CAT Strat, Motivation
Comments 81

What after a horrible CAT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is nothing to be gained from self-flagellation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are the aspirants who are worst hit?

Those who already have 4 years of work-experience and had a horrible CAT 2020 are the worst hit since another shot at the CAT and the 2-year MBA is effectively ruled out; they only have the rest of the exams in this season to make it count. (It is not that you will get rejected, you can still get an admit into a 2-year program but the number of recruiters looking at a 5-year profile will be fewer; you will still be able to get the career growth you are looking for in your domain)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting ready for the next event

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Catnys says

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

    What else is our hope? How do I get an MBA in India, it is too expensive to do it abroad.

    Quite hard to accept that just because of work ex we cannot get a good MBA. Whatever said and done, the 1 year MBAs are not at par with the 2 year ones in terms of prospects. All over the globe experience is rewarded but here it is just a filter to eliminate, just like freshers are not out-rightly rejected, don’t need to give more points for higher work ex but rejection is hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi,

      It’s unfortunate but the only realistic option in India is the 1-year MBA, of which the only one at par with the 2-year one is the ISB MBA.

      Also, it is not that you will not get rejected outright. You will still get selected into a 2-year program provided you get the right percentile and clear the interviews.

      The only catch is that few of the recruiters at 2-programs will be looking at 5-year work-ex. You will have a much smaller pool to choose from than say those in the 0-3 year bracket.

      I would suggest taking the GMAT (before March) applying to ISB and one or two 1-year programs (in August) and taking another shot at the CAT as I said getting an admit is not a problem.

      The process in India is very imperfect with score getting an outsized importance and quality of work-ex also not making it into picture. Only IIM-B has a good system where the marks for work-ex gets multiplied by a factor after the interview to account for the quality of work-ex.

      I have had a student with 5-year work-ex make it to B.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vidit Pathak says

        Hi Tony Sir,

        What would you advice someone with 2.5 years of workex? I am expecting 95-98 percentile in CAT. I am focusing on other exams but if I decide to take CAT 22, I will have 4 years of workex by the time I join MBA. I am not really sure what I should do at this point and what will be good for my career.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Malcolm says

    Throughout the preparation many teachers said anything can happen during d day, I always thought these exam day horror situations are rare and would never happen to me .

    Here’s what happened yesterday, I had just finished summarising the cuttlefish passage in my head and was about to to the questions then out of nowhere my computer just turned off. I immediately called the staff there and they took 3 to 4 mins to resolve the issue I had lost 30 secs on the timer but I went on to answer the questions. Then again the computer turned off during the tea passage and this time they changed me to a different computer . I went back into the paper after a brief pause, somehow when I was doing VA the mouse stopped working and I had to change computers yet again.

    Despite all this I was able to do well in VARC section compared to others.
    This year wasn’t a serious attempt from me so I am not frustrated or angry, I do hope things go well next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Malcolm,

      Well, technical glitches are par for the course — purely a matter of probability whom it strikes — on one of the CATs I took, the machines stopped for 25 minutes; a couple of years back, a student has to take his 9 AM exam at 6 PM and for that travel from one end of the city to the other.

      Good it happened in your “trial” attempt, so to say.

      The the best!


  3. Soham Dave says

    Hi Tony Sir, I just found out that I solved an LRDI set incorrectly (confirmed via many peers of mine) in my CAT 21′ attempt. This never used to happen with me during my mocks. I am beating myself up over this despite trying to rationalize the scenario and pick myself up for the forthcoming test. I had prepped for one and a half years and to do such a blunder is very disheartening. I need to get up and back on my feet to kill the other exams. Please advise how can I stop getting angry with myself and focus on the IIFT test prep

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Soham,

      I wish I could help you contain your anger; the only natural process is time, which I know you do not have much of until IIFT, as the exam gets closer you will automatically start your IIFT Prep.

      All the best for IIFT!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ananya says

    Hi Tony Sir!

    Well, this was my second shot at CAT and it was a very overwhelming feeling. Last year when I gave the test I was absolutely fine especially because my VARC and LRDI sections went well, and I knew I wasn’t good at QA and therefore I decided to take this exam the second time practising QA for most of my prep. This year, I applied all your VARC strategies, started looking at the QA section as close as logic and started getting way better scores in the SIMCATs. It was a much better prep season compared to last year in terms of results but I had put nearly close to 10-12 hours every single day in the last 2 months with 6-8 hours in the initial months (May – September). I was very confident about my DILR skills and it was a section that gave me great results in the mocks as well. But this year, for the first 15-20 minutes, I did not have a single answer in the DILR section. I did panic, I was assuming I’d doomed CAT 21 completely. Due to the panic, I started misreading the next set I had targeted and lost time there, finally after 10 mins managed to do that set and then I went back to the set I wasn’t able to crack. With just 6 Qs in my basket in search for 6 more in the next 8-10 mins and the pressure clicking that this is my only section that can boost my overall score, I looked at the options and framed the cases as per it but I was still hesitant whether the answers are correct or not. I had 1.5 mins left after I had done the 2 sets and then I was just feeling emotional and breaking down as if I had ruined the entire year.

    I still remembered that this game isn’t over yet and that I have to give my best to the QA section. For the first minute, I couldn’t solve the question in the optimum time that I take to solve easier QA questions, but after 5-6 questions that I could solve, I had a slow recovery to at least have a better QA section. I ended up solving 13 questions, had I been quicker and not spent those few seconds double confirming my answers, I could’ve pulled off another 2 questions in QA that I had marked for review.

    Once the QA section ended, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I couldn’t even hear the invigilator asking me to drop my rough pad and exit the hall and she had to come up to my chair and tell me to do it. I went out of the hall and burst out crying, couldn’t face my father. Couldn’t fathom what had happened in the DILR section which I was the most confident about. As the Sunday passed and people started saying it was a tough DILR section the self-blaming reduced a little, and I started realising had I not gone back to the first DILR set that I couldn’t crack initially, I should’ve solved the bar graph set. I knew I could toss that set under 5-6 mins so I went back and then couldn’t solve the bar set at all.

    Whatever happened, I would immensely thank you for teaching me how to still calm my nerves at least till the end of the exam or else I would’ve performed badly in the QA section too. You have been my inspiration throughout the two exam seasons, and I can’t really thank you enough for how much I’ve gotten to learn from you not only about the test but about life and an approach to life in general. Thank you so much Tony Sir, you will always be my biggest source of motivation and inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ananya,

      It was quite an emotional comment and guess you have been going through a range of emotions since the exam.

