Perspectives from ISB

It was drizzling outside, and I had had an intense discussion with my co-founder and an advisor. I had decided to exit my start-up and take the offer on the table. The blood and sweat I had put in my eight years of the entrepreneurial journey would come to an end soon. I looked out of the window, and through the downpour, tried to get a glimpse of my future.

I have been working relentlessly for more than a decade at this point. I had sacrificed my hobbies, put off vacation plans, and cut down on social life. Start-up life has its rewards, but it demands devotion, and I had been a dedicated devotee. Another thing that I had given up was my desire to for an MBA program. I started my career with Capgemini working in Hyderabad and London and had an MBA at the back of my mind. But life took me on another path, and I went on to work on my start-up.  Looking out of the window that day, as the thought of exiting the startup materialized, the idea of going back to school took shape again.

Determined to follow through this time, I figured GMAT would be the next hurdle. I had graduated ten years ago. I had always loved mathematics and had not given up on reading. I thought these two will help in my preparation. I hoped taking the GMAT would be a good first step for my MBA application.

I had been an avid fiction reader from my school days, and I also had been reading newspapers every day since then. I was reasonably confident of my verbal reasoning abilities. I started refreshing my quantitative abilities and time management skills and looked for mistakes in sentence correction. I gave myself 2.5 months for preparation and scheduled the test date. My mock test results were satisfactory, and I was reasonably confident about my preparation.

I took the GMAT exam and got a score of 760. I was elated with the results. I received a lot of congratulatory messages and innumerable questions about my preparation methodology.

The following things helped me personally.

  • I have an engineering background. Even though I had graduated more than a decade ago, my fundamentals of mathematics were solid. I didn’t have to work hard to solve quantitative problems.
  • I was singularly benefited by one of my hobbies. Reading and writing stories. Yes, you read it right. I didn’t give up on this hobby, come hay or shine, and I reaped the benefits while preparing for GMAT.
  • I have been religiously reading newspapers for over a decade. Unfortunately, I realized at a much later stage that The Hindu towers above other publications when it comes to focus on linguistic rigor. I now believe that anyone who reads The Hindu will improve his or her Sentence Correction in the long run.
  • When someone reads a lot, they generally get good at reading comprehension with respect to absorption and consumption of information as well as time management.
  • If you are interested in a wide variety of things, or in other words, you are generally curious and have a habit of reading, you will come across a lot of stuff which would seem random at that moment in time. For example – something about bacteria, or about the lost treasure of India, or ancient architecture, or black holes.
  • Now try and imagine how it can help someone who is preparing for GMAT. The ‘reading comprehension’ section about a diverse set of topics would not seem very alien. And if you’re lucky, you might even come across a passage on an unusual topic that you are genuinely interested in!
  • I can tell you from my own experience that I put in some minimal effort for verbal, and yet I got excellent marks in the section which got me a very high score in GMAT. I could afford to put minimal effort because I had spent thousands of hours poring over different kinds of written texts over all these years.

Some people would tell you about many short-term measures and quick fixes for the verbal part of GMAT, but nothing can replace the edge that you can get because of a reading habit and a diverse set of interests. If your younger siblings or friends seek your advice on preparing for GMAT, the best advice you can give them is that they pick up reading as a hobby at the earliest.

– Nrupal Kumar Das, PGP, Co’20