// You're reading...


The Journey from IIT Roorkee to IIM Ahmedabad: A Personal Account

Vasudha KhuranaFinally, the article you’ve all been patiently waiting for. As an academician, I had only dreamt of writing this article till today; and, even as I punch these keys to give shape to thoughts, I feel the excitement run down my spine as I share these valuable insights with my students, subscribers and fellow staff members.

Vasudha was a student of the first IIT-R CAT Batch at our newly inaugurated Roorkee Study Centre. As it was our first year of operation in Roorkee, our first batch was a small one, comprising merely 18 students preparing for the CAT-2011. Like the rest of the students, she was apprehensive yet determined to face the challenge she had undertaken. The following article is a personal account of her journey from the front bench of Areté, to the class room of India’s premier institute of management: IIM Ahmedabad!

Attention: The following are the views of Vasudha Khurana. The opinions/arguments expressed here reflect Vasudha’s personal deductions based on her experiences. Every individual is entitled to his/her opinion. This article is not intended to libel anyone, but to share a personal experience. She has presented reasons to support her opinions as far as possible; however, if anyone feels the contents of this article are false/ presumptuous, he/she may post a comment/ write back to us. If they are proven right, necessary action will be taken. Areté doesn’t endorse these views as its own.


I: Why did you decide to prepare for the CAT? What made you think that MBA was the way ahead for you?

Vasudha: By the time I was in my third year, I had decided that an MS wasn’t the best career choice for me. Hence, to keep my options open, I decided to prepare for both an MBA and placements. However, as time passed, and by the time I was into my GD & PI training phase, I began to realise that I had certain skills and aspirations that made an MBA the ideal path to my career goals.


I: Why did you choose Areté, considering there were other institutes such as Career Launcher & TIME in Roorkee?

Vasudha: Well, I had heard about the faculty at Areté from my seniors and peers. My friend Tanvi Jindal (Aretian: GRE 1500; CAT 98.51 %ile) had attended demo lectures at both CL and Areté and she told me that there was a stark difference in the quality of faculty and pedagogy of the two. The faculty at CL provided nothing more outside of what was mentioned in the books, so Areté had to be better. Hence, although I was apprehensive, I trusted Tanvi.

Another major reason for my choosing Areté was the fact that everyone used to flock to the other major institutes in the city. There was this “Bhed Chaal”. The huge batches, with students cramped up to each other, and the lack of individual attention were also significant motivators to look the other way.


I: So did Areté meet your expectations with respect to CAT Prep?

Vasudha: Yes, (chuckles) it did obviously! As far as English is concerned, I found that the inputs were sometimes too much in depth. But then I understood that you didn’t care whether we knew the names of the parts of speech, etc. by heart, but cared whether we could understand their roles in sentences to decipher the intended meanings. The focus was to read and comprehend, and that’s what I liked a lot. (Smiles) You reminded me of a school teacher I had for seven years who was very good. So I enjoyed your classes very much.

As for Math, it was always fun for me. But Anant’s lectures were very useful as he shared several shortcut techniques that always gave you the feel “achha isko aise bhi kar sakte hein”.


I: What was/were your biggest apprehensions starting out into your CAT preparation?

Vasudha: Well, I’m not the one to set specific percentile targets and then sit and worry over them. I like to go with the flow. The only time I was really worried was when I wrote my first simulated CAT in September and scored a 63rd %ile. That’s when I started revising notes and increased my rate of testing; and by the 3rd test, I was on my way!


I: When did you start your CAT prep? Which period was the crux of your preparation for the CAT?

Vasudha: I enrolled at Areté in August 2010; and the whole year, till May 2011, was an ‘unconscious’ phase in my preparation. I was learning fundamentals and starting to understand the concepts involved. It was sort of a passive phase of preparation. It wasn’t until September 2011 that I started to apply those concepts in the Testing Phase. In order to improve my score, I sometimes used to take even 2 tests a day. Notes came in handy at that time, not so much for English as for Math.


I: In your testimonial, you mentioned that most of the knowledge required to crack this exam is available in books.

a)      Does that mean that the classroom training at Areté didn’t make any difference to you?

Vasudha: No, it did make a lot of difference. Even when in School, we have a lot of books, but having it explained and learning/solving it with other people, interacting with people, coming across different approaches, learning not only from teachers but also from other students all make a huge difference in CAT prep. Even when I was solving the test series, we used to sit in groups of 4 or 5 to discuss strategies.


b)      Which books did you refer to?

Vasudha: An old set of CL material given to me by one of my seniors, RC material of Areté & CL, Daily wordlists and CAT questions of Testfunda.com, and Anant’s complete notes of Mathematics.


c)      And which Test Series did you take, and why?

Vasudha: I took the CL and the TIME test series, and only two or three tests of Testfunda. I found that the Testfunda test series aped the CAT the best; however, it lacked sufficient difficult questions. I personally believe that one should be prepared for a notch higher. TIME had a lot of ‘original’ CAT questions, and the questions were tougher than those of Testfunda; however, the CL test series was the toughest with a large variety of questions.


d)      Did you have a study schedule?

