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I have always been a silent spectator and have taken inspiration from PG gods and their mock scores. Today is the day I share my story with CAT here hoping to inspire maybe some people.
A Fight For Dreams - How A Student With Low Academics Dreamed, Persisted And Succeeded
This is going to be a long story having a mix of love, cries, hard work, and finally, luck. I hope to add some value to your CAT preparation and to your life.
Before going to CAT, let me give you some background of my life. I always had this urge to do something significant but had no vision of how. After scoring in 80s in my tenth, I took up science without having any idea of what I wanted to do in my life. The result was as expected, I lost interest in studies, had an injury a little before the final board exams, and scored miserably in them (<75%). It was one of the lowest points in my life, with my parents losing faith in me. It's funny how we sometimes regard these failures as ultimate and blur out our plans.
Engineering and more!
Despite my low score, I was able to get a decent regional college due to my decent JEE Mains score. However, that urge to do something big hadn't died inside me. It was still there, hidden somewhere. After my twelfth standard fiasco, I had decided to take charge. I started developing myself by taking part in every team that seemed interesting. I was a part of three committees in my first year itself and was working in them, along with paying proper attention to my academics when all my friends were chilling out. I was performing very well in both academics (CPI 8.52 after two years) and extracurriculars, where I had been a part of teams as a volunteer and had also held several positions of responsibility till then. This had made me inclined towards management as a career.
The year was 2016, it was a Monday morning in the 5th semester when a lecture had been cancelled and I was sitting with a friend of mine, Tanay, in the library when I came across this advertisement displaying the CAT toppers of that year. I researched and came to know that it had three sections: English, maths, and reasoning. Also, it was a gateway to an MBA degree at some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. I decided to give it a shot, started working for it religiously by solving every day.
Soon, I took the first mock CAT of my life. The score:
Verbal Ability: 24 marks, 63 Percentile
Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation: 19 marks, 71 Percentile
Quantitative Ability: 44 marks, 84 Percentile
Overall: 87 marks, ~78 Percentile
Despite working hard for two months, I was nowhere close to what I wanted. I analysed the mock and understood my weak areas. 25 Mocks and several months later I appeared for CAT 2017. I vividly remember the day of CAT '17, I came out feeling happy about my paper and I thought I had done well. I even demanded a gift from my parents in anticipation of a 99 percentile in CAT and a photo in newspaper! (Yes, you can laugh on it :P )
The bubble didn't take much time to burst. It was morning when I woke up, and a friend of mine called me telling me that the results are out. I sat down, fed my credentials, and immediately, tears started rolling down my eyes.
Overall 97.25 Percentile
VA: 94.80 Percentile
LRDI: 79.32 Percentile (Bye Bye New IIMs)
QA: 98.52 Percentile
NMAT: 223 Marks
SNAP: 95 Percentile
XAT: 94 Percentile
IIFT: 93 Percentile
It was over for me. I knew these scores wouldn't fetch me any college that I had dreamt of, more so because of my academics. The scores of other exams were also not good enough to be worthy of an interview call, let alone a seat. I had a few calls from tier 2 colleges, and I started preparing for them, hoping to join one of them. I thought maybe this is my destiny, and this is the limit. However, God had other plans.
NMIMS - Rejected
IMT Ghaziabad - Rejected
IMI Delhi - Rejected
KJ Somaiya - Rejected
MDI Gurgaon - Rejected
XLRI HR - Rejected
I didn't get calls from any of the prestigious IITs, IIMs, FMS, IIFT, etc.
That phase from January to March was horrible, to be honest. 5 AM walks and lying on the bed all day, became usual. I used to watch TV shows and do nothing all day. It was not because I failed to do well in these five exams - CAT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP, and IIFT; it was what this failure did to me, it deluded me into believing that I can do just this much, not more. It was the limit since I thought I had put in all I had into the prep.
CAT 2018 - It Begins Here!
It was May when I seriously started thinking of taking one more attempt. I realized that I did not objectively analyse my mocks and hence couldn't work on my weak spots as much as I should have. I just kept taking mock after mock without gaps to learn from every one of them. That's when my mentors, Vipul sir, and Tridal sir, motivated me and brought back the belief in myself. I started preparing again, focussing more on improving on the errors I had done the previous time.
I started reading articles from Aeon Essays and began solving RC99. I also incorporated reading in my routine through books. I read Sapiens, Shoe Dog, Animal Farm, Outliers, and whatever I could, all in different genres.
This helped me in not just solving RCs in under 40-45 minutes but also helped me in other sections as well. Initial mocks were a bit difficult to score well in VARC since there was a break after XAT '18, but once I began reading a lot throughout the day, RCs in mocks became very easy to solve.
This section was my Achilles heel. I was not bad at reasoning but somehow knew how to screw up this section. In my mocks and sectionals, I used to change strategies to see what works and what doesn't. I tried to do DI first, LR later. I tried the other way around. Sometimes I tried timing DI sets and LR sets separately to check my selection of sets. My habit of reading helped me in quickly gauging whether the set should be done early or later. By October, I was ready with a strategy that worked for me.
I considered myself decent in this section since the beginning. My scores in this section were stagnant for the initial mocks, but then your performance in this section only improves if you practice more and more. Test-taking strategies take a back seat here. I took around 10-12 sectional tests for Quant, and rest of the practice was all through the book Quantum CAT and previous year papers.
I had formed a routine that I followed before every mock:
1) I used to read something for 20-25 minutes to be able to concentrate
2) After reading, I solved a sectional or two sets of DILR, and it helped me in getting back to the solving phase
3) I answered 2-3 quizzes on Zetamac Arithmetic of 2 minutes each. If I scored above 60, I was set.
Adding to all this, I had made an excel sheet with all my mock scores, section-wise marks, accuracy in every section, number of attempts, etc. with graphs to see the fluctuations with a row dedicated to writing sarcastic comments on my own performance :P like "Kya bigada hai DILR, wah!", "Negative mein hi score kar deta iss mock mein? Why not?" and many more.
I took around 55 mocks of CAT alone, with nearly five each for every other exam. The results bore fruit to this hard work.
1) NMAT - 245 Marks
2) SNAP - 99.96 Percentile
3) IIFT - 98 Percentile
4) XAT - 99.32 Percentile
CAT 2018 - 99.73 Percentile
VA/DILR/QA - 99.40/95.5/99.73
All the enthusiasm throughout the Ups & Downs wouldn't have been there without having some of my best friends and co-aspirants around me like Yeshna, Rutvik, Ankur, Dheeraj, Meet, Mayank, Akshit, Aditi, Anasuya, Nidhi, and more. Thank you, guys.
What after this?
My mother's dream of seeing me in a newspaper finally came true :P
Also, I got into the Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management (SJMSOM), IIT Bombay.
Well, that's a story for another day.
All I Wanted to Speak About CAT
Having read posts by Mayur, Moinack and Ashish, I gave in to the urge of joining the bandwagon and write a detailed account of my experience with CAT as well. Pardon me if you find it long and boring.
I decided to write CAT for the first time in 2016, while doing my Practice School at Intel, from BITS Hyderabad. I started in May and gave my first AIMCAT ( AIMCAT 1722 ) on 14th May 2016, scoring 96.9 percentile ( with 40 percentile in VA :p ). I had enrolled for TIME's program at college itself but hardly attended classes there. I got the material with me during the internship and started preparing.
With the AIMCATs, the weekly grind at Intel and XAT preparation, preparation for placements at college took a back seat. As I was technically not sound enough to appear for placements in Electronics or coding, my father advised me to appear for GATE as well, which would ensure I would prepare my core engineering subject properly and have a shot at some top PSU jobs.
So, I was juggling with 4 pins at once- CAT, XAT, GATE and my internship. For CAT, I appeared only for AIMCATs and had given 35 mocks (including SAMCATs ) by the time I was to appear for CAT 2016. My mock scores varied from 85 to 98 percentile, highest being 98.84 in the penultimate mock and lowest being 84.98 in my last mock.
In the last 6 months, I struggled a lot with DI/LR and out of the 22 All-India mocks I had given, I could clear the DI/LR cut-off only 8 times. That had really hit my confidence while appearing for the exam.
My centre was 50km away from home and I was in slot 2 (2pm-5pm). I breezed through VA/RC, tackled nerves during DI/LR and had a stroll in the park during QA. However, I knew I had not done enough to breach the 99 percentile mark. I knew that since the moment I had reached home and begun introspecting about my performance.
In the middle of December, I finished my internship and left for the placement training session at college. Those were fun days; my friend ( who aced GRE a month ago ) and I were pretty adept with the short practice aptitude tests. He would appear for some of them, rather intoxicated and would still manage to be ranked 1. Not 2, not 3, but 1. I would enjoy my time there, but anxiety had taken its roots in my mind. CAT result was not too far off.
