Motto for Success in CAT exam- A disciplined approach, perseverance, and self-belief

I come from a joint family and will be the first person in my family to pursue a Master's degree. During my undergrad, I decided I would attempt CAT in my final year. This decision was solely based on the fact that everyone else was jumping the MBA bandwagon and I’d be foolish not to do the same. FOMO as they call it nowadays. So, I got myself enrolled in a coaching center, just as everyone does. Now, for some reason, I always felt that I don’t fit in. I felt this was not something I chose for myself. I tried hard to put wholehearted efforts into my preparation. But, something in my mind always kept telling me – ‘You cannot do this. This was exacerbated as time passed and the D-day was nearing. So, I kept telling everybody and myself that this is just a trial attempt. Deep down I wished that something magical happens and I end up scoring high (despite having low scores in Mocks). I scored 84 percentile in CAT 2019. I attribute this failure to the fact that I did not believe in myself. I got intimidated by my friend’s performance in their respective coaching centers. No matter how much I try to convince myself that it was just a trial attempt, I still feel I could have done better had I approached it with the right attitude.
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A major decision:
Fast forward to March 2020, I got a job offer from a company through a campus placement drive. It was then that I had to choose between CAT 2020 or a job. I chose the former. Not just this, I was keen on not joining any coaching center. I bought some books instead and decided I would do it on my own. But if I am being honest there were days, I would regret it because CAT 2020 saw so many changes, in terms of pattern, time limit, etc. My family helped me when I felt low. Let’s turn the page to June 2021, I received and converted calls from all the new/baby IIMs. I am waitlisted at IIM Indore, but it’s too far. But I managed to convert MDI Gurgaon for their PGDM course. So, I am all set to join this prestigious institution soon. The best part? I did not manage an astronomical rise in my percentile. I did not score some 99,98,97 or even 96. I got 95.88 percentile in CAT 2020. I was skeptical initially because despite being a good percentile this was maybe not enough. But I prepared well and got it done. I would like to mention a few pointers that helped me throughout my journey:
  1. Strengths and weaknesses: I had a very low percentile in QA in 2019, so I had my work cut out for this section in particular. I focused more on QA (without ignoring the other two). It pays to walk an extra mile for sections you think you are weak in.
  2. Attitude is very important: It is imperative you be positive no matter how bad your mock scores get. There are a variety of reasons why scores fluctuate so much in mocks. Not all of them are in your control. What’s in your control is how you choose to view your results. There is something to learn from each low point you face.
  3. Analyzing mock scores: I did not realize the importance of this step back in 2019, but it does help you tons. Solving the questions, you couldn’t solve during the mock without looking at the solutions and looking at the solutions after this step to know various approaches to the same question are some of the ways to do it. Most Mock test providers, give you a detailed analysis of your performance – in terms of time taken to solve a question, accuracy percentage, etc. Refer to these metrics as well.
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  5. Planning:It helps to plan things out when you feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of syllabus you need to cover. A well-planned schedule does wonder if followed properly. It worked well for me.
  6. Don’t shy away from sharing: Often, it happens that we don’t feel like sharing what’s on our minds with friends and family. I would always share my worries with my parents whenever I felt stuck. Even if sometimes they can’t tell you how to solve your problem, it just helps to say out loud what has been plaguing you for weeks. Talk to your friends when you feel low. It does wonders.
  7. Lastly, Quick-tip for the D-day: Be on time. It helps to get to your exam center early and just be familiar with the place. Also, a last-minute rush might disturb your peace of mind. Lastly, DO NOT BE AFRAID if you think you are not getting any answers in a particular section. It happens often that some sections are harder than others. Just remember it is equally hard for everyone attempting the paper in your slot.
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