My MBA story. How I got a 100 Percentile and didn’t join an IIM

Hello Puys. Hope all of you are doing well. Been quite some time that I posted anything of note on PG.

😃

The trigger for this post? I recently came across one of the
latest posts on “All I wanted to speak about CAT” by @sid2222000 and wanted to
share the same from my side as well. Being an oldie and an active
member/moderator/employee/DT captain/editor circa 2009-11, I was always coaxed
to write something about the journey but couldn’t. I guess, on a holiday, with
enough motivation to write something, I have finally managed to recollect and
record something that might be useful to future CAT aspirants and might give a
bit of insights into how I went about CAT.

Statutory warning: A lot of gyaan to follow. Those who know
me on PG can vouch for the same!

A long long time ago in
2004

Till then, a conventional life had been led, with dreams as
limited as to which college should I go to next and how should I study to
achieve the former. Why should I go for a particular career choice was not
thought about and the consequences, not planned. I managed to bag the last
merit seat in Grant Medical College, Mumbai (one of the best in the country as I
would later realize). It was a dream come true and for someone who was the
proverbial frog in the well, it was an opportunity to experience a lot of new
things.

2004-2008

Apart from a major personal setback, things were pretty
smooth on the academic front. MBBS is a stretched out course that gives you ample
time to grow academically and so, there was no major issue on the academic
front. However, as time passed, I began to realize the need to have a plan for
the future post my graduation.

When you get into a medical college, almost everybody is set
to land up a seat at a post graduate institute in medicine or surgery. Over the
previous 4 years, I had realized that I would not like to practice for the
remainder of my life and so, getting into medicine or surgery would not make
sense. I started looking for options and found that an MBA was interesting for
2 reasons – it was something that would add something to my personality (mock
me all you want but I genuinely feel that MBA is somewhat a glorified
personality development course with content addition as a by product) & the
process seemed inviting to someone like me who had a knack of cracking aptitude
tests (how wrong I was into thinking that one has to only crack a test to get
into a B-school). I had never ever thought of the specialization aspect and was
single-mindedly focused on just getting into a good B-school (a mistake in
hindsight).

As is the case with many CAT aspirants, I Googled “MBA after
MBBS”. These 3 words changed the course of my life and I landed on PG. After
trying and testing the forum (back in those days, PG had a simple interface), I
finally signed up for the website in Jan 2008.

2008-2009

I started getting active on PG, started seeking help from
senior puys including @puri.pallavi, @implex, @estranged_gnrs, @rmbt,
@deep_agarwal and many many more. Seeking help turned into helping others and I
took a liking to the concept of PG and the helpfulness of the users. The
entirety of 2008 was spent well in understanding the various aspects of an MBA
and how it would make sense to do one at that point in time. As has been the
case many a time, it was a matter of deciding first and then finding means to
justify that decision.

I had made it to the PG Mumbai Dream Team (in spite of not
being a CAT taker that year) and had a wonderful time discussing strategies and
learning from fellow aspirants like @implex, @navneet023, Nitin,
@iitr.abhishek, @smarep amongst others.  

Come 2009 and I had a happy surprise call from
@estranged_gnrs to ask if I was interested in moderating the forum. I had been
pretty active in the previous months and was looking forward to playing a more
important role with PG in an official capacity. I started attending PG meets; AIPGM
2009 was my first meet and I had the opportunity of meeting the likes of
@ganeshiima, @iim.maniac, @try4it, @harshadk, @puri.pallavi, @pushkar84 and
many more. I vividly remember sharing the dorm with @pushka84 and @ganeshiima and
wondering if it was a good omen (both of them were on their way to IIM A that
year and as it invariably is with a CAT aspirant, I had already taken a liking
to WIMWI). Mumbai meets were fun and I remember a time when we used to go to CL
to have meets with the Mumpuy junta. I managed to get into the prestigious
Pagalguy Dream Team and had a wonderful time with @Sammael, @NeverG!veUp,
@r11gupta, @ThEbmr, @silentassassin, @vipul88, @prakharc, @Explorer_Gagan,
@varun.garg.pec. Never ever was a moment when it was not competitive and never
ever was a moment when it led to tension between the teammates; one of the few
representations where online interaction is as fruitful as meeting someone in
person (we might have met only 3-4 times in total but still know each other a
lot better than that). PG was defined by the sanctity of online interactions
and this was the epitome of that thought.