Meanwhile, I appeared for XAT 2017 in Hyderabad and also convinced my father to let me skip GATE. I had told him about my plans for MBA confidently and told him I would give my best shot to get into a top college this year itself :P.
It was January 2017 when CAT results were declared. Following is my score card-
VA/RC- 98.68 percentile
DI/LR- 93.31 percentile
QA- 98.12 percentile
Overall- 98.91 percentile.
I knew I would not get any good calls with this; my plan was to get into A/B/C/FMS/XLRI. I did not apply for any other colleges and this made me question my abilities and my confidence took a hit.
I was unprepared for placements, I did not have a PPO from my internship and MBA seemed a distant dream after my score. I had appeared for XAT 2017 on an empty stomach and got 91 percentile with cut-off missed in DM and VA. A very forgettable month, January 2017, barring my placement at Fractal Analytics on 31st January 2017.
In the month of February, I was in for a pleasant shock when FMS released its shortlists and I was to appear for the interview process on 14th April 2017.
I also appeared for PGDBA exam ( ISI Kolkata, IIT Kgp and IIM C
collaboration course in business analytics ) and got shortlisted for its interview process in March. FMS and PGDBA shortlists really boosted my confidence; I did not become over-confident but I felt I was not entirely wrong in dreaming big.
With time, I learnt about the importance of work experience and the amount of time needed to put into preparing for CAT properly. The rejections at FMS and PGDBA were no bummers for me. As almost half the year was gone, I decided to skip CAT 2017 and focus at my job.
Fractal was an enlightening experience. I knew absolutely nothing before joining and in the next 2 months, I was diving deep into languages like R, Python, SQL and software like MS Excel, VBA and Tableau. I got into a client engagement and began working hard, preparing delivery, handling requests and up-skilling at the same time.
Once things were smooth and under control at work, I started preparing for CAT 2018. It was January 8th when I started working on my plan and enrolled for AIMCATs and SIMCATs. I had plenty of time to prepare but did not let complacency sink in. I started appearing for the All-India mocks in the month of May, giving 2 mocks per weekend. Once done with a tiresome or horrible mock, I would log into PG and check scores of people like Anand Nayak, Praharsh Hathi, Harsh Ranjan, Mayur, Siddharth and other DT members. Their scores would give me an idea of how I performed relatively and give me a much needed motivation while appearing for the next mock. By the month of July, things started getting a bit out of control at work, where more focus on delivery and self-learning took a lot of time every day. My schedule went for a toss. I talked to my manager and asked him 19 days leave in the month of October, promising that I would finish my goals and delivery before going on leave. He was immensely supportive and encouraging and had a long talk with me about my plans in life and at Fractal. Yeah I was fortunate enough to have a great manager at work.
In the month of October, with 30 days to go for CAT, I appeared for 15 mocks as per the time slot allotted to me in the admit card. This time, I had applied for more colleges other than the ones I mentioned earlier. All the time, not one of my friends knew what I was doing. And I loved the "secrecy" I maintained during all this time. I did not talk to anyone else about my CAT preparation and this is the probably the very first time I am explaining my journey to someone.
And then came November 25th. Wearing the most comfortable of clothes and with hope in my heart, I appeared for CAT 2018 Slot 1. VA/RC went fine, DI/LR went better than in 2016 and QA was interesting.
I took a few days off to relax and started preparing for XAT 2019.
It was January 5th when CAT results were declared. Following is my score card-
VA/RC- 97.89 percentile
DI/LR- 93.48 percentile
QA- 99.89 percentile
Overall- 99.67 percentile.
Yes I was happy, really satisfied. The plan all along was to get 99.5 plus and get calls from FMS and IIM Calcutta. The months of February and March went in a haze; preparing for interviews, reading newspapers regularly, talking to mentors allotted by colleges, commitments at work, appearing for interviews and then waiting for results. Following are the calls I had and the converts/wait-lists-
Calls- IIM Kozhikode, SPJIMR, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow and FMS Delhi
Converts- IIM Calcutta ( initially waitlisted at 49 ) and IIM Kozhikode.
Waitlist- IIM Lucknow ( 450-something :P ) and FMS Delhi ( 101 :/ )
Rejects- SPJIMR (Marketing)
I also began writing a blog, inspired by Mayur, check it out- https://raahul1995.blogspot.com/
One can find the detailed interview experiences in my blog.
As I go to Joka in June, I hope the trials and tribulations, which I conveniently skipped mentioning here, have made me a better person, with a more open and positive outlook towards life. I also intend to be less solitary than I have been for the last 18 months, when I go for my MBA :p
Those making it till here, till the very end of this long-ish and boring-ish story, remember- always dream big. You will break more barriers than you ever imagined.
IIM Calcutta (2019-2021)
All I Wanted to Speak About CAT
They say in the end all you'll remember is how you felt. Not an emotion more, not an emotion less.
This is not going to be very long for this journey has barely been as exemplary as all the ones prior. This will stand on its own two feet as a symbol of a very normal story, made meaningful not as much by the ending, as it was by the men and women who touched it, on its way there. There are pillars of excellence on which this forum stands and great people have graced this place with their stories of undying spirit and hope and resilience. And although this pales in comparison, this is a working class documentary of what happens when there is belief, not only in your own abilities but also in the nature of all things real. In a pantheon of greats, this is the ordinary one, maybe quietly exemplifying in its own way how courage isn't always the loudest voice in the room, how sometimes it is the one that can stay still, the longest.
I won't waste space telling you about me. All that's needed for now is that I am a General Engineer Male Fresher from a non-IIT/NIT with a dismal Graduation score. Talk about ghosts of your past coming back and haunting you. I remember deciding that I wanted to appear for CAT at the fag end of 2017, bright eyed and what not. Prep material is always available and I found the syllabus to be kindof doable. All was okayish till I saw a few of the senior batches get their CAT 2017 results and it dawned on me that the best calls I could realistically get were C, XLRI and FMS. The rest required me selling my soul to Armstrong's daughter and going to the moon or something before they'd call me for an interview.
In football, they teach you to play to the final whistle. It isn't over till its over and it had barely even begun. The mock series started slow. No proper companies meanwhile came for recruitment so I decided to put all my eggs in the MBA basket, Kipling playing in my head with:
"If you can make one heap of all your winnings.
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss.
And lose, and start again at your beginnings.
And never breathe a word about your loss... "
I've found more often than I would like, that the wisest of words die down in the face of adversity. The same happened here too. August, all was a blur. Too close to the picture, I could barely make out one thing from another. It was then that I, like many a weary, lonely traveller, stumbled across PagalGuy. That changed everything and I say that with the certainty of a beggar who has one ticket only and sits at a railway platform, waiting for his train. I was there, I know. For first timers, CAT can be a very, very frightening journey. With my profile, you need to shoot things out of the park left, right and center. Gradually though, things picked up. One of the greatest motivations in life is to strive to be better than you were and to constantly keep at it, relentlessly doing what you want to do. No traffic on the extra mile, we are told.
I won't bore you with the pettiness of the details but those were tough days. Not as tough as many, and tougher than many. But tough none the less. Churchill floats back to my memory, rising and speaking - "If you're going through hell, keep going".
Again, some mocks were good, some weren't. Without the benefit of experience, it became very difficult to detach my mock scores from my level of preparation. One bad mock meant one day wasted. And there were only so many of them left. I remember at the end of September, I made a folder on my laptop to store all CAT/XAT material and named it "Only Once". I was going to do this only once for I had not the patience or the perseverance to go at CAT again. That is why I respect these people here who have had the guts to take this examination head on even after all the chips have been down. There is glory at the end of the tunnel for all these bravehearts. I, though wasn't in that league. If it was going to be, it had to be now.
Things like that bring on added pressure. As CAT approached, I had no plan B. Ladies and gentlemen of the house, I urge you to always have a plan B. And a C and a D if necessary. You can't always account for the unpredictability here. I remember seeing my CAT center at a faraway place that needed me to travel 5 hours to reach. Morning slot. We went there a day ahead, stayed nearby and I then went for the exam. I also remember cheekily telling my mom infront of the main gate before entering that no one in that center was going to get more than me. Typical arrogant yours truly. Whether that was the case or not, I will never know.
When the paper ended, it felt like a mass disaster. Like someone had socked the living daylight out of me. I felt broken when the quants section ended. It literally ached for a while. The unpredictability played its part and my inexperience shone through the cracks. There was no Leonard Cohen to make poetry out of my misery. There never is.
It was then that Dream Team '18 was formed. Men and women who had walked the same hallowed sheets came together in a batch of the most talented people I have ever seen in my life, bar none. The answer sheets and response sheets were released. We calculated, hoped, prayed, called on all the gods we never even believed in. Days passed in hurried fights on various forums. "Slot 2 > Slot 1", "You're a stupid so and so", "Your mom is a so and so". We saw it all, one glorified cheap shot after another. Normalisation is a female dog. Sadly it is no one's pet female dog.
