CAT Strat, Motivation
Comments 171

What after a horrible CAT?

Be it the day of the CAT or be it when the final admits results come out it is not easy to be a mentor — on one hand you are happy for students who crack the exam and get an admit and on the other hand you are also tinged with sadness for those who have a bad test day or fail to convert. The toughest thing was always to meet a student who is happy, knowing that the one waiting outside is sad. So with the years one develops a certain equanimity since one cannot be so happy that one is not able to empathise with the ones who are having a hard time and one also cannot get so bogged down by sadness that one cannot partake in the joy of the successful.

In some cases students just disappear, somehow they take it very personally, that they have failed, they have failed even after reading all the blogs and all attending all the sessions, they feel almost as if they have let me down. And I am left wondering, whatever happened to that guy. The others thankfully come down to meet me or reach to me through the blog comments even if it is just to feel lighter instead of heavy and burdened.


There are two things about cliches — they are dead boring since they have been repeated so often but at the same time, they are also true, so are all the cliches about failure, I won’t repeat them but I will attest that they are true.

In one of the recent posts, I spoke about how every one has to face a test and how heroes in myths are defined by overcoming obstacles. The thing about myths is that they rarely show heroes failing at a task spectacularly — they only show heroes’ failings or weaknesses (Rama in the way he treated Sita post his rescuing of her).

But if we look at real life successes, almost every spectacular success has had a a big failure or inability as well. I am not linking failure to success or calling it a pre-requisite.

All I am saying is, everyone fails, so do not go beating yourself about it.


There is nothing to be gained from self-flagellation

The first reaction understandably is to hit oneself with an emotional sledgehammer and of these the worst one is — I am useless, I am not smart enough, I suck, I do not have the skills to crack this exam, no matter what I do it will not change a thing.

Firstly, I will be happy if you are telling yourself all of these in anger rather than through a bucket of tears since anger with oneself can be a very good motivator.

But whether you are telling yourself these things through anger or through tears you need to quickly move from “I suck” to I suck at this particular aspect of CAT, from being emotional to being strategic.

  • This was the first time I took an entrance test and I was overwhelmed by it
  • My reading speed was the biggest hindrance when the paper became tough
  • Before the test I did not talk myself through what I was going to execute during the three sections
  • Before the test I did talk myself through things but everything went out of the window once the test started
  • I did not hunker down and solve 2 DI sets but flitted from set to set
  • I could not solve tough QA questions from Arithmetic, my level plateaued at easy and moderate questions
  • My technique to solve evaluative RC questions was not really upto the mark

My favourite story when it comes to dealing with doubts about one’s ability is Brian Lara’s answer when questioned about being McGrath’s bunny (he has got him quite a few times), Lara did not talk about the number of centuries he scored against Australia or the single-handed manhandling of a peak Australian team over an entire series, all he said was — someone from the opposition has to get me out some time, right?


Evaluate the extent of damage and your options and view things in proportion

The right lens to view things should not be through your success or failure at CAT 2020 but in terms of your prospects of doing an MBA from a premier b-school.

Just like the extent of damage in a war varies across the various battlefronts, the damage, if any, to your MBA dreams, varies across different profiles.

Who are the aspirants who are worst hit?

Those who already have 4 years of work-experience and had a horrible CAT 2020 are the worst hit since another shot at the CAT and the 2-year MBA is effectively ruled out; they only have the rest of the exams in this season to make it count.

Those who have three years of work-ex will still have a marginal shot at the CAT next year but to stay close to the average profile in a b-school (having 4 or more years of work-ex will make the profile a bit of an outlier) they should crack one of the remaining exams in this season.

Those who have 2 years of work-ex might have seen this as the perfect time to do an MBA and in way it is. But given the economic situation (a lot of people are predicting a crash, the crazy stock market notwithstanding) what is the best year to graduate, 2023 or 2024? I would definitely vote for 2024.

Those who have less 2 years have work-ex have nothing to worry about as far their MBA dreams go, they are well and truly alive, you can still get there, not when you wanted to and in the way you wanted to but you can still get there.

Some of you might wonder whether you have it in you to take another shot. We you do not have another option.


Roger Federer played from 2012 Wimbledon to 2017 Australian Open, 17 Slams, without winning a single slam, being stuck at 17, losing to players who were not in the same league as him. At every single slam during those five years my friend and I would talk, just before the semis or finals, about how well Fed is playing, the new things that he is inventing — the SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger) — and as usual the crazy points in the matches until then, only for him to lose again.

There were articles asking why he was still playing. I was supporting him saying that it need not be #1 or nothing, as long as he is easily making finals and semis and believes he can win he should play since he is still ranked in the top 4 and since unlike in a team sport, he is not delaying a transition or eating into the prime years of a youngster. In effect, even I had ruled out the chance of him winning again, I was happy that he was competing well.

Federer is great not because he has won 20 Slams but because he believed in himself so much, believed in himself through four years of heart-breaking failures, four years of aging and his body breaking down in 2016, while others were catching up with him.

I am sure no victory tasted sweeter to him than the 2017 Australian Open when he finally won a Slam again. (I have never felt more elation at the end of a sports match than while watching him win the 2017 Australian Open)


All of you are so young, this exam season is still young, you have enough time to acquire the skills your skills to crack the CAT at another shot (if required).

Cut all the negative voices out of your head, your own voice, that of your parents as well, if necessary (since all most Indian parents seem to care about is the timing of your wedding and how another shot affects that).


They will release the paper with your response in a day or two and we will release a tool to calculate your score — this can cause another meltdown, it is never easy to actually see the marks, if you know you did not do well do not try to find out, let the results come out when they come out.


Some of you might be raring to go smash the other tests to smithereens, and some of you might be feeling out of gas and motivation to pick yourself up.

