and prepare a set of questions. Next obvious step - hack my application. Read through all my essays and prepare all possible questions that could arise. Keep an example handy for all situations and strengths mentioned. I'll probably forward my application to a couple of experienced friends and ask them to point questions from that.

Let's see what happens this time.

4 Things IT guys should do to be a strong MBA Candidate

I'm not sure how many of us have gone through the LBS Blog Post where the current student Manish explains his experience of recruitment at LBS explaining in detail the recruiters' perspective of an Indian IT guy. Although we might be familiar with some of the tips he has provided but when put into words, these become hard rules. We are all aware of the fact that since there are too many of us (Indian IT males I mean), the things we do daily are somewhat achievements for us. For example, designing a web page for the team where individual status is tracked is quite an accomplishment. But think of a person who does not understand the "impact". For him, it was just another techie thing and the resume is tagged as "programmer profile".

We have be different from the herd and thus take each step carefully so as not to be tagged as "just another programmer". There is nothing wrong in being a programmer. The difficulty arises when we do not show the impact of our actions through our profiles.

Manish quite beautifully explains the steps that should be taken to avoid being termed as a geek. He says, "the moment the recruiters see 2 high tech companies on your CV, it is thrown into a pile with other geek CVs".

Although I did mention some points to differentiate in my article for diversity, here are his tips to help cross the line, in his own words:

1) A solid CV with almost no technical buzz words (I would say any thing more technical than hardware, software, database would be red flagged). Your future employers do not care that you used multithreading and ajax for developing something cool. They want to know how much money your company saved/made from your work. They want to know the business impact, not the technical impact. Secondly you will see all your peers have achievements in each bullet while you as a technologist do certain things everyday because that's what you do at your job. I had this problem but you need to make every bullet in your CV speak of an achievement.

2) A solid internship in your area of interest: This is the biggest hurdle but one you mustn't compromise on. If you do an internship in your area of interest, you can build a convincing story about your aspirations.

3) Serious Involvement in clubs: To show your commitment to the area you are gunning for.

4) Something extra: Language skills, passion for things outside school etc. When 300 of your peers are all overachievers, often recruitment decisions boil down to marginal things and this is where your "other" skills come very handy.

One Down!!! ISB!!!

It has been a really long time since I am off the blog. There were a lot of things happening and keeping me on my toes. I got sick, got well, submitted the ISB app, got panicky at the end, and finally on 15th Nov, 10 pm, I clicked the submit button.

At 8:30 pm, I got some review comments that required me to change a lot of my second essay, my option of million dollars was not very convincing and some rewording was required. I was on the verge of a heart attack when suddenly I saw a red coloured message flashing on ISB's website saying that the deadline had been moved to 16th. Although I was relieved but did not want to push it to one more day so I skipped dinner and completed my application.

As soon as I got over with that, I got busy with my pending work at office. It is no longer a 9 to 5 job. It is 9 to 10 literally speaking (it is not 1 hour duration. With a little IQ applied, it would translate to a duration of 13 hours). And then came the festive season - Diwali. I believe Diwali is not well spent if it is not spent with your family. So I was on a break, a real break and wanted to forget work and application for a few days.

And since I have been back, I had attended an out-station wedding and worked even more. Now I realized that again I have little time left if I want to complete at least 3 US applications. Those include Darden, Anderson and Haas. I cannot cut down this list as these are my dream schools where I think I stand a chance in at least one.

So all this has been happening in my life. Now I am off to my application and would be regular on the blog. There is an interesting story associated with my ISB application. Will share it ones I am done with the interview and final results. :)

Do I procrastinate too much? Moved Darden to R2

This has happened again. While I moved Anderson to R2 as my essays were not in good shape, I repeated the same with Darden. I was targeting at least 1 R1 application and that could have been Darden but till today, 2 out of 3 essays are in bad shape. So a kind soul recommended me to apply in R2 with a stronger application rather than hurry up and submit mediocre essays.

Actually, if I go back and introspect, I actually started quite late. Although I had taken my GMAT long back, I had not decided to apply to US this year. Then I changed my mind and started with my app in late September. This explains a bit. Another factor which contributed was my work load. I am working 10 hours non-stop on weekdays. By the time I get home I do not have any energy left to think about my essays. The last and the biggest reason, I am slow. I think a lot and write down one point and build on it. Or maybe my approach of getting in the perfect words in the first draft itself is incorrect.

In fact, I worked hard on meeting the deadline. I had put in 6-7 hours per day on the weekend, that accounts for my nightouts. Anyways, what has happened has happened. In the meanwhile, ISB R2 deadline (15 Nov) is approaching and I decide to work hard on that. Since ISB is high up on my priority list, I do not want to miss that deadline. Immediately after that, I decide on finishing off my Anderson and Darden apps as both are rolling. Let’s see what happens.

Slipping the Deadline

UCLA Anderson R1 deadline is 24 Nov and my essays are still in draft stage. From whatever is in my hands (essays, et al), I think if I sit for days and nights, I can complete them on time. But without a review, they are incomplete and I do not think without a review, I would know how my essays are perceived by another person. And THAT is an important input. The other things, like my resume is just done, my first recommender has sent in his recommendation. The only thing remaining is the essays.

I know I have excuses. I was too damn busy with my work. But I do believe that if something is important for you, you will find time to complete it, no matter how busy you are.

Ok, I agree I am procrastinating and this time it has hit me hard. I have to work on this bad habit of mine.

In the meanwhile, Darden R1 deadline is also approaching (Nov 1) and I sincerely do not wish to miss that. I will continue to work on Anderson app for a while and apply ASAP as it is a rolling cycle of admissions. Darden's 1 essay draft is done. I know what content I have to write in the other two. Another big task achieved - found out contacts in Darden and Anderson who are my undergrad alumni. They are of great help. In addition, they will be my potential reviewers and the source of all inside info.

Is there anyone else in the same boat - missing a deadline?

Darden and UCLA Progress

I started late so I have less time. I can only apply to Darden and UCLA in Round 1. I have postponed Haas and Tepper to Round 2. Many factors led me to this decision. One is obviously shortage of time. I have not yet taken TOEFL date and the latest available was 20th of Oct. So I could not have sent it to Tepper and Haas on time. UCLA's TOEFL deadline is 30 Nov. In addition, I am not required to take TOEFL for Darden as my undergrad was completely in English.

I have sent my scores to all the univs and sent the recommendation forms to my recommenders. I just have to spend some more time with them to make the understand the application process and the aspects they need to focus on in the reco. I have written drafts for 2 essays for UCLA and 1 for Darden.

It had been a long week, as the work load is also increasing and have to work on my application too. So by the time I get home, I'm too tired to think about my application. the only way out is sleep less, work on the essays in the morning, and give some extra time on weekends. That was the progress this week. Planning to complete first drafts of essays of both univs during the weekend. Let's see if I am on target.

How's everybody's application going? Do share.

UCLA Anderson Essay 1

1. Please provide us with a summary of your personal and family background. Include information about your parents and siblings, where you grew up, and perhaps a special memory of your youth. (Please limit to 2 pages, double-spaced)

All essays of Anderson require double spacing. 1 page or two page. I'm not sure what the font size or margin spacing should be. That would affect the word limit a lot.

Well, this essay is a lot different from all the essays of application. It forces you to focus on your personal side. I guess you have to be strictly personal in this essays as they want to know who you are personally rather than professionally. What my thinking says is we should refrain from just stating the facts and focus on experiences. Like, rather than stating, my father is an XXX, my mom is yyy, we should be writing like, my father being an xxx, I learnt abc from him, etc. Got the point? I would be following this approach. Let me know if I'm on track.

I found these analysis helpful
ClearAdmit UCLA Anderson Essay analysis Analysis

In the meanwhile, I have browsed each and every page of Anderson's website and noted down some salient points about the school which I liked and would be relevant to my post MBA goals.

Well, now over to my essays. Would write about other B-school app experience as well.

If you have anything to share, please do.

Everything You Need to Know About Consultants

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the shepherd, "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

The shepherd looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answers, "Sure. Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the shepherd and says,

"You have exactly 1586 sheep."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep." Says the shepherd. He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young! man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

"Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?" T

he young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a consultant." says the shepherd.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the shepherd. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew; to a question I never asked; and you don't know crap about my business."

"…Now give me back my dog."

Finally I shortlisted my Univs

It has been a real long break from blogging. Actually I had earlier planned to apply to ISB, but due to some logistics issues, I decided it would be better to apply in Round 2 rather than Round 1. During this time, I also decided to apply to US this time. It was my dream to study in the US but again, some personal issues always held me back.

Now that I have decided, I have shortlisted the Univs in US where I am applying, of course, apart from ISB.

