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650 GMAT and ACCEPTED to INSEAD - How I did it +interview

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JuliaK Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:06 pm
This is fantastic! GMAT for me has been a torture of an experience so it's exciting to know that it's not ALL that matters. I have a very diverse background. Speak the required languages. Unique ethnicity. I've been working in Marketing for big and small firms over the past 4.5 years. I am really keen to go to Singapore INSEAD but the GMAT thing has been a barrier to date. I am sitting my 2nd try exam soon and really needed this for inspiration. Fingers crossed! I really want the GMAT out of my life! For good ! Smile

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Busytrying Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
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Post Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:57 am
Many congratulations!!

Howevever I must say... starting with
Quote:
This article is not for those who got 700+ with 7 years w/e running a multibillion dollar hedgefund or saving lives by discovering the cure for cancer down in Africa while building libraries and schools. No, this article is for those who have spent hundreds of hours studying GMAT and possibly invested in a prep course and can only achieve marginal improvements. This article is for those whose strengths lie elsewhere and on paper may seem hopeless, but are unsure if the adcomm members can see your potential. Because I have been there and only now can I say that I have been vindicated. This is my story.
And then later stating...

Quote:
In brief, in my nearly 7 years since graduating from college, I have lived in 5 countries both developing and developed across Asia. I have worked as an analyst at an investment bank and as head of business development for a mid-cap pharmaceutical. I have pursued my own entrepreneurial aspirations while consulting on a part-time basis and learning mandarin.
You do realise this is not something most people get the opportunity to do after their studies when they have a ton of debt to pay for. Your opening line is misleading.

However again, congrats and kudos on all the hardwork.

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latifa23 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:55 am
Congratulations, that's fantastic. Gives others hope who are in the same situation. Good luck with your studies.

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samranhabib Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:26 pm
Hi woojet,

Congratulations for your admission. It was truly a good post with a lot of valuable insights. Your story should have quite unique as it is evident from a glimpse of it. I wanted to discuss with and request you if you could let me know more about your story since my profile, somewhat matches with you, and I have a lot of concerns and questions with respect to interview process and the candidates in the class. Full time Vs. Part time MBA etc. Brand name of INSEAD Vs. LBS. Possibility of a scholarship.

Of course, my academic side is not that impressive but I do have couple of similarities with what you have.

Would it be possible for you, if you could spare 1 hour for me from your busy study schedule, to discuss in detail about my story and your story and how can I build it up further.

It would be an honor if you could.

Thanks in advance,

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aswinimanu Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:53 pm
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too...

Need your guidance. Following are my details:
Age:25
GMAT score: 650 (Q47/V33)
Education:B.E + M.Tech (5+2 years) full time (CGPA: 9/10)
Work experience: 3 yrs in product design & development

Has undergone leadership development program for 2 years at my work place. Has demonstrated leadership skills during my academics as well as at work, so expecting a good recommendation from my peers.

Do you think I can apply to INSEAD with my current GMAT score and other credentials? If yes, then will you recommend R3 (Sep 2014 intake)?

Anticipating your reply.

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gmaster328 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:30 pm
That's a great story. Congrats!

woojet wrote:
This article is not for those who got 700+ with 7 years w/e running a multibillion dollar hedgefund or saving lives by discovering the cure for cancer down in Africa while building libraries and schools. No, this article is for those who have spent hundreds of hours studying GMAT and possibly invested in a prep course and can only achieve marginal improvements. This article is for those whose strengths lie elsewhere and on paper may seem hopeless, but are unsure if the adcomm members can see your potential. Because I have been there and only now can I say that I have been vindicated. This is my story.

My profile:
GMAT: 650 (Q44/V37)
GPA: 2.92/4.00 (albeit, 3.7 in Finance at one of the top 20 undergrad schools in the US)
W/E: 5 years full-time + 1 year part-time
Other: 1 year intensive mandarin training program
Languages: English and Mandarin (after taking a language course)
Nationality: American
Age: 29 (this year)

Most MBA consultants looked at my profile and disregarded it as “unremarkable”. They recommended me for programs that were more for “my level”. In other words, programs I was not interested in and believed did not “fit” me.

I was undeterred; convinced that I should find a program that truly values my experience and can see my own potential.

So yes, on paper I was unattractive. Then HOW did I stand out? - My experience; not just work experience, but my own life experiences.

In brief, in my nearly 7 years since graduating from college, I have lived in 5 countries both developing and developed across Asia. I have worked as an analyst at an investment bank and as head of business development for a mid-cap pharmaceutical. I have pursued my own entrepreneurial aspirations while consulting on a part-time basis and learning mandarin.