      Firstly, I am happy that you managed to fight it out until the end of the exam and did the best you could.

      Secondly, I hope that now that the whole emotional upheaval of CAT is done you can take the other exams with much more lightness and treat an exam for what it is — just questions to answer.

      Thirdly, both for you and others, please stop taking your parents to the examination centre unless there is no other means of conveyance for you! It is tough to believe that MBA aspirants have their parents wasting time outside the exam hall and the parents are willing to do the same — if you guys cannot stand on your own feet right now, then how will you start managing people soon?

      My parents (nor anyone else) ever dropped me or picked me up for a single exam — X, XII, 3 Engineering entrance exams (2 outstation), and 2 CATs (outstation) — somehow I feel it was good that no one made a big deal of it. So, for the rest of your exams I hope you go and get the job done on your own.

      Fourthly, everything will seem like a huge mountain now but if you really put things in perspective this is not a test at all in the real sense. My cousin, who is six years younger than me, just lost her husband a few weeks ago — he went out to play cricket, collapsed and died — she does not have a job and has a 4-year old to take care of. All you need to do is take an exam, just think about it.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Tony Sir,
    Great one. Loved it! Just had one query for you.
    I have 3 years of work-ex and had taken a break from work to study for the MBA. I know the world does not end nor starts with this one exam but still, how do you fancy my chances at old IIMs?
    Will be scoring 99+ish in CAT, 9-9-8 GEM profile.


    • Hi Debayan,

      Glad you liked the post! With the scores and the Acads you have mentioned, you should easily be able to get a call from atleast 3 to 4 of the old IIMs.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Deveshan Shukre says

    Hello Sir

    This is the 3rd day since the Champions League final of CAT and I’m still extremely hurting from what happened 50ish hours ago. I was completely in a controlled mood – calm, collected and composed. I was really giving VA-RC a proper go, but right from the start I could sense that I was slowing fizzing out of control and getting sucked the the Exam magnitude. And when DI LR came, my mind switched off completely and I lost control. Everything turned on the skulduggery as I couldn’t even read the paras. That Javelin Competitions set of 6 questions, it took me 20 mts to read it and still I couldn’t comprehend exactly what was needed.
    The mind since the start of DI LR Section was shouting – You are a bottler. You coke again. You deserve to be slapped and punched so hard that you break your jaws. Run away quickly. All this along was harsh swear words continued right till the end. I don’t know what happened in the last 1 hr. All of it is a complete blank. When I Submitted the paper, we were asked to wait for 2 minutes incase some important information came up. Those 2 minutes really felt like 2 hours.
    This was the easiest CAT QP I have ever seen. A 100x times easier than mocks. Every single question, data-set, RC was a proper proper lollipop. IIM A was sending message like – here you go lads, a chocolate cake for you and with open arms we welcome you. It was supposed to be my best performance ever and the paper was the dream paper, it turned in my worst nightmare.
    I Choked. And this really seems like the end of everything. I really don’t what to do or say. I feel lost.


  7. Vidit Pathak says

    Hi sir,
    What would you advice someone with 2.5 years of workex?
    I am expecting 95-98 percentile in CAT 21. I am focusing on other exams but if I decide to take CAT 22 I will be having 4 years of workex when I join MBA. I am not sure if I should take whatever decent B School I get or try for another attempt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vidit,

      4 years of work-ex is not very high but you must be clear that shifting domains might not be easy for you with that quantum of work-ex. So, if you want to stick to your domain and are looking for career growth with the same, then take another shot, if you want a wider range of options then join now.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  8. Urja Parmar says

    Hello, sir.
    I wish I could thank you in person.
    You along with all the other mentors at IMS are the only reason why I am not beating myself up for a bad cat attempt. Instead, I am thinking about what changes should I make for the next attempt, to kill it.
    Your words mean a lot in these tough times.


    • Hi Urja,

      Glad to know that all the IMS mentors you know directly and indirectly have helped you stay focussed on the path.

      This is a 5 to 7 match test series where winning one match is enough!

      All the best for the rest of the tests!


  9. Ammar Kazi says

    Hello sir,
    First and the foremost thing is that your blog actually put off some burden from my head, thanks for that.
    I wasn’t really hopeful of my CAT, since it was evident from my mock scores , still I hoped on doing better at the CAT .I dont know why am I feeling so dejected ,even when I knew I wont be able to perform well, after that sunday , I just took a break and today I’ve opened this to prepare for further tests . i just want you to help me know that I’ve taken a drop year for these MBA entrance test ,initially i wanted to hold on to my job and prepare, i was in the construction field and my work hours were never fixed , and obviously i wasn’t able to get along the mighty toppers without a job, then maybe with a job it would have been impossible for me , so will i be able to get into top 20 or top 50 institutes in India , I have an average profile,20 months of work-ex , decent academics 91 in 10th , 86 in diploma and a 72 in degree . Also there is this certain kind of a similarity I’m looking at ,the students who had achieved this feat of scoring 95 above percentiles and are getting into top institutes , are all either IITians or someone I feel are better than me in every aspect. This thought of being just a mediocre student is actually hurtful and creating a thousand doubts in my mind.
    This thought of a gap year is killing me from inside , because I’ve heard almost from everyone that a profile with a gap year doesn’t intrigue the selection panel , no matter how good you are, they will prefer someone without a gap year.
    What will you suggest me to do if i am not able to crack or convert any of these MBA tests , what should be my strategy for 2022 . Currently I’m in a roller coaster of emotions , as you have mentioned, i am feeling the same way, good for nothing and a mediocre student.
    Lastly , I like your style of teaching and mentoring, its different from the other mentors in IMS,
    It would be grateful of you if you could just help me out with this.


    • Hi Ammar,

      To answer your queries one by one.

      Firstly, the IIMs are not made of IITians or only those from good colleges and with people without any gap years.

      I for one am not from a national level college and had a gap year. I have over the years had many students from nondescript colleges and with with gap years get into IIMs and other big schools.

      What you have to understand is that the selection process is very transparent and there are no extra marks or extra penalties for being from a premier college and not having a gap year respectively.

      All that matters is that you do a great interview and they think you are ready to do an MBA.

      If IIT and gap year were the only thing then my colleague who scored a 100-percentile and was from IIT Bombay should have got an admission in the first attempt. But he did not because his interview did not go well.

      Hope this clarifies the whole issue.

