process

A message for CAT 2021 aspirants!

By CAT Preparation, Get Inspired, The Beginner's guide No Comments

The last few days have been a bit disturbing. I have been witnessing many promising CAT 2020 aspirants whose dreams have apparently been shattered after this horrendous exam. Some of them even left their job to prepare for this exam, and now, they are left with utter disappointment. For a few, the stakes were so high that the emotions got the better of them during the exam, and upon seeing the dreadful VARC and LRDI, they fainted in the exam hall itself. It really feels bad. I feel all my words would sound hollow to them at this point. They are down in the dumps, and I don’t know if any motivation would make them feel less miserable, at least for the next few days.


For the last couple of days, I have been thinking as to why things would have gone this way for all these folks. And I could think of the following reason.

Many aspirants prepare with too much expectation. They forget that the success rate is around 2% only. Still, we put everything at stake for this one exam. I feel it is not a great idea, given the uncertainty involved in this exam. No matter if you are repetitively hitting the 98–99%ile bar in the mocks, this exam can still surprise you a great deal. So this mindset that cat is the ultimate aim, or it is the end of life, is not a great idea. It only makes you more nervous on D-day, and that keeps you from unleashing your full potential in those 2/3 hours.

The other thing is that many aspirants want to crack this exam in their first attempt, no matter what. It only burdens them with more pressure. Whether we like it or not, but the fact is that this exam gives you no guarantee. There is no guarantee at all. So, be mentally prepared for a setback. You might need multiple attempts to get through this exam. So, don’t fear failure or a setback. It should make you feel temporarily bad at best. You should move on after a few bad days. The result of this one exam should not leave you depressed for months and years with loads of guilt.

So, a better mindset would be to focus on the process than the result. My experience says that preparing for CAT can help you in many ways. It is one of the toughest non-technical exams in India. If you prepare for it seriously, you can easily crack one or the other non-technical exams. This preparation can really open many doors for you. Besides, this preparation makes you mentally stronger and teaches you the importance of patience, persistence, and perseverance, which is very important to become successful in all walks of life. Lastly, it makes you a more compassionate and better human being. Maybe, for this reason, they say that the journey looks more beautiful than the destination. And I can tell you that one honest preparation for this exam will elevate you in your life in some way or the other.

All that being said, prepare for this exam with more focus on the process – that juggling of work and study, that following a schedule, managing ebbs and flows in the journey, and inspiring yourself to keep going when you feel like giving up. This will surely inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.

process

My final words:

Please, dear aspirants, do not put all your eggs in one basket, and especially the working professionals, please do not quit your job for this exam. If you are feeling miserable at your job, change it, but do not quit and prepare for CAT alone. Always have a plan-b because an exam like CAT seriously needs that. Take risks but the calculated ones.


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?
A letter that matters: To the cat 2020 aspirants

A Letter That Matters: To the CAT 2020 Aspirants

By CAT Preparation, Get Inspired One Comment

Dear aspirants,

With the CAT exam being around the corner, I know how you would be feeling – fairly nervous and a little afraid. I feel you. I have been in your shoes. Having been in touch with you all this while, I know most of you have truly burned the midnight oil, I know you have grappled hard with all the three sections, and have done all you could have done.

A letter that matters: To the cat 2020 aspirants

I understand your anxiety and overwhelming emotions at this point. I understand your fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the possibility of getting stuck in the job that has been sapping you mentally and emotionally. I understand your fear of instability. Fear of joblessness and being called a black sheep of the family. Fear of others calling you mediocre. I understand it all. I have been through all.

In November 2017, I had been going through the same state of mind, and then, on November 21, I scribbled one note in my diary that I am sharing below.

 

November 21, 2017 | 12:30 AM

So, with D-Day just five days away, here I am,

in the last leg of a scintillating endeavor.

Not so nervous, but yes, a bit afraid. Fear of failure, you know. But I am ok with it. I know how much hard work I have put in, and I completely back myself no matter what the results will be.

In the first place itself, I told myself what is more important is the process, not the results. And I can contend that I have succeeded. In the first place, I promised myself that I won’t give up midway. I promised myself that I would embrace everything that comes my way. I promised myself that I would take everything in my stride. And to this day, I have been successful. So, whatever destiny has in store for me, I am ready to embrace it.

As I look back today, I can see a complete turnaround in me as a person. This is what I took the challenge for. What this pursuit has made of me is truly satisfying. My Heart knows what all I have been through in the last year, and I feel it was all so damn worth it.

6 AM to 11 PM! Work and study! For days and months!

I have truly savored this year-long odyssey; a transformational journey of patience and persistence.

Have witnessed failure. Have cried. Have witnessed excellence. Have smiled. Have witnessed unwavering patience. Have realized strength. The strength to endure. The strength to wait.

Now it’s time to hold my head high, keep my chin up, and walk with impunity because I have done all I could have done. No regrets. My results won’t define me, but my effort does. Period.

Do you know why I have shared it?

Because I want to tell you that the result of one exam does not define you but your effort does. This whole process is more important than the end result.

Do you know why?

It is because this effort, this transformational journey, and the whole process shape your character. It is more important than the CAT result because the CAT exam is just a means, not the end. But this process makes you stronger and wiser. It teaches you the value of patience, persistence, and perseverance. And these traits will help you achieve your goals eventually. Once you learn to be honest with your efforts, you will be better off in your life eventually.

And so, I want to tell you –

It is okay even if you don’t get the desired result this time. Don’t be too harsh on yourself by judging yourself by a single result. Be kind to yourself and keep learning. Don’t fear failure because there is no failure in life. There are only setbacks that give you experiences and learnings. These setbacks only make us wiser and stronger. We learn more from setbacks than from success. Failure is powerful. It has the power to inspire us and transform us from within that is imperative to make difference. Every single disappointment and setback can be a fierce source of inspiration. So, embrace failure because in doing so, we will no longer fear it.

In fact, we should look at setbacks differently. A setback is good. It makes our success even sweeter.

After all, what would you cherish in retrospection if you don’t come through any friction?

In my life so far, I have learned more from setbacks and disappointments than from anything else. I fail. I feel bad, and I move on. And I think that’s the way it should be.

My final words:

All that being said, I want you to have a positive mindset. Focus on giving your best on D-day. Do not think about the result and the what-ifs that follow. I tried doing that, and so, despite never crossing 120 marks in mocks, I scored 158 marks in the CAT exam. So, focus. Those three hours, if spent with full focus and a positive attitude with your heart in the right direction, can be a gamechanger because hard work never goes in vain. In some way or the other, it pays off. Hard work works. Period.


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

cat exam pattern change 2

The CAT pattern has changed! – How will it impact the test-takers?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

The year 2020 is leaving no stone unturned in wreaking havoc in people’s lives. The news regarding the change in the pattern of the CAT exam is yet another instance of it.

cat pattern change 1

Ever since this notification is out, I have been getting messages from many aspirants as to how it will affect the aspirants. Many aspirants feel that just like NMAT, CAT has also been reduced to a game of speed. Some think that there is no use of taking the mocks now.

So, how this change in pattern can affect your preparation and chances of acing the exam?

To understand this, we will look into the three points.

  1. The impact of the change in duration on the question paper
  2. Advantages of the pattern change
  3. Disadvantages of the pattern change

The impact of the change in duration on the question paper:

As per the notification,

  1. The exam duration has been reduced to two hours from three hours.
  2. Each section’s duration has been reduced to 40 minutes from 60 minutes.

Now that the duration of the exam is reduced, I think the number of questions will also be reduced proportionate (though this is just conjecture). So, the total number of questions will be reduced to around 70. We can have any of the following section-wise counts of questions.

  • In VARC, there can be 4 RCs of 4 questions each, and 8 VA questions.
  • In LRDI, you might come across 5 or 6 sets of 4 questions each.

Advantages of the pattern change:

  • The biggest advantage will be the retention of energy. I have seen almost every aspirant complaining about the mental fatigue they go through because of the 3-hour long duration of the CAT mock. Many of you tell that you feel completely exhausted by the time you reach the quant section. With this change in pattern, I think you won’t feel the fatigue anymore and will be able to concentrate well for two hours.
  • Another advantage is the time spent on the mock analysis. In my previous answers, I have said that if one takes a mock for three hours, one should spend 5-6 hours in analyzing it. It was taxing, no? Now that the duration of the exam is reduced, and hopefully, the number of questions will also be reduced, you can analyze the mock in 3-4 hours. It can be a big relief for working professionals who struggle hard to steal time from their busy work hours.
  • Those who have just started taking mocks may find it easy to get used to the new pattern because they do not have to unlearn the previous style of taking the mocks. I am assuming that the coaching institutes will change the mock pattern accordingly ASAP.

Disadvantages of the pattern change:

  • The only disadvantage that I can think of is inertia. By now, aspirants have got used to this 3-hour pattern. They might not be able to adapt to this sudden change and get anxious.

My views on some of the narratives:

The CAT exam is all about speed now:

I don’t think so. With the change in duration, there is a very high possibility in the proportionate reduction of the number of questions as well. So, the strategy of the aspirants should not change.

Mocks are of no use now:

No, they are of utmost importance. I think the coaching institutes will change the pattern of their mocks as per the new pattern of the CAT exam. So, the mocks will help you get used to the new pattern of the CAT exam, which is very important.

Final words:

Image Source: Google

Don’t panic. The change in the exam pattern does not mean that you have to change your strategy. You don’t have to. Follow what you have been following till now. The only thing that can stress you now is the adaptability. Just try to get used to this new pattern. And business is also about adapting to the myriad changes, no?

So, just try to adapt yourself to this change and keep going.


Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?
  10. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

Revision Diary

Revision diary – The friend in need!

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

Backdrop:

In my preparation days, when I covered any topic, say, SICI, I would feel very confident in it. It felt great when I was able to solve some typical questions also because my mind was fully engrossed with the concepts of that topic. However, after a few days, if a question from that topic popped up in any mock or peer-learning group, I would struggle to solve up. More often than not, I would not be able to recall it. That’s when I felt the need to have a learning diary/revision diary.

So, I made a learning diary and noted down the following, especially for each topic of Quant.

What should be there in the revision diary?

Formulas:

For each topic of the quant section, I noted down all the important formulas and went through those every now and then. While solving any question in the peer-learning group, if I got stuck because of the formula, I would quickly resort to my learning diary. It helped me reinforce the formula in my memory.

Important/Typical questions/concepts:

Some concepts are hard to grasp, no?

Yes, there are a few concepts for which we don’t get the logical approach most of the time. So, I noted down such concepts topic wise in my learning diary. I made it a point that I would revise them once a week so that I can retain those concepts. And it helped me immensely.

Read: Why are my mock scores not improving?

Digital Revision Diary:

Besides the learning diary, I also made word files for each topic in which I saved the important/typical questions from the mock tests. I also revised those questions from time to time. It helped me retain important concepts in my mind.

Advantage of the Revision diary:

  • You don’t have to solve all the questions on any topic again and again. You can just go through the formulas and typical questions to recall the whole chapter. And to be honest, you can’t afford solving TIME material for all the topics again in September.
  • It saves a lot of time that may be wasted in searching for a specific formula or topic.
  • The learning diary can enable you to revise the whole Quant section in a few hours.
  • Most importantly, you won’t panic feeling that you have forgotten everything that you learned.

LRDI & VA:

For LRDI and Verbal, I mainly had the typical questions/topics saved in the MS word file.

Conclusion:

To conclude this post, I request all the aspirants, especially those who say that they forget the concepts after some time, make a learning diary, and keep revising the concepts from time to time.

Isse “Aage Paath Piche Sapaat” nahin hoga 😛

One Pro Tip:

Be active in Facebook Peer-Learning groups. In these groups, doubt questions from all the topics are posted. So, you can solve the mixed problems. It will flex your brain muscles and help you remember the concepts of all the chapters simultaneously.


Read: CAT preparation strategy for the last four months


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
CAT Coaching

When should I join CAT coaching?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

The decision of joining CAT coaching is a subjective one. The answer to this can vary from person to person.

But yes, from my experience, I can tell you a few steps that you should follow to decide for yourself.

