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Take 3 (Continued)
So I started my stint at the I-Bank in June 2014. The initial couple of months were tough to adjust to without family and friends and I felt a bit lonely. I planned to start my prep for CAT again from July 2014. This time I had planned that if I was not able to get a good enough percentile I would be attempting GMAT and then working for another 2-3 years before applying for an MBA abroad.
Since I had voraciously consumed and finished up on most of the material which I had in the past 2 years (trust me I had quite a lot of it) I purchased Quantum CAT to brush up and revise concepts. Also I decided to purchase the sectional tests of IMS this time round having already done CL twice. My strategy this time was to give as many mocks as I could and focus less on other aspects. I also decided to write XAT again (had skipped it last year). I purchased the proctored mocks of CL, IMS and also got mock tests from Oliveboard. With enough ammunition in store I decided to hit the top gear this time and leave no stone unturned. Till August end I was in the training phase of my new company and hence planned to revise everything I had done till now and complete Quantum CAT.
Since I had to reach office by 8am, I used to get up at 5am on alternate days and give a topic/ sectional test for 1-1.5 hour. The commute time was cut now but the work hours had increased (being in an I-bank now). Weekends were again devoted to giving a mock of CL on one day and IMS the other. In August I was in for a surprise when the pattern change was announced. So the paper would now comprise of 170 minutes with 50Qs each in Section 1 of QA and DI and Section 2 of VA & LR. Moreover there would be no sectional limits empowering the candidates to allocate time across sections according to their preference. However the best thing which I felt was that the new players TCS had done away with the slot system this year (probably because of the hullabaloo raised over normalization least year). CAT would now be conducted on two days only and 4 slots in total which was a pretty good thing.
A change in the pattern meant a rework of the strategy and to become faster at solving questions with accuracy (100 questions now as opposed to 60questions which I was accustomed to in the last 2 years, an increase of 67%!). The institutes quickly worked on revising the paper pattern and we started giving mocks in the new mode. In the initial few mocks it obviously became taxing since you had to keep your mind on high alert for 170 minutes. I remember being mentally exhausted after the first few mocks signaling that I had to prepare myself a lot to improve stamina and be well prepared for the long haul. I also experimented with the order of attempt of the sections in various mocks. Based on my comfort level and accuracy I was getting, I zeroed in on VA-LR-QA-DI order of attempt of the paper. The time limits were also self-imposed for each section with a buffer time of 10 minutes at the end in case I felt that I had not done justice to a section or if I hoped to maximize my scores in a section.
Being in a new city and without a close group of friends I knew that I had to keep my motivation level high for CAT and peak at the right time. I was scoring quite well in the mocks now (the CAT gene was finally embedded in my system or so I hoped for!). My good mocks scores helped me to be selected for the PG Dream Team 2014 and I was placed with stalwarts. The healthy rivalry among the group for mock scores, getting tips and suggestions from each and motivating each other was really a wonderful and cherished experience. My mock scores were however more volatile this year and I tried to stabilize them at a good level. I was possibly the only non-engineer in the DT group (and also admit the weakest member due to my quant as compared to the peers). Still trying to match up to the other member's awesomeness and flawless attempts is what kept me going.
In October I was also fortunately placed in the second shift at work which allowed me to login at 12pm. The mornings were all to myself and I utilized this opportunity to the optimum level. I would give 3-4 mocks in a week (usually starting a mock at 8) and analyze them thoroughly in the night. I was really scoring well in the IMS take home mocks (touching a score of 210 to 220) which was on par with the DT members and was really confident through this. In CL also I was maintaining a 97+ percentile with occasional sparks of excellence of 99+. Counting CL, IMS, Oliveboard and AIMCAT pdf's I had clocked close to 65 mocks by October end and had another 15 left for the final stage. My CAT was on 16th November and the first slot. At this stage I was probably over preparing, but the fire to bell the CAT this time was at an all-time high and I wanted to finish the CAT ritual. In the last two weeks I was giving a mock a day (a risky strategy which I would not recommend now). I knew that I had hit the peak at the right time when in the last SIMCAT I was the AIR 10. I was very confident and hoping to replicate this performance one week later. Further many CAT gurus (such as GP, Gejo of CL) were predicting an easier CAT and quant in particular due to the pattern change which further provided me confidence.
Before the D-day, there certainly was some amount of stress and I did suffer from a milder version of tension headache. However it was not as bad as last year and on the D-day I was quite pumped up. As the paper started I began with VA first. There were a few concentration lapses initially but I managed to regain, followed up VA quickly with RC and then LR. In LR was able to make up all sets except for 2. Got stuck in one and could not comprehend one at all. I then shifted to DI and again was able to attempt all here except for one. I had quant left and back in the mind I knew I had to go back to LR to finish off that set. As I started on the quant portion, the difficulty level of the questions was extremely low. In fact the difficulty level of question resembled more of the college entrance exams which I had given. I got over excited on getting such questions and quickly attempted most. However I did get stuck on a couple of questions and wasted some crucial time on them. With barely 7 minutes left I quickly switched back to the LR set and was able to crack it just as the clock showed a minute and a half left. I quickly tried to attempt the few QA questions which I had left but could not solve them and left them (had learnt a bitter lesson from guessing last year and did not want to take any chances). I was fairly happy of my attempts this time but did not make any estimates of what I might get (the heavy blow of a 91 last year still gave that jitters).
