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.

49 Comments

  1. Arushi Raina says

    Hi
    I have completed my bachelors of Engineering in information technology in 2021 and got placed in June 2021. After working for 9 months as a software engineer, i had to quit my job due to severe health conditions (like vertigo, migraine, sinus, weight increase, skin disease ). I am on medication and trying yoga and exercising for keeping fit. I have decided to take break and prepare for CAT and other MBA exams this year and join good b school in 2023. Also i want to change my career direction that’s why i thought of preparing for MBA. Will this gap affect my resume and what things are expected from me to do during this time?

    Like

    • Hi Arushi,

      As I mentioned the quantitative impact of quitting your job will be there but not much. As long as you take up things apart from CAT Prep such as certification courses and are confident of handling questions thrown at you, there should not be any problem.

      Very few schools, SPJIMR, ask candidates to explain gap year in their form, everyone else might or might not ask questions in the PI, and they award marks to interview performance as a whole and do not levy any penalties specifically for the same.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  2. Sneha says

    Hi,
    I have completed BMS in June 2021 and joined a BPO to just get out of the house and have some amount of exposure to job and I also got an experience of sales. I was not sure whether I want to do MBA or not but now I have taken the decision to prepare for it and also joined the Jan batch.
    I am done with 6 months of experience and made my mind about quitting in May. I want to quit bcoz I need to have good amount of time to prepare for CAT as this is going to be my 1st attempt and the job is consuming a lot of my time.
    Do you have any idea about any internships where I just need to invest 4-5hours of time so that my mind is not completed exhausted with studies and I also get to learn something practical?

    Like

    • Hi Sneha,

      If you are asking whether I know of internships you can apply to, I am afraid I have no information on that front.

      All the best!

      Like

  3. Mrigam Kapoor says

    Hi Tony sir,
    I have graduated from a reputed commerce college of India NMCCE with 9.1 CGPA in 2020 and got placed in ICICI Bank’s Wealth management wing. However, 90% of my profile was sales and i wanted to change my industry post my MBA and go in finance. Hence, i decided to quit after just 17 months of work experience and joined a batch this month to focus on my CAT prep as i know i am not good with my maths, So, i needed extra time to focus on it. Furthermore, i scored 8.8 CGPA and 96.6% in 10th and 12th respectively. Also, prior to this i had taken the CAT exam in my last year of college but at that time i scored below average due to lack of proper prep. This is my entire profile till now. What more do i need to add in this in order to get calls from top tier IIMs ? And you have already mentioned above for finance aspirants, courses such as CFA, FRM, CA help a lot. However, i feel if i take up this right now then this would definitely hamper my CAT prep. So, is it still practical to not go for these certifications now given their own level of difficulty and prep time ?

    Like

    • Hi Mrigam,
      You have a great academic profile and I wish you had clocked 22 months but that’s okay.

      You can start your CFA L1 prep late February next year and take the exam in June. You can plan for L2 in the 6th semester or after your MBA.

      All the best!

      Like

  4. uditaMujherjee says

    Hi Tony Sir!
    First of all, thanks a ton for all your posts. They truly help us clear many of the doubts in our minds which are likely to come up in an MBA aspirant’s mind.

    I am working in IT (Electrical Engineering background) and will be 3 years experienced in August 2022. I belong to the general female category and my acads are 84/68/8.34 (10th/12th/graduation).
    Considering my acads, I wanted to never quit job to prepare and tried my level best to continue with my preparation. Scored 81 percentile in CAT 2021.
    I focused to understand my job well and learn the business side of IT also as that might help me post MBA. However, since I have taken CAT earlier also, I had to take a few leaves and had to say no to working for more than 10 hours a day! Though I try to finish my work in time, still the idea of not being available all the time past working hours also, seems to not go down very well with my manager. Since, most of the team members obediently follow him (so do I except for unusual working hours)…this thought of taking leaves and everything seems to be a problem with my supervisor!
    I have requested for release from the project so that I can look for another. But all in vain!
    I get extremely stressed out because of this work culture. Have previously tried to cope with this and prepare. I have realised that time is not an issue for me to prepare. But the mental stress doesn’t let me give my full concentration to my studies even after work or during the weekends.
    Since this is supposedly the last attempt I will take in CAT 2022, I need to take my decision. I strongly feel that if I resign 2-3 months before CAT, I can give my 101%. Also targeting other exams like XAT, SNAP and NMAT.
    Can you please suggest if quitting will be a logical decision in this situation? Or is it really something which I should learn to deal in my workplace, considering a successful manager is one who is good with people skills as well!

