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From GMAT score for ISB Hyderabad to interview: Bodhi’s success story

Talk about modesty. Bodhisattwa Gupta considers himself the black sheep of the family…and he’s got into one of the toughest and most selective MBA programs anywhere in the world – ISB Hyderabad (Indian School of Business). So you can imagine what others in his family have achieved (we know but we can’t tell you!).

Here’s Bodhi’s success story covering his journey from getting closer to the average GMAT score for ISB to cracking the ISB admissions process.

My journey to ISB – GMAT score, application & interview

by Bodhisattwa Gupta

ISB Hyderabad Indian School of Business BodhiThis goes back a year when I had to take a call – whether to go back to school for an MBA or be happily settled in my present job at a managerial level. I am sure that there’ll be folks out there like me who would be thinking as to whether I should give up for an MBA that promotion which is due next year, my salary which pretty much is the same as the prospective B School average salary and spend a year away in seclusion buried among books.

But after a certain point I ended reasoning with myself and found myself believing in what an MBA from a top school stood for. As I got engaged to my girlfriend in the interim only the 1 year programs made sense to me. And the two schools that I decided to apply to were INSEAD and ISB.

When I look back at the ISB application I can think of two distinct phases:

GMAT score for ISB

As I embarked on my MBA application preparation it was evident that it always helps to have a decent GMAT score for ISB and other super competitive schools. Fortunately with some preparation I could muster a 730 in my GMAT in June end.

This average GMAT score for ISB is closer what I got. Which means over half the ISB applicants have higher GMAT scores than mine. So I knew I can’t relax because I got a good GMAT score. My application needed to be strong too.

By the time I got my GMAT score, the application portal for ISB was up and the essays were up there.

The ISB online application

Initially it seemed like 3 ISB essays with a 300 words limit would be a cakewalk by the application deadline of August 30th. But soon I realised that by far the most difficult part in an MBA application is getting the story right in your essays and in packing in the punch in only 300 words.

Finally after I churned out some 18 drafts and getting the final versions reviewed by MG (MBA admissions consultant who helped me for ISB) from the MBA Crystal Ball team, it reached a point which lucidly told who I was & what I wanted to achieve through my MBA.

Seniors from my previous organisations were kind enough to give me recommendations and finally I succeeded in completing my online application on the 28th of August. Thus started the long wait for the interview calls. It was supposed to be announced in mid October for applicants from Kolkata.

The ISB interview call

On October 12th I heaved a sigh of relief when I received a mail from ISB for an interview on the 21st of October. I was a step closer to my goal.

Then and there I started talking to people who have been through the process – ISB alums, and my consultants Sameer & MG (from MBA Crystal Ball) to get an idea of the process and how I should approach the interview. One consistent theme was that ISB conducts stress free interviews.

The actual experience pretty much mirrored that. The interview lasted about 20 minutes and leaving the room I had the feeling wish they asked me something more.

ISB application results

What followed the ISB interview was the most painful wait till the 15th of November. I was a part of the Pagalguy forum for the ISB CO 2012 aspirants and the thread witnessed the wide ranging emotions all of us went through. I remember that on the 15th though I was present in office but I did not get anything done the whole day.

Finally after a nerve wracking wait ISB started announcing the results from 4.30 pm onwards. As I kept on refreshing my inbox the much desired invite popped up on the screen…..wooohooooo!!! And the war cry did attract a fair share of eyeballs from all around in office…….but at that very moment I couldn’t have cared less.

Lessons from my ISB success story

Now when I look back at the entire process there were certain aspects which I did well & some others which I could have done better. Just a few things that I would advise to any of you going through the process in years to come –

• It’s desirable to get done with your GMAT as early as feasible. Preferably 3 months in advance of the application deadline

• Start off with the essays well in advance. In case you are planning well in advance you can start jotting down the points based on previous year’s essay topics (- normally the topics don’t change a lot).

• Work with a good MBA consultant in India if you can find and afford one. It can make a big difference in making the application strong.

• Give ample time while filling up the online form for ISB. It’s a rather lengthy form and make sure that you present your credentials in the best possible light. Frankly speaking I was lax and I did not play this part right.

• Over prepare for interviews – think of all possible questions that can crop up and think of the possible reply. Also be clear of the three / four different aspects of your personality that you would like to highlight & examples from your personal experiences which highlight them. You may not be asked directly but you can always bring these qualities onto the table during the interview. And most importantly be RELAXED !!!

And lastly be passionate and give everything for your dream B School – I am sure you can surprise yourself and many others out there by doing so.