The post CAT analysis of the 4 slots painted a risky picture. It had been one of the easiest CAT papers in a long time which suggested that the scores needed to be quite high for a 99+. Experts were predicting 99+ on a raw score of 180 (how grossly wrong they will be later :sigh). I was in a very precarious position and had the feeling of being just on the edge based on their estimates (i.e. I might just reach a 99 this time). Even if I managed a 98.8+ I was hoping for a call from A then based on their Top 50 criterion. I hoped that all the midnight oil burning over the last 3 years would help me out this time and earnestly hoped that I would not have to take the GMAT route (if only life would have run on wishful desires, it would have been a lot easier).
would come out a month earlier this time but got delayed by a week and finally
were out on Dec 27. They came out in the
evening at 5pm and my elder brother checked it first. He called me up and I
asked him nervously. His tone was sad at the other end and my heart sank. He
told me it was in 97's and I told him to send me the score card. As I opened the
results it was with bitterness and hopelessness that I viewed it. QA had
returned 93.4 and VA 97.9 for an OA of 97.4 percentile. I was flying high in
mocks right before CAT and just where it mattered I had made a crash landing
Landing a percentile in the 97-98 range is possibly the worst score you can have because you are neither here nor there. I was certainly depressed a lot and the blow was huge. However after last year I had learnt the lesson and was in fact prepared for this. Moreover my parents constantly supported me and encouraged me to give GMAT and go abroad (as I was living alone, they did not want me to wallow in pity and take some mindless step). An easy paper had been the undoing and I was not able to match up to it. My raw score of 171 which used to get me 99 in mocks was not good enough in CAT since the paper had been so easy. The super easy QA section had been my downfall and many engineers had aced it leading to inflated scores. What was shocking was the fact that a raw score of 200 was needed for a 99 this year and 220+ was 99.5 (again these scores brought a 99.9+ in mocks).
I was sick and tired of all the struggles and sacrifices I had made for CAT and was at a loss. All the DT members (barring one or two) had scored brilliantly. Post the CAT debacle I attempted XAT with a vengeance and rage due to my constant failures with CAT.
A's result came soon and its cut off for my stream was 98.8. Again I was so near yet so far and wondered when God might stop playing such cruel jokes on me. I was angry at having wasted three years in CAT and decided to never attempt it again.
XL's result also came and I do not know how but I have always managed to score extremely well in XAT with the least effort (the exact opposite of how it happens in CAT). I scored a brilliant 99.84 in XAT and was really happy.
I converted my XL BM call a second time but again declined it. The decision this time was based more on how my profile had shaped up now and my career interests post MBA. I wanted to move to strategy consulting now and based on the discussion with my friends who had studied at XLRI realized that the opportunities for the top consulting firms might only be a handful. Moreover competing with 180 of the brightest minds for bagging the top 10 offers was quite tough and I decided not to go for it. Although I still have immense respect and love for XLRI and consider it to be the most student-centric, ethical and fair B schools in India. On a deeper level, I still nurtured that desire to go for ABC only but that spark and drive was extinguishing.
With a resolve to start a fresh chapter and take learning from all this (not waste time any more on CAT) I began researching and planning to take the GMAT. I was pretty sure that I would be applying to ISB and colleges abroad only now and the thought of giving CAT was not there in my mind now.
Converts: XLRI BM and IIM I with no show at the rest
For my previous takes:
Take 2: http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/42617691
Take 3: http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/43064640
Take 3: The best prepared at a new town attempt
So it was February of 2014 and I was contemplating on the life ahead. To divert my mind away from CAT, I was putting in all my focus and energies on my work. I was getting some good and interesting projects and also getting great reviews for a few. By April however a major point of debate regarding the compensation structure at our current firm left our college batch (13 of us who had joined) quite frustrated and angry. What was particularly disturbing was the fact that the company had slyly tweaked the bonus and salary increment policy to exclude the new analysts. This issue became a major sticking point for most of the new analyst pool.
Although we had talks with the Founders and MD of the company the conclusion was not satisfying to us. I was also fed up of this and being a 10 month analyst decided to look for other opportunities. Although I was performing well and enjoying the work, I felt that the way the company approached the issue was quite unethical and there was a possibility of such mannerisms being repeated in future. The fallout was evident; our batch of 14 which had quickly reduced to 12 after 2 months of joining now became 7 (in just 10 months).
I was quite interested to try out the financial services space before doing an MBA (now that I had some consulting exposure). I networked well and reached out to my alumni at good companies. Since I had a good profile I got an interview call from one of the top investment banking companies in the world. 3 telephonic interviews and 3 in-person interviews followed. And it was with effort and luck that I was selected. The opportunity, brand name, compensation were good but I would have to shift to Bangalore now.
Moreover I had never lived away from home (right from school) and hence was a bit nervous of the shift. I again had to make a difficult decision and decided to shift base and accepted the offer. I had also decided to make another attempt at CAT, more to avenge against the injustice which had been meted out to me last time and to redeem myself. Again I was optimistic this year and felt that if I got a good percentile and with a one year experience in both the consulting and investment banking space I would have a great profile in B school. Moreover living alone and managing all things would help me become independent and mature and be better prepared for an MBA later.
So it was with mixed feelings in June of 2014 that I packed my bags and left for the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru. Excited as well as nervous I wanted to put in my best effort for CAT and put the final nail in the coffin once and for all.