And then there was the leak (whatever that sounds like). I spent my days leading up to the XAT in a literal frenzy, Nothing made sense anymore. Were the results right? Was there going to be more normalisation? Eventually the final result came in. I was disappointed, a tad bit, knowing that it could've and should've been better had I not panicked. But such is the nature of the game. You fumble, you lose out. My scorecard stood something like:
VARC: 99.86 || LRDI: 96.96 || QA: 99.18 || OA: 99.79
My parents were pretty happy. So that was a relief. The calls came in. As expected A, B and L looked at my grad score and told me to go stand facing the corner. The rest called me.
Then XAT happened. I remember sitting for the exam and a pretty lady sitting next to me as we chatted about our CAT results and everything. And then she proceeded to asking me quant questions when the test began. I wanted to flush her down the toilet, I remember the exact emotion. There were cameras all around. Anyway barring that bit of annoyance, XAT went alright, given the fact that I had zero prep going into it. The results were pretty quick:
XAT: OA - 99.731
Beggars and marks. A love story.
The one thing I knew about the interview phase was how that was somehow tougher than the written and so I prepped. Given the sins of my past I was bound to be grilled on the mishaps. Countless hours were spent on possible questions, news, static gk, personal questions, trying to learn how to tie a tie and knot being successful (wink). But there was prep. More than the written part. In times like these when there is only one chance, you try to smash and grab. C was the target but again without diversity and work ex, I was already fighting for a sinking ship. The interview season was challenging but fun at the same time. From being cheeky at C to being emotional at XL BM to questioning my parents for making me, at K, the journey pretty much encompassed all that is bright and foggy about this wonderful saga.
At the end, C waitlisted me at a number that was just out of reach. For all the pain I thought I would have, I had no regrets. I'd done what I had to do. I'd done all that I could've done. I was proud. XL BM/HR, Kozhikode, Indore, MDI and all of those went through. By the time FMS came, my mind was already made up and I made the mistake of telling them that I'd converted XLRI. They wouldn't have me and I don't blame them. All said and done, this random GEM F with dismal acads will join XLRI BM this term, flirting with possibility, again.
The Dream Team meanwhile was a constant source of encouragement. There is no telling how far a person can push themselves if there are people around who merely believe in the same things as they do, strangers in the night who refuse to stop seeing the best in you, no matter how many skies have fallen, In the face of such unwavering inspiration, you start believing in yourself. If I start taking names, we'll run out of internet space so there is no point in even trying. The greatest thing I have taken from this league of extraordinary people is that when it counts the most, when it goes down to the wire, there are people who will become your family and fight for you, no matter what. There is invincibility in his and I have felt it.
As a parting note to all my fellow beings, remember no amount of hard word can change your past but no amount of hard work ever gets lost in the mail of this universe. It all comes back to you, the good and the bad. So just don't let go. It will be very, very tough but you will come through.
They say find the one thing that truly makes you happy and hold on to it for the rest of your life. So go ahead and do that. This journey shouldn't stop you from being. Enjoy every moment of it and try to find others like you in this supposed darkness. You'll find it is a lot brighter, together. And when it eventually fades, we will all be footnotes in this unending journey.
What do they say about us all being stories, again?
As Tennyson in the Ulysses says,
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
XL BM (19-21)
This is a long post, more like my stupid life story of the past 3 years, so if you are a lazy ass like me, chose your topics as per your needs in this over 4000+ word gaatha (story) or maybe save some time by skipping it alltogether.
Okay, so right of the bat, I must warn you, this is not a story of some miracle that ensued or some atrocities in life. It's just a plain old story of an average boy with big dreams and the will to slog, a story of an "average his whole life" person with nothing but hard work to back him up. To reach places and goals, which were never a part of his vision at one point in time, being considered too "big" for him. A story, of someone who never really understood his capabilities until pushed into oblivion and beyond, where he found his ambitions, achieved a few of them, found love, friends, more like family and was lucky enough to really explore his potential.
This is when I pondered upon the idea of doing an MBA, with my initial reason being travel. Great job, great money, then foreign exchange, this that, just travel! Talked with a few seniors and started liking the idea even more. Sure, everyone knew about the IIMs, but my mind was always wandering off to MDI. That was the place I wanted to be at. That was the placed I felt connected to.
The one with the happy journey
In October of 2016, I joined the nearest TIME centre in Rajouri Garden. I started enjoying the process, specially QA. It was my strongest area and I enjoyed it even more because I could do all the questions the fastest in the class. That gave me some very misplaced pride and how it nearly ruined my first attempt at CAT was be evident soon enough. Every weekend, I would rush to the TIME centre on my scooty and attend only the QA and DILR classes. Made some good friends there, Manav (going to IIM Indore this year), Jai and Tushar. These guys made the journey even more eventful.
At this moment, I was completely unaware about PagalGuy. I was doing just fine in the mocks initially and used to score 95+ percentile consistently. I was happy with that as I heard somewhere that 95+ in mocks translate to 98+ in CAT and I was happy with 98+ in CAT, in fact, that is the exact score I was targeting.
The one with the turbulent ride
But soon, my scores started going downhill, I went from 98 in one mock to 77 in another. These were turbulent times and I could honestly do nothing about them as I was completely unaware about proper analysis process. I still remember the day when I saw my only 77 percentile in a mock, I was a pool sweat at that moment with anxiety taking me over and I was starting to question the very reason I was appearing for this exam. This was followed by two more scores below 88. Some thorough introspection and a week off without any studies and mocks, really put me back in the right mindset to continue.
The one with the misguided attention
I used to analyse only the QA section that too focus on the questions I knew and slowly built a bubble around me where I ignored questions I didn't knew and slowly my weaknesses in my strongest section started to creep up. I failed to realise how bad a strategy I was following, that's if we can even term it as a strategy.
It was out of sheer luck that I landed upon a PagalGuy thread about MDI and got introduced to the platform for the very first time. I saw people like Chavvi, Eshan, Mayur bhai posting these mammoth scores on the forum. I decided to seek advice from these supposedly, Mock gods. The advice bore fruit, the platform did one bit of it's magic. From 87 in a mock 2 weeks before CAT, i jumped to 98 percentile in my final mock before CAT.
D Day 26 November 2017:
I was in high spirits, was confident that day and went in with my goal set on my target: 98%ile.
VARC and QA went fine but I DILR was a nightmare, something I wasn't prepared for. I was hoping to clear the 80%ile mark in DILR. Then the traditional slot 1 vs slot 2 debate ensued, all I did, day in and day out, was browse through pagalguy, pick random fight with people on the forum and try to convince myself that, maybe, just maybe, I can reach the 98%ile mark.
Due to this, I messed my IIFT and SNAP exams. This is when I decided to put in all my effort for XAT.
XAT was one exam I wanted to ace, as it was often termed as "The mother of all Bschool exams". Post exam I went straight to my Nani's home. I wake up the next morning, only to be greeted by a PG notification, CAT results are out.
The one with the results
I was at my nani's house, sleeping on a mattress on the ground, I see the notification at around 8 AM, after some excruciating 5 minutes of handling a messed-up server, I was able to see my result.
QA: 98.7 %ile
I was exhilarated with the result, run to the room where everyone was sitting, tell my result, everyone is super excited and congratulate me. It was a bubble that was about to burst in a few days. When the calls started rolling out. Although I never expected calls from ABCL, considering them way above what I can achieve ever and considering myself not worthy enough to study there. (Self-doubt and underestimation is the theme of this story, in case you didn't catch that)
But then, SPJAIN call came and I was exhilarated, still in that bubble which kept getting bigger, didn't get IIMK and IIMI but shrugged them off as minor hiccups deciding to ignore the bubble and then for calls from my college of dreams "MDI”, then IIMS and CAP and bubble was now larger and stronger.
This is also the time I was struggling with the one question that haunts so many MBA aspirants. FYI, didn't find my answer until the results started rolling out. The bubble still had some time to thrive as XLRI results came out. With the botched up online exam, a lot of good candidates missed out giving their best performance on D day. I somehow managed to hold my nerve and was one of the lucky ones to spared of any technical glitches. And wouldn't you know it, the universe kept feeding my bubble, XAT results came:
XAT: 99.63 %ile
I was on seventh cloud, jumping like a little kid and this is also the time when another thing set into me which deserves another chapter of its own. Oh, by the way, the bubble is now the size of the freakin planet.
The tale of two opposites: complacency and self-doubt
There were two sides to my GDWATPI journey that followed. The first was that of self-doubt. I constantly kept undermining myself, kept questioning my PI answers and knowledge on subjects. This kept me very nervous and unsure in the interviews and I was sweating really bad in all the interview. This bring me to old nemesis, sweating, the only thing that accompanied me to the interviews.
