I am not sure if a lot of people will be able to appreciate this. There is nothing exceptional that happened in this case. But, I am sure there are people like me who could be warned about a potential danger. Also, I feel much more comfortable talking about a paper pencil exam.
Most of the exams or tests in my life which I have botched have been screwed up only because of one reason - Daydreaming. (Ok. That isn't the only reason. I didn't have a clue because of poor preparation many a times but for the sake of this story, let's assume my distraction is the reason)
There have been school and university exam papers that I have not finished because I have this unique capacity to detach myself from my immediate surroundings and context. An uncontrolled chain of thoughts takes over and I get transported to another world. Sometimes, the power of spontaneous inspiration and ideas is too much for the mind to respect the significance of the present moment. Or maybe the mind chooses which present to give more priority - the one buzzing with ideas and deep retrospection over the task at hand in the real world.
In any case, management entrance tests are not designed for those with creativity, ideas and opinions. They are more suitable for people who can separate cold facts from the hot soupy reading comprehension and those who have the calm mind to untangle a knotty and difficult quant problem. (Interestingly, the XAT has an interesting section on Decision Making. I won't talk about it because I don't think I'm very good at it.)
So coming back to what happened to me - Jan 2009 - XAT. I was extremely confident going into the test as I was acing every entrance test that year (had a fantastic CAT 2008). For a change, lack of preparation was definitely not going to fail me. Too much confidence? Maybe. I took a Cadbury Bournville along with me which was my custom for every test. My first priority was to make sure that I had a very high percentile. I started with verbal since it was may strength and was quite comfortable throughout the section. Looked at the Logic and DM section and it was all going like a breeze. This was going even better than the CAT!
And then my old nemesis returned. I took a few bites of my chocolate and had a few sips of water and for a proper 10 odd mins was doing nothing after that. I was lost in my thoughts and was rudely woken up by an announcement on the speaker that only 20 mins were left. Suddenly it felt like the Indian cricket team of the 1990s where a comfortable chase would be turned into an extraordinary collapse. So here I was writing the best test of my life and I suddenly realize that I have only 20 mins left for my least preferred section. Tragedy had struck. I started goofing up on easy quant problems too. In short, my absent mindedness, complacency and daydreaming had ensured that I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
20 days later, the worst fears were realized - 99.5 percentile overall in XAT but no BM call as I had missed the quant cutoff by 0.25 marks ( about half a percentile I think)
Moral of the Story - It is never over till it is over. You can lose from a perfectly impregnable position. If you have a tendency to be complacent, tough exams like XAT can kill you. If you daydream like me, you need better control over your thoughts.
- Ankit Doshi
The writer is the Creator of InsideIIM.com. You can read all his stories here
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