My CAT preparation with Drop year Converting XLRI BM, SPJIMR & IIM Indore
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
Interviewer: So, tell us about your B-school Journey.
Me: Well, I will be joining SPJIMR this year as a part of Batch of 2021-23. I……
Interviewer: Thinking we are David Beckham, are we? For the love of God, introduce yourself!
Let’s do a backstory, shall we?
10th ICSE – 93.33%
12th – 89.23%
BCom – 8.95 CGPA
CAT percentile: 95.78
XAT percentile: 96.41
Calls: SPJIMR, XLRI BM, IIM Indore.
Converts: SPJIMR, XLRI BM JSR, IIM Indore.
So, I graduated in 2019 with a Bcom from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. After which, I decided to take a break to travel and explore photography (psst… I am a wildlife photographer by passion). I have been going to the forests since the age of 6, but as my studies grew, I could travel only during the holidays that too only if I was done with all the extra assignments. Hence, before entering MBA or the corporate world, I wanted to have some me-time and travel extensively without having to worry about deadlines and exams. Finance being another one of my passions, I enrolled myself for the CFA program. I absolutely enjoyed preparing for it and successfully cleared level 1 with 90th percentile in January 2020.
CAT Preparation with DROP Year
Let’s address the elephant in the room, my CAT preparation with drop year.
“If you walk the path everyone walks, you will only reach where everyone reaches”
A DROP year is not looked at too kindly in our country. When I initially decided to take a break, I was told by many that it was a dumb idea and that once I have that in my resume, no top college was going to touch my profile with a bargepole. It was hailed as career suicide. Fortunately, I had my parents who had my back and stood by me like a rock. They believed in me when I chose to take the unbeaten path and by god’s grace, here, I am today with admits from two of the top 10 colleges.
I am not encouraging anyone to take a gap year
Please note that I am not encouraging anyone to take a gap year, especially not to prepare for CAT. CAT Preparation with a Drop year can be a double edged sword for many. The reason being that it is just another entrance exam. An exam that can go either way and is not worth gambling your one whole year for. Having said that, it is not a sin to have a gap year. If you have taken one, do the thing that you were always passionate about or prepare for a course, upskill yourself, give your best in it. It is good to have certificates to support it, since, it shows people how far you are willing to go in doing something.
The shortlisting happens with what you write in the form, so it is better to have something concrete on paper. For instance, I have a few achievements in photography and have cleared CFA level 1. Whatever you do, do it damn well! A drop year can be a period that can transform you for the better, if you choose to make use of it wisely that is. Make no mistake, when you have a lot of time on hand, it is very easy to end up wasting it too. So, make a schedule and be accountable to yourself. Make use of the time not because you are answerable to the interviewers or recruiters, but because you are answerable to yourself.
“Don’t live by a social script. Write your own script”
CFA? MBA? Confused?
Interviewer: When you are pursuing CFA, why MBA?
Me: I feel they are complementary in many ways. CFA is a foot wide and a mile deep, while an MBA is a mile wide and a foot deep. CFA adds finance skills to one’s repertoire, while MBA is about management skills.
How does CAT treat Non-engineers?
Interviewer: So how does CAT treat non-engineers?
Me: MYTH: CAT is very difficult for non-engineers.
TRUTH: It is difficult for everyone, except for maybe a few gifted individuals, the operative word being few.
Everybody has to do the grind. It just boils down to the when?
Engineers have already done it whilst they were preparing for JEE, and for us non-engineers it happens to be when we decide to give CAT. Find your strengths and weaknesses and work on them.
For Quants, start with the first principles. Learn from the very basics and work up the stairs. It is easy to be allured by fancy shortcuts and formulas. Trust me, they don’t work. The only coaching institute that repeatedly harps on this is 2IIM (The best CAT Online Coaching providers, in the…… wait for it….. UNIVERSE).
Won’t say anymore, just sign up, watch the trial videos and fall in love with learning.
You better finish reading this post though 😝
For DILR and VARC, it is more or less a level playing field. For DILR, solve tons of puzzles and sudoku judiciously, and for VARC, read voraciously. As clichéd as it might sound, Practice makes perfect!
How important are Mocks?
Interviewer: What about mocks? Should you worry about them?
Me: When I think of mocks, it reminds me of my favourite dialogue from the TV show “Ted Lasso”.
“You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish”
Fluctuation and the number of mocks go hand in hand. If you see them fluctuating, good news, it means you are taking enough of them to see that happen. At the end of the mock, analyse them, learn from them, be sad or angry if you have to for some time, but then be a goldfish. Move onward, forward. Start working towards the next one.
Interviewer: Any parting thoughts you would like to share
Me: I am going to use another one of my favourite quotes from Ted Lasso.
Rebecca: “Do you believe in ghosts Ted?”
Ted: “I do, but more importantly, I believe they need to believe in themselves.”
Believe in yourself. Don’t work yourself up over past academics or things that are not in your hands. Instead focus on the one thing that you can do, which is “Enjoying the learning process”. Work for the joy of it, not for the consequence of it. Learn new things every day, pat yourself once in a while and be grateful for the things that you have.
“Do not try to be the best, just do your best.”
It is a Roller Coaster Ride!
Imagine this, you are sitting on the highest roller coaster in the world, you have just reached the top and in a few seconds, the train is going to go into a free-fall. It can beat the living daylights out of one. That is CAT. Every well-prepared individual experiences the same butterflies and the same anxiousness on the day of the exam. The question is are you going to let it get the better of you?
Cheers guys, Best wishes for your preparation! You can make the most out of your CAT Preparation with Drop year, if you plan it wisely. However, I would still not recommend taking a break only for CAT.
Ted Lasso: “Hope is belief, and belief is hope.”
- The author has not been interviewed by anyone. It has just been used to build a narrative and to live out her fantasies 😝
- Yes, the author is a huge fan of the show Ted Lasso)
Gayathri S is an avid wildlife photographer and is joining SPJIMR MBA Batch of 21-23 in Finance.