Experts’ Global: Hi Shileen, for the readers, may we please request you to share your results on the GRE and the applications?
Shileen: Hi everyone! I scored 330 (168Q, 162V) on GRE. The converted score from GRE to GMAT is 740 (V38, Q50). I applied to 11 schools, had 5 interview invites, and got admits with scholarships in 2 schools (100% in Carlson, and 60% in Questrom). I even got waitlisted in a couple of schools though I was not able to convert the same eventually.
Experts’ Global: In your opinion, what are a few factors, or actions you took, that made the difference?
Shileen: Introspecting about my need for an MBA, thinking about the experiences I was looking for in a business school, as well as, acting on the feedback received from the MBA admissions consultants at Experts’ Global made the difference.
Experts’ Global: With the benefit of hindsight, what are a few mistakes you believe you committed in the process?
Shileen: If I could do it all over again, I would probably start engaging with the schools early on in the cycle, especially since a lot of admission events enable you to have the applications fee waived. This engagement also puts you in touch with the Adcom and helps you evaluate your fit with the program early enough. Moreover, it makes the essays and the MBA interview prep a little bit more laser-focused.
Experts’ Global: In what area of GRE did you struggle the most? How did you overcome the challenge?
Shileen: For me, it was mostly about managing time and not letting my mind wander. The GRE is a long exam. It takes a lot of patience to sit through it. In my first practice test, I found my attention wearing off midway. Mocks and practice tests were the best way to overcome this problem as they trained me to sit for the entire duration and solve as many questions as I could.
Experts’ Global: What are the main GRE resources you used in your preparation? What advice will you give to future candidates?
Shileen: I mostly used the free mock tests available online and the official GRE book for my practice. For me, it was all about mock tests. I gave the first one to set a baseline and then gave about 3 more till I reached my desired score. I used each test to analyze what topics I was struggling with the most and then solved a few practice questions on that topic. This feedback-driven focused prep helped out a lot.
Experts’ Global: What are your thoughts about mock tests? How many and at what frequency should aspirants take the mock tests?
Shileen: If you have read so far, you would have realized that my entire prep was based on mock tests. I did my prep in about 20 days, gave 5-6 mock tests, and used them as a guide to work on my problem areas.
Experts’ Global: What are a few common mistakes that you believe GRE aspirants must avoid?
Shileen: Not being prepared for the act of sitting through the test, not taking enough mocks, and not solving practice questions strategically are a few mistakes that should be avoided. Besides, while people think that the verbal section on the GRE is harder, I didn’t struggle with it as much because I am an avid reader and have encountered a lot of the GRE words in my regular life. However, one needs to give enough weightage to both quant and verbal and not go overboard while preparing for just one section.
Experts’ Global: How was your experience of applying to business schools? What are a few things you believe you did right in successfully achieving admits?
Shileen: In one word, the entire process was overwhelming. There was so much to keep track of, especially, while working a full-time job. I think starting early (I started in July) and getting in touch with Experts’ Global was extremely helpful for me. Another thing that worked for me was the research I did on the schools and their offerings as this made the interview process extremely conversational.
Experts’ Global: In what area in the application process did you struggle the most? How did you overcome the challenge?
Shileen: I struggled the most with introspecting about myself to condense my life experiences into stories and bullet points; even though this eventually became the meat of my essays, the process was very taxing on me mentally and I was exhausted from thinking about my life through different lenses.
Experts’ Global: What would you like to say about your experience and learnings from managing the applications timelines?
Shileen: The application timelines are a complicated beast. You think you have a ton of time left but it is never really the case. The important thing is to triple-check everything to avoid last-minute surprises and have very clear communication with the recommenders writing your recommendations.
Experts’ Global: Please describe your interview experience with the school.
Shileen: My interviews were extremely conversational with most of the discussions revolving around my work experience and motivations. Standard questions such as why MBA, why a certain school, what career plans etc. were also asked but they were woven through the conversation. My key takeaway was to ensure that I was able to convey everything I wanted to convey through my stories.
Experts’ Global: What are a few suggestions you will give to future aspirants in their complete journey of the application process?
Shileen: I would ask future candidates to always look at the bigger picture. The entire process is complex but very rewarding, eventually.
Experts’ Global: Thanks a lot, Shileen, for giving us your time and for sharing such important learnings with future aspirants. All the best for your MBA journey!
Shileen: Thank you as well and hope this helps future candidates.