Finally, penning down my thoughts on this sacred thread. This post shall be big in terms of length, so tread with caution and read it when you have enough time and of course, a coffee is a must!
This post is dedicated to all those who dream and every fellow puy on PG I have met and has helped me reach where I am today. I am not boasting of my achievement through this post, but I want to share this because I have achieved something so big in life that even I hadn’t dreamt of. I just want to share the journey of accomplishment of my dream that I had set 4 years back, which came to actualization this year. I would like to thank everyone (puys and non-puys) who have helped me knowingly or unknowingly in my strife for success.
This post is about facing failures 3 times to achieve the greatest feat in the 4th attempt. The failures laid three huge stepping stones to which I completely owe my success. So, those who want to succeed without going through these failures may find the tips that I would share in this post helpful and those who are preparing for CAT for the 2nd or 3rd time may be able to relate themselves well to my story and also find answers to their questions like, “Where am I going wrong?”, “How do I improve”, etc. For those who are just looking for my preparation strategy can scroll down to the end at the 4th year chapter where I have mentioned both my written as well as GD PI preparation thread.
This post is the summary of the 4 years of my preparation and most importantly the 4th year. The aim is to pen down how I changed and improved to be a person from a self-thought “nobody” to actually a “somebody”. Why have I used such a title shall be clear as you read.
PS: My verbal sucks, especially my grammar. So, pardon my mistakes. But still I secured a big score in VA. I will also share how I managed to get it right.
84/88/73 (MAIT-IP Univ) (GEM)
Wrk ex Infy 32 months
2010 Chapter 1: The Ignorant One
I am an engineering college graduate from a not much known college of a not much known university (GGSIPU). I was more of a guy thought of to be one of those who liked technology and everyone thought I would take M.Tech or break into some good company. I was a shy person and used to keep many things to myself. Till the 2nd year, life was never about a job, MBA or career, but having fun in learning new stuff, technology, sometimes reading fiction etc. By the 3rd year, a decision had to be taken. Coming from a business family, life was never about a job. With most of my cousins taking up their own path or joining business, only one of them did an MBA from XIMB 6 years back and had set an example in family. So, it was my choice to choose among all the options in front of me. I explored the option of taking a job after graduation or doing an M.Tech or an MBA.
It had to be these three. Even though I was close to my brother who was a XIMB alumni and seeing his growth I also wanted a similar option for me, I couldn’t give up the techie in me. So, the decision was made: MBA, but focus on IT sector, but at the same time targeting some good IT Product based company. If I would have succeeded in the 2nd choice, I might have never pursued MBA, but alas….
17th Jan 2010, I joined Career Launcher 7:30 am weekend batch. The first introduction lecture was by an IIM grad telling something about why MBA and what you can achieve, etc. Next lecture was by a Quant teacher Deepak Dhamija Sir (if I remember correctly) and as far as I remember he wrote these words on the board, “Last Chance, Everything Maaf” and explained that if you still have grudges that you didn’t crack IITs, or are stuck in some bad job, or whatever it is that has not been quite right in your career decisions, etc, focus your energies on achieving MBA this time because it is your decision now. I felt it motivated me to some extent, but I was still not convinced about the things yet to come. But I wrote this line on the first page of my QA register (which I still have and used it for QA revision even during my last attempt). So, classes started. They were fun. I loved going back to 8th & 9th standard Maths and learning English was fun, but when it came to mocks, I was always a 70 to 80 percentiler. Also I used to study alone, never asked anyone doubts, solved questions in free time and in my first year did not join Pagalguy, the reason I suppose I never moved beyond 70-80 was that I never analyzed mocks after I had taken them. I saw some of my mistakes, but never planned to improve myself on what to do, how to plan out my prep. So, like an ignorant fool, I just studied, took mocks, but never inculcated how to improve my percentile. Also, my one foot was still on the second thought of getting into a product based company.
So, a 20 something teen I was, balancing college, studies, new found college friends (used to be a shy and introvert guy), family and MBA prep. So, like many of the people around me I was doing the same mistake which many do and I realized the same in my 3rd and 4th year only, ‘MBA prep took a backseat when it came to time management.’ 30th Oct, 2010, my first CAT. It was the 2nd or 3rd year of CAT going online, everyone was complaining that the online evaluation was unfair. Nobody knows normalization and how it works, technical glitches, etc. So, I gave my CAT, attempted 45-48 questions with 70% accuracy I guess. Also, I gave XAT, IIFT and SNAP.
