CAT Strat
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Should I quit my job to prepare for CAT?

One of the questions that I am often asked and is most relevant at this point in time given that some of you might be looking at re-taking the CAT after an underwhelming CAT last year and others might be desperate to crack this year’s CAT.

  • is it wise to quit my job to prepare for the CAT?
  • will quitting my job have a negative impact on my profile?
  • how can I prepare if I am working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week?


These are questions that many aspirants ask themselves since there is a huge premium on acquiring a degree from a prestigious college and for many, an MBA is the last big shot that they can take to get a big brand name on to their resume.

There might be other reasons as well ranging from a mind-numbingly monotonous IT job to a horrible boss, to the existential dread — what will become of me and my life if I am stuck in my current situation forever.

Also, there are many who have faced this situation this before as well when they had set their eyes for the first time on getting two more “I“s than what God brought them into the world with — the IITs.

For most of my colleagues, the answer is a simple NO. But I think under certain circumstances quitting your job might be the best option in front of you with the proviso that you quit at the right time and do more than just prep for the CAT.


If you quit, be prepared to face the music in every single interview

Before anything else please understand that if you quit, in every single interview that you face you will have to answer the question — Why did you quit your job?

This question is bound to be followed by others such as

  • surely you did it just to prepare for the CAT!
  • so it means you are not good at multi-tasking?
  • more than half of our students have work-ex, do you mean to say that all of them had easy jobs that allowed them to put their feet up?

Forget at the interview stage, some institutes such as IIM-A ask this question in the FORM they send out to candidates they shortlist for the WAT-PI round — Do you have any breaks in your professional career? If YES, then please explain?

But you can rest assured that these questions have been successfully tackled by aspirants in the past and in IIM interviews at that.

But what is important is that you quit at the right time, plan your break to take up activities that enhance your profile and achieve things that will help you make a great pitch in the interview.


How will quitting affect your profile in terms of getting into an IIM?

First, let us look at the effect of quitting your job on your chances of getting a shortlist from a quantitative perspective.

There are colleges such as IIM-B and many others that give a weightage to work experience in the shortlisting process. In such cases, you will lose out on valuable points and will hence have to score higher on the test to get the shortlist than if you had stuck on in your job. So yes, there is a clear quantitative effect.

If you have two or more years of work-ex and the rest of your profile — X, XII, Grad Marks — is good you can on average score 0.5 – 0.75 percentile points lower than someone with no or low work-ex. But remember that this is only in the case of institutes that give a weightage to work-ex.

This quantitative effect as you will see will be negligible in the case of people with more than 30-36 months years of work experience since the points for work-ex are not directly proportional to the amount of work-ex in that they are capped after a point. To know more about IIM selection criteria you can read this post — The IIM Selection Criteria: Will I get a call from the IIMs?

The other way of looking at this question is from a qualitative perspective — in terms of how panelists will view you in the interview. Panelists more often than not feel that all MBA aspirants hate engineering and run after an MBA to make more money. So when they see candidates who have left what is on paper a promising professional opportunity, they tend to look at him/her in an unfavorable light and will expect them to justify the same.


How will quitting affect your profile in terms of the roles offered at top b-schools?

IIMs and other top-schools slot candidates into two categories for placements — regular and lateral.

Lateral placements are for people with a certain amount of work experience for roles that are above entry-level management roles. What is that certain amount of work experience?

It differs from college to college. Some base it on the absolute number of months such as 20, 22 or 24, others decide based on the average work-ex in the batch. Either way it usually falls into the 20-24 range.

Also, it is important to note that for some domains and firms having work-ex is a must-have and hence recruiters look purely at lateral candidates. What are the domains where relevant work-experience is a pre-requisite?

OPERATIONS roles, for example, most definitely go to people who have experience in shop-floor, product design, logistics, supply chain management etc. So engineers working in operations will do well to finish working for two years before entertaining thoughts of quitting.

IT CONSULTING roles for example again typically go to those with 2 plus years of experience in software.

Recruiters from new sectors such as e-commerce from firms such as Amazon also tend to look at candidates with a certain amount of work experience, usually IT or Analytics or technology.

General management firms such as Tata Administrative Services(TAS) and the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) also prefer people with work experience but they also take in freshers.

Roles in Marketing do not need work experience, with Marketing recruiters having a very strong preference for freshers or only those with very relevant work experience sales, marketing analytics, the same applies to HR as well.

For Finance your graduation discipline, the brand of the college you graduated from, and professional certifications such as CA, CFA, FRM matter way more than work experience. So if you are a Commerce Grad from a top-tier graduation college looking to build a career in Finance, work experience is not a must unless it is relevant.

For Consulting roles, the brand names on your resume matter more than anything else. It is not whether you have work-ex or not but firstly the brand value of the organization you worked with that matters more. IITian and NITian freshers with a strong academic profile stand a very high chance of getting shortlisted. Those from other colleges of national repute with stellar resumes in terms of academic and extra-curricular achievements also get shortlists.

Overall just to put things in perspective, about 30-40 percent of students in top b-schools are freshers.


How many months of work-ex makes it safe to quit?

So by now, it will be clear that quitting will not affect your chances if you do it after finishing 2 years of working, I would say around 24 months is maybe the ideal amount of work experience to have to go into an Indian b-school.

If you already have 3 years of experience and a relatively weak resume it makes sense to quit your job, prepare for CAT, and build your profile.


In what cases does quitting before 24 months make sense?

The only reason to quit before 24 months is if you are very clear that you want an industry and domain shift. So if you are an engineer from one of the core departments working in IT and you want to do an MBA to get away from not just IT services but also technology then it makes sense to quit your job before 24 months of experience.

