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New blog on MBA application process

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New blog on MBA application process  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2018, 21:33
1
Just graduated from hbs 2018 and wanted to pay it forward. Feel free to post and comment with questions and queries on my blog and Instagram

Blog: http://atych00.wordpress.com
IG handle: Atych00

Posted from my mobile device
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Q: Should I visit the schools?  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2018, 05:55
FROM addictedk89: Q: Should I visit the schools?
This was one of the first questions I asked alumni and the answers were split.

Yes

  • Feel the good vibes. Some people said that it’s important to get a feel of the schools – you can’t get that from interviewing alumni and online. This is especially the case if you don’t know any alumni! Also, it’s  good to see whether you’d like to live on the campus for two years. It’ll help you get the right shortlist.
  • Schools like it. Apparently it means you’re very, very interested! Admission Offices have stats to report on – they care a lot about acceptance rates so if you’ve flown half the globe to visit the school….they’ll view it as a, “Yes, I will come!”
  • Enrich your essays. I’m a bit skeptical of the reason above, but I do believe in using real life examples! Backing up the “collegial” atmosphere of the school with details of your visit is much stronger than merely saying so.
No

  • $$$. It’s so, so expensive. Flights, accommodation and transport links add up. Let’s not forget the time off work and the excuses you’ve made up for your boss!
  • Getting your hopes up. I think this is a real one. Imagine if you visited your dream school, fell in love with it, poured your heart and soul into the application and then get rejected. I think the pain is quadrupled.
What did I do? 

I didn’t visit any of the schools – I got into some schools and didn’t get into others. So I’d say it didn’t really matter in terms of boosting my application. I think, however, it does help with deciding schools. I’ll be doing the admit weekends in the upcoming month and share my thoughts on whether it does give you that much more information (on top of speaking to alumni and general research).

Good luck!

A.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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How to create your shortlist  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2018, 05:55
FROM addictedk89: How to create your shortlist
There are a myriad of theories on what is the best way to do this – I decided it might be helpful if I shared what drove my decisions. Now, this is solely MY experience, so please exhaust your avenues before making a decision.

NB: This is a three-part post on school selection – creating, editing and finalising.

Keep an open mind. Ish.

As I noted, I only wanted to look at top schools and I ended up with an initial list of ten.

  • M7: I decided I wanted to work in the US post-MBA. I literally went on Poets & Quants and looked up top schools. I discovered there was something called the M7. FYI this includes Booth, Columbia, HBS, Kellogg, MIT, Stanford and Wharton.
  • Haas: Location. Two years in sunny California sounded amazing. Had also known a few ex-colleagues who had plenty of good things to say about it!
  • INSEAD: Outside of the States, I would say that INSEAD has the best reputation for MBAs. I also loved that you could split it between Fontainebleu and Singapore but the 1 year aspect was very very enticing.
  • LBS: My company hires many grads from LBS and having worked with some of them, I was very impressed by the calibre! Being a city slicker, its London location was also great. Lastly, the flexibility of course length was an added bonus!
Upcoming posts will be on filtering and prioritising!

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Editing your schools shortlist  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2018, 18:02
FROM addictedk89: Editing your schools shortlist
NB: This is the second post of a three-part post on school selection – creating, editing and finalising.

Filter. On your own criteria.

This is where it gets fun! You need to do a fair bit of research (websites, forums, blogs, school visits, info sessions etc etc) but before long you’ll realise what you care about. There were four things that made a huge impact for me. This is where you need to make a judgement call. If you have a partner, then location and job prospects for them may outweigh everything else.

  • Quants: If you read my GMAT post, I am not a quant. From the people I met – I felt that Booth, LBS and MIT were simply too “heavy” for me. They were absolutely lovely but it just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t make a decision on Wharton as I was getting conflicting messages!
  • Location: In the end, I cared about location much less than I thought I would. I ended up taking Haas out after reading the application question. It asked for a song to describe me. I think I’m a bit of a square so I chose to forgo the gorgeous location. On the other hand, Kellogg stayed in my list despite it being the most rural!
  • Network: I know, I’ve said that MBBs will target all top schools. However, it really depends on the industry. I wanted to break into fashion and Columbia’s NYC location made it a no-brainer. INSEAD with its French roots (LVMH!) and presence in Asia also made sense.
  • 1Y v 2Y: My obsession with the ROI of a MBA (or lack thereof) made me consider shorter programs. Both Kellogg and INSEAD have great 1Y programs and Columbia also has J-term. After a long period of agony – I asked myself, “Why do you want to do a MBA?”A huge part of it was to broaden my horizons and give me the time to reflect and take some risks. I didn’t feel that a 1Y program would be able to do that.
This led to Columbia, HBS, INSEAD, Kellogg, Stanford and Wharton.