CAT Coaching

Don’t jump the gun:

Oftentimes, aspirants just get swayed by the success stories of the CAT exam and the whopping packages of the IIM students. And so, they decide to prepare for the CAT exam without even knowing what it is all about. Consequently, all they look for is coaching to join so that they can succeed in this exam. Do you really think that any coaching can guarantee you success? If yes, you are living in a fool’s paradise. Coaching is just an aid. You will have to go through the pain of preparation on your own. So, if you get fascinated by the idea of the CAT exam, first research about it on various platforms like Google and Quora. Know the following.

  1. Eligibility Criteria
  2. Syllabus
  3. Various IIMs

Start taking baby steps:

Once you learn about the CAT exam and its syllabus, arrange the study material of any coaching institute and start taking baby steps. Start practising Quant, LRDI, and VARC a bit daily. Understand your comfort level with all the sections of the CAT exam. Do it for at least a month.

Take a decision for yourself:

If you are able to understand questions and solutions and if you are able to cover topics on your own, you may not need any professional coaching. In this era of online education, you can learn everything online for free. Use various CAT preparation groups on Facebook and Youtube and learn the concepts. However, if you feel completely stuck and have no idea how to learn, you may require coaching.

If I talk about myself, after preparing for the CAT exam, I don’t think the CAT exam requires any coaching. The syllabus is till class 10 and one can do it on his own. All that needed is patience, persistence, and perseverance. However, self-motivation and a reason to prepare is a must to keep going without the aid of any coaching. Otherwise, you may derail from your preparation.

In a nutshell,

Do not join any coaching without doing self-assessment for at least a month.


Read: Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
loan

All you need to know about the education loan for IIM

By CAT Preparation, Uncategorized No Comments

In the last few months, aspirants have repeatedly asked me various questions on Quora about the education loan for IIM, what is the procedure to avail the loan, what are the documents required, and many other related queries. So, in this article, I am going to answer all these common queries. Read on to get answers to all your loan-related queries. If any query remains unanswered, post it in the comment below. I will try to answer that, as well.

loan


FAQs:

Who can get the education loan for IIM?

Anyone who has the admit card of an IIM can get the loan.

Does family income matter in availing of the loan?

No, family income does not matter. The poorest of the poor can also avail of the loan if he/she has got admission to the IIM.

Is collateral required to avail of the loan?

No, collateral is not required to avail for the IIM students.

Can we get a loan for personal expenses, accommodation, and the student exchange program also?

Yes. The MBA program of IIMs is a residential program in which they provide you accommodation. So, accommodation charges are already included in your fees. Coming to personal expenses, all the banks offer you a sufficient amount for personal expenses as well. They also provide you with the loan for the student exchange program, if required.

What is the maximum amount that one can avail of as the loan?

In tier-1 colleges like IIM A, B, C, loan up to 40 lacs can be availed (Fee is around 25 lacs). In second-gen IIMs, loan up to 20 lacs can be availed (Fee is around 18 lacs).

What is the process to avail the loan at IIMs?

It is easy and hassle-free. During the admission time, the bank representatives of various banks invite you to take the loan from their banks by sharing details about them on PagalGuy. Alternatively, you can search for the IIM branch on Google and get the contact number. All you need to do is connect with the bank personnel. They will let you know everything.

What are the documents required to avail of the loan?

In the following screenshot, I am sharing a list of documents that are usually required. You just need to scan your documents and mail them to the bank manager.

Read: IIM Average Package – Old Vs New

How long does it take to get the loan sanctioned?

It can be done in as early as a day. To be on the safer side, you may consider three working days to get the loan sanctioned.

Can we pay the first term fee also through the loan?

Yes, you can, but for the first time, your physical presence may be required in the bank. So, it is better if you arrange your first term fee on your own. It can be reimbursed by the bank if you want to take a loan for that also. But initially, it is safe to pay the fee of term-1 on your own.

Can we take the loan only for a few terms instead of taking it for all the terms?

Yes, you can.

How is interest charged for the loan?

The bank charges simple interest until you complete your MBA. After completing the MBA, the bank gives you a moratorium period of 6 months or a year during which also, only the simple interest is levied. After the moratorium period, the interest gets compounded.

How long does it take to repay the loan?

Note: This answer is based on my experience from interaction with some of the IIM students, and all the figures are just an assumption.

Read: What is the difference between old IIMs and new IIMs?

It varies from person to person. On average, the students repay the loan in 3 to 5 years. The monthly instalment may vary from 20k to 50k depending on your salary, which will be generally 70k+ in-hand. Sometimes students also pay lump sum amounts (for example, two lacs in one instalment) to reduce the duration of their loan repayment. You can change your monthly instalment at any point in time.


My final words:

Do not worry about the education loan for IIM. Once you have the admit card of an IIM, banks will run after you to offer you the loan. So, focus on getting a scintillating CAT score and making it to an IIM. I have never seen anyone letting go of their IIM dream just because of the expenses.

All the best!


Read: How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?


Related Articles:

  1. How Is IIM Trichy?

  2. Which Is Better – IIM Ranchi Or IIM Trichy?

  3. IIM Average Package – Old Vs New

  4. What is the difference between old IIMs and new IIMs?

  5. It’s Not All Rosy Inside An IIM

  6. How Should I Prepare For The MBA Summer Internship Process?

  7. How should an IIM student spend his two years of life?

mock

Why are my mock scores not improving?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

I interact with many aspirants these days. Since we are in the last leg of the CAT 2020 preparation, aspirants are very much into taking the mocks. Having said that, I get to hear the following statements almost every day.

  1. I have prepared all the topics, but I fail to solve the questions from those topics in mocks.
  2. I feel so much pressure in mocks that I can’t even answer the easy questions.

It happened with me also. It might be happening with you too.

Why does this happen?

From my experience, there are two reasons for these problems.

  1. You have mostly solved questions topic wise, and hence your mind has been trained to solve problems from one topic only at a time. When random problems from different topics are thrown at you, you fail to quickly identify the concept that should be applied to solve that question.
  2. Your question selection is wrong, and so you manage to solve very fewer questions in the first half of the section. It gets you under pressure, and so you fail to answer even the easy questions.

How can you get around this problem?

Practise Mixed Sums:

Let me share an anecdote to bring home the importance of practising mixed sums.

My mother is learning driving Scotty these days. Every day I accompany her for driving. We go to an empty ground, I sit behind her, and she drives. Now, after a few days, she has become comfortable driving on that ground. It is because she drives on the same empty ground every day. However, one day, a few children were playing on the field. So I asked her to drive at the periphery of the ground. She agreed and started driving. But she was not comfortable that day because every now and then, some children would cross her way, and she is not used to driving in traffic. Her brain is not trained to handle the traffic yet. This is why she feels uncomfortable.

In the same way, when you practise the sums topic wise, your mind gets used to using the same set of concepts in every question, but in mocks, questions come from a variety of concepts (similar to the various children crossing my mother’s way), and you start feeling uncomfortable.

So, practising mixed sums from various topics simultaneously will help you stretch your brain muscles, and that will help you handle questions from different topics in the mock exam. You will be able to think about different concepts at the same time, and that will help you solve problems in mocks. It might feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning but you will get used to it in some time.

I hope you got my point.

For practising mixed sums, you can resort to the peer-learning groups. In such groups, aspirants post their doubt questions from various topics. You can solve those and help them as well as yourself. Based on many requests, I have created a peer-learning group. You can join it and start engaging.

Join peer-learning group

Learn the art of leaving questions:

It is very important. In the CAT exam, the strategy is as important as knowledge. You need to act smart and manifest the presence of mind in the mocks. Don’t fall in love with questions. Pick the easy questions first and solve them.

Let me give you an example.

In the Quant section, you started with solving the first question. In the first question itself, you got stuck. You feel you can solve it, and so, you didn’t move on. You spent 4 minutes on that question and solved it eventually. It happened a few more times in the first half an hour. At the end of the first half of the section, you are at the 9th question. Won’t you panic then? You would. You get under pressure, and so eventually, you solve 18 problems with an accuracy of 66.67%. You end up scoring 30 marks. Upon analyzing the section, you manage to answer 27 questions correctly. Why?

  1. No time limits.
  2. You realize you left easy questions and attempted the tough questions, and among those also, you got some answers wrong.

Consider another aspirant.

In the same quant section, he spent 5 minutes in going through all the 34 questions, noted down the question number of very easy questions. After five minutes, he found eight questions very easy. He solved them in the next 10 minutes. So, in 15 minutes, he could answer eight questions. He continued this way and attempted 27 questions with around 90% accuracy. He scored around 70 marks.

I hope you realize how a little change in strategy can improve your score significantly. So, learn the art of leaving the tough questions, and start picking easy questions first in the mock exams. It will help you keep any pressure at bay, which, in turn, will help you concentrate more on the questions, and this will improve your overall performance.

Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

My final words:

If you are scoring around 80 marks in the mocks, you need to work on your strategy more than your knowledge. The problem is more with your strategy and approach to the mock than your knowledge. Fix it.

Work on the process, the results will follow.


Read: Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

life is not rosy

What is the harsh truth about the CAT exam?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

Let me share a letter that I wrote on May 7, 2018!

life is not rosy

“It’s been a long wait. A tad too long. People say that I have a lot of patience. Deep down, I also feel so. But sometimes, enough is just not enough. Right now, I am broken. Completely shattered and down in the dumps. Despite giving everything I had in me, all I have got is a disappointment. Just disappointment. It seems that the sheer hard work of the one year reduced to nothing. Was my everything not enough? Maybe.

Results have been coming out every week and time and again I am getting failed and that too after a stupendous performance in the written exam. What is more saddening is that I don’t even know the reason for my failure. I gave my 100% throughout the selection process, be it Written exam, WAT, GD or PI. I left no stone unturned. Literally. But the results reveal a different story. It does not make much sense to me.

Life is so unpredictable. Never did I think after my written exam result that I would be reduced to this low. Tragic it is. At this point in my life, I see no light. Maybe things will be a lot better by the end of June when everything gets cleared, but right now, I can’t help myself getting around this feeling of being helpless. I have been carrying so much baggage for quite some time now. It’s not getting better. I have been optimistic all this while but fate! I don’t know what destiny wants to make out of me. Honestly, I want to give up now because I can’t keep dragging myself any further. It is really tough. Right now, I want to wallow in pain. Maybe that would help me shed some of my baggage.

I want to talk a lot, but I don’t speak much, and that’s why I write. For me, writing is a solace, and so, I bleed on paper because I don’t want to aggravate my pain.

It is getting tough for me. To wait over and over again. I can’t sit at home and do nothing but right now, that’s the only thing I am doing, though unwittingly.

To be honest, I have no idea where I am heading. I have no idea where I will be in the coming months. And this uncertainty is killing me, killing me badly. I want to try different things but I am just not able to focus on anything. And right now, I don’t want anyone harping positive words on me. I want someone to sit beside me and feel this pain, this anxiety. I want someone to get into my shoes. No more drama. Just reality. Yes, it is painful, and I want to feel this pain, and want someone to say yes, it’s painful. You are feeling it. I am feeling it.”


So, what is the dark secret of the CAT exam?

The dark secret is that it is damn unpredictable – The whole process, be it the written exam, WAT, GDPI, or the waitlist movement! You can never be really sure of what may happen in any particular year, and as a result, this unpredictability, uncertainty can sometimes reduce people to a tragic low because it really takes a lot of sweat to get through this exam and the process that follows.

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


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

How should I justify the gap in a b-school interview?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

This is one of the frequently asked questions. I have seen many aspirants worrying about the gap in their interviews. They often ask me what they should do about it. So, I thought of sharing my thoughts about it.

Many aspirants feel that they can cover up their gap by doing some certifications or working with some NGOs. I think this is not a thumb rule. While these pursuits can be helpful, they are not always beneficial.

So, coming to the main point, I think that there is no direct answer to this question as this question is subjective. The answer to this depends on the individual and his circumstances.

Asking the following question might help you decide if you should go for any certifications.

“Do I have enough time for juggling my CAT preparation and certification/NGO work?”

A short story:

Let me share one instance with you to explain why I want you to consider the above question.

One aspirant messaged me yesterday and asked if he should do some certification to cover up his gap. I asked him how his CAT preparation is going.

