GMAT Study Plan for Working Professionals

I often come across this particular question from many working professionals: “Being so busy with my work schedule how can I actually prepare for GMAT?” I also hear questions like “Being a working guy, can I prepare for GMAT in 2 to 3 weeks?”. Hence I decided to share my views with all working people aspiring for a Global MBA through GMAT.

First, let me tell you that almost 70% of serious GMAT takers are working professionals and hence they have to prepare along with their hectic work schedule. So if you are one of them, need not worry. Despite your busy work schedule you do stand a very good chance to crack GMAT with a good score!

Next part of the question deals with something more generic – that is how much time one needs to prepare properly for GMAT. Now depending on one’s IQ level and the amount of quality time available in a day for studies, a standard GMAT preparation for a working professional can take anywhere between 12 to 24 weeks (I know a lot of people do it in 1 or 2 weeks. But here I am not talking of the geniuses). Anything less than 12 weeks, is kind of leaving it to the luck factor a bit too much. And if you are taking it more than 24 weeks, there are high chances that your energy level during the last few weeks may taper.

Now let me share with you a Study Plan for GMAT. Please note that this Study Plan is based on my experience of working closely with more than hundreds of working professionals in the last 5 years as their GMAT Coach/ Mentor.

18 – 20 Weeks GMAT Study Plan for Working Professionals:

  1. Start with an Assessment Tests – it should be a comprehensive one with questions from multiple topics trying to assess your fundamental concepts in Maths, Grammar & Comprehension abilities. Generally at Diksha we use a 60-question Assessment Test for this purpose.
  2. Your Study Plan should be based on a proper review of the performance in the Test. I know it’s a cliche, but it helps to understand the gaps and work accordingly rather than taking a “cover it all” attitude. Ideally you should take the help of a pro in designing your personalized Study Plan.
  3. Pick and choose the right books/ online materials/ study materials/ mock tests for yourself. Again, take the help of a pro or at least a friend who has good exposure of GMAT. At Diksha, we provide the students with a very well-balanced comprehensive Study Material along with hand-picked reference books and materials as required for acing the GMAT.
  4. Dedicate a particular time slot of the day for regular studies. Should be at least 1.5 hours a day (the more the merrier) for 1st 8 weeks, at least 2 hrs a day for next 5 to 6 weeks. Thereafter you can have couple of days in a week with 4 hours in the day (I know this is difficult, so try the weekends) followed by 2 hours a day schedule.

By the way, when I say a “week” you can safely assume it to be a 6-day study week. You can keep the remaining 1 day free for your leisure/ family/ friends/ office depending on your priority.

A typical 18 to 20 weeks Study Plan should be broken down into 4 distinct phases.

  1. CONCEPT PHASE (First 8 weeks): Devote yourself to all the fundamental concepts of Maths, Grammar & Critical Reasoning. Besides, dedicate at least 30 minutes every day to improve your reading skills. Cover everything possible within the period. Solve problems, but the focus should be on concept. This is the Learning phase.
  2. PRACTICE PHASE (Next 5 to 6 weeks): Practice hard. One day you can do 20 PS, 1 RC passage (4 to 5 questions) and 15 SC questions. Next day you can do 10 DS, 1 RC passage (4 to 5 questions), 10 CR questions & 1 Argument Essay. Whenever you are getting stuck refer to the concepts learned earlier. In case you come across questions that test concepts that you have not learnt earlier then learn those now. This is also the period where you start taking the time pressure. Keep measuring your performance in terms of % Attempted and %Accuracy till you hit at least 80% in both the areas. Thus, if you are not hitting the 80% mark either in % Attempted or % Accuracy, this period might get extended. And if you start hitting the 80% mark from Week 1 itself, then keep on moving towards 90% or 100%. PLEASE DON’T SHORTEN THIS PERIOD TO LESS THAN 5 WEEKS.
  3. MOCK PHASE (Next 4 Weeks): It’s for the Mock Tests. Take a mock test and review it thoroughly over next couple of days. I mean SPEND TIME on Review. Know your weaknesses (in terms of concept/ approach/ strategy/ timing) and take actions to amend those. You should improve with every Mock Test. Ideally you should review with a mentor who can tell you the gaps and how to plug them quickly. Never shy away from going back to the concept material at this stage, if you feel the need. Ideally 8 to 10 good quality Mock Tests should give you the idea that how you are faring.
  4. COUNTDOWN PHASE (Last Week): Take it easy. You have done whatever could have been done. Go through the concepts once more. Revise your time strategy & other approaches that you have already finalized by now to ensure that you can adhere to those on the D-day. Keep 1 or 2 Mock Tests for the last week at the max. The last one of course should be the one from GMAC (Official GMAT Exam Website: Prepare & Plan for Business School). The day before the exam just relax. Go out, may be have the lunch with a couple of close friends, don’t think much about GMAT. But remember to keep your documents (GMAT Registration & Passport) ready for the next day.