The more work experience you accumulate in your industry the more likely you are to get roles within than industry or domain.


What is the best time to quit to prepare for CAT?

The simple answer is that if all you want to do is quit and prepare for  8 to 10 hours a day, you will not need more than 3 months. So working backward, your break should not start before 1-August.

It might seem as if I am speaking about aspirants who are already at a particular level, say 85 percentile. It might seem that if you are someone who is very out of touch with Math, you will need more time. But these arguments assume that you will have done no prep till August, which is not the case. Even if we consider these concerns legitimate since you know yourself better than I ever will, given that I know the CAT better than you ever will, your break should not start earlier than 1-June.

So at most your break will need to start 6 months before the CAT, not before that (unless there are some extenuating personal or professional circumstances).


What you should be doing if you quit before August

If after going through the post so far, you have made up your mind to start your break for CAT prep by June this year then you should do more than just prepare for the CAT. Else as discussed above, interviewers will have a great time turning you over on both sides on a red-hot grill.

In all the cases where my students have successfully made it to a top b-school despite a break of 8 to 10 months by the time they faced their interviews, the students had taken up things to improve their skills and profile.

What are the things they took up?

  • Those who wanted to improve their communication & public speaking skills joined Toastmasters, cleared a few levels and got to hold a few positions of responsibility at Toastmasters.
  • Those who wanted to get some diversity into their profile worked with start-ups for Teach For India or a while.
  • Those who wanted to add some academic weight to their resume took up certification programs in their area of interest on Coursera.
  • Those who lacked any social work-related activities on their resume took up working with an NGO

You need not limit yourself to this; you can take up anything that you have a strong interest in — learning a dance form or languages or singing or photography — as long as you invest quality time and have something to show for it.

For a more detailed insight on how you can improve your profile to align it to your chosen domain post-MBA, you should read — How to build your profile


Too much of anything, even CAT Prep can be harmful

Apart from resume building these activities also ensure that you do not become obsessed with the CAT and pile up the pressure on yourself leading to test-day.

They offer a good break from CAT Prep in terms of taking your mind off the test and also helping you peak at the right time.

Peaking at the right time is very important because if you are doing nothing but doing CAT prep for 8 or more hours a day, you will peak in about 3 months time and come test-day you will have exhausted yourself.

This is the reason why sometimes teams that do not start off well in a tournament such as World Cups manage to get their act together over a period of time and peak in the final (Australia in the 1999 Cricket World Cup) whereas teams that seem to be hot favorites crash out.

I have tried to be as extensive as possible in terms of covering all the things that you need to consider before taking a call to quit. Even so, I am sure that each one of you might have unique backgrounds and aspirations making it tough for you to take a call. Feel free to post your queries regarding quitting in the comments section and I will answer them.

73 Comments

  1. Premchand Dhanalakota says

    Hello Sir,

    This is Premchand, firstly thank you so much for your ultimate support. Sir i am carrying 15 months of work ex. In Pre Covid time i resigned my job and started preparing for my cat 2020. But i didn’t get the good percentile this year so i want to continue to prepare for 2021 exam. But only one taught that running my mind, What should i answer in Interviews time.? Am i wasting my time for seating and preparing fulltime or should i back to job life and continue my prep along with my job. ? And parallelly another doubt raised, am i able to focus more on exams along with my job, lot of missy missy running in mind. please help me out for my concern sir.

    Thanks in advance.!!

    Like

    • Hi Premachand,

      Going in with a two-year gap is an absolute no-no since there is no way you can justify the same.

      You should take up a job and prepare for CAT.

      You have already spent quite a bit of time preparing so if you need another year of only preparing for CAT for an entire year then I have serious doubts about the gains you made in the last year.

      I do not think you have the option of taking a break, you have to manage work and prep.

      All the best!

      Like

  2. Prathamesh Borade says

    Hello Tony Sir,
    Prathamesh this side. I’m a 2020 graduate with an engineering background and I’ve also appeared for CAT 2020. As my score was not up to the mark I’m planning to retake the CAT but because of Covid situation, my job gaining chances have gone down. Currently I’m a Marketing Intern. My internship is ending this month so how I can plan these next 8-9 months along with CAT prep through prep is required mainly on VARC. But I’m perplexed right now and have no idea how to proceed. Please provide a solution to whether I should continue internship with start-ups or search for a conventional GET job?
    Thank you for any help you can offer in advance!

    Like

    • Hi Prathamesh,

      I would suggest continuing your internship with this firm or with other startups (if those are easier to get) while looking for a job on the side; if a really good job comes up, then take it up.

      And yeah, CAT Prep will have to go on as well.

      Do not look for a job only if you feel that you will not be able to manage a job and the CAT Prep. in that case sticking to internships can be the best thing to do.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  3. Chiranjiv Aggarwal says

    Hello Sir!

    I have 13 months of work-ex as an auditor and quit my job in sept end of 2020 and started preparing for CAT. As it turned out, the score wasn’t up to the mark and now I have started my prep for CAT 2021. However, to fill-in the gap, I have joined my family business part-time(Currently on weekends). Can you please guide me through with the following –

    1) Will joining the family business suffice the break I am on? (I do have a real story behind it and is really devoting time on the week-ends)

    2) To your burnout point, I have planned to study close 8 hours a day(40 hours a week) till CAT. I am all in and willing to give CAT my everything this time. Should I really be concerned about exhausting myself? Is it a universal thing or it is subjective?

    3) Since you mentioned that for Marketing roles they prefer someone who is either a fresher or has very relevant work-ex(I have neither of these two), is it very wise for me to enroll for a marketing course (Around 4-6 months) during this prep phase?

    I’d really appreciate your valuable response!

    Thank you sir!