Best of luck everyone.

– Bodhi

If you are serious about ISB Hyderabad / Mohali, check out these related blog posts:

All about ISB Hyderabad MBA
ISB MBA admission with full scholarship
How I got into ISB with scholarship in my third attempt
ISB Hyderabad admission with low GMAT score of 610
Is ISB still worth the money and time?
How the ISB admission process works
International MBA program vs Indian MBA (read ISB Hyderabad)
Best ISB Admissions Consultant

Get all your ISB admissions related queries answered on the ISB Hyderabad Discussion Forum.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

41 thoughts on “From GMAT score for ISB Hyderabad to interview: Bodhi’s success story”

  1. Any questions are most welcome. I am aware of the great help that I received from Sameer & MG—- so I can do my own little bit by answering some of your queries.

    • Hi Bodhi,

      Great congratulations for ISB!

      Iam currently preparing for GMAT ; It would of great help if you could guide me in choosing the study plan and resource materials.


      • Hi Ravi,

        Depends on what your target score is. In my case I wanted to ensure that I met the hygiene score of 720. When I look back if you do only OG really really thoroughly that should take you to 700’ish’. After that depending on your weakness you can pick up specific material. In my case as I was having a difficult time dealing with SC I went through Manhattan SC Prep.. Once you have thoroughly (and I mean THOROUGHLY) done these two steps you should be clocking 720 atleast. Beyond this you can look at Kaplan 800. Overall strategy should be to not go through too much material but choose your study material carefully & be thorough with them. Best of luck !!!

    • Thank you sir for such a motivational article, I am currently pursuing my degree and I am in my 3rd year.
      I am not able to figure out how i should begin the war to crack the isb from now on. I am not even sure how good I am in English writings, also, scored 85% in my boards exam.
      so, is there any kind of help or directions that you could provide me with, to make me achieve my goal?

  2. Congrats Bodhi on your success!

    Here is my profile:

    10th – 60 %
    12th – 85%
    undergrad – 67%
    Masters in IT (US) – 3.67 out of 4.0

    Worked as fulltime web developer for 2+ yrs in US.
    Decent extracurricular activities presentations, chess, soccer

    1) what level of GMAT score would be help me?
    I am aiming at 720+

    2) essays in the admission! these I am really worried about, My education has been completely on the technical side can you suggest me on reading any books/ articles to answer better for the essays.

    Thank you in advance.

  3. Hi Bodhi.

    My self Aarthi.
    can u please provide me the details of the ISB Application details like( site,link,contact person details ) etc.
    I need a clear clarification,as i did my MBA from O.U.
    Weather i need to to attend the GMAT exam again as per the eligity.
    Please dod the needfull.

  4. Hi

    I wrote my GMAT last week and scored an average 680(Q 44, V 40), the reason I mention the split here is that I scored less than desirable in the quant section. I am an IT guy with 8+ years of experience in ERP in a leadership role. I have read several articles and threads and blogs that the GMAT score is not the make or break thing for the top B schools but I still don’t think that I could get through ISB… Do you think I stand a chance at say IIM B, C or L?

    • Your score is decent as your profile looks good to me. Good score is not everything .I know people who have scored lower than you(670 to be precise) and got through ISB.U can work on your profile and can reappear for GMAT. I don’t see anything exceptional about scoring 730 to get admitted into ISB,though his suggestions are really good

  5. @kinshul

    You are doing pretty well in your career. Why you want to go for an MBA now? Go through posts in about IIM-B placement and you will have a better sense of life.

  6. @Kinshul: Always a good idea to spread out the risk by including multiple schools. Btw, ‘MBA Hopeful’ has made a good suggestion of checking out placement statistics for the schools you are interested in.

  7. Hi,
    I wanted to know what to do about the optional essay this year…I am an younger applicant (work ex 2 yr 9 month till March 2014)…..can I present my case as to why I am matrured enough to do my MBA now inspite of my age?

  8. Hello Sir,

    I have been thinking for ISB Admissions. But am not sure how to start with.

    I have Done by B Tech in Electrical Engineering from Govt Engg College Bilaspur. Presently i am working for Jindal steel & Power Ltd in O&M of Switchyards. (around 3 Years )

    Since the start of my professional career i have always been associated with all O&M Activities that too technical only.

    Abrief Profile of Mine :
    Class Xth – 76.8 % – Delhi Public School / CBSE
    Class XIIth – 72.8 % – Delhi Public School / CBSE
    B Tech – 66.01 % SPI – 7.29 out of 10 Govt Engg College

    Can you please guide me How to start and what should be a descent score in GMAT to get a call from ISB Interview .

