Post CAT Blues and What Not To Do - Aviral Bhatnagar, IIM Ahmedabad


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    Aviral Bhatnagar graduated with a B.Tech in Engineering Physics at IIT Bombay and he is currently pursuing his MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. He cleared CAT with 99.99 percentile and scored 100 percentile in verbal. He won Eureka!, Asia's largest Business-Plan Competition as part of Education Edge Initiatives.

    Congratulations! You made it.

    Having spent your Sunday ruminating anxiously over a math question that you used to know how to solve right before the exam, while I wondered about the texture of that particularly delicious gulab jamun, you've crossed over to the other side. Welcome. For many of you (like me) it is the first time around, and for some of you it's not. But it always feels like the first time, like a lot of other things. In this post CAT adrenaline driven trip, the flight+fight mode that switches on during the exam, we tend to take a lot of anxious steps that can be harmful to future prospects. Having done some/more of them (I will not completely elaborate on my ignorance), here are a few things that you should avoid doing

    1. The Senior Check Fallacy : This is the first fallacy made by a lot of people (including yours truly), where you ask your seniors who are at an IIM and have totally aced the CAT whether attempting "X/Y" questions with Z% accuracy is going to get you a percentile for a call. I, unbeknowest of the existence of this fallacy, asked a "wise senior" whether my attempts in quant and verbal (26/30 and 28/30) with a 90% would give me a percentile high enough for a call. Señor Senior, in full confidence, (probably doing ten other things simultaneously) told me "Yaar, quant to 98+ bhi cross nahi hoga, Verbal mein 99ish shayad aa jaayega" (You won't be able to cross 98 percentile in quant, you may get a low 99 in Verbal). I, taking this as the supreme truth, felt vindicated that I had screwed up my exam and decided that I would start preparing again in the next two weeks.  What happened next blew my mind. Moral of the Story : Your seniors don't know anything about your exam, will act like they do (because they have to), are probably doing something else and probably don't even remember that they ever uttered those words once said. 
    2. The Self Check Fallacy : "Are you sure 9/3 is 3?". Calculator. Check. Brother. Check. Girlfriend. Check. Self. Check. Repeat Loop. Once you give the exam and are left with a remnant of some question that you probably don't even remember correctly, you will still try to validate it and guess if it's right. This happens with a lot of questions. Moral of the Story : A total waste of time, and you're probably not going to remember right. Most ruminations are ludicrous and borderline illusions.
    3. The Percentile Check Fallacy : Expected verbal questions right and attempted. Enter furiously. Expected quant questions right and attempted. Enter furiously. Click "Calculate percentile". Backend of the forum whirs up something random, while you wait for the proof of a word from nothing less than the all knowing. Result "99.17 - 99.35 percentile". Hence proved : chances look weak. Moral of the story : The only site that actually knows your percentile is the one that declares the results. Everything else is fraud, and a click bait. Click at your risk.
    4. The Forum Check Fallacy : Go to forum. Type your expected score. Click enter. Perspire. Wait. Some expert (?) replies. "Most likely, your score should get a lower 99 percentile". Some other reply "Hey, even I have got a similar score, I think this should get a 98 percentile or so". You don't even know if it's an "expert" or someone masquerading as one (sometimes, the two converge). The expert might be well meaning, but hey, no one knows the future. If I was asked to predict your score, I wouldn't have a clue. As you can see, I couldn't rightly estimate my own percentile. All we have is past data, and what you have probably got. Moral of the Story : Combination of above.

    There are three large errors, in exponentially decreasing order of importance, that are made post the CAT, that can give you a completely skewed picture of what turns out on the final day

    1. You don't know how 200,000+ others performed. Only god knows.
    2. You don't know what you've attempted exactly
    3. You don't know the answers to your questions

    Given that there are such large possibilities of going wrong, why even try? There is no way you're going to get your exact percentile. You're going to probably be bogged down if you try. Just don't bother. Your instinct will generally tell you how well it went. Once it's done, it's done. Live life, chill out a bit and start preparing mentally for the interviews. Most people who prepare with the right effort and right focus end up getting a call from reasonably good institutes. Things will get decided in January, and you can step up your efforts in overdrive once the call letters arrive.

    You've earned some time to loosen up. Make the most of it :)

    Good luck!


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