    Like

    • Hi Udita,

      You are not my first student with 3 years of work-ex who is in this predicament.

      You can easily quit your job since 36 months will be put you in the highest bracket of marks for work-ex.

      So you do not need to be way too hard on yourself, you can quit and give a shot.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • uditaMujherjee says

        Thanks a lot Sir for giving me the confidence!
        Also please suggest if I can take a part time job (for example, online teaching) or internships related to management during the break after quitting my job. I feel that can help me gain some soft skills.
        Can that add value to my CV?
        Will be waiting for your reply! Thank you in advance! 🙂

        Like

      • Hi Udita,

        You should take up courses/certifications/internships in the domain you want to work in after your MBA — Marketing, Finance etc.

        You can take up online teaching as well, to show that you were not sitting and doing CAT Prep all the time.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

      • uditaMujherjee says

        Thank you very much Sir, for going through our doubts individually and clearing them one by one so patiently! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • uditaMujherjee says

        Hello Sir!
        I have enrolled for a Data Science online course of 1 year conducted by the IITs. Considering my work experience in IT, I have an interest in IT consulting or other such relevant jobs opportunities after my MBA.
        After quitting my job, I will be then pursuing the online course and simultaneously preparing for CAT. Will the knowledge of Data Science help me after MBA in my job?
        I enrolled for the course as it also includes various business case studies and capstone projects.
        Will be waiting for your response at your convenience. Thanks in advance! 🙂

        Like

  5. Aritra Mondal says

    Hello Sir,

    GEM here,
    CAT2021 – VARC/DILR/QA – 95/67/97, Overall – 95.27
    10th/12th/UG – 95/84/73
    Will be having 35 month workex in the IT industry if I quit on 31 July, 2022.

    What will be the difference between the following two situations in terms of my chances of a BLACKI conversion next year:
    i) I quit my job and do some certification programmes along with my CAT prep.
    ii) I stay in the job, until I have a college admit next year.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi Arirtra,

      There will be very small difference in the marks you get for work-ex since most schools top off at 36 months. So incase you are quitting I suggest quitting after completing 36 months just to ensure that you fall into the highest slab.

      As I wrote in the post, you will be asked questions about the same but it’s not something that cannot be handled.

      So, mathematically your chances won’t be hurt at all.

      All the best!

      Like

  6. hello sir,

    Acads 10,12,UG – 97 / 96 / 7.7
    1 year exp in sales and resigned
    Planning to take CAT 2022 for MBA in general management, what role should I join hereafter relevant to my future MBA?

    Is it joining business analyst hereafter and doing mba general management affects my placement process in clg, since sales—>business analyst will be exp relevant to students in MBA IT/Analytics?

    Like

    • Hi,

      There will not be any effect in terms of your prospects of getting admission into a b-school if you take up the role of a business analyst. What matters is what you want to do after you finish your MBA. If you are interested in roles in IT and Analytics post-your MBA then this role makes sense. Even if it is not something that you want to do later and you are taking it just for the sake of work-ex, it is not something that will hamper your chances of pursuing whatever you like later since you are not going to accumulate a lot of work-ex.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  7. Harshil says

    Hello Sir,

    Thanks for the article. I just wanted to get your expert guidance on my dilemma. I have 10 CGPA in 10th, 89.6% in 12th (Best 5 is 94.6%), 8.02 CGPA in Graduation. I have done B.E. in Computer Engineering from NSIT, Delhi. I have workex of 46 months. I am currently working in the IT domain as a Lead Engineer. I wanted to know from your perspective whether I should quit my job and focus fully on this year’s CAT+GMAT’22. Or continue with the job? Would such a high workex put me at a disadvantage over the rest of the batch?

    Regards

    Like

    • Hi Harshil,
      You can comfortably take a break and prepare for both exams and it will not hurt your chances since there will be no quantitative impact for quitting, just take some certification courses aligned to your area of interest.