I failing to realise that it's a game of portraying what you know in the best possible way and being thorough in what you know. But that self-doubt persisted. I was so pessimistic about my chances that I decided to skip my SP Jain interview to for the safer option, NMIMS as both had the same date.
Now, I was complacent at the same time, because my bubble made me believe that my CAT performance is enough to take me through in MDI, IIMS, CAP and my XAT score more than enough for a seat in XLRI. I never really studied much (resulting in self-doubt during interviews), was always on the phone, chatting away my time and was having fun all this while. Then NMIMS reject came, which was again shrugged under the carpet to protect my bubble. The interviews got over. Now only one thing was left.
The one with the Rejects *
After NMIMS came IMT result, again a reject, and now I was getting tensed, really tensed but I took respite in the rumours that IMT was rejecting people with supposedly high percentiles. Man, the life that I gave to the bubble. I was sure that no matter where I get an admit to, I will go. I just didn’t want to give the dreaded exam again and would have taken IMT, NMIMS had I gotten the chance but luckily or unluckily, I didn’t convert either of these two. Then it was time for the biggie.
I still explicitly remember the day, a day never to be forgotten because these are the days that show you where you have been no matter how far ahead you get in your life, they will tell from where you came from.
13 April 2018 ~ 8 PM
I was coming home from the gym. I was lying in bed scrolling through Instagram when my only telegram group blew up. Apparently XLRI results were out. Now the anxiety kicks in, kicks in real hard. I am scared to death, my heart beat could be heard a mile away. I check my HRM result first. Rejected. I was sweating crazy now. I picked BM from the drop down now. Covered the screen of my phone with my hand while slowly revealing the page. Just saw one word.
The XL dream was broken, shattered. All the time spent researching about XLRI, about Jamshedpur, listening to bodhi tree songs on loop for loop, all felt like going down the drain in a split second. It was over, I was anxious, scared and all the confidence had seeped out of me. I didn’t know how to tell my parents. In fact, I didn’t tell them till the next morning. I was down and didn’t know what to do, whom to talk. I maintained a façade of ignorance and portrayed myself to my friend that it didn’t matter. But it affected me deeply. With nowhere to go, I turned to the one place I could count on, PagalGuy and the one person I had looked up to, @mayur_arora bhai. Here is the post that I published on PagalGuy and still remember each word of that post and each word of the reply that I got,
@mayur_arora bhai said a few weeks ago that not being shortlisted is much better than getting rejected in the final list. Tab baat samaj mein nhi aayi thi. par bilkul sahi kaha tha, kitne hi bschools se call ni aaya, no regrets or anything. But being rejected by XL stings bad! Veterans ki baat ka wazan ab samaj aa rha hai
mayur bhai giving wise advice since....... for a very long time 👌
Mayur bhai, koi aur motivational advice ho toh batao, will be really helpful!
I was desperate for some help at that some time. Some motivation to keep me afloat, tears were on the brink of my eyes. Then came the reply I had been waiting for,
@madscorer Carry your scars with dignity and pride.
Scars show us where we have been, they do not dictate where we are going.
CAT18 it should be. CAT18 it will be.
Hope to share Old Monk pegs with you in IIMB PGP 2019-21.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
For the unaware soul, Mayur bhai is going to IIMB this year, he is a part of IIMB PGP 2019-21 batch. He will be having old monk pegs in IIMB. Congratulations to him!
These lines really helped me shrug the disappointment but the self-doubt prevailed. The mindset was such that I would have taken any college that I would I have converted, IIMT, IIMU, IIMS, IIMRs, almost anything. But one thing that this XL reject did was burst the MF bubble! I was no longer under the false pretence that things will come easy to me, I was no longer placing undue pressure on my CAT score and I knew chances of any further convert based on how my interviews went were bleak at best.
Fun Fact: I botched up MDI so bad, I was actually happy that I got a 418 waitlist.
Then came IIMS reject, another expected one. I was hoping for a new IIM convert, at least one. But it was not to be, all IIMs were straight rejects or waitlists in the thousands. I was now pondering upon the idea of giving CAT next year, my only issue was that I didn’t ad a good job as I didn’t even sit for placements once I got placed in Infosys and I was sure I won’t join there.
Another thing that I was seriously considering was taking up IIM Kashipur, because my waitlist might just convert (it did). I was trying to convince myself that with average package at 12 LPA, I can get 15, the infrastructure seems good, close to home and what not. I am so glad that my heart told me, “Nopes, this is not it, XAT showed you a glimpse of your potential, don’t ‘settle’ for anything, never settle”. Finally, through off campus placements, I found a job in Maruti Suzuki and decided that this is where I’ll go, Bschools will have to wait another year, my MBA dream will have to wait another year. Those words by Mayur bhai kept revolving in my head, and I knew, I had to make it big this time, no half measures.
I am so glad that I failed to convert all the new IIMs, MDI, IIMS or else I wouldn’t have grown as a person, wouldn’t have found friends were more like family, wouldn’t have gotten the chance to bell the CAT and XAT, wouldn’t have found love if I had been offered an admit to any of the above mentioned colleges. I would not have been writing this AIWTSAC at 2 in the morning.
The one with CAT 2018
I joined Maruti, and two test series IMS and TIME. As I was in the training period, there was literally 0 workload on me for the first 5 months. My last day of training? 22 November 2018 followed by 3 days of holiday. Talk about luck, huh?
The preparation began on a high note with 99.3 percentile in my very first mock. This time I was an active member on pagalguy and posted most of my scores on PG. There were good days, there were bad days and then there were days when I wanted to tears my head apart. But I had the constant support of this forum and like-minded people who posted their scores like me. I’ll name a few of the them I remember posting their scores on PagalGuy, the dream team mention will follow later.
The people who used to consistently post their scores were, @abckl_1234 , @Praharsh_Hathi3 , @chetanjadhav20 @Racist @aabhasm1996, @harsh_ranjan100 , @ashwinhari , @jbk.hcyju , @ItsAMarvel, @Radjay122 @WetPants @ZappAttack @anandnayak @moinack
Now the going got really tough during this time and called for some serious time management and planning with a constant supply of motivation. The working hours at Maruti were stressful to say the least. I used to wake up at 6:30 in the morning and come home at around 8:30 at night, leaving me with just 10 hours for the day. After coming home, it took an hour to freshen up, eat and sit for some 10-15 minutes with the family. I used to sit on my laptop at around 9:30 and get up at around 11:20 or 12. There was no time for anything, literally anything else. Weekends were reserved for Mocks and weekdays were reserved for their analyses and filling any gaps in my understanding of a topic. This was fine by me; I was getting over 6 hours of sleep and I was utilizing my commute time for reading and watching news.
But then lightening struck, I was posted in Manesar for 2 months right before CAT. I just told myself one thing, “plenty of people do it with worse working hours, why can’t I?”. this zid to be better and more competitive prevented me from quitting the job. A thorough analyses of my time structure showed a saving of 10 mins each in the morning and afternoon if took accommodation somewhere close to the factory, which mind you, would have been a 30 min bus ride away, followed by a 10-minute walk. So finally, my timing looked something as follows. I used to wake up at 5:45 in the morning and come back home by 9 at night. And ate dinner and rushed to my laptop by 9:45. I was left with 8 hours. I asked my mom to make a cup of coffee for me and I used to study for around 2 hours, some days I would pass out on my table to wake up the next morning with the blaring sound of my alarm.
There was just one source of motivation during these times. My good old pal, MDI, the one that I had my heart on. It was on my way to work and I used to remove my earphone everyday in the bus to see it and everyday while coming back home I told myself, “Work for that Dream you dumbass” and that’s how I kept working through these times.
D Day - 25 November 2018
I have my experience posted on Quora if you want to read that in detail,
In short, it went fine. I knew I had messed up in quant and somewhat in DILR. But yeah, once the answer keys and our question papers were out, I checked my scores sitting in my office. I felt comfortable with my score although a bit disappointed with how my DILR section answers turned out to be. But I knew, no time to get complacent, so I started with my interview prep.
This is the one thing I did everyday religiously and would recommend all future aspirants to do. I watched Rajya Sabha TV on YouTube. There was a new episode everyday with very sophisticated discussions and debates and not some NDTV or Republic TV like crap.
And then the results were leaked in the source code. I saw mine and the scores were as follows:
DILR- 99.45%ile (48.84)
QA - 99.18%ile (55.98)
OA - 99.73%ile (176.38)
IIM C calls were out and 1 march was the date for me. I had to be ready, you do it or you don’t there is no try. I left no stone unturned here, did all I could for the coming weeks. On 16th of January, XAT 19 results were out,
Now I knew, I had 3 calls out of the top 5 institutes in the country, I had to convert at least one of them. There is no other option except IIMC, FMS and XLRI. With that mindset I proceeded with my preparation and gave all my interviews with that same dedication and considering each one as a stepping stone to the first biggie. JOKA.
