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Deekshant’s Blog

Peaking for the right thing!

(Published: 18-July-2017)

The importance of peaking at the right time is emphasized again and again in various fields. From a sporting tournament to an exam, it is crucial to peak at the right time.

It is even more important to peak for the right thing. What good would it be to peak on time for let’s say the 50-over format if the final tournament would be a T-20 one?

That is the reason we don’t rush into the test series, unlike some other institutes.
The CAT notification comes out soon (it usually comes out on the last Sunday of July) and this time the CAT would be conducted by IIM L. It was conducted by IIM B last year. This could mean some, if not many, changes. We would like you to have maximum practice on the format that you will finally face. We would want you to write most AIRCATs and FLTs basis the latest information available for this year’s CAT.

Even 3 months would be enough time to peak if you do it for the right thing – that you will finally face.
And even 6 months of a test series would be insufficient if you do it for something that you won’t finally face.
When it comes to changes, we ADAPT best and the quickest. And we will ensure that you not only peak at the right time, but also do it for the right thing.
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Make it Big by Going Small

(Published: 15-July-2017)

Have been reading this amazing book The One Thing by Gary Keller. Counter-intuitive at first, it actually made me look back at the patterns which got me success in the past, as an individual or as a part of the team. And that prompted me to share this excerpt from the book.

“If everyone has the same number of hours in the day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? How do they do more, achieve more, earn more, have more? If time is the currency of achievement, then why are some able to cash in their allotment for more chips than others?

The answer is they make getting to the heart of things the heart of their approach. They go small. Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”

― Gary Keller, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Do that one most important thing, with a strong focus, at a time. Other things take a back-seat, and are just managed at threshold level till that one thing works out.

What’s the one thing you can do now – the one thing that would make most other things easier or redundant?
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Variations in AIRCATs

(Published: 13-July-2017)

CAT is known to be an exam of surprises. While it has become increasingly transparent over the years and things like number of questions, sections, time duration and whether sections are time bound or not, presence of MCQs etc. are now known in advance, it still changes on these factors once every few years. So, with IIM Lucknow taking charge of conducting CAT-2017, some or all of these factors may change. The CAT notification is expected on 30th of July and all subsequent AIRCATs will be structured and conducted with all confirmed information factored in.

But there still are things like relative difficulty of various sections, break-up of questions types, proportion of sub-sections such as RC, Verbal Reasoning, Grammar in English or Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry in QA etc. which are not known before the actual exam. To ensure that you are best equipped to deal with all variations, AIRCATs and FLTs are deliberately created with wide variations along these dimensions.

The pattern of questions across AIRCATs/FLTs, and the difficulty of various sections, will keep on changing because CAT is finally unpredictable and we would want our students to have exposure to and comfort with a vast variety of combinations, so that no surprise is a surprise for you.

If you (have) read through the various reviews on Quora from several MBAGuru students who finally made it to the Top B-Schools, the one common theme you would find is the proximity with which the AIRCATs reflect the actual CAT. That’s the feeling one gets when one does not face anything unexpected at the end. That’s what we strive to ensure for our students.

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Mock CATs and Your Worries

(Published: 9-July-2017)

Most of you would have started appearing for mock CATs (if your batch began anytime in/before Feb 2017) or will start soon if your batch began later. It is natural that you would have lots of concerns, questions, doubts and apprehensions. The impact of how you respond to these fears or how you deal with a bad score on a test will be more than the bad score itself.

How you think will not only affect your future scores but would also influence your intensity towards the remaining part of your CAT preparation.

Over the next few weeks, I will try and tackle some of the FFCs (Frequently Felt Concerns) related to AIRCATs/FLTs etc.

First and foremost, scores or percentiles in mock Tests don’t matter. The purpose of mocks is to get used to testing, question selection, time management, pressure handling and improve with each mock. Where you are doesn’t matter – where you go from here is all that counts! Would you even remember what you scored in a mock CAT later?

For now, just drill this into your head – mocks are practice platforms to make mistakes, learn and get better. Nothing more, nothing less. Just ensure you don’t lose out on this purpose. More soon.
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Carry-over

(Published: 6-July-2017)

Your losing a crucial point, getting out cheaply to a specific bowler, doing badly on a test in a specific subject – all these carry over to your future (in your mind).

Your doing well under pressure, dominating a particular opponent, excelling in a test or competition in specific area or subject – all these also carry over to your future.

Whatever has happened once, or even more so more number of times, gets carried over and as a result it becomes more believable, more palatable, more doable, more likely in your mind.

And with that, in turn, the chances of it happening again actually increase.

That’s knowledge – now, what can you do with it? Can you train your mind to allow the positive carryovers and very objectively negate the negative carryovers?

Imagine what would be possible if you could do that. Imagine the positives adding up, and the negatives eroding. It’s tough – but it’s worth it!
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A Really Good Sign

(Published: 4-July-2017)

When others get so desperate to pull you down that they resort to deceit and lies, it means you are getting things right. Have come across a few incidents in the recent past wherein some students have been misguided by some MBA Prep Institutes (especially some smaller ones who have been finding the going tough) who somehow are unable to digest the way MBAGuru is growing and earning the trust of thousands of students without compromising on the quality of mentorship, without making batches of 50-60 just to make more money, and without losing the passion of wanting to make a difference to the lives of our students.

A recent mail from one Shweta Kumari went as follows:
“I know u have paid people to write positive reviews about MBA guru even quora. So stop boasting. you guys manipulate a public opinion site. Do not contact me.”
I wrote back to her asking which student would she want to speak to and verify for herself, and that it was not fair to accuse without basis, when even murderers get a chance to clarify.

Someone who enrolled at MBAGuru today mentioned that another MBA Prep player said that MBAGuru has a tie-up with Quora and FB – I mean WT*! Really?
Wish we were that influential – then we could use that influence for the good of students and more positivity in the world.

But you know what – instead of making us angry, such absurd stuff doesn’t worry us one bit. Why – because I keep getting such beautiful mails by the dozen daily from students past and present – and keep struggling to ensure that I reply to almost all. Sample one that I got just an hour ago from Swastic Yaduvanshi who was with us 2 years ago:

“I fondly recall the time at Mbaguru. I have been in touch with Tina ma’am and a bit with Vikram sir too. It has been two years now. It is not just an MBA coaching institute there is so much more to it. I took the decision of working with this Non-profit organisation and not doing an MBA straight away which was all due to Vikram sir’s enlightening sessions on absolutely everything and GD. 😀 Thank you for all your inspiring emails during the CAT preparation period and even post that.”

We would rather focus our energies on ensuring that this kind of a trust gets stronger as we grow. Let others be busy trying to pull us down, we can’t be looking down at them. We have do much to improve and implement. We have so much to look forward to and look up to.

But yes, we know it is a good sign that others are so desperate – we must be doing something really right, really well.
Keep that in mind as you go higher in life – there will always be people trying to pull you down – that should tell you that you are getting something right, really right!
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How Do You Gain Confidence?

(Published: 2-July-2017)

Was reading this brilliant little book (it’s just a 2-hour read incase you can muster the courage) which was conceived, written and released in less than a week (isn’t that wow!). It’s about the power of hustling (in a particularly positive context), and the book itself is an example. This particular paragraph about confidence rang so true that I wanted to share it with you.

“Confidence is a choice. Let me say that again: Confidence is a choice. Want confidence? It’s yours. Take it. It’s that simple. People ask me all the time where my confidence comes from. I tell them I have no idea. Let me be honest with you: My confidence lapses all the time. I become extremely doubtful when I’m pushing my limits particularly hard. But that’s when I know I’m on to something. When I feel the self-doubt creeping in, I relax, which we’ll talk about later. Confidence doesn’t come with experience, it’s enhanced by experience. Confidence comes from deep inside you. Here’s a painfully obvious trick that most people fail to employ: Surround yourself with people who support you, and deliberately disengage with people who doubt you. I don’t care if it’s your best friend, your mother, or your boss. If they’re constantly feeding you words of doubt – get away. Your ability to reach your full potential will skyrocket as soon as you remove external haters.”
-Tevelow, Jesse (2015-12-15). Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion (pp. 18-19). Jesse Warren Tevelow. Kindle Edition.

I can only say – tried and tested. It works! What do you think?
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Enough Time for CAT-2017?

(Published: 30-June-2017)

I have been writing this around this time of the year for several years now. It remains one of the most pertinent pieces on perspective. How different the same thing appears when we see it from a different perspective or in a different framework.

With nearly 5 months remaining for CAT-2017 (assuming the date to be similar to that of last year’s CAT), quite a few CAT aspirants are worried about whether that’s enough time for preparing well. While it is natural for some of the recent beginners, even some of those who started earlier are worried if they have enough time to fill the gaps in their preparation.

An example that I often use to give perspective to students nurturing this concern is that 5 months is almost a complete semester.
What are the thoughts that go through your mind at the beginning of a semester? Is paucity of time one of them? Unlikely 🙂
In how many semesters have you worked really hard for the entire 5 months?
Or even more strikingly, how many times in your entire life have you worked really hard in a focused manner for 5 months?
Most of us, even during Class XII Board Exams, really gave it a go for a period shorter than that.

The real question therefore, is not ‘whether you have enough time’ but ‘how well will you use the remaining time’.
5 months of consistent effort can easily outperform even 18 months of sporadic efforts.

If you put in your best (well-directed and ADAPTING to your needs) efforts for 5 months like you have rarely/never done before, even the outcome is likely to be as amazing as something you have rarely/never seen before.

So, from today, make every day count! 5 months will add up to a lot.
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Momentum

(Published: 29-June-2017)

Momentum: The force that allows something to continue or to grow faster or stronger as time passes.

It is a strange thing, momentum – in its absence, movement itself seems impossible, targets looks unachievable, and the sense of inertia overwhelms.
But once you have momentum with you, movement is effortless, any target seems gettable, and infact, even impossible seems doable. The sense of invincibility and confidence just flows, like momentum itself.

Mass and velocity gather more mass and more velocity. Minor challenges or setbacks can cause a bit of a slowdown but the overall movement just continues.
In Sports, one starts winning points, or games or even tournaments, and the winning streak just goes on and on. No wonder Pakistan got the better of India in the Champions trophy despite being the weaker team on paper – they had the momentum with them.
In politics too, BJP for example has had great momentum in the past few years – winning elections after elections.
In life too, the successful keep finding more success, the rich keep getting richer and so on.
That’s momentum!

In its absence though, things can just come to a standstill. And then its tough to get started again.

I experienced the same in writing to you lately. Wanted to, but had lost momentum – couldn’t quite gather the mass to get the velocity going. But here’s hoping I have broken through and things will begin rolling now. Will try and create momentum over the next few days and weeks.

What about your CAT prep? What are you doing to get some momentum going? Get moving, get on, NOW!
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Patterns

(Published: 7-June-2017)

Logic is about identifying patterns.

The subjects of my first 2 mails in the series of 3 were “Being Blind and Focused” and “Being Deaf and Alert” respectively. I had asked you to guess the likely subject of my third mail in the series.
The pattern suggested the following inputs for making a smart guess:
1. It should probably be of the form “Being X and Y”
2. X and Y should broadly represent some contradictory thought
3. Blind and Deaf done in the first two, Dumb/Mute was likely to come up next

The opposite of Dumb would have been a tough one – it could be opposite to something similar to outspoken or expressive. But that would be opposite to literal dumbness and the first 2 mails did not talk about literal blindness or deafness. They were representing the need to ignore everything else but your goal. And my second mail ended with – are you smart enough to guess the subject of my next mail? The smart therein should have been a hint. So, “Being Dumb and Smart” was what the subject for the 3rd mail.

100’s of you wrote back and I tried to reply to each one of you. Around 60 of you got pretty close to the right guess. Infact, I was worried what if no one got it absolutely correct – then, how would I be able to differentiate among the so many close-to-correct guesses? But thankfully, Ankita Singhal nailed it and has received her little prize. Well done, again! And well done all of you who gave it a shot. It never hurts to try. You’ve already failed if you don’t try.

It was just a small game. But patterns matter – because that’s how questions are framed, and that’s how people behave. Sometimes though, you need to break (past) patterns.
Can you think of situations wherein would it be useful to break patterns? No prizes on this one but would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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Being Dumb and Smart

(Published: 3-June-2017)

You can’t be smart unless you are dumb.
Right from Galileo to Steve Jobs, and so so many more before, between and after them, all people who made a difference were (initially thought of as) dumb.
They were dumb enough to ignore status quo, and well established norms. They were smart enough to see beyond them.
They were smart enough to know what to be dumb about and dumb enough to pursue what they were smart at.
So, be smart enough to be dumb about what is, and be smart about what you can make possible.

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Being Deaf and Alert

(Published: 1-June-2017)

You can’t be alert unless you are deaf.
To listen to the sound of birds chirping, you need to be deaf to everything else.
To be able to be alert to your inner self (for example, in meditation), you need to be deaf to everything outside.
To be able to be alert enough to dig out that inswinging toe-crushing yorker, you need to close out your mind to thousands of spectators in that packed stadium shouting themselves hoarse.
Deafness also enables you to ignore your doubters, and detractors who are generally a drain on your motivation.
So, be deaf to everything that’s useless to be alert to what really matters.

PS: Are you smart enough to guess the subject of my next mail? A small prize awaits you if you mail me the correct answer before that mail comes your way in a day or two 🙂

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Being Blind and Focused

(Published: 30-May-2017)

You can’t be focused unless you are blind. The blinder you are, the clearer you see.
Yes, read that again.
While focusing on the eye of the fish, Arjun was blind to everything else.
When you are focused on the target, you don’t (want to) see anything else.
That’s what’s needed to make rapid progress towards something that is really important for you.
So, be blind, be focused. Are you?

