What I did right after appearing for CAT/ What lies beyond the CAT exam? /Done with the CAT exam, what next? / What to do after the CAT exam?
That moment after you’re done with the CAT exam, the exam you have prepared for months in advance, the exam for which you’ve sacrificed your social life, sleep and time since August, the exam on which you’ve placed your highest of hopes, is an overwhelming one.
I remember having mixed feelings about it. If I were a romantic poet, I would call it bittersweet. Bitter because I was worried about my performance. And sweet because, well, it was over and I could finally breathe a temporary sigh of relief. But we all know, the journey of an MBA aspirant in India does not stop after the CAT, it’s only just begun!
Through this article, I am going to share with you the way I prepared for the next phases in this journey, things I wish I had done and my overall experience.
After my CAT exam, I recall I had felt under confident about my exam’s performance. In the car ride back home, I ignored the consolation of my parents and started checking and tallying the answers that were being discussed in the multiple Whatsapp and Facebook communities I was then a part of. I remember I had panicked and felt the load that I thought was lifted off me, slowly come on top of me again.
This is something I wished I had avoided. I should have instead, cherished the moment and that fleeting sense of relief. I had worked quite hard for this exam and I deserved a tiny peaceful celebration. Eventually, things had to get better. So don’t be like me and dive into the analysis of your test immediately, instead take a couple of days to relax, watch a movie, bake a cake or just sleep. You need the rest to get back to the grind.
After I had finally analyzed my performance and predicted my percentile from various sources, the time had now come to plan my next steps. I had made an elaborate excel sheet that had my preferred list of colleges organized and ranked according to the entrance exams, profile filtering process, historical cut off, weightage of criteria of selection, geography, best specialization and personal liking.
I had then compared my predicted scores and percentile to set my expectations and prepare for the shortlists of relevant colleges and exams.
This is such a crucial step because while it is ideal that one should prepare for all exams, it helps to know your personal strengths and put in that extra effort for specific exams.
This excel sheet was also handy in keeping track of deadlines, formalities and preferences.
After I had appeared for all the exams I had prepared for, it was now the time to wait for the shortlists to the next processes from various colleges. While this may seem like a long time away, I would advise to not slack off here and invest time in achieving clarity of your goals, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.
I had used this period to sit with myself and have a conversation to discover answers about myself. This exercise hadn’t just helped me in my PIs but proved to be useful a couple of years later as well, when I appeared for placements, introduced myself to new people and got into the process of re-evaluating my goals in life periodically.
The exercise had simply consisted of answering the questions about myself in excruciating detail, recollecting life experiences to support my answers and understanding how I’m perceived by having conversations with my closest friends.
Upskilling and Knowledge expansion
I had taken a gap year for my MBA preparation, so I was aware that I had to defend my decision by making myself as capable as any other candidate. In my self-evaluation period, I had realized my affinity towards marketing, so to explore further I signed up for courses like Digital Marketing, Advanced Excel, Inbound Marketing, and Content Marketing. I also started a passion project in the form of a blog, to practice these new skills.
In this period, I had also spent a lot of time reading up on current affairs and random topics on the internet to make myself able enough to be a strong participant in GDs.
Due to the extra time on my hands, my friend and I had also decided to devote an hour everyday reading about random topics that we assigned to each other which was just another fun way of learning.
I did not have close friends or family members who had gone through this process recently for me to discuss and clear my queries with. This gave me the opportunity to go out of the way and look for a mentor for myself. I found my mentor on iQuanta and he had definitely helped me push myself to the last mile. The most important part of any preparation is constant feedback, and that’s what the discussions with my mentor had provided me. Along with a lot of confidence.
Sometime mentors can also be found in the form of communities who share knowledge, tips and experiences with each other.
It was in such communities, that I had first heard of answering questions on Quora to improve my WAT, screaming into a bag before a GD, the right body language before a PI. All simple & small, but significant details.
It’s unfortunate that many of you may have to do this entire process online due to the current scenario. The biggest challenge expected would be lie in expressing yourself in the best version possible in front of a judging panel. However. The solution to this problem lies in the best method of preparation, practice.
Select a group of likeminded individuals and conduct mock GD, PIs. Scribe your thoughts or opinions on current affairs on medium and Quora to get acquainted with WAT. Attend webinars, sign up for courses and work on your virtual communication skills.
Investing time and effort in this period to work on yourself will not just be helpful in your MBA journey but will also provide you an opportunity to know yourself a little better. And I promise you, at the end of this grueling and long journey, the ripened sweet fruits of success are ready to be plucked and enjoyed.
Thank you for reading!