My Journey To The Sanctum Called FMS Delhi - Soumyadeep Banerjee
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Soumyadeep Banerjee is pursuing his MBA from FMS, Delhi after acing CAT with 99.67 percentile. He did his Bachelor's Degree, Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University and worked with Bajaj Auto for an year.
I was just another General Engineer Male (GEM) working in the core industry with high ambitions and starry dreams in my eyes. I was inspired by a lot of CEOs and top level managers to pursue MBA and chase those dreams. However, after doing some research about the scene of MBA admissions in India, I figured out that the earlier I got into an MBA program, the better it would be. Sounds contradictory to the work experience preference logic, right? Well, work experience does help in gaining some advantage during the interview stage but considering the gradual disinterest of the top Indian B-Schools(IIMs in particular) to select the typical GEM candidates into their program, I strongly felt that a solid CAT score was a necessary prerequisite to see me through.
Part I: Start of the CAT journey
Hence, I started my CAT preparation from early August with brushing up sessions of fundamental concepts. I had taken CAT once earlier and I knew that I had to focus on Verbal and Logical sections. I devoted more time to RCs and DILR sets and practiced extensively through sectional tests of IMS and TIME. I maintained a notebook to keep note of my mistakes and assess my progress. I had to manage all this time after working for 10 hours in office so generally my study hours would span from 6:30 PM-9:00 PM and 10:30 PM-12 PM. I would feel tempted to see my colleagues enjoy the time after office hours engaged in gaming sessions and watching movies. I had to sacrifice my leisure time for a bigger cause I believed in- Securing admission to one of the top B-schools.
With this determination in mind, I progressed to the Full Length Mock tests end September onwards. It was a struggle in the initial few weeks as I felt that my reading speed was slower than what was expected and my ability to decipher LRDI sets wasn’t up to the mark. I increased my reading exercises and started reading editorials, magazines, and online journals for about 2 hours a day. I would write summaries of each editorial I read and gradually improved my comprehension ability. For LRDI, I went through past CAT papers and the Medium and Difficult sets in CAT mocks. I believe that this section calls for a strong judgment regarding set selection. I closely observed set types and figured out which sets would be doable in the given time. Initially, I went wrong in set selections but gradually I developed this knack of picking the right sets. As the mock series progressed, my scores improved gradually and I started gaining confidence. I targeted Quant and Verbal as the areas where I was going to score. I had some discomfort with DI sets so I tried to ensure I could do the easy and medium sets of the mocks. The mocks I took had a good number of difficult LRDIs so I knew it was my Achilles heel.
1) I used the terminator approach. I would go through the questions and decide within 10 seconds whether it was Easy/Mod/Difficult. For Easy/Mod questions, I would solve right away. I would leave the difficult questions for the end.
2) I was good at basic Math operations so I did those mentally while paying more attention to structuring the data and applying logic based techniques.
3) I was extremely picky with DI sets. I would just leave DI sets where I felt unease with the volume of data or breadth of variables. For LRs, the matrix framework approaches helped me with the easy and moderate sets. For difficult ones, I faced difficulty in categorizing and fishing out the key data. For that, the most important thing is to analyze the options and check for contradictions to help in elimination.
4) For RCs, choose passages from areas you are familiar with. Choose passages with easier questions rather than easier passage with difficult questions. I avoided questions related to tone and philosophy.
5) The Quant section requires revision of fundamentals and time bound practice. I feel it is the easiest section for an engineer hence one must maximize in this section.
