Well, today was the day I have been preparing for since the last 7 months. I had my first ever tryst with the CAT today and let me share my experience. I will divide this post into sections so as to better maintain the flow…
The day before C-day:
A lot of my friends had given the test already and all advised me to control my tension about the exam, but my problem was different- right from my first big exam in Class-X, I have seen people around me spend sleepless nights before the exams, having anxiety disorders and pre-exam nerves. But somehow I never seemed to get that creepy feeling of exams approaching, for me it was just another day. I sometimes wondered what was wrong with me but then, I have never assumed myself to be normal :D.. This lack of tension thing happened before my class X boards and was repeated during my Class XII board exams again (I don’t mention the engineering entrance exams, because I was never serious about them, I gave them were ‘just for fun’). I assumed this time it might be something different but no…my mind just won’t let me worry…!!!! On the day before my CAT, I woke up and as is my routine, spent the entire morning surfing the net and reading a couple of newspapers. I then appeared for a mock and got a score of 45. But the pathetic score didn’t have any effect on my spirits. I didn’t even analyze the mock and slept for more than 3 hours in the afternoon. I had decided to revise my old notes in the evening but the evening brought with it more frivolousness…I pestered my friends with my PJs till they had a headache and then they forced me to sit and study. I studied for around an hour, just revising the basic quant formulas, and they bored me to death…!!! There was no way I was going to study anymore. I felt like watching a movie and watched The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It was a fun movie that didn’t make one think and, so, fitted my bill perfectly. I tried to sleep early, but all sort of unrelated thoughts kept coming to my mind (including whether I should buy shoes from Adidas or Nike this time when I go home… :P) and it was past 1:00 when I could finally force myself to sleep.
The C-Day experience:
I woke up with the alarm at 6:30, brushed and had a couple of biscuits before leaving for the test centre at 7:00. I reached the center at around 7:20 (had made more-than-enough allowances for travel time), and while I thought I would be the only one to have reached so early in the morning, I was surprised to see a crowd already assembled there. I hadn’t taken any notes with me to the centre since I don’t really believe in last minute gobbling so I took to observing the crowd at the place. It was a motley crowd. There was a group of college students who kept behaving like they were there for a morning walk. They kept on laughing and shouting and telling each other “Mere liye to aai-aai-emm-amdabad ne seat buk kar rakhi hai… bas aj attendance dena hai” (the spellings are not typos, but their pronunciation of IIM-A)… it was fun in the beginning but became irritating soon. Then there were these lovebirds, 2 pairs, who just couldn’t have enough of each other. One of the couples was so engrossed in its love stories that I wondered if they had mistakenly reached the place while looking for a park….there was also this guy who kept on repeating from his class notes (I am writing it verbatim) “0!=1, 1!=2, 2!=3, 3!=6….keno j 2 ghonta age dake….porao jae naa…!!!”(why do they call 2 hours early... one can’t even study!!!) he kept on repeating this line(completely as written) like a poem. Hilarious..!!!! Now, enter a guy from a NGO, Chlorophyll. He was conducting a survey on the candidates. There were just two basic questions: whether you think online CAT is more student friendly and whether you think it will help scale up your marks. The poor fellow had to explain even these to a couple of candidates and he finally ended up filling the questions himself on their behalf….I was observing all these people till 8am when the gates were opened. Our names were checked against a list at the entrance and only the candidates were allowed to enter.
My experience in the centre:
After everyone had their names matched with the list, we were taken to the exam center. It was on the 2nd floor of the building. We were made to stand in a queue, while the security guards frisked us and parceled our belongings. I was in for a surprise when the guard there refused to accept my driving license as genuine…!!!! I asked him “what is the issue in this? its mentioned as valid in the admit card...” His reply “I have some issues…is it original?” Awesome!!! I was made to stand aside for 5 minutes while his senior came, and in that duration I had made up my mind that if I was disallowed on any pretext despite having everything in perfect condition, I would sue the guard, the center and Prometric, surely. Well, the person in charge came, had a look at my license. He tore open the lamination and finally believed that I was indeed the holder of a valid driving license. After that, I was sent in to a room where I was photographed and my fingerprints were taken. Then I was moved to the examination hall. It was 8:50am then. We were logged in at around 9:30 and the invigilators told us that we could go through the tutorials. After the tutorials were over, they started our test at 10 am.
My test experience:
The first set I faced was DI, but I have always done QA first because that is my weakness and I like to get over with it as soon as possible. So I went to the review screen and reached the QA set. The first few questions weren’t tough and helped me to get in the flow. However, as I noticed, there were quite a few speedbreakers inserted in between them. Then I moved on to DI and whhooooo…..what a set…!!! It was so lengthy that I felt I could never complete it. I was into it for 30 minutes, when I noticed that I was only on the 7th question… I tried to pick up speed then, but by the time I was done with DI, I had only 27 mins left on the timer…so much for time-mangement! I moved on to VA, which has always been my strength and was done with it when I had around 90 seconds left. I had no time to review the marked questions. All of us were made to leave the hall together after everyone’s test had ended.
After the test:
We collected our belongings and left the center. It was a 3km walk to the nearest bus stop and I began the long walk. I had hardly walked for around 5minutes, when a bike zooming past me stopped as I signalled for a lift. He was a good rider, but the way he curved his bike…!!!! OMG…!!! For a moment I had my heart in my mouth there and I just prayed to god that please let me at least see me percentiles before I die…well, I reached the bus stop hale and hearty, thanked him, boarded the next bus and back to my hostel. I slept the entire afternoon and have spent the evening typing this gigantic post in the hope that someone would read and post their comments (read: praise my writing skills).
PS: the last line was just a joke, but please do post your feedback( you can criticize me if you want). That’s what keeps me going. And since you have taken the trouble of reading this, please post your comment here itself, instead of any forum.