I know most people expects or propagates a 4 to 8 weeks Study Plan for GMAT. But based on my experience in last 8 to 10 years, I have not seen many people coming up with a good score in that short duration (again, please note that I am not talking of the geniuses and toppers and mavericks of the world).

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How to make your profile attractive for MBA Admission in Harvard or LBS?

If you are reading this, then Congrats! I am sure you are bitten by the “Global MBA” bug and hence interested to read on! Not only that. It’s actually amazing to know that you want to do your MBA from one of the top B-Schools such as Harvard, Wharton, LBS, INSEAD or MIT Sloan. Definitely it’s a great ambition given that you have the ability, determination & perseverance to fight it out with the top class Global MBA aspirants from across the world.

But before we start discussing what it takes to get into one of these Top 10 Global B-Schools for your dream MBA, let me share a few pertinent points for you to ponder upon:

  1. WHY MBA? Why do you need to do an MBA at this stage of your career? Is it because one of your cousins or friends is doing it/ has done it? Do you want a career shift or a career progression that is possible only through an MBA degree?
  2. WHY NOT AN INDIAN MBA? Why don’t you plan an MBA from one of the top Indian B-Schools instead? Why a Global MBA? What’s in it that attracts you? Are you looking for an international career?
  3. ARE YOU A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE? Are you really sure that with your current work experience and management exposure you are a prospective MBA candidate in these top B-Schools? As you know the top B-Schools are crazy about the quality of students. People who apply there can be a Consultant in McKinsey or a Subject Matter Expert from Google or a Quality Manager from Tata Steel or even a Sales Manager at General Motors. They will typically have a high GPA and a 700 plus GMAT score. Some of them have been to 3 or 4 different countries as a part of their studies or work. While exceptions are there (say, a Navy Corps with 4 years experience in combat zone having a low GMAT of 660 or a just an average graduate who started an online gaming portal that gets 1 lac hits a month having a GPA of 2.2 etc.). But these are “outstanding exceptions”. So, do you think that you fall in that “high quality” or “outstanding exception” bracket?
  4. CAN YOU AFFORD? Can you afford the Tuition Fees (even considering that you get a good amount of Education loan) at these premium B-Schools? Say, Harvard MBA will cost you approximately INR 1.2 Crores (all inclusive) in 2 years? How do you plan to finance it?

While I don’t want to sound a spoilsport, but answers to these questions are going to be very crucial if you really want to achieve your dream of getting an MBA admit from Harvard or LBS.

Considering you are through with the above points and still want to pursue your dream, now let’s come to your main question.

How do you make your profile “attractive”? Actually you don’t even try to do it!

I mean the Ad-Com is too smart to understand this profile makeover thing. They are not attracted to the superficially attractive profiles. So don’t even try to get into the mess. Rather be honest and logical, highlighting on your strengths. Make it interesting. The Ad-com will be interested to know your interesting story. They would like to understand and assess your potential as a future leader. Give them a “compelling true story” that focuses on your strengths and achievements.

So, if you want to fall into that “high quality” potential leader bracket, what do you need to have in your profile? What do you need to show so that the Ad-Com of Top Global B-Schools will be interested in you?

