Hi Rajan! Congratulations on converting IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, and IIM Shillong!
Can you start by giving us an insight into your past academic profile?
Yea sure! So I have done Mechanical engineering from IIT Kharagpur – 6.97 GPA,
In XIIth I got 93% and in Xth, I got a 94%
Do you have any work experience? If yes, what was your job profile like?
I did get placed from my college, but due to some personal reasons, I couldn’t join. So I am actually a fresher.
Why/How did you decide to pursue MBA?
I have been on the lookout for challenging opportunities and had a desire to make a break in the corporate world, so MBA seemed a natural choice. Moreover, I have always tried to veer into a more observation and insight-oriented world of problem-solving, and that is one more reason for my inclination towards the corporate world. Having an engineering degree in itself doesn’t quite guarantee that grooming towards such a career, and thus I decided to pursue MBA.
So how has your journey of preparing for MBA been?
It has been tiring to be frank. There are a plethora of tensions and self-expectations haunting you throughout the preparation, which only makes the preparation tough. On the other hand, I also believe that the preparation itself, is very much required, as it instills a lot of discipline and awareness in you as a person, and you have these distinct takeaways from your preparation whether you do or do not secure calls from B-Schools.
What was your CAT percentile, sectional as well as overall?
My overall percentile was 99.34, with 96.85 in VA, 97.65 in DILR and 99.27 in Quant.
Was this your first attempt at CAT or did you appear before this as well?
No. I attempted CAT 2015 as well. But now when I look back I realize that my preparation was far less and not upto the mark.
Okay. What was your percentile in 2015? Also what were your weak areas that you worked on?
CAT 2015 96.4. I concentrated on my DILR a lot these past few months, since found that I wasn’t able live up to the time constraint of the DILR section. And DILR is a massive scoring section that can really make or break your performance.
With 99.34 in CAT 2016, I am sure you must have got a lot of calls! Can you tell us where all you got calls from and how many of them you managed to finally convert?
I secured calls from SIBM Pune, IIFT Delhi, XLRI, MDI, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, IIM Shillong and FMS.
I converted all, except FMS and XLRI, and IIM Indore is yet to release their results.
Great! So having given so many interviews, is there anything special about any of the interviews, that you would want to share with us?
What aspirants need to realize is that getting the percentile is actually the easy and less-significant part of your selection. You need to concentrate a lot on your PI and have a structured preparation for the same. Even after that, you will be faced with surprises in the interviews, but your preparation will enable you to handle them without fail. The interview is a different ball game together, and for getting through to the top B-Schools of the country, you can’t afford to be complacent on preparations for the same.
How did iQuanta help you in the preparation?
I was a part of Cat Preparation – iQuanta, which is the Facebook group of iQuanta. I got to discuss questions from far and wide, spanning the length and breadth of the entire cat syllabus. Plus, there are so many students there, not only do your doubts get answered but you also get to see others’ doubts and prepare from them too. I think it hones you for a wide variety of questions. Over time you become a part of a healthy virtual peer group to look towards in case of doubts and queries.
Any specific way in which you prepared for VARC, DILR or Quant?
Well, I had TIME materials to get a feel of all types of questions that have come till date in the CAT exams, coupled with hardcore discussions on iQuanta platform. Other than that, sectional tests from time to time make you exam ready, which is very necessary, because without that you cannot deliver your knowledge in that time scale in the actual paper. When the preparations are done, it is just an endless cycle of mocks and their subsequent analysis.
And what about the strategy that you followed on the D day?
Be calm. Keep your mind free of tensions, and try not to pay heed to what anyone around you says, be it motivation or plain tips. It is very important to keep your mind fresh and your confidence high. You will see new faces all around you in the exam center and it is very important to keep faith in your preparation, believe in the fact that everyone in that room is having the same knowledge as you do and not more.
Another important thing is that you should remember that the CAT exam is divided into timed sections. Now it is your overall percentile that gets you the call, so even if one section gets a bit off the track, you have a chance to recover that lost performance by getting marks in the next section. Students often carry forward their bitter experience from one section into the next one and ruin that too. Treat each section individually and give your best in it, but after you are done with that section, let it be the past and start the new section afresh.
What are your thoughts about online coaching?
It is the new face of coaching. The biggest difference being, it is almost a one-to-one addressal to hundreds of students at the same time, in contrast to the kind of coaching we receive in a class full of a lot of kids. Online coaching brings-in quality one-on-one interaction right at your study table.
Any feedback/suggestions you would like to share with us to help iQuanta improve further?
None as such, since I have just been a member of their Facebook Group, and that worked for me. Though I would like to mention that the shortcuts provided by Indrajeet Sir and the revision sessions he conducted before the D-Day, helped me significantly.
Lastly, would you like to give any suggestions or tips to the future aspirants?
It is very important that while giving mocks, you keep an error notebook with you. In that you will note the errors you made in each mock you took, after thoroughly analyzing your performance. Before every mock, read the error book, so you will not commit the same mistakes again, and note down any new errors you made. So by the time you end up in the actual CAT exam, you have covered a big range of your own errors and would be safe from them.
I believe there is a mindless rush of how many mock tests you should take and how many test series you should join. From personal experience, 2 test series are enough to have 2 different flavors of exam taking experience. And regarding the number of tests one should take, I would like to remind that more than the tests, their analysis is important. If you analyze your paper properly, a 3 hour paper usually takes close to 2 hours to research upon and identify errors. Given the time you have at hand, and given the time it takes you to analyze your mocks, you can decide how many tests you should take. I gave something around 40 mocks and it worked quite well for me.
Lastly, from my experience, I should say that CAT preparation is rigorous, but there is a lot to learn from it. So don’t get bogged down by the preparation stress, because the end is sweet.
Great! Thanks Rajan for sharing your experiences with us and all the best!