    Like

    • Hi Chiranjiv,

      To answer your queries:

      1. The family business will suffice as long as you can show appointment/offer letter, experience letter, and bank payslips — as long as these three are not there then you will not be able to prove to them that you really worked.

      2. Well, 8 hours a day of CAT Prep only for the next 9 months will cause burnout — the thing with prep is not to prep out of sincerity: — I have quit only for this I should be doing only this for 8 hours — it makes no sense, one preps out of necessity/ For example, in my second attempt I did not prep at all for VA-RC since I knew my scores were not going to increase with more practice, and there was no need to practice just to keep in touch — do you practice riding your motorcycle or car after you have learnt how to ride it?

      So instead of setting a hard and fast rule of 8 hours, prep according to your learning needs and stop when you reach a level of expertise.

      Use your time to improve your profile but taking up certification courses, working with NGO etc — https://thecatwriter.com/2019/03/18/how-to-build-your-profile-for-an-mba-2/

      3) Well, since your work-ex is not very high, it should not be too much of a hindrance but doing a Marketing course or internship can really help.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

      • Chiranjiv Aggarwal says

        Hello Sir,

        To counter the 1st point about joining family business, I didn’t understand how am I supposed to present appointment letter or experience letter? Since the business(Departmental store) is owned by my father, how can I present these things . What I mean by this is, in these scenarios isn’t it the other way round? Instead of producing the aforesaid documents, shouldn’t I be concerned with being well versed with the business inside out. Because in our own businesses we can’t present documents , so we can expect grilling by the panel and ultimately the goal is to actually convince them to believe that we did actually work there.

        Sorry for taking up for valuable time, but I am really concerned about this.

        Thank you so much sir!

        Like

      • Hi Chiranjiv,

        As long as you do not plan to show the work in the family business as work-ex and stick to your work-ex as 13 months (or whatever you currently have) it is perfectly fine.

        So, yeah, everything you said works if you do not increase the number of months and use the work in the family business as a learning experience along with CAT Prep.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!

        Like

  4. Hello Sir,
    I had joined IMS in 2020, attempted CAT but didnt get enough scores so gonna try again this year. Meanwhile, I was working as a NVOC executive for 13 months and I quit that in august end to study for CAT. Now I am again looking for Jobs in the relevant fields like business development executive, business analyst or a marketing executive. In the gap of these 6-7 months I did a online certification in Digital Marketing and also started learning French.

    Just wanted to know how will the gap affect my overall chances?

    I’d really appreciate your valuable response!

    Thank you Sir.

    Like

    • Hi Sharvari,

      The gap as I wrote in the post has a quantitative effect in terms of extra marks you could have gained by having work-ex.

      As far as the qualitative effects in the interviews go, the certification courses and the other things that you have taken should help you sail through.

      I know this was a comment in search of a bit of reassurance, hope this helps!

      All the best!

      Like

  5. Shivam Singh says

    Hello Sir,

    Great Post! Loved it.
    I saw your session on 7 things to crack the CAT preparation and in the session when you said “What I’m going to talk about over the next one hour I have a complete idea of what I’ll talk about”, and that’s where I was sold. All right I’m all ears! 🙂

    So, I’ll start with my profile.
    I’m a gem (In terms of Category and for my parents, Haha pun intended). And if things go well, I might come under NC-OBC, as the required docs which were missing or not yet ready in the past are ready now. Fingers crossed.

    Academics- Not so great. Reflects the perfect definition of “Average”.
    Work and Work Experience: Capgemini (Associate Consultant) with 3.4 Years of work ex as of this month.

    It’s not the workload that bothers me, it’s the work experience. I can easily manage my time and devote it to CAT preparation. (Considering WFH).
    I’m planning to take the GMAT this year, as my work ex is high, I don’t want to limit my options for CAT and XAT, etc only.
    Currently scoring around 600’s in GMAT with SC and RC being the major let down.
    QA is all right with 47-48, but yes DS traps really disappoint when I analyze.
    Anyway, like CAT, you know GMAT better than I’ll ever do. So, I took your advice and I’m doing 3 RC passages daily.

    As I don’t have any prior experiences with CAT, I’ve joined the IMS eCatapult batch, and as of now it’s slow-paced, so with that, I’ve started devoting more of my time to GMAT.

    So, now coming to the reason why I wrote all this?
    Is it wise to quit my job keeping in mind that I’m open to GMAT-accepted schools as well?
    An alternative like Sabbatical would work or not?

    I’m eligible to take a sabbatical from my company. The plus side is they won’t mention the same on my work experience if the needs arise and everything really falls apart and I have to go back.
    The bad part is I’ll stay where I am with zero increments and no promotion.

    Well, I’m not worried about the bad part as I already feel what you wrote in the post- “the existential dread — what will become of me and my life if I am stuck in my current situation forever.”

    Does the idea of taking a sabbatical in the mid-year look like an ideal approach?

    The doubt of average academics and higher work ex kills me mentally.
    I really need your guidance and opinion on the same. Please provide your insights.

    Sorry for the bad English(If you’ll find some).
    Well, I envy your level of writing and aspire to be the next “cat-writer”, well not exactly about the CAT but you got my point 🙂

    Regards,
    Shivam Singh.

    Like

    • Hi Shivam,

      Do not overthink it if your firm is offering a sabbatical go ahead and take it.

      As far as the loss of promotion & increment goes you must be aware of risk & reward — you are investing the lost promotion and increment in expectation of a much higher reward — and in your case, the sabbatical even ensures a return, so go ahead.

      I would only advise one thing — do not make the mistake that every Indian test-taker who attempts CAT after GMAT makes — it is easier and I can do it on my own — as I said unless you score 680-700 without prep on an official Mock, you will need professional help — it is worth spending money to prepare for a test in which you are going to spend 17K. The GMAT is the most deceptive since everyone feels as if they will clear it with more practice, nothing can be farther than the truth!