The exams were passing at a fast clip. I had a fair amount
of confidence in my ability but never felt from within that I could dream big. All
my previous attempts at gaining excellence had fallen short by some distance
(starting from my 10th standard to my medical entrance where I had
almost fallen short of getting into GMC). I felt that I could be content
getting into a decent institute and would need a stroke of luck if I were to
make it to ABC. CAT came and went and I was not really happy with my attempt
(same slot as @WarriorWithin, my batch mate and a very close friend from GMC
who later made it to IIM L). The paper was a bit strange and I was not sure if I
had done justice to the paper. IIFT, FMS and SNAP had passed uneventfully and XAT
remained.

2010

I had never taken XAT before and had heard a lot of stories
about it being unpredictable and incredibly challenging. In an era where
solving previous year papers would allow even non serious aspirants to get some
footing, XAT came across as a breath of fresh air. The paper was challenging
and I found it to my liking. I merrily went around solving questions and when I
had finished, I had attempted 71 questions out of a maximum possible 100 odd.
Came out and got a call from @r11gupta and we were mutually shocked at the
disparity in attempts (he had attempted 55 odd but had a knack for being
extremely accurate). I was stunned at my attempt. All keys showed that I had
done decently enough to get both the calls from XLRI. The belief had started
returning.

Results came out and I was indifferent to see a 98.26%ile in
CAT. I had not expected a huge score but had always felt that a 99+ was on the
cards. More shocking was that I had missed the GK cutoff in IIFT by 0.8 marks
and the LR cutoff in SNAP by 1.5 marks. So, here I was without a call yet with
FMS and XLRI results pending.

As expected, I managed to bag both BM and PMIR calls from
XLRI with a score of 99.96%ile. FMS was kind enough to give calls although I was
sure I had barely scraped through. Got a consolation call from MDI through CAT
and that was it.

Now came probably the biggest learning of my life. I had
taken GDPI extremely lightly and was banking heavily on my diverse profile and
written score to get through. My answers were half baked and being a shy and
reserved person, I could not muster enough courage to talk to people and get my
answers reviewed. Disaster struck in my XLRI and FMS interviews and I failed
miserably in all 4 of them.

But surprisingly, in spite of the failure, I was
surprisingly happy about the outcome as I was not prepared to enter a B-School
at that point in time and needed more time to reflect and clarity. I was sure
why I wanted to do an MBA and how I was not too keen to enter the healthcare sector
but I had reservations accepting that I had made a mistake in the past and was
looking forward to changing it. I realized that it is impossible to convince
someone about something that you are not convinced about and promised myself to
take care of this in the future. Post my FMS interview and non-conversion, I had
spent a few days with @ayush13 at his home and the amount of belief he and his
mother put into me were amazing. I realised that I could make it happen given
another opportunity.

Maharashtra CET still remained and I took it with a clear
mind given that I had nothing to lose. Had some in depth insights from
@prasad.sawant, @nikhil.john, @murtz and others and it really helped. I ended up
scoring 179/200 which is probably the highest score ever in CET and had managed
to exorcise my internal demons (the one thing that really gave me happiness and
I don’t mean to come across as arrogant, was that, I had managed to score a
mark better than @PatrickDsouza Sir who has been a source of inspiration to
many CET and CAT aspirants). I believed that I could top a test (might sound
trivial to many but for me, it meant a lot). GDPI happened and I managed to get
a 211/240 which has not been breached since then. The previous highest was a
201 and so, I knew that if I were sufficiently relaxed and had my mind clear, I
had it in me to get into the top B-schools in the country. I had my first bite
of the publicity pie and my first interview was with PG which was probably @laj’s
first article on PG.

I chose to forego JBIMS (I didn’t apply to the institute)
and was looking for options as to what should I be doing in the interim year. I
had a few options from TIME, TestFunda, E&Y. I was planning to pick one
amongst them that would not harm my CV much and would be a good learning
experience. And then PG happened. @pagalguy and @estranged_gnrs called me up to
discuss a prep platform that was in the pipeline at that point in time and little
did I realize that it was an interview. I was not at all prepared for the same
and lacked the maturity to put in some amount of thought before going for an
interaction at that point in time. In hindsight, I gave probably what was an embarrassing
account of myself and I am grateful to get an opportunity at that point in time
in spite of that.

