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To IIM-B or not to be? Sahil Mital’s bout with CAT and More!

How do you find the motivation to write CAT over and over again?

When do you finally decide to call it quits?

Should it be when you watched all your peers and seniors get into their dream colleges while you stand in their dust?

Or when you scored a 99.2 percentile and yet did not receive a call from IIM ABC?

Or when you know you will be offered a promotion at your amazing workplace if you simply stay put?

Meet Sahil Mital. He is a commerce student who never gave up on his goals and attempted CAT three times alongside balancing his work at Bain Capability Centre, Bain & Company.

An avid debater, Sahil graduated from Hansraj College with B.Com (honours). He was actively involved in his college’s E-cell, idealising and organising various events related to entrepreneurship for students.

Read on to find out his motivational journey to IIM Bangalore.

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Sahil’s Background:

10th- 10 CGPA | 12th-96.6%

B.Com (Hons.) – 7.851 CGPA (74.58%)

Hansraj College, Delhi University

C.A.T percentiles over the years - 98.72 (CAT 2017) , 99.27 (2018) and 99.92 (2019)

Work ex: 2 years at Bain Capability Centre, Bain & Company


I am Sahil Mital, an incoming student at IIM Bangalore, and this is my story.

My journey towards CAT and MBA began during my last year of college, but I always knew that I wanted to do an MBA since my twelfth grade.

During my college years, I saw my seniors work hard for CAT and they got into amazing colleges like IIM A, IIM C, IIM L, etc. Even those who chose other streams, got into prestigious universities like LSE, Oxford and so on. With such a strong and positive peer group, I believed that if I gave this endeavor everything I have, I would succeed.

Fast forward to when the results of CAT 2017 were announced, I found out that I had scored a 98.72 percentile. My heart sank, and I knew right away that I would not get a call from IIM ABC.. It was a crushing blow, and it took me some time to get back up.

Simultaneously, as I was getting rejected by my dream schools, I saw some of my friends get into IIM A B L etc. Even with lower percentiles, a combination of diversity points and reservation tilted the system in their favour. I did not stand a chance with my low grad scores.

This taught me my first lesson: Do not blame the system. It is really easy to fall into this trap, and blame everything – from reservation to gender diversity to even the interviewers!

Trust me, I have seen so many people around me complain about these things to the point they feel disheartened even before they begin their journey. Personally, I do not agree with such criticism, but we are all entitled to different opinions.

The important thing here is to not focus on what is out of your control but what is in.

What you have under control is your preparation. So, focus on that, and do not demotivate yourself by thinking about how others are faring better or how the system seems to be biased. I would go a step further and say stop worrying about your past scores - that too lies in the gambit of things NOT in your control.

After a while, I started working at Bain Capability Centre. I enjoyed working there and was performing quite well at work when I decided to give CAT another shot. However, balancing work and studies is a pain, and it does not come easy.

Most of the days, you end up feeling exhausted from work and you can barely focus on studies. I struggled with finding the balance and focused most of my efforts on giving mocks. With bare minimum motivation, I gave the CAT. To my complete surprise, I ended up scoring a 99.27. Yet, I did not get a call from A,B,C.

At this point, I was left scratching my head. If 99+ percentile wasn’t enough, what would be?

I had given up on the idea of getting into IIM ABC. I had an admit from ISB through YLP, and my work was going well. I convinced myself ABC were not for me.

My second attempt gave me another extremely important lesson, which I believe every person who is attempting any competitive exam should keep in mind - Give as many mocks as you can, and analyze them properly. I cannot stress how important this is!

Mocks give you a real time input on where you stand, how you score and helps you keep a track of your progress.

Analyzing mocks help you to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, thereby allowing you to adopt a strategy that suits you..

Since giving mocks was the only real preparation I did for CAT 2018, I can say it with confidence - Mocks will end up being your score game changer.

Last year, I decided to give CAT one last try. However, it was a struggle to motivate myself.

Since I was doing well at work, I knew that I would get a shot at a front-end Bain & Company interview if I stuck with the company. However, the ghost of not getting an ABC call even with a 99.27 percentile still haunted me.

Then I remembered why I was doing this. An MBA is not just a way to get a good job and a break from work - it’s an experience. I’d heard from so many of my friends about how they felt an MBA was such an enriching experience where they’d learnt a lot - and that was my goal. .

I was ready to take a crack at it again.I had my mock strategy in place and I worked hard.

When I was on a trip with my friends, my results were announced. My friends and I could not contain our excitement as I had scored a whopping 99.92 percentile. After 3 attempts, I finally got a call from the holy trinity - IIM A,B,C.

Post this, another journey began – interview preparation.

This time, I was motivated by my result, and I also had a good friend group that reminded me what was important every time I slacked. While my Ahmedabad interview was horrible (It was my own fault, nervousness got the better of me), my IIM Bangalore interview went considerably well.

Even then, the convert didn’t come easy – I was waitlisted 44. As per the previous trends, it is uncommon for a waitlisted person to get a covert, but I did!

I could not be happier about going to the “Place to B”!

My final thoughts, the journey might be tough but believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who believe in you (especially when you start to give up), and give it everything you got! You can turn luck in your favour with sheer will!

All the best to everyone who is giving CAT!


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