Why CAT and Why Not
Mind you, CAT is an arduous journey, a path characterized by hard work, determination and regularity. Frankly speaking, it’s time we ignored the “luck” factor. Because hard work has no substitute and luck can only get you so far. People are brimming with statistics endorsing good luck and how it has overshadowed the hard work played by others. I suggest you take a look at the bigger picture. There is a lot of data we never consider, or even try to consider for fear of it changing our concerned views. And why, do you wonder, would a blog post begin with such grim advice: blogs are supposed to be fun, and encouraging, and entertaining. It is because this person could not crack the CAT and does not want his mistakes to be repeated by the readers.
Now that I have your attention, let me focus on the most essential facet of your CAT preparation. But why would you even listen to a person who barely scratched the surface of 95 percentile? Because I have done mistakes which mark me, did not look like mistakes when I was doing them. I was unconsciously committing errors while working hard every day. I believe that these mistakes cause most hard working and potential candidates to repeat a year (or even two) to finally be able to get into the B-school of their dreams.
CAT preparation is an enriching journey where you will come across three types of people.
1. There would be the intelligent student, who never seems to have a hard time with the problem, always cool, checking WhatsApp on one hand while solving the problem.
2. Then there’s the hard worker, but equally talented: one whom every Indian parent dream of having at this point of their child’s career, the one who studies day and night and scores a 200 plus on the mocks.
3. And the third person would be the one who would try hard but have a problem with the logical DI, who would score well in the QA section but dump off in the RC section, who would love to do all the LR caselets but sadly time runs out: and mark me, this is the majority of the people who appear for the CAT and other B-school exams.
And the percentages that make it to any one of the other two sects have a very healthy chance of making it to one of the IIMs/IIFT/XLRI (considering them to be the big honchos).
So what did I do wrong?
Well, I backed off, would be one good reason. If I found logical DIs tough, I laid them off. I was afraid of attempting them because one, they took up a lot of time and two, they were depressing because I merely got 20-30% of the caselets correct. Frankly speaking, I always underestimated the power of the LR and stuck to doing problems of the classroom package-which were easy to moderately difficult.
So while I was doing 30-40 problems a week, my knowledge of the range of problems that could appear in the LR category was limited. And the worst thing was, I knew this. But I was afraid to foray into the unknown. And believe me, a majority of you will fall prey to this syndrome. At the back of your mind, a small voice would be constantly egging you to try those tough nuts, but a booming voice would tell you not to worry and that such tough problems have a very slim chance of coming in the actual CAT. But in CAT 15, DI was logical and data intensive and it proved to be the distinguishing factor to land the interview calls.
Maintaining regularity in practice is another important aspect of your CAT preparation. My wing-mate at college got through IIM Calcutta because of his regular schedule. Every day he would put in 4-6 hours of practice. And most importantly, he would re-do the problems where he made mistakes or found difficulty in grasping concepts. And mind you, maintaining this regularity is very important. It is this regularity that allows the “intelligent one” to finish the tough problem in a jiffy while taking the time to respond to his girlfriend at the other end.
There is another thing I would like to impose on. We are well-aware of the reservation system that is extant in our country. It’s time we stop squabbling how an ST candidate needs 70 percentile compared to GEN 99.x to crack IIMA. At any higher institute of learning, everybody is equal and it is performance that matters. And performance comes through hard work, dedication and passion. Which brings me to my fourth and final point: if an MBA is your passion, then go for it. MBA is not only about money and an office space in the 30th floor overlooking the city. It comes with huge responsibilities. An MBA is often the key to a company/organisation’s success. And that is where I again lacked.
I did say the common phrases and key words in most of my interviews, but always had second thoughts. There was this feeling that I belonged to the lab, that I preferred research over anything else. I regret not getting selected as part of the IIFT or IIM family. But I am grateful to God for my current position. Hence for all B-school aspirants out there, ask yourself: Is MBA really your thing?Because it might take you a while to buy the black suit which an MBA might wear tomorrow. But following a career with no actual passion would boomerang with unprecedented permanent damages from which there is no returning.
Read the article on Top MBA colleges(B schools) in India.