Vasudha: Well, I only started setting goals in the testing phase. I used to set short term goals and then hit them.


e)      Did you have any weak areas?

Vasudha: Yes I did. In English, I was weak at Reading Comprehension and Sentence Arrangement (Para Jumbles). I was scared of them so I kept them for the end after LR and other Verbal Questions. In Mathematics, although I find Math very interesting and fun; I used to dread Pie Charts and Tables simply because of the lengthy calculations involved.


I: Did you expect to get a call? Honestly? Did you utilize the month of December to prepare for the GD & PI phase in anticipation of a call? Or did you leave it for after the results?

Vasudha: No, I didn’t utilize December to prepare for the GD & PI phase; but Yes, I did expect to get a good score. I had attempted 29 Questions in Math of which I was sure that I’d got only 1 wrong; and, 23 Questions in Verbal & LR. I had no way of telling whether my Verbal answers were correct or not, but I remember I had answered them with conviction. (Smiles) So, yes, I did expect to get a good score.


I: What was your reaction when the results were out? How special was it really?

Vasudha: (Chuckles) I remember it was the 11th of January 2012. Within 3 hours all the results (percentile scores) were out but the website was slow due to all the traffic. You should remember how excited I was, considering I woke you up at 3:30am to give you the news!

I: (Slaps his forehead) Oh yes! How could I forget! (We share a laugh.)

Vasudha: And, the IIM Calls were out by the 13th.


I: Now that you had between 1 to 2 months for your IIM interviews, what were your new apprehensions?

Vasudha: My biggest fear was Current Affairs. I was not really into Newspapers or awareness based reading. So I really needed to catch up on my General Knowledge. I had exactly a month for my Kozhikode, Lucknow, etc. interviews, while exactly two months for my Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta (Kolkata) interviews. There was very little time and a lot to read about. Moreover, I was still unprepared for Interview Questions; hence, I needed to get to work immediately.


I: How did you tackle these issues? What did you read?

Vasudha: I began to read the Newspapers; if not every day, then on alternate days at least. I read the Manorama, and periodically read magazines such as the Newsweek and Outlook. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on, especially the topics that you told me to read about. And as for GD, PI and Essay Writing, I joined ‘the Atelier’.


I: What is your feedback on The Atelier – Areté’s GD & PI Workshop?

Vasudha: Merits:

  • There was immense emphasis on Introspection. This led to an individualistic approach and personalised answers to Interview Questions.
  • The fact that the workshop was conducted even for a handful of students.
  • The GD inputs and practice sessions were very helpful. I was absolutely clueless about GDs initially.
  • The inputs on Writing Structure.
  • The guest lectures by Mr. Pallav Trivedi, and a few others were very helpful. Especially the one on the various programs, placement opportunities, dual degrees, etc. available at the IIMs. That kind of information is very difficult to find.
  • Individual Attention.
  • It was a diversified batch. There were students preparing for NMIMS, TISS, ISB, MDI, etc.; and everyone’s needs were taken care of.


  • (Chuckles) There weren’t any demerits. Just that I didn’t like the bit where, in a particular lecture, details of the various Salary Packages were discussed. That part got a little boring for me. However, this is just my personal opinion. I know there were others who really liked that part of the discussion.


I: Describe you interviews for us.

Vasudha: Sure, no problem.


IIM – Bangalore Interview:

We were a group of 8 students there on that day. Before our interviews, we were given a 15 minute writing task. We were provided with a single sheet of paper and asked to expound on the topic, “Why aren’t Indians doing so well in International Cricket?”

I was very scared. Cricket isn’t one of my interests. But I stuck to the basic structure of writing and managed a few reasons with famous, contemporary examples to justify why we weren’t doing so well. It was completely random. I wasn’t sure of what I had written, but I was happy to complete it.

I was 2nd in line for Interview. I could tell the competition was tough. It is important to talk to people. I don’t advise anyone to sit quietly in one corner. However, you do meet people who try to scare or ‘psyche’ you, just to rattle your confidence. As important as it is to interact with others, be sure to distance yourself from those who deliberately try to ‘psyche’ you out.

While waiting outside for my turn, we could hear the panel screaming at the first interviewee. The moment he was out, everyone started to ask him what had happened. I didn’t bother, because I believe there’s no point listening to the previous candidate as there’s no time to make any changes. You can’t do anything at that last minute. So why fret about it. I walked in.

It was a 3 member panel: 2 polite and 1 rude persons. It seemed as though the rude person was having a bad day or was in a really bad mood. He kept screaming, and started to use harsh words during my interview. Also, they had my application form and my Statement of Purpose (SOP) in front of them.


Rude Panellist: Why do you want to do an MBA? There are so many successful people in life who’re without an MBA!

I: Sir, I….

(Rude Panellist interrupts)

Rude Panellist: Many people grow with time, with work experience, without doing an MBA! Why do you want to spend so much time and money on this degree?


Every time I opened my mouth to speak, he’d interrupt me. I remained calm, but it soon got a little frustrating. The final time he interrupted me, I just kept on speaking and completed my answer. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I did it. I gave them my answer.