Results came and at the same time I was selected for Infosys, so had a backup and a failure of 88 percentile in CAT (used to have 3 sections at that time I guess), 95 percentile in XAT, 23 in IIFT, 96 or 97 in SNAP. I knew in my heart that my prep was not serious at all. So, scoring such marks did not make me sad but rather disappointed. But I had calls from XIMB, GIM and SCMHRD. So was happy. Also, in these 4 years of my prep, I had never dreamt about IIMs or XLRI or FMS. My targets were the colleges which were not in the top 15 but the ones which came later.
So, CL prepared me for GD and interviews, but I did not do self-learning and preparation here also, while everyone did group study or prep, I did my prep all alone and that screwed me up big time. It was all messed up. GDs, I don’t even remember as I never spoke much. The problem was I did not know much about myself, what I could expect to know about the things around me. I was also not much serious about interviews as it was the first time. In XAT 2010, there was an essay to be written on an Adam Smith’s quote from Wealth of nations. It was a nightmare for all as far as I remember. My XIMB essay was all ignorant and I couldn’t answer what’s a statesman in the XIMB interview and made a fool out of myself in XIMB. Similar fate was bestowed upon me in almost all the interviews.
By the time results started coming up, it was all a series of failure. Only one heartening mail, which was that XIMB WL candidates were being offered HR program if they wish to opt for. Being some 279 in the waitlist, I knew I would not clear the waitlist. After a lot of thought I gave up the sole XIMB -HRM convert I had.
So, the chapters of CAT “Attempt 1” finished as the engineering days almost were nearing an end and I restarted my prep along with joining Infosys and CAT was yet again coming up in few months. I did not have many expectations, but this time I had some friends who were preparing alongside and hence I was a little confident of getting good calls.
2011 Chapter 2: The studious one
Alas, College came to end, Infosys joining was 2-3 months ahead, results were a disappointment, but the mock season was soon to begin. I remember the new found friends with the same interest in MBA. The best thing I learnt from them was, though all of us shared a common goal, whenever we all met they never talked much about preparation or strategy, but about things like common college goers teens do. They were more interested in gym, Kareem’s chicken, visiting places, while I was more tensed about how to prepare, and looked forward to them to share some tips, which they felt should be discussed at appropriate times, but not always. I now understand how right they were. MBA was a goal, but not to occupy every part of our lives, there is a personal life, emotions, family, friends which should be given due importance. I rarely remember sharing and learning any prep strategy from them, even though they were mock maulers. It was not like they never bothered telling me or were hiding their strategy but their priorities were right (MBA when alone preparing, non MBA discussion stuff when with friends. They all are now ahead of me as I was the only one pursuing it till the 4th year after failure. They took their options as they felt them to be right. One passed out of XLRI HR, one is a 2nd year student at NM, another, an Income tax inspector, one passed out of IIM Udaipur etc. While I am going to start my MBA now! Hence the lesson I learnt (unfortunately took me 4 years) was prioritizing your MBA prep without other things being neglected. Give less time to others but don’t neglect them. This is the time you will make some of the best friends in your life. Don’t waste it. In the last chapter it will be clear, how I prepared less for MBA and gave more time to myself and everything I never did in my life.
It was these friends who introduced me to Pagalguy and even though a much computer and tech enthusiast I was, I never felt the need to be on Pagalguy (which occupies now more than 80% of my time on Internet surfing). I remember they used to talk about solving old quant threads where QA gods like “chillfactor” were active and the concept of DTs etc. Users like “Implex”,”Slashsword” etc were legends in their own games and I just thought, “This place might be for the Gods and what chance do I stand. But unlike my friends, I used to struggle a lot while solving QA thread. A friend of mine, who had converted XL in first go, advised me to regularly solve 10 pages of old QA threads sincerely and daily. He was good in VA but lacked in QA. He did the same for 6 months and scored good percentile in QA. His username is “nuclearvipul” on PG if I remember correctly. He was more of a silent spectator and not much active.
When I used to tell them I wish to do MBA in IT, they always said, you are born for NITIE and I also dreamt of NITIE and NITIE PGDITM alone(during one drunken escapades, a friend wrote on top of my register NITIE 2013-15. I still have that register. Luckily the convert came a year late, but something big was also in store)
My QA was my strength but deep down I know I needed VA tips, which unfortunately till this day I don’t have. My lack of VA prep was partially responsible for my 3 failures and I accept it. Somebody has rightly said, “QA can be improved by practice, but VA either you have it or you don’t.” Unfortunately, I still don’t but there is a way to circumvent this in CAT. I will discuss this in the last chapters.
