CAT Exam: Mantra for success- Preparation strategy decoded

Since I was in school, it had become evident to me that purely memory-based subjects, which are not as logically taxing as they are challenging in terms of taking in vast amounts of information, failed to pique my curiosity. I wanted to pursue something that challenged me and couldn't be taught straight from a book, which is why I opted for hospitality and Hotel Administration. Although not a very popular course in the Indian middle class, it checked off all the boxes on my list. Not only would it involve practical learning and dealing with impromptu situations, but it also resonated well with my hobbies of adventure traveling, love for food, and photography. During my final year, I was selected by Marriott international as part of the Voyage Graduate Development Program, which hires close to a thousand immediate graduates worldwide and trains them thoroughly in their respective fields of interest, by providing full-time experience along with a defined curriculum for overall managerial development.
Reason for pursuing MBA?
During my training, I had the opportunity to work in other departments of the hotel, namely finance, sales, housekeeping, reservations, and marketing. I was only required to spend a week in each, but marketing in particular greatly interested me. Upon requesting my manager, I spent nearly 2 months in marketing, which left me wanting to learn more about the field and inspired me to pursue an MBA.
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Do or die situation:-
We all know how drastically the world has changed since March last year, and amongst the most affected was the Hospitality and Tourism industry. With this certain uncertainty in my career,it was in August when I decided to appear for CAT 2020. With just 3 months left for preparation, I acknowledged the fact that I had to hasten my preparation journey. With work pressure mounting, it was a little difficult to manage my studies. But still, I managed to spare some time for my CAT preparation.  At this juncture, I realized the importance of time management.
We were having rotational shifts at work, and the remainder of the month was spent learning the basics of Quantitative Ability. This was when I realized that even though I had been out of college for a while, and it was difficult for me to concentrate, I was good at Quant. Still, I never got overconfident when it came to solving Quant questions and I tried to master tricks and tips.
Just 67 days:-
The first month, I only focused on Quant and revised the concepts thoroughly. It was September now and our resort in Goa was getting busy; the half-month option was not viable now and I was asked to start working full time. Realizing that there were only two months left, I decided to take a leap of faith, risk everything and resign. I came back home unannounced knowing that my parents would certainly respect my decision. This was when I knew that I did not have a Plan B now and no matter what, I had to give it my all the next 67 days.
 Importance of a Proper Schedule
The first thing I did was to make a proper schedule with a fixed time for meals, exercise, hobbies, and of course studying. I started to attend online classes and solved numerous questions based on different topics. I also made sure that I read the entire editorial column of the newspaper everyday to get into the habit of reading, which eventually assisted me in solving those feared CAT RCs. Nobody can deny the importance of reading. Strengthening English for the CAT Verbal Ability section requires a lot of patience and a calm disposition.
If I look back at those 2 months, I can easily say that it was the hardest I have studied in my life. Some nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would get up and start solving advanced Logical reasoning and Data interpretation sets. I had realized that the only way to tackle LRDI sets was to practice, practice and practice.
Importance of Mock-tests:-
The last three weeks before CAT, I only focused on appearing for sectional and full-length mocks and then analyzing my shortcomings. I can recall the first mock test I took when I had started preparing, I had scored less than forty percentile. And now, reaching the 80-percentile mark significantly boosted my confidence. Analysis of the mocks played a major role in improving my performance in the CAT exam.
Exam day experience:-
I was allotted slot 2, which had one of the toughest LRDI of all the three slots, but those late-night practices helped me here. If you had told me a few months ago that I would score 95+ percentile in LRDI, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I do believe hard work gives results as long as you are consistent and aligned with your goals.
GD/ Interview experience:-
Having outperformed my target of 85 by scoring above the 92-percentile mark, and getting interview calls from some of the best B-Schools in the country, including a few IIMs, was wonderful.
Handling interviews was one forte that I had been good at, mainly because my work profile involved interaction with all kinds of people. So I knew I had to focus more on the technical aspect of the interview. Being from a diverse background and having worked in Goa was something that intrigued the panelists, and a majority of the questions revolved around that. I had started reading hospitality journals to update myself about the industry. Also, staying updated with the current affairs, business news, major deals and politics was suggested by everyone.
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The interview preparation classes along with Mock interviews conducted by HitBullseye helped me tackle most of the technical knowledge based questions that I might encounter, from economy to geography. I also got a fair idea about the aspects I needed to work on, and I'm really thankful for the efforts put in by the faculty. Moreover, one needs to have a thorough knowledge about the city and the state that they are from, as it's the interviewer’s favourite area for questioning.The above mentioned points coupled with a strong reasoning for "Why MBA" helped me crack all the 11 interviews calls that I had  received.
5 Important points for Group Discussion and Personal Interview Process:-
1. Be confident and genuine with why you want to do an MBA.
2. Stay positive and keep a smile even when the interview is not going your way.
3. Do not rush into answering, think about the question thoroughly and frame it accordingly.
4. Never have a pre-conceived notion that you will or will not be converting that particular interview, if you have a call you have a chance of conversion. Be optimistic.
5. Hobbies and extra-curricular activities needs a mention in the form as it helps to convince the interviewers that you have more to offer to the institute than just academia. 
Lastly, Hitbullseye’s CAT Mock Test series was a huge help in making this possible, and I am grateful for the complimentary interview preparation which assisted me in converting almost all the interview calls that I had received.
I would like to wish the future aspirants all the very best for CAT 2021. But remember, don’t focus too much on the goal that you forget to enjoy the journey that takes you there!
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