“Despite fetching 98.12 %ile in CAT that year, I did not get a single IIM call because I missed a sectional cutoff. That phase was indelible, to say the least. However, I decided to give a second attempt to redeem myself. Despite being an extrovert I distanced myself from everything else because the preparation required it and I had set my goals.”
This is the story of Shashwat Dharmadhikari, a GEM (also, literally), a first-year Business Management student at XLRI, Jamshedpur. His journey stands as testimony to the fact that an ordinary student can aim high and achieve extraordinary things with persistence, determination and a never back down attitude.
By the end of my second year of engineering, I had decided that I wanted to pursue an MBA. With the kind of exposure I obtained by organizing various events in my college, I realized that the skill set which I possess could be utilized and further honed by a degree in management.
I started my preparation in the third year of Engineering and joined a well-known coaching institute in Indore. The counselling which I got there busted various myths surrounding an MBA – things such as a good profile and work experience do matter, but what matters primarily is fetching a good score in the various entrance examinations.
Though I was a GEM (General Engineering Male) candidate from a humble institute without any prior work-experience, I felt confident in my abilities. I had a quest to prove myself and that fuelled me to work hard every day.
The Preparation Phase
During the initial phase of my preparation, I reached out to various students and mentors to get their first-hand advice and get a preliminary understanding of how much score is required to convert the calls smoothly.
I started my preparations in full-swing and had 6 months to prepare. When I appeared for All India level Mocks, I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Quant and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning was my forte and I used to perform well in these sections. However, I did not have a stronghold over the Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability Section. One mistake which I committed was that despite knowing my weakness, I used to focus more on the other two sections as they gave a boost to my confidence.
In the final year of my Engineering, I wrote CAT and scored a 98.12 %ile. Despite this score, I could not fetch a single IIM call as VA RC turned out to be my nemesis and I missed the sectional cut-off by a small margin.
That phase was indelible, to say the least. However, I kept the momentum going and attended all preparatory classes for Stage II i.e. GD-PI training.
Against All Odds
I was passionate and decided to take a second chance to redeem myself. I had a job offer at hand but decided not to join it and took the plunge instead.
This time I was well-versed with the format. I started practising the Verbal Ability section. I tried various techniques and identified the ones that worked for me.
Despite being an extrovert I did not interact much with anyone to avoid distractions as I had my goals clear in my mind.
After every mock, when my peers would compare their scores amongst themselves, I would measure up my score with faculty members (from their respective sections) to make sure I never felt complacent.
In my free time, to keep the momentum afloat, I used to watch Current Affairs videos (which later helped me to score 99.406%ile in XAT GK section), Motivational speeches and my dream B-school videos on YouTube. Through this medium, I felt virtually connected to my role-models and was crystal clear in mind where I wanted to be.
I appeared for CAT and XAT and secured a 99.38 %ile(with a 99.94 %ile in DI LR) and 98.97%ile respectively and also cleared all the sectional cutoffs.
This time things turned around and I had calls from XLRI BM and HR, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Shillong, CAP, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, NMIMS Mumbai, SIBM Pune, and SCMHRD.
I appeared for all my interviews and was offered a seat at XLRI. I finally came through. Though I was not able to connect the dots earlier, today when I look back, I feel that somethings fall apart so better things can come together. Everything happens for a reason.
So, the parting advice from my experience to all aspirants is to not fall into the trap of whether their profile is good enough to get into the top B-schools, instead, dedicate their time on preparations and aim to score a great percentile, which will not only fetch them a good number of calls but would also make up for any voids in their profile.