Adverse circumstances and lack of resources stopping you from achieving your dreams? Think Again!
In this series of blog posts we will look at the CAT Journey of some of our (2IIM’s) students. As we update new articles, the links will be made available below.
Post 1 – My Journey to IIM Calcutta | Non-engineer | Abhilash Maji
Post 2 – Belling the CAT with a History of Mediocrity | SPJIMR
Post 3 – Journey to the “Red” Building of Dreams | FMS | Pranay Seth
Post 4 – CAT Preparation with DROP Year | Journey to SPJain
Post 5 – Adverse circumstances and lack of resources stopping you from achieving your dreams? | DoMS IITM
You may be perplexed as to why the blog is titled as it is . Is this an achiever’s talk blog or a regular dose of motivation? Well fret not, it’s a bit of both. We will get there. But before we do so, let me start off by briefly introducing myself.
Hello, aspirants ! I am Samarth Johnson Prasad. I hail from a very far off place, namely Andaman and Nicobar Islands (yeah those tiny dotted islands on the Indian map). Port Blair to be precise.
To most of you, it is perhaps known only as a holiday destination on your bucket-list to visit after your MBA is done. I can’t really blame you for that, the place has some phenomenal beaches and tourist spots to visit. But there’s more to it than just that. Every year hundreds of hopefuls prepare for some of the most challenging examinations offered, one of which is the CAT. Unfortunately, only a select few are able to clear cutoffs of these exams and get admits to any of the top schools (the coveted IIMs and IITs). The figures we’re looking at here statistically have a good chance of being in the single digits over the past half-decade.
You may wonder why this is the case. Why is there such a disparity in such a great location to be? For starters, until late 2020, there will be a shortage of adequate advice, coaching, and even acceptable internet services. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I came across 2IIM’s online CAT Coaching portal and their wonderful mentors. They helped me overcome this disadvantage by helping me create a strategy for my CAT preparation and turn the tide in my favor. I was able to convert about 20+ premium B-schools on my first CAT Exam attempt. I will be doing my MBA at DoMS, IIT Madras. Grateful to God Almighty for guiding me through this difficult time and allowing me to accomplish something I will treasure for many years to come.
Needless to say, the year 2020 has been full of surprises and challenges for all of us. In early January 2020, I was diagnosed with severe pneumonia, which caused my health to deteriorate. I was unable to work effectively (I worked in the IT industry for approximately two years) or prepare for the CAT examination. Then the Covid pandemic struck, forcing me to return to my hometown and leave my work (due to lack of availability of high-speed internet and my deteriorating health condition). Fortunately, my health improved in the days ahead. After years of uproar throughout the islands, high-speed internet services were eventually made available to households in August. This is when I began the bulk of my preparations.
I realized I needed to step up my game and put in additional work since I had begun late. Before this period I had been only able to access the course material on my phone through mobile data and was only able to go through a video of topics and attempt a few quizzes. I intended to concentrate entirely on studying the subjects from the ground up, and I was attempting to devise a plan for acing them by emphasizing correctness, particularly in the VARC and DILR sections. By August, I had signed up for a mock test material, and after attempting a couple of them, I quickly realized that I still needed to make a lot of tweaks to my approach.
Getting the Hang of the Exam!
I also realized that the most crucial period was getting the hang of the examination setting, and fortunately for me, August wasn’t too late. Initially, I continued to take mocks every 10 days and analyze them carefully, searching for areas where I might have done better and developing my approach appropriately. The ten-day gap became shorter as the days passed. And by the end of the month, I was doing a mock every other day. To be honest, the effects of these mocks were mixed at times; they boosted me up at times and humiliated me at others. I was able to develop one essential quality during this time: concentrating and enduring for the entire three hours. This ultimately became two hours due to the pandemic scenario.
Finally, on November 29, 2020, a CAT aspirant’s most anticipated day of the year came. My city had just one testing location. I was one of the 30 or so candidates that took the test in Slot 2. To be honest, I was a little nervous, but I tried to be calm and trust in myself. Even though I had prepared for a shorter time than the typical CAT aspirant, I genuinely wanted to give it my all.
No matter how hard you study for a test over the course of a year, you will need God’s grace. VARC was difficult, and the DILR section almost scared me (I was only able to attempt two sets). By the time I got to Quant, I reminded myself that I had to finish this exam and I need to do my best in the quants section. I had a sneaking suspicion that I had blown the DILR part. I tried to stay calm until the results came in and concentrate on the other exams in hand (XAT, SNAP and NMAT).
After the results had come, I was still in a sticky situation as I had just managed to clear the DILR cutoffs by a close margin. Luckily most of the IIMs had lowered their sectional cutoffs, and I was able to get shortlist calls from more than 30 plus colleges based on my scores in all the various exams. It was at this time I decided to prepare for my GD PI rounds. 2IIM uploads on their social media handles regarding the quiz snippets. They also constantly upload tons of GDPI material & structured videos of current affairs available over their app and YouTube page. This really helped me a lot.
I had all this information at the palm of my hands and all I needed was to focus and prepare. Throughout the GDPI period, I came across a set of wonderful minds right from interviewing panelists to competing aspirants. Majority of my interview experiences went pretty well.
The Golden Sky after the Storm
I converted 20+ premium B-schools in the country when the dust had settled. IIT-Madras, IIM Trichy, IIM Udaipur, IIM Ranchi, IIT-Roorkee, SIBM Pune, SCMHRD to mention a few. I had awaited this very moment since entering the corporate in 2018. I have longed to pursue a MBA degree from a premium institution. My perseverance and hard effort paid off. I will be eternally thankful to my family and close friends for their unwavering support and encouragement during this journey. I would also like to express my gratitude to the whole 2IIM family for continuously mentoring me and providing me with all necessary preparatory advice and assistance. Most significantly, I want to thank God Almighty for his everlasting and abundant love and mercy that he has bestowed upon me, since this would not have been possible without his grace.
Aspirants, here is my advice:
There are no shortcuts to success in life, though this might sound a bit clichéd. But this is what my journey has taught me. Keep working hard, keep persevering and never give up.
All the best !
By SAMARTH JOHNSON PRASAD, DoMS IIT MADRAS (Batch of 2023)