      Secondly, if you already have a gap year then another attempt with a gap will not be advisable and you need to take up a job and prepare for 2022. But that is a later story, you have to make the most of this year.

      Finally, no matter what your emotions at the end of the day it is just a question and asking your brain to solve it, the heart and soul and feelings have no role to play.

      As I wrote in a reply to another student — this is a 5-7 match test series where you need to just win one test match!

      All the best for the rest of the tests!


  10. Hemanth says

    This was my 2nd attempt and its a lost cause because of DI-LR section. What I discovered through the preparation this time, was that though I am passionate about MBA, I hated solving every single question in CAT, especially DI-LR section. I didn’t see a point in solving a set about chocolates, but I am immensely passionate about business case studies and the gameplay. Is this normal?
    I did apply for SNAP, and I do have fun solving it for its light heartedness. Can you let me know the score necessary for me to definitely get a call from SIBM Pune?
    Work experience – 2.5 years
    10th-12th-Eng = 92-95-82
    Your posts and the session ‘Zen and the Art of Test Taking’ helped me a lot during those confusing times. Thank you for that !


    • Hi Hemanth,

      Your question is very unique and am sure you are not the alone in being passionate about MBA and hating CAT!

      You will need to score above 98.5 to get a call from SIBM Pune. The score depends on the difficulty and last year was the first year with the current pattern so there is not a lot of historical data.

      You can go through this video which covers the scores and percentiles in detail from around 5 to 8 minutes —

      Glad to know that the sessions were useful!

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  11. soniya says

    Hello sir,
    Mine was really horrible attempt, it was expected as my mocks ranged from 35 -45 and i am expecting the same score only.
    But the reason I am actually dejected is that my attempts were extremely low- 5-3-5.
    This was my first attempt at cat but I am thinking not to give xat and cmat/mat – because i don’t think there is any way I would be getting into any creme-de creme colleges(which I am targetting for myself), so should i just prepare for next attempt or give omets ? I am in final year of my graduation ( hons) and thinking to knock off 1 remaining part of a certification (out of 2,i have already completed1-name-CMA-US) in next 2-3 months then sit for cat 22 prep or you would suggest to still give Xat, cmat, mat, cet to complete the race and check my potential?
    (i am really unsure if its possible if one works hard enough,to crack cmat,cet,mat in 3 months)


    • Hi Soniya,

      CMAT, MAT and CET basically are low return tests in that there are very few good colleges through them. Since you are in your graduation you have time, so you can afford to do finish off your certifications and stuff and start prep for CAT-22 Prep after that.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  12. Christopher Gardner says

    Dear Tony Sir
    I would like to first thank you for the amount of help I got via your blogs and webinars. I wanted to ask something based on my condition. I am 25 and having no work experience as I wasted years preparing for Upsc. This year’s Cat went ok ok but not really confident about getting a call from top iims. Is it wise to reappear for Cat next year with a job (applying aggressively for one)? Will I face issues in placements because of age and no experience? Looking forward to hear back from you.
    Thank you.


    • Hi,

      Well, there are no restrictions on age and stuff at both the recruiters’ end as well as the admissions teams.

      You will have it a bit tough during the interviews in the sense that you have to make a case for yourself as a great candidate for an MBA to the admissions team. This does not mean that it cannot be done, all that matters is that they are convinced that you have the credentials to do an MBA. The same thing applies to recruiters.

      Applying to a 1-year program does not make sense since you do not have work-ex.

      Most importantly do not put all your eggs into the IIM basket and waste further time. Apply to good schools apart from the IIMs — IIFT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT — all of these schools will give you good outcomes in terms of a good start to a career in management. Do not forget, that is the goal, not adding two IIs to your name, that will anyway disappear just the way so many IIM graduate every year.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Christopher Gardner says

        Hi Sir,
        Updating with my performances and seeking some more suggestions. You few minutes can be really helpful in confused aspirants like me. I scored 29 in xat and 106 in iift and both are waste. Cat percentile is 99.26 but acads are 8/7/7 because of state boards in 10/12. So, not expecting any good calls. You had replied to my situation earlier , so I am expecting one more reply. How should I plan now? I have taken ims gdpi course and i am watching lectures. I value your suggestions as I have attended your sessions earlier also and also appreciate that while many don’t even reply, you take out your valuable time to respond.

        Also, sir since my acads are poor, only option left for me is marketing. I saw your specialization related video on youtube. I felt like will i even survive in IIM? I felt that my condition would be similar to a below poverty line person in the apartment of superrich people.

        Also, sir like Cat, can IMS check any objectionable answers in IIFT VARC?

        Thank you sir.


      • Hi Christopher,

        As of now just focus on making the most of the calls you get this season and joining old or new IIM.

        While your analogy is funny I do not think you will be in the BPL category at an IIM. Even when I was studying there were IITians, NITians, and people with great profiles, but they do not form the majority of the batch, they account for a third at best. I was from a tier-II college and 8/8/7 but did pretty well for myself on campus since the other things required — good interviewing skills, written and oral communication skills, and extra-currics.

        An IIM gives everyone a shot to take their skills and their job opportunities to the next level, with respect to where they start.

        Do not overthink, grab everything that comes your way and make the most of it.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  13. Ishan says

    Sir is it okay if i don’t check my score and directly see the result in January. Because i feel that a bad score can demotivate me and i am targetting XAT as well. I don’t know sir if my score will be good or not according to my expectations because my attempts are decent but all boils down to the accuracy part. So if i check my result directly in January, will there be sufficient time to prepare for GDPI after that?


    • Hi Ishan, It’s perfectly fine for you to not check your scores until Jan, whatever keeps you in good shape for the rest of the testing season.

      And nothing stops you from reading the newspaper everyday to begin your prep for GD-PI.

      All the best!



    Hello Tony sir my cat 2021 was a utter flop. I am a fresher it is difficult to find job,i am willing to give another shot at 2022.But whether 2 years gap is a hinderance admission to top b schools?


    • Hi,

      Well, a gap of 2-years is definitely a big no-no.

      You will have to find a job or an internship, no two ways about it.

      And what 2022? What about IIFT, NMAT, XAT and others?

      All the best!



  15. Niharika says

    Hi Tony sir,

    I have a raw score of 104 (33/32/39), slot 2. Acads are 9-9-7. I have an integrated MS degree, no work-ex. Can I expect any calls from ABC?