UCLA Anderson - Oct 24
UCB Haas - Nov 5
Darden - Nov 1
CMU Tepper - Oct 29

Of these, Darden and Anderson have rolling admissions. But I guess it doesn't matter now as the deadlines of all of them are pretty near. The dates mentioned are the R1 deadlines.

Before jumping on to writing specific essays, I prepared write-ups of common questions asked:
1. Why MBA - long and short term goals
2. Career Progression till now, specifying all career choices made till now
3. Leadership positions held, the kind of leader and manager I am
4. Prepared my MBA resume (I specify MBA resume because for MBA, you have to highlight a different aspect of yourself rather than when resume is made for a job)
5. In the meanwhile, while researching the schools, whatever points I found interesting or attracted me, I prepared a list for each of the schools. I even noted down the courses I am specifically interested in and would be relevant to my post MBA goal, ie technology consulting.

After that, I started with UCLA Application. Started with first one. 3 more to go after that and only 1 month left. Ok, back to essays.....

Who will read my Application

I'm sorry for being so irregular in the past few days. Having trouble managing time between work and writing my app. I will post my experiences shortly. Till then, here's a piece of advice from ClearAdmit:


As applicants are coming to understand as we move towards R1 deadlines, applying to business school is an incredibly demanding process. In addition to taking the GMAT, assembling academic transcripts and providing recommendation letters, candidates are required to draft multiple essays, job descriptions, lists of activities and more.

With the obvious incentive to save time where ever possible, it’s understandable that many applicants simply cut and paste content from an existing resume and write about their work in the manner that comes most naturally. Indeed, each year countless candidates assemble their materials without ever asking a fundamental question:

Who will read my application?

While the answer to this question may vary from school to school, one thing is certain: it is unlikely that the person reading your file will have an intimate level of familiarity with your specific industry or job function. This being the case, if you use industry-specific jargon or assume prior knowledge of your field on the part of the admissions officer, you undoubtedly will lose the reader.

It’s also important to keep the big picture in mind; many applicants become so mired in the details of their own work and role that they fail to provide sufficient context for a company outsider to understand the importance of one’s efforts to the department or organization as a whole. The solution is to write about your experiences in a way that the average person will understand. While this is easier said than done, it underlines the importance of sharing your materials with an unbiased advisor (ideally not a work colleague or mom and dad) to make sure that you aren’t off-base with some of your assumptions.

To learn more about who will actually read your essays at the various schools or to inquire about our application editing services, simply contact Clear Admit with your CV/resume and sign up for a free initial assessment.


Info on Top 30 US B-Schools

The 2006 rankings of US B-Schools by Businessweek provides good information, viz tuition fee, post-MBA salaries, average work experience of the incoming class, etc. Along with this statistical information, it also provides one-liners on each school which I really found useful:

1. Chicago GSB
Students appreciate option to tailor curriculum to their interests. Living in Chicago gets pricey, but most say facilities and faculty are worth the expense.

2. Pennsylvania - Wharton
Students say competitive program improves the academic experience. Decision to allow students to disclose grades to recruiters has many disconcerted.

3. Northwestern - Kellogg
The word used over and over by Kellogg students is "collegial." School balances individual development and teamwork, case studies and lectures.

4. Harvard
Case method allows students to solve real-world problems. Ivory tower is not everyone's cup of tea, but alumni network is vast.

5. Michigan - Ross
Lack of grades diminishes competition and increases focus on work. Facilities are lacking but undergoing a makeover.

6. Stanford
With Silicon Valley around the corner, innovation reigns. Extensive electives cater to students with interests beyond banking and consulting.

7. MIT - Sloan
MIT offers unique courses with entrepreneurial focus and attracts students with engineering backgrounds. Prominent faculty remains accessible.

8. UC-Berkley - Haas
Tech and entrepreneurial specialties give Haas grads an edge in innovation. Curriculum is not as well-suited for those with eyes set on Wall Street.

9. Duke - Fuqua
Students on "Team Fuqua" enjoy the collaborative learning experience. Good for the hand-holding types but some would like more debate and conflict.

10. Columbia
Students appreciate vast alumni network and high-profile speakers. Access to recruiters for everything from international companies to lesser known employers.

11. Dartmouth - Tuck
Small class-small town leaves something to be desired. But many appreciate the "self selecting" crowd that attends. General management program is specialized.

12. UCLA - Anderson
Students go by an "excellence without attitude" mantra. Active student clubs provide career development, but there's limited access to East Coast recruiting.

13. Cornell - Johnson
Particularly popular among career switchers, Cornell offers small class sizes and accessible professors. Students enjoy new immersion learning programs.

14. NYU - Stern
Local alumni base is large and former students are willing to lend a hand in the job search.

15. Virginia - Darden
Case method works well in small classes, which foster Socratic learning. Students get individual attention from administration and faculty.

16. CMU - Tepper
Tepper's small class size creates intense focus, intimacy, and greater hands-on responsibility. Curriculum is geared toward the quantitative mind.

17. UNC - Kenan-Flagler
Job placement leaves most grads smiling, but international students may not have the same luck. Extracurricular activities and pleasant location add to the appeal.

18. Indiana - Kelley
Kelley is praised for general education but is found lacking in specialties like consulting and investment banking. Strong regional bias limits recruiting options.

19. Yale
Small program size means easy access to alumni and faculty. Students applaud new dean Joel Podolny, cited for being a visionary leader.

20. UTA - McCombs
Complaints include unresponsive administration and poor career placement for international students. Variety of classes and other resources balance equation.

21. USC - Marshall
Strong community and alumni network offer lifelong career contacts. Drop in 2004 rankings led to major program overhaul, but students want further improvement.

22. Georgetown - McDonough
D.C. area offers students many opportunities for work in the public sector and international business. Demanding classes are taught by diligent professors.

23. Emory - Goizueta
Students extol leadership development, accessible professors, and caliber of classmates. One-year program offers a popular alternative to two-year MBA.

24. Purdue - Krannert
Students laud financial aid offerings and diverse, international student population. Curriculum emphasizes quantitative skills and teamwork.

25. Maryland - Smith
Smith grads gripe about regional recruiting and inadequate career services. But tight-knit community and affordable tuition help ease the strain.

26. Notre Dame - Mendoza
Students miss proximity to big city, but enjoy the tight-knit community and finance training. Recent switch from semesters to a 7-week system gets mixed reviews.

27. Washington U - Olin
Small class size means personal attention from faculty, but on-campus recruiting is a disappointment. Campus hosts a noteworthy leadership speaker series.

28. Rochester - Simon
Quality of education, analytical skill development, and personal attention from faculty is highly rated, but poor showing by recruiters frustrates students.

29. Michigan State - Broad
Teamwork focus means most grades are based on group, rather than individual, performance. Students praise outstanding career services center and faculty.

30. Vanderbilt - Owen
Students laud the overall experience at Owen. Grads say that rigorous curriculum leaves them well equipped for future careers.

Vintage ISB email: Experience from the initial days

I can't help smiling after reading this email I found in my mailbox sent on a yahoogroup. An Akshay Soni forwarded an email from his friend who shared his experience of initial days at ISB, probably from the first batches. The email dates back to Jul 17, 2001.

Note the excitement of the guy on receiving his "high" config laptop. Interestingly, it seems the students in the that batch were handpicked and had the "wow" factor in their profile. It's a little long but I'm sure those who are related to ISB in anyway would treasure it. :-)

Hi There
Sorry about not replying earlier. Have been very busy the last few days. In fact, I have been sleeping only 4 hours a day on an average the last 8 days (i.e. since I joined ISB). & coming from me, that REALLY means that we have had a lot of work to do because I never ever compromise on my sleep ;-) But of course, u already know that.

