by Manpreet Singh Mokha, IIMC
By the time I was in my final year, I realized that I couldn’t be an electrical engineer for life. I’d begun to appreciate the non-technical nuances of the activities I was part of during my college. With the job landscape becoming more and more generic and cross-disciplinary in nature, it made sense for me to go for an MBA.
While CAT was definitely on the cards for me, I realized that the ISB-YLP was an excellent option too. The YLP offers a direct admission to final and pre-final year undergraduate students to the Indian School of Business upon completion of two years of work experience. This led to my tryst with the GMAT.
I decided to prepare for the GMAT without any coaching.
This was because I found GMAT’s quantitative ability section to be easier than CAT’s (which I was preparing for anyway) and because I felt I could manage the other sections on my own. The GMAT basically consists of an Analytical Writing Assessment, an Integrated Reasoning section (which is a mix of DI/LR/VA), and a section each on Quantitative Ability and Verbal Ability.
The first step was to get the right material and some direction. I researched a bit online and consulted people who had given GMAT in the past on the material I should use for self-prep. Most of the books and resources can be purchased in India on popular e-commerce websites. I used a mix of soft copies and hard copies for my preparation.
While I found a bulk of the quantitative ability section doable, I was challenged by the data sufficiency questions. As an engineer, I perhaps got complacent about my mathematical abilities. Verbal ability proved to be the toughest nut to crack, with critical reasoning giving me a pain. I used to take out a minimum of 1.5-2 hours of dedicated time for GMAT prep.
Over a span of two months, I constantly tracked my mistakes and weaker areas and started solving dedicated material on those topics where I lacked. For example, in order to bolster my critical reasoning abilities, I partially went through a guide used by law students (Yes!)
I feel that if you (1) Work in a timed manner and (2) Work on your weaknesses and maintain your strengths, the GMAT is a piece of cake. I took around 6-7 full length mocks to build my stamina – a 4 hour test can be quite mentally taxing.
My mock scores ranged from a 680-730 on both official and unofficial mocks (non-MBA.com resources). My efforts were definitely rewarded when I got a 750/800 on the D-Day!
In order to conclude,
YES, the GMAT can be cracked without coaching provided you are willing to dedicate some quality time in order to work on yourself.
Apart from the scores opening up a lot of options for me, both within India and abroad, my GMAT prep heavily helped me with my CAT verbal, and I felt that it added to me as a person too! Maintaining the momentum and tracking your progress are ways to stay on track to a 700+ score.
With more and more students looking at options outside the country for an MBA, the GMAT makes more sense than ever, and with top schools such as ISB in the country accepting GMAT scores, it’s definitely worth a shot.
All the best!
Manpreet Singh Mokha is a student at Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC). He was also selected for the Young Leaders Program at Indian School of Business (ISB-YLP).
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