In the chilling winter mornings of November, I sat, barefoot, staring at the screen. It was my second attempt at CAT. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind, every minute. The only thing I could recall at the time was that one word, my mentor persistently talked about - BELIEF. I pulled off some yogic breathing at that very moment, looking like an idiot, and got my brain to shut up. I gave my heart and soul to it. And as they say, rest is history.
Hi Everyone, This is Niyati Jain. I’m an incoming PGP student at MDI, Gurgaon. And this is my story.
With a not-so-good first attempt at CAT, I wasn’t sure if I should be giving it another shot. I saw that as a sort of signal that a B-school might not be the correct place for me. I decided to let it take a backseat and instead focused on my end semester exams. To cut back on the monotony caused by preparing for theoretical subjects, I started searching for an old puzzle book of mine. While doing that, I stumbled across the Logical Reasoning Book. I felt defeat when I looked at it. But the fighter spirit in me refused to back down.
After my college exams, I endeavoured to give it my all with a fresh perspective, backed by unwavering faith. Along with preparing for it myself, I took guidance from Mindworkzz, an institute situated in the heart of Delhi, CP. I was sceptical if I was making the correct decision since I was going to spend a considerable amount of time, travelling and would eventually have less time for self-study. But I decided to go ahead with it.
The next six months were one of the most enriching and learning experiences of my life. My teachers were phenomenal mentors. At the very start of the course, the advice of not chasing the syllabus was the most bizarre ever. I thought to myself as to why I was willing to travel so far, for such a piece of advice?! But somehow, that place felt right.
I eventually took my first mock and gave it with utmost sincerity. It was worse than my first attempt at the actual CAT. I didn’t understand what went wrong.
I was devastated, but I had faith. I continued to meditate. It helped me think and respond better. While at it, a thought went through by my head - What about my mental preparation? Is the CAT just about mindlessly answering questions? Is that even possible?
I had found the answer. I recalled the words used by my mentor when he explained why the completion of the syllabus was not something to be chased. The CAT was more mental than physical.
Suddenly, the bizarre advice had become gold. It came from someone who had aced the CAT several times and continues to do so, every passing year. He knew the mental struggles. And it resonated with one of my favourite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt – “Learn from the mistakes of others. You cannot live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Therefore, I decided to change how I viewed the CAT, about it being this big monster under the bed. I developed belief; controlled every negative thought that came my way, I fed my faith so that my fear would starve. And that has made ALL the difference. It kept me calm when things around me were crumbling. I could not instantly get the desired results, but I persevered. I challenged myself constantly and raised my game, every step of the way. That was where my strengths lay. Being disciplined gives one immense power. I kept moving ahead, with conviction, and finally witnessed the magic of having one’s mind at the right place on the D-day.
On the 4th of Jan, I was ecstatic. More than anything, I had scored the highest, amongst the three, in the LRDI section. With a difference of 63 marks, as compared to my previous attempt, I miraculously got a 97.1%ile. I knew I had hit the mark. And after going through a long, tiresome process of interviews with various colleges, I chose MDI as my destination.
Here are my 2 cents for all the CAT aspirants out there :
1.) Along with learning the course material, train your mind to be calm and composed under pressure. The time pressure combined with the pressure to perform can get overwhelming at times. Always have a go-to thing that calms your mind. It can be meditating, just basic breathing exercises, talking to yourself or anything that you can do at the exam centre to get away from the cloud of negativity. There have been plenty of cases wherein excellent students fail to deliver because of a lack of control over their emotions. Do not get excited or demotivated when you look at a question.
2.) Just have faith and move forward. Enjoy and embrace the journey. Give it all you’ve got.
I’d like to conclude by quoting a few words by Topher Kearby, which were very helpful during my preparation -
"When you're working towards something, when you're planning, when you're dreaming, when you're putting things in place to change your life, you will have difficult days and impossible moments and weight will sit on your chest and make it feel as though you can't breathe. It is in that moment that you have to decide, what you are really made of !"
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