  16. Quaid says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    I am expecting around 92%le (OA score = 65, Slot-3), with balanced sectionals.
    85.5/91/82.2 (Acads)- Nc OBC, fresher, Engineer, Male.
    From what colleges can I expect a call?


  17. Hello Sir,
    I graduated from BMM this year(2021). I have a profile of 8|8|9 and no work ex. I messed up this attempt very badly. i had been preparing from past 7-8 months and now i know for sure that im not getting any calls because i scored very less in my quants and i wont be able to clear the cut offs. I have already given IIFT and MICAT-1 and im going to appear for XAT and MICAT-2 hoping that i get in any of these 3 colleges. Now i dont know what to do if i mess up all these exams also. I either can work and prepare for CAT’22 or i can work and prepare for GMAT/GRE.
    Sir can you please suggest me as to what i should do if i mess up all the exams.



  18. Hello sir,

    I hope you are doing good.
    First off, thank you for writing and giving the perfect analogy from the field of sports, philosophy, and personal anecdotes. It is difficult to make sense of anything in the midst of chaos. But your blog has been my go-to place whenever I find myself in a hard place.

    CAT’21 was my third attempt and second serious attempt. My first attempt was an ignorant decision. CAT’20 was my best attempt, did everything under the sun to achieve my dream score, but cracked up twice during the exam and somehow managed to score 98.02%ile with Kozhikode, SPJIMR and MDI being my best calls. Was waitlisted/ rejected by all them, and my best converts were SIBM (Pune) and IIM Shillong. Wasn’t satisfied and excited about the same, so decided to re-take CAT.

    Scored 89 in the first SIMCAT I had taken, and while my mock scores were volatile, scored triple digits in the last several mocks I had taken with 137 being my best score. (though it was an outlier)
    (I know mock scores don’t define anything, and CAT is uncertain, and results are not in my control.)
    I was confident and was kinda looking forward to 28th November. I don’t know what happened, but wasn’t satisfied after the exam. Had a feeling I might have messed it up, but was constantly reassuring myself that it will be fine.

    Was taken aback after seeing my response sheet. Scored 60 Overall. I told myself that I will give myself a day to get over it, and will give my all to XAT, and crack XLRI, no matter what. It’s been a while since then, but sir I can’t seem to make peace with it. I have a breakdown everytime I think about it, and you know it is counterproductive. I know it is not serving me anything, if at all it is just doing the opposite. I know this is not the end of the world, and everything will work out ‘eventually’
    But, these exams could potentially be the defining point in my career, and I don’t want to wreck the last opportunity I have because of something which is already done. (last because I can’t take these exams again if things go south this time) I know what is to be done to salvage the situation, but I’m finding it difficult to do the rational thing. I don’t know what else to say myself when each passing day looks like a warning bell. Sigh.


    • Hi Esha,

      One of the things I do not mention since I am never sure how it will go down is that for people who end up cracking an exam, preparing for it is a joy and a pleasure – exactly like playing a game is for the really great sportspeople – the exam centre and arena are not places of dread. Which is why the stories of them obsessively playing as children. The reason I mention great is that for many good sportspersons, sport is not enjoyable but it a source of stress but they make peace with being good.

      Most people make the mistake of judging the colleges they get admission into too harshly – it’s only an SIBM, an NM, a Shillong – and not really being frank with themselves about whether they really enjoy the prep and whether their own level is upto the exam and the desired percentile; they refuse to make peace with good.

      I hate to say this but may be with respect to the CAT you peaked last year and the whole of this year eventually took a lot out of you and you were a bit flat in the exam.

      There are only two things I can say to you – take the XAT as if you don’t really give a damn, prep well and with precision but only with the energy needed to solve problems and without being bothered about career and all the attendant noise.

      It is not really the end of the world, you can take the GMAT – far more reliable test – and apply to ISB and other programs(without looking down on them) and you can do this next year or the year after – there is no clock winding down, there is only a ripening of fruit towards maturation.

      Meet your friends, watch stuff you like, eat well and sensibly, walk or run or exercise, and prepare as well (get off insta and YT, it’s liberating). Do not prepare at the expense of everything else.

      And please get the notion out of your head that it’s only those who go to old IIMs who have great lives or great careers. I have good friends who are doing very well in all aspects of life and have gone to schools other than the old IIMs.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Hello sir,

        Thank you so so much for your response. I do not believe that old IIMs guarantee a great career or even MBA for that matter. But, I do have the desire to pursue the same from any of the top 10 colleges of the country.

        ‘Do not prepare at the expense of everything’- Except that I did. Since the answer key was released, I have been contemplating my journey so far, trying to figure out where exactly did I go wrong, what could have been better, but this could never come close. Sir, I had made this exam my priority and cut out everything that seemed to come in the way- friends, movies, food (watched a ted video on how food affects the brain, and in turn, the cognitive abilities, so have been eating only what’s good for my body and mind because we are what we eat, lol) I did this because it is a trade-off and I can always catch up on my friends and movies later. Because it is not only the exam but how we approach the same, right? I remember the Sabarimala’s pilgrimage analogy given by you in the session titled ‘Zen and art of test-taking’ (the best and my favorite session until now) Deactivating my social media accounts has been one of the best decisions I have made in the last one year. (yes, it is liberating :))

        I agree that there is no clock winding down, but my parents belong to the majority of Indians who consider the timing of my marriage to be of utmost importance. (I’m just 22, btw)

        Regarding XAT, it is difficult to pretend not to care, because this is the only thing I’m looking forward to as of now. And sir, I know what you mean by having the energy needed to solve the problem. (because the question does not care, right?) It makes sense to not be bothered about career and the attendant noise. (I live with the noise) It is the best thing to do. But, sir how could I not get bothered, and how could I not care?

        Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Your response always helps.

        Warm Regards.


      • Hi Esha,

        The answer lies in the one thing you did not refer to and the thing I started my reply with – enjoying solving aptitude tests – if you do not enjoy it, everything else – fear, pressure – will crowd out your ability to solve the questions; if you do enjoy it, the fun, the excitement, and the challenge will crowd out the fear and the pressure.

        People, including elite sportsmen, experience both — the challenge and the pressure — it is the ratio that matters.

        If you want to cross a river, your only motivation cannot be what lies on that side vis-a-vis the fear of what lies on this side. The crossing of the river has to be something that challenges and excites you, else the water will swallow you up.

        You are only 22, so you can afford to battle the Indian family dynamics, by any stretch it is not late.

