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MBA in Europe admits with low GMAT score after 4 rejections

Pulkit Kashyap’s first MBA application journey was disastrous – it started with a 570 GMAT score and ended with 4 rejections.

He knew it wouldn’t get worse than that. So he picked himself up and did what any dejected, heart-broken Bollywood hero would do. He moved to Europe to rediscover and reinvent himself.

He worked hard on improving his profile before making a re-attempt. And he finally got the long-awaited gift…on his 30th birthday.

How I got into ESADE (Spain) and St Gallen (Switzerland) with a low GMAT score

by Pulkit Kashyap

How I got into ESADE and St GallenFinally, I get an honor to write my success story on MBA Crystal Ball, not much riveting but still inspiring.

Last week, I heard the news which I was waiting to hear from last 4 years (on and off) – I am admitted to one of the top 20 B-Schools in the world – ESADE, the business school in Spain.

In 2014, 4-years of IT experience in software testing, and I took my first step towards an MBA by giving GMAT for the first time and scoring an ordinary score of 570; it was a total failure and of course I was dejected.

Time passed, I got busy into work, and got a short-term onsite opportunity to go to Switzerland. I came back to India and after few months of studying, I tried my luck with GMAT again, year and half later than my first attempt, and voila, I scored 670, not a good score at all. But hey, it was quite an improvement from the first one.

I was still dejected because we all know the brutal combination IIM, not the one in Ahmedabad, but the one that says Indian IT Male Engineer, and my GMAT score was not enough to take me anywhere.

I had no idea what to do; I got lackadaisical at my job and wanted to leave, and I did, at least temporarily.

I took a 4 months sabbatical and worked for an International NGO – the best and most fulfilling decision of my life; the decision not solely aiming at lifting my profile for an MBA, but yes had a tiny hint of it.

After those laborious 4 months, I got back to work and applied to four of the top 50 business schools as I believed that I got a good amount of diverse work experience which could overcome my GMAT score.

But guess what, I got rejected from all of those schools!

Disheartened, I kept working and gaining more experience and learning business workflows while working in multiple projects at work, and in 2016, I grabbed another onsite opportunity to go to Switzerland again.

The 2 years I spent in Switzerland had changed my life is so many ways. I travelled to almost every capital of Europe, I made amazing friends, I discovered my passion for sports, and most importantly I expanded my professional network.

Coming back to India, I wanted to fulfil my dream of doing an MBA. I made a transition in my role to a Business Analyst and I was confident that I have a story, but I was finding it difficult to put it together.

And then I found about MBA Crystal Ball. At first, I was hesitant to opt for their packages as the price was on the higher side, but you should know that good quality requires good money.

Therefore, after reading many positive reviews, I opted for the 3-school essay review package – another good decision which would bring closer to my MBA.

Vibhav worked with me as the MBA consultant, and from very first day, I was confident that I would achieve some positive results while working with him. He helped me to understand the points, which were important, and to highlight those in my essays.

He helped me to formulate my story, which was with me from so long, and which I was not able to decipher on my own.

With each essay, I got better and better after working on edits, comments, and additions suggested by Vibhav. I became confident with my writing and improved the shortcomings.

Vibhav actually let me gauge at my past to bring the best story lineup and put it in my essays. I worked really hard on my essays – late nights and early mornings, and Vibhav supported me on weekends and after his office hours to review my essays.

In the end, I was happy with the structure of my essays, and I could see my story was comprehended in the way I always wanted.

Hard work always pays off. I hit the bull’s eye when I got the interview invites from the two schools I applied.

I decided to attend the interview face-to-face in Europe – one in Switzerland at University of St. Gallen and the other in Barcelona at ESADE.

The thought of giving the interview face-to-face was daunting, and I wanted to be well prepared for the questions, so I got in touch with Vibhav again.

I opted for MBA Crystal Ball’s mock interview service.

He sent me a detailed list of possible questions to prepare in advance and we had two mock up sessions, which helped me to know my shortcomings and made me realize the importance of answering the question first before explaining them in detail.

I was well equipped with the responses and I was very confident for the interviews.

At ESADE, I combined my interview with the campus visit and I got a chance to attend one of the creative classes with the current students, and that gave me the confident that the school was apt for me.

After the class, I attended the interview with the admission officer whom I’d already met in India during an admission event. She recognized me and we started on a very positive note by discussing about the creative class.

The MBA interview questions were a mix of general and personal questions such as what was my best project in which I worked on and why, about my leadership experience, about my hobbies, my post-MBA goals, my back-up plan if I am not admitted to the school, and about my volunteer experience.

I was very precise in my answers and to the point without digressing – the mock sessions with Vibhav helped me big time for the actual interviews. The interview lasted almost 45 minutes, and I had a good feeling about the result.

The Pursuit of Happyness – Yes, I heard it – the news I was waiting for- I cracked both the interviews, and I got a call from St. Gallen on the day I turned 30, YES it was meant to be, and from ESADE couple of weeks later.

I have applied to European schools as I have always preferred the location due to the prior work experience. And I have chosen ESADE over St.Gallen for three big reasons:

  • The course length is flexible which gives one an option to choose Internship and Exchange.
  • The school is one of the best in Europe for Entrepreneurship.
  • Barcelona – the trendy and vibrant city with many startups. The school will also provide me a good prospect to find a suitable opportunity to work within Europe post my MBA.

