THIS electrical engineer graduated from NIT Jamshedpur in 2010, and since then has been marking time working with the TATA Group in Kolkata. An avid reader, Tarun is not just a studious bookworm. He is passionate about photography and table tennis. But staying motivated through CAT prep was a challenge, he tells Rozelle Laha, since he was unable to convert calls from IIM Indore and IIM Kozhikode during an earlier CAT attempt. His earnest advice to other working professionals: Take your job seriously and don’t sacrifice it for CAT. Read on for more tips and perspective…
Q.Congratulations Tarun. What was your reaction after seeing the score? Was Lady Luck on your side?
A. Thanks. I was very nervous and was planning to check the result 2-3 days later. One of my friends had my registration number and he mailed me my result. I saw 99.94 percentile and was elated. Obviously, as the current format of CAT goes, a little amount of luck is very essential mostly in terms of your slot choice, difficulty level of questions and the candidates appearing in your slot.
Q. You have already got calls from IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta and IIM Lucknow. How are you preparing for the GD PI?
A. Excited! I will join boot camps conducted by coaching institutes. Apart from that, I will brush up my current affair knowledge and practice essay writing.
Q. You have given CAT thrice. What does doing an MBA mean to you? Why not an Exec MBA?
A. For me an MBA means essentially a learning opportunity. I’ve had decent experience of corporate life and I’m being paid decent as per my experience and work profile so before my job profile gets stagnated I should have some up gradation. I feel Exec MBA is pretty stuffed up due to compressed timings but in two years full time MBA you can have a fair share of both- a lifelong learning experience and a refreshing academic/ campus life.
Q. Talk about your preparation strategy over the past three years.
A. During my first attempt, I had solved some coaching class material and took one test series but in the subsequent years, I only took mocks as my job schedule didn’t allow me to take full time classes. With your second and third attempts, the additional thing that happens is your judgement gets better and you gain better examination temperament and these two can make a significant difference.
Q. Given the economic condition, is it worthwhile to leave a stable job for an MBA?
A. If I get into one of the top IIMs, my final placement is still one and half years away and I hope market conditions (as they are being perceived presently) will be better at that time. Even if conventional sectors face slowdown I have always an option to go back to core construction job based on my current work experience.
Q. Talk about your proficiency in each section of the CAT paper.
A. I feel that I was fairly balanced in all the three sections and this was my biggest strengths. Still, I gave more emphasis on verbal ability as in this section you cannot be 100% sure about the answers so you need confidence and it comes only from practice. Therefore, to enhance my perception of various topics I read a number of books (fiction and non-fiction).
Q. Did you face any hassles moving from the previous pattern to the new one?
A. No, I did not feel any inconvenience in this transition to a new CAT format. As I was taking regular mocks so it helped in getting ready for the new pattern.
Q. Any tips for CAT aspirants? What do you think is a common mistake made by MBA aspirants?
A. Never lose focus. If you have to crack the exam then you have to crack it no matter what happens. For working professionals, I would like to add - take your job seriously and never sacrifice it for CAT. You do not need to slog long hours. Practice regularly for 1.5-2 hours and you will be just fine.