This article is closest to my heart for obvious reasons. It has motivated many souls and have changed many lives in small or big ways. It’s not about getting a 770 really, but what it is about is chasing your dreams which teaches you to why failures are the first step towards success.
I as a person believe that what makes one an achiever is passion. If you love what you are doing, you will succeed. During my preparation time, I saw each minute as an opportunity to study for GMAT. Hence, every single minute wasted meant frustration to me. I love that itch…you know…that constant thing going inside you, which says, “hey! You gotta go back…you’re not studying”. So whenever I got frustrated or bogged down, I just told to myself that things will be just fine if I could go back to studies.
Life was good when I was doing my engineering at IIT Delhi. The future looked bright and getting into India’s top B-schools aka IIMs looked more like a natural phenomenon than an endeavor. Complacency surrounded me and brought a series of failures. CAT (Career Apti Test) was a disaster; I failed miserably. Till now I have taken CAT two times and screwed up the DI section both the times. Having scored fairly high in both the quants and verbal sections, I convinced myself that DI was just not my cup of tea. I can’t tell you how stupid I feel when I look back and realize I had no backup plan. Over-confident as I was that I would make it to the IIMs, I never really thought about the job. I applied for the very first companies to come to the campus which turned out to be IBM. I was devastated, to say the least, to see all my batch mates go to IIMs and some to big companies like McKinsey, BCG, ML, etc. I felt like a loser. I still believe that my preparation was not bad, but some things are just meant to happen in a certain way. I can’t express in words how miserable I felt when I had to leave IIT with a mediocre IT job. I did some introspection and got some advice from my sister who’s in US. She told me something which now I firmly believe in : “everything happens for a reason”. May be I didn’t clear CAT because I have something better to look forward to. She told me to prepare for GMAT and meanwhile get the feel of the industry. That’s what I did. I didn’t try to switch my job and do anything funky. I took an optimistic stand at the state of things and looked for areas of weakness in profile which I hoped to iron out at IBM.
I came to Pune in Aug ’05 (and been there till March’11 when finally I moved to the States). I didn’t expect my prep to start right away, so I waited and it was only in June when I started thinking about GMAT. I took out my Kaplan 2004 guide, which I had bought in IIT but never actually read. Initially the prep didn’t get kick started. The reason was that I didn’t have a test date.
I took a test date: 30th Oct ’06. I can never forget this date. My actual preparation started only in Aug when I finally took the date. I started looking for resources on the web : PagalGuy posts, beattheGMAT, scoretop, etc. I downloaded some stuff from eSnips, mostly notes. Strategizing was never a problem for me; I know how to study to make the most out of my efforts. The trick is simple : first thing is that I don’t think of/do anything when I am studying and the other thing I do, which is kinda strange but works for me, is that I make a commitment to myself and all the time I think about how bad I would feel if i didn’t keep that. So I set an honest goal of 720 for myself. Into a month of preparation, and I knew which areas I lacked in. I did a complete analysis of all my efforts and recognized areas where I needed to push myself further. I was lacking the accuracy because I was making silly mistakes. And If I could cut down my silly mistakes and brush up some old CAT concepts, a 750 is not impossible for me. I took GMAT prep for the first time and scored 710. I was happy to see the 700 figure…and happiness is good..especially if you’ve been in a depression for a long time!! It boosted my morale and with a bolstered confidence I made a master plan for me.
The plan was for Sep and Oct…2 months. I made a big chart, basically a calendar with big blocks for each day. I collected all the material : 1000 SC, 1000 CR, OG 10, Kaplan guide, Kaplan 800, Kaplan verbal, SC Manhattan, and the test CDs (Kaplan, GMAT Prep, and IMS). I made a schedule wherein I fitted all of that in those 2 months. Each day I would come after office and before having dinner, start my study sessions. At the end of the day I would cross out the date…like an executioner. The crosses gave me confidence and a sense of satisfaction and more importantly a visual map pf my progress path. It felt good to see that the days were not just passing by but I was progressing and getting nearer to my goal. I stuck post-its all over my place with quotes and motivational stuff. Each day when I woke up I would know that I would finish this section/topic/exercise today. I knew that GMAT was the only way to redeem myself. I took TOEFL on 1st Oct, which helped me get a feel of the computer test. I also learnt a lesson that always reach your centers early. I was mostly inline with my schedule and some days when I could not keep up with the schedule, I would make up for the lag on weekends. I had scheduled my sessions taking the possibility of over times at the office. Two weeks before the test I started my practice test Marathon. I had 12 IMS tests, 4 Kaplan tests, 1 GMAT test. I finished all of them in those two weeks.
The last 2 days I prepared for AWA and revised my SC notes, CR pointers and did some reading, mostly about random stuff.
I went to Mumbai a day before and stayed at my fellow IITian friend’s place (thanks Somu!). Had a light chit-chat mostly about the good old days at IIT when all we had to do was play Quake 3 and gossip at nescafe. I woke up early and reached the center way early. The guard didn’t allow me in before time so had to wait with other anxious candidates. Finally the moment arrived. We all went in and after the usual yada lada (read formalities) entered the test room. I was totally relaxed and that’s what happens when you have honestly put in your 100%. I thought to myself, “Mukul this is your chance buddy. You have taken so many tests and scored well, there is no reason why you would screw up today. You ARE going to make it big.” And then I thought of my parents and how happy they would be if I do what I had in mind. JET SET GO : paced through the usual yada lada, arrived at the AWA section. Breezed through. Then there was the optional break after one hr of AWA…which I didn’t take!! I should have taken though, but I was too excited. I started getting tough problems after 5-6 question, which meant I was doing well. And then I got stuck in a question which my IITian ego was not letting go off. But after some time better sense prevailed and I took an intelligent guess and moved forward.
I have shared my experiences and everything I know about the GMAT with you all on my blog. I know that it has helped so many test takers over the past more than 1 yr. It was time I have a website of my own, which I can design my own way and serve the world of GMAT takers in a better way. I am currently enrolled at Tuck Business School, Dartmouth for fall 2011. I am proud to be admitted to an Ivy League school of my liking. I am so excited to be there. Meanwhile I am working on this website so that it functions even when I will be busy during my MBA.