      Treat all of this case as part of the investment into your future — returns increasing in compound interest spread over the next 30 years.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

      • Shivam Singh says

        Hello Sir,

        Thanks for your reply.

        The suggestion of taking professional help was duly noted.

        But there are some more areas which I want to clear out with you.

        Joining the IMS GMAT prep along with CAT won’t hamper my preparation right?
        As I’ve already joined the eCatapult batch.

        Who will teach the GMAT verbal classes, and like CAT do we get mentor sessions for GMAT also?
        Especially with you?

        What should be the ideal time to apply for a sabbatical as I’ve already gained 3.4 years of work ex and what should be my way forward once applied? Do we have a profile building course in IMS that will guide us along the path?

        As I’m struggling with RC and SC mainly, do you think the magic “7” is achievable by June? As I’ll switch my gear from GMAT to CAT in July(Following one of your suggestions from the CAT Vs GMAT article).

        Getting a mentorship session with you would be great.
        Either by the CAT program or through the GMAT program. I’m all In.

        Thanks for the help 🙂

        Regards,
        Shivam.

        Like

      • Hi Shivam,

        To answer your queries:

        1. You cannot prepare in parallel for both, please visit my previous post on thecatwriter.com to get an idea about what I mean and how to plan for both together. You might attend the CAT classes but your main focus and practice has to be GMAT, you start taking CAT mocks only after you are done with the GMAT.

        2. You have to evaluate the IMS GMAT Program the way you evaluate any other buying decision you can find out more about who is teaching by getting in touch with the sales team here — https://www.imsindia.com/GMAT/

        GMAT will also have mentorship sessions.

        3. You already have 40 months of work-ex so you can quit anytime, there is no right time. We have no profile building courses as of now we will launching some micro-programs in various domains soon. In the meantime —https://thecatwriter.com/2019/03/18/how-to-build-your-profile-for-an-mba-2/

        4. If I could look into a crystal ball and predict how students will do, I would, so it will be tough for me to guess how you will do.

        SC should not take any time to get better at it since it is about understanding sentence structures and speed is not required.

        RC is dependent on reading speed and thus it will take time, it again depends on your starting point.

        I do not mentor students 1-1 for any program or batch (my role as the Chief Learning Officer – IMS keeps me fully occupied; I run this blog as extra support for students and take common lectures/masterclasses for all students across the country.

        All the best!

        Like

  6. Harsh says

    Sir, I am an engineering student in my final year and scored 85 percentile in CAT 2020. My acads are 88.8/91.2/79 so far. I have done 3 virtual internships in Marketing. But if we take the tasks into account, they would barely be considered an internship let alone a marketing role. Would they hold any weight for a marketing profile in a B school or a placement interview? I am interested in a Marketing analytics profile.

    I have a job offer from a multinational IT company (TCS/Wipro and the likes) for a regular IT role and a sort of operations profile in an MSME. Would I be at any disadvantage if I were to select the IT role because it would by far form the biggest pool of applicants for B school applications and the subsequent placements?

    Like

    • Hi Harsh,

      There is no specific weightage for an internship precisely because of this reason — the quality and learning caries according to the situation. The quality of the internship and the learning that you had is what will determine the impact it will have in interviews.

      If you join a b-school with less than 12 months of work-ex, you will not be categorized as being part of the IT cohort that usually happens if you have 20 or more months of work-ex.

      So if you crack CAT this year and join next year, the work-ex is not going to adversely affect your chances for marketing.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  7. Isha Dubey says

    Hello sir,
    I joined IMS in 2020 and targeted IIFT but didn’t get through the entrance exam. I’m targetting the same this year. I am working as a senior developer at one of the prominent IT company. I have an experience of 4.7 years as of this month. I diligentely want to clear IIFT this year. I am thinking of quiting the job as the work load is hampering my study routine. I just want to know would this gap impact my profile? Am I already doomed?

    Like

    • Hi Isha,

      I wrote an entire post dedicated to the same!

      Given that you have sufficient work-ex you can quit.

      My only piece of advice — with 4.7 years of work-ex and quitting the job, it does not make any sense to put all eggs into one basket named IIFT (I do not know what the fascination is, if you think IIFT is about the glamour foreign trade then you are vastly mistaken — a bulk of the roles are in traditional domains such as marketing; the only foreign roles are commodity trading roles based out of Africa and trust me there is very little glamour there).

      You should look at good 1-year programs offered by ISB, SPJIMR, IIMs, and Great Lakes.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  8. Hello Tony Sir,

    Currently I’m preparing for CAT 2021 and my graduation in Commerce wil get over in April/May this year itself. However, my batchmates gave their CAT in 2020 and I took a drop. With a good score in 10th, 12th and Gaduation, I’m targeting IIM A and I realised that this drop is not a good idea hence as soon as my graduation gets over, I’ll find a job for me and cover this drop along with preparing for great score in CAT 2021. So basically how this step is going be looked in future by the interviewers espicially those of IIM A?

    IIM A is dream come true for me and if necessary, I’m ready to make any changes in my journey to IIM A, but not in the destiny. I hope that you will help me out at your best.

    Thank you.
    Regards
    Zeel Ashar

    Like

    • Hi Zeel,

      I am not able to get your question at all — do you want to take a drop or not take a drop?

      If you are not taking a drop then what is the query?

      The gap between finishing your graduation and getting into a job?

      All the best!