Well, a brief recap of what happened over the past few days:

Our apartments were not ready on time so we were put up at the Taj Krishna (which is a Taj Luxury hotel, not a Taj Business or a Taj Value hotel). I registered on the 26th of June in the morning & was given two big bags containing books, course materials & case studies. I also got an ISB mug, an ISB pen, an ISB T-shirt, an umbrella (??!!), a planner & of course, my LAPTOP!! Man, I love my laptop. Its an IBM ThinkPad with a 800 MHz P-III, 128 Mb RAM, 10 GB hdd, 1.44 fdd, a 24x CD-ROM & a 15" TFT LCD which is equivalent to a 19" desktop monitor. It also has an inbuilt 56 KBPS modem and an Ethernet card. I don't need the modem except when I need to send out faxes. I have a data port in my room, which allows me to access the net from my room using our Local Area Network. I'll be getting a wireless card in the next two days which will allow me to surf the net even when I am on the lawns outside my apartment. I wouldn't need any cables to connect the laptop to the network!! Impressed? Well, I am :-)

Ok, well, after registration we had lunch at the hotel & then I went around meeting people and generally chilling out. There was nothing to do that day so I just went through the contents of the bags that ISB had given us & got scared out of my wits. I mean, the course material was really scary. & to top the whole thing off, I came to know that we would be having a course entitled "Take Charge" DURING our orientation week. The course was taken by Prof Dominic Houlder who had come all the way from London Business School for this. & to compound our agony, this course involved 5 case studies, two written assignments, one oral assignments & was to be graded. Matlab fail/pass ka funda bhi tha!! Anyway, the day passed uneventfully with the only thing exciting happening was that I got to meet some really gr8 people in my batch. Would u believe it, we have the Ms. India '97 semi-finalist who is a mech. engineer, was the University gold medallist of her batch, & then helped setup the production line of Tata Indica, was appointed the line-incharge at the Indica plant at pune & was the ONLY female on Telco's shop floor. We also have a member of the Indian Golf team; an army wallah who commanded the UN Peace Keeping forces in Somalia, fought in Sri Lanka as part of the IPKF, fought the kargil war & was awarded the Veer Chakra for it; We also have the Nivea Ms.Photogenic' 99 who incidentally happens to be in my study grp (the whole class is divided into two sections of 65 each which are further sub-divided into study grps of 5 each). & the best part is that since Ms Nivea & I are positioned next to each other in the class (we have fixed class settings), we also end up being partners in the class discussions where sometimes the class id divided into pairs!! ;-) & hey, Ms Nivea is not a dumb bimbo. Be4 ISB, she worked at Arthur Anderson, Merrill Lynch, KPMG & has a GMAT score of 710.

Day II (June 27):
I met Dean Sumantra Ghosal, Ex-Dean Don Jacobs of Kellogg B-School & Dean Deepak Jain (also of Kellogg B-School) in the space of 30 mins. I was really thrilled. I mean meeting people like these is a gr8 learning experience in itself. Anyway, there was nothing on in the morning so I just lounged around after talking the above three. We had our orientation in the afternoon. We were introduced to the diff people who would be responsible for our welfare, student affairs, placement etc. We were also formally introduced to the dean & the various profs. We then had a photo shoot of the whole batch along with the deans & the faculty & it was this very photo which was published in the Economic Times dated 4th July. We came back to the hotel after this coz we were supposed to prepare for a case study the next day. There was a formal dinner that night at the Taj Residency.

Day III (June 28):
Had our first class in the morning at the ISB campus. The Prof was Dominic Houlder (I've already mentioned this earlier) & the guy was absolutely phenomenal. I mean, the kind of energy & enthu that he radiated would put people 30 yrs his juniors to shame!! Anyway, the class lasted for 3 & a half hours & time just flew. Had gr8 fun that day. We had lunch on campus that day & the food was something!! After lunch we had a tree plating ceremony on campus & by around 3:30 we were back at the hotel. That evening we had "The talent night" at the disco of Taj Krishna. We were divided into teams according to our housing blocks on campus & we were supposed to perform something that reflected on the ISB ethos for about 10 mins or so. Everybody really freaked out that night especially since the disco was booked by ISB for the whole night & after dinner, everyone let their hair down & danced till around 11:00-12:00. Then junta suddenly realized that we hadn't started out on the case for the next day so there was almost a mass exodus from the disco. In less then 10 mins, everybody was with their study group preparing for the next day.

Day IV (June 29):
We had classes at the ICRISAT. I dunno the exact full form but that’s an UN funded agricultural institute. The campus was really beautiful but we hardly had any time to walk around be4 we were herded into an auditorium where we had another gr8 session with Prof Dominic. We then broke up for lunch which was followed by a Treasure hunt (??!!). This was not just any other hunt. The ICRISAT campus is Huge & the clues were scattered all over the campus. so we were given bicycles to ride on. I must have ridden almost 6 kms that day. But at least our team (teams were the study grps) had the satisfaction of coming in first!! :-) After the treasure hunt, all of us got together for tea & snacks & then the radio jockey got out his guitar & started to croon with all of us chipping in. We came back to the hotel by around 8:00pm, freshened up & were down again for dinner. Dinner was followed by another round of discussions with my study grp for Case Study # III which was to be discussed the next day. We broke up at about 2:30 am & went back to our rooms.

Day V (June 30):
The day started pretty early coz I was up at 5:00 in the morning. I had to go through the case again & also had to complete the first written assignment which was due today. Thankfully, the class was to be held at the hotel itself, so that gave me an additional time of 45 mins (the time it took to travel from the hotel to ISB). I barely managed to complete the assignment, get a printout, grab a light breakfast & reach the class on time. The case discussion was superb as usual. We broke up early coz we had to start working on a simulation program where we are supposed to be running an airline company. Based on the decisions that we take (such as %age spend on mktg., airfare, service quality, recruitment, number of aircraft purchased) the performance & share price of the company would be affected. Even the competitors would react according to the decisions that we take. So it was a very exciting & realistic experience. The final objective was of course to maximize the share price at the end of 32 quarters. Our group managed to get the price to around $365 from the original $1.25 while the group that won pushed it to $1283. This activity took quite a long time & lasted till 2:45 p.m. I just had time to go back to my room, put my stuff back & come down in time for the first Dean's Forum which started at 3:00 p.m. The whole faculty along with all the admin people were there & we had some really inspiring moments with the deans. This was followed by a dinner at the ISB campus which was hosted by the ISB Executive board. It was here that I got to meet & talk one-on one with people like Rajat Gupta (MD, McKinsey), Girish Reddy (Head of Goldman Sachs' London office), Rajinder Pawar (NIIT founder) & Anand Mahindra. Man, were these guys good!! & they were so damn humble & down-to-earth that u just couldn't help feeling that they deserved all that they have achieved. Anyway, we also got to look at our apartments-to-be for the first time that evening & it was an awesome experience. These apartments are truly world-class; the student housing Village II is divided into 10 blocks of which 8 blocks have 4-bedroom apartments & 2 have studio apartments. There are huge & beautifully manicured lawns all around the housing village but the coup-de-grace are the 4 beautiful pools between the various blocks. The external lighting around the place really lights up the whole village. There is also one huge tower bang in the middle of the housing village. After dinner, we came back to the hotel at around 11:00 p.m. Now since there were no classes the next day (thank god for that), we had two options - we could either crash & catch up on our sleep or freak out. & guess what?? We actually chose the second option against our better instincts & 7 of us (incl. 2 girls) got together in Vicky's room & had a ball. Vicky & mkg played the guitar while the rest of us crooned along. There was a lot of leg-pulling & general masti happening. This continued till around 4:30 am when one of us had the bright idea to take a stroll down to the swimming pool. & since it was such a wild idea, all of us decided that we just had to do it. So down we trooped & continued with the singing & masti at poolside. We finally wrapped up at around 5:30 am & then went back to our rooms.

Day VI (July 01):
This was the big day guys. The day when ISB was to be normally "opened" (not "inaugurated" - the inauguration is sometime in Nov-Dec). Well, after the wild night, I woke up at around 10:30, missed breakfast & had to make do with the silly biscuits that room-service typically provides. Anyway, went down to lunch at around 12:00 p.m. where over lunch we had a talk by a female named Ms Lata Krishnan, co-founder of SMART modular technologies. She talked to us about her experiences as an entrepreneur, the starting up of the company & the problems that she faced when she started out in the silicon valley. Immediately after lunch, we moved on to the ISB campus where Chandrababu Naidu officially opened ISB. That guy is to be seen to be believed. I mean he's even simpler that he appears on TV or in print. He spoke eloquently about his vision for Hyderabad & how he had managed to convince the ISB board to choose Hyderabad as the venue. After Naidu left, we had a santoor recital by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma which went on for about an hour. & hey, when Naidu was introduced by Rajat Gupta, he (Rajat Gupta) also announced the appointment of Pramath Sinha as the first dean of ISB. This announcement was greeted by a standing ovation by the student community (since we had come to know this guy so well over the past few months when he had been interacting with us in his capacity as the CEO of ISB). Pramath was really moved by the response & he actually had to brush off a few tears. Anyway, after the santoor recital, all of us got Pramath over outside tha hall & told him that as the founding batch, we will be setting some traditions. The first & foremost of which will be that ISB would be the only B-school where all the students would call the dean by his first name (instead of dean Sinha as he would have been called elsewhere). & then what followed was truly mind-boggling!! We actually lifted Pramath onto our shoulders & then proceeded to give him bumps as our way to congratulate him for his appointment. We are now the ONLY B-school batch in the world to have shouldered the dean!! & while the tradition of calling the dean by his first name would continue long after we have passed here, I don't think there would be another batch which would get the chance to actually give bumps to the dean. man, we got some "bragging rights". After we were finished with this, all of us came back to the hotel at around 6:30 p.m. We then had to get set or the BIG DINNER that night which was to be hosted by Chandrababu Naidu. We walked into the hall by around 8:00 p.m. & Naidu came in bang on time at 8:15. Then as he was being led to the center table by Rajat Gupta, he stopped & walked towards the students. He then proceeded to shake hands with each of us, talked to us personally about our backgrounds, about why we chose ISB & stuff & only after he had met all 130 of us, did he go to the center table. & hey, I was the second student he talked to!! I actually got a whole 5 minutes to talk one-on-one with him!! That has to be among the most memorable experiences in my life. Well, after dinner, it was back to ground realities for us & all of us got together with our study group to study & analyze the case study for the next day. These ISB guys really consider it a personal affront to their egos if we have even a free minute!!

