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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
I have started writing the Part 2 of my journey. Till then this is one of answers in Quora about my CAT journey.
The most crucial lesson that I have learnt is to keep moving in spite of a lot and lot of failures. Failures are very important to help you succeed. Treat it as motivation to do better and you will go places.
Whole of my life I had been a failure.
1. AIEEE 2008--> I got a score of -1. My all India rank was around 660000.
2. IIT-JEE 2008 --> Single Digit Score.
After this debacle, I still had the audacity to take an year drop and prepare for the upcoming year.
3.AIEEE 2009--> Rank of around 100000. A lot of improvement though.
4. IIT-JEE 2009-> Didnt qualify. I don't exactly remember my score.
5. WBJEE 2009--> Rank of around 13000 . Took admission in a not so good branch as this was my only resort.
During my engineering, I decided to write CAT as the urge to do something big in me was always there. Then I started preparing for CAT with putting in a lot of effort, as I had to make my parents proud of me someday, somewhere.
6. CAT 2012- Scored 62.87 %Ile. I cried a lot that day, was is depression for a month but then the hope that my time will come someday, pushed me to prepare again.
Initially, I thought of working for 2 years then, I would write CAT, but I wrote it includes between.
7. CAT 2013- Scored 85.xx %ile. Again felt very low, but then realized these failures has become a part and parcel of my life. So, I "Hoped" again!
8. CAT 2014- This year I studied very hard alongside my job. Left everything aside and the only focus was to bell the CAT.
The results came and I scored 94.73%ile. I had a few calls from good institutes, but could not convert to any of them. So this season again, I was a failure. I had quit my job in the hope that I would convert atleast one call ,but as fate has decided, I didnt.
It was June 2015 .I was jobless, a big failure with no hope what to do next. I was unable to sleep for a month. I used to be awake and go for a walk at 5 in the morning, when sun rose; finding ways to overcome this difficult phase.
My father then gave me a push saying, "Beta, tumko kya tension hai, humlog hai na.Kuch sochlenge. Give one last try, we have faith in you. (Son, why are you worrying, we are with you. Well will think on it. Give one last try, we have faith in you.)"
That day I left all my failures behind and started studying again day and night. I didn't think about the results. I just had the thought that I have to give my 100%. That's it.
CAT 2015- It was 8th Jan, 2016 when the results were out. I told my father that the results were out and I don't have the courage to see it, this time. My dad said, "Dont worry. Jo hoga acha hoga (Don't worry. Everything will be fine.)"
I opened my results and turned the desktop towards him praying.
He started crying and I asked what happened . He told "Beta, 99.93 (Son, 99.93)".
He didn't say a word and hugged me like a child. My mother too started shedding tears of happiness, telling us to stop crying. My father then took us to temple and we all prayed to say thanks to give us that moment .
That moment took away all my failures and finally instilled in me the confidence that "If you keep trying, you will succeed, no matter what comes your way".
Failures makes us. IIt is important to fail because that makes winning all the more sweet.
P.S :- There are a lot of things that happened in between all these which I cannot pen down right now because tears have already started pouring out of my eyes.
Edit : Thanks a lot for the response
After the Cat results, when the shortlist of IIMs started coming I didnt even get a call from the 1st 4 IIMs that i checked.!Yes IIM-A,IIM-B,IIM-I,IIM-S didnt even call me because of my past . I felt a bit dejected but then I got a call from my dream institute-IIM-C which was more than enough for me.I have calls from IIM-K , IIM-L and FMS. I am done with all my interview but one and the results are awaited. I will update as soon as i get the good news
Edit 2 : It was 15th April around 5 when i got a call from my friend that the results of IIM C is out . I was Riding my bike and stopped in between a busy road.I started shivering and opened the site on my cell. It took me 10-15 mins to enter the correct ID as i was numb at that moment . A lot of scenes of my past were going in my mind and i was just praying and praying. Somehow the tab opened and i closed my eyes. After a lot of self convincing I saw the Screen and the 1st thing that i saw was "Confirmed" and the feeling !!Tears of Happiness started pouring again and God I had made it . I thought to give the good news to my parents personally as I wanted to see their proud face , the moment of their Life . I reached home and touched their feet and hugged them and told " We have done it,I am going to IIM C". I cannot describe what happened next as those are the moments that we live for :)Their eyes said it all
So there is always light at end of the tunnel, we just need to keep moving with full of our efforts !!Never Lose Hope, Never !!
