The feeling after getting into an IIM is amazing. You become an instant celebrity. “What are you doing now beta?” “I got into IIM” “WOW!”(With a look of amazement & admiration) And finally, people know where the college is! No need to go all – “NITK Surathkal – Arre! Surat nahin, SURATHKAL, Mangalore ke paas. Arre! Bangalore nahi, MANGALORE!” The worst people can do now is mishear “IIM Calicut” as “IIM Calcutta”. And I don’t mind taking that 😛
“How did you do it?” That’s what everyone wants to know. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized how many friends I have on my FB list :P. And wherever you go, people want to know the “mantra” to bell the evasive cat. (Ah! Feels good to be so wanted! 😀)
Ok then. Let’s get started! First thing is the CAT. Remember this: the better you MEOW, the more chances you have of cracking it. LOL. Just Kidding! 😀 Sorry, let’s get serious 😛
The only key to cracking the CAT is PRACTICE. The more you practice, the better it is. And when should you start? ASAP! CAT isn’t an exam where you can chill until a month before the exam, then start cramming in and expect to ace the actual thing (unless you have “inborn” quant and verbal talent). And the best thing about it is that you don’t need to have any “inborn” talent. With regular practice, anyone can ace it!
So, we have STEP 1: Pick up your study material (I used TIME) and start solving! There’s no need to break your head trying to solve each and every question. Set your clock and solve questions on a regular basis. SPEED is of the essence. And THAT comes only with practice. So practise and maintain a good speed.
STEP 2: Solve as many Mock CATs as possible. I feel the best way to prepare for the CAT is by taking as many MOCK CATs as possible. Not only does it make you familiar with the pattern, it also improves your time management. Another important thing is choosing the right questions to answer. No point in wasting time on questions from topics that you are uncomfortable with. So move ahead (as the next question could be an easier one) and come back later. This ability greatly improves with MOCK CATs.
STEP 3: Chill! But not too much. Don’t get tensed even if you aren’t able to reach your expectations. Everyone has their limitations. Keep calm and keep practising. You can improve only with more and more practice. Practise religiously, and you’ll definitely score an E! 😀 (For non-HP fans, E=Exceeds Expectations 😛). And a word of advice for fellow engineers – we have an inherent feeling that we’re “too” good at quant and don’t need any practice. “Basic Math hi toh hai. Kar lenge! After all, IIT/AIEEE mein itna complex calculus bhi nikaal liya tha”. There is no “complex calculus” here (I doubt how much one remembers that also :P). It’s just basic maths (Remainder theorem, factor theorem, ring any bells? :P). So, throw that feeling away! It’s not going to help your cause. Oh and for all the next gen readers, AIEEE used to be the All India exam at one point.
Well, that’s about it…. I guess 😛 I did my prep mainly during my summer break after 3rd year. I wasn’t too regular with my prep in college (with so many things going on all the time 😉 ), but I did make it a point to do MOCK CATs on a regular basis. And one more thing that people always ask – “How many hours per day?” Hmm, that depends on you, how much you can handle in a day. But aisa bhi nahi ki you can handle only 10 mins a day! That won’t get you anywhere. How much did “I” do? Well, let’s just keep that a secret 😛
Ok. So now we’re onto the real CAT. It’s a one month window, online test blah blah blah! You can find those in the official sites. My centre was in Chennai. They let you in about an hour before the exam. So ya- it’s a long wait! But whatever you do, don’t sleep! Read the guidelines kept before you a hundred times, keep poking yourself with your pencil, make faces at the CCTV cameras, do anything. But you don’t want to shut down your brain. Btw, the above suggestions do not mean I was doing the same :P. Anyway, section 1 was quant and data interpretation. I started off quite well. The questions were really simple and I was hoping to ace it. But somehow, somewhere, I lost 10 mins! I couldn’t realise where I lost that much time, but then the damage was done. In the end, I had about 20 seconds to go and around 5 questions left. No point starting off a question, so I just went through the remaining questions. And guess what. I knew how to solve them all! Bah! Whatte waste of a chance! So there you have it – the value of SPEED and TIME MANAGEMENT. The level of difficulty was average but the main thing was speed. I managed to cover up in verbal. So at the end of it, I felt I’d wasted the chance of a lifetime with that quant blunder. But then, you just can’t help it. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t.
So, in the end, after all the CAT hullaballoo, I ended up with 98.73%ile (Thanks to the quant blunder and thanks to the verbal cover up 😀). But then, this is just about 50% of the job done.
Let’s move on to round 2.
Well, round 2 is about knowing everything. Everything matlab “everything under the sun”. Ok, seriously, I’m not kidding. This is the stage where all that newspaper reading and current affairs fundas that you wolf down are going to help (if you did it that is :P). But the most important thing you have to know is… YOU! Yes! You need to know exactly WHY you are doing WHAT you are doing. This step requires introspection and plenty of time. So start thinking about it starting NOW!
Most B Schools have a written task where you are required to bring your pen to battle. Some have GD’s (luckily I didn’t have any). The final step is the inevitable interview. This is the final moment. The moment that you’ve been waiting for all this time. The key here is confidence in yourself and in whatever you’ve done (this will only come if you read the previous para… and do the stuff written there :P).
So, that’s about it. Oh, I forgot to mention where I ended up! I managed two calls – Kozhikode and Indore. By God’s grace, I managed to convert both. And I chose K. Now it has been over a month here at K and believe me, all the hard work is totally worth it!