He replied, “I am done with the 70% syllabus and taking mocks. In mocks, I am scoring around 80-90 marks.” Mind you, this is August, and he has neither completed his syllabus nor scoring 95+ percentile in mocks.”

I asked him if his certification would be of any use if he does not get an interview call. The answer was an obvious no.

That’s what my point is. You will have to worry about covering up your gap only if you get an interview call from any b-school. And for that, you need a good percentile first.

I conveyed him the same and asked him to focus only on CAT preparation at the moment.

Having said that, I am not saying that you should not do these certifications and the likes to cover up the gap, but you should not do it at the cost of your CAT preparation. Do this when you have enough time left for the CAT exam, and your preparation is on a smooth path.

Make a note of the following point.

“CAT percentile can compensate for the gap in your resume, but nothing is of any use if you don’t have enough percentile on your CAT scorecard to get a call from the b-school.”

Now, you may ask, then

justify gap

How should I justify the gap?

As said above, it is subjective, but I can give you a framework that you can apply to come up with one answer to this question.

That framework called CARL. It is context, action, result, learning.

You can use it to justify a gap year in an IIM interview.

  1. Context: Why did you take a drop?
  2. Action: What did you do in the drop year?
  3. Result: What have you earned out of the drop year?
  4. Learning: What has been your learning from this experience?

Let me elucidate this.

I reached out to one of my colleagues who made it to IIM Trichy after dedicating a few years to UPSC preparation. I asked him two questions. Those questions along with his answers to them are mentioned below.

How did you justify your gap in the CAP interview?

“You don’t justify the gap. You accept that there is a gap. Over the years, many UPSC aspirants have taken the MBA path. They are there in both old and new. In fact, in old you will find more. All had gaps. So interviewers know that. UPSC aspirant means there will be a gap.”

What were the questions regarding your UPSC preparation?

  1. “What subjects did I take?
  2. Till what level did I reach in the exam?
  3. What did not work?
  4. Why MBA after UPSC?

More detailed discussion on ongoing topics as it is presumed that UPSC aspirant is far more aware than any other B.Tech or the MBA candidate, so they like to have discussions sometimes. I worked for the UPSC industry so they asked me within that too. Besides, sometimes they push/grill candidates to go back to UPSC and try once more instead of going for an MBA. So, you got to justify your decision with conviction.”

From his answers, I can feel the following things.

  1. Context: He had taken a drop for UPSC preparation. It is acceptable (in my opinion).
  2. Action: He had prepared for CIVIL services exam
  3. Result: He gained a lot of knowledge that he leveraged during his interview.
  4. Learnings: Whatever you do, you should know about it. You should be able to justify your gap with conviction.

Final Words:

I hope you found this answer useful. So, don’t fret too much about the gap now. Focus on your CAT preparation and bag a scintillating percentile. Once the CAT result is announced, you get around one month to prepare for the WAT PI round. During this period, you can introspect. You can also join WAT PI preparation classes to get help from experienced professionals to find answers to all the questions related to WAT PI.

All the best!


Read: Is Work Experience A Must To Get Admission Into An IIM?


Related Articles:

  1. Should I Quit My Job And Take A Drop For The CAT Exam?

  2. When Should A Working Professional Join An MBA Program?
  3. Is Doing MBA From IIMs Really Worth It?

extra-curricular

Is the extra-curricular activity a must to get admission in an IIM?

By CAT Preparation, Interview Experience No Comments

This one question unnerved me for quite a while during my CAT preparation. Every now and then, I got worried thinking about my average profile.

And today, I get this query almost every day from the aspirants. So I feel I need to share my views on this topic based on my experience in the last three years.

There is a lot of hype around this topic. Most of the aspirants think that if they haven’t done anything extraordinary in their life, they do not stand a chance to get into an IIM.

Really?

Do you really think that all the students who study in IIMs have great extra-curricular achievements to their names?

If you think so, you are utterly wrong. Ask it to anyone who has been a student in an IIM, they would agree with my point. I think you have such a perception because you might not be knowing many IIM students with an average profile. You might not have interacted with them yet. The ones you have seen and interacted with are the people who have these feathers in their CAP.

But having studied in an IIM and interacted with students from other IIMs, let me share my experience with you.

extra-curricular

The Ground Reality:

I know many IIM students who are nerds. Majority of the IIM students have not bagged any national award. I know many IIM students who have not been at any leadership position. Yes, many such students do not have any extra-curricular activity in their resume.

Still, they made it to an IIM!

How?

Let me try to explain it to you.

Components of the Admission Criteria:

If you carefully look at the admission criteria of the top b-schools, they do not award marks for extra-curricular activities explicitly. The admission criteria of the b-schools generally give weight to the following components.

  1. CAT score
  2. Academic score
  3. Work experience
  4. Academic diversity
  5. Gender diversity

Now you may ask –

When there is no direct weight for extra-curricular activity, why is it considered important for admission in an IIM?

It is because extra-curricular activities allow you to differentiate yourself from others in an interview. Extra-curricular activities give you a topic to talk about in an interview. You can leave a lasting impression with the help of your extra-curricular activities.

So, the main point is – Differentiation!

  1. How do you differentiate yourself from others?
  2. How do you stand apart from the crowd?
  3. What is it that you have and others don’t have?
  4. Why should they induct you when they have thousands of other potential candidates?

I hope you are getting what I am trying to convey.

You need to differentiate yourself from others in the interview. Extra-curricular activity is a great way of doing that, but it is not the only way. You can differentiate yourself in many other ways also.

  1. You can talk about your extraordinary academic records.
  2. Some substantial project that you undertook in office.
  3. Any extraordinary achievement in your office work.
  4. You can talk about your other interests in which you have gained proficiency.

Conclusion:

All that being said, I would advise you not fret too much just because you have not gone the extra mile concerning your extra-curricular activities. If you are average in extra-curricular achievements, focus on being extraordinary in some other way. And the best way of doing it is performing extraordinarily well in the CAT exam. It is mainly because the CAT score generally carries the highest weight, and it can compensate for your average profile.

And even now, if you are worried about your profile, don’t fret too much about the extra-curricular achievement, you may not be able to do much in that aspect now. Instead, focus on finding ways to differentiate yourself from others in the interview. And you can do it with, as simple as, your attitude also. So, don’t fret too much. At the moment, focus on getting an extraordinary score in the CAT exam. It is because all these qualms about your profile are meaningless if you don’t get an interview call, for which a great CAT score is a must.

All the best!


Read: My Learnings From MBA Interview Rejections


Related Articles:

  1. From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey
  2. My Learnings From MBA Interview Rejections

  3. How Was Your ONGC Interview Experience?

CAT preparation strategy for the last four months

CAT preparation strategy for the last four months

By CAT Preparation No Comments

And here we are, in the last leg of this marathon. With CAT just four months away, I am sure you guys have very well warmed up with all the basics and have started taking mocks. Many of you might be getting disappointed also by your abysmally low score in mocks, even after months of preparation, and might even be doubting your CAT preparation strategy. But I feel you need not worry. It is something almost everyone goes through. I have been witnessing this for the last three years. It is a kind of script of the movie that remains the same no matter how many times you have watched the movie.

In the last few days, many aspirants have messaged me to ask what CAT preparation strategy they should follow in these last four months. So in this article, based on my experience, I will share what you should do in these last four months.

CAT preparation strategy for the last four months

The premise of the following recommendations is that you have covered your basics and have started taking mocks. And if it is true,

Do the following in the remaining four months:

  1. Take at least one full-length mock every week, preferably on weekends.
  2. Take as many sectional mocks as you can.
  3. Do not go for the second mock (both sectional and full-length) without completing the analysis of the first full-length mock.
  4. On weekdays, work on converting your weak areas into strong areas. You will know your weak areas by analyzing the mocks properly.
  5. Practise previous year AIMCATs/SIMCATs/CAT Papers.
  6. Practise Mixed questions instead of topic-wise questions.
  7. Try non-traditional methods for solving quant questions and LRDI calculations like value substitution, elimination, and approximation.
  8. Whenever you feel exhausted, take a break from preparation, maybe of a day or two.

Why should I take a mock every weekend?

  1. Get the feel of the actual CAT exam.
  2. Build stamina so that you don’t feel fatigued while taking the three-hour mock.
  3. Learn to focus for three hours consistently.
  4. Find the right strategy for the CAT exam by trying many approaches in the mocks.
  5. Identify your weak areas and strong areas so that you focus on solving questions from your strong areas first in the mocks as well as in the CAT exam.

Read: Mock Strategy


Why solving mixed questions is necessary?

Generally, students find questions easy when they solve topic-wise problems. It is because their mind focuses on that particular topic only, but when they get mixed problems, they struggle to find the approach of the solution. Also, many questions in the CAT exam require the application of concepts from multiple topics. So, you must solve mixed problems. It will make your mind flexible to think about the application of concepts from multiple topics to solve a question.

How do elimination, value substitution, and approximation help?

A few questions in the CAT exam can be solved only by looking at options, or by substituting a few values. It can help you gain speed that can improve your performance. Similarly, by approximate calculations, you can save a lot of time in LRDI. However, all these methods require a lot of practice. So, practise them now while solving mixed questions and mocks.

And yes, in these four months, you might face the heat of the competition at times. Sometimes, preparation can be taxing. In such times, you must take a small break, rejuvenate yourself, and get back to your business with the restored energy. It is completely okay to take a break, but never quit 🙂

I hope this CAT preparation strategy in these last four months works for you the way it did for me.


Links to some of the helpful resources and section-wise preparation strategies:

  1. Mixed Questions Practice
  2. Topic-Wise Previous Year CAT Papers
  3. Mock Strategy
  4. Mock Analysis
  5. VARC Preparation Strategy
  6. LRDI Preparation Strategy
  7. Quant Preparation Strategy

Get CAT previous year papers with solutions for free!

By CAT Preparation No Comments

These days many CAT aspirants have been asking me about the resources to access solved topic-wise practice questions and CAT previous year papers for practice. Unfortunately, I don’t have those so I can’t help them with that.

During my preparation, I was a part of some peer-learning groups. There I used to get all types of questions from previous years, and I had also purchased the face2face book to solve CAT previous year papers. So, I did not have to go through much confusion.

However, after talking to many aspirants, I have felt that many of them get confused because of the plethora of choices available online, that get them stuck in the paralysis of analysis. Hence, I feel there is a need to help them clear their confusion.

So, I decided to enlist a few free resources in this article that I feel can help aspirants conveniently access the question banks.

cat previous year papers

As said, there are many websites on which question papers are available, but I will not be sharing all those resources in this blog post. It is because I want to recommend only those sources that I used during my CAT preparation and found helpful. Having said that, I can vouch for the credibility of the following two platforms.

  1. 2IIM
  2. iQuanta

Both these online platforms are very helpful and can give a boost to your CAT preparation. And the question papers on their websites are available for free.

2iim CAT previous year papers:

2iim, an online CAT coaching, spearheaded by Rajesh Sir, has provided the solved question papers of the past three years (2019,2018, and 2017) on their website. If you want to go through the whole question paper, you can go through it. 

They have also provided topic-wise questions. However, I am not sure if those questions are from previous year CAT papers or not.

iQuanta CAT previous year papers:

I am a big fan of iQuanta, an online learning platform owned by Indrajeet Singh. I especially like their free peer-learning group that has around 3-lakh CAT aspirants. I have been following iQuanta since 2017. So I can vouch for its credibility in terms of the quality of the material and practice sessions.

Recently, they have uploaded fully solved previous year question papers of the CAT exam of the last 20 years (2000-2019) on their website.

I visited their portal and found it very useful for the following reasons.

  1. They have provided the past 19 year CAT papers from the year 2000 to 2019.
  2. Topic-wise quizzes from the previous year CAT questions.
  3. Previous year papers of TISS, XAT, SNAP, IIFT, and CMAT.
  4. Other topic-wise and mixed CAT-level practice questions by the name of iConcept.

iquanta papers

I think iQuanta’s page of past CAT papers is a little more sophisticated and user-friendly as compared to the 2iim portal because it has been developed recently, and also has solved papers of past 20 years as compared to 2IIM that has solved papers of only three years. So, you can practice umpteen number of questions there. And that too, for free.

