I'm dedicating this post to all the CAT 2020 aspirants in the final leg of their preparation journey. This post contains a list of 7 things I wish I could tell my 3 years younger self who was preparing for CAT in 2017 and was dreaming of getting into IIM Ahmedabad.
In this post, you will also find an anonymous form. You can fill it up to share what you're feeling right now. Will share some of the messages in the next video.
#1 - You Worked
No matter how much you would have prepared for this exam, it would have always seemed less. I'm glad that 50 days before the exam, you looked at your bookshelf and saw the preparation material you had finished. You did crib about the things you couldn't do, but I'm relieved that you didn't miss out on appreciating yourself for the things you were able to do. Trust me when I tell you this, you turned out to be wiser than you were when you began this journey. So, it wasn't for nothing that you spent those sleepless nights working hard.
#2 - You Planned
Let me give you a glimpse of your future. When you will get into IIM Ahmedabad, one of your professors will teach you the importance of planning effectively. He will show you how time is always going to seem less in front of the number of tasks pending. So, as your elder self, I can tell you that those 50 days before the exam needed effective planning. You figured it out the hard way, but nevertheless, you created a task table for yourself for the last weeks leading to the exam. That certainly helped you.
#3 - You Knew
You were never good at lying to yourself. In your heart, you knew about your true potential and that day, just 50 days before the exam, I saw you writing down a percentile range that you thought determined your potential. You promised yourself that for the next 50 days to the CAT exam, you wouldn't worry about the percentile you wished to score. You started focusing on the percentile you could score. Do you know how much worry and anxiety it saved you from?
#4 - You Analyzed
As your elder self, I can tell you that the multi-mock analysis you did exactly 3 years before helped you the most in picking your scores up. Multi-mock analysis involved opening the score sheet of all your previous mocks and checking where you've been lagging. It involved identifying a pattern of mistakes - among and within sections. It wasn't easy looking at your faults and more so difficult accepting them. But on that day, you spent about 3 hours doing just that - identifying your core mistakes.
#5 - You Corrected
You found out that there were so many mistakes you were committing at that time. You took a note of them and promised to commit new mistakes. After every mock you took thereafter, the first thing you noted was if the previous mistakes got repeated. You thought you'd commit new mistakes but slowly you started to see that there were fewer new mistakes left to make.
#6 - You Improved
Remember the range you wrote on the piece of paper and called it your potential? It wasn't 100. It wasn't even 99.8 or 99.9. It was 99.5. You knew your preparation could get you to that level and you worked hard to reach the upper limit you had set for yourself. I'm glad you were realistic, it helped you work on the things under your control. You worked hard in between every two mocks, you practiced and revised till the last moment.
#7 - You Failed
Dear younger self, I'm sorry to tell you that you were not able to hit your potential. You scored 99.09 in CAT which wasn't what you wrote as your upper limit. But, that's not why you failed. You failed because you lost your self-confidence that day. Even though you got calls from all the IIMs, you doubted if you deserved to get in.
If you can hear me, my younger self, then know this, that I'm disappointed that you didn't believe in yourself. You did eventually make it to IIM-A. But, you lost your self-belief on the way. Dear younger self, if I could come back and keep a hand on your shoulder, I would tell you to have faith in your abilities. I would tell you to look at the evidences in front of you that were proving all the time that you could do it.
I wish I could tell you that this journey, no matter which way it would have turned, would have shaped you into a much wiser self. I wish you had lived those preparation moments more vividly because little did you know, my younger self, that you'd be talking about this in the future, with yourself and with many others in the same boat.
Dear CAT 2020 takers, when I looked at the date and saw that 50 days were left for the exam, I wondered what could I say to you that would be of help. I could have shared a preparation plan or some tips that you would have heard several times before. But, I thought what might make a difference is if I tell you how I failed despite getting into my dream institute.
When I look back, the marks I scored or the college I got into don't determine what I think of myself. It's how I treated myself during the preparation journey that shaped my perception of self. I wish I could tell you how many people lose their confidence during the preparation of such exams. So, 50 days before CAT, all I have to say to you is - do everything possible in your capacity to get the percentile you think you can score but promise yourself that you will not stop believing in yourself, no matter what the result.
Because your result will not define you, your preparation will.
If there's anything you wish to share or ask, please reach out in the comments. You can use any of the portals -
If you don't want to connect publicly and wish to share what you're feeling right now, let me know your feelings in this anonymous form. Would discuss them in the next video I create.