  1. Academics: You will need consistent and above average Academics – a high GPA! Besides, academic honors/ ranks/ scholarships/ dean’s medal/ cum laude/ academic papers whatever you have achieved from high school till college. I know you can’t do much about this right now, but in case there are any gaps/ inconsistencies make sure that you have a reasonable explanation for that.
  2. GMAT: A fascinating GMAT score – very important if you are eyeing these top B-Schools. Although there are instances of people getting in Harvard or MIT with as low as 650, but most of them are exceptional. For a more generic profile, a score of 720 plus is required. Of course, higher the better.
  3. Work Experience: When I say experience it doesn’t mean number of years you have worked. You will need a great work exposure that shows you have business acumen. Work profile that shows that you do something interesting and something valuable for the company. Not “run of the mill” coding or testing or selling or coordinating. It should focus on your management exposure, business understanding and leadership skills. Think about team handling, project management, client interaction, critical problem solving, cross functional & multi-location team work etc. If you have helped your organization to close a few business deals worth some million US$ or to save a few million US$ that’s really great!
  4. Certifications: Additional certifications (like PMP, Six Sigma, Google Adword, SAP etc.) from reputed institutes/ bodies/ authorities that are related to your academics, area of work or are important for your future career goals can also be a good add-on. It shows that you are ready to take on extra load in order to excel in your professional career.
  5. Extra Curricular & Activities: Don’t fool yourself by trying to food the Ad-com. Don’t just join an NGO 1 year prior to your MBA application to show that as your extra-curricular. If you have any significant achievement or involvement (well documented from reliable sources) in Extra Curricular (could be sports/ arts/ music/ NGO anything) or if you have been Vice President of the College’s Student Council or if you are a part of your organization’s cross functional team for “Go Green Policy” then it’s helpful. But please don’t “make it up” for the sake of the admission.
  6. LOR: Two solid “Reco” (Letter of Recommendation) from someone senior with whom you have shared a working relationship of more than one year. I mean don’t end up getting a Reco from a friend who is working in your project. Not even your ex-Team Leader. Try getting a recommendation from the Project Manager/ Delivery Manager or still better a Senior Partner in your current or previous company. Ideally the person should know you very well and must know what it means to get into a Harvard or Stanford. Recommendation letter should be very personal and it’s not possible for someone to write a personal recommendation if the relationship is not cultivated over a period of time. You can even take it from someone senior in your Client team (that is if you have a client interfacing profile in the first place). Especially if your client is a globally reputed MNC and your referee is some Sales Director (an alumni of one of the Ivy League colleges) in that company, the LOR is going to carry a lot of weightage.
  7. MBA Essays: Well these were the ingredients. Now you can mix them up well and come up with nicely written MBA Essays that show the strengths of your candidature. Be prepared to write at least 5 Essays for each top B-School you are applying to. And the cut-paste job (that is write one essay for Harvard and paste it for INSEAD, MIT Sloan, Stanford and LBS) won’t do. It is because the essay questions are different, the B-school ethos is different and what they expect from the candidates vary widely. So keep writing.

After reading all these, if you are still determined to go for it, my suggestions will be:

a) Prepare hard for GMAT. If you are confident and have sufficient time then go for self-study. Else you can go for a good institute or a personal coach. But please don’t end up in a coaching institute that will make you sit in a batch of 15 to 20 people. What you need is guidance and personal attention from the faculty. Go for the good ones where the batch size is 5 or less. Ideally the faculty should know what GMAT is all about (still in India, most of the institutes work with CAT faculty for their GMAT batch and it’s like using Coconut Oil for cooking Pasta).

b) Once you get a good GMAT score, you should take the help of an Admission Consultant or a friend/ senior who has got accepted in one of these top B-Schools in the last 2 to 3 years.

Best of luck if you decide to embark on this fascinating journey. Believe me it’s worth every bit of it.

For any support for your GMAT or MBA Admission please call us at +91 9674350993.

My answer to “How can I get into a good MBA College Abroad?”

I often feel a shiver the moment I come across emails from complete strangers asking questions like “How can I get into a good B-School Abroad?” or “I want to do a Global MBA from Abroad. Do I have a chance?”

I mean, come on, how do I know? I don’t know anything about YOU. Your mail doesn’t contain anything apart from your name, the question and some useless jargons describing your good-self. So how is it possible for me to tell how you can get into a good B-School Abroad? Give me a break!

So generally when I get these emails I take a deep breath and write a polite reply asking them to speak to me over phone or Skype for a detailed discussion.

But last evening when I received another such email from a guy called Sauvik Sinha (whom I don’t know at all as usual), may be out of frustration, I decided to write a long email to him.

And I thought of sharing this reply here on the blog so that next time I get a similar email without feeling the shiver I can comfortably share this link in response. Here goes my email response to Sauvik.

——————————–

Re: How can I get into a good MBA College abroad easily?

Hi Sauvik,

Thanks for your mail. It’s indeed interesting to know that you are considering a global MBA abroad. And as a part of Team DIKSHA I would be happy to help you on this. But unfortunately it’s a bit difficult for me to answer the question easily. If you have some time you can go through this long email that may give you some idea about Abroad MBA. But whether that’s helpful for you or not, I am not too sure.

Please note that without your detailed profile (education, work experience, scores) and your requirements (country, budget, career interests) it’s very difficult to say that how can you get into a good B-School abroad.

And moreover, you will also need to define the term “Good”. For some people INSEAD is a good B-School, for someone else SDA Bocconi might be a good MBA College and still for others it has to be a Harvard or an LBS. So what’s good for you?

Finally, let me also tell you that “good” things generally don’t come “easily”.

Without the background information, my response is not specific but rather it’s going to be generic – what the management gurus would term as the “rainfall approach”.

