Cat Preparation Journey

It was the year 2015 & I was very happy that finally I was joining the Institute of National Importance NIT Bhopal & will be doing mechanical engineering which I always wanted to do. But it was not like what I had dreamt of like making robots, car design, etc. After 4 years of doing engineering, I realized that I don’t want to do that, although I got placed at a reputed engineering company, I was not interested in that at all.

I was thinking of changing my career & that is how I thought of giving the CAT exam. Being an engineering student, I believed that my aptitude is already strong, I just have to improve my comprehension & prepare for VA/RC. And then I took the exam in my final year (2018) but could get only 95%. Having no reservation (GEM) & my past sin (academics) was not good either. I did not get calls from the top B-Schools & was not able to clear GD/PI rounds of new IIMs.

I realized that it was not that I was not good in the required subjects but my preparation strategy was all wrong. Also, I got complacent after getting placed in my college & I did not practice enough. So, I improved my strategy. I included lots of practice, making notes, doing revision & other things that I will do to crack the next CAT exam. But this time I was missing one thing & that was time. In college, apart from classes (which we can easily bunk), there was not much to do, even for the semester exam we prepared just one night before. So, there I had lots of time to implement my new strategies. But now the situation changed, I was no longer a student but had become an employee.

Being a trainee at the company, the workload was not that high but the problem was that even if I have no work, I have to be in the office from morning 8:30 to evening 5:30. Here, I lack one of the most valuable things which I needed for my preparation & that was time. Even with no work, just sitting in the office for 9 hours deprived me of energy in the evening which I used to prepare for my exam.

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The very first month I realized that things will not work the way I wanted, I again need to change my strategy or I will fail again. My office was in Mumbai at first so apart from office hours, I wasted my time in the traffic. The first thing I did was to utilize this traveling time of almost 2 hours daily (to & fro). While traveling on the company’s bus, I used my smartphone to read English articles from aldaily, medium, etc. I sometimes even used Amazon Audible to listen to novels. In-office when I did not have any work, I used that time to read articles or to revise formulas for the quants.

After office whatever time I get, I use it to practice as many questions for the quants & 2 sets of LR/DI each. During practice, I did not focus on how many correct or incorrect questions I got. If I get any question incorrect, I will just check the solution & move on. I don’t go revising the topic (During practice). During weekends I try to give 2 mocks, 1 each on Saturday & Sunday morning or afternoon (depending upon the time availability). In the evening I would analyze & see solutions of my mock & then jot down the topics in which I am getting wrong answers. At night I hang out with my friends to take some rest. You might not believe me but it is very important to have recreational time otherwise you will just burn out before the exam & no matter how good you might have been performing during your starting mocks, slowly & steadily your result will start diminishing. Since I’m talking about burn out I would like to warn you of another mistake which will burn you out before the exam & that is to start preparing seriously from the start (I’m speaking truth). Like if you have more than 6 months to prepare, do not give more than 2-3 hours for your preparation & just one or two mocks will be sufficient each week for the first 2 months. Once you have less than 4 months remaining, the time has come to show what you have got. Start giving more time to Quant & LR/DI, you can’t do anything more to drastically improve your reading comprehension & that’s why for RC just practice as much as you can, find out tips & tricks (for Para jumbles, the odd one out, etc.), which you can easily find out in the internet. Start giving 2-3 mocks a week for the next 2 months & analyze them carefully because these are the only 2 months where you can work on your weakness. Finally, In the last two months, it is all about the number of mocks that you can give. I would suggest you give at least 3 mocks a week but it will be better if you can give more. Though you can work on your weakness as well (if time permits) but this time the analysis is done to find out your strengths. This analysis will become your strategy for D-Day. Your strength will be the topics which will be the question you attempt first during the exam. For the last 3-4 mocks fix your strategy which you will use in the final exam as it will give you good practice. Again, take it slow for the last 2-3 days, because any amount of preparation on the last 2-3 days will be going to improve your marks by a meager fraction. Conversely, it could diminish the return.

Sorry for deviating from the topic of my CAT journey to start giving advice. One last piece of advice that I would like to give is that each & every person is different. So, it is not necessary that what works for me will work for you. That is why giving as many mocks as possible is the only best advice that you should focus on as it will let you know your style of preparation & strategy.

Coming back to my exam, after giving the exam I was sure that I will get the 99+ percentile but being a GEM & with these academics, I knew that I needed far more than 99 percentiles. On the result day, I got 99.70 percentile & I think this is the best result I could have gotten with the amount of preparation I did. Though I would like to tell you that I also got 11 wrong answers which have negative marking, which means 11 fewer marks from what I could have achieved. This is one of the things you should also focus on, apart from maximizing the right answer, you have to minimize the wrong answers as well.

After this I was waiting for the interview calls, one month passed & I got calls from IIM C, MDI Gurgaon & FMS among the top 10 B-schools. I did not get calls from A, B, K, I, L. I was disheartened that despite being among the top 700 students & with 500-600 seats in each of the IIMs I was not called for the further round of the process. After 2-3 days of depression, I knew nothing could be done about what had already happened. I started focussing on the rest of the calls I have gotten. But once again fate was not with me & due to lockdown my GD was canceled & the interview got delayed & happened online for IIM C & MDI G. whereas FMS completely scrapped the process of GD/PI & gave more weightage to Academics. This was the only college where I thought my CAT percentile will do wonders & that too was shattered as after the new weightage, I was rejected for the further process. Now with only IIM C & MDI Gurgaon remaining, I had to give the online interview. In online mode, we got a fixed amount of time for the Interview. My interview with IIM C was average, so I was sure that I would not get selected with all the combined scores. And that comes to be true, I was not selected in IIM C but I cleared the process of MDI Gurgaon & was selected there. Now, after studying here for more than 6 months, I am very happy to be a part of MDI Gurgaon. I get to meet world-class professors like Sanjay Bakshi, & brilliant students from around the country.

To repeat me once again. Even at colleges, it is you who have to study & interact & learn from others. College is there to provide just the environment to interact, professors to clear your doubts & a place to hang out & chill with your friends. And that too when you know, it will be the last 2 years when you can be a student & enjoy student life (for almost everyone). It is worth sacrificing all your fun time during the CAT preparation because you will love it once you are in top B-Schools. Even if the workload will increase, you will have like-minded friends who will help you with it.

All the best for your exam & endure it for the next couple of months. 😊

10th – 8.8
12th – 91.2 %
B.Tech – 7.37

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