IN 2010, this Computer Science engineering graduate passed out of Delhi’s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, and opted out of campus placements to start his own firm. But things did not pan out as he expected. So, Ajay took up a job as a Business Analyst at a Bangalore-based software firm. He tells Rozelle Laha how he juggled long work hours with study, tackled “biggest arch enemy” Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation, and his future plans.
Q. Your reactions to CAT success…
A. I was elated, almost numbed by the rush of a million emotions that went through my mind. I felt that I had vindicated the belief that my family and friends have always had in me. Luck is involved; it would be too pretentious to say that I had planned this to perfection.
Q. You have already got a call from IIM Calcutta and IIM Lucknow. So, how do you feel?
A. Great! IIM Calcutta has been my dream institute. Having said this, now that the dream is just one step away from becoming reality, there is a deep sense of realization that I have to prepare hard and grab the chance.
Q. You have attempted CAT thrice. So, was there any difference in the strategy for preparation each time?
A. This year I put in my best efforts and did not allow the whole process of preparation to paralyse the rest of my life. That led to a calmer mind. There was a sense of personal detachment.
Q. And your CAT score, last year was…?
A. 99.27 percentile. But, I did not get any calls. The year before that, I had calls from XLRI (both Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and Personnel Management and Industrial Relations). I converted PMIR but failed to get through BM (which was my preference).
Q. Why not opt for an Exec MBA instead of PGDM?
A. An executive MBA would be beneficial only if I have sufficient work experience. With my kind of work ex, PGDM seems fine. But I won’t rule out an Executive MBA later on.
Q. Will you leave your job now?
A. Yes. But I guess it is going to be worth it as the only direction things should look from here is up!
Q. The CAT exam pattern changed this year. What was your experience?
A. The new pattern is neater in terms of structure and one gets a specific time period to solve both sections. Previously, students ended up ignoring one section as was the case last year when all the questions were clubbed together and hence one ran the risk of paying too much attention to one set of questions (Eg QA) and ignoring some sections (VA in my case).
Q. How did you manage time between work and CAT preparation?
A. Being a part of a start-up, my work schedule was long. However, during the two months prior to CAT, I stayed late and studied during weekends. I used to give mocks as a whole or as a series of sub-tests.
Q. Which were the problem areas and how did you tackle them?
|Ajay's book picks:
|~ Books by George J Summers: Solve puzzles to hone analytical skills
~ ‘Word power made easy’ by Norman Lewis
~ Books by Arun Sharma: For extensive practice in Data Interpretation
A. Initially, I had difficulty in Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation (LRDI). English has always been a strong point for me. But, as I kept focusing on my primary weakness (LRDI), I did not realise that I was devoting way too less time to prepare for VA and that hit me badly in CAT 2010. So, in all subsequent papers (mocks or otherwise) I paid special attention to VA to ensure that I did not mess it up by earmarking the appropriate time for it.
Q. How are you prepping for GD-PI?
A. I will join a couple of institutes for their GDPI modules. Interacting with a good crowd of candidates/ aspirants will also help and reading newspapers more thoroughly is also a part of my routine now.
Q. CAT pattern is engineer-friendly – myth or reality?
A. I think it’s a big misconception. The kind of knowledge required is quite basic and with the right preparation anyone can ace this exam.
Q. Any tips for CAT aspirants and working professionals preparing for CAT?
A. Gauge your strengths and ask yourself - are you mentally prepared to undertake the preparation? If you’re a working professional, don’t prepare with the mindset “I hate my job” or “this is a temporary thing before I move on to bigger stuff”. There is no substitute for experience in the corporate sector.