Test Testy

Thursday, March 29, 2007

ISB Admission cycle - Step by step timelines, part 2

In my last post I have detailed the steps up to taking the GMAT. Till this point it is generic and would be common for most B-school aspirants. Some other things that were very useful at this stage were - A word document passed on by ex-colleague Ritu, having a PC with broadband connection, my boss's advice, and the coaching centre.

After taking GMAT, the journey took a different turn. Till now the path was pretty straight forward and I could get lot of guidance. Different concerns started cropping up. Some of them were - would I even get shortlisted by IIM and ISB, is 690 good enough, what would be my AWA score, how would I justify a low AWA score if it is low, is my profile good enough and so on.

Step 6: The next step is to start working on the application. Immediately after reaching home I submitted my IIMA-PGPX application. The PGPX application is very simple in the first stage, you don't need to write any essays. Only the short listed need to write the 5 essays, 500 words each.

The whole GMAT thing drained me so much that it took me a month to recover and focus on ISB application. The key learning is that have lots of buffer time between GMAT and the application deadline. I have registered myself on the ISB online application site immediately after they activated it. I have filled in all the basic details like personal details, experience, education etc. I didn't touch the essays before GMAT at all. The main tasks that were to be done are Essays, four of them, Evaluations, I decided to get three instead of two minimum required, and getting copies of the necessary documents.

Step 7: Writing Essays for ISB application
The topics were little twisted and you have to present your point in a different way. At this point something very funny happened. I posted my profile on the isb-pgp yahoo group to get a general feedback and I did get some positive feedback. Apart from that one of the replier suggested that I can take external help in getting the essays right. To this another applicant by name Prashant Agrawal, based out of London, reacted very strongly contending that it is not ethical to take external help in writing the essays and the whole thing snowballed till the time that the group moderator intervened and forced Prashant to stop from further posts. Funny, ain't it, people have so many faces.

My essay writing started around 30th August and ended only by 25th September. I had done about 4 to 5 revisions before pressing the submit button. Initially I just wrote whatever came to my mind in a word document and each essay was going up to 800 words, min and the word limit was 300 words. Next I tried to cut down on sentences, repeats etc and could cut them down to 400 - 450 words. This took almost 10 days. After this I invited one of my junior colleagues. Mr. Rohan Kashyap, to review them critically. He bought out some very good points and highlighted the weaknesses.

In the next phase I rewrote the essays and forwarded to them one ISB alum, whom I knew a bit closely and to another friend of mine for review. They suggested few changes and finally I took the essays to my verbal coach for GMAT and took his help to check the grammar and style. He helped me in finalizing the essays. Even after that I made some minor changes but more or less finished them.

Around the same time I got a shortlist from IIMA and I used these same essays with some minor modification. To be honest, I was not so keen on IIMA but I couldn't just leave it like that and another point was that I was fully drained by ISB essays. Fortunately IIMA's word limit is 500 words and I happily expanded the shorter essays.

Step 8: Evaluations
This is one area I had a certain advantage. My current boss then, and my previous two bosses were very close to me and I had a good relationship with them. The relationship was very professional and was built mostly on work related interactions but at the same time i had put in effort to be in touch with them and help them wherever possible. It helped that I never moved Hyderabad and I could be in touch with them regularly. I spoke to them first and them send them the soft copies by mail. It was pretty simple with my then current boss. One day I went little early in the morning and waited for him to come in. As soon as he was in, it was 9:00 AM in the morning, others would come in only after 9:30AM, I took a print out and quickly went in. He finished the whole thing in about half-an-hour and showed me the whole thing before sealing as directed by ISB. I was happy as he could clearly rate where I was good and where I needed to improve. With the other two I had to push a bit and before the deadline got both of them. Both of them also showed me their ratings before sealing. There was no specific benefit of seeing your own ratings but it gives you some comfort. Also all three of them were honest and I in no way influenced their ratings. The ratings were no goody-goody.