The latter, please give yourself a break, do the things you like to do, eat the things you like to eat, and relax for the rest of the week, restart on Monday.

There is little you can do right by pushing yourself without a break or good rest and being a bunch of ragged nerves.


Getting ready for the next event

It is not easy to crack the test on your first or second attempt unless you are on the top of your game for at least 10 to 15 mocks with additional reserves to handle a tougher paper. I cleared the test on my second attempt.

Even those of you who have set your sights firmly on the old IIMs will be taking a few more tests, at least the IIFT exam and the XAT. Now that you have the CAT monkey off your back go ahead full-throttle on these other tests.

Even if you have decided on another shot at the CAT and IIM-A, give the other tests you have registered for seriously, crack a final admit to IIFT, NMIMS, SIBM, or even XL and then reject it. — achieve something this season and set yourself higher goals for next year.


Some of the comments to this post are very good and some of you might find an echo of your performance, current state, and questions in them.



P.S: The picture with this post is not of Federer but of Marin Cilic (crying) after he lost the 2017 Final to Federer.


“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

171 Comments

  1. Rohan Mehra says

    Hello sir!

    I’ve got an offer from SDA Bocconi Asia Centre with 30% scholarship. Should I accept the offer?
    Expecting 85+%tile in CAT 2020.
    Xth-96
    XIIth – 94
    Grad Bcom- 79

    What’s your take on GIM vs SDA vs KJ Somaiya vs Welingkar

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rohan,

      I would put KJ and GIM above the other two. Between these two you should select one based on the kind of placements you are looking for in terms of salaries, firms, and sectors; you should be able to get these from the placement reports.

      All the best!

      Like

  2. Hi sir,

    This comment is just another sad story of coming out of the test center with a heavy heart. Unlike others, I was very particular with my plan from the very beginning. I started preparing from March itself because I knew I would take my share of time, because honestly, I wanted the best for me. Not because everyone wants it and so do I, but because I thought I had the potential.
    Here is a list of things that led to the downward spiral:
    1. My mock scores were fluctuating. From scoring 99%ile in VA to seeing days when I got a mere 50%ile. QA and LRDI wasn’t really my forte but on good days I’ve seen decent scores.
    2. I was exhausted by November. When it was the right time to put extra effort, I wasn’t able to give my 100%.
    3. My exam started 4 mins late and I freaked out. Moreover, there was so much noise in and around the test center that I wasn’t able to focus while reading. Which by the way is my weakness. I gave all my mocks only at night when there were no external disturbances.
    4. While I was attempting QA, I couldn’t do 4 questions in a row which looked pretty familiar. Those were the worst 40 mins I’ve seen. For I struggled and struggled and nothing came out of it. My answers weren’t matching, I was losing hope and patience and hence, I spoiled the easiest section of the exam.
    So, here I am, typing this at 3 in the morning still wondering how to go about next. The colleges I wanted to get into, I won’t get a call from them and the prospective ones, which are yet to take their exams, I have lost a good amount of my confidence to start from square one. Please help me out here, sir. Any insights would be helpful. Thanking you in anticipation.

    Like

    • Hi AA,

      If I take in what you have said and honestly assess the situation this is what I can see:

      1. Fluctuating VA percentiles are primarily due to lack of a solid technique to solve each question type, so on relatively easy papers or on papers where the text is something that you do not mind reading you do well but the moment the level gets ramped up and content gets uncomfortable the scores go down. So you need to figure whether you are solving VA and RC using gut-feel or develop a solid technique for the same.

      2. Two sections not being your forte is not ideal so you need to figure out two things with respect to the remaining tests — is your level in DI-LR and QA good enough to handle the difficulty of the specific test — for example, you might figure that you can handle the LR of IIFT easily but IIFT-QA was quite out of your league and so on. May be doing this for VA as well for each of the other tests makes sense.

      3. Do not prepare for all tests together. Prepare for one test at a time, finish it and then move on to the next.

      4. The biggest thing that you have to do is take mocks during the day. You cannot make the same mistake again on the other tests. It will seem tough at first but after a point, you will start ignoring (it is not very different to standing next to a smelly garbage dump, initially all you can think of will be the smell, but after point it will recede)

      Not being able to do well on the CAT does not mean you cannot do well on the other tests since the levels are totally different.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  3. Vinay Shankar says

    Hello Sir. I loved your XAT BDM 2019 videos. I was hoping if you would do the same for XAT 2020 as well. Is it possible for you to kindly provide a video tackling the XAT 2020 BDM questions?

    Like

  4. Nitu Pandia says

    Sir, why are you this great. it felt like water gushing down soothing my brain cells. God bless you!

    Like

  5. Dear SIr ,
    I am already having 4 years of work experience and 20 LPA , but i seriously wanted to do MBA . i started my prep from July after quitting my job and i studied for 10-12 hrs a day .Last year i attempted CAT just for fun and got 86 percentile but this year i have ruined my paper very badly . even i wasn’t ever able to score more than 70 percentile in my mocks even after putting so much efforts . (infact my scores only Degraded , i got 80 percentile in my first mock and 55 in the last) . Now i have completely lost my Morale .I have completely ruined my career. Pls guide

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi SP,

      Firstly, you have not ruined your career. I do not know which part of the country you are from but will use Hindi assuming you understand.

      “Main lut gaya, main barbaad ho gaya waala rona ek working professional jo MBA banna chahta hai usko shobha nahi deti hain”

      You took a break and tried something new for 6 months and it did not work out. People quit their jobs invest huge amounts of money into businesses staking all their personal assets.

      You have invested are 6 months of salary that you could have earned.

      Your MBA dream is still very much alive maybe not a two-year program but a one-year program — the IIMs, ISB, SPJIMR, XL, Great Lakes — all have good 1-year programs through the GMAT.

      Prepare for the GMAT and finish it by February end, while parallelly looking for a job.

