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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

2018

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.

Signing off,

Raahul Saxena
IIM Calcutta (2019-2021)

CAT'18-99.67 | IIM Calcutta 2019-2021
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ZappAttack
@ZappAttackIIM Ahmedabad  ·  600 karma

Congrats!!! All the best for Joka

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TheSaxMan
@TheSaxManIIM Calcutta  ·  230 karma

@ZappAttack thanks and all the best to you for Vastrapur :)

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