      Like

  9. Apurva says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    Is it okay to go for an MBA with 2 years of full time work experience in a Multinational Management and strategy consulting firm and 1 year of Business development experience in a leading Ed-Tech startup?
    I have graduated from top State Government Engineering college of Maharashtra and have 95/88/7 GPA in my 10th, 12th and Engineering. So, what all things shall I take up to improve my profile and What all B-schools shall I target ?

    Like

  10. Hello Tony Sir,
    I have a good share of 33 months of experience in SAP FI/CO Consulting with a reputed Indian IT Consulting Organization. Serving the notice period would make my experience in the domain to a total of 3 years, i.e., I would be relieved of my duties by 19th June, 2021. Being an CS Graduate with a profile of 9-9-8, I was planning of quitting job and prep for CAT and more importantly to build my profile towards the specialization as a few certifications in the right direction would probably improve my chances of getting a better B-School. Would this be the right decision to quit job as I am not able to manage work with CAT prep along-with my job due to high work expectations?
    Thanks!
    Best Regards,
    Prajjwal Bhardwaj

    Like

    • Yeah, Prajjwal. With 3 years if work-ex, you have very little to lose. You can quit and prep for CAT.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

      • Thanks a lot sir for your precious advice. This gives me a boost and confidence in the right direction.
        Best Regards,
        Prajjwal

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Prinshu Pandey says

    hello Tony sir,
    I am a GEM 2019 pass out having no full time work ex and have got 82%ile in CAT 2020. I have been the mechanical engg expert at “Chegg India” since may 2020 but i dont think it can be used as a full time work ex as I am paid for each question I solve. So sir what would be the best step now .Would it be wise choice to get into sales as BDA and prepare for next year CAT or get into other sector as for now I think Mba in marketing would be a better choice for me as i have no full time workex. MY acads are 95/89.6/72.1. What should be the best plan of action now? Please help me out sir.
    thank you

    Like

    • Hi Prinshu,

      You need to take up a full-time job and if you like Sales & Marketing then take up the BDA roles that you get or any other roles, say in Analytics.

      The Chegg role just will not cut it in terms of work-ex.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  12. Arvind says

    Sir is the academic profile of 87/92/80 General Engineer Male Fresher good enough for most of the B schools ? I will graduate in June-July and start working in an IT role and if I don’t go through this year then I intend to get 24 months of work Ex.

    Like

    • Hi Arvind,

      Your academic profile is good enough for most of the b-schools; go ahead and give it your all in terms of prep.

      All the best!

      Like

  13. Akanksha Prasad says

    Sir I have two queries.
    If I graduate in June 2021, is it counted as a gap year when I appear for interviews in February 2022?
    I scored 96% in CAT 2020.I wish to prepare for this year’s exam well and develop an interesting profile and also get a 99.9+ percentile. I feel that 3-4 months of work-ex offers lesser ROI of time. Am I thinking on the right lines?

    Like

    • Hi Akansha,

      Yes, it will be taken as a gap year but the thing is that technically there is no quantitative way that they will penalise you; some might ask you the question as part of the application form and others as part of the interview.

      So yeah, you can always justify your decision by saying that you want to transition to a career in management and thus chose to improve your profile for the same.

      The plan is good, there is little you will gain in terms of marks and learning from these few months of work-ex.

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Hello Tony Sir,
    Shantanu this side.Thanks for the amazing article above.

    I am working with German MNC in Technical Sales Support role and overall experience will be 3 yrs by June 2021.I am thinking of quitting my job as I flunked CAT 2020 badly even after good prep towards the End with some work pressure. I am desperate to convert CAT this year but confused whether should I leave my job because of below 2 issues:

    1.I have a service bond of 1.5 Lakhs ending on 6th Nov 2021.(have to pay if I quit before this date)
    2.I feel if I don’t quit my job I will not be able to give ample time to CAT prep as I get drained after coming back home after work.- 12 hours job may get extended to 14 hours

    Just for your Understanding my profile as below: (GEM)
    10th – 90.5% (State board)
    12th -83%(CBSE)
    Grad – 72% (Govt College in Maharashtra)
    Work Ex – 3 yrs by June 2021 (Manuf Industry – Sales Function)
    No Extra curr. or any serious achievements
    Targetting General Management roles like TAS,ABG etc

    Like

    • Hi Shantanu,

      As you know — no risk, no reward.

      If you want to ensure that this time you crack the CAT for sure then you need to bite the bullet and invest that 1,50,000 there is no other way out. It is a binary situation that no wise man can resolve.

      If you quit you have to do so after you complete 24 months.

      And also please do not stick to CAT and ensure that you take all the other big tests as well — XAT, IIFT, NMAT, and SNAP — the GenMgt. firms visit these colleges as well!

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  15. Sushrita says

    Hello Tony sir,
    I am a female engineering graduate currently employed in an IT firm. By end of April I will be holding a work experience of 20 months . My work schedule is too hectic wherein I have to devote 12 to 15 hours a day to my office tasks and I work for 6 days a week. In this circumstance I rarely get time to prepare for CAT. I have an average academic record also I don’t hold my degree from any elite engineering institute of India. Would the decision to quit my job and start my full time preparation from May for CAT 2021, a right one.

    Like

    • Hi Sushrita,

      Well, once you accumulate more than 22-24 months of work-ex then you can quit and prepare for CAT but as I wrote in the post ensure that you take up things to build your profile and take not just the CAT but the other tests, and apply to at least 10 good colleges through all of these tests.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  16. SANKET SINHA says

    Hello Sir,

    Thanks for this great post.
    I have one doubt, I have a work of approx 28 months currently.

    If I leave my company in June or July for the preparation, would that be counted as a gap or drop?

    If yes, then what should be the ideal time to leave so that It won’t be called as a Gap year.

    Thank you.