Step 9: Submission of the application

This was the easiest of all. Just keep your credit card with you for online submission and collate all the documents for hard copy submission. I submitted the hard copy on 2nd October as it was the day of Dasera and anything that is started on that day is supposed to be successful and indeed it did :)

For IIMA it was far more simple, all I had to do was rewrite the essays, get a digital photograph and submit it online. No application fees, may be that's one reason I pursued it till the end.

The next phase was waiting for shortlist, preparing for the interview, attending the interview, waiting for the result, and finally you get to know what happened to your dream of getting into the B-school.

My next post follows shortly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ISB Admission cycle - Step by step timelines, part 1

While I started planning for B-School admission I was looking for a one specific piece of information and that was to understand the timelines involved in the complete cycle of admission - right from time of deciding to join ISB till the point of actually joining ISB. Despite being based in Hyderabad I couldn't get some specific details. Currently I am more or less finished all the stpes except landing at ISB on 14th April, so I feel this might be the right time to provide a step by step detail along with the timelines. The whole thing went as detailed below:

Step 1: Deciding that I am going to get an admission into a premier B-school and committing myself to it completely - Dec 2005

Step 2: Identifying the B-schools that suit me, my profile and my future aspirations - Dec 2005 to April 2006

Step 3: Getting exact details about the admission cycles of the schools that I have shortlisted and based on that deciding when to take GMAT - April 2006

I have shortlisted ISB, AIM, IIM A - PGPX, and XL's GMP, NUS. I didn't even consider Insead, IIM Cal's PGPEX, and other European and American B-schoools mainly considering my family situation and financial arrangements. In fact one of the key reasons I have choosen IIM and ISB is the fact that you can get a loan pretty easily. For me it didn't matter if I am spending 15 lakhs or 10 lakhs or 20 lakhs as long as a Bank is providing a loan without collateral. Based on admission cycles of the schools that I have shorlisted I have decided to take my GMAT in the first week of August 2006.

Step 4: GMAT self-assessment and deciding whether to take external hellp or not.

I had a PC at home with broadband connection and this helped me immensely. I did all my research and took help of people I know who took GMAT earlier. I bought Kaplan premier program and OG 11 and downloaded GMATprep from mba.com. I took the diagnostic test in OG11 and realized that I am at the average or above average levels but not at excellent levels. Then I took the first complete test of GMATprep and scored 650.

Looking at the average GMAT scores of ISB and IIM, I have realized that I need to score atleast 690 in order to have a fair chance at these schools keeping in mind my 12 years work experience. Considering my work pressure I have decided that I better join a coaching institute, which will give the forced practice time that I can't do on my own. I joined a well-known institute, which was kind of OK and helped me do a disciplined practise in class and also using the online resources. The coching started in May 06 and lasted till July first week

Step 5: Finalizing the date for GMAT and taking GMAT

I have registered at mba.com and I was regularly checking the availability in Hyderabad right from May and after my coaching got over in July I have frozen the date as 10th August as it was the last date to submit one of the shortlisted colleges application. I have completed the application, which was quite simple in advance and entering the GMAT score was the only thing left to be done.

I took about 7 days leave. For the first three days I went through all the basics and took one test per day. I reviewed where I was going wrong and focused on those areas. The next two days I took two tests per day and saved the GMATprep second test for the day before the test. I called the GMAT office couple of times to confirm that I got all the formalities right. On the day of the test I had a light lunch and carried few chocolates for the break. I landed at the test centre about 30 min in advance and chatted with others sitting there. I had little bit of trouble signing with the stylus pen (my hands were shaking for sometime but then I managed to sign properly). I scored 690 and I got the unofficial score report. The unofficial score report is very important till you get the official score card.

I shall post the next steps in the following entry. Best of luck to all those who have already started on their journey to admission into ISB or other B-schools

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two more weekends

Last two weeks have been hectic and saw lot of action. I'm not talking about the world cup or the gruesome murder of Woolmer but I'm referring to action in my personal front.