My VA is average to say the least, but 4 years of solving RCs, PJ, PC tips and strats helped me. I like reading and this was my VA advantage but lack of grammar skills and communication skills were my bête noire. But my VA percentiles fluctuated a lot from 50’s to 90’s but never crossed more than that.
Meanwhile the news came that, “IIM C changed the CAT pattern from 3 sections to 2 sections with first section QA –DI and which needed to be attempted first.” Nobody gauged the effect of this decision. Some felt it was good, some felt otherwise. As earlier it was about managing your 3 sections and managing time according to your choice, but not anymore. Like others I also could not gauge any outcome.
Meanwhile, the Infosys Mysore journey began; time to enter the corporate world. For the first time, I was away from home and focus on CAT still wasn’t there. The first year of CAT prep was still fresh in mind. It helped me gauge most of the sums in quant as I was used to them, but percentiles reached maximum 85 and sometimes early 90s. VA as usual fluctuated. Reading improved, I made my own vocabulary dictionary, but the improvement was not that much as VA was still an unplanned prep.
Meanwhile some personal problem at home occupied my mind; so again, I was losing focus on CAT. But QA was improving. I started analyzing mocks a little, but this time was more confident to score 90’s, filled CAT form, this time it was Bengaluru as centre. I still remember after CAT my friends were angry and disappointed as the slot we had chosen was the most tough and ill-fated slot of our time. Whether you like it or not, slot does have an impact on your percentile. To what extent, only Prometric knows. On that day while returning to Mysore, we were late and stayed in a hotel, as Infy does not allow coming late. Then we drank and shouted on top of our voice, weeping for what had happened and knowing our low attempts would yield a low percentile.
Results came, XAT 85, CAT 95, IIFT screwed, SNAP I hadn’t filled ,NM 210 I guess.
Calls: – XIMB, NITIE PGDITM and NM.
I still remember, XIMB interview was scheduled in Bangalore and during my PI; I got a call from a colleague about Infy postings coming up. After the interview I answered his call and got to know my posting was in Hyderabad. But luckily, I asked my friend to swap it with Pune, as Chandigarh and Jaipur were rarely available. And Infy Pune it was.
My friends had SCMHRD, XL and IIFT calls, but given our screwed fate, none of us converted the calls, not even WL. A series of rejection! But this time the hurt was more personal and more heartfelt, not like the previous disappointment. I knew I had prepared hard this time. This year I had prepared a lot. I cried, but deep down I somewhere knew that my introvert and shy nature was partially responsible for me not speaking in GDs and lack of preparation for PI, it was doomed to happen.
I attribute a few other reasons to not speaking in GD which were lack of knowledge and not following news, which I realized that later were most of the GD topics of B school. I remember the Kudamkulam nuclear plant protest being sponsored by Foreign NGO’s was my NITIE GD discussion topic, but I was talking about NGOs in general and now I realize that many times , I myself digressed from topics during GD’s during the previous attempts. Hence Please follow news, you must have something RELEVANT to say which unfortunately cost me 2 precious years.
While I accepted Infy Pune, my friends left Infy as they never liked Infy at all and thought IT work ex would be a hindrance in what they wanted. Thus, I was left all alone to prepare this time.
Thus, ended another year with a failure but lessons were learnt. A journey started in Delhi, continued in Mysore, ended in Pune.
2012 Chapter 3 : The Hardworking, the semi-successful and the complacent one
I reached Pune on Holi, with heavy heart and thinking this would be my last attempt… whichever college I get…. I shall take it…. But I knew things need to be straighten out.. More IT work ex.. more I might lose out.
The Pune journey began with joining old college friends posted in Pune and soon the need of planning things out.. Finding new place to live in new city.. setting up things… finding CL,TIME Test center from home… starting the preparation again…. Finally independent and so many decisions to make… the freedom and responsibility were 2 sides of coin… I now started realizing this….
But as things were planning out, the only thing constant was Pagalguy and I was active on QA thread and results started showing…. In Cl,TIME mocks, I was scoring 95+ in most of my mocks… Now 95 barrier was crossed and automatically my attempts had increased due to repetition of questions and knowing how to solve it…. The 2 years of prep, mocks and pagalguy was showing results.