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Reason or Excuses

(Published: 11-May-2017)

We often look for ‘reasons’ to not do things. Students, who aspire to pursue MBA from a top college, for example cite paucity of time, poor past academic record, college engagements etc. as ‘reasons’ for wanting to defer or abandon their preparations.

Generally, these are ‘excuses’ and not ‘reasons’. You could have a 100 excuses for not doing something. For doing something, you need only one reason. And that one ‘reason’, depending upon the desire it generates, will overpower all the ‘excuses’ that may otherwise seem compelling. The biggest shifts in history of mankind have come from some singular reason backed by a strong desire. Even individuals who have changed the course of the world have usually had only one good reason, and a very strong desire to act upon it.

Do you have your reason – for wanting to crack the CAT, or for some other dream of yours? Is it strong enough to overcome all the excuses?
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No Doesn’t Work!

(Published: 30-April-2017)

When it comes to mind games, “do this” always works better than “don’t do that”.
The mind has a habit of skipping negative words that accompany an action, an object, a feeling, a situation, or a possible outcome.
So, when you tell yourself not to think about a red car, the image that pops up in your head is that of a red car.

When you tell yourself not to fail, the focus of the mind is on the word fail. When you tell yourself to win, the mind picks up the word win.
When you tell yourself repeatedly that you can and will do something, the probability of the same happening increases many times, simply because your mind begins to believe it. That’s how a lot of less capable people succeed and remain successful whereas many more talented ones keep struggling.

Mind won’t stay empty. Keep filling it up with a lot of positive stuff – don’t tell it what to avoid, tell it what to embrace.
No doesn’t work, yes works beautifully. Try it and let me know:)

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Coach: The Little Big Difference

(Published: 27-April-2017)

We understand why a school team has a coach.
Or why we send a kid to a tennis or a chess coaching academy.
But why do the best sports teams have coaches? Why do the best individual sports persons have coaches?
Most of the players are better players than the coaches, have more national/international exposure and even more experience as players, and usually far more money in the bank 🙂

The coach for a school team works on building and developing the basics of the game; the coach for a college team focuses on the strategy aspect; and the coach at a higher level works on the mental aspect.
The coach for a school team works on the skills; the coach for a college team works on the application; and the coach at a higher level works on the temperament of a champion.
(For CAT, each one of us needs to work on skills, application and temperament in differing measures. But let us leave that for another day.)

The talent and the hardwork is entirely of the player. The coach just guides, mentors, motivates and strives to bring out the best in the player.
It is the proverbial icing on the cake.
It is the small little percentage on the top of the huge percentage that comes from the player.
That little small percentage, when it works right from both sides, becomes a big thing.

You, the player, are the big thing. We, the coaching, are just with you for that little (big) difference. Let us ensure it happens right and it means big!
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Playing to Your Strength

(Published: 25-April-2017)

Dhoni did it for his team once again a few days ago – snatched a last over win. And I would guess it was not the last time either. In the past, he has been accused of allowing the game to drift and reach till the last over, and now, people have mocked his slow scoring rate. The fact remains that he has played the same way – taken his time to settle down, and then accelerate, before finishing with a flourish. And he has won his last over duals against all kinds of bowlers and oppositions, with an unparalleled consistency.

Sewhag on the other hand believed that the first few balls and overs are best used to set the equation right, show who is the boss, and mentally destroy bowlers and fielding sides. His first-ball-boundary record is unbelievable and so are his strike rates across all formats. He started with a flourish and kept going till the end. Two (ah, so nearly 3) triple tons in Test matches is no mean feat, nor a matter of chance. Greater players have failed to achieve such stats, and such impact.

Neither of them has been among the most talented people in terms of sporting skills – but mentally, in terms of causing havoc in bowlers’ minds, there aren’t too many ahead of them.

That’s what Champions do – they know their strengths and they play to their strengths. They do so even when people succeed with other styles. They do not copy others. They know themselves, believe in themselves and back themselves.

So Champion, you too play to your strengths! Keep working on your weaknesses. That’s what ADAPTIVE is all about. That’s what success is all about – be it in cricket, CAT, or any other walk of life.

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Ask Why?

(Published: 9-April-2017)

I have done this often in a class – I ask the students which toothpaste they use, and I get some well known names, the usual suspects, as answers.

Then I ask them – why? Why a particular one? Why not some other?
And invariably, there is no logical answer. Because almost none of us has made a conscious choice. For something that is used daily, something that impacts our health, hygiene and well-being, we just pick up and start using what’s pushed in front of us randomly, or advertised more, or packed more flashily, or the shopkeeper gets a bigger margin for.

This ails us even in the far bigger decisions that we take in our lives – like choosing a subject, an area or a career. We don’t ask or answer these questions unless they are asked by a company or a college. We don’t do it for ourselves, which is infact, the most important thing to do.

If we can just pause to question “why” before taking decisions, we would be surprised at how things change.
At times the answer may not be clear, and at other times, you may decide it’s not important. But asking won’t hurt.

You have to do it yourself. And you should do it for yourself.

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Conversations

(Published: 25-March-2017)

Conversations reveal a lot. Organizations would love to hear informal, unedited conversations of their audience so much that they would even pay for it. So, when I happened to get the rare opportunity to just sit and listen to the random conversations of our students at MBAGuru today at CP, I latched onto every single syllable that was uttered. The discussions spanned across specific QA questions, Euler’s and Fermat’s theorems, the rough workings of the home work that would be asked for by the mentor, the word lists and the effectiveness of vocabulary.com (the app with the MBAG word lists), the busyness (or the absence thereof) in college life, the controversial NYT editorial regarding BJP’s choice for the UP CM and much else.

I felt relieved, pleased and confident, not necessarily in that order.

I was relieved because the conversations were both engaging and positive.
I was pleased because quite a few things were actually working out the way they were conceived at MBAGuru. The goal-focussed discussions suggest the purposefulness of MBAGuru students. The environment plays a huge role in how we apply ourselves. The entire environment in the room was largely focussed on the reason why these students were there in the first place – for making it to a Top B-School. When stuff like the ADAPTIVE Card, word-lists, homework and questions is core to random discussions, it tells us we are creating the right (not necessarily serious or lacking in fun) environment.
And I am confident because I saw a bunch of very capable, confident and communicative young minds and I am sure the rooms across all our centers are filled with equally enthusiastic and capable young minds.

So, thankyou girls and guys! Was lovely listening to you – and am sure it will propel me to write more frequently to you all.

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300 days for You (For CAT-17)

(Published: 30-January-2017)

When you hear about the Indian Cricket Team building a core with WC-2019 in mind, countries planning for Olympics years in advance, or Champions putting in months and months of efforts before they go on to lift major titles, what do you conclude? That most things “worth it” take a lot of effort over prolonged periods. You can’t just get up one day and hope to beat the odds. That may happen, but is not likely to.

CAT16 has seen a stupendous show from MBAGuru students with 100’s of Calls from the IIMs/Top B-Schools. Rather than gloating about the same, we would rather focus on two things – one, ensure that most of these calls get converted into final admission offers for our CAT16 students and two, ensure that you, yes YOU, get going on the way to ensure an even better show at CAT17.

Jan end typically marks an important checkpoint for CAT aspirants. We now have around 300 days to CAT17, if it happens as per the usual timeline. For you and for us, the opportunity and the challenge lies in making each of these 300 days count. A small step forward on each of these 300 days would see you placed comfortably at the top of the preparation ladder. A far more improved V3 of ADAPTIVE Prep is in motion now – it takes into account the latest changes and the likely future trend of CAT into account, and improves upon the balance of various topics in all the subjects. It also entails more hours in classroom sessions. Even students who had enrolled earlier for CAT17 are being upgraded to the same without any charges. The reason is simple – we want to ensure that you get the best; that’s what got you to adopt MBAGuru. And that’s what you will get. Nothing gets us more motivated than increasing the chances of your success.

Starting today, let’s make the next 300 days the most exciting, productive, enjoyable and life-changing experience for you.

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Should You Attempt the CAT Again? (For CAT-16)

(Published: 30-January-2017)

So, all the first stage Aptitude tests for the season are over, many results have come out and some of you haven’t done as well as you (or we) would have hoped to do. Many of you have written to me, met me and asked whether you should be attempting CAT/other exams again.

First of all, get the bigger picture right – life gets decided by anything but results of some exams. So, cheer up! You played well and even Champions face their share of losses. That doesn’t make them worse, it just propels them to do better.

Next, make use of all the chances you still have – some results are still awaited; some B-Schools are yet to release call details. Prepare yourself and go out and experience every single GD/PI chance that you get. You will know yourself better and you will gain invaluable experience. You can finally decide NOT to go to a B-School you don’t consider good for yourself. But get that conversion first. Give it your best shot first. Make it count first.

Finally, if you still think this wasn’t your best, then you owe yourself another chance. A year means around 2% of the rest of your life. So, you should not spend 4% of your remaining life in a B-School you don’t find worthy of yourself, and certainly not spend the next 50-60% of your life with the impact of that being your final education. So, attempt again if you feel you can do much better. That is a question you alone can answer.

Whatever you decide, if there is anyway in which we can help you, please feel free to reach out. You are, and will always remain, an MBAGuru student. And as long as you try your best, in anything you do, we will be very proud of you.

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60% still lies ahead of you

(Published: 2-December-2016)

Success at CAT, as at most challenging things, depends upon the following 5 factors:

1. Your Ability – this is something all of us possess in different measure in different areas. This intact, is the crux of ADAPTIVE Prep – that each of us is skilled in different ways. Knowing yourself well allows you to make best use of this ability/skill.
2. Your Preparation – this is something you should be very positive about. The past several months have seen you undertake the most intensive classroom prep program for CAT in India. You have put in a lot of effort and should feel confident about the same.
3. Your Application – How well you apply yourself and make use of your strengths, and use your knowledge of your weaknesses, and how well you make that day’s performance count can be fairly independent of and much better than what you have done anytime in the past. So, stay cool and apply yourself in the best possible way. Make it count.
4. Your Temperament – Big days and big moments are more about how well you handle the pressure and not really (just) about how talented you are. The cooler you are, the more you get past the ones who are tense/feeling the pressure. Be it a sport or a test, nerves decide the outcome on big days. With steady nerves, you can outdo yourself.
5. Your Luck – Behind most successful moments are a few things one cannot control. Call it luck, God’s will, probability or whatever, but it is empirically evident that the more positive and confident you are, the more lucky you are likely to be. So be positive to be lucky.

The first 2 factors are broadly over in terms of what you could have done.
However, the last 3 are yet to happen. They lie ahead of you They take place tomorrow.
Believe in the first 40%, and focus on the 60% that still lies ahead of you.
Our best wishes. Just go out and give it your best – we will be proud of you.
Go, Rock it!

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Butterflies in the tummy?

(Published: 28-November-2016)

With a little less a week to go for CAT, what becomes important now is staying calm and focused. This is when the nerves will gradually begin to dominate ability and preparation.

When are you likely to do better:
When you are confused, worried, unsure, edgy, anxious?
Or when you are calm, relaxed, positive, focused, (and still a little anxious :)?
So, you have no choice but to believe in yourself, your ability and your preparation. Surround yourself with positive and calming stuff – whether it is your favorite sitcom, movie, music, prayer, game or whatever gets your mojo back (including Dunkin Donuts).
Ensure that your sleeping hours stabilize and you are really fresh around the time slot in which you will take the exam.

And to make some sense of all the AIRCATs etc you have taken so far, just be clear in your mind as to what it is that you need to try and do or try not to do in terms of patterns that have worked for/against you in the past. Don’t write more than one more Mock/AIRCAT. And if you think any more testing or analysis may demotivate you, don’t do it – simple.

And about anxiety. A little bit is good – it keeps you alert and also shows that you are human, even if a super one (which I am sure you are)!

PS: Some of my mails very close to the CAT remain practically unchanged year after year. Essentially, the basics don’t change 🙂

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Non MCQs are Free Hits

(Published: 26-November-2016)

Some students still seem unsure about attempting non-MCQs fearing that they could end up with a lower accuracy and hence somehow lose out in the selection process.

Let me assure you that no B-School except for the Top few IIMs can really be in a position to put another condition such as an accuracy cut-off. More importantly, there is no historical data even for the Top IIMs as far as accuracy threshold is concerned. A poor accuracy (till CAT-2014) meant poor returns simply because of the negative marks for a wrong choice. So, the punishment was implicit in the calculation of the scores.

The fact that you have no options makes it nearly impossible for you to just make a random guess and be correct. Infact, you may spend a lot of time and still get no positive marks if your answer is wrong. That is discouragement enough.

So, there is no indication or likelihood of any negative impact emerging out of wrongly attempting ALL non-MCQs also. You must make it a point to attempt ALL non-MCQs.

However, it will still be useful only if you can limit your possible answers to a few before typing your final one. Else, sheer probability-wise your returns will be near-zero.

Like Free-Hits after a No-ball in Cricket, non-MCQs give you a chance to score without any associated penalty. There is nothing to lose, and nothing to choose (from).

—–

Patterns Work or They Don’t

(Published: 18-November-2016)

Our performance is always about patterns. The most recent events affect us the most and strengthen the patterns – good or bad.
That’s why a batsman in form keeps scoring runs and one out of form keeps struggling. Their minds are caught in respective patterns.
To do well, we need to keep playing up the patterns that work for us, and keep disrupting the ones that keep us down.

The Test Analytics tab in the left hand bar in your AIRCAT login is a boon to see how you’ve been doing on easy, intermediate, difficult questions across tests, overall as well as in each section.
Use it well and you will know which patterns are bogging you down and which ones are propping you up.

