On Pragmatism In The Times Of B-School Tests

So it’s that much awaited time of the year again! One after another, the notifications for competitive tests like CAT, XAT and TISSNET will come knocking on your doors. But before you start wracking your brains over data sets and comprehensions, you must first do one thing: STRATEGISE!

So What Is Your Real Target?

We all know that getting into a good b-school is no cakewalk. You are pitted against the best minds in the country. Yet, the seats in your most coveted institution are few in number. While hard work is a prerequisite to cracking these exams, you also need to be smart about setting up your goals. So what do I mean by strategy?

In the course of your preparations for the various entrance tests, you will come across a host of tricks and tactics to milk out maximum productivity from those two to three hours spent inside an exam hall. While this is a more localised kind of strategy, I would ask you to focus on the big picture.

You see, when preparing for such intensely competitive exams, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the complexity and competition around you. With every new mock test, spirits bob up and down depending on your score. In this kind of a high-pressure situation, we tend to zone in on some select institutions and tend to look at admission into b-school as the end goal. But it is not! Building a career in management is what you are really in for. So don’t let your short-term goals get in the way of your long-term goal. A part of your strategy should be to develop a safety net. What is the next best option for you just in case you don’t convert the school of your dreams? No, this doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It simply means you are being pragmatic.

What Worked For Me –

Like many others, I had quit my job and cut down on my social interactions to devote all my time to preparing for MBA exams. The stakes were very high and at one point, all I could think of was colleges and cutoffs. Needless to say, I worked extremely hard every single day. But midway through my preparations, I realised that being extremely weak in math, the quantitative ability would not emerge as my strong point in a matter of mere months. But on the other hand, I realised I loved reading up on current events and that papers that are heavy on general knowledge and current affairs questions were right up my alley! I had always dreamt of studying at TISS, since HR was my first preference. So while I devoted equal amounts of time to prepare holistically for the whole gamut of entrance tests, I chose to set aside some time every day to prepare exclusively for TISS. I aligned my strengths and interests to an examination where I knew I could fare well and that’s how TISSNET emerged as my safety net!


Why This Strategy Works –

The benefits of this strategy was that it gave me a shot of confidence whenever I got a quiz question right or fared well on a TISSNET mock. Instead of panicking about not doing well in any of the exams, I felt more levelheaded while preparing because I was confident I could perform well in at least one test.

Now you could be weak at one topic, maybe two topics. But you can never be weak at everything! Each of us has our unique strengths and weaknesses and believe me, the journey to a b-school is essentially how you play to your strengths. Rather than be demotivated by your weaknesses, look for the ideal fit for you both in terms of your competence and your strengths. This will shoot up your chances of converting at least one school since you are preparing specifically for it. In my experience, I felt that it boosted my overall test performance as well because I was not half as afraid of failing as I previously was.

But a safety net goes beyond competitive tests. For those of you who choose to quit or take leave from the workplace, don’t lose touch with your employers and past teachers. What if your dream college doesn’t materialise in one go? You must have a back-up plan to fall back upon, no matter how you fare in that two-hour window. A good manager is one who always has a contingency plan and if you are planning to enter the exciting world of management, it’s high time you start managing your time and your prospects well. Good luck! Let the hunger games begin!

Saranya Mukherjee

Saranya Mukherjee is a second-year student of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations at TISS, Mumbai. Formerly a French language teacher, the HR bug bit her while doing a translation project for Towers Watson. An avid traveller and bookworm, Saranya enjoys writing and maintains a journal about her travels and her life at TISS.