CAT Strat, Motivation
Comments 198

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.”


  1. Hi Sir! This was my second attempt at CAT and I completed tanked it this year as well. I was able to perform considerably better in IIFT and XAT last year but missed out on calls due to sectional cutoffs (GK – IIFT, Quant – XAT). After the whole CAT debacle, I need to give my all to XAT and IIFT. I am following what you mentioned in your last year’s blogs regarding XAT :

    RCs and CRs from GMAT OG
    DM – Past year papers and sectionals as and when they get active on the IMS portal

    Now, Quant is something I am extremely worried about. I scored 96%ile in VA and 98%ile in DM with a meagre 55 something percentile in Quant in XAT last year. I did improve quite a bit in quant this year with respect to the concepts required in solving a question but I am finding huge trouble with getting my accuracy up and the timing down.
    Will following the posts you put up regarding ‘How to increase your quant percentile’ be helpful in this one month or should I just focus on improving my selection strategy and important topics that are majorly asked in XAT due to shortage of time?

    Also, you mentioned in your XAT blog that we should be practising DILR for like half an hour or so?
    But where should I practice LR from since the LR questions are not the kind that is asked in CAT?

    These two exams seem to be the only shot I have after CAT and I can’t leave any stone unturned.


    • Hi Ani,

      Since you seem to have the ability to crack IIFT and XAT it makes sense to take a solid shot at those.

      The three QA posts are a must, they cover accuracy, selection and speed, so you will get exactly what you are looking for. Always fix accuracy first and then go to speed, and the first post covers accuracy in great detail.

      The XAT section test and previous XAT papers should suffice for LR practice.

      All the best!


  2. CAT is designed so intelligently, I get it now.
    I was going good. I got to know VA is tough so I went very cautiously and then in next section chose just 2 LRDI sets, completed in 35 mins and tried for another set but wasn’t able to get any answers but I was alright. I even took long breaths after VA section but forgot to this after DI section. And then came horrible. I went into quant and saw it’s dominated by Arithmetic, was kind of happy as Arithmetic is my forte. But questions were so easy and complex at the same time I really could not understand what is happening. I knew what is to be done to get the answer. If I get those questions now, I would not even need pen to solve them (considering that I am reading those questions for first time).
    But in exam I struggled with 14×3 which if somebody asked me in sleep, I would murmur 42 without any time. I actually did this calculation on paper because my mind was not ready do it. Still I tried to stay calm but time just flew by sabotaging my quant attempts and my 2020!


    • Hi AJ,

      As I had mentioned in my webinar — every question on test-day seems 20% more difficult and this means that by the time you reach QA you are way more drained out than usual, which is why I advised everyone to take two tests back to back at least once.

      But I am really happy that you managed to navigate the first two sections which by all accounts were rough and that you now know that what you need to build is more — stamina!

      All the best!


  3. Hello sir
    To be honest i dont know how my CAT went, neither have i looked at the analysis to judge how it went. i prefer waiting for the scores to come and then see where i stand.
    Though i am a fresher but i have been preparing for it for 1.5 years and what i think is if i am not able to crack CAT now after putting in so much effort then how in this world would i crack it after preparing for it along a job.
    i know i am very young to say this but even i sacrificed a lot of things for this CAT, a good job offer that i would have recieved in campus placement had i not given that much importance to CAT and above all my 1.5 years that i dedicated to it. I did continuously work for 6-8 hrs each day for preparing for CAT reduced it to 4-6 in last month to CAT but to not much result.
    when i talk to my relatives and other seniors they tell better do it immediately after graduation as you are in that study zone but i dont know why i have not much enthusiasm of doing it from SIBM or NMIMS, i havent done justice to the facilities that i have been given and since MBA will be the last degree i ll be doing i want to do it from a premier b school, the ones called creme de creme as per IMS.
    One more though that pops in my mind is if i dont join this year but next year i join the same institute, then isn’t it that i am lagging behind the ones who joined as freshers because they will get all the same oppurtunities and placements that i will get after waiting for a year ?? And what if you perform even worse next year ??
    Would LOVE to get your thoughts in my case ….


    • Hi RP,

      It is so heartening to see college grads put in so much effort and even give up a job offer to crack the CAT.

      I myself was in the same position as you, with minor differences. I had started preparing 6 months in advance (we did not have a heavy college load at all with only annual exams) and bunked an entire month of classes just to prepare for CAT, giving up on a lot of internal marks in the process. Everyone expected me to crack the test since I was doing very well in the mocks.

      On test day, I found out that my QA game was very limited and not good enough to withstand all conditions and all sorts of papers. I knew as I walked out of the test centre there was no way in hell I am going to get a call. But I knew exactly what I needed to work on to crack the test the next time and I also validated my strengths on the other sections.

      By your logic(emotional response is the better word) if I did not crack CAT after bunking college and sitting at home for one month preparing 12 hours a day I should not have taken another shot.

      So the first things you need to is to validate your abilities on the various areas — RC, VA, DI, LR, Arithmetic, Algebra, Numbers, Geometry, Modern Math.

      Next, friends and relatives are not management professionals and thus their advice is best taken with a pinch of salt.

      There is nothing called the study zone and non-study zone, that is the first illusion. There is only the learning of skills and the not learning of skills. If the study zone was true then all of the people at Harvard and all top international b-schools and even ISB should not have been able to crack GMAT. I met a 34-year old India lady who came back to India after working for 17 years abroad to try to settle here, she did not like India’s work culture, she decided to do an MBA and go back, she took GMAT preparing on her own, scored a 740, did a 1-year MBA at IIM-A and went back to Europe.

      Also, your preparation for the next attempt is only the delta that you lack not the whole stuff all over again if you have to learn the rules governing triangles all over again from scratch then you never learnt anything in the first place.

      The third thing there is not lagging behind or going forward when it comes to a year here and there when it comes to getting into a good grad school or a good post-grad program.

      Indians are so backward (pardon the word but it is true) that we feel there is a timetable and there is a loss and a lagging behind as if life is an equation, do you think everyone who does an MBA one-year earlier than you will always be ahead of you in your career? What matters is what you make of your MBA what you bring to the workplace.

      Even among all of my batchmates, all of us graduated in the same year, are all of us in the same designation right now? There are batchmates who are two levels higher than the others and there are others who are lower.

      We are not products stamped with manufacturing dates and graduation dates.

      If you cannot do an MBA now it means that I also could not have dreamed about an MBA since my job offer was cancelled owing to the dotcom bubble and recession.

      What if you perform worse is a fear that stems from not knowing what is your reliable strength and what you need to work on, read my reply to the question by Bikash.

      So yeah, go for it again.


      • Ru P. says

        I don’t know who this RP is but even my initials are same i.e RP. And his story matches to that of mine. Only thing which is different is that I have managed to get a job from college. But somewhere between all of this , I guess I screwed up CAT but I’m not sure if I have screwed it up or not. I have been studying for CAT since 1.5 years now. I’ve always worked hard for CAT since my day 1 . May be I’m a slow learner , idk but I completed nearly all the stuff provided by IMS for preparation and yet I’m unsure. The problem which I have is, RCs in VARC section. I manage to solve VA questions but I don’t what happens when it comes to RCs. I don’t want to go to SIBM or NMIMS. But I definitely want to work hard for IIFT and XAT. But what to do right now? Are past year papers and mocks by IMS sufficient or do I need to do something apart from these two things? I just hope I crack these exams.


      • Hi Ru P,

        Only a vey small percentage of first-time takers crack the CAT, despite their best efforts.

        As long as you are saying I do not know what happens when it comes to RC, it is a problem, you have to break the process down and figure out which step is posing the problem — keeping a track of the passage, framing a shadow answer — you also need to ask yourself if you follow the process consistently, and if you have tried out the different approaches we discussed over the season.

        For IIFT and XAT, the workshops and Masterclasses that we will do for these exams, coupled with the old papers and mocks should suffice.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!


  4. Sajna Gokulakrishnan says

    Hi Sir!

    This was my first attempt at the CAT and I completely tanked it. I flopped the DILR section in the second slot and most probably will not clear sectional cut offs while the other two sections were decent. I’m pretty devastated and not sure how to get over it. I currently have 2.5 years work experience which means if I take another shot at the CAT I will have 4 years at the time of admissions and will be an outlier. I’m really worried as to what to do now. I know I have XAT and IIFT as one option and giving another shot at CAT next year as the other. Can you please provide your suggestions/comments

    And Thank you so much for writing this, sir.


    • Hi Sajna,

      Sorry to hear about the bad DI-LR section. Very few people crack the test in their first attempt and I myself am no exception. So you need not be too hard on yourself.

      Well, the things is that girl candidates always have it a lot easier than male candidates, and this applies to outlier profiles as well. The requirements for gender diversity in hiring means that firms tend to overlook a few things in the case of female candidates, they would not mid a year or more of experience. A student of mine got into IIM-B with 4.5 years of experience and graduated with a good job without any issues.

      I would suggest giving your best shot on the other exams, and if in case things do not workout and planning for another CAT attempt along with GMAT for a shot at ISB.

      Hope this lightens the load,

      All the best!


  5. Bikash Kumar Beura says

    Hi Sir,
    Whatever you have mentioned all those seem familiar to me. I have carried all positive energy i could into the exam hall. It was perfectly balanced, but once i started RC i felt drowning. Still i gathered my patience for other 2sections. But it felt like VARC started affecting psychologically. It was not my one years investments result. I know this is not possible for you to come and bless me “Tathastu” and all of sudden i ll start handling exam pressure.. And this is not a overnight project. Just show me the path what should be best for me.
    Another thing, I’d like to thank you for this beautiful journey in IMS and Catwriter blog. Despite of the results i feel i have learnt a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Bikash,

      I think our capability on a section is determined by our ability to deliver minimum guarantee under all circumstances. Whenever we have doubts about our core ability in VA-RC or DI-LR or QA, then on test day we are likely to wilt. It is not very different from say a tennis player feeling his backhand side is weak. Federer, for example, until 2017 used a smaller, older style racquet than others, so as a result particular matchups — Rafa’s topspin forehand to his backhand was always a tactical weakness — became a weakness in big matches. In 2017 he switched to the larger racquet and since that changed everything, he has not lost to Rafa since.

