B-School Selection, WAT-GD-PI
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Why every WAT-GD-PI call-getter should write the IIM-B SOP

One of the things about preparing for a b-school personal interview, especially that of an old IIM, is that one struggles to find a structure to prepare for what can potentially be the most random 20 minutes of one’s life. I am sure my previous post, despite my intentions, would have scared readers rather than re-assured them. So let us see how you can bring some structure into your PI Prep.

One half of the prep is what I wrote in my previous post — doing a 360-degree survey of different aspects of your profile from a GK & CA perspective.

The other half is answering The Big 5 questions —

  • Tell me something about yourself
  • Describe your work experience
  • Why MBA
  • What are your career goals — short-term and long-term
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses

Answering these questions individually can be a painful task since there might be an overlap in the answers you have framed for each one of these. Also, most people end up mouthing clichés and platitudes when they look at these questions in isolation.

The IIM-B SOP Prompt asks, more or less, the same 5 questions.

Prepare a short essay of 600 words on yourself in the space provided below. You may wish to talk about your background, significant events, accomplishments, extra-curricular activities, relationships with friends and family, career plans and how the Post-Graduate Program in Management from IIMB fits into your dreams and aspirations. Please make sure your essay forms a coherent whole.

I think this prompt gives you clues about what goes into a good SOP.

Firstly, an SOP and a Tell Me About Yourself need not be two disconnected things.

Aspirants tend to look at an SOP as a literary exercise and look at a template that best allows them to write one.

So they employ the usual clichés — start with a quote.

Quotes are good, but good quotes that are relevant to an SOP are few and so you start searching frantically for a quote that few people are likely to use or you take a quote from a famous person and then try to show that your whole life revolved around that.

There can be quotes that we live by or use as guiding lights or touchstones in our life but we cannot explain everything about us through a quote unless you have been actually living your life based on one.

If you look at the IIMB prompt what it is essentially saying is this — Tell us the story of your life.

How to best tell the story of your life

We divide this story of your life into four parts: Formative Years, Graduation, Work Experience, MBA and beyond.

To make these parts most impactful & honest and to give a narrative arc to your story you need to make use of the hooks in the IIMB SOP Prompt.

Let us take a few words and phrases from the IIMB SOP Prompt and try to see how best you can use them to frame different parts of your story.

Formative Years: Your background, significant events, relationships with friends and family

When you look back at your childhood what is it that you want to talk about? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • What role did your parents or their occupations play in your life?
    • Did your parent’s transferable job mean that you travelled to different places and hence know different languages?
    • Does your parent’s occupation standout in any way for it to have an impact — business, police/defence, senior government official who achieved a lot
    • Your parent was none of these but was a great source of inspiration for you, it can be the way he/she built his/her life or the values that he/she passed on to you.
    • It can be that they played no major role, they were, well, just parents, so there is no need to include anything about them!
  • What role did your school play in your formative years
    • Did your school have any role to play in shaping your personality?
    • Did it have a special focus on sports or academics that led you to focus on a specific area, or did it make you an all-round talent?
  • What was the big spike growing up or what did growing up revolve around?
    • Were academics a major focus and did you always do well?
    • Were sports or some other extracurriculars, say music, the biggest part of your life while growing up?
  • Were there any financial hardships, personal setbacks, emotional challenges that you had to face as a family or as an individual that have really shaped you
    • What is important is to search for what was most important and what impact it had on you. For example, suppose your parents are divorced, there is no point mentioning that if it did not really have any major impact on you then or in your world-view now.
    • You cannot mention things just to elicit sympathy, you have to show how it shaped you as a person. For example, a student told me that having lost his father at an early age, he became financially independent at a very young age, he did not take a single rupee from his family during the whole of his graduation and supported himself was doing part-time jobs, and it is no wonder that he has a start-up now

This is also the place where you mention your relevant accomplishments.

Accomplishments are like data to support an argument. In themselves, they make no sense, if they are recited or presented as they are on a resume. The argument should be the frame within which they should be presented — I was and am very competitive, so I did really well throughout in school and stood first or in the top 3 right from KG to X or Math was a major passion and I participated in various Olympiads.

Graduation: Significant events, accomplishments 

Use the same method for graduation as well.

  • What did it primarily revolve around?
  • Did the stature of your graduation college give you opportunities that you did not have until there?
  • Was it a time of personal growth for you?
  • Were you part of any clubs and teams that participated and/or won events?

