Five Years to B-School: Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?

Recently I came across the article series from Business Week titled as “Five Years to B-School”. Being in Business School right now and seen the fellow students around me I ponder on this question.  “Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?” The article interestingly summerize the journey as below:

By the end of Year One, you had launched your career and found a mentor. In Year Two, you began taking on more responsibility at the office and in your extracurricular activities. Year Three brought a promotion or a move to another company. You made your mark on the job and started preparing for the application process in Year Four. Wrap things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer, find a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications and start to live—and feel—like a student again by Year Five.

For me the last sentence is most close to the truth – live like a student on a thin budget and spend every week to “strategize” how you will find your next “dream” job. 🙂 Although I may or may not agree to many points suggested in this series this series is still very informative to those who are planning to apply over next few years.

Here’s summary each year’s plan from the article.

By the End of Year One…

You should have:

• Begun developing your skill set

• Found a few mentors who have given you a better idea about the jobs you might like to do in the future

• Found a way to translate your passions into a couple of activities in which you’d really liked to get involved

• Decided how you can make an impact at the office and in those extracurricular activities and start implementing a plan of action to do just that

• Kept your mind on business by reading relevant books and articles

• Made a decision about when you’d like to take the GMAT

• Started building a satisfying, well-rounded life and career.

By the End of Year Two…

You should have:

• Shown progress in your career

• Received a promotion or taken on a project or assignment that had you in a leadership role

• Started thinking about your next career move

• Taken on more responsibility for your relationship with your mentors and built an even larger network of professional contacts

• Demonstrated initiative in one of your extracurricular activities and continued to pursue your passions whatever they may be

• Worked on any weaknesses in your academic record

• Gained either exposure or experience internationally

• Begun to save money to finance your education


You should have:

• Either been promoted where you’ve been working or moved to another company to reach the next level in your profession.

• Found someone to mentor while still maintaining relationships with your own mentors and continuing to make contact with superiors who can better inform you about the MBA and various business schools.

• Narrowed down the list of things you’d like to be doing after you complete your MBA.

• Made contact with business schools that interest you.

• Discussed your future with your loved ones and listened to their thoughts about your plans.

• Tightened your finances even more than before in anticipation of paying tuition and going without an income for two years.


You should have:

•Earned recognition on the job and broadened your experiences by taking on new roles or projects

•Narrowed your list of top business schools and thoroughly researched them

•Chosen your recommenders and either talked with them about the MBA in general or your desire to apply, depending on your relationship with each

•Begun taking note of your achievements and demonstrations of leadership in preparation for the essays and the interviews

•Researched the regions of the schools that interest you most to determine the types of jobs available, the cost of living, and the culture for you and your family if you have one

•Started applying for scholarships and any other free money to fund your MBA


You should have:

• Wrapped things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer

• Become an insider at the MBA programs at the top of your list

• Come up with a clear-cut career path to share with the admissions committees

• Addressed your weaknesses as an applicant in the application

• Found a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications

• Started to live—and feel—like a student again. The MBA is, after all, just around the corner

Having looked at the fellow students around I believe the time period to be ready for a B School vary significantly from candidates to candidate as well as what you need to do (or can do) in each of those five years also vary significantly depending on the industry you’re coming from. I am sure many of you who have already passed out from B School or are currently in B School have different thoughts. I would welcome any comments!


Article Source: BusinessWeek

Too many MBA Rankings – which one to follow?

I have been reading, re-reading and again visiting school websites and resources to finalize the schools I want to apply. Like many others, I take help of different rankings available online. But each one shows different schools in top 5. So, I researched to find out what each ranking is based on and below is what I found out. I hope this becomes useful to many others like me! [Check out my new blog post on this]

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings

BusinessWeek bases its MBA rankings on:

  • 45% on student satisfaction surveys of recent MBA Program graduates
  • 45% on surveys of corporate recruiters based on their experiences with a school’s graduates
  • 10% on “intellectual capital” calculated by BusinessWeek, which tallies points for appearance of the faculty’s research in 18 specific publications

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

BusinessWeek surveys MBA graduates and corporate recruiters, and measures faculty publications.