Assumptions:

  1. You are thoroughly convinced that you actually need an MBA from Abroad and you do have sufficient reasons for that
  2. You are sure that you will be able to afford that either through your own sources or through Education loan
  3. You do have some decent work experience (at least 2 years)

Note: In case your thoughts on the above points are “Not true” or “Not sure”, then STOP here and try to sort these out.

 

Definition of Good B-Schools in context of this response: Top 125 Global B-Schools in USA, Europe, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, China/ Hong Kong etc.

The Steps for getting into “Good” B-Schools Abroad:

  • Prepare for GMAT
  • Prepare for IELTS/ TOEFL
  • Take GMAT and IELTS/ TOEFL exams
  • Get good scores in these exams
  • Shortlist the “Good” B-Schools where you should apply
  • Get your documents in place
  • Research and Write MBA Essays for the shortlisted B-Schools
  • Complete your B-School application
  • Get Interview Calls from some of them
  • Prepare for your MBA Interview
  • Crack the Interview
  • Get admission offer from some of them
  • Select the best one
  • Pay & complete the Visa process
  • Prepare for Visa documentation & Visa Interview
  • Get your Visa
  • Complete your pre-flying chores
  • Fly to your MBA destination

While the steps listed above may look rudimentary, but actually you have to physically go through all these steps. And it takes time, patience, resource, guidance and motivation.

In general the entire process will take about 15 to 20 months time. So it’s better to be mentally prepared for this eventful, exciting & stressful journey right at the start.

And if you decide to go for it then to make this journey somewhat smoother, here are 5 specific guidelines on the first part of the journey.

  1. Decided your MBA Session: which session you would like to start your MBA. This is May 2016. So Fall 2016 (starting August this year) is out of question. Depending on your own planning the earliest could be Fall 2017
  2. GMAT Timeline: Start preparing for your GMAT now. Based on your Quantitative & Verbal skills it may take somewhere between 3 to 6 months for the preparation for most of the students (of course I am referring to the average students and NOT the genius or the dumbos). In your case, if you are applying for Fall 2017 then ideally you should be done with your GMAT by end of October 2017
  3. Your GMAT Preparation: As you must be knowing GMAT is Computer Adaptive Test for assessing the Academic Aptitude for potential MBA students. It consists of three parts: the first part consists of 2 sections (Argument Essay of 30 minutes and Integrated Reasoning of 30 minutes); next is Quantitative Aptitude (37 questions in 75 minutes) and finally it’s the Verbal Aptitude (41 questions in 75 minutes). It’s very difficult to write about how you should prepare for GMAT in a single write up, but in short let me tell you it’s a rigorous and disciplined approach (and may be some able guidance) that will be required for a good score in GMAT. Your mathematical concepts should be absolutely clear. You should be accurate with all the standard written English grammar rules. You should be an amazing “READER” (expert in reading and getting a “fairly good idea” about long, high-quality, complicated and boring passages in a short time). Generally I suggest my students to adhere to the rigorous study schedule as designed for you by the Diksha GMAT Transcend. Leave no stones unturned in your practice – memorizing rules, doing the assignments, studying the explanations of practice questions you answered (correctly or incorrectly), taking mock tests strictly under timed conditions and maintaining a good health throughout your preparation schedule etc. In short, be stubborn about improving your GMAT score on every single day leading up to the test.
  4. Ideal GMAT Score: The total GMAT score is 800 (except the first part, consisting of Argument Essay and IR, that is scored on a Scale of 6 separately). Now it’s very difficult to say what score would be ideal for you. Of course, higher the better! If you score a 740 plus – you’re OUTSTANDING. If you score 700 plus – you’re EXCELLENT. But please note that despite being outstanding you can be denied admission in a particular B-School. In general, if you are eyeing an admission in Top 25 B-Schools I would say aim for 720 plus. If you are targeting Top 100, then 700 plus is good. And if you can go one level below (i.e. Top 125) then 670 plus will be really fine.
  5. TOELF or IELTS: These are International English Proficiency Tests designed by ETS (USA) and Cambridge University (UK) respectively. Both measures the English Communication skill of a candidate in four Sections comprising Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. It is required by all candidates planning to study abroad (even those who are planning immigration) to take either of these tests and score more than a certain cut-off marks. Now a days, almost 75% of the Universities or Countries are quite flexible with either of the exams (that is, you can submit your IELTS score in USA and your TOEFL Score in Spain). If you are planning for Fall 2017 admission then ideally you should be through with your IELTS/ TOEFL exam by end of October. But since I have already suggested end of October as you GMAT exam date, hence you can take IELTS/ TOEFL either 45 days before that. Depending on your grasp on English communication (again considering you are not in the extremities), the preparation should take somewhere between 1.5 to 3 months. Please ensure that you work on your pronunciation, essay writing skills, extempore etc. Besides do watch USA/ UK English News Channels and English Movies (without sub titles). IELTS is a pen ’n paper exam where each of the Sections carry a maximum band score of 9. The Overall IELTS Score is also out of 9. TOEFL is a Computer/ Internet Based Tests (it’s called the TOEFL iBT) where each section is scored on 30 and the Overall TOEFL Score is out of 120. Generally the Universities or the Countries specify a requirement Cut-Off marks in IELTS or TOEFL. To be on a safer side you can take the higher limit of the cut-off as
    • IELTS: Overall 7 and not less than 6.5 in any of the sections
    • TOEFL: Overall 98 and not less than 22 in any of the sections

