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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.
This is going to be long so please bear with me.
They say life is what you make of it. But honestly, i didn't make my life; it was the circumstances that did it for me. Born in a middle class family in India, my fate was sealed to be an engineer from the prestigious IIT by my parents. They don't know what happens at IITs, they didn't know how one gets into an IIT, they only know that they want to see their kid there. Fair enough, every parent wants the best for his/her kids, but it's the duty of the kids to fulfill their parents' expectations.
I began my journey in a small town in Nainital. I was good at school. Scored around 80 odd percent till X grade. Parents thought their son is the next big thing. That's when thunder struck. My XII result was a disaster and my parents dream of seeing me at an IIT was shattered because JEE went equally bad. I sucked at physics. I managed to pass the exam because I was good at cramming. I always thought that maybe being in a small town I couldn't really get to learn well and blamed it as a reason for my poor performance along with a lot of other factors like family problems, girl stuff(actually it was the rejection that affected me) and many other reasons. So anyways, I decided to take a drop, moved to delhi and worked my ass off this one year, no disturbances, just studying, practically getting no sleep. I was getting good at chemistry, maths was always there, but physics still remained the same. Slowly and slowly IIT became a far-fetched thought and I realized I couldn't get there no matter how hard I try. I started aiming the tier 2 tier 3 colleges like DCE, NITs, BIT Mesra, etc. My focus was entirely on AIEEE. I was working like hell just to make it to these colleges but that's when thunder struck again.
CBSE decided to change the exam pattern and AIEEE became JEE Mains. The level of difficulty was same but the exam pattern was changed with weightage being given to XII scores. I was still optimistic and decided to study as hard as I could and tried to give my best. On the D-day, thunder struck again, when usually they gave around 10-12 calculus questions, they gave just 2. It was over for me. The moment I stepped out I realized I am done. I felt i was the biggest failure in the world. I got home and I cried. I cried the entire evening, the entire night.
I called my father the next day, and told him about it, his reply was why did you waste my money when you couldn't even study?
This was the final blow. I lost everything. I lost the emotions I had and I became a rock or that's what I think I am. I dropped the idea of being an engineer all together. I was passionate about computers since my school days so I choose BCA for my graduation. It wasn't what I dreamt, but it was close enough to what I aspired to be. I did get to learn what I wanted to and that's what I used to lift myself up from the situation I was in. I knew from my father's look he still regarded me as a failure but that didn't bother me anymore, I rarely spoke to him, matter of fact, I didn't speak to anyone, I kept to myself and my studies. Time passed, I realized this isn't where I belong. I was good at what I did, but I realized I couldn't be creative in this field, I could only use what I learned and I cannot make something innovative out of it.
So gradually my focus shifted to CAT. Yes, you must think I am stupid, to go chasing after another bird in the bush knowing very well what happened the first time I did it. The thought for CAT came around my second year of graduation but that is what it remained- a thought.
It took me a lot of courage to start gearing up for another failure but I devoted every minute to convince myself I won't fail, not this time. Finally at the beginning of my 2015, I started studying for CAT. But I still lacked seriousness. I was doing it but was not completely into it. The one thing I stuck to was no coaching. I did not join any coaching institutes and worked on my own as much as I could. Towards June end, the seriousness came, and I became a maniac, with sleeping hours back to the JEE days, even harsher, I remember days when I only slept for 2 hours.
It was going good. Or so I thought, I had nothing to gauze how I'm doing or where I need to improve, what my strengths are, I was just aimlessly solving questions. August came, I told my father I'm planning to appear for CAT. He said, "1 lakh to barbaad ker hi diye, 2000 aur sahi". I was pissed off again, I filled my CAT form, dropped the idea of appearing for NMAT, IIFT, SNAP,etc. It was CAT or nothing. My preparations got even harsher, I was solving quant questions sitting in my college classroom while students made notes, I solved RC's during lectures.
Placements season began; the first company to show up was Wipro. I sat for the interview. And guess what, I cracked the interview. It was not what I wanted to do, but it was the best thing that had happened to me in these three years. Focus was soon back to CAT in a few days. The three months before CAT passed in a jiffy. I don't recall what I did, how I did, during these three months. I remember the last week pretty vividly, I had my semester exam beginning from 23rd November, I had studied nothing during the entire semester. I gave these exams on a nights preparation and simultaneously used to revise my quant formulas daily.
The day came, attempted around 26 in VA, 12 in DI/LR, and 16 in QA. I knew I could have done a lot better in quant because there were many questions where I knew the method, but I wasted time in solving the questions by serial number and thus my quant was screwed.
Flash forward to result day, 9:00, actually backing up a little, because December was the time I was introduced to pagalguy and I soon became a frequent visitor. I was continuously checking pagalguy for CAT results. On the result day, I got up at 9:00 and first thing I did was visit pg, and boom I saw posts flooded with CAT results. I immediately went to the site to check mine.
