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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Life at IIM Calcutta

Welcome to life at IIM Calcutta




ITS 4am and I am still sitting with my group members trying to crack a case study contest by one of the premier consulting companies in the world. By the look of it, it seems it is going to be yet another of the numerous night-outs on campus. And yes, I do have a class at 8.30am, which I have to attend. Welcome to life at IIM Calcutta. 
   Like most journeys to the beautiful places in the world, my journey to IIMC couldn't have been more exciting. Ever since my cousin studied for his MBA, I always dreamt of studying at one of the IIMs. A desire probably motivated by what you hear about such as high pay packages for IIM grads. But once I learnt more about an MBA, it became obvious that the degree was much more than just money. 
   The company of some of the brightest minds in the country, professors who know answers to just about any question that you can think of, guest lectures by country's leading entrepreneurs and CEOs, sessions by the likes of film-maker Mani Ratnam, adguru Prahalad Kakkar, talks by commentator Harsha Bogle and more. 
   Being at one of the best institutes in the country is an enriching experience. What I have gained in the two years is difficult to capture in words. 


The most oft-asked question to most of us (IIM Grads) is there a sure shot formula to crack the CAT? A cursory look at the question papers for the last few years shows that the pattern of questions, number of questions, difficulty level of questions have been changing over the years. But one thing remains constant, the basics/fundamental aspects of the exam. Let us look at each of the sections: 

Verbal Ability: VA today has more emphasis on reading comprehension, where you are expected to understand the passage to answer the questions. Mere knowledge of vocabulary would not suffice. At the same time one must remember that you are judged relative to others, so more the number of questions you can solve accurately better you are placed. Reading speed plays a vital part in this. It is always advisable to start early with VA section as it is impossible to develop competence in the section in a short span of time. 

Quantitative Aptitude: 
Number systems and allied sections have traditionally been important concepts. I am a firm believer that one needs to have a decent level of mastery over all types of questions be it speed, time, distance or geometry. You can never be sure of the level of difficulty of questions of any section. 

Data Interpretation: Develop calculation speed. Knowledge of approximation techniques helps solving complex calculations. Understand that the CAT paper does not test your abilities to be a calculator; it tests your abilities to be a smart thinker, devising ways of simplifying calculations. I have always found the elimination of options an easier way to solve DI problems. 


Now that CAT is just round the corner, lots of candidates go through last-minute jitters. How should one make use of the last few days before the exam? My advice to such queries is to have faith on your preparation. Lots of candidates take mock CATs from one of the many coaching institutes. Go through old question papers to analyse mistakes. Try to find out if you missed out on some easy questions. 
   Do not drown yourself in a deluge of mock CATs. Some students try to solve one or more papers a day. It does not help. Understanding your weakness, brushing up on your concepts are things you should be concentrating on. Solving two to three papers a week is more than enough. 
   Most importantly, remain cool before the exam, meet your friends, go for a social gathering, and watch a movie. Trust your abilities. If you have worked hard, your efforts would be rewarded. 


Contrary to public perception, life at a B-school is not just cases, presentations, projects and quizzes. We all have our share of parties, midnight football matches, and floodlit cricket tournaments. The highlight of the annual cultural calendar is the three back-to-back events, which are organised during December-January. 
   Intaglio is the annual international B-school fest, which boasts of being the 1st ISO certified Bschool fest in India. Each year it attracts participation from the likes of Harvard, Wharton, London Business School and NUS among others. Carpediem, the annual cultural festival and Census, the experiential marketing festivals are the other major events on campus. 
   Apart from that, IIM Calcutta also has the annual IIMC-B meet and the famed IIMC-XL sports meet. Add to that some 15 odd clubs/interest groups on campus; there is not a single day which goes by without something or the other happening on campus. 
   The two years at IIM Calcutta have been a roller-coaster ride.




   Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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