Work Experience: Significant events, accomplishments 

One of the big things about the way you present your work-ex is to change the perspective or vantage point. Instead of looking at your role from the inside out, zoom into it from the larger point of view.

Instead of describing your KRAs right away, you should lead there from the larger organizational structure. For example,

I work as a Sales Engineer in XYZ. The organization is divided into three segments, passenger vehicles, trucks, and HCV. I work in the HCV department. I am part of a network of sales engineers whose job is to do XYZ. I handle the ABC region and I handle XXX clients with a turnover of YYY. My role is to do XYZ. In my stint, I achieved ABC.

Or for the most common job role — IT.

I work in the BFSI Domain of ABC. I have worked with X client(s) so far as part of a team of YY members. We help the client with ABC business solution by providing them with XYZ tools. My role is to do ABC. In my stint I achieved XYZ.

MBA & Short-Term Goals — For those with work experience

For those with 18 months or more of work-ex, an MBA has to be about career growth — moving from the functional side to the business side within the industry. For example,

  • From coding and maintenance in IT services to Business Development, Pre-Sales, Product Management, Data Analytics, or IT Consulting
  • From technical support or product design to Sales & Marketing roles in the same industry (for automobile design to sales and strategy for the same)
  • From handling a small part of R&D or Quality or Logistics to larger roles in Operations in XYZ firms.

Do not make MBA a route to a full-fledged industry shift from IT to Finance or Automobile to FMCG.

Even if that you are sure that you want to leave IT, even if MBA is the parachute out of IT that you are dreaming of, do not mention it. You can try for the same once you make it to a b-school.

For the purposes of the interview, you should say that want to leverage your experience to move into business side roles in the tech sector at large, it need not be IT services only. Otherwise what you are saying is that please ignore my work experience, treat me like a fresher, so instead of ignoring your work-ex and treating you like a fresher, they might as well ignore you and take a fresher.

The only way you can make a case for a domain shift is if you have already taken concrete steps towards the same — IT work-ex but have done CFA L1 and want to move to Finance.

MBA & Short-Term – Freshers

You have to link your MBA to your

  • educational background — from Commerce to MBA in Finance and within Finance you want to build a career in ABC.
  • traits and interests — match your traits, interests, and accomplishments to a particular specialization and career in the same

Engineers looking to get into Marketing or Consulting should use the latter route — skills, traits and interests to make a pitch.

MBA and Beyond – I want to become an entrepreneur

I know some of you are strongly passionate about becoming entrepreneurs and others are harbouring hopes of the same.

In both cases what matters is how specific the dream is and what work have you already done. Ask your self whether you have any of these

  • Have you already worked with or have a start-up of your own?
  • Do you have a business plan (numbers not ideas) for the business you want to build?
  • Are you or were you part of E-Cells in your college and have hence developed a strong passion for entrepreneurship through the various activities you have organized as part of the E-Cell?

If all you are going to say is —  I will do an MBA, gain corporate experience for some time and then start my own venture — do not say it. It is just a thing you think about, occasionally, you have not done one thing about it — no, watching videos of Jobs, Ma, and Musk, do not count as having done anything tangible towards entrepreneurship.

Your thoughts and your consumption of relevant content do not hold water since it is only actions that count, be it entrepreneurship or spirituality (do you sit and meditate every day).

Instead, you can mention that in the long run, you see yourself taking up CXO roles in this industry and making an impact in that industry like XYZ (if you have anyone in mind).

Why this institute?

This is the answer on which you can spend the least amount of words and time. The big colleges won’t expect you to praise and glorify them and hence might not even ask you this question in the interview.

If you can find a link between what the institute is known for and your aspirations then mention it — since I want to build a career in Finance, this college will give me the best courses, teachers and job offers for the same.

Why it is important that you write this down

Most aspirants practice or rehearse answers in their heads. They have broad points jotted down and feel that they will be able to express them in front of the panel.

Now, irrespective of your confidence or your communication skills, you need to realize that what you are doing is crafting the story of your life.

And stories are written down word by word, sentence by sentence, and then sentences are rearranged, deleted, added, organized into paragraphs, sometimes paragraphs are re-ordered before it can deliver what the last sentence of the IIMB SOP Prompt asks for — Please make sure your essay forms a coherent whole.