With all my other interviews getting over by 14th of February, I made a detailed plan for the next 14 days with each day divided into 3 compartments based on what to study while going to work, while coming back home and after coming back home, each delegated a topic to be studied with enough rooms for flexibility as well.
1 March 2019
I arrived at India Habitat Centre in Delhi and had some fruits before the interview. The interview was a pretty intellectual yet a stressed one.
Every point that I made was followed by a very logical conclusion that directly countered my argument and them being very intellectual people, I knew that they are bringing their A game here to test me in these circumstances. I was lucky they decided to go deep on a topic I was the most confident about and had in depth knowledge of the same. The Indian Auto Industry. The first 20 minutes, though stressful, were good. I didn’t realise it back then, but on later introspection, I realised that I did as good as anyone could have done in that scenario.
But the last 5 minutes of my interview were when I cracked. The pressure somehow got to me and even though I tried, I failed to answer the last 4 questions on the trot. The 4 questions were as follows:
1. Electric cars in India? (mentioned one)
2. Differentiate X^x^x^x x times
3. Business application of integration?
4. How will you predict the future demand of EVs?
Results came. IIMC – waitlisted at an abysmal 209.
I knew I did my best, couldn’t have done it any better. My luck wasn’t with me that day, that’s all.
But first came the XLRI result. There was no assurance of when the result was supposed to be announced.
10th April, 2019.
It was another hectic day at work. I was at one of the suppliers when my phone battery drained out. I came back at around 5, charged my phone and saw 1000 Whatsapp messages waiting for me. I just read one word, XLRI, and I removed my phone from charging, came outside and started rushing through the messages. Apparently, XLRI result was out in the source code. I texted my friend about how I could see my result on my phone to which he said “you can’t”. I simply replied, “ok”. I decided to see it after I reached home at 8.
I was about to go back in, when suddenly, a message popped up – Official results out. The blood was now rushing through my veins and I could hear my every heartbeat. I open the link, enter my details, covered the phone with my palm and started swiping it over the screen, revealing it bit by bit. I see one word,
I don’t jump into the air, shout, or cry. I go into the lobby, pace 3-4 rounds there, tell myself “Ashish, 2 years of ordeal has finally paid off, finally you can rest (until B-school starts, at least).” I called my dad, told him I converted XLRI, and he said just one thing, “See, I told you you’ll make it, always knew it”.
Finally, that one mission I proceeded with when the exam scores were out, to get into one of the top 5 B schools in the country, was accomplished. I had secured myself a seat in XLRI after the same reject last year compelled me to write the exam once more, explore my potential and just see what comes off it. The same reject was the reason I didn’t take IIM Kashipur.
I thank my stars that I didn’t convert any new IIM or MDI last year, or else this long ass post wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be going to XLRI.
Some parting off philosophy,
Sometimes you may not realise it but everything happens for a reason. Often a times it is not evident why something happened but give it time and you’ll realise good things are in store somewhere in the future and that’s when the reasons will become clear.
Being rejected by new IIMs, MDI and IIM Shillong was a blessing in disguise. Had I been given a couple of marks more in CAP, I would have been studying at IIM Udaipur and so much in life would have been missed and the real problem would have been that I would never have gotten to know about it.
Ashish Gangal a.k.a. Madscorer
XLRI (2019 – 2021)
All I Wanted to Speak About CAT.
This, in all certainty is my last post on PagalGuy. I will no longer be an active user as I used to be. I might be here on and off, but I would try my level best to reply messages and help people to the best of my availability.
Please note that I am not tagging anybody in the post. There are just thousands of people I am thankful to, ranging from folks on PG/FB to people who gave me lift while going to office when I could not afford a vehicle myself. The list is never ending and the story touches so many people that most of them are not even aware if I am ever gonna write/publish it.
The post is a story of 'ज़िद' (stubbornness), a CAT failure story, and not a CAT success story.
Bare Beginnings in Dehradun :
The journey started in October 2013. Mid semester exams of Sem-3 were over and me and Anshul were looking for coaching centers. Anshul wanted to prepare for GATE. I wanted to prepare for CAT. Why? Coz why not? My UG college had a decent MBA program and quite a few seniors were inspirational and helpful enough to share the nuances of preparation for CAT. I located the nearest TIME coaching near college (12 kms) and enrolled the same day. Anshul and I were good motivation for each other and often discussed strategies and prep tips.
The first mock started soon in Feb 2014. Got 87 marks overall with 50+ in QA. This was the realization that I have to work hard for 2 sections. I had 18 months left to take CAT and hence took plenty of mocks. In few mocks, I started touching the magical mark of 99%le and then 98+ was a usual phenomenon.
I was solving 30+ questions everyday on various CAT preparation groups on facebook and my friend list grew from a mere 634 in third semester to 3000+ by the end of final year. I was keen on working very hard for QA, not so much for DILR but really put a lot of efforts in VARC.
My first CAT attempt was scheduled in Nov 2015. I got a nice software job in September and my preparation stopped for 15 days. These days were spent in celebrations and thinking about life in Bangalore. And then reality hit me. Next mock-test was like a tight slap, I got 95%le. Way lower than what I would want 50 days before exam. I pulled my socks up and started preparing hard. By 26 Nov, I was consistently getting 98.5+ in mocks. And then the bomb blasted. I came out of center at 5:30 pm, cursing my luck. DILR was too difficult. QA was okay. VARC - you never know.
The next few days were spent in preparing for XAT and IIFT with no motivation level after the CAT-disaster.
And then results were out.
CAT 15 OA : 98.27
VARC : 85.83 (No idea what happened)
QA : 98.21 (Well Okay)
DILR : 98.80 (Wow)
I had made up my mind this moment that I am retaking the exam.
IIFT and XAT scores were not upto the mark. One section went bad in both exams. I realised I should have taken one more test series. I was, till now, TIME classroom student and used only AIMCATs.
I got calls only from IIM Shillong and CAP. Appeared and then cleared a few of them. I remember Shillong or Ranchi WL cleared while I was signing my employment form in office in July 2016, in Bangalore. I received the phone call, thanked them for their time, signed my employment form and submitted it.
This is when I came to know about www.pagalguy.com and created an account for myself. And this was the beginning.
Namma Bengaluru :
July 2016 brought a mixed set of emotions. Joined my job, made a lot of new friends, settled in a new city with language barriers on my own. But the entire setup was not exciting enough to stop me from preparing for exams again. I was active on pagalguy and solved lots of questions in QA. I was very regular with mock tests and discussions on pagalguy. 99+ in mocks was the norm and a rare 99.9 made me feel better during my lows.
During this time, I realised I am not made for a software job. The work was exciting and challenging, but not to my liking. Initially, I decided to give more efforts at work, but the motivation did not come naturally. The salary did not look impressive anymore.
Exam was scheduled in Dec 2016 and I took it this time with all my heart. I also took IIFT and XAT. This time, I was confident of improving in all sections in all exams for sure.
CAT16 OA : 99.47
VARC : 94.79
QA : 99.11
DILR : 99.44
IIFT16 : 99.58
I received calls from IITB, IIMK, MDI, FMS, IIM Shillong,SPJIMR (fin) and CAP.
IIFT interview went like a breeze, I was sure of converting it. I was humiliated a lot in IIM K interview by the profs and wanted to leave the interview midway, but then the prof realised that the kid was tortured too much and then made me laugh with a couple of light hearted stupid questions. In between, he asked me will you come to IIMK if selected? I looked at my shoes and kept mum for 30 seconds. He repeated the question and then I smiled.
He told me that I'm not coming to IIMK for sure. If there is anything I wish to ask, I could. We discussed about dream college (IIMB) and what it takes to reach there. How it is different from IIMK and how should I use the next 1 year. SPJIMR interviewers were impressed with me but told me to choose specializations carefully next time in form. I got rejected from here too. In between all these interviews, I went home for Holi. I got in touch with an old classmate from my primary school and decided to catch up with her. I was waiting in a cafe in my hometown when she came in walking through that front door, and this is when I realized, she is the one.
I skipped IITB interview and decided to prepare hard for MDI. MDI also went like a breeze. Then came the biggest interview of the season : FMS.
I attended FMS with 0 hopes since 99.47 is not good a score for FMS. I got 5/5 marks in Extempore and 7/10 in interview (some minor hiccups in interview). The last convert had 99.48 and I had 99.47.
This was the time results started coming in. I was rejected by IIMK. I converted IIFT Delhi, got WLed at MDI (which converted later), IIM Shillong and other new IIMs were also happy with me. FMS was obviously a reject. But I was not happy with myself. I wanted to make big. This was the time I was suffering in my job and was deciding to leave it. I was recently assigned a new team, which was slightly better but it was under the same management/leadership.