All and all – Low score in GMAT, and I thought it was the end, but it was not as GMAT is not the only criteria for selection, although, it could be one of the criteria for rejection.

Don’t let your hopes down if you have a low GMAT score as other things in your profile matters.

I knew that the major challenge with my profile was the low GMAT score, but it was overcome by many positives in my profile such as international experience, good know-how of business, professional network etc.; these positives also helped me to stand out in the competition pool.

To MBA Crystal Ball: Big thumbs up for the quality and experience you have in the team. And big thanks to Manish and Vibhav to place everything together very quickly, especially when I requested for the interview package.


Profile Summary

A bit about me to help you know my profile better.

  • Professional Experience: 8 years (2+ years onsite experience) on multiple banking and healthcare projects with an IT giant,Role: Software testing + Business Analyst
  • Post-MBA goals: Technology Consulting and Entrepreneurship
  • Extra-Curricular: Worked with an International NGO as a team leader for 4 months in South India and managed a mix team (UK and India) of 15 volunteers
  • Education: Average student with average score in Under graduation
  • Hobbies: Running, Hiking and Traveling (31 countries so far and counting)
  • Languages: Hindi, English, Punjabi (Intermediate), German (Intermediate), Spanish (Beginner)
  • Fun/crazy Fact: I have practically lived the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” – Scuba in Costa Brava, Sky diving in Seville, Tomatina in Bunol – (I don’t support the Bull festival in Pamplona for humanitarian reasons, so that is off the list)
  • Financial Aid: I have taken a loan from Prodigy finance as it was hassle free, quick and trustworthy.

My advice for MBA applicants. Build your professional network, try to meet/speak with the Alumni of the school you are aiming at, meet/connect with admission team to build personal repo, visit the university (if you can), and be sure that you are ready for an MBA.

If you have any doubts regarding anything related to my story, or if you are in the same boat I was once, I will be happy to help. Please do reach out to me at

Also read:
ESADE MBA good for renewable energy opportunities says Oil and Gas professional
Master of Finance in Germany (FSFM) vs Switzerland (St. Gallen)
IE Business School Spain MBA admits an Indian entrepreneur

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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 Email. Or follow on Linkedin, Facebook.

11 thoughts on “MBA in Europe admits with low GMAT score after 4 rejections”

  1. Great to hear/read your success story Pulkit! Wish you a bright future and keep up the progress. Make sure to follow your dreams! All the best from Zurich, Remo

  2. Thank you Remo for the kind words. Couldn’t meet you in January, so hopefully I’ll see you in Zurich when I am back next time 🙂

  3. Hey Pulkit, Awesome read it was to go through your journey in your own words.
    All the power and wishes to you for amazing journey ahead and hope to get more of such blogs from you.

  4. I will complete my MBA by mid of this year with specialisations in Marketing and HR. I want to move abroad and take up a one year course which is an add on to my MBA.

  5. Hello Sir,
    I have done my post graduation in core structural engineering (branch of Civil Engineering) and currently I am working with one of the largest MNCs in India.
    The role that the company has assigned me is of project management, which is completely deviating from the specialization I have pursued.
    Being inducted in such role would surely require me to pursue an MBA in the near future.
    So, instead of waiting for more years ahead, will it be a wise decision to go ahead with pursuing an MBA after 2 years from now ?

    My profile:
    Age : 27
    Current work Ex: 1.25 years
    Education: M.Tech .IIT Roorkee, 2018 batch

  6. hi Manish, I have been thinking of an MBA from ISB (aiming for career change – too done ). I hold a bachelors degree in Commerce from Christ University and qualified member of ICSI. I have a work ex of about 5 years (out of which 2 years relate to mandatory internship, technically 3 years). I have been with EY India throughput my career.
    Can you provide some inputs on whether ISB (as an option) would lead to my larger objective of career change. Also, is ISB an ideal option considering my profile + work ex. (Currently earning about 10 L CTC., age 25 yrs)

  7. @Priya – Usually, doing another degree immediately after the first one is not a great idea. If not possible to avoid, you may explore this route:

    @Prashant – It is not uncommon for engineers to have different profiles. If it’s not something you enjoy, seek a change – internally or externally. Don’t look at MBA as just a way out. If you are targeting GMAT based MBA, the expectation is 4-5 years of experience. If CAT based, then better sooner rather than later.

    @Alex – ISB is usually a pretty good ROI. Read here: That being said, you have to go into further details of what exactly you want a career change into, the school’s track record in doing that, your career aspirations etc. So not a one word answer there am afraid.

  8. Hey,
    I am currently preparing for my GMAT exam but I’m not sure of the programme i should go for – MBA or MS. I have 2 years of experience in financial industry. By the time I’d apply for admission, i’d having 3 yrs of work ex. could you give me a piece of advise on this?

    • Priya, usually, MS is ideal for those with 0-2 years of experience. Besides, the decision should be really dictated by your career choices. MS is a technical career while MBA is a managerial/business one.

  9. Hi,
    I am preparing for GMAT and is expecting around 650-670.
    I have 10 years of work-ex in an INDIAN PSU in manufacturing sector.
    Is there any chance for 1year MBA in India or abroad

    • @Leo, of course there could be prospects. Eventually, it doesn’t just depend on the GMAT score. A lot goes into your application and with so many years of experience, it’ll depend on how well you explain your work accomplishments, and post-MBA plans.


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