      Take up your new job and spend 2021 applying to 1-year MBA programs, join in 2022, and graduate by 2023 the way you would have of you joined a 2-year program in 2021.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  6. Hi Sir,
    I have 46 months experience till date (3 Years 10 months) and my CAT experience was horrible . I am expecting somewhere in 75-80%ile , am I eligible to take CAT next year ?(I will complete 4 years of experience in Feb,2021). Currently, I am focusing on other speed based non-cat exams.

    Like

  7. Hi Sir,
    I have 46 months (3 years and 10 months) IT experience till date and my CAT was horrible , I am expecting around 75-80%ile. I will complete 4 years working in Feb,2021, am I eligible for CAT 2021?I If not, what should be my game plan? My aim is to move to marketing from IT, currently I am focusing on other speed based Non-CAT exams along with my job.
    Your guidance will surely work as motivation, looking forward to it .

    Like

    • Hi RJ,

      You are eligible to apply nothing like ineligibility but a shot at CAT 2021 would be a very bad idea.

      This is because the IIMs themselves and other colleges have 1-year programs for those with 4 or more years of work-ex.

      They do not enforce this as a hard and fast rule – do not apply if you have four or more years, they will quiz you in the interview and if you convince them they even give you an admit.

      During placements, though you will face an issue since recruiters will be coming for roles that fit the majority of the batch – so those with 4 or more years of work-ex will find more roles on offer in the 1-year programs than in 2-year programs.

      Again this does not mean that you will not find a job, but the number of jobs that fit your profile will be far fewer those that fit other profiles.

      Also, moving from IT to Marketing in a 2-year program is not easy since most of the Marketing roles on offer go to freshers or those with relevant work-ex.

      You are more likely to get Marketing/BD/Pre-Sales roles in the ITes/Tech.

      Hence, you will be better off taking the GMAT and pursuing a 1-year MBA from ISB, IIMs, SPJIMR, XLRI and other premier schools.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  8. Hi Sir,
    I have 46 months IT experience till date (3 Years 10 months) and my CAT experience was horrible . I am expecting somewhere in 75-80%ile , am I eligible to take CAT next year ?(I will complete 4 years of experience in Feb,2021). My aim is to move to marketing from IT. Currently, I am focusing on other speed based non-cat exams along with my job.
    Your words of guidance will surely act as motivation, looking forward to it.

    Like

  9. Elika says

    Hi Sir,
    This might be unrelated to the post above but I did not know how else to reach you.
    I took the CAT 2020 exam in slot 3. I scored a total of 90 and my sectional scores are as follows:
    VARC – 36
    DILR – 21
    Quant – 33
    I am a female engineer currently in the final year.
    10th standard – 94%
    12th standard – 78.77%
    CGPA average – 8.33/10 (Converted percentage – 67%)
    So finally, my query is that is it realistic to expect any IIM calls with the above profile? Also, is there any possibility to be getting a call from any of the old IIMs? This was only my first attempt and hence I absolutely do not mind preparing again if it means a shot at the old IIMs. So it would be of great value if I could get an opinion on what my plan should be hereon.

    I have religiously watched each of your masterclasses, webinars and absolutely enjoyed every blog post of yours. Each piece of advice you have given has helped me immensely and what I managed to score with a few months of preparation has solely been a residue of that. Thank you so much for your guidance, I couldn’t appreciate it more 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Elika,

      If the predicted percentile is above 98.75 then you can expect a couple of calls from the old IIMs, L and K, maybe, based on gender diversity.

      If the old IIMs are your aim then it makes sense to prepare only for the XAT since XL is in the same league and leave all the other tests for next year. In case you have applied to the other tests as well such as NMAT and SNAP, then prepare for it, crack the test, crack the interview, get an admit, and then reject it; there will not be a better dress rehearsal for the whole process next year if you need another year.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  10. Hello Sir,
    I am having a experience of around 3.5 years in Automobile industry currently. My CAT 2020 was horrible & I am expecting to get around 65-70 %ile as a GEM. I am preparing for further exams, but at this moment, shall I opt for the preparation for next year CAT or 1 year MBA from a average college or what shall be my next action as I am not able to figure it out. Please help with your guidance. Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi AM,

      At this moment the only thing you can do is to prep for the other exams.

      If you need to take another shot the makes a lot of sense to take the GMAT and apply to ISB, IIMs, SPJIMR, XL and Great Lakes next year and join in 2022, all these colleges offer a good 1-year program that will give you decent outcomes.

      All the best!

      Like

  11. Shubham vyas says

    Hello sir
    I am a 2019 graduate engineer, gave CAT last year with very bad scores and through CMAT last year I was only able to get call from Wellinkar institute whivh i converted, but then i was not ready to settle for that as my dream college is MICA Ahmedabad. I gave this year as one more shot, I gave it all for it sir. I was kind of feeling positive after coming out of exam in the first slot but yesterday when i saw results I am not able to calm down my heartbeat till now I scored just 44 where i was expecting above 60 . Firstly because I am not able to figure out what is the thing that went wrong, what is the thing I missed on or I did not do, I gave good amount of mocks, was consistent each day for thr number of RCs, sets I targeted to do and chapetrs I need to revise. I was also flexible with the changes which took place and was a optimistic first slot candidate. Secondly, this was(is) probably my last chance to convert MICA my dream college, I cannot see myself giving another shot next year considering the situations I am surrounded with. I analysed that MICA is still a possibility with XAT and MICAT 2 exam but I am not able to bounce back with that pace I had for CAT. Its very sour to digest that my CAT was not good. On the other hand I do not have much time to cry for as XAT is not much days away. I really want to crack it sir, But missing that high confidence and sub conscious optimism. Please help.

    Like

    • Hi Shubham,

      Not just you a lot of instructors I spoke to as well were a bit surprised by the results in their respective sections.

