From Nowhere To IIM Bangalore – Atul Jha’s CAT Journey
Atul Kumar Jha
CAT %le 99.24
My first encounter with CAT was in 3rd year, NIT Jamshedpur when I found my roommate buying coaching institutes course material. Being a Mechanical Engineer, all I wanted then was a decent job with a good pay. However, peer pressure made me enrol in one of the coaching institutes. Spent (rather wasted) Rs 30,000 as I hardly opened any book or took any of the mocks. Very soon the 4th year came and I got busy with my placement procedures. CAT was scheduled in November as usual, but I chose to skip it (a big mistake) and decided to go for the companies coming that day. Got rejected from that company as well. However, destiny worked in my favour and got placed at BPCL.
After joining BPCL on June 13th, I completely forgot about CAT because the work pressure had taken the better of me. However, I tried to remain in touch with my Institute’s materials and few Facebook CAT groups. But they were not enough. From August’13 I finally decided to put more efforts towards my CAT prep. I had the Arun Sharma set and decided to complete it before Oct15. I was already frustrated with my job. I was posted in a remote location where no coaching institute was available. Self-study was the only way for me to crack CAT.
I had booked the slot for Oct 20 morning. This was going to be my first ever CAT. I was not very confident about my preparation. I could not even cover all the topics of QA and had not given any single mock (another mistake). But I took CAT and attempted 18/30 in QA and 22/30 in VA. I was pretty satisfied with my performance given that my slot was one of the toughest one. A very close of my friend rang up and said he attempted 16 QA & 17 VA. This tensed me up a bit for I felt I might have got carried away especially in VA.
On the result day, I was very anxious as I hoped for something 98%ile+. I was in my office when my friend Whatsapped me. He had got OA 98.2%ile. Immediately I checked for mine.
QA: 70.XX%ile VA: 94.6%ile OA: 91.XX%ile (XX means I don’t remember the exact score).
I was shocked. Even with 8 questions more than my friend I had miserably performed. Especially in QA, where I expected the most. Later through FB groups, I came to know that normalisation had affected the score of many and few guys had even gone to the extent of filing a case against the normalisation process.
Whatever be the reason, I was screwed. I felt blank and had nowhere to go. Phones kept ringing for my result and I felt like burying myself in some deep abyss. My same friend managed to convert IIM B.
CAT 14 (The last and ultimate strike)
It took me few months to recover from that shock. Job had become quite frustrating and I wanted to run away from it. Still, I pulled myself up and geared up for CAT 14. I bought TIME material, enrolled for its mock series and most importantly prepared a time segmented target for myself. I worked from 8 to 8 in the office (sometimes this could stretch to even 12 in the night), returned back and studied till 2 o clock. I hardly used to get 3-4 hour sleep. Most of my time in the office was spent solving TIME booklets or going through flash cards for vocab.
Then one day I accidentally bumped into the FB group CAT Preparation-iQuanta. The group had just started at that time and had very few but very talented members. Indrajeet was one of them. He is one of the best guys for quant I have ever seen and that too at such a young age. Slowly I became active in that group. I made many friends, solved a variety of questions and before I knew the group had become my second home. I spent hours solving questions that came on that group. Indrajeet used to conduct tutorials and mini mocks and we actively participated in it. From Jan’14 I had become one of the most active members of the group and I could feel the improvement in my QA standards.
But the hectic job was always a problem. With 4-5 hour sleep for around 3 months, my productivity had gone down. And finally, in the month of June, I took a very risky decision of quitting my job. I contemplated it for like one month whether I should or shouldn’t quit my job. But after like days of counselling, I finally resigned and from July, I committed myself to CAT preparation.
Things were going pretty smooth now. QA had become easy, unlike the previous year, basically because of the numerous questions I solved on the group and different, new and very useful fundas that Indrajeet and few other faculties used to give on the group. VA prep was also moving smoothly though I never liked it (another mistake) and devoted relatively less time on it.
I took my first mock in the month of August and performed miserably. I scored only 88%ile. The mock score further disheartened me and I started suspecting if my reason to quit was wise enough or not. Perhaps I had become complacent with my performance. But then I increased my study hours. Solved numerous questions from different sites, books and coaching materials. But I religiously followed the FB group because this group helped me keep myself updated with my performance. Where else would you find a group of 1.85 Lakh plus members to compete with?
I enrolled with 2 more mock series. I gave time for self-study in afternoon and for mock at night. There were days when I took like 3 mocks in a day. Slowly my mock scores started getting better. By October, I was confident enough of my prep and knew that I could score a decent percentile.
But having no job was an added and continuous pressure which sometimes affected my performance.
So finally I registered for CAT 14 and got the first-day first slot. The night before the examination was pretty intense and I couldn’t sleep the whole night. Somehow I managed to get 4-hour sleep that night. Early morning I left for my centre confused regarding the no of attempts I should go for in the exam.
I started with QA. It felt really easy. I did all of them. Except for one DI rest were easy and was able to do the rest. QA was done in 70 mintutes approximately with total attempts 45/50.
VA was never my forte. Got stuck in one LR which consume a lot of time. Somehow I managed 35/50 which was good enough from what I usually attempted in mocks.
Total attempts: 80/100 and I was on cloud nine. However, I later got to know that in subsequent slots many had attempted close to 90+ and some even 100. All I could do was cross my finger and wait for the results.
Waiting for result day was more painful than preparing for the CAT. One month time seemed like a year. On top of it the results were delayed by like 7-8 days. However, finally, the result came on around 28th December. I could see the flood of percentiles on my FB wall and various Whatsapp groups. Immediately started receiving messages from friends for my %ile.
Somehow I gathered the courage to open the result.
QA : 99.5%ile
OA : 99.24%ile
My first expression was blank. I didn’t know what to do. Honestly, I expected a little more but anything above 99%ile was good enough for me. Like, everyone, I checked my result twice and thrice to make sure it’s really mine.
Calls started pouring in from everywhere and my dream of seeing myself in IIM now seemed a step closer.
I got calls from all IIMs except A and C. The next step of PI preparation went smoothly and I converted all of my calls.
This whole experience, this journey to CAT taught me many valuable lessons. Some key take aways:
1) Never ever give up. If I can, so can you. We just don’t know it.
2) Hard work pays always. You might get the result a little delayed but sooner or later you will earn the reward for your effort.
3) Don’t rely only on Quant like I did. I screwed my VA which affected my OA. Prepare for VA as well.
4) Don’t get inspired by this article to leave your job and prepare for CAT. I have faced a lot of pressure while preparing for CAT just because I had no job. It’s a risky decision and can be disadvantageous as well.
5) Follow iQuanta. It’s the best one. The concepts which are taught over there are not taught even in premier coaching institutes. You will benefit from it. Trust me.
About the Author:
ATUL KUMAR JHA