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Rendezvous with Harsh Fadnavis – IITian with a 740 on the GMAT!

Posted on July 19, 2012
harsh fadnavis

In conversation with Harsh Fadnavis, an IITian, who got into ISB with a 740 on his GMAT.


Hi Harsh! It is great to hear regarding your admit at ISB.

Thank you very much!

Could you share your under-graduation and profile with us?

I graduated from IIT-Guwahati in 2008. By the time I joined ISB, I have around 3.5 years of experience. I was working with PWC as a technological consultant. The job required extensive travel.

And how was your GMAT experience? When did you start your GMAT preparation and how did you study?

Actually I gave my GMAT twice. Initially, I gave in December 2010. At that time, I wasn’t a CrackVerbal student. As a trademark for engineers, my strengths lied in quant and I apparently was weak in verbal! In January 2011, recommended by some of my friends, I attended a demo lecture.
I instantly liked the approach and signed up for the course! I attended all the verbal classes devotedly. I took 3 months to prepare for GMAT as my work schedule was very hectic and involved a lot of travelling. I gave my second GMAT in April, definitely with a better score.

Harsh, what was your GMAT score?

The second time I gave it, I scored a 740.

That’s amazing! It would be great if you could share some important aspects of GMAT for aspiring students.

There are some key aspects that aspiring students should keep in mind to approach their GMAT effectively.
Firstly, the preparation for GMAT has to be in the right direction. What I mean to say is that when a potential GMAT test taker surfs the internet, he/she can find infinite number of questions on GMAT.
Believe me, a great percentage of these questions are not applicable to the GMAT format. A vulnerable student can easily pick up a wrong question and may even solve it correctly, but this effort will be in vain if this question does not replicate the ones asked on the actual GMAT.
It is futile to solve thousands of questions on internet which are not relevant to GMAT. The material that Arun provided consisted of some 250 questions on verbal which were on the same lines that I came across in GMAT. Solving 250 good questions correctly is better than solving thousand irrelevant questions which are a big no-no.
Secondly, I began my preparation by solving the study material provided by Crack Verbal, instead of any other material on GMAT. This is because, once you solve the 250 “solid” GMAT questions, when you refer other books, you will easily identify which questions are GMAT-like and which are not.
Not only this, you will also be able to gauge the difficulty level i.e. 600-level, 700-level, etc. This made things a lot easy for me to decipher which questions to solve, which book to refer etc.
However, your focus should always be on the subject material provided by Crack Verbal.
Thirdly, getting the right answer is not enough, it is equally important to know how you arrived at that answer. This is because, as I gave my GMAT twice, there were some questions I solved both the times and that too correctly, but the approach was totally different the second time.
The right approach will help you out to eliminate wrong answer choices faster and arrive at a correct answer confidently. Especially for engineers, a mentor like Arun is of great help who can teach you how to approach a question, rather than just giving you the formulas to solve it.

How important is GMAT for any MBA aspirant?

My honest opinion is that GMAT is IMPORTANT, extremely IMPORTANT! I know people who had awesome profile but because they had lower score on the GMAT, they weren’t selected.
If you ask me the cut-off, then I would say that for an engineer from India, even 720 is not enough.
Good score is somewhere close to 750 and GMAT matters.
Because it is one decisive factor that immensely help B-schools shortlist applicants from a huge pool. Secondly, a good GMAT score also helps students earn a scholarship. For instance, when you are investing heavily in a U.S. based B-School; a scholarship comes handy – especially if you are joining a mid-tier B-School (say 25th ranking onwards). Thus, GMAT does matter a lot!

Why ISB, the Indian School of Business?

Good question! I was wait-listed in Kellogg School of Management, Ross School of Business and Indian School of Business. I had spoken at length to many people who are currently in U.S. and in Singapore doing their MBAs as well as few in India.
The first step of application process is to gather specific information from students already studying at different B-Schools to procure essential information on different B-schools.
This is because the websites will provide only generic information, which will not provide you with the real picture. I was searching for a one-year course, as I have already experienced the corporate world and I wish to start working again soon. ISB is definitely a good choice for one-year course.
Secondly, looking at it from a long term perspective, it is a proven fact that the future is in Asia, particularly in India – in terms of economy, finance and technology. For example, India has one of the biggest consumer base, the entire financial hub is moving from U.S. to Asia.
Finally, as I want to go into hard core technology such as Product Management role or Program Management role, specifically in the internet domain, I preferred the Indian School of Business since it provides a very good platform to those students who want to continue in India. The case studies are specific to Indian organizations and Indian markets.

What about your application process and recommendations?

It is always suggested not to take recommendations from the people at top positions in the companies you have worked in. This is because they will not know much about you as they may have never worked with you. So, I took recommendations from two managers, one current and another former one. Both of them had worked extensively with me.
The current manager had worked with me for a year and thus the recommendation she wrote about me was very specific. For instance, a standard question on recommendation is your strengths and weaknesses.
In strength, my managers pointed out my convincing power by citing an event and describing how I sorted out the issues in that situation. They could write all this, only because they were also a part of it.
Obviously a CEO of the company cannot write anything specific about you, he can only write a few generic lines about you. Also, once you get admitted, for the background verification, the B-schools also happen to call up your managers to verify whether what has been written is real or not.
One useful tip that I would like to share is that when you are selecting your recommendations, educate your managers what they should write or what they shouldn’t, without manipulating anything. Give them the copies of your essays; explain them what your careers goals are and what you tend to project in your application, so that what they write is similar to what you have written.

How did your interview process go?

There are basically 10-15 questions you need to prepare well for the interview. Arun gave me a very useful list of these questions. Interview is nothing but proving whatever you have written in your essays and recommendations is actually what you have done.
The interviewers are very experienced and polished, they will ask you questions in such a manner that they will easily figure out what you are portraying about yourself is genuine or not.
Thus, interviews can be easily cracked if what you have written is what you have actually done. The interviewers do not judge your English very critically. I know a lot of people who are shy and who are not effective speakers but they have got through.
In short, if the interviewers have invited you for the interview, it means they like what you have written. Now you just need to prove that you have done that. That is it!

How did Crack Verbal help you out, Harsh?

Often MBA aspirants tend to neglect GMAT, which is infact very crucial for your admission in a good B-school. Though there are many coaching centers running for GMAT preparation, as I was a student of CrackVerbal, I can confidently say that I got the right amount of questions and most importantly, the right type of questions to work on!

Pleasure talking to you Harsh! Thanks so much!

Thank you! If you have any other questions, just drop me an email!
Inspired by Harsh’s story? Want to know if you too can get into Top B-Schools? Let us help you!
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