For any specific questions please feel free to revert. You can mail me to dikshalearningservices@gmail.com or call me at +91 9674484100.

Best wishes.

Debasish Basu

Chief Advisor

GMAT & MBA Admission

DIKSHA LEARNING SERVICES P LTD.

 

6 Winning Strategies for Visa Interview for Study Abroad

Congratulations that you have got an admit with 100% Scholarship at a top Global University in US and the University has sent you the coveted I-20 required for the US Student Visa!

After toiling so hard for a top score in GRE & TOEFL exams, after researching for hours for your application essays and after preparing hundreds of documents for your applications, now it’s the time to relax and cherish the moment!

Sorry, but most probably you have forgotten the most important last step. The Visa Interview!!!

For the uninitiated, Visa Interview can be one of the biggest challenges that students face during the entire study abroad application process is the visa interview.

In order to make sure to sail through your Visa interview, here are some tips and guidelines from DIKSHA LEARNING SERVICES that specializes in Study Abroad Test Preparation and Abroad Study Admission guidance:

1) Documentation shows Dedication

Ensure that you have copies of all the required documents with you during the interview, arranged in proper order and ideally coded with a proper marking.

Ideally you should classify the documents in following categories & in following order:

  1. Visa related: I-20, Visa Fee receipt & Visa Interview confirmation letter
  2. Admission related: Admission Letter, Scholarship Letter (if applicable), University Fees receipt, Education Loan Approval Letter (if applicable), Any other Letter from the University related to admission that you deem fit
  3. Academic related: Degree transcripts, Degree Certificates, School Leaving & High School Leaving Certificates, Test Scores of SAT/ GRE/ GMAT and IELTS/ TOEFL, any significant academic achievement certificates
  4. Work experience related (if applicable): Appointment Letter of current and last 2 employers, last 3 month salary slips (as applicable)
  5. Extra-curricular related: Any significant extra-curricular certificate

At DIKSHA we always tell our students that the ordering & marking of the Document Files is important so that it becomes easier for the interviewer to find things easily. And in case he/ she asks you to show something from your file, you should not fumble – you should be prompt and confident. A neatly arranged document file gives an impression of the application as someone who is highly dedicated, systematic and thorough in his approach. And trust us, the Visa interviewer is going to like that.

2) Focus on Finance

To get your student visa, you need to furnish several financial documents. These documents prove that you have the necessary resources to pay for tuition fees, living expenses, accommodation etc. If your parents (or any relatives) are funding your education, then you will need to submit their bank statements (or, liquid asset statement) including original bank records, Income Tax returns of the last three years along with fixed deposit receipts or certificates. This may also include Scholarship Confirmation letter or Education Loan Approval Letter.

But we have already included these in the “Documentation” part. Why are we repeating? Very simply because we have seen that most of the Indian students don’t know their finances! And during the interview if asked a question on this matter, some of the brightest students just go numb!

“Well my dad is paying. Go and please ask him…” It’s a typical attitude of many Indians. But this doesn’t go well with the interviewer. At DIKSHA we always advise our students aspiring for abroad studies that they should actually know their finances well.

“How much will it cost? How much can I afford? And from where do I get the funds?” Get your calculations thorough on these lines. Don’t miss out possible escalation in expenses (like a provision in the University Fees rule that says Tuition Fees will go up next year or can increase in next semester if you opt for Subject X or even the possibility of the living cost going up next year). Ideally you should comfortable show that you can afford more than what it will take to study for 2 or 4 years.

And one more thing, talk in Dollars ($). A visa interviewer is certainly going to be more comfortable if Indian Rupee is avoided. 

