How a Psychology Grad made it to IIM Ahmedabad?

Parul Gupta | IIM A Batch 2020-22
Parul Gupta | IIM A Batch 2020-22

About Parul Gupta:

Parul Gupta has been an independent, sincere learner since a young age. She loves reading and is a big fitness enthusiast. After choosing humanities in school, she went on to complete her BA in Psychology from Jesus and Mary College, DU. It was during college when she studied social psychology and did a few internships focusing on marketing, content and social media that she decided to pursue an MBA with a desire to be working as a brand manager someday. She scored 97.2 in CAT 2019 and will be joining IIM Ahmedabad for her MBA.

Parul’s journey to IIM-A

How did you start with the preparation and what approach did you prefer?

At my first utterly unprepared attempt at CAT’18, I scored a 99 in VARC, with poor percentiles in the other two sections. I knew what I had to be worried about then and that with practice, I could manage a decent percentile in DILR and QA. I started my preparation early in March’19 because I had lost touch with mathematics after the 10th standard. I would usually attend coaching classes on weekends and just complete the homework given whenever I got time during the week. With a super hectic 6th semester, I struggled with devoting enough time to prepare. 

After the final exams in May, I decided to focus only on CAT instead of getting a job. From then on, QA became my target. I attended classes teaching very basic mathematics twice, solved every question twice and took regular doubt sessions even after that. More than learning shortcuts, I focused on understanding the logic and employing the longer method initially. I took up topics and practiced each for a week. Along with this, I also kept practicing DILR sets every day, one topic a week.    

My relation with VARC was sorted. However, I decided not to get overconfident. I often practiced RC sets or VA questions when I was tired of all the QA because it was a bit easier and enjoyable for me.  

I gave mocks regularly, starting with once a week, then increasing it to 2 a week and finally one everyday around the last week of October and November. The analysis was as important as giving the mocks. I would spend 2 to 3 hours analysing each mock, going over all the questions, correct, incorrect and the ones I left.

How did you cope up with the tough times and hurdles?

There were times I would score low in mocks and feel dejected all the way back home. Or during Quant classes, sitting among engineers and commerce students, I wouldn’t be able to answer any questions on my own. What helped me was a good cry while having delicious food with close friends (it really did) and talking to extremely supportive family members.   

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What was your “one getaway” to rejuvenate your energy? 

It was often solving RC and VA sets which I found easier and fun. The good scores here always provided a confidence boost. Another source of energy was working out, in some way or another, at the beginning of every day.  

Which all Exams did you give?

I gave most of the MBA entrance exams including CAT, XAT, SNAP, IIFT, NMAT and MICAT. I ended up scoring well in all except IIFT. 

Tips for our readers for the penultimate and D-Day?

Giving as many mocks as you can in conditions similar to the D-Day helps with any nerves or surprises you may encounter. Practicing those 3 hours numerous times provides confidence and assurance that nothing really bad is going to happen.

Be clear about what topics you want to attempt and what you want to leave (just by looking at it). Know when to leave a question and move to the next. It is always better than spending more time to reach an answer you’re not sure about. A focus on accuracy and not on quantity will improve your final score considerably. 

Try relaxing a day before the exam. Do not give any mocks or practice any new sets. Just revise your concepts and watch some motivating movies (Cinderella Man is a good one). Sleep well and be prepared with everything you might need a night before.  

After the first inning (of all the examination part) ended, how did you start with the second inning (GD-PI Part)? 

It was only after XAT that I started preparing for the WAT and PIs. I had been reading newspapers during my CAT preparation so I was fairly okay with the current affairs. I attended long knowledge sessions on weekends while brushing up my academics on weekdays. With my mentors help, I analysed and refined my answers to various HR questions (Why MBA, strengths, weaknesses, interests, goals, etc) and attended many mock interviews with different mentors. The feedback really helped improve upon aspects that were lacking. 

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I participated in a few mock GDs. But with writing, I practiced a lot more. I would ask my friends and mentors to send me topics, pictures, or arguments and write about it within a specific time limit. Then I would ask multiple people for their feedback on the same and rewrite the article and get feedback again. It was a long but effective method.  

Which all interviews did you give and your strategy to choose the final Institute from the converts you had?

I received interview calls from IIM Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore, Shillong, all the new and baby IIMs, XLRI, SPJIMR, and MICA. I appeared for all interviews except MICA and the new and baby IIMs.

I ended up converting IIM Ahmedabad which was one of the first to announce results and decided to join. I also converted IIM Shillong and am waitlisted at Lucknow, Indore, and SPJIMR. 

Top 3 learnings you have for our readers.

  1. Feeling discouraged, anxious or having self-doubt is okay. Everyone has their days but they don’t have to dictate your course, because it is you in control. Focus on maintaining a schedule throughout with breaks. Consistency will yield results. 
  2. Good mentors are invaluable. Find the right ones for you and go to them with every doubt, questions, or help you may need. Take their feedback seriously and work on it. 
  3. Put in your 100%. Develop self-discipline and do not slack off during the preparation so that you have no regrets whatever the result is. 

Suggestions for aspirants to answer the ultimate question “To reappear or not”

This was my second attempt at CAT and I decided to devote all my time to it unlike the first one during college. I would suggest reappearing because it probably will only get better with more practice and experience. 

Try analysing mocks better to understand the patterns of mistakes, your strengths and weaknesses, where you lack basic understanding and then practice in a more focused manner.      

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