When I clicked on the ‘get result’ button of the CAT result, I was not prepared for what was coming my way. For the last 5 mock tests, I had been scoring amongst the top 50 in the IMS All India mock CAT tests. “99.3 percentile”, the screen read. “F*** it”, I vented out my frustration. IIM A, B and C – my top choices – were out of question with this percentile. I spent the next 15 days in silence, frustration and depression. I turned down the final admission offers from IIM K and I.

Finally, I chose to come out from the situation, give a shot at GMAT and apply to global business schools – ISB and Yale. February had just started and it was an apt time to start with the preparations so as to take the test in July, 5 months away. I started by taking GMATPrep, the official GMAT mock test. Cracking quant was a no-brainer. My IIT background and CAT preparation helped. But I was washed down in the verbal section. The final score was 660, a huge setback for me.

But with a confirmed test appointment in hand, I decided to give it my best shot. To begin with, I prepared a schedule – 2 hours during the weekdays and 6-7 hours during the two-day weekend. I started with Official Guide (OG) and would initially get only 60-65% answers correct in the verbal section. I had also bought the OG Verbal Supplement to practice more questions in verbal section. I finished both the books in 1 month and substantially improved my critical reasoning success rate from 65% to 95%. One hurdle was crossed.

The Sentence Correction (SC) and Reading Comprehension (RC) questions were still giving me nightmares. March had already arrived. I now picked up Kaplan Comprehensive to improve my SC and Norman Lewis’s ‘How to Read Faster and Better’ for RC. Finishing the books in a month supported me in improving on the general mistakes and in forming my own thumb rules. But I was searching for a book which could take my SC and RC abilities to the next level.

In April, I moved on to Princeton Review but was not impressed. The tests were great though. Meanwhile, somebody referred me to Manhattan SC and RC books. And they turned out to be the rule books I was searching for. Although with few tests, the book was full of strong rules that really worked. The online exercises of Manhattan were awesome. To corroborate the concepts I was referring Dagny Taggart’s ‘Ultimate Guide to GMAT Preparation’ simultaneously. I finished the books in hands within three weeks. April was getting over fast.

Equipped with thumb rules and concepts, I now needed loads of exercises to improve upon my timing and imbibe the concepts. Kaplan 800 came through as a very handy tool. With so many questions and thorough explanations, I could polish my concepts fast. Three weeks and I was done with the book. It was already second week of May. With now about 5 weeks in hand, I started revising OG. Three revisions down the line, my success rate across the Verbal Section had improved to 80-85%. A few tests in the Quant Section helped me to refresh my concepts.

One week to go. For me it was tests, tests and more tests. I took a 3-day leave before the GMAT and started taking multiple full length tests throughout the day. One day before the exam, I drove to the test location on MG Road (Bangalore) so as to confirm the transit time. No reading and just relaxing helped me to unwind from the recent hard work that I had put in. First time after so many years, I went to sleep at 7:00 PM.

The D-day arrived. I woke up at 6:00 AM, had a sandwich and juice and started for my journey. I reported on time and started with the test. The time flied by fast. Before I knew, the system was asking me to proceed for the result. I still remember the score of 780 displayed on the screen. It marked a beautiful journey to ISB for me.

My personal setback at CAT paved way to a struggle that resulted in realizing my full potential. Today I think the global exposure, the quality of professors and the alumni network that I am a part of would not have been possible if I would have cracked CAT and joined an IIM. CEA6ZVRDPZH3

© 2011, Deepanshu Malviya | Indian School of Business. All rights reserved.

Deepanshu Malviya | Indian School of Business

Deepanshu Malviya did his MBA from Indian School of Business (ISB) and B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K). He graduated from ISB with the dean's list and merit list honors and was among the top 3% of the entire graduating class. He made it through the MBA process while competing in the toughest pool, IT applicants. His high GMAT score was a key enabler in his profile when he applied to ISB and Yale. He got admission offers from both. Currently he works for Big-4 consulting firm. Prior to his MBA, Deepanshu worked with Morgan Stanley and Yahoo in their core technical division. At ISB, he was involved in preparing a business-plan for medical tourism in India. The plan was featured on CNBC TV show Enterprise Inc - 'The Pitch'.