      For most people, one or more sections are not weaknesses but not strengths either, they somehow manage to clear cut-offs. Test day adds 20% pressure to every question, that in itself makes people crumble in front of tough questions.

      So it is not purely pressure or positive energy but how much pressure you believe your core ability on a section or area can withstand.

      VA-RC was tough and those did not have a solid technique to process text and also do the shadow answer properly would have struggled with evaluative questions — which if the following, if FALSE, would strengthen the argument.

      So focus on developing this strength on VA-RC.

      All the best!


    • I did not take it this year, was very clear given the COVID situation, 6 centers, and my luck with getting an out of station centre, that I’d rather sit this one out 🙂

      The IMS take is a compilation of the take of all of our mentors who took the test so going with that should be fine.

      All the best!


  6. Parth Mehta says

    Hi Sir,

    This post was really hopeful. My test was ok ok type, it all depends on the accuracy in VARC section if it will be good then I think i might have a chance this year. I am currently in my 3rd year in the company(Gujarat State Petronet Limited), I started working on 4th June,2018. I wanted to ask you whether an attempt next year for CAT considering my profile will be a good option?

    (Although results are awaited for this year)


    • Hi Parth,

      With about 30 months of work-ex as of now, you do have another shot at the CAT but as of now focus on the other tests and closing this season strong.

      All the best!


  7. Rishikesh Patil says

    Hi sir, so this was my 3rd attempt at CAT and the 1st serious attempt with focused preparation.
    I left my job (1 yr work ex) and dedicated myself to this for almost 6 months (which i feel is sufficient for my calibre). But after the D-day, I am not really sure how my performance was. TBH, i felt more comfortable in my 2019 attempt without any preparation and got a 98.2 percentile. Now i know that i can’t really say for sure about my 2020 performance until the response sheet comes out, but i feel really lost and confused about what exactly am i doing (a mild form of PTSD maybe). I tried motivating myself, reading your blog, some motivation videos and the usual “there’s always next year for an attempt” but i no longer have that fire to keep going for another month for XAT,NMAT and SNAP. Sir can you please give a suggestion on how i can push myself till atleast 3rd January


    • Hi Rishikesh,

      Until you can know your score things will always seem uncertain.

      The comfort in 2019 is because you did not feel any stakes maybe since you did prepare seriously.

      This year was on average tougher than last year, both VA and QA, so it is but natural that you will feel uncomfortable, this does not mean you did not do well.

      I would suggest giving yourself a full break from prep for a few days, doing the things you like doing best, eating the things you like to gorge on, start afresh from Monday.

      All the best!


  8. Shristi Gupta says

    Hi Sir, This was my second attempt, last year I didn’t study just gave the exam to check how it is. This year I have prepared really well and I was very calm and confident that I can crack this but don’t know what happened to me in DILR section I hardly got 1 set even I am very good in DILR section. But I can’t clear my cutoff in this section.
    As I already have 3years of experience, I had this last shot. As my DILR was very good and that went bad, now I don’t know anymore my strengths. I am preparing for XAT now but I am not getting my confidence back.


    • Hi Shrishti,

      Things are easier for female candidates and slightly higher work-ex will not hamper their chances of getting in and securing jobs as well. So this need not be your last shot.

      The getting stuck on test day does happen at times and it ends up happening in one’s favourite section, has happened with me as I mentioned in one of my webinars (failed in my favourite subject after crazy prep).

      One can either think one is not good enough or just forget and restart. XAT is not about DI-LR and more about VA and DM, it will be a tougher test if those are not your strengths, so forget the CAT and go ahead.

      All the best!



    Hello Sir,

    As you said above for someone with 4 year of experience and who could not perform much well in CAT, is that life is actually doomed, Can’t he atttempt again? What hindrance do u think the person would face in career if he does the MBA after 5 years of Work ex. Could you explain to me where would this comes as a issue in my MBA life if I go onto crack it the next year.


    • Hi Akshay,

      If you read closely I write that a shot at the CAT and 2-year MBA is ruled out.

      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.

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

      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!


  10. Anurag Shelar says

    Hello Sir,
    This was my second attempt at CAT .Last year I managed to score a 83 percentile with no preparation in the final two months as I was in final year. This year I prepared pretty well.I knew VA isn’t my strong point.. So tried to improve on that as much as I could.. Even though Maths was my favourite subject, I scored a 80 percentile last year. Considering my level of prep I thought maybe I was not prepared. THis time though I was confident on Quants. But don’t know what happened on exam day. I was able to solve only 10 questions. I saw that I could do 4-5 additional questions but don’t have the time to do so.DILR I managed to get two sets this time . I am not sure about results this time. I have filled the SNAP forms and am in a dilemma for XAT. Need your suggestions.


    • Hi Anurag,

      This year’s QA was tough and you might end up getting the same percentile despite fewer attempts, so you cannot judge tour performance based on attempts.

      I would suggest going ahead full steam for XAT and SNAP since the season is not over yet.

      All the best!


  11. Ananya says

    Greetings Tony Sir,

    This was my first attempt at CAT, and I did make up my mind that I had to strategize and play well because we had no clue about the exam (1st Slot), thankfully one hint made way on the instructions and that was the no of sets of DILR. Since I knew from that, that we’d have 24 Qs in DILR, the possibility for QA and VARC should be 26. I strategized as much as I could (IMS gives DITTO mocks), selected the right RCs but still struggled reading the first passage, It took close to 12 mins to solve the passage which was overshooting by 3-4 mins on my average time. A hint of panic did creep in but I took another deep breath and went on and attempted close to 16 Qs. DILR section was good for me as I could easily solve 3 sets (2–4Qs Sets and 1–6Qs) but in the end, I had 5 mins on the timer and a honeybee outside the window in my centre stung me. 😑. I didn’t feel anything for the first time coz my weakest section was yet to come – Quants.

    Quants was a nightmare for me. I saw the first question was a relatively easy question on TSD and I could remember solving it in my mocks, but, I really couldn’t do it. I tried a method but the answer didn’t match any option. I spent close to 7 mins and didn’t end up with an answer which was even close to any of the options. My mind started panicking with the timer and I saw the next few questions were functions and inequalities. I went to the last question started from the end and could manage only 6 Qs. The happiness I got from scoring 3 sets in DILR was lost and I turned pale. My dad was waiting for me and I burst into tears. He didn’t say anything but things went a little bad at home and my parents again coaxed into taking the campus placements (most of which have gone and I had no interest answering) which I really don’t want to go for. (I realised I can’t code, neither do I have the interest towards a career in software).

    I took a day off, slept the entire day, and today started prepping up for SNAP, NMAT and XAT.


    In the day that I slept and thought of everything that had happened in my 1.5 years of prep along with college, I realised how much of a different person CAT prep had made me. I could read a lot of things and memorize my college exam materials faster than how I had been. My conversations changed, my opinions have become more logical and without any bias, my outlook on life has varied drastically and I’m really liking the person that I’ve become.

    A lot of my perspectives have changed due to your blogs here as well as on the GMAT blogger, You are so frequent in my conversations with other friends that I talk to on CAT and CAT motivation or just general motivation that I’ve coded your name as “TX” (I hope you don’t mind!) and Sir just thank you so much for giving me the strength to face the situations and look at them through a lens of a good decision taker. I think with my decision to study at IMS has taught and prepared me more than just answering the MBA entrances. It has led to holistic growth in me. Thank you, Sir, for all your blogs, videos, strategies and webinars. Really waiting for a webinar from you on how do I manage myself in the month of December, just because your webinar really lightens the mood, and motivates more.



    • Hi Ananya,

      Really happy to hear the way you went about the test, you seem to have handled the 2 hours quite well.

      I am really curious about your Qa performance, someone who could manage 3 DI-Lr sets struggling with QA means that you still have not moved on to looking at QA as pure logic the way you look at DI-LR, you still treat QA as approaches and methods and you said precisely — you tried to solve it the way you solved a similar problem — you always solve a new problem you do not recall and solve a similar problem. This was more or less my problem after my first attempt, which was more or less along the same lines, and I had an aversion to coding as well.

      The big blessing for me was the software job I had got deferred and I prepared for another attempt, which I would have done irrespective, along with teaching GRE students.

      You should take up a job, not necessarily a software job but any job that you feel will match your skill sets, the ed-tech space might offer some decent roles.

      CAT Prep actually opens up an entire universe for a lot of people. Even the most voracious of readers would not have been exposed to such an eclectic range of ideas, words, and arguments. And it is no wonder that those who are not just reading and solving RCs but are learning more about the world end up feeling as if their universe had vastly expanded.

      I knew this year was going to be tough for a lot of people, so I made a conscious choice to take regular sessions, sessions that have the same format with polls and stories, sessions in the same clothes most of the time, all of it to lend a sense of predictability and stability in another upside-down year. So good to know all of it helped.

      I did all the sessions until November so that from December onwards you can manage on your own!

      I’ll be doing the DM videos of XAT Mocks and a DM Masterclass.

      All the best!


  12. Sudarshan says

    I hope this comment does not come off as silly sir but when speak about the years of experience, do you mean at the time of writing the exam, the time of filling the form or at the tentative time of attending interviews? I am asking because this was 2nd attempt (1st serious one) at CAT and I am writing this with 2.5 years of experience currently as I am writing this comment. Do I get counted as a person with 3 years work ex or 2 years sir, as per your writing?

    Also, thank you for writing this sir. Will push on for XAT and IIFT.


    • Hi Sudarshan,

      It is not silly by any means, I should have expected a query since I was not precise. By work-ex I mean the current quantum of work-ex.