Here are the previous takes:
Take 1: http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/42398547
Take 1 (Continued): http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/42419321
Take 2: http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/42617691
(Part 1 can be found at http://www.pagalguy.com/discussions/all-i-wanted-to-speak-about-cat-25002933/42611980)
The calls had started pouring in with IIM Shillong declaring
its shortlists that very night. But the big ones were yet to come and by the
time I went back to my college for the final semester I had the two big ones in
my kitty - IIM A and IIM B - both being my dream institutes. This was soon
followed by an IIM C call and later from IIM L as well. The big four had considered
me worthy to be a part of their selection process and here I was jumping with
joy. Finally, I had the coveted BLACKIS. But the most consoling part was that
in spite of all the unfortunate incidents my hard work had finally paid off. It
was time for me to now make these opportunities count. I was really high on
confidence and decided to appear for GATE as well. Though, it was just meant to
be a fun exercise(believe me I just like to appear for competitive exams :)); yet I ensured that I
try to put in my best in the exam. Of course I hadn't prepared for it but I
wanted to really test my knowledge in the core subjects and so went ahead.
Meanwhile, I started preparing for AWT and interviews by focusing on the latest
happenings around the world, making a notebook, writing essays and other stuff.(which
I am not going to bore you with because most are already aware of what is
The first interview was that of IIM Shillong and since I had no prior experience of appearing for MBA interviews(barring a couple of mocks at TIME), I decided to open myself up with the first one. It was the afternoon slot on 20th February, 2013. The interview went well because I could answer almost everything that was asked. The next one was IIM L on 22nd February again in the afternoon slot. I was the 5th one in my panel and being a fresher it was stress interview. I gave it a decent shot I would say. The next one was IIM K on 26th February in the morning slot. Again it was a stress interview with all sorts of weird questions being asked(a typical IIM K interview, which I learned later). Now, the big three were left. IIM A was the first one of them on 8th March in the afternoon slot. The interview went well and again as I had been doing I answered almost everything that was asked. I was happy that I had performed well(or so did I think). Next came IIM B on 12th of March in the morning slot and believe me that is the most nightmarish interview that I have ever had and had ever read about. The interview left me with a pretty bad feeling and I was completely down. I could never ever have thought that such senseless questions could be asked in an interview. After all I was new to this field and had no idea how crappy things can get in an actual interview. I felt furious and decided to approach the IIM C interview(the very next day) in an aggressive manner. The interview went on for 30-35 minutes and was relaxed at some points and utterly stressful at other occasions. I kept my cool in spite of being grilled and I knew from the response that I got from the interviewers that as far as the interview is concerned, it is a sure convert. I felt happy at what I had delivered. Meanwhile, my GATE results were also out and I had done quite well by securing some 200 odd rank in Electronics. I decided to skip my IIM I and FMS interviews. Then started the long wait for the results for it was a top 4 convert that I was looking for.
The first one was IIM B on 10th April and as expected it was a straight reject. Next came IIM A which again to my surprise was a reject. That was the worst day for me because I had thought that my interview was a good one and a wait list was at the very least that I had expected. I was dejected. Now all hopes were pinned on IIM C but I was disappointed when I saw a wait list in the late 70s. I could not believe my eyes. IIM C had to be a direct convert but it was not and the possibility of such a big wait list getting cleared was also very less. Finally I converted IIM L, later IIM K and Shillong as well but it was not what I wanted. Life resumed - I graduated in May and joined a financial services firm in Noida. Though my wait list in C got cleared a couple of days before the actual start of the session, I decided to get some work experience before joining a B School and I rejected IIMC's offer(yes you read it right). In retrospect I think that it was the boldest decision that I have ever made. With all hopes now pinned on my intellect and hoping to vindicate my decision I decided to give another shot at CAT and started preparing for it.
(I am trying to break up my experiences into small parts for easy readability. Next part to follow soon)
Part 2: The bitter sweet experience of MBA Interviews
So here I am, with a decent enough score and in cloud 9, hoping to get a call from BLACKI. But since it was my last shot @ MBA, so I left nothing to chance and applied for a total of 17 clgs. Don't worry I am not going to bore you with the names of clgs I have applied to, but ya some noteworthy experience will be shared. So the first interview was of SPJAIN, the best private school by par (IMO). With no preparation what so ever, and no structured answer in my arsenal I made a mimicry of myself in front of the renowned profs of SPJAIN (apparently one them became director of IIM-L). Being rejected on the spot after my first interview round, I was dejected and angry with myself. Made up my mind to prepare harder and work on my communication skills (which was kind of okies).
2 weeks down the line, my 1st IIM interview, Kozhikode and I was the last guy to be interviewed pre-lunch by the panel. The panellist were more concerned about lunch then to ask questions, and thus my interview lasted mere 8 min.
Putting it in the back of my mind, I prepared myself for Indore interview. Knowing fully well that its gonna be a stress interview and acad based, I was all confident. This time I was the 3rd guy to give my interview, fresh and ready to face them head-on. As expected the interview went well for me, even though they tried real hardtop unsettle my nerves.
So with one good interview out of 3 major interviews I was confident and ready for Lucknow. Lucknow was like the ideal interview for me. Everything that was supposed to go right, went right (reverse-Murphy, patent pending).
Now I m confident for the mega interview, the baap of all interviews, ya u guessed right- Bangalore. The panelist were so cool and refined, the campus mesmerizing, oh Bangalore u beauty. Interview went on for 45 min, and the dumb things I said made me dig a grave for myself and bury myself alive. Just to give you an idea,
Prof: What are various places to visit in Odisha
Me: blah blah blah...PURI.....blah blah blah.....SILIGURI. (u heard it)
Prof (gottcha): I think siliguri is in west Bengal
Me (confident moron): No sir, I am pretty sure its in Odisha,
Prof (in his mind): How the hell did this guy got xx.xx in CAT.
