Saturday, January 10, 2004

Well my editor seemed to like the article. Here it is:

Yep, I'm one of them. I'm one of the one lakh twenty thousand students who get to write the CAT in both 2003 and 2004. Its the first time in the 30 year history of the CAT that something like this has happened.The paper was leaked! Its a shame allright, its sacrilege Its a blow to the prestige of the CAT!! Its a whole lot of nasty things but there's nothing we can do about it.

My own experience:
November 23'rd. 6:30 A.M: I woke up with a sort of unreal feeling enveloping me. I couldnt believe the day had actually come. November 23'rd looked so far away when I began preparing and all of a sudden, it was actually here! I went through the motions in a dazed manner. I brushed my teeth, drank my milk, had a bath, had breakfast and prayed to that holy goddess Carmen Electra of Baywatch to bless my efforts. One last round of " Maccha! I dont know anything!" phone calls and I left for my exam centre.

Call me paranoid, but I got to my centre about two hours early with not 1, not 2 but 5 sharpened pencils, 2 erasers, 2 sharpeners and even 2 watches. There were students of all types. Some looked hysterical, some looked calm and assured and some looked plain bored. A lot of them had their noses buried in fat books.My friend and I roamed the campus and carefully avoided all those bent upon discussing CAT problems.

Sometime later, I seated myself in the alotted room and nervously awaited the paper. I filled out a few forms and signed my name in the sheets a few times. The CAT paper was placed on the table, sealed on all sides. I wondered how I was going to open it without damaging it. The bell rang, I was off!

I ripped open the cover and hurriedly glanced through the paper. It was of the usual pattern, 150 questions, 3 sections of 50 questions each: Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability, Logical and Data Interpretation and finally the Quantitiative section.

I started with the quants section and was taken aback. So many questions on Geometry and Algebra, so few on arithmetic! Looked to be quite tough! Luckily there were quite a few questions where one could substitute the answer choices in the question.I picked the easier looking questions and did what I could in 40 minutes.

Next came the DI and Logical Section. It was pleasant surprise actually. A lot of the D.I questions involved only counting of instances and not actual hardcore calculation. The logical section was quite straightforward. This section was intended to seduce the student I think as I overshot the time I set for myself. This put pressure on me for the Verbal and RC section.

The Verbal and RC section was of the usual CAT standard.. What did come as a surprise though was the presence of a poem. However once one got over the initial surprise, the questions related to it were quite easy. I was under immense pressure due to lack of time, so I went for the factual questions and avoided those which required me to understand the passage. In the Verbal, sentence jumbles were of the usual difficulty, while the fill in the blanks had some pretty close answer choices.
Another slightly different question was the " Find the sentence with the inappropriate usage of the given word". It was fairly easy though.

The bell rang! Time up! The 2 hours had just blitzed past! I couldnt believe it was over! One year preparing for the exam that got over before I knew it! I joined the crowd in the corridor. Some looked happy, some high fived, some looked dazed and some looked as though they were about to burst into tears. I belonged to the dazed category. I discussed the paper with a few friends for a while before catching a bus home. Little did I know what awaited me. My dad opened the door and looked to be in a feverish state of excitement. " CAT CANCELLED!CAT CANCELLED!" he yelled on top of his voice. I didnt belive him and he dragged me to the TV. I watched the news, unable to comprehend it all. I didnt know what to think. Was I to be annoyed or was I to be happy that I got another chance? I didnt know. The house was flooded with phone calls. I spent most of the afternoon with a phone to each year. A few of us were supposed to meet in the evening to celebrate , but now there was nothing to celebrate. We met anyway.

Now that the excitement is over, I think I'm actually glad I get another chance. The Quants section was murderous, the logical and DI was so tempting, I didnt do full justice to the Verbal and RC section. Undoubtably there were thousands of souls out there who thought the paper was rather simple and were outraged when they heard the news but there's nothing we can do about it is there? CAT 2003 is to be written in 2004 and I dont know what to expect. Dosent really make a difference if the paper is easy or tough. If its easy, everyone is going to do well and your rank wont shoot up. If its really tough, then once again even if your score goes down, your rank wont. All we have to do now is to take a deep breath and hold out for another couple of months. We are a privileged batch after all, to write a mock CAT conducted by the IIM's themselves!

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