      While the practice you have put in is commendable most of the time it boils down to the kind of practice and the technique you master through the practice, I do not know if you followed any specific techniques to attempt the RCs and VA questions, if you are IMS student you will know what I am talking about.

      The more I am speaking to students the more it seems as if the heartbreak caused by CAT is no different from a real heartbreak, and just like one tells people in the case of real heartbreak, all I can say is that there are plenty of fish in the sea — in your case, two, XAT and MICAT 2.

      As I wrote in the post after this, you cannot judge your capabilities on the basis of the CAT and there are solid reasons for that — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/12/07/how-to-plan-your-post-cat-prep-for-other-exams/

      Go through the post and slowly restart your prep.

      Don’t push yourself too much this week, ease into it.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Shubham vyas says

        Thank you so much sir I’ll surely follow your advice. And I got your point its more important to master the technique in the practice, where I just followed it and not strictly mastered that. Thank you so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello sir,
    i have 2 years of work ex. in IT and i wanted to do MBA in marketing.this is my second attempt to CAT and i am expecting 80 percentile(with horrible score in verbal and good in other two).but the thing is i am not satisfied with working in IT field and i don’t want to continue further.what should be my future course of action.please guide me.

    Like

    • Hi HP,

      To keep it simple, as of now I would suggest that you give it your all this year for the remaining exams since the longer you work in IT the tougher it will get for you to move into other domains since to do that you will be effectively telling recruiters to disregard your work-ex and treat you like a fresher but then they might as well take a fresher.

      This does not mean that the roles open to you are only IT, there are many other sectors that are definitely open to you into Marketing roles in tech product firms.

      So, for now, the best you can do is to prepare for the rest of the exams.

      All the best!

      Like

  13. Jainam says

    Thanks Tony Sir for this wonderful post. I’ve got done with BBA(Mktg) this year from NMIMS Mumbai. I started preparing from April of this year for CAT 20 and didn’t work as my job had been revoked. Honestly, I didn’t give enough efforts to VA and DILR & didn’t have a solid process and strategy to bell CAT. Despite giving sufficient time to QA(solved good amount of IMS resources), it was the worst section where I have barely managed to get double digits. I’m expecting 75%ile in CAT 20.
    I’m confused as to whether I should give one last shot at CAT 2021(3rd attempt) and if so shall I start preparing for CAT from now itself as I feel that I should give it sufficient time.
    I really want to get into the old IIMs however I need to be realistic and I don’t want to waste a year only to be back to where I am right now.
    Looking at how CAT 20 was, I’m not sure that preparing for VA and DILR for CAT 21 would ensure the right score.
    So given this backdrop, what is a good framework or acid test that you suggest can help me make the best decision? What factors should I look at?

    Like

    • Hi Jainam,

      It is not uncommon for a lot of BBA students to focus extensively on QA to the detriment of their performance other sections and sometimes even the QA does not work out in test conditions.

      Things are still pretty much alive for you since you graduated this year but the catch is that you cannot not work and prepare only for another attempt since it would mean another attempt.

      You would need to take up a job and prepare for another shot.

      I do not know if you are taking the other exams but it makes a lot of sense to as of now focus on cracking the rest of the exams at this point and using the framework I gave in this post — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/12/07/how-to-plan-your-post-cat-prep-for-other-exams/ — to figure out which test you are most likely to crack.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Hello sir,
    I have scored 84 marks and the predicted percentile is 93.xx. So do I have a shot at the Delhi School of Economics MBA program?

    Like

  15. Hello sir,

    Was hoping you could help me out.This was my 1st attempt, expecting 80 or so percentile.I work in sales and marketing for a luxury hotel chain. I was lucky enough not to loose my job due to the pandemic but this came with added pressure at work with longer hours to keep the ship afloat. Still struggling to balance time.

    I was a management trainee for 18 months which is the length of the program in this company and was then posted in my function and have been in that role for 18 months, this takes my total work ex to 36 months.It is quite hard for me to put down my work ex as 36 months even though a large part of my management trainee phase was cross exposure in various other areas than my function.

    With this I am in a tight spot, colleges other than the CDC and A++ are my only options because if I don’t have 2-2.5 increase in my earning potential the investment doesn’t make sense. I am not confident that my quants is at a place where it would allow me to crack these schools.

    Do I have any possibility of CAT 21, should I submit work ex as only 18 months? or is my only pathway to an MBA through GMAT to do a 1 year program or an exec MBA?

    Worried if an Exec MBA will help me in accelerating my career.

    Like

    • Hi Akhilan,

      You cannot put your work-ex down as 18 months since it is always counted as full-time paid employment after graduation or PG, so that is not an option you have just like an internship is not counted as work-ex.

      If you are certain that the QA section will be tough to clear then it makes sense to take the GMAT since the QA is definitely easier to handle.

      1-year MBA programs in India are fairly evolved now and schools such as ISB, the old IIMs, XL, and SPJIMR have good 1-year programs that offer a good career acceleration oppurtunities.

      I would say this is the best option as of now given everything you have told me.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  16. Sonam Gupta says

    hi sir,
    I don’t know what to say my hand is shivering while typing very confused sir my predicted percentile is 76.99 what to expect from this I mean what should I do take admission in college (accepting this score or take a drop) .But I don’t want to take a drop bcz I don’t have that much time (u know this “marriage”if I sit in home talks will start about marriage ) so sir what should I do now?

    Like

    • Hi Sonam,

      At this point the more you think about next year, the more your mind will wander, the season is still very much alive with all the other exams, and this means that you still have enough and more chances to avoid a drop year.

      If you are not taking any other test then get your resume on to a job portal and look for jobs. You should not take another attempt while sitting at since the pressure itself will sink you.