Final words:

I feel iQuanta should suffice for the topic-wise practice of CAT questions and previous year CAT papers as they have provided papers of the past 20 years. And 2IIM can also be used if you don’t feel satisfied with iQuanta. Besides these two platforms, I think you won’t feel the need to resort to any other platform for your practice of topic-wise questions and previous year question papers. So make the most of these platforms. And yes, if possible, share your experience on these portals with me. Your reviews will help me help other aspirants.

Link to the free CAT solved previous year papers:

 

iQuanta:

Previous year questions link: https://www.iquanta.in/test/cat-previous-papers

Peer-learning Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Rockthecat/

2IIM:

Previous year questions link: https://online.2iim.com/CAT-question-paper/


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  2. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?
  10. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  11. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  12. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  13. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

  14. Mistakes That A CAT Aspirant Should Avoid! Ft. Atishaya Jain

  15. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

  16. How should I prepare current affairs for SNAP, IIFT, XAT, and TISS?

Current Affairs for MBA

How should I prepare current affairs for SNAP, IIFT, XAT, and TISS?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

Now that many MBA entrance exams around the corner, many aspirants have repeatedly been asking me about the ways to prepare for the Current Affairs for exams like SNAP, IIFT, XAT, and TISSNET. So, in this answer, I am sharing my experience with the preparation of current affairs for MBA entrance exams.

In 2017, when I was preparing for the MBA entrance exams, current affairs was the most dreadful section for me. I was very much tensed about my preparation for exams like SNAP, XAT, and TISSNET because all these exams had one section of current affairs. And in all these exams, current affairs had a significant weight and could become the cause of failure. To add insult to the injury, I had never been very curious about the current affairs till then.

So, I started looking for resources for the preparation of current affairs for all these exams and interviews thereafter. Many people suggested me reading the newspapers, and it helped. But there was a problem with that. I did not have enough time every day to read the newspaper for 2 hours. Also, it was not easy to retain all the news. And so, I started looking for some other resources that would offer me crisp material on the current affairs.

Luckily, I came across two such platforms. They helped in enhancing my general awareness for specific MBA entrance exams as well as for interviews. So, besides reading the newspaper, I would suggest you use the following two resources for the preparation of the Current Affairs for your MBA entrance exams and interviews.

Current Affairs for MBA

Current Affairs by Kalyan Sir on YouTube:

Kalyan sir is a renowned faculty who teaches IAS aspirants. He runs a free channel on YouTube for current affairs. Every day, he discusses the current affairs for about 10-15 minutes on this channel. These videos cover the important news of every day from the exams and interview point of view. He explains each concept so lucidly that you will start finding current affairs very intriguing.

Current Affairs by GKmojo:

I feel it is best for the MBA entrance exams. They offer exam-specific courses like they have a separate course for SNAP, IIFT, XAT, and TISSNET at a very minimal amount (I don’t remember exactly, but it was around Rs 300 in 2017).

In 2017, I took the jumbo course which had material for all the MBA entrance exams. That cost me Rs 500. This course helped me immensely, and I started feeling confident in the current affairs section.

Some of the highlights of the GKmojo course:

Well-divided topics of Current Affairs to enable systematic learning:

I remember they shared with me around 10 PDFs, each for a specific current affairs topic. These PDFs had a very crisp and important content for each MBA entrance exam.

Multiple exam-specific MCQ quizzes almost every day:

They give a 10/20 question quiz every day so that you are able to retain what you have learned from the PDF notes.

I feel because of this course, I could score reasonably well in the GK section of SNAP and TISSNET. So, I can vouch for this course. It will help you prepare the current affairs for all the MBA entrance exams without feeling the need to resorting to multiple resources.

Link to these resources:

GKmojo: https://gkmojo.com/courses/mba-gk-course-iift-tiss-snap-xat-cmat-micat/

Kalyan Sir: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kalyan+sir+current+affairs

When should I start preparing for Current Affairs?

I started watching Kalyan sir’s video from June 2017 and joined GK mojo course in July 2017, and used to read one pdf in a day or two. It helped me remain confident by the time the SNAP exam approached. 

So, I feel you should start giving at least 30 minutes daily for the preparation of current affairs from now onwards. It will avoid your growing panicky when the exam approaches.

All the best!


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?
  10. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  11. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  12. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  13. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

  14. Mistakes That A CAT Aspirant Should Avoid! Ft. Atishaya Jain

  15. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

 

Speed Vs Accuracy

Speed or Accuracy – What is important in CAT?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

My experience:

When I was preparing for CAT 2017, I always remained confused when it came to choosing between speed and accuracy. Many people suggested that the speed matters in CAT as you will have to solve 34 questions in an hour. So focus on speed. Initially, I tried that. But it backfired. While trying to solve problems quickly, my accuracy took a hit. In Quant, I would answer half the questions wrong. So, I changed my strategy. I started focusing on accuracy. Initially, I could solve the lesser number of problems but accuracy improved significantly. In Quant, it went up to 100% as well at times. And gradually, my speed also got increased.


So, Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?

Speed Vs Accuracy

I would say, both. There has to be a balance between the two. However, in the initial few months of the preparation, one should focus on accuracy alone. With time, speed will follow.

I will explain to you my point through the following table.

speed or accuracy

Note: The above table was prepared by Atishaya Jain

From the above table, we can see that attempting 20 questions with 90% accuracy yields significantly higher marks than attempting 30 questions with 60% accuracy.

One more reason to not undermine accuracy: The person with 60% accuracy would have fetched many negative marks as well as he would have lost significant time in attempting the questions, which he eventually got wrong. What if instead of attempting those questions wrong, he had attempted questions in which he was very sure of getting answers? He would have gained significant extra marks and would have increased his percentile substantially.

So, we can say that compromising accuracy at the cost of speed is not a rational choice. However, at the same time, low accuracy with less speed is insidious.

Having said that, there should be a balance between speed and accuracy, because the speed with accuracy can get you some very good results.

Now we know that there has to be a balance between speed and accuracy.

The next question is:

How to improve both?

For that, take note of the following points.

Accuracy precedes speed:

It means that first, you should focus on getting the answers correct than getting the answers quickly. As I said earlier, in the initial few months of preparation, focus only on learning different approaches and getting the correct answers. Once you gain confidence and start solving questions with accuracy, you will be able to gain speed automatically. I feel that speed is a by-product of accuracy.

How to improve speed?

In the CAT exam, besides accuracy, speed is a function of:

1.   Choice of question

2.   Solving time

It is very important to choose the right questions to solve and then solve it quickly. And from my experience, it comes automatically with a lot of practice and mocks.

I remember when I was in the initial phase of my preparation, I would hardly solve 8–10 questions in an hour. Then, as I practised more, I came across certain frequently occurring calculations, for example, a square of 24 and 26. I realized I should have these calculations at my fingertips.

So, I learned

1. Square till 30

2. Cube till 20

3. Tables till 20

4. A quick way of finding squares of numbers ending with 5 and 9

5. Frequently used fractions

All this helped me increase my speed in the quant and LRDI section. But I could remember all these things at my fingertips because I practised a lot. So, speed is always a by-product of a lot of practice.

As far as mocks are concerned, mocks help you decide which question to attempt and which one to leave, which eventually helps you gain speed.

In the VA section, consistent reading will help you gain speed.

What should be the accuracy of each section in the CAT exam?

Generally, in Quant and LRDI, there are fewer chances of getting an answer wrong if you know the approach. So, in these two sections, you should have very good accuracy.

Quant: 85% + 

LRDI: 85% +

Verbal is tricky. Here, it is difficult to be very sure about the answers. So, you can take a little risk in this section. You can have a trade-off between attempts and accuracy. I used to try to attempt 28+ questions with 70%+ accuracy. It can get you a good score in the VARC section.

Final words:

First focus on accuracy, speed will come with time.


Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?


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  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

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  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
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Mistake

Mistakes that a CAT aspirant should avoid! Ft. Atishaya Jain

By CAT Preparation, Guest Posts No Comments

In this article, Atishaya Jain, a CAT 2019 99.84 percentiler and IIM A convert, has impeccably articulated the mistakes that a CAT aspirant should avoid.

Mistake


A brief about me:

I am a General/Engineer/Male candidate. While writing CAT, I had 17 months of work experience. I had graduated from IIT Mandi with a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. CAT 2019 was my first attempt, and I managed to score (189.4/300) and 99.84 percentile. I am joining IIM Ahmedabad this year.

My sectional scores were as follows:

Verbal (50.48 score & 95.47 %ile)

DILR (64.61score & 99.86 %ile)

Quant (74.03 score & 99.76 %ile)


Following are some of the mistakes that most aspirants make and we will analyse today how small changes can make a huge difference.

First Improve your accuracy and then increase the number of attempts :

It is not important to solve all the questions. You need to resist yourself from this mentality. You are attempting this test to get selected and not prove your calibre to someone. If you closely look at the above analysis, you can easily see that attempting 20 questions with 90% accuracy gives you a better score than attempting 30 questions with just 60% accuracy. So focus on doing more questions correctly rather than doing more questions. This strategy has two-fold advantages.

    1. You have to attempt fewer questions. So you get more time per question, and hence you have a higher chance of making most of your attempts correct. While practising mocks, try to use this technique. Target at least 85%+ accuracy.
    2. Since you are attempting paper without pressure to solve all questions, you tend to have a cool mindset. Trust me, it makes a lot of difference in your performance on D-Day.

A word of caution: Make sure that your accuracy is high. If you don’t have good accuracy and still you solve only 20 questions in a section, you might end up with a very low score.

CAT is the game of time. Improve speed without losing accuracy.

Once you have a grip on the accuracy, try to push your limits by offsetting boundaries. Try to solve a one-hour mock in 55 minutes. Initially, you will make more mistakes as you try to solve the same number of questions in lesser time. But gradually, your speed will improve, and you will develop a habit to stay with the clock, if not ahead of it without losing your accuracy.

Don’t Fall in love with questions:

A lot of aspirants have a habit of sticking to one question for long. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. For example, In the Quant or DILR section, if you can’t crack a question in 1–2 minutes, move on. Let me share my experience with CAT 2019. While attempting the DILR section, I couldn’t solve the 1st passage in 2 minutes, so I moved to the next one and kept doing so until I reached the 6th passage. By the time I cracked my first DILR passage, I had spent 15 minutes and had 28 questions left.

Don’t carry the regret of one bad section to the other:

As I was saying, I had completely messed up my timeline in the DILR section. But rather than panicking, I spent my next 45 minutes to identify and solve seven good passages with more than 90% accuracy, seven minutes for each passage of 3 questions.

Picking the right question to solve is an art and a huge game-changer.

Imagine yourself solving an RC, and having spent 8–9 minutes on trying to solve it and still not able to answer even a single question. Now that’s when the panic kicks in. It means that you have picked an incorrect question as per your strength and weakness.

A pro Tip: After solving a mock, keep a record of the topics whose questions you are still not able to solve even after revision. That is your weakness. And look out for questions you didn’t have to make a lot of effort in solving. That is your strength. On the exam day, select questions or sections that match your strength. There will always be 60% of questions relating to your strength. Solve them first.

A word of Caution: Don’t spend a lot of time selecting the right set of questions. It is instinctive and comes with habit/ practice.


Take good care of yourself and have sound sleep and food. Good Luck.


Read: CAT preparation strategy for the last four months


If you need any guidance from Atishaya, you may connect with him on Quora.


Note: I advise you read the following related articles to get a fair idea about the CAT exam and its preparation.


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  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

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  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  10. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  11. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  12. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

  13. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

LRDI FOR CAT

How should I prepare LRDI for CAT?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

How should I prepare LRDI for CAT?

Of late, many people have requested me to write an article on “How should I prepare LRDI for CAT” just like I did for Quant and VARC. So, based on these multiple requests, I have tried to recall my CAT preparation days and share my experience of LRDI preparation. But let me outrightly tell you that LRDI was my weakest section, and I formidably dreaded it. However, with a consistent effort, I could manage to score reasonably well in it.

So, what I am sharing in this article is how I approached the LRDI preparation. There is nothing good or bad about it. It worked for me. It may or may not work for you, but this article can give you some direction. So, you may read along.