      46 months is a bit on the higher side in terms of a 2-year program but it depends on which sector you want to get into. Roles in IT/Tech (business side) consulting and general management will be open to you. Marketing and Finance will be tough.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  8. Hello sir,
    My academic background is 8/9/8 , GEM from a tier 3, university . I was placed in one of the world’s biggest consumer electronics company in their Smartphone division as software quality assurance engineer. My work is manual testing of smartphone’s functionality plus leading, managing and being responsible for execution of the entire test cycle. Our Noida office is responsible for the launch in North America, South Asia , Europe and Middle East . Basically project management plus manual testing.

    So far I have 7 months of experience and looking to quit for preparing for CAT and learning a new language.

    Will this job profile be of any use in a B school interview or for any subsequent placement role? Since anyone can do my job I am not that sold on it either.

    Like

    • Hi SS,
      Beginner-level roles are not always very exciting but by the very fact that you are working in a tech set up, you will learn something about what goes on.

      If you do this role for two years, it will be easily enable you to take up business-side roles in IT/Tech/e-commerce post-MBA.

      If you are not interested in working in IT/Tech/e-commerce post your MBA and are more keen on marketing or finance then quitting and prepping for CAT (doing some non-language certifications) is not a bad idea.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  9. Hello sir,
    My academic background is 8/9/8 , GEM . I was placed in an Korean Company which is one of the world’s biggest consumer electronics company in their Smartphone division as software quality assurance engineer. My work is manual testing of smartphone’s functionality plus leading, managing and being responsible for execution of the entire test cycle. Our Noida office(where I work) is responsible for the launch in North America, South Asia , Europe and Middle East . Basically project management plus manual testing.

    So far I have 7 months of experience and looking to quit for preparing for CAT and learning a new language.

    Will this job profile be of any use in a B school interview or for any subsequent placement role? Since anyone can do my job I am not that sold on it either.

    Like

  10. Hello Sir,
    10,12,UG – 93.1,85.6,79.6(NIT)
    CAT 2020- 95.03 percentile

    Have been working in the auto retail sector for the last 1 year. Started with sales, continued for 5 months and later till date, working in operations.

    I have started my CAT prep a few days back and was able to churn out 4 hours in total from my schedule in two slots. Looking forward to increasing and optimizing. As of now, not thinking to quit till the end. By the time I get into a B-School, I would be having close to 24 months of experience.

    Definitely, time will narrate how good I was at multi-tasking things. But, what are going to be the signs in the last couple of LAPs (according to you) before CAT that can force me to re-think about quitting.

    Regards

    Like

    • Hi Aayush,

      It is a slightly tricky question that I am not sure I fully understand.

      Do you mean what signs mean that you should quit or what signs can make you think of quitting and which you must resist?

      Either way I think overthinking is quite a bad thing. Focus only on how you are going to move from 95 to 99.

      A few SimCATs might throw up lower scores for sure,you need to watch out for those, everyone has a few bad days.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  11. Pavan says

    Hi sir,

    This is the best of the articles I have read on this topic and it helped, thank you very much for that.

    I would like hear your thoughts on my current situation.

    I graduated in 2019 in computer science and in 3rd year i knew i didn’t have passion for coding evaluating my skills i decided to pursue a career in management. Before joining mba i wanted to explore management and make sure i really want it.

    Left the software offer and took the business development role and worked in sales,networking and franchising for 13 months, due to Covid i was asked to resign in August with only 3 months left to cat i want to give it all for prep but couldn’t make it so before starting to work again in January 2021 i seeked some career advise and this time even if don’t crack i want my set my career stream right before attempting cat 2021.

    Exploring sales and looking the digital opportunity to reach a customers online and other connections to digital i wanted to explore digital marketing and took a 4 month course and by the time i finished in May i was infected to serious Covid condition and couldn’t take up the internship i got. Lost 2 months to recover and help my family recover and with only 3 months left to cat and being very serious this time i gave to cat prep and got calls from all new iims getting 85% in 2021 from 60% in 2020 and i know that one small mistake i did costed me losing out on 95% an i am sure i will convert all the new iims and i am confident i can get 95% + next year now.

    Now that interviews and my digital prep is done, I want to work again but now changing domain from sales to digital marketing and parallely give cat 2022. If i am lucky i am get a job this month and might take my 13 months workex to 20+ months. My gap made me a more confident person with a solid career clarity and domain shift costed me more time to get into next job. The point is i want to explore as much as possible before doing mba and not follow the herd simply sticking to one convenient thing. This is my story.

    I want to hear your thoughts and things i can improve or work on.

    Like

    • Hi Pavan,
      I think if you go by your plan, you will end up having a total of ~ 22-24 months before joining an MBA program in 2023.

