We see our CAT journey as one whose destination is a top IIM. IIM is a dream for many of us. We all want to get there. But the question is – how badly?

Many of us are very afraid of failure. We get so apprehensive that before even taking the exam, we start asking what would I do if I don’t pass the CAT exam. A few days back, one aspirant reached out to me and asked,

“Will I be able to clear the CAT exam?”

I said, “yes, you can. Prepare well.”

She asked, “You sure? I can make it to an IIM, no?

I replied, “For that, you need to work. You can’t just keep talking without putting any effort. Don’t be so afraid. Just put in your best effort. You will never regret it.”

From this conversation, I realized that many aspirants look for assurance that they will succeed if they try for the CAT exam. But unfortunately, life does not work that way. There are no guarantees. So, if you want something badly, you need to work for it madly with a conviction that your dreams will come true on the back of your hard work with patience, persistence, and perseverance. 

“Hard work never goes in vain. After all, life is more about the journey than it is about the destination.”

I realized it when I read Debayan’s CAT journey. He came through failures with unflinching grit. I found his journey very inspiring. 

He made one very important point, “know when to stop and move on, because your greatest success may not be CAT, but maybe something better waiting for you after CAT.”

This his me hard. I felt it could inspire many other CAT aspirants. So I couldn’t resist reaching out to him and requesting him to share his journey on ‘The CAT Talk.’ And he was kind enough to readily agree for it. So, let’s read his CAT journey of perseverance in his own words.

Debayan’s Journey: 

This post is to relive the beautiful journey of CAT preparation. I hope this helps every CAT aspirant who could not get through in the first attempt.
I took the CAT exam four times. Yes, four times.

So here goes my story.


10th: 89.3%
12th: 89.2%
B.E. 6.42
Work-ex: 18 months

2016: The CAT journey starts

I was doing my chemical engineering from BIT Mesra. By the time I went into my sophomore year, I was sure I was not interested in Engineering and wanted to do an MBA. So I joined Career Launcher. I diligently attended the coaching for two years and a half but did not practice much. However, I rigorously took the CL mock tests. In my final year, I was busy with placements and stuff, and I was sure that this attempt would not get me my dream college. My aim was sweet and simple: ABCL/XL/FMS. That’s it. So I went for CAT 2016 with a cool mind. I took my exam and was wishing for a 90+ percentile. On the result day, I got the following surprise.

Debayan cat journey

I was on cloud nine. I felt wow. But I knew this was not enough for my ABCL/XL/FMS dream. However, I knew I was very close to my dream college. So I decided to give one more year for the CAT preparation.

Read: How Do I Get Motivation For CAT Exam?

2017: The pursuit continues

I was not very disappointed. It was all going well. I joined Mu Sigma in Bangalore. I took up the test series of IMS, CL, and TIME. As one would expect, I could not complete all but took a good number of tests. I was confident because I had solved a lot many questions, especially in DILR. So I was ready for the show. Well, on the D-day, I Woke at 5 AM and left for my CAT centre that was around 45 km away. I took the test and got blown away by the DILR section. I knew CAT 2017 attempt was also gone. The percentile unsurprisingly plunged below the last year’s.

So that was it. I could not clear the LRDI cutoff for IIMs. So, I had no interview calls that year.

Read: From Corporate To Campus – The CAT Journey Of A Working Professional

2018: Do or die

I decided on the last attempt, one last shot at my dream. But I realized I may not be able to clear it with the hectic job. So, I took up a risk. I left the job and took up another job at a coaching centre back at Ranchi. For a backup, I also started preparing for CFA L1. So I was now working from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM, and then back at my PG, I was studying by giving equal time to CAT preparation and CFA.

It was that part of life where I was back in Ranchi when all my college friends were working across all cities of India. But fortunately, I made a wonderful group of friends in my new job and had some of the best moments. Anyway, I had my CAT on 25th November 2018 and CFA on the following Saturday. Whoooo! Big challenge! Yes, but I had to take it for my dream. Honestly, that was one hell of a week. I took CAT, flew to Kolkata, took CFA, and then I was waiting anxiously for the result. And when it came, it was a mixed bag.

That was it. I cleared the sectional cut-offs. But I knew that ABCL/XL/FMS was not happening. One week later, I cleared CFA L1 as well. I decided then.

“Enough of this great war,” I said to myself. I have given my prime years to this exam and chasing those golden campuses. And I think I had a great journey though I landed a little short of my target. 

I made up my mind to give my best at the interview calls I get. I got calls from New IIMs, MDI, IIT KGP, DFS, and DBE. Luckily, I converted all of those except MDI(PGP). Finally, I decided to join the college at the place where it all started – Ranchi. Also, IIM Ranchi is considered the best among the new IIMs.

My life as I see it now:

That was my story. A story of failure, of broken dreams, of almost being there but still, or maybe a story of moving on, maybe of perseverance or maybe of “Jo hota hai ache ke liye hota hai.”

Well, I still have regrets. Maybe, I could have practised more. I could have attended coaching for weaker sections. I could have given another attempt. Well, all I can say now is that this exam is a bit unpredictable. Undisputedly, hard work counts. But things may go wrong on the D-day. So work hard and give more attempts, but always have a back-up. And know when to stop and move on, because your greatest success may not be CAT, but maybe something better waiting for you after CAT.

So thanks to my learning from CFA. I aced the first two terms by being in the top-5 academically. I got a dream finance role in summers, which my BIT mates from old IIMs also could not bag.

Now, I am good to go. I am jovial at my happy place Ranchi, studying for my CFA L2 and MBA curriculum, and life looks better now.

Do I regret those years of the fight?


Those years have given me a lot of life lessons and have made me much more capable of navigating through this MBA journey. So keep fighting. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, Wait! I told I had four CAT attempts. But I have mentioned only three till now. How? HAHA. I gave my 4th attempt during my first year in IIM Ranchi. Just out of curiosity. No practice. No mock tests. I just woke up and gave it. Do you want to know the result? 😛

Debayan cat journey

Interesting enough?
Yeah, that’s how CAT is. This was my CAT journey.

Message to the CAT aspirants:

To all the future aspirants, I hope you get your dream college. I want you to fight for it till you want.
But if you still fail, remember “Picture abhi baki hai mere dost.”

Debayan CAT journey

Thank you so much, Debayan, for sharing such an inspiring CAT journey with us. I thank you on behalf of all the CAT aspirants who look for such real-life inspirational stories.

Read: From 2017 To 2019 – The CAT Success Story Of A Tier-3 College Engineering Graduate

I hope Debayan’s journey has given you some important lessons about the CAT exam, and more importantly, about life. If you need any guidance, you may connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Related Articles:

  1. From Completing B.Tech In 6 Years To Making It To An IIM At 27, Rohit’s CAT Journey Of Courage And Intent

  2. From 2017 To 2019 – The CAT Success Story Of A Tier-3 College Engineering Graduate
  3. How Do I Get Motivation For CAT Exam?
  4. I Am Stuck In The CAT Preparation. What Should I Do?
  5. From Corporate To Campus – The CAT Journey Of A Working Professional

  6. From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey
  7. Learn To Fight Alone!
If you have any query, feel free to reach out to me.
You can expect a reply within 24 hours.

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