Generally, there is a reluctance among aspirants to kickstart LRDI. I think it is because LRDI questions are lengthy as compared to Quant questions. Nonetheless, the first step is to take that pain to start practising LRDI. It is because the LRDI section has been very unpredictable in the last few years. So now, it is all about practising and getting exposure to as many question types as possible.

LRDI FOR CAT

Pre-requisite for LRDI:

I feel before you start your LRDI, you should be comfortable with the Arithmetic syllabus of the CAT exam. Concepts like Ratio and Proportion, Average, Percentage, and a few others are rigorously used in the questions of LRDI. So, before you start LRDI, get comfortable with these topics of Arithmetic.

How to kickstart LRDI preparation?

The first step is to cover the basics. For this, you can take the booklets of any coaching material and start solving topics in a sequence. While practising the questions from the coaching material, you might feel that those are not of the CAT level. It is true. But the purpose of solving those questions is only to make you comfortable with the basics. In the CAT LRDI, such sets won’t be asked directly, but the concepts of those sets will be used in solving a more complex puzzle. So, it is imperative to know the basics so that you can decode the complex question easily.

And yes, I generally don’t prefer any book because I feel those are very exhaustive for the basics. You mainly learn through mocks and their analysis, so I feel we should cover the basics and then start practising from previous years’ mocks. Those questions are of the exact CAT level, unlike the sets of other books.

 What sequence of topics should I follow?

This is a frequently asked question. So, I am sharing here the sequence of topics that I followed. I referred to the TIME material, so I primarily followed that sequence only.

 LR:

  1. Linear Arrangement
  2. Circular Arrangement
  3. Double Line up/Distribution
  4. Selections
  5. Ordering and Sequence
  6. Binary Logic (Truth-teller, Lier and Alternator)
  7. Venn Diagrams
  8. Routes and Networks
  9. Logical Deductions
  10. Cubes

 DI:

  1. Tables
  2. Bar Graphs
  3. Pie Charts
  4. Line Graphs
  5. Games and Tournaments

I have listed major topics. Some might be missing in this.

The Second-step:

Once you have covered your basics, now all you need to do is practise CAT level questions. For this, you can make use of the following resources.

  1. Previous years’ AIMCATs and SIMCATs: If you don’t have these, you can ask for these on various social media platforms like iQuanta on Facebook. You should practise 2-4 sets daily from these tests. This will help you reinforce your concepts.
  2. Previous years’ CAT papers: Do the same as above.

The Third-step: Mocks, mocks, and mocks

If you have read my other articles, you would have known by now how important the mocks are. Your main learning and confidence gain will happen through mocks only. Take as many sectionals and mocks as you can. Just a caveat. Don’t take another mock without analyzing the previous mock. If you do so, you won’t learn anything.

Revision:

For this, you can pick sets from multiple sources like social media groups, WhatsApp groups, YouTube channels, or any other online resource. Doing random questions help us recall our basic concepts. And I feel this is the best way of revising.

What should I do if I find any particular topic tough?

This is again a very frequently asked question. Aspirants say that they find it boring to again solve the same topic again from the same source. Yes, it can be boring. In this case, you can try to learn the topic from scratch from some different sources. For LRDI, I used to solve 1-2 sets daily from the Elites Grid YouTube channel for a particular topic. You can follow that. It helped me. It might help you as well.

The basic idea is to explore topics of difficulty on the internet and learn from different sources. This will help you get multiple approaches for a particular set or topic, which is always beneficial. 

Final words:

There is no shortcut in LRDI. The key is to practice as many question-types as you can so that you find LRDI mocks less surprising. If you do not succeed in faring well in LRDI, it is only because of lack of sufficient practice, and that sufficient practice may vary from person to person. Some are naturally good in LRDI, so for them, not much practice is required. But for someone like me who finds LRDI dreadful, a consistent effort over a period is required to feel comfortable with this section.


Read: How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?


Free online sources for CAT preparation:

  1. Elitesgrid Youtube videos for LRDI
  2. iQuanta group on Facebook for CAT preparation, doubt-solving, and peer-learning
  3. 2iim CAT preparation group on Facebook
  4. Takshzilla videos for Quant (not all videos available for free anymore)

Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  9. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  10. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  11. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

  12. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

I am stuck in the CAT preparation. What should I do?

Which all top b-schools give very less or no weight for academic scores?

By CAT Preparation, Get Inspired, The Beginner's guide No Comments

A million-dollar question:

Which all top b-schools give very less or no weight for academic scores?

Indeed, a million-dollar question, no?

I feel this would be one of the most searched questions regarding CAT and MBA. This is quite logical as well, as many of us do not have a great academic profile. None of us thought that our academic scores would haunt us forever, but unfortunately, that happens in CAT.

But that’s okay now. That is something beyond our control. There is no point in crying over the spilt milk. We should now look forward and see what are the possibilities for us to pursue an MBA from one of the top b-schools of the country.

Read: How does an average student feel like to be at an IIM?

So, in the following table, I have mentioned a few top b-schools (rank among top 30) that give very less or no weight to the academic profile of the MBA aspirant.


List of b-schools with low weight for academics:

B-school 10th (%) 12th (%) Graduation (%) Work-ex (%) Test Score (%)
IIM C Stage 1: 10
Stage 2: 0
Stage 1: 15
Stage 2: 0
Stage 1: 15
Stage 2: 0
Stage 1: 0
Stage 2: 8
Stage 1: 56
Stage 2: 30
IIFT (criteria changed for 2021) 0 0 0 0 65
XLRI** 0 0 0 5 65
FMS 5 5 0 0 60
IIT Bombay 0 5 5 5 80
IIT KGP 3 4 7 5 20
MDI** 0 0 0 15 55
NITIE***
Second-gen IIMs**** 5 5 5 5 30-50

Stage 1 refers to the shortlisting for WAT PI.

Stage 2 refers to the criteria for final shortlist after WAT PI.

** XLRI and MDI give 5% and 15% weight respectively for the candidate’s profile (10+12+grad+workex). Individual weight is not known.

*** In the admission criteria of NITIE, component-wise break up is not given, but a candidate gets a PI call with 97+ percentile in CAT (91 sectional cut-offs).

**** Second-gen IIMs generally give maximum 20% weight for candidate’s profile (including work-ex). Rest is CAT + WAT PI.

Note: Some of the data points in the above table are taken from some unofficial websites like shiksha.com. So, all the data mentioned in this article might not be accurate, but it would give you some rough idea about which colleges are possible with an average profile.


Besides these colleges, there are some other institutes like IIM K and JBIMS that give low weight for academics. I have not mentioned about IIM K in the table because its criteria keep on changing almost every year. About JBIMS, I am not sure, but I think it gives zero weight for academics.

Conclusion:

From the above table and the points that followed it, you can see that some top b-schools give high weightage to the CAT score and low weightage to the candidate’s profile. So, to those who do not have a great profile, the key is to score very well in the CAT exam. With a high CAT score, one can get into some of the country’s best b-schools.

So, if you feel dejected just because your academic profile is not very good, please stop thinking that you can’t get into a top b-school, because you can. Some of the b-schools that are mentioned above are even better than some of the top IIMs in terms of brand name and average package. Having said that, leave all these belittling thoughts behind, keep your head down, and work hard.


Read: IIM Average Package – Old Vs New


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  9. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  10. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  11. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

 

How to do CAT mock analysis?

How to do CAT mock analysis?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide 2 Comments

It is June and the time when aspirants generally start taking mocks and sometimes, struggle with CAT mock analysis. Very recently, IMS started its mock test series. And after two mocks, many aspirants are dumbstruck by their performance in mocks. Many felt they were all prepared. They thought of going for mocks with all guns blazing. But then, mocks deceived them profoundly. Of late, many aspirants have connected with me lamenting their dismal performance in mocks despite their preparedness.

Now, you might be able to feel why everyone says that CAT is very uncertain. It is because of its ability to surprise you at any point in time. That’s why we say consistency is of utmost importance in the CAT preparation.

It is very important to get exposure to as many surprises as you can so that you don’t feel surprised in the real CAT exam.

Having said this, I want to tell you that you need not worry if you couldn’t fare well in the mock tests so far. The mock scores are inconsequential. What matters is what you learn from them. And this learning happens through the proper analysis of the mock tests.

It is okay if you miss taking any mock. But it is a crime if you miss analysing any mock that you have taken.

Trust me, analyzing the mock is even more important than taking mock because that is how you learn what mistakes you made and can work upon them. That’s why I believe that if you are spending 3 hours taking a mock test, spend 5-6 hours analyzing it.


How does mock analysis help?

  • It helps you know your mistakes and correct them.
  • It helps you to develop different approaches/shortcuts for a particular question.
  • The mock analysis helps you to understand which topics/concepts are important and which are not.
  • It helps you to improvise your overall strategy of taking the CAT exam.
  • It helps you know your strengths and weaknesses.

Ideally, how much time one should spend in CAT mock analysis?

Generally, analysis of the VA section is the least time consuming (around 1 hour), QA takes around 2 hours, while LRDI may take up to 3 hours (for an average candidate). However, this time range may vary from person to person based on his/her comfort level with a particular section.

One important point: Do not delay analyzing the mock beyond 2-3 days of getting a detailed explanation from the coaching institute. It is because when you analyze the mock without delay, all the questions remain fresh in your mind. You remember how you approached a particular section. This helps you in understanding the mistakes you committed. I remember I used to analyze the mock after the percentile was released by the institute, and I used to analyze it in the morning. It is because, in the morning, I would be very fresh and energetic, which helped me understand things better.

Read: Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?


Section-wise mock analysis:

VARC:

As I always say, VARC is all about comprehension. So, while analyzing the VARC section, go through every question and its solution. First, try to reach the answer on your own. This will help you know your thought process. And yes, always try to follow the elimination method. It is very effective in all the sections. Once you get your answer, read the solution. Understand their thought process, and see if both of you are on the same page. If not, see how they have done it differently. Check how they arrived at a particular option and where you went wrong. See what logic they have followed. Understand it and move on. This practice will help you develop a sound intuitive power in VARC, which is very important to ace this section.

Read: How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?

The analysis of VARC can be done in one sitting, so try to do it in a go. It would take around an hour. I used to analyze VARC first in around an hour. After that, I would take a break of around 15 minutes and then start with Quant analysis. I would analyze LRDI at last.

QA:

“It makes us feel comfortable when we see ourselves progressing fast.”

  1. Check all the questions that you answered correctly. See the solution and check if their approach is different from that of yours. If yes, understand that approach and note it down in your learning diary if it is short and effective. If the approach is the same, move on to the next question.
  2. Now, check the questions which you answered incorrectly or didn’t attempt at all. Solve them again without looking at the solution. If you are getting it correct now, try to understand why you did it wrong in the mock. If you are still getting it wrong or you are completely blank about some question, check the solution and see how they have done it. Learn it and move on.

Read: How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

For all the sections, make sure you note down new concepts, new learnings, and shortcuts, which you feel are useful, in your learning diary. This will help you revise these concepts quickly at some later point in time.

If any question seems tricky to you or if you feel that you will forget the approach to a particular section later, take the screenshot of that question and its solution, and paste it in a word document and revise it now and then. This will help you reinforce that concept.

LRDI:

LRDI is all about practice. I don’t know anything else about it. This was my weakest section, and all I did was practice as many sets as possible from as many sources as I could. This gave me a fair idea of kind of questions that can be asked in the CAT exam.

During the LRDI mock analysis, solve all the sets again. Just like Quant analysis, see where you are getting wrong. I feel one major problem is LRDI is that we fail to understand the question completely. So, It is important to keep practising LRDI as much as you can so that you get exposure to myriad possible varieties. If you find a particular set tough, take a screenshot of it, save it, and keep revising it at regular intervals. LRDI mock analysis alone may take 2-3 hours. So, I used to do it at the end, and I would do it in two sittings.

Read: How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?


Key takeaways:

  1. Pick up one section at a time, because analyzing all the sections together can hamper your productivity.
  2. Go through each question, and pay more attention to the questions that you answered incorrectly.
  3. If you feel that a certain question is tricky, take a screenshot of its solution, save it in a word file, and revise it at least once a week. This will help you remember that concept.
  4. If you come across any different approach/short-trick/formula during analysis, note it down in a learning diary, and keep revising it. Again, it will be helpful.
  5. Following the above four steps will help you better your score in the subsequent mocks, because concepts always remain the same, only the way of asking changes.