FMS was officially the shortest interview ever. Interview was over in mere 5 min (including extempore mind it). Going to Delhi, taking a day leave from office, wasting 12k for tickets, you must be thinking is it worth it. Totally. By the time I was in FMS for interview, could see some familiar faces, with whom I have given GDs and who were in my panel in various occasions. OK so this is what networking is all about. Not Bad. I said to myself. But with cat weightage of 85% for selection, odds were not in my favor and so I ended my interview season of MBA 2015.
By the end of it all I gave a total of 17 interviews and got reject from IIM-B (off course), FMS (expected), and SPJAIN (duh).
Well apart from Bangalore, I don't regret a thing and happy with what I got.
To all of those who missed part 1 the link is as above.
Ordinary Jay: Part 2 (A man who has nothing to fear needs to be feared the most'.)
Current timeline, Circa 2015, February: Now that I had calls from 2 of the best B-schools in India, I became serious. I knew that if I wanted my chance at an MBA then this was it. My XAT score was a fluke or not, I do not know, but I wanted to make good use of it.
So I prepared well for my SPJIMR (Finance) interview. Coming from a commerce family I tried to get as many financial concepts as I could. I was well prepared to handle all the technical questions related to finance. The fundamentals were in place; what was not in place was the CONFIDENCE.
My SPJIMR interview was in the second week of February. I had read about how SPJIMR eliminates people in GI-1 itself. I was dead scared of getting eliminated in GI-1. I had dreams about facing the embarrassment of being eliminated in GI-1. Dead scared would be an understatement! I was in a total state of panic the day I was to leave for Mumbai! That's when my father taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: 'A man who has nothing to fear needs to be feared the most'.
My father convinced me that I had nothing to lose. Worst case, they would reject me and I would have at least another year to prepare if not more. With the rejection fear dispelled I walked into SPJIMR like Rusell Crowe entering the arena in Gladiator.
Fortunately the essay topic was really nice and I managed to write a very decent essay. Now came GI-1. There were 6 of us for the interview: 3 Finance, 2 Marketing and 1 operations.
I distinctly remember having a CA Merit rank holder with me for the interview (Finance specialisation). There was also another fresher who was short-listed for Finance. The interview went well. Being the well-trained finance parrot that I was, I managed to answer most of the finance related questions. At one point of time, I was shocked when the CA guy came right out and told the panel that in spite of being a merit holder HE KNOWS NOTHING! That is when it HIT ME. It is not just engineers who know nothing, the scene is the same with pretty much all graduates across the country.
Confidence boost= 10X !
The results of GI-1 were declared and our entire group was selected for the next round! Yay! 'A man who has nothing to fear needs to be feared the most'.
GI-2 was nice with a generic interview. I could not gauge how it went but that was OK; I was just happy having cleared GI-1. I got the legendary SPJIMR pen drive and started for my return journey back home. Here I would like to add that SPJIMR has one of the best selection processes and whether I made it to SPJIMR or not, I would always have high regards for this college.
Current timeline, Circa 2015, March: My XLRI BM and HRM interviews were scheduled sometime in second week of March. I was not too keen about joining HRM program but decided to attend the process just for the experience. My BM interview was in the morning and HRM in the afternoon.
The BM GD was terrible. It is here that I first got a taste of the cut-throat MBA scene. Everybody wanted to make a point. It was a complete fish market and I did not know what to expect. BM interview was fine with questions on ethics, Pune, property prices in Pune and engineering in general. I liked the way the interview went and was happy with my performance.
The HR GD was even worse than the BM GD. Since I did not really care for HRM I did not give a rat's ass to what was happening and did not speak ANYTHING in the GD. The HR interview was next and that is when I decided that I am not going to LIE in this interview. The panel asked me why I did not speak in the GD. I told them that I did not wish to be another fool amongst all the fools. Yes, I said that. The panel was shocked, more at my honesty than my choice of words. Then they asked me about HR and what I know about HR. I said I know NOTHING (Jon Snow anyone?). Then they asked me why do you want to come for HR? Before I could answer, I looked them in the eye and I asked them if my answer would have any impact on my BM marks. They looked me in the eye and said NO. I was convinced that they were not lying and I told them I do not want to come for HR. I am here just for the experience of an interview with eminent and distinguished professors. I told the panel that I have NO interest in joining HR at XL. Again the panel was shocked at my HONESTY. The panel had one of XL's ex-deans and he broke the awkward silence by saying 'Kid, I appreciate your honesty. And XL would LIKE to have a student with your values.' I just smiled. After that the interview was general revolving around Pune's weather and general friendly discussion. Since I was the last person to be interviewed, the panel asked me if I would like to join them for a cup of tea outside Xavier college. I politely declined as I had a train to catch.
Thus ended my 2015 season of interviews or so I had thought........
Part 3: Coming soon
I am writing this post to pour my heart out. So here it goes.And believe me ,this is no inspirational story.
School phase: Being from a big school in delhi , my school life was filled with distractions. Got into a relationship with one of the hottest girl in my junior batch. Got me a lot of attention in school which made me happy in a way.
Now the cat journey.
CAT 2014 : Joined a coaching in north campus. Came to the first class and sat in the front. After 5 minutes entered a typical delhi punjabi kudi from srcc for whom i obviously fell for that instant. And when i say i fell for means she also fell for me. Have been blessed with a decent face and straight long messy hair which to my amazement brings in a lot of girls. :p
well , 3 years of loneliness and lack of any female contact made me forget all my past planning and any interest in cat . Started missing classes to grab a bite or a drink in hudson. Even during class all i could hear was her talking and not the teacher. Then came cat, knew it would be a disaster, had not practised a single question of quant and forget about va. No mocks were given , hardly knew the format of cat. Then came the result, got 86.5 overall with 96 in va lr and 69 in quant. The punjabi kudi got similar marks but went for ca. And here i was left with nothing again.Fortunately got campus placament on tcs and ey but the package was offered was insulting. But then again the guilt and ego kicked in , shed a few tears, and with a new passion to succeed started to study for cat 15 from june. Decided not to join any job, as i knew the fear of having no backup will help me give my everything this time. Studied like hell this time, alghough i was tested heavily in my weak spot(bandiya) but nothing broke my will this time. Started giving 10-12 hours to preparation every day, which increased to 13-14 hrs. Even in my dreams all i could think was cat. Gave around 80 mocks. I wanted to give my everything ,as i thought this was the only chance when i could put to rest all the taunts of family and friends of being a mediocre. But mostly i wanted to make myself believe that i am not a mediocre and there is something more in me except good looks. I had that fire in me to prove the world wrong about me. Cat 15 came, had to travel to meerut for my exam. Was nervous like shit. The exam started , there was some technical problem and the questions were incomplete on my screen, which ate up 4 crucial minutes in being sorted out by the admin. I remember after that i went blank, couldn't even read the rc passages, everything looked blurry. After 15 minutes, without having attemted any question, i closed my eyes for 2 minutes, took deep breaths, all my past faliures flashed front of my eyes. But now i settled a bit and attempted the paper somehow and screwed up di lr.
Result: i knew i had done decently except di lr and badly wanted a 99 at any cost, just for the sake to justify the work i had put in.
But got 98.3 which was disapponting.
My parents were happy, and I was content that i would get into atleast a decent college this year if not the top ones.
Gave the interviews , most of them went amazing although i know some of you will think performance in interviews is subjective , but believe me my interviews were really amazing.
But again fate had a different plan.
rejects after rejects came. Got rejected my nmims,imt, iift,mdi,iim s,sp jain,xlri . I have that shitty being cheated wali feeling. The fact that everything went so well in interviews with many signs of being accepted being given in the interview itself but still....really hurt me a lot. All my confidence that i had gained has now crashed big time. I really don't know what more i could have done to get that one silver lining in my life. Just one. Begged god before every result to give just one acceptance,so that even i could proudly write on pagalguy and fb"finally converted" . But it wasn't to be so.Have female friends and non engineers who despite getting lesser percentile than me , converted even the old iims and other good colleges.I really don't know what to feel now. I am now a faliure in my own eyes.Although i have read inspirational posts on this page who have overcome far diificult circumstances, but believe me when i say this, i literally gave my soul away for this cat, and now i feel like i have nothing left.
So here i end this story of just another wothless GEM in this ruthless world.
Take 2: The
overconfidence of a 99+, balancing corporate life and added stress take
So I began my corporate journey in June 2013 all eager and excited. I started working as a Strategy Analyst at a professional services firm. I also started some light preparation for CAT 2013 (this time without classes but more of a self-study phase). Since I had a lot of unused course material accumulated from friends and my elder brother, I decided to use that with mocks. I also knew that my base was already prepared. It just needed some brushing up with continuous practice with mocks. Further I was also aware that I would not be getting as much prep time as in college (with only weekends for some serious study), hence I decided to begin in June itself.
In August I also got pleasant news when the final college results were out. I was the Gold Medalist for being Rank 1 in my course and was very happy that sincere and dedicated efforts paid off (something I was hoping to replicate in CAT too). The training phase (aka the chill period) was over by August in the company meaning that work would become a lot more intense and grilling now. I used to leave at 7:30 am and came back anytime by 8:30-9pm depending on the traffic. To utilize the 4 hour commute time I purchased a tablet and used to go through previous year mock CAT papers of different institutes, do reading comprehension, verbal questions or simply pick up topics from quant and work on them. Weekends were usually spent giving mocks and analyzing the results of the ones which were given before. Weekdays were spent giving sectional tests, brushing up on important concepts or revising/ analyzing mocks. There used to be quite a few week days when I would be utterly exhausted and fall asleep in between analyzing a test or doing a topic. Preparing with a full-time job was indeed tough and I had not factored that in last year :sigh
My mock scores were again in the healthy range (90-95) by August and crept up slightly to 97's in September. I had booked my slot again for 29th Oct (same date as last year) at the same center (was trying to create a deja-vu and replicate the performance). However this time around there was a fair amount of stress which had crept in into my system (which I did not realize) built on the expectation of a 99+, of not wasting a year again and of getting an ABC call. Last few days were spent in the revision mode. The night before the CAT I could not sleep properly and suffered from (what I found later) to be 'tension headache'. I was able to sleep for barely 3-4 hours and was possibly not in the freshest of minds to take an aptitude exam. On the day of the paper I tried to soothe my nerves and keep my brain active. I visualized the performance last year and tried to derive memories of success from all my achievements till date.