It was VA:- 48.14(81.87) DILR:- 37.66(91.82) QA:- 36.95(86.89) Overall:- 89.78.
I don't know what my father thinks; I still don't talk to him. I applied to a few colleges and have converted calls from all the three colleges i gave the interviews for i.e. TAPMI, LIBA and NIRMA.
I don't know what I am going to do but lesson I learned was never lose faith in yourself. Also your life is determined to a certain extent by others but there will come a time when you will be in complete control of your life. Grab it and make the best of it. Cheers.
Journey from 62.87 to 99.93--> Its all about the journey not the outcome!! Part 1: As i write this,a lot of thoughts ,moments come to my mind. I will try my best to pen down my story of lot and lot of failures,emotions and the will to make it big someday. Bare with me for my writing skills and this is going to be a long one as the things i have been through in these four years of CAT journey is very difficult to express.I hope this motivates others to keep going despite the shortcomings because at the end its all about your dream and how far you can go to achieve it. P. S :- I haven't converted any call in these 4 years and yesterday I had a IIFT reject again (3rd time in row) but i know my time will come as hard work always pays off. Just a brief description of my life before my tryst with CAT began. Grew up in a small town Siliguri and having scored well in my board exams my parents decided that i should move to pune to pursue my +2.There I started enjoying the lifestyle of city with nightouts ,trips becoming a daily affair . Gave AIEEE lost my track and got a rank of around 6 lakh in AIEEE with a negative score. At the moment i realized i have lost 2 most important years of my life and decided to take a drop and go to KOTA . I studied with full effort but 9 months were too less for me to get a decent rank in JEE and AIEEE. I got admitted in a decent college but not so good branch through WBJEE . Since then the idea though doing PG from a elite college grew. During my 5th semester , i decided to write CAT in the hope to do well and get into a good college .I had a group of 5 and all of us had this dream of getting into a good B-School. So we joined career launcher and started attending regular classes. I used to find aptitude very difficult and used to take a lot of time solving questions .Bu t as time passed i felt i was improving on various fronts. I had never been an avid reader and so i never had command over VA. Word power made easy gave me some confidence. Started giving mocks and my %ile range used to be 93-97 and the confidence grew and i felt i could perform well in CAT'12. CAT'12: It was 29th October,2012 .The exam used to be of 140 minutes with two sections QA/DI and VA/LR . I gave my best and was hoping i would get around 95-97. When the results came i had scored just 47%ile in QA DI with an overall %ile of 62.87 . That day i cried like anything and was in a state of shock for almost a week. I felt very low and started doubting myself on why did I even prepare for Cat. It still haunts me when i remember those days.All my friends scored in the range of 94-98 % ile but none of them could convert and then we all decided to give another shot. I got Placed in Capgemini Mumbai and that was the next stop for me after my engineering. . So I went to Mumbai in June'13 and the only thing on my mind was the dream of a top notch B-school. Part 2 on the way !!
This is going to be a long story and writing it in one go, straight from the heart. Yes, like the good old AIWSAC stories, mine is full of hopes, dreams,a lot of failures, heartbreaks, grit, determination and finally the full stop.
2006-07: The beginning
My CAT story began during the second year of college in Oct, 2006. I was pursuing a commerce degree from a prestigious college of Delhi University. Not keen on pursuing CA, I enrolled with Career Launcher in their one year program. Being a non-engineer student brought up in a non-convent school, I was average in all the sections barring the critical reasoning part. I regularly attended the classes - sometimes, even skipping the college classes - and was confident that with hard work I would be able to get coveted calls from IIMs (mistake no.1 - unrealistic optimism). My GF also started to prepare for CAT, and we started discussing our goals and strategies. Somehow with her into the CAT thing, I started feeling a bit of pressure on my head. I felt more so because even after six months of preparation, my performance chart was not showing much signs of improvement. I started focusing more on CAT after getting into the final year. I felt frustrated with little signs of improvement in my scores and lost track a bit after a few dismal performances in mock tests. As the d-day came closer, I pushed hard. Finally crossed the 90%le mark on my last mock test and felt good about it. On the d-day my GF called and she sounded nervous. The nervousness and uncertainty transcended into me as well. CAT used to be paper based back then and had 75 questions - 25 each in quant, english and reasoning. The target was 10 correct in each section. I started with quant and was able to solve only 2 questions in first 30 minutes. I knew the game was over, and that I would be re-taking CAT in 2008. In the next half an hour solved 10-12 questions in reasoning and then shifted to english. Did another 10-12 questions and moved back to quant. In the end managed 9 correct in reasoning, 7 in english and 5 in quant. The game was over for CAT 2007. Managed some 90 odd percentile only
2008-09: The worst two years
2008 for me began with the global recession. I was confident of getting into Delhi School of Economic's MIB program (it had some reputation back then). I was also confident that one of the symbiosis colleges would take me. Hence, I rejected a job opportunity from Google adwords (there were no start ups and e-commerce companies back then) at the dawn of my college. It was not a high paying job, but still the brand mattered and for a commerce graduate, it would have been a decent start. They wanted a 3 year 5 lakh bond, and it was too much for me as I expected to pursue MBA in a few months time (mistake no.2- a bird in hand is better than any number in bush). To my shock I did not get through any of the MBA colleges. Even colleges such as BIMTECH noida and SIIB rejected me after interviews. A topper through out school and college, I had no job or direction after the last exam of my under-graduation. Meanwhile, my GF who was the person I looked upto since school days joined Amity much against my wishes and her caliber. Things became difficult between us and we had a break up (mistake no.3). I struggled through out without a job, enrolled myself into a post grad diploma in finance and simultaneously prepared for CAT. A family tragedy in the end ensured that I was unable to give CAT.
