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  • How a clueless girl stepped up and made it to an IIM

    I’m a General, non-engineer, female. I’m skeptical whether my story can inspire anyone, but it surely has been one hell of a ride (that ended up in helL ) for me, so thought of penning it down just for records. 😃

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    I did not score a great percentile in CAT, getting into an IIM may be a wish but was never a realistic dream for me.

    I had below average academic record, no formal work experience, absolutely no extracurricular activity after school, in fact, I had no idea what am I going to do with my life after college gets over! I was studying (was I?) Biotechnology and was enjoying my life to the fullest. Every one of my class had made plans of career in final year but I was still clueless. There were two prominent choices, Msc or MBA. I wrote competitive exams of both, the CBEE (Combined Biotech Entrance Exam) and CAT. I was not much concerned about why should I go for either of them. I didn’t qualify the CBEE and scored 55 percentile in CAT ’11.

    My friends started advising me; CAT is not for people like us to crack. It’s cracked by engineers, IITians and all big shots who have excellent mathematical skills and extraordinary brain. I found some weight in this and gave up the thought for a while and continued having fun during final days of college. In every small or big exam I have done last minute study, by borrowing notes from here and there and somehow scored average marks.

    After packing my bags from college, on my way to home, my brother asked me €œWhat’s the plan? €? and I was silent. He continued, either you can go for Msc or you can go to IIM for MBA. (Are you kidding me?!). I reached home and found CAT study material waiting for me!

    Anyhow, I started focusing on CAT as it seemed the only choice. I studied diligently, day and night, for coming 4-5 months. Finished syllabus in 2 months, then took a CL mock only to realize that I could hardly solve 4-5 questions in maths and hit 15-16 wrong in verbal. That was a sinking feeling. I started getting depressed and sleepless nights. It was September and I stood nowhere. With just 1 mock, everything seemed to have ended. Words of my friends were echoing in my ears and expectations of family flashing in eyes. I deactivated fb, blocked my boyfriend’s no. from phone without telling him (he was a big distraction in my path, I’m yet to meet a guy who can encourage a girl for higher studies rather than putting easy choices in front of her), cut-off from all sorts of friends and focused only and only on CAT’12. It was no less than a battle of life for me where almost everything was on stake including my life. (I had no plan B if I could not crack CAT).

    Results: 68%ile in CAT, 48%ile in XAT and similar performance in other exams too.


    With each failure I was getting more and more triggered. Surprisingly, the results could no longer depress me or falter my determination to make it to a top B school. Instead I evolved more and more with each failure and faced them all with a tough smile on my face. By then, I knew why I needed MBA to fulfill my dreams and nothing could change my direction now. I was getting crazy and passionate for this MBA and IIM dream now!

    This change in attitude toward my goals in life, in 1 year, was itself an accomplishment. I felt proud on myself that I’m able to- at least- think about my life and take my own decisions.

    I started working for a startup- which later on induced the entrepreneurship keeda inside me too- and prepared parallel for CAT ’13. I forcefully made reading as my habit and apart from news (which I already used to read), I made myself read good novels and editorials of Hindu and ET on a daily basis. Among online sources, livemint is my favorite. I have come to know so many diverse and awesome things about life through Philosophy passages in RC. Gradually, reading became my hobby.

    Mostly, I used to read Hindu with my dictionary on and a notebook beside to write down new words. In my initial days I didn’t even know words like ‘haste’ and ‘conviction’ (now I laugh at myself). My big fat notebook was slowly getting filled and my vocab stronger (at least for CAT level). For quant, I tried a lot focusing on my weak areas but as exams approached, I focused only on my strong areas, practiced them and forgot about everything else. I knew basics about every topic but never cared to know what a ‘chinese remainder theorem’ or a ‘wilson’s theorem’ is. (Though, heard these names in quant thread a lot). I emphasized on DI, TnD, Profit and Loss, percentage, average and only basics of PnC, probability and other dirty maths.

    Even this much was very difficult for me. I could never get my name in CL’s toppers’ list. But I kept on practicing, analyzing and practicing.