It is my story.

It is how I tied my diverse experiences together. How I emphasized not my achievements no matter how great or small, but my process in achieving them. How I demonstrated my commitment to my future ambitions. And why a school that values such experience is a perfect match for someone like me.

My single advice for any MBA candidate: tell your story. What does that mean? It is NOT a list of achievements. Not your CV in paragraph form. But a story that says “yea I’m a person too and this is how I am different and why an MBA for me is only a means to achieving my future goals, not my life goal itself”.

In terms of GMAT, in my opinion and after extensive research of adcomm views, GMAT is simply what gets you looked at. It is not what adcomm uses as their final decision, but it is their starting point. And at the very least, it is only 25% of what any adcomm considers in their final decision i.e. GMAT/GPA, essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. Interviews come at the second stage, so GMAT/GPA initially is 1/3 of what adcomm members consider. But that means 2/3 is based on essays and letters of rec - if those are strong then it will get you to the interview round. You only need to pique their interest. Interviews are where you can really shine as a person and demonstrate your fit to the program.

And I knew that was my advantage. I needed to only get to the interview round because I am confident in my ability to connect with people face-to-face.

INSEAD Interview Experience

Interview #1
Duration: 80 min

Questions Asked:
• Tell me about yourself/How did you get here?
• Leadership Experience
• Trinity Questions: Why MBA? Why now? Why INSEAD?
• Future plans?
• Why can’t you accomplish your future plans without an MBA?
• Culture experiences (general); how did you adapt?
• Small Consulting Case* (impromptu): we created a technology - how do you make it profitable?
*Note: this is not an INSEAD-designated question. This was something he asked because of his job and because of my own career aspirations.

Interview #2
Duration: 75 min

Questions Asked:
• Tell me about yourself/How did you get here?
• What style of leadership do you have? Examples of leadership (personal)
• If you had to spend 3 hours in an airport with me what would we talk about?
• Culture experiences (general); how did you adapt?
• What would you do at INSEAD besides go to class? What would you do as extracurricular?
• Do you like to go clubbing?
• What do you like to do for fun? Tell me more about your interests
• Trinity Questions: Why MBA? Why now? Why INSEAD?
• Just as a brief wrap up: Future plans? Why can’t you accomplish your future plans without an MBA?

Some have suggested that INSEAD likes to play “good cop/bad cop” for their interviews. I don’t think that is the case at all. It is true, however, that both interviewers are alumni and one interviewer will be more experienced who will focus on leadership potential and future goals, while the other will be younger/recent grad and will focus on “fit” in terms of how well you would get along with your peers. I think that is pretty clear based on the questions they asked.

Overall, both treated me very casually. The first interviewer was a senior investment manager at a vc firm. The other was a finance guy from a corporate. The first interview was more of a conversation; he didn’t even look at the interview sheet. But the second was definitely a Q&A type structure, mainly I think because he was fairly new at interviewing.

I think it’s very clear that INSEAD-ers are very international so they are able to get along with most people. If you can demonstrate clearly your reasoning for going to INSEAD, how you would be a good fit, and at the same time be very easygoing with your interviewers then it should go well. At the interview stage, the INSEAD adcomm believes you would be a good fit, and just are verifying that you look as good in person as you do on your application.

Just a quick side note: even though I felt the interviews went well, the next day I became quite anxious and nervous. Started thinking about how I could have answered differently and maybe they wanted me to say something more about this or that. I even wrote them both a thank you email, standard protocol of course, but with no response from them at all just added to my anxiety.

However, on Fri, March 1 at 1235am, my patience was rewarded. I heard a beep from my phone indicating I got a new email. I looked at it and saw that it was from INSEAD and said “…it is my great pleasure…”. I couldn’t even finish reading it. I dropped to my knees and just laughed in a mixture of disbelief and joy. I was vindicated. All of the choices I had made up to that point were finally vindicated. I made the right choice to follow my gut, to walk my path, and not follow what others do and tell me to do. That’s what made my story great. I was able to tell something different than what adcomm members and interviewers usually hear. I turned the “unremarkable” into remarkable.

I am part of the July 2014 class, starting in Singapore. I look forward to my new adventures and continuing my story even further.

