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How the GMAT test centre’s failure saved the day

With so much relying on the 3-digit number, the tension and nervousness at the GMAT test centres in India get too much to handle and there’s a breakdown…sometimes for the GMAT test center itself.

While most would grumble and come back home at having to repeat the whole GMAT test day ceremony again, for HEC Paris MBA student Harsha Vardhan, it turned out to be a boon in disguise.

But despite the additional preparation, he couldn’t capitalise on the second GMAT attempt either and got a 640. Did any of that deter him from applying? Ah, you already know the answer!

How the GMAT test centre’s failure saved the day

by Harsha Vardhan

Well I am Harsha and currently a MBA student at HEC Paris. I myself was surprised when I got a call for admission in a top school such as HEC Paris. I would like to share my experience during the MBA application process hoping it might be beneficial to some.

Pre MBA Profile

Briefly about my background, I have a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from an average ranked school in India and Master’s in Industrial Engineering again from an average ranked school in the USA. I worked in the role of a Consultant at Accenture for about a year in the IT industry.

Later I went on to work for a prestigious fellowship for the Government of India in the developmental sector for about 20 months (nothing significant when you compare with your peers in a top school). It was always my dream to study in a top ranking college and was looking to do a MBA only from a top international MBA school.

My GMAT Prep Experience

I began by first preparing for the GMAT exam. It requires meticulous planning and especially if you are working, you have to dedicate appropriate time and effort. I was kind of overconfident by attempting to give the test too soon by only doing a few practice tests and hoping to get close to the 700 mark within 3 months of preparation.

Fortunately during the exam, there was a glitch at the GMAT test centre and I was offered a free retake, although I realised that I have come under prepared. I gave it after another 3 months, this time with planning but managed only 640.

Nevertheless I was confident that having a nice resume and essays would help scrape through for an admission in a top school (especially when you look at average experience and score of the class on the school’s websites).

I decided to give it a shot at Duke University, HEC Paris and Rice University. I began by talking to friends, look at blogs and gathered all the material of sample essays from various websites. Feeling confident I started preparing my resume and essays.

After numerous consultations with friends I was confident I had the perfect resume and essays which would help me in getting a call for interview.

Choosing the right MBA Application Consultants

Somewhere down the line I decided to consult professionals in essay writing and resume. The essay writing services in USA were extremely expensive.

It was a challenge in identifying the right one because there are a whole lot that would pop up online and one would find it hard to choose and also wonder what would happen if you were not satisfied at the end of the day.

I looked online on a whole lot of websites and read the testimonials and finally decided to go with MBA Crystal Ball.

MBA Crystal Ball review

At MBA Crystal Ball I had the opportunity to work with MBA consultant Manish Gupta who is popularly known as MG. I responded to his emails about my reasons for a MBA, future goals and shared my resume with him prior to talking over the phone for the initial brainstorming.

I was pretty confident on the structure of my MBA essays and was expecting only minor changes and advice because I prepared based on the sample essays which I found online. I had the initial brainstorming which lasted a little over an hour. MG had got an understanding and a perspective of my work experience, future goals and we also discussed the essays in detail.

He had given me tips and pointers and also asked for additional information related to make the essays more effective. You would have to modify the essays based on the changes that have been suggested or mutually agreed during the conversation. MG would review the updated version and send his comments.

Finally after the process goes in and out three times, that final version would be ready for submission.

I will have to confess here that to my surprise the essays looked a lot effective. In my case I changed sectors and was struggling to put up an explanation and explain how it made me a better person in terms of learning and experience.

I explained MG frankly why I was motivated in that sector but could not come up with anything effective or nice on paper. Here MG helped me in putting up an effective but very sensible explanation which helped me connect the dots in my career and finally came up with essays that were outstanding. This process was done to all three schools that I applied for.

The resume also looked more effective. I can tell you guys with conviction that I would not have made it without the help of MG. Having studied in average ranked schools with average grades and also not a very high GMAT score, it was my resume and essays which I crafted with the help of MG outweigh my weaknesses and guys you wouldn’t believe I got a call for interview from Rice MBA and HEC Paris MBA.

Not to forget the references are a very important part of your application. MG had explained me the structure of sending recos to which I could explain to my boss in the way a MBA school expects.

MBA Applications Results

Unfortunately I did not get through the Rice interview but cleared the tougher one among the two.

Finally I am glad to make it here at HEC and I find it befitting to share my experiences especially to the guys who feel that a top school is out of their reach because they might have messed up in one or more components of the application process.

But guess not all it takes is a balance of all to get in a top school and it is always good to strengthen the ones which you could while there is no way of going back and changing anything that occurred previously.

Frankly this blog is written to thank my mentor and good friend during the application process and also hopefully might inspire a few others who feel otherwise.

While Harsha heads of to Paris to click photographs of the Eiffel Tower, a word of advice for those who are yet to cross the GMAT exam hurdle.

Whether you have registered an appointment with the GMAT Test Centres in India (Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad Gurgaon or anywhere else), don’t depend on Mr Murphy and technical problems to save the day. Prepare well and try to get it right in the first attempt.

Check out these success stories of other low GMAT scorers.

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

10 thoughts on “How the GMAT test centre’s failure saved the day”

  1. I am in last year of engineering.. I m placed in cognizant and tech mahindra..Also I HV got good scores in xat and cmat..should I go with the job or persuade MBA?

    • Tough to make a judgment Shubham. MBA now could give you a headway into managerial career – however, if the programs you have got into are not top league, it may not be a great idea in general.

  2. I want to do research in nanoelectronics or some vlsi design related field.Which is the better option:india or abroad? I have an average profile.

  3. Hi sir,
    Sir I’ve done mechanical engineering from amity university noida with not such great cgpa (6.09) , I’ve been indulge in various extra curricular activities like I was sports captain of my institution, I was student head placement coordinator at my university and also organised many of events at my college time . And past four months I’m working in continental tires . I need to know the factors that can waive my Acads records and also wanted to get enroll in some good college like Insead , Hec Paris , HBS, or any top institutions for Mba . Do guide me from starting. I need to know how much work experience I should gain for it . Do mention it all require for my situation to get enroll in some top institution.

  4. I have done my three years Bachelor degree in Chemistry (Distinction – Pune University). I have one year research experience in college lab. (Unfortunately no publication)..
    I would like enhance my research experience by doing PhD. Can I apply on the basis of three years Bachelor degree for PhD program. Please tell me some tips about application or anything related to admission.

    • Most US programs would expect a 4 year (16 years of education) for the PhD; many would need a Master’s equivalent Lalit. Even so, reach out to your target programs directly to assess the requirements specifically. Also explore other geographies (e.g. EU).

  5. Hi sir, i have done three years bachelor degree in computer science with low grade.Am I eligible for mba?what is the requirements to get admission in a good college in US?


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