    Like

    • Hi Sanket,

      Honestly, there is no classification as a gap or drop as far as MBA admissions panels go, so there is no ideal time to leave.

      As mentioned in the post, 24 months is ideal to have in order to qualify for lateral placements.

      If you haven’t been working they will, as mentioned in the interview ask what you have been upto in the interim and why you quit your job.

      So if you are planning to quit and prepare ensure you take up things apart from CAT Prep as mentioned in the post.

      All the best!

      Like

  17. Shivam Johary says

    Hello Tony sir,

    Trust you are well.

    Actually I had a slightly different query.

    Does short stay at a company(Let’s say 3 months) affect any admission chances or any sort of impact it can have?

    Actually I’m a fresher in manufacturing sector.And recently I have been offered a position in a good consulting firm which would boost my profile in long run as far as MBA is concerned. And so I was contemplating about the same.

    And so I wanted to ask you if it would have any impact as such on the admissions.

    Your opinion will definitely help me take the right move.

    Thank you sir.

    Regards,
    Shivam

    Like

    • No impact at all, Shubham.

      There are no rules as far as jobs go.

      Now, if you have 4 short stints in one year, that might raise a few eyebrows!

      But one move, and that too upwards, from manufacturing to Consulting will not have any negative impact.

      Go ahead.

      All the best!

      Like

  18. SUBHANSHU AGGARWAL says

    Sir,
    My profile is (7/8/7) from IIT.
    Work ex ( 23 months upto may 2020) after that due to covid I had to left the job but scored
    97%( DILR 71%) in cat and didn’t get call from good colleges other than CAP. My doubts are:
    1. How much teaching experience worth( Quantity and Quality wise) or it doesn’t have any worth at all.
    2. What are the other courses like PGDBA
    ( IIMC) and MSQE from isi are good. I missed PGDBA due to not information.
    Please sir I really need your guidance.

    Like

    • Hi Subhanshu,
      If you are talking about full-time, paid teaching experience then it is as good or as bad as any other job – all that matters is what you make of it and how you benefited from it.

      It will be a part of your profile and what matters is not this bit in isolation but how your profile fits with the career options you are looking at post your MBA.

      The PGDBA is a very good program; I have no idea about the ISI program.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  19. poonam mishra says

    Hello Sir,

    Iam a GEF with 30 months of experience by march 2021. Preapred and appeared for CAT 2021 , barely scored 70 %.
    I have 95/87/83 percent in 10th/12th/ grad.what should be my course of action ahead. please guide.

    Like

    • Hi Poonam,

      You should take another shot at the CAT since the work-ex is still acceptable for all the premier 2-year programs.

      If you prepared well the first time around then you should be able to work and prepare for another attempt.

      I will be putting up posts on how to prepare for a retake soon.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  20. Yogesh says

    Hello Sir!
    Yogesh on this side.I have completed my B.tech in 2019 and I have 20 months of experience as a Project Engineer as of now in a FMCG. The project which I am looking after will be finished and commissioned by the end of July. By that time I will be having around 25 months of experience. Should i leave the job after that or should i continue my preparation with the job? I have already started my preparation with IMS for CAT 21. I have 76% in 10th CBSE and 87% in 12th CBSE. I would also request you to please suggest some courses to build my profile to cover the gap of less %age in 10th.

    Like

    • Hi Yogesh,

      Whether you need to quit your job or continue is fully dependent only on whether working is preventing you from preparing well.

      If the work and your current aptitude with respect to the CAT are that you can manage both, then go ahead and do both. Only if you feel there is no scope of doing both, should you quit.

      As far as profile-building goes, I have done an entire post on the same — https://thecatwriter.com/2021/03/08/how-to-build-your-profile-for-an-mba-4/

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  21. SIDDHANT SINGH says

    Hello Sir,

    > I have a work-ex of 32 months* (will complete 3 years in June).
    > Attempted CAT last year – Scored 80%ile (Real pain area was DILR throughout my prep)
    > I have made up the classic excuse of “lack of time due to job” in my mind, which I know is not true. Anyway, I do not want to leave anything to chance this year. I believe this suggestion is tailor-made for me.

    How do we make sure we have the time-discipline when we quit in July/ August?

    Like

    • Hi Siddhant,

      I will do a post on how to prepare for a retake as well as how to manage your time and stuff.

      Just like this post was timely you will find the right post popping up at the right time.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Thank you for addressing this.

        Also, maybe we would love to see a post on 2 year MBA vs 1 MBA sometime soon 🙂
        Case in point being ISB v/s any other premier MBA college.

        Like

      • Hi Siddhant,

        The 1-year versus 2-year debate is not a hard one to crack.

        If you have 4.5 or more years of work-ex, a 1-year program makes more sense since you will not get too many shortlists in a 2-year program.

        If you have less than that and it is a call between ISB and IIMs then it depends on the kind of roles you are looking at — ISB will get you great roles in your own domain, Operations, and Consulting; whereas other schools will you better options in Marketing, Finance and General Management.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!

        Like

  22. Shubham Moon says

    Hello Sir,

    I have completed my BBA from MIT, Pune in 2019, after that I have a work ex of 14 months with KPMG into advisory role, I have quit my job in OCT 2020 to prepare for CAT and other related exams.
    Reason to quit my job: No learning and growth opportunities, and in lockdown working hours very long, almost 11 – 12 hrs a day, so I didn’t get time to do anything other activities.

    1. Should I get a job and prepare along with it for CAT?
    2. Should I make my profile stronger with adding certifications?
    Please suggest on my query and also how to justify that why i left job in Pandemic without having anything in hand. Adding your feedback will create an impact.
    Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Shubham,

      The answer to why you left your job is quite straightforward — you were very keen on making the leap professionally from a back-end role to a front-end business role; given the working hours and your BBA background (making Math a bit of a hurdle) you weighed continuing to work against preparing for an MBA and taking up a certification course — there seemed to be no more incremental benefit in working in terms of learning and growth and it would more of the same for a year more and that’s why you decided to take the leap.

