Why I prepared for CAT to have fun, and rejected joining the IIMs…

Hello puys ,

Note : this is a long post . very
long .

Background :

My name is Sarfaraz and I am from
Chennai .  I am an above average Hindi
speaking guy who did not give much importance to studies especially during
school , and for early couple of years of my engineering college .

10th :  84% (CBSE)

12th : 82% (CBSE)

B.E Electronics &
Instrumentation (Anna univ ):  70%

My falling in love with CAT exam :

It was the winter of 2009 when my
girlfriend had just broken up with me . I was pretty devasted  and was in a stage where I felt completely
numb.  It was such a difficult time that
my only priority was to survive and take each day as it comes. However , with
support of close friends (a big thank you to them ) I managed to normalise
myself and atleast take an interest in doing something.  I started exploring , asking questions and
just trying to do the right things . Feels pretty pleasant when one starts to
consciously do the right things .  It was
during these times that I got fascinated by world of MBA,CAT and IIM’s.  I also started visiting Pagalguy frequently .
Slowly , as I got to know more , I came to realise and fall in love with the
fact that management education is something I am passionate about and would
like to know . 

Along with this , I did two
mistakes. I fell in love with CAT as a way of getting back at my ex as she had
called me a loser, good-for-nothing , no self-respect guy etc  . I was stupid enough to think that if I
crack CAT then my Ex would be filled with regrets  and I would like it :-p. LOL.  Also , I had’nt cracked JEE nor AIEEE after
my 12th so I was often tagged as a kind of loser by elders and CAT
seemed a perfect opportunity to prove myself to them . Also , It would help me
Move on . My brain and heart seemed convince to take the plunge in the world of
CAT and MBA.

learnt : Once I cracked CAT I came to realise that elders love you
unconditionally and just because you don’t crack some stupid exam doesn’t have
to affect relationship . They have just one concern , i.e whether you are
delivering value to the world . ofcourse, its your responsibility to make them
understand that . most of the time its not difficult.  And your ex-gf is an ex for a reason because
no matter what you do it doesn’t matter to her . The only thing you can do is
respect her decision to choose someone else and enjoy the fact that you would
be getting a better one, sooner than later. And since you are the one who has
been wronged, God provides you from sources you couldn’t imagine .  

CAT Preparation Phase (Feb 2010 – Nov 2010 approx 10 months ) :

I along with my best friend
joined BYJU’s classes since we attended a few trial classes and found the
classes to be useful .I wasn’t impressed with TIME or IMS classes.   However , we did join TIME’s AIMCAT series
and IMHO I think they are the best out there.

BYJU’s classes happened on
weekend mostly and the classes focussed on teaching shortcuts , planning and
techniques to crack the CAT . I also started taking my college coursework more
seriously and strangely I felt interested in doing it.  I also joined AIESEC , which really helped me
in developing my leadership and social abilities.   It was an interesting and fulfilling time
filled with learning.  I was quite
surprised by way things turned out as 6 months back I was numbed out guy and
now I was loving the way things turned out and clarity which came with it.

AIMCAT’s started and despite my
best efforts I couldn’t score well. I did not give up , gave all the 16-20
aimcats and successfully never crossed 65%ile except once.  But one good thing I did was to analyse every
aimcat like an addict  and only attend
byju’s classes.   By mid sept I had
become obsessed with AIMCATs . Despite not crossing 65%ile , I did not lose
hope (afterall I handled a breakup so I can handle this Aimcat failure) and
kept analysing , improving myself and taking AIMCAT after AIMCAT. 

And puys this  cycle is crucial
(practice->analyse-> practice->analyse ) . Its in these cycle’s that
you come realise your strengths , you as a person improve , connect on a deeper
level to CAT exam and  I think this is
what differentiates the winner’s . Also you come to face some emotions which
probably you wouldn’t have encountered before.

CAT 2010 season:

So I was writing CAT , JMET(for
iit mba) and IIFT . In terms of preparation I had byju’s classes and about 20
AIMCAT’s to show.

Result : Flunked all . Scored
badly . Couldn’t get any interviews.

I felt pretty stupid because I thought
I had put in so much hard work and the result showed opposite.

But a little voice inside me said
that my journey is not over and I actually felt emotionless about the whole
result issue. Instead I just felt calm bliss that  I can move on . Atleast I gave my best and
that’s what matters. 