3) Prepare or Perish

Just like the way we prepare thoroughly before going for a job interview or the grand viva, the preparation is the key. Remember the following points that you need to be prepared for:

  1. Course related – the duration, subjects, electives, important dates, study breaks, internship options, credit points and credit hours. If you are not very acquainted with the concept of “Credit Points” and “Credit Hours”, please learn it from someone who knows it well.
  2. University related – about the particular university, which campus (if there are multiple campuses) you will be studying, any significant landmark in the history of the university, eminent professors or alumni (if any)
  3. Country related – about the country, its demographics, about the city/ place where the University campus is located, a bit of history and culture, food habits, important cities/ monuments/ places to see, important personalities

4) Making the logical Match

This may be the tough part that moves away from information into the realm of “persuasion”. Questions like “Why this Course” or “Why this University” can make or break your interview.

So be well prepared and match these four things: Your skills and qualities, your career aspirations, the course and the University. You can refer to your SOP or Application Essay and try to ascertain that how this particular program in this particular university is going to help you in achieving your career goals.

DIKSHA suggests its students not to be dramatic and emotional in their responses to such questions. Ideally you should just be logical and establish the relationship between these four things – how they connect. The facts will certainly help here, but the focus should be on the logic in match making!

5) Unsettling the “Settler” trap

A visa interviewer is like a gate keeper and the visa interview is a process to “close the gate” for a potential “settler” or an immigrant i.e. a person with an intention of settling down permanently in a foreign country.

So, the interviewer may try to trap you. Some of the students of DIKSHA have come across questions like “Ok, so after your MS in Artificial Intelligence would you like to join Google Head Office in California or a Tech Start Up in San Francisco?” or something like “Don’t you think that once your course is over and you join a job, you should bring your parents to the US so that you can take care of them?”. Beware of such questions. These are blatant traps! The Visa Officer is trying to catch you on the wrong foot regarding your intention. Don’t fall for them.

Your answers should be perfectly clear in stating that your purpose for studying abroad is Higher Studies only and it has nothing to do with settling down in that country. Please find logic and passion in convincing the interviewer that you are not seeking employment in the foreign country. After the course you will plan to return to your home country equipped with the degree, knowledge and skills that you have acquired there.

Here it’s important to note that your long term career goals should be related to your home country.
Just for example, if you are going abroad for an MS in Biotechnology you should be able to tell the interviewer how you see the potential of qualified Biotech professionals in India in near future. Or, if you are going for your PhD in Artificial Intelligence you should be able to convince the interviewer that how this PhD from this reputed University would help you to get a dream job of an Assistant Professor in one of the IITs.

Please remember you should categorically try to distinguish yourself from a potential immigrant or a potential job seeker.

6) Overall Impression is Important

Finally, it’s about your soft skills. This is the usual staff. But many a times, students tend to overlook these basics. Don’t be one of those “over-lookers”!  Remember:

  1. Be on time
  2. Be well groomed, dressed in formal wear
  3. Be courteous and polite but don’t be submissive
  4. Don’t get agitated or irritated on any particular question or remarks
  5. Be calm, composed and confident
  6. Be ready for some “strange” or “intimidating” or “trap” questions. Don’t panic. The questions are just to test your intention, attitude, skills, knowledge or common sense. Answer them with conviction. If you don’t know, please say so!
  7. If you can’t understand a particular question first apologize and then ask to repeat the question
  8. Keep your answers short and relevant. Don’t go overboard. Be specific.

And last but not the least “be positive”. Despite following everything as mentioned above there is always a probability that the Visa officer is not convinced. In an unfortunate situation where you are denied a student visa, please refrain from arguing with the interviewer. Instead you can request the Visa Officer to provide the reason(s) for the denial along with a list of documents that he or she would suggest that you bring next time to ensure that you are granted the student visa.  Ensure that you leave with a lasting positive impression.

For any query regarding your Visa Interview for Abroad Study please feel free to connect to Diksha Learning Services Pvt. Ltd. You can call us at +91 9674484100.

6 Critical Success Factors for Global MBA Admission

Global Business schools, unlike most of the reputed Indian B-schools, tend to look at multiple factors (of course, in no particular order) for admission in their flagship MBA programs. As an Indian student (or, professional) aspiring for a global MBA from a reputed B-school, you should start focusing on all these 6 success factors in your preparation phase.

1. GMAT
2. Academic Records
3. Work Experience
4. Extra-curricular
5. Clear career vision
6. Fitment

Let’s look at these factors a bit more closely….

  1. GMAT:

While most of the reputed B-schools across the globe don’t specify any minimum cut off score (there have been instances where a candidate with just 620 has got through Harvard), Indians and Chinese students form the most competitive pools in MBA applications and thus as an Indian a 720+ score will definitely be helpful if you are planning for top 25 B-schools. Anything less than 670, you may want to take the test again if you are planning for top 40 B-schools. And if your score is less than 650, top 75 B-schools could be a distant dream for you (unless of course you have a stellar work profile). But all said and done, please note that GMAT is just one step of the application process. It’s a major step, undoubtedly. But there are other steps as well.

