What I learnt from CAT

A broken heart and some harsh words. A failed examination and lots of scoffs.

It was numbness all around with a lost sense of purpose. But life doesn’t end there. 

It is often such situations that leave a void in life and academics filled up the void for me. It was during these times that I got fascinated by the world of MBA, CAT and IIM’s.  I started visiting Pagalguy frequently and gained a lot of information. And this is when I fell in love with the world of management education. I found my second love and this would last a life time.

A new beginning: CAT Preparation Phase -Feb 2010 – Nov 2010

I along with my best friend joined Byju’s classes. After attending a few trial classes we were impressed with their coaching. I also joined the TIME’s AIMCAT and IMHO series.

With Byju’s coaching classes mostly on the weekend I was also able to focus on my college academics. The coaching classes trained us in planning and shortcut techniques to crack the CAT exams. I also joined AIESEC, which helped me in developing my leadership and social abilities. 

A broken heart and some harsh words. A failed examination and lots of scoffs.

It was numbness all around with a lost sense of purpose. But life doesn’t end there. 

It is often such situations that leave a void in life and academics filled up the void for me. It was during these times that I got fascinated by the world of MBA, CAT and IIM’s.  I started visiting Pagalguy frequently and gained a lot of information. And this is when I fell in love with the world of management education. I found my second love and this would last a life time.

A new beginning: CAT Preparation Phase -Feb 2010 – Nov 2010

I along with my best friend joined Byju’s classes. After attending a few trial classes we were impressed with their coaching. I also joined the TIME’s AIMCAT and IMHO series.

With Byju’s coaching classes mostly on the weekend I was also able to focus on my college academics. The coaching classes trained us in planning and shortcut techniques to crack the CAT exams. I also joined AIESEC, which helped me in developing my leadership and social abilities. It was an
interesting and fulfilling time. Learning and gaining knowledge was what kept
me going.

But
success doesn’t come easily. Despite my best efforts is couldn’t score well in
my AIMCAT. I never gave though simply because of the fact that I loved this
field. I couldn’t cross beyond 65 %ile. I developed a cycle for myself-
Practice

Test times begin: CAT exams 2010:

I appeared for my CAT exams. I also gave the , JMET (for
IIT- MBA) and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) . I felt confident of my
preparation and was expecting success. But life again threw curve balls at me

I had flunked
all my exams and failed to get through to any interviews. It was heart
breaking. Despite my best efforts I had failed. But I never lost hope.

I decided
that I wanted to pursue my higher education. So I started researching
B-school’s and came across HULT International Business Schools. I was impressed
with the kind of course it offered and decided to apply. So finally I was done
with my engineering, got admitted to HULT IBS on the basis of my academic score
and AIESEC experience.

In the few
months that I had before leaving for Dubai I still did not give up on the CAT
examinations. In the three months that I had I solved nearly 10 AIMCATs and saw
a growth in the score. From 65%ile to scoring above 80%ile, gave me a boost of
confidence.

MIB: MIB Time
(Oct 2011- Nov 2012):

So I head off
to HULT Dubai and the busy life of a B-school takes over. Honestly, I think the
US system of education is a lot better than the Indian system of education.
HULT curriculum involved a lot of team assignments and quizzes. The faculty
comes from world class B-schools like Harvard, Berkeley and also from the
corporate world.

It was during
this time that I came to realise the fruits of CAT my prep. The CAT journey
improved my decision making, analysis, number crunching and basically I could
just do academy things faster and effortlessly. And having classmates from
across the globe and diverse cultures, the learning experience is a whole lot
different and is enriching.

By the time I
completed the course, I also managed to get an internship but I soon realised
that employment is not something I would be keen on. And following that I got
fired from the internship. It was a troubling time for me. I also faced a lot
of emotional setbacks. However, the experiences of the past had strengthened me
such that I was able to graduate with top score and got an academic award as
well.

The
entrepreneur in me:

 By November 2012, I decided to return to India
and become an entrepreneur. In the midst of all this I still managed to
practice AIMCATs, thanks to PaGaLGuY forum I got access to many of the papers.

I came back
to India and through a common friend got involved in starting and running a
start-up dealing in mobile apps and augmented reality. It was a tough time and
I realised starting up a business is so much better than doing a formal MBA and
leading a corporate life. A start up business venture taught me more than all
the academic knowledge.

I still never
gave up on my CAT exams. I gave the 2013 CAT and surprise! I actually clear the
exams but had not bothered to even to check the results. . A few days later an
Email pops which said “You have been selected for GD-PI for the New IIMS
(RRTUK)”

So I go for
the GDPI with no prep.  Wrote the essay
and attended the interview. Answered the usual question but had a tough time
convincing the interviewers about “Why IIM MBA after doing business and
having a USA business degree” I still managed to do so.

Finally in
month of May 2014, I got an email saying that I had been selected for 2 IIM’s
and waitlisted for other two.  One of my
proudest moments. But I really wondered if it was worth all the money and time
yet again. So I chose to put in all these efforts and money into my business
venture. And I rejected the admission offers!

This was
perseverance I had for my ambition.

Some of the takeaway’s from CAT journey which I think might
be useful to Aspiratnts :

1. CAT is an exam which needs prep but also smartness.

2. CAT is not the end of road. There are awesome things other than CAT Exam if you can find it.

3. If your plan is to do MBA , doing a job or doing a business before it because you will have experience; then please drop the idea .  You can right away start up a business and
learn as you go .  In two years you know
much more about making money and business than an MBA.  There are financial benefits to it too.

4. Do CAT because you “want” to and not because
you “have” to or “prove” yourself to someone.

5. Hard work never goes waste . It always repays well in
some form or the other , sooner or later.

6.  Priortise, plan
and focus on what’s important.

7. Don’t go by what society says or what status quo
dictates. Just do what you feel morally 
right and good about.

8. Since you only need to succeed once , it doesn’t matter
how many times you fail . Learn from your failures and stick to your dreams
during your darkest times . the dark times prepare you for your success .

9. Keep visiting pagalguy (or similar CAT sites) for
inspiration , preparation and staying in tune with CAT .

10. CAT is an exam which might improve you for the better .
So, IMHO its worth the effort.

11. Basics are important . 
Some realise it earlier , some later . I realised it after about 40
Mocks.

12. Its OK to fail . Whats important is whether you think
its worth trying again and can execute it.

13. Practice , Analyse and learn from mocks . the more the
better.

14. Get into the mindset of getting IIM Admission than
percentile scores. (Why? because with the different  admission criteria’s  and normalisation of score , the probability
of successfully predicting a score is unfavourable. And also it’s the the
reason why I have not mentioned my scores )

15. Take CAT with a chill mind. Its just another exam
anyways J

16. As a bonus , GMAT exam looks much easier and
smoother  after your CAT prep.

Good Luck to all CAT Aspirants.

Read Next