At the same time UDT nominations were opened…. I tried for the same but was not selected… no problem, I joined Pune Dream Team… we were not as active like other DT’s but they were awesome people… unfortunately I interacted less with them. But still I like to thank them all @PaceIsAce @sabya.sachi @deepak_pgi @audiq7 @dreamer87 @anshul_mechie
Now I got my first project in Infy, it was a support profile in afternoon shift but work load was close to nil and for the next 1.5 year…. I actually had zero or very less work.. This was a rare advantage I had .. and don’t know if anyone ever had it …but I did… J … Unfortunately at the same time if I had to continue in company if MBA did not worked out… I was screwed for life….
The old wounds had healed and it was time for CAT…. Wrote CAT and other exams….
Results started coming in SNAP 98.5,XAT 99.05, CAT 91, NM 212 ….
Again CAT had screwed me but the calls I got this time were…. XIMB,XLRI,SPJain,NM,SIBM,SCMHRD
I felt successful after such a long time …. The failure of CAT was there and I did cried …. A lot ….but SNAP result and XL calls pacified me… For the first time I felt…. I have XL and SPJ.,.. one of the best MBA colleges in India…
This feeling led to my downfall…. I became complacent thinking … so many calls…and 99 perccentile I shall convert at least one…I joined Genesis Mentors… they were good in teaching GD PI… but I unfortunately did not do self-introspection and prepare answers for questions for HR round questions that are asked… Hence deep down this complacency costed me my XLRI and SPJain which I still regret till today… Hence I still say … having a call and not converting is more painful than getting a call…. And with colleges like XLRi and SPJain bein taken lightly… it was bound to happen
SP Jain rejected in first round, XLRI GD was a screw up, XIMB WL 360 (hinted my preference over SPJ IT over XIMB…my fault), SIBM n SCMHRD rejects, NM Waitlisted…
My confidence was blown into pieces , I realized my mistake of complacency and felt everything was over.
NM finally converted…. Parents were happy that I converted but the loan amount I needed to take and pressure to take it up as it was my 3rd year of CAT attempt… Fees sky rocketing in the years, I had decided to take up but due to last moment financial constraints and my parents not finding me happy over my taking it…they said if I want to reconsider I can… So against all odds and giving another chance but this time, giving everything or nothing, I gave up NM, my sole convert which shocked my parents and many around me.
Many friends around me gave up CAT , due to Normalization which was unpredictable , IIM’s weird criteria, no more a level field and I also felt that they might be right and I am being stubborn enough to pursue or I cannot go back to my decision now. I remember someone said to me during IIT prep days, everyone blames others if something goes wrong, some say I took Engg cause my parents said so, some because friends were taking it, some say peer pressure… but in the end its our decision and soon we realize and work for it the better. I realized the same… the decision may not be mine then, but has been taken, and it is mine now, I should respect it, cause nobody forced me to take MBA prep, It was I alone. I had the chance for M.Tech, job but I did not. Hence I should respect my decision and do what has not been done till now… clear CAT last time or finally surrender and continue with my IT life, but won’t give up before trying for the last time.
2013 The year when everything fell into place…. Everything
I feel the most important part of this year were the learnings and importance of looking into this as a journey and no more as just a destination… I had forgotten to relish the journey and things in life… Since the time I started serious prep in 2nd year till the beginning of this year I felt I had wasted my life… CAT or no CAT… No day has gone where I felt I did something fruitful… I just woke up …gave mocks.. Went to office on weekdays but studied there as had ample time, weekends were spent in mocks…going to center… it was all wrong.
I knew I had to change this… I need to be myself… I had to be more detach to CAT exam… I needed to give time to things I never did in my life… And this year marked my keeping myself happy by doing physical activities like gym, running, travelling, enjoying with friends etc (never indu;ged in sports in my life ? ) … I started changing and started being more happy… at the same time I thought this year while I am preparing , for this 1 year I shall forget all my worries of future, past and focus on simple preparation… This year I for the first time promised to myself I shall change myself and prepare like I have nothing to lose, knowing I had everything to lose.
I knew my weaknesses had to be improved from the starting… this included my VA, fear of speaking in GD and PI.. etc… the answer lied in introspecting myself…. I did lot of introspection and started planning out a lot of things…. I joined Toastmasters Club … which helped me improve my communication skill and confidence of speaking among people…. I was regular in attending their meetings and understanding how these Public speakers infused confidence in their listener and I followed them and this slowly built my confidence of speaking in PI and GD… And in the GDs and PI , I was not just calculative but I spoke well construed sentences that made impact…
Second I started reading newspapers sincerely…. These were tips from 100/99.9 percentilers of last year and starting early built my knowledge base and when we conversed I felt … I actually had something to share….