-----------
UPDATE - 4 NOV 2013

Hi guys - just wanted to make a quick update. First, I really appreciate the response! For some reason I was not receiving notifications for responses to the post so I am quite late in thanking you for taking the time to post and comment. If you or anyone else would like to hear any more details about my experience, application process, etc or just say hello pls continue to post below and also drop me a note! Smile

PS - I just got through my first period at INSEAD and it has been AWESOME! It's going by so fast! But truly an amazing experience so far! Smile

UPDATE - 19 DEC 2013

Thank you again guys for all the messages! My offer still stands - pls message me if you have any follow up questions or just want to say hello.

P2 just ended for me and I am exhausted! The rumors about P1 and P2 being the most difficult are true! But it just makes the holiday break so much better! Merry Christmas everyone!

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JuliaK Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:36 am
Woojet, thank you so much for this debrief. I have read so many " I got 700+" gmat stories that my head is starting to spin. I have recently received a 670 score with an uneven split in quant vs verbal. quant 46th percentile and verbal 96th. I am hoping to apply to INSEAD this year but have recently been overcome with anxiety (maybe because of all the 700+ GMAT posts) and thinking that maybe 670 is not enough to demonstrate my ability to succeed especially with a low quant score. I realise that INSEAD looks at a lot of other factors, particularly valuing diversity. I am 28, female. born in Kazakhstan, speak Russian as my first language, lived in Kaz, New Zealand, US and now reside in Australia. I speak Russian, English, beginner Spanish and French and can read Korean. My profession is marketing and I've worked for various global and local iconic brands for the past 6 years.
Is my GMAT enough to get me over the line and then should I rely on my essays to try and woo the admission team?

If anyone has any feedback I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you in advance!

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zedovski Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:46 am
To JK:
I am a current student and I can say that at least early on the course is very quant heavy.

I think INSEAD really looks for a balance across quant and verbal. You clearly have amazing verbals esp considering that your native language is not English. However, the quant is too low, you may jeopardise your chances of admittance if you apply. The ideal GMAT is 75%+ in both quant and verbal (i.e. around 700), however in circumstances where this is not possible, more attention is, unfortunately in your case, given to the quant side.

My recommendation would be to retake the test with the aim of bringing your Q score to at least top 35% at a minimum. In that case maybe your high V will contribute.

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zedovski Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:53 am
aswinimanu wrote:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too...

Need your guidance. Following are my details:
Age:25
GMAT score: 650 (Q47/V33)
Education:B.E + M.Tech (5+2 years) full time (CGPA: 9/10)
Work experience: 3 yrs in product design & development

Has undergone leadership development program for 2 years at my work place. Has demonstrated leadership skills during my academics as well as at work, so expecting a good recommendation from my peers.

Do you think I can apply to INSEAD with my current GMAT score and other credentials? If yes, then will you recommend R3 (Sep 2014 intake)?

Anticipating your reply.
Hi I think in your case the profile needs to stand out a bit more. There are a lot of applicants with a similar profile, so certainly whilst there is nothing wrong with what you have, to really stand out you must demonstrate:

- Superior analytical and verbal ability. In this context your V score may be a little too low
- Drive and determination: Think of how you have demonstrated this in the past, not just professionally but also in your personal life
- Intention to change something in the future: More important than your past is what you plan to use the MBA for. The one answer that is not acceptable here is to move into management, because everyone uses that - so it is hard to stand out with that reason. Think of what you want to achieve in your life that you cannot without an MBA, or more accurately, could move towards faster if you had an MBA. Hint: Entrepreneurial aspirations, Sector switching because of discovery of a passion, Changing a product, a process or a market in a geo, etc. etc. (Note - tangibility here is important, Don't use something like I aspire to excel and become a great mover and shaker... Say exactly what, when, how, where and why.)

LauraFreedman Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:47 am
Hi All,

I've been following this thread and just wanted to add my two cents to some of the recent posts.

WooJet - I recognize the awesomeness of INSEAD in your tone of voice!! A bit like sucking a torrent from a giant firehose though, isn't it?! I'm wondering if we met during the CV reviews? I'm one of the externals on the CDO team - feel free to reach out to me if I can help in any way. Happy to review your CV or answer any job search questions Smile

JuliaK - Your background sounds great. Your GMAT does not. INSEAD looks for at least a 75th percentile in each the math and the verbal; they'll go down to a 70% percentile in one, and I've seen as low as low 60's, but never below. 46% is just unacceptably low. You hear comments like, "We questioned her ability to cope with the (quantitative/verbal) rigor of the programme." If they LOVE your profile (which as a Kazakh female with a cool geographic footprint and iconic brand experience they just might), then they would likely ask you to retake the GMAT and reapply. My recommendation - retake the GMAT, focus on your quant (without screwing up the verbal) and get it right before applying.