There is no way you are going to deliver a coherent whole if you do not write, re-write, re-write, edit and polish.

Some of you might feel — What’s the point of writing this if I don’t have an IIM-B call.

Interviewers do not follow a fixed sequence. They might ask you a GK question and suddenly ask you why you want to do an MBA or what your weaknesses are.

Once you are ready with your story after spending considerable effort on the same (and you have done the prep I have recommended in the previous post) you will have the confidence to instinctively take the relevant portions of your SOP and quickly modify it in your head to answer the questions posed.

Think of this as the foundation, like basics or technique for Test Match cricket, that will help you deliver in whatever format the interview goes — Test, ODI, T20 or Gully Cricket.

A few writing tips to come up with a unique SOP

I have read quite a few SOPs over the years and one of the common features of the most SOPs is that they sound really, really clichéd.

An SOP is not a test of your literary writing skills.

It is a test of your ability to tell a good story.

Imagine telling, not writing, a great story to an audience, do you imagine yourself

  • using big words or
  • trying to deliberately introduce formal words or
  • using what you feel are “corporate” words.

So please avoid aping what you think is corporate-speak — holistic, corporate ladder (just so that you know, there is no ladder in any corporate closet), corporate world, game-changer, add-value etc.

You can use words like augment, bolster but not to impress but because you use them naturally without having to use a thesaurus to find them.

You are a human being, not a brochure. They want a convincing story not a literary manuscript. So use simple words and relatively short sentences. Focus on the overall impact and narrative quality.

And yeah use the Grammarly App to run a Grammar check.

I know what some of you might be thinking

After having read all of this I know what some of you might be thinking. In your head, you might be going

  • my parents are normal and boring, they did not cause me great harm or do me any great good, they are just nice and supportive (not always), so essentially nothing to write based on them
  • my schooling from an average or above-average school was just about doing well — no sports, no music, no dancing, nothing, just going to school and coming back
  • outside of school what I did cannot be called sports — mostly gully cricket that yielded no certificates or accomplishments, only sweat and unadulterated joy
  • my graduation is the main reason why I find myself reading this blog post now
  • the only growth I experienced during graduation was the weight I put on
  • my work experience in the IT firm cannot be called work if one really examines it
  • it is because of all of the above reasons and with a wish to make my life better and/or to earn tons of money that I want to do an MBA

Well, I can sympathize and I have had a student who asked me this question after I took class that was along the lines of this post  — Sir, mere paas kuch nahi hai, I have nothing worthwhile to say!

Those of you who feel that you have nothing much to write about —  focus on your traits, qualities, and skills to make a case for why you are suited to do an MBA.

Use stories or minor accomplishments from your life to demonstrate these qualities.

It can be as simple as, it is you who all of your friends turn to for advice, this can be used to illustrate that you are a level-headed and sensible person. You can use an incident or project to show that you can handle and deliver under pressure — you do not crack.

There must be something inside of you that makes you believe that you are a suitable candidate for a career in management and for taking up business sides roles post your MBA.

If you feel you have nothing and an MBA is just the most logical option right now then…(well, I won’t say it!)

B-schools on average call 4 people for 1 seat, so the chances of conversion are still only 25% and you can take it from me that a higher percentile has a very little bearing at this stage.

And remember, the harder you work, the luckier you will get.


  1. YOGESH KUMAR says

    Thank you sir, this blog would help me a lot in my interviews. Kindly help me out on how to justify my 2 years gap, wherein I did nothing worthwhile apart from my CAT prep. How can I bridge that gap now?
    And yeah last but not the least , Sir, Is there any issue in saying that “money” is the major reason behind doing an MBA? As this is something which matters a lot to me in this stage of my life.
    Also sir, I will be much obliged if you tell me how to contact you.


    • Hi Yogesh,

      It is tough to justify a two-year gap without having much to show, which is why in my blog about quitting a job I made it abundantly clear that one should take up activities that would add to one’s profile during the break.

      The only way you can justify it is by saying that you either quit your job (or did not take up one after graduation) since you wanted to pursue an MBA and after an unsuccessful first attempt you wanted to get a job but the pandemic drastically reduced the meaningful oppurtunities.

      As far as Why MBA goes, if your answer is money, the problem is that in no way does that prove that you are a suitable candidate for an MBA.

      A student once came to me and asked me — Sir, what should I do an MS or an MBA, which one will give me more money?