Every two years, BusinessWeek asks the graduating MBA classes at schools to complete an online survey. MBAs evaluate “everything from the quality of teaching to the efficacy of career placement offices” using a scale of 1-10 for each question. Responses from the graduating class account for half of a school’s student satisfaction score. The other half of the MBA program rankings comes from the responses of the two previous BusinessWeek rankings classes, which carry a weight of 25% each. The resulting student satisfaction score receives a 45% weighting in the overall MBA program ranking.

BusinessWeek also asks corporate recruiters who hire MBAs to complete an online MBA ratings survey. Recruiters rate their top 20 schools based on their company’s experiences with a school’s graduates. Each school’s total score is divided by the number of responding companies that recruit from that school. BusinessWeek reported that there tend to be greater differences among schools in the corporate survey, so recruiter opinion can have a greater impact on the overall ranking. In 2006, BusinessWeek no longer based each school’s recruiter score on a single survey and, instead, combined the three most recent polls, as it does with the student surveys. The 2006 recruiter survey counts for 50% of the recruiter score, while the 2004 and 2002 surveys contribute 25% each. Combined, the three recruiter polls accounted for 45% of the final ranking. The recruiter score accounts for 45% of any MBA program’s ranking score.

Finally, BusinessWeek calculates each school’s “intellectual capital” rating by tallying faculty’s publications in 18 publications, and adds points if The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek reviewed a professor’s book. Tallies are adjusted for faculty size. The intellectual capital score accounts for 10% of a school’s MBA ranking.

Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times bases its MBA rankings:

  • 55% on career progression by surveys of alumni, with salary data as the largest measure
  • 25% on diversity of faculty, students and board members and the international experience of students, by surveys completed by the schools themselves
  • 20% on research, calculated by the Financial Times

Detailed MBA Ranking Methodology

The Financial Times measures three areas in its annual MBA ranking:

  • Career progression
  • Diversity of faculty, students and board members, and the international experience of MBA students
  • Research

The Financial Times sends a questionnaire to alumni three years after graduation to chart their progress from pre-MBA program, through graduation and into the workplace. Their “career progress,” for which the salary data is the largest measure, accounts for 55% of the MBA ranking.

Each school completes a survey, which measures diversity of faculty, advisory board members and students, and international experiences of the MBA students. These diversity and international measures account for 25% of the overall MBA program ranking.

Finally, the Financial Times rates each school for “ideas generation,” which accounts for 20% of the weighting of the overall Financial Times ranking. This research ranking is based on a rating of faculty publications in 40 international academic and practitioner journals (10%); the percentage of faculty with doctoral degrees (5%); and the number of doctoral graduates from the last three academic years with additional weighting for graduates who took faculty positions at one of the top 50 schools in the most recent FT ranking (5%).

Forbes MBA Rankings

Forbes ranks return on investment of MBA programs based on:

  • Average 5-year increase in compensation compared to pre-MBA salary for each school’s graduates
  • Cost of each MBA program, including estimated foregone salary

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

Forbes ranks “return on investment” for MBA programs. For its most recent MBA program ranking, which was released in 2007, Forbes surveyed 2002 graduates of 102 MBA programs around the world.

To determine the five-year MBA gain, Forbes asked alumni for their pre-M.B.A. salaries as well as compensation figures for three of the first five years after getting their degrees. Forbes compared their post-M.B.A. compensation with their opportunity cost (tuition and forgone salary while in school) and what they would have made had they stayed in their old jobs. Forbes adjusted for cost-of-living expenses and discounted the earnings gains, using a rate tied to money market yields.

