How To Prepare For CAT And XAT While Working – Aroon’s Journey To XLRI Jamshedpur

Is this your last attempt at CAT/XAT or other management exams? If yes, I was in a similar position a year ago. After having failed twice, convincingly, at all the management exams, I decided to make one last attempt. Surprisingly, in my first attempt at CAT in 2013, I scored a decent 96.2 percentile. I still don’t know how. I did not appear for the XAT in 2014 because I was sure I was going to fail miserably if I decided to take it. I was scared partly because of all the puffery around it as being the toughest management entrance exam.

In 2014, I found myself a job in a leading IT company. I could not manage studying because I needed to adjust to the corporate world and I was quite bad at my job as well, at least initially. I did not take CAT 2014 or XAT 2015. I decided to take them the next year. I thought it would be the right time for me to crack the tests with some experience behind my back. However, it was hard to manage studies and work. At the end of a tiring day at work, you may not find the motivation to open your books or take a three-hour long mock test. It is hard. “But it is supposed to be hard.”-  I used such clichéd one-liners to somehow keep myself motivated. “If you are not going to go all the way, then why go at all?” – this was another cheesy one which somehow kept me going (For more such one-liners, drop a comment). Somehow I managed to cover all the portions of the syllabus, and I was ready for the exams. My results were pathetic. I took a huge plunge to 82 percentile in CAT 2015. I gathered the strength to take the XAT in 2016 and scored an even lower 70 something percentile.

My morale went for a toss. I was dreaming of leaving the corporate scene and be chilling in a plush green campus in some other part of the country. It was not meant to be, apparently. As a final resort, I thought of making one last attempt and an honest one while at it.

I was progressing quite quickly in the organisation and the workload also kept increasing with each day. To make it worse, the universe conspired to make me work in shifts. I was working in a different shift every other week. Things started getting complicated and I could not find much time to study. However, I realised that whatever theoretical knowledge I had to acquire, I had acquired it while preparing for the previous two attempts. This time I focused only on mocks. I took a mock, reviewed it thoroughly and then took another one. My average percentile score during the mocks was around 82 percentile. I did nothing else for preparation. Finally, the day arrived and I took the CAT in 2016. I scored a 98.92 overall with a 99.78 percentile in DI/LR. I took the XAT in 2017 and scored a 98.5 percentile overall with a 99.226 in decision-making. Surprised?

With many failures, you gain experience! After failing twice in the tests and having analysed the results of the previous few years, I always knew my score of 82 percentile in the mocks was good enough. The key piece of information that I always kept at the back of my mind was that by the time D-day arrives, a majority of the test takers give up! I leveraged this fact and did not give up. Whatever you may be scoring in your mocks, there is a high probability that you will end up scoring higher in the actual test. It is only about maximising it as much as you can and a lot of it depends on your attitude on D-day. CAT/XAT are more about your test-taking strategies rather than formulas and methods. If this is your last attempt at CAT/XAT or any other management entrance exam, just remember that you probably know everything that you could ever know in terms of the syllabus, you just need to hang in there and develop your best strategy to take the test.


All the best for your preparations!

Aroon Koshy

Aroon Koshy is a Human Resource Management student at XLRI from the batch of 2017-19. He enjoys writing and is a sports enthusiast. The views expressed in this story are personal.



Aroon Koshy

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