By the end of 2008, I had a few job offers but the joining in each case got delayed. My ex-GF returned in my life as a friend and things became smooth again in life. I started a venture of my own and after 3-4 months I had to close it down for want of resources. Exactly one year after my graduation in June 2009, I was at the same position. No job, no signs of IIM calls - the only source of support were my parents and ex-GF. I was so frustrated in life that I left my hometown and went to Mumbai for a while. This led to some issues at home and with my ex-GF as well. Our families met and discussed my situation. I returned from Bombay after a few weeks, and started again. My ex-GF was told by her parent to stay away from me and she complied. It kinda broke me from inside and that was the time I joined Pagalguy - October 2009. I made a lot of friends, became active on the Delhi-NCR meet scene. There was one thread specifically - Pursuit of Happiness - where was very active. In mean time one of the members informed me about off campus interviews at research arm of a consulting firm. I prepared and cleared rigorous rounds of guesstimate interviews. So practically after 18 months of my graduation, I got my first job. It was important to get a job as once during a PG meet - an experienced puy told me that "CAT tabhi theek hoga, jab personal life stable hogi". Skipped CAT in 2009 as well, but this time voluntarily
2010-2011: The years of exposure err wandering
I joined the firm in March 2010, and as it is while working with most business research firms - was engrossed throughout the year in work, deliverables and deadlines. Missed CAT again. Probably, that was the year I realised that CAT was not meant for me. After getting frustrated with corporate drudgery, I resigned on April 03, 2011 - a day after India won the 2011 WC. Luckily, within next 2 weeks I received a fellowship from a Policy Think Tank which required me to work with a Member of Parliament. Thereon began an unthinkable journey into politics, policy making, development process, and what not. After the fellowship concluded, I was offered an opportunity to lead the policy and parliament vertical of an MP's office. I accepted it. I also tried to connect with my ex-GF but failed again.
2012-2014: Hit the road running
By the end of 2011, I was sure that I wanted a career in public policy. I had started to influence the policy making and implementation process, began to understand the political scenario, and a masters in public policy seemed the logical next step. Wrote GRE, applied to LSE and Colombia MPA programmes, got through both in early 2014 backed by solid profile, letters of recommendations and essays.
At the same time, I got an opportunity to work for one of biggest energy firms in India where I began handling their policy, corporate affairs and legislation work. I deferred my MPA offers. The experience completely changed my perspective towards industry. In Feb 2014, I ran into my ex-GF in a market but I could not speak a word. My mom called her but nothing worked out.
I was working with the top management of the firm and on multiple occasions felt handicapped in absence of financial and operational skills. While I was doing fine in my responsibilities, the next what question kept pestering me. Finally, in July I started preparing for GMAT. It was difficult in the beginning, My office is 1.5 hours one-way drive from home, and working closely with top management meant long hours including on weekends. I had targeted October, but because of the work.. I could only give GMAT in December. I had prepared well and was getting 740 on the official mocks.. so I knew that 720+ was definitely on. GMAT is a comparatively predictable exam and on the day I scored 720. While, I knew I had messed up the verbal section and could have score more but I was largely satisfied. I wanted to stay in India - so ISB was my first preference. My experience of writing essays for MPA applications helped. My essays came out good and I was confident of getting an interview call, which I eventually got. Interview went without much fuss - unlike the MBA interviews I had given 5-6 years back. Finally, in March 2016 I was offered admission by Indian School of Business and I have accepted it.
The reason I wrote more about my initial years than my last few years is that I wanted to tell people who are going through tough times right now that it gets difficult for everyone. There was a time when I was unemployed, lost my GF (who was also my best friend since we were 7!), failed in business - lost complete self confidence, I have probably seen things which I should not have. My family also went through a lot - but at no point did they stop supporting me. My father suffered a paralytic attack and was on bed for 6 months, my younger brother dropped an year after class 12th, and have seen multiple personal set backs- but ultimately you just have to keep calm and carry on. I was lucky to get certain opportunities but I really burnt midnight oil at every given opportunity and pushed the performance to the next level. If it were not ISB, I would have certainly applied to top 10-15 colleges in US next year and gotten through a few there as well - but even if I would not have been in this position today.. I would have still continued to try. Persistence is all what counts in the end.
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
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