    Exam season:

    CAT, IIFT, SNAP, TISS, XAT

    93.28 %ile in CAT, 50.66 marks in IIFT, 96.78%ile in XAT(Couldn’t clear Quant cut-off)

    Calls from IIFT, IMT-Ghaziabad, IMI delhi, IIM Lucknow ABM


    GD/PI season:

    I considered IIFT as my best call; IIM L seemed too good to be true. How could I convert at such a low percentile with nothing special in my profile? I focused on IIFT, it became my dream college. I read all business news, made notes, learnt facts and figures related with Indian Economy, practiced answering all probable questions I could think of. I used to visit Zzeke’s post daily to see whether I’m anywhere near to his interview prep.

    Something was wrong on IIFT day, I got really very nervous after reaching there. Essay went ok, but I could hardly speak in GD and was given a chance in the end to conclude. PI was even more terrible. I knew I was not getting in there.

    I had IIFT reject (I didn’t even make it to waiting list) when I went for IIM L WAT/PI. My mind was abnormally relaxed and pretty chilled out as if I had nothing to fear. I was reading Geeta sitting outside the PI room waiting for my call. (I have it in my phone and I was on ‘karmayog’ chapter). I went inside. I was unable to answer most of the acad based questions thoroughly, but maintained my composure. Rest of the questions was politics and elections based and I answered all of them. I was explaining how presidential elections happen; they stopped me in middle and said ok, we’re done.

    Meanwhile, I got IMT Ghaziabad DCP which was the lone offer I got this season. My parents were not ready to send me to Dubai, but my brother was, and I was eagerly waiting for IMI result so that all this tension can be sorted out.

    Result came, and it was a straight reject.

    I cried, cried and cried for hours. Was it IMI that made me cry? No. It was disbelief, a loss of faith in my own capability. I had toiled for days and nights not taking care of my own health, and got nothing in return. I lost faith in my own hard work. After this, I promised myself I will never cry for these results. Every time I felt low, there was a voice coming from inside ‘I will not let you cry’. I felt tougher and stronger.

    One result was yet to go and odds were all against me. I couldn’t convert college like IMI, how could I even think of IIM L?

    One day (27th April, Sunday) I was strolling on pagalguy and read ‘ABM results out’. A result is a result. Heartbeats gone up, hoping for a miracle. I became the most optimistic person on this earth. Entered my CAT ID and email, pressed enter.

    It was a ‘Congratulation!’ message. I didn’t know how to react, I was silent 😐 . Told everyone in family, all were enthralled and excited. I had just one feeling in mind; finally, I got something. I just converted my best call and it came in a totally filmy way. Like ‘Chak de..’, last ball and one goal to win! 😲

    The girl who was clueless about her career after graduation, has just made it to one of the finest B schools in country. It’s not IIM that makes me happy, it’s the transformation in these 2 years that I feel good about. The state of mind and the emotions that I had that time would be belittled if I could arrange them in words. There is no way I can tell what it was like seeing the proud face of my Brother, Mom and Dad.

    All’s well that ends well. But if only this was the end. This is the beginning of something far more crazy and trying. I hope I make the best of this opportunity offered to me and come out as a bigger, better and brighter person in life.

    For those who don’t want to go through the whole story, the crux is-( actually the gyaan from my side )

    -Never take the judgments by other people about you seriously. No one can know you and your ambitions in life, better than yourself. Dream high, but also, keep judging yourself very seriously.

    -Hard work can make any damn thing on this earth possible. I have always heard this, but now I truly got the meaning. A hard worker can never be a loser.

    -The moment you stop thinking about results, the moment you become far more efficient in efforts. Keeping one eye on result leaves only one eye for the real work.

    -Last and the most important, never ever put everything on stake for this CAT, MBA or anything. Always have a plan B ready. This again makes you steady and more efficient. (Though I took a big risk by not doing so, I don’t advice this to anyone).

    Thanks a lot for spending your time reading this. Have a great life.

    [Note: This is a post on the user’s CAT journey that has been captured in her own words. We have not edited it in any way when publishing it as an article. Cover image is from http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up]

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