With all your wishes and support I have finally converted my dream college --> IIM CALCUTTA
Take 1 (Continued): There were 4 of us in college who had scored 99+ (with one guy getting 99.90 who finally converted A). In the initial few days, I felt like a champ in college with the congratulatory messages and all but was also a bit sad at many of my close friends who also had studied hard but fell in the frustrating range of 96 or 97's. However a bigger shock awaited me in the coming days. A's result came out the next day and I missed the cut-off by 0.0078 points (can you freaking believe it L) It was like leaving a question which I had marked wrong in either sections and I could have got a call (damn!). Bangalore was next and I was not confident of this anyways and it was a reject. The last hope was Calcutta and the message, 'Sorry you have not been shortlisted for the interviews' dashed all hopes.
One after the other the rejections came and it was so hard at that time. A year's worth of diligent study, a percentile of 99.38 and the end result no call from IIM ABCLK. A few days were spent getting over the agony and cursing the selection criteria of the IIM's. But I made up my mind to give CAT again next year. I thought that if I could manage the same percentile with an year's work ex thrown in I should be able to manage calls from ABC. With this mind set I focused on converting all my calls (so that the GD-PI experience this year could help me prepare better for ABC next year if I bagged a call). I had good calls, prepared well for the GD-PI and was able to convert the majority of them.
2012 Converts: XLRI (BM), IIM A (ABM) IIM L (ABM), IIM I, IIM S and MDI with rejects from FMS, IIFT and New IIM's.
I know a sane individual at this stage would have chosen to go for MBA at XLRI (in fact two more people who converted XLRI from my college joined it) but I aspired for more and I knew I had that potential in me to go for ABC (after all an MBA is the biggest investment you make in your academic life and possibly a tag that stays with you through the rest of your life). I also knew that if I failed next year, I might waste two years of effort but I was nevertheless willing to take that leap of faith.
Hence taking a huge risk I decided not to go for an MBA and try again. People labeled me as reckless, foolish, arrogant and gave me 'you are doing a serious mistake' kind of looks but I ignored all of it. In fact it made the desire ever more stronger to convert ABC and prove these naysayers wrong. The only people who encouraged my decision were the ones who knew me well enough and were confident of my abilities like my family and close friends. Thus began a new chapter in my life not that of an MBA but of the corporate world.
ps. Take 2 coming soon!
so here we go on my CAT Journey. Straight up right me tell you that it is going
to be a super long post and I will break it up into parts (with good endings to
keep the curiosity alive :p). The journey has been exciting, frustrating,
depressing, long and arduous but in the end (which I like to believe)
successful and heart warming.
So in total I have given CAT 4 times! (yeah you read that right). I tasted blood in the first time itself with a decent but not IIM ABC worthy percentile of 99.38 got bashed and bruised in the next, got frustratingly close on the third and finally was able to rise from the ashes and deliver a final punch to CAT at 99.64. Read on for a detailed take at each of my attempts.
Take 1: The rookies with bell-the-CAT stars in my eyes phase
This is Dec 2011, I was pursuing BBS from SSCBS in graduation and as is the general norm for students to give CAT in the final year I also decided to bite the CAT bug. Having been a diligent student right from school I realized that I needed to prepare for a significantly longer amount of time to get on par with the general CAT takers (aka the engineers who ace the CAT each time :p) I visited a few coaching institutes and zeroed in on the 1 Year CAT Intensive Prep at Career Launcher.
The initial preparation and diagnostic test made me realize that I would be able to handle Verbal (and in fact was confident of the section) but the pain point would be quant and I would need to spend a significant amount of time building my base and being able to ace this section eventually.