By way of comparison, I've seen serious rock-stars get turned down but invited to re-apply with GMAT scores dipping below 65th percentile. In one case, the applicant re-submitted the same score and was turned down flat (high-flying banker working in several countries not their own, started a popular restaurant on the side with bonus money). In another, they asked her to retake it with a 52nd percentile; she brought it up to 68th and got in (but she really was an incredible rock star of a candidate); another was wait-listed with a 58% quant (female, regional CEO atop a $250 million organisation she'd built from scratch in a country not her own; she eventually got in and is now turning VC investors away from her start-up venture!). Yes, there are always people who get in with so-so GMATs, but always above a certain minimum, and even then with other dimensions of awesomeness - which, WooJet, it sounds like you have in abundance. But in short, GMAT matters.

aswinimanu - Part of your problem is your age. 25 is young for INSEAD; even 26, unless there's some compelling reason for you to go at such an early age. Great leadership start - wonderful, now what can you DO with it? (I'm not sure what you mean by "good recommendations from your peers" - INSEAD wants to see recos from your supervisors, not your peers). For a 25 year old, I would expect to see rock-star grades and stellar GMAT, which with a 650, you just don't have. I don't see your nationality, but unless you're CFO of Bank Papua New Guinea or Valedictorian from your university (and even then...!), I'd say your chances at this stage are probably pretty slim.

HOWEVER - DON'T take that as discouraging news!!! It's not. It sounds like you're right where you should be at this stage in your career. Focus on developing your mentorship base, accessing stretch-roles, building your travel profile, developing your community leadership skills - and retake the GMAT to break 700, with even distribution between your math and verbal. Also, network with alumni or other folks in your career areas of interest to clarify your career goals. When you're 27, have more experience, stronger achievements that build on what you've accomplished so far and a better GMAT, then apply.

Note that if I were to interview you, unless you had a VERY compelling reason for wanting to do an MBA NOW and were insanely accomplished and incredibly mature and well-polished, I would likely recommend you as a "postpone", in which case they would turn you down but recommend you reapply later. I once interviewed a 22 year old and recommended him as an admit - indeed, he got in, I think one of the youngest ever to attend INSEAD. But in addition to being a stellar human being, he had a 750 GMAT and had started a bank in his college dorm room, through which he ran integral percentages of the turnover in his (post-communist) country's national currency. Today he's CFO of a Forbes Global 2000 company, so we called it right. The system does work.

Don't forget, an MBA is a tool, not a goal - INSEAD in particular, because the programme is so short. You're not going to walk out of INSEAD a rocket finance expert, or even hugely re-invented. You'll fill in gaps in your knowledge of core disciplines, broaden your perspective, learn to see problems top-down, strengthen your confidence, build your network and get some time to plan your next move. In your late 20's / early 30's, that will give you some career wiggle room and a strong re-launch. You're best off if you're reasonably far along in your career, have a sense of what you'd like to do and to achieve mid-term (or at least think you might), and a reasonably clear plan for getting there. Even better if there's a decent chance you can get there without an MBA. Remember, schools are like banks. Banks want to lend money to people who don't need it because they know they'll pay it back; likewise, schools want people who are destined to be successful without them; then they can decide if they want to come along for the ride. Think of the world's most successful business people - Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Ellison... After all, isn't an MBA just a way for people to figure out how people *without* MBA's got to be so damned rich?

A word about the GMAT - personally, I think it's a monumental waste of time. Life is too short to keep retaking the *#@~*!! GMAT over and over again. American schools like Wharton admire that kind of Horatio Alger pluck; INSEAD, after a certain point, starts to question your priorities. THAT SAID - the GMAT does 3 important things: 1) It gives the school a differentiator so they can focus on the "top" students in the process and not waste time agonizing over the rest; 2) It sets up a motivational hurdle - if you want it badly enough, then surely you ought to be able to jump through that hoop, otherwise, how on earth are you going to manage all the other obstacles your career is sure to throw at you?; and 3) It's a reasonably accurate predictor of your ability to cram a giant firehose of knowledge and distraction into your face, turn it on full blast and suck down as much of whatever comes out as you possibly can. Which, at the end of the day, is really what doing well at INSEAD is all about. So from that perspective, at least, the school's concern with GMAT makes sense.

