“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore
2018 was a roller coaster ride. I cleared my CS Final Examinations, almost joined SPJIMR, left my job and lost the grand old lady of our family (my grandmother) – all in a span of 5 months.
CAT 2018 was not my first attempt at the examination. I had previously appeared for CAT 2017 and scored a 96 percentile. I was able to convert IIM Indore and SPJIMR and was almost decisive to join SPJIMR. However, I somehow believed that I could score much higher in CAT with better preparation. I did not want to be remembered as someone who scored a 96 percentile. I wanted to be a part of the 99 club. After much deliberation, I finally decided, in the month of May, to take the tough route and sit for the examination once again – letting go off two golden opportunities from my hand (SPJIMR and IIM Indore). Unsure, if I will be able to get these colleges again, let alone getting calls from A, B, C.
Questions were raised. Comments were passed. Nobody could make any sense of the decision I had taken. And to top it all, I decided to call it a day at office – something even the sanest people had warned me against. I was quite nervous and yet confident at the same time. I was nervous because I was all alone; confident because I made the choices I sincerely believed in. After resigning from office, I came home in the month of September to devote two months in extensive preparation.
Initially, it seemed quite comforting. I could devote substantial time for preparation and was able to make substantial progress in mocks. I also had my CFA Level 1 examination scheduled in the month of December, less than a week after CAT 2018. I started feeling more confident and less nervous about my choices.
However, everything came crashing down when my grandmother suffered a brain stroke and was admitted to the ICU. CAT seemed too futile. I could barely concentrate on studies anymore! I never imagined I would have to see my grandmother in such condition, ever. But she was a fighter! And yes, she fought. She fought as long as she could before eventually succumbing to the vagaries of life. I was shattered and completely taken aback. I could never imagine that she would leave all of us so soon. Sadly, she did.
It was November by the time I could make sense of what had happened. Yes, I did not realise how cruel October could be. I was nervous all over again. I could not change what had happened and I was unsure if I could change what was about to come. However, resembling the spirit of my grandmother, I decided to fight. I was not the same. My grades in mocks were in the 70s now and I could barely concentrate and give a single mock in one go. However, one thing which I always did was to analyse the mock extensively no matter how good or bad I had scored. Things started improving and I was quickly in the range of 80s, a week before CAT. However, still far behind from being a member of the 99 club.
Just when anything could not have got worse, another calamity hit our family and my father had to visit our outstation paternal aunt who was undergoing a major crisis. Yes, he could not be with me, during the CAT week. Sad and dejected, I put all my focus on the exam, hoping to perform at least as good as the previous attempt, if not better. I had already heard enough stories of bold decisions leading to a person’s doom. Yes, I was petrified but had the belief that I could still do well. I was banking on the one 99 percentile I had initially received in my mocks in the month of September.
Reactions for CAT started pouring in and I was satisfied that I was able to give my best. I was happy that, given the circumstances, I was able to attempt the paper to the best of my ability. I, however, could not spend much time deliberating on my attempt since I had my CFA examinations coming up in 5 days.
After being done with all the B-School examinations, I finally got relieved and was eagerly excited for the results. I did not clear the cut off for NMAT and IIFT. I was not able to attempt XAT since one of my friends had to meet the tragic fate of seeing her father pass away the night before. However, the exam that I had put my faith on, did not disappoint much. I scored a 99.62 percentile in CAT. I was elated. I could have never imagined scoring such a high percentile. Eagerly awaiting my calls, I did not receive call from IIM C, missing by a miniscule. However, I subsequently received calls from almost all other IIMs including IIM A, B and others.
Scared and worried about my four-month break, I began getting opinions from different corners on how to go about hiding it. However, firm and resolute in my choices, I decided to be honest and show the break that I took to prepare for CAT and other entrance examinations – yet again alone and nervous.
However, as fate would deem fit, I was able to convert A, B, K, SPJIMR and clear my CFA examination. I am still awaiting results for L, I and other B-schools. Hopefully, I will be joining IIM-A this year.
“Part of the journey is the end” and I am glad this journey did not have a sad ending.
Also check: Everything You Need To Know About CAT Exam - Notification, Books, Syllabus, How to Prepare, etc.