Soon, it was time to start preparing for CAT2011. I was enjoying my work, and felt no pressure at office as I prepared at home. This time I was serious. I had started preparing around May and joined a test series. I also purchased some GMAT books to help me with the verbal section and bought a few practise books for quant.
The CAT pattern changed that year. There were to be only two sections now, 70 minutes each. I was very glad since I had often found it difficult to manage time effectively. Now, I did not have to bother about that.
To begin with, I did not do well in the test series. Primarily due to bad performances in quant. I regularly averaged around 70-80 percentile in that section, and about 85-90 percentile in verbal. But I made sure to go through the entire solution set thoroughly after every exam to see what I was doing wrong. I also saw the solution to the questions that I had done right, just to find a shorter, quicker way of doing those questions. In the long run, this analysis helped me a lot.
I dedicated my entire evenings to preparing for CAT. Work would drain me out during the day, but I would often stay awake till 2am to finish studies. I started getting better marks in the mocks, and my confidence started growing. D-day was arriving soon. I had booked my exam after Diwali. Towards the end, I started getting good percentiles and peaked at the right time. I went home for Diwali, quietly confident of doing well.
A week before D-Day, I stopped studying. On that day, I remember vividly going to the test centre with Sachin batting on 40* in a test match against WI. He already had 99 centuries and I did not want to miss seeing his 100th one. I knew that if he batted for 2 hours he would get there, and I would be writing CAT at the time. I was following the match on my mobile at the test centre. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he got out on 40-something just as I was about to enter the test room. I grinned and went in, fingers crossed.
I found the exam to be very easy. I attempted a total of 56/60 questions, came out, went home and forgot all about CAT as I went back to work. CAT results came and I scored 99.82 percentile. I was overjoyed. Due to my good acads, I got calls from all 13 IIMs. I prepared like crazy for the top 3 IIMs. I even took a 20-day off at work. I joined coaching for mock GDPIs and read a lot of blogs, news and Wikipedia.
At the end, it all paid off as I joined IIMA two months later.