      So if you are at 2.5 right now you will more or less have 4 years of work-ex if you crack CAt next year and join in 2022, which is okay.

      But for now, IIFT and XAT.

      All the best!


  13. Kawan says

    Hi Sir,
    Firstly, I can link myself very well with your post’s content, as I have 4 years Work-Ex in Mktg-Sales & as it was my 1st attempt at CAT & didn’t perform well. As now I feel I haven’t worked hard & am lacking in all sections when the questions become tougher… So, I would like to know from you how can I move forward to crack XAT to get into XL. I have read your past posts on Paper attempting strategy which is great!
    After analyzing 1 past XAT paper I gave recently, It seems my DM was Okish with 9 Correct & 3 Wrong, but I think I should start from scratch for few QA topics & increase my Reading Speed drastically high to get it match with XAT…
    I would be obliged to get your valuable advice on how shall I move ahead from this point !!


    • Hi Kawan,

      I think you have rightly identified the two areas of improvement for you to crack XAT.

      Start with ensuring that you can clear the QA cut-off by mastering those QA concepts using whatever study material you have to learn and practice.

      It will not be easy to increase your reading speed drastically in a short span on time.

      I suggest the following schedule.

      One-week of only intense RC practice and light VA Practice, for speed you can do CAT RCs as well if you run out of XAT RCs, the IMS RC 100 book on Amazon can come in handy. I am talking about 100 RCs in a week.

      Follow this with one week of only getting your QA up to date for XAT.

      At the end of two weeks start with DM practice along with the practice of other sections from all the previous XAT Papers and any other XAT specific prep material you have.

      All the best!


      • Kawan says

        Tony Sir,
        Thank you so much for your prompt reply.
        I will follow the schedule you prescribed & will get back to you after 2 weeks with improved results in VARC & QA !
        Kawan, IMS Ahmedabad Student


  14. Shivam Singh says

    Hello Sir,
    I put in my 75% of my total strength in preparing for CAT and as per analysis I could get around 90-95%ile. I feel with an extra 24% I can score much better and I’m going to give my best for the remaining exams as well. In the worst-case scenario I don’t want to settle for a B-school below my capabilities and doing that will haunt me forever. The only problem is I quit my job after 15 months of experience and I want to know will taking a drop have a drastic effect on my CV for next year ?(assuming I score well in CAT 2021). If yes,taking up a MOOC during this period will be enough to justify my drop and plans in interviews ?


    • Hi Shivam,

      While you can easily justify a break for this year’s CAT, a double-break for CAT will be very hard to justify in an interview, just MOOCs won’t suffice.

      My suggestion will be to take up a job and give another shot at the exam.

      This is crucial for two reasons — you need to go from 90 to 99 and as you said to put in the 25% that went missing — this would not and should not need from now to next year. You should be able to work and manage CAT Prep.

      The bigger reason is the pressure you will pile up on yourself leading up to the exam and this is not external pressure but internal pressure given your choice to take a break and trust me having the feeling that you have staked your entire life is not something that you would want to deal with.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  15. Abhishek says

    Hi Sir,
    I had previously no plans on appearing for CAT, a job after engineering college worked out fine for me. However, after having over 2.5 years work experience( I had joined my job on April,2018 as a fact) and appearing for CAT for the first time this year, I’m really tensed after going across your article with the 3+ years of work ex point. My CAT prep hasn’t been much, I was preparing by myself without any formal coaching and this current covid crisis meant devoting more hours to my job. I’d love to hear some advice on how to approach the remaining exams (and CAT, going forward) your suggestions on whether to take up a coaching class to benefit on next year as I’m really scared about this now.


    • Hi Abhishek,

      At this point you have 32 months of work-ex if I am not wrong and as per my post that is fine. I was referring to the current amount of work-ex. So it is okay if you take another shot at the CAT.

      As far as prep for other tests goes, you should have at least some prep material apart from just tests, so the IMS ADMAT Programs with tests and workshops is what I can suggest —

      For the next year, you should take up an online LIVE classes program, just so that you have a peer group to prepare with, a schedule to keep your regular, and mentors to keep you motivated. I do not know if you are familiar with our mentors but Amit Sir and Param sir take our online batches.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best


  16. Karan says

    Hi Sir,
    I really appreciate you for writing these blogs and helping in all the ways that you can. These small things matter a lot sometimes.
    I’m not sure whether my CAT exam went well as I was able to do around only 2 DI sets, feeling that I could have done more but I got stuck at some area and my accuracy has always been an issue at VA-RC. I was hoping to get good DI and Quant to compensate for my VA. Now, I’m pretty much left hoping that I get really good marks at VA to get a decent percentile which ,I think, is pretty unlikely. I feel that I’ve practiced so much for CAT and if I didn’t do good in it, then how can I do well in other exams with so many different types of questions asked and so less time left to prepare for such types.
    I have around 1.5 years of work-ex (at around 10lpa) and I’m not really sure whether this is the right time to be thinking about the next year’s attempt or if I’ll be able to manage work with CAT preparation for another year but I have an aspiration to do MBA from premier b-schools. Can you suggest how should i proceed if I suck badly at CAT and will it be the right choice to settle this year or should i try harder next year?


    • Hi Karan,

      Glad you found the blog helpful in your CAT Prep.

      The other exams are way easier than CAT, or to put it differently they are more about speed and barring XAT none of them will be anywhere close to the difficulty of the CAT, so judging your capability on other tests based on the CAT is liking judging your capability to play Saini based on your performance against Bumrah!

      You have 1.5 years of work-ex which is not high at all for another attempt.

      The simple rule of thumb should be to join a college that can give you at least 2x your current LPA (for anyone at 8 LPA or above for those lower it has to be 2-5X)

      Join any college that offers an average salary close to 2x be it this year or next year.

      If the CAT intimidates you, focus on the other tests, be it this year or the next — IIFT, NMAT, SNAP — all of these schools will give you options that will maximise your career in the longer-term without any doubt.

      All the best!


  17. Aditya says

    Hello sir,

    I have done B.E+M.E(4+2 years) in civil engineering from local collage and currently have 2+ years of experience in designing Metro structures. I feel future potential is limited in current job with low salary 4 LPA as well as limited chance of reaching higher management.

    After watching your webinars i feel finance is only sector where i can may be-sort of align my profile. But i have bad academic profile 7/7/7.

    Can my profile be align enough with CFA and few more certificate? Can my CV even get shortlisted for placements? Can i try next year or i am better off not perusing MBA? Friends are also suggesting to hide M.E.



    • Hi Aditya,

      MBA is like a mahasagar into which all other rivers flow — so rest assured that you will not be the first one with an ME to do an MBA.

      With a CFA the options to build a career in Finance will definitely open up, the academic profile matters only during campus placements but that is just a start, where the biggest jobs might elude you, but that does not mean you will not get a good start, so go ahead do the CFA and give the CAT another shot without any reservations. Once you start working post-MBA it is mostly the what you bring to the table that will matter.

      All the best!


  18. Anshuman says

    Hi Tony sir,

    Thank you for this post.
    I gave my first attempt of CAT this year and I really don’t know exactly how it went. Especially the VARC section, where my attempts are just 10.
    Sir, now I would want some advice from you on how to manage the NMAT, SNAP and XAT in the coming month, as I have to get into a premier B-school this year itself(due to the experience barrier).
    If you could throw some light on the preparation of A-LR of these exams and Verbal of XAT, that would be really helpful.

    Thanks in advance.


    • Hi Anshuman,

      I have never prepared or taken the NMAT and SNAP so I do not have any prep strategies for both of them. All the XAT Strat posts on the blog should be more than helpful, as far as XAT Verbal goes, my GMAT blog — — should help you with the CR part. I will do dedicated posts on XAT DM as well as a DM Masterclass.

      All the best!


  19. Kaustubh says

    Hello sir!!
    I gave my first attempt of CAT this year and I really don’t know exactly how it went.I was in slot 1 and my VARC section was decent(which many people found tough),in DILR section i solved 2 sets which i’m 100% sure that they are correct however in Quant section i don’t know how i started feeling very nervous and solved around 12 questions in which i made very silly mistakes and now i’m really worried what to do now. I have a work experience of 6 months and left my job just to prepare for cat and also i have a 1 year gap which i took for preparing for jee after 12th. Till now i was completely lost about what to do next and what not until today i read your blog which gave me a little ray of hope to start again for the other exams.Thank you sir!!


    • Hi Kaustabh,

      I had my doubts about whether I should write anything or just leave people to deal with their disappointment, the way one leaves a grieving person.

      Glad the post helped you get back on your feet and start work again, it always helps to know that words are not wasted!

      All the best!


  20. sautha says

    Hi sir,
    This was my second attempt in cat , while in my first attempt I didn’t even study and gave the exams only as trails and scored 83 percentile. Did well in VARC & DILR but tanked in quants barely touching double digit in quants. This year the same story repeated only change was I was hell serious and had made a point to cover everything in quants . This year the VA-RC section looked difficult in the start but went like butter as time passed. In DI-LR section i zeroed in on 3 sets and was able to complete two completely and 3 question in 3rd set . In quants I started analysing the question paper and plan was to do the easy one’s first, but I was getting stuck even in the easiest ones ,in about 20 mins i had solved only 3 questions got tensed, so i decided to take a two mins break to help me ease down. The time left after that was 17 mins and in next 7 mins i solved 3 more correctly. The next 10 mins were more miserable than the whole 2020 combined, the whole guilt game started to take over and by the time i could recover the clock was deep red with 3:26 min remaining. solved two more which i knew were wrong but still marked to atleast shore up the attempts, bad thing to do in the hindsight. The overall score will still be the same as last year or even lower, even after so much prep and sacrifies the result stays the same. I scored 140 in iift last year but could not proceed due to sectional cut off in quants. I now feel even this time the same story will repeat again in iift and xat. I have 1.3 years of exp till day in a IT company the work which i do is pretty technical and challenging but the scope of my work is very narrow in the outside world so switching would not be very easy. If i clear CAT next year ,I would be in college with 3 years of exp and would be an outlier . I don’t know what should i do , I don’t even feel like preparing for XAT and IIFT . I had cleared nmims and snap last year and may clear it this year as well, but i don’t want to do my final degree from those colleges .


