- How to choose the right coaching centre?
Why You Must NOT Get Demotivated By Your CAT Result
This one is for anyone who didn't get the percentile that they expected.
The first thing to remember is that CAT is just an exam. The exam or its score doesn't define who you are. Or what you are capable of doing. You cannot let one exam, one score determine what you will do for the rest of your life.
Yes, CAT is important. Going to a b-school is important. Doing an MBA from a top b-school is important. But anything that makes you feel like you aren't good enough, isn't worth it.
There are two options that you have right now. You don't need to decide right away. And you shouldn't. Decide tomorrow. When you can think clearly and decide what is best for you and your career.
Option 1 - Close this Chapter
You Give Up On The MBA Dream
Maybe you decide that the fight isn't worth it. Spending an entire year, preparing, appearing for mocks, having a gap year, and missing out on all the things you want to do but cannot, because CAT!
Maybe there are other ways to build a career of your dreams. You can do something entirely different and brilliantly amazing.
Option 2 - Resist And Fight
Do not settle. Do not give up. Fight and figure out a way where you can do better the next time. A way that will not hamper your well-being. Resist the temptation to settle for a mediocre b-school and fight for what you want and where you want to be next year. Here's what you need to read if you haven't scored too well in CAT 2019. Check it out here.
Do You Really Need An MBA?
Before you even consider appearing for CAT once again, ask yourself - Do I even need an MBA?
Don't know the answer? This IIM Bangalore student does! Keep reading.
Here is what Anish Malladi, a PGP 1 Student At IIM Bangalore has to say -
Pros of doing an MBA - What does an MBA even offer?
- Network - The network you build at a B-school is one of the most diverse and powerful in the world. Your network does not end with your peers. Your network will include alumni, corporate recruiters, as well as well known, successful corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. Naturally, it is up to you to determine how much work you do to build this network.
- Brand - Depending on the B-school, the brand is powerful. While it may seem trivial, the “@iimb.ac.in” email is more likely to be read than an “@gmail.com” email. The brand gets you through the door, what you do inside it is on you.
- Skills - For some reason, this is majorly underplayed as a takeaway from MBA life. The soft skills of communication, leadership, managing people, and so on, are the biggest takeaways from a B-school. Anyone going into finance will learn how a balance sheet and P&L work on Day 1. Anyone doing marketing will know what the 4 P’s are on Day 1. You don’t need a B-school to teach you that, but instead, you need it as a platform to develop, practice and hone these skills. Hell, if nothing else, you will learn the art of bullshitting convincingly!
- Money - Remember all of those options in my previous article? You will reach a level of pay comparable to that post-MBA in a longer time span. It could be 2 years or 10 years. Fact is, that the CTC for an MBA graduate is higher than that of an undergraduate or an MS/M. Eng. graduate. More often than not, it takes longer to get a PhD. than an MBA. As such, for the PhD to be worth it, purely from a monetary compensation perspective – you need to earn enough post-PhD so as to cover everything you would have made in the years after your MBA. (Opportunity cost in a nutshell).
- Technical switch - An MBA is a good place to switch from one line of work to another – engineering to finance, or operations to consulting. While lateral hires from the market are possible, placements are a safer bet in some respects.
- Location. This was my personal reason. An MBA lets you change where you are based. In my case, it was a desire to be closer to home and my family – something that would have been difficult working from the states.
- Resources - You can access amazing resources that allow you to produce some amazing work and research at an MBA college. The faculty are brilliant, and working with them lends perspective and knowledge.
Clearly, there are several pros to doing an MBA.
What's The Flipside?
- Classes - You’re going back to school. It’s fine if you’re a fresher and used to studying regularly (not me!) but more often than not, that’s not the case. Adjusting isn’t easy.
- Fees - It’s expensive. At 20+ lacs, it’s not cheap. This isn’t including living expenses, mess bills, and all the cash spent on the alcohol folks end up consuming on campus.
- Opportunity cost - I know people who have passed up a promotion that places them at the same level as a hire from final placements. Essentially, B-school has set them back 2 years – which is severe.
- Value creation - An MBA doesn’t add anything exclusive, per se. More so, it speeds up the process. The skills and network that you build at an MBA college is one that you will acquire over time. In fact, it’s likely that a network you build through the course of your work will be much more meaningful and relevant than the network you build at a B-school. I mean, there are only so many situations where, as an investment banker, I will need to call on a sales friend. However, I am more likely to communicate with a contact in a private equity fund – who I’m more likely to meet on the job.
To conclude - Is an MBA necessary? Absolutely not. In fact, close to 40% of CEOs of top Indian companies do not have an MBA. Do you need an MBA to become an entrepreneur? Once again, no. Only 36% of the founders of the top-100 upcoming startups have pursued an MBA.