        And it will be really healthy and liberating for you to get rid of the top 10, it is a very arbitrary number — as if from number 11 things start going south. The top 10 is also one kind of an ego-ridden game by which we measure our self worth or we assume that only these top 10 colleges grant people a great college experience, while other experiences are mediocre. The thing with the top 10 colleges in India or abroad is that there will always be people who miss out — this does not mean that people who miss out or the rest of the colleges are both sub-standard.

        And as far as the whole shutting things out and prepping goes, basically one needs to do it for just 2-2.5 months, anything more than that is unsustainable and will start becoming counter-productive but subconsciously adding to the pressure and not giving the brain a break.

        I can’t say a thing that will change things for XAT or before XAT, if I had such powers I would have become a baba — which is by far still the most reliable business opportunity in India!

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


      • Hello sir, I hope you are doing fantastic!
        Thank you so much for your response. I will find a way to enjoy the process.

        Sir, this is not my first attempt at XAT and somehow I seem to remember the decision-making sets, so how should I assess my preparation because I’m acing all the previous years mocks I have taken so far. (I know the key for most of them and even the IMS mocks are based on the same) Even some of the RCs seem familiar. Also, do you recommend taking back-to-back XAT mocks as well? (at least once)


      • Well, there is fairly limited prep material in the market for XAT and that too for repeaters. You need to figure out your level based on your performance last year.

        Honestly, by now you should know if your technique on DM is good or not, if the technique is right then there is little you can do in terms of practice on DM since every case will be new. And since you are in the middle of testing season and not completely out of touch it should be fine.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  19. Vaishnavi says

    Hi Sir,
    CAT 2021 was my third attempt, and second serious attempt. First time I wrote it just to get taste of it during college. Last year I prepared but started late and couldn’t score much due to lack of good reading skills in verbal. With respect to exam I don’t want to get into details now, as my concern is not what happened but what can be done. I did not check my response sheet due to fear of getting demotivated, but I assume I am on boundary. I am 24, with a gap year after 12th Class. I have approximately 9 months of work experience in IT company. I want to do an MBA but I feel I am too old to go for another attempt. Work ex wise I am at par with other candidates but age is bothering me considering Indian Parent’s mentality of getting me married by 27. I have only applied for MICA and XAT so these are my best shots currently Can you please guide me how should I go about my career as I want to do an MBA, but I don’t want to compromise on colleges(I wanted to get in top 10 Bschools in India ,MICA being an exception due to interest in strategic marketing) . I am writing MBA CET as well(Maharashtra Candidature for JBIMS). But I wanted to know have I come to that age that I should compromise on college and just get done with MBA as I want a career in management. I am worried about the age factor, I know this is a personal call but then just your opinion can help me.


    • Hi Vaishnavi,

      Firstly, age is not a factor at all and will in no way affect your chances of admission, also your gap after 12th will have no bearing. Given that you are a female applicant the chances of admission are higher as well.

      While getting into the top 10 is a good ambition you have to may change your focus to which colleges will give you a good career and any of the top 25 colleges will give you that because a great career does not begin or end by getting or not getting into a top 10 school. One big thing people discount is that the jobs that separate the top 10 schools from the others are a very small fraction of firms in Finance and Consulting, domains that are extremely selective and most people without graduation from IITs or CAs/CFAs rarely get a shot at. The rest of the jobs you will get at the other schools as well.

      In short, I will not call joining an NMIMS-Mumbai or SIBM-Pune a compromise by any stretch.

      All Indian families care about is ticking checkboxes — X, XII, Grad, PG, Marriage, Kids — once you tick these checkboxes you are as good as dead — they will wake up when your child is fifteen and start the circus agan. I do not think that all of these are useless but I do think that doing things for the sake of ticking checkboxes is a futile exercise.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  20. Hello Sir,
    I graduated from BMM this year(2021). I have a profile of 8|8|9 and no work ex. I messed up this attempt very badly. i had been preparing from past 7-8 months and now i know for sure that im not getting any calls because i scored very less in my quants and i wont be able to clear the cut offs. I have already given IIFT and MICAT-1 and im going to appear for XAT and MICAT-2 hoping that i get in any of these 3 colleges. Now i dont know what to do if i mess up all these exams also. I either can work and prepare for CAT’22 or i can work and prepare for GMAT/GRE.
    Sir i know that i have the capability to get into a good b-school be it abroad or india. Is a gap year that may occur this year be a red mark in my profile as it wont be a gap year so to say and ill be doing a job thats for sure.
    Sir please can you advice me on what i should do?


    • Hi Agam,

      I would definitely advise taking up a job and giving it another shot. Whether it is an MBA in India or one abroad is completely up to you since it depends on your life and career goals. A gap year after graduation is not a big red mark at all. Do not worry about it too much. I have enough students who have had gap years and gotten into good colleges.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  21. Anonymous says

    Dear Sir,
    Hope you are doing good.
    I’m a 24-year-old girl and my acads are – 85/87/77.6. I’m a BA graduate with a PG Dip in Communications. (Both premier institutions) I have about 17-18 months of work ex in media agencies and a gap of around 14 months right now. I had quit my job a little before CAT 2020 and scored around 84%ile. My focus is MICA, but last year that didn’t work out.
    I decided to reappear this year but my scores are dismal, even lower than last year. I don’t think I will even have the calls/admits that I had last year. (TAPMI,GLIM,KJ). It is extremely demotivating right now because I had put all my eggs in one basket (Shouldn’t have). I don’t have a lot of expectations from XAT/SNAP too, since last year it didn’t go very well for me.
    I have some concerns, please consider the following scenarios:
    1. I have applied to GLIM with my last year’s score (I had converted Chennai campus last year). Knowing they would prefer this year’s candidates, I really think this is a long shot. I’m not too sure if it would work out. My NMAT score is 244(won’t clear Quants cut-off for NMIMS), going to apply to KJ (flagship and IMC) but again doubtful of whether it will get me a call.
    2. I’m thinking of taking the GMAT right now and contemplating a one year MBA from ISB/GLIM. If I do take up a job right now, (taking up a job will still require a month or 2 and the gap will increase) I will have close to 3 years of work ex by Jun 2023. However, I’m not too sure of the ‘quality’ of work ex as I will have to join smaller companies. (ISB seems like a long way to go)
    When it comes to 2 year programmes, I will be around 26 by the time I join, and 28 when I complete the course. Will I be at a disadvantage from a job point of view? Will that be too late? Is 3 years too much work ex for regular 2 year programmes?
    3. After having put so much behind CAT, I’m really underconfident. My sole reason of taking the GMAT will be to keep myself safe in case I mess it up. Having said that, I don’t know if GMAT is something I can tackle at all right now, it is a completely new territory.

