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An MBA at INSEAD with 730 on the GMAT

Posted on September 23, 2015
kaushik subramaniam

In conversation with Kaushik Subramaniam, who scored a 730 on the GMAT and secured an MBA admit to INSEAD.


Can you tell us a little something about your background?

I basically come from an Engineering background – although my heart wasn’t into it at all. I later did a PGDM degree from MICA after taking the CAT in 2008. The reason I chose MICA was because I wanted a specialized course in Marketing.
Once I completed my PGDM, I went on to work with L’oreal for the next 4 years. I moved from an Intern to a PPO where I started off with sales and then moved to marketing. Later, I got a move to Singapore and Thailand internally where I was for a brief period of time.
Lastly, I came back to Bombay where I was the Brand Manager for Garnier Men and then shifted to the Global Innovation Network where I have been working since the last one year.

What services did you avail from CrackVerbal?

I had taken CrackVerbal’s GMAT Online course. To be honest I have never been comfortable with an Online Course. But, taking this course changed my entire perspective about it. Now, In fact I’m taking an online course to learn a language as well 🙂 My work schedule kind of forced me to take an online course.
The initial choice was between e-GMAT and CrackVerbal. So, I attended one small online demo class from CrackVerbal and I ended up liking it better. So, I went with CrackVerbal. The convenience that the course offered was amazing since I had long working hours but this never hindered my prep and I was able to flawlessly attend classes.

What was your GMAT Mantra?

You can be an SC expert but it is of no use if you cannot solve RC. Also it is necessary to solve questions within the time limit. People often tend to focus on just one section of the GMAT but in my view every section on the GMAT counts and requires equal attention
Ensure that you reach your required proficiency levels in each sub section and maintain that. There is some curve somewhere  – I think it is called curve of diminishing value or some such thing  – that basically says that after a point each unit of effort put in counts for negligible improvement. Understand when you reach this point and stop.
You need to start loving the exam. Love how the questions are framed; love how the next question’s difficulty is determined, and how it will grade you. Only when you realize that each question has a significant amount of money invested behind it by the GMAC, do you realize the value of GMAC material. I cannot stress enough on this – USE ONLY GMAC MATERIAL – nothing else comes close. The idea is to think like the GMAC! Beat the enemy by thinking like him and thinking one step ahead.
SC can be approached purely as a math/logic problem. Practice like crazy and you WILL start identifying patterns in SC soon. You’ll look at an SC and be like “Ah! This is testing modifiers, there’s an “as versus like”, and there is also an S-V agreement problem” and you shall be able to solve it under minutes. This is what happened to me in the exam, I think I got most of them correct.
Take copious notes in RC. Imagine you have to explain it to a 3 year old. Rely only on the GMAT Prep mock scores. Practice with full tests (AWA+IR with timed breaks).

What was your motivation behind an MBA for the second time?

Firstly, even after having an engineering degree and a PGDM from Mica, I felt that the opportunities to go abroad after graduating from an Indian school are less when compared to graduating from a top-tier school abroad. It definitely increases your scope of getting a job in the field you want.
Secondly, with an Indian B-School you go in when you have no work experience, so I felt an Indian MBA is more like a Masters. This is solely because the Indian B-Schools have students who are mainly engineers with little diversity and low domain experience. So, I was very clear that I wanted to go abroad and do a “real” MBA because the opportunities that open up to you once you are done with your MBA from a top tier school abroad are more rewarding.
An Indian MBA is good if you want to stay back in India. But, if you have larger aspirations in life such as to grow on a global scale then I think it is essential to study from a top tier school abroad.

How did you go about your applications?

My work experience played a significant role in my admit to INSEAD along with my GMAT score. As far as my application for INSEAD I had 7 essays to write. These 7 essays focused on all aspects of a person’s life. They take the effort of knowing the person with his professional, personal and co-curricular achievements.
So, before writing all these applications I made a map that highlighted all my strengths and weaknesses and these were things I had to highlight in every application. You need to use each aspect of your application as a separate tool in your arsenal. You need to make sure your form, your essays, your recommendation letters all highlight different aspects of your personality.
I was also in touch with a lot of alumni and I also got my essays reviewed by them to which they used to reply with valuable suggestions which I incorporated in my essays.

What all schools did you apply to?

I applied to Kellogg, LBS, Harvard, and INSEAD. I withdrew from Kellogg and got a ding from Harvard and wait-listed at LBS. I finally got an admit to INSEAD.

How was the interview process?

I had two interviews in which one interview tested my professional skills and the other interview was just get to know the person I am. Just know what to say for certain standard questions and the rest will come on its own.

A few Words of Wisdom for our GMAT aspirants out there?

As far as the GMAT and Applications go here is what I have to say:
Don’t try to beat the material. Beat the exam.
Figure out a strategy to tackle the exam.
Optimize your efficiency when it comes to each module. Don’t just focus on a single module.
Let the OG be your Bible!
Research your schools very well. Research! Research! & Research!
Check the school that best fits your personality and then apply
Have a story in your essay and don’t repeat your CV.
Proof read your Essays

How do you feel CrackVerbal helped you?

I wouldn’t have Cracked the GMAT If it wasn’t for CrackVerbal.
They were very flexible with their classes. Whenever I missed anything they would provide me with the recordings of the classes and also call me if I had any doubts. They get to know you on a personal level along with the professional level and I think that’s what their USP is about! Thank you CrackVerbal 🙂
Are you inspired by Kaushik’s story? Leave your comments below!
Want to know if you too can make it to INSEAD Business School?
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