I regularly attended all the classroom sessions, did MBA on demand prior to class. Post the classes, used to solve all the work sheets again and get my doubts clarified. I also used to regularly give sectional tests through Test Gym (at that time we had the classic version and adaptive one was not yet out). I remember an instance during one of the classes when everyone was hauled up for not having started with Test Gym when I had finished 40% of it! Had started my classes in January and in 4 months was able to build a strong base (or so I felt that time). Once the mock seasons begun in May 2012, little did I realize where I stood and how much I still had to perspire. My first mock was disastrous. The paper pattern at that time used to be 70 min QA+DI for 30 qs and 70 min VA+LR for 30 qs. The first mock scores are still etched in my memory somehow (probably because they shocked and unsettled me so much). I had got a paltry 14 in first section (with percentile in 70s) and 36 in section 2 (with percentile in late 80s). Overall was bad at late 70s. The first mock was an eye opener and made me realize the importance of solving questions only in a time controlled environment.
I did a detailed analysis of the mock and realized the grave errors, silly mistakes and panic based responses which I had done. As the mock journey continued the progress was bumpy in the initial few mocks but slowly it picked pace. Extensively analyzing mocks, keeping a log for important concepts from mock questions, silly errors, new concepts etc. ensured that the chances of repeating the same mistake/ getting stuck on questions of a similar concept were greatly minimized. I used to attempt all the proctored mocks at the center itself and go for the mock analysis classes. Discussion with the faculty on the mock, their analysis and attempt strategy also greatly helped me fine tune and work on my strategy continuously. In the starting few mocks I also mixed up the order of attempt of the sections. This helped me formulate a strategy which suited me the best and then capitalize on it and adapt it to my advantage.
By Jul-August I had finished off all the course material and was putting quite a lot of focus on improving and improving in mocks. My percentile was showing a decent rise from late 70s to 80s and then early 90s giving heart to me that whatever I was doing was showing efforts. Continuing the steep climb once you have hit 94 or 95 percentile was quite challenging and it is here that you need to bring in your A game and think of every possible strategy to get that extra question right or stay away from the temptation of attempting another one which you are not sure of. With decent efforts, by Sep-Oct I was hitting the 97 percentile phase (with a few hiccups) which made me much more confident and assured. I also freezed my attempt strategy and stuck to it diligently.
With CAT, semester exams, placement season drawing closer it was imperative that I kept my focus and did not lose the way when the journey was in the final lap. I had my CAT on 29th October and the first phase of the placement season was in October second week. I knew I had to get an offer in the first phase itself (which comprised of the top 4 companies), else the added stress of not having been placed on the CAT day might hamper my efforts. Luckily and with a bit of preparation I got placed in the third company. With relief of a heavy burden being lifted off the shoulders and having a good enough backup, I decided to fire up on all cylinders and give it my best at CAT with 10 days to go. I planned to just revise all concepts, past mocks and attempt a mock or two in these days. Also since CAT had begun on 12th Oct (gosh you were the ancient types who still had slots!) I tried to get a general idea of the difficulty level of the slots. At the same time I tried not to overly track or be boggled by my friends who had attempted CAT to avoid building a pre-conceived notion of CAT.
I was in my peak phase of preparation and hence was confident that I would be able to do well. As the D-day arrived I was a bit nervous but excited as to how I might perform at the national level. Had calmed my mind that the current job offer was there and there was no need to panic and just give my best. I found the quant and DI section to be challenging but was able to attempt a decent number. Post that was able to handle Verbal well too. After coming out from the test room a general sense of relief was there and a happy feeling that I had done well. (Argh the long 2 month wait now, can't they speed up the result process!)
Finally in the cold wintery nights of January, I was woken up around 3AM on the night of 13th by my brother and then a friend that the results were out. With heart pounding at the maximum level and truck load of butterflies in stomach I logged in and gave a pleasant shout of joy and relief (waking up my parents in the process). I had managed to bag a cool 99.38 percentile with 98.17 in quant and 98.80 in Verbal (pretty balanced :D). I pump fisted myself and did a joyful jig. With good scores at the school and college level I was hopeful of bagging all IIM Calls and happy that my CAT journey would happily end in the first attempt itself. Little did I know what fate had in store for me.