As I started on the quant section of the paper I found it to be pretty tough. I was able to attempt only 17-18 questions in the first hour. It was in the last ten minutes that I made the biggest mistake. Thinking that I had not attempted the optimum questions, I guessed 3-4 questions more and took risky shots on those (was able to eliminate only one or two choices in these) taking my total attempts to 23. The stress of a bad Section 1 spilled over in the next section. I was not being able to concentrate well, lack of sleep was taking a toll and I had to re-read certain options in verbal or parts of passage in RC's losing focus. However I tried to pull it all back and in the end attempted all questions (although very apprehensive of my accuracy). My total attempts stood at 53 but I was much more concerned as I came out of the exam hall this time. From the bottom of my heart I knew that this had not been a 99 worthy performance, still I desperately hoped that the gamble of the questions had paid off.
As the results came it was with fear and hope that I viewed it. What followed next was a shocker which I least expected. I had got a 91.xx with 88 in QA and 89 in Verbal. I refreshed the score card page several times and then blankly stared at the screen unable to comprehend if I had screwed it up that bad. My parents standing behind me were also shell shocked, all their hopes turning to dust in an instant. The next few days were possibly the darkest days of my life till now. I could barely eat, speak or think of anything and became a total recluse. All the while I could only think of how could this have happened, how did I mess it up so bad that a 99 dipped to 91. The thought of having rejected XLRI also haunted me briefly during this point.
CAT 2013 was also the one which was the most notorious in terms of a vast majority of candidates having complained about the skewed normalization involved in the process. I personally saw a few cases of my friends who had a 700+ in GMAT with good verbal skills get a 30 percentile in Verbal (a fact impossible to accept). Many students started campaigns, online petitions to reevaluate, scrap the current paper and retake the exam but once the interviews started all this was buried under the bush. Based on my analysis now, I can definitely say that Prometric (in its last year of contract) had certainly tweaked their normalization process and made accuracy of paramount importance. It was penalizing heavily for incorrect questions. This I could infer because people with 13-14 attempts in Section 1 and 18 in Section 2 were able to get 98+. Obviously their accuracy would have remained high in such case. My attempt might have contained a lot of negatives due to which I was penalized severely.
I had not thought of a suitable backup option at all apart from continuing to work in the same company. It took me nearly a month to regain my normal self. If at all I planned to attempt again I had to create a good enough backup plan this time round and take less stress. Question was I willing to slog it out for one more year and keep the fire for IIM ABC alive????
Converts: IIM I with a reject from IIM S
Finally, I get the opportunity to write something on this sacred thread about my journey through one of the most competitive exams - CAT or shall I say that now after years of hard work I have earned myself that opportunity but whatever be the case I have gained something really substantial and learned a lot in the process(the latter one being more important).
Before I begin I would like to thank a few people for inspiring and helping me at various times - @ferlonso @Burgundy @a-jay @findingbugs @scrabbler @Dark_Passenger @shashwatdgr8 @christianbale @busar005 @shubham07iitr @nits2811 @Estallar12 @jay3421 @good_enough @Sabya1590 @Rooney575 @sid2222000 @techsurge - without whom this journey would have been impossible and boring. Others whom I have missed (as of now), I will thank them at appropriate places (:P).
It was March 2012 when I enrolled for TIME's classroom program and started solving their material. I was about to enter my final year at that time. Confidence was never a problem because I had cracked the JEE earlier, was almost a topper at my school and had almost invariably been among the top 100 in most of the olympiads I had appeared for. The season started with some AIMTEST(those familiar with TIME might know that before the actual AIMCATs, they have a few AIMTESTs where almost 5000 students appear). I was happy to see an AIR of 7 in QA/DI section but had a percentile in late 80s in VA/LR. The overall percentile was 99.6x. Soon the AIMCAT season started and I did well in the first one scoring a 99.6x again. The trend continued and I was consistently scoring well over 99.3 every time with scores ~99.6-99.7 in QA and early 90s in VA/LR. The highest score in the entire season that I got was 99.9 with an AIR of 17.
THE BAD PHASE
After the summer break my college resumed and it was placement season. Being among the top 3 in my batch, I started studying hard for my placements as well because I knew that in an exam where the best of the best compete, things can sometimes go wrong, so I had to have a plan B. But that year was not going good for me on that front. I couldn't get a PPO through my internship, could appear for only one company of my choice and got attacked by severe jaundice. I did appear for the interview but was rejected and had to come back home for the next 1-1.5 months. Most of the top firms I was aiming were all gone and my CAT preparation came to a halt plus I had to suffer a lot on the academic front.It was almost September end when I resumed college. I had to struggle really hard to make up in various subjects due to which once again my CAT preparation was relegated to the background. I had my mid terms somewhere around mid October and after they finished I came back home on 18th October since my CAT was scheduled on 25th October. Having lost track of my preparation, I started appearing for a few mocks to bring myself back to practice so that I could at least get a respectable score. Here, rather than focusing on complete mocks I appeared for sectional tests to strengthen my basics.
THE D-DAY - 25th October, 2012
I had an afternoon slot and had no pressure whatsoever except that I had to get a respectable score. I was feeling really sleepy that day. I went inside the centre and took my seat, which was beside a girl. She started talking to me about my preparation and then told me how she was under a lot of pressure because in spite of being from SRCC her LR scores had dipped to zero :P(I was like chalo isse to aage nikal hi jaunga). I was anyway more busy on concentrating on my paper.Before things could start smoothly, I faced a technical glitch( and I was like ki aaj kuch hi hoga, kismat hi kharaab hai).Luckily, things resumed and it started. The first few questions in QA were almost 6-8 liners and it took a lot of time to read them. I kept my cool but the lack of pace in solving questions was clearly visible due to irregularity in practice. QA was more important because that was the section which could take my score to greater heights. I had targeted ~25-26 questions but could complete only 22 and as soon as the section finished I got answers to those 3 questions on which I wasted like 10 minutes. I knew now that I had to make up for it in the verbal section. Fortunately I could solve all the LRs and surprisingly finished off the section with 2 minutes to spare(This never happened to me throughout the mock season), but I knew verbal is a bitch and can ditch anybody any day. So I ended up solving 22 questions in quant and 30 in verbal. I was sure of 21 correct in quant but was sure of only 9 LR problems in the other section.The wait for the results had started.
