Monday, 8 December 2014

Getting Started (DSE Entrance)

By Akshita Goyal

Hello everyone!

Considering that you all are just a semester away from your DSE entrance exam, I write this to give you few tips to crack the examination.
DSE entrance is one of those where each question is a dreamerger of economics and maths. So the best way to get a feel of the exam is through the past year papers. They are the best indicators of how tough or easy any question can get.

Frankly, I started with the past years and ended with them. Instead of going over all chapters you did in the past three years, I suggest the following steps:
1.Try out some past years and you may realise that you don't actually remember many concepts and formulae!
2.Go back to specific chapters concerning the questions you couldn't attempt  and spend quality time on them. A productive way to test your mettle after revision would be to redo the questions.
3.You can now tally your answers with the correct options given. I would personally suggest that you do not look at solution booklets and instead wrack your mind(even if it takes a day or two).
4.I gained a lot by discussing questions with my friends. We would argue over our own answers and in the process cover our weak areas.

It is just a game of regular and persistent practice and little bit everyday is an ideal way to go about it! Now, some important (necessary but not sufficient) chapters that DSE paper setters just completely adore:

1.Maths
•Set theory
•Probability
•The mean value theorem and others.

2.Microeconomics
•General equilibrium(This year we had lot of questions based on this, maybe because it covers both consumer and producer theory)
•Game theory (the 2013 paper has quite a few on these)

3.Macroeconomics
•AD-AS Framework and IS-LM Model(so, here they give you a set of 6-7 questions that are linked)
•Solow model
•Theory of money( this includes formulae like money multiplier etc.)

4.Statistics and Econometrics
I club these two subjects together because they are interdependent. Everything here is important for questions on these test almost every topic in it.

Lot of advice it seems! For those who wish to do masters, it is definitely a long wait but let it not affect you too much. I remember that my friends and I would sit for hours in the mess joking about the difference in the kind of papers each institute sets. Some of us remembered the correct options by heart! ;)
In the end, if you enjoy your preparation, you will definitely be able to pass it off well.  Because if you cherish the journey, the destination won't seem very far. Garner your preparation with confidence and a calm mind! Now, you are ready to attack the entrance!
In case of any queries, you can comment on this post, I shall try my best to help you out.

Bonne chance! :)

(Akshita Goyal graduated from St. Stephen's College in 2014. She got Rank 3 in DSE Entrance and was awarded Prof. Manmohan Singh Scholarship. She is currently pursuing MA in Economics at Delhi School of Economics)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Coaching – to join or not to join?

A big question that irritates final year students preparing for econ entrances is whether to go for coaching or not.

In our opinion, there are three kinds of students:

Type 1: Those who have gone for coaching since ages, and think that coaching is the raison d’etre of cracking any entrance. Afterall, how on earth could you even think of getting through ISI, D-school without coaching!

Type 2: Well, they will avoid coaching but will definitely go for test series preparation because they think they will not have enough practice till the D-day without that.

Type 3: These are mavericks –  have always been conscientious learners and have studied every single topic in their normal undergrad coursework with a religious sincerity. Joining coaching? ‘Nah, that’s a mad rat-race merely’, they would say.

At Eurekawow, we have talked to people and explored how beneficial coaching really is. We understand that taking a stand and NOT going for coaching when all your peers are going for it, can be a stressful decision. It may harm one’s self esteem, destroy confidence and even ruin one’s final exam day. We also acknowledge that not everybody may be financially strong enough to afford the best coaching centres in the city.

The good news is this: well, the best of best coaches say that there is no substitute to practice. If you are sincere enough and practice enough, there is no dearth of practice materials online now that can become a roadblock in your way. You will find the answer keys to all past year DSE and ISI question papers on Mr. Amit Goyal’s pubic website here: http://economicsentrance.weebly.com/lessons.html

That is quite generous of him, in fact you should take time to explore the entire website and follow the guidance.