      I said why should anyone give you money, does anyone owe you money? No.

      People pay you for the skills you have. All of us can be a 6 on 10 in many fields but that will not make one successful in any field, nor make recruiters make a beeline for us. We should deduce in which field we are likely to be an 8 or above out of 10.

      Your Why MBA answer should reflect that your traits and/or work experience make you suitable to pursue an MBA and particular career thereafter.

      They are looking for a suitable candidate to take up this course and a managerial career later, they want to see if that is the reason why you want to do an MBA.

      I only answer queries through this blog. If I allow everyone to contact me directly, I will have no time to do my job 🙂

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  2. Gaurav Sharma says

    Hi Tony Sir. First of all, I would like to say I admire you a lot. I find your way of thinking, teaching and mentoring simply amazing. Some way you are always able to connect with every student’s problems in the most simplistic and effective manner. Moreover, your way of writing is also quite amazing and for me it is totally opposite. I really suck at writing (as would be evident from here). I would really appreciate if you could suggest some ways as to how to improve on my writing skills. Also, I was wondering whether talking about your childhood or family problems can go in wrong direction as it may be considered that the person is just trying to gain sympathy. Thanks in advance.


    • Hi Gaurav,

      Glad to know that my sessions and posts strike a chord with students and are more importantly effective.

      Your writing skills in light of all the other written queries I get are quite good (I would put it in the 90th percentile); the fact that you realise that writing well is not easy has ensured that you put in an effort (and it is to your credit that the effort does not show).

      A few suggestions, do what you are doing and keep the style fairly simple, focus on the what you want to say and precisely arriving at the thought and then trying to express it as simply as possible. If you notice, I do not use very big words; my focus is always on getting to the crux of the matter as precisely as possible.

      Do ensure that you do not use any words lightly and check the meaning — the usage of the word simplistic achieves a completely different objective that what you intended 🙂

      As I wrote in the post, you can explain personal hardships as long as you feel it has shaped your personality and made you stronger in particular ways — so you can either use this to start your tell me about yourself or as a part of your strength.

      Always remember — premises leading to the argument — the premises are the family problems but what is the argument?

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  3. Abhijeet Kumar says

    Hello Sir,

    Good Evening!

    Please excuse me for going off the topic but I would really appreciate it if you can spare a few minutes (in single digit) to provide me with the right advice for starting a career in finance.

    I am an IMS student and 2019 was my first CAT attempt.

    But unfortunately, I was unable to do well at my CAT and XAT examination and am preparing well for my IIFT.

    The thing is, I passed my engineering in 2016, and now I am 28 yrs old. Until now, I have worked majorly in sales at few unicorn startups with few employment gap months(15) here and there and have worked for few months as a software developer as well along with a failed attempt to start my own startup.

    I have finally decided that finance is something that I really like and can work in this domain for decades and do extremely well in long run. It’s really a big decision since I will be starting afresh given that I have completed my Bachelor’s degree 5 years back.

    Since I have not been able to do well at CAT and XAT, is it worth pursuing MBA from other colleges given my late start and recruiter’s preference for less experienced?

    I have to make a career in finance and I would not mind if it takes off late, this is one thing I am sure of.

    Sir, I had attended your masterclasses and somehow felt you can help me with it.

    Thanks & Regards


    • Hi Abhijeet,

      Yes, given your work-ex you are not likely to get as many shortlists as freshers or those with 3 or fewer years of work-ex will get but a career in Finance will be built primarily on the basis of the educational background/professional degrees you possess.

      So you will need to do a CFA to ensure that your resume becomes competitive for Finance both during and more importantly after your MBA.

      From what I know CFA degree can compensate for an MBA degree from an average college.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Abhijeet Kumar says

        Yeah Sir, It does help. I will do CFA to start with. Your response seems very positive and optimistic and this coming from you gives me a lot of conviction and confidence in my decision to pursue finance. This does assuage a lot of unnecessary doubts.

        Thank You.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Payal Rauniyar says

    Hello sir,

    this was really insightful

    just wanted one help, how can I explain a layoff in June 2020 and not looking for anything post that



    • Hi Payal,

      I do not know whether you took a break immediately after graduation or whether you quit your job.

      In either case, the answer has to be that you were clear that a career in management is what you want to pursue since that is what you feel your skills and/or experience and thus your career aspirations are aligned to (this is nothing but the Why MBA answer).