I started writing articles for the homepage and started
gaining popularity. I was appointed captain of the Pagalguy Dream Team 2010 and
it was a tremendous experience all over again. Made great friends in the
process and rarely had I encountered a more talented bunch of individuals:
@the_hate, @geminite, @abhishek_sharma, @TnT, @hbz_316, @Scuderia, @Samurai_X,
@.Z., @nik.nat, @murtz and @varun.garg.pec, @targetcat_2010, @Alex_Mahone and
many more.

My mock scores had started rising and I was pretty confident
of a fruitful year:

Mock Scores Repository 2010

The dynamics shared was completely different from what I had
the previous year. This year, everybody was determined to score crazy and make
a mockery of the entrance tests. And mockery they did.

On a personal front, I had started to gain a bit of
confidence. Although not fully open, I started interacting with people around
me. That PG was with me during that point in time was a big help although I am
sure I have given everybody at the PGHQ few sleepless nights wondering if
hiring me was indeed a correct decision. It was the start of my development
though and I would always fondly remember the year I spent with PG. I discussed
my interview answers with almost everybody at the HQ and there was some
feedback waiting for me that helped me gain insights not only into the
interview process but as to how the interviewers thoughts and how could I be
one step ahead of them.

CAT came and it was a laborious slot to say the least. On 14th
of November 2010, on Children’s day, afternoon slot, 3 people suffered a
similar fate – @abhishek_sharma, @TnT and I. I understand when an exam is
difficult and it is fun to crack such exams too (XAT 2011 comes to mind, more
on that later) but there is a thin line beyond which, it becomes incredibly
frustrating. Add to that an unclear process of normalization and you are almost
about to pull your hair off. I was sure that DI/LR was a bit too annoying (50 row
tables with simple calculation based questions that required one to scroll up
and down and left and right) but managed to fight it out. Verbal was a breeze
and I always had faith in my quant abilities.

IIFT and SNAP were swatted away and I managed to get calls
and convert them quite easily. FMS was a breeze and I knew I had rocked the
paper big time.

XAT was next and fond memories from the year before made me
look forward to this new challenge. And what a challenge it was. 3 sections,
with an unequal number of questions and marks, questions ranging from 1-markers
to 5-markers and the test taking fraternity was surely stumped. I could clearly
see people in the exam hall rattled and a few almost cried after not making
enough headway post the first hour. Sample this: the test was of 250 odd marks
and the cutoffs were predicted to be around 35. I was happy that I had done
justice to the test and was looking forward to the result.

Results started trickling in. FMS had given me a call and I knew
I could convert it given my huge written score and the 70% emphasis on the
same. XLRI gave me both calls, after a bit of a mishap when XLRI faced some
technical glitch which was reported on PG (by yours truly; in hindsight, it was
pretty acerbic and I had to probably pay the price for it during my interview
;)).

Then CAT struck. On the night of the 11th of
January 2011, I entered that zone when people don’t know whether to be happy or
sad about a particular event. My scorecard showed 93.79%ile with a 55.84%ile in
verbal. I was shocked beyond belief and could not move away from my pc for an
entire day. All the dreams I had of making it to an IIM were squashed and I could
not think of a thing that I could have done to correct the history.

A lot of support was shown from my friends at PG and I was
glad to have such motivating people around J

I fought my way through the XL BM interview which was
probably marred by my vengeance article on PG a few days back 😛 and managed
to convert my FMS call and decided on joining the same.

The team did pretty well that year with a few exceptions:

DT 2010 Scorecard

Now, all happy stories on this thread have come to an end at
this point in time. But iss kahani mein ek twist hai 😉

FMS started and I had a wonderful time there. The
opportunity was amazing and I had a fair bit of idea as to what I should be
expecting and what were the things I should take care about. I had a clear
picture of what I wanted to gain from my MBA (development on personal front
with some positions of responsibility, a change in my career and some added
content). I loved the institute and am extremely proud to be an alumnus. Summer
internship came and I was happy to come out of it with a TAS offer (for the
uninitiated, TAS has an approximately 2 hour Group Discussion and is probably one
of the most sought after company on campus). The GD demons were put to rest and
I was happily in FMS, with a TAS offer and in the Media Relations team.