      Given that you already prepared and given the exam once, whether you need to get a job and prepare for the CAT depends on your learning needs.

      Ideally, a double gap will be almost impossible to justify since honestly, I do not think anyone would need that much time preparing only for CAT and doing nothing else. So my advice would be to get a job and prep.

      No one will give marks saying this person has done 3 certifications — so let us give him or her 15 marks and that person has done 5 so let us give him or her 25 marks.

      A certification is a way to learn more about your chosen field and gain some knowledge (and maybe skills) related to the same. So use it as a tool to demonstrate your eagerness to learn more.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Mrunal Deshpande says

    Hello Sir,
    My name is Mrunal Deshpande. I am a female final year engineering student. Along with this, I am undergoing extensive foundation training for a ‘Customer Experience Professional’ role in an IT company I am placed in. I have also started preparation for (1st attempt)CAT 2021 from IMS. There is too much on the platter right now. And ofcourse it is becoming difficult to juggle everything. I don’t want to continue working in IT sector for long. My queries:
    1. Should I quit within 3 months of joining and completely focus on CAT 2021? Will it be a wise choice?
    2. If there arises a need for 2nd attempt, please suggest a plan of action about when can be the best period for quitting?
    3. Whether the experience of working with technologies like Salesforce CRM(one of many others) will help me further in the journey of MBA? Can this experience be valuable?
    Thankyou in advance.

    Like

    • Hi Mrunal,

      Everything actually depends on the kind of roles you are looking at post-MBA.

      If you are looking at working in the technology space in business-side roles be in IT services, tech product firms such as google Microsoft, Facebook or even e-commerce firms such as Amazon, the tech work-ex of two years will come in handy.

      There are other areas also that require a certain amount of work-ex. To get a really good idea and not a superficial one about how your profile relates to post-MBA jobs in different specializations, take a look at the All About Specialization webinars in this playlist —

      So, after watching this you can take a call about the relevance of your work-ex.

      Secondly, working for three months and quitting makes no sense at all since you will not get marks for work-ex and you will be asked why you quit and if it is fair to firm (them having invested so much in training if you know you are going to quit).

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  24. Karthik B. says

    Hi Tony,
    First of all, Thank you so much for the post.
    Since a month I found myself in this dilemma of weather to quit my job or prepare by working. Your post did help me a lot for sure to have more clarity over this aspect with some new perspective.
    I am a Mechanical Engineer working in Larsen & Toubro, With 23 months work ex so far with no gaps whatsoever.
    I gave CAT 2020 without much of a thought and preparation which ofcourse didn’t go quite well hence want to do anything to achieve the result this year. My main motivation is to have an industry switch, I am an econ and Finance enthusiast with lots of quality reading and writing done parallelly for my own thought clarity and understanding.
    I have started preparing the next day IIFT got over this year and the preparation is going okay, Since I belong to a core Mechanical R&D industry I do have to give atleast 9-10 hours per day for job, managing to give minimum 4-5 hours for CAT study(i.e. Online Coaching with 1 -1.5 hours practice sessions) and obviously sleep is getting affected a lot, 5 to 5.5 hours per day. Considering all this, I’m still not satisfied with my preparation level since I can clearly see what I am able to do in 3 days can be done in a single day itself, hence I’m seriously considering to quit the job.
    Matter of fact, I’m not enjoying my work either, since it’s not stimulating and rewarding anymore with respect to career growth.
    Please suggest what you’d do if you were in the same situation as mine.
    My Acads I won’t say are extra ordinary but aren’t bad either, 80+ throughout.

    Like

    • Hi Karthik,

      As I wrote in the post you can quit if you feel that you will not be able to do work and do justice to CAT Prep at the same time.

      You need not quit from now itself since it will be long 8 months, plan it in such a way that your last date is around May or June-end.

      Also, do ensure that you do stuff apart from CAT Prep so that you can pitch your whole as preparing for a shift to management as a career and not just CAT Prep.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  25. Vijay says

    Hello Tony sir,

    Thank you very much for this informative post.
    I am really confused and stressed out. I do have a query. I have a job experience of 27 months in IT sector and I quit my job in august 2020 to prepare for CAT 2020. However, I didn’t get the expected score and hence, planning to retake CAT2021.

    As still it is a month of April, I do have a dilemma that should I take up new job and study along with the job or should I just focus on CAT2021 ?

    I’m really worried that not taking up job and just studying will have negative impact on my profile as well as in the interviews(as I will be jobless for more than 1.5 years – from august 2020 till I join B school in June 2022).

    Even if I get excellent marks in CAT2021, will it minimize my chances to get into good B-school because of my this gap. There is even back of my mind thought that if i took a job and pandemic situation pans out, I do have to travel to metro city and it will hamper my studies some extent.

    Please help me out for my concern Sir. Need your guidance.

    Thank you in Advance 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Vijay,

      You have diagnosed the problem correctly — it will be really tough to defend a 1.5-year gap and you will be going into the interviews with a sort of a handicap.

      So look for a job but do not worry about moving to the metro and other such stuff; get a job first and given the pandemic, it is very likely to be WFH for a long time now.

      All the best!