    • Hi,

      It must feel horrible if you feel will end up in the same score after all the effort you put in. Somehow it is very puzzling how you struggled in QA despite being able to solve 2 sets easily in DI-LR and half a third set. Something tells me that your approach in QA might be to match the question in front of you to patterns you have solved, basically, you are not as free and reasoning oriented in QA as you are in the other two sections.

      If I were you, I will not think about my first attempt and treat this as my first attempt.

      At 15 months of work-ex, you are not an outlier at all, if you join with three years of work-ex you will not be an outlier at all.

      The average work-ex is around 22-24 months but that is including a 30-40% of freshers with 0 months, so the 60-70% work-ex students will have an average work-ex way above the overall average of 22-24 months, close to 34-36 months.

      So yeah, absolutely nothing in your profile that prevents another shot.

      This year’s CAT QA was tougher than last year, my colleague who has many 100 percentiles on the CAT QA, felt this was his worst QA in years, so you are judging yourself harshly. If the paper was the same level and you did poorly then you should blame yourself.

      IIFT and XAT QA are easier than CAT QA and given your prep you should be able to do well unless these papers increase their difficulty as well.

      NMIMS and SNAP give you the same opportunities as IIFT, in terms of brands, placements and average salaries, my students who have gone there are not disappointed in the least.

      If a college can give you 2-2.5x times your current salary it is worth joining since that is all you need to kickstart your management career.

      Just turn that switch in your head.

      All the best!


  21. Draxler says

    Hello Sir,
    I wish I could meet you in person and talk about everything that is going in my mind. I will still try to condense my thoughts.
    1.I am really not thinking about CAT anymore not paying much heed to any analysis(jo hoga dekha
    jayega!) as I feel I have not performed well enough to clear sectional cutoffs.
    2.I am convicted to shift my focus for XAT but I am afraid that if I keep doing what I was until CAT, I
    might end up performing in a similar fashion.
    3.I also feel that if I have a psychology that if I have “completed” everything(in terms of practicing) I
    might perform better.
    4.My Module 5 of ims is brand new and still packed(quite shiny) and I haven’t solved any of the past
    papers for XAT

    My request from you is to please state out (like a doctor’s prescription) as to what should I be practicing daily from now, so that at least “I feel” that I am ready for XAT.

    Thanks a ton for always guiding us!


    • Hi Draxler,

      Good to see that you are not torturing yourself further after a bad CAT day.

      I’ll be putting up a post on how to prepare for XAT in a day or two.

      In the meantime open the fifth module and get started with Modern Math!

      All the best!


  22. Greetings Sir!
    i have 2 years of work exp and i left my job in june to start preparing for CAT and i know i coulnt perform well dis year..i have always had dis mindset dat i want IIM tag beside my name.But after my performance i have started doubting myself..wat would be ur suggestion on dis sir?
    start preparing for CAT 2021(since i have quit my job) or try to crack the remaining exam?

    Thank You…


    • Hi RJ,

      As I have said in some of my replies to others, you need to change the lens from IIM-tag to the best MBA option for you right now.

      Any college that gives you an average salary of 2-2.5X of your current income or earning capability (2X for 8LPA and above, 2.25 for 6-8 LPA, and 2.5 for 6LPA and below) is a college worth joining since that is exactly the kind of jump a good MBA school should provide.

      The season is not over and if there are colleges that fit into the criteria described above then go ahead and prep.

      And before everything else please use capital I instead of small i when you refer to yourself (it is IIM and iim, no?) 🙂

      All the best!


  23. Japekam Sidana says

    Sir I don’t feel motivated enough to stand up again for the other Non-cat examinations after this horrible cat,please guide how to overcome this thinking and mindset.


    • Hi Japekam,

      It might be just right now your brain does not want to any more work since it did not get the reward for the effort it put in.

      As of now you do not feel like prepping but are fretting about prepping. If I could give everyone or invented a pill to feel motivated again I would have done that!

      It might seem like a really weird suggestion but worth a try since it is all I can think of,

      1. Do not prep or think about prepping.
      2. Get a kindle edition of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Suzuki Shunryu and start reading it
      3. Take a long super long walk in the evening
      4. Eat your favourite meal for dinner

      Do this and eventually, automatically you will feel like restarting your prep may be in a few days may be in a week, but do not push yourself or be hard on yourself, just keep reading and re-reading the book.

      This is an experiment, let me know if it works.

      All the best!


  24. Hello Sir.
    I hope you are doing great.
    This is the most sensible post- CAT blog/article I’ve read until now, and I’m much obliged to do so.
    CAT’20 was my second attempt and the first serious one. I graduated recently (classof2020), and CAT was the only thing that kept me going for the past few months, and the only thing I was looking forward to until now. Yes, there are OMETs as well, but nothing like an IIM A/B or C. Yes, I wrecked my CAT and I have been feeling like a self-destructive lump of flesh because I could not solve the questions in QA, despite them being familiar, despite 80% of my preparation time devoted to quants. After reading a couple of your replies to the previous comments, I realised what have I been doing wrong all this while in QA. (was approach and method oriented, rather than logic.) VARC has the potential to salvage my CAT if the accuracy goes in my favour, but I’m trying not to cling to that hope. Sir, it’s not that I’m crying or depressed, and I did take a break, binge-watched Netflix, tried to chill, and I know it is only prudent for me to start preparing for XAT, because CAT is gone and nothing can be done about it, but despite that, I’m missing that drive to study, which I had until last week. I know I have a shot at a very important institute( XLRI) and I know what I am supposed to do, but my inability to do so has been bothering me for a while now.
    Sir, it is immensely important for me to crack XAT, (can’t afford to take another gap year) and I had planned on resuming my preparation yesterday, but I don’t know exactly why (or the probable reason) as to why am I not able to concentrate. Please tell me how should I go about it, what should I tell or not tell myself which could probably work. Sir, I do understand that these things are highly subjective, but I need to get productive and start operating at the earliest, because a month from now, I don’t want to look back with a sigh.
    Thanks and Regards.


    • Hi Isha,

      As you said it is really tough for me to get into another person’s head and motivate them in fact I honestly do not believe in motivation but more so in giving the right perspective because honestly, we do not do something unless we need it really badly, or until we hit rock bottom.

      It might be just right now your brain does not want to any more work since it did not get the reward for the effort it put in. So

      It might seem like a really weird suggestion but try this:

      1. Do not prep or think about prepping
      2. Get a kindle edition of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Suzuki Shunryu and start reading it
      3. Take a long super long walk in the evening
      4. Eat your favourite meal for dinner

      Do this and eventually, automatically you will feel like restarting your prep may be in a few days may be in a week, but do not push yourself or be hard on yourself, just keep reading and re-reading the book.

      This is an experiment, let me know if it works.

      All the best!


  25. Hello sir,

    To start with, thanks for writing this article. I took the CAT for the first time this year and I think I have flunked the DILR section but have done pretty well in the other two. I have doubts whether or not I will clear the sectional cut-off in DILR. Having said that, I have taken whatever happened in CAT in my stride and I am preparing for XAT and IIFT with the same determination and enthusiasm I did in case of CAT.

    I don’t want to neglect my GD/WAT/PI prep as I want to make the most of whatever calls I get from top institutes. I would be very grateful if you could help me with some pointers as to how to prepare for the same (especially the WAT and PI section).

    Thank you in advance


    • Hi Arka,

      Good to see the spirit to prepare and that too for the GD-PI as well. Just go to the WAT-GD-PI category on the blog (it is easier to find it on the laptop than on the mobile) and go through the posts.

      A simple start along with IIFT and CAT prep — read the newspaper inside out since everything in the second stage will revolve around current affairs and GK.

      All the best!


  26. Hi Sir ,
    This is my second attempt for CAT and last year I had not prepared for it . This year I prepared for CAT giving at least 4 hours daily along with my work . As you have mentioned I was looking for that ideal time to join in MBA which is going to get me a role suited to my passion and interests . I was all ready with a 2 year work experience , very good resume having certificates and awards to build a good profile . But I messed up the exam because of some issues . VARC was my strength and usually it is the session I use to maximize my marks. I attended the exam in the 3rd slot which was toughest of the lot .

    Unfortunately while writing the exam , my screen went blank and the officials informed me the clock would start from where it stopped . I dint want to create a havoc and disturb the other candidates . But by the time they fixed it , I lost almost 5-8 minutes when they eventually realized the monitors connection was loose and the system had not turned off . I lost those crucial minutes in the DILR section of slot 3 and it took me sometime to recover despite my strongest will even in quants session it affected me .

    So I don’t have much hope about my marks this time . Is there something I could do from my end for this issue , I have already mailed the officials and have got no response . I don’t want to waste all my efforts over this time because of such an issue which had nothing to do with me .

    ” Also wanted to give a caution to all the candidates not to fall such traps from next time . They told me , they will take care of it from next time . Which left me in frustration for the silly way in which they handled it . ”

    Also Sir , is there anything I can do to drive this energy and clear the XAT exams . I really want to clear that exam but feel extremely low with all this stuffs around .


    • Hi Akash,

      Realy unfortunate to hear what happened during the test.

      In the past, such troubles were quite common, in one of the years in my centre, all the comps stalled for about 25 minutes thankfully no time lost.

      A couple of years ago, another student, had to go from his centre in Noida where he turned up for a morning slot to the other of Delhi Gurgaon on the same day and take the test at 6 in the evening.

      From my experience you will not get any response from them, they will just raise their hands.

      All I can say is that that kid who went from Noida to Gurgaon, scored a 99.50, did not get an A-B-C call because his grad marks were a tad low, aimed for a higher percentile next year, got in touch with me and I gave him whatever bits of strategy advice I could and he went and scored a 99.89.