You can in fact, start trying your hand at some of the DSE first sem problem sets available here: http://econdse.org/pghosh-001/

They are quite do-able with your third year brains.

Aleesha Mary Joseph (first year student at DSE now) who attended Amit Goyal’s coaching centre tells us that he is an amazing teacher who has great conceptual clarity and communicates it across students excellently. Although his fee might look disheartening at first, but the value of his teaching far exceeds the cost. So, it’s a fair deal essentially.

Apart from that, AG’s entrance classes are known to have positive externality on learning at the masters level. His preparation material is of the masters level, so you end up feeling more comfortable with the onslaught of advanced material, once you enter D-school or ISI after having been coached by him.

But that said, this does not in any way prove that coaching is a necessary condition for clearing the entrance. Since a lot of learning material is publicly available on his website and links to texts are also available, world is not that dismal a place really.

If you are smart enough to use the internet to your advantage, you can get your hands on oceans of material to help clarify your concepts and make yourself ready for the exam. You can check previous posts on this blog by people who cracked the entrance without any coaching.

Although, there might be topics where you feel significant gaps exist and not enough material can be dug from google or youtube – well, that is where the opportunity lies. Start early, read every single book on that topic, ask all your teachers about it, post it as a query on AG’s website, write him an email, post on Eurekawow facebook forums about it --- until, until you land on it finally. Its certainly a long route, but if you really want to specialise in the field in the future, there are no short cuts and you will receive your payoffs soon.

We can vouch for it, the sense of discovery will be priceless after all that toil and you will never forget the concept or the answer to that tough question in your entire lifetime (Alzheimer’s patients may be an exception though).

To sum up:

Take a call based on your financial and cerebral constraints.

Don’t just follow the herd.

Follow your heart.


Hope this helps!

Much love,
Team Eurekawow

(Posted by J Kaur)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

DSE - Few days before entrance exam - Tips!

By - Sneha
Sneha graduated from SRCC - Batch of 2013. She got Rank - 1 in DSE entrance last year.

Dear friends,

I would like to share my experience of The Delhi School of Economics entrance exam preparation with you all. Hope this will help you to prepare more strategically for the exam given the fact that not much time is left now..

The first thing that I did once my college exams got over was to start with the DSE past year papers and I did almost all the MCQ questions of the past years irrespective of how old they were and whatever pattern the old papers had.  The key to learning at this point was to do the papers in a time frame of 3 hours, verify the answers and discuss the doubts with friends. A lot of you might find it exhaustive to do all the papers in a go, as even I did. But then some of my friend would call me with a doubt say in ques 6,10,23 of some past year paper and I'll think.. Why not do the entire paper and discuss my doubts with her.

This way I ended up doing almost all the papers by the exam day. This is also where a common concern of most students 'what is the syllabus?' gets answered. You also know by the end of it that what are the topics you are weak at and need to revise, or what are the important topics to redo from your undergraduate syllabus.
For those super fast students who have already done the past years (and I was surely not one of them) very good! .Now help your friends do theirs by solving their doubts. This will help you revise as practicing questions till the final day is very very important to keep you fast and accurate.

While doing this practice and more importantly when giving the final exam, one thing that happens with EVERYONE is that you get stuck on a series of questions. That is you are either not sure with the answers or just not able to do a lot of questions one after the other. This is where lies the real test that you don't panic and move on calmly. Even I got stuck on some questions in the exam. My strategy was to open some other page and do a fresh set of questions. Gradually I gained momentum and confidence, and lo! even the questions I was stuck on seemed easy now. So it's a test of how you stay calm when the clock is ticking and making you nervous. I always tried to tell myself that this is another practice test that I have to do well.

Another important tip is to keep marking the answers on the OMR sheet either after each question or after a set of 5-10 questions. This is one mistake I observed that many people did and lost marks later. They left the final marking for the end and then never got the time to mark all the answers even though they had attempted a lot of questions correctly.