    Regards ,
    AMit Choudhary

  9. @Upasana: You could do that. But the better option would’ve been to demonstrate your maturity in the main essays and the resume, rather than have to rely upon the option essay.

    @Amit: There is no fixed score to get a call from ISB. The simple answer (or at least what’s practical to compress in a few words) is – Start with your GMAT, get a good score and back it up with a strong application. You’d need to manage the GMAT part on your own. For essays, we can help.

  10. Hi,

    I often hear that its very difficult for a IT Male into ISB because of the number of applicants that come from this group. Is this true? Well, the fact is India is full of IT people and its very obvious that the percentage of people trying to switch careers or do something different is higher from this sector

    What are your thoughts?
    I am in the IT industry since the last 8 years and would like to make a career change (into management consulting ). What would be some of the typical questions i could expect from the ISB admissions committee so i can prepare myself better


  11. Hai ‘m Shiny
    I worked as R&M engineer in Arani Power Systems OEM of Steam Turbine from june 2012 then due to salary and work related issues i switched to an MNC Aricent Group and working as trainee in technical support from sept.2013-till date
    My Xth-68%(ICSE)
    My +12-88%
    My 67%
    I won few state level and district level competitions during schooling and graduation for essays,elocution& specially in badminton.
    Do i have chances to get into ISB with these academics and achievements?
    what should be my GMAT score for it?
    Do i need more work ex?
    How i should i prepare to make my dream of MBA from ISB?
    Kindly please help me by guiding me

    Thank You

  12. Hi Sameer,
    Wanna discuss regarding profiles of Pharma sector.
    I am a PhD with almost 5 year experience in Research & Development with Pharma Majors in INDIA. Wht u suggest whether my profile would be acceptable for a executive MBA frm ISB.

    Waiting for ur response.

  13. Hi Bodhi/Sameer,

    I am Vijaya. I have done by in 2012 & I had currently working in MNC.

    Total work Experience i had is 15 months. Is this the good time to start my Preparation to Crack ISB?

    Please advise.


  14. @Shiny: Chances depend on many other parameters as well. Start with the GMAT score and take it one step at a time.

    @Vaibhav: 5 yrs is the average in class. So your experience doesn’t push you out of the race. But be specific about the terms you use. ISB’s Executive MBA is called PGPMax. But I’m guessing that’s not what you are targetting.

    @Vijaya: ISB needs a minimum of 2 years work experience at the time if starting the program. So, in terms of preparation, no issues. But if I had to suggest something, I’d say way till the profile becomes stronger.

  15. Hello Sir,
    I am preparing for GMAT and will be going to schedule the test very soon. As I was goin through the isb site there are 2 round of applications for Indian students, somost probably I’ll try for the 2nd round dis year. Now my main query is aa in engg I got back in 2 subjects. Well my overall percentage is 67.96. I want to know if my back will make a difference will applying to isb. Currently I m work in in a steel plant as assistant manager mechanical backed up with a experience of 3 years in project commissioning and maintenance.

  16. Hi.

    Pls suggest if my profile is decent enough for cracking ISB. My profile is as follows –
    10th – 93% , 12th – 88% ,
    B.E. Marine Technology BIT Ranchi 8.53 cgpa and 91% first class with distinction
    Worked as a Marine Engineer ( mostly technical work profile ) from jan 2011 till date ( 3+ yrs) in world shipping leader A.P.Moller Maersk.
    Planning to give my GMAT this year.


  17. @ Akhtar: If you wow them with your experience and GMAT score, they might be willing to overlook the backlog.

    @ Arijit: Sorry, we can’t talk about chances on the blog. Consider the MBA MAP option.

  18. Hi Sameer,

    I am from B.Tech background (75% aggregate and degree with honors) and has work experience of 11 years in IT companies. Throughout my career, I played various roles ranging from developer, analyst, lead and project manager which I have been playing for the past 4 years. I always wanted to acquire MBA from a premier MBA institute but it kept on getting delayed due to various personal and professional reasons. Now I am all set and is planning to go for it this year and started preparations for CAT and GMAT. I need some clarifications regarding iSB which I am hoping you would be able to be help me with.

    1. Can you please provide consolidated list of consultancy service packages that you offer which can help me in achieving my goal?
    2. Regarding iSB, it looks programme starts from April, 2015. To get into this batch, When do you think I should finish my GMAT? Going by Bodhi’s exp. above, looks like I am already behind the schedule.
    3. Somewhere I read that, in ISB there will be 2 cycles of batches. Does that mean, is there is any other prior batch that I can target to get into?
    4. Does IIMs consider GMAT scores too? Also I got to know that IIMs too offers 1 year programs too, something like PGPX. Are they equivalent to 1 year program of iSB in terms of coverage, reputation and opportunities?


  19. @Balaji: If you can get a GMAT score before the deadline for ISB, you can still apply. ISB has multiple rounds and two locations (the class starting dates are the same). Several IIMs also offer 1 year MBA programs that are well-respected in the industry.

    You’ll find the details of the services we offer in the menu on top. But from the questions you’ve asked, I’m not sure if you are ready for it yet.

  20. Hi Sameer,
    I am applying for ISB this year. I have scored 710 (Q 51 V 35 IR 8) in GMAT..
    I am BTech from NIT jaipur with 3.7 (GMAT scale) and have a work experience at MNC of 2 yrs 8 months till March 2015.
    Decent extracurricular activities, organised events at college level…
    Do u think i stand a chance at this??

  21. Dear Sameer

    Thanks for the post..

    My profile is as follows

    1. Btech , IIT Mechanical engineering, passed out in 2012
    2. GPA 8.18
    3. GMAT 710
    4. College extra currics: General Secy, Board of.Cultural Acitivites, elected
    5. Work ex: Bharat Petroleum, since 2012, Retail SBU.
    6. Job role: directly responsible for around 6 crores in capex and 4 crores in revex, presently 21 vendors report to me, and I directly manage them for projects.

    Grateful if you could evaluate my chances at ISB

  22. Dear Sameer,
    My profile is : –
    10th – 82 %
    12th – 65 %
    Electronics Engineer : – 65 %
    Work Experience – 10 years
    If i get 720, is there any change to get into IIM PGPX.

  23. Hi,
    I have recently finalized that I wish to pursue ISB and I am not very sure what sections in GMAT exam really matter. Is it just the quant and verbal that counts for ISB?

  24. Hi,
    I am B.Com and CA, CFA 2nd level and 3 years experience as Asst. Manager in large manufacturing company. got GMAT 700. Planning to reapear with a target of 725 – 740. But with my present score 700 where I have scope.

  25. Hello Sameer sir,
    I’m a 1st yr student. I want to do my mba outside india after my graduation. Do i need to prepare for GMAT from now onwards? What is the first step ?

  26. Dear Sameer,

    My profile is –

    Schooling –
    Xth – 85%
    XII th – 96%
    Have topped in every class during schooling. Besides, have had many certificates winning various competitions (Essays, Debates etc). Also won medals in Karate competitions.

    Graduation – Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC – Delhi University 2007 batch) – aggregate of 70% over the 3 years . Was also an active member of a students party.

    Am also a US CFA program aspirant, and have cleared Level I in 2008.

    Work experience – A total of 8 years of work experience in the Financial/Banking sector with American Express & Citibank. Been involved in leadership roles. . Currently working as an Assistant Vice President with Citi..

    The dampener is that I have given 2 GMAT attempts in 2012, and the scores were a mere 610 and 630 respectively. Am keen to apply for ISB 2017 batch.. What do you think are my chances with the current scores?

    Can someone from your team get in touch with me?

    Sunny Sahni

  27. Hi Bodhi,

    Myself Swapnil,

    I completed SSC in 2007 with 70.15%
    HSC in 2009 in 2009 with 69.70%
    Bachelor in Management studies (BMS) Mumbai University in 2012 with 66% in 2014
    Currently am working in banking Industry since may 2014 (approx 2 years Work Exp)

    Above was my Education credentials.
    I’ll be appearing for GMAT in the month of May.

    I was going thru all the blogs and have seen that people with min. 5 yrs exp have applied for the course.
    Wanted to clarify whether am I eligible for doing MBA in ISB this year?

  28. Hii Sameer,

    I have work experience of around 6 years in different companies from Private , Public sector ( GAIL & ONGC) and now working as class A officer in central government. My credentials are as follows:-

    Xth- 91.50 ( Rajasthan Board)
    XIIth- 76.15 ( Rajasthan Board) IIT Roorkee ( CGPA 8.0/10)

    I want to pursue Executive MBA from ISB. Can you please guide me how to start prep for that i.e, study material, practice test etc. What GMAT score would be required. I cant afford much study hours being in hectic job.


  29. Mr. Kamath
    I hv 760 GMT score in Jan Mechanical Engineering graduate, having work experience of more than 2 yrs & still working at target to get into ISB PGP PROGRAMME of December 21. Nedd ur kind consultation .


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