  1. Academic performance:
    As you understand good grades, merit certificates, scholarships and academic awards definitely add to your profile. But this is something you can’t do much about if you are working already. In case you are still in the final year or final semester put that extra effort to ensure your grades go up.

    3. Work experience:
    Top global Business schools value applicants who have leadership/ managerial experience, preferably in some reputed companies. Sounds biased? May be, but that’s the way it is as of now. So when you are scouting for jobs after your graduation, try for roles that give you the opportunity to hone these managerial skills and try for companies that are recognized. Another important aspect that you should keep in mind if you are planning for a top MBA program – always keep a good rapport with your boss, super-boss and key clients. You will need their recommendations (LOR) during your application.

  2. Extra-curricular:
    Business Schools look for well rounded individuals. So focus on a few things outside your study or work. If you have a serious EC (like music, dance etc.) then certifications and accolades are helpful. If you are into sports, then at least representation at inter-college or inter-university level is important. Your involvement in NGO, College Cultural fests and Office CSR activities are also counted provided you have documentary evidence to support your claim. So if you are still at a planning stage utlize the 24 months that you have in hand.

    5. A Clear career vision:
    Why do you want to do an MBA? What will it get you? Are you planning to switch from an IT to business consulting? Are there skills that you need for a role you see yourself doing in the future?
    These are important for you to answer. Business schools are going to roast you on these. The admission officers expertise in doing this and hence can see through a well thought out plan from a ‘story’.Think hard, spoke to seniors in the industry, and research thoroughly to answer these questions.

    6.  Fitment:
    In your application, you will need to explain to the admission office why you think that particular B school is THE school for you. Research the schools, speak to current students and alumni, check out the professors, the facilities and understand the ethos. Not only will this help you understand the school better but will also help you highlight your interests and traits that fits in. It is not just about the rank of a business school. For example at Kellogg and Duke teamwork is the foundation of the learning process. If you don’t enjoy working in a team, those are not schools you want to apply to.

Note1: While GMAT is the preferred test for MBA admission, some business schools have started accepting GRE scores as well.

Note2: Apart from GMAT, you will also need to crack an English proficiency test (such as IELTS and TOEFL) for an MBA admission abroad.

 

Reading Strategies to crack Reading Comprehension (RC) in GRE, GMAT

Students, who have the luxury of preparing for the test over several months, should definitely take the Reading Comprehension (RC) section bit more seriously. Our recent experience shows that the reading passages are getting complicated (and longer as well) with every passing day. And to do well in the Reading Comprehension section there’s no better way than to substantially improve their reading skills in general, both in terms of comprehension and reading speed. But this is always easier said than done.

Students keep asking us: What topics should they read? What are the general reading references from reliable sources that can help them to improve their reading skills? And, what’s the best way to read such material?

Today, let’s answer these questions in steps.

Q1. What should you Read?

Reading is necessarily a skill. It’s like exercise. Just like you exercise daily to keep yourself fit and in shape, you should read daily to keep your mind fit and in shape for the exam.

 

  • Do you find an article on the effect of Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitorsand tricyclic antidepressants on REM and non-REM sleep phases interesting?
  • What about critical remarks on a book called “Systematic Phylogeny” by Ernst Haeckl – an eminent German naturalist of the 19th century?
  • Would you be delighted reading about an excerpt from Lorenzo Forni’s dissection of the Calmfors – Driffill Hypothesis on Economic Performance and indexes of bargaining system?

 

By now, you must have got it! And we understand it as well. Just like most of us, you might actually hate such reading experiences.

 

But let’s make it simple. To get into your dream grad-school or B-school you need to write an exam like GRE or GMAT that gives you credit for reading, understanding and analyzing such complex and boring passages. Thus, it’s not a question of our choice anymore. Whether we love it or loathe it, we have to focus on reading such passages from now on. In general, the RC passages in GRE or GMAT come in one of the following categories:

  • Physical Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Art & Culture
  • Business & Economics

 

So absolutely anything and everything that falls in these categories should be read. While reading please keep in mind:

  • The passage should be in high quality English
  • US English is more helpful
  • Complicated (even, confusing) Writing style always help
  • Complex matter/ content is better
  • Good to read boring articles
  • Anything between 300 to 1000 words passages are fine

 

Q2. From where should you Read?