What was the result of CAT mock analysis?

I went on scoring from as less as 40 marks in a mock test to 160 marks in the CAT exam, and to a great extent, it was due to the analysis of mocks and learning from them. If I had to summarize how the mock analysis helps you improve your performance, I would explain it through two points.

  1. Diagnose the problem: Analyze your mocks and understand where you are lacking.
    1. Are you not clear with your basics?
    2. Is it that you making silly mistakes?
    3. Are you not choosing the questions correctly?
    4. Is there any topic in particular which you are blank at?
  2. Based on your diagnosis, take the next step to rectify the problem:
    1. If you are not able to attempt even ten questions in a section, it means that your basics are not clear. So, stop taking mocks for a while, and go back to cover your basics first.
    2. If you are making silly calculation mistakes, try to slow down your speed and focus more on your accuracy. Practice more.
    3. If you are attempting the tough questions and leaving the easy ones, learn the art of choosing questions wisely. I have shared how to choose questions effectively here.
    4. If there is one particular topic that you are finding it a hard nut to crack, learn it from the basics from multiple sources so that you gain confidence in it.

 The CAT mock analysis is sacrosanct. It is the most effective way to improve the score substantially. So, do that without failing.

Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

PS: This is the strategy that I followed. There is nothing good or bad about it. It is just something that worked for me. It might or might not work for you. But you can give it a shot.


Related articles:

  1. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  2. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  3. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  4. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  5. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  6. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  7. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  8. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  9. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  10. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

cat journey

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

By CAT Preparation, Get Inspired No Comments

Before I start sharing my CAT journey, let me tell you what you will know after reading this article.

We know that the journey from campus to corporate is never easy.
But what about the transition from corporate to campus. Is it easy? Or things go haywire in the process?
What motivates working professionals to run the CAT marathon despite their hectic schedules?

Okay, now let me take you through my journey to answer these questions.

How did your journey start?

It started with self-actualization. The realization that I was doing something I was not passionate about and that I could do more than what I had been doing. The feeling that I was not in the right place and that the best was yet to come. With these thoughts doing rounds in my mind, I made up my mind to take CAT. It was January 2017 when the idea of taking CAT became dominant in my heart and mind, courtesy of my job that was sapping me mentally every single day. New day, a new struggle, led to a fierce resolve.

And then, I began to read more about the CAT exam, came across various beautiful answers on Quora regarding how to prepare for CAT, which coaching institutes to join, and how to manage time for preparation alongside CAT. I was not in favour of joining any coaching institute after learning about the CAT syllabus, but even then, I visited a few institutes in Gurgaon like TIME and IMS. However, their whopping fee and my previous ordeal with coaching institute convinced me to go ahead on my own. And from there, the battle on the field began.

What was your schedule during the CAT preparation?

In the outset, around mid-January, I started taking baby steps. My work hours were from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, so in those days, morning hours were not very productive from the preparation point of view, so I used to study after office for about 2 hours every day. I didn’t force myself to spend more time because I wanted to set the tone for preparation. I would pick a quant topic and cover it in a few days, and also a little LRDI. No specific preparation started for VARC then, because I didn’t feel the need to do so. So, the point is, I did what I wanted to do at my own pace. This made my preparation intriguing. I started liking CAT preparation.

Perhaps, God was also on my side. It was around mid-march when my office timing changed and my office time became from 1 PM to 10:30 PM. It was indeed a stroke of luck because this timing gave me ample time in the morning to study. My preparation went to a whole new level. My day started at 6 AM and before leaving for office at 12:45 PM, I made sure I studied for around 4–5 hours.

Not only at home, but I was also swamped in my preparation in the office as well, thinking about one question or the other, and reading news online. I remember I used to have one pen and paper in my pocket always in the office. Whenever I found no one around, I would go to the office library and solve a few questions from social media platforms like iQuanta and 2IIM. In a nutshell, in weekdays, I used to study for around 6 hours every day. And this routine worked pretty well for me, for days and months.

 I brushed up most of the concepts in six months. By the end of May, I was confident and fully braced to take the mocks.

But was I really ready?

“Life is very unpredictable. In no time, it can turn upside down.”

How did you fare in mock tests and what kept you going?

On weekends, I used to take a mock and analyze it. I took the first mock and scored barely 80 percentile. It was a jolt for me. Before I could get over it, I suffered another blow. In my second mock, I scored only 40 marks with an awful one mark in English and three marks in DILR. I felt completely devastated. I saw no ray of hope even after taking eight mocks. To be honest, I was losing confidence and getting restless. I did not know where I was going wrong. I felt like giving up.

Read: I Am Stuck In The CAT Preparation. What Should I Do?

But as soon as I thought about continuing my job, I gave up on the idea of giving up. My job was sapping me emotionally. My growth was stagnant, and my work was not giving me a strong feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment. Every single day at work was a struggle to cope with petty office politics and find something interesting and challenging. Probably this is what happens with most of the working professionals. We gain motivation through frustration. Our struggle at the workplace galvanizes us to work hard and get what we deserve. For most of us, CAT seems tough; but the job, tougher.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

My tenacity kept me going. I managed to study 5-6 hours a day besides spending nine hours in the office. On weekends, I used to take a mock and analyze it. Weekends were relatively less productive than weekdays because there was no fixed schedule. And I used to chill most of the time on weekends. So, roughly, this was my schedule throughout my CAT preparation.

The pain of grappling with CAT questions was not even a cent of the dissatisfaction I was facing in my professional life. Yes, amidst looming hopelessness all around, I did not let my inner hope douse. In the last two months, I did not care about marks and percentile. I did not care about what others would think of me. All I cared about and focused on was learning from my mistakes in the previous mocks.

And when the D-day came, the fortune changed. I was calm and gave my best.

How was the overall experience?

Fulfiling!

That evening, when I looked back into my journey, I felt content. I lived up to the promises that I made to myself. I promised myself that I would embrace whatever comes my way and that I won’t give up midway. And to that day, I was successful. I saw a complete turnaround in me as a person. What this pursuit made of me was truly satisfying. I felt it was all so damn worth it.

6 AM to 11 PM! Work and study! For days and months!

I truly savoured that yearlong odyssey, a transformational journey of patience and persistence. Witnessed failure. Cried. Witnessed excellence. Smiled. Witnessed unwavering patience. Realized strength. The strength to endure. The strength to wait.

From there on, I walked with impunity because I had done all I could have done. No regrets.

I scored 97.85 (95.xx, 94.xx, 97.xx) percentile in CAT 2017.

Eventually, I converted IIM Trichy and then cherished every single moment of my life at IIM Trichy.

cat journey

What was the most challenging part of this journey?

The most challenging part was dealing with failure despite putting in my best effort. There were times when I was outrightly depressed with low mock scores. In this journey, there were a few days in between when I won’t study anything. There were days when fear about failure crept in. There were times when all I did was overthinking. This was challenging. Channelising this negative energy into positive was challenging. I had to motivate myself every now and then.

Fortunately, I could succeed in hanging in through the rough patches by various means like motivational videossuccess stories, failure stories, taking pauses and going for the weekend trips.

What is your message to the CAT aspirants?

With CAT just a few months away, many of you would be struggling to score well in mocks despite giving your best. But trust me, it’s completely okay. Everyone goes through this phase. That’s the beauty of this exam. It gets you through the highs, the lows, and the blows. Eventually, it’s just a matter of hanging in there which most of us fail to do. So, don’t give up midway. Savour this journey, for this, is a transformational one.

May the Force Be With You.


Read: From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey


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. How Do I Get Motivation For CAT Exam?
  3. I Am Stuck In The CAT Preparation. What Should I Do?
  4. From 2017 To 2019 – The CAT Success Story Of A Tier-3 College Engineering Graduate
  5. Life Won’t Change Unless You Change!

  6. From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey
  7. Learn To Fight Alone!
  8. From 70% In CAT 2018 To 98+% In CAT 2019 – A leap of Faith Ft. Biswarup Ghosh

  9. IIM After 3 Attempts – The CAT Journey Of An Average Aspirant Ft. Debayan

VARC for CAT

How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

Let me be honest with you. If you are looking for a structured strategy of VARC for CAT, just like there are many for Quant, you might feel disappointed after reading this article. It is because I don’t know any structured approach that is there for VARC. And so, I didn’t follow any specific strategy in VARC.

Now, first things first. A few points about VARC.

  1. There is no well-defined study material of VARC for CAT.
  2. VARC for CAT is very much about RCs. Out of 34 questions, generally, 24 are from RCs. Of the remaining, there are 4-6 questions of critical reasoning and drawing a logical inference, 1-2 questions of sentence completion, and 3-4 questions of the para jumbles.
  3. Hence, from the second point, it is clear that 30 questions (RC + CR + sentence completion) can be covered if we comprehend the articles well.

So now, if you ask me, how did I prepare, I would say that I focused on the third point.

The keyword here is: comprehend the articles because it is the answer to every single question in VARC. It will help you in RCs, CRs, sentence completion, and to an extent, Para jumbles also.

This brings my first step of VARC preparation for CAT.


Step 1: Warming up

It pertains to getting comfortable with reading.

Try to get comfortable with reading. Develop the habit of reading. If you have around a year, you can easily do it. Trust me, you can do it. I started feeling comfortable with reading in six months. I have shared at length one way of developing the reading habit here.


Step 2: Practice matches

Practice match pertains to practising RCs.

If you have more than a year to prepare, you can start taking this step after doing the first step for at least a month.

If there is a time constraint, you can follow this step a little sooner, maybe after following step 1 for two weeks.

However, if you are comfortable with reading comprehension, you can directly start with this step.

From where did you practice RCs?

I practised RCs from the following.

  1. TIME VARC material
  2. Face2Face book: This has consolidated previous years’ CAT papers.
  3. Practice material that I got along with the IMS test series.

How did you approach the RCs?

For me, it was more of a hit and trial. I tried a particular trick for a few days, found it ineffective, so chucked it, and then tried a different trick. This is how I finally felt comfortable with one of the approaches. See, different things work for different people. What worked for me might not work for you. Hence, you should try different approaches and see what works best for you.

I am listing the two approaches that I tried.

  1. Read the article first, then attempt the questions: I would slowly read the article to ensure that I understand what is written in the article, and after reading, I would attempt the questions. I tried this, but it didn’t work well for me, maybe because I don’t have a sound memory. So by the time I read the questions, I would forget, where, in the article, the point related to that question had been mentioned. I also found this method a little more time-consuming. On average, to answer the RC of 500 words (general RC length in the CAT exam), I would take 12-15 minutes. So, this didn’t work for me. Eventually, I chucked it.
  2. Read the article partially, and see the questions: In this approach, instead of reading the whole RC at a go, I would read only the first few lines, understand what the passage was about, then read the questions, and then go back to the RC and continue reading. When I found that a particular part of the RC was related to that question, I would read it carefully, and look into the question again, and try to find the answer at that moment only. This method worked relatively better for me. There were some questions for which I did not even need to read the RC. In this way, I could also answer the RC in around 8-10 minutes.

Step 3: League Matches

This pertains to the mock tests.

In this step, you need to capitalize on your learnings and experience that you have gained from practising RCs. In other words, practising RCs develops logic and intuition power in you. You need to rope in both these weapons to win the league matches.

The mock tests will help you strike a balance between speed and accuracy. They will also help strengthen your logic and intuition power provided you analyse the mocks religiously.

A few tips to ace the VARC section in mock tests:

  1. Always start VARC sections with RCs. In the first 40-50 minutes, solve RCs. In the remaining 10-20 minutes, answer VA questions. In that too, solve para jumbles at the last. I am saying this because if you start VA in the beginning, it might take a lot of time, and you may not be able to attempt all the RCs that are the scoring areas in this section. And para jumbles should be the least priority because they can be complex and time-consuming. Also, there is a good chance of getting them wrong even after spending 2-3 minutes in one para jumble.
  2. Don’t start solving RCs in the sequence they appear. In the first five minutes, skim through all the RCs. Based on the right balance between your comfort level with the topic of RC and the RC length, decide the order in which you will attempt the RCs.
  3. Looking at the questions can help you analyse if the questions are fact-based or inference-based. It is better to answer fact-based RCs first because the accuracy in fact-based RCs is generally high. Understand that the choice of questions is the most important aspect of the CAT exam. You will score high by attempting easy questions and chucking the difficult ones. So, write it on paper, and keep it in front of your study table: CAT is all about your choices.
  4. Always try to answers the questions using the method of elimination. The method of elimination works magically well in all the sections of the CAT exam.
  5. Verbal is tricky. Here, it is difficult to be very sure about the answers. So, you can take a little risk in this section. You can have a trade-off between attempts and accuracy. I used to try to attempt 28+ questions with 70%+ accuracy. It can get you a good score in the VARC section.

