• Twinkle Joshi

Journey to IIM Raipur

On the random day of 15 February 2020 at the entrance of the Jaypee Siddhartha hotel room, my life flashed in front of my eyes. I was about to enter my CAP interview; I couldn’t believe that I was standing here. I looked around myself to soak the environment, everyone dressed like me with that blazer, with that white shirt, that tensed faces, and blurred smiles. I took a second to enjoy the achievement of being here and with that energy, I entered the room. “May I come in, Sir?”

Wait, what happened next? We’ll find out but the real story started long before the interview. It started with the day when I landed back from my semester exchange program at my home university. Only to found that in this span of my absence, the people over have changed, not literally just they figured out what exactly they wish to do in their lives. On the other hand, I stand there with all these aspirations but not sure about what lies next ahead for me. With work, assignments, daily up and down, and self- introspection, I realized that the path is always been in front of me. All I needed was the strength to walk on the long journey to enter the gates of my dream business school.

To give my undivided attention to my dream, I decided to take a drop to give the entrance exam. I landed on 22 April freshly graduated and in two days I joined a coaching institute to provide me with the aid taking me closer to my destination. The right mix was ready, the classes, the notes, the teachers. Though with everything available, day after day, mocks after mocks, the most important element perseverance was taking a hit.

Staying positive is a tricky business. There were days when my confidence was off the charts. After scoring 95 plus in the mocks I would feel like the queen of the world. On just the next day, when I could not solve any of the DILR section questions, the hope breaks down. The frustration, the insecurity, the uncertainty creeps in the darkest of the nights. The highs and the lows of the market. I kept hearing the biggest test is the Common Admission Test, one of the toughest papers in India. Now I know it is not, it is like any other mock the same three sections, the fixed 100 questions. The real test is to make it to the CAT exam with the same zeal, and the twinkle in the eye that you had when you first decided to attempt it. I saw people around me giving up right and left months before the exam. Even before the paper, they took the step back. Things like that make you wonder how easy would it be just to quit but I am not the one who backs out from a challenge, I reminded myself every day.

In the journey, one thing that comforted me that all these struggles were not unique to me.  I found amazing friends sitting in the lab, discussing quant questions. If I would have to give one advice on how to crack CAT it will be to surround yourself with the right people, find inspiration in each other’s learnings, and seek support with the failures. As you don’t reach your destination walking alone, your family, your friends, and that distant stranger you wave in the class, they all are part of it.

Coming on the D day, the CAT exam, afternoon slot. Traveling 20 km while listening to music and revising the whole syllabus in the back of my head, I reached the test center. The VARC section always came easy to me. Reading and understanding the thoughts of the writers is like listening to your friend, hence, I navigated correctly. Now it was showtime DILR section, the most random mouse, I struggled and struggled but was not able to complete even one set in 20 mins. But I knew this cannot be the end of me, I took a second and went all in. The most amusing thing about the CAT exam is how at the same moment, time passes slowly and rapidly.

After the exam, I was not confident about a thing. My attempts were low and so was my morale. Rethinking what I could have done more, checking all the unofficial answers key and stressing about the existence of the world. But the results came out as a surprise for me, the mark sheet screamed 96.63 percentile. Scoring 99 percentile in VARC, and the biggest of my fear of low attempts in the DILR section turned out beautifully as I had 100 percent accuracy achieving 95 percentile in it.

Yet, I was only halfway there. The process of getting a call and getting a convert is a long one and also tiring. I found myself standing at the entrance of the CAP interview. At that moment, I thought I could be nervous going in or I can be happy for where I stand now. I look around in the lobby, people with blazers and white shirts. At that moment, I felt proud of us all for how long have we come.

Fast forwarding from there, I converted 11 IIMs and various other colleges. I had a tiny photograph in the newspaper. My family and friends were overjoyed with the outcomes. Today, I attended the orientation program as a proud student of IIM Raipur. From a confused grad student to an IIM freshman, it was an amazing journey. Still, all I can think of is the MBA game is just beginning.

Now that you've reached the end of this article, if you want to read out my other articles, check them out Tamasha with Twinkle.

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