How my GMAT was more than just a grad school requirement

By : Nishitha Reddy

How Things Stood

In June 2017, while working with Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., I was transferred to the remote eastern-Indian town of Barbil for raw material procurement assignments. The nearest airport was 6 hours away, and I was one of only four women among over 500 employees at the location.

My lifestyle of living in a metropolitan city had gone for a toss. There wasn’t anything to do recreationally. The gym at the community centre barely had any equipment. I needed to change my food habits because the kind of food I normally ate wasn’t available in the cafeteria and I didn’t have the option to cook. My health suffered.

Long story short: I wasn’t very happy with where I was, or the work that I was doing. I wanted to learn more about supply chain management. I wanted to learn and work with advanced technologies in my day-to-day work. I wanted a change.

I started considering options – pursue a second master’s, get into management consulting, or work in a start-up in the logistics industry. I already had a post-grad diploma in Management and didn’t want to move to another company in the same industry. Pursuing a master’s would be the most challenging one, and required a huge investment of money and time, yet promised to be the most rewarding. Precisely why I decided to risk it. Soon enough, I got myself a GMAT exam appointment due in 2 months and began preparing with the little time I had after work.

My First GMAT

I borrowed some GMAT study material from friends, without signing up for any mock exams. I thought the two complementary GMAT prep tests would suffice.

Verbal Ability was challenging for me: I had to improve a lot across all its three sections – Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension. I enthusiastically practiced the Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning sections, ignoring Reading Comprehension, and took two GMAT prep tests a week before the exam, scoring 720 and 730. Although my accuracy didn’t improve over these past two months, my scores assured me that I was ready for the exam.

On the actual exam, however, I ended up with a score of 700 (the score appears almost immediately after the end of the exam), with 50 in Quantitative Ability and 34 in Verbal Ability, making me realize that GMAT required a lot more preparation than I had anticipated.

Learning Curve

I decided to give it another try and this time vowed to prepare more systematically. I needed at least 720 to increase my chances of getting into top schools in the US. I bought a GMAT prep course from a popular Indian educational start-up Byju’s, which had video lectures on various concepts and exclusive sectional tests, along with a series of full GMAT practice tests. Beginning in August, with 45 days to the exam, I spent four hours every day after work at the lectures and the practice questions.

In three weeks, I saw my accuracy improving and took my first full practice test from Byju’s. The level of difficulty was much more compared to the previous GMAT prep tests I took, and I only scored a 690. My confidence levels fell, and I now decided to get the popular Manhattan Prep test series for extensive practice. I continued to take sectional tests on weekdays and full practice tests on weekends. My scores still ranged between 680 and 730, yet I could feel that there was considerable improvement in my accuracy and speed. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and loved having a goal to achieve outside of my work.

What A Good GMAT Score Meant For Me

Although I had prepared well this time, I felt nervous on the day of the exam. I was relieved when I finally saw my score of 750. With complete confidence to aim for the best, I decided to go all in and put out the best college applications that I possibly could. And I did. A good GMAT score counts for a lot in your grad school applications, and also makes a good impression on your resume when you interview with companies for full-time positions.

To me, the seemingly small success of scoring 750 on GMAT opened up the doors to bigger possibilities in my life. Back in Barbil, if somebody had told me that I would be going to MIT a year later, I wouldn’t have believed them. I am glad that I made that effort to do well on the exam and it made all the difference.


Nishitha Reddy, SCMr Class of 2019

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