We have Anushka Dhawan with us, who will be joining XLRI Jamshedpur's PGDM HRM program this year. A lawyer by degree, Anushka decided to get into an MBA program as a fresher and started preparing for all the management entrance exams. In this article, she shares her story on how she overcame her exam anxiety, was on the verge of looking for other career avenues, and ultimately made it to the best HR program in the country! Read on!
This is Anushka Dhawan, a lawyer from the Batch of 2019 at UPES, Dehradun. In MBA terms, you can refer to me as your run-of-the-mill candidate with decent academics and reasonable participation credits in extra-curriculars throughout school and college.
My XAT percentile aggregated to 97.78 this year and I feel blessed to have been considered worthy enough of constituting a part of the incoming 2020-2022 HR Batch at XLRI Jamshedpur!
I know that a lot of you might be scrolling down to find my tips, tricks and list of resources to crack these competitive exams. However, this post is not a guide to the academic side of my MBA prep. I believe that there exist literally thousands of people, coaching institutes and websites with genuinely solid foundations and more back-tested strategies. This, here, is my story of how I braved my exam anxiety, underperformed in what I thought was the most important exam in my life, broke down emotionally, looked for alternate career avenues and then took my final shot at redemption only to make it to my dream college, XLRI, Jamshedpur.
I’m writing this because it is something that would’ve given me hope when I was grappling with it and also a nudge towards strategizing as per my strengths and weaknesses. Although this blog includes my strategies for the Decision-Making section in XAT, the rest of my preparation (QA, VA/RC, and DI/LR) was largely similar for all other associated exams such as CAT, and IIFT.
Though I had started scratching the surface of my MBA entrance preparation back in January 2019, my tryst with full time preparation commenced only after the culmination of my 5th year in May, 2019.
After five years of law school, my Mathematics was quite rusty. VA/RC was always a strength, and DI/LR/Decision Making are, in my personal opinion, buildable areas for all aspirants, subject to the amount of hardwork one is willing to put in.
As for my journey, I am someone who has always tended to crumble under exam anxiety. Additionally, I had effectively put all my eggs in the MBA basket right after graduation in May 2019. This added to my stress and panic. As a result of this, I majorly underperformed in CAT 2019, as well as IIFT 2019. The one week after these exams was a very difficult time for me, especially because I had gone all-in for CAT 2019. Little did I know, sometimes, life has something different, and something better in store for you! The words seemed hollow till the day I got my XLRI admit, but the key is to believe in it.
Nailing the Decision Making Section While Catering To My Exam Anxiety
After CAT, IIFT and a lot of introspection, I was sure of two things. First, my preparation was not the reason for my underperformance, and that I needed to believe in myself way more than I did during that time. Second, and more importantly, I needed to get to the root of this issue if I wanted to ace XAT.
So here’s what I did –
- I devised a 7-day strategy to finish all available previous year XAT question papers about 20 days before XAT 2020 with the intention to not touch any other study material for XAT.
- I also aimed to finish the Decision-Making section from official previous year papers at least twice in these 7 days.
- I consciously decided to not refer to study material from any coaching institutes because I realized that the best sources for XAT preparation in a limited amount of time would be the source of this exam, itself. Another reason why I think XAT previous years are more accurate than coaching materials for XAT specific preparation is because contrary to CAT, XAT is administered by the same body each year thereby making its objectivity in subjectivity more continual in nature.
When I say I did not study for the entire 20 days before XAT, I mean that I did not touch the books, did not revise before exams, and did not try to recollect concepts and formulae before I appeared for the exam. I could only take this leap of faith because I genuinely believed in my academic preparation and hard-work. I was fully aware that this was a transgressional risk (in the eyes of the normalized society), and could’ve, very honestly, worked in either direction. With gratitude and fortitude, I can now assert that my strategy worked. Again, I’d like to mention here that this may have worked for me, but that’s because I was fighting my own personal battles and needed to deal with them in a customized manner to essentially trick my mind into de-stress mode.
But then, what did I do in those twenty days? I tried to reach out and connect to different professionals on LinkedIn, tried to look for a job, updated my resume, sought advice from anybody remotely close to my goals… you know (or if not, by now, you have imagined as much) the drill. It was not as easy as it is to write about it now. Like I said, I tried to cut the root of my exam anxiety problem. Those 20 days gave me hope, belief and a strong network, it was a win-win!
Fast Forward To The Exam Day
XAT 2020 went really well, not because I could attempt questions successfully and confidently, but because I came out a much stronger person than when I had walked in to the exam hall. In hindsight, this has been my biggest takeaway from this journey.
I know for sure, that there are hundreds of people who underperform in all exams before XAT. And that’s okay, as long as you’re either willing to put in everything you have into preparing for the exam or battle all forces that have hindered your success in the previous ones. Personally, my academic preparation ended in November. My mental preparation in the later stages is what made all the difference.
This goes out to everyone appearing for MBA entrance examinations and isn’t a prodigy since the very beginning, the process of getting what you want might be torturous in many ways, but take each day as it comes and don’t give up. Irrespective of how things work out, you will be a different person by the end of it. All which matters in the end is the kind of person you choose to become after this topsy-turvy ride.
You May Also Like To Read: