Tuck MBA: How cool Mukul (with a GMAT score 2 make u drool) got into bschool

Tuck MBA Dartmouth | MukulYo peeps, wassup! If the rap-worthy title of this post sounds poetic, Mukul’s journey was far from it. Despite a huge GMAT score of 770, there was still a big white ‘Gap’ in his story (yeah my friend…more T-shirt wisdom comin’ your way). In the race to get into the b-school of his choice he stumbled and fell – not once but twice. But he got up, dusted himself and got back into the race…more determined than ever to get what he wanted. We can’t compete with the massage parlours in Bangkok, but many of our stories do tend to be therapeutic and they also have a happy ending. Mukul’s inpiring story is one of those.

How I got into the Tuck MBA | Ivy League MBA Admissions

by Mukul Kumar

Hey there! I am Mukul and I am going to tell you a story, of big dreams, high hopes, dark dejection and sweet success.

Let’s go six years back when I was still enjoying my final days at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; trying to forget about my CAT debacle by partying everyday till graduation. Little did I know about the long tiring journey that lay ahead of me.

I am a foresighted person, but that time I kept a myopic view of my career, thinking only about the IBM job in Pune I had.

I knew nothing about what am I gonna do, except that I had to an MBA at some point of time in my life. I let myself settle in the job for a while and then around April 2006 started toying with the idea of taking the GMAT.

As most of us, I needed a little push, that extra motivation to get started. I joined classes and very soon forgot about them. Indian coaching centers were just not ready for GMAT that time. And I reckoned that I can do better than this.

As it is I was telling the Math teacher what to do next, and so to the rest of the guys while in the class. But then one fine day my sister, who is a US citizen, asked me what my plans were? And what I have thought about my career.

Surely I was not thinking about working at IBM all my life, she said. And that was a warning bell for me. She said that I should just take GMAT and come to US. She even took a date for me and sent me the details! So yeah I was forced into this, in a way.

I did the math, and figured that a US MBA was way better than anything I will ever get here. Luckily my sister also offered to back me up on the finance front. All I had to do was take the GMAT, or so I thought. Silly me!

I had two months to take the test. The thing with me is, well, I am insane. I started studying for the test day and night. Every waking hour, I was preparing for it. While at work, I squeezed time out of coffee breaks (not the cigarette breaks tho’) and at home, I did nothing except studying or sleeping. Well a few episodes of Top Gear are harmless :-)

I put in at least 4-5 hours every day. Towards the end, during the last week I was clocking around 12-14 hours per day! I was so prepared that I could have easily taken two GMAT tests on the final day, easily.

Anyway, I scored a 770, basically destroyed it. So the next step was to obviously apply and get into any half decent B-school in the US. The first deadlines were already over, and so I targeted the round 2. Honestly I had no clue as to which schools I should apply to.

I had no one to guide me and the mad rush to get in the B-schools was virtually non-existent then. The school selection was random, or as per the ranking at best. Bad, bad, bad move! I chose a few schools of my liking, or shall I say schools I had heard were good, namely Wharton, Tuck, Ross and Yale. And I chose one safe school as McCombs.

For obvious reasons I did not chose HBS or Stanford, come on I had not even one year of work experience. At least I had this much sense.

I rushed my applications, the essays were a piece of … and don’t even get me started on my Resume.

I ended up getting a phone interview from Ross (finally denied) and a waitlist from McCombs, which I never pursued.

The major take away from this debacle for me and should be for you guys was that you have to research schools. GMAT is just one part of the entire application and often given undue importance. Think of it as a minimum age requirement. If you are around the median (above is certainly better) you have to look past it and focus on application.

The application packet is what gets you in. You have to research schools, know everything about them, assess your fit in those schools, build your profile, make a conscious effort towards taking up leadership roles in all fields: work, extra-curricular, community work; and obviously good essays. It is a herculean task and you have to be mentally prepared for it.

Even the shoddy attempt I made that year sucked the life out of me. I was left exhausted, dejected and broke after that application cycle.

But I knew nothing comes easy in life. If getting into IIT was not easy, clearing (well not clearing in my case), cracking the GMAT wasn’t easy, why should this be. In fact I had understood that this is going to be one hell of a job.

I started from scratch, changed my job. Gave myself a new lease of life and started building from ground up. I worked on my profile, taking calculated risks at work, communicating with people better, taking up challenges proactively, helping others and most importantly by being a good person.

I matured as a professional and the leadership traits became clearer. I had a clear vision and my goals were clearer. I knew the recommenders would not need refreshing their brains to give me a stellar recommendation this time. And so I was back in the game.

In 2009, things started happening. I had to talk to my parents and my wife (girlfriend then) about my marriage. Lots of personal decisions and the timing of life events now were relying on it. I geared up for the application cycle, determined to make it big this time.

If you remember that I had a waitlist from McCombs which I never pursued. That was because when I failed to get into the top schools, I suddenly realized that with the score I have, with the acads I have, I just can’t waste the potential.

I have to get into the Ivy Leagues J This time my application was freaking awesome. Everything was spot on. The essays were flawless, the resume looked perfect and the recommendations had to be enthusiastic. So when I was waitlisted by Kellogg, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern and denied after interview from Wharton and Duke, I was devastated.

I was back to square one. I could not believe what was happening, why this was happening. I knew that that application cycle was the most competitive till date, but come on! I was clueless and literally in tears. The toughest day was when Booth was going to declare results for the waitlist.

That day was a dark dark day for me. That was the last hope I was clinging on too. And so was my girlfriend and my parents. But times like these are when you know what you are made up of. So when I told my mother that don’t worry mom, I will apply again for next cycle, she said that she has never known a person stronger than me. That was a big proud moment for me as a son.

After that, I took time off, reassess my strategy. There was certainly one gaping hole which I am not seeing. All my effort was going down the drain. I was certainly good, so, then what the hell was happening! I re-read my essays again and again. Nothing! Then it dawned up on me! I was not reading it from the eyes of that School.

Every school has a personality. We Indians are fundamentally challenged to think in terms of such things as ‘fit’ and ‘right school’. It’s always about 99 percentiles and top ranked. The best strategy is to spot the one which is the best of both worlds for you. I had to find the school which was like me. A school’s personality is the collective conscience of its students, alums, faculty and staff. To become one of them you have to be like them.

I saw everything in Tuck which was a reflection of me. And to top it all, it is an Ivy League. Beautiful place, helpful alums, collaborative learning, everything was perfect.

I wrote my heart out about everything from what I want, what I ever wanted, my childhood, my marriage which was gonna happen, failures, successes, things I cherished, everything. Basically the application essay was a small representation of me without a face, which later on the interviewer anyway clicked J

This time I was sure after the interview that I was gonna make it, even before I did. And there it was, the call. They called me, and I couldn’t say anything, and they understood. They simply said congratulations and to enjoy this.

And I will do the same here, leave you to get back to your studies. If you have been moved even an inch by this story, preserve this feeling. Keep it sealed inside you. Let it be the driver. Life will reward you, if you are patient and honest in your endeavors. No dream is big. Dream is a way to think big, and to tell you that this is what you deserve.

– Mukul

Mukul is currently tangled in paperwork, sorting finances, loans and visa. But he still takes out time to help people who have the same dreams. He also shares his GMAT secrets and his application stories on his blogs: GMATing: How I made it to an Ivy League B-School!! || How I got a 770 in GMAT

Don’t miss these posts on the Tuck MBA program:

Tuck MBA Admission & Placements: Interview with Regional Director (India, SE Asia)

How Indian applicant Subhajit got into the Tuck MBA program

Free Trial: ApplicantLab | MBA Abroad Videos

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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin
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  1. mba roadie says:

    Congratulations Mukul. You deserved it. Wish you all the best for a rocking career ahead!!