Are you missing out on attempting easy questions in VRC across most tests?
Are you picking out a high percentage of difficult questions in QA across tests?
Is your accuracy in intermediate questions in DILR too low?
Are you scoring high overall because of your question selection?

Identify the patterns that are working for you and keep them strong.
Identify the pattern that are bringing you down. Kill them now.

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How to Leave (Tough) Questions?

(Published: 16-November-2016)

Just like picking the easy ones out it tough, picking out the tough ones is easier.

The first thing of course is to improve your judgement and that is best done through analysis of what has happened in the past AIRCATs/FLTs where you go question by question and assess the difficult ones you picked out and why was it right or wrong, as the case may be.

It can be done even during a test, where the average time per question attempted ranges from 2 to 3 minutes for most of you. Once you begin working on a(ny) question, you need to take a call once you are in it for around 1.5 minutes or so. If you are sure by this time that you can nail the question in the next 2-3 minutes, carry on. But if the first 1.5 minutes also do not give you any indication or confidence that you can get this question in another 2-3 minutes, you should best leave that question. This question is likely to be “Difficult” for you. Incase of sets, this decision making time can go upto 4-5 minutes instead of 1.5 minutes for a single question.

Remember you can always come back to a question/set if need be. Although you almost never will 🙂

Also, at any point in time, It is not the time already spent on a question (before deciding) that is important, but the remaining time and how you can maximize your score from that. So, if the average time per question for you is 3 minutes, you can either solve that question within that time or a new one. Both will get you similar marks. The time spent before you decide is sunk cost. Don’t bother about it. But if the question still appears a riddle, move on. Leave it.

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Tough Questions?

(Published: 14-November-2016)

75% of your strategy to score high is about picking easy questions. Almost 20% of it is about realizing the difficult ones and leaving them – even if you do it after having spent a couple of minutes in realizing the same. These tough questions are like swinging deliveries in the corridor of uncertainty on a pitch with a decent sparkling of grass 🙂 These are best left alone.

The question you need to ask for each of the Difficult questions across AIRCATs/FLTs is “why did I attempt it?”
If it happens to be from a strong area of yours AND if you are not taking twice the average time per question on these, then keep going. But each question that you mindlessly took on as a challenge or without realizing the worth of time spent/wasted on it must be a lesson well learnt.

You just see the time that you spent on questions assigned the level Difficult and the Score you gain from them and compare the same with the rest of your test performance in terms of marks per minute. And you will realize how big a drain these questions are – on your time, score and hence, your confidence!

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How do you pick out Easy Questions?

(Published: 12-November-2016)

Pick out easy questions and nail them – this is a classic example of “easier said than done.”

The first thing is to improve your judgement. How do you do that?
Go question by question through all AIRCATs/FLTs identifying the easy questions that you left and asking yourself why you left them? You do that for 400 questions across AIRCATs and FLTs and you would know 2-3 major reasons why you skipped them – they were from topics you don’t like (work on them atleast so that you can make the easy ones count), or you didn’t see them in the one hour you had in the section (stop wasting time on tough questions), or you don’t give enough time to yourself for question selection and are busy solving till you run out of time and so on. Once you realize why you are missing out on easy ones, you can tackle a big part of the problem.

The second thing is to improve in the areas that you are totally unfriendly with. How do you do that?
While going through the attempted AIRCATs/FLTs, seek out the question types you always avoid. Now, work on those topics – even if you spend 5 hours on such a topic doing the basic work, you will reach a level where you can atleast see the easy ones from that topic and get them right (well, mostly). This is the biggest potential source of score improvement.

It is unlikely that you can pick and nail ALL easy questions on a test. But that isn’t even needed. You only need to improve the percentage of easy ones you are picking and then getting right. This is doable. Get going on the easy ones.

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Easy Way to Score High

(Published: 11-November-2016)

75% of your strategy to score high is about easy stuff.

Put yourself in the shoes of the CAT committee. Try setting a paper of 100 questions. You would not even want them to be of the same difficulty level. And they can’t be of the same level even if you want them to be. You will have 25-35% questions as easy, intermediate and difficult (in relative terms) each.

So, what does it mean for you as an aspirant? When all questions carry equal marks, nailing the easy ones takes you far ahead in the game.
All questions in AIRCATs and FLTs show an assigned level of Easy, Intermediate or Difficult – depending upon past data from 1000s of students who attempted those questions, the average time they took and the accuracy they achieved on those questions.

Now, I am yet to come across a student’s test where (s)he has picked out a high percentage of easy questions (80% or above) and nailed them with a high accuracy (85% or above) and then not achieved a very high percentile (95+).
I am yet to come across a student’s test where (s)he has messed up the easy questions in terms of % attempted or correct, and still done very well.
Picking the easy ones and making them count is the easy way to score high.
This is 75% of the assurance needed to excel at the CAT or similar exams. You get this right, and you won’t go wrong!

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How to use your Diwali Break for CAT Prep!

(Published: 28-October-2016)

A break from a rigorous involvement in any relationship or activity is extremely important.

One, it allows you to step back and make an objective assessment of where you are (which a close involvement never allows for). When you are very very close to someone or something, the picture is blurred and hazy. You need a small distance for a clear focus – even for the selfie you take using your smartphone :).

Two, it allows you to refill/replenish your depleted energy reserves. A short break from CAT prep, even for CAT16 students, would do more good than harm unless you are completely full of energy even right now. Do something you like, enjoy, love. Catch up on movies, play a game of cricket, light up the diyas or just gossip.

Three, it allows you to spend some time with your friends and family. Remember, they are as important as, if not more important than, any achievement of yours. They deserve your complete undivided attention. This break can help you prioritize.

So, wishing you and all your loved ones a very happy Diwali from all of us at TeamMBAGuru. May you outclass and outshine all the challenges that life tests you with.

PS: If you didn’t read this mail because you are on a break – well done!!

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What really counts on THAT day?

(Published: 26-October-2016)

Just like a game of cricket (or any other sport for that matter), each test is a fresh start. Your past numbers won’t get you score on today’s test. You have to start from zero in each test and earn every mark just like anyone else.

While your ability and your preparation do play a crucial role in defining your average performance across several tests – on a given day, in a given test, anything can happen. It is how well you apply yourself in that test, on that day, that finally reflects in the numbers on that test. What is important right now is to try, experiment and find patterns that either give you success or stop you from gaining success. Let me reiterate: see the classes, workshops, AIRCATs+FLTs as practice matches. Scoring in them is not important; doing things that will finally increase your chances of a good score in CAT is more important. This is true even for the last AIRCAT, even on the last day before CAT. Practice is practice – a year before, a month before, a week before or even an hour before the actual game. The scores of practice DO NOT COUNT.

On the day of the CAT also, none of these numbers will matter. The score even one day prior to CAT, in any test other than the CAT itself, won’t matter.

Yes, WHAT COUNTS is the feeling you carry on that day – that will make a huge difference. Being positive, calm and confident will increase your chances of success many more times that any past score would.

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Just Bloom

(Published: 25-October-2016)

Came across this post on FB: “A flower doesn’t think of competing against the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
With so many of us facing competitive pressures that cause us not only to behave differently from our natural selves but also create a lot of stress in our lives, this is a powerful analogy that deserves some thought, acceptance and action. Your best bet to succeed in anything in life is to be your best – not be someone else or better than someone else.

So, just bloom to your best. Let your fragrance do the rest.

—–

The official CAT-2016 Mock Test

(Published: 24-October-2016)

The official Mock for CAT-16 is now live on the CAT-2016 official website (www.iimcat.ac.in).

The mock contains 100 questions and is pretty much similar to the mock released last year (as also the actual CAT last year). And while there are no visible surprises, there are a few caveats.

One, it is meant to be a Demo/Mock – an indication of, and not necessarily the, final thing.

Two, what makes a departure from the Mock possible and likely in the actual CAT, is a line written in Red on the instructions screen:
“Note: Number of questions in each section is only for the mock test. The actual number of questions, including the actual number of MCQ and non-MCQ type questions, could be different in CAT2016.”

This note brings into play the possibility of CAT having more/less questions in a specific section, and as a result at an overall level too. Just like the AIRCATs you have experienced so far, the remaining AIRCATs will cater to both possibilities – that the CAT turns out to be exactly of the same pattern as this official Mock, with 34-32-34 sectional breakup and the over-emphasis on RC, or that the actual number of questions in each section/overall remain a mystery till the final day. (I would not be surprised if English this year sees a higher-than-usual weightage.) In either case, the surprise would probably not surprise you. We will ensure that!

The one thing I would strongly urge you to do is to write the CAT-16 Official Mock Test as a single practice test. It is an opportunity to get even more comfortable with something that is likely to be close to the actual CAT. Don’t just browse through and waste this chance.

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Speed in AIRCATs

(Published: 10-October-2016)

Managing time (or speed since the distance of total number of questions is the same) is of essence to do well at the CAT.

One extreme way of managing time in the CAT (or AIRCATs) is to look at it as 3 sections of one hour each and be slow at the beginning of each section’s time limit, while trying to be quick at its end.
The other extreme would be to keep looking at the timer continuously and forget solving questions.

Both extremes are inefficient and sub-optimal. For those of you struggling with speed, you need to see the 1 hour section as 3-4 sub-sections of 15-20 minutes each and set goals for each of these as you move along.
So, instead of panicking at the end of 45 minutes and trying to make best use of the last 15, you would have 45 minutes available to make amends for an inefficient use of the first 15, if needed.
Breaking up the hour into 3-4 periods is also likely to improve your question selection. Think how?

(And if you haven’t already attended the AIRCAT analysis session, do not miss out on the last slots coming up this weekend.)

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Moments & MCQs

(Published: 23-September-2016)

Each moment brings choices and possibilities. You could decide to
Accept or change
Stay or move on
Worry or do something
Look back or zip ahead
Mock or believe
Sleep or dream
Give up or fight on
Surrender or fight back
Give in or stand firm …

The choices are always there. You are likely to end up with the consequences of whatever you choose.

Each moment is like an MCQ.
Every good shot will count. Play on!

—–

Accuracy before Speed

(Published: 16-September-2016)

With most of you writing some form of the Mock-CATs regularly now, the relative importance of Speed and Accuracy would be one of the top-most concerns in your mind.

There is a trade-off involved and you wonder which side should you lean on and to what extent.
In terms of sequence of achieving, it should be accuracy first followed by a gradual increase in speed.

Think of it as driving a car – accuracy being your ability to manage the challenges on the path well, and speed being well … speed.
Once you have more control over the car, it would be easier to increase the speed – isn’t it?

So, till what point do you aim for speed? The point till which you do not start losing control over the car.
Incase of an AIRCAT/FLT, you should aim for speed that allows you a threshold accuracy of around 75-80%.

Let’s play with some random numbers to verify (assuming 100 MCQs with +3/-1 marking scheme):
60 attempts with 70% accuracy: Net Score = 42×3 – 18×1 = 108
50 attempts with 80% accuracy: Net Score = 40×3 – 10×1 = 110
So, getting more out of where you spend your time is more important than trying to do more with less control.
Ofcourse, nothing like 60 attempts with 80% accuracy: Net Score = 48×3 – 12×1 = 132 🙂

At times extremities make things clearer:
A positive speed with zero accuracy will fetch you a negative return (barring non MCQs), whereas a zero speed will keep you at zero atleast 🙂
A speed of 100% with a 50% accuracy (150 – 50 = 100) or a speed of 50% with 100% accuracy (150 – 0 = 150)?

Will soon share how you could look to increase your speed.

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Percentiles & Performance

(Published: 6-September-2016)

It is not surprising that the difference in percentile between any 2 tests, whether at MBAGuru or across various institutes, can be significant.
Some of the factors that can hugely impact your percentile, or the fluctuations in it, are:

The difficulty level of various sections (which may or may not be advantageous to your strengths)
Your own question selection in any test (this is a game changer regardless of your ability or preparation)
The balance and the overall difficulty level of the test (it’s like a certain kind of a pitch may favor certain players more)
The actual sample taking any specific test
The genuineness of the results (certain institutes allegedly ‘doctor’ the same to create a certain aura/impression)
The Dissection at the end of each AIRCAT window gives you meaningful insights into how you could have approached the test and the marks you should have targeted in various sections/overall.

The percentile only ‘measures your relative standing’. You need to analyze a test to improve in the ‘absolute sense’ – the focus should on getting better and applying yourself better.

The analysis sample for any question in AIRCATs is thousands of students, large enough a sample to give a very meaningful relative benchmark. But still – it won’t help you improve. Identifying things you could have done better would. So, focus on that.

Measurement and improvement are separate. Measurement satisfies curiosity – improvement makes the next measurement better.

You have to keep getting better. That’s the purpose. Scores and percentiles don’t matter. Improving performance is all that matters.

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Teachers’ Day

(Published: 5-September-2016)

A very happy teachers day and Ganesh Chaturthi to you!

When my 4 year old daughter, Kimaaya, held out a rose for her class teacher in the school bus today morning, the smile on her teacher’s face was priceless. And it made Kimaaya smile too, albeit a little shyly.

I am sure you too will experience some extra smiles today as you remember with nostalgia and fondness some of your teachers who touched your life positively. And I would encourage you to take out a moment today to reach out to your favorite teachers, past and present, and express what they mean to you. What it means to a mentor to hear something positive from her/his students is beyond words. It makes all their toil and labour worth it.

It is interesting that for most of us, our best teachers are not necessarily the ones who are/were subject experts, but those who inspired us (knowingly or otherwise), who made us believe in ourselves, who allowed us to dream and who made us push ourselves just that little bit extra because they knew we could.

In these ways and many more, some of our greatest teachers at MBAGuru have been you, our students!
Thank you!

