I joined CAT coaching institute more out of a trend than ambition in third year of engineering. I remember once in class I could not answer a simple question. My teacher there remarked, “Simran, your problem is not that you do not have talent but that you do not push enough. You see the competition around you. You easily win here and you think you are good. But look outside and you will know how it is actually.” I have always heard words of appreciation from my parents and teachers since I was good at academics. This was something new and harsh for me. I came back to the hostel and thought about it for days. Every word of that teacher made sense to me. Nothing drastic happened that day. Not like how they show it in movies. But something changed within. A seed was sown whose fruits bore after a long time passed by.
I was on cloud nine till I got my PPO results. To my shock, I was not selected even after I put my heart and soul into that internship. I was shattered. I nearly broke down that day.
On 15th August 2018, I decided that I will write CAT. I gave around 10 mocks. Every mock told me I was bad at DILR. I solved a lot of sets. But somehow, I could not become better at it.
CAT 2018: 96.43 percentile overall, 74.xx LRDI sectional.
Not a single IIM called. I just had one call: MDI Gurgaon. I gave an interview there. I was waitlisted at 300-400. In the spot counselling, I got a call for their HR program. Since I was not interested in the HR domain and had a job offer, I decided to join a full-time job.
On joining day, everyone looked happy except me. Something was missing. This time, I was not happy being mediocre. This time, I knew I was not going to settle until I make it to a top B-school. I tried to prepare for CAT again. But my bad health affected my daily routine so much that I even struggled to attend the office daily.
CAT 2019: 93.xx percentile
I knew I have not been able to study. But even then, 93 was not something I expected. I got a reality check that day. If I do not study seriously now, my B-school dream will only remain a dream.
March 2020: Pandemic as an opportunity
As I was leaving my flat in Bombay, I packed 2 sets of clothes and all CAT prep books. Looking back, I can say that neither was I so determined nor so desperate for anything else as much as I was for Joka. Here is my scribbling from my prep days:
I don’t have an exact count of how many mocks I gave. I didn’t even have a fixed study
schedule. I gave my best day in and out. I solved Arun Sharma books for DILR, Norman
Lewis Word power made easy, previous year CAT papers, scrabbler’s blog, and whatnot. But
even after all this prep, in the last leg of the race, I was not scoring well in DILR. I scored
even less than 85 percentile in few mocks in the last month. I was worried about this section.
CAT pattern paper changed from 3 hours to 2 hours. 40 mins DILR section looked even more
CAT 2020: 98.93 overall, 98.93 VA, 96.44 DILR, 96.4 QA
I never expected calls from IIM A & B. To my surprise, I did not get a call from L because of
my low UG percentage. I scored 61 percentile in the decision-making section of XAT and
missed on XLRI call as well.
But, Joka called!
In my first mock PI, I could answer only a few questions. But when I could not answer
ethical dilemma questions related to the firm I work for, I lost my calm. I felt like a complete
idiot. I made an exhaustive list of things I had to work on with the help of my mentor. I check
boxed every single thing on that list. In my IIM-Calcutta interview, one of the panelists
pushed me in the same direction of ethical dilemmas. I was lucky in a way that I had already
faced a similar situation in mock PI and this time I did not lose my calm until the end.
IIM Calcutta results came on 18th May 2021. Finally, I made it to Joka.
I can’t count how many times I cried on this journey to Joka. I cried when I got 93 percentile. I cried when I could not score well in DILR mocks. I cried during my first mock PI. I cried when I was rejected by SP Jain in round 1. I cried when I was rejected by IIM Kozhikode. But after Joka results, I cried tears of happiness for the first time in my life. I was so pumped up that I just could not sleep the whole night. The dream I carried for 3 years within me finally became reality.
Looking back, I can summarize the journey to become Jokar in one sentence:
“It tastes better when you starve for it.”