Hardwork always pays off !!
My season is officially over now with 2 converts out of 3 calls. 66.66% conversion rate, i would take that at this moment although wanted 100%. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me.
So this is how my story goes and i would like to emphasize on my mistakes in this endevour in a belief that some would find some sort of resonance and would help them to take correct decision.
I have had 2 shots at CAT. Scored 91 percentile in CAT - 2014 without any preparation. Absolutely no preparation, no mocks, just went there on one sunday morning and attempted. So i was happy with that score and i thought if i prepare well i would definitely hit that magical 99+ score and get into marquee B schools. To supplement that i even thought i should quit my job and have a focussed 4-5 months preparation. That was my first mistake. I would not recommend anyone to quit their job just for the sake of focussed preparation. But ya, i already did quit my job and i had good 5 months left..(thanks to CAT getting postponed to Nov 29)..i had already joined a coaching institute by that time. I had a good grasp on QA and LRDI, but wasn't as good in VA. I devoted fair time to VA, but was not getting the correct results in Mocks..that was my second mistake..there is only one way to improve VA and that is by reading books (read and read & read). By the time CAT was approaching nearer, i was getting consistent in my mocks and was in 97-99 percentile range in AIMCATs. I was pretty confident that i will get similar or better result in CAT-15. Third mistake. When the results came out, i was shocked. I scored 89.77 percentile. So that is why do not quit your job because CAT is very unpredictable and one bad day or session or one section (VA was my downfall) is all it takes to make your life miserable. That was exactly how i felt. Those 2-3 days after the result were really demotivating and demoralizing and i was in very different state of mind as if what to do next. Search for a job, give it one more shot and all those things coming to mind. But ya, i still had one call at that time and it was SP Jain Profile based call for Marketing and i had that interview in 2 weeks from that day. Luckily, i had just barely cleared their sectional cut-offs (70.2 percentile in VA). I got over quickly from that miserable phase and geared up for SPJain's process. It went well, but i could not make out if i will get through or not owing to my very low CAT score. After a week came XAT results and a sigh a relief. Got 98.3 there and subsequently 2 more calls. XLRI - HR and XIMB - BM (missed XLRI - BM by a whisker in VA). And on this day, i felt that hardwork never goes in vain. It indeed paid off in my case. And 4 days prior to my XL interview, SPJain results came and i was selected for Marketing. I was elated and again i felt that eventually your preparation and hardwork pays off. One more piece of advice, whenever you are shortlisted don't ever think that you have a lesser chance as you have got a low percentile, you have as good a chance as a 100 percentiler would, so give it your best. I also converted XIMB - BM and missed XL - HR. I am joining SPJain and excited for this new beginning. All the best to you :)
Wrote CAT, Messed it up thrice. Got through SP with XAT.
- Chasing verbal prep pays off brilliantly.
- Quant skills. Either you have it or burn yourself long enough to hit 98-99. 99.7+ Quant scorers are usually untrained brilliance.
- Mocks are a reflection of what you can achieve when every other variable is perfect.
- College brand & marks matter.
- Interviews are like arranged marriages. You really can't pinpoint what worked. The same set of question and answers works for one, not for other.
- Coaching classes for CAT is a best example of casual correlation error. Just because everyone does it, you should not.
- Never assume during prep that XYZ question was too hard, it won't come in CAT. It will come and will hurt like a m*****f*****r.
- If you have a friend who irritates you with his/her "brilliant" mock scores, please avoid that person. For life.
- Your profile. Please work on it. It is your trump card.
Almost an year has passed since the time I got into an MBA college and a lot of participants here on PG have asked me about my CAT experiences. I just wanted to let all my friends here(who encouraged me to pen down my AIWTSAC article)know that it would still take me some time to complete it and that it is going to be a long post indeed(probably because it took me a long time to reach where I am today). I request all those interested to please bear with me for some more time. Thank You all for motivating me to pen down my thoughts and I too am eagerly looking forward to post my article on this sacred thread.
