My Journey to the Red Building of Dreams
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
Is being a GEM a Crime?
Starting off, I am a General Engineering Male (Yes, GEM!) candidate with the following profile:
10th – 96%; 12th – 95.8%
Graduation – NIT Calicut – Electrical Engg. – 7.68 CGPA
Work ex – 24 months at a management consulting firm
CAT 2020 Score – 99.72 percentile
XAT and IIFT – 99+ percentile
When did I plan to do an MBA?
Personally, MBA has been a long term plan since the third year in college. I was always excited about the various brands I come across in everyday lives and was amazed by the manner in which these firms made consumers believe that they are the best bet in the market. Went ahead and researched about such jobs and understood that an MBA degree is something that can give me a structured path to achieve my dream of working for top FMCG firms. I knew that being a GEM candidate, the road will be tough. A lot of articles on Quora and Youtube videos made me believe that unless I am able to score 99.5+ in CAT, no big college is going to accept my application. A lot of people think so much about this burden of scoring a high score, that they drop the idea of taking CAT in the first place. So if you are reading this and have decided to take CAT, you are already ahead of 20-30% of the candidates. Congratulations for that!
In the words of my idol – MS Dhoni – “Results don’t matter. It’s the process that matters.” I took this advice seriously, put the burden of scoring a big CAT percentile away and started focusing on the process. I gave 2 attempts to CAT in 2018 and 2019 by self-preparation and was stuck in the 96-98 percentile range. I was comfortable with VARC and QA, but DILR was something I wasn’t able to get my head around. Moreover, on both the exam days (2018 & 19), I used to be all over the section and miss out on many questions that could have been easier.
Structure plays a Crucial Role
In April 2020, I decided to join a coaching for structured preparation. Managing hectic office hours and the systematic preparation wasn’t an easy task. Well, if you aspire to graduate from a top B-School, then nothing is expected to come easy. So chin up and be ready to face the music.
Choosing the Right fit for my requirements!
The process of choosing an appropriate coaching wasn’t easy as well. I read through multiple blogs online, watched various trial lectures but each opinion confused me more. Then, my college friend suggested 2IIM. I had never heard of it before and understood (thought) that they are a new (later learnt that it was indeed something started in 2000) coaching institution trying to make its mark. Even though, it was not very popular amongst the masses where I come from, their students spoke highly of them. Intrigued, I went on their Youtube page and watched a few lectures of Rajesh sir. I was amazed to see the simplicity of solving each question, focus on basic concepts and strategizing the process of solving a question. I connected instantly by their way of teaching and Rajesh Sir’s words that “If you are a GEM candidate, scoring 95 percentile is as good as scoring 80, because you still won’t land up at your dream college”. The words hit me and I decided to join 2IIM to boost up my preparation.
My CAT ’20 Preparation plan:
Starting May 2020, I joined 2IIM’s online course and kicked off my preparation. Initially, I focused on getting my Quant and DILR basics right. The well structured topic wise modules by 2IIM helped me to track my preparation. I used to keep weekly targets and solve the prep edge tests on their platform. For DILR, it’s just Practice, Practice & Practice. The bi weekly live classes were a great demonstration of how to approach, breakdown and crack a question. These live classes used to be really interesting and even after a hectic day at work, I would never miss one of those. I would just sit in front of my screen and watch the professors solve the questions by using the most basic concepts. Regarding VARC, I regularly followed reading the newspaper and Bharath’s reading list. I was always good with English, but by following the above steps I starting reading between the lines and interpreting on the go. The section wise preparation went till July after which I had joined a couple of Mock test series.
Mock Tests – Most important part of the prep
While I couldn’t stress more about the important of mocks in you prep journey, it is important to realise that you should not fret over mock scores at all. Since, I had given CAT previously, I knew there is a huge difference in you mock and CAT scores, so I didn’t freak out over them. For all the freshers reading this, I would say do give CAT even if you are not prepared this time around. Just like match practice is best practice, CAT giving experience lets you stay calm and motivated.
What is Important? Mock or Mock Analysis?
The key to utilizing mock tests is due diligence post giving the mock. It used to be a “6 hour” effort. I would give a 3 hour mock, take some hours off to completely relax and then revisit the solutions at a question-by-question level to crack the code of the process of solving the question. This helps you to reduce mistakes across attempts and start getting into the shoes of the test setter to understand what he/she really wants as an answer.
Also, along with identifying your areas of opportunity, mocks allow you to strategize how would you take the test on the D-Day. This varies from person to person but for me, watching live mock taking sessions by Rajesh sir helped a lot. Coming to the mock scores, I would reiterate that the mocks are generally a bit tougher than actual CAT and use it just to keep boosting your preparation and not as a measure of your capabilities. A lot of students drop midway due to loss of confidence, and the ones who keep the spirit high are the ones who reach the finish line!
This is the last but most vital stage of the preparation to reach the dream B school. I started my prep in January and focused on 4 main segments:
- Work Ex & HR questions: It is very important to document answers for Why MBA, Why MBA after engg, What do you plan to do after MBA and so on. These communicate you clarity of mind to the interviewer. You should have a decent understanding about the work you have done and any real life examples related to it.
- Current Affairs (Politics, Business,Budget, COVID) – Followed The Hindu, MINT and news apps
- Graduation Revision: Even though I had 2 years of work ex, it was expected to know basics of graduation stream. I watched various youtube videos of electrical engg basics and diligently made notes
- Mathematics: Colleges like IIM ABC do ask maths questions in interviews and its better to be prepared
Scored 99.72 percentile in CAT 2020 and 99+ percentile in XAT and IIFT.
Interview Calls: FMS Delhi, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Shillong, XLRI, IIFT, SP Jain, MDI
Converts: FMS Delhi, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, XLRI, IIFT, MDI
Waitlisted: IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow
I would be joining Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi for their flagship 2 year MBA program in 2021.
Advice for Aspirants
Dream, Aspire, Prepare, Achieve. It’s important to have aspirations and have the strength to deal with the difficulties on the way. Don’t let the magnitude of the exam get to you. Just treat it like any other exam and focus on basics. Results will come. If not today, then tomorrow. But you will definitely reach the summit. All the best!!
Pranay Seth obtained 99.72 %ile in CAT 2021 and is heading to FMS – batch of 2023.