All this while, the fire still burned within me. The question
of what went wrong in CAT 09 and 10 was still unanswered. CAT had become more
than an entrance test to me. All this made me take CAT once again in 2011. The
only people who were aware of this were my mother and @neha.visionary who had
secretly smuggled me a CAT application form. I registered on the last day and
there was only one slot (morning, which I hate) and one center available. CAT
had shifted to a new pattern and so, I was not prepared at all for what lay
ahead. In hindsight, it helped me that I was under no pressure. I had no plans
to switch, had a good internship in hand and was in line for entering the
Placecom at FMS which is kind of a big deal. The test went by and I was really
happy with my performance. I had managed to finish both the sections 10 minutes
before the time ran out and had checked and crosschecked at least a couple of
times. I came out of the exam hall, called up my mother and said, “I won’t be
surprised if I score a 100.”

The results came out in January. I had scored a 100, the
sweet smell of success. I was sure of not taking up admission into an IIM and
so, did not appear for any of the interviews. The only take away from the
result was the belief that I could do something substantial at a big stage. The
demons had been exorcised and here I was, living the dream I had started out
with.

Fast Forward

FMS was a wonderful experience. I got into the placecom and
had a wonderful time there. Learnt a lot from the faculty and peers and ended
up with a job in Sales with ITC. After completing 20 months with ITC, selling soaps
and shampoos and agarbattis across first coastal Andhra Pradesh and then the
entire Andhra Pradesh, I am entering a new beginning once again…

Am extremely thankful to all who have read through this huge
post, and all those who are on PG who make PG the wonderful place that it is.
Kudos to the team who keep the site running, fulfilling dreams of thousands of
aspirants.

PS: A few names I want to mention: @seba_catrpillar, @cutie.pie,
@sweetgalshruti, @justtj, @first_timer, @abhimukh19, @visionIIM-ACL, @rajaramvarun, @varnicat,
@soumik.ganguly, @shreyas_nitt, @kinji@PG, @anwesa09, @barclaysboss,
@uglyduckling, @Amodh, @rahicecream, @subhakimi, @naga25french, @Crysis,
@ravi.tejapalla, @Clark-kent, @ajaigovindg, @astha_a, @severus_snits, @QuintEssence,
@writetotanveer, @manish.harodia, @pari123, @priyalli, @Rooney7, @inshulchawla,
@The.Raven, @vineetkhn, @vivekkahn, @vineet.nitd, @spirit11, @grondmaster,
@chuck_gopal, @harry4u9, @Psychodementia, @raghav507, @wHiTe_HoLe, @pendyal,
@lehmannbrothershereicome, @sumitrocks, @diablorulez, @deep_agarwal, @UtsavGambhir,
@deepu, @arion5, the entire Dream Teams and Underdogs Teams of all years.

PPS: I have not been able to name many of the puys here
owing to my poor memory. I am sure I would be forgiven.

PPPS: This has been bigger than I had ever thought.

PPPPS: Any grammatical errors are to be forgiven. This is
straight from the heart without any edits.

Moral/s of the story:

You can have 0 idea about what you are going to do in the
long term and still end up experiencing a lot of good things; having goals is
important no doubt but being farfetched doesn’t help either

Your friends, relatives, well-wishers might all make sense
at some point in time and you might come across as a very confused individual, but
at the end of the day, it is your choice that would matter

Doing an MBA at the right point in time is extremely crucial
in how your career would turn out to be; the question why MBA needs to be
answered not only from an interview’s point of view but for yourself to know if
this is the best you would want to do to yourself over the next few years

Getting into an institute might be a dream for many and even
yours at certain points in time, but it always helps to be rational rather than
getting carried away at times (letting go of institutes after topping 2 tests
was not easy and people still ridicule me, but I was sure of my decision both
times)

Trust in yourself, put in hard word and it won’t go
unrewarded.

(This article has been written by a PaGaLGuY user so largely left unedited to retain the flavour).

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