I have been to Annavaram and then for a couple of days to Vizag Rishikonda beach resort. This weekend I have managed to finish lot fo pending things such as aplying for original degree from the university, meeting my jigree dost and so on. Few highlights about Annavaram:

Throughout India there is a common practise to conduct a pooja called Satyanarayana Swamy Vrat on occasions such as Gruh Pravesh (House warming ceremony), Marriage etc. Annavaram is the place where this particular god resides. The hill on which the temple is located is called Ratnagiri and there is a small river by name Pampa next to it. Another speciality of this place is that all trimurthy - three gods namely Vishnu, Siva and Brahma are present in the same temple.
There are two levels in the temple, in the ground floor you have the feet of Satyanarayana swamy and that is a represenation of Brahma. In the top floor Satyanarayana swamy (Vishnu) along with Padmavathi and Lord Siva.

Everyday couples come from different places and perform the vrat in the temple.

From Annavaram we went to Vizag and stayed at Rishikonda APTDC punnami resort. I met a very good friend of mine who is into share broking. We had some nice time at the beach. When I woke up the next day morning and trying to get the sunrise view, I realized that it was Solar eclipse. I managed to click few snaps of the eclipse. As I was near the ocean I went for a bath in the ocean - Samudra snan.

This weekend, we, ISB admits hyderabad, met for dinner at Blue Fox minerva Grand, Secunderabad. On Sunday I attended an engagement and I was the official photographer there clicking pictures left and right (it was a digital camera).

Today I'll be going to Andhra Bank to finish loan formalities.

Another surprising happened yesterday. My old colleague Geeta Naresh, currently with Wipro, Gachibowli had called up and informed me that my picture has come in the Times of India second page. It was a pleasant surprise to find the picture of the OBT program that I conducted when I was with Middle Earth Consultants about 2 years ago at Infosys Hyderabad campus.

Nothing specific about that program or me was mentioned, the article was about adventure based learning. I think Nitin Sanker, Principal Consultant, Middle Earth must have handed over that snap to TOI.

Find below the scanned images:

more at: http://www.mecindia.in/march25th.html

Monday, March 12, 2007

ISB Update: Preterm troubles

One more month to go, but looks like the troubles have already started. Took two preterm tests - cleared one and couldn't clear one. I have realized that my stats knowledge iss very basic and just before that in the morning I was promising couple of other admits that i will help them in stats. I need help now. I could clear accounts test and yet to take the quant test.

Troubles apart, we had lot of fun yesterday morning. All the ISB Hyderabad admits met up at Barista, Jubilee Hills once again. Barista appears to be the favorite one and I'm sure we will drop in even after the course starts at ISB.

There were five new admits who came to the yesterday meet. We missed on Arjun's intro, in all the meets he used to be one to start the round alomost everytime. Ashish's intro about his surname which goes as "Na rao Na reddy but my surname is naredi" seems to be getting little old as couple of others stressed on the Reddy and the Rao being their surname.

Till now I have met about 25 admits fromm Hyderabad and I'm sure there will be another 15 of them who didn't appear at the meets for various reasons. We can safely assume that there will be 40 admits from Hyderabad.

All in all it was great fun and all kinds of topics were discussed, right from laptops, loan application, weight reduction, hair saloon to a quiz on Harry Potter. We planned another meet on 31st March of 1st April and I hope that we will have full house then. Some pictures that I took yesterday:
It's me, Pooorvee and Krishna Chaitanya
Karthik, Yeswanth, Prashanth(hope I'm not wrong), Prashanth's wife (name ??)
Preethi, Ratnakar and Priyanka
Meghna, Anand, Charanya, Karuna, Sravanthi and Jagan
Ashish Naredi, Madhu, Rudraksh, Saraswati, Namrata, Poorvee, Nidhi Reddy and Sumiti Tayal

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Holi with the ISB Hyderabad applicants group founder members

Arun, Rajeev, Prabhakar Reddy and Sravanthi
Arun, Rajeev, me and Sravanthi

That's me