Son of a farmer makes it to IIM, in a local Hindi newspaper

I come from a small Village Bhauwar from Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh, and belong to a lower middle class farming family but my parents always encouraged us to aim high and try for the best. I started my schooling from a nearby town where I used to travel via public transportation with my brother. These schools were Hindi medium. Although, most of the teachers were not up to mark, I was always blessed with one or two teachers who used to show trust in me. I completed my 10th and 12th from these schools with 90+ percent which is tough in MP Board. I never thought of giving CAT because I knew that it was an English based test and I didn’t know how I would get 99 percent in these tests. (I didn’t understand that percentile and percentage are different).

I struggled a little bit during my first year of engineering and didn’t end up getting good marks. Although I tried to improve my English, I am a huge cinema enthusiast and it kind of helped me to understand English. I played chess and represented my university at national west zone tournament.

It was July 2018, and I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was in my final year of engineering and I was weighing my options. After looking at the curriculum of CAT, because of my interest towards solving puzzles and doing Maths, I decided to prepare for it. In August, I got a job in Deloitte USI and again I gave up on my preparation as I thought there was very less time left. Luckily I got 95%ile (80.3%ile in VARC) and barely managed to clear the cut-offs. I was amazed that I got a call from IIM Indore but later I figured out that I got it because I got good marks in 10th and 12th and I was from MP Board. I couldn’t convert unfortunately (or fortunately). They advised me to stick with my job.

I gave the CAT again in 2020, this time with even less preparation ( I gave some CL mocks, probably 7-8) and achieved a decent 98.25%ile but got 79%ile in VARC (my nightmare) (got 99.8%ile in DILR). I also got a call from IIFT at 95%ile. I was able to convert all the CAP IIMs but couldn’t convert IIFT Delhi.

This time I promised myself that I will prepare with my full potential. My two years in work was completed and the workload was huge. With my past experiences, I understood that CAT is a game of consistency. I was not studying much but I was giving a mock everyday and was getting decent marks (more than 95%ile) most of the time. I calculated my chances to get a call from IIM ABC and I knew that I had to get at least 99.8+ to get these calls. Sometimes I was also getting low percentiles nearer to 80 and 90 but I never gave up on my consistency. I gave 95 mocks. I now realized that it was way too much and optimum mocks should be around 50-60 and if you analyse really well then even 40-50 is good number.

VARC journey

my last two CAT attempts were good but my VARC percentiles were extremely low. I knew that this time I can’t leave any stones unturned. I started reading and other things. Still I wasn’t getting much percentile. I finally decided to take the VARC1000 by Gejo sir in October. I worked really hard on it, understood that VARC is not a game of understanding English but understanding. I started getting decent grades but last mock for VARC was incredibly bad for me.


I live in Rewa, which wasn’t the center for CAT exam, so I had to travel 100kms to give the CAT. Since, I had high hopes as I was performing really good (in mocks I was consistently getting 95+ and many times 99+ percentiles), I felt stressed and that started to reflect during my exam. I was giving up too early, I struggled a lot in DILR which was my strongest forte and couldn’t even start two out of four sets. One set was partially solved. I was about to give up but then I thought let’s give my best in QA. After CAT, I knew I didn’t do well because I was unsure about VARC (past records) and DILR went terrible. 

I gave IIFT and it went well.

The day the answer key was released, I was amazed that I scored more than 40 in VARC, DILR was decent and QA was good too. I got 99.53%ile which was less than how my mocks were going, but based on my D-Day experience it was incredible. 

I also got 97.3%ile in XAT.

The Interview journey

I thought that after getting a good percentile I must get most of the calls and it would be a cakewalk as I had good work experience and good extra curricular achievements. Well nightmares started when I didn’t get calls from IIM B and IIM C. I wasn’t expecting from IIMA anyhow, so it shattered my dream to enter these prestigious colleges. Well I got calls from all other institutes but one mistake I made was that I didn’t prepare at all in December and January. My socio-economic knowledge, which generally is good, was not up to the mark, and I forgot almost everything about my graduation. Luckily I got a call from IIMA and I decided to take PDP Personalised (again very late in Feb). My first interview was with Sreeni sir, which was BAD. I couldn’t remember what the inductance and capacitance were. This mock interview opened my eyes, and Sir suggested a few things to me, to do on priority. I started working on my UG and many interviews revolved around these.

Well first interview was SPJIMR, and in this interview I made a strategy, since it was a group interview, one usually gets time to frame ones answers. And it went well. 

MDI was second and it was a stress interview, I wasn’t allowed much to speak and I was scolded throughout, Well I kept my calm and sat through it. 

SJMSOM and IIM (CAP) followed.

14th March, IIM Ahmedabad interview, my biggest shot. Well it was a decent interview but I felt negative vibes during the interview. They didn’t like my UG CGPA and I knew I can’t do much now.

Next day my IIM Indore interview happened and I gave it with an attitude of ‘Jo hoga so Hoga’. 

Other interviews happened (IIML, NITIE, XL, IIMK and IIMS).

IIM K was the best, I was only asked about chess while IIMS was the worst. Others were good or decent.

I was selected in SPJIMR Mumbai.

Well then I had my fair share of rejection from IIM A, XLRI (got XLRI Delhi BM) and was waitlisted in FMS and IIM Lucknow. 

Finally I got selected in IIM Kozhikode and Indore(merit rank13) and NITIE Mumbai.

I have chosen IIM Kozhikode for now and waiting for others. 

My tips for CAT and Other OMETs

  1. Give a lot of mocks and analyze. Don’t fall for the trap “pehle courses complete kar lu”. Do not get discouraged about less percentile.
  2. Be consistent, take help wherever you are lagging.
  3. Enjoy the preparation. CAT is one of the few exams where playing chess and reading 1984 is a part of preparation.

For interviews 

  1. Read about the social, economical states of the world not just for interviews (become Jaden Smith apparently)
  2. Brush up your UG and Work Ex.
  3. Don’t worry about what happened in the past. ( I did that and that was a big mistake)
  4. Prepare for interviews well in advance. Read newspapers along during preparation for CAT.

All the best for your future if you are appearing for CAT. Also if you do not get what you wanted, it’s not your failure, many a times things are not in your control.

Profile of Vasu Shukla

Class 10th
Saraswati Shishu Mandir Nehru Nagar, REWA
92.83% (Hindi Medium, Madhya Pradesh Board)

Class 12th
Govt Model Higher Secondary School, Rewa
90.80% (Hindi Medium, Madhya Pradesh Board)

Graduation :
Shri GS Institute of Technology and Science, Indore

Work ex: 36 months(till now)
Company : Deloitte USI

Percentile – 99.53%ile

Calls received:

Calls Converted:
IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, SPJIMR, MDI G, NITIE, IIFT Delhi

Waitlisted: IIM Lucknow, FMS Delhi

Joining: IIM Kozhikode , Class of 2024

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