I was in my second year when I decided I wanted to pursue MBA after graduation. One day someone told me that everything is possible with hard work and sacrifice. I immediately put it as my mobile phone wallpaper and from that day that wallpaper hasn’t changed. It has always kept me motivated to work hard. I decided to make my first attempt a memorable one!
Today, I have a 97+ percentile on my score card and calls from many top b-schools of the country. I know the ride behind it wasn’t easy and I would like to share some take-aways from my personal journey towards MBA.
How have I scored 97%ile+ in my first attempt?
- Start early: First and foremost step is always to start as soon as possible. I started preparing in June 2018 for my November 2019 CAT exam. I feel we need to understand the structure of the CAT exam and familiarize ourselves with its requirements properly before we actually begin studying the course for the exam. Starting early gives you a head start against others competing against you and also, allows you to be more focussed in your preparation. If you can identify your weak areas early on, you can improve your scores in that area by covering all the basic concepts again and correcting your mistakes. Most importantly, if you have more time at hand, you can practice more and more and achieve expertise in any subject.
- Give maximum mocks: Many of us are usually scared of mock tests but believe me the first mock exam is very crucial for CAT exam preparation. I can say with confidence that an early 1st mock test taken with the full analysis will give you the best perspective of how to start the journey of learning. This is like half the game done. This is because, it will highlight your strong and weak areas, your silly mistakes, topics you may not have understood properly, your accuracy and speed levels, etc. Many of the seniors advised us that the CAT exam was not as much about your knowledge as it was about your strategy of attempting the exam. The latter can only develop with the help of taking more and more mock-tests. I would like to highlight another point here. We all have a phobia about how to give mock exam till the syllabus is not completed. But let me assure you, if you stay in that fear and not attempt mocks or delay taking them, you will never be able to know whether you have covered the entire syllabus properly or not. Scoring less in the first few mocks is quite normal and all you need is just to learn from your mistakes.
- Accuracy: Accuracy is the extent to which you can correctly answer or solve a particular question. Accuracy is very critical in determining your strategy as your scores would be directly proportional to it. Low accuracy and incorrect answers can lead to negative marking and your scores will slump by a huge margin. Very soon during preparation, I realized that just one silly mistake could cost you four negative marks which translates to a loss of nearly 1 percentile. At higher speed levels, your accuracy may start to dwindle. Every person has different levels of speed and accuracy in different sections and topics. CAT is, after all, a game of matching speed and accuracy.
- Strengthen your strengths: I come from a commerce background and I have many friends who complain about their maths skills or are nervous in the DILR section. However, I scored 99.56%ile in DILR and 94%ile in Quantitative section. I would credit this accomplishment to one sole reason – I believed in my strengths. I knew I was always good in math in school and I devoted good amount of time in building conceptual knowledge for quant and DILR in CAT. For me, DILR is all about selection of right set of question. Many students make the wrong choice of a very difficult or confusing set and get stuck in it. I practiced different varieties of sets. One needs to act smart in answering. Sometimes the answer is hidden in the question itself; you just need to open yourself to new strategies and practice.
- Mental Attitude: Lastly, CAT is a mental game. During the duration of your course, there will be many times when you feel disheartened and demotivated. Every person devises his or her own way to deal with this stress. I surrounded myself with a good circle comprising my parents, supportive friends and teachers. I never hesitated to talk to them and kept my hopes high.
Stay consistent and keep working hard. Stay positive and all the best. It is very well said:
“If you think you cannot do it you can never do it.
If you think you will try to do it, you are just halfway.
But if you think you will do it you will definitely do it.”