While on mocks front after lot of introspection and reading 100 percentiler strats, I decided I shall make my own strategy which focuses on accuracy than attempts… it was a big risk I was going to take… but what option did I have… all other options were exhausted, tried, tested and failed….. So this was the only thing I could do….
There are 2 things which one should prepare… what to attempt in paper and how to attempt the paper…. I personally found… you can be taught the former… but latter you need to find yourself … and the latter makes the difference
I will share my strategy for how I solved the paper as 1st you can do yourself. basics now… detail post later
The most important decision I also took was being impervious to these results… not too happy on scoring 99+ and not disappointed on scoring 90 below in some section… just regularly studying , analysing and tweaking my strategy on which questions to attempt…. Selection was the key and I did just that…rather Rejection is the key and once you know which question not to attempt… It’s all done….
My focus was on 2/3rd of both sections (20 questions each from 2 sections) which meant spending 3/2th time more on questions I select
As it is said… I was preparing without caring for result… detached but focused….and that made all the difference
I joined Genesis Mentors for workshops… That actually helped me a lot as the workshops revised the course in 2 months before the exam…
Finally 23rd Oct 2013… D day…. Only thought in my mind was to forget all the pressure and just focus that it’s just an exam…just an exam… don’t give it so much importance that I lose focus… And luckily that happened…. In the whole 140 min, I relaxed the whole time… focused on selecting the questions I need to do…. Solved and moved on… the details will be in the end….
SNAP result came – 99.96 – The effort had started paying….was happy that SIBM call was secured.
14th Jan 2014…. Early morning- the whole time I had learnt to be impervious to result – but not today- I was listening to “SKYFALL – the world shall crumble” – thinking, result may be good or bad, but I would be impervious to it, I will prepare hard, trying hard to keep calm… so many emotions flowing just before I checked the result… and the page loaded
“OA 99.90 , QA 98.8 VA 99.8” OMG
I still remember saying the words in disbelief for so many times loud “This cannot be mine, ye mera nahi ho sakta…. This cannot be mine….” But it was mine and elated to say the least
XAT result 98.49, IIFT 54.75
Almost every exam I had cracked, I knew I will get most of the calls…. And the most unexpected IIM calls also…. Deep down the feeling hadn’t sinked and till now as I write this the feeling still hasn’t sinked in of converting an IIM- that too one of the holy trinity IIM…. One more thing I would like to mention that I had pledged to myself whatever CAT result I get, whichever college I get,small or big, I will accept my fate…. IIMs or no IIMS… reaching here was important..
Calls – IIM C,L,K,S, new IIMs, XL, SIBM, XL BM +HR, IIT B,NITIE,MDI
As the results came, I was more nervous and knew I need to change everything… put in everything and do my best …. The last year blunders should not repeat… no more being complacent… And the guiding light was @Zzeke AIWTSAC post… which I still believe is the best post for GD PI prep… I knew I had to achieve such a level….
I did a lot of introspection and prepared really hard. The previous interview mistakes and GD Prep needed to be revisited…..I still remember after the disastrous interview of SJMSOM … I was sullen and dejected the rest of the day…. But the next day when I had IIM C…. I was not trying to think …Oh its IIM C …what do I do… what shall happen, what if I am not able to answer….. I just went in with a calm and relaxed mind…. Which made the biggest difference and helped me express myself in the best way I could…. And when I write this I would like to humbly say thank you to every puy I met in this journey of 4 years
Converts : all the above mentioned except IIFT,IIM L,IIT B,IIM Ranchi ( converted in final waitlist)
Joining IIM C
Honestly speaking, In the 4 years, I never targeted Joka or dreamt of Joka, felt they were out of my league. Always felt I will settle for the colleges after top 15 …but Joka was a God Gift to say the least. And when I say everything fell into place… I can say, God made everything fall into place. I might have not ended in joka , had I taken NM, so believe in dreams….. cause they do come true.
Special thanks to friends/legends I followed on QA thread
@jain4444 @Budokai001 @sujamait @scrabbler @ScareCrow28 @deedeedudu @sid2222000 @Estallar12 @Logrhythm @Love_CAT @pratskool
1) Introspect yourself
2) Enjoy the journey, the destination shall follow
3) Find your mistakes and work on it
4) Do what you like, don’t give it up in the name of CAT preparation, and learn to manage things you like….
5) Be happy… but not complacent
6) Focus on accuracy than attempts for CAT
The written Prep strategy and GD PI prep strategy…. in another post ? which is below
[Note: This is a post on the user’s CAT journey that has been captured in his 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]