      If your break is after graduation then you should explain how the jobs you had were not aligned to the career you want to pursue post your MBA — an IT job when you want a career in Marketing, for example.

      If your break is after working then you should explain how and why you felt you could not ensure or guarantee a call while working and preparing at the same time and how taking a prep was the best way to achieving your long-term goals.

      If you had have taken up anything during this gap period to align your profile with a career in management — certification courses etc — it will help.

      I will be taking sessions — as and when there is more clarity about the second stage processes — as part of the IMS GD-PI program that has already started that will cover all of the questions in detail.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Vanshika says

        Hello Sir!
        The answer that you mentioned in the above post is thoughtful.
        “If your break is after graduation then you should explain how the jobs you had were not aligned to the career you want to pursue post your MBA — an IT job when you want a career in Marketing, for example”
        I got placed in 2 of the companies in Business Development role after my graduation, but because of Covid Scenario offer letter was rolled out in October when College results were announced. So,I didn’t accept because of coming exams.

        I want to make career in Sales and Marketing. I attended your session ‘Believing in yourself’ where you mentioned that 30-40% of the batch are freshers and companies are looking for freshers in this domain.
        Then if the Panel ask but you were already going for job, go get some experience. Why MBA?
        Please guide how to justify this situation.


      • Hi Vanishka,

        You can be fairly straightforward — due to Covid things got a bit scrambled both the job offer that I got and my college exams got delayed both got pushed to October.

        I wanted to make the most of the lockdown and decided to control what I can and do what I can for my career, so I started preparing for my MBA in all earnestness.

        While the required clarity came through in October, I was already neck-deep into wanting to do an MBA and had prepared a lot. To prepare for something and then to give it up made no sense.

        I spoke to people and realised that one can do both get some sales experience do an MBA and do an MBA and get into Sales and Marketing, what will differ is the scale of the revenue and responsibility you will handle. If I have prior Sales experience then there is a chance to get into Marketing immediately after my MBA. But otherwise, in terms of opportunities, there is not much that I will miss out on.

        The thought of abandoning my prep, which really helped me maintain focus during the pandemic made me feel like I was driving on my own towards someplace for a long time and then I have to leave and get onto a bus that goes off in another direction.

        Remember, there is no right or wrong answer there is only a convincing or unconvincing answer 🙂

        As long as what you say you want to do after your MBA matches with the roles that recruiters offer for your profile, you are fine 🙂

        All the best!


  5. Sir, my home address has been changed; should I update that in my CAPs form?
    My graduation scores have been updated now, as I got my final semester’s result as well; should I update that?
    In my 10th class scores the grade of additional subject was already included in my final CGPA; I was not aware about it and thus added it separately which lowered my percentage from 85.5 to 83.xy, should I update it?
    Sir, In my hobbies I have realized I love reading fiction, learning facts and watching you tube videos(informative or those of kids playing and doing innocent stuff) Should I add these. Or hobbies like running (at halt due to pandemic) and sketching(at halt due to CAT) be included?


    • Hi Sumit,

      I do not get into the non-teaching part of the post-CAT processes.

      If they have given a feature to update it, you can and should update it since they will anyway ask for documents to prove your marks and stuff.

      You should mention whatever hobbies and passions you seriously pursue.

      And you should know better than to put watching YT videos as a hobby!

      All the best!


    • Hi Ashwini,

      I have no clue about the program since I do not personally have students to graduated from the same.

      It will be best if you find people on LinkedIn who are in the program and speak to them.

      All the best!


  6. Underachiever101 says

    Hi sir,
    I underperformed in CAT and XAT.
    my profile: 91% in 10th, 71% in 12th HSC science, 73% in I.T. Engineering, CFA 2 levels completed and 3 years of experience in Barclays (technology and then promoted when I moved to credit risk).
    I have enough confidence that if I retake CAT next year, I’ll score 98+, but even If I do, do I have a chance in the top B schools?
    Looking for some guidance, I’m lost in terms of what should be my next move. I want to switch industries and get into business management.


    • Underachiever101 says

      2.5 years of work experience** and Engineering from a decent college in Mumbai.


    • Hi,

      You have an excellent profile as far as your big brand work-ex and CFA go, so if you ask me you will not find any difficulty in getting good Fin roles if you get into any of the Top 30 b-schools — do not go only by what happens during on-campus placements, most of the best jobs come to people off-campus.