  2. Mukul Kumar says:

    Lol! The title made me smile :)

    Thanks MBA Roadie for your wishes. Thanks Sameer for publishing this.

    Enjoy guys!

  3. Rajpandian says:

    hello mukul,
    im gonna save this story and m sure im gonna read it ,many more times until i crack it into my dream b-school…………….

    all the very best

  4. Shivraj says:

    Thanks Mukul for this wonderfull post. It surely moved me more than an inch ! :) Following your gmating site too off late, and you have some great stories to inspire all the MBA applicants

    All the best at Tuck !

    Cheers !

  5. Hemant says:

    Congrats Mukul!!! Inspiring to say the least. I am also applying to Tuck this year( R2 probably). Hopefully will get a chance to meet you..


  6. HarisP says:

    wow mukul..hats off to u….
    this is the BEST gmat/admission experience i have EVER heard…U really deserve to be there @ Tuck…congrats…

  7. sbk1337 says:

    Congrats to Mukul. Very inspiring story.

    Some typos i noticed:

    para 9 last line : And so I (was) back in the game.

    para 12 line 4: We Indians are fundamentally challenged to thing (think)

  8. Winai says:


    My name is Winai.
    I am working for a resort in Luang Prabang, Lao P.D.R and planning to take either GMAT or IELTS exam.

    The current is that I have got 5.5 band of IELTS ( 5 Listening, 5 Reading, 6 Writing, and 6 Speaking).
    And, also got once GMAT score of 300 (32 quantitative, 9 verbal, and 4 level of writing).
    And, GRE of 820 comprise of 520 of quantitative, 300 of verbal, and 2.5-3 level of AWA.

    My bachelor’s degree was majoring in Telecommunication Engineering.
    I have gain reward experience working as Sales, Marketing,Project Management, and sort of; so that aiming for MBA or even M.Phil program.

    My objective is that gaining 90 percentile of quantitative of GMAT. And, of course, I also need IELTS score of 6.5 or above.

    Please kindly advise either course or schedule.
    If you have any suggestion, do please not hesitate to let me know.
    I am planning to move to Bangkok by the end of September, 2011.

    Very truly yours,

    • Sameer says:

      Your GMAT score will need a major re-hauling if you want to be considered as a competitive candidate for the top schools.
      All the secrets of cracking the GMAT and MBA application code have been emailed to you. Check your inbox.

  9. Debhaz says:

    Thanks Sameer/Mukul for such a inspiring post. I too am toying the idea of taking gmat. Mukul’s gmating blog has tremendously elevated my dilemna towards the positive direction. Will need your tips and advice very soon.

    Congratulations to Mukul. And all the best wishes for you both!

  10. Mini says:

    Congrats Mukul ! You honestly deserved it. Loved the way you have drafted this story! :)

  11. Congrats Mukul , I loved reading your story. Planning to take up GMAT, may be in 2years from now. Don’t know where to start from and how.
    Thanks Sameer for publishing the story. In my case I do not have just a GAP, I have a hell lot of gaps, kindly help and guide me how to get over it, please tell me where and how to start from.

  12. v143 says:

    I am currently working in a MNC in Mumbai in health care department. I have completed my masters in life sciences. I don’t have much experience only a year and frankly speaking I was only good ( good here means good according to my parents :-D) in studies and no extra curriculum and etc…. I wanted to do Mba overseas but don’t know from where to start. Can anyone please tell about the GMAT and other selection process.
    Thank you

  13. MbaVdMSc M says:


    I’ve been looking for pursuing MBA for some time now, I got stuck with something called Msc in Managment, I want to like do this degeree is vaild same as an MBA, All top university in UK have these course & it’s half priced than MBA? Can you adivse please

    P.S. I hold 5.6 years of Corporate experience

    • Sameer Kamat says:

      An MSc degree is not the same as an MBA. The target audience for the two are different and so are the objectives. That’s why there’s so much difference in the fees and costs. Check out the average class profiles and average salaries of the two to get an idea.

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