Please be confident in whatever you mark and by the time you sit for the exam, you'll have a fair idea of your own accuracy level. So attempt accordingly. Try multiple ways to answer the same question if possible, this will ensure that the answers are correct. What matters in the end is the  number of CORRECTLY answered questions, not the number of attempted questions.

One last thing that I am sure a lot of people want to know.. That what is the cutoff! To all those, even though it's natural to have such questions but to be honest this question has no answer.. Your aim should be to give your best irrespective of what the cutoff is. The entire procedure is relative and selective studying is not what I would suggest. For those who have dearth of time,focus on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses to the most. You never know how well your peers performs.

Hope I have answered most of your questions!
All the very best. Do well and do sleep well on the night just before the exam. Your presence of mind and mental peace is very important in those three hours. Be very confident and tell yourself that I know it all ! I will do it best.


With best wishes,
Sneha.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cracking GMAT - Things to keep in mind

By Harshit Maloo
(Harshit is currently in the final year at St. Stephen's College. He secured 780/800 in GMAT)

For those of you who don’t know, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an exam, the scores of which are accepted by most of the internationally acclaimed Business Schools including Harvard Business School, Yale School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business and so on. Most of us in our pre-final or final year of college attempt this examination for the ISB-YLP program, as did I.

The very first thing to keep in mind is when you would want to give the exam. If you are constrained by deadlines for applications, then as the case may be. Otherwise, I’d recommend giving the exam at a point when you know you can devote at least a month beforehand for preparation. It isn’t usually a good idea to keep it near your college examinations or other entrances (GRE or CAT). However, with adequate preparation, it is possible to do well in all scenarios.

Choice of Examination Centre is something that is overhyped. I have seen a lot of debate over which centre is better for the examination. Personally, the date and time should take precedence over the location. The centre at Pitampura, where I gave my examination is nice and quiet. It seats a maximum of 3 examinees at a time, which ensures peace and keeps away chaotic situations. It is a good idea to visit the test centre once before your GMAT date to not waste time in navigation on the day of the exam.

Preparation time is relative from person to person, their background, and their level of comfort with Mathematics (Class X level) and English. As soon as you begin thinking about giving the GMAT, it is essential to give a diagnostic or an online mock test to evaluate where you stand. This can be done as early as 3 months prior to the examination. Preparation can then start accordingly.

There is a misconception that GMAT cannot be taken without tuitions, and that preparation time for it needs to span months. You can prepare for GMAT in the last 3 weeks also, but you have to make up for it by burning the midnight oil and doing nothing else for those 20-something days. A comfortable preparation time would be about 6 weeks.

The very first reference book you need to follow is the GMAC Official Guide. This book contains the basic preparation material; it will set the flow in motion. It is just the first step, as it does not contain 800-level questions in abundance. I would suggest keeping track of your performance during the first two weeks and then delving into higher-level books according to your areas of difficulty. The Manhattan guides for individual sections are extremely helpful in this regard. As you read the material, you’ll realize that even the higher-level books contain basic material, and acing the GMAT is all about practice and time management.
I’ll go into further detail, section wise:

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
AWA is the first section, for 30 minutes. You are given a 4-5 line argument that you need to comment upon. You should aim to write about 4-5 paragraphs of 3 sentences each. It is not a lengthy task. The introduction and conclusion are standard, but in the body each paragraph must pick a separate point about:
(a) How the argument is invalid if certain assumptions are disregarded?
(b) What could be added to the argument to complete it?
(c) Any additional comment on the argument or its fallacies.

Be sure to not diverge far from the topic at hand. Since the essay is checked by software also, it is essential to have the keywords and basic vocabulary – with NO spelling mistakes. If you try and differ too much from the normal phrases and try to draw analogies, it might backfire.    

