Every year a strange phenomenon happens after the CAT. There are test-takers who do well and then decide to really take the other tests easy (I was one of them). There are others who don’t have that good an outing on CAT-day and really prep well and ace the XAT or another test. Amongst the ones whose CAT does not go that well, a certain number of students just disappear.
I keep wondering — what happened to that guy or that girl, what are they upto etc. Then all of a sudden they resurface around June-July the next year after having gone into hibernation post what they think is a debacle on the CAT.
Six months is a lifetime during this important stage of your life
Firstly, please don’t disappear. You have not committed a crime. You just had a bad day. I myself had a horrible CAT the first time around I took it, I was dead certain that I would not even get a call. So, I know the feeling. I was feeling bad even yesterday that I did not do as well as I could!
Secondly, disappearing won’t do you any good. So while a short break is great, six months is a vacation. The mind has a mind , it is constantly craving for feel good experiences. So some times it is best to not listen to it. Always ask yourself one question — are your choices about how you spend your time aligned with what you want to achieve.
The return of the prodigal
But there is a usually a catch with this July return. This time around they want to do both CAT and GMAT. This is what their Plan B is usually like
I have already prepared for CAT last time around I just need to revise and take mocks, I can do that from August. Before that in two months I will knock off the GMAT.
The problem with this approach is that firstly the GMAT is no cakewalk. When compared to CAT 2015 standards, the Verbal on the GMAT is from another planet and even the Quant is way trickier. If you think TITA was tough, DS (50 percent of GMAT Quant) is another kettle of fish altogether. To this if you add the fact that it is an adaptive test — you can’t go back and forth between questions, you have to mark an option for every question and that determines the level of the next question — the The GMAT is not a test that you can knock off in a trifle after a 6-month layoff. It costs $250 — one should at least respect the fee. The shortest prep time if you are in test-taking mode is one-month and around 90 percentile level on the CAT is 1-month.
So if you see people vacillate between extremes, taking a six-month break and then taking on two tests in six months, which usually does not end well.
Meet your mentors
In case you put all your eggs into one basket called the CAT and things did not go according to the script the first thing you should do is meet your mentors.
This phase of your life is very crucial and six months now is equivalent to a year or more later.
Depending upon your profile, aptitude and aspiration your mentors (IMS or others) will suggest the best plan of action for you, even if the plan is to chill for 6-months while taking up the right profile-building activities on the side.
The best post-CAT turnaround that I saw was a few years back in 2013. A student of mine with a good profile — Sastra Engineering College and Research Analyst at Beroe Consulting — had cracked NMAT after the CAT. He said he had an average day on the CAT ended up with a 92-95 percentile. He cracked NMAT, attended the GD-PI sessions and converted NMIMS-Mumbai. He came to tell me about the NM convert but said that while he was happy he cracked NM, he somewhere had a nagging feeling that he may be deserves better — no offence to NMIMS, it is pretty good college and I have many students and close friends there.
I just asked him what college would be happy with and if he can take the CAT another time round. He said he wanted a reasonably big brand college, say like ISB, and another shot at the CAT did not really fill him with enthusiasm (this was his second shot after a shot in his final year). The ISB Early Entry Option had a deadline that was month away and I asked him if he was up for taking a crack at GMAT. The way he said yes was very positive, he really wanted the best option he could get.
We did a crash course, did good number of one-on-one analysis of mocks and he scored a 710. He had a good profile so I was sure that if he hit a 700 he was in with a good chance. He got shortlisted for the interview and converted the same by July; he had met me in late March! He joined ISB this year after finishing the mandatory 2-year work experience.
A lot of readers of this blog are from IMS Mumbai as well. You guys have great mentors like my good friend and colleague VK, you should meet him to make a Plan B.
Plan B can be anything from working for a year, taking up profile-building activities and re-taking the CAT to looking at an education abroad — MIM, MBA or even an MS Finance — or even taking CFA and then re-taking CAT. Whatever you choose should be aligned to your profile and aspirations
Even a sabbatical should be strategically planned so that you can really make the most of it.
All of my Chennai students can just call 9500122125 to meet me for a one-on-one session during the evenings. Hopefully, this year we will not have any lost and found incidents!
The next post will kick off the GD-WAT-PI Prep.