Day VII (July 02):
Had classes as usual the whole day & then half of the junta moved out the hotel that night except for the junta who were supposed to shack up in A & J blocks. & since I am an A blockwalla, I was among those who stayed back at the hotel. There were 32 of us that night & we all went out to Pizza Hut for dinner that night. Freaked out totally there, came back & went back to our books for, what else but, another case study. I also had to complete the second assignment of the "Take Charge" course which was to write an eulogy that ur best friend would say for u on ur funeral!! Believe me, corny as this assignment sounds, it really was one hell of an experience trying to complete it. I don't think that I've ever thought abt my value system ever before more than I did that night. But I did manage to complete my assignment & turned in at around 3:00 am.

Day VIII (July 03):
Moved into my apartment this morning after classes. Today was also the day when our orientation wek came to an end. Lounged around during the afternoon, unpacked & settled in. & then in the night we had another of our "crooning & guitaring" sessions but this time the venue was on the lawns just beside one of the pools. One thing about the ISB campus is that there is a great cool breeze blowing across the campus all through the day & night. & it was the same case that night. The reflection of the moon in the pool, the gentle breeze, the waves rippling across the surface of the pool & around 30 of us sitting there just crooning along was some way to spend the night!! Anyway, the session just broke up around 45 mins back & here I am writing this mail at 2:30 in the night. So I guess I'll just end here & turn in

How to use SWOT analysis in MBA Application

You are applying to a B-school for an MBA. You know you fit the school and have done enough research. When you start writing your essays, you are expected to write about yourself and you don't know why it is taking so much time just to write about yourself. Introspection, "a conscious mental and usually purposive process relaying on thinking/reasoning/examination of one's own thoughts and feelings" is probably you have to do and find it very difficult to express your own self.

SWOT analysis is something which can come in handy for a situation, personality or organization analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Although extensively used in marketing reports, one can use it to analyze a personality in a methodical manner.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors while opportunities and threats are potential external factors. Strengths can serve as a foundation for building a competitive advantage, and weaknesses may hinder it. By understanding these four aspects of yourself, you can better leverage your strengths, work upon your weaknesses, capitalize on golden opportunities, and deter potentially devastating threats. Thus with a successful analysis, you become clear in expressing yourself and thereby improving yourself.

Your Strengths can be:

  • Your academic record
  • GMAT Score
  • Quality work-ex
  • A unique leadership experience
  • A unique hobby
  • A unique skill
  • Community participation
  • Knowledge of a foreign language
  • An initiative taken at workplace to solve a complex problem
  • Enthusiasm, energy, imagination. Your qualities.
  • ... the list can go on. Just spend some time and make an exhaustive list.
Your weaknesses can be:
  • Poor undergrad grades
  • Low GMAT Score
  • Less work-experience (how was the quality?)
  • No managerial/leadership role (bad can you justify your abilities?)
  • A bad habit (procrastination, laziness, poor communication skills?)
  • No international work-ex.
Now when an internal analysis is done, we'll see how your strengths can be used to grab possible opportunities and how your weaknesses can be possible threats so that you can work on them before it is too late.

Some of the opportunities can be:
  • A perfect fit for XYZ school based on your experience (Your marketing stint in the IT company fits with your post MBA goals of marketing, etc.)
  • Your GMAT score is above the average GMAT score of the school.
  • Your international experience was considerable.
  • Increase in no. of seats this year. ;)
  • just research the school and fit yourself in, building up on your strengths.
In a similar fashion, corresponding to the weaknesses, threats can be identified:
  • average GMAT score is increased this year
  • More number of people have community involvement.
  • Many people have international work-ex which you do not.
  • You are part of a large applicant pool.
A SWOT analysis template is available which can be used. Remember that SWOT analysis is just one method which can be used for building up on significant achievements in your life and building a story. Apart from MBA application, it can also be used for within the company appraisals, although I have provided examples targeting MBA Application.

Hope this helps in bringing out your true self and writing a genuine application. Although I do invite other ideas from the readers which I might have missed out on.

How not to screw up an excellent B-School Application

Have you ever wondered why "that" guy was selected and you weren't although you clearly had a better profile and background than him. When you two stood together you were the obvious choice for the B-school. But remember, the admissions committee is not stupid. "That" guy might have been more expressive in his essays than you had. He has efficiently utilized the word limit provided to highlight his achievements creatively, however little those achievements had been.

Here are some points regarding essays that I have figured what might screw up your chances of admission, in spite of having an excellent record.

  • Do not lose focus. After you have written your essay, find out how many words you can edit out. Be brief, focus on the essay topic and stick to the word limit. There is absolutely no need to rephrase your resume.
  • Do not use industry jargon. Using industry jargon to describe the work to do is probably the worst thing to do with your application. Not everyone can understand your ABCD... Just include enough detail about your responsibilities to frame the story and then focus on yourself. Too much jargon only clutters the space provided.
  • Do not make lame excuses. First of all, there is no need to write about an embarrassing failure that you committed and whine about it. If an incident is important in shaping your career, do mention it, take responsibility of your mistake and write about what you learnt. This also holds true for your bad grades and low GMAT score.
  • Do not restate facts about the school. You need not state, "The schools has most of the guest faculty from top 5 US B-school". Don't you think the admissions committee know it already?
  • Do not forget to show your research on the school. All the business schools provide the best they can, or at least show that they are the best, be it average GMAT score, diversity, etc. But there are unique offering by every top school. Mentioning the specifics in the application shows that you are keen on joining their program.
  • Do not use lame phrases. Expressions like "thinking outside the box" tends to turn off the readers. Do not use such phrases.
  • Watch your voice. Avoid using passive voice and avoid being too informal. Use a tone which you would normally use in an interview. The overall voice does reflect your personality.
  • Do not forget to get the application reviewed. Getting your essays reviewed by a third person gives you another picture and provides you with a reflection of how it actually represents you. Get it reviewed by at least 3-4 experienced people and avoid reviews by friends or relatives. Their reviews might be biased.

MBA Application Do's and Don'ts

The MBA admission essays are your chance to demonstrate your unique qualifications for and commitment to a career in business by discussing those experiences, people, and events that influenced your decision to enter the field.

That's a lot to accomplish. The key to success lies in focusing in each essay on a few illustrative incidents as opposed to giving a superficial overview. Remember: Detail, specificity, and concrete examples will make your answers distinctive and interesting. Generalities and platitudes that could apply to every other business school applicant will bore. If you use the latter, you'll just blend into the crowd.

Following "Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your MBA Application Essay" will help you write compelling, focused essays that will transform you from a collection of numbers and classes into an interesting human being.

Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your MBA Application Essay

The Do's for Your MBA Essay

  1. Unite your essay and give it direction with a theme or thesis. The thesis is the main point you want to communicate. Make sure it answers the question.
  2. Before you begin writing, choose what you want to discuss and the order in which you want to discuss it.
  3. Use concrete examples from your life experience to support your thesis and distinguish yourself from other applicants.
  4. Write about what interests you, excites you. That's what the admissions staff wants to read.
  5. Start your essay with an attention-grabbing lead--an anecdote, quote, question, or engaging description of a scene.
  6. End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the lead and restates your thesis.
  7. Revise your essay at least three times.
  8. In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique your personal statement for you.
  9. Proofread your essays by reading them out loud or reading it into a tape recorder and playing back the tape.
  10. Write clearly, succinctly.


  1. Don't include information that doesn't support your thesis.
  2. Don't start your essay with "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..."
  3. Don't write an autobiography, itinerary, or résumé in prose.
  4. Don't try to be a clown (but gentle humor is OK).
  5. Don't be afraid to start over if the essay just isn't working or doesn't answer the essay question.
  6. Don't try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
  7. Don't rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.
  8. Don't provide a collection of generic statements and platitudes.
  9. Don't give mealy-mouthed, weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.
  10. Don't make things up.
Article Source:

Make sure you develop a theme and maintain a tone of the overall application. Research well, be organized and just write about yourself. I'm sure it'll be easy.