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Finalising your schools shortlist   [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2018, 20:02
FROM addictedk89: Finalising your schools shortlist 
NB: This is the final post of a three-part post on school selection – creating, editing and finalising.



Prioritise. Or else.


I applied in R1 so I had the opportunity to split my six schools across the first two rounds. Different people have different strategies, but I optimised for one thing. Freedom. If I got into any school in R1, I would stop. Pros are 1)if you’re a popular demographic (a MBB consultant!) you have a slightly better chance and 2) you get more months of party time. Cons are 1) your applications get better as you go and 2)if you get into nothing in R1, you’ll be pretty depressed and stressed during Christmas.

I went with my gut feel on my top 4:



Columbia
: NYC and fashion connections. Mainly NYC. I spoke to many alums but I did feel that they were slightly more serious than some of the other schools. The alums were very helpful, but I definitely didn’t feel at complete ease. My essays got shot down for being too “emotional” and not factual enough.

HBS: I actually remember having a conversation with my housemate when I was studying for the GMAT, we joked that I’d be miserable and eaten alive at HBS. I had met some alums that I did not want to work with. I did not even put HBS as a school on my GMAT list. I also went to an info session and felt that the room was very, very uptight. In hindsight though, I think it was because all of the prospective applicants were in black suits. On the flip side, I did, have a couple of good friends there and an alumni also helped me on my app. Frankly, I was more than a little confused, but I went with it, because well, it’s Harvard.

Kellogg: Marketing and people. I want to do marketing so I always knew that I’d be applying to Kellogg! Kellogg’s friendly and “softer” team spirit image also appealed to me. I spoke to a couple of alums and they just seemed very energised and simply, nice.

Stanford: What’s not to love? Some of the smartest people in the world, next to the Valley and the sun! All seriousness though, some of my favourite people from my consulting firm had gone to Stanford. I have never disliked someone from the GSB.

I could have applied for Wharton and INSEAD too, but to be honest, I struggled with three applications (I decided to apply for Columbia in November given its rolling admissions). I postponed these two for a few different reasons:

INSEAD: As I said, 1Y was a little too short and it wasn’t in the States. Importantly, the recommendation questions were slightly different to the US schools. You may laugh, but it a real issue when you’re getting senior people to help you out!

Wharton: Mainly the vibe. It’s close to NYC, has a great retail program and I had even met a lovely bubbly alum at a Women’s event, but I was traumatised by a previous info session. I think out of the 6 alumni panelists, 5 of them were from a finance background and ended up returning to the same bank. All the prospectives were also finance guys – I didn’t quite fit into that room.

Honestly, I would’ve been happy to attend any of the six. I also decided that if I didn’t get into these six, I would be going to none. I would accept that MBAs aren’t for me and would move on with life. Some may think it’s a little defeatist, but getting obsessive over these applications will kill you. MBA is just a means to an end, you will succeed with or without it. Remind yourself of this when times get tough.

Good luck!

A.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Short attention span? Remember these three tips  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jun 2018, 06:03
FROM addictedk89: Short attention span? Remember these three tips
In case you can’t be bothered to read any of my other posts – remember these three things! In many ways, I see this as the most and least important post. It rehashes the themes that I’ve tried to convey in earlier posts but it’s also the three things I’d tell an aspiring applicant.

#1. Do the GMAT first.

Regardless of whether you’re great at the GMAT or not – do it ASAP. It’s valid for five years! Just get it out of the way. Do a test run to gauge your score. It will help you understand what schools you could look at. Leave time for retakes (if you don’t need one – bonus! Spend it writing your essays).

#2. Know why you want a MBA.

I really struggled to answer this one! It forces you to answer the questions, “Where do I want to go in your career?” and “Will a MBA get me there?” You will need a good answer to write your essays well, but I think it’s well worth pondering! Spending two years with amazing people can be a legitimate one – just be honest with yourself.

#3. It’s a jigsaw puzzle.

This was the best piece of advice I heard from a panelist at an information session. Each of the parts tell something different about you and together they should create a holistic image of you. No part should contradict another, nor should they overlap.It’s also harder than it sounds. Some contradictions are easy to spot. For example, obviously don’t say you’re great at quant if you barely passed your undergrad math subjects. Some aren’t. A reader had picked up negative vibes in how I wrote in one of my essays and that was definitely not my intention. All it took was replacing a few words and the mood was much lighter. It’s easy to get lost when you’re staring at the same materials weeks in a row. Take a break for a few days and go back to it later.

My recommendation is to do each part (e.g., essays, application questions, CV) individually and then print the entire application out. Lay them on the floor and ask yourself if it passes the test. Then, rewrite and repeat.

Based on incoming questions and my ongoing reflection, I will continue to write adhoc posts.

If there was even one person who has found any of these posts vaguely useful, then it has been a success! Regardless, it’s been great to document some of the lessons I’ve learned from the process.