Integrated Reasoning
Integrated Reasoning is the next half an hour section that contains 12 questions. Each question has 2 or 3 subparts to it. IR is relatively easy, and it tests you on basic logic rather than on math. This is the only section where use of online calculators is allowed. 

The problem with IR is that there are limited resources to study it, so you have to make the most of what is available through the GMAC Software and certain other mock tests.

Quant
There is an optional break before beginning your Quant section for 8 minutes. You can use this opportunity to relax, stretch a bit, have a quick bite to eat (a chocolate does good for you J) and some like to gulp down an energy drink!

The Quant section tests speed and accuracy more than anything else. The concepts, formulae and so on can be brushed up using the reference material. But what it doesn’t prepare you for is the nerves, and the widely observed phenomenon that you automatically tend to double check your answers and thus lose on time as compared to when you were sitting at home and giving your mocks. When it comes down to crunch time, and you see that you do not have too much time remaining, do not linger on a question. It is not a taboo to make an intelligent guess (I made one in my Quant Section!). Your main aim should be to attempt ALL questions as you are heavily penalized for not completing the exam.

Verbal
The Verbal section starts after another optional break. This section tests your use of the written English language. Remember, what ‘sounds’ right may not always be right, because in our day to day usage of the language, we tend to misuse grammar and phrases. The Manhattan Sentence Correction guide and the Kaplan 800-Level Verbal Guide are of immense help in this regard. It is a recommended to attack these rules and idioms a few at a time as the list will seem overwhelmingly long towards the end.
With respect to Verbal again, only practice can serve your purpose. All the strategies and rules that you’ll read about will be of no use unless you can implement them. This should reflect in you mock test performance as you keep giving them.

Mock Tests
There are a horde of mock tests available online, some free and some for which you need to shell out a few dollars. I highly recommend giving as many mocks as humanly possible before the exam. Since all your other practice material will be divided into sections, and the questions will be also divided accordingly, it will not give you a fair idea of whether or not you are able to use all the principles you have learnt in a test like environment, where the type of questions and their difficulty vary.

While giving mocks, keep in mind that your score and percentile do not matter much. Each company’s mocks have different scoring algorithms and a different database of students against whom your percentile is scored. What you should review is the questions you were unable to solve, or solved incorrectly. Keep tab of which type of question persists in troubling you, and then go back and work on that area using the additional reference material.

You should save your GMAC mocks till the last week as they provide the most accurate image of your position. They have two mocks and they can be reset to take advantage of the vast question base. When you give the tests after resetting the score, some questions might be repeated, so do not get too happy if the scores are high!

You should be relaxed the day before your GMAT – if you do all that’s advised above, you will definitely be. It is an easy examination; all you have to do is put in some effort.        


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Preparing for the ISB-YLP programme

By Satyaki Dhar

The YLP Programme is offered by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad to provide guaranteed admission to its one year MBA Programme contingent on the applicants securing 21 months of work experience post earning their under-graduate degree. In case you aren’t aware of the programme, you can always find information about it at – http://www.isb.edu/young-leaders-programme

The application process for the ISB YLP Programme consists of three stages. The first stage begins towards the end of the pre-final year of your undergraduate degree. The deadline ISB sets for this stage is around the first week of March. The second stage will require you to take the GMAT, obtain two recommendations and write a few essays. This stage usually has a deadline of around the first week of August. The third stage is the interview and this is held face-to-face at the ISB Campus at Hyderabad. Interview slots range from mid-August to mid-September.

The application itself, considered as a whole consists of the following parts –
1)      Essays
2)      Curriculum Vitae (CV)
3)      Video
4)      Recommendations
5)      GMAT score
6)      Written case-study
7)      Interview

Essays: Essays seek to find out your perspective on how your life has been. In my application year, the essay topics were “Describe your two most significant achievements”, “What is your career aspiration immediately after graduating from the ISB?”, “Describe a past experience that has shaped who you are today”  and “Please provide additional information that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB”.