8 Steps to write Effective MBA Essays

With so many applications to B-schools, there is no doubt that there might be many others with a profile similar to yours. Of course you might have unique experiences to show in your application, you would want to present it in way so that the admissions committee member reviewing your essay should not be bored. Considering that he's reading essays all day long, you want to capture his concentration when it comes to your application. gives some tips which can make your essays effective and polish your application. Not to mention the fact that these are generic tips about the most commonly asked questions and seeing the application as a whole. All these points should be covered in the application. It is at your discretion to include what portion in each specify.

1. List your achievements. This is the first task in your homework. Make a list of your achievements however big or small they are. They may be prioritized later. I have felt that at times, while straightaway getting down to the essay, without proper homework, the low priority achievements get unnecessary highlight.

2. Classify your achievements. After the list of achievements is done, you can classify them in the following four broad categories:

3. Give importance to each category. Ensure that each category has something substantial to talk about you. This way your all-round abilities would come to the forefront. But if your abilities in area are not competitive enough, make sure to compensate with achievements in another area. For example, if your under-graduate score is low, you can compensate that by highlighting your GMAT score, or if you have taken any other course outside of the scheduled courses, do mention that.

4. Write the Career Progression Essay first. Almost all MBA schools expect this essay in their application. I remember for class of 2007 application, ISB had this essay. If this essay is present in the applicartion, make it a point to write this essay first. This would help you in your resume walk through and you can chalk down your professional achievements in a chronological manner, without leaving any significant event out. Who knows, you may get some ideas for other essays in the application.

5. Research the school you are applying. Find out if the courses offered are relevant to your aspirations or not. It would be better if you have the knowledge about the companies visiting the campus. It shows off in your application and improves your admit chances as it shows genuine interest in the school. Another aspect could be if there are some extra curricular initiatives taken by the school which match your interest, do not hesitate to highlight in the application, and use that as a platform to highlight your skills. The benefit would be two fold.

6. Answer "Why MBA?". Undoubtedly the most important question of the application. Do answer the question with proper homework and supplement it with your post MBA long term and short term plans.

7. Be specific. Do make it a point to stick to the question asked in the application and do not add extra information just for the sake of highlighting it. Make full use of the word limit provided and highlight yourself well within the constraints of the question asked.

8. Get your essays reviewed. There will be some aspects which you might not notice. A third person review would certainly help. Ask opinions about the coverage of the topic, how you are perceived as a third person. Do not get it reviewed by your friends or family as the opinion might be biased. Get hold of some alumni or an expert who knows the importance of the essay. Discuss the changes with him/her and include them if required in your own style.

ISB Application 2007-08 Essay Analysis

I would like to share my analysis of ISB's application essays for 2008 intake. This year ISB has come out with a surprise element of not including a direct "Why MBA?" question. Overall, I feel ISB has done a good job of presenting the applicants with questions asking about (a) the diversity factor, keeping in mind the number of "Indian/IT/Male" category applicants, (b) creativity and (c) your contribution and qualities as seen in your current workplace.

Update: The following is my analysis of ISB's essays for the application year 2007-08. Please refer to my analysis of the analysis of ISB's essays for application year 2008-09 for the latest.

1. The ISB culture stresses on a diverse mix of students; life at the ISB is a unique experience for the students. How will your candidature contribute to this culture at the ISB? (300 words max)

To approach this question, first identify which lot you belong to. Imagine yourself in a room full of people with a similar background to yours and you are asked to differentiate yourself from others. Come up with just 3-4 points and justify your uniqueness in that room. Those points can be about a unique experience, a hobby which you are very good at, a skill that you have acquired which you can share with others.

If this is difficult, just imagine yourself as part of the admission committee seeing just another application same as last 10 applications. You are looking for a "different" background or a different hobby or a unique experience. You do not want to have a class full of people from IT experience with 3-4 years of work experience and the same GMAT score, in which case no one has anything to learn from his/her peers. On diversity, I have written an article on how important and how you can build on it to contribute to a group.

Coming back to the essay, once you have identified your differentiating factors, focus on how those would be a significant contribution to ISB and let it be understood that this is a profile which is rare. Restrain yourself from focusing on your contributions at your workplace. You might have been the no.1 performer but you were supposed to work hard in your job. Secondly, keep those achievements for essay 3.

Finally, you can end the essay with a focus on how you would in turn be benefited from the diversity at ISB and how you will complement the batch of ISB.

2. A million dollars or knighthood: what would you choose and why? (300 words max)

This question has come up as a surprise question by ISB and has put many candidates in a state of obfuscation.

The key to approach this question is to first understand both the situations presented and weigh the consequences in both. The next step would be to choose one option and justify your selection.

If it is knighthood, it will come with a lifelong honor in the "kingdom". You have all the respect and honor by the people world over. Basically it is a symbolic representation of esteem, honor and repute. Here maybe you can talk about why would you take it and what will you do to keep up to the honor. And most importantly, why would you prefer "honor above money".

On the other hand, a million dollars can change your life. You can have a luxurious life and have the backing to pursue your dream which you had always wanted to. You have the option to pursue your hobby. Or maybe you can now start your own business. Here, what the ISB admissions committee is looking for is your attitude and your approach.

Whatever you opt for, you need to display maturity in your justification and do justice to your choice. Consider it a perfect essay to let yourself out and show your creativity.

Summarizing the analysis, just be yourself and choose the one that matters to you the most.

3. You have a new manager who has just joined your organisation. As a part of the handover, the outgoing manager is describing each person reporting to him. How do you think the outgoing manager will describe you to the incoming manager? (300 words max)

You have the chance to talk about your professional traits and your professional achievements as seen by your manager. Just put yourself in your manager's shoes and praise yourself. Wow! what an essay!

This essay gives you a chance to speak about your leadership abilities and how god a team player you are. Supplement your qualities with appropriate examples. There is a thin line between bragging and praising, do not cross it. Being humble will help but obviously do not hide exceptional achievements, if any.

Since it is the current manager, focus more on achievements or examples from the current workplace. If you want to include achievements at previous employer, just mention in a line or two about the previous experience which you have brought to the present employer. Just limit the information from your previous employer that could have been used by your current employer to hire you.

Just focus on 2-3 qualities, supplement with examples and do justice to the 300 words limit.

4. (Optional) Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. Please do not repeat information which has already been stated elsewhere in the application. You may use this to clarify any breaks in education/work, inform about any other item which you think has not been covered elsewhere etc. (300 words max)

Not only ISB, but all business schools provide an optional essay to give the candidates an opportunity to present information which might further strengthen the application and help the AdCom know you better. It is strictly not advisable to write it just for the sake of it, and providing the AdCom with repetitive information.

If there are any major shortfalls in the application/resume, like low undergrad grades, low GMAT score, etc. you can use this essay to justify that. You might be doing a part-time job to support your education and thus the low grades, obviously supplemented with a good GMAT score. If there is gap in education, could be justified by explaining how that time was utilized.

Another instance could be if you have had a significant contribution outside of work which cannot be included in the essays. this is the perfect place to cover that.

Cracked GMAT at 46 (730, Q51, V37)

This is an amazing story of a 46 year old who has cracked GMAT with a score of 730 - Q51, V37. Some of us attribute our long separation with academics as an excuse for a low score. But this guy has proved that nothing is impossible once you decide it. An amazing success story to read:

During March end 2007, there was a huge professional disappointment for me and I was kind of down with this debacle and for about 2-3 weeks I was unable to decide about my future course of action. It is during this phase that I came to know about IIM-A PGPX program and did some search on internet and found that before IIM-A, IIM-C is also available, provided I take GMAT before 25th May (last date for IIM-C).

My first impulse was to go for GMAT before 25th May 2007 so that I can apply to IIM-C as well but later on I decided against it (On hindsight, a wise decision) and asked for July dates (IIM-A last date is 10th Aug.). However as I have huge experience and at 46, I was not sure whether IIMs will consider my application favorably. I wrote a mail to IIM-A and asked them about my chances at 46 and was really surprised to receive their response within one day, saying that my huge experience (25+) will be advantageous for executive MBA. IIM-Also gave me a target GMAT score, based on my experience.

With this information in hand I got really motivated and started frequenting PagalGuy GMAT section. Since last two and half months I have been a parasite on these threads, soaking all information provided by others without posting anything ( I am really sorry for this).

Armed with all information and many free tests (downloaded from net, after getting links from PagalGuy I started my GMAT prep around April 25th. Asked my friend in Delhi to buy OG11 and Princeton review and courier them to me.

My first priority was to find out where I stand as far as GMAT is concerned and to find my weakness ( I have already appeared for CAT twice 2005/2006).

