I am not here to give you ‘Babaji’s Gyaan’. Neither am I using any clickbait like “How to get 99 percentile in CAT with just 10 days preparation”. I am just here to tell you about my experience by answering a few questions you would have in mind just like I had when I decided to do MBA e.g. how to prepare for CAT, which resources to use for CAT and interviews and what difficulties you might face in preparing for CAT while working as a software engineer.
Hope this provides you some tips which can be useful for you if you are preparing for CAT. I am not taking any guarantee as every student is different in preparation but I will try to be generic so that the tips will be useful for as many students as possible.
The decision to do an MBA!
You are doing the 9-5 job for the past two years and waiting for your promotion just because you have worked above average during this tenure. But when you do not get that, it hurts. Believe me. When you have ideas in mind which can earn you money but you are denied funding just because other ideas are well structured and presented well than yours, you start to think where did it go wrong. When you are working in the same field and bored from your work, be it coding, development, testing or any other thing, the first idea comes to your mind is to apply for other jobs in some other company to change your role. Or you are not satisfied with your salary which you are getting and want a pay hike but your lack of experience, exposure or your engineering degree is making it harder.
Let me introduce myself first. My name is Shubham Sharma and I am from Kota, Rajasthan. I completed my engineering from IIT Roorkee in Electrical Engineering in 2017. I got placed in Infosys as a Technology Analyst in Pune. While I was enjoying my life, some of my friends were preparing for MBA, IAS or State Administrative Services or preparing to switch their job/job-role so that they can earn more or get promotions or both. Some of them were working on their ideas and some of them already started their own start-up.
That’s when I started to think “What am I doing”. The so-called existential crisis was there and I was questioning myself “What I want to do for my whole life?” The answer was clear as crystal. I just wanted to do what I like. But then what do I like? I haven’t explored the paths. So it will be cheating if I continue doing my development work.
So I came out of my comfort zone and started talking to my friends. I analyzed the options given by them and found that an MBA can be my cup of tea as it opens a path for various careers. In two years course in MBA, I may find what I like. So I thought to give it a try.
How did I start preparing for CAT?
I talked to my family and friends about my decision and their response was positive. They were in full support of what I was doing and that gave me motivation. I started my preparation in June along with my job. For backup, I made plan B. I updated my resume and started applying for jobs in other companies so that if I don’t get a call from an MBA college, I will switch the company or try to acquire a new role within this company.
Which resources did I use for CAT and interviews?
I purchased Arun Sharma’s books for the preparation of CAT and TIME’s test series. Then I made a list of topics and marked which topics would take time and which topics carry more weight-age. I am from a Hindi medium school so it was hard for me to score well in verbal ability. So I started from basics like reading news articles and novels. There are topic wise tests in TIME preparation material for CAT so I started with 2-3 comprehension tests. That helped me in understanding what type of questions come in comprehensions.
For logical reasoning and data interpretation, I checked for the pattern of questions. Since there are only some standard types of questions in LRDI, so I prepared every standard set. I am good at maths so quantitative aptitude was not a problem but the questions were different and I needed tricks for solving questions within a given time so it needed practice.
After some time when I thought I have command over some major topics, I started giving mock tests. The first experience was good and I scored a decent percentile in my first few mocks. I had an excel sheet with me using which I used to keep track of what was my score in each mock. This is because I wanted to know how I am performing and how much I have improved. I also used Evernote App for making short notes. I marked and noted my mistakes in those notes so that I would be careful if I face these situations again in the future.
After giving CAT, I got calls from IIM Lucknow, IIM Kozhikode, and IIM Indore as well as FMS, Delhi. I had one month to prepare for my first interview. Those who don’t know, there are two rounds when you get a call from a college. First-round is the Written Ability Test (WAT) where you have some topic or some set of questions about your personal life. You need to write carefully and show your writing skills there. Then there is a second-round which is Personal Interview (PI). I prepared for WAT by reading and writing about some recent topics as well as some abstract topics. My flatmate was preparing for CAT with me so we used to take mock interviews. This helped me a lot in preparing for WAT and PI.
What happened next?
I was unable to crack final rounds of IIM Lucknow and IIM Kozhikode but at last, my hard work paid off and I got selected in IIM Indore. I accepted the offer and currently studying at IIM Indore.
Difficulties you may face when you are employed
You all know that it is difficult to prepare for CAT when you are working in a company. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to study for just one hour. But believe me, it is worth it to sacrifice your weekends. I felt tired after coming home and was not in a mood to study new topics on weekdays. So I used to study new topics on weekends and revised them on weekends by taking small tests on weekdays. I analyzed every test just after completing it because it is important for you to mark your mistakes and improve them within time.
Plan your day according to your job and try to meet daily targets. It is ok if you don’t score well at first but try to improve yourself with time. Talk to other friends about how they are preparing and keep track of the pattern of CAT as it changes every year. Fill the forms of other colleges as the syllabus is almost the same in other entrance exams.
Best of luck from Team CollegeHumara for your future!