While authentic test-prep books and materials give you a good source for actual reading for Reading Comprehension passages, we always suggest to students to improve their reading skills by daily online reading. These non-GRE or non-GMAT sources of reading are truly essential for your practice. But wait, the moment we say “online” please don’t assume that we are suggesting you to read the FB updates of your friends! While the internet is a great place to improve your reading habit, it is actually overloaded with articles. Most of it is either trash or irrelevant. Even if some are relevant, the writing may not be of that high quality or the style may not be apt for your GRE or GMAT test preparation. In such a situation we suggest the following resources to be pretty authentic and reliable for your reading practice.

The University of Chicago Magazine (On Business, Economics, Science, Arts, Laws): http://mag.uchicago.edu/; when you check a specific issue of the magazine, try for the Investigations section: http://magazine.uchicago.edu/1008/investigations/

Harvard Magazine (On Science, Social Science, Humanities): http://harvardmagazine.com/

Smithsonian (On Science, Innovation, Art & Culture): http://www.smithsonianmag.com/

The Economist (On Business & Economics): http://www.economist.com/

Arts & Letters Daily (On Philosophy, Literature, Art, Culture): http://www.aldaily.com/

Scientific American (On Science, Innovation): http://www.scientificamerican.com/

The Atlantic (On Business, Health, Social Science): http://www.theatlantic.com/

The New Yorker (On Science, Culture, Book Review): http://www.newyorker.com/

The New York Times (Articles, Reviews, Critique): http://www.nytimes.com/

Washington Post (Blog, Analysis, Review, Policy): http://www.washingtonpost.com/ ; check out the Opinion section http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ and the Blog as well http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/

The Wall Street Journal (On Business, Economics, Policies): http://online.wsj.com/india

If you are dead serious about some really complicated topics you can also try some academic journals: http://www.academicjournals.org/journals.htm

If you are a bit more adventurous and want to get a hang of confusing yet high quality article you can opt for something like these:

http://ideas.time.com/2013/02/28/happy-90th-birthday-time/ or

http://alaindebotton.com/a-new-priesthood-psychotherapists/  or http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/07/mcconnells-stale-inflated-claim-on-health-plan-cancellations/

 

 

 

 

Q3. How should you Read?

Sorry, but we are not underestimating you. We know that you have been reading since your childhood. But here we want to ascertain how should you read from the abovementioned source so that there can be a significant improve in your reading skills.

A) Speed it up: In Reading Comprehension (RC) section you have to read fast. It’s not a pleasure reading. Thus right from the word go, keep your focus on improving your speed substantially. While the RC section doesn’t demand from you to read each and every word of the passage and remember each one of them, but still you have to actively read the passage. For a short 400 – 500 word passage you can devote maximum 2 to 2.5 minutes for the reading part. For a longer 700 – 900 word passage you can maximum go up to 3.5 to 4 minutes. And this includes time spent on taking some notes as well. Thus we always suggest you to improve your online reading speed to a level of 300 to 400 words per minute (wpm). You can check the practice test given in http://www.readingsoft.com/ to assess your current speed level and then adjust accordingly. Another way is to set a benchmark by reading a standard 1000 word passage. Let us suppose, it takes you 10 minutes to read and comprehend this passage satisfactorily. Then in next two months your reading target should be to bring down the reading time by 40% to 50% (i.e. to 6 minutes, maximum) to read a similar passage with almost same level of comprehension.

B) Mark Pointers: While reading a passage, you should start taking notes. Taking notes is an art that helps you to be more engaged with the passage. This needs practice. While doing it, your focus should not divert from the passage. Even your eyes may not divert much. Always keep the notes as short as possible. Just scribble some facts, content language (data, information, processes, categories) and judgment language (opinions, hypotheses, comparisons) along with their placement paragraphs. Or you can even write down the flow of the entire passage (like, description of the hypothesis à examples in support à limitations à counter hypothesis). Your job is to identify relevant information, theme, tone, opinion, difficult words/ phrases and signaling/ directional words (words which help you to understand the direction of the passage e.g. furthermore, finally, most importantly, however, in contrast etc.) from the paragraphs and write these down in simple language or shorthand or even chatting lingo that you are used to. You can also use various forms of illustrations like flow chart, tree diagram, Venn diagram, relationships, front and back arrows if you are comfortable. Always remember that visual learning helps you to comprehend and retain with higher efficiency.

C) Summarize or Recap: Once you have finished reading the passage and taking notes, just give yourself a well deserved break. Close your eyes and relax for a few seconds. Then without going back to the passage, try to articulate the following:

  • The main idea of the passage
  • The main point of each individual paragraph

Doing this should not take more than a minute; but this practice will help you to go a long way in successfully comprehending complex passages in the RC section.