Ajinkya Bokil – 710 on GMAT
In Conversation with Ajinkya Bokil who scored a 710 on the GMAT and bagged an Admit to ISB.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I graduated in 2011 from BITS Pilani as an engineer with a specialization in electronics and electrical engineering. After that, I pursued an internship for 6 months in a research institute. Post this, I worked in MuSigma in the analytics domain for 2.5 years.
Following that, I shifted to Ma Foi Analytics, a start-up. My major experience is in the pharma domain – mainly marketing & sales analytics.
What was your motivation behind an MBA?
When I was in college, I wasn’t really good at programming, so IT wasn’t a good option for me in the long-term. I was always curious as to how business operations took place and how managers plan their goals and make decisions.
I never understood what was going through the customers’ mind when they’d make particular decisions based on the recommendations we gave. There was always a link between what we understood and what they understood. I wanted to know what that link was.
How did you go about with your GMAT Prep?
I started the preparation for GMAT a bit early. 3 months of preparation, I thought was sufficient. Considering that I came from an analytics background and a job that revolved around data interpretation and finding patterns, Quant was pretty easy for me. The challenge was data interpretation which I think none of the other exams have. It was more or less about practice for Quant. For Quant, I followed Princeton and Manhattan material.
They have pretty good tips on how to go about reading and solving these problems, especially the data interpretation problems where many of them tend to make mistakes.
When it came to Verbal, one of the major problems for me, as someone hailing from India, was that I was not well-versed with GMAT English. The first thing I did was to take the prep tests. I gave one before the preparation and got a pretty low score- 22 or 23. I had prepared from Manhattan books at that point of time.
I thought I’d give it another shot after a week’s time since I was pretty confident about CR and SC. This time I prepared with the Princeton guide, only to realise that I didn’t improve my Verbal score at all. My Verbal scores remained constant while my Quant scores went up.
I realised that self-prep wouldn’t work anymore and decided to join CrackVerbal after hearing about it from a friend of mine.
How did CrackVerbal help in your efforts?
CrackVerbal impressed me with the personalised attention they gave to each and every student, the forum in which you could ask doubts and all the different facilities that were provided. They were flexible enough to accommodate me as I was planning to give my exam in November. I took help for SC and CR, because RC was more or less about reading and interpreting what’s in the passage as quickly as possible.
I practiced for the RC regularly by reading The Hindu or New York Times. One sincere advice is to not try to improve your reading with the Times of India as the English they use is quite different from the GMAT. I could read the passage on RC and instantaneously know where to look for the answer in the passage.
The instructors at CrackVerbal helped me with CR and SC. Various ways to solve a particular question were thoroughly covered. I was pretty confident about this section after the classes.
For data interpretation, IR and AWA, I took help from the Official Guide. Once you understand the structure of how to go about an essay, how to critically evaluate an essay, then you’re pretty much good to go.
How did you go about with your application process?
I had 3 years of experience when I applied to B-schools. One of the biggest problems I was facing was the question about which schools would accept me because 3 years is relatively low if you look at it. However, I spoken to a few alumni of other international colleges who told me that 3 years of experience is almost like no experience at all.
Ideally I would advise everyone to have 3-4 colleges in mind, so that they have something as a fall back option.
I applied to LBS, INSEAD, Hong Kong University, China Europe International Business School and ISB. I managed to convert CEIBS and ISB.
Why ISB over CEIBS?
After I got in touch with few alumni and students who were already studying or who had passed out a couple of years ago, they said that one of the biggest problems of going to China is that you have to learn Mandarin or Cantonese and that’s not an easy task considering the amount of work load you’ll have.
Also, if you want to make a career in China, CEIBS was the place to be. But you can’t move out of the country much because it’s too China-focused. It’s not easy for an Indian to get a job in China. After investing 40-50 lakhs, getting no return on my investment would have been a huge disappointment.
How is life at ISB so far?
Life is good at ISB. It’s amazing to interact with people of diverse backgrounds – management, medicine, CA, movie story writer, all under one roof discussing their ideas on how to make a difference.
What made you stand out in your ISB essay?
One of the key factors was that data analytics professionals really valued at ISB because of the connection to the consulting business. The business world of today is very data-driven. The fact that I knew what to do with data when it was given to me worked in my favour.
What stands out in your profile is not really the number of years you’ve worked, but qualities such as initiative and leadership. You should have done something apart from your designated job role.
How was the ISB interview?
I started with introducing myself for 5 minutes and out of the 30 minutes which I spent with the panel, 20 minutes were purely on my interest of football and cricket – what’s happening in the football and cricket world? They wanted to check my knowledge on the history of football to figure out how passionate I was about football and how I could differentiate myself from others. It was a very sports-oriented discussion.
The last 5 minutes was a case-study based question – If I were going to a job interview, how I would approach it and what would be the necessary measures I’d take to ensure I got the job.
How was your experience with CrackVerbal?
CrackVerbal helped me a lot in boosting my confidence for SC and CR within a very short span of time, and thanks to them, I could pull up my score from 22 to 35. The forum really helped me out. I got so many problems solved through the forum that it really enhanced the whole experience when I was not in the classroom. Being a working professional, you can’t always be in the classroom.
Any words of wisdom for GMAT and MBA aspirants?
Start off your GMAT preparation as early as possible. When you’re working, you won’t get time, but you have to make time. You might have to give up on a few things like sleep or social lifestyle because if you’re really serious about the GMAT, you have to make a trade off.
Practice enough, get your accuracy right and then time yourself. Don’t give a single day’s gap while preparing. A single day’s gap can pull you back in your preparation process.
When it comes to selecting B-schools, decide the field you want to work in and then choose your B-school. Don’t look only at branding. It will be a waste of time for you and the college if the college can’t get you to your dream career.
Be original on your essays and not cliché. Make your story interesting.
Thanks a lot for your time Ajinkya! All the best with your future!
Are you inspired by Ajinkya’s story? Leave your comments below!