Journey of my failure and what I learnt from it

Have you ever felt completely frustrated and aggravated so you feel like just completely giving up and bailing out on the idea of being successful at what you do?

I sure did. Many times.

There were times where I would check my mock test results and be in tears saying to myself, “Why I am not getting success? What’s wrong with me? How come my friends and everyone around me are making a killing in their mocks and why not me ? ”

My first few attempts at CAT were a complete disaster and utter failure.

Just thinking about it makes me feel sick to my stomach.  Even as I write this, those feelings come back.

During the worst of my struggles, I kept thinking about my options.

1.  I could go back and get admission into some decent MBA College and simply give up on the idea of cracking CAT and deal with the fact that I can’t get calls from IIMs


2.  I could hang in there, continue to work on my speed, knowledge & keep moving forward and continue to seek out answers.

I chose option 2 obviously.  Otherwise, I would be sitting at a desk in some mediocre B-school staring out the window regretting the fact that I gave up on my dream.

During my journey of failure, I learnt a lot of valuable lessons.

Some of them I will remember lifelong. You will learn them as you go along with me.

So let’s start by taking baby steps towards my CAT journey.

I gave CAT for three times and I don’t hate to admit that.

Many people crack IIM code in their first attempt. I couldn’t do it. First time, I gave CAT when I was in my final year, I scored meager 91.xx %ile in my first attempt. It was major failure for me at that moment.

Second time when I gave CAT, I quit my job to devote full attention to it. I studied full time, attended all mock tests and scoring well in them. I was consistently getting very high percentiles in those tests except for a few tests.

But when I actually gave CAT, my results had something else to say. I was devastated. I got very less %ile ( I got 83.xx %ile) I was shocked to see the results. Many of my friends who gave CAT for the first time, had even scored more than me. I felt really humiliated.

I felt like a real loser , like in capital letter “L”

But I had persistence of Saddam Hussein.

In fact I even went through a dry spell where I was constantly humiliated ,embarrassed by many if not the most. I couldn’t answer them why I actually failed and what I am going to do.

I remember, hearing suggestions from people who became overnight advocates on how to crack CAT and you meet such people especially when you are down.

So I devised all kind of elaborate mechanisms to avoid the topic of my disastrous results that most MBA aspirants would never think of , let alone try.

At that point, all I wanted to do was to quit.

My greatest fear was that the next person meeting me would ask me what happened with your CAT.

The support my father put up with during that phase of my life was inestimable.

He became moral support to me while I chewed through concrete and nails, trying to make sure live up to the standard the next time.

I labored under a burden of inner agony, maddening frustration and desperation. Sometimes, I wondered to myself how anybody could possibly explain or justify such a long, uninterrupted string of failure.

Despite that I decided that I am going to give CAT one more time, probably last time.

When I decided to appear for CAT again in 2011, I can’t tell you how many people who were not even worthy of giving advice told me to give up and some of them were actually right which I realize now.

Did that hit me like a ton of bricks ?

No, not at that time.

Actually it slowly melted its way down through my mind like a hot steel metal block on a frozen lake.

But I decided to give CAT anyways.

I didn’t really get time to study this time so I studied only for last 6-7 days.

I didn’t give any mocks, I didn’t apply to any college and I was damn sure that I am not going to get call from a single institute.

On the day of the exam, I was much more relaxed than everybody else at the center as if I knew the outcome.

That outcome was “I am surely going to fail.Why to worry?

I gave CAT with absolutely no expectations. I came out of the hall. I didn’t discuss it with anybody.

I was a little bit anxious on the D-day, because many of my friends also gave it, they also knew that I had given it too so I was afraid of what result might come out and eventually results were declared. I called up my very close friend to ask him how much he got , I was very astonished yet pleased to hear what he had to say. He got 99.8%ile.

You can read his entire story here.

I readily rolled up my sleeves and checked my results which I was hesitating for so long to see.As I was putting  my details on the website, I was feeling rush of excitement through my whole body,anxiety spreading its legs through my chest ,my palms started to sweat,I started breathing heavily and as soon as I saw my results, I almost got mini heart attack.







I couldn’t believe my eyes. I checked the credentials again.It was the same person.I really checked it more than a couple of times and then I screamed.

I got 98.47%ile.

The rest is not history as they say.

I got calls from 5 new IIMs, I could have got calls from all those institutes I applied for an year ago with this %ile but that wasn’t applicable at that point.

I was on the cloud 9.

I am not saying this to brag but at least I got a chance to prove I was not worthless.

I didn’t study really seriously for my GD/PI.

So I couldn’t convert a single call.

BTW that was not very important for me at that stage but what was more important to me was what I faced in the period of my failure to the point where I got a little bit of success.

For some of you, it may not be a great achievement but for me it’s one of the greatest.

Now why I am sharing all these things. Not to impress you but to impress upon you.Believe me I’m sharing it because I hope it’ll encourage you to press on and chase after your own dreams. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I wanted to give up.  The number of times I felt I wasn’t “cut out” for CAT.  Thinking that I could never create the kind of success my peers had created.

I didn’t quit because I knew for me, “failure was not an option.”

I did this not because I am more smarter,intelligent than anybody but I was willing to stay the course and continue to seek out answers.

Don’t quit.  It’s worth it.  Stay.  You may very well be right there. In the toughest of times, that is when you hunker down and stay focused.  Push through.  Stick to your plan.


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Sukrut is a passionate geek, internet visionary and a full time blogger, he has been teaching MBA students from the past two years, he is a chemical engineer by qualification,. Read my full story here




  1. rohit says

    Good article. But I feel at times one has to learn to let go. Obsessing over 1 dream does more harm than good. I got calls from IIMs in my second attempt but not from the top 4. In today’s scenario institutes like FMS, XLRI, MDI are also good logical choices. Having a plan B is not a compromise instead it is smartness. Each program is suitable to you at a certain point in life. For e.g After 10 years of work experience even PGP from IIM A may not yield you desired returns.(exceptions are always there). After a while other options like global mba, PGP EX courses are also worth considering.
    Obsessing about a dream for too long will only lead to being sucked in a quicksand of frustration and self-doubt. Unless you let go of a dream you will never truly move on.
    P.S This post does not intend to hurt sentiments of any person. It is to just present any alternate view.

  2. says

    well yes, true. obsession will nevr help, it will only hurt.
    you need to let go and start working on another idea, another project.
    the sooner you realize this, the better for you.

  3. Shivam Goel says

    Great article Sukrut. Success and failure depends on your luck also(specially in CAT). God is not so kind to everyone. You have won thousands of hearts through this article. This article brought me down to tears and has really inspired me.

  4. Eesha Khobragade says

    It seems to be my story, i gave my two years sitting at home and study.

    Still this year my attempts arent sufficent enough to clear cat. I am moved by your story

    But now i am going to get a job and give cat next year.

    Well said, failure is not an option.

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