    I feel like I’ve exhausted all my options, please suggest. Thank you!


    • Hi Anon,

      From what I can make out your main concerns seems to be 1 year-versus 2-year and the age factor.

      Firstly, incase you get a decent admit (though you do not seem too positive about the chances) you should take it up.

      If things do not work out this year, take up a job and take another shot. 3 years of work-ex is not high by any means for a 2-year program and given that you are a female applicant, it makes your chances of landing an admission and a good job that much higher. So technically there is no reason to worry. And both admissions committees and firms do not look at the age factor, you have a PG as well, so it is mostly in your head (as far as age goes).

      If you feel more comfortable about the GMAT then you can prioritise it.

      Good job with the 244 on the NMAT, it means that you more than have the brains needed; you need to choose your tests wisely and work on the QA with a new approach.

      All the best!


      • Anonymous says

        Thank you sir! I’ve taken up a job and had somewhat prepared myself for another attempt. I have 2 questions –
        1. I have landed in a similar bracket as last year. I have cleared NMIMS Bangalore and expecting admits from GLIM Chennai and KJ. I want to pursue Marketing. Is NM Bangalore in the same league as the other two? or is it slightly lower? What should be my preference? I want to continue in a role in Marketing Communications. I’m okay with a starting of 10-12 LPA since currently at 4.5 – 5LPA.
        2. I have a decent job right now, and I think I will be able to manage studies. Although I do feel that I can do better, I’m not too sure about it especially the uncertainty associated with the entire process. I also feel exhausted. If I decide to put in another year and land in this same bracket for Jun ’23 .. I’d just feel like a waste of another year, had I just taken TAPMI last year I would’ve finished by then. (maybe somewhat regretting that bit too, that TAPMI would’ve been a slightly better option than the rest 3…)
        Please suggest, thank you sir!


  22. Shina says

    Hi Tony Sir! Thanks a lot for this post.
    As you mentioned, I tried to convert the calls I had last year (with 50% success – old IIMs among them) and set higher goals for myself this year. But, sadly this was not my year. It was my 3rd attempt (I have <2 YoE). I can try again but the uncertainty and pressure of 4th attempt are biggest demotivators. How should I handle it?


    • Hi Shina,

      You converted some schools last year and did not join, well, what can I say! I wish I had answers to uncertainty and pressure, they are real and there is only a particular point until which words and work as motivators.

      The only real confidence you can draw from is your abilities. And ensure that you put your ego aside and apply to a larger set of schools and not be fixated on ABC.

      Please understand that the IIMs A-B-C hold an edge over other schools only in terms of a few jobs and roles, which anyway go to outlier profiles, very few candidates inside ABC have a realistic shot at them. You can make your life about a few brand name colleges or you can make your life about building a great career and working with great firms. The rest is FOMO.

      All the best!


  23. Hi Tony Sir,

    I use to regularly read your blog “The CAT writer” and yesterday I came across “What after a horrible CAT”, I consider myself as one of the aspirants who are worst hit since I am already having 5 years of work experience in the IT service industry (Accenture Solutions Pvt Ltd). I started my preparation in mid-July after quitting my job. I’m expecting anywhere between 90-92 percentile.

    I’m rejoining my office from this month itself as I don’t want my gap to get extended further. I am joining at the same salary (12 LPA) and Designation (Senior Software Engineer) But doing an MBA was always a dream and not an option for me.

    As two years MBA has been ruled out I want to start fresh for 1 year MBA program preparations for which I need guidance from you.

    My Profile: 10th – 92%, 12th – 70%, Graduation – 67%, Work experience – 5 years (IT/ITES)

    Considering my profile:
    1. Whether my profile good enough for top 1 year programs in India
    2. Which 1 year MBA programs in India will be a realistic target.
    3. What should be my target score in GMAT.
    4. What Initiative, Job roles, I should take as I want to continue in the same domain (IT/ITES) post MBA as well.

    Could you please guide me regarding all these points and how should I plan things going forward.


    • Hi Rutwik,

      Your profile will be competitive for most 1-year profiles.

      Given that the academics are slightly on the lower side you will need to compensate for the same with a GMAT score of in excess of 720.

      You can apply to ISB, XLRI, SPJIMR, GLIM and the IIMs.

      You should take up certification programs in analytics or data science they might come in handy. Also, CSR initiatives at work might be a good addition.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Abhilash Kumar MD says

        Hi Tony Sir,

        First of all a BIG Thanks for your proposed strategies in VARC. VARC was the weakest and uncertain section for me in CAT. Since my aim was only to clear the cut offs, without any doubt I was following your strategy II of 2RC and Rest VA. Fortunately VARC will become the turning point in my CAT Score with a Raw Score of 42 (15 Attempt). I expect 90+ this year with Overall raw score 77.

        Sir I am having an experience of 6 years in operations & Projects in Switchgear Industry in Middle East. As my wife is already settled in IT industry in India, Middle east was not a good option for me to settle. Hence my ultimate Aim/intention to do an MBA is to widen the opportunities and get in to an corporate world even with a average package since my profile with a B-tech degree is not offering enough leads. I am not putting any constraints to stick to same industry, but Operation/Supply Chain/Consulting will be key roles suitable to me profile.
        10th -96%
        CAT – VARC 42/DILR-15/QA-20
        —Good Extra curricular Involvements and Achievements—-

        I am not confident enough to go for GMAT so i concentrated in CAT only.

        Already completed AWT & PI for GLIM PGPM course which went very well.

        Please guide which all colleges i should concentrate. As I already said I my aim to is to get in to course this year and get an entry back in to career.

        Would like to personally talk with you if possible


        Abhilash (7025644849)


      • Hi Abhilash,

        My knowledge of 1-year programs through CAT is a bit limited.

        GLIM, SPJIMR, ISB, XLRI-GMP, and the PGP-X programs at the IIMs are the best ones that I know of.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  24. Mohit Bohra says

    Hi sir,

    A bit off topic, but any blogs on FMS SOP ?

    As your blog on SP Jain form filling was very very helpful.


  25. Hi Sir,

    My CAT score is 85(47/22/16) Slot 1, and I am expecting around 97-98%ile.
    BBA, General, Female, 0 workex.

    What calls can I expect since my QA score is at borderline?


