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
Post 6 – Barista at Starbucks to XLRI Jamshedpur | Dilemma between FMS and XLRI
“A Lotus Grows in the dirt, Rises up through muddy waters and Blossoms into brilliance.”
I think my parents were being very prophetic when they named me Kamal because that is exactly what happened.
Born in a tiny village (my proverbial dirt) that’s not even on google maps, there wouldn’t have been much hope for me if my parent’s hadn’t decided to move to Bangalore with dreams of a more “urban” life. I would say the Rising-up-through-muddy-waters bit of my life was my stint in college. It was tough being the first person in my immediate family to graduate college; I often felt I had to reinvent the wheel. Having a full-time job along with college is something I would NOT RECOMMEND to everyone and my grades tanked (59% for the ones wondering) as a result.
My greatest achievement till date has been putting myself through college. It was a series of firsts for me – my first job, first date, first-ever friend group, first heartbreak etc. Plus, working at Starbucks opened up this whole new world to me! I had friends from ages 17 to 71, and I got to live vicariously through all their experiences. I actually “networked” myself into a couple of internships and my second job while working at Starbucks. When I asked a regular to teach me designing and he ended up hiring me as a web designer, my time at the siren had come to an end.
I then went on to develop an interest in the people side of business management. Wondering how the scientific achievements made by brilliant scientists could be made accessible to the larger populace with the help of business acumen spurred me on through entrance exams and eventually with two admission opportunities: FMS Dehli on one side and XLRI – HRM on the other.
‘Honor thy craft!”
Okay, now we get to the meat and potatoes, how to actually score well in the exam.
First question, self-study or coaching?
Both work, But I personally prefer taking up online coaching of sorts because it gives you a silo to prepare in, there will be no distractions inside that website, like the 2IIM website will only have CAT content and I don’t need to move from one place to another and waste time in finding topics, but with Facebook groups and telegram, there is a lot that can distract you and also a lot of time is wasted trying to find content.
Next, when and how to do mocks?
In the beginning, try a bunch of things and see what sticks, once you find your rhythm try to incrementally improve at it, replicate an actual exam as much as possible, then when the D day arrives, treat your actual CAT exam like just another mock, you will feel much more at ease, No nerves = better scores, the key here is to treat your mocks more like the actual thing and your Actual CAT exam more like a mock.
Also, sectionals are pointless, either take a full mock or focus on concepts, never in the CAT exam will you be able to go at the quant section fresh, you will always have the fatigue of two sections before it, practice for that!
Next, how I went from scoring 58 in math during my boards to scoring a 98.65 percentile in quant?
Coming from a biology background, Naturally, quant and I didn’t get along all that great, the one solution I found to this conundrum was just focusing on what came naturally to me, I focused on the more “real world” concepts and things that I could just think of naturally and made sure I made a few mistakes there as possible, I skipped most topics that just didn’t come naturally to me like co-ordinate geometry, modern math etc, but I recommend you to learn the basics of all concepts because sometimes you get these sitter questions from “tough concepts” and you shouldn’t miss those.
Okay, now you’re all prepped for CAT, what not to do on D day?
Let me tell you a personal story, I thought I had totally f**k*d up DILR in cat 2020, I had a mini panic attack because of it during the quant section, I was so worried about the DILR section I had just finished that I couldn’t solve simple Compound interest questions, as i walked out of the centre I thought I wouldn’t even cross 85 percentile, which ended up being a false alarm because I’d scored 97.5 percentile, but at the time I was like completely distraught, I took a few days off writhed in bed and then just decided to go full steam ahead for the other entrance exams, My main mistake here was taking too much pressure, So I chilled a lot before all the other exams and stopped fretting over new concepts, just figured out strategies and finessed them.
My XAT center was 200km away in a tourist destination. I treated the exam like a weekend getaway, didn’t take any pressure went sightseeing in the city after the exam and what do you know it worked out, I ended up with nearly a 99.9 percentile.
My point here is that don’t let one section/exam big you down, there is always a backup and remember, if the exam is tough for you, it’s tough for everyone.
Best wishes for CAT!!
By Kamal Kaushik, XLRI Jamshedpur ( Batch of 2023)