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The Purpose of Practice Matches

(Published: 1-September-2016)

What is the purpose of practice matches before a big series/tournament?
What is the purpose of rehearsing several times before the actual event?
It is to get a sense of what is likely to happen, learn to adapt to the demands of the finale, to identify areas of improvement and correct, to experiment to improve.

So, what happens when you don’t score well in a few practice matches or your rehearsals are not perfect?
Do you lose hope, sit back and start believing that you can never do it? Or do you see it as a bad day out of your way, a lesson learnt, a problem overcome, an issue removed?
Do you see it as the end of the road? Or do you see it as a kick on the butt to get you going with greater intensity?

Shouldn’t you think similarly about your AIRCATs/FLTs/Mocks/equivalents?
These are nothing more than practice matches – the scores in these don’t matter, they never will! The only purpose is to experiment, learn and get better.

Stop being disappointed. Stop stalling. Stop stopping.
Buck up. Move on. Get going!

—–

Testing Beyond Concepts

(Published: 30-August-2016)

Some students expect all concepts pertaining to all kinds of questions to be taught at length or included in the books. That’s a valid expectation – however, there are a few questions types/levels which you are deliberately exposed to only during testing – be it the ADAPTIVE online tests or AIRCATs and FLTs.

This is done deliberately as CAT has been known to introduce new question types/styles as surprise elements. Normally, such questions do not exceed 5% of the total number of questions. It is a test of your ability to take your application (of what you know) to a level higher than you might have encountered before. In that sense, CAT practically has an unlimited syllabus/concepts because a very small number of questions/questions types keep on getting introduced from time to time.

When you face a surprise, how better you handle it relative to others becomes the most important and decisive factor. Stay cool, and you already are at an advantage as compared to those who can’t. If you can tackle some/all such questions just by applying yourself better, you would zoom ahead. Even if you can’t, don’t fret and waste time – focus on the remaining majority of questions.

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Can You Do It?

(Published: 28-August-2016)

So, the countdown has begun! With 2 less than a 100 days to go for CAT-16, we are now into 2-digits. It is getting closer.
Yesterday I met a student who was just beginning his CAT Prep and the question he asked was “Can I do it?”.
I answered, “If you believe you can, you can; and it you think you can’t, you can’t.”

Without going into the grammatical correctness of what I said, the point is that no one else can answer this question for you. Infact, you should never ask such a question from anyone except yourself.
And not just for CAT, but for anything that you feel is worth pursuing. Public or even expert opinion might make you feel better, or worse, but it won’t change a thing.

What can you ask from others then? Perhaps: “This is what I want to do. How can you help me?”
If you are willing to help yourself, others would like to pitch in too. We would love to.
To make our job easier, believe that you can do it and start helping yourself.

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Adapting to Uncertainty

(Published: 14-August-2016)

Some ‘unconfirmed’ news reports have hinted at the possibility of a significant change in the CAT16 pattern with VRC accounting for 44 questions, and DILR and QA restricted to 28 questions each, without any change in the sectional time limits. MBAGuru students, given their exposure to the most comprehensive and intensive English curriculum in the entire industry, are superbly placed to make best use of such a change, if it were to happen, to their advantage.

Some people have inferred this as a measure to reduce the number of engineers getting through to IIMs. The fact remains that some engineers are weak in English only in their mind, as are some non-engineers weak in QA/DILR only in their mind. We have had numerous engineers at MBAGuru scoring a 99.9+ %ile in English and several non-engineers achieving similar scores in the Quant based areas. Rather than worry about such hypothesis, you should see it as a change (if it happens) that you need to ADAPT to.

Till the late 90’s CAT used to be 4 sections and 2 of these used to be VA and RC. It is neither new nor a cause for any apprehension.

Like with evolution, or any change, those who adapt better and evolve, survive and progress.

We are there to ensure you get the best possible platform for adapting.

—–

Focus & Intensity

(Published: 8-August-2016)

The two things that are needed to succeed at CAT, and in most things in life at that, are focus and intensity.

Focus means having a clear goal. Clearer the better. Sharp – like that preview in a hi-res camera before you click a pic. You’ve all heard the story of how Arjun could see only the target and nothing else. Well, that’s focus.

Once you have a clear focus, then it’s all about intensity. The pace, vigor and rigor with which you move towards your goal. Nothing else gives you a high – except pushing yourself beyond your ordinary abilities towards that goal. Day in, day out. Week after week. Month on month. Sweat, toil, burn, yearn.

So, pause and focus now on your goal. Visualize it – till it is crystal clear in your head.
Then, let your intensity take over.

And yes, if you can do this, you’ll find us clapping at the finish line!

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The Winning Balance

(Published: 29-July-2016)

What kind of players are best in individual sports say like Tennis?
There have been some players with phenomenal serves (like Goran Ivanisevic) but relatively ordinary other dimensions. There have been big baseline players (like Michael Chang) who were not too good in other aspects of the game. The real long term winners are those who have that edge in one area (maybe a strong forehand, or a good serve and volley technique, a strong baseline game or something similar) and are not bad in other areas. You can verify a similar trend in other sports as well.

Similarly, what kind of teams are best at cricket or football or any other sport over a long period of time?
Generally teams which are exceptional in one or two dimensions, solid in one or two more and not too bad in the remaining.

Once that excellence in one area, and a solidity and predictability (not excellence necessarily) in others is achieved, it becomes a question of using the strong area well, and minimizing the relative loss in weak area. The various sections in CAT/similar exams are not too different. You don’t need to be exceptional in all – aim to excel in one, and try to take the other two above a certain level where they aren’t a big disadvantage.

This balance will help you win – more often than not; infact, invariably.

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An Amazing Story of an IIM Alumnus

(Published: 26-July-2016)

So what comes to mind when you think of an IIT-IIM alumnus who has been working for around 13 years? A senior position in a cushy corporate job? A swanky car and a couple of villas maybe?
You wouldn’t be off the mark in most cases – but then, there are some exceptions.

2003:
When IIM placements made newspaper headlines!
When 1 crore annual packages had just begun to come true!
When start-ups built on others’ money weren’t in or cool!

2 IIM Calcutta Grads opted out of the placement race and were frowned upon and admired for their courage in equal measure.
One of them was yours truly and I never regretted it. This inspirational story however, is of the other guy, Vinayak Lohani, a batchmate, a friend and a source of admiration and pride.

Read it and be inspired.
https://social.yourstory.com/2016/05/vinayak-lohani
MBA from an IIM is not necessarily about money. It is about what you want to do with it. Start thinking about it.

—–

Peaking for the Right Thing

(Published: 19-July-2016)

The importance of peaking at the right time is emphasized again and again in various fields. From a sporting tournament to an exam, it is crucial to peak at the right time.
It is even more important to peak for the right thing. What good would it be to peak on time for let’s say the 50-over format if the final tournament would be a T-20 one?

That is the reason we don’t rush into the test series, unlike some other institutes.
The CAT notification comes out soon (usually on a Sunday in the last 10 days of July) and this time the CAT would be conducted by IIM B. It was conducted by IIM A last year and that meant several changes in the format. We believe there may be some changes this year too. We would like you to have maximum practice on the format that you will finally face. We would want you to write most AIRCATs and FLTs basis the latest information available for this year’s CAT.

Even 3 months would be enough time to peak if you do it for the right thing – that you will finally face.
And even 6 months of a test series would be insufficient if you do it for something that you won’t finally face.
When it comes to changes, we ADAPT best and the quickest. And we will ensure that you not only peak at the right time, but also do it for the right thing.

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Mock CATs and FFCs

(Published: 16-July-2016)

As you start writing mock CATs (you would have already started if your batch began anytime in/before Feb 2016, else you will start soon), you are bound to have lots of questions, doubts and apprehensions. The impact of how you respond to these apprehensions or say a bad score in a test will not only impact your future scores but may also have a bearing on your mindset towards preparation.

I will try and tackle some of the FFCs (Frequently Felt Concerns) related to AIRCATs/FLTs etc over the next few weeks.

Read the following points after every mock that you take to retain perspective.
1. You can’t compare absolute scores in 2 different tests. Regardless of how much or how well you have prepared, each test is different – just like each pitch is different in a different match.
2. Anything can happen on a given day. Just like any sport too. So, don’t give too much importance to one day’s performance or score. Good or bad, don’t take it too seriously.
3. Just identify 2 things to improve upon from each Mock test and work on them. Low score means more scope to improve. See it as a positive.
4. Even the CAT toppers see real bad days during preparation. It is good to get bad days out of your way.
5. What has happened has happened and cannot be changed. What lies ahead can be changed for better – if you do the right things NOW.

More soon. Please do write incase you have any queries in the interim.

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Why PagalGuy Preferred Us?

(Published: 5-July-2016)

Pagalguy (www.pagalguy.com) is India’s leading community for MBA Aspirants. They have just launched a preparation app for various Aptitude Exams – Prepathon (available in Google Playstore on android devices). Their first preference for partnering for the MBA Prep course on Prepathon was MBAGuru! We are neither the biggest in India in terms of size nor known for pure bulk content. We are also not the smallest or known by the name of just one or two exceptional mentors. They could have gone for either. Then why us as the first and the most preferred partners for the launch?

The two reasons they informally shared were:

The app is now live. MBAGuru students SHOULD NOT purchase it as you will anyways be getting all of it as a part of your course.

What’s the lesson here, though?
We have never competed either with the biggies or the minnows. We are just focused on being the best we can – for our students. Nothing else matters. This focus gets us the success. You too should focus on your strengths and on being your best. Nothing else is more likely to get you success. You can’t be someone else. So, just be YOUR BEST self.

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Enough time for CAT-16 Prep?

(Published: 28-June-2016)

Many of you, who are preparing for CAT2016, are probably a little worried if there is enough time left to prepare really well. This question would perhaps seem even tougher if you have just begun preparing or are yet to begin your preparation.

Going by the date of last year’s CAT, you have nearly 5 months to go. That’s more than the average duration of a semester in college! Have you ever felt that you were short of time at the beginning of a new semester?

The other way to look at it is that when (if ever) was it (last) that you worked really hard continuously for 5 months? If you actually do that, you would end up surprising yourself with the kind of outcome it will ensure for you.

The important question is not how much time is left. It is how you will use the time that is left.

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It doesn’t start from zero

(Published: 24-June-2016)

While the score(line) in each match begins with a zero, the mind does not. The mind usually begins either positively (if the recent past has seen positive data) or negatively (if the recent past has experienced negative data).

Also, both breed more of their kind. Positive means a higher chance of more of positive to follow. Negative means a higher chance of more negative to follow.

Your daily CAT Prep also follows a similar pattern – you start from zero as far as that day’s productivity goes, but in your mind you carry the recent past. So, when you are making a start after a break (technically zero, but inertia pulls you towards the negative zone), or when you are trying to overcome a recent spate of not so good days, you need to consciously embed more positivity in your mind first.

The scoreline may begin from zero each time. But the mind already has a score – ensure that it is positive. You will not only be happier, but also more productive.

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Win or Not Lose?

(Published: 26-April-2016)

Wanting a win is different from fearing a loss. Infact, wanting anything is not the same as not wanting its opposite. Atleast your mind processes both differently, the basic underlying emotion is different in both – and that makes all the difference.

If you can get your mind to focus upon wanting something – a win, a higher percentage, a role in a drama, a 99%ile in the CAT – without worrying about what if … you would stand a better chance of getting what you want.

That’s why at times people and teams who have “nothing to lose” create the biggest upsets and set new benchmarks – in sports and other arenas. While the other player/team is focused on its fear of not losing, these unproven characters are hell-bent on making their desire come true.

Win or not lose – you get to choose. Think about winning; not about not losing.

—–

What does a Champion have?(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 21-April-2016)

Got this mail a couple of days back.

“Hello Sir,

Its so mesmerizing to know the ‘past-you’ and look back at the whole journey standing at one end, ready to take a leap forward to start a new one.

This one turned out to be quite fruitful. I’m glad I did this little activity with you but it means a lot when I look back now. We even talked of the potential failure. Thankfully the failure never arrived and I converted every call as of now, Ahmedabad and Bangalore being the best bets. I am awaiting a few more results but my state of mind already resembles that of a ‘dharm-sankat’ – one of the best ones to be in. A coveted one between A and B.

However it is for a later stage to take a final call. I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for being there. I would not say a lot, it kills the vibe. Just a ‘thank you!’ for it means a lot.

Vipul”

From among the so many similar mails that have been coming to the mentors, this one is special for a few reasons.

Vipul is not an engineer – he is an NIFT graduate. So, for all those of you among non-engineers who look for empirical data (excuses) to settle for less, DON’T! You usually get a little less than what you aim for. So, don’t aim for less. That’s what a Champion does.

He struggled a lot early on even till the time the AIRCATs got underway. The first one was a near disaster. But he fought back and kept going. Now, that’s a quality common to most champions. When faced with failure, they don’t give up. They get back up, each time, stronger in intent and effort.

Vipul has also converted IIM Cal since he wrote this. He’s one of the so many students of ours, who are now confused – about which B-School to join.

Hope you are working towards creating a similar dilemma for yourself the next year. It is your attitude that makes you a Champion.

—–

Fare well, dear student(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 12-April-2016)

It’s a mixed feeling to bid adieu to you, our CAT-2015 students.

From the grind of 3-hour sessions to the revision workshops that you smilingly endured, from the rare instances wherein you forgot your ADAPTIVE Card or homework and had to (angrily) sit out the session to the fun we all had at INSPIRA, from the AIRCAT strategy sessions wherein I interacted with so many of you to the scores of mails I regularly got from you and always tried to reply to, from the mails that I sent to you at various points in time during your prep to the wonderful feedback shared by so many of you on mail, on Quora, on feedback forms among other places – there is so much that we all shall miss with your concerned, smiling, familiar faces that were very much a part of the MBAGuru family for the past year and more, now making way for fresh ones.