However, an MBA expedites and boosts your career progression when compared to a regular graduate with the same career aspirations as you. You may not need it, but you can learn a lot and grow a lot by pursuing management education!
What To Do If You Have A Gap Year
“GAP”. A word of terror for MBA aspirants. We meet a lot of aspirants who have a strong lingering doubt about how a gap year on their resume would look during B-School interviews and profiles. But, if you read numerous experiences on various forums, it completely depends on what you decide to do about it.
Nitya Muralidharan’s story about a gap year shows us the importance of honesty in such situations.
There are many instances across various B-Schools of people who have had a gap after academics or after their jobs while they were preparing for MBA. The simple fact is that the right reasons are always welcome. Having a good percentile is important for receiving a call.
However, there are no penalties assigned for students with gaps. You are expected to have a justification ready for the questions that come. In all honesty, many young minds want to drop and continue preparation for CAT. But how you handled and utilized that time is very important as well. The key factor B-Schools are looking at is time management. A lot of your peers prepare alongside you without taking a drop. What do you have to show for it? Your ability to manage your time productively during this period is the key to show that you are a right fit for any B-School out there.
We know of people who have had a 4-year gap between their graduation and their B-school joining because of UPSC preparation. We know of people who decided to travel. Some took up their business ideas. Some decide to learn new things while they pursued their quest to bell the CAT. There are students who decided to quit their job to pursue comedy. As long as you did something that created a valuable addition to your profile, be honest about it. Of course, medical reasons are legitimately out of your hands and you can talk about it to your interview panel. They are all human at the end of the day.
Whether you were a budding writer or an aspiring artist or a hopeful sports enthusiast, all they are looking for is what extra efforts you put in to better yourself as an individual and a professional. If you turned into a GK enthusiast, then let them know. You might have invested your time in learning the basics of marketing or finance. Let them test you so that you prove your worth.
Relate your struggles to the fight of life and to the fight that all MBA students put up in their colleges every day.
How You Can Make Your Profile Stronger In One Year
Like we pointed out earlier, you need to make the most of your gap time. Here are some things you can do to make your profile stronger:
- Freelance: You can use up your time to work as a freelancer. Be it projects on freelancer.com or small internships on internshala, find a small project you can take up and deliver. These make for great learning opportunities and provide you with exposure too. Makes for great talking points during interviews.
- Certifications and Online Courses: Find this time to amass as much knowledge as possible during this time. Find relevant courses on economics, marketing, digital marketing, finance, corporate law, analytics or whatever relevant courses from an MBA curriculum that you find interesting and learn. Platforms such as Coursera, edX, udemy etc let you get certified as well for these courses.
- Internships: A great way to learn are internships. With the flooding of various start-ups in the market, it is not too difficult to find a small internship with new companies in the fields of your choice. Look for opportunities and make the most of them.
- Play to your strengths: Do you write? Do you paint? Do you love to make memes? Find things that interest you and try to scale it up. Start a blog, create a Facebook page or Instagram account and showcase your paintings, even poetry. You can even turn your hobby into a successful mini career if you are good at it and if you have time. If you can show growth in your follower base or talk about getting published anywhere then it is a huge plus for you!
Don’t let this crucial time go to waste. Be as productive as possible so that you get to showcase your talents well during interviews and then in your colleges down the line!
Online Coaching vs Offline Coaching - Which One To Choose?
On an average, approximately 70-80% of a batch in any IIM or non-IIM that accepts CAT scores consists of those with 12-48 months of work experience. The rest are fresh college graduates looking to pursue management education. However, what is common to both is the lack of time to prepare for CAT - a problem that is solved to an extent by online coaching classes and videos. So if you want to crack CAT 2019, should you go for traditional classroom teaching or should you study online?
Here is a comparison between the two:
|Online Coaching||Offline Coaching|
|Offers flexibility of time, especially for working professionals with a limited amount of time.||Offers limited flexibility with regard to time.|
|Can be utilised according to attention span and time available.||Set number of hours have to be dedicated regardless of attention span.|
|Costs between Rs. 0 - 10,000.||Costs between Rs. 35,000 - 60,000|
|Can be viewed again to improve concept clarity.||One time learning opportunity due to tight class schedules.|
|Progress can be made at one's own pace.||A student is required to keep up with the rest of the batch.|
|Does not offer doubt resolution or feedback.||Regular doubt-clearing sessions conducted by experts.|
|No opportunity for peer learning||Opportunity to learn from fellow CAT aspirants|
While online coaching is cheaper and allows flexibility in terms of attention span and time, offline coaching offers live doubt resolution, peer learning but is significantly costlier than online teaching methods.
