Why I Tutor—Nirmal Chandraratna

Nirmal C., an expert Leland coach and Pro GMAT/GRE Tutor, outlines why he chooses to coach and what it means to him.

Nirmal C.

By Nirmal C.

Posted August 22, 2022

Over the last 15 years, I’ve truly enjoyed helping MBA candidates jump over the hurdle of taking the GMAT and GRE in their admissions journey. I love collaborating with students to help them determine their path to test-day success, each student navigating a unique set of circumstances around work life and initial levels of competency with the material. Studying for these tests can be daunting, but the good news is that everything is finite: the material tested is limited to high-school level concepts and there will be a time when you’ve taken your last exam! My job is to make that process as efficient and effective as possible.

I started teaching the SAT and ACT for Kaplan in 2004, and was soon promoted to a full-time Master Teacher, training and coaching new teachers. Desiring to teach more challenging material, I studied for and gained top scores in the GMAT and GRE, and began teaching these tests in 2006. By 2011, I went into business for myself, allowing me to teach a wide array of strategies that suit an individual student’s needs.

Some of my students have felt wary about having to prepare for a standardized test. I too wondered about their use in admissions, until one day, an admissions officer explained that these tests show how well a candidate can prepare for an assignment that requires them to apply their knowledge. Someone once wrote that these tests are less like studying for a final exam and more like getting ready for a driving test; test takers must roll with whatever comes their way, especially when familiar concepts are framed in unfamiliar ways. Just like working an MBA case study, a skilled candidate needs to be able to draw on cues, develop a strategy and execute successfully on that strategy.

It was exactly that breakdown that helped me master the Verbal section of the GMAT and the GRE when I was studying for these tests. I had always been strong in the Quant section, but facing the Verbal seemed to me a more nebulous challenge: after all, sentences can’t be interpreted like variables or numbers. But then I thought, “Well, why not?” Shouldn’t I be able to treat a Verbal question as objectively as a math problem? They both require me to find cues in the question stem to choose a reliable and replicable strategy.

To my delight, I discovered that the answer is yes! For example, in a Reading Comprehension question, I can use cues in the stem to recognize the agenda of the question and identify the area of the passage being tested, make a prediction, and expect ways in which the incorrect answers can lead me astray. Once I mastered these patterns, I was able to reach a 99th percentile Verbal subscore, and teach these skills to my students. This is what inspired me to to become a tutor.

Tutoring excited me because I’ve been really amazed by the folks I’ve worked with who go the extra distance to dedicate their time to the MBA application process. I am particularly excited for the opportunity to work with Leland clients, because they’ve exhibited such dedication to their own success. It’s my pleasure to make part of that process more streamlined so that they can more quickly enjoy the fruits of that labor.

Interested in working together on your MBA application? Click here for my Leland coaching profile.

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