      What was remarkable was that when he described his story all he said was last year there was an unfortunate incident, not a word more.

      It might be that right now your brain does not want to any more work since it did not get the reward for the effort it put in.

      If I could give everyone or invented a pill to feel motivated again I would have done that!

      It might seem like a really weird suggestion but try this:

      1. Do not prep or think about prepping
      2. Get a kindle edition of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Suzuki Shunryu and start reading it for as long as you can in a day
      3. Take a long super long walk in the evening
      4. Eat your favourite meal for dinner

      Do this and eventually, automatically you will feel like restarting your prep may be in a few days may be in a week, but do not push yourself or be hard on yourself, keep the mind in neutral and just keep reading and re-reading the book in case you finish it.

      This is an experiment, let me know if it works.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the response sir . Losing hope and giving up at this time is not a choice i have anyways .So hope to get back in track and start the preps as soon as possible .

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Hi Sir,
    Glad (but at the same time surprised) that you didn’t list people who left their job for CAT as “aspirants worst hit”. As someone who left job after one year (not the most thoughtful thing to do apparently) to focus completely on CAT, I feel we too are badly hit and left completely high and dry after a bad CAT 2020. And I suppose there are many like me out there.
    What would be your advice for us?
    And is there any particular reason you didn’t mention this category?

    (P.S. Reading your blogs and watching your videos has been an absolute stress-buster and the most insightful thing for me in my preparation! Thanks a lot for all the guidance :-))


    • Hi Amey,

      Sometimes the questions in the comments come as a pleasant surprise. Well, incase you are taking the XAT, this response with come in handy for the DM section.

      As decisions/judgments are made on pre-defined criteria.

      In judging who is worst hit I used only one criteria – do you still have a shot at taking the CAT and joining a 2-year MBA program?

      Why is this the only criteria because as they say jaan hai toh jahaan hai, so as long as the option of another shot is alive you are still in the game.

      So you might have a taken break like others and everyone would have taken a break(or given up options) at different junctures – not sitting for placements, took a break after grad without taking up a job, quit in first year, second year and so on.

      Irrespective of whether you quit or when you quit, the criteria is simple, do you still have a shot, is the dream alive?

      So irrespective of whether you have quit your job or not if you do not have a shot another you are worst hit as far as the MBA dream goes (that’s the goal), that you are out of a job, or that you have to find one is another consideration that does not directly make or break your MBA chances.

      So no advice but to make the most of the season, there is everything to play for with XL and other good schools still open and let your thoughts wander to questions about the future only after that.

      Glad to know that the blog has been a good companion during your prep.

      Will see all of you again in the XAT DM Masterclass.

      All the best!


  28. NUZHAT says

    Hi Sir,
    I am a general female graduated in civil engineering with 21 months of work experience in L&T .But this June i quit my job so that I cud prepare for Cat during these 4 5 months .I was doing kind of good as far as my preps and Simcats and mocks are considered .But somehow I dont think I have performed upto my best ability during the paper . If I do not get calls this year , and i again have to prepare for 2021, does it make sense in my case as now I do not have a job ? Or will it make a negative impact and reduce my chances of selection next year?


    • Hi Nuzhat,

      As I mentioned in my reply to another student if you have quit your job for CAT Prep and are looking at another shot then look at taking up a job once you are through with the other exams.

      While you can easily justify a break for this year’s CAT, a double-break for CAT will be very hard to justify in an interview, even if you do some online certifications and even though you are a female applicant.

      The bigger reason is the pressure you will pile up on yourself leading up to the exam and this is not external pressure but internal pressure given your choice to take a break and trust me having the feeling that you have staked your entire life is not something that you would want to deal with.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  29. shrushti says

    hello sir
    firstly thank you so much for this amazing article .it is really motivating beacause after truly horrible CAT my confidence getting so low .It was my first attempt of CAT and now i am in final year of graduation . i know i have chance to perform good in other exams in this season of exams . but before 1 year back when i was started preparing for cat i saw a dream to get in one of the IIM or persue a MBA from top b-school india
    Till now my profile was not that much good but not so bad also . so i am stuck in decission that whether i start preparing for CAT 2021 ,can i convert call with low background next year or to give other exams like CET or TISS


    • Hi Shrushti,

      Even if you want to aim for CAT and the top schools next year, give all the rest of the exams a good shot this year, convert the calls and then reject the admits if you want to.

      Otherwise what will happen is that you decide on next year, will hibernate till June, and again restart your prep having lost all the gains you made this year.

      All the best!


  30. anudeepchalla says

    Hi Sir,

    I am the kind of guy who shuts himself from everything after a bad exam. This time I was slowly going back to that phase but somehow managed to get back to my senses. I am motivated to attempt all the other exams that are coming but I don’t know how much of an improvement I can make in a month’s time. Thanks for the amazing post. I felt a lot better after reading it considering how my CAT went. This is my third attempt at CAT albeit this being the first serious one. I scored an overall 85% in CAT 2018 and 90% in CAT 19. In both the attempts my VA was above 94 QA was around 90 and DILR was below 70. So, I figured I had to work on it and I knew my quants also were not really a great strength. I worked on both sections. Although VARC was difficult this time I attempted it pretty well according to first impressions. DILR also was decent (thanks to your DILR prep start. Taking those 25 min LR sectional tests from GMAT OG really helped) as I was able to solve almost 3 sets. But my QA performance was dismal as I could attempt only 9 questions. My QA performance was bad in mocks as well. I have around 1.5 years of experience. It will be 2 years next summer. Is it ideal for me to give a much more serious attempt next time around? Although unrelated, with 2 – 2.5 years of work experience, is there any chance at cracking decent B-schools outside India by writing GMAT?

    Thank you sir for your constant efforts to motivate students.


    • Hi Anudeep,

      Good to hear two things: first the fact that you did not go into shut-down mode after the exam and that solving LR sets from GRE helped you solve three sets in the DI-LR section (somehow I had a hunch that if someone can execute this section test in this way then the core strength could be developed, glad yo hear that it helped).

      An experience of 40 months of fewer at the beginning of your 2-year Indian MBA program works without any issue. So yeah, another shot is very much on.

      Outside of India 3 years is what will make it competitive but given the current financial situation of most colleges, they will be happy to give you an admit if you can afford to pay! So yeah, you can take a shot if you are very keen about an MBA abroad.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Sir,
    The blog was very informative, thanks. The section which covers who should worry about giving CAT next year. I want to know about my case : 20 months of work ex. but I am above 26 with avg profile. And, I know that my QA section was horrible.
    What do you suggest?


    • Hi Jay,

      Above 26 is not that big a problem since the work-ex is only 20 months and that is what counts. The gaps in your profile if any will have to be explained — gap after 12th will not matter but all gaps after graduation will need to be defended — and this is true whether you apply for a 2-year program or a 1-year program.

      So you can take a shot at the CAT next year.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  32. Piyush says

    Hello Sir,
    I am a final year student as of now and will be graduating(B.E Computer) in 2021. This was my 1st attempt at CAT. I started my preparation from July but lost my enthusiasm as the months passes by due to college work load and worst, I was hit by the virus where I lost crucial 1 month( September ). So this was my half-harted attempt at CAT and I don’t think I can pick myself up for SNAP and NMAT in this span of 1 month. Considering my fresher status what advice would you give to me if I want to have another shot at MBA in 2021? Will I have any shortcomings in my profile ( considering I want to pursue MBA and not want to get going for a job as of now) if I take another year for MBA?


    • Hi Piyush,

      You have nothing to worry about. You can take another shot at the CAT instead of taking up a job since you want to build a career in management. You cannot be seen at sitting at home and doing only CAT prep after your graduation. So taking up certification courses in your area of interest, learning more about it, and preparing for the CAT should be your plan.

      All the best!


  33. Sir,
    You have been a constant source of motivation and support during the last 5-6 months of my preparation. Your thoughts and words of advice, through your blogposts, always kept me up and kicking. Thanks for that!
    Coming on to CAT 2020, this was my second attempt and I am pretty sure I tanked it. Might sound like an excuse, but all I could think of during the exam was, what if I fail this year too. I have completed my graduation this year so basically I am a fresher. Gave up on two decent job offers, have legit nothing right now.
    I think the best step forward for me right now is to focus on IIFT and SNAP. But somehow I feel like I have completely lost the ability to comprehend RC passages. Also, with complete focus on CAT for the past months, I am at a loss of strategy for IIFT and SNAP preparation. Can you please guide me in this context. Especially, about what I should do regarding the GK section.


    • Hi Chetna,

      I think we had specifically discussed this what if I do not get through thought-process in the last webinar before CAT that I took.

      As you said you feel like you have lost the ability but that us just the feeling based on what you faced in the CAT, IIFT and SNAP are easier exams and you will be able to handle them.

      My expertise is limited to CAT, XAT, GMAT and GRE — tests that I have prepared for seriously and taken. The other tests are usually handled by my colleagues.

      We already have done a how to prepare for SNAP video —

      The IIFT one will be out soon.

      All the best!


  34. Chirakkal Sreehari says

    Hi sir,
    I dont know how my CAT went,QA and DILR combined I am expecting around 60 marks.
    But I dont know about VARC because answer keys are not out.
    Given this uncertainty regarding my performance, I want to give my full shot in IIFT Exam.(I won’t be able to give XAT due to some unavoidable commitments).
    In that case, how should I prepare for IIFT?
    Which topics should be covered more apart from CAT Topics and also what all should I Cover under GK?
    It will be really helpful if you cover these topics in a blog or video session.
    And after all ,is IIFT among the best options out there for me?(I have a 9/9/8 profile and presently 1.5 yrs Workexp.CAT 2020 was my first serious attempt.Earlier I had given CAT while in college and got a 96%)


    • Hi Sreehari,

      My expertise usually ends at the tests I prepared for and taken with my own money at least once — CAT, XAT, GMAT, and GRE.