Step 4: The final match

This pertains to the CAT exam.

Just a few points

  1. Be calm.
  2. Choose questions wisely.
  3. Capitalize on your learnings and experiences.
  4. Don’t get over-confident (I did this mistake).

You will come off with flying colours.


In this whole article, I have emphasized majorly on RCs because I mainly practised RCs, and I feel, that can help you get better in everything. For CR, para jumbles, and sentence completions, I referred to some exercises of TIME material. Besides that, I mostly answered questions on various CAT preparation groups on social media, which contributed substantially to my preparation of VARC for CAT.

My final words:

This article is only to give you exposure to some touchpoints (marked in red with NO underline) that you can focus on. So, you should work on these touchpoints and gain the learning, experience, and intuitive power that is required to ace the VARC section of the CAT exam.


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  7. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  8. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  9. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

The motivation for CAT: Fuel the fire in your belly

  1. How Do I Get Motivation For CAT Exam?
  2. I Am Stuck In The CAT Preparation. What Should I Do?
  3. From 2017 To 2019 – The CAT Success Story Of A Tier-3 College Engineering Graduate
  4. From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey
  5. Learn To Fight Alone!
When should a working professional join an MBA program

When should a working professional join an MBA program?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

The other day, one TCS employee asked me a puzzling query. She asked me if she should join the second-gen IIMs given that she is working as a Business Analyst with a package of 6 LPA. It made me think about the financial viability of the MBA program. So, I talked to a few of my friends on this topic and tried to understand their point of view.

Often, the question of the financial viability of an MBA program perplexes working professionals. It is quite natural considering the uncertainty and opportunity cost of this pursuit. So, based on my and my friends’ experience, I have tried to answer this question in the following way.

For a working professional, the viability of pursuing an MBA depends on his current salary and the b-school he would be taking admission in.

Besides, one should also factor in the following factors while taking this decision.

  1. Growth Rate
  2. Opportunity cost
  3. ROI

Keeping these points in mind, I have tried to answer the financial viability of an MBA program for working professionals using four cases.

CASE 1: Current salary is less than 7 LPA and admission in tier-1 b-school
It is very much financially viable because you may get an average package of around 20 LPA, besides a coveted brand name. It will not only boost your profile but also make you financially sound.

CASE 2: Current salary is 7-12 LPA, but admission in a tier-1 college
Such an MBA is financially viable. It is because of the brand name that will get you an unprecedented growth rate post MBA. If you get admission in the top IIMs of the country, it is always financially as well as intellectually viable.

CASE 3: Current salary is less than 7 LPA and admission in tier-2/tier-3 b-school
I think it will be financially viable. It is because the average package is around 12–14 LPA, besides a coveted brand name. Though the package is not very high when you see the course fee and the opportunity cost, the opportunities and the growth prospects will be humongous post MBA (my personal opinion).

CASE 4: Current salary is 7–12 LPA, and admission in a tier-2/tier-3 b-school
I don’t think an MBA, in this case, is financially viable. It is because the opportunity cost is very high and the relative growth rate with respect to your current job might remain lower. If you remain in your current job, you can increase your package to around 15 LPA in 2 years without an MBA as well.

In a nutshell,

When should a working professional join an MBA program

Read: Is Work Experience A Must To Get Admission Into An IIM?


Related Articles:

  1. Should I Quit My Job And Take A Drop For The CAT Exam?

  2. Is Doing MBA From IIMs Really Worth It?

 

Learn to fight alone

Learn to fight alone!

By CAT Preparation No Comments

Does it happen with you that you pursue something, but get stuck?
And then, you find no one bailing you out of your problems?
Does it frustrate you if people refuse to help you even when they can?
Have you ever got completely stuck with some problem?

Okay, with this backdrop, read on. I hope you will be able to connect the dots by the time you finish reading this answer.


A short story:

There was one professor of Marketing at IIM Trichy. He was unique in his way. He would come to class, introduce the topic, and never teach anything. Throughout his lecture, he would only ask questions. What, Why, and How?

He left us perplexed in his every single class. He would never give a direct answer to any of our queries. Instead, he would only leave us with a little direction but many more questions in response to the question that we asked him. And sometimes, he would blatantly respond, “I don’t know,” to our questions.

Even today, I have my doubts in my head. He never cleared that. I still have those questions doing rounds in my mind.

Interestingly, different students feel differently about him, but often, the feedbacks have been at the extreme ends.

Some students hate him with passion. They would say he does not know how to teach. Even after attending his classes, we don’t know anything about the subject.

Read: How Is IIM Trichy?

On the other hand, some respect him immensely. For them, he was someone who makes students think a lot, which is very important.


Why did I talk about this professor?

It is because I feel he had a reason for not answering our questions. He did it so that we explore things on our own and learn what actually works in real-life instead of just knowing the answers. Probably, he wanted us to learn to fight alone.


A few days back, when I was thinking about my professor, I had a moment of epiphany. I had some flashbacks, some realizations.

  1. When I was working with Accenture, I was working in a domain that was completely new to me. I did not know of it. I would often reach out to my mentor to help me. Initially, he would answer my questions, but later, he started dodging my questions. He would not give me a direct answer. I felt frustrated. I was seeking spoon-feeding, which he denied. At that time, I felt bad, but today I feel he did a great job of putting up with me. He had been very patient with me. Maybe, I can not spoon-feed anyone today. And yes, I agree, I failed at my job because I did not like it. I did not find my work fascinating enough for me to slog day in day out to learn those concepts. Eventually, I gave up for the greater good. I have no regret because, as Zig Ziglar puts it, that failure was an event, not a person (Nikhil).
  2. I did my whole CAT preparation on my own. No one spoon-fed me. I got guidance, but no one taught me how to solve every single question. For almost a year, I slogged hard every day for around 4–6 hours. I succeeded because I was passionate about learning those concepts. I had the curiosity and the purpose of doing that. So, I could sail through the difficult times in that pursuit.
  3. I have recently developed a website specifically for the CAT aspirants to answer their FAQs. I did not know much about professional website designing, but I had got bitten by that idea. For around two weeks, I had worked, day in day out to get that website in shape. In the beginning, I did get a little direction from a friend but no spoon-feeding as such. I learned everything from scratch, using Google and Youtube. I spent hours doing things wrong and then spent even more hours rectifying those mistakes. But those learnings are fresh in my mind now.

From the above three points, I want to say that whatever I have learned in my life, I have learned it through my efforts. No one has spoon-fed me. I have been through that pain of finding solutions. I could do so because my life experiences have made me realize that it is important to learn to fight alone. And because I learned things on my own, they remain with me for long.

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


Now, let me connect the dots and put forward my piece of advice.

Learn to fight alone

In your life, no one can help you more than yourself. If you expect others to get your work done or if you expect others to spoon-feed you, you will only get disappointment. No one is free in this busy world to do your work from scratch. We often get offended by people who don’t help us the way we expect them to. The fact is that they are not wrong. We are wrong because we set high expectations. So, don’t expect others to help you.

Take ownership of your pursuit. Learn to fight alone. It may not be an easy task at hand. But if you want it badly, you will come through all the hardships, obstacles, fear, and even failure. You will find help in the way you could never have imagined. Just have your heart in the right direction and keep perspiring.

In the chaos that you may go through, you will learn things about the subject matter that you would not have learned otherwise. In this mental turmoil, you will learn some life lessons that you would not have learned otherwise. You will see yourself coming out as a better human who is independent yet compassionate. You will see yourself growing mentally and emotionally.

Read: IIM After 3 Attempts – The CAT Journey Of An Average Aspirant Ft. Debayan

And please, do not compare yourself with others. It saps our energy. It is better that you set an eye on your target and go after it undauntedly without thinking of what others would think. In the end, your achievement counts, and not the time you spend in achieving it.

Read: How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?


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

  6. IIM After 3 Attempts – The CAT Journey Of An Average Aspirant Ft. Debayan

  7. From Rejection To Selection – My Campus Placement Journey
Why do students fail in CAT

Why do students fail in CAT?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

There is a gamut of GYAN available on the internet regarding the strategy for the CAT exam. Everyone says that CAT is one exam in which a proper strategy and time management is very important. And then, there are so many tips and tactics available on the online platforms to ace each section of the CAT exam.

Aspirants come across all sorts of strategies. Most of them understand the strategies they should follow to ace the CAT exam.

But even then, not everyone manages to get through. Why?

Despite the availability of all the material and strategies, why do students fail in the CAT exam?

I agree that strategy and time management are a must. Without that, getting through the CAT exam is not possible. But I feel that alone is not sufficient. Besides the mental faculty, psychological faculty is equally important to ace this exam. I have realized that many students fail not because they lack intelligence, but because they lack psychological strength. They lack the hunger required to keep going when the wind is against them. On the psychological front, I feel many aspirants fail because:

  1. They do not start with WHY: CAT is one exam, in which more than talent, intent matters. It is one exam in which more than intelligence, patience, and perseverance matters. Many aspirants toil hard to get through this exam, but not all of them toil hard for a sustained period. That’s why many people fail to unleash their true potential in this exam. And to persevere for a sustained period, one should have a strong reason to pursue CAT in the first place so that when motivation dies out, that reason stops him/her from giving up.
  2. Lack of self-confidence: A lot many people say, I am weak at maths, so I just can’t score well. There are so many IITians in my coaching who solve the questions in no time, and I always struggle even to find the approach. This inferiority complex does not let people try their best. The point is: those who are getting answers are getting it because they have done a lot of practice. If you practice well, you can solve the sums as well. Aren’t there students from commerce and arts background who crack the CAT exam? If they can, why can’t you? So stop belittling yourself, practice well. You can succeed.
  3. More planning, less execution: And then some aspirants always keep on planning, but they never execute their plans. They get stuck in the paralysis of analysis. So, don’t think too much. Just start preparing. With time, you will understand what corrections you have to make in your approach.
  4. Fear of a particular section: Some people feel that they are very weak in one section, so much so that they are afraid to study that section, but friend, if you score 99 percentile but fail to clear the cut-off of any section, that 99 percentile is a waste. So, embrace your weak areas and work on them with the help of your faculty and peers. Learn to sail against the wind.
  5. Fear of mocks: Many aspirants do not take mocks because they feel they are not well prepared to take a mock test. The fact is that you can never be fully prepared to take a mock. You have to take it once you feel you are 50–60 % prepared. The remaining preparation will happen through mocks and their analysis only. Trust me, no matter how many books you read, they can not prepare you the way mocks can prepare you. So, don’t be afraid of mocks. Don’t be afraid of a bad score in a mock test. Treat it as a means to improve your weak areas.

“My dreams and desires are more powerful than the obstacles on the way. So, come what may, I will work hard and not give up. Have this attitude, and embrace this CAT challenge.”

All the best!


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  10. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  11. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  12. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

Best mock test series for CAT

Which is the best mock test series for CAT? Can I predict my CAT percentile from mock test results?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

Generally, from mid-may, aspirants start taking mocks regularly. This is this time when every aspirant starts searching for the best mock test series for CAT. Since there are so many options available in the market, students find it confusing as to which one they should buy. So, in this article, I will share my experience with mocks with a hope that it will help you decide the mock test series for CAT.

Criteria for choosing the mock test series:

I feel one should consider the following points while choosing the mock test series.

  1. The number of CAT aspirants subscribed to the particular mock test series.
  2. How closely the mocks resemble the actual CAT exam.

Which is the best mock test series for CAT? 

In 2017, I took both TIME and IMS. I didn’t take CL mocks, so I won’t be able to comment on that.

