How I Got An IIM Lucknow Admit With 92.98 Percentile In CAT

CAT Percentile : 92.98

General, Engineer, Female

Work Ex: Infosys Ltd

Hardly does anyone read beyond these first three lines of my Quora answer on “How was your IIM interview experience?” Instead, most of them almost instantaneously reply in shock, “How did you even manage to get a call?”

“What? You converted in first list? Such luck.”

“It was just your lucky day.”

“Wish I had that kind of luck”


I had prepared for it ever since I decided to write the CAT exam.

Let’s flashback this story to May 2017.

Coming back from lunch on a dull summer afternoon, I could not think of any reason to go back to my office desk and work. Know that exam time feeling when you want to do anything but study? It was exactly like that. I wanted to do anything in life but write codes! The feeling had stayed in my mind for over a year now, but inaction had always prevailed. But it was a different day. I finally decided to not go back to work that day, and enrolled myself in a weekend CAT coaching institute.

As most of the working CAT aspirants would agree, it was always hard to maintain a balance between work and study. Sometimes, I would go weeks without even touching a book and I was seriously lagging behind in preparation. The scores in mock CATs were declining and the reality was becoming more and more clear. The confidence was low and the D-day was nearer than ever.

Nevertheless, I had to give it a shot. I went inside the exam hall with only one thing in mind – Avoid negative marking at all cost. I came out of the exam hall completely clueless about how the exam went. I just knew that I had marked only those answers which I was completely sure of. I left everything else to luck.

The results arrived and the score was – 92.98. It was good but not good enough. This score had no value for me; it wasn’t going to take me anywhere. But how I was mistaken.

After 3 days, I had an interview call from IIM Lucknow. I could not believe my eyes.


And I realised the importance of the above information. This document became my bible for the next one month. I was scoring full in points 2 and 4, 50% in point 3 and probably the least among all the appearing candidates in point 1. The odds were against me and the chance of success too little. To turn the odds into my favour, I had to aim for full marks in points 5 and 6.

Preparing for this interview brought back the competitive rigor in me. The party weekends now turned to mock interview weekends and gossips turned to discussing political issues with friends. Every night before sleeping I’d watch either an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or a documentary on Netflix . Sometimes I turned to Arnab Goswami’s “The Debate Hour” too for some Indian political news (Guilty :P)!

I prepared answers for everything that I believed they could ask – I could recite the names of all the Indian Presidents, Prime Ministers, States in ascending order without fumbling. Read every interview experience on Quora. I could tell why “pi” was always 3.14 or what factors led to The French Revolution.

On the day of the interview, it seemed to me like I knew everything and yet nothing.

My interview was taken by Dr Himanshu Rai (Director, IIM Indore) and Dr Anirban Chakrabarty, a famous marketing Professor at IIM Lucknow.

The interview started with me explaining my roles and responsibilities at my job to one of the professors, when suddenly, the other panellist asked me my views about Ravana in Ramayana. I was caught completely off guard. I did read about Hiranyakashyap the other day because Holi was close but Ravana? Relate the attributes – my mind said. I started my monologue on Ravana by praising him for his intelligence and then how eventually his pride let to his doom. The discussion soon turned into a debate regarding unethical practices followed by Lord Ram and why is he still praised as a Lord whereas Ravana ridiculed as a devil. While I was trying hard to stand my ground, I was hit by another question –

What are your hobbies?

“Painting”, I said almost instantaneously.

Name 3 greatest painters of all time.

Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh and MF Hussain. (I had anticipated this question while doodling one day)

Can you name any one of their paintings?

The last supper – Da Vinci, The Potato Eaters – Vincent Van Gogh, Horses– MF Hussain

“Explain these.”

I did.

*And then started a series of recollection of memories from childhood. *

“Can you name any other painting by Vincent Van Gogh?”

Taare Zameen Par waali painting… kyaa naam thaa… “Sir, The Starry Night” (Save)

“Where is Da Vinci from?”

This was an easy one.. Florence (I had finished watching two seasons of Da Vinci’s Demons an year ago :P)

“Who betrayed Jesus among his 12 disciples?”

Sir.. his name starts with J… ummm…. Judas… yes, Judas. (Perks of studying in a Christian school)

“Where is Vincent Van Gogh from?”

Somewhere in Europe.

“Haha! You can go now.”

This interview was nothing like I expected. It was far away from it. You can call it luck, but everything that I was asked could be answered from what I had prepared, even though I didn’t know it. The power to turn the tables is always in your hands.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. 

Ayushi Aggarwal

INSIDEIIM STUDENT TEAM, IIM LUCKNOW | I am currently pursuing my MBA from IIM Lucknow. I interned with Accenture Strategy during my summers. Being brought up in the beautiful valley of Dehradun, I am someone who feels a deep connection with nature and hills. I have travelled far and wide in the State of Uttarakhand and completed a lot of treks. I am very passionate about music and you’d often find me humming to tunes, old and new. I can play a few chords on the guitar too, and given my patience level, it’s a big achievement, trust me! I have a straightforward approach towards life and believe that the best way to live life is by uncomplicating things :)



Chirag Shukla

“Taare Zameen par waali painting”. Hilarious.
Superb article. Hard work paid off!


People tend to neglect the information provided by CAT on weights of final score. You are one of those few who threw extra effort and planned your prep on the similar lines.

Sidhant Malhotra

Great article. Interview is an important part of assessment and your answers clearly show how well prepared you were for the interview. Your hard work and determination paid off. Congratulations:)

Gaurav Jaiswal

You call it a luck!! It is pure hard work.
Since my childhood, being a book worm, I always have excelled in my acads and think myself always superior to others, my parents and teachers always made me realize that, hahaha. Now I realise, by looking people like u, seating and analysing them, how much easy it is to score marks and how much tough it is to have this diversified knowledge and following hobbies with great passion. And who knows much better comapred to me how much artistic u r.
Really gem u r Ayushi, more power to u. Good luck buddy for all ur future concern.

Prateek Srivastava

“I wanted to do anything in life but write codes!” this is something we knew from Day-1 at Infy. But you did what you aspired for is the best part. Worth reading !!

Kanv Garg

Brilliant! I really liked the heading. We tend to underestimate the value of our life experiences which directly or indirectly shape us and make us who we are. Himanshu Sir, got you off guard and you handled it brilliantly. This reminds me of an equation I once read Success = Luck + Preparation and you aced the preparation part.

Shrirang Agarwal


However, I believe that the probability of success is a linear equation.
Probability (Success) = Luck + Skill + Grit

Toram Mani Kanta

All the best for your career. Indeed when you want something badly and you put in your efforts genuinely, It is true that the universe conspires to give it to you!