As an aspirant of the coveted IIMs, I had always set my eyes on CAT as the most important examination. During the course of 5 months of my preparation, I had managed to score well in my mocks, but the performance on the D-Day wasn't good enough to get me into any IIMs.
For a person who had quit his job to prepare for the MBA entrances, poor performance in CAT really got to me, but somehow I survived it all. Looking back now, I have listed down the reasons which I believe were instrumental in helping me survive the tremulous times of the entrance exam preparations and still get into the prestigious HRM&LR course of TISS Mumbai:
1. DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET: One of the most common mistakes people make is getting emotionally attached to the B-School of their choice. Please don’t confuse determination with rigidity.
I have seen people miss out on very good opportunities because of a myopic vision. Remember, IIMs are very prestigious and coveted, however, we must keep our options open to explore. Hence, it is important to not reject options based on personal judgements but rigorous research. Initially, I myself had some preconceived notions about HR as a professional choice and these myths were debunked after talking to the alums of TISS and some HR veterans who were able to show the immense potential the field has.
2. PRACTICE PATIENCE: Considering my performance in CAT, I had lost all hopes from other exams as well. It was only because of the support from my colleagues and family that I had the strength to give my best in the subsequent examinations. The importance of patience dawned upon me quite late in my journey. It is the game-changer because MBA entrance exams and the interview processes are a test of patience and emotional stability. To build such a mental muscle I started meditating which helped me immensely in clearing the extremely crucial and competitive GD (Group Interview) and PI (Personal Interview) rounds of TISS.
3. FOCUS ON MOCK TESTS: Mock tests of the major coaching centers are usually enough to sail through the written exams. But writing a mock test is only 30% of the task, the rest 70% lies in its detailed analysis. Always spend enough time to analyze the paper you’ve written to ensure continuous improvement. I had maintained an Excel sheet containing the marks of each mock to keep a track of my performance.
4. DON’T TAKE MOCKS TO YOUR HEART: This might sound contradictory, but mocks aren’t a sure shot way to succeed. Always remember to not get high headed when you score well and always take the mock scores with a pinch of salt. My consistent performance in the mocks couldn’t assure a good CAT score, however, I sailed through TISSNET because I kept a cool head throughout the process (thanks to my support systems).
5. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WANT YOU TO SUCCEED: The preparation journey for me was baptism by fire. I learnt the importance of identifying and distancing myself from the naysayers and toxic friends the hard way. The last and most important reason behind my selection is the presence of people I could trust. It is paramount to identify the right kind of friends/relatives to discuss your plans with. Distance yourself with people who doubt your capabilities (so don’t hesitate to not share your plans with the nosy neighbour aunty of yours). For me, the go-to people were my family members and a few of my college friends.