The last one is pretty standard. You need to look through your application and see if there is any other important point that you’ve missed out on due to the constrictions of the online application.
The achievements essay appeared again in the following year I believe. If it does appear again, my opinion is that in addition to telling them what the achievement was and how you went about doing things, you should also touch on why you chose this over your other achievements.
Other topics have kept changing.

CV: ISB traditionally asks for the one page CV. The difficulty in this isn’t how to compress everything into a page, but I feel its picking the right points to put on that page.
The best advice that I ever got in this area, and I’ll pass it onto you – make a complete list of all the achievements that you feel are worth mentioning.  More recent achievements are to be given greater weightage and as the time elapsed since the achievement increases, the impact of the achievement needs to be that much greater in order for it to feature on your list. Then prune that list according to the scale of the effort and impact of the achievement. Try to strike a balance in order to show consistency and diversity.
Speaking about diversity - I’ve heard is greatly valued for the ISB process. How much diversity should you represent on the CV? That’s a difficult question, but even if you’ve done a lot of things you’ll be able to represent only 2-3 adequately well on a one page CV. So you would end up talking about only your most important ones while the rest would have to be accommodated through other parts of your application.
So once you’re done selecting the achievements you want to put on your CV, get down to making it. There’s only that much structuring you can do for a one page CV, but the standard sections that most of us who applied kept it to were – Academic Qualifications (Including academic awards, scholarships), Internships/Projects/Research, Extra-curricular achievements, Awards (Other ECA awards) and a Miscellaneous section if required. Some of us created special sections in order to highlight certain special skills acquired (Such as Writing or Web-design) and that works as well.

Video: Now this the fun part of the YLP Application. Atleast I had fun shooting my video. You’ll need to don your formals (Well, I did) and speak about the topic that they’ve provided for 90 seconds. In my application year ISB wanted to know if they were to admit one more student to the YLP Batch, why should it be me. Take some time and plan out the answer. I personally took around a week and wrote down the whole answer and thought I’d memorize it, but that didn’t work too well.

My tip, if you aren’t an exceptionally good speaker, make the extra effort to write down the whole thing. Since its only 90 seconds you’ll need to optimize on every word if you want to pack in the maximum number of points. Even if you are a good speaker, write it down once and say it to yourself to see how much time it takes. Editing can also become a lot easier if you write it down.

Recommendations: Recommendations provide the only third-person perspective to your application and hence the process of choosing your recommenders must be carefully thought through. Recommendations can be both professional (Internships, work-experience), academic ( Teachers, academic instructors/counsellors) or extra-curricular (Related to any sport, society activity that you participate in. The single most important point that you should consider before approaching a recommender is that person’s position (NOT post) to comment on your life. Choose people that you think know you well and would be in the best position to comment on your life.

Once you make a list based on that criterion, you could start boiling it down using the kind of information that you might want to represent to the school. For example, it can be expected that an ECA Staff-Advisor will primarily talk about your enthusiasm and work in a certain activity or a teacher will talk mostly about your performance in class. 

Another factor you should consider is the credibility of the person providing the recommendation. If the Principal of your college would roughly write the same things on your recommendations as a Professor would, the person in the higher post (Professor) would be the better choice.

Talking about expectations, my conjecture is that since you’re applying straight out of your undergraduate degree and aren’t expected to have much prior work experience one recommendation should be from an academic viewpoint. Since you’re still a student and your profession is studying , someone should be willing to talk about how you perform there. Most of the people who were accepted that I know of had submitted two academic recommendations.

GMAT score: I believe this plays quite an important role in your application. Getting a 700 in GMAT isn’t really rocket science. From what I have noticed, your GMAT score is usually a function of how many questions you’ve practiced. There are exceptions ofcourse. The concepts are fairly simple and easy to grasp but practice does make a difference. It helps improve your speed and accuracy, both of which are well-tested during the exam.

