Ok people, this post is going to be really long, but I am entitled to that, because I am putting three years of my life down in a single post. So, please indulge me.
Cracking the CAT had been a long standing dream for me. This is the story of how I finally did it. :drinking:
I was in the final year of college, with a job in my hand and no care in the world. Spent my days playing Quake, boozing and just general timepass. Though I had known from the first year that I wanted to crack the CAT, I didn't realize what it meant to me. Joined Pagalguy in March 2007 but hardly ever came to it or realized its value. Didn't hit the books regularly. :banghead:One big coaching insti held classes in our college, and following the herd, I joined. But, it became more of a nuisance rather than a boon, for what engineer with a job in hand wants to wake up at 9 on a Sunday morning for a coaching class? Needless to say, I treated the classes no different from my college classes, meaning I just went 'cause I had paid the money. As soon as I came back from the classes, all was lost and my world was Quakemania again. The mocks started and I got 93%ile in the first one. That rang a bell somewhere. If I could get 93%ile playing Quake and studying nothing, then I stood a chance. Unfortunately, the bell that this realization rang was not loud enough, and I continued in my slumber. With one month remaining to CAT, I finally realized how important CAT was to me. Slogged for a month with the Quant and DI books by Arun Sharma, but in hindsight, I now realize that CAT 2007 was practically a lost cause. Sat for the exam and got the following :
Scores : Quant - 97.xx, VA - 96.xx, DI - 60.xx, Overall - 95.40 :banghead:
Decided to give it more seriously this time. College finished in May, and I spent the whole of May and June doing a really simple Quant book, all the while thinking that I was practicing some worthwhile Quant. The joining date from my company came soon, and I came to Bangalore in July. Joined AIMCATs the day I stepped into Bangalore.
There are some things you can do, and some things you just cannot. No matter what the reward, there are some things you just will not or can not do. For me, coding is one such thing. I could do Quant for hours. I could read RCs for hours. But, finding my way through tonnes and tonnes of labyrinthine code was something impossible for me to accomplish. Luckily, there weren't too many restrictions on what you could browse in office. Since I couldn't take books to office, I switched to Pagalguy:cheerio:. I read for hours on end, while my teammate did most of the work. He enjoyed that, and I enjoyed this freedom from office work. Came across the scores of the Bangalore Dream Team, and gaped :shock:. Being an introvert, I generally prefer to keep to myself and make the least social contact possible. Still, I persuaded myself to go to a PG meet. I was already in awe of the_hate , and I probably went just to meet him. Met a lot of other puys too, like Prem bhai, rsriram84, shabadp, yogsconnect, amrutesh666 and some more. Listened to some gyaan from hate. By the end of the meet, rsriram84 and I were pals. He was probably my first friend from PG, and we are pals to this day.;)
I continued to do the least possible work in office. God gifted me an awesome manager. I will not name him here but he was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Read on, and you'll soon know why. Mocks started off with a 98 percentile, but slowly slipped to early 90s. I kept missing cutoffs, mostly in DI and hardly ever in VA. QA showed up a couple of times, but that wasn't an issue.
I have one big problem. Before any big exam, I cannot sleep!:banghead: No matter how much I try, I cannot. I had taken a week off from office right before CAT, and thought I would alter my sleeping patterns to adjust my waking time to that of C-Day. Unfortunately, I failed to stick to that schedule, and ended up getting just 4 hours of sleep before CAT ! Needless to say, my brain felt like a ball of gum. I looked at the questions and just sat there. Nothing clicked. I was so wasted that day, even VA ditched me. Before the result, I spent my days begging God to just give me any percentile above 90, and promising myself that I would definitely crack CAT the next time. I ended up with the following percentiles :
Scores : Quant - 89.xx, VA - 88.xx, DI - 90.xx, Overall - 94.18 :banghead::nono:
Now came the humiliating task of telling everyone what I had scored. I did that, for what option did I have ? All around me, people were getting calls, enrolling for GDs and interviews, and I was wishing the Earth opened up and I fell in through the cracks. The prep I did in office made sure everyone knew I was a CAT aspirant, and everyone wanted to know how I had fared. Failure is a bitter pill to swallow, and for me, it's somewhat of an anathema. I absolutely hate to fail. I am my own worst critic, and harsher than the Army when it comes to judgment. The IIM fire still burnt. I promised myself that I won't be denied a third time. I would kill or be killed for an IIM this time.
This was it. If I failed at this, I was lost. The prospect of year upon year in my current job haunted me, and stoked the IIM fire to a point where it became a madness. I was ready to give anything for CAT, anything at all. The music in my phone was replaced with audio wordlists. I listened to words while travelling to office, eating breakfast, basically at any time I could. Always carried a set of TIME flash cards in my bag, reading them whenever I could. I was already good at VA and didn't need the wordlists, but I still felt that a lot of my time could be spent more constructively for CAT prep purposes. Sleep took a backseat, and I made up a crazy schedule for myself. It was crazy, but it worked. I slept from 6 to 9 in the evening. Had my dinner at 9 and sat down to work around 10, and slogged till 3 or 4 in the morning. Slept at 4, got up at 8 and was in office by 9, bleary-eyed, unshaven and often late. I eat really really fast, so the daily newspaper readings were done in lunch time. Some days, I was so exhausted I fell asleep in the library or was forced to sleep in a resting room my office had:lookround:. Joined a famous teacher in Bangalore, and was amazed with the quality of stuff there. If I couldn't do it with all this stuff, I wasn't worthy of an IIM. There were weeks when I had to go to office on weekends, and this meant I was running all the time, 6 days of office and 1 day of coaching. No rest. No letups anywhere. It was killing, but I was ready to do anything it took.
The mocks began. The first one, AIMCAT 1020, was not for test series people, but I aced 1019, getting a 99.56 with all sectionals enough to qualify for an IIM Ahmedabad call. Me and some coaching friends had a small celebration of that success. I prayed that this continued, and barring minor hiccups, it did. Got in touch with Doc at this time [ shashank3012 for the uninitiated ] and took an instant liking to him. He was someone who could, and was happy to, talk about CAT, mocks, scores, strategies, percentiles and all such stuff for hours. Also, he is an optimist, and someone who believes in me much more than I do in myself. The PG Dream Team nominations began, and he even nominated me Captain of his team. :biggrin:This was an unexpected show of confidence, and I again resolved I would not fail. Then came the day I was selected for the Dream Team. A year ago, I had watched from the sidelines as the Bangalore Dream Team guys took apart the AIMCATs, and I had lived to see myself chosen to the most coveted Team on the whole of PG. That was the first time I began to believe I was good, and good enough to stand among the best. The madness was finally beginning to pay off.