      The only reason to join this year should not be fear of the consequences of a drop but if colleges that give you admission at this percentile will be able to give you a salary that is 2-2.5x times of your current earning potential.

      So you have your path clearly cut out — focus on the other tests if you are taking them since not doing well on the CAT does not mean, that you cannot do well on the other exams; else get a job and take another shot.

      All the best!

      Like

  17. Hi sir,
    Thanks for such a morale boosting post.
    I am a 2020 graduate (GEM) from NIT. CAT 2020 was my second attempt. I scored a 95%ile in CAT’19 (83/96/96) and a 97%ile in IIFT. I believed in my potential to crack the exam in my second attempt, aiming for a top tier B-School. I also had secured a job offer via campus. Things were on the right path. But owing to the pandemic, my job offer got revoked. It was a blessing in disguise for me though, as I decided to go full throttle for CAT in a vision of achieving what I couldn’t, the previous year. Did not apply for other jobs and kept my head strong for CAT 2020. My mock test scores did fluctuate (which I believe was quite normal given that I took close to 65 mocks in the period). But the last 4 mocks, I got decent percentile range (and by decent I mean better than last years’ D-day %ile).

    Took a day off before the D-day to give some rest to my mind, and was pretty confident on the D-Day, smiling all the way into my test room. It was a smooth day overall, until the exam started. No complains whatsoever regarding my computer or netwrork. Even had a smooth VARC section to start with (which I had flunked in CAT 19). I thought this is gonna be my day.

    But all my hard work, all the strategy I had for the DILR section, failed on the day. From my standards, I had thought to solve at least 3 sets in the stipulated time, and the rest was gonna be a bonus. But I could barely solve 1.5 sets with the accuracy, I am not sure of. My dream had shattered. I knew that. Started having palpitations and sweat towards the back end of the DILR section. Marked educated guesses on 4 TITA questions, making the total attempt tally of mere 10. I was blank when QA section started.

    But QA being my forte, I couldn’t have let myself down in it. Solved 19 questions with 90+ accuracy.
    Came out with a very heavy heart, thinking how one section was gonna ruin my 2 years of hard work and dedication.

    Such a long post because, the response sheet got released recently. I am confident about my QA and VARC scores (both could well be 40+), but I just cannot bear the pain of watching the deadly DILR score. And the constant thought of my friends doing well in the exam just deepens my misery.
    PS: I have not downloaded my response sheet yet, and most probably will not. I am dearly lacking the confidence going into other exams, given that this year is going to count as a gap year, plus of course, I am jobless as of now.

    I am not sure why I am here writing this comment, but probably letting the feelings out in front of fellow aspirants might help alleviate the pain. Hoping for something big to happen after hitting a rock bottom.

    Like

    • Hi AK,

      65 Mocks is some number to take during one season and that too CBTs, I would have taken that my in my first attempt but PBTs are easier.

      Going to the test with 4-5 tests of consistent scores is not bad but it would have meant facing a flawless test and a relatively moderate paper, which unfortunately was not the case with Slot 2.

      While you have a gap year, everyone knows this year is an exception, those graduating (and post-graduating) in 2000-2002, in 2009-11, would have had sub-par starts to their careers, but everyone made up for it when the economy bounced back again.

      So in a way, your gap year is not for CAT Prep, but a lost year due to the pandemic.

      You are from an NIT, so even among the graduates, you belong to an elite group, if people like you do not show confidence, who will?

      I would suggest using everything that you have learnt during the season and putting it to good use to get one final admit this year.

      Parallelly, start looking for a job as well and take it up.

      Take a call whether to join this year or not later.

      Nothing is lost, there is still everything to be won, and if anything it will taste sweeter.

      All the best!

      Like

  18. Akanksha says

    Hello Sir ,
    As you know ,CAT2020 was just like the year 2020- horrible, and for me it was pathetic. I know I have worked hard for more than a year and my efforts will not go wasted. So I’ll definitely write it next year.
    But, I really wanna thank you a lot for being there always and listening and responding to all our doubts. Your webinars and masterclass have been amazing. Your blog posts have a special place in my heart, because they represent every situation that I have had during my entire journey. The only thing I feel bad about is that I couldn’t make the full out of it. I have so many thoughts running in my head right now with little tears in my eyes, I really can’t explain it through words.
    Thank you so much Sir for everything you have done, and I hope you will do it next year too !!😊

    Like

    • Hi Akanksha,

      The paper coming out seems to have sent quite a few students into a meltdown (or at least a minor one of sorts), especially the slot 2 ones.

      I know it would have been great if all everything culminated in a great performance in the test but the thing is that translating everything that we learn into a reflex action or natural reaction does not happen overnight — for example, I will never ever read an option on a Verbal Section without framing a shadow answer, it is almost automated. The next thing is the amount of mental energy we have in reserve to handle the pressure of test day.

      Usually, it takes one attempt for students to get a real hang of what sort of a beast the CAT is, provided the first attempt is very, very good and you know all the things you have to do. Most people go through two attempts without even knowing what exactly is needed.

      Given that you have been diligently following everything that we have done so far, I am sure you have a clear idea of what it takes in terms of technique, strategy, and stamina.

      Do not forget, the question does not care, so purge all the emotions this year itself, and know that this is a matter of the mind and not of the heart.

      All the best!

      Like

  19. Rohit says

    I am working for past 42 months and have CTC of around 18 lpa in software industry.
    Though in a high paying job, I don’t see my future in technical work that I am doing right now, and really want to get an MBA, but this year honestly hopes looks very slim.
    I did horribly in CAT, especially LRDI section, even worse than last year, and won’t cross the cutoffs.
    I converted IIFT last year but rejected it due to the pandemic, and hope of landing something better.

    In addition to focusing on XAT, what would you suggest me to plan for the future ?
    Will I be able to apply to the 1 year programs of IIM A/B/C next year(2022) along with ISB ?
    Would the 1 year programs be a good decision/investment for me, considering my current work ex ?
    P.S.: I want to get an MBA from India only.

