What to do if your CAT didn’t go well - Muskaan Jain

My journey of CAT to MBA began during the second year of graduation. I was pursuing B.A. Economics and was very keen in experiencing and learning from practical application of economic theories into real life business situations. That’s when I realised that an MBA qualification can help me take my interest forward. Since it was going to be my first attempt, I needed proper guidance and knowledge. So, I joined a coaching institute at the end of 2018, which gave me almost a year to prepare for the MBA entrance exams. 
Initial struggles during CAT preparation
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When I learnt about the pattern, structure and the general syllabus of various MBA entrances, I immediately understood it will be the Quantitative Ability section which will be the most challenging for me. Mathematics was never easy for me. Even at school, I managed to get good scores in this subject only because I devoted maximum of my energy and time just solving math questions and clearing my doubts timely. 
The full fledged BULL CAT mock test series that began in the beginning of 2019, gave me a taste of a serious concern - ‘Time management and Speed’. In the first few mocks my score was not so good, perhaps because I was yet to complete the syllabus. Yet, I continued giving these mocks to plan on how I was going to manage the limited time to identify and attempt the doable questions. 
Taking mock tests confirmed that reading comprehension was also an area that needed a lot of attention and practice. In the initial few mocks, I couldn’t even manage to reach the last few questions of the VARC section. Following the advice of my teachers, I explored my student portal of Hitbullseye. I took a lot of RC practice tests which improved my reading speed.
Strategy for the CAT exam
It is really important for one to know which section out of the three main are his strengths and weaknesses so that timely attention can be given to the weak areas. It is the regular mock and practice tests which help one to analyze this. Like for me it was the quant section followed by the RC questions. So I made sure that I give regular tests available on the portal and work on my mistakes and avoid them in the next tests. As we wrapped up the syllabus in a few months before the CAT exam, my focus was to give as many mock and last year actual tests. I continued attending online workshops conducted by the institute which mostly covered advanced level questions which too were an important part of the preparation. I scored well in the final few mocks which motivated me to appear in the final exam with confidence. 
My CAT exam  - Experience and Learning 
On the day of the CAT exam, I told myself to stay calm and composed no matter what. I didn’t panic at all but the exam didn’t go as per my expectations. I couldn’t attempt enough questions. The fear of the negative marking made me attempt only the sure shot questions and this wasn’t enough. I should have increased my attempts. One thing that I learnt from this was that one should always take up at least two test series i.e. from different sources. I made this mistake of attempting the mock series from a single source. Having another test series would have introduced me to a different style of questions and that would have been of great help. 
I was disappointed with my CAT performance but what helped me was that from the beginning CAT wasn’t my only focus. Whatever I learnt prepared me not just for CAT but also for other similar entrance exams. I continued practicing and attempting mock-tests for all other exams scheduled after CAT. My next focus was to do well in all other upcoming exams of interest. And I did. I never gave up hope and performed great in the SNAP exam. 
Appearing in CAT before SNAP proved to be of great help. I knew the mistakes I had to avoid repeating. I was quick this time in deciding which question needs to be solved and which should be left. I was satisfied after the exam as I had attempted a satisfactory number of questions. Though my CAT percentile was not satisfactory (89 percentile) but my SNAP result made me happy. I scored 98.09 percentile. I received a call letter from SCMHRD, Pune to appear for the GDPI. 
Preparing for GD and Interview Round
My focus now was to ace my GDPI round and convert my call. Scoring well in an entrance exam and getting a call does not guarantee admission into the desired B-School. It’s just a chance to do so. Around 1100 students were called against 180 seats. 
I started my preparation for the GDPI round with the concept classes at bullseye. There were separate classes for personal interview, group discussion (GD) and current affairs. I was regular in these classes. Once I felt that I was ready for a mock PI, I got one scheduled for myself. I noted the feedback I got and worked upon it. I also sat for the mock GDs as well as Case study discussions. These again were very resourceful in my preparation. The boot camp organized by the institute again was very helpful. It included lectures from experienced faculty from all across the country. There were also 2 mock PI sessions scheduled for us with these guest lecturers. Their feedback again was very important. In these few weeks of GDPI preparation, I gave around 5 mock interviews and 4 GD sessions. Each session was very important and helpful.
Interview Experience at SCMHRD
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My flight to Pune was one of a kind as for the first time, I was nervous while on a flight. My previous plane journeys had been exciting but this one had a lot of nervousness as well. The GDPI/ WAT process there began with WAT. I was satisfied with the 2 essays I had written. It was followed by the GD session. I confidently opened the discussion. Fortunately, my group had students who patiently put forward their points and allowed others to speak as well. There was no shouting or chaos of any kind. This round too went well. Now, I was ready for the main thing, the Personal Interview. I walked in and took my seat confidently. I was facing 2 panelists. The first thing they asked me was to tell them that one thing I didn’t like about their GDPI process. I was honest in telling them that it was the short time lag between each round which was a problem for me. They proceeded with other questions and I answered all while being calm and confident. I was not hesitant to tell them whenever I didn’t know the answer to any one of the questions. After the interview, I was satisfied. Knowledge is definitely important but being confident and not showing nervousness no matter how nervous you are is also equally important. A few weeks later, when the results were announced, I secured myself a place in the merit list. The feeling was not only happiness but also self accomplishment. The sincerity and dedication that I had shown in that past one year landed me into a good institute.
My two-line Advice
I wouldn’t say that any part of it was easy but if one remains determined, focused and most importantly, self-motivated, then nothing can stop him/ her from securing a place for oneself in a top B-School. 
I am really excited for the next 2 years in Pune and am looking forward to a wonderful experience at SCMHRD.
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