I gave Princeton Review test 1 0n 27th April 2007 with a score of 680 (Q51, V 33)

On detailed analysis I found that my main weakness was sentence correction and I had to brush-up Probability and Permutation and Combination. With this information, I took a printout of OG10 VA section (free download from Net) and started practice on same. I had OG10 (only VA) , OG11, OG11 (VA) and SC1000 and Princeton Review. The material was enough and I decided to do at least 25 sentence corrections everyday along with going thro’ the basic explanation of different types of error tested in GMAT. As far as sentence correction is concerned, this strategy continued till the test day on July 10th. Slowly my accuracy was improving from 55-60% to about 85%.

In between I gave many tests as follows:

Kaplan (Free test and not the dreaded CD tests) 1st May 2007, 700 (Q47, V38 )

GMAC paper test 14, 6th May, 700 (Q51, V36)
GMAC paper test 25, 8th May, 710 (Q50, V39)
GMAC paper test 28, 11th May, 720 (Q51, V38)
GMAC paper test 31, 21st May, 710 (Q51, V36)
GMAC paper test 37, 26th May, 700 (Q50, V37)
GMAC paper test 42, 2nd June, 730 (Q50, V41)
GMAC paper test 48, 5th June, 720 (Q50, V40)
GMAC paper test 52, 10th June, 720 (Q51, V36)
GMAC paper test 55, 23rd June, 710 (Q50, V36)

Even though these are paper test but to simulate the actual test condition, I did not print out them but was reading them from screen and marking my answers on paper.

In addition I also took some more test as follows:-

Princeton Review test 2, 7th June, 720 (Q51, V39)
Power Prep 1, 19th June, 760 (Q51, V41)
Power Prep 2, 27th June, 770 (Q51, V47)

I knew that my Power prep scores were inflated because many question were same as my practice material and not only I remembered few answers but also I saved some time which was utilized to give more time to other difficult Qs.

With above practice, I went for my final GMAT on 10th July with the hope that I will be able to score about 690 but I think I was lucky to come out with a score of 730 (Q51, V 37).

In actual GMAT, I think the questions were a bit tough as far as VA in concerned but I have no reason to complain.

GMAT Verbal Tip: Accept the Effect

Article Source -


These words give writers trouble since the two can be both a noun and a verb, although affect is typically verb and effect, noun. Normally, you will use affect to denote influence. For example:

If I play music will it affect your studying?

Affect used as a noun means “emotion.”

On the other hand, effect, which is more commonly used as a noun, relates to the consequence or result.

The effects of the drug have long since worn off.

As a verb, it means to cause or to accomplish:

The tornado effected a change in our plan.


Another couple of closely related words which mean different things are accept and except. Accept will refer to receiving or approval of something.

I accept your apology.

Except refers to an exclusion, as in, not including.

I took all those classes except math.

Because they sound so similar, these words often become interchanged when we write but meaning two different things, they can really botch a sentence’s meaning!

GMAT Quant - 7 top traps to avoid

Since the time Pearson has taken over as the Official GMAT test taker from ETS, I have heard plenty of reviews that the level of difficulty of Quant section has increased. It used to be a cakewalk if you have graduated high school with decent scores. And guess what, the OG, 11th edition was published before this move. So in that too you won't get "tougher" questions to practice.

Got hold of some real good GMAT Quant tips, so sharing the post with everyone in need.

Quant strategies

Here are a few strategies that helped me (they were borne out of many tips the members here have given over a period of time). Math whizzes may not find them helpful, for people like us - who go from low 600s to 700s might find them useful. Like how these prep companies give names to specific strategies, I too have given each technique/trap a name so you can identify them. Hopefully some people will find this helpful.

Some generic Quant points

1. It is possible, even with 9-11 mistakes, to get 48-49 in Quant. So don't freak out because you think you got 3 questions wrong. The test is adaptive - i.e. every question does not carry equal weight. It does appear, however, that early questions do determine how your test will progress.

2. I've noticed, through my multiple GMATPrep tests, that even if you get more wrong in the end, you can still maintain a high score.

3. To go from Q(49) to Q(50) or Q(51) is going to be hard - if you have time constraints for studying (like I did), and you aren't a math whiz (which I'm not), then you need to understand what your trade-offs are - i.e. what topics you are willing to relax on and guess in the test. I basically studied enough to solve simple problems in permutations and combinations, and told myself - "if it looks hard and I can't think of a way to solve it in 30seconds, I'm going to use my 'good-looking-number' strategy (which I'll cover here) and just move on.

4. If you spend over 4 minutes on a question, you certainly are excited about digging your own grave, or you're probably an adrenalin junkie who loves to jump off a cliff without a parachute.

5. With practice, you'll realize that the real time saver in Quant is actually DS and not PS.

GMAT Quant

Is not actually very hard in itself, but when you combine the time pressure, the tricks in the question and the wording - it becomes very important that you have practiced many standard questions types, many times over - because when you see a question, you don't want to be thinking "hmmm...which of my 34 cool strategies might work for this?", you want to be going straight into solving it.

7 Trap identifiers

Many GMAT questions have subtle traps in them - but thankfully, you can categorize many of them - they have a pattern. I've tried to identify 6 of them. So look out for these! At the end of the day, if even 1 of these helped you get 2 questions right bumping you from 660 to 680, it's still good, right?

Each strategy/trap identifier is not a stand-alone, a GMATQuestion might require you to employ more than one at a time. They are listed in no particular order of importance.

These tips can help if you are forced to guess, but want to make an intelligent guess, or if you want to shorten your path to solution (or salvation)

1. The Lone Wolf

A lone wolf question almost always has a free standing number(or numbers), and a more complex looking equation as the other option. For e.g.

"On a loan, evil necromonger charges X% interest in the first year, and Y% interest in the second. If he loaned Rhyme 20,000$ in 2006, how much Rhyme pay by interest in 2008?"

A) X = 10
B) (X + Y + XY/100) = 100

You can almost be certain, that in such questions, your equations to the stem will reduce to a form that looks like (B), so (A) is actually redundant. Be careful of lone wolves because they will bite you in the posterior if you choose (C).

If you notice a lone wolf question, and you have no clue on how to solve the problem, choose (B) (or whichever is the complex equation).

*as a side note, a wolf, contrary to the popular belief, is a very social mammal and is not at all a loner.

2. The Spy Girl

In a typical movie, an unsuspecting man may be enchanted by a hot looking woman, who comes on to him easily. He sleeps with her only to be stabbed in the moring, and all his nuclear secrets stolen. That's what a spy girl question does - it looks real simple, and if you fall for it - you've had it.

Consider this

if the membership of the drama club and music club are combined, what % of the combined membership will be male?

(1) of the 16 members of the drama club 15 are male
(2) of the 20 members of the music club, 10 are male

On the outset, it's very simple. (C) should tell us, right? wrong! DS is picky. This is an overlapping sets question, so you need to consider if some belong to both clubs - and that would lead to (E).

When you get spy girl questions, take a few seconds to re-read the question, looking for holes and any tricky stem ends. Many GMAT sentence tricks are at the end of the question stem. Spy girl questions are often in DS, and typically masquerade as word translations.

3. Twin trouble
Some DS questions have 2 choices that both reduce to the same form! When you see 2 similar looking/structurally similar answer choices, quickly scan them to see if they reduce to a common form. For e.g.

"Question: blah blah blah..."
A) 2x+3y = 10
B) 3.2x+4.8y = 16

Cool! 2 simultaneous equations with 2 unknowns - so should be (C), right? wrong. If you multiply (A) by 1.6, you get (B). They're useless. In general, twin trouble questions end up with (E) as the answer (E is the best choice if you do not know how to solve the problem. If you do know, then if either A or B works - then D would be the answer)

4. C of pain
GMAT questions love to put two choices that seem to give a nice answer when combined. If you get (C) as the answer, unless you're absolutely sure of your approach, look closely at A or B again. Consider your equations to see if they can be solved with only A or B before confirming C. There are certainly more A, B, D choices in GMAT than C. If you are absolutely stumped by the question and you want to guess, this approach might help.

-if the 2 choices look very similar in structure, apply the 'twin trouble' tip - if it is a twin trouble, then E is the most likely answer. D comes next.

-if the choices look very different, go with the one that has a more complex looking wording or equation - and preferably does not allude to an addition.

-if you have absolutely no idea at all, and you must guess - choose D or E.

5. The Rambler
Ramblers are long worded, paragraph level questions. Ramblers have lot of BS in them - so scan the question, then come back to writing equations. Ramblers are not always hard - sometimes they're pretty simple distance/time questions (or work rate). Don't be intimidated by a rambler. For e.g.

