About Akash Chandani:
I was born and brought up in the city of Lakes, Bhopal where I completed my boards and graduation in Mechanical engineering from LNCT. Currently, I am working with Cognizant as an Associate for the FinTech sector in the City of Nizams, Hyderabad.
A year back I was in the same situation as the current aspirants are. Looking for motivation, struggling to manage studies with my long working hours in the office, wondering if I could really do it, was it really worth the effort, is BLACKI just a hallucination? But it’s different today. I am writing this especially for each and every IT working professional who goes through these thoughts every day. Remember its months and sometimes years of dedicated efforts like mine which take you to the place of your dreams. I have always felt if someone can succeed even you can. Here’s my vision towards letting you know that getting in your dream B- school is possible.
When and How did the idea to have “The MBA Degree” hit you?
I was in my third year of engineering when I decided that GATE would be my further course of action and going to a PSU was the Dream. Again I had to face the rejection as I barely managed to cross the cutoff. So I zeroed down on taking up an IT Job after evaluating the factors that mattered to me and after my graduation as joining was not coming I just filled the CAT form just for fun and took it directly without any prep or writing a Single mock. Results came and it was a meagre 90%le but it seemed huge.
However, my joining came and I went to join and then 2 years was fun with friends although the salary was low but the Trips were High. Then I realized, Dude coding is not meant for me and I again wrote CAT this time joining an offline coaching Career Launcher on weekends but the results were not great. It went back to ground zero and the CAT percentile was around 90 again but this time I also wrote the other exams and was able to convert SIBM and NMIMS Mumbai. It gave me confidence and I thought will go for one more shot this year although it was a Do or die for me.
How did you start with the preparation and what approach did you prefer?
So, it was May 2019 when I decided to start my preparations for CAT and hence joined an online coaching Elitesgrid and took mock tests of IMS and TIME to be well prepared. Fast forward and it was mid-August until the classes ended. By this time, I had barely started self-studying and all that I focused on was the lectures I attended and a few mocks that I had appeared for. Also, during this time I had a major release Lined up for delivering a new Line of Business for our Bank and found it difficult to cope up with the schedule. Fast forward September end after completing a major chunk of Syllabus I went all guns blazing for the sectionals and mocks although I was writing mocks weekly from the last 3 months
Which section did you feel would need the most work?
During that period, I realized that VARC was my weakness and although I was an engineer, Quant just wouldn’t be a cake walk. While nearing the end of July, I made up my mind and decided to structure my preparation schedule. I prepared for the CAT meticulously for about 4 months working on my weaknesses and honing my strengths. I spent equal time understanding the concepts for each of the three sections. I would mark a few questions for Quant and a few sets in DILR which I could come back to during the last lap of the preparation. I never got comfortable with VARC and always struggled to score well in the section during my mocks. So, it became important to devise a strategy for the same. Not being an avid reader, RCs were the tougher part; hence, I needed to devote more time to prepare for RCs and started reading a few articles daily but I was unable to achieve it so I just wrote VARC section with accuracy and no rush and discussed the same with my verbal gurus. This helped me up my scores in Mocks and my comprehension skills started developing.
How did you cope up with the tough times and hurdles?
During September I had a major release Lined up for delivering a new Line of Business for our Bank and found it quite difficult to cope up with the studies but I braced up for the challenge and started waking up early daily and spent 2-3 hours fresh before going to office.
What was your “one getaway” to rejuvenate your energy?
I am a Sports Lover so I choose Badminton as my joy factor and since the court was nearby to our houseQualified, it helped to maximize my utilization of Time.
Which all Exams did you gave?
I gave almost all the Bschool exams this year: NMAT-207
IIFT- 97%le CAT- 99.15%le
Snap- 97.5%le TissNet Qualified
Tips for our readers for the penultimate and D-Day?
Coming to the day of the CAT. The D-day wasn’t an ideal one for me. I was in the second slot and heard all the wrong things about the verbal section and I felt I will mess up my VARC section but somehow I gathered my composure and tried to make selective attempts. Moving on from VARC, I knew DILR was my strength and that was one section that could have saved me despite a miserable first section. So, I made sure that I didn’t feel exhausted and calmed myself in the first minute and then started to work with sets.
My quant didn’t go as planned as my nerves caught hold of me and I ended up solving less questions. Eventually, I managed to get a 99.15 percentile and ended up getting calls from the IIMs that I hoped for – B, L and the CAP mostly because of my workex. Other calls being FMS, MDI, IIFT, NITIE, TISS and the IITs. An important takeaway from my experience of the D-day is that, if you are calm and composed then despite the difficulty level of the exam, you will fare well. “The harder you have worked the luckier you will be on the D- day”
So my tip will be to remain calm and composed, do not panic and revise quant formulas on a penultimate day.
After the first inning (of all the examination part) ended, how did you started with the second inning (GD-PI Part)?
When the results came I geared up for the interview season and GDPI sessions at CL helped me tremendously. All the mentors I had be it Mr. Ravi, Murthy or Sanchit all had a crucial role in my Personality Building and cracking the interviews. Also, I was in touch with the CL stalwarts via whatsapp, be it be the cool as Cucumber ARKS or both Mr. Gautam Puri and Gautam Bawa.
Also I read the IMS GDWATPI Bible which helped a lot for my General Awareness.
Which all interviews did you gave and your strategy to choose the final Institute from the converts you had?
My L, IIFT, MDI and CAP interviews were all scheduled from the first till last week of February. So, within a span of a week, I ended up giving 3 interviews. First up was my IIFT interview and it was on 2nd of Feb and being the first interview of the season it leads to anxiety. This was my first big interview and people around were way too calm, sophisticated and had things figured out (at least that’s how they pretended to be) and here I was with so much stress. We went for the GD and WAT and then the interviews started right after. I was pretty nervous even after entering the interview room. Somehow, I managed to cope up with the stress and nailed the interview as the percentile was not so great which needed to be compensated. This acted as an experience on which I could build upon and started for the other interviews.
In a week’s time, I had to travel to Bangalore for my CAP interviews and the next week was supposed to be HelL after travelling back again I had MDI and IIML lined up where I was grilled enough but I sailed through. Now March was supposed to happen where I was supposed to travel thrice to Mumbai for my interviews of SJMSOM, NITIE and TISS but the only one happened offline was SJMSOM and the rest were made online due to the coronavirus outbreak. Tiss interview is still to be conducted.
I have converted FMS, IIML, NITIE, IIFT, CAP and awaiting other results.
Mostly I’ll be going to HelL as per the suggestions received from my mentors and seniors.
Top 3 learnings you have for our readers
- As an aspirant, you need to understand to work on your pain points. You need to hone all the three sections; it is very important to be consistent across each section.
- Staying motivated throughout the journey is the most important thing.
- Take mocks seriously, take each of it as it is the Final Paper of CAT.
Top 3 things that aspirants should avoid
- Mock scores are important but you can score much above those on the D-day so don’t be disheartened
- Limit your resources, there’s plethora of it available in the market
- Never sacrifice accuracy for attempts
Top 3 Suggestions for aspirants to answer the ultimate question “To reappear or not”
- Analyse yourself, start early. Reappear if you have less than 2 years of experience and you want the holy trinity.
- Don’t settle below top 10, if you have the potential.
- Take the clg amongst Top15 if you are in the workex range 2-3years. Don’t ever leave your job for preparation.