I hope some of this is helpful. WooJet, JuliaK and aswinimanu - feel free to contact me separately if you'd like. For others - I don't post very much here because I find it takes a LOT of time and energy that I prefer to spend on my clients (nearly all of whom become good friends) at this stage in my career - I spent a lot of years helping market INSEAD in a lot of different countries, so I feel like I've paid my dues Smile

Yes, I'm an admissions consultant, but I do it because I LOVE it. If you're REALLY passionate about INSEAD, really think you've got what it takes and are convinced you're ready, feel free to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Laura

Laura Freedman
Access Education
www.AccessEducation.com.sg
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=99414

www.mbaadmissionsconsultantinsead.com

JuliaK Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:25 pm
Thank you Zedowski and Laura for your advise. I don't want my profile to be weak in any way and it looks like I have to jump over the quant hurdle to get there. Would taking the GMAT over 4+ times look bad in general even if I end up getting to the 700 mark with a good enough quant?

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Post Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:36 pm
Hi JuliaK,

If you can get your score up, there's no penalty for taking the GMAT a few times. If you take it 5 or 6 or more times and keep getting the same result or lower - well, that begins to anchor your result, doesn't it? But if you do get a good score on one of the trials - breaking 75th percentile in each the math and verbal and a total score 700+ - then yes, your case would be stronger than if you didn't have that result at all.

Is that helpful?

Kind regards,

Laura

Laura Freedman
Access Education
www.AccessEducation.com.sg
www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=99414

www.mbaadmissionsconsultantinsead.com

JuliaK Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:33 pm
Thanks Laura,
That is really helpful!
I will give GMAT another shot Smile Fingers crossed!

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Post Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:28 am
Re: Julia, LauraFreedman, Zedovski

Wow! What a great conversation! I don't think I have much more to add to it except I think we should be careful not to get sucked into that "GMAT is everything" mentality again. GMAT is important - yes, but often I think we place a much higher degree on it than for what it really is i.e. an assessment tool of academic capability I.e. Can you do the work? It is not a predictor of success or even mba performance because there are many other variables that must be considered first, some which are in your control and others which are not. In Julia's case her verbal is excellent but her quant needs to be worked on, but if for example, her verbal goes down a bit but quant goes up and is around 75% give or take a couple points then that's fantastic and it should be a very strong score regardless. I would caution anyone not to put unnecessary pressure on themselves that you must pass some minimum benchmark. If you do that then you will lose focus on what's really important - you, your story (essays + LORs), and like many others, will fall into that trap of depending on a high GMAT score alone to carry them the rest of the way.

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Post Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:17 am
Nice comment, woojet. The GMAT can be a tremendous ego-suck, no question. It's certainly an inordinate time-drain for many otherwise super-high-flying young professionals.

That said - the ball is moving, particularly for Indian applicants. It used to be that a good international footprint with a great company, a reasonable GMAT and a reasonably strong, well-executed app were sufficient to get in to INSEAD. What I'm seeing now is the bar rising astronomically. Unfortunately, the biggest filter is turning out to be GMAT. I'm even seeing this at the Singapore MBA's like NUS, SMU and Nanyang. Strong background, weak GMAT (even insanely strong backgrounds with modestly weak GMATs) will get you dinged, or at most a request to retake the GMAT. There's just no other efficient way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Like one AdCom member once told me - "We have an Indian who manages the innovation pipeline for a major technology multinational, and another who started two media companies in two countries. Who do we pick? Because we can't take them all." I also tell my ding-analysis clients who want to know what was "wrong" with their applications: Imagine 150 IIT alumni - the top 10 from each IIT - and another 200 alumni from the top 10 of each of India's top 20 universities. Give them all 720+ GMATs. Now offer 20 seats on the program between them. For the 330 who didn't get in - what was "wrong" with their profiles?? For the most part, not much, of course.

Unfortunately, the deal-maker (or breaker) is increasingly turning out to be GMAT. While a 780 won't necessarily guarantee you a place, a 600 will almost surely get you a ding. Sometimes I'm convinced that if the Goddess Lakshmi herself applied with a 600 GMAT professing an interest in luxury goods, they'd ding her too.

Moral of the story - all you can do is put your best foot forward. Get the best GMAT you can and make sure your app execution is flawless. But recognize it's not all about getting into that one B-school - it's about your career and ultimately the Life you want to lead. Business school is a tool, not a goal. Figure out what you want to do, keep your eye on the ball and make it happen. Your future is up to YOU - not INSEAD (or HWS, MBB and so on).

Laura Freedman
http://www.accesseducation.com.sg/about.html

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