"Jim ...blah blah..., he then stopped for 30 minutes to have lunch before proceeding..." simply means add 30mins to your time equation.

6. The Twister

Twisters are among the worst when it comes to tripping test takers (including me). They start innocuously, but what they ask for is subtly different from what your mind thinks you're being asked. Twisters occur usually at the end of a question in word translations, or at the beginning in number properties.

For e.g.
In 2006, Company X revenue grew 18% from 200,000$, company Y revenue grew 30% from 90,000$ - at the end of 2006, how much more would X earn than Y if X grew 20%"
If the question was a rambler, your mind would dim by the time you get to the end, and you'd furiously compute the new revenues, subtract the two and look at the answer. But wait, the X 18% is actually useless because the question twists in the end asking something else. Actual questions can be even more subtle than this - something like, instead of asking, "by how much did A exceed B", it might say "by how much did A exceed twice B"? Get the point? Read your question ends carefully.

In number properties, it's always good to map your mind to
-2, -1, -1/2, 0, 1/2, 1, 2 so you don't forget what you need to apply. Twisters occur at the beginning,

If it says number, instinctually many of us look at 1,2,3,4.. but "number" should immediately trigger -1, and -1/2,+1/2 in your sample sets. Always look carefully at the beginning (I know it sounds common sense, but common sense isn't always common...) and memorize the properties

number => -ve, + and - fractions, +ve, 0
+ve number => > 0, +ve fractions, and integers
integer => ...,-ve integer, 0, +ve integer
+ve integer => 1,2,...
-ve integer => -...,-2,-1,

It's common mistake to ignore zero in calculations, so be careful. For e.g.
if X not -ve and y is an integer less than -1/10, is xy to the left of 0 in the number line?

Well, if you consider 0 for X, then xy is on the 0 in number line...

7. The lucky twin (thanks to, and suggested by GMATT73)
The purpose of this problem is to exploit a weakness used by PVue: complimentary answer choices. Almost always in complimentary probability questions, there are a pair of "LUCKY TWINS" among the answer choices. If in doubt and pressed for time, choose a TWIN by logical deduction.

Let`s take a crack at this Project GMAT bad boy without making lengthy calculations.

Set S consists of numbers 2, 3, 6, 48, and 164. Number K is computed by multiplying one random number from set S by one of the first 10 non-negative integers, also selected at random. If Z=6^K, what is the probability that 678,463 is not a multiple of Z?

a. 10%
b. 25%
c. 50%
d. 90%
e. 100%


[added note by necromonger] - also watch out for complementary fractions and be careful. You might see numbers like
a) 1/2
b) 3/8

notice that 1-3/8 = 5/8 - these choices can trip you up if you haven't paid attention to the question carefully.

The good-looking-number (GLN) strategy
*Use this only when you are stumped in a PS question and you have no idea how to solve it, but you need to guess.

GLN's are simply numbers that are formed by some mathematical combination of numbers in the question. For e.g. if a rambler has number like '12.....3....9' and the choices are


what would you choose if you're in a real hurry? 4 = (12*3/9), the others-you can't get them by any straight manipulation. So 4 is a GLN.

GLN tips vary, their success rate is questionable. But in the absense of any clue, what have you got to lose?

closing points:
Don't be scare of quant. It is conquerable with some practice and employing some time-saving techniques. I'll be glad to answer any questions. Finally, choose the strategy that works for you - do not follow anything blindly because it worked for someone else!

finally, the obligatory:
*no animals were harmed in the making of these tips, and these strategies do not discriminate based on race, language, sex, creed, caste, tv viewing habits or choice of shirt colors.

The right approach for applying to MBA abroad - TopMBA's Matt Symonds answers

Apurv, a journalist with pagalguy has been posting interviews with leading figures related to MBA, both Indian and International.

As Round One of various American and European schools approaches, we catch up with leading international expert on MBA admissions and the co-founder of QS World MBA Tour Matt Symonds and get his advice on selecting the right schools to apply, the ever-bothersome issue of whether to employ consultants for essays and more.

How do you see the popularity, utility and relevance of the MBA degree panning out in the next decade?

With the continued growth of the global economy, and accelerated economic development in most of Asia, the MBA has firmly established itself as the qualification of reference both for young professionals looking to accelerate their career progress and the companies that need to manage growth. Many of the lessons of the crash five years ago revolved around a lack of strong managerial experience and weak business plan analysis. By providing the fundamentals of management and analytical skills to complement an MBA graduate’s initial professional experience, the business school is able to develop the future business leaders that India will need to maintain its internal development and international expansion. Tata, Infosys and Mittal will be joined by other cutting-edge companies who are transforming the way that India does business, and the MBA is sure to have helped many of their managers to their current positions of seniority.

In November 2005 the McKinsey Global Institute identified what it calls China’s “looming talent shortage”. We might expect to see demand for business schools rise both for international graduates from Chinese MBA programs and for Chinese graduates from international programs. The report estimates that over the next 10 years the country will need 75,000 leaders who can work effectively in global environments, to match the global aspirations of many Chinese companies. I foresee the same talent shortage in India, and MBA graduates will be best placed to take advantage of this demand.

What should be one's strategy while short-listing a set of schools he or she wants to apply to?

I am a firm believer that an MBA is only worth pursuing if it will bring the candidate a sufficient level of professional advancement and personal development. Can it help them to boost their career opportunities, and open new areas of expertise and mobility? Will they come out of the program with greater confidence and self-awareness, focusing on their strengths to build an exciting career that is matched with self-fulfilment?

If a business school can deliver this then the MBA program is well worth considering. The candidate may also find that they are not just limited to a handful of schools that have long dominated the top of a b-school ranking. By researching the characteristics of the schools, finding out more about the student experience, and how students are achieving their personal and professional goals, they may well find a more diverse shortlist of MBA programs. Meeting with schools and finding out more about the MBA as a qualification is essential, hence the popularity of the QS World MBA Tour events in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The face-to-face discussions with admissions and alumni, as well as workshops on how to select the right school for you, provide a much clearer picture of matching your ambitions with the right school.

Successful MBA applicants, whether applying to schools locally, or in Europe and North America, need to demonstrate a level of familiarity not only with the MBA qualification - how it can help them to build on existing skills and experience, and the direction of their post-MBA career - but also with the personality and strengths of the school. What sets Chicago apart from Wharton? How does IMD differ from INSEAD? Some of these schools might look similar on paper, but they each have their own identity and approach to management development. Research is key.

Read the complete interview here

Matt Symonds is co-Founder of the QS World MBA Tour, and author of the bestselling book on applying to b-school, “Getting the MBA Admissions Edge”. An experienced public speaker in more than 40 countries, whether on TV, radio or public presentations, Matt is an authority on Graduate and Executive Management Education, and is passionate about helping individuals to realize their hopes and dreams.

ISB Essays, 2007-08 Application Year

The Application to ISB for 2008-09 batch is open. The essay topics for this year are quite uniquely structured I must say, although the purpose still remains the same. They are:

1. The ISB culture stresses on a diverse mix of students; life at the ISB is a unique experience for the students. How will your candidature contribute to this culture at the ISB? (300 words max)

A million dollars or knighthood: what would you choose and why? (300 words max)

You have a new manager who has just joined your organisation. As a part of the handover, the outgoing manager is describing each person reporting to him. How do you think the outgoing manager will describe you to the incoming manager? (300 words max)

4. (Optional)
Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. Please do not repeat information which has already been stated elsewhere in the application. You may use this to clarify any breaks in education/work, inform about any other item which you think has not been covered elsewhere etc. (300 words max)

I would like to have a healthy discussion with my readers as to what are the expectations of each essay and what we should and what we should not write in each essay.

'IT sector inclination will skew learning process' - ISB Admissions Director

AICTE recognition is not relevant to a school with global aspirations but still ISB will abide with the law of the land, assures Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad's Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Mr Ranga Rao. In an exclusive interview, Mr Rao downplays the

participation of engineers and IT professionals in ISB's one-year MBA in favour of diversity of backgrounds and speaks of the institute's evolution in its five years at length.

How much has ISB achieved in its 5 years?

What we have achieved depends on what we set out to do. The most fundamental premises would be of having a globally comparable business school education, as good as it would be in any part of the world. We have a model where we get faculty from the best B-schools all over the world and partner with schools like Wharton, Kellogg and LBS in terms of in designing the curriculum and updating the electives. We try to get the best from different geographies and put it all at one location.

Secondly, we offer concentration and not specializations because leaders cannot really specialize; they need to have an overall global perspective. In that sense we have been able to connect with several sectors like real estate, retail, et cetera. Thus we are connected with the demand and supply scenario.