THE NORMAL ROUTINE
Life was back to normal. Those were the days when I was not very active on Pagalguy but came to know through discussions on CAT thread that my slot was the toughest in that year. Anyway, I got placed in a company which was more into developing software solutions for hedge funds. Though I wanted to enter an electronics firm, I ended up being in a software development role but it was fine to me because I would then be staying at home and would learn something in finance for which I wanted to do an MBA. My focus shifted back to academics, I worked really hard and surprisingly score my highest GPA in that semester. That was a big achievement for me because it was like winning a 100 metre race starting a couple of seconds late. Meanwhile, I got a job offer from Samsung, Korea after an interview which I gave long time back when at campus. It was again a great achievement because only 12 students across India were shortlisted for the interview and only 3 were given the final offer. The package was humongous but I rejected the offer because they wanted me to do an MS(for which they were paying) but I wanted to focus on CAT and MBA was on my radar. The wait for CAT results was excruciating, though I knew I wouldn't do well I still wanted a respectable score.
THE RESULT DAY - 9th January, 2013
The results were to be announced at 3 a.m. in the morning. I was sleeping when I saw that my father had got up to check the results. I clearly remember it was 4 a.m. when I got up and he told me that the site couldn't be reached due to heavy traffic. I got a call from one of my friends at 4:30 a.m. and I was sad to know that he in spite of being a brilliant student who used to score just like me(in fact his quant was better) had just managed a 97.9 in CAT. I knew that my score would be lower than that as I had attempted lesser than him in quant and overall as well. I tried not to look at the computer screen and went off to sleep again but the results were still at the back of my mind. 10 minutes later my father called me up and from his voice I could sense that I had done well. He told me that I had scored 99.74 and I asked him to recheck because I thought that was my quant score. But there it was
QA/DI - 159/225 : 99.27
VA/LR - 151/225 : 99.05
OA - 310/450 : 99.74
I punched my fist in the air. Finally I had something to cheer for and now I was eagerly waiting for the calls to come and my eyes were fixed on that goal, that ultimate goal - when I would walk through the hallowed campus of one of the IIMs preferably ABCL.
(Next part to follow soon)
I am pretty sure this is the 1st time me penning down things which cumulated to coming out with flying colours in CAT'14. It all started back in 2011, final year of graduation and me full of confidence and nothing to lose. Gave a glance at the quant formulas from a friend's TIME material. Told to myself, this stuff is too easy, if I get 20 correct out of 30 (old pattern) I am unstoppable. So naïve I was. With a score of 59.xx percentile, all my dreams came crashing down. Or so I felt at that point.
Fast forward to 2013, same patter same level of preparation (maybe a titchy but better). Only difference, confidence was gone, working in IT industry and having tasted the independent salaried man life has corrupted me to the core. With no expectations what so ever, I booked a date of Monday. Why you ask? Happy hours, to treat myself after exam for no particular reason. Result: 90.xx. You must be wondering HOW?? Same thought came to me, with no answer but only one certainty, the next one will be my last one, whether I make it or not is a different thing all together.
Now came 2014. June onwards the everyday schedule. Wake up 8 AM, reach office @ 9 AM. Listen to boss's abuse whole day long while solving some quant basics. Come home @7 PM. Start studying or giving mocks from 8 PM till 12 PM. Go to sleep and oops its 8 AM (You get the drift...don't u)
On the D-Day, 22nd Nov 2014 to be exact I just said one thing all day long (yes while solving those quant questions too), this is it you worthless piece of shit, make it count.
And make it count I did. 28th Dec, @ around 11 PM (site crashing and me shit scared) I logged in, closing my eyes with hands crossed praying (I am a hypocrite atheist). And then the result was in front of me...yes you bastard...you made it...
One thought and only one thought:
This....this part of my life is called happiness.....
PS: 2nd part coming soon.....
PSS: It might be a bit cheesy, but it's written from my heart...not to impress anyone
Link to part 2:
Ordinary Jay: Part 1 (Kuch toh baat hogi)
Now now now, this might seem like a typical run-of-the mill story; in many ways it is but in many ways it is not! Read on...
Circa 2013, December: In a regional engineering college in the quaint little town of Pune, a final year engineering boy decided that he was going to pursue an MBA. The boy talked to his parents who graciously gave him the freedom to pursue his dream. With this freedom and hope, the boy enrolled in TIME for their CAT training course in January 2014. This is my story and it is a story of HOPE!
I started attending classes regularly (which started in January 2014); managing classes with the final semester workload was not very taxing and I always had an aptitude for Maths and English.
In my mind, I was clear that I am going to first take care of my engineering before running after MBA exams. With this clarity in mind, I did not attempt mocks till May 2014 (which is when our final year exams end). Keep in mind that I used to attend the classes regularly and hence was always in practice.
*Flashback, Circa 2013, July: In a regional engineering college in the quaint little town of Pune, a final year engineering boy was one of the first students to get placed on-campus in one of the most sought after electronic jobs on-campus. As you must have guessed by now, yes that boy was me!