U.S. News & World Report MBA Rankings

U.S. News & World Report bases its MBA rankings:

  • 25% on ratings by business school deans and MBA program directors
  • 15% on ratings by recruiters of the schools at which they recruit
  • 35% on placement statistics provided by each school
  • 25% on school-reported “selectivity”, the percentage of applicants the school accepts for admission

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology U.S. News & World Report sends surveys to all accredited MBA programs. The annual MBA ranking includes:

  • Surveys of deans and MBA program directors who rate programs (25% of the overall ranking)
  • Corporate recruiters rate the programs where they recruit (15% of the overall MBA ranking)
  • “Statistical indicators,” which include placement success (35% of the overall MBA ranking) and student selectivity (25% of the overall MBA ranking)

Specialty MBA rankings are based solely on ratings by deans and program directors, who can list up to 10 MBA programs for excellence in each area listed. The 10 schools receiving the most votes appear in the ranking.

The Wall Street Journal MBA Rankings

  • The Wall Street Journal bases its MBA program rankings 100% on surveys of recruiters’ perceptions of the MBA programs from which they recruit.

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

The ranking components for all schools measured in the 2006 survey include three elements: perception of the school and its students (21 attributes); intended future supportive behavior toward that school; and mass appeal. For national and regional schools, mass appeal is defined as the total number of respondents who recruit MBA graduates from that school. For international schools, mass appeal is defined as the number of countries in which the school’s recruiters are based.

Each of these three components – perception, supportive behavior and mass appeal – accounts for one-third of the overall 2006 rank. The 2006 ranking of schools that were ranked in 2005 and remained within the same cluster is based on an average of the 2006 and 2005 rank. For schools that are new to the MBA program ranking survey or moved between clusters, the ranking is based on 2006 results only.

GMAT Verbal Section Strategy Tips – How to score 40 plus in GMAT Verbal

I have been reading several debriefs where slightly improper time management costs a lot of the eventual score on GMAT. So, I thought of sharing my strategy on verbal section on how I tried to manage my time. I call it “How to score 40 plus in GMAT Verbal” tips! I hope some of fellow test takers may find it useful. [Also check out my quant section strategy tips]


§ Divide your verbal section in 3 phases

§ Phase 1 [30 minutes]: Take sufficient time for first 15 questions, approximately 2 minutes. You will get at least 1 RC in this but try to gain momentum because once you are in momentum you will be able to make up the extra time lost

§ Phase 2 [25 minutes]: Be quick between questions 16 and 31. Say approximately 1.5 minutes per question or 25 minutes overall.

§ Phase 3 [20 minutes]: Leave almost 2 minutes per question for last 10 questions as they will contain fewer experimental questions. Please click here why I recommend doing well on last few questions.

§ Numbered scratch pad: Use your time during the school selection screens to create numbered scratch pad with 5 choices. Use this scratch area to execute POE (point of elimination). Make sure you use POE method for majority of your verbal questions. It will help you narrow down the choices and quickly answer. [Please click here to see where you should have numbered scratch pad.]

Reading Comprehension (RC):

  • Almost all study guides will recommend you to do “active reading” by taking notes. BUT, do NOT write too much. Gaze through one paragraph at a time and just list a few words or sentences (say 1-2 sentences or 5-8 words.)
  • Note down point for first 2 RC and try to reduce your dependency on writing for active reading. You can remember 4 paragraphs if you read them carefully. Ideally you may not write more than a few words (or no words) for last RC. This will ensure that you will have enough time to answer last 5-7 questions which are typically SC or CR.
  • For last RC you may want to start your reading aiming to answer first question instead of getting overall understanding if you’re running out of time.
  • Try to follow 7 step strategy of Manhattan.
  • ALWAYS, read the first question before reading passage.
  • USE POE in RC. 3 out of 5 choices are irrelevant.