  26. sharma3558 says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    My story is a little different than the ones mentioned here and I really need your advice. I am a 25 year old female, a Science Graduate from Delhi University(2018). After that I ventured into UPSC Civil Services Preparation for three years. I have also done Masters from a less known college in Rajasthan(2019-2021). Unfortunately, I couldn’t get through the CSE exam and decided to pursue an MBA from one of the the top premier colleges of India. I just prepared for 4 months for CAT and gave it a shot. It didn’t go well(expecting around 60-70 percentile) .I wasn’t prepared for CAT. Although I am giving other exams as well like IIFT XAT but I don’t expect call from them as my level of preparation is not adequate. My profile is as follows : X-91.2% XII-92.2% Grad- 75% masters- 65% work ex-0.
    Currently, also pursuing PG Diploma in International Marketing from DU.
    What is the best course of action for me right now? Will my age and profile(no work ex ) be an issue for getting into top colleges? Will it be better if I do a job for 1 year and then do an MBA from a good IIM. Thinking of preparing for CAT 2022.
    Please guide me I am confused. I have been a very sincere and good student(acads wise) all my life but I am confused and low on confidence currently.
    Looking forward to your valuable advice.


  27. Adit Choudhury says

    Hello Tony Sir,

    I belong to the “…but fitted from set to set” category 😦

    CAT2021 – Slot 3 VARC-37/DILR-10/QA-26
    Acads – 95/84.8.27
    I am looking to CAT 2022 as I have got little hopes this year.

    I have the following queries:

    1) I am looking to resign from my current organization in April-May 2022, as I will be having 31 months workex in IT industry by then. How much effect will this one year gap have on my PIs next year and eventual MBA placements?

    2) Is it wise to go for Coursera/eDx certifications along with my CAT prep? If not, what else can you suggest?

    3) Suppose I don’t resign in 2022, and resign when I have a college admit in 2023, how does a ’42 month workex before MBA’ look on my profile?



  28. Hello Sir,
    First of all, a note of thanks to you for your regular articles, clearing every doubt an MBA aspirant might have! 🙂
    I am a General Engineering Female, working in IT for 29 months. Prepared for CAT 2021 and XAT 2022 alongside work from home, but could not utilise my potential to the fullest because of my stressful job.
    My acads are 83/68.86/76 in 10th, 12th and graduation respectively.
    Not expecting very good results this year and want to take another attempt for CAT/XAT. However, that will take my work experience much above 36 months.
    As I do not have a strong academic background, I do not wish to further lose points on profile due to a higher work experience (above 3 years).
    A post-graduation in management has always been my plan and do not wish to give up without being able to try my best, at least for once!
    My question is, should I re-take CAT and keep working or is it okay to quit job after 36 months of work experience and then prepare for CAT! Quitting job is not the first option for me, but the concern of falling into the outlier category with more than 3 years of work experience, remains.
    I already have a one-year gap after 12th for JEE preparation.
    Moreover, I am already 26 years old and wanted to ensure if that can be an issue if I plan to re-take.
    (Personally, I am okay with it as long as I am performing well, whichever field I am in!)
    I have been trying hard to cope with preparation and work equally well, but the work from home system has made the work schedule a little haphazard, which is where the problem lies.
    Wishing you a very happy new year, Sir! 🙂
    Will be eagerly waiting for your response.


    • Hi,

      Well, firstly, you will not lose any points for having more than 36 months of work-ex, your chances of admission are the same whether it is 36 or 48 months of work-ex. It is only the width of job options on offer that will come down. Again it is not an eligibility thing or not being allowed to apply thing, but your resume might not get shortlisted.

      Having said that the one big advantage you have is gender diversity, firms tend to not split hairs over profiles when it comes to female applicants.

      So, I would say you can continue working and take another shot.

      If you want to explore the option of quitting and prepping, do read this post first —

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks a lot for your detailed response. The CAT results are out and my score OA is 72.39 percentile. I have already made up my mind to prepare for CAT next year alongside my job, but my first target is a selection from the top 10-15 B-schools only.
        Your post in quitting job to prepare was really helpful.
        You also mentioned in this post that my resume might not get shortlisted for a variety of job options.
        As per your guidance, I wish to keep working and start my preparations. But, it would be really great if you can give me some insight on job options, my resume can be shortlisted for. Is it mostly IT management roles?

        I have an interest in Finance management roles. I am considering CFA level 1 exams also this year, to test my understanding of the subject. Please suggest if it is worth attempting.


      • Hi Flying Saucer 🙂

        Well, given your work-ex you are likely to land a job in the business side roles in IT, Tech and even e-commerce.

        If you wish to change track to Finance then CFA is a must. If you clear CFA L-1 before joining and CFA-L2 before final placement you will get a shot at Finance jobs both on campus and after that as well.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Aarya V. says

    Hi Sir,
    A serial The CAT Writer reader here!
    First of all I’m extremely grateful for all IMS Faculties and my parents for being so supportive that sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve ya’ll.
    Coming to the point, this year was my second attempt and I scored 94.07 with DI/LR at a dismal 74.8, Not expecting a call from IIFT, XAT score seems to be quite on the borderline and not confident about SNAP too. I am currently working with Infosys (5 mos) with acads 8/8/7. Don’t really have pressure from family, they are extremely supportive. I’m just confused about taking another attempt next year i.e CAT23, i’ll be 24 by then and 25 by the time I join any MBA college. I just can’t bring myself to accept that I have failed again, and also don’t want to settle for tier 2/3 colleges out of fear of a mediocre life. What options do I have further? Is is wise to go for another attempt , or just take up any decent college out of the lot that I may convert?


    • Hi Aarya,

      Serial CAT Writer reader is a new formulation! I wonder if you are a fan of shows on serial killers (if you are, I hope you have seen Mindhunter)

      With only 5 months of experience, you are definitely not late for an MBA. As for all the rest, one can measure ones life based on numbers — age, year of graduation, work-ex — or one can just go after what is realistically possible and an MBA and a great career are definitely possible.

      Think about it this way — you have nothing much to gain from joining tier 2-3 college right now and everything to gain from another attempt. I have had students who took 4 shots with the first one in their final year of college and three years after that and make it to an old IIM. As long as you know there is enough and more scope for improvement and you have the mental energy to do it you should go for another attempt.

      All the rest is just noise in your head!

      All the best!