    Like

    • Hi Rohit,

      I think a good 1-year program, especially ISB will be a great investment for you, and maybe the best fit (better than the 1-year programs at the IIMs) and you are eligible.

      Each of the IIMs has different eligibility criteria – IIM-A has 27 years of age, IIM-B has 4 years minimum etc.

      While at a current salary of 18 LPA a 2x will not be that easy what is most important that you will be moving from being at the technical end of things to the business end of things be it in IT/Tech or newer sectors such as e-commerce.

      So I would definitely recommend doing a 1-year program.

      It is not that you will not get into a 2-year program or that they will reject you but just that the number of jobs on offer for someone with more than 55 months of work-ex will be fewer in number than the rest for the rest of the batch.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  20. Hi Sir,
    I have been giving CAT from 2017 and with serious preparation last year and this year. I am a 2018 engineering graduate & have work ex of 2 years as of now.

    From last 4 SIMCATS, I was scoring good and was confident for getting 85+ percentile in CAT but my CAT was a disaster this year, won’t even score 80 pr like last year.

    My work ex is in Digital Marketing in IT and my dream college is MICA so 85+/90+ percentile is all I want. I will try my best for XAT. Having said that, I am tired and have ran out of patience for another shot at CAT next year and CAT feels like I am tied with a iron chain which suffocates and stops me from flying.

    My question is: Should I anyhow convince myself for Next year shot for PGDM in a good college/MICA or should I join CCC- Crafting creative communication (1 year course at MICA-fees 8.5L) which frankly does not give 2x or 2.5x of my current package (as you mentioned in previous blog) but just offers 1.5x or 1.75x of current CTC?
    Or any other suggestion from you on How should I go about it?

    Update: (My CAT score is 49 and ims predictor shows: 75 pr, slot 2 victim)

    Like

    • Hi Akshat,

      The CCC course is not an MBA program and will not take you anywhere as far as career advancement opportunities go.

      Why are you thinking about next year even before the XAT and MICAT?

      Crack XAT this year and make it happen.

      If CAT is an iron chain then take the GMAT next year since MICA accepts the GMAT as well, why bang your head against the same door four times?

      We choose our chains.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  21. Hello Sir, just wanted a realistic idea on what calls I can expect, so that I can prepare for the next tests accordingly. Female, Non-engineer, PwD. Expected CAT percentile 96. Class 10 and 12 95%+ , 25 months of work ex (data analytics, data science, business intelligence) and now the problem area – undergraduate in Economics (Delhi University), 63%

    Like

  22. Gaurav Sharma says

    Hi Tony Sir, Thank you so much for all your valuable posts. They have been really inspiring after what was a nightmare CAT. It was my first attempt at CAT and I had slot 3 in CAT and I got up to worst possible start ever as I was so nervous at the start that I totally screwed up my VARC section. My raw score is 12/30/51 OA=93. I am a GEM with 2 years of work ex and acads in 10th/12th/Grad 94/87/68. Any chance I could get a call from top 20 B- Schools based on my CAT Score. Or should I give a another shot at CAT next year?
    P.S- I know I won’t be able to clear sectional cutoff in VARC in many colleges.

    Like

  23. Hi Sir,

    My name is Krupal. I am a working professional with 2.5 years of work ex in my belt to flaunt around. I had high hopes and determination to crack CAT 2020 initially in the month of June-July when I started my preparation religiously. But towards the end I failed to maintain that flow and that has reflected in my performance in the D-day. After a moderately tough VA and DILR sections my brain froze during the QA and even the easiest of the lot came up as muddled in my head. I have used the IMS score calculator and it shows a final score of 70 which I for sure know is not going to cut it to make it to the old IIMs.
    XAT and IIFT are still in my cross-hairs but the morale to steady the aim has left my soul after CAT. And to add to the whole chaos I have already notified my boss of my plan to resign in the next month.
    My question to you sir, if you could help me out is, what would be your take on XL or IIFT for a person like me who is targeting operations and marketing as their first and second preference respectively?
    And if the going gets tough how would you suggest I make use of 2021 to prepare for CAT 2021 without leaving a trace of red in profile due to the gap in the work-ex once I quit my job next month?

    Thank you for your efforts. Your strategies and techniques are really good and has helped me increase my accuracy in VA section. And thank you for taking the time to go through my comment. Looking forward to your reply.

    Like

    • Hi Krupal,

      To handle the XAT and IIFT question first, both of them are decent for operations but in the same league as say the kind and number of Ops roles you will get at SPJIMR, NITIE, and IIT-B (Ops roles are not great in number even at the IIMs). What they will get you though are great Marketing roles.

      So if your heart is crazily set on Ops then you should look only at the schools mentioned above, if you are open to other domains then XL and IIFT will give you a good spread to choose from, especially Marketing.

      About your quitting the job and the break — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/03/23/should-i-quit-my-job-to-prepare-for-cat-2/

      What I find most intriguing is that you yourself have said that you did not really give it your all or were not in the right rhythm or flow towards the end. Then how is it that you feel so sad and say that your soul has left after CAT? I can understand the feeling if you did not leave any stone unturned but to feel that way after not really going all out especially towards the end is a bit bewildering.

      One must earn one’s sadness also, no?

      I keep wondering as to how so many people have made a matter of the mind completely a matter of the heart, and I suppose people do the reverse as well.

      Will you take an XL to admit if someone gives it to you right now? I am sure you will grab it both hands and go tell your boss.

      So, if an MBA from a good school that advances your career is the goal, then you have only played one test in a 3 or 4 test series against different teams.

      To lose the first test against the toughest team and then lose all hope and confidence about playing the remaining teams, while the series is still very much alive with at least 2 tests to go, is just not done on a sports field.