With great advice from friends and family, I decided to take CAT once more. Anshul left me to live with another friend and I shifted to new a flat with another CAT aspirant Subhendu in May 2017.
My first encounter with fear, monotony and depression :
This is the time when I decided to give it all and started preparing very hard. Pagalguy was always open on my laptop 24*7 in office, at work, even in washroom on android app. I was furious after getting FMS and IIM K rejects. IIMB was the only target. Nothing else mattered.
The anger made me better with QA and DILR questions. I focussed hard on VARC too. During this time, I made plenty of friends on PG like Nikhil Kothari (went to IIMB), Debarnob Sarkar (went to IIMA) and Shubham Mandal (went to IIMC). At prep-peak in September, I was solving 95%+ questions posted on groups in pagalguy. I was neglecting work, getting negative feedback from office folks but IIMB was the only thing which mattered.
On my way to office, I used to counsel/mentor people from PG/FB and made plenty of friends. My phone was always busy on the commute talking to such fellow aspirants. Facebook inbox was answered during lunch breaks and there were so many tabs open on my laptop at all times.
And then came the results.
CAT 17 : OA : 99.75
VARC : 98.67
QA : 98.95
DILR : 99.36
IIFT17 : 99.84 (missed GK sectional cutoff)
XAT : screwed up some section. Did not get either of XLRI calls.
I got calls from IIMK, IIMC, FMS, MDI, IIMShillong, SPJIMR and CAP.
IIMK was the interview which I was sure of converting. SP again told me to choose specializations (I had again chosen fin, why? I am a jerk.) MDI was cool too. The big interview , IIMC, was on 12-Mar-2018. They literally grilled me a bit too much and I lost my calm. And then, I was sure of rejection.
Meanwhile my brother was in town for 4 days and I took him to Pondicherry. While he was sleeping, I stepped out of the hotel at 5 am in search of some nice tea. I decided to take my rented vehicle towards the beach and sat there alone for some time reminiscing what is missing in life. I was sitting alone and kept thinking what I have achieved in life. I could not think of any significant achievement. I came back to my room and slept a bit more.
Shortly after the IIMC interview, I was called to a bus stop in Bangalore and was told that she does not see me a future with me and I must move on in life. I was confident that she is making a right choice, even if it ends up breaking me from inside instead. I had no future. To hell, I had no present as well, Only past. NOTHING ELSE.
I was on a trip with Subhendu when IIMC results came in. I was surely rejected. I had converted IIMK, MDI and others. SP was reject yet again. I attended FMS half-heartedly and then got rejected again. I was not at my performance peak. I felt rejected. I wanted to cry. I wanted to die. Office was too hectic now and life was moving at a very slow pace. It was during this time, I made friends like summi_arora and a lot many others. In all mocks, I used to feel like I am the oldest one involved in all this drama. People as young as 20 were taking mock tests while I was 24, clueless in life.
I decided to prepare for job interviews and continue in tech with improved salary. Nikhil was kind enough to refer me to his organization but the interview did not go well. Sitting in the cafeteria, sipping cold coffee at 12:30 pm on 11-May-2018, Nikhil told me to either suck it up and join IIMK or continue preparation one more time.I thanked him for his time, came home and cried non-stop for many hours.
During this time, seniors from a lot of B-schools called me and told me to join IIMK. A senior from FMS (whom I love and respect too much) even compared so many scenarios to me, and IIMK really made sense. But then I told him, there is logic and then there is 'zid'. He said ATB and told me to think wisely and disconnected the phone call. Every wise soul in the world told me that I am not from IIT, my acads suck and CAT now a days is a shot in the dark. But, I guess, between love and common sense, it is love which often takes the from seat.
At some point of time, I had 50+ messages from seniors from different B-schools making me re-think about my decision to take the dreaded exam once more. My parents, by this time, used to tell me ‘Sun lo kabhi hamari’.
TIME Dehradun Director,my teacher from long back told me that I am in IIM C's hangover and I should move on: the earlier, the better.
On 28 April 2018, I was called in by management and was grilled a bit too much about my declining performance in the last 30 days. I came out disappointed and wanted to quit then and there. It is then I posted something really stupid wallpaper on pagalguy. It said, ‘If it’s still on your mind, it is worth the risk. Every day is a second chance.’ I captained the picture with ‘IIMB it should be. CAT18 it is.’
In May 2018, I went to meet the CTO of the start-up where I was an intern after 3rd year of engineering, in hope of getting some referrals for tech jobs and while discussing my future career trajectory, he told me that one of his board-members is an IITM-IIMB alumnus. He called the guy and booked me an appointment the next morning. I reached there at sharp 9, ended up talking to the IIMB alumnus (early 1990s batch) for 2 hours. In between he told me so many stories and how he thinks that if I could get 99+ twice, I could get it one more time. I remember asking him if he ever felt that IIMABC are any less than the ivy league? He told me that while he was working in a lot of startups in Silicon Valley and in Bangalore, he could see the brand was respected by all, he never ever felt that he could have done better and IIMB opened him more gates than he could even think or dream of. The chat was more about him reminiscing his days and less about motivation. I think he was humble enough to tell me the positives and negatives of IIM ABC and IIMB in particular.
On parting note, he told me that it is the peers and faculty members he misses the most, and not the courses per se. But that was his personal opinion as he was among the bottom 20% of the batch and was never interested in studies (as per him). I smiled and bid him goodbye, determined to reach there next time.
Meanwhile, Subhendu joined MDI-PGPM and decided to leave the city. I was on my own to find a new flat and live with new like-minded people. But this time, decided to stay with someone who does not share similar passion. I found Ronak and Avi in June 2018 and shifted to their house.
I started slogging more in office, worked super-hard to get a well-deserved promotion and kept solving 100s and 1000s of questions/doubts on FB and pagalguy. I was going to work at as early as 7 am, and coming back at 7 pm, rest for some time, take a mock test, analyse it and go to office the next day at 7 am again. I started disconnecting from phone calls/ FB/ pagalguy now. I stopped picking phone calls from anyone and talked just to my mom and office seniors. Mrinal (IIMK) suggested me to take a long break and go for some trek. I booked the tickets immediately and went to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib trek in July 2018. It was a very peaceful break for 10 days and I made plenty of friends during this time. The best part of the trek was ‘No Airtel network’ in the trekking zone’. I lived peacefully for some time, not worrying about CAT, office and family.
And then the promotion emails in office started pouring in. All my friends from college got it, I did not. I kept waiting and when it was too late, I decided to chuck it and shift 100% of the attention towards not only the exam, but for interview preparation. I resumed my normal office hours. I used to think what I'll write for my IIMB SOP. Daydreaming, right?
In July-August, Nikhil offered me a visit to IIMB campus and I declined his offer, told him that I'd only come when you'd (IIMB) send me a formal communication. He laughed but I know deep inside, he understood what I wanted. I remember avoiding Bannerghatta Road altogether for almost 2.5 years, I once ended up not joining my office folks at some resort, since the only road leading to resort would have made me see IIMB on the way. Crazy right? Not to someone in love.
Meanwhile, Avi became a partner in crime and started taking mock tests for CAT religiously. We used to take tests together at night and then eat maggi before sleeping at 3-4 am. It was during this time, I gained more than 10+ kgs and decided not to worry about it.
And then the exam season began. My CAT center was 53 kms away from my house. Sumair was helpful enough to take me to the center on scooty, and bring me back to my den, alive. I was confident this time to bell the CAT. On my way back, I decided to drop Sumair to his home first and we were sipping tea at a tapri near his home. He is someone who knows nothing about CAT but knows how passionate I was about some college on Bannerghatta Road. He looked into my eye and asked me if I am going to get in 'the' college? I nodded, ate something and left for my place. By the time I reached home, I had 40+ missed calls from friends (now seniors) asking me how are things now?
IIFT was taken in very light mood when I caught up with a few classmates from engineering at exam center. But, I decided to buck up for XL soon after I was done with IIFT. This time, CAT answer key was released and people were calculating their marks for CAT. I did not. Nor did my friends. Why should I? My logic was to check directly in the result PDF and not spoil my mood and weekdays. Avi and I continued preparing a lot from all Decision Making sources for XAT.
The last leg :
And then we heard the leak of CAT results on Jan 01, I decided to not check and wait for the formal declaration which soon came on 05 Jan 2019, 1 day before XAT.
CAT 18 : OA : 99.88
VARC : 97.75
QA : 99.83
DILR : 99.59
IIFT 18 : 99.934
XAT 19 : 99.08 but 22%le in GK (Got only BM call)
And then calls started pouring in. IIMC was first, IIMK, IIML, IIMA and IIML soon followed. But the only call I was interested in, was not yet out. I was coming out of my office on 09 Jan when outlook in phone made it vibrate. I decided to check it, saw the subject of the email and started running towards my home,got almost hit by 2 different cars to finally pen down the most dreaded SOP.