      I think that quantum of sales & marketing experience can get you good roles in Marketing.

      My only suggestion is this: as far as marketing goes, there is not too much of a difference between the firms visiting NMIMS/SIBM and old IIMs (the difference plays out more in Consulting & Finance).

      So, do not make your next attempt only about old IIMs. Apply to other good schools for Marketing such as MDI, SIBM and NM as well.

      The rest seems fine, you seem to have chosen the path less travelled, faced a few obstacles including COVID, but are still confident, positive and raring to go. It is really good to see.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pavan Kumar Turubati says

        Thank you so much for taking time out and giving me a reply sir.
        Those inputs really mean a lot and helpful to me, it cleared some of my confusion’s and boosted my confidence as well.
        Thank & regards
        Pavan kt

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Venkatiswaran Srinivasan says

    Hello Sir,
    First of all, thanks a lot for writing this blog. I would like to hear your thoughts on my current situation.

    Academics: 10th – 97; 12th – 98 and UG – 8.3/10

    Will be having 48 months of work experience if I quit on 31 July, 2022.

    I am working in Automobile Industry (Research & Development department). As mentioned in this post itself, I am working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and it’s really draining both physically and mentally. Just couldn’t concentrate on my CAT prep. I’m thinking of quitting my job by the end of August to fully concentrate on my preparation.

    Will it be a wise decision? or it will backfire during interviews? I’m also worried that my workex (48 months) is a bit too much.

    I’m really confused. Please give your valuable inputs sir.

    Like

    • Hi Venkat,

      Well, your profile exactly resembles that of a student of mine back in my Chennai days – Sastra, 4 years work-ex in design at Leyland, long work hours.

      Instead of running after the CAT he took the GMAT got into ISB and is now in a business-side role in the automobile industry itself.

      If I were you, I’d prep for the GMAT from next month, take the test in August and apply to ISB R1. This might work for you https://www.imsindia.com/gmat-live/

      After that I’d take the CAT and see what happens. With your quantum of work-ex your profile is likely to be an outlier in a 2-year program. Coupled with the randomness of the exam called CAT, you can risk your career at this stage for a relatively high-risk low-return option such as quitting and prepping for CAT.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  13. Virat says

    Hi Tony sir,
    I am a 2019 engineering graduate and since then I am working at Tata Steel ( core engr role).
    My profile: 88/89/8.4 cgpa( 10/12/grad).
    I took cat 21 and scored 92%ile but didn’t cross the varc cutoff so I didn’t receive any call from top-tier colleges.
    I will be having around 48 months of work ex prior to joining B school on July 2023.
    Is it true that people with higher workex face problems in b- schools?
    Should I prepare hard for cat 22?
    Is it a good idea to resign from the job after gaining 36 months of workex ?

    Like

    • Hi Virat,

      Those with higher work-ex will not face any problems in b-schools! It’s just that the number of firms and domains that will have roles for profiles with that work-ex will be few, especially core engineering and ops experience – your best bets will be general management roles with groups such as the Tatas, ABG and Hindujas.

      With the same 4 years of work-ex, you will have many more opportunities in ISB and SPJIMR.

      You have two options:

      1. Quit, prep for CAT, do profile building in parallel and ensure you get a very good percentile.

      2. Don’t quit, take GMAT by August, apply to ISB, SP and then take a shot at the CAT.

      Finally you have to take the call.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Bhumika says

    Hi!
    I really liked this article and your way of putting things. Thankyou for not absolutely patronizing those of us who wish to quit and prepare 🙂
    I graduated (BE) in 2020, and wanted to switch to management roles right away but not being from a Tier 1 college and lack of any relevant experience kept me from doing that, so I took up an IT Services job in Nov 2020, tried CAT 2021 and got an overall 95%ile but couldn’t clear quant and LR sectionals. I have decided to quit in June 2022 and give my all this time (something I couldn’t do the last time). I’ll be having ~20 months of workex, and I wish to pursue either a General MBA or a specialization in Operations.
    I’ve been learning French on the Duolingo app for quite some time now, and have done a yellow belt certification in Six Sigma on coursera.
    Could you suggest me what other things I can pursue? Also I don’t think learning a language on a freely available app really counts as something, does it?

    Awaiting your response 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Bhumika,

      Glad you found the post useful and to know that you understood the essence of the same.

