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Imagine it’s a cold evening in December and your little heart is desirous of a strong coffee. So you venture out to the nearby CCD, but find it closed. Do you drop the plan to savour your sumptuous coffee or do you go to the next cafe? If you are motivated enough for the beverage, you would not mind going ahead to the next restaurant that you know serves coffee, despite the apprehension that it may too be shut or may be a little pricier or a little far. The simple question one needs to ask himself is- how many of these shops can be shut or be too expensive or too far? If you want a cup of coffee, you will get it provided

1. you have a reasonable amount of money (ability)
2. you are willing to walk some (effort and motivation)
3. you are wise enough to realize that what eventually matters is the coffee, not the cafe (wisdom)

Replace coffee with an MBA seat at a worthy college, and various cafe with the different entrance exams that are there. Does the above example seem more relevant now? Understand that all you want is one seat at a good B-school, and that which exam that seat comes from shouldn’t matter! Ask a lover if it matters to him where he met his love, or a loyal drunkard the place or material in which he would like to be served liquor or a die-hard football fan whether he would prefer soft copy or hard copy of the ticket to the FIFA World Cup final. The answer would be same- It doesn’t matter! Harivanshrai Bachchan has captured this thought most beautifully and succinctly in the below stanza of his poem which I occasionally recite in my classes.

जो मादकता के मारे हैं
वे मधु लूटा ही करते हैं
वह कच्चा पीने वाला है
जिसकी ममता घट प्यालों पर
जो सच्चे मधु से जला हुआ
कब रोता है चिल्लाता है   

Back in 2011, when I was assigned my first batch for CAT, where half the students were elder to me by a year or two, there was a student named Abhishek Shrivastava. Despite his above-average intelligence and whatever hardwork he could manage to put in (after his 10-hour workday at office which was 20 km from his home), he could manage a CAT percentile in 80s. His attempt at almost all other exams met similar fate. However, GMAT clicked, and that landed him at ISB, Hyderabad. So does it matter to Abhishek that the college he eventually got was the only good college that he could convert or, for that matter, the only worthy college that he could secure a call from? No. It is irrelevant now. Had he got 99%ile in CAT and done equally well in all other entrances, he would have still been at ISB, and happily so. There are numerous similar stories that I can recount where some student got to NMIMS, Mumbai or SIBM, Pune or IIFT, Delhi or TISS, Mumbai where that college was the only star call the student had.  

So stop fretting about how your CAT did not go as well as you would have liked or prepared. LIFE IS UNFAIR. PERIOD. Get used to it. However, it is NOT ALWAYS UNFAIR. So bad luck, illness, anxiety etc can play spoilsport in one, two or maybe three exams, but not beyond that. Just as a person in the coffee example may not find what he is looking for at a few shops, but eventually he surely will, you too would find success in some or the other exam provided you have put in effort and have common sense/basic intelligence.

Understand that results are never in your hands, and it invariably happens that 1-2 papers go wrong, and we have no control on which ones those 1-2 will be. However, if one has prepared well, then this misfortune can strike in 1 or 2 or maximum 3 exams. The good news is that we have atleast a dozen worthy exams and all we need is to crack one exam that will pave our way to a desirable MBA college. Which exam gets us to that college should not be a worry. I read somewhere that many a time in life we are so busy looking at and mourning for the door that closed on us that we do not realize that four others opened for us in the meanwhile. So stop cursing your stars for CAT and aim at the next exam in front of you, for only the first battle is over, not the war. Pull yourself back up, gather your armory and prepare for the next battle. Get on with the preparations for the rest of the exams, especially XAT, NMAT, IIFT and SNAP. All this while, keep reminding yourself of the fact that all you need is one seat in any one decent college.

Fun Fact : The writer missed his own CAT in 2018 because his bus to Delhi was cancelled and there was no viable alternative to reach the test center in Delhi in time. The writer hopes that his story doesn’t resonate with that of anyone else here.  

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