However , I was more interested
in getting a quality business education and I did not care whether I get it
from IIM’s or someplace else.  Afterall ,
its more important to be well educated. 
So I started researching B-school’s and came across HULT . I did some
more research and I was pretty impressed with what they were offering and how
it was being offered . It was a one year course, world class faculty and they
had a campus in dubai (one of my fav place) . I decided to apply and got
admitted based on my acads and AIESEC experience.  Meanwhile , I also took an interest in my
final year project and the result was pretty interesting .  So , I am done with my engineering course and
have a few months before I head to Dubai for my master’s course in
International business (MIB) .

In this few months I came to
realise that I was still a CAT addict. And I used to write AIMCAT as sort of
timepass , cope with any bad situations , happy situation . In about 3 months I
would have practiced and analysed  around
10 AIMCAT’s and the results were surprising . I was scoring minimum 80%le.  One important thing I noticed was that I was
practising Aimcat for pure joy with no expectations or pressure. Also , this
time I was doing Aimcats for pure self-satisfaction and not as a way to get
back at ex,or prove myself to anyone . I felt much better after taking aimcats.

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 indian system. You study what is needed and in
way which makes you learn and educate. HULT curriculum involved a lot of team
assignments , quizzes and not to mention the faculty comes from world class b
schools like Harvard, Berkeley etc and also from the corporate world.

It was during this time that I
came to realise the fruits of CAT my prep. (CAT journey improved my decision
making, analysis , number crunching and basically I could just do acad things
faster and smarter effortlessly). It felt like the story of bamboo.  When you have classmates from across the
globe and diverse cultures , the learning experience takes a whole lot
different meaning and its enriching . During this time I made a good set
friends , had lots of fun and probably fell In love with a south  girl .(the south girl left the course by
term1 and I ended up feeling disappointed but 
not sad as there were convincing reasons for that to happen )  .

By the time I completed the
course, I also managed to get an internship and 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 . Also got  cheated , let down by some people on whom I
had put a lot of hope and faith. Somehow managed to not let all this affect my
acads. .  However,  the experiences of the past had strengthened
me such that I was able to graduate with top score and got an acad award also .
It was a really good strong happy moment for me.  By nov 2012 , I decided to return to India
and become an entrepreneur.

In the midst of all this I
managed to practice aimcats , thanks to pagalguy forum I got acess to many

The Entrepreneur writes CAT 2013 :

I came back to india and through
a friend of friend got involved in starting and running a startup dealing in
mobile apps and augmented reality . It was a tough time and I realised doing a
startup is much better than doing an mba and leading a corporate-ish life.
Startup will teach you  a lot about
business than any number of years at b-school. 

So in the midst of all this
startup running, I still found time to take Aimcats and to my surprise I was
clearing the cutoffs quite well.  Even then,
I wasn’t sure if should take CAT 2013 . but then a loved one passed away and
out of an impulse I felt determined to take CAT and dedicate the win . (I still
don’t know what prompted me take this steps)

I fill up the forms, book my exam
date and chill.  With a few weeks left
for CAT just practiced some aimcats and took it without pressure. The attitude
was IDGAF CAT exam.  So I take up the cat
exam , answer questions for which I know answers.   However, this time I have more than 80
aimcats (spread over 3 years) to show for as prep but no proper effort before
the exams.


So I almost forget about CAT as I
got busy with work . Results declared and I did not bother to check . Did not
feel its worth it. A few days later an Email pops which basically said “You
have been selected for GDPI 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 convincing the interviewers about
“y iim mba after doing business and a USA business degree” somehow managed to
convince them.

Finally in month of may 2014 , I
get an email saying that I had converted for 2 IIM’s and waitlisted for other
two.  I can’t describe how happy this
moment made me. It truly made me believe that dreams do come true if pursued
with passion and perseverance. I danced with Joy .   But at the same time , I strongly felt that I
am not ready to spend 2 years at a b school and spend lot of money . I would
rather use that money to develop my business .  

I rejected the admission offers.

My friends and to an extent my
family couldn’t believe that I am rejecting IIM’s admission but then with a
little explanation they understood .  

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 than CAT Exam if you can find

3. If
your plan is to do MBA , job and then do business 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

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

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

Good Luck to all CAT Aspirants.

Cheers !

-By Sarfaraz

Got admission to IIM but rejected
it and decided to continue my business .