Days of our Lives!

November 22, 2007

Catted the Bell

Filed under: I at IIM I — Santhosh @ 8:58 PM

Verbal Ability – 52 (TIME’s and Career Launcher’s answer keys) or 47 (IMS’ answer key)
Logical Ability – 46
Quantitative – 32
Total – 130 (TIME, Career Launcher) or 125 (IMS)


Just 2 days back, I had a simple life. I had a job, I even had work to go with it, I could crib all I wanted about it, and I was good at it (the work I mean). There was also this on-site opportunity to go work in a place called New Jersey, in a country called USA. I was even planning to live in New York City and commute to my office (an hour’s drive it seems) and so get to live life in the Big Apple with help from the Big Blue. Like I said, life was simple.

Of course, there was the MBA somewhere in the near horizon. Like the way that Potter boy was written down for admission at that strange school the moment he was born, an MBA’s been written next to my name ever since I made my desk-mate do my homework in UKG. The matter of an MBA has always been a case of when, rather than an if for me. And so I’d postponed it to the next year, like the way I’ve been doing since my UG final year (I’m a man of my word, see!). There was also this Journalism and Media Communications post graduate course that I was interested in, and which I’d planned to finish the next year, so that by the time I finally made my grand entrance into a B-school I’d have photographed with Madame Tussaud’s celebrities, posed in front of Times Square, and have an American maapillai accent along with a PG degree that would give me the power to criticize Sachin’s batting using hackneyed phrases. At the risk of repeating myself, life was simple.

And then CAT happened. But before I get into the gory details, I first need to swear on everything I hold holy – from Rajnikanth to cricket to this blog – that the amount of time I’ve spent on preparation of any sort wouldn’t be enough to watch the screen-time Namitha has in Azhagiya Tamil Magan, even without that song. I spent the month before CAT programming some million lines of code, watching 2 movies a night with Neeru, playing vaanga pazhagalaam with the Americans, checking out the by-lanes of Madurai for diwali, and talking sweet-nothings with the Ambani guys*. The night before the exam was spent watching a downloaded videocam print of Vel. And if it wasn’t for a rude wake up call at 8.45 on the D-day, I may well have missed the 9.45 exam.

I had no expectations of the exam, had no experience of all those time-division-multiplexing experiments in mock tests, had no great war-room strategy prepared – this CAT was just meant to be a trial for the real one in 2008. Bleddy, I didn’t even have a wrist-watch on me for the exam. And so I walked into the exam hall, the last person before the closed the door.

This CAT had 25 questions each in the 3 sections, 4 marks for a correct answer and -1 for a wrong one. The test started at 10.30 and I started on verbal. And like the chamathu fella I am, I proceeded to answer all 25, even though there were 3 questions each from 4 RC passages, each more than a page long. In hindsight I should have skipped one RC and saved the time. But the idiot me didn’t even have a watch and when I was done with the section an hour had passed – 15 mins extra taken. I started on logical & DI-DS next and this time around I chose my question blocks and managed to answer 15 in around 50-55 mins. Which left me with 30-35 mins to tackle quants. Point to be noted is that at no point did I feel I was writing an exam that could decide my life; even in the last few mins I was in the trial-exam mode. I managed 13 questions before they rang the bell, and once again I never even got into the emergency mode that we usually do at the end of an exam – rushing to cram in that extra question, shading in an answer to a question where you’re vacillating between 2 choices, and such.

The feeling I had when I got up was that if I had found the paper easier than expected, then the hard-core CATters should have had a field day. I expected people to get scores of 230,240+ as I walked out, still in that blissful state of unawareness. As I descended the St.Joseph’s college stairs from the 3rd floor I overheard people discussing how this CAT was much tougher than last year’s. I thought the ones talking were the usual also-rans. CNN-IBM and Times NOW ran stories that screamed of new pattern papers and tough questions and I dismissed them as playing to the gallery. It was when RS told me the test was indeed not as easy as I made it to be that I thought maybe I’d done well. I didn’t check my answers with any of the keys till Wednesday morning as I wanted the various coaching centers to settle on an answer for a question. I was surprised when I saw TIME, IMS and Career Launcher all talking of a 90-100 score getting an IIM call. I dismissed them again as advertising to get people into their GD-PI training sessions. It was when I saw I got a score well above that that I started having thoughts that maybe, just maybe, I had indeed done well. Things got a little confirmed when RS told me he expected around 110-115. And I closed the lid on my doubting when Pagalguy showed me that a score of 120-140 could get 4-6 calls depending on the individual percentiles. And so here it is.