Adios for another week!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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My painful experience with the GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2018, 10:02
FROM addictedk89: My painful experience with the GMAT
Several of you have asked about the GMAT – so thought it might be helpful if I shared my thoughts

If I had to pinpoint the one thing I had the most trouble with – it was definitely the GMAT.  A couple of reasons for this:

  • Nerves – I have always been an extremely poor test taker and have never taken anything similar. For non-US applicants, I would say put some extra time on this one!
  • FOMO – this is the one thing in your application where you have 100% control. Your job, GPA are extra-curriculars are all pretty much settled by the time you apply. Technically you can take it as many times as you want – which begs the question, “when is it good enough?”
I took the GMAT twice – a  640 and then a 700 five months later. I’m going to dedicate the next several posts to this painful journey. In particular:

  • what number is good enough (Friday)
  • should I resit the GMAT (Monday)
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Who wins in the dance between girl vs number?  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jun 2018, 06:01
FROM addictedk89: Who wins in the dance between girl vs number?
As I noted before, I am not a good test taker, so I always knew that the test would be the most difficult part of my application. Here are a couple of tips that I wish I knew before I took the test:

#1: Don’t underestimate the numbers

The biggest error I made was taking the GMAT too lightly. I had done pretty well academically up till then so when I looked at the GMAT percentile scores, I genuinely believed that I could easily get into the top 95th percentile. I had spoken to some of my friends, who all told me I had nothing to worry about – they were all getting mid 700s with a few weeks of cramming.

I moved to a new country and booked myself a test within six weeks of landing. With a new job on the side – another big mistake. I got my Manhattan Prep and studied for 2 hours every week day and every Sunday. I knew I was going to bomb it but I had already booked it so I took it anyway. 640. Just 100 shy of what I was expecting. Oops.

Luckily, it was the holiday season so I rested and reflected. I finally got my act together in January.

#2 It’s not you. It’s the GMAT.

After that abysmal score, I looked up what schools I could apply to. Mmmm…looks like I could be one of the outliers for some of my schools? Failures like this hurt your pride, but one thing I learned is that the GMAT is NOT a good gauge of your intelligence. It tests you on your abilities to recognise patterns but you need to understand that it’s not about the content at all. You need to “game” the system. They are actively trying to trip you up.

Once I accepted this, I changed my approach. I changed to Veritas to get a fresh start. Nerves are my biggest weakness so I targeted that directly. I decided that I am not a crammer. I booked my test four months in advance with a holiday in between. I studied ~2-3 days after work and Saturday afternoons after a good brunch. It became part of my routine and I was much less stressed about it. I frankly thought, “No matter what, it has to be higher than 640.”

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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How high can you go?  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2018, 18:02
FROM addictedk89: How high can you go?
And finally, you’ve taken the test – how do you know when to stop?  My tip #3 is to note that It’s good enough. Move on.

One fine day in April, I took the test and got a 700. By then, I was testing steadily 720s in my practice tests. Slightly disappointed, I toyed with the idea of taking it a third time – but thoughts on sitting through another 4 hour slot made me miserable. The internal monologue I had:

  • How is the GMAT used? The GMAT is used by the admissions team to quickly benchmark all applicants’ academic abilities. The question I imagine they ask themselves is, “Can this person handle our course?” I had studied a competitive degree and while my GPA was less than stellar, my work experience would’ve shown that I wasn’t a complete idiot.
  • What’s in it for the school? I think there is value in looking at the school stats. Look at the average and the range. Then be very honest with yourself. I’d recommend to hit the middle 80% range for the schools you’d like. If you’re lower than the lowest GMAT from last year – well, you better be incredibly unique! Another way to look at it  – say your dream school average is 730. You got a 700. This means that the school will have to get a 760 admit to compensate for you. That’s a little easier than a 780 had you been a 680….
  • How can I compensate for this GMAT? My verbal was in the 90th percentile but my quant score was extremely poor. But I was working in a highly quantitative role and I made sure the application was littered with examples of my quant abilities.
  • What could I do instead of retaking the GMAT? Classic opportunity cost dilemma. I have an extremely short attention span and definitely had had enough. I had all these other things I wanted to do – travel, brush up on a language and learn coding. So I chucked out all my books and went on a holiday.
  • How much better can I do? This is extremely important. For me, I wasn’t willing to put in the effort to gain another 50 pts. I researched into this and people told me to retake. Apparently a 720-30 would have been much safer. I can’t disagree but I was willing to take the chance that there were other non-GMAT things that could make me stand out more. And potentially be more useful later in life .
Retaking the GMAT is about your risk appetite. Obviously, the higher the better but there is so much more to your application, and importantly, you. There are a lot of 800s who don’t get into Stanford or Harvard – so make a smart business decision.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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What is the best approach to essays?  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jul 2018, 11:02
FROM addictedk89: What is the best approach to essays?
Hello!