It takes a bare minimum of 6 weeks to prepare for the GMAT. Around 2-3 hours of practice every day during that period should be enough for a 700. Do plan your study period and continuously assess your progress.

There is enough material and advice on the GMAT available on online forums. Lastly, in my opinion, coaching for the GMAT is really not required. Self-study as long as you’re willing to stick to a schedule should be fine. I know people who ended up getting as much as 780 with self-study, so it’s possible.

Written case-study:  Don’t be scared if you haven’t solved a case before. The cases are very basic and require nothing than a little common sense. Knowledge of class 11-12 Economics might be considered an advantage, but is not a necessity. If you’re planning to study though, you might want to pick up any Beginners Economics textbook (G.Mankiw, may be) and learn about demand-supply, revenue-cost etc. The first 2-3 chapters should suffice.

Lastly, the case-study is a an hour long written one so while on one hand it gives you more time to think, ISB naturally also expects you to be more precise in your answers. Examples of cases: I don’t remember the prompts I heard word to word, but they were something to this effect –
1)      Discuss the viability of a radio cab service in a metro. How would you go about pricing such a service?
2)      European mobile phone company wants to enter the US mobile phone market. What factors would you consider?
3)      Credit Card company is facing intense competition in the industry. What would you recommend for it to survive.

Interview: The average duration of an interview is between 10-15 minutes. The Written-Case Study and the Interview process are held on the same day.

The interview began with the generic question “Tell me a little bit about yourself…”. This is a standard question for most interviews (I realised that only later) and you can go ahead and prepare an answer for this. Be ready to talk for a good 2-3 minutes. You could give a short summary of your CV or alternately talk about things you can’t mention on your CV (For example: Personality traits). You could talk about how your life has progressed and how you have become the person you are today. Personally I mentioned a combination of all of these and how it has led me to apply for a deferred MBA program. You need to justify why you want to pursue an MBA, and why you want to take the YLP route.

Post that they tend to quiz you on the material you’ve already submitted (CV, essays, recommendations) and try to iron out the inconsistencies. Remember, they’ve got enough experience and have given enough time to your application before shortlisting you so lying would be a humungous risk. Be prepared to talk in detail about any activity, any point you’ve mentioned in other parts of your application. For this you might need some time for contemplation. Be clear on what your goals are, how you’ve gone about trying to achieve them and how the MBA & YLP fits into the picture.

All-in-all I felt that the interview process was meant to be a cross-check. I felt that they were trying to evaluate if I was capable of being the person that I had represented myself as on paper. There might be a few subject related questions


Lastly, again looking at the whole application - in my opinion, try to avoid over-laps. Don’t go to recommenders who will talk about something you’ve already written about in an essay. Don’t write about the same activity in more than one essay. Try to represent as much information as possible through the options available. It gives them a better all-round picture and helps them understand if you’re the kind of person they’d like in their class. Best of luck!

Satyaki Dhar graduated from St. Stephen's College (Mathematics Honors, Batch of 2013). He was the President of Finance and Investment Cell and perhaps one of the most active members of college. He got admission to ISB - YLP programme. Currently, he is pursuing Finance at London School of Economics.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Job Interviews (Case Studies)

An option that many people do consider after their under-graduation is to work. Many do so if they have already got an offer from ISB (which requires you to work for 2 years) or otherwise. The companies that usually visit campuses are consulting firms, investment banks, etc. Almost all consulting firms will test on case studies – though the focus might be different. Some may focus on guesstimates (Ex: BCC), some focus on quantitative skills (Ex: Monitor), and some focus only on Business Case Studies (Ex: McKinsey). Investment banks will require you to have a very good knowledge about finance and good with numbers (Ex: Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, CitiBank)

Business Studies and Guesstimates
 
Study Material: You can find various Case Books here.
Click here for Case Books

There are usually three types of business case studies: (1) A company wants to increase it's profitability. How should it go about it? (2) How to increase the market share? (3) How to enter a market? And guesstimates can be anything.