      So, put aside the fears that your XII and Grad Marks might be a hindrance in getting into an old IIM (though they are not fully ruled out with a good percentile) and focus on another attempt not just at the CAT but also at XAT, IIFT, and NMAT; also focus on applying to schools such as SP and MDI etc. All of these schools when coupled with your CFA and work-ex will give opportunities to build a great career in Finance.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  7. Underachiever101 says

    Hi sir,
    I did not perform well in CAT or XAT this year despite preparing well because I panicked on the exam day.
    My profile: 91.7% in 10th, 71% in 12th HSC science but 99% in JEE (how I got into a good engineering college), 73% in I.T. Engineering, 2 CFA levels and 2.5 years of work ex from Barclays Bank (tech and then promoted when moved to credit risk).
    Now, I want to move to business management.
    I’m looking for some guidance, if I retake CAT next year, do I have an honest chance at the old IIMs? Really lost with what my next step should be.
    Awaiting your advice,
    Thank you.


  8. Hello sir
    Thank you for writing this blog. It was really helpful.

    I am currently in my last semester of college and I have applied for colleges through CAT and have received interview calls.
    my acads are
    10th 91.2%
    12th 93.6% commerce
    BBA 72% (cumulative of first four semesters, last sem results awaited and 6th sem is yet to begin)
    How can I explain this dip in my academic performance from school to college?

    As such I don’t have any strong reason to justify it except from mentioning that I was an active member of two of major clubs in college.


    • Hi Cloud 9,

      Well, firstly stop worrying about the question as if they are bound to ask you that.

      You can word it well — you got carried away a bit with extra-curricular and your acads thus took a backseat but you have learnt from it and you have worked to improve the same in the last two semesters, while not compromising on ECAs (if you are going to do well that is.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  9. Shruti says

    Thank you Sir for this informative post. Your posts always help me a lot.
    Sir i am very confused regarding my future course of action and it will be great great help if you could provide some guidance.
    My profile:
    General, female.
    12th- 93.8%
    Graduated in 2020 (bsc physics from DU) -83. 9%
    Extra curriculars: won debating competitions, done various online courses, president of my department, member of different societies.
    CAT 2020- 91.8% ( with 75% in DILR and 90 each in va and quants)
    Sir due to health and family problems after CAT i couldn’t perform good in XAT.
    I have got calls from IIM Shillong, bodh gaya, jammu and simarpur. Also received call from iim bangalore new PGP(BA) course .

    I am confused about retaking CAT again or getting admission this year only. I feel like I can do better but scared about taking a gap year as it would be bad for my overall profile. Being a bsc graduate that too in physics I don’t have many job options too. Should I take admission now in new iims or iits? Should I take a gap year?
    Please reply sir. It would be great help to have some clarity as I have been looking from my perspective only.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Shruti,

      I have done a detailed post on the same that will help you decide whether you should take another shot — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/02/17/to-re-take-or-not-to-re-take-the-cat-3/

      If you graduated in 2020, it would mean that you already have a gap year and another gap year over that will not be easy to justify and adds to the exam pressure.

      Given the background and the fact that you are a fresher, an MBA from IIM Shillong will give you a good break on which you can build your career.

      The rest you can glean from the post.

      All the best!


      • Thank you for replying sir.

        2020 was not my best attempt. There were many personal and health problems that affected my preparation. I feel I can do so much better if I try again but I also feel exhausted from the whole preparation journey. Also the stress just before exam and during exam will increase 10times if I attempt CAT 2021. I am currently looking for some internship or job to minimize the gap year. I just can’t decide to retake CAT Or not.
        I fear that if I don’t try again I will feel like settling for something while I could have achieved more but at the same time the unpredictability and stress of taking a drop is scary enough. I don’t want to join Shillong and regret later about giving away my chance of top ten b schools but also don’t want to lose the opportunity of IIM Shillong I have now if things don’t work out well during CAT2021. 😭😭My peers say due to good academic record, gender diversity and non engineer background I have better chance at Top ten b schools. 😣


      • Thank you for replying sir.