Critical Reasoning (CR):

  • Be quick to remove irrelevant choices. Any words which don’t appear in original passage may actually be irrelevant.
  • Try to find out words which match the words from passage. Choices with such words are more than likely to be correct choices.
  • Use your numbers scratch pad to remove irrelevant choice by POE. Please click here to see how to create such scratch pad.
  • Concentrate a little more on CR that follows RC. Usually you feel fatigued after reading a passage, questions and answer. Another small passage of CR can add to fatigue and a hazy reading may lead you to choose wrong choice. Just a little concentration not too much so that you run out of time afterwards J

Sentence Correction (SC):

  • Treat SC as if you’re doing math section. There are predefined grammar rules and if those rules are compromised, the sentence is wrong. This is as simple. Use Manhattan SC guide as bible.
  • Read the sentence and try to spot the error. As soon as you spot the mistake USE POE and remove those choices.
  • If an answer choice seems to make compromise with grammar rule(s) then cancel it even if that’s the only less wordy choice or probably the last one after you crossed off other 4 choices. It’s very likely that there is another choice that you misread at first attempt.
  • When you are left with 2 choices try to find out which one can be wrong. This strategy will help you correct answer.
  • Don’t ignore your strength in an attempt to do better on your weak points. SC was my strength so I concentrated on each SC question and tries to pick the right choice. Remember: Your strength will earn you more points than concentrating too much on weakness.

GMAT Quant Section Strategy Tips

I have been reading several debriefs where slighltly improper time management costs a lot of the eventual score on GMAT. So, I thought of sharing my strategy on quant section on how I tried to manage my time. I hope some of fellow test takers may find it useful. [Also check out my Verbal Section Strategy tips]

Test taking strategy:

§ DO NOT TAKE IT EASY. Yes, although it’s relatively very easy to score high in this section, your little complacency can greatly kill your chances to get close to 50’s in Math section and your dream to see 7xx figure.

§ Try to get in to rhythm. Focus on first 15 questions a lot to answer all of them correctly. You can take up to 30-35 minutes to answer them.

§ You can be a little quick for next 12 questions. Try to answer them in around 20 minutes as it’s more likely to have experimental questions.

§ Save approximately 20 minutes for last 10 questions to ensure that you don’t have any incorrect answer. Please click here why I recommend doing well on last few questions.

§ Although it’s very important to have first 10-15 questions correct but if you encounter a new type of question which literally stumps you then don’t get bogged down and spend too much time. Guess and move ahead. Don’t let the disappointment of not getting it right bother you. You can get a score of 48 even at 10-12 mistakes. Try to get less than 5 mistakes, I believe it ensures that you have around 50 in quant.

§ Double check: Quant is not about knowing all the formula. It’s about answering what is asked. GMAT maths is tricky in its verbiage. Make sure you’re not doing the following.

o Selecting answer for percentage and not for number (specially in DS)

o Selecting answer for number where it asked for ratio (esp. DS).

o Selecting answer for x whereas the question asked for 4x or y

o Selecting answer for a reverse order (ascending or descending) than originally asked.

General Quant Tips:

§ Probability: If you are not master at it than don’t worry. It should not bother so that you make mistakes in your strong area. If you’re not comfortable than follow 800score techniques for PnC. Their way is really simple for many non engineering students!

§ Practice: Please commit yourself to do at least 50 maths questions every day in last month prior to your test. This will ensure that your calculation speed is well and you’re continuously in rhythm.

§ Do a timed practice: Doing 50 questions in 4 hours will not help. Get into a practice of doing 25 questions in 20 minutes so your speed is near to what is required.

GMAT Issue – Competition is beneficial (How to write GMAT Argument Essay Example)

Another from GMAT Issue Archive:


“The presence of a competitor is always beneficial to a company.  Competition forces a company to change itself in ways that improve its practices.”


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above.  Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.


The author believes that the presence of competitor is always beneficial because it forces a company to improve continuously. There are many circumstances in which this statement holds true. For example, improvement in product, services,delivery of the goods, continued research and development, etc… However there are many circumstaces where the presence of competitor is not so beneficial. For example, presence of an established competitor in a market where a new company wants to enter. However, after a careful consideration I believe the competition is always beneficial to the company.