The End of 'B'eginning
The year was 2010. Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi. I was contemplating what just happened in that dreaded interview room. I guess the interview was in a way over the moment I answered the first cliché question on 'Why MBA'? I was hardly disappointed when the results came in early April. Infact, I was relieved that I wasn't selected for admission to the PGP course at IIMB. The point was I had no intention of doing an MBA. At least then. I was lucky enough that the first time online aptitude based exam got me the coveted B call which I never even expected lest prepared.
Fast forward 4 years. January 2014. I punch my fist in the air with joy. This was the one. This was the only one. What made it heartfelt was the fact that with my CAT percentile I felt I might not be able to get the coveted call. I checked the interview date. I had exactly 30 days to prepare for the interview. In the meantime, I was getting calls from my friends to make arrangements for the Goa trip we planned next week. The situation was changed now. As usual, the trip was put on a hold.
I prepared like I had never done before. Irrespective of my Reliance boss breathing down my neck, I put in at least 6 hours everyday. The Economist, Mint and Frontline had become my favorite toys for the month. I could see only onetarget. Target-IIMB.
Why did I want it so bad? The reasons - For a person brought up in Siliguri, working his ass off in Nagothane for the past four years, Bangalore was something sort of a welcome change. Friends and cousins, weather and beer. The city had it all. And of course the 2010 failed attempt!! Fortunately, sanity prevailed and I substituted my personal reasons with balanced answers in my SOP and interview.
April 11, 2014. The day God smiled. Perhaps, the only other date I remember apart from my birthday. I hug my office colleague, the senior who supported me so much. I had just checked the results and was offered admission into one of the sought after courses in one of the best B Schools in Asia. Remembering the moment still gives me a mix of joy and sadness - the fact that I celebrated the moment with my friend, philosopher and guide, and the fact that he passed away later that year.
Enter IIMB. After a tiresome first week, trying to get a sense and control of your life now came the time of club selections. I knew about all the clubs at IIMB since a year - I had practically read up anything and everything that was available on the website well before I got into B. Errors in judgement coupled with some narrow misses, and I didn't get into any clubs. And though it did not affect me for long -here is the first gyan - you can miss anything here, get very poor scores, etc. - and it won't matter one bit. The fact is for most things you become wiser only after. And getting advice from anyone and everyone is of no use. Because the correct advice can only come from a person who understands you very well and is a pro in that domain.
With a sense of struggle, I pursued two things which I knew best - academics and volleyball. Luckily, my active class participation (no DCP, eh) and the initial results boosted my morale and gave me a lot of confidence. On this, I laid the foundation of my journey at B.
You can only realize the importance of being idle only after coming to IIMs. The point is, there is hardly any free moment you get here during the initial few months. However, even though we work hard, we party much harder. I can still remember the birthday bashings in L-square, the New Year get-togethers, the section parties and the list goes on.
But the best part of the first year, was the peers I met and the wonderful friends I made. I can probably talk about them all day long.
Then came the summer internship and the brutal heat of Gurgaon made me cherish the cool winds of campus even more. The high of coming back to this place and with the best friends living next door, second year was even better. And term 4 was crazy as well - when almost every third day I slept only after breakfast.
The only time when I did not miss B so much was during the exchange term at Copenhagen. One hell of an experience it was and can be made into another story. More on that for later.
What I am taking away from two years at this place? Some memories to cherish for a lifetime! I will miss banging the door of my friends for every little thing and sometimes for no reason whatsoever. I will miss getting dirt on my volleyball jersey. I will miss going to Park-n-Eat and Night Canteen and having random 'bakar' with friends. I will miss the small talk withfellow mates. I will miss sitting in a class. And yes, I will miss my Hogwarts - the B campus.
The last term - months, weeks and now it has come down to days. The inevitable is coming. My 'Winter is coming'. And this is what I want to push away - the day we go our separate ways. How I wish I could add a month to this last term. Because life may never be the same again!
P.S.: There are so many people that have helped me and without them, the incredible IIMB journey would not have been possible. Thank you so much everyone! And special thanks Suryaansh Makked for your editing help.
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