      I think your plan is fine. As far learning languages goes, unless you have a formal certificate by taking the tests (say from Alliance Francaise for French) it will not have any impact.

      I feel taking up certification courses in Management (in the domains you are interested in) offered on Coursera by premier schools such as Wharton will be a really helpful addition to your 6-Sigma course.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  15. Williams says

    Hi Sir,

    This has by far been the best Article I have read regarding this topic. I would like to know your views regarding my situation.
    I have 99.2% in 10th, 96.8% in 12th and 7.8 CGPA in my UG from a Tier-1 college.
    I completed my bachelors in Electronics and Communication in 2021 and got placed in July 2021.I attempted CAT 2021 but did not clear the required cut-off. After working for 11 months now as a software engineer, I am planning to prepare for CAT 2022 and other MBA exams and join one of the top B-Schools in 2023. My job is a little hectic and requires almost 10-11 hours of my day and I am starting to not like the work as my interests have sided towards the roles of Business Analyst/Product Analyst which I think would be more relevant and helpful when I start my MBA journey. I have been having doubts on switching jobs before CAT as it might become difficult to prepare.
    So given the circumstances, I am thinking of taking a break by quitting my job in August end/mid to prepare for CAT and other exams and also upskill myself with knowledge required for Business/Product analyst roles. My idea is to take up a job/internship in those roles in Jan/Feb 2023 after CAT 2022 is over.
    I was also wondering whether this 4-5 months of break will be considered as a gap year (as CAT application considers work-ex till only end of July), so will work-ex be taken into account till the time I start my MBA from a B-school?
    I would love to hear back from you and take your suggestions.
    Thanks in Advance.

    Like

    • Hi Williams,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      For the purposes of the call work-ex until the time in application, end July, is only considered and there is no information collected about gap year.

      Some colleges such as SPJIMR, ask you to mention any gaps in profile.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  16. Williams says

    Hi Sir,

    This has by far been the best Article I have read regarding this topic. I would like to know your views reagrding my situation.
    I have 99.2% in 10th, 96.8% in 12th and 7.8 CGPA in my UG from a Tier-1 college.
    I completed my bachelors in Electronics and Communication in 2021 and got placed in July 2021.I attempted CAT 2021 but did not clear the required cut-off. After working for 11 months now as a software engineer, I am planning to prepare for CAT 2022 and other MBA exams and join one of the top B-Schools in 2023. My job is a little hectic and requires almost 10-11 hours of my day and I am starting to not like the work as my interests have sided towards the roles of Business Analyst/Product Analyst which I think would be more relevant and helpful when I start my MBA journey. I have been having doubts on switching jobs before CAT as it might become difficult to prepare.
    So given the circumstances, I am thinking of taking a break by quitting my job in August end/mid to prepare for CAT and other exams and also upskill myself with knowledge required for Business/Product analyst roles. My idea is to take up a job/internship in those roles in Jan/Feb 2023 after CAT 2022 is over.
    I was also wondering whether this 4-5 months of break will be considered as a gap year (as CAT application considers work-ex till only end of July), so will work-ex be taken into account till the time I start my MBA from a B-school?
    I would love to hear back from you and take your suggestions.
    Thanks in Advance.

    Like

  17. Kishab Jadav says

    Hi sir,

    This is the most exhasutive and insighful article i found on this tpoic, i would like to know your opinion about dilemna i am facing.

    I am SC engineer male with 10th- 9.2 12- 87%, graduation- 8.3 CPI, currently working in oil& gas refinery operations , will complete 36 months of work ex as of 15th july, 2022, given CAT 2021 but scored poorly ( 79 %ile varc- 95, DILR- 40, Quant- 83), done well in IIFT and converted IIFT delhi.

    CAT 21 was not my best attempt and want to take CAT 2022, but heared from many people regarding limiting of options in MBA placements for people with workex >36 months and that specially in operations, i want to switch profile and want to go towards general management or consulting.

    The dilemna i am facing is should i accept IIFT Delhi offer or write CAT once again with quiting job to aim for CDC collages , how much impact the one more year of experience will have on my resume during collage interviews & MBA placements.

    Kindly share your valuable opinion about this and once again thankful to write explicitly about this topic.

    With regards,
    Kishan Jadav

    Like

    • Hi Kishan,
      The extra work-ex is an issue in that your profile might not be aligned to all the roles on offer on campus. So it’s not as if extra work-ex is bad, it will have no affect on the admission interviews end in job interviews you either get shortlisted or you don’t. Once you get shortlisted there will not be any issue.