Few case studies I was asked in some of my interviews or my friends were asked at McKinsey interview:
#1. U.S. Apparel Company want to enter into China. How should it go about it? 
#2. U.S. entertainment channel wants to enter into India. What should it do? 
#3. You take a flight from X to Y and then from Y to Z. You take airline A for your journey from X to Y and an airline B for your journey from Y to Z. You pay total of Rs. M for the entire journey. How much of this Rs. M will go to each airline?
#4. Give two ways in which Reliance can increase its market share.
#5. If it is 2007, and you want to open a mall in South Delhi, how much investment would be required and when will you break-even (asked at BCC - Final Round)

Few guesstimates I was asked in some of my interviews or my friends were asked:#6. How much money you need in your pocket now, if you want to open a coffee shop in this area? (A.T. Kearney)
#7. How many footballs can be put in this room (1) when room is empty (2) the room is as it is now (tables, chairs, etc there) (asked at BCC)
#8. Estimate the amount of toll collected in a day in Delhi-Gurgaon highway. (asked at BCC)

If you need help with any of the above cases or otherwise you can write to us.
Some general things to keep in mind while approaching case studies and guesstimates.

1. Clarify the question (know what is asked properly before answering)
You need to clarify with the interviewer what he expects you to do/ how he wants you to approach. For example in the case #1. mentioned above, you need some more information, so yes, ask questions.
·  Ask questions about the background. For example, what kind of apparel company is it, where all is it operating at the moment, what is the purpose of entering the China market (is it just to expand or they want to use cheap labour cost, etc.)
·  Paraphrasing the question always helps (though not necessary) It makes sure you have got the question right.

2. General guidelines to approach

In the various workshops I attended, all of them emphasized on MECE - mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive sets. So, a way to approach a problem should be to divide it according to this MECE rule.

I would suggest - Never mention Porter's 5-forces model, 4Cs, 6Ps, etc that many case books talk about. I never used them. Yes, read them once. These help you to think about a problem in MECE way. Note: Even if you apply these in any case, don't directly mention during the interview that you are applying it.

Drawing a flowchart: This is highly recommended. It tells the interviewer that you are approaching the problem in an organized manner. And most importantly, flowchart also ensures you took MECE into consideration and focussed more on whatever was required.
It's always better, that once you have clarified the question, ask the interviewer for 2-3 minutes and use this time to draw the flowchart.

One thing that I was always told and I experienced is that the case study is solved by both - the interviewer and the interviewee. So, it's better to make the interview interactive by involving the interviewer while you are solving by asking questions. (This doesn't mean that you ask unnecessary questions) 

Guesstimates
For guesstimates, it's better that you have some idea of population, demographics, etc of India, U.S., etc. It always helps (though if you don't know, there's no harm in asking the interviewer about it) In guesstimates, don't randomly throw numbers. Everything should be backed by some logic. 80-20 rule etc comes handy. It's better you practice quite a few guesstimates as they aren't easy.

I'll write about my interview with an investment bank in much detail in a later post. For any questions, post below as comment. If you need any help with job interviews/CVs etc, you can mail it to us at eureka123.ssc@gmail.com 

This article is written by Gaurav Poddar. He received job offers from BCC and Deutsche Bank after graduating from St. Stephen's College.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Preparing to study at LSE (London School of Economics)

By Pankhuri Tandon

Securing an admission at the London School of Economics and Political Science is a matter of both good performance and good timing. The application for MSc. Economics requires the following:


  1.        GRE
  2.        2 academic recommendations
  3.        Marks
  4.        Statement of Purpose
  5.       Resume’

