I guess it's about time I put in my 2 pence worth of CAT wisdom.
Prologue - Once upon a time in Nashik... and Pune
Most of my schooling was done in Nashik. It was there that I gave my 10th and 12th Standard exams. After my 12th, I desperately wanted to get out of Nashik. Thankfully I got into College of Engineering, Pune and took admission in the Electronics and Telecommunication department.
I was decent at academics, with a CGPA of 8.13. However I was never really that interested in electronics, so an electronics or software related job wasn't something that I really wanted. An M.S. was out of question, so I decided to go for an MBA. Quite honestly, the amazing packages that IIM grads were getting was the major reason for this. Also, after visiting IIT B during Mood Indigo, I always felt bad that I did not make it to an IIT. It was then that I decided that I would do my MBA from an IIM and nowhere else.
Chapter 1 - Fear Proof
I joined IMS Pune for CAT 2008. This was because they had a special Apex batch where they would club together the best of students who would be taught by the best of faculties. I really learned a lot here. The faculty was pretty good and the classes were very useful as the level of questions was pretty high as compared to the ordinary classes. I was also performing well in my Mocks and was pretty confident of cracking CAT. Maybe I was over confident. Hence after getting a job in a software company, I did not give the entrance test of any other high paying 'core electronics' company, as I was very sure that I would be joining an IIM the next year. I wasn't even planning on writing any other MBA entrance test. Heh.
Chapter 2 - From Dreams till Dust
I took the CAT on November 16, 2008 - what turned out to be the last paper based CAT. I thought I had done pretty well and went to my class looking for answers to the questions. It was there that I realised that I had screwed up DI. Not a major screw-up, but bad enough to ensure that I wouldn't get a call from IIM A or IIM C. Realising this, I took the XAT just to have more choice. And sure enough my predictions came true. I had just 1 call - IIM K. And yeah, I also had an IIM L-ABM call. XAT went well and I had an XLRI BM call as well. Things were starting to look up.
My CAT 2008 score:
VA: 99.8 %ile QA: 96.5 %ile DI: 93.67%ile Overall : 99.59%ile
Chapter 3 - Interviewer Basterds
My IIM K interview was bad. I barely answered anything and was out in no time. However my IIM L ABM interview went well. It was a bit of a joke really, I convinced the interviewers that I had an uncle who owned a winery in Nashik because of which I wanted to study ABM. My XLRI interview was good, and I was hoping to get through. Then came the results: XLRI reject followed by IIM K reject. I was stunned. I felt like a complete failure. I still remember that day- my dad had called to console me and I was about to cry in the middle of the street. For the first time in my life I had failed at something that I had worked so hard for. I didn't check my IIM L ABM result till a few days later. And I had made it, I had converted my call! However, by then I had decided that I would take the CAT again. A lot of people advised me to join IIM L - arguing that the placements were similar to the main course. But an MBA is like a marriage - you do it only once. And I didn't want my MBA to be in Agri Business Management. My Sir tried to talk me out of it - saying that there's no guarantee that I could crack the CAT again. However, deep inside I knew for sure that I would crack it the next time. After all, the CAT & I had some unfinished business.
Chapter 4 - Grindhouse
I started studying for CAT 2010 with all earnestness. I joined Byju Sir's classes. I really had fun in the classes and they helped boost my confidence. I also started working. Thankfully, the rigours of the job were never such that I didn't get enough time for my studies. However, I skipped everything else - the endless parties, movies etc etc that my office gang would go for. I had just one goal - cracking the CAT. The best part about studying for CAT was that I loved doing it. Therefore I rarely felt bored by studying, this helped me study more and helped increase my confidence. I was confident about myself this time and nothing could shake my confidence - not the shift to an online pattern, not my moderate Mock CAT scores and not even the fact that a lot might depend on the type of questions that I would get. I knew I would get through irrespective of that. So I wrote my CAT on 7th December 2009. It went well and I was hoping for the best.
Chapter 5 - True Brilliance
28th February, 2010: I was home. The result was declared! But I couldn't access the site. Finally my friend got through, and he mailed me my result. I saw it - 99.99 %ile. I had done it! I was rolling on the floor, laughing in disbelief and joy. I had nailed the CAT!
My CAT 2009 score:
VA: 99.80 %ile QA: 96.95%ile DI: 100 %ile Overall: 99.99 %ile
Chapter 6 - Natural Born (IIM)Student
I had 5 IIM calls - BLACK. Also had 2 FMS calls. Hence I was roaming all over for my GDs and PIs. Some went well (C,K) some were ok (L) while some were bad (A,B,FMS). But all this while, I felt good. I knew I was going to make it. Also, I had learnt a lot more about an MBA. It was not just a means to obtain a fat package - it was much, much more than that. I came to know more about what students actually do at the IIMs, how their life is and how an MBA makes an impact on their lives. And I really wanted to be a part of it. And I knew that I deserved to be a part of it. Almost as if it was meant to be.
Epilogue - Joka Crown:
April 25, 2010: I have converted both my IIM C calls. No other results have been declared, but I am more than happy with what I have. I will be starting my MBA journey soon at one of India's best colleges - the dream has finally come true. The year long wait, the efforts put in, the countless Mocks, my rejecting IIM L ABM - it was all worth it. I have finally done it. All it needed was a strong self-belief, sharp focus, great will power and a lot of fun while studying.
Update: I have also converted my IIM Ahmedabad call and I have decided to study there and not at IIM Calcutta.
P.S: I would like to thank a few people who played an essential part in my CAT success - my parents, my brother Rushikesh, Sneha Das, Byju Raveendran, Sandeep Kaushik, Kiran Joshi and Joel Xavier.
Also I got by with more than a little help from my friends - Abhishek Nagaraj, Harsh Ketkar, Aditya Gadre, Yashovardhan Tamaskar, Chaitanya Salunke, Ganesh Pawar, Rishikesh Baviskar, Smit Gade, Ashish Metkar, Apoorv Vaidya, Avinash Kunder, Mahesh Hase and the Boat Club Quiz Club.
P.P.S: Never mind the names of the chapters. Or the name of this post.