      The rest of the tests I leave to my colleagues, one of who will soon do a webinar for IIFT soon that covers all of the queries that you have.

      All the best!


  35. Savani says

    Hi Sir!
    I graduated from Miranda House in 2018, worked for two years as a content writer and quit my job around Feb this year. This was my first attempt at CAT. I’m not sure how it went – I was able to do 9 ques in DILR correctly and 11 in quant. My VA-RC attempt dipped from the usual 23-24 to a mere 15 – that too, I’m uncertain about the accuracy level. It was my strongest suit and performing at a level way lower than my most average definitely tanked my morale. I kept telling myself – ‘The question does not care!’ on every question that I would get stuck on to try and shake off the psychological baggage from VA-RC. I could have made 5-6 more attempts in QA – but I guess it’s nothing more than would’ve if I could’ve at this point. I was shocked at the end of the two hours – it felt like a glorious bloodbath, to say the least! I don’t think I’ve felt so humbled by a test in the longest time.
    I know the results are yet to be declared, but I’m having a tough time digesting the fact that I might not get the kind of scores I was expecting. To escape the self flaggelation I’ve indulged myself in the most unhealthy coping mechanism – mindless binge watching. Like you mentioned in the post, I feel too sapped of motivation to start studying for the rest of the exams with this internecine sword of uncertainty about the result and anxiety over should I give it another shot next year? (This is considering the fact that I’m 24 right now, I won’t quite be able to go back to work – because there is no work that matches my profile right now, and I read somewhere in your comments that it’s difficult explaining two drop years in a row for CAT prep without anything going on the side).
    I would really love to get your advise – considering this post is the first thing that has been able to breach past my walls of denial.

    P.S. I did feel at the end of the exam like I’ve somehow let my mentors down – all that time and energy and effort that everyone put in, not just me! But I’m also proud of this 5 month journey, it has been the weirdest mix of empowerment as well as humility – because you get out of your comfort zone and put in the hours that you didn’t think you would be able to and it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll sail through !


    • Hi Savani,

      There are many ways to look at what happened and one of the ways is that the worst — since the CAT is the toughest test and this year’s CAT was tougher than that of most other recent years — is behind you, you have the monkey off your back.

      The test is always a gateway to a career, we Indians have a way of judging ourselves by a test and not by a career.

      IIFT, NMAT, SNAP, XAT, all of these tests are gateways to a great career for your profile. My friend graduated from SIBM in HR years ago and is doing amazingly well in a senior role at Bayer, even he bombed the CAT!

      Most importantly, you will let your mentors down not if you fall down but if you do not get up after falling down.

      All the best!


      It might be that right now your brain does not want to any more work since it did not get the reward for the effort it put in.

      If I could give everyone or invented a pill to feel motivated again I would have done that!

      It might seem like a really weird suggestion but try this:

      1. Do not prep or think about prepping
      2. Get a kindle edition of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Suzuki Shunryu and start reading it for as long as you can in a day
      3. Take a long super long walk in the evening
      4. Eat your favourite meal for dinner

      Do this and eventually, automatically you will feel like restarting your prep may be in a few days may be in a week, but do not push yourself or be hard on yourself, keep the mind in neutral and just keep reading and re-reading the book in case you finish it.

      This is an experiment, let me know if it works.


  36. Ishaan says

    Hi Sir,

    Help me out sir!!! This was my FOURTH CAT attempt with 2017 being the first when i was in college and my percentile ranges between 98-99 in all these years. This year also I expect it to be same (99.5 is as good as nothing for me, I want 100, I want IIM A). From the very begining I was filled with a feeling of redemption as I couldnt get into IIT so i set my eyes at IIM ABC only. I am a btech graduate 2018 passout with 89/83/74 in 10th/12th/grad (GEM) and have about 28 months of work ex as of date (4th dec) and i want to get into investment banking (Goldmann Sachs), also i have a below average profile (i was a po in govt bank and resigned recently after serving there for 15 months because i hated rural postings and govt bank work).

    Also we have an established buisness and my parents are compelling me to get into it, I like buisness but i feel I have an analytical bend of mind and want to see the bigger picture (like wolf of wall street, M&As, hedge fund etc, consulting and chetan bhagats Two states like i want a girlfriend, no offence please) and also study more. Also every time I feel depressed by reading Robert Frosts The Road Not Taken because i cannot fanthom about future like which road to take buisness or MBA, IAS, RBI GRADE B or fucking grade A Govt JOb or go abroad.

    I want to go to Harvard Wharton etc (I am having these wierd thoughts). I am feeling Lost and depressed and re-reading IF by rudyard kipling and still it isnt helping me, again and again that song of kabir singh TUJHE KITNA CHAHEIN AUR HUM bangs in my hand.

    What to do? Help me Sir!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE


    • Hi Ishaan,

      Quite a heartfelt query, it takes a bit of courage to put it all out there. Since you have been so frank, I will be equally candid.

      There seem to be two aspects of your personality that I cannot seem to reconcile or on closer inspection they seem to make perfect sense:

      One one side you want 100-percentile, IIM-A, Goldman Sachs, Wolf of Wall Street and on the other side, you talk of Chetan Bhagat, girl-friend, and a Kabir Singh song (and on top of it Robert Frost)

      The first thing I have sensed is that while you aim high, it is something that everyone should do, you seem to have an obsession only with reaching that height or places that seem to be at a perceived height — 100 percentile, IIM-A, IAS, RBI — all of these things are as different as chalk and cheese — a job at Goldman Sachs has nothing to do with an IAS.

      Such a way of thinking where only the position/brand/lifestyle(Wolf of Wall Street) matters and not what you are capable of doing, what you are good at doing, what you enjoy doing, is completely antithetical to my way of thinking. I am not saying it is wrong but it is not my way of thinking.

      The reason is that such thinking places my validation of myself or my success outside of myself and in the eyes of the world and more importantly it means that one has defined one’s life very very narrowly as if threading the eye of this needle is the only worthwhile thing in the world and if it does not happen one’s world will fall apart.

      Firstly, no one who scores a 100 goes into the exam knowing for certain that he will score hundred if that was the case then Usain Bolt should have broken the world record every single time he stepped onto the field. What can he predict? That he will win, yes; that he will run under 9.9, yes, that he will break the world record, no.

      My good friend and colleague started scoring a 100 every single year since the test increased the time from two to three hours for 100 questions, before that he scored one every alternate year, even the others who have scored 100s do not it every single time.

      All I am saying is that setting a goal of 100 and getting disappointed is like deciding I will break the world record today and losing all hope when one doesn’t.

      Secondly, suppose you get into IIM-A, it does not mean that you will be able to crack Goldman on campus, you will be fighting with the most impressive resumes in the country, and many times even a resume that Goldman otherwise selects will miss out on campus because it has only a few openings at that time and they have many options.

      So again you can get into IIM-A and not get i-banking and feel exactly the same way you are feeling right now, if not worse.

      So the first thing you need to decide is what do you want to do, what job excites you, and what also what job are you capable of doing — Finance, IAS, or Banking. Pardon me for saying this but I say this having interacted with an IAS officer, it might be one of the toughest jobs on earth in terms of the mental strength and pressures one has to handle and am not sure if it every one cup of tea.

      If I-banking is your goal then the only route to it is not ABC, I had a detailed chat with a student of mine who graduated from A and is working in Finance and has seen enough now (having himself been part of the top 50 at IIM-A, having an exceptional profile) to tell me that what matters most is a CA or a CFA and the college degree comes next, and it is not only ABC, that is just very few firms, but for most others, a decent school, CA-CFA, and work-ex is what matters.

      So if you want really want to build a career in Finance, join any good school in the country (IIMs, MDI, SPJIMR, IIFT, XL, even NM) get a CFA and you will reach there not may be immediately after you graduate but definitely in a few years of working if you have all the necessary skills.

      Why do I say skills, since resumes only get you an interview — you still have to convince the interviewers mostly who have been there done that that you are the best person for the job among all the others who have a similar resume.

      And yeah, shut the FOSLA (frustrated one-sided lovers association songs — Ae Dil Hai Mishkil, Kabir Singh) out of your consciousness, there are other better songs.

      This whole thing about there being only one college, only one company, one girl (or boy) that is right for me is the stupidest and surest way to ruin.

      I am sorry if some of the things I have said have hurt you. I have said whatever I have said from a place of truth and only the last two sentences as an angry teacher 🙂

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Saket says

    Hi Sir,
    I gave CAT exam for the first time this year and It didn’t go as I expected it to go (In VARC and DILR section I performed average whereas in Quants my performance was good ); So with this performance I think getting above 97-98 percentile is ruled out . It’s more likely that I’ll be in 92-96 percentile range . So, shall I think about giving CAT next year also , I mean as of now I have work ex of 28 months. Also , I have to give SNAP and IIFT this year and for that I have again started to prepare after 2 gloomy days following CAT. But I just want to know will It be advisable (in the worst case scenario ) to give a shot at next year CAT taking into consideration my work experience. One more thing which I want to ask is how do they calculate work ex (I mean do they calculate the work ex only till the time of filling the form or up till the time of taking admission to a B school.


    • Hi Saket,

      If you are looking at another shot then at the time of joining the b-school you will have 44 months of work-ex, which is slightly on the higher side.

      This does not mean that you will not get a good job on campus, it is just that your options will be limited since recruiters and placements will be geared towards the profiles that make up the larger blocks in the batch — freshers 30-40%, 36 or fewer months of work-ex.

      Which is why for those with 40 or more months of work-ex are likely to find a wider range of recruiters at ISB rather than an IIM.

      For the first call, they award marks for work-ex at the time for filling (since you can quit your job after filling up the form).