      With 4 years of work-ex, Ops, Gen Mgt, and consulting will be open to you while the others won’t be.

      So, yeah, if you feel that you can get a much higher percentile you should go for another shot given your profile.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  18. Akash Maniyar says

    Hello Sir,
    My 10th/12th/UG(BA)= 78%/78%/79%, work ex as on June 03/2022=16 months at Infosys BPM.
    CAT 2021= approx 52 percentile. I have begun my preparations in April again this year and doing decent in the simcats so far. I have started getting the fear of getting stuck in the loop. I am like what if my CAT 2022 doesn’t go well, how would I change my job role, how would my resume look much better etc. A general feedback from you would probably boost my confidence. I am a serious aspirant who’s aiming for BLACKI.
    Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Akash,

      Thinking about the outcomes and what-if-not scenarios is a common way through which a lot of candidates manage to self-sabotage their efforts.

      You need to focus on three things: firstly, what is working right now — your prep is going well and SimCAT performances are encouraging — take every fortnight as it comes with SimCATS being the focus and your prep in between them; secondly, be prepared that you will have a couple of bad days over the course of the season since that is expected — one bad performance does not mean that your career is over and stuff; and thirdly, keep the goals realistic — while BLACKI is great, you should apply to other tests and schools as well, for example, XAT, IIFT, NMAT, & SNAP, all of these schools offer a platform to build a great career.

      Just follow these three things and you will be good.

      All the best!

      Like

  19. shashi says

    Hi sir,
    my (10th -10cgpa,12th 97%,ug-8.28cgpa) from nit. I graduated in 2022 march and got placed in a core company abg. And i am preparing for this year(2022) cat. so can i continue in this core company while preparing for the exam or should i shift to a consulting role. Cause i am interested in the marketing and finance roles. And also how this experience in core company helps me in other domains apart from Gen Mgt roles .

    Like

    • Hi Shashi,

      Core-experience is always good in terms of future roles in consulting and general management but they will not have much of a direct impact in terms of other sectors, especially Marketing & Finance; firms that value work-ex in general will always value the experience.

      I do not see any great value in shifting now in terms of the incremental benefit. I would advise sticking to the job and getting the best percentile you can since your overall work-ex will anyway be low and you will be closer to the fresher cohort than to the work-ex one.

      Hope this helps.

      All the best!

      Like

  20. Sayaji says

    Sir,
    I graduated from an NIT (within top30) and placed in an oil and gas company this year itself (2022). My profile is 10cgpa, 87.38% and 7.52 Cgpa (10th 12th and UG resp.)
    In CAT2021 I had scored 97.11%le but wasn’t shortlisted for BLACKI and wasn’t able to convert calls from SIBM and MDI. And truly speaking it wasn’t my “best attempt” as I was preparing for my semesters and FY projects scheduled a day back and forth of CAT exams (Taxed out and tired in the exam also lacked a bit in preparation). I aim for the Tier 1 colleges and don’t want to compromise.
    Should I attempt CAT while doing my job? I prefer operations, gen mgmt, and consulting. My joining is yet to happen probably due in late August. After the training period, the oil and gas field may make it possible to prepare if I work in rotation formats. Although I am not sure if my CAT attempt this year may happen during or after my training period. Would a year and a half of work experience make it easier for me if I wasn’t able to get in this year but next.

    Like

    • Hi Sayaji,
      Good job on the first attempt! If you have work-ex more than 12 months there are marks for the same and this you can get the calls at a slightly lower percentile than a fresher would.

      So yeah, this year’s CAT or next, won’t matter, both are great options.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  21. Mrinmayee says

    Hi Sir,
    I have done B.tech from COEP in 2020. Post Covid I joined Tata motors in Jan 2021, due to covid the management went through some changes and my job role was changed from Operations to Sales. I am not really interested in Sales field and I dread to work for one more day here, I dedicate 2-3 hrs of my day for CAT prep currently and I feel I need some more time throughout the day to get good scores in CAT exam. My job is mentally draining for me and I feel this will hamper my preparation. I have talked to a lot of people about this and everyone suggested me not to leave the job as it will hamper my profile and give a negative impression during PI. I am confused, what should I do?
    PS- I want to pursue my MBA in Operations field.

