MBA Dream Shattered? – The Way Ahead – Part I

After a tumultuous six months, starting with the CAT in November, it is high time to take stock of where you stand, especially if you are staring at a year wasted and are gearing up for a decision to chuck the MBA dream!

Same time, last year, you would have embarked on a journey of getting into the coveted IIMs or such other top B Schools like XL, FMS, or even Tier2 Schools.

A six month long rigorous journey, starting around April last year, would have involved countless hours of study, Mocks, discussions, heartbreaks (with less marks in Mocks), Losing heart mid-way, getting back into track with renewed vigour for a final assault at the CAT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT and other exams!

Some of you would have got the Interview Call, prepared with gusto for the GD, WAT and the PI, read newspapers like never before, prepared the long forgotten subjects in Engineering (or Degree!), brushed up on the company and industry you are working for !

And yet, all these have come to naught!

You have nothing to show for your hard work, save a couple of Institutes which have been behind you to take admission in their colleges, Not the ones you would have dreamt of getting into, just exactly a year back!

Coping up with the above and getting out of the rut is inevitable. However, for the moment, it appears that the world has turned upside down and there are many accusatory glances from peers and friends, relatives and supposed well-wishers that you have NOT done enough!

The first thing to believe is that this is NOT the end of the world. If anything, such failures could be really useful in life to cope up with much more demanding situations.

There is nothing like, LAST TIME WRITING CAT! The goal is never CAT. The goal is and should always be an MBA/PGDM, which will make you into a managerial material and subsequently help you in your growth in the corporate ladder!

Here’s an attempt to answer some of your questions that may arise through FAQs!

Q. Should I write CAT again? I have a bad percentile in CAT and XAT and the colleges I am getting aren’t the ones I wished to join?

A. This is one question (rather two in one), I have answered over the last 15 years to give a direction to the confused student.

First time CAT takers and are less than 25 years of age: If you are a First time CAT taker and have not given enough effort for the CAT due to other engagements (college/office), then it makes definitely more sense to take up CAT again. Even if you have prepared well, there is every chance that the exam may have not gone as well as your Mocks were OR as you expected.

In the long Career one may have (spanning 35 to 40 years), it makes sense to take out one more year and prepare for CAT to get into the top Institutes. Also, you can add an Year of Work-ex to your CV which can help a bit more in your MBA itself (if not in the selection process)

Students with More than 2 years of Work-Ex:  If you have already written CAT twice and have more than 2 years of Work-Ex, then it is an important to ponder over some questions before taking a decision. Did you write CAT seriously after preparation? If yes, and despite such preparation twice in two years, you have got a bad percentile? If yes, then it makes sense to take up an MBA even if it is not in the Top 30 Colleges. You may have to choose carefully the Institute you may want to join. Don’t go by what the crowd has done. Do the research on the Faculty, Student intake, real Placements, Profiles that the Institute could attract, Fees, etc., before you take this decision.

Students with more than 3 to 4 years of Experience: Here, instead of taking up an Institute which may not be in the top 30/40, it is better to write GMAT and start looking for a ONE Year Executive MBA Program. I would recommend that you write CAT too and look at some of the Executive Programs of IIM Indore SP Jains of the world which can be better off than taking up a Two-Year program from a lower ranked Institute.

Q. I am girl and I have a lot of pressure to take up an MBA this year itself. Should I settle for a less known, less ranked college?

A. Once again, it is unique to India that girls are pressurized into get married by 25 or 26 years of age. This makes it almost impossible for girls to plan their careers after working for couple of years. My Advice in this case would be actually to parents rather than the girl concerned. The answer above is equally valid for a girl too and hence the decision has to be only to do with the career rather than mix up career and marriage.


Q. Should I prepare for CAT again by going through coaching OR should I just take Mock CATs.

A. This is a very important question. Most students, wrongly, believe that having tons of material or doing loads of Mock Tests would get them through CAT. There is a huge fallacy in the above thinking. What matters in not the number of tests one writes OR the amount of material one has. Almost all test takers have the access to the same material/tests!

What then differentiates the Top Candidate to Thousands of others? It is the ability to understand your weaknesses and make course correction at the right time.

CAT is not just a Knowledge based exam or even Aptitude based exam. It is a lot to do with Mental skills and your ability to adapt to pressure. A good coaching institute, with the right mentors, can help you keep your calm under trying circumstances.

Disclaimer: The author runs VistaMind Education, a leading CAT training institute which trains students through live ONLINE classes as well as Classroom training in 11 cities including Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore among others.

Hence, I definitely recommend that one takes up coaching from the right institute – whether ONLINE or OFFLINE – and make sure that you utilize the services of the trainers and mentors in that institute.

Coaching ensures two things a) Continuity in Preparation b) Direction and Mentorship.


Part 2 can be found here.

There is a live chat on this topic with ARKS Srinivas on April 13th at 6.30 pm. Please join us for the chat here on Monday to ask more questions. You can also ask questions in the comments section below.

ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.




@ARKS Srinivas Ok, I have always been a passive reader of ALL websites. This is the 1st time I have actually created an account to post a query. I am in a really tricky place in my life right now (and I am pretty sure that u will find my situation to be unique, in a bad way) & could really use some advice (especially from someone of ur stature & experience). I won’t be able to participate in the chat tomorrow, hence posting my query in the comment section, hoping that it will elicit a reply.
I am Satyabrata Chaudhary from Kolkata. Let me give u a rough idea about my profile-
Class X Board Exams- 92% (2006)
Class XII Board Exams- 92% (2008)
Graduation – B.Tech in Electronics & Communication – 8.29 DGPA (2012)
Work Ex- 21 months till January 2014
Now the major blip among all these is that I will be having a 2 year gap in my CV (by the time I join a B-School, if at all), over which I had no control. Life was going smoothly till 2013 – I had appeared for CAT 2013, scored a whopping 99.53%ile, had calls from each of the Top-9 but unfortunately on 16th April, 2014 suffered a freak bike accident that damaged my spinal cord leaving me partially paralyzed. Needless to say, life became a tale of endless miseries. Thankfully after a seemingly endless chain of surgeries & physiotherapies , I have regained almost 90% mobility in my arms & neck (Hopefully will be fully fit by August). I have planned to give it my all for CAT/XAT/IIFT and I am absolutely confident of cracking atleast 2 of these again (just raring to go!!). But my gap is a cause of major headache. Some of friends in IIM AB have warned me that there is no way these giants will accept such a profile. Ur article also seems to dissuade ppl with 4yrs of WE from applying (I would’ve had 4yrs of WE by 2016 if I hadn’t fallen prey to that misfortune). So, what acc to u, should I do? Do I have very little chance of making it to a biggie?
It is my tricky case that has made me reach out to u. Waiting to hear ur views……

PS- Any seniors here, plz feel free to comment too.

Team Insideiim

Hi Satyabrata, We had put your query to ARKSS in the live chat. This is his response to your predicament.

“Dear Satyabrata, You have all the chance in the world to get into any of the top b schools in this country given your acads and the genuine reason for the 2 year gap. Please do not lose heart by the advice given to you by friends from IIMs. An institute like an IIM will never reject a student who was consistently brilliant but has a two year gap because of an accident. So prepare well for CAT 2015”

sumeet pawar

what are my chances of making it top 20 management institutes in india?awaiting my last semester results of bsc chemistry.acads are x-86 xii-56 n graduation>75 so what are my realistic chances considering the cat 2015/mba entrances,certifications can i do to improve profile.i am of general caste, no great extra circular activities except winning few debate competitions in college and winning fashion shows and hosting a few events.