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  38. Saket Sinha says

    Hi Sir,
    This was my first attempt at CAT and It didn’t go according to plan I mean to sum it up It was an average performance from me with VARC and DILR going average and whereas in quants I performed well , so give the way it went i think getting above 97-98 percentile in out of reach I think I will be more in the range of 92-96 Percentile. As of now my work ex is 28 months . Also I have to give SNAP and IIFT for which I have again started my prep after few gloomy days following cat. But I just wanted to know ( in the worst scenario is it advisable to give a shot at CAT next year ) given my work ex.
    Also I want to know how is the work ex calculated I mean do they take into account work ex only till the time we fill the form or till the time we take admission in a B school.


  39. komal says

    hello sir,
    I completed my graduation this year only, I am preparing for cat from last 6 month and i gave cat but it didn’t go as i expected, I think i am not fully prepared and got nervous during the paper. But now i want to do more work hard and get in to a decent college this year only , but the problem i am facing right now is that should i go for XAT or give a puch to my preparation in 2 months and then go for IIFT, TISSNET and CMAT.


    • Hi Komal,

      Well, the list of exams you have mentioned has two different types of exams — IIFT and CMAT are exams to get into regular MBA programs and whereas TISSNET and XAT give you options at HR (XAT BM as well).

      So what you first need to decide is whether you want to an HR MBA or a regular MBA. Both as different as it can get and have completely different career trajectories. This post should give you enough information to decide —

      Once you make up your mind you can decide you will have to take either XAT and TISSNET in that (you will have enough to prepare sequentially) or XAT, IIFT, and CMAT in that order.

      Another way to decide is by estimating what you think are your realistic chances of cracking XAT, which is as tough if not tougher than the CAT. If your reading speed is not great and your VA-RC is not very strong then letting go of XAT and preparing for the other three exams might be a better option.

      Either way, you are taking only 2 or 3 tests not all 4.

      All the best!


  40. Konark Gupta says

    Hi Sir,
    I am a lawyer by profession and after working for around 20 months with a Law firm, I decided to leave that job and come back home to prepare for CAT(Luckily moved back to my hometown 2 weeks before the Lockdown). I was definitely enjoying my work but I felt that I wanted to study further and hence decided to go for an MBA rather than a usual LLM program. All throughout my preparation for D-Day, I used to get this one particular question from my close friends and family “Who does an MBA after studying Law and with some Litigation experience?”, but somehow I still kept my focus on this exam. Being an average student in school (Low scores in 10th and 12th), I knew this was a tough journey for me but I kept working hard towards it.
    On D-day, I went through my strategy over and over again and being in Slot 3, I had an idea about the number of questions (Which honestly did not help as the paper was crazy tough). I immediately understood that the paper was extremely tough after going through the passage as VARC was my stronghold and I decided instantly that I need to control my attempts and not go all out and just focus on accuracy. Managed to attempt 13-14 Qs in the section. Surprisingly, my DILR was good. Attempted 2 sets and took educated guesses in the 3rd set (TITA based) as I was short on time. Quant Section being my weakest area, I was a little skeptical beforehand but after seeing Arithmetic, I was kind of relieved. But to my surprise the questions were tricky. Wasted some precious time in a few TSD questions and ended up attempting some 12 questions with an okayish accuracy. I feel I could have done way better in the Quant Section.

    Now I have decided that I won’t look at the answer key and will wait for the final results. Trying to pick myself up from this experience and I know I have some important exams coming up and I am trying to stay positive for the same. What should be my plan of action for the upcoming 6-8 crucial weeks and how to get over the CAT experience as early as possible.

    Also, I have been following your blogs, webinar, and masterclasses and they have been a major source of inspiration. Thank you for this particular blog as well, I can totally connect myself with it. I may or may not get a good college, but the past 8-9 months preparing for this exam has changed me as a person for good. IMS has a major role to play in this. I want to thank you, all the faculty at IMS HO, and especially the faculty in my hometown.

    Thank you, sir!


  41. Mansi says

    Hi Sir,

    Thanks for the post, was really helpful.
    This was my first attempt at CAT and I had only 3 months of prep with offline video lectures. I am currently working as a developer (since Sep 2018 – college placements) and managing work with studies was really tough.
    I know my attempt wasn’t great, and I plan to appear next year as well. Given my work ex, it should be fine right? Also, should I continue my job or take a break and focus completely on prep? I have already completed 2 years in Sep 2020. I wish to focus on CAT seriously and am thinking of joining online lectures at IMS as well. What are the advantages of online lectures over offline video sessions?

    Please let me know your thoughts on this.


    • Hi Mansi,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      Since you have around two years of work-ex as of now you are covered in terms of taking another shot, nothing to worry about that.

      Should you quit your job to take another shot?

      There is an entire post to cover that —

      Should you use offline videos versus online classes.

      If you are preparing for a standardised exam that requires short prep, such as the GMAT or GRE, you can easily prepare on your own with books and crack the test.

      The thing with the CAT is that it is unpredictable and the skills one needs to develop are wide as well as deep.

      An offline program will give you all the tools to learn the basic stuff and application but might be able to provide you with the width needed for prep.

      The advantage of an instructor-driven program (online or in-person) is that inevitably you end up learning a lot more since the instructor is able to weave in much more in a LIVE class right from different methods to solve, to broad approaches, to what happened in the latest SimCAT. Amit Sir and Param Sir who takes our sessions for example also do the Quant and DI-LR feedback for SimCATs, so they always circle back in the class to the SimCAT problems during the season.

      Another factor is that no matter how self-motivated we are the presence of a good teacher ensures that we are regular. I am currently doing LIVE Online Yoga classes and I have not missed a single day because I like the way my instructor (a much younger kid) conducts the session and I always want to be the student the teacher likes 🙂

      The third thing is that you end up having a good peer group through the people who enrol for the program with the instructors also present on the What’s App and Telegram Groups; you do not need to scour PG and FB groups for info, you can quickly get any queries about applications, school selection etc, though your peers and instructors.

      If you are someone who is starting at a 95-plus percentile without any prep then you can go ahead and do it solely with offline classes.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  42. Sir, I cannot thank you enough for the DILR set selection technique. I didn’t pay any more attention to the 6 question DILR sets than I needed to. I rated the sets as you had demonstrated and managed to solve 12 questions and I am confident of getting at least 10 of them right. This is when DILR had been proving to be the bane of my existence as far as Simcat scores were concerned. Turns out many did fall into the 6 question trap and tanked this section.

    However, after the difficult VARC section and my intense DILR performance(according to my own standards), I ended up screwing up my QA section with only 13 attempts and getting only 6 or 8 correct according to an unofficial key on pagalguy. I find somewhere I lacked enough practice in this section because I was solving and then resolving many questions

    I took XAT 2019 during the night, 48 hours later with a tired mind and attempted the full paper save for the DM section (only 8 questions) and ended up scoring some odd 8.xx in VARC, 6.xx in QA and DILR, 4.xx something in DM and 11.xx in General Awareness. In all around 30.xx

    Exactly 24 hours later I took the first SNAP mock on IMS portal and scored 34.75 with 50% of my score from QA with 100% accuracy.

    Can you suggest to me something based on these inputs? I am a GEM currently in my final year and I want to get into a good b school this year itself.


    • Hi Ash,

      Great to hear that you managed to do well in what was the toughest section for you.

      Your performance in the mocks suggests that you are in a decent place to start off with.

      I suggest first preparing for SNAP and finishing the test and then preparing for XAT.

      If you feel that you can manage the SNAP in a smaller amount of time then I would suggest preparing for XAT for a week and then taking up SNAP. I am not a big fan of preparing intensely for two tests at the same time.

      You should watch this SNAP Prep video —

      Amit Sir will be doing a XAT Prep session soon and I will be posting soon on XAT as well.

      All the best!


  43. Shristi says

    Hello sir,
    this was my second attempt for CAT and i have 3.5 years of work experience and i can’t say anything about my VARC and QUANT section. I don’t want to give much heed to the results because i know that thinking and then worrying about this is not going to work for me, atleast at this time where i can utilize my mind in focussing on my next exams (XAT, IIFT ,NMAT and SNAP) i don’t want to give another try because i know that i gave my 100% this year..i left my job 3 months back and gave 12- 13 hrs of dedication to CAT prep..i was scoring good in mocks…i don’t know what happened on the exam day.. Well, now i am planning to give GMAT a shot..i don’t know much about this exam. what i know is that this can be a key for getting into one of the eminent colleges of our country( IIMs, ISB,SP Jain etc)
    i would be grateful if you suggest me some relevant things about GMAT and also which month’s score would be acceptable if i am planning for these colleges through GMAT and from where should i start and what should be the best strategy??
    Please… Please help sir !!!!


    • Hi Shristi,

      Sorry to hear that you had a forgettable CAT.

      If you are thinking about GMAT for the IIMs then the deadline is long past if I am not wrong, it is usually in August, and the deadline for ISB deadline is 10-Jan (I am not sure about the SPJIMR deadline, you have check their website).

      So for this year, it makes no sense to take the GMAT out of desperation (two “pleases” with which you ended you comment) since it is a completely different exam and will require 45 days of prep at the bare minimum for you to do justice to the $250 you will be spending to take the exam.

      Also, given that you are only 3.5 years of work-ex you can take the 1-year program in 2022 and still graduate in 2023 the way you will in a 2-year program if you join this year.

      So you have your options open, do not kick yourself for what happened, focus on your XAT and IIFT and other exams and plan for the GMAT if and only if after all options for admission into a 2-year program in 2021 this year are ruled out.

      All the best!


  44. Sir,
    What is your prediction for marks required for a 99.7 percentile overall in CAT 2020?


    • Hi AT,

      At this stage given the information we have, it will impossible to predict the score at 99.7 across slots.

      We will provide the same once the response sheet with correct responses are out, we usually have a simple way for students to just upload their response sheet and get their scores, in the process we get about at least 10000 scores, that makes it easier for us to make percentile predictions.

      Since it is not a pre-CAT estimate that you are looking at but a post-CAT one, it makes sense to wait at least till they release the response sheets.

      All the best!