        2020 was not my best attempt. There were many personal and health problems that affected my preparation. I feel I can do so much better if I try again but I also feel exhausted from the whole preparation journey. Also the stress just before exam and during exam will increase 10times if I attempt CAT 2021. I am currently looking for some internship or job to minimize the gap year. I just can’t decide to retake CAT Or not.
        I fear that if I don’t try again I will feel like settling for something while I could have achieved more but at the same time the unpredictability and stress of taking a drop is scary enough. I don’t want to join Shillong and regret later about giving away my chance of top ten b schools but also don’t want to lose the opportunity of IIM Shillong I have now if things don’t work out well during CAT2021. 😭😭My peers say due to good academic record, gender diversity and non engineer background I have better chance at Top ten b schools. 😣


      • Hi Shruti,

        Every single time you are faced with a dilemma in life you will realise that it is because you want to either maximise all the variables at the same time or reduce all possible uncertainty — both are impossible situations.

        The problem is straightforward:

        1. Do you feel you can do better and does your profile also support the same? Yes.
        2. Does it seem like you will have the mental strength and stamina to handle the uncertainty? No.

        IIM Shillong is not a bad school by any stretch and once you start working, unless you want to work in super-niche firms, it is the quality of your work-ex and skills that will get you jobs more than the brand.

        Look in the mirror, face the truth, bite the bullet, and make the most of things rather than feeling like you are carrying the weight of the world.

        All the best!


  10. Ronitha says

    Thank you sir. This blog helped me a lot.

    I am a Decent student.
    I have 9.4 CGPA in my X (CBSE)
    88% in my XII (CBSE , MEC) and
    83% in my BBA (Still pursuing)

    I am a state level basketball player. I can sing and dance as well and have few accomplishments regarding all of these. I couldn’t get a decent percentile in CAT because I started preparing very late and I am Trying for NMIMS Mumbai. I have a score of 223 in my first attempt and since the safe score this year is said to be 240+ I am giving another attempt on Feb 4th.
    And NMIMS recently released that there will be Online WAT and PI for 4 hours straight.
    Can you please tell me some tips for the WAT and the long session.

    Thanks in advance 🙂


    • Ronitha says

      I have cleared 2 online interviews(a Startup and one MNC) along group discussion and JAM rounds during this pandemic through campus selections but decided to do an MBA. Are the college interviews similar to the corporate interviews? If no what are the differences.


    • Hi Ronitha,

      The four-hour duration is a time slot during which the process will be conducted for one batch of students and not a single student. Your individual PI will be 10-20 mins long and the WAT will have the usual time of 15-20 minutes.

      The interview of the IIMs will be different in that the questions will be geared towards evaluating your suitability for an MBA program and unlike a job interview, panellists will not necessarily be nice to you.

      You can look at the previous posts on the blog for detailed information on how to prepare for WAT and PI.

      All the best!


  11. Mahima Malik says

    Hello sir,
    I got a call from IIM-A FABM. Could you please shed some light on the AWT topics and PI procedure for the same?
    Thank you


    • Hi Mahima,

      I will put out a post on how to write an essay.

      The procedure for the AWT and the PI will be the same for FABM as for PGP, what might differ is the kind of topic and to a certain extent the kind of questions. You can get a list of past topics and questions in the GD-PI Zone of myIMS.

      All the best!


  12. ratramanish says

    Hello sir,
    This post of yours is quite informative and it will going to help me.
    Sir, i need an advice. I scores 91.78 percentile in CAT 2020 with sectional 65.4/92.4/94.6 percentile.
    I have got calls from IMT ghaziabad and TAPMI.
    My academic profile is as follows :
    10th : 9 CGPA
    12th (commerce) : 92.4 ℅
    Graduation (B. Com hons) DU : 8.514 CGPA
    I graduated in 2019 and haven’t taken any job till March. I had a joining in April but due to covid that was deferred till and in July I joined Bandhan Bank.
    I am confused about retaking CAT Or take admission this year only. I want to do MBA from top B- School and have a feeling that i have a low chance of converting the IMT Ghaziabad. What would I do this situation?
    Thanks sir
    Your guidance will help me in resolving this dilemma.


  13. ratramanish says

    Hello sir
    This post of yours is very informative and it will help me.
    Sir, I am confused whether to again take CAT or take admission this year itself. I had given CAT 2020 and scores 91.78 percentile with sectional score in VA/DILR/QA of 65/92/94. My academics are :
    10th : 9 CGPA
    12th commerce : 92.4 ℅
    Graduation B. Com Hons DU : 8.514 CGPA
    I graduated in 2019 and haven’t taken the job after the graduation and scored 81 percentile in CAT 2019. I was offered a job which is due to join in April 2020 but that job was incessantly deferred and i joined a Bank in July 2020. I have got calls from IMT Gzb and TAPMI. The best call I have is IMT Gzb and in the same have pretty low chances because of less percentile and I want to do MBA from top B schools.
    Sir, your guidance will help in resolving this dilemma.
    Thanks in advance


  14. rajul gangwar says

    Hello Sir,

    I have 2 years of experience in IT Tech support. Could you please guide me which MBA specialization will relate to my work experience?