So many of you have cracked the CAT and will soon be at IIMs and various other Top B-Schools, and many others live to fight another day – regardless of (y)our success or failure, I hope you are leaving a better, more confident person than the one you came in as. Because you are certainly leaving MBAGuru better than you found it as.

Thank you, God bless, stay mehfuz, keep making us proud.

—–

Which moment was it?(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 12-April-2016)

When you lose a game by a run, a basket, a point – which one was the one that turned your likely victory into defeat?
Is a match lost in the last over actually lost in the last over? Or was it really lost early on, when you dropped a catch, didn’t run the one you could have, or bowled a no-ball which became a free hit?

The result is not decided by the final moment only. The final moment is set up by all the preceding ones which add up to the climax. Every single run, point, move until the final one influences the result equally and can change it equally too.

So, even as your college exams near, distractions build, think of this as a moment that would finally impact your results at CAT. Don’t let it pass without giving it your best. Keep taking the ones, keep yourself in the game, even if the duration of your daily effort decreases, keep it enough to keep you going.

You would never finally know which moment was decisive – this one, this day, just could be the one.

—–

More than a Book Review(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 22-February-2016)

There is this one CAT16 batch at one of our centers – will skip naming it for obvious reasons – wherein only 1 student turned up for the class, having read the book and prepared for the book-review session. The rest of the students of course had to wait out the class – wasting their own precious time. They had to waste even more time in writing to me individually the reason why they did not come prepared. The reasons I got over mail to come prepared ranged from sincere to unbelievable to downright hilarious.

The session happened with 1 student and 1 mentor in the classroom. Everyone lost out on something meaningful. The mentor missed out on an energetic audience needed to deliver his best. The one student who came prepared lost out on different perspectives that could have added much colour to the discussion and the other obvious advantages of a peer group. The ones who had to sit out the session of course lost the most – both in terms of time and knowledge.

More than a book-review session, it is a reflection on how sincere you are about your preparation. We always do, and will continue to, push you to become your best. And regular, continuous, consistent preparation is a vital ingredient that has to come from you.

Your chances of success depend on every single ounce of effort that you put in each day.

Having said that, if it not important for you, it CANNOT be important for us.

The only thing you will find in your comfort zone is present comfort, followed by future discomfort!

So, be prepared to leave your comfort zone – be it book-review or regular work on your Vocabulary – because then alone are you more likely to find success.

—–

The Final Lap(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 22-February-2016)

For so many of you with interview calls, the next few weeks are essentially the final lap of your preparation. All that has happened so far will culminate into what I am sure will be a glorious finish.

It is similar to the final lap in a packed stadium at the end of a marathon. The crowd is cheering, your coaches are anxious, and you are probably a little tired. Do not let up. It’s not over till it’s over. Every single inch that you gain even in your final lap is decisive – more than anything else, it pushes you to become your best. The satisfaction of having played your best, and having ended strong is the final takeaway that is in your hands. After that, you would have earned the right to happily relax.

So, run this lap with every bit of power that you can summon from the depth of your heart.
Run this lap like you are a champion – because you are!
Run this lap like this is what you have been waiting for – because you have been, haven’t you?

And there are so many of your peers, who couldn’t make it this far. I am sure they will be inspired by your performance and prepare for another long run, their best.

For now, just go, go, go!
We are there – cheering for you, egging you on, till the finish line.

—–

Larry Summers, Kotla and Pace of Change(For CAT-15 & CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 8-December-2015)

Yesterday, two separate incidents highlighted the same message.

Speaking about the sense of hope and impatience simultaneously evident in the Indian economy in an interview with the Times of India, Larry Summers, one of world’s leading economists said, “There is a general rule in judging and forecasting things which is that things take longer to happen than you think they will and they happen faster than you thought they could.”

While trying to and almost failing to prize out South Africa in the 4th innings of the Test at Kotla for the first 138 overs rang true for the first part of the statement made by Larry Summers (The SAFs frustrated the precise Indian bowling for over 4 sessions creating new records of slow run rate, and batting overs after overs of maidens while not losing wickets), the last 5.1 overs exemplified the second part. It was all over in a moment and gave India one of its most massive victory margins in Tests.

An hour earlier, when winning looked unlikely, the Indians still kept going strong. And then the floodgates opened and it ended faster than one could have imagined.

That is the message about doing the right things even when the results are not visible. It may take longer for the rewards to be visible but if you are at it, with great intensity, it can and will happen. And when it does happen, it will surprise you immensely.

I hope the same is proves to be true about the Indian economy and of course for all your efforts. Keep going!
The next one shot might just be the one that will take you through.

—–

XAT Changes, we ADAPT(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 5-December-2015)

XAT, touted to be the toughest MBA entrance exam in terms of difficult level will be seeing several changes this time around. Please refer to http://xatonline.net.in/XAT-2016_Announcement.pdf for details.

Main Paper:
An increase of 20 minutes, the total number of questions at 78, and a clear indication of moving towards easier questions makes it a very different proposition now. Infant, in many ways, including time duration and difficulty level, it is now closer to CAT. Focus on all-round ability, logic, and comprehension is likely to be higher than on extremely good quantitative or calculation skills, in a way much similar to that was seen in CAT-2015.

While negative marking of 25% does encourage risk taking (probable return on random guess is positive incase of 25% penalty and 4 options), the introduction of a 5% penalty incase of unattempted questions (after the first 13) is unlikely to change things much. Even 20 unattempted questions (beyond 13) will cause a negative of 1 mark – hardly anything to fret over.

Supplementary Paper:
The total time for the GK Section and the Essay will be 35 minutes. However, the number of questions in GK has been brought down to 25, thereby allowing more time to draft a more impressive Essay. The GK Section continues to be devoid of any penalty for wrong answers. The nature of GK questions is also set to be “general” rather than “Specific”.

All these changes augur well for someone who has prepared well for CAT and/or was shying away from the XAT because of the higher difficulty level, especially in the QA questions.

Just like AIRCAT-12N reflected the final actual CAT, your practice XATs will reflect the likely changes and the expected difficulty level. Do ensure a sincere attempt while practicing the same.

—–

CAT Changes, we ADAPT(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 5-December-2015)

CAT-2015 saw several changes. An easier QA Section hints at the inclination of the IIMs and Top B-schools to look beyond Science/Maths students for prospective managers. The phenomenal focus on RC (which was almost 80% of the English Section, much higher than the usual 50%) and reasoning, instead of direct knowledge based questions, shows that comfort with reading and vocabulary of varied hues, ability to reason critically, infer from and summarize a given text is now mandatory.

Most of these changes were anticipated by our team and AIRCAT-12N reflected these changes, ensuring that the actual CAT didn’t come as a surprise to most of our students at MBAGuru.

Seeing the direction that CAT (and very recently XAT) has been moving in for the past few years, a fundamental change in preparation is necessary. You can’t keep playing the old game any longer. While an easier QA makes the contest more evenly poised for non-engineering/non-Maths students, cracking the English Section has become mandatory now to break the tie that is likely to happen in the other 2 sections. No longer can English be seen as a set of independent question types. It now has to be viewed as a skill inter-connecting several sub-skills such as Vocabulary, Reasoning, Comprehension and Grammar.

An adage in Stock Markets goes: “The trend is your friend”. And we take pride in our ability to ADAPT to any change in trends and infact, forecast trends on most occasions. The 3-hour long classroom sessions at MBAGuru came into existing BEFORE the CAT became a 180 minutes affair!

The trend in CAT is clear and visible and we can foresee its likely course. Come January, there is a spate of changes and surprises lined up for hundreds of our existing CAT-2016 students.

If there is one thing we are without a doubt best at, it is ADAPTING. We will, and we will ensure that you too stay ahead of the game!

—–

CAT 2015: A Perspective(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 29-November-2015)

A perspective post today’s CAT:
No one (but the IIMs) really knows the right answers to the questions.
No one (including the IIMs) really knows how the lakhs of others did.
So, to infer, you really don’t know how you did or how the others did.
You would not have been able to change anything now even if you actually knew how you or the others did.
You have done your part, let IIMs do their bit now.
No exam or its result can finally decide your fate or prevent your success. You, and your life, is bigger than any exam(s) you take.
What should you do now? Focus on the numerous non-CAT exams that remain. Give them your best now. Focus on what you can still change. Stop fretting about what has happened – just believe that it was good/happened for good.
You prepared well and played your heart out – in the end, that is all that counts. And for that, well done!

—–

60% still lies ahead of you(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 28-November-2015)

Success at CAT, as at most challenging things, depends upon the following 5 factors:
1. Your Ability – this is something all of us possess in different measure in different areas. This intact, is the crux of ADAPTIVE Prep – that each of us is skilled in different ways. Knowing yourself well allows you to make best use of this ability/skill.
2. Your Preparation – this is something you should be very positive about. The past several months have seen you undertake the most intensive classroom prep program for CAT in India. You have put in a lot of effort and should feel confident about the same.
3. Your Application – How well you apply yourself and make use of your strengths, and use your knowledge of your weaknesses, and how well you make that day’s performance count can be fairly independent of and much better than what you have done anytime in the past. So, stay cool and apply yourself in the best possible way. Make it count.
4. Your Temperament – Big days and big moments are more about how well you handle the pressure and not really (just) about how talented you are. The cooler you are, the more you get past the ones who are tense/feeling the pressure. Be it a sport or a test, nerves decide the outcome on big days. With steady nerves, you can outdo yourself.
5. Your Luck – Behind most successful moments are a few things one cannot control. Call it luck, God’s will, probability or whatever, But it is empirically evident that the more positive and confident you are, the more lucky you are likely to be. So be positive to be lucky.

The first 2 factors are broadly over in terms of what you could have done.
However, the last 3 are yet to happen. They lie ahead of you They take place tomorrow.
Believe in the first 40%, and focus on the 60% that still lies ahead of you.
Our best wishes. Just go out and give it your best – we will be proud of you.
Go, Rock it!

—–

Butterflies in the tummy(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 20-November-2015)

With a little over a week to go for CAT, what becomes important now is staying calm and focused. This is when the nerves will gradually begin to dominate ability and preparation.

When are you likely to do better:
When you are confused, worried, unsure, edgy, anxious?
Or when you are calm, relaxed, positive, focused, (and still a little anxious :)?
So, you have no choice but to believe in yourself, your ability and your preparation. Surround yourself with positive and calming stuff – whether it is your favorite sitcom, movie, music, prayer, game or whatever gets your mojo back (including Dunkin Donuts).
Ensure that your sleeping hours stabilize and you are really fresh around the time slot in which you will take the exam.

And if you want to make some sense of all the AIRCATs etc you have taken so far, just to be clear in your mind as to what it is that you need to try and do or try not to do in terms of patterns that have worked for/against you in the past, drop in a mail. We will send you an Excel file especially designed for AIRCAT analysis, which will help you do just that in a snapshot, once you fill out all your information in the same. If you think it may demotivate you, don’t do it – simple.

And about anxiety. A little bit is good – it keeps you alert and also shows that you are human, even if a super one!

—–

Non MCQs as Free Hits(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 14-November-2015)

Some students have expressed concern that over-attempting non-MCQs could hamper their accuracy and hence put them at a disadvantage in the final selection.

No B-School except for the Top few IIMs can really be in a position to put another condition such as an accuracy cut-off. There is no historical data even for the Top IIMs as far as accuracy threshold is concerned. A poor accuracy (till CAT-2014) meant poor returns simply because of the negative marks for a wrong choice. So, the punishment was implicit in the calculation.
That the non-MCQs won’t carry “any negative marks” has been made clear for CAT-2015. The fact that you have no options makes it nearly impossible for you to just make a random guess and be correct. Infact, you may spend a lot of time and still get no positive marks if your answer is wrong. That is discouragement enough.
So, there is no indication or likelihood of any negative impact emerging out of wrongly attempting ALL non-MCQs also. You must make it a point to attempt ALL non-MCQs.

However, it will still be useful only if you can limit your possible answers to a few before typing your final one. Else, sheer probability-wise your returns will be near-zero.
If you use it smartly, non-MCQs are a shot worth taking. Like Free-Hits after a No-ball in Cricket. There is nothing to lose, and nothing to choose (from).

—–

AIRCATs & Mocks(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 9-November-2015)

Many of you have been worried about your scores & percentiles across AIRCATs/FLTs/Mocks.

AIRCATs/FLTs have been designed to cover all likely & possible variations in CAT – so, some of them are exceedingly tough in some areas. See that as preparation for a tough day – nothing more, nothing less.
Normally MBAGuru students find the CAT easier than the tests they have been exposed to during practice – that generally helps them do even better. That said, you should play each test on its merit.
AIRCATs/FLTs/(or any mocks for that matter) are like practice matches – there is no definite/certain correlation between scores in practice matches and the performance on the big day. So, if you are doing well, be confident. And if you aren’t doing well, still be confident. Believe that you have saved your best for the big day. And the least of your ability is indicated by the best of the scores you have had so far. You are already capable of “atleast” that much 🙂
Do not co-relate your AIRCAT/FLT/any mock scores directly with the expected CAT score/percentile. I personally know of dozens of students who did not clear a single cut-off in AIRCATs but made it to the IIMs. Some of them even made it to IIMA.
Write more AIRCATs/FLTs only if it makes you feel more prepared – not if it gets you more worried.
Do not worry about the scores that you have achieved before the CAT day. You wouldn’t remember them even one week after CAT. They are not important.
Whether you think you are in the hunt or not, you are correct. So, what you think and believe is more important than the scores behind you.
The string of scores, good or bad, just shows that you practiced and tried. So, the one thing you can be sure of when you go in for the CAT is that you are ready for it because you have practiced and tried enough.