1.  GRE: The Msc. Economics programme of LSE requires its applicants to submit a GRE score. This GRE score should not be more than 5 years old. The MSc. Economics program at LSE gives more importance to your score in the Quantitative section of GRE than your score in its Verbal Section and Analytical Writing Section. LSE has explicitly mentioned that for securing admission into the one-year Msc. Economics program, the applicant should score above 160(out of 170) in the quantitative section. For the two-year MSc. Economics program, they require a score above 163 in the quantitative section. So make sure you manage to cross this ‘cut-off’ in the quant section of GRE.
 You should aim to give GRE before October. This is for 2 reasons:
a)      The quicker you give GRE, the faster you complete your LSE application. You should aim to finish your LSE application before the first week of January (I shall explain reasons for this later in this article). Note that you receive your official GRE score 15-30 days after the date you have given your exam.
b)      If you are not satisfied with your GRE score, you can give the exam again, but only 21 days after your current exam date. So make sure you keep that margin.
Also, it is important that you have your passport made before you give GRE, as the exam centre only accepts the passport as a valid ID proof.

2. Recommendations: You need to have two recommendations from the teachers who have taught you in college. You do not need to send the recommendation letters in your application; you just need to provide the name and email addresses of the teachers who will write recommendations for you, and LSE will contact them itself. Still, you need to ask the teachers for a reference as soon as you start with your LSE application, because they take time in writing them. Teachers have a lot of preoccupations already, and as the month of December begins, more and more students start with their application and come to ask them for recommendations. The only thing that delayed my application till mid-January was a recommendation that was not sent by my referee. Make sure you keep reminding them to write for you!

3. Marks: Marks in your undergraduate course is the most important criteria for selection at LSE. For MSc. Economics, LSE requires you to score at least 70% (aggregate till the final year) in your undergraduate course. Moreover, LSE gives a lot of importance to your score in maths, statistics and econometrics at your undergraduate level.

4. Statement of purpose (SoP): Although your marks and references are given the highest importance in you LSE application, statement of purpose is an essay (1000-1500 words long) through which the admissions committee analyse your thinking, and your suitability for pursuing the course. A SoP should clearly articulate why you want to pursue the course in that institute(why particularly in that institute?) , and why you have the right aptitude for the course. For this, not only do you need to describe the abilities you have that will help you in the course, but also show that your thoughts and views are consistent with what you are going to study in the course. Make sure your SoP doesn’t look like your CV in prose. It should explain how the things you did till now were with a purpose of helping you in what you are going to do now (the postgraduate course), and how the course you are going to do now will help you in your ultimate goal of the future.

Deadlines to be followed
Although there is no deadline for applying to MSc. Economics at LSE, the seats get filled quickly. Also, most scholarships require you to have an admission offer before you can apply to them. Typically, the deadline for the scholarships is in the period of February-April. So try to obtain the admission offer by January-February. Moreover, LSE usually takes 8 weeks to process your application, so it is best to send your complete application (including recommendations) by December.

Scholarships
The most well-known scholarships are Inlaks Scholarship and Commonwealth Scholarship. LSE also provides scholarships, under its Graduate Support Scheme. Moreover, this year LSE has announced 50 new scholarships for Indian students! :D  There are also organisations like J.N. Tata Endowment and Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation that offer loans at nil or low rates of interest. I advise that you should try to obtain funds from as many sources as possible rather than concentrating your energy on just one fully-funded-scholarship. There are many small scholarships that just escape our attention. Make sure you keep checking regularly in newspapers and online about any new scholarships.


Each scholarship application requires as much effort as one application for admission into a university. Most scholarship applications need a statement of purpose and recommendations (2-3). Note that you can get a recommendation from a teacher only a limited number of times (usually 4), so make sure you manage your ‘profile of recommendations’ from different teachers well. Many scholarships ask you to describe how you will arrange your funds for pursuing the course abroad. My sincere advice is: please describe it as honestly as possible. Trust me, being honest will increase your chances of getting that scholarship.

(Pankhuri Tandon graduated from St. Stephen's College in 2013 and is currently pursuing Economics at London School of Economics. If you have any queries regarding LSE applications, you can leave a comment below)