Current timeline, Circa 2014, May- July: Now that I was done with my engineering exams and had a job in-hand I decided that this attempt at CAT 2014 WILL NOT be my final attempt. I wanted to work before I go for an MBA. Again in my mind I was clear about this and hence I was going to go for CAT 2014 just as a warm-up. I took my parents into confidence and told them about my decision. Again they were gracious enough to accept my decision and told me to follow my heart! However, in spite of the warm-up scene, I used to attempt TIME AIMCATs religiously, hitting somewhere between 90-95 percentile. The scores were extremely fluctuating since I used to just get up and go for the exam. No Analysis, nothing. Sometime at the end of July, final year engineering results were declared by the University and I had topped the department.
Current timeline, Circa 2014, August: The on-campus company that I was placed in had started issuing joining letters to students in batches. I was not amongst the first few who got their joining in August 2014 in Pune. Now a weird thought started running through my mind. Just for the thrill of it, I decided that I want to go through the rigour of off-campus job hunt! I had heard of how difficult it is to get a job off-campus and I wanted to know my worth without my college tag. So with this thought in mind, I started sending my resume to Electronic companies in Pune. Yeah just like that. I used to get up everyday and start sending my resumes. That is it. Now I have to add here that I topped my department for 5 straight semesters, so I had that going for me; but off-campus application process is a STRUGGLE nonetheless, and I did STRUGGLE!
Current timeline, Circa 2014, September-October: I started getting interview calls from some of the electronic companies that I had applied to! Seeing those interview requests did make me happy and boosted my E-G-O :D! It feels good to know that you have some value outside your college when you are out on your own. I short-listed the companies that had called me and decided that the work done by 2 companies interested me. I went for the interviews of the 2 companies sometime in mid and late October.
Current timeline Circa 2014, November: Sometime in the second week of November, I got phone calls from both the companies telling me that I had cleared their interviews. Both the companies offered me a job in Pune starting December 2014 (both companies were paying me more and with better perks)! Suddenly in a span of 3 months, I went from 1 job offer to 3 job offers. The only twist was that the on-campus company had not yet given me a joining date. Anyway, since both the companies were giving me better perks and pay than the on-campus company, I accepted the better offer!
Current timeline, Circa 2014, CAT day, 22 November: As mentioned earlier CAT 2014 was going to be a warm-up. After the engineering results and in the off-campus application process, I had lost focus. I was giving AIMCATs but I was mostly disinterested while solving them. Scores had stagnated at around 90 percentile. Anyway, I went for the CAT 2014 keeping in mind that this was me testing the waters. While giving CAT , I remember that I was pleasantly surprised that I could attempt a LOT of questions; and by attempts I mean sure-shot attempts (as opposed to AIMCATs where I could solve very few questions with surety). At the end of the CAT, I had attempted around 85 questions is what the end test console showed up. As soon as CAT ended I went home and forgot about the test.
*Flashback, Circa 2014, September: On the advice of my best friend (who was neck deep in MBA stuff) I had also filled up the XAT form. In my friend's words, ''XAT is the motherlode when it comes to MBA tests'' and he spoke so highly about the test's English and Maths that I wanted to take a shot at XAT! I applied to XLRI's BM and HRM courses (although I was not interested in HR). I had also applied to SPJIMR due to its reputation of being a very good college.
Current timeline, Circa 2014, December: I joined my office (off-campus company). The office was good and the company was also very nice. Good people and good work environment. 1 week into my job and ironically the on-campus company gave a joining date! 2nd week of December! The catch was that I would have to shift to BANGALORE! Bloody hell, I was not moving to BANGALORE! There was the usual dilemna of whether I should move or whether I should not move;but in my heart I wanted to stay and work in Pune; my gut was screaming 'DON'T GO TO BANGALORE'. Anyway, I consulted my parents since the on-campus company has a "BRAND NAME" in "THE SOCIETY" as compared to my relatively "SMALL COMPANY" which "NOBODY" knows (these were the words of one of the perennial Sharma uncles)! My parents after listening to my reservations about going to Bangalore, once again graciously accepted my decision of working in a relatively small company in Pune. I can not thank my parents enough for accepting my choice and letting me follow my heart.
CAT 2014 results were declared on 27th December, 2014. We had a function at home and I did not check the result till 29th December. Anyway when I checked the result on 29th December I was pleasantly surprised to see a 98.9x with almost zero focussed preparation. My confidence in my aptitude was enhanced. Also I was happy because without focussed preparation I was better than 98.9 percent of the students; with proper preparation I can definitely go higher.
Current timeline, Circa 2015, January: XAT was held on the first Sunday as per convention. Having started work recently, I was in a much poor shape (practice wise) than I was when I had attempted CAT. I remember that the day before XAT, I had gone out for dinner and had come home late at night and had slept sometime around 3 in the morning. My best friend called me 10 times in the morning to wake me up and dragged me to the exam. I unwillingly trudged along with my friend for the exam and gave XAT. Returned home after the exam, and slept like a pig.
January was a cool month with nothing much happening, Sometime around the third week of January XAT results were declared. Again I did not know about the the result for about 2 days until my best friend (who was going through the rigours of interview) told me. I logged into the portal to check my result and got the shock of my life! XAT percentile 99.3x
Being naive that I was, I did not realise the implication of my XAT score.
Implication: XLRI (BM, HRM) and SPJIMR Finance (XAT based) calls
On seeing the calls I realised 'SHIT JUST GOT REAL!'
Part 2: Coming soon
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