      Like

  26. Mayur Kulkarni says

    hello, i have done B.E in electronics and telecommunication 2020 passed out and i will be having 1 year experience in October 2021( i am in fintech company but have a development role which is IT heavy)
    i am planning to quit job in September 2021 to write CAT in 2021. This is my second and last attempt (for some personal reasons).
    So should i quit the job as i want to move out of IT? Will it hamper my interviews and selection?
    also as i have done engineering in ECE ,hence not so comfortable in IT so i want to change the domain.(thus want to quit job)
    Kindly help.
    Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi Mayur,

      As I mentioned it should not be a problem as long as you know what plans you have for your career, how an MBA fits into it, and have taken concrete steps towards the same — apart from just preparing for CAT — by the time you face the panel.

      You will not be the first or last person to quit your job to prep for CAT, nor the first or last person to get selected after doing the same.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  27. Aranya says

    Hi Tony Sir,

    Really appreciate you writing this insightful passage.

    I am planning to quit my full time job as a tech associate at one of the Consulting Big 4’s after 2 years of work experience and prepare sincerely for CAT 2021.
    I graduated from a reputed State Government Engineering college and have 95/91/7.8 GPA in my 10th, 12th and Engineering.

    Is quitting the job, given my profile, a good decision?
    I have been in a dilemma and would love to get some guidance from you.

    Thank you in Advance!

    Like

  28. Hello Tony Sir,

    First of all thanks a lot for this post.
    I am a general engineering female and currently working in IT for 22 months. Work expectations are very high and also, the schedule is a little irregular in the work from home system.
    I tried to work and prepare for CAT simultaneously last year, but could not manage well. This year, I am planning to resign after completing 24 months and then solely focus on CAT.
    Please suggest if leaving my job will impact my profile negatively. I have also joined the classroom programme of IMS and targeting this year only.

    My acads are 82.42 and 68.86(in 10th and 12th respectively), and 76 in graduation.
    Kindly suggest what to do.

    Like

      • Hi Sir!
        Thank you for your response. Actually I could not find your response to my previous query. Neither am I able to find my previous query! 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Neha,

        As I wrote the quantitative impact of the profile is purely based on the marks you get awarded under various heads — once you cross 24 months you will not get any more marks unless you cross 36 (they give marks based on slabs).

        So, in effect, there will be no mathematical impact of quitting on your getting call.

        In the interview as I mentioned in the post, you will be asked the question and you should be able to justify it.

        Like

  29. revitha says

    Hello Sir
    This is Revitha
    I have 3.5 years of work experience in supply chain Domain (worked in manufacturing industries- automotive and aerospace)
    I quit my job in December’20 and I have admit offers from CAP IIMs . But my target is IIM Ahmedabad Bangalore or Calcutta.
    Considering my experience and the gap year (which would be approximately 1.5 year by the time I join college in 2022).
    What do you suggest
    1) Should I go ahead and join any CAP IIM
    2) Can I take a drop year and try for A B C

    Like

    • revitha says

      Forgot to mention,
      I am a 2017 Btech passout
      Acads are 10/12/Btech- 94/97/83

      Like

    • Hi Revitha,

      I always find it amusing that students go directly from new and baby IIMs to ABC — as L, I & K — do not count at all or are not at all worth aspiring to!

      Given that you already have 3.5 years of work-ex, taking another year off would mean accumulating quite a bit of work-ex. But since you are a female applicant that might not pose that much of a problem. The gap year though will have to be explained and as long as you take up some meaningful things that can be done.

      The catch though is in your confidence that you will be able to improve enough to get calls from the old IIMs under the pressure of a retake after letting go of options: if you feel that you have the ability to get a higher score taking everything into consideration then take another shot.

      But before doing that do one thing — make a list of the firms that you want to work in and see if those firms visit the new IIMs. If they do, then then you might want to reconsider.

      Old IIMs offer vastly better options in Consulting and Finance and if that is your goal then may a retake is worth it provided you can handle the pressure.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  30. revitha says

    Hello Sir
    This is Revitha
    I am a 2017 Btech passout, acads are 94/97/83 and I have 3.5 years of work experience in supply chain Domain (worked in manufacturing industries- automotive and aerospace)
    I quit my job in December’20 and I have admit offers from CAP IIMs . But my target is IIM Ahmedabad Bangalore or Calcutta.
    Considering my experience and the gap year (which would be approximately 1.5 year by the time I join college in 2022).
    What do you suggest
    1) Should I go ahead and join any CAP IIM
    2) Can I take a drop year and try for A B C

    Like

  31. Aranya says

    Hi Tony Sir,

    Really appreciate you writing this insightful passage.

    I am planning to quit my full time job as a tech associate at one of the Consulting Big 4’s after 2 years of work experience and prepare sincerely for CAT 2021.
    I graduated from a reputed State Government Engineering college and have 95/91/7.8 GPA in my 10th, 12th and Engineering.

    Is quitting the job, given my profile, a good decision?
    I have been in a dilemma and would love to get some guidance from you.

    Thank you in Advance!

    Like

    • Hi Aranya,

      Whatever the profile the answer is more or less what I outlined in the post.

      After 24 months it will not hamper your chances, and you need to do something alongside (building your knowledge base and profile for an MBA) and not devote your time only to CAT Prep.

      All the best!

      Like

  32. Anjali says

    Hello sir
    Thanks for the insightful article.
    I have 36 months of workex. My first attempt was last year and my percentile was – 96/82/75, overall 91.25 . I quit my job last month because i was waitlisted in IIMK but didn’t get the admission finally. Should I look for a new job or prepare without one.

    Thanks in advance

    Like

    • Hi Anjali,

      As I said since you already have 36 months of work-ex it will not hurt you to prepare without a job.

      If you feel you can easily manage a job and CAT Prep and you will free under less pressure then take up a job.

      If you feel you will need more time and can handle the anxieties of not having a job then do not look for one and take up some certifications courses and prep for CAT.

      All the best!

      Like

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