Thirdly, we have begun seeing diversity of students a key thing at ISB. Why is diversity important? It’s not about variety, but about making the learning experience as diverse and complete as possible. Thus we select students who have the learnability, ‘teamability’ and ‘leadability’ – the three abilities – and judge what they would bring to the class and what value addition they can get to a study group having a woman manager, an entrepreneur, a doctor or an IT professional. Then we see what these students would take away from the experience.
Taking away is depends not on what you bring to the table but what the other students bring to the table. Such groups then look at problems such as logistics or marketing in a compact and all round view. Thus what you get in the end is like a very well cooked dish with all the flavors and tastes.

Fourth, we are among the top four institutes in the world taking the highest GMAT scores. Our average had actually gone up to 714 but then we realized that GMAT scores are just one part of our learning model, the analytical skills of an individual. We wanted to concentrate on other aspects such as diversity and avoid taking only engineers and IT professionals. When I go for presentations (to prospective applicants) and ask how many of them are engineers, around 90 pc of them raise their hands. When I ask how many are from Infosys, around 99 pc hands go up.

As a matter of fact this set an alarm bell ringing a few years back. If we were to incline towards IT and numbers-oriented individuals then we probably would skew the learning process. We want to maintain the diversity of the class, otherwise we could have had a separate class for TCS or Infosys employees.

We have 25 pc women students and that is a great thing in the Indian context. Quantitatively 25 pc is close to the 35 pc in the rest of the world. We are looking for more women to join ISB. The number of entrepreneurs at ISB has increased significantly over the years. We admitted 10 doctors this year compared to 6 in the previous year.

If you see our vision statement we have three key components. Firstly we want to be globally ranked, second component is to be research driven and third component is to be independent. People ask me how ISB compares itself to the Indian Institutes of Management and frankly I don’t answer that because we all are very different. But we feel very gratified – I hope I am not sounding pompous – when IIM Ahmedabad, which has a PGP-Executive program, says on its website that their course can be compared to the one-year course at ISB. They are a 40 to 50 year old premium institute and they mentioning that they want to be compared to a five-year-old institute is a great feeling for us.

Do you think you are losing applicants to the IIMs’ PGP Executive courses?

No I don’t think we are, because of the lead start that we had. I think we have established ourselves as a brand and the pull is so much that the number of applicants has gone up by 32 pc this year. The variety of applicants has increased and today the highest number among GMAT takers from India comes to ISB. Five years back the majority went to Harvard, Kellogg, or Wharton. Today ISB is the first preference for most Indian GMAT takers, wherever they are in the world. f we analyze this we are not losing much to PGPX, though we may be losing people to top global programs in the USA.

What is the change in number of applications you received over the last two years?

We had 2,000 plus applicants the previous year and this year it was 3,000 applicants so an increase of around 32 pc.

How many international students are joining ISB classes?

Our international students who are foreign citizens holding foreign passports went up by a factor of five over last year. But if you look at pure international foreign born foreign passport holding students we had 2 last year and 6 this year, a three-fold increase. I think those numbers are very influential and next year in terms of financial aid we are undertaking something with an international student body called AIESEC. There will be 10 interns from different geographical backgrounds studying at ISB. Secondly we are working with a lot of companies and institutions all over the world, which fund the scholarship to make the program more attractive. One example is of a largest savings bank in Spain which is paying the entire tuition fee along with medical insurance and maintenance. So next year we will have five Spanish students. I am sure that by next year our international students will be at least 10, if not more.

What are the potential future changes to look forward to at ISB?

We will move to 560 participants for which another school will be built. We want to be research driven so we will need to increase our own faculty which is increasing by five every year. We need around 50 or 60 fulltime faculty. The charm of the model will remain in the learning imparted by visiting faculty along with research reports by our permanent faculty. Third, we would be getting in more diversity, more entrepreneurs, more women and more international students. Not for the sake of it but for the learning.

How does your association with Wharton, LSB and Kellogg trickle down to real deliverables to the students?

Kellogg and Wharton initially designed the program whereas the LSB joined in later. The idea was to structure the program to make it very globally relevant and sensitive as possible and focus on emerging markets. LSB, Kellogg and Wharton brought in their respective competencies. The view from their parts of the world on certain domains adds value to the program, which otherwise could have been a very Indian or an Asian program. What I personally feel is that the research done by our faculty, the research done in the centers of excellence in association with Wharton and Kellogg makes the program more connected to business.

How has the admission process at ISB evolved in the last two years?

As I mentioned earlier diversity is one thing we have begun looking at very seriously. The admission process is now online. We have better essays coming in and the set of questions we ask are very comprehensive.

What is the lowest GMAT score at which ISB refuses to look at the admission form?

Perhaps in the past batches we had people with scores less than 600 but currently everyone has a 600 plus score. But I still wouldn’t term it as the cutoff score.

You look for experience in community service in your application. However, the culture of social work does not exist in India. So a lot of individuals try to embellish their resumes with blown up accounts of social work. But what is your advice to people who have not done community service?

I grant it that such a culture doesn’t exist in India and we do get a sense of this while checking the applications. I keep telling people repeatedly that it is not like a checklist where we tick-mark on the basis of GMAT scores, community service, et cetera. Secondly, we are not looking for the number of years of community service but the consistency throughout school and college. What we’re basically looking for is to see whether they have teamability or whether they naturally like to volunteer. That we check through anything that is consistent, whether participation in cultural activities, sports, community service and so on.

How tough is to place the largest MBA class in India?

Luckily until now there has been no problem. In terms of numbers we have increased from having 145 companies to 200. Also several International companies from various sectors are coming to ISB. It has been no trouble so far for us.

When people talk about one crore salaries, it is totally blown out of proportion. We keep saing that if you come to ISB, come here for the learning and not for the packages offered. Then something like the one crore salary comes in our way but then again it is something we like to play down. We are also very careful in managing expectations. We don’t do magic here. We just provide you the platform to empower you. Ultimately how one uses the power is up to them.

What are the main challenges you face while placing such huge batch?

I won’t be very competent to answer questions about placements. But I think looking at the composite structure of the class profile, we need to place everyone in his or her preferred domain. At the same time we need to relate the demand and supply factor. All sectors don’t pay the same salaries. Some sectors have a boom and lean period. The challenge is also in managing expectations. We check during admission what the expectations of the students are from ISB. Moreover meeting expectations of the recruiters is also a challenge for us.

How easy is it for ISB participants to change their domain immediately after ISB?

It is not easy; after all, it is a very competitive world around. It’s about the profile that you bring in and the value addition that you get from the course. For instance, an Army major's competency is logistics. If he can utilize that skill in another domain, he can move very easily. So if the skill sets are not transferable, domain change doesn’t really happen. If some engineer who has worked on a shop floor says I want to get into McKinsey, it is tough. It can happen later if he moves into consultancy work for some years.

What is the update on the AICTE recognition bit?

AICTE is important because at the end of the day one has to go by the law of the land. It’s our responsibility and we need to relate to what is happening. But our take has always been that we don’t come under the purview of AICTE and the definition of education in India. It is not that we are not looking for that recognition, but we believe that today we have positioned ourselves on a global platform. We try to be independent to maintain the flexibility required in the global sense, which would be affected if we were not an independent body. But at the end of the day we will follow what the law has to say.

Do you face any obstacles while arranging for resources because you do not have the AICTE recognition?

Not at all! With due respect to the AICTE, I read a newspaper article that questioned whether the AICTE recognition had helped institutes in any way. Let’s look at the top ten institutes in India. Has AICTE helped them? Not necessary, or maybe. That’s one way of looking at it.

People talk about the ISO 9000. In my opinion, does it really guarantee you anything? One cannot still be sure even after having the ISO certification. AICTE probably reflects the comfort level of the government but in case of education, the resources and competency come from global sources.

Why is the fees Rs 15 lakhs at ISB?

The visiting faculty module is an important part of curriculum. We need to take care of their expenses. Secondly, we are planning to increase the batch size to 560 so we are building a new school. Two more centres of excellence have to be built. There are a lot of commitments, which need to be fulfilled. But I don’t see the fees increasing further. As long as we are providing globally competitive education at one third of the cost, it’s a good thing.

What brand value do you see of ISB in the global market?

It is an emerging brand. Whatever we do, we would want to be among the top 20 schools worldwide. Once the AICTE approval is done, we would be featuring in India too. Secondly, for people wanting to do global businesses, wanting to work more with India and carry out research, we would like to be seen as place of choice.

In terms of being positioned like Wharton is for finance or Stanford is for entrepreneurship, we have a long way to go. They have been around since several decades whereas we just started five years ago. But in these five years, we started with entrepreneurship, then analytic finance followed by logistics. Besides we are building a global platform for research. We are trying to tell people what the industry is looking for along with what the world is researching on.