The SOP took over every other task I had in office and life. Getting references, asking parents to courier a signed anti-ragging document, this form demanded so many things. I submitted the form a day earlier and started preparing for interviews. IIFT was the first interview and it went awesome. Next was IIMB. This meant a lot. It was very early in the interview season, hence, I was not fully prepared. I remember my hands shaking on 12 Feb 2019 in IIMB campus while signing the attendance sheet for the interview. The interview was very challenging and the interviewers almost killed me with tough, open-ended questions, seeking my opinion on what is wrong with Indian software industry. But the day ended on a high note with a special tour of the campus by friends there. I came back and CAP,SP,IIMK interviews went well too. The next big thing was IIMA, and they had a very structured interview process covering acads/hobbies/work ex, like everything under the sun.I was very confident about this interview and moved onto IIM Shillong where they rubbed salt in my wounds by asking coding questions. XLRI-BM was an interview which grilled me too much, I was confident of a reject. MDI was again a bad experience after IIMS and XL since I did not know the meaning of WAT/GD topic but wrote/spoke anyways. Then MDI interviewers asked me if I had ABC calls? I said yes and was escorted to the door immediately. Midway, SPJIMR results were released and I had a small WL number. I thanked my stars that I would not have to pay 8 lakhs immediately as I had to run for loan in between the other interviews.
Next was IIMC. The interview which I had the most realistic chance. I aced the WAT and interview felt tailor-made for me, and gave very consolidated answers. I went home and poured myself a drink (Maza of course!!) and slept all afternoon since I thought Jokan interview went well after IIMS-XL-MDI disaster. Last interview of the season was IIML on 27 march, which went bizzare too as I had no idea about WAT topic. Interviewers focussed on my hair and tie-color and grilled me about hindi-literature. I gave up in between the interview and wanted to run and sleep. The season ended partially. FMS was left, but I did not book tickets.
Fast forward to 5th Apr 2019, IIMA decided to reject me on a tense friday evening. I was disheartened. IIMA interview was awesome. I started seeing myself working for a software company for the next 20 years. I was now impatient but then IIMB sent me an admit on 08 April. This was the part of life when you say, 'I am out'. I was not elated. I was not happy. I was done. I was relieved. I called my mom, explained her the IIMB admit and she said, 'chalo shehar nahi badalna padega'. I was amused by her response, called my brother and he demanded an iphone ofcourse!! (Nope, He is not getting it.), called dad, and he was happy too. I posted the good news on FB, had 2 pegs of Maza with flatmates, called lots of close friends and shared with them the news and slept early. That's what I did. I remember sharing the news with the bus-stop girl and she ended up shouting and jumping profusely in her office during her internship on a late Monday night. This is when I realised friends are for life, moments - not so much. I ended up sharing the good news in office next day, filed in my resignation and sat on the chair, sipping coffee for the first time in office, relaxed, not looking at the computer screens anymore!! Days are now spent in helping and motivating people and giving them bizzare and unique examples which I witnessed during this journey and hoping a few, atleast a few, to come out from small towns, achieve their wildest dreams and then disappear in thin air, just like MS Dhoni says he'd do post retirement.
Avi too converted IIMB. The flatmate saga should continue in the campus as well.
Calls for the season 2019 : IIFTD, IIMB, CAP, SPJIMR, IIMK, IIMA, IIMA-PGP-ABM, IIMShillong, XLRI-BM, MDI, IIMC, IIML, FMS. (in order of interview dates)
Converts for the season 2019 : IIFTD, IIMB, IIMK, IIMShillong, XLRI-BM, MDI, IIMC, IIML (in order of interview dates)
Rejects for the season 2019 : IIMA
WLs which should convert : SPJIMR
Results not yet declared : CAP
Interviews Skipped : FMS New-Delhi, IIMA-PGP-ABM
The season ended on a high note. I ended up getting what I waited for, for so long. Life goes on and so does the infinite expectations from it. I was in IIMB campus for city meet on 5 May 2019 and was munching on snacks there sitting on a bench all by myself. The entire journey flashed over my mind and I felt, in that moment, that some things are really worth it. What seemed like an endless struggle has finally paved way for something so beautiful. In Steve Jobs words, ‘the focus of my entire adult life bore the desired fruit. What next?’ I got up from the bench, fed some snacks to the birds nearby and left the campus thinking about life in general, and making a list of Maza stalls near campus.
Random Gyan :
1. Don’t take unnecessary tension for exam/interviews. Things are pretty random and people have no control over these. Good preparation helps to a certain extent, though.
2. If I knew I would take this exam 4 times, would I still take it? Depends. I would have tried for a great job and might have stuck to it. Few people from my batch from engineering are earning so much more than average salary at top 3 IIMs. All of them have a very healthy work-life balance. Few I know are going to get into mid level product/management positions too. So yes, I would have given a careful thought to it. But I have learnt so much (about people and life in general) that I think it was a personal choice and I won’t hesitate making the same choices again.
3. Is it about the money or the satisfaction and joy? Neither. The friends I made in this journey are going to stay for long. Hence, I cherished this journey.
4. Should people aspire for CAT given that it is a very random exam and past sins (read acads) screw your chances at good colleges? Depends. I would suggest keeping a plum job as a backup. Please don’t let this hit your pre MBA job/job-expectations.
A lot of people I know, who are doing meaningful jobs end up not taking IIML,XLRI-BM. One friend who works in a major e-comm company decided to not join IIML because he was very happy with his job. So think about it very carefully.
Signing Off :
Address : Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, KA 560076
Maza : It is a bitter drink, popularly taken with carbonated soft drinks. It goes well with peanuts, popcorns and a variety of other salty snacks.
Blog Link : http://mayur1937.blogspot.com/
The journey for CAT 2018 started on May 22 2018. I enrolled with TIME, IMS and CL on that very day and set a target that I will convert IIM Calcutta or FMS Delhi in April 2019. The very next day I gave my first mock and scored 82 marks with 36 in VARC, 22 in LRDI and 24 in Quants. I spent the next whole week on noting down the subtopics of Quants and Lrdi, assessing my reading and comprehension and identifying various question types which feature in VARC. I knew my strength lies in Verbal Ability and had to make sure that I bell this section to clear the CAT. I worked on my reading speeding for the next one month by reading random articles from various websites so that I am used to reading 6 different passages and solve 24 RC questions. This enhanced my speed and comprehension ability which also boosted my problem-solving ability in LRDI. Simultaneously I also identified my strong and weak areas in Quantitative ability. By June 22 I had a set plan ready which I had to follow religiously till November 25 2018 a.k.a D Day. We soon got to know that IIM Calcutta would be the host IIM and set the CAT, I made an assumption that Quantitative ability will be a really difficult section as IIM Calcutta is known for its rigorous mathematics-oriented curriculum and I started to work accordingly as QA was my weakest section of the three. After careful analysis my scores pushed into the 150-160 zone, after 2 consecutive mocks I was happy with the improvement but the streak continued for 6-7 mocks and I was unable to figure out that what is going wrong with my strategy that I am still in the 98-99.4 zone, was just not able to breach the barrier. Then i started to use PG to look for like minded people and get some tips from them as to how i can improve my scores. I came across posts of @abckl_123 @SmileyKRK @madscorer @ZappAttack @rohitcd @aabhasm1996 who would have massive scores in simcats and aimcats, brief discussions on PG with these guys helped me gain some insight into improving LRDI and evetually my scores improved to the 180 zone. I had reached the month of october by now, D-Day was just 1.5 months away and i decided to up my game and improve my strategy and mock analysis. I came across @ronniem1996123, consistent mock topper and to be CAT 100 percentiler. We has grea discussion regarding mock strategy and specifically VARC. I decided to analyse each and every option of RC's to know as to why a particular answer was correct and why an answer was wrong. This approach helped me push VARC scores in the 75-80 range by november second week. Now i just needed to finalise my strategy and make minor changes to optimise time. With the help of the Mock paper given to us by IIM Calcutta i recognised the usefulness of question paper mode, it helps you read the RCs and question in one go, second thing was that i realised i am very fast with TITA based question in LRDI and slow with question which had CBD and none of these. I integrated this in my final strategy and implement them in Simcat 15 - OA 206 and Simcat 16 - OA 204. I gave my final mock on 18 november and after seeing the 204 i knew i was ready to take the CAT head on.
D Day: I was in the afternoon slot and was completely relaxed on D day, we had to wait for one hour before the paper started, i adjusted my seat, keyboard screen distance and reading method i.e covering both sides of eyes and ears so that i can read with full concentration.
VARC : This section had a small surprise as instead of 6 RC's we had 5 of them, they were lenghty and the questions felt a little on the higher side. VA section was equally difficult with extremely difficult Paja jumbles and odd man out.
I was able to attempt 32 questions and it shook my confidence a little as i had never attempted less than 34 questions in any mock.