    • Hi Rahul,

      Post your IT experience and with an MBA you can transition to roles on the business side of IT, Technology, and e-commerce space in roles such as Pre-Sales, Business Development, IT Consulting, and Operations.

      To execute these roles apart from the IT/IM specializes you will have to take courses in Marketing and Operations.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  15. Hello sir,

    Thank you for writing this post. I wanted to ask you whether or not we could take the same approach while answer the ‘Who am I?’ question asked in the IIM Shillong form. Though they have asked about events that shaped me, I feel its a broad set of happenings that shaped me as a person. So, I find this approach better explaining myself.

    Thanks in advance,


    • Yeah, we can more or less use the same template. You can ignore the last part about Why IIM Shillong and stuff and maybe include strengths and areas of improvement as part of events that shaped you and stuff (public speaking in English as a result of having studied in a vernacular medium school etc.)

      All the best!


  16. vaishnavi says

    Hello Sir,
    Thank you for all your guidance till now, Sir, I had a concern which is not relevant to this post but this is the only medium to contact you. Sir, I had written CAT 2019 during my college and merely secured 74 percentile. At that time I didn’t put much efforts when it came to developing skills. Later i started preparing for CAT 2020 in the month of September after completion of my internship and college exams. I didn’t take up the job offer I received from college placements as I wanted to study for CAT with only 2-3 months left. This time I practiced all the RCs on myims and proctored SIMCATS yet I used to get very low marks in mocks. Same goes for QA and LR-DI where I used to practice a lot but got marks almost on same level. There was not an increasing graph it was always constant. Hence, again in CAT 2020 i secured 75 percentile. I wrote XAT where i missed sectional in verbal. Sorry for putting this complete scenario but I after all this mess i really don’t know where i went wrong. I am confused whether I should even continue preparing for CAT. I lost my offer letter due to preparation. After 12th also i had taken a year gap for preparation of IIT JEE and didn’t get an admit in it. Hence, I will have an academic gap of 2 years. I have 9,9,9 throughout my academic years. Can you please help me with this job and CAT scenario as now it is difficult to find a job. Should I retake CAT and search for job or should I take break from thought of MBA. There is another doubt which I have and it is regarding JBIMS. I want to know your take on JBIMS considering current situation. My aim was always to be in top 10 B-schools in India , but due to current delayed admission procedure and placements I am worried if i should even prepare for mba cet for getting admission at JBIMS. Has JBIMS lost its charm due to mismanagement happening in State?


    • Hi Vaishnavi,

      When I replied to your previous question, I had assumed you had an interview call this year.

      If you are certain that you are suited to a career in management then you need to do it at some point of time in life, whether now or later.

      More importantly, like most Indians, you seem to place undue importance on the “college” you can get into “IIT”, “Top 10” rather than the kind of skills and career one wants to build. You should apply to colleges that as I wrote in a previous post will offer you a 2.5x jump in currently earning potential (not to mention the long-term growth that an MBA will anyway bring). So if your current earning potential, based on the offers you got X, apply and take the test for any school that offers 2.5x-3x, and they can range from the IIMs to NMIMS and SIBM.

      One thing is for certain that you cannot devote the whole of this year again for CAT Prep. You have to either take up a job or take up three things on the side — internship, online certifications, and NGO work — and prepare for CAT; otherwise, you will have to defend a super-long break.

      Cracking CAT by now you should realise is not about practice but about right practice, if you solve 500 RCs but without executing specific techniques we discussed in the Masterclasses and take 50 Mocks without precisely executing the test-taking strategies we discussed in LMTC sessions, your scores will not go up. What got you the 9-9-9 is not what will get you a 99.9 on the CAT they are two different things altogether.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  17. Vaishnavi Salunke says

    Thanks a lot sir for your guidance. It gave me some clarity. Sorry for the last doubt, sir what is your opinion about JBIMS?


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