A Boy From A Small City, 3 CAT Attempts, A Drop Year, And His Journey To NITIE Mumbai

How it Began

Like all good stories, this also begins with a small boy from a small city aiming to punch above his weight.

As is the case with most of the Indian middle-class families, mine is also of the view that the best way to rise above mediocrity is through meritocracy. I am not sure how the uber-rich or the remarkably poor manage wealth (or the lack of it). But, the remaining people consider the education of the children as the safest bet for a better future.

My sister was pursuing her MBA from a private b-school when I was in class IX. It was then that I was introduced to the world of Marketing, Finance, IIMs, CAT and all the other jargons which feature extensively on portals such as this. I made up my mind that irrespective of the kind and quality of my graduation, I would do an MBA come what may!


Class XI, XII & a Drop Year

I strongly feel that there should be one more year between class X and XI for the Science students. I was fairly good at Maths & Science till Class X but somehow, I failed to keep up with the sudden change in the gear of the two subjects in Class XI. My marks dropped and so did my interest.

Poor preparations reflected in the first attempt of the entrance tests and I chose to take a year drop. In the second attempt, the results weren’t as bad, but they weren’t notable either. Somehow, through CCB (AIEEE Counselling) I received an admission offer from a little-known central university of Chattisgarh.

Did I have a choice to prepare again? Yes. But did I want to? No. I had realized by then that in order to score well you need to enjoy a subject – and frankly, yours truly didn’t!

I joined the college and thought of making the most of whatever I had. Also, the dream which I had seen back in class IX was still intact. I knew that I had to prepare for CAT, score good and get into a top Business school of the country. How else would a middle-class boy with all his values in place redeem himself!


CAT Preparation and CAT 2013

So I began my preparations for CAT while in the 3rd year of B.Tech. Most of my preparation revolved around mock tests, analysis and tutorial videos available online.

I took CAT 2013 and tried giving my best but wasn’t confident of crossing the 95th percentile. I scored 97.11. I was relieved that the score would fetch me some decent calls. Unfortunately, I was unaware (read, less bothered) of the weightage b-schools have for profiles, GDs and PIs. I missed my chance of converting any good call that I had.


Job and CAT 2015

I joined a major IT services company as do a lot of disillusioned fresh engineers of the country. I began fixing bugs, raising issues and maintaining softwares which bore little significance to my life or the people I interacted with every-day.

I knew that I was not doing justice to my potential and therefore, my anxiety began to grow.

For CAT 2015, I did not prepare much other than brushing up the old concepts through video lectures. I scored 90.93. With the score and better awareness, I was able to convert some decent calls but the aim to study in a top business school was still unfulfilled.

One afternoon, after all the results of the season were out, I was contemplating my options and future career path. While standing in the break-out area of my workplace and drinking another cup of diabetes-inducing coffee, I made up my mind – one final shot.


CAT 2016

This was going to be my third attempt and I had started over-hearing jokes and banters from my colleagues. But all this did not deter me as I knew that the task at hand was worth all the struggle, ignominy and minor upsets.

For CAT 2016, I joined weekend classes of a coaching. For a working professional, CAT preparation is an entirely different experience because you’ve to manage your time well, skip office parties on the weekends to attend workshops or seminars, rush back home after work to solve the pending worksheets and lie to your seniors about your growth plans with the company while booking slot for the next mock test.

The third attempt turned out to be more adventurous than I had anticipated (Check my Quora answer on this, here.) I scored 97.67. I was pleased with the score cause by this time I had developed enough confidence in myself to crack the best calls. For GD-PIs, I attended multiple mock PIs and GDs to hone my skills and build my knowledge.

After all the hard work, patience and determination, I started receiving final admits from all the b-schools which had either rejected or not shortlisted me in my first two attempts.


I managed to convert all the new IIMs and some other top management institutes. However, I chose NITIE over other colleges primarily because of my profile and aspirations. I am sure I would have done equally well with the other choices but this college was always among my most preferred due to strong placements, amazing ROI, diverse job profiles, and the city of Mumbai.

How do I feel now?

All the failures taught me a lot. Those failures have made or unmade me what I am today. Had there been no XI/XII debacle probably I would have lost the urge to prepare for CAT. Had I made it to a top b-school in the first attempt itself, I won’t have understood the importance of hustle and success which eventually follows.

Here at NITIE, when I hang out with some of the best brains of the country, I realise that I have taken a leap.

The now grown-up boy from the small city still has a long way to go from here. However, he feels he has taken one right step towards building his career and making his parents proud.

Lalam Ravi

Student, PGDIM Class of 2019, NITIE Mumbai



Abhay Singh

I have a poor profile .X & XII above 86 aggregate.B.tech just 5.8 cgpa or 58%.2 months work experience.4 academic gaps.Thinking for MBA now.Exhausted all bank attempts and rejected in 100 MNCs mostly in final rounds .Help me please.I am under depression.

Lalam Ravi

As far as CAT is concerned, I would suggest you to get out of your low phase first. Health precedes Career, any day

Abhay Singh

I have a poor profile .X & XII above 86 aggregate.B.tech just 5.8 cgpa or 58%.2 months work experience.4 academic gaps.Thinking for MBA now.Exhausted all bank attempts and rejected in 100 MNCs mostly in final rounds .Help me please.I am under depression.

iim a

sir which calls you got in 2013 please share..and can you tell your sectional percentile and the number of question attempted in cat 2016 and also the other calls

iim a

sir just last one…ARE YOU A GEM?

Ankit Soni

Great Inspiring Story. Please can you let me know if i had any chance X-84.8% XII-59.6% Btect-60.3% in NITIE? Working as Junior Research Analyst since past 7 months and 2017 graduate.

Ankit Soni

So, i don’t have a chance.. Well thanks for feedback. And again great story. Can you please let me know if there are any other colleges which i can target?

Ankur Bhargava

Wow. Inspirational journey indeed. I would be giving my first attempt this year with an experience of 2 years. However my acads are not good enough. X 87.6, XII 77.8 and BTech 85. Any suggestions for me on which college can I expect a PI call if I get over 95 or 97.

Lalam Ravi

Hi Ankur, with your profile, you can expect calls from NITIE, IIFT (through IIFT test), MDI, new IIMs, IIM S with a score of above 97.

solanki chandni

I have 78% in 10th 85% in 12th appearing in graduation in BBA till now 64%. Gave CAT 2017 scored 76%tile I have no work experience. Not at all good profile should i take a drop and prepare for CAT 2018

Lalam Ravi

It is always recommended that you take up a job and prepare simultaneously.

A drop should be taken only if you are confident enough of scoring 98+ else it might backfire.

Do you research & decide.

sumit ganwani

I am a cat 2018 aspirant, I tried this year also but was not able to get a gud percentile
I am a instrumentation engineer currently have exp. Of 33 months from Siemens in cabinet designing for power plants
I wanted to go operations , I m right now having 33 months exp. Will it be hurdle for me
Are ample no. Of placements options available for me in the final placements or I shud go for GMAT as next yr at the time of joining clg I will be having 45 months exp

Lalam Ravi

Your acads are decent. And for Operations you don’t need to look beyond NITIE. With its ROI and opportunities, it is exceptional for anyone looking to learn Operations Management.


well lalam…good luck ahead! but is it true that at least top b schools in India have almost 100% placements….