  30. Hemanth says

    Hi Sir,
    My horrible CAT just went crazy. I just saw that I have entered my 12th class marks wrong and consequently, entered percentage is 95.6 instead of 94.7. Is there anything I can do about it or Am I toast ? Can they straight up disqualify me ?


    • Hi Hemanth,

      I do not think it is an issue since you will not get any more marks for entering 95.6 instead of 94.7 since the highest slab is 90 if I am not wrong.

      So, nothing to worry.

      All the best!


  31. Anonymous says

    Hi Sir,

    I would like to get some advice from you regarding a potential retake. CAT 2021 was my first shot at the exam and while I went into it with confidence, the pressure on exam day got to me and severely affected my Quant section, which dragged down my percentile to 92.

    A bit of background: I am almost 25, completed my BBA in 2018 (also CFA L1 in 2017) and have been working in my family business for around 3.5 years now. I want to do an MBA from a top college to break into strategy consulting or investment banking (I know, very original. But I am saying this after having done my research and assessed my options). I also want to do an MBA for a couple of other reasons, one of which is that if I ever want to rejoin the business a few years down the line, I feel I will be a greater asset to the company.

    I know that the 2 fields I have named are the most sought-after and most selective, with only a handful of schools that are able to offer these placements. My main question is, if I decide to take CAT 2022 and granted that I do well enough, by the time the program starts, I will have 5 years of experience under my belt – considering that and the fact that my work experience is not in a related field, do these roles come under the “out of reach” category for me now in the eyes of recruiters? Is there any point for me to even retake the exam this year, or should I just take the GMAT and give ISB my best shot? Maybe also the new kid on the block, Masters’ Union? I have taken a GMAT diagnostic and am confident that I can score 710+.

    Would be grateful to get your insight on this. Thank you!


    • Hi A,

      I think while your work-ex will be on the higher and not in the relevant field, you stand a good chance to get into the roles you are looking at provided you finish CFA L2 as well before joining.

      As a back up looking at GMAT and ISB will not be a bad idea.

      My suggestion: knock off the GMAT by 1 June and take another shot at the CAT.

      And Masters Union is a neat operation that focuses only on placements with their small batch size. If what you are looking at is only a job and not education, cohort, and brand you can consider it (just like there are many ways to become famous :-))

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  32. Siddhi says

    Hello Sir,

    Avid follower of your blog here, love your content – its’ been of enormous help.

    Some Background: 9-9-7 acads (Science grad), 24/F, working as an equity research analyst.

    I am planning to take the GMAT sometime this year (probably in June), for ISB / SPJIMR and needed your guidance regarding the same. I took the the GMAT Practice Test 1 a couple of weeks back, with no preparation (though I have studied for CAT and did all right there); and scored a 720 (QA – 49, VARC – 39). I just wanted to know how good / bad the sectional scores are, and what resources I can use to push my score to a 750+ range (there is a plethora of resources available, and I have received conflicting opinions on which to use). Your advice would be very helpful 🙂

    Thank you!


    • Hi Siddhi,

      Glad to know that you find the blog useful.

      Your sectional scores are very promising, especially the VA.

      You should be able to push the QA to atleast a 50 and even a 51 since 49 is in the 70-80 percentile range, a 50 will push you to the 80s, which is where are in VA with 39.

      As far as prep materials go, I suggest you visit my blog and browse the All About GMAT Section in which I have outlined the best prep materials to use.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  33. Christopher Gardner says

    Sir I had asked a few questions back then when cat result was announced. 21st december before cat and 7th January on this very post and you replied as well. Now I am updating you with my status and asking a few questions/seeking guidance. Hope you respond Sir. Your few minutes of typing/writing can be extremely valuable for me.

    Sir, i had 99.26 in cat with 8/7/7 and no workex. Turned 26 just few months back. Prepared for upsc for few years hence gap years. I could convert only baby iim and having heavy waitlist in new iims like udaipur etc (1000 plus waitlist). Got rejected in shillong, XLRI, heavy waitlist in Nitie. Through cap i got few baby iims but will be joining amritsar which seems better than Bodhgaya, jammu, sirmaur etc. I had no Blacki calls, as expected and did not apply to Mdi or any other pvt college.

    Though sad after shillong rejection, I was happy with amritsar and made up my mind to go there, but when i started interacting with students of my batch who have converted, they were like “why the hell are you coming to amritsar with 99 point something in cat. People were like ” fir se kar le, yaha kyu aa rha”. Everyone was 96 97 at max. one or two 98’s . I started feeling guilt of not performing well in the Shillong interview. Also, there is general discussion in the groups that freshers get lowest salary. All this has made me feel that should i even join. To be honest, unlike many other aspirants who plan to do MBA, i wanted to do to get a decent paying job. It all happened in a jiffy. I started preparing in late august and in 3 months, got whatever I could. After I score well, then came the MBA plan. So, recent happenings kind of demotivated me. I am really confused. I am not from a rich family.

    Also, for MBA journey, i had watched two videos of MBA specialization which you took. Though I have slight interest in finance, but have not done anything in that field and interest comes only out of the perceived work. But in that video, what i felt was that i wont get shortlist from finance, consultancy firms and marketing is my only bet. I am open to any field and would go into the field where i will get better pay and jobs. Sir, which field I should choose based on my profile?

    Also sir, regarding my CV, what is the one thing that i should highlight that would help me in summer placements as getting good cgpa is not an option because summer placements start after a couple of months into the course.

    Hope to hear from you Sir.


    • Hi CG,

      Your profile is essentially that of a fresher, age notwithstanding. Given this, you have to calibrate your earning expectations to those of a fresher. All you need to look at is whether IIM-Am gives you a decent start — the average & median salaries, in terms of what a fresher can expect, are decent and so are the brands. If you trust in your abilities to do well academically as well as in the placement process, then you wouldn’t be at a disadvantage by taking up the program at IIM-Am (you have a shot at Marketing and sectors such as e-commerce).

      And do not forget that the loan E is the most important letter in the loan EMI, it is not going to change but your salary will start increasing from the end of the first year and will always jump considerably whenever you shift your job.

      I am not sure whether another shot at a 2-year program at your age makes sense, it will only add to the pressure and make your profile more of an outlier.

      For summers, you have to take what you get, there is nothing in specific that you should highlight — everything that you have excelled in and can talk about well should be highlighted.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Christopher Gardner says

        regarding summers, I will be the only person with 99 point something in the campus. Should i put it somewhere below in the cv, maybe at the end. The only differentiator i have. Because everything other is avg. will it help or would u suggest against this?


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