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)