“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”, what Eliot once said, Saurabh proved.
Saurabh Chhajer, Class of 2011 is currently studying in India’s most coveted B-school, IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
CAT preparation from the man himself
Saurabh regards that 10 months before the planned CAT attempt is the ideal time to start preparing for the same. For him preparation includes knowing your strengths and becoming really good at them, this definitely helps if one doesn’t have a lot of weak areas. Speaking about his preparations, he regarded Data Interpretation as his strength and Quantitative- specifically Geometry as his weakness. His performance in Verbal Ability continued to be erratic.
He mainly focused on his strengths, trying to maximize his score there, this he says, is something that worked for him. During this period, he read some good books and regards it something essential as it develops thinking and reading is one thing which is always a nice point to talk about in interviews if one genuinely reads. One should try reading variety of topics as books offer a plethora of knowledge to gain from. He suggests books like “The way of all flesh” and “Erehwon” by Samuel Butler, “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
and biographies of great people like Mahatma Gandhi as some good reads. Other than this, solving packages of the institute one joins is pertinent.
Saurabh says, “CAT effectively needs a few weeks of efficient study. Two month summer break between your third and fourth year is the best time to work hard for CAT. Once the basics are in place, use your time in August and September to take mock – CAT’s and improve on specific areas”.
Post calls from IIMS
With IIM calls and forty odd days to go before the interview, I joined TIME GD-PI classes for the ‘gyaan’. Apart from these I discussed with seniors at IIM-A and prepared with a friend. In retrospect he feels that both were an important part of preparing for IIM interviews providing structure to his preparation and facilitating learning from other people while making it fun. In most of the colleges, the final selections are done through an essay/GD, followed by Personal Interview.
IIM- Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kozhikode had essays in their initial round whereas IIM-Calcutta and Faculty of Management Studies conduct a GD.IIM- Lucknow conducts both. My topic for the essay at IIM-Ahmedabad was pertaining to “Naxalism”. Personal Interview here goes for about 15-20 minutes, with questions ranging from academics to the cliché “Why MBA?”, followed by general HR questions. My interview specifically continued for forty-five minutes, where I was asked about things related to Instrumentation( my branch), to a discussion over Korea and Germany which were just remotely related to my essay and further ten minutes for hobbies. Interview at IIM-Calcutta majorly was based on interpreting results in mathematical terms, my question being, “how you calculate pi(3.14.)?”.
Particularly for fresher’s, questions are based on the subjects one had studied during engineering. Generally speaking, I had good percentage that supported me, for those who have academics as their grey area, it’s important to prepare at least two or three subjects very well.
Amusingly, he regards his reaction kind of subdued in emotions, though he felt happy cracking a good B-School.
Life at IIM –Ahemdabad
It's a different place if you compare it to NSIT. More work in terms of quizzes, preparation for internships, assignments, company presentations, et al. So, apart from my rants about the food, I've had a good first couple of months here. Lots of bright people to learn from - professors, batchmates, seniors.”
To the question about how important it is to have a prior experience before MBA, “Whatever floats your boat”, he affirms.
Saurabh aptly ends on the following note, “You guys are bright enough to crack CAT (or whatever you want to crack). Just make sure you put in that little effort which is required. There ain't no such thing as free lunch after all!”