What MBA Entrance Exams Preparation Taught Me – A Lesson For A Lifetime

There are times when you take the utmost care and do everything diligently to get results in your favour. But let me ask you this: Was the result as you wanted it to  be every single time? Was your strike rate 100%? I know it wasn’t. Ever thought why this could be happening? ‘Don’t blame it on me‘, says Luck.

Some of you might already be a B-school student and some might be aspiring to be the same, but the learning I’d be sharing today is For everyone and Forever.

Like most of you, I had also started my MBA preparations with an aim of getting 99+ percentile in CAT. The funny thing is everyone starts with the same aim, some great minds even target 100%ile. But do we all get the same? No! Maybe you got it but did all your friends achieve their targets? Surely No. You might argue in your mind that *ab jo nai padha uska thodi aayega* ( who did not study well was obviously not going to score well). I believe you. But think hard, dear reader, was there no one in your batch of college, office or coaching who used to do exceptionally well in Mocks had all his concepts clear but did not fare well on the D-Day? In all probability, you will recall at least one guy/girl who has been through what I just said. Perhaps, It could be your story too!

My MBA season started on 15th November, 2015 with NMAT being the first exam. It was my first real Exam experience so as you might have already guessed, I was nervous. Being a very hasty exam, it just happened in a jiffy and I knew what the result was going to be. I was not bothered because somewhere in my mind I had a feeling that I have been preparing for CAT for a year now and have been scoring well in Mocks which means I am accustomed to CAT mocks and a petty failure in NMAT won’t matter much. I’ll show my best in CAT.

22nd November, 2015 comes IIFT. I had heard a lot from my coaching head and other seniors about the complicated nature of IIFT. I was nervous. This also, being a short duration exam ended in 2hours. While returning back home, I discussed the paper with my friends. It seemed that we had done okayish. Later in the day came the Keys from different Institutes and I realised that I was mostly on the Border Line of cutoffs. ‘CAT is still there for me’, I said to myself.

29th November, 2015 comes the D-Day. I request you to go down the memory lane and try to recall that special day of your lives. The feeling of adrenaline rush, Excitement and Expectations. 1 hour before the exam, I sat at my Computer desk being prepared for the next 3 hours of the first hurdle of the life changing experience.

Staring at the screen and waiting for the time to tick 10:00 AM, I was lost in thoughts of the tough journey I had been through, the sacrifices I had made, the dedication which I had shown to myself, the ‘Nos’ to Friends and the ‘Yeses’ to more mocks and I said to myself ‘Today is the most important day of your life Gaurav, it’s now or never, If you don’t perform well today everything is in vain. You lose an year, what about your image in front of your relatives!’ And the chain of thoughts builds from what if others do much better than you to what if the paper comes difficult than what you have expected.

Nevertheless, CAT went okayish and I then felt that what I had prepared for is done and I became least bothered about the SNAP and XAT that I had to appear for in the coming few days.

20th December, 2015 came SNAP and it was a disaster. Questions were absurdly difficult but I was nonchalant about anything and wrote it in fun, thinking about which Haldiram’s to visit in Nagpur( my center was Ngp).

3rd January, 2016. Bangalore. (Pleasant weather, Nana-Nani in the house and SSB from next day in Mysore). The last exam of the season was XAT. I had the minimalistic expectations from this exam. Since XAT was known for its difficulty and I managed to do just decent in Mocks. I was not expecting any positive result from this exam. As they say, it was tough and I did as I should.

While I was in Air Force Premises, I came to know from the news that CAT results were declared and I rushed to the only internet enabled computer on campus and checked my result only to be shattered and in a state of shock. For getting a call from Newest IIMs, I had to score at least 96%ile because I was G.E.M. but that did not happen, I missed it marginally.

Later in January, when the XAT results were declared, I was in tears but for good reason this time. My hard work had finally paid-off. A good news after a long haul. I called my coaching mentor and he listed the colleges I was surely going to get calls from including XLRI, S.P.Jain, XIMB, etc.

In a week, interview season started. First was with XLRI (HR).