Rude Panellist: Do you know how much you’re about to spend on your degree? Do you know what the fee of this program is?

I: Yes, I think it’s around 14 lakhs.

Rude Panellist: Really? What’s your source?

I: The college website and the internet.


I could tell that they were dissatisfied with my answer from their expressions and tone of voice.

Toward the end, my interview began to mellow down. They asked me about my hobbies and why I wanted to make a career in Music.

In the end, they asked me if I had any question for them.


I: So what is the actual fee?

Rude Panellist: Around 13.8 lakhs! But seems like we should increase the fees because you students are clearly willing to pay more!

I: (Chuckles) Now that I know, I’m not going to pay more!

Interview ended on a happy and mellow note.

(p.s.: I found out much later that the total IIM-B fees amount close to 15 lakhs.)


IIM – Ahmedabad Interview:

The IIM-B interview was the first ‘Big’ interview; and it hit me hard. It was so loud and angry, everyone outside could hear what was going on. I needed to compose myself after it as it had left me numb. IIM-A was much better as I was numb and it worked for me.

There was a 10 minute writing task on the topic, “Media & its social responsibility”. I managed 300 words in 10 minutes (3 paragraphs). Always keep a 3 minute margin for yourself to wind up. Don’t leave the assignment incomplete. [I remember I had left the Shillong essay incomplete. It was my first interview so I thought of it as a practice interview. Similarly, Kozhikode had a 40 minute writing assignment. They provided us with 20 pages to write or draw whatever we wanted on the topic. I’m sorry I can’t remember the topic right now, but I remember I didn’t fill all the pages.]

Moreover, we were supposed to carry with us to the interview a pre-written essay in our downloaded application form. It was a 250 word essay on the topic, “What is the biggest problem India is facing today, and how would you contribute to the solution”.

The Interview was good. Again, I was 2nd in line for the interview. They peacefully asked me to sit (In the IIM-B interview, they intentionally tried to intensify the atmosphere). They asked me about my project in depth. They probed all the way down to the basics. I answered successfully. They assumed I wanted to make a career in Biotech from my profile. I corrected them, saying I was not interested in that field although there was nothing wrong with it.

Then they tested my Math. They asked me questions on Sets, Functions and Relations. I answered them successfully.

They asked me a question on Graph Theory. I told them I had never studied graph theory, hence, unable to answer.

Then they moved on to my extracurricular activities: Music, etc. They were particularly interested in the fact that I was on a delegation to Pakistan. They asked me about the cultural differences between India and Pakistan. I answered all questions successfully.

It was a 30 minute interview, and a polite one at that.


IIM – Calcutta Interview:

I was a little jittery on the day of this interview, but I wasn’t scared.

First up, we had an eleven member Group Discussion on the topic, “It is still harder for women to climb high up the corporate ladder at higher positions”. The GD lasted for 15 minutes. I wasn’t able to start the discussion. It was really crowded and with a few, very polished speakers. I could tell they were better than me. Although I did speak 4 or 5 times, their presence was felt more. So it was an average performance.

This time I was 2nd last for the interview. It was a short interview. The interviewers asked me random questions. It felt as though they wanted to chat with us. They asked me about my hobbies and extracurricular activities. They asked me about my interest in Music and even asked me to sing a song for them. I sang ‘Rolling in the deep’ by Adele.

They asked me which newspapers I read, and asked me about the differences between them.

The Railway Budget was out that very day itself, and I had made it a point to go through it before the interview. As expected, they asked me questions about the budget, to which I answered successfully.

There were no ‘technical’ questions on academics.

These were my experiences at the IIM – A, B & C interviews!




I: Finally, what were the costs you incurred during your CAT preparation?


  • Tuition at Areté: Rs. 12,000/- (without study material)
  • CAT Form: Rs. 1500/-
  • Test Series:
    • Time: Rs. 1500/-
    • CL: Rs. 3000/-
  • Travel Expenses during Interviews based on actual.

Grand Total: Rs. 18,000/- approximately.




In conclusion, I’d like to thank Vasudha on behalf of the entire Areté community and our subscribers for sharing with us those valuable insights. We wish her all the best for her future; and hope to have her in our midst again in the near future!


Thank you.






5 Responses to “The Journey from IIT Roorkee to IIM Ahmedabad: A Personal Account”

  1. Amazing Interview….
    Rather inspiring I must say 🙂

    Posted by Yash Gupta | June 24, 2012, 1:58 pm
  2. Really helpful interview. Very well transcribed and pretty exhaustive. Thank you for this!

    Posted by Saarthak Puri | June 24, 2012, 2:46 pm
  3. its good to see one more IITR student at IIMA, hope you will follow ur passion, and integrate music and business.

    Posted by Vikas Ranga | June 24, 2012, 5:17 pm
  4. Its always nice to read experiences. Thank you!

    Posted by Pawan seerwani | June 25, 2012, 5:00 am
  5. Nice. Great Interview !!

    Posted by Harpreet Monga | June 25, 2012, 7:17 am

Post a comment