However, traditional coaching still remains the most popular option amongst MBA aspirants due to complete faith in the classroom teaching process.
Here is what an IIM student has to say about Online Coaching in an immensely popular write-up:
"A year before around the same time, I was in the same dilemma, but with the importance of self-study in mind and belief in myself, I started my CAT preparation on my own with the help of online coaching going against the orthodox way of classroom preparation. Once Horace said, “Well begun is half done” and taking into consideration the same for all of you future aspirants, here are some key learnings from my experiences of online CAT preparation.
- No matter how big the name of the coaching is, it’s only your self-study that will pay you.
- Since you may or may not get the chance to get taught by best teachers in a classroom coaching, but in an online platform you can always view the lectures from the elite ones (in fact, they mostly put the best ones)"
Coaching Classes - Factors To Consider Before Choosing
While there are many new and repeat CAT aspirants who would prefer to study themselves and are familiar with concepts, the majority of aspirants require some form of guidance and a helping hand to crack the exam.
There are many private coaches across various Indian cities, however, 5-6 organisations specialising in CAT prep. have carved a niche for themselves over the years.
So, once you've decided to join a coaching institute, how do you decide which one to choose, especially with so many conflicting reviews on the internet?
Here are 5 factors that you need to decide which coaching centre to join:
Factor 1 - Cost
Generally speaking, coaching centres charge anything between Rs. 35,000 - Rs. 60,000, offering various services within those costs such as mock tests, sectional tests, offline classroom teaching, webinars, live events, profile evaluation etc.
There are various coaching centres out there that will charge much lesser, but you must be wary of any hidden charges that may suddenly pop-up later when you're in dire need of a product.
Costs also depend on your availability and commitments - for instance, Career Launcher charges between Rs. 35,000 - 42,000 for weekend batches (for working professionals), while the charges range between Rs. 35,000 - 60,000 for weekday batches.
Factor 2 - Location
Another factor that influences your choice of a coaching class is your location, both in terms of your city as well as your proximity to the coaching centre within the city. Why this matters is because of:
- Travelling time - For the next 11 months, your objective has to be to use your time as efficiently as possible. For instance, if you're in Mumbai and stay in South Mumbai, you cannot commute on a daily or weekly basis to Powai for your classes without spending a total of 4 hours on travel time. These four hours can be devoted to giving 4 sectional tests, 1 mock test, or finishing the topic of Ratios Proportions and Variations in QA.
- Cost - Once again, costs can differ from location to location. Institute A will charge a candidate more in Bangalore as compared to what they will charge in Bareilly. However, Institute B will have uniform costs across all its branches in India, varying only by a small margin. Additionally, you will need to factor in travel costs as well - half your salary or pocket money cannot go in bus-fare.
Factor 3 - Requirement of Personal Equipment
TIME, IMS and CL usually have batches of 15-20+ students, and not everyone is up-to-speed with concepts and some students may feel left behind. If you require personal assistance and find it difficult to cope with the speed of the class, then coaching centres may not be the ideal choice for you. You will need to search for private coaches or explore online coaching.
Factor 4 - Test Series Offered
Regardless of whether you choose a personal tutor or a coaching centre, it is essential that you appear for as many proctored and unproctored mock tests as possible. The following coaching centres and CAT coaches are popular for their mock test series -
IMS - SIMCAT Test Series
TIME - AIMCAT Test Series
CL - CL Test Series
Cracku - Cracku CAT Test Series
Apart from this, you also need to explore the different sectional tests that the coaching centre has to offer, and any other services essential to improve your CAT scores:
IMS - IMS Application Builder Modules
TIME - Sectional Tests
CL - CL Sectional Tests
According to popular belief, AIMCATs are the toughest of the lot, while SIMCATs have the toughest Verbal Ability section. Career Launcher is popular for maintaining a CAT-level difficulty with relatively high precision.
Factor 5- Brand Value
In the MBA space, with every Tom, Dick and Harry offering the "BEST CAT COURSE JOIN NOW!", but not everyone maintains the level of the actual CAT paper.
While you must explore all options in the market, it is recommended that you trust on to a well-known brand which can truly help you boost your CAT scores via high-quality mock test series, online and offline classroom teaching, and high-quality study material.
With these factors in mind, you can make a calculated decision on which coaching centre is right for you.
Stay tuned for a detailed CAT 2019 Action Plan that will guide you on what you need to do for the next 11 months!
In the meanwhile, take a look at our Ultimate CAT Preparation Guide.
Have more queries? Get Your Queries Answered By IIM Grads. Ask them here!
Preparing for MBA interviews? Here is what you need to do Next.