      So do not think about next year, think about next month.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  24. Rahul says

    Hi Sir,
    Thanks for the all the help you’ve provided, either through these blogs or masterclasses.
    After calculating my CAT score, I’ve come at a point where I really don’t know what went wrong and how to proceed. I was continuously getting 95+ percentile in the mocks but on the final day, my DI went horribly wrong and I’m getting only 12 marks leading to total score of 82 (Quant 42, VA 28).
    I’ve 1.5 years of work experience(currently at 10lpa) and I wanted to join MBA from the top 20 schools this year. I feel I prepared to the fullest of my ability for CAT this year but didn’t even get close to what I deserved and I’m not sure about my preparation for the rest of the exams. Everyone around me is asking me to settle with whichever college I get and join this year.
    Can you please suggest what should I do and should I take my chances for another year?

    Like

    • Hi Rahul,

      As I wrote in the follow-up post — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/12/07/how-to-plan-your-post-cat-prep-for-other-exams/ — the series is very much alive, and you will not be settling if you are joining XL or IIFT.

      So think about next year only if you need to after you go all out for the rest of the season.

      What you need to think of is not about the hard work you put in but about the strategic/tactical mistakes you made in the DI-LR section that cost you the section. If you are able to do that and change the way you are looking at your performance — a problem to be solved — you will crack one of the other tests.

      All the best!

      _

      Like

  25. I have been preparing for cat since 2019 (this was my second attempt) and I ruined this year too. I have no work-ex. I have done my graduation in BBA 2019. After graduation I have been involved in my father shop. I can not think of what next shall I do. Should I take B grade college or wok in shop and write cat again? I tried looking for job but all are related to call center only. Please guide me on this sir.

    Like

    • Hi Abhi,

      The way I look ay it need not be CAT or nothing. It can be that another test — NMAT or SNAP — is more aligned to your skill set and you are likely to crack that.

      As I mentioned in the post, it is not about a B-Grade college or A-Grade college but about your profile, your current earning capability and what the b-school offers. If your current earning capability is 3 LPA then any school that offers an average of 8 or above should be a good investment at this point.

      Working in the shop is ruled out since it means that you bring very little of your own experience and learning to the business.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  26. Akshita says

    Hi Sir,

    This was my first serious attempt since I started preparing from July while working alongside , I graduated in 2019 with a pretty decent profile, although I have put in my best efforts putting in maximum efforts, my expected percentile is around 60.
    I have a total of 1 year of work experience and I dearly want to pursue marketing from the best B Schools in India but I have a strong feeling that I do not hold the aptitude for competitive exams.
    This has gotten me demotivated to an extent that I do not wish to prepare for the coming exams.
    What should be a workable course of action?

    Like

    • Hi Akshita,

      Sometimes we prepare pretty hard for something but we might be doing it without exactly knowing what it entails (and it is not about that stupid cliche of smart work and hard work).

      I am not sure if this was not just your first CAT attempt but an attempt at an entrance of any sort?

      You should ask yourself whether you spent a lot of time trying to memorise things or develop solid skills in a particular, whether you practised a lot without really setting a clear goal for the things you want to improve during a practice session.

      If you really understand what these tests are looking for then you will realise that it does not mean 60 or nothing.

      I am not saying everyone can score a 99 but it definitely cannot be a single attempt, 60 and done scenario.

      Read the post after this and rate your chances on the other exams based on what I have outlined in them.

      Prep more for the test you think have the best chance to crack.

      Do not forget that you have the luxury of another attempt and also options such as the GMAT as well.

      One swallow does not make a summer.

      As Henry Ford said, whether you tell yourself you can do it or whether you tell yourself you cannot do it both are true.

      All the best!

      Like

  27. Alexa says

    Hi sir,

    Thank you for a wonderful post yet again! All your posts, LMTC and Masterclass videos are absolutely amazing and highly motivating! 

    I’m one of the victims of the dreaded Slot 2 and this was my first serious CAT attempt. I didn’t know who to reach out to get an unbiased and an expert opinion, so here I am.

    I’m an NC-OBC Female with 25 mths of Work-Ex. Have decent academics (95/94/71) and graduated from NIT in 2018. I quit my job this year to prepare for CAT, my mock scores kept fluctuating but I was pretty confident to score bw 90-95 percentile, which would have been a decent percentile to get me into any of the Top B-Schools, I think (given that I’m an NC-OBC Female). But as fate would have it, I messed up my CAT badly and now my expected percentile is around 70. I was too depressed for a few days and although I’ve started my preparations for other exams (SNAP, NMAT, IIFT), I’m not sure if I’ll end up clearing any of them.

    I’m already 24, and this was the perfect time for me to do an MBA (since Indian parents expect their girls to get married asap). I’ve quit my job and screwed up terribly in CAT, but I don’t want to give up yet. I’m not sure how a break in Work-Ex would look on my profile if I reappear for CAT next year or instead should I consider getting another job and  prepare for CAT 2021 simultaneously?

    Will a break in Work-Ex or a Work-Ex of >=3 years impact my profile or decrease my chances of getting into the top B Schools in any way? What do you recommend? Would be a great help if you could guide me through this! 

    Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Alexa,

      Well, what I would suggest is the following:

      1. IIFT, NMAT, SNAP are your current priority, scoring a 70 percentile on the toughest CAT slot does not mean that you will not do well on the other exams — each exam is very different and you should read the post after this one to learn how to go about things.

      2. Once all the tests are done and the results are out, start the process of looking for a job. If you get an admit, great, else take up a job and take another shot. You cannot have a double-break for the CAT, it will be really hard to justify.

      3. Adding more work-ex will not hurt, it is okay, do not forget that you have gender diversity on your resume, so even during placements, female applicants have it easier since firms can afford to split hairs. It will not be difficult at all to get into any b-school, I have had female applicants with 4,5 years of work-ex get into IIM-B.