—–

The Mock CAT Format(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 7-November-2015)

The recent Mock CAT added to the IIMCAT website as a demo could possibly indicate a few things about the CAT-2015.

The substandard effort made in even scanning and uploading questions made for a sloppy output. This might just mean that it is nothing more than a demo which may not be indicative of the actual CAT. In the past too there have been significant differences between the sample uploaded and the actual CAT.

However, it would not hurt to analyze the information we have and keep it in mind, rather than regret later.

The DILR and the QA sections were pretty much along expected lines, including the non-MCQs which were extremely similar to the ones you have been practicing for a while now in AIRCATs and FLTs.

Overall, there were 27 non-MCQs spread across the 3 sections. Some of them, in the VRC section, were not actually non-MCQs. If you have to choose an option and type A/B/C/D, it is pretty much the same as clicking on the radio button of that option.

But the VRC section was surprising beyond this as well. It reflected 5 RC passages with 24 questions. While our estimate from the beginning has been of around 18-20 RC questions, based on 5-6 passages, IIMA (which is conducting this year’s CAT) is known to favor RC heavily going by some past instances. 24 would be too high a proportion for RC, from a balanced point of view.

The other questions types were mainly Short Passage Summaries, Sentence Arrangements and Out of Context Statements – again something unusual and unbalanced from an overall VRC point of view.

While stressing the fact that this demo may not be indicative of the actual CAT, it would still make sense for us to keep it in mind as a possibility in terms of structure and balance. Hence, your final AIRCAT reflect all the inputs of the demo so as to prepare you best even for this possible variation.

Try not to miss it simply from the point of view of a relevant experience, which might just be decisive.

And if you are worried about your previous/current/expected scores in FLTs and AIRCATs, my next write-up should be of help.

—–

Break Breaks Inertia

(Published: 4-November-2015)

It’s been a while since I last wrote for you. Finally took a break that was long overdue. But now I am back and will be there with you all the way, till CAT and beyond. And with greater intensity than before.

Regular work, continuous focus and efforts on a single cause, are needed to get to any worthwhile goal. But the same regularity and monotonicity also drains you of energy. A small break not only allows you to step back and look at where you are, but also gets back your energy to a higher level.

When you look at some very talented sportspeople, especially Indian cricketers who play near non-stop cricket, you can observe that beyond a point they just seem to go through the motions, without being anywhere close to their best. They are just carrying on in a state of motion, unable to break the inertia.

So, if you are feeling a little low on energy in your CAT prep – take a short break, take a day off, do something that relaxes and refreshes you. Once you are energized, you can more than make up for this.

Inertia drags you down. Break it. Even if it needs a break.

—–

Another Change in CAT-15(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 16-October-2015)

As always, the changes in CAT keep happening. And this time around, the change is a positive one for most of you.

The sectional order of CAT-15 has been changed and will be as follows as per the revised information made available today.

Section I: VRC

Section II: DILR

Section III: QA

So, QA and VRC have been interchanged in the order.

VRC (English) upfront should be good news for most of you mainly for 2 reasons:

– Tackling RC passages while you are still fresh should suit most of you

– You would go into the Quantitative Ability with a positive momentum and the usually single questions (and not sets like RC) therein will be easier to tackle when the time is running out

Your remaining AIRCATs & FLTs will take into account the changes announced right now and any information that will come in when the sample questions are made available later this month. So, you have ample time and ample scope of practice to adapt.

Remember, more than the change itself, it is your attitude towards the change that matters. If you can view it as a positive while others fret, your chances of success will increase.

Change is good, if you can see it as good.

—–

ThankYou For An INSPIRAtional Evening

(Published: 7-October-2015)

This is not a formal write-up. This is just an attempt at expressing the emotions you all left me filled with yesterday at INSPIRA.

For over 3 hours, more than 500 of you remained entrenched in your seats, seated on the floor or standing in the aisles.

You waited, you laughed, you clapped, you questioned, you answered, you sang and you filled the hall with your energy.

Just looking at you filled me with great pride.

Seeing you fill out an auditorium with your vigour was like a dream come true.

And then you wrote such amazing stuff about having the time of your lives, filled dozens of chart papers, and wrote so many mails with words that will inspire us for months to come.

Some of you who came in very late, unfortunately, could not get in. I am sorry about that – there is no doubt that I would have wanted you to come in, even if you were late by an hour. But we don’t own the auditorium – we just rented it. The event was already running at 1.5 times the capacity and the threat of the event being cancelled due to the same was real. The team somehow persuaded the authorities to allow it to continue.

Finally, it is your trust that makes us go on.

I can just say – ThankYou. You make it worth it.

—–

The Doc Who Rocks!

(Published: 5-October-2015)

Today instead of something valuable, I will write about someone inspirational.

I was a big fan (only) of his singing ability, until I met him a little over 15 years ago. Thereafter, with every passing year, as he has continued to enchant and heal millions through his music, I have become a bigger and bigger fan of him – not only as a singer, but also (and far more) as a person.

The first song we wrote together was Mantra, India’s First Ever Single, way back in 2000. It was written in an all-nighter mode, the night prior to the CAT which finally led me to IIM Calcutta. (That’s another story.)

Since then it has been countless nights of completing lines, verses and choruses started by the other.

How did the band last from 1988 to 1998 without releasing any album?

Bands break easy. Successful ones break easier. What’s kept arguably India’s Biggest Band going for the past 17 years after their first album despite several changes in the lineup?

Everything on the mainstream Indian Music Scene today is Bollywood – how has a non-filmy act survived and thrived?

From where does someone close to 50 find the energy to sing and jump on stage for nearly 2.5 hours in every concert?

How did rock happen in Hindi?

What was it like to play at UN General Assembly Hall with Junoon, another iconic Band from Asia?

What does it take for a singer to be a doctor? Or should it be the other way around?

How does one manage fame, a team, a dream?

How does one choose between passion and profession?

The questions are aplenty.

The man who can answer all these and many more is Dr. Palash Sen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palash_Sen) – an MBBS from the prestigious UCMS, Delhi and the founder and leader of India’s most popular band, EUPHORIA.

To know more about what makes me a fan of this man, and to be inspired and energized as I always am on meeting him, be there at INSPIRA-2015, at LTG Auditorium, Mandi House on 6th October, 2015 at 3 PM.

Chances are you will learn a lot, if not be inspired yourself.

—–

Options and Confusion-3(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 29-September-2015)

The first step as I touched upon in the last write-up was knowing more about each of the options.

The second step, far more important and difficult, is knowing yourself.

How much time have you invested in the past few months in knowing yourself?

Your dreams, your aspirations, your ability, your inclination, your strengths, your weaknesses, your favorite subject, your favorite teacher, your favorite author, your hobby, your motivation?

What makes you tick?

What stops you from becoming the best you can be?

Know yourself as you would know a very good friend.

Invest time in yourself.

You can take yourself ahead in life.

Only you can. So, know yourself well.

—–

What Really Counts!(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 29-September-2015)

The final few minutes in a football match.

The final set in a tennis match.

The final overs in a cricket match.

The final round in a Boxing Match.

In every sport, more often than not, and unless you give up, the result is decided in the final stages.

There are no points for being ahead while the game is still on.

There is no censure for being behind while the game is still on.

All that is remembered is the final scoreline.

Just focus on giving your best till the end. Don’t worry whether you are ahead or behind.

The game is still on for you.

—–

Options and Confusion-2(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 15-September-2015)

There are 2 crucial steps to make progress when faced with options and confusion regarding the options. Both steps are about knowing more.

First step first: Know more about each option.

· What skills does it use or require?

· What kind of a life-style would it mean?

· What challenges would it present?

· What opportunities would it offer?

· What’s the best it could result in for you? Financially, professionally, personally?

Read about it.

Read about the success stories in that area.

Talk to people who have pursued these options (but talk to enough people and don’t go by one or two ‘personal’ opinions).

Does it excite you? Does it really make you want to go for it? Do you want to become like the best in that area come across as?

This is a painstaking step. It needs time, effort, focus. But think of it as a life-time investment.

Comparing options on the above pointers would help you narrow down and compare options.

Second step?

—–

Speed in AIRCATs(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 15-September-2015)

Many of you who attended a session on strategy in Mock-CATs with me are already aware of how you can drastically alter your speed.

For those of you who are yet to attend that session, and see “speed” as an issue while attempting any CAT-like test, does the following ring a bell?

Your speed slowest at the beginning of the section.

You are spending a lot of time either solving or leaving the first few questions.

You are unable to get to the last few questions by the time the sectional time limit gets exhausted.

If this sounds like you, then start seeing each section as 15 min x 4 parts. This will force you to pace yourself and realign every 15 minutes.

Chances are that presently you are in a slow-go mode for the first 40-45 minutes in a section (because you feel luxuriously placed in terms of time) and in a panic mode in the last 15-20 minutes (time becomes a luxury). If the slow progress of the first 15 minutes can cause you to shift gears, you will be able to do much better over the remaining 45 minutes and so on.

By seeing the 1 hour as 4 parts of 15 minutes each, you give yourself a far better chance at ADAPTING (shifting gears) multiple times.

Awareness of, and the need to act upon, the scarcity of a resource can change the way you consume it.

In CAT, that resource is time.

—–

Options and Confusion(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 8-September-2015)

Confusion, in itself, is not a bad state of mind to be in.

It just goes to show that you are thinking even if you do not have all the answers. And thinking is invariably better than being mentally dead, which is a usual state for many of us after making it to a good undergraduate college after cracking an entrance exam/process.

After having been guided to take decisions by others in a fairly default mode so far (basis your X/XII marks and entrance ranks etc), it is perhaps the first time in your life that you have options ahead of you, and YOU need to decide.

– Masters in your stream or MBA?

– Job or Masters/MBA?

– Which area to specialize/work in?

It can be a little unsettling for someone who is not used to taking decisions. But you should rather be positive about this change and ADAPT to the need and implications of the same.

There are 2 steps to gradually clear this confusion and begin finding answers.

Both steps are about knowing more.

You’ll know more when I write next.

—–

Speed or Accuracy(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 8-September-2015)

With most of you writing some form of the Mock-CATs regularly now, the relative importance of Speed and Accuracy would be one of the top-most concerns in your mind.

In terms of order of aiming for, it should be accuracy followed by speed.

Think of it as driving a car – accuracy being your ability to manage the challenges on the path well, and speed being speed. Once you have more control over the car, it would be easier to manipulate the speed.

So, till what point do you aim for speed? The point till which you do not start losing control over the car.

Incase of an AIRCAT/FLT, you should aim for speed that allows you a threshold accuracy of around 80%.

Take some numbers (assuming all MCQs with +3/-1 marking scheme):

60 attempts with 70% accuracy: Net Score = 42×3 – 18×1 = 108

50 attempts with 80% accuracy: Net Score = 40×3 – 10×1 = 110

So, getting more out of where you spend your time is more important than trying to do more with less control.

Ofcourse, nothing like 60 attempts with 80% accuracy: Net Score = 48×3 – 12×1 = 132 🙂

And how can you increase your speed, if that’s where you are stuck? Will take it up next time.

—–

Reading Habit(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 30-August-2015)

So often you would have been told about the need for developing the right habits to crack the CAT.

Reading regularly is one such habit. But for someone not really into reading, that’s easier said than done.

We all know what is the right thing to do. The tougher part is actually changing things – most of all, ourselves.

We normally don’t change when we should; we change when we are left with no other option or when what is at stake is really important for us.

Any big change is made up of a series of small changes. To get into a regular reading habit, you can start small and take the first step.

– Fix a time in your day for reading and stick to it.

– Start with 10-minutes daily.

– Read anything that you are comfortable with to begin with.

– Summarize whatever you read in one single sentence (not more than 15 words).

If you can do this for the next 15 days, you will be ready for the next step.

Start now. Get going.

—–

Mock CATs: Why Scores Don’t Matter(For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 30-August-2015)

The purpose of preparation, and coaching, is to increase your chances of success.

Preparation, and good performance therein, is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end – to score as high as possible in the actual exam.

The scores and percentiles that you will get across various mocks, even if you take multiple test-series, will vary from test to test. Reading too much into them will only confuse you.

Infact, even if you were to write the CAT twice, you are very likely to get two different scores and percentiles.

Think of the mock CATs as practice matches (that’s what they are) before the actual match.

Think of the mock CATs as rehearsals (that’s what they are) before the actual performance.

Will you even remember these performances later? Unlikely.

So, as long as the practice is helping you improve – and thereby increasing your chances of success – it is serving your purpose.

The scores and percentiles of only one day will really matter – the day of the actual exam.

Stop worrying – it won’t help.

Focus on improving – it will help.

—–

How Much Time?(For CAT-16 Students)

(Published: 22-August-2015)

So, how much time does a CAT-16 aspirant really have?

When you look at an exam that is almost 15 months away, the first response is that there is a lot of time left. Right from our childhood, we have appeared for exams at all levels, and our preparations have pretty much been the last week/last day/last hour kinds and we have survived and even excelled in what is perhaps the world’s most challenging and rigorous academic experience through school and college.

So, 15 months does appear to be a long time – longer than a semester, longer than even an entire academic year!

Now, let’s do some basic Math to cross-check the correctness of this feeling.

How much time per week (on an average) would you spend on your CAT Prep, starting now? Along with your college or your job, would it be anymore than say 15-20 hours per week? Unlikely.

So, how many weeks do we have till CAT-16? Roughly 70 weeks, give or take a few.

During the next 15 months, you will face atleast 3 mid-term and 2 end-term examinations. That would take a minimum of 8-10 weeks away from you CAT prep (because remember these exams are where we invariably rely on the intense last day/week mode). That leaves you with around 60 weeks.

Now, consider a few unavoidable festival holidays that would effectively take away a few more weeks from these 60.