  45. Konark Gupta says

    Hi Sir,
    I am a lawyer by profession and after working for around 20 months with a Law firm, I decided to leave that job and come back home to prepare for CAT(Luckily moved back to my hometown 2 weeks before the Lockdown). I was definitely enjoying my work but I felt that I wanted to study further and hence decided to go for an MBA rather than a usual LLM program. All throughout my preparation for D-Day, I used to get this one particular question from my close friends and family “Who does an MBA after studying Law and with some Litigation experience?”, but somehow I still kept my focus on this exam. Being an average student in school (Low scores in 10th and 12th), I knew this was a tough journey for me but I kept working hard towards it.
    On D-day, I went through my strategy over and over again and being in Slot 3, I had an idea about the number of questions (Which honestly did not help as the paper was crazy tough). I immediately understood that the paper was extremely tough after going through the passage as VARC was my stronghold and I decided instantly that I need to control my attempts and not go all out and just focus on accuracy. Managed to attempt 13-14 Qs in the section. Surprisingly, my DILR was good. Attempted 2 sets and took educated guesses in the 3rd set (TITA based) as I was short on time. Quant Section being my weakest area, I was a little skeptical beforehand but after seeing Arithmetic, I was kind of relieved. But to my surprise the questions were tricky. Wasted some precious time in a few TSD questions and ended up attempting some 12 questions with an okayish accuracy. I feel I could have done way better in the Quant Section.

    Now I have decided that I won’t look at the answer key and will wait for the final results. Trying to pick myself up from this experience and I know I have some important exams coming up and I am trying to stay positive for the same. What should be my plan of action for the upcoming 6-8 crucial weeks and how to get over the CAT experience as early as possible.

    Also, I have been following your blogs, webinar, and masterclasses and they have been a major source of inspiration. Thank you for this particular blog as well, I can totally connect myself with it. I may or may not get a good college, but the past 8-9 months preparing for this exam has changed me as a person for good. IMS has a major role to play in this. I want to thank you, all the faculty at IMS HO, and especially the faculty in my hometown.

    Thank you, sir!


    • Hi Konark,

      Good to hear from a lawyer for a change!

      Well, mostly friends and family mean well but have no clue. Lawyers doing an MBA is uncommon but not rare; back in the day even in my batch and in my seniors’ batch we had lawyers. So yeah, you are right to not pay too much heed to what folks think and plough on.

      If anything your diversity holds you in awesome stead to get a call from IIM-A, which selects people from within academic categories rather than across categories, if you cross an 87-percentile, you are in with a very good chance (a Symbiosis law student of mine got a call at 87-88 a few years ago)so there is everything to play for given that your attempts (your X, XII are low but then it all depends on the rest of the applicants within your pool)

      For the next few weeks, you need to allocate your time as per the exams you are taking.

      Preparing in parallel for multiple exams is something I am not a big fan of.

      So I would rather finish the prep, take one exam, and then move on to the next. It is very much do-able since you have a whole day at your disposal.

      Glad to hear that everyone at IMS has been of great help.

      One of the reasons that I love this firm and I have been with it for so long is that we attract a very passionate lot of teachers who are very committed to students. There is nothing better than working with a great team.

      Would like to know which centre you work with just so that I can say hi to them and thank them for doing a great job, everyone like some encouragement from the HO 🙂

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Konark Gupta says

        Thank you, Sir! I’m a student at IMS Indore. (Chief Mentor – Mr. Prakash Rajput Sir)


  46. ikea.j says

    Hi sir!
    This was my 2nd CAT attempt and I am pretty sure I won’t be able to get into a good bschool this year as well as far as CAT is concerned. I graduated in 2019 after which I took a drop from june 19 till jan 2020. I have maths phobia since childhood and got really scared after I realised the exam is dominated by maths and since I have done BBA, I was out of any familiarity with it for 3 yrs. The fear was so that I didn’t even fully try to understand the concepts, after attending classes for 2-3 months I realised I can in no way make it to even an average bschool this year, so I decided to work but thankfully my family pushed me to atleast hold on till the CAT attempt(2019). In that span of time I realised I am not so bad at maths, I just take more time to understand things, so I tried to understand concepts without the thought of cracking any exam and I gained alot of confidence that I can make it to a bschool next year. Also the thing I realised about myself was that being at home made me overthink alot and question my abilites and made me mentally weak that lead to a huge loss on concentration levels as in the back of my mind the self doubt would never end.
    I went to my IMS and vented in front of my mentor as I discussed and he suggested to take up a job nearby which would not involve any traveling but the city I live in is not a corporate hub, but I still managed to get an average job as I my main focus was just to give more time to studies. But when I started working, the job was so average it broke my confidence even more. I even rejected a decent job because it required traveling which offered more pay and settled for much lower pay. The whole idea of working and boosting confidence got even worse when I lost my job in June this year. I was happy to loose the average job and even in a month got hired for an MNC with a decent pay and good profile but soon the happiness faded as the company kept tossing and told I could only join when the office reopens.
    I was studying hard with no worries of my gap but then I lost all hopes. I used to study for hours for whole day but with no motivation and reduced levels of concentration. I haven’t watched any movies haven’t wasted time on social media I just studied took lectures but somehow never scored well in mocks and with a little hope as I had, covid knocked my door 15 days prior to CAT, things got critical at my house.
    I just have hope from snap, nmat and TISS( my dream b school), but the exam cycle is long considering tissnet (feb 20) and my gap is increasing as each month passes. I am just not able to decide which path to take now.
    Please guide me sir, I know there is much of emotional talking here but I really look up to you sir, you can only guide me best so I had to be honest.

    Thankyou sir !


    • Hi,

      You have had one rough ride.

      What I really appreciate is that you tried quite a few things out in a year that has been very rough for everyone.

      Staying in all day at home and preparing is not easy at all and given that you took a gap it can take a heavy toll on anyone.

      Being out of a job in a pandemic year is not a bad thing on your resume, so even if the gap increases you need not worry since it is not a regular year.

      Secondly, if you could manage to find a job in midst of the pandemic you can easily find one later (June was the time when firms realised that the year is going to be really bad and everyone downsized, so there was nothing really that they could do or you could do).

      Thirdly, you have even been visited by the pandemic, so in a way, the worst is over since more than CAT, the biggest fear of the year is still COVID.

      I would suggest parking all of your worries and fears aside until you finish IIFT.

      Give yourself small pockets of relaxation through shows or social media but in a strictly controlled format (the reason is that after a point the mind rebels).

      I cannot stress enough the importance of doing a round of breathing exercises in the morning and taking a walk in the evening while listening to some music.

      Otherwise, you will be piling on more stress over the next few weeks.

      Think about the job after all the exams are over.

      Some of us are tested more than others and there is no logic to it.

      In my opinion, you have survived the bigger test, so just do the things I told you and you should be good.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ikea.j says

        Sir, no words are enough to thank you🙏. I lost the hope that you would reply since I commented a bit late, today it feels really light after hearing all these words from you. Not even your parents understand how this takes a huge toll on one’s mind thankyou for acknowledging it sir and I will surely implement every thing advised by you. Just a last doubt I’m having sir, should I take up some online courses as I have completed only one course during the gap year or devote full time to the rest of the exams. Also I started virtually teaching at an NGO, but could not continue due to covid. Now should I put all of it at hold and focus solely on exams?


  47. Preet Zatakia says

    Hi Sir,

    When I appeared for SIMCATs, I couldn’t answer many questions, but during analyses I was able to solve the same questions quite comfortably.

    I don’t think I am usually that afraid during tests, but I probably have a subconscious fear while writing tests. Can you please suggest some solution? Thanks!


    • Hi Preet,

      I covered this fully in my last webinar before CAT — Zen and Art of Test-Taking.

      I don’t know if you attended it, you can catch the recording here —

      All the best!


  48. Hi Sir,

    Always love to read your blogs
    This was my second attempt for cat but I panic in LRDI and messed up my whole cat exam
    And now it’s been 2 yrs been passed after graduation and doing business.
    Now am confused what to do furthur should i give up on MBA and start doing business or give 1 more chance to CAT
    Thanks a lot sir for always motivating. I learned a lot from you and in my eyes you are Federer of teaching


    • Hi Rahul,

      If you feel you can improve with one more attempt and have the stamina for another attempt then go ahead and give another shot, one does not give up on an MBA dream so easily, you still have time on your side.

      The only reason to not take another shot should be that your heart is no longer in CAT Prep or are unsure but you know how the heart works — do not go by how it feels right now, give it some time, immerse yourself fully into your business and see if the heart still wants it after a few months or if your mind tells you that you will be able to do better with an MBA.

      Glad to be of help.

      Thanks for the great compliment, it does feel very good to be thought of that way!

      All the best!


  49. I have been reading your content since the day I started my CAT prep, so much so that I am almost certain I view the exam from the same lens as you do, sir. I can’t thank you enough for deciding to write this blog. Anyway, let me not get into my attempts for each section as the answer key could literally turn the tables for us.

    This would just be a heartfelt thank-you text to you from my side. You have no idea, to what degree have you changed my outlook at entrance exams, this entire stage of our lives where one exam (supposedly) carries the ability to make or break your career. I mean, sure it does smoothen out the trajectory for you if you get into a good bschool. Either way, I would be ready for what’s in store for me next (MBA’23 or MBA’24). I am surprisingly very calm at the moment, I have this weird faith that I would eventually make it to where I am supposed to be.
    Anyway, I am hopeful that one day I do get to chat with you in person!
    Thank you for such honest and well-curated content! It’s literally the best! 😀


    • Thanks a lot for the generous praise, Sakshi.

      Most of what I write stems from my meetings with students — almost every day for a four-year period — I felt there is whole of stuff that seems to be going on within their heads, with their families, their jobs, their capabilities that I needed to write about all of this.

      And it is really heartening to hear that you are calm and collected instead of distraught and desperate.

      Once the lockdown ends, which I hope is soon, I’ll start travelling and meeting students all around the country as I usually do!

      Once again, thanks a lot for the heartfelt message!

      All the very best!

      Liked by 1 person

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