      There is no perfect time — if only life was a perfect simple equation into which we just have to plug in values to get an answer — Indians are dumb enough to think it is — at best it is a polynomial and an inequality.

      Life never operates under laboratory conditions 🙂

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. ASHWIN KUMAR SAH says

    Hi Sir, I am a 2019 batch(chemical engineering) passout. I have 4 months work ex( as I was placed from my college in the production department of a company) and I didn’t like the line of work so I left in novermber last year. This year was my first attempt at CAT and I screwed it up on the D-day. I am really sad and depressed right now because I already have an year gap with no certifications,internships etc. I can get jobs in the production department but I dont want to work there. Should I wait another year for CAT or focus on SNAP and IIFT and get admission this year? please help…

    Like

  29. Afreen says

    Hi sir,
    I am a 2020 pass-out of B.Sc in Hospitality. I gave CAT last year as well but ended up scoring poor. This year too I worked real hard for it, gave sufficient mock tests as well and I was scoring decent in mocks not great though but still. On the D-Day, I screwed up. This happened last year too. Like I just could not attempt. I was just panicking and I did not even feel like doing the paper. This hurt so much like after so much preparation, not being able to score well at all. Sir, I really want to get into good IIMs. I am looking for jobs but currently I don’t have any. I was thinking I would gain some work ex and keep appearing for CAT but not really getting any for now. I have good acads and I have been a decent student and I have faith in myself that I can do it. I feel like I have nowhere to go at the moment. Could you suggest something please? Thank you for listening.

    Like

    • Hi Afreen,

      What is most important is not the CAT or the IIMs but an MBA and your career.

      So as I wrote in the post what you need to do is shortlist colleges that offer jobs in the sectors you are looking for at salaries that are 2-2.5 x your current earning potential.

      If NMAT and SNAP fit the bill, then prep for them and crack it.

      It would be super unwise of you to think CAT and not career.

      My advice would be to continue looking for a job, prepare for the other tests seriously and take a shot at them.

      All you need is the chance to build a great career.

      After you start working no one is going to keep saying — wow you are from an IIM — there will be tons of them floating around in the corporates.

      If this season does not yield any results then as I said, you should look at getting a job.

      And for next season you should rank tests in decreasing order that you are most likely to crack based on your skill sets and focus on the tests with the highest chances.

      The thing is that school/college academics have absolutely no bearing on anything.

      My engineering marks were great but I would have been the worst mechanical engineer possible — my marks were a function of my awesome memory and problem-solving skills and not my actual grasp of engineering. My friends who scored lower than me are doing an awesome job as engineers abroad.

      The converse is also true, those who did better than me in Grad X and XII would not automatically stand much of a chance against me on the CAT since it is a completely different exam.

      Do not evaluate yourself or your skills based on the exams, they are only a means to a great career and not an end.

      So I do not want you altering your self-perception — I thought I was a good student but am I not really that good?

      All I want you to think of is a great career and many exams, not one, as the route to them.

      All the best!

      Like

  30. Hi Sir,

    Apologies for posting this late, but I really need your guidance at this point of time as I am struggling with a confused mindset, what do you think would be the best way out here?

    -I graduated in 2019 and started working and its been a total of 16 months of work ex with a decent profile till date, academics are at 85/75/7.4.I had not taken a proper coaching or any external help with the exam but prepared on my own(online classes and test series), the last two attempts at CAT had been a waste with no serious preparation,NMAT attempt was at 215 this year and still one to go on the 19th, while I am quiet speculative about SNAP.
    -I have been worried since I am losing time working for a mediocre job wherein there could be a better opportunity with an MBA degree in hand.Also, been facing a lot of peer pressure of completing my education.Would taking another year be a wise decision because I have lost a lot of time already and am at a sweet spot.What could be the best way out?
    -Is pre MBA work ex a redundant part of our career since the freshers with MBA end up getting a better/par position as compared to a person with MBA and work ex?

    Like

    • Hi Zoe,

      If you get into a Top 30 school this year, say NMIMS Mumbai or SIBM-Pune or SCMHRD go ahead and join, else you should take another shot.

      Since you are a female applicant, the work-ex and other things do not matter that much, since they won’t split hairs over it.

      You know you have not given a serious attempt twice, you know you have everything to gain from by getting a good MBA, so go ahead and give it another shot.

      So think of it as your first attempt since casual attempts do not count.

      All the rest peer pressure and stuff are pure external noise — every time we look at ourselves from the outside we feel small, every time we think in terms of what we want to achieve, what we want to execute this month, this week, today, we feel strong.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Sir,

        Kindly give me more insights on when you mentioned that they won’t worry more about my work ex, and if I take a year more, what should be the best course of action?

        Like

      • Hi Zoe,

        Well, the thing is that during placements some resumes get more shortlists or get shortlisted than others the pecking order usually is — students from the elite colleges (IITs and other such schools), female applicants, and then the rest of the population.

        So they are not going look at one more year of work-ex as being a detriment to giving you a shortlist.

        As far as the course of action for another shot goes, you should at the least know your strengths and weaknesses by now and start preparing accordingly — the first SimCAT usually happens in April and you should start taking tests from then onwards, for a first serious prep you need to take at least 25 tests.

        What prep should you take — offline or online — it all depends on how well you know yourself: are you likely to not prep if you have a collection of recorded since you can watch them at any time or do you enjoy CAT Prep to ensure you prep every day; are you likely to attend LIVE online classes since you know that a teacher will be present then you should take that up, the IMS LIVE Online Program for CAT 2021 has just started, you can take a look at that — https://www.imsindia.com/CAT/e-CATpult-live.html — I can vouch for the teachers since they work in my team 🙂

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!

        Like

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