And then ofcourse, keep some margin for personal requirements including illness and you are looking at around 50 weeks.

If you are looking at college placements or internships, you might want to lower this number by another 5 weeks or so.

So, you are looking at somewhere between 700 to 1000 hours of preparations at either extremes.

These 1000 hours (maximum) have to be used for developing reading habits, improving communication skills and awareness, apart from working on the usual Quantitative, Language, Data Interpretation and Logical skills. Leave out roughly 100 hours for testing/anaysis and another 100 for workshops/revision at the end and what time are you left with for “improvement”?

A maximum of 800 hours for improving several skills.

Doesn’t look like a lot anymore, does it?

So, what should you do. Start using it well, and start now 🙂

—–

Mock CATs: Purpose & Takeaway (For CAT-15 Students)

(Published: 22-August-2015)

With the AIRCAT Series in progress, many of you have written about scores achieved by you.

Some of you have faced issues in certain specific Sections – QA being the biggest trouble-maker for most of you.

And some of you have felt disheartened by your overall speed, or accuracy, and hence the performance.

It is important to understand the main purposes of a series of CAT like Practice Tests, such as the ones in the AIRCAT series:

– The tests help you get used to sitting and concentrating for 3 hours in a test-like environment.

– The tests help you identify patterns that are stopping you from doing much better or patterns that are helping you excel.

– The tests help you gradually build a strategy over time by using the good patterns to your advantage & breaking the bad ones for improvement.

The takeaway from each test in a series of tests should be:

– Improvement(s) that you can make in handling questions of certain types – especially easy ones that you got wrong. These are the topics you go back to work upon before the next test.

– Improvement(s) that you can make in terms of approach to test taking – question selection, use of options, under/over attempting (speed) etc. This is something for you to correct in your mind, plan for and implement in the future tests.

If you can figure out these 2 improvements after each test and work upon them, you would have used the AIRCATs well.

Anything else, including scores, percentiles and cut-offs are mere distractions. Why? You tell me – before I write about it in the next piece.

—–

Need for Change

(Published: 13-August-2015)

With 3.5 months to go for CAT-15, the needs of students appearing for CAT-15 will increasingly differ from those aiming for CAT-16. While CAT-15 would now be more of a mental game and be played at a higher intensity, CAT-16 would need more of gradual skill-building and a balance with your college/job commitments. Hence, there is a need for change when it comes to my communication with you.

While I have been writing common mails thus far, I now sense the need for filtering out and sharing more things that are more relevant to the CAT you are targeting. This will push me, require me to ADAPT the content, and generate fresh ideas. And while it may hamper the frequency at which I reach out to your CAT year, you can be assured of more pertinent stuff coming your way. The aim would still be the usual 2 mails a week, but for different CAT years.

Change needs initiative. So many of you have written about your desire to see MBAGuru reach out to maximum students in Delhi/NCR and surge ahead of TIME’s Delhi franchisee in terms of numbers too. So many of you have suggested (and some brilliantly so) about how it can be achieved. My strong belief is that finally it has to happen and it has to happen through YOU, our students. And there again, I feel the need for change. I feel that those of you who truly believe in ADAPTIVE Prep@MBAGuru need to take initiative and ownership of the brand and take it ahead. You have to be the agents of change. When you start leading, others will follow.

As a first step, our marketing team would soon be reaching out and planning sessions across various colleges with many of your mentors led by Vikram sir. For those of you who have the desire of changing things – here’s the chance. Just write in to me with how you can possibly help out the marketing team to reach out to and make an impact in your college. It will also be a great chance for you to be involved, take initiative, learn new stuff and become more confident about your ability.

The need for change is unmistakable. Is the time for change NOW?

—–

Taking Stock

(Published: 6-August-2015)

While working on something, we are usually engrossed in the details. We are so close to what we are working upon, that at times, we miss out on the bigger picture.

It is important to take a step back occasionally and see the overall progress, the minor and the major changes that need to be done, so as to ensure that the finished product (or the end result) is close to what you envisioned it as in the first place.

You could assess the past few weeks and try answering:

Whether you have been able to prioritize your goals and ensure that a proportionate amount of energy and time is being invested in them?

Whether you have been able to justice to the 1-year commitments you made?

Whether you have been consistent in your preparations for CAT?

Whether you have been winning weeks more often than not?

And so on…

I had promised to write to you regularly, and so far, I seem to be on track. It gives me confidence, and strengthens my commitment. And I also realize there are areas that I could write about in the future. It requires effort, but it is worth it.

So, step back, reboot, restart.

If it’s worth it, you will find the motivation and make the efforts needed to make it happen.

—–

Aisa Ye Jahaan

(Published: 3-August-2015)

Read an article today in the Times of India. It was about students in Benguluru not wanting to go to their villages nearby over the weekends because of the poor Internet connection there. Whether it should be the technology that should be blamed or the priorities of those individuals is a point worth pondering over.

Brought to mind a small script I did recently for a voice-over at the beginning of a film for the environment – “Aisa Ye Jahaan”.

The backdrop for the scene was Mumbai – hence, the reference to the Sea.

But it may just as well have been you in a crowded Metro.

Or you seeing someone sleeping on the footpath.

Or you when you realize that tricky balance between dreams and those who have enabled you to dream.

ये पानी का समंदर है, या चेहरों का समंदर

ये समंदर का शहर है, या शहरों का समंदर

भीड़ में लहर की, हर कतरा अकेला है

सबको अपना के भी, शहर ये सौतेला है

कहीं घर का रास्ता है तो, कहीं रास्ता ही घर

ये रास्ता है समंदर का, या रस्तों का समंदर …

हर रंग, हर खुश्बू, हर तरह के सपने

कुछ बेज़ुबान से सपने, कुछ बेवजह से सपने

कीमत अता करो तो, हर सपना हक़ीकत है

है कितना ज़ुरूरी और, कितने की ज़ूरूरत है

कितना है अपना हिस्सा, कितना है अपनों का ये

कितनों के साथ चाहें, कितनों का साथ चाहें

सपनों को अपना कर लो, अपने ना सपनें हों पर

ये सपंनों का समंदर है, और अपनों का समंदर …

Now imagine the legendary Om Puri speaking it. Made it special for me.

Hope it makes you think and get the balance right, in your own mind and heart.

Hope those who have inspired and enabled you to dream find their rightful place in your dreams.

—–

Think and/or Follow

(Published: 30-July-2015)

Yesterday I received a message and a picture from 3 different sources on What’s app. The message and the picture mentioned/depicted the White House with the US Flag flying at half mast and people queuing up apparently as a mark of grief on Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s sad demise. Why would another nation mourn our national loss? That too incase of a scientist who has been more of an eyesore for the US especially? Why would people queue up outside the White House – were his mortal remains inside the White House? These and several other questions came to mind almost instantaneously.

Those who forwarded these messages to me weren’t uneducated people. They are well educated and fairly balanced people. But similar uncontrolled spread of unfounded and illogical information on What’s app is an indication of a far bigger issue – the inclination and pressure to just follow the tide and contribute to it, without thought.

It happens when a mob goes berserk – which increasingly happens in the Social media sphere too where every celebrity is at the receiving end sometime or the other.

It happens on the roads. It happens during riots.

It happens even when students join a College or a Coaching. Instead of having their own reasons for making choices, and believing in their own intelligence, they generally follow the crowd.

We lose the plot. We lose control over our thought and actions. We just go with the flow – without pausing for a moment while taking a decision.

Don’t even follow what I am saying here. But just think about it – what kind of people are more likely to find success in life? Those who follow mindlessly or those who think and act.

—–

Decoding the New CAT for YOU

(Published: 27-July-2015)

Let me summarize the key changes announced & their likely impact on your approach to CAT-2015.

– Change: 3 Sections with 34, 34, 32 questions in QA, VRC, DILR respectively

Impact: No change in skills being tested or the overall exam composition/weightage of various skills. Need to clear 3 cut-offs now instead of 2. Cannot hide behind a strength (say QA if your DI is poor or VRC if your LR is not up to the mark).

– Change: Sectional Time Limits of 1 hour each

Impact: Easier to browse through 34/32 questions than the entire paper in one go. Easier to pick out questions to do/leave. No need to strategize across sections in terms of time-management or across skills within sections.

– Change: Increase of 10 minutes in Time duration of the exam

Combined with the fact that you will spend less time on time management/question selection that was required while moving across sections, this effectively means you have around 20 more minutes to “solve” questions. 3 hour ADAPTIVE Sessions means you will be far better equipped than others to stay at your best for the entire duration of the exam.

– Change: Some non-MCQs /(direct Fill-in-the-blanks/box questions)

Impact: Just another Question Type added to the CAT portfolio. The same skills are being tested, so no cause for worry. Likely to be simple and where only one word or number is to be put into a box. Will decrease overall exam guess work for those who tend to overdo it.

– Change: Onscreen Basic Calculator to be available

Impact: Largely positive & reflective of the times. As managers you will have access to all tools (including calculators) – how you think and decide to make use of them is a more crucial skill.

The overall changes are relatively minor in light of CAT’s propensity to change. Our team is already on to ensuring that these get reflected from your next AIRCAT. We will also be planning for additional AIRCATs to ensure you are extremely well-versed with the new format and all the changes before you go in and rock CAT-15.

—–

ADAPTING to Change

(Published: 23-July-2015)

As per an article in www.shiksha.com that appeared today, CAT-2015 is to be held on 29 November. Thus far, we had been pacing the preparations assuming a date in October second half. This gives you (CAT15 aspirants) and us almost one month extra to make use. Great, if true, isn’t it?

The article is also perhaps the 6th in recent weeks which mentions about a lot of changes in this year’s CAT structure. Over the past 12 years, we have seen CAT change a lot at various points in time.

From offline to online, from 150 questions to 123 to 90 to 75 to 60 and then up to 100.

From 3 sections with 2 sub-sections each to 2 sections.

From time-bound sections to no time limit.

From very tough DA to very easy QA.

CAT has been synonymous with change. And we have ADAPTED well each time. This time shall be no different.

Infact, each change is an opportunity to succeed for those who ADAPT better to the change than others.

So, with 4 months of likely reaction time, let’s look forward to all the changes that the CAT committee and the IIMs can throw at us. We will ADAPT and we will do it better than others.

After all, you and us are the only ones with ADAPTIVE Prep 🙂

—–

The Right Time for Online Testing

(Published: 20-July-2015)

Many of my write-ups in the next few months will perhaps be directed more towards CAT-15 students than CAT-16 ones.

Some of you (CAT-15 aspirants) have written about your experience in AIRCAT-2, which would have been the first online 170 minute testing experience for most of you. Lack of familiarity with online testing of such duration alongwith less than ideal current course coverage in some batches would have played spoilsports during this experience.

Should you be writing AIRCATs right now even if your course is not finished?

If you have been suggested to go ahead for the AIRCAT as per your batch’s course coverage, you should. Else, you should wait just a little longer.

Taking online tests is a habit that will take some time to develop. You may not have enough time after completing the course to develop this habit. You should also be practicing ADAPTIVE Online Tests regularly.

What should you aim for in an AIRCAT when you haven’t completed your entire syllabus?

From the topics you have covered, you should be able to select and leave questions as per your strengths and weaknesses.

From the topics not covered in your batch as yet, you should still be able to pick and attempt some of the easy ones.

For any given level of preparation, your scores could vary drastically depending upon – question selection, time management, use of options, approach used to solve questions, intelligent guesswork and finally a little bit of luck. The first five are the ones for you to focus upon. The sixth one (luck) will take care of itself.

More about some of these in later write-ups.

For now, don’t worry about the ammunition that you have, focus on using whatever you have in the best possible manner.

—–

Stopped mid-way?

(Published: 16-July-2015)

With 100+ days (the precise number would depend upon the exact date which is yet to be announced) remaining for CAT-2015, quite a few new, existing and prospective students are worried about whether that’s enough time for preparation.

100+ days is almost an entire semester, which is normally of around 4 months duration. Have you ever felt, at the beginning of a semester, that you have very little time left?

How many times have you worked really hard for 100+ days at a stretch?

The question then is not ‘how much time is enough’ but ‘how well can you use the time that remains’.

100 days used well will invariably be far more rewarding than 400 days of intermittent effort.

When there are people just getting into the game afresh with an aim of winning it, it is also a moment of reflection for those of you who started with your prep but stopped somewhere along the line. Even with all that has passed you by when you gave up, this just could be the moment for you to get back on your feet and start running again. Now that you are well rested, you can sprint along to the finish line. Come down, meet a mentor, discuss your doubts and apprehensions, and it will help you restart.

And those of you who have been moving well for long – don’t lose steam, don’t stop mid-way.

The game is far from over. Infact this is where it gets decided.

Stopped mid-way? Get up. Get going. Till you get there.

—–

Doing What You Love

(Published: 13-July-2015)

Day before yesterday, Roots Education (the parent company of MBAGuru) completed 12 years of its journey. Received beautiful wishes from so many of you – directly and indirectly. When we began our journey 12 years ago, we didn’t even have an office/center and used to hire classrooms in a school in the evening hours to teach. I still remember each of the 24 students who put their trust in us 12 years ago. They believed in this dream, as thousands of you have done since then. It’s been a remarkable journey!

Through these 12 years of memories and experiences, tough times and high points, successes and failures, falling and rising, recycling and inventing, tears and smiles – the one thing that has kept us going is the trust, expectations and belief of our students. Even at times when we fall short, we don’t fall short on trying our very best.

The best part – 12 years have just flown by. That’s essentially because we are doing what we love. As mentors, we impact lives and we impact the future. That’s a big high. I have no doubt that 12 years from now, so many of you would be big names across various fields. I just hope you too have the conviction and courage to do what you love. It’s always worth it.