Part II: The D Day
With my preparation level satisfactory and some confidence boosting sessions from my mentors, I was all set to take CAT exam on November 30, 2015. However, due to anxiety, I couldn’t sleep the night before the test. I was very worried how I would perform with so less sleep. I think what pushed me forward was the fact that I had taken numerous back to back mock tests with little sleep and I had done well in them. This gave me the confidence that I could do it again. I entered my exam center, relaxed at the desk with my head down for some time and then got up to take the battle head on. The first hour went well with RCs I was already comfortable solving and a few quick verbal reasoning answers. The second hour was a nightmare as I couldn’t feel comfortable with the LRDI sets. I attempted only 60% of the sets and was unhappy with my performance in that section. It was then that my favorite section arrived. I had mentally prepared some strategies to improve my accuracy and speed. I breezed through this section and attempted all except 2 questions with full confidence. I came out the center happy with what I had done. Though my performance in LRDI wasn’t good, I knew that it was difficult for everyone and I believed that in a relative game it would be fine.
Part III – The CAT Result and WAT-PI experience
It was the first week of January. I had been very anxious for the last 10 days about the announcement of CAT results. I received a text from one of my friends “CAT result window open”. I rushed to my laptop, entered my registration details on the portal, and waited with bated breath. Bang! It was out. Soumyadeep Banerjee 99.67%ile OA CAT 2015 Scorecard it read! I was ecstatic and called my parents up to inform them of this good news. My well-wishers were happy with my result, but I soon realized that it was just the first step.
The next step and the more challenging step was to clear the GD-WAT-PI process of IIMs and FMS. I had calls from IIM C, L, I, K and FMS. I started preparing for the essays and interviews shortly. I went through the newspapers and current affairs in detail. I took time to brush through my undergrad subjects from my textbooks and online videos. Now the most important part-The HR questions. This part of the preparation gave me some goose bumps and I felt uneasy answering questions about challenges and on my life philosophy. I took help from some mentors and gave deep thought to each question, wrote down the answers and got them fine-tuned. This was a time consuming exercise, but it reaped rich dividends. I was able to confidently face most of my interviews even under constant prodding from the panelists. The FMS interview had an extempore section for which I had practiced with some peers and developed confidence in speaking within time limit. The FMS interview was conducted at the campus itself. It was a 10 min stress interview with a 1 min extempore. I wasn’t sure how it went so I waited for a few days. The results were out on 16th April. I was at WL 25! I was certain that this meant a selection since the waitlist had moved close to 200 spots the previous year. I was also selected for the PGP programs at IIM L, K and I but I chose the brand FMS over these. Today, I am glad that I am here at the Red Building of Dreams.
Part IV - Life @ FMS
My journey in the Red Building of Dreams commenced on 25th June 2016 with a lot of joy and expectations to live up to. Before joining the institute, I had made some friends through FMS admits group on different social media. We bonded over some interesting stories, and through our discussions on the pre-joining assignments. Assignments! This is one word that will disturb you throughout your B-School life, and couple that with DEADLINES, the combination is indeed a lethal weapon hurled out at students at regular intervals. The first few months at FMS were very hectic since we had to attend regular classes, classes conducted by domain-wise societies and mandatory assignments which have very steep deadlines. I think I was barely able to sleep for 3 hours a day during that stressful period. The good thing was that it was not all work no play. FMS gave us a lot of opportunities to discover our creativity, show our talents in extracurricular activities like singing, debating, dancing and acting. We also had the privilege to undertake real-time sales tasks through our flagship Merchants of Delhi event. We spent an entire day in different marketplaces of Delhi selling very common items and utilizing a very tight budget. This was an eye opener for many of us to the hardship that a sales person faces each day. We also had a village tour where we gave our strategy inputs to improve the living conditions in 3 villages in UP that we visited. It was a good experience to live among people who don’t have access to many privileges that people in cities enjoy. This exercise helped us assess the situation at ground level and how we as future managers can contribute to the development of these areas. Today, I am grateful to our content societies and FMS for this exercise since I have seen a marked difference in my discipline, concentration and my ability to adapt to any difficult situation. The FMS process makes everyone a tough person, ready to face the “big, bad world outside”. I am grateful to FMS for giving me the opportunity to intern at one of India’s largest telecom firms. One of our professors said, “FMS fulfils the maximum number of dreams per square inch area”. This is what we witness at FMS, every day.