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5 Bitter Facts About Unambitious Students

truth about Ambitious studentsI started thinking about when readers feel based about not reaching target test score. This post is inspired after reading multiple emails in past few days about students being not able to get higher score in GRE or TOEFL or IELTS (or any other test per se). Something like “what should I do to improve my GRE score and I don’t have time to study for GRE, since I have a full time job”.

Those students had one common goal about higher studies – Admission in good university with financial aid.

Here is my advise to such students – Don’t expect miracles during your GRE Test. If you are scoring 300 in Practice test, then its highly unlikely for you to score 320 in actual GRE or even 310 is going to be a stretch.

Lesson : Output depends on your input.

  • Output = GRE Test Score
  • Input = Honest hard work, Dedication, Targeted GRE Preparation

If your first mock test score is 280, then you have to know your true skill level. Which is low and way below Average.

Next, ask the following questions to yourself.

Do you think you are better than what your mock test score reflects?

Answer maybe yes, or reluctant yes or maybe.

But if the mock test scores doesn’t reflect your that, then you have understand and agree to the reality.

But, if you seriously think, you can do better in GRE Test, then you have to work. That’s where tatgeted practice comes into picture.

Studying for the sake of studying is not going to give you improved results.

What’s the point of studying for 3 months to get a score improvement of 5 points to 285?

If you have a target semester to attend (Fall 2014), then you have to know

  • Your current GRE skill level (from mock test)
  • Target Test score
  • Deadline to apply to schools
  • Deadlines based on your target schools and interests ( not random)
  • Approach and plan to reach your target score

Ambitious students always

  • have a plan
  • have a target
  • measure their progress towards target

Unambitious students

  • don’t have big goals.
  • don’t have a plan
  • can’t measure progress
  • blame failures on lack of luck
  • believe that goals and actions are not related

If you have a plan, then you wouldn’t have to ask a questions like

My GRE is 293 and I’m full time software developer. I don’t have time to study to retake GRE. What can I do to get admission in best universities with financial aid.

Does the above question sound familiar? Maybe you are a student and have the same situation.

Are you willing to take the blame on yourself if you have high ambition, but efforts doesn’t match it.

Ambitious people know their true weakness, talent and skill level. Plus they have a plan to overcome the weakness.

If you want to get better and improve yourself – Test Scores and academic skills, you need to have a plan – A Targeted plan, that can be measured.

If your input is less that what expected to reach your target output, then be ready to blame yourself and feel disappointed at the end.

If you are in the state of denial after failing to reach your target, then you have to realize your weakness.

  • Big Goals + Lack of Effort = Expect Failure

If this article made you realize you have a weakness, then take steps to overcome the weakness.

There’s no point in having a huge target when your weakens is preventing you from getting there?

You must allocate time to create a plan and way to track your progress.

That’s it for today.

Who are you? Ambitious Student or unambitious student?

Now, go write down your goals, come-up with a plan and start working towards your goal, one step at a time.


  1. Aravind on October 2, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    I Scored 286 (V-136 Q 150) in mock test . I dont know how to improve my verbal section. Pls give some tips to improve my score in verbal section

  2. sourav on August 14, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    Big Goals + Lack of Effort = Expect Failure.
    this happened to me till now every time. I wanted to be in IIT ended up being an NITian. Then i wanted to do MS from US ended up doing a M.Tech again from NIT. Now I am planning to go for Phd from US. I am having lack of effort. Even Raghu mailed me saying he is going to discard me from his mailing list. I somehow managed to make him not to do that. Thank you so much Raghu for this simple and Effective explanation.

  3. Garvit on August 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    i am targeting to get admission in fall 2014 with a good university and financial aid in computer science
    i am targeting mid nov for gre pls if anyone can advice me which part to take first for the start verbal with quant or only verbal for now later on would be great help if anyone can provide study plan and steps.
    thanking in advance.

  4. Ramya on August 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Hi Raghu,
    This is an excellent article, especially I like the part where you wrote about Unambitious students blaming failures on lack of luck. Believe me, I personally know so many people who blame their luck(bad luck) for failing to do something which I feel is ridiculous. I am not sure if this attitude develops from childhood and if it has to do with how our parents teach us from childhood days. One has to agree that ‘Hard work always pays’.

  5. jyot on August 6, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    wow a good and inspiring article. please suggest some books for gre prep. and universities for MS either in food or biotech.Thank you in advance

  6. Ali on August 4, 2013 at 5:46 AM

    Excellent article. I hope it will bring an end to what i am doing wrong repeatedly, thanx

  7. Ashwin on August 3, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    This is Ashwin. I just want to ask few tips on how to do my verbal section in gre. Actually I am taking my gre exam on 12 of August, like i have 10 days more. I am quite comfortable with my quants. But my vocabulary in verbal is quite bugging me. I can even do well in my RCs but I am quite scared about my text completion and sentence equivalence. Can anyone guide me on how to approach them or for a quick vocabulary gothrough.. Please reply me.,..