—–

How big is your biggest strength?

(Published: 9-July-2015)

I first heard from Rachita last year when she ran out of tougher level ADAPTIVE Online Tests in Verbal Ability, while preparing for CAT-2014 with us. She was thankful when I explained the reason to her and very patient as our Team reset the levels for her. She was always in touch with her mentors, gently clarifying her occasional query, patiently waiting for a response and most importantly sincerely applying any inputs she got. That sincerity is her biggest strength in my view. She was clear in what she wanted, asked for help when she needed it, was grateful in acknowledging it above all, very sincere in bringing that into action. I still remember one of her long and beautifully written mails after CAT about how ADAPTIVE Prep-V2 was perfect (for her) because she knew what she had to do after each class. She was as sincere in pointing out a one-odd area of improvement.

A few weeks ago, I got another mail from her – seeking my advice in choosing between MDI, Gurgaon and another Top B-School in India.

Yesterday, the one line update in my FaceBook feed read: “Started College at IIM Indore” – Rachita

She had again applied the advice she received – sincerely.

How well do you apply your biggest strength? That could be all the difference between where you are and where you can be.

—–

Consistency

(Published: 6-July-2015)

As the leading Team in Cricket for the past couple of decades, the Aussies have followed a relatively simple approach to consistent excellence. While playing a Test Match (a 5-day affair, where every day has 3 sessions) they saw it as a 15 session game rather than a single match. Their focus was on winning each session by dominating the opposition and this gave their efforts an intensity and kept the focus strong rather than their efforts just meandering along the ups and downs of a long match. By winning more sessions, they won more matches. Regardless of what happened in the previous session (which they may have won, lost or drawn), they began each new session afresh.

The same thing could be applied to your CAT Prep or any other important goal. Focus on winning the parts, you will invariably win the whole. Say 3 hours (or whatever is apt for YOU) of work on your CAT Prep is a day won. See how many days you win this week? Keep tab. Start each day afresh. If you win on say 4 days of the week, consider the week won. With around 16-18 weeks to go for CAT, if you can win 11-12, you would have cracked the consistence excellence part and your chances of doing well would have increased.

Focus can be long term if priority is high. Intensity of effort usually requires short bursts. Win the parts, win the whole. Start each day afresh, start each week afresh. So, how many days are you winning this week?

—–

Questions with No Single/Right Answers

(Published: 3-July-2015)

Since our childhood we have been trained to answer questions with the same right answer – this answer is not only singular but also the same for all of us. Infact, invariably, even the steps to reach the answer are the same. This ‘identical steps to one answer approach’ it is rewarded via better marks and grades throughout our schooling system. CAT and similar exams are different in the sense that while correct answer is the same for all, the steps to reaching it can differ, and better solutions involve fewer steps than the normal way would use.

However, the biggest and most important questions in the continuous test of our life are not those with a single/right answer. Try putting down the most important 3-4 questions that you want to answer for yourself in a simple list just to gain perspective. Most of these are likely to start with WHAT, WHY, HOW and some with WHERE and WHEN. The first 3 are invariably the start of more important questions. There are no right/wrong answers to these questions. There are no extra marks for answering these questions using the same steps as everyone else. And there are no two people who should ideally have the same answers to the same questions.

You haven’t been trained to answer such questions. But trying to answer these, gaining clarity step by step, will help you immensely in getting a handle on your life and your goals. Worth a try?

—–

A Prayer

(Published: 1-July-2015)

Just wanted to share a prayer close to my heart.

भले ही राह ना मुझको कभी आसान तू देना

बनाऊँ खुद ही मैं बस वो मुझे पहचान तू देना

कभी जो राह में ठोकर लगे तो हार ना समझुँ

मिलें ना मंज़िलें कोशिश कभी बेकार ना समझुँ

कभी ना टूटे जो वो हौसला चट्टान तू देना

भले ही राह ना मुझको कभी आसान तू देना

थकें जो पंख सपनों के, ज़रा सी तू हवा देना

कभी भूलूँ जो रास्ता मैं, ज़रा सी तू दिशा देना

पड़े आकाश छोटा ऐसी बस उड़ान तू देना

भले ही राह ना मुझको कभी आसान तू देना

—–

Why Unreasonable Is Reasonable at times

(Published: 29-Jun-2015)

Every once in a while, I get to hear from some student about the unreasonableness inherent in our insisting on the ADAPTIVE Card for entry into any session at MBAGuru. Naturally, these instances follow a situation where the student has been denied entry to a session because he/she is not carrying the ADAPTIVE Card. The student insists that he/she is a bonafide student, is sincere enough to travel the distance to reach for the session, has even referred “your institute” to many students and that “your staff” did not behave too well despite repeated requests.

I can understand the student’s reaction and I agree to the fact that we are unreasonable. We are unreasonable in many other ways too:

We have 3-hour long ADAPTIVE sessions – when on earth did you ever sit for 3-hour sessions that even stretch beyond when someone like Vikram sir is in full flow?

Our mentors are often seen replying to student mails at 2 AM or helping them with their B-School Essays on the last day well past usual office hours – now, how reasonable is that?

Through the ADAPTIVE Card, we are unreasonably transparent in committing what we will be teaching through the course so that our students know at all times where they are and how they are doing – compared to what happens normally, this is pushing beyond the reasonable realm.

We don’t just stop at teaching in classes – we ensure our students are far more regular beyond classes too; and we do it for students who are constitutionally adults and entrusted with casting their votes. We still don’t let them drift away from something that they have partnered us for. That’s a bit unreasonable too.

Every year we destroy the previous industry benchmarks for what CAT coaching should limit itself to and we enjoy a success rate that is nearly 8 times that for an average CAT aspirant – quite unreasonable, I admit.

And I could go on and on …

We are also very sure that a student’s job doesn’t stop at paying fee – it is not a commercial relationship. It is a mentor-mentee relationship and the best gurus historically have been unreasonable. They have unreasonable expectations from their students. The only ‘reason’ you should look out for should be in the classes as a part of what we teach, especially Logical Reasoning  🙂

I could argue that one exception for one student in any (even genuine) situation will simply open a barrage of cases which will expect similar laxity and it is simply impractical for the amount of energy and time that it would take away from the entire system for something that is anyways non-negotiable. Also, who decides what’s genuine/fair or unfair – isn’t just being consistent more fair than relying on anyone’s mood or judgment on a situation? But let’s not get into reason for this unreasonable rule.

When you talk about the real important things – prayers, beliefs, dreams, goals, expectations – the most intimate, effective and inspiring ones are beyond reason. They are unreasonable.

Now, for the terms “your institute”/”your staff” – I believe they are basically incorrect. It is “our institute” and “our staff” – we build it together, it will be good or bad because of all of us and not me or the mentors alone. The choice to make it awful or awesome is with all of us, in parts. If not allowing you in for a class (even for something unreasonable) takes away all the other stuff that’s great about this place, it is more a reflection on you as an individual than on the rest of all of us. I feel great when you find this place great enough to refer it to others – but I would not mind for a moment if you didn’t do so because you don’t like it here.

As for your genuinely forgetting something that you have committed yourself to and signed for bringing along to every session, the only unreasonable reason I can suggest is that the next time you forget wearing your pants and travel for 2-hours and make it to the class, I will strongly pitch in for you be allowing to attend the ADAPTIVE session without the ADAPTIVE Card. I know that’s unreasonable but then the bottom-line is – if something is important enough, you will not forget it. And if you still forget it, you should be ready to pay a price that ensures you don’t miss out on it again.

But still, don’t do it because you buy my reason. Let’s agree it’s unreasonable, and let’s still do it. Let’s be unreasonable in all big things – your CAT Prep is surely a big thing. Isn’t it?

—–

Things You Can Control

(Published: 27-Jun-2015)

Every once in a while, I come across a student who is anxious about his/her chances of success given the admission criteria of various B-Schools and his/her not-too-impressive academic record in X/XII/Graduation. Top B-Schools normally use a combination of criteria for selection, including:

– CAT/Entrance Test Score

– Past Academic Performance

– Work Experience

– GD/WAT

– Personal Interview/Personal Essays

– Diversity

(Most B-Schools beyond the Top-15 rely majorly on the Admission Test Score and GD-PI only.)

Now, this combination is different across different colleges and it has also been known to vary across years even for any given B-School. No one even knows for sure what it would be this year for various colleges and the colleges anyways would not be consulting you or me when they frame it for this year’s admissions. So, why should you be worried about something that your worrying will not change?

It is important for you to differentiate between things you can control/change, and things you cannot control/change. You can’t travel back in time and change your past academic performance; and you can’t dictate the admission criteria to any B-School. What you can certainly try and aim to do is to ensure a superb show at CAT/any other admission test, and at the GD-PI stage. That is what you can control/change because it lies ahead of you and it depends majorly upon your efforts. And that is what will maximize your chances of getting into a Top B-School. So, that’s where your focus should be – on things that you can control/change, things that lie ahead of you.

This lesson goes beyond selection in a B-School. You can’t control/change how others drive on the road, you can’t decide or even know when a natural catastrophe will occur and so on. Your worrying about any of it won’t help either. What you can control is your response to these external constraints by being and giving your best in areas that you can control to a great extent.

So, in any given situation, is your focus on things that you can control/change or do you waste a lot of energy worrying about things that are beyond your control?

—–

The Joy of Being a Mentor

(Published: 25-Jun-2015)

Gmail has a nice way of storing communication as conversations (it wasn’t the case earlier with Yahoo, Hotmail etc). So, when an MBAGuru student from the 2007-08 batch wrote to me a few days ago and asked if he could drop in for a cup of tea while he was in Delhi, it also displayed the last mails we exchanged nearly 2 years ago. Reproducing what he wrote to me then:

From: [Undisclosed]

Sent: Monday, December 02, 2013 2:02 AM

To: Deekshant

Subject: Re: hi !

Hi Deekshant,

I hope you are doing well. I was going through my old mails (I do it often on weekends) to reflect upon the course of my life. It’s has been interesting journey and interesting we can connect the dots just by few clicks on our personal mails.

I do not know if I you are able to place me. But, I help you re-connect. I studied at MBAGuru in 2007-08. I got through TISS and then I decided to pursue research. I took up a research profile at IIM Bangalore and worked for two years. It was there that I decided to do a PhD and applied to US. Currently, I am doing PhD in U of Nebraska at Omaha in the area of Public Administration.

I just thought of connecting. How are you? How is Roots/MBAGuru? You have been one of my biggest mentors. Thanks for everything.

Hope to hear from you.

Regards

Abhishek

*********************************

Does he “need” to stay in touch with me even after all these years? Is there anything beyond the desire to stay connected that he desires from me? No.

But still we have been connected for over 8 years now.

This is what mentorship does – it connects people for life, it impacts people for life.

When I moved across MBAGuru centers last week and saw such amazing feedback for the mentors from all of you on those colorful Post-It Notes, I got goose bumps. Believe me, this is the biggest reward that any mentor can hope for. Because more than anything else, it is the desire to make an impact on a life that inspires a mentor to patiently work through hours, days, weeks and months – teaching, clearing doubts, giving confidence, occasionally scolding, guiding, and just being there with you, for you, egging you on to make the most of your ability, believing in you when at times you yourself don’t. Mentorship is so much beyond just teaching a subject. And the words that you have used to express it for your mentors at MBAGuru prove it.

So, whatever you do in life – become a manager, an entrepreneur, an author, a film-maker, whatever – try and experience the joy and thrill of being a mentor to someone. You can be one even now to someone in some way. Trust me, there is no bigger high!

Or just think for a moment – Are you an inspiration for someone? Does someone look upto you for something? Maybe then, you already are a mentor. Are you?

—–

Written Commitment

(Published: 23-Jun-2015)

From the so many responses that I got to what I wrote yesterday, one response was remarkable for its clarity and candor. This brilliant girl not only wrote back, but even shared the Top-5 things in her list for the next 1-year along with the time she invests in each on a daily basis. And at the end, she promised to write back to me an year from now, aiming to have ticked off most of the boxes.

When you write down something you wish to achieve, your commitment increases. When you share what you have written down with someone, it intensifies further.

That is precisely the reason why I wrote and shared my goal of writing to you regularly. I had been thinking about it for years but finally committed myself to it. By doing that, I have increased the chances of it actually happening.

So, if there is something you really want to achieve – write it down NOW and share it with someone you trust, someone who would not judge you for it but would be happy to help and see you achieve it..

I am sure that this girl will get most of what she decides to go for. Not only because of the clarity of thought, but also because she is not afraid of committing herself so clearly.

—–

Is it in the Top-2?

(Published: 22-Jun-2015)

Try listing down all the important things you want to do over a finite period – say 1 year. Feel free to write down everything, big or small. From learning Spanish to heading an event in your college’s academic fest, from reading certain books to visiting the places of your choice.

Put down the items in this list in decreasing order of priority, the most important one at the top and so on. Now put down the number of hours you are investing daily in the Top-2 things on your list.

For you to have a great chance to achieve these 2 things, anywhere over 80% of your time should be invested across these 2 Top Things. Writing to/(sharing with) all of you far more regularly is one of the Top-2 things for me in my current list. Let’s see where we go with this.

Now, is making it to a Top MBA College (B-School) one of the Top-2 things you want to do this year? Are you investing enough time in it?

ASHUTOSH BANSAL
IIM-S, K, IIFT, NMIMS , XIMB, IMT , IMI Delhi, FORE, LIBA, SIIB

For someone like me, who needs personal attention to bring out best in me, MBAGuru was the perfect choice. It provides personal attention to each and every student as the class size is small. There are individual mentors for each subject and all the faculty members are always available for the guidance. Because of the well structured preperation, I was able to score well in every examination that I took. Thank you, MBAGuru. Rosh






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