People will harp on about the importance of the essays, but I’m in the camp of “it’s still just a part of the process”. You shouldn’t spend more or less time on it than everything else. Rather, you need to dedicate the same amount of effort to it.

Firstly, a huge disclaimer that English was my favourite subject at school.  Secondly, I really enjoyed the essays. Not the writing component, but the reflection process that is mandatory for a good essay. Lastly, I truly believe the essays got me across the line. I’ll spend the next week on my key pieces of pseudo-wisdom:

#1 Plan a story.

#2 Write shamelessly. Read shamelessly. Now, write some more.

#3 You are the litmus test.

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Now seriously, what is the plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jul 2018, 06:02
FROM addictedk89: Now seriously, what is the plan?
Like I said in the last post, the most important thing is to plan a story. Not write, but plan.

Planning happens at two levels – the order of essays you write and more obviously, the content of each individual essay.

At the applications level: once you’ve decided which schools you’ll be applying to, collate all the essay questions. Find similarities and differences between all of them. In deciding which one to tackle first, it’s a combination of the broadest question and their due dates. In my instance, the HBS essay made a lot of sense. No word limit and a vague prompt of “Introduce Yourself”. Keep in mind that you will have to tailor EVERY school but having a base essay will give huge economies of scale.

At the individual essay level: you need to sit down and list down literally every achievement you’ve ever had. Add the fun bits too. Then you pick and choose where you want each of them to appear. Do you want them in your essay? Or have you already spent 15 words on it in your CV? Words are precious, do not waste them.

Now look at that list and see how you can construct a compelling story. Everyone thinks they’re boring and mediocre but believe me, you’re not. Dig deep and you’ll find something that only you can share!

On Friday, I’ll share my thoughts on the next step- writing.

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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How to be a shameless MBA student  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jul 2018, 09:02
FROM addictedk89: How to be a shameless MBA student
You’ve got the plan – now you must write shamelessly. Read shamelessly. Now, write some more.

Most applicants will suffer from writer’s block. I started jotting down ideas in June but didn’t really get to writing until August – a month before the first application was due. Do not dilly-dally and spend copious amounts of time planning. Just write. Even if you think it’s rubbish.

Getting something on paper is crucial because it’s only then you start noticing how small the word count is and how repetitive your examples are. My first drafts were absolutely awful. After editing it to a decent standard, this is where you have to be brave and just take the plunge. Send it to someone.

I had nailed down my story, but there were many, many ways to tell it. I sent three or four different “storylines” to three different people. At this point, you need consistency. You need a few people to read literally everything you write. I forced them to say what they liked and disliked and rewrote them again. And again. And again. You need to thank these poor fellas profusely later.

 

On Sunday, I’ll share my thoughts on the final step – reviewing the essays and making sure they’re as perfect as they can be.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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What is the litmus test for a perfect essay?  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jul 2018, 20:02
FROM addictedk89: What is the litmus test for a perfect essay?
Lucky for all of us, you are the litmus test. Not some consultant, not your friends who got in last year and not some anonymous forum body. Certainly not me.

In terms of choosing readers, I wrote down everyone I wanted to read my essays – alumni of schools I was applying to, colleagues and even friends who had no idea what an MBA was. Each of them contribute to improving your essay in a different way but you need to filter their advice accordingly. I made sure I had 1-2 alumni reading my essay to that particular school, but their time is precious so make it easy for them!

I had a MBA colleague, a trusted manager and an ex-lawyer friend read through my first essays. They gave me advice but to be honest, it’s VERY hard to know how good an essay can get. They felt they were not bad, but not amazing. They couldn’t pinpoint what I should improve on. I actually liked a couple but they hated it, so it was good for weeding out bad stories. One of my readers commented on one throwaway line that I had in my essay. I personally didn’t think it was that interesting but apparently it was. It became the crux of all my essays.

I had focused on my passion for my post-MBA industry and relationship growing up with it. What I didn’t realise was that it had much more to do with my family, specifically my mother than anything else. I had never thought about my life decisions in that way (or frankly, in any way). This was when I decided that I was grateful for the MBA process because it had forced me to reflect and articulate my motivations. It can seem a little fluffy and American, but you need to embrace it (and reminisce about all the cool stuff you’ve done!). I knew it was the right story when I was embarrassed to share it with friends. I got very emotional telling it to my mother. Not every essay needs to have that effect but I think it’s one of those things where you will know when you’ve gotten it right. Keep writing until you get that feeling – it will come.

And finally, I’d recommend sending it to two people when you decide you’re done – an alumni to check for overall feel and a nitpicky friend to proofread! Honestly, at one point, you will run out of steam. Put it down, take a few days break before moving ahead.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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What is the litmus test for a perfect essay? &nbs [#permalink] 07 Jul 2018, 20:02
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