First, the comptition makes the company always on a lookout for improvement opportunities in various departments. If the company doesn’t act as quickly as the  competitor then there are chances to loose market share and hence a dip in profit. This way it helps company to stay agile to changing market and customer requirments. For example, in consumer toothpaste market the presence of several major players make it impossible for any one of them to become complacent and it always helps them to do continuous introspection in the way they manage processes and practicies inside the comapny. This introspection can force them to change the unsuccessful or incompetent practices.


Second, the competition makes the company invest more into the research and development and innovation to come out with better products for consumers. For example, we have seen consumer electronics companies to present new and superior quality of TVs years after years. Such strategy always helps them to stay ahead in the game.


However, the competition can also be detrimental to some companies in some scenarios. For example – if there are too many competitors in a market such as refrigerator market, it becomes incresingly difficult for the companies to meet shareholder expectations on return. Such fierce competition forces the companies to cut the prices and profits which may lead them to a difficult financial position. In such cases cosolidation of market is more required than entry of another competitor.


Another example where the competition is not so helpful is where there is only one significant player enjoying a monopoly. In such case it becomes increasignly difficult for the new player to present it products and earn profits. For example, it would be difficult for a new retailor to enter in US market and compete with Wal Mart. The new retailor would have hoped that Wal Mart was not present in market so that new retailor doesn’t need to compete with price of Wal Mart which buys goods in bulk!


However from a higher level perspective it has been observed that a competitor in the market makes the company thriving for better results, products and earning. Sometimes only such tough competition has given birth to the innovations which has led to revival of several multi-nationationals such as Appel with iPod. Compe. So competition is a boon to the company and the market in which it works.

Gmat Argument – City L Lifestyle (How to write GMAT Argument Essay – Example)

Another Argument from my archive:


“Two years ago, City L was listed 14th in an annual survey that ranks cities according to the quality of life that can be enjoyed by those living in them.  This information will enable people who are moving to the state in which City L is located to confidently identify one place, at least, where schools are good, housing is affordable, people are friendly, the environment is safe, and the arts flourish.”


Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.  In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument.  For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.  You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.


I do not agree with the author’s conclusion that City L will provide all the aminities to the new people moving to the state in which City L is located. The argument depends upon several assumption and insufficient data. I have listed down 4 reasons why I donot agree with argument.


First, the author doesnt mention anything about the sample size of survey conducted. Did the survey include all major cities? What if the the survey did not include the other cities which also provide all the stated aminities? More importantly, did the survey include all other cities of the state at least? If the survey did not include such cities then it is highly likely that City L can rank much higher  than it may actually deserve.


Second, how many total cities were covered in the survey? If there were only 14 city covered in the survey and City L was ranked at 14 then it shows that City L is actually not so better place as one might have assumed.


Third, the survey was done almost 2 years ago. The statement rest on assumption that many factors, which contributed the shortlisting city, might have changed. For example, a major earthquake hit the city 1 year back which destroyed the basic city infrastructure severly. In this case it will not be wise for anyone to move to City L until its infrastructure is revived. Hence such outdated survey data can not provide the sufficient info to make a choice.


Fourth, the survey mentioned 4 basic factors – good schools, affordable housing, friendly people, safe enviorment – that make City L a good choice. However what if the employment opportunities available at City L are not adequate? In such case it will not provide growth opportunities to the parents which can affect the standard of living of whole family. So these 4 factors are not sufficient to make a decision.


However, the author’s statement can be strengthened if survey sample size included all major national cities and hence puts City L at much higher rank in comparision. The statment can also be strengthened if it’s shown that not much has changed in the factors contributing the choice of City L above others in last 2 years. This improves the validity of survey. References to other factors to quality of life in survey can also help to make the argument much stronger.

Updates – Received 6.0 in AWA in Offical Score Card


I got my official score card from GMAC. I got 6.0 in AWA. I am happy to see that score because I have heard some of the ivy schools do look for a good show in AWA. I have posted my last few essays before the GMAT for you all to review. Please share them if you find them useful.

More later…

[Updates: Please check out my blog posts of GMAT AWA Arguments and GMAT Issues templates]