Some of my friends have always said I should have taken CAT atleast last year, even if I hadn’t prepared too much. My explanation is that I think I wanted to cover all my bases first, so that I’d just give one shot, my best shot, at CAT, and see if I’d get into an IIM. I knew I was good enough, if I just brushed up a few things in quants and worked/practised on them. I’ve always been good at numbers and figures and Math was my best subject at school, but 4 years of scientific calculators and log tables and 2 more years of html and servlets had erased that instinct for numbers. But my verbal and RC abilities have always been good enough for any competitive exam, as has my logical reasoning though I thought I needed to work on a couple of types of DI (I suck at things like stocks and shares and statistics).

This CAT happened not to contain many questions on subjects I’m not good at right now. I’d have scored the same in verbal and logical irrespective of how much I’d prepared or what types of questions they’d asked. It was in quants that I think I got lucky. Firstly there were fewer questions that were formula-based or could have been solved a bit more easily if practised. This brought the gap between guys who were coached/trained in centers by practising tons of times and guys like me who took this test without any practice. I don’t remember a thing from my high-school geometry or trignometry or probability as I’ve not touched all these ever again. There were also very few problems on expected types like Time & Work, Time & Distance, S.I., C.I., Mensuration, etc. I may have solved these questions but the time taken would have been much more than someone who knew a formula to resolve it. And time saved is more questions attempted.

So now I need to be thinking of application forms for Nitie and SP.Jain, preparing for GD-PI in case the expected calls come, not think of Manhattan or Broadway, and get screamed at by all and sundry. Sigh, life used to so simple. But hell, I’m not complaining.

* my broadband is still down



  1. I am glad that I was not in India to watch people take their CAT while I keep wondering and procrastinating the in evitable.Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope you do make it.. If u do would it be the first time that 2 guys from the same school and same set are making it to the big league of IIM’s in mdu? πŸ™‚ Keep us updated!

    Comment by justme — November 23, 2007 @ 3:46 AM | Reply

  2. All the best! πŸ™‚

    Comment by Aparna — November 23, 2007 @ 8:35 PM | Reply

  3. @justmeI should think so, and I think we can add a Madurai college also to a Madurai school – one of my classmates made it to L a year before Raakesh.And thanks da, for the fingers :)@aparnaThanks!

    Comment by santhosh — November 24, 2007 @ 12:10 PM | Reply

  4. Gosh you found this year CAT easy?Man!

    Comment by krishat — November 24, 2007 @ 2:14 PM | Reply

  5. Did curiosity kill the cat?Saari that was all I could think of reading this! πŸ˜›

    Comment by Curious — November 25, 2007 @ 1:31 PM | Reply

  6. @krishatDuh!@curiousNot yet! πŸ™‚

    Comment by santhosh — November 26, 2007 @ 7:30 PM | Reply

  7. machi..thaakita pole!!”So now I need to be thinking of application forms for Nitie and SP.Jain”Nitie a? SP Jain a? dei…get ready to ace the IIMs me a favor and save up on application money.. ATB!!

    Comment by gnothi seauton — November 27, 2007 @ 3:49 PM | Reply

  8. @raakeshcat ku mundhuna nite dhan naama pesitrundhom nu nenaikaraen da… about ur France ka hostel.newayz, un books ellam enaku dhan da

    Comment by santhosh — November 27, 2007 @ 11:34 PM | Reply

  9. Hi all i am able to prepare for my GD PI GK without any problem now. Even you guys try out Neo Quiz Spot for any GK Material

    Comment by Sahiti - — January 13, 2009 @ 12:04 AM | Reply

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