LRDI : As expected this section was diffcult, i spent 5 mins and went through each and every set, identified all the doable questions and started with set number 8 but i got stuck midway and had to redo the whole set. 31 minutes passed and i just had 4 attempts, this shook my confidence even more but suddenly a surge of positivity came in and i closed my eyes for a minute, with 28 minutes to go i picked the 2 choice of set and finished it in 5 mins, third set in 6 minutes and 4 set in 12 mins. Now i had 16 attempts in 55 minutes but i wasnt sure of them as i solved them in one go itself. i started to scan through my leftover doable questions and came across a very easy venn question which was solvable via options and i immediatedly marked it. I had 17 attempts in 59 minutes.
QA : I was totally shaken by my performance in the previous sections and was thrown under the bus by IIM Calcutta with an extremely difficult Quants section. In 30 mins i manged 5 attempts and in the next 30 another 8 attempts.
I was totally dejected by my performance and decided to relax for a week and prepare for XAT, but IIM C had a surprise waiting. They released our answer sheets along with answer keys. I saw that i had scored 170+, then i was just awaiting the final result by IIM Calcutta which came on 5 january 2019.
CAT 18 : VARC – 87.62 | LRDI – 53.03 | QA – 34.57 | OA – 175.22
CAT 18 : VARC – 99.95 | LRDI – 99.73 | QA – 93.74 | OA – 99.71.
On that very day i got the much awaited shortlist from IIM Calcutta and eventually by SPJIMR, MDI, IIM Kozhikode and FMS Delhi.
Next two months was spent reading newspapers, making HR answers, learning about the various colleges, developing opinions, understanding current affairs, work experience, undergraduation courses and GDs/PI's.
I had a very smooth experience with SPJIMR and IIM Kozhikode.
MDI and IIM Caclcutta were 25 and 40 minute long stress interviews.
On 12 April i received my rejection from IIM Calcutta and i was completely broken and was just sitting in my room when a voice inside me said red, i saw the poster of FMS on my wardrobe and thought that what am i doing, wasting time for something which is in the past while i have my FMS interview in 3 days. I shut myself from all social media and spent the next 3 days studying for 17 hours each. On 16 April i reached the Red Building of Dreams and i felt such a strong vibe for it that i knew i have to make it here at any cost. I perfomed at my optimal levels in the GD, Extempore and PI. On 24 April i got the admit from FMS Delhi and at last the Dream was fulfilled.
I would like to thank the extremely talented, hardworking, intellectual bakchods i have met in my life
THE DT 2019 :
and many others
So its a wrap atlast, the journey was phenomenal but its just the beginning.
Time for Phase 2
THE RED BUILDING OF DREAMS
FMS DELHI 2019 – 2021.
Never thought I would be posting this for I, like many others, have not had as many hardships to add glory to the tale. But if my words could mayhap inspire even one amongst those who read it in times to come, I woud be happy to put them out there. The idea of pursuing training in management came from a fascination for doing something different. I am no engineer, not even a commerce grad. I come from the rare breed of arts students who walk this path and rarer still who find some degree success on it. Now success is subjective if you think of it in terms of results. My success finds its roots in a belief in my capability which found a boost even before the results came out. It is being a part of the struggle and that undying faith that you deserve a seat that makes makes you successful. You are the protagonist of this story and no college will define you or your potential.
My profile happens to be below average. 10/12/UG (BA/LLB) - 89/70/72. Graduated in 2018 so my work ex would come out to be around 11 months in litigation by the time I join. Now the prep part. The thought of appearing for CAT and the other exams came to my mind in December, 2017 but final semester with empirical projects delayed any progress. Fast forward July 7, 2018, I sat with my mother to discuss what course of action to take for my future. She had long been trying to convince me to prepare for the entrance tests but I always had some excuse because I knew I could not get in with just 4-5 months of prep. Long sleepless nights followed and a week later I thought might as well give it a try. I messaged a mentor simply asking if it was possible. He replied in affirmative and then the chase was on.
Readers please note that I had a drop year after my 12th and in my 5 years' law course there was no maths involved so for all those using the excuse of how quant is difficult to manage for arts people, here I was with around 6.5 years of having been away from the subject. All my prep was online and I started my day with around 4 hours of lecture of quant followed rushing to the court, DILR lectures in the evening and RCs before bedtime. Kept this up for a month and then added mocks to the mix. 10 mocks down I was questioning my decision. 10 more and I did so no longer.
CAT went fine with DILR playing spoil-sport per norm. With the response sheet being released, I knew I had exceeded my expectations but with other subjective elements, you simply never know.
IIFT blew hot and cold. For about half a day I thought I would not make it with 2 sections below cut-off and I went to Vrindavan to get away from those discussing the paper and to calm my mind. On coming back the answer keys gave me a pleasant surprise.
XAT was a quiet affair, the paper seemingly simpler with decision making having questions familiar to those who solved previous years' papers. There was an event organized near the center and the loudspeakers made our lives miserable but the ancestral technique of index fingers in the ears worked like a charm.
Final results- CAT/IIFT/XAT- 99.01/99.93/99.92.
My prep for the interviews followed a diluted version of what Akshay had done. http://www.xlmerijaan.com/sansarg/prep/gdpi-experience-akshay-gupta-zzeke-from-pagalguy/
The interviews were surprisingly not very challenging perhaps because I was so used to answering uncomfortable questions in my profession or perhaps because academic diversity played a role. Joining XL this year.
The one definite factor that paved the way to where I am was meeting the brilliant people of DT '19. A sense of belongingness is what the group gave me. Seeing them fall, shrug it off, and be ready to take on the world gave me heart when the going got tough. And so it is to my ilk that I dedicate this. And also to those who doubt themselves because they do not come from a specific background or because their profile is poor. If I can do it, you sure can. Take charge of your fate and do not be afraid of taking a leap of faith. You are made of sterner stuff than you imagine. Believe.
Phew ! CAT and its associated activities are over for me . Alteast for this year .
I began dreaming about cracking CAT and getting into an IIM sometime in July 2017 , during my third year of engineering .
Started with a really great Mock CAT season , where barring a couple of hiccups , I did very well. So well , infact that I was obsessed with getting into only the best of B Schools , ultimately making a few bad decisions like not applying for XL and SP Jain . I eventually only applied to all the IIMs ( only coz my dad filled the form and he didn't know which were old and which were new) and FMS .
Then on the D-Day , Murphy's Law raised its head and decided to screw with me . I had a horrible CAT , worse than all my mocks .
Slot 1 , Bangalore.
After a decent VARC where i attempted around 30 questions came DILR , which was by far my strongest subject , seemed like the easiest in years .In fact it seemed so good that I ended up attempting 28/32 questions ( 7 full sets ) and then the infamous 2019 QA hit me . Solved exactly 2 out of the first 10 questions in 15 mins . Did not improve much in the remaining time . I always knew geometry was my achilles heel but never expected as many questions from that subject as there were in the paper .
Funny part was I still thought that I had a really good CAT and lived in a bubble for a few days till the answer key came out .
I had never made more than 2 or 3 mistakes in DILR , but on that fateful day ended up messing up 2 whole sets and then some .
Final Raw Score was 165 with 70/43/52 individually in VARC/DILR/QA.
This translated to 99.36 percentile .
With just about average acads and being a GEM fresher meant that I had only calls from FMS , IIMK and CAP ( Didn't attend ) .
Both my interviews at IIMK and FMS revolved about me being a fresher and I could not defend the classic " Why IIM" question as well as I would have liked .
I got rejected by both institutes . Looks like its CAT 19 for me now . Its probably for the best , who knows maybe I may even make it to Joka next year .
After all its a brand new year , new hopes but the same old dreams .
The most important thing is that while we may fall on our backs , we should always get back up and run . As wise men have said , its not about the destination , its about the journey and mine continues .
Special thanks to the PG Dream Team 2019 , you guys helped from slipping into depression and inspired me to keep running . @hathiappa @anandnayak @moinack @ZappAttack @Praharsh_Hathi3 @SmileyKRK @EricR @madscorer @chetanjadhav20 @rohitcd @abckl_123@ronniem1996123@email@example.com@arshsahay100@aabhasm1996@Racist @mayur_arora and so many others that I could keep going .
To those who got into a college of their choice . Congratulations Guys , you guys worked hard and were intelligent enough to get in .
To the others who will be writing CAT 19 , lets make this journey memorable . I don't know if we'll make it next year or in any of the coming years , but I can guarantee that the effort we put in will give us rewards somewhere , even if it isn't what we planned for .
I know my journey with CAT isn't over yet .
I failed in my attempt to achieve my dream this year but someone reminded me that even failures have to written . It struck me very deeply and so I wrote about all I had to say about CAT . Afterall that is AIWTSAC .
Thanks for reading . :)