  8. Prakash on August 2, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    Perfect. This article has come out of a good analysis on ambitious and unambitious; very crisp and clear, insightful and inspiring.

  9. Abhi on August 1, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    MS or MBA. This very question must be on the minds of several students. I feel that more than 90% students go to do either MS or MBA in US for the sole purpose of the prestige associated and the higher levels of wages which is expected upon completion of the degree. The rest 10% are the students who are passionate about what they want to study i.e either research in science or MBA. Now coming to the point. I am the 90% type who wish to do my masters for the sole purpose of getting a much better job.And I am confused whether to do MS or MBA. Presently I am a Chemical Engineer working in a PSU in India (Oil refinery) since the last 4 years and getting a decent salary. I can go to the gulf after about a total experience of 10 years plus and earn a more big amount. But I wish to have a masters now as it will help me in the future. I am 29 years old and unmarried. I wish to complete my master’s before my marriage. This is leading to the confusion on whether I should give GRE or GMAT. Frankly speaking I was never interested in Chemical Engineering and I took it only due to unavailability of other branches. Hence I am doing my job just for the money without any interest in the work. If i do MS, i may get a good job in the gulf with my experience whereas if i do my MBA, I may get a consulting job or a job in the oil industry also. I was more interested in management things rather than technical things. Dear Raghu and all readers, what do you suggest? I am providing a few more details of myself.
    1. Age: 29 years
    2. Nationality: Indian
    3. Qualification: BE (Chemical) – 67.4%
    4.12th marks: 59%
    5.10th marks: 72.5%
    6.Total Experience: 5 years (1 year in a reputed CSIR lab in a project and 4 years in a refinery)
    7. GRE/GMAT/TOEFL: Not yet taken
    Moreover i had got 20 backlogs total in my BE. But i cleared them all within time and i graduated in the normal time of 4 years with 67.4% total. These backlogs were due to some of my family problems.

    • Priya on August 1, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      Hi Abhi,

      Long question.
      Let me ask you some questions that might help you to make up your mind /take your decision.

      What to expect after M.S /MBA ..

      I think if you want to do the MS you need to do it in Chemical ,you cannot switch the filed because you did your bachelors in chemical.
      second MS will g ive you job easily so as H1B is easy.
      Expenses for MS are less as compared to MBA

      You have enough experience to go for MBA (5 yr) more than sufficient.
      MBA getting H1b little difficult.
      You can leave chemical industry.

      • Abhi on August 1, 2013 at 9:27 PM

        Hi Priya,

        Thanks for the reply. Are you in the US? If so can you give a clear picture of the situation there for Chemical Engineers? I mean what type of jobs are there at present and do students get H-1B? As I already said I am not much interested in Chemical Engineering and wanted to do an MBA. But yes, the MBA fees are a lot higher than MS fees. And the career prospects in the US are much higher for a STEM student i presume.

    • Nandhini on August 2, 2013 at 12:52 AM


      I know many will enlighten you in applying/getting into good schools. I would like to focus on the other part. Now, its already August, so if you want to enter into good schools for Fall 2014, you must ideally have you GRE/GMAT/TOEFL scores before middle Nov. Choose the Universities in which you are interested and apply in the end of Nov and send them your application package (many univs, these days dont ask for application package as they ask us to submit scanned copies when we create the application!) by 1st week of Dec. You will hear decisions from schools from end of Feb- middle of May and thereafter apply for Visa. Be prepared to apply early as you might have chances to fall into 221g (technology alert list) because you r a chemical enggr! This process takes 1 year and then add the no of years you will need to study to graduate. So, dont mix marriage and studies!

      • Abhi on August 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        Nandhini, Thanks a lot for the tips. I wasn’t aware of the “TAL List”. Your advice is really good.

  10. chandrasekar on August 1, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    There is a printer’s devil in the word unambitious (cf. caption of the story). Kindly correct.
    The write up has hard hitting contents told in an avuncular way.

  11. manu on August 1, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I classify myself as an unambitious student, who always wanted to score above 325 without any serious preparation. After failing to get admits for Fall 2012 and 2013 I sit back and blame it on bad luck.

    This article scorns the lethargic software engineers(any profession) like me 🙁

    At least, after reading this article, I feel guilty and am forced to set an ambitious but realistic target and formulate a plan to achieve it!

  12. Hemanth on August 1, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Wow ! This is just what I needed at this moment, after working hard for a couple of weeks , I kind of lost the rhythm and passion. Even now, I was going to close my book and came online to chat.But this article has certainly showed the way back .
    You certainly made me realize my mistake,giving me a foresight into the future .Thank you !

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