18th February, 2016.Trust me, I had the least idea what is actually HR all about yet I prepared the basic questions but then it was a Stress-interview and had to be impromptu.

20th February, 2016. I had XLRI (BM). The most important interview for me because XL was the best college I could get. With all the preparation from ‘tell me something about yourself which is not on your CV to current affairs.’ I had done it all. On the day I met students from IIT, Delhi, KGP and SRCC which only added to  my insecurities. And with everything at stake on this interview I went into the room and tried to give the prepared and situation-based impromptu answers with utmost conviction. The interview lasted for more than 45 mins. I came out with a very good feeling. Celebrating the experience like how Brett Lee celebrates on taking Sachin’s wicket.’ Jamshedpur, I am coming’ I shouted as I came out of the 5-star Raddisson Blu in Delhi Aero City.

After that, every Interview was like a pinky finger game for me. I used to go for an interview, chit-chat with other serious people and come back. Similar events happened during my XIMB interview (which was the last interview I had to give). Carefree of any rejections now I gave the interview declining to most of the questions they asked me to answer but confidently and with a grin all over my face.

And when the results were declared on 30th March and 10th April,  I was out of XLRI and into XIMB! Probably you had already foreseen what the result was going to be. Also because you already know that I am in XIMB. But that is not the crux of this article.

The point that I am trying to put forth is that if you have read about my state of mind during NMAT, IIFT, CAT, you will automatically feel that this guy was really nervous. Yes, I was. On the contrary, while writing XAT, I had No insecurity, No expectations, No pressure of the result that would come against my wish. Which means, I was in a state to accept the failure or to accept not winning this time, to put it euphemistically. And that REALLY REALLY REALLY impacts your performance. And the Same applies to my Interview attitude towards XLRI and XIMB.

Because now when I remember that morning of the CAT day, I curse my own self to have pressurised myself about the results unnecessarily. Maybe if those thoughts had not crept in, I could have been in a better place than where I am now. ‘Maybe….‘ and the possibilities are endless.

My Friend, be mature enough to know that these exams and interviews are not the end of your career/life, even if it is the 5th and last time you are giving these. And that is why in my article: A Last Minute Letter To Every MBA Aspirant, I have mentioned in Bold that It is a test of your character. I know a lot of you will argue with that saying, ‘Bro, you don’t know how much this CAT/XAT is important to me’. You are probably right, I don’t know but I know this for sure that if you go with a mindset that this exam is everything to you, trust me you will not get your desired result. Guys mature enough will accede to my point and those who don’t agree, Time will teach you.

I don’t say that do not take these exams or interviews seriously. Do the preparations earnestly and sincerely but don’t unnecessarily get on your nerves during any of the exams. Go on with an ‘I -have-Nothing-To-Loose’ Warrior wala attitude and see the difference!

And this is not just about MBA exams. For every bold decision that you take even during MBA (regarding SIPs, Final Placements,etc) and beyond. I mean like ..Forever!

Because having a positive attitude towards everything happening around you is not a one-time affair mate.

It’s a Way of Life!




About the Author:

Gaurav Bachhawat
A Small-Towner, A Dreamer, A Learner.


Gaurav is pursuing his MBA in Marketing from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar(XIMB)  and is currently in 1st year. He is a knowledge seeker and keeps himself updated about happenings in the entrepreneurial world. He likes to address queries of MBA aspirants and help them in their MBA preparations.

Gaurav Bachhawat

Gaurav Bachhawat is a Marketing Management Graduate from Xavier Institute Of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB). He works in India's Leading Sanitaryware company in Gurgaon.



Ravjot Sachdeva

Gaurav, I must say this year I ve had the same realisations as you! I couldn’t convert important interviews like IIM Indore, SP Jain because I was too nervous about getting in these colleges. Those I didn’t give a damn about I cleared. Finally going to IIM Rai. Lesson learnt!

Tanya Talwar

Every word here is absolute truth……….I have realised and experienced the same in CA exams as well………..Thanks for such insightful article