    Like

    • Hi Mrinmayee,

      If you want to pursue Operations then 24 months of core operations experience becomes very important since post-MBA Ops roles and admissions into colleges such as SPJIMR are usually given to those with relevant work-ex.

      I suggest requesting your reporting head for a change to operations and if that does not work out then put in your papers, start looking out for an Ops job, give this year’s CAT along with the job; if you get an admit well and good, else take another shot.

      Another option is to time the job hunt in such a way that you join in December and in the meantime, you can serve your notice period and prepare for CAT .

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  22. Anonymous says

    Hello Sir,

    I scored 93.6%-86.4%-68.91% (10th – 12th – Btech grad in ETRX.) I am a national level Basketball player. And I have been working in Colgate Global Business Services as a technical associate(now) in Data Center Networking for over 36 months now. My CAT score hasn’t been really well lately, but I am determined to nail it. I am aiming for BLACKI and other buffers as well. But, there is a problem.
    I have been trying to study and crack for the past couple of times but I am unable to give sufficient time for self study. It keeps getting harder day by day to allot enough time for my CAT preparation. I really need to put more hours to strengthen my concepts and excel in test taking. But for all of this, I feel that I don’t have enough time. I have been trying to juggle between work and study, but sometimes my job gets unpredictable I might have to put in some extra hours on the weekends.
    On the weekdays I only get 4 hours to study which I personally feel is absolutely not enough for me. I have been contemplating to leave the job, but my Fear is the “Big Question” in the interview. My acads are not that great considering the competition I am gonna have to face. I don’t want to loose out on my chances just because the panel thinks I am incapable to multi-task.
    I am in a dilemma whether to quit or not to quit.
    If I do, then I don’t know if I should or should not go about searching for an alternate job / or something else and then how to go about it, given that I have such a less time at hand now.
    Or, instead, if I should just quit to prepare and think about it later.
    But again, I really don’t want to lower my chances just because of this gap.
    Sir, could you please provide your suggestions and views on this.

    Thank You.

    Like

    • Hi,

      As I wrote in the post it is safe to quit after 36 months of experience.

      Strategically, it’s the best thing you can do in terms of maximising your chances of career growth – one more year of work will give you lesser incremental learning and growth opportunities compared to an MBA.

      As I wrote in the post, there is no quantitative impact of quitting.

      The answer to the panel is simple – if you could earn and prep and crack the exam, why would you quit since it means a huge loss in earnings. Since the realistic chance of being able to do both is very low, you had no option but to quit and you were not sitting and prepping the whole day but doing some courses as well.

      There are no right or wrong answers, only convincing or unconvincing ones.

      All the best.

      Like

  23. Khushi says

    Hi sir,
    I am a commerce graduate from narsee monjee, batch of 2020, with 8.80 sgpa. I have 9.2 cgpa in Xth Cbse and 93.4% in XIIth Cbse. I wrote cat last year and scored 92%ile, which gave me a hope to try and perform better and get in the best B-school. Now to my drawback I don’t have work ex to justify my drop years, I have done 2 internships with Tata and Sons and HDFC amc both at their respective head office, but no work ex. I managed to convert my internship in a full time job at hdfc but sir i am not very sure if i’ll be able to manage my studies along with work especially at this time when we are now just a few months away from the test. I am very sure to get a good score that’s my positive assurance to self but at the same time i am very very stressed about the drop years. I have enrolled myself for marketing courses and i am learning spanish alongside, have thought of enrolling myself with School of meaningful experiences started by IIM bangalore professor, after cat, at the same time have thought of doing an fmcg internship from december because I have figured out that marketing is the field i want to go for and what better than an fmcg to learn the same! Please guide sir, what would be best for me.

    Like

    • Hi Khushi,

      The stress is evident in the comment!

      I would not suggest taking another drop year since it would put a lot of pressure leading up to the exam, reflect poorly on your profile, and give ample scope for uncomfortable questions.

      Continue working, put your head down and nail where your score improvements are going to come from to go from 92 to a 95! percentile, and work towards the same.

      Since you like Marketing the pressure is lower since the difference between the colleges that require a 98+ and schools that you will get with 95+ percentile is not in the Marketing jobs but in Fin and Consulting; there is no long-term brand value advantage since firms have been hiring from these schools for years.

      So, be wise and apply to a wide set of colleges, take exams apart from CAT, and ensure that you get into a good school for Marketing.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

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