From my experience with mocks, what I felt was:

Time mocks are a little harder than the actual CAT. IMS mocks are very close to the actual CAT level. But in IMS, there were only ten sectional tests for each section. However, there were many practice questions available that were again very close to the actual CAT level. TIME had many topic-wise and sectional tests which were helpful. Besides, the overall user experience with the IMS platform was smoother than the TIME platform.
So, if you have to take only one mock test series, go for IMS, otherwise, I feel you should take TIME + IMS.

Read: Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?

How often should I take mocks?

By May-end, I had completed most of the topics of each section. From that time around, I took one mock per week for around four months. In the last two months, I took around two mocks per week. In total, I took 30+ mocks. To begin with, you can take one mock per week once you have completed around 70% of your syllabus.

Read: Mistakes That A CAT Aspirant Should Avoid! Ft. Atishaya Jain

Can I predict my CAT percentile from mock test results?

I feel it is not a good idea to judge your expected CAT percentile by your mock percentiles.

Firstly, the number of students taking a particular mock is way less than the actual CAT exam. For example, I remember, in 2017, around 20,000 aspirants would take IMS mocks, but in the actual CAT exam, the number was around two lacs. So, the percentile may vary significantly.

Secondly, the purpose of taking mocks should be getting exposed to the variety of questions that can appear in the CAT exam, identifying and working on your strong and weak areas, learning to choose the right question to attempt, and honing the great art of leaving questions.

Let me back my point by sharing my mock scores. I never scored more than 120 marks in any of the mock tests. I just kept analyzing the mocks and learning from my mistakes. Eventually, in the CAT 2017, I scored 160 marks. An increase of 40 marks and this was substantial.

And in terms of percentile also, when I took the first mock, I got 80 percentile. There were mocks in which I scored around 65 percentile as well. And in the CAT exam, I ended up scoring 97.85 percentile.

So, we should not judge our potential based on our CAT mock results. Just be consistent in your efforts. And don’t get bogged down by the low mock scores. Learn from the mocks and move on.


Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  9. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  10. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  11. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

  12. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

What strategy should I follow in CAT mocks?

What strategy should I follow in CAT mocks?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

What is Strategy in the context of CAT mocks?

We often hear the word ‘strategy’ in the context of CAT mocks. It has become such a common word now, but do we really strategize everything? All of us talk about strategy for CAT mocks, but when we take mocks, we just solve questions without thinking of any strategy as such.

In my MBA, I realized the true meaning of strategy. My strategy professor simply says that “strategy is all about making choices that among different options that will help you achieve your goal.”

Yesterday, one aspirant asked me about the CAT mock strategy and this definition popped up in my mind.

So, in this article, I will talk about the choices we should make in a CAT mock test that can possibly help us achieve our goal, i.e., a good mock score. I will simply explain the cat mock strategy that worked for me. I feel it might help you as well.

What was the situation?

To be honest, in my initial few mocks, I struggled to attempt the questions, let alone getting them correct.

I remember, in the first few mocks that I took sometime around this time in 2017, I would be hardly able to reach the 20th question of the Quant section. In the LRDI section, I would spend so much time in the first few sets that by the time 10 minutes are left, I would be left with four sets to see.

While analyzing the mocks, I realized the following things.

  1. I was trying to attempt the questions as they appeared. In doing so, I was spending more time in relatively tough questions.
  2. There were many LOD1 questions that I failed to notice in the mock test because they appeared among the last ten questions.
  3. I had been committing silly calculation mistakes because I was getting nervous. It is obvious because when you have to solve 34 questions in an hour, and you have managed to solve only 15 questions in the first 45 minutes.
  4. While doing the mock analysis, I felt I could have solved at least 8-10 more questions in this mock.

Read: Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?

How did I get around this situation?

I talked to my mentor and told him what I was doing. And he was pretended as if he already knew what I had been doing. He simply told me, “you are choosing the wrong questions to answer. You need to be picky while answering the questions in the mock tests. It does not matter whether you are solving an easy question or a tough question, both will fetch you equal three marks only. However, if you manage to pick up the easy questions, you will be able to solve more questions in the given time. So, learn the art of leaving questions. Don’t fall in love with any questions. Be selfish, and attempt only those questions which can easily fetch you three marks. And that made sense to me.”

From there on, I decided that I will be very choosy in answering the questions in CAT mocks. So, I executed the following points.

I skimmed all the questions of the Quant section and the LRDI section in the first five minutes.

  1. To whatever extent I could, I divided questions into three categories.
    1. A – LOD1 (Very easy formula based questions, generally 8–10 such questions appear in the CAT exam).
    2. B – LOD2 (Questions of moderate difficulty level. If you have practised well, you would know how to approach the question and would be able to solve it in 2 minutes. Generally, 16–18 such questions appear in the CAT exam).
    3. C – LOD3 (These are tough questions that you might not have seen before. These questions require you to think a lot. Generally, 3–6 such questions appear in the CAT exam).
  2. I started solving LOD1 questions first, followed by LOD2, and then LOD3 if time permitted.
  3. In the LRDI section also, I first skimmed through all the sets and followed the same method of categorization.
  4. In the verbal section, I checked which all RC topics were in my comfort zone and decided to attempt those first. The para jumbles could be tricky, so I used to it at the last after completing RC and CR questions.

But how to identify which questions are easy and which are tough?

It comes automatically with practice. But if you are not able to identify, do the following for the first five mocks that you have taken. Do this for the sections in which you are not able to identify your strong areas and weak areas.

  1. Make an excel file and write down all the topics of Quant in different rows.
  2. For each topic in each mock, identify the number of correct, incorrect, and unattempted questions.
  3. The topics with maximum right answers are your strong topics.
  4. The topic with maximum wrong or unattempted questions is your weak areas.
  5. From the next mock onwards, first, solve the questions from the topics of your strong area, and then go to solve questions from weak areas.
  6. In the weekdays, work on transforming your weak areas into strong areas.

Read: From 70% In CAT 2018 To 98+% In CAT 2019 – A leap of Faith Ft. Biswarup Ghosh

What was the result of this approach?

I succeeded in attempting (to solve or not) all the questions in the mock test.

  1. I did not feel stuck in many questions.
  2. My speed and accuracy improved.
  3. My scores gradually improved.
  4. I realized the importance of time management and felt that the CAT exam was manageable if you manage your time well.

Conclusion:

Initially, it felt a little tough to implement this in CAT mocks, but then gradually, it became a habit that continued till the CAT exam, and it helped me immensely. I hope you have got my points. Try implementing it. I hope that it will work well for you.

Keep going!

All the best!


Read: How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?


Related articles:

  1. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  2. Mistakes That A CAT Aspirant Should Avoid! Ft. Atishaya Jain

  3. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?
  4. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  5. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  6. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  7. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  8. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  9. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  10. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  11. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  12. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  13. Which All Top B-Schools Give Very Less Or No Weight For Academic Scores?

weak quant

My maths is weak, how should I prepare Quant for CAT exam?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide No Comments

In the last two months, I have been asked one question very frequently. It is: “How should I prepare Quant if I am weak in Maths?”

weak quant

I understand that maths is not your forte. I agree that you might have been out of touch with mathematics after class 10. But that should not leave you dead scared. The CAT exam syllabus of the quant is till class 10 only.

Hence, first of all, start believing that it is possible and you can do it. Many non-engineers who studied maths up to class 10 have made it to the top IIMs. So you too can make it. Many have done it before you, and many will do it after you. So, you can also do it. Feel this attitude, and read further.

To be honest, I, being an engineer, am average at maths. Though it is not my forte, it is not my nemesis either.  So, I never referred to any textbook of maths for the CAT preparation. But I have learned from many aspirants that they are having a tough time dealing with maths. This has made me realize that there can’t be only one way of preparation. What worked for me might not work for others. And so, I reached out to my non-engineer friends. I tried to understand how they approached the preparation of the Quant section for the CAT exam. Among these friends, some were b.com grads, and two of them were doctors.


How do non-engineers generally deal with Maths?

In the outset, I am summing up the highlights of my discussion with them.

  1. They prepared for CAT for at least one year.
  2. Most of them borrowed the Arun Sharma book but failed to follow that in and out.
  3. They studied mainly through the study material of the coaching institute and the mock tests. They all said that mocks helped them substantially.
  4. Most of them covered easy topics first and did not focus much on the tough (LOD 3) questions.
  5. Most of them had one section in which they were relatively strong.
  6. Interestingly, one doctor liked maths, and she prepared with coaching material and mocks. She ended up with around 99 percentile in Quant.

Now, In this blog, I am going to share what I learned from their experience.

So, if you get a nightmare from maths or you find it hard to understand the solutions of most of the questions given in the study material, the following points might help you.


Start early:

Most of my non-engineer friends said that they knew that maths was their weakness. So, they started a bit early. As such, if you are weak in mathematics, you should start preparing for the CAT exam at least 12 months before the CAT exam. And if possible, prepare for around a year and a half. It will give you sufficient time to get adapted to the CAT syllabus and get through the exam.

Focus on the basics: 

When you are weak in some areas, when you feel stuck in something, you need to first learn the basics of it. But at the same time, you need to keep a check on the time you have for the preparation. Everyone who manages to score well in the Quant section has his/her basics covered. To cover the basics, you should do the following experiments.

  1. Cover the basics from the study material of any coaching institute: I always prefer this because the study material of the coaching institutes covers all the topics in a very optimal way – they cover the basics as well as give you exposure to the variety of questions asked in the CAT exam. You can try this.
  2. Cover the basics from Arun Sharma: You can also cover your basics from the famous Arun Sharma books for CAT preparation. However, I would recommend this way in the following situations.
      1. You have sufficient time for the CAT preparation (more than one year).
      2. Your basics of Quant and LRDI are too weak.

In general, I would suggest you to first go through the study material of any coaching institute. Start taking baby steps with the help of that study material. You can approach your topic-wise Quant Preparation in the following manner.

  1. Pick up any easy topic (for example, profit and loss), read the concepts given at the beginning of the topic, and then try solving questions.
  2. With the concepts given, you will be able to solve most of the questions. There will be questions which you will not be able to solve, try it for 3-4 minutes. If you don’t get the approach, highlight them, and see the solution.
  3. If you are not able to understand the solution also, post it in some peer-learning group and take the help of other aspirants. They can help you better with the concept and the approach. They may even suggest some better approaches to the same question. Remember, peer-learning is one of the most important aspects of the CAT exam and the MBA.
  4. If there are so many questions whose solutions you are not able to understand even after watching the solutions, it means that your basics are not in place. In this situation, pick up the Arun Sharma book for that topic, and cover it. You can skip LOD-3 questions as they are generally not tested in the CAT exam. The CAT questions are mostly (around 28-30) easy or moderate.

As I mentioned, this is the time to experiment in which you try to understand which way works better for you. Do this experiment for at least a month. This will give you an idea as to what resource you should use to cover the basics. This will also help you understand how comfortable you are with the CAT syllabus and if you should join any coaching.

I feel that no matter who you are – engineer or non-engineer, you should not join coaching straightaway. First, you should take baby steps on your own, get a rough idea of your strengths and weakness, and then decide if you need to join coaching. If yes, it will help you decide when you should join a coaching class.

Do not over-study in the beginning:

When you start practising, the initial days will be tiring and you might find it difficult to sit for long hours. So, don’t do that. In the beginning, go slowly. You have time, so you can start slowly, and later pace up your preparation. Learn at your own pace. This will ensure that you don’t lose interest even before getting fully into the preparation mode.

Make a learning diary: 

When Quant is not your forte, you may need to revise it now and then as it does not come naturally to you. In this situation, you should maintain a learning diary in which you can note down all the important formulas and concepts topic-wise. And keep revising it so that you stay in touch with it.

Work on your calculations:

It comes in very handy, but it is not a skill that can be honed in a day or a week. It will take months to develop that habit. So, be patient. Every day, along with your regular preparation, spend around half an hour in learning a thing or two about speed maths. You can find this in the study material of any coaching. Basics like table up to 30, squares up to 30, cubes up to 20, conversion of fraction into percent, and so on should be at your fingertips. Just keep learning a bit of it every day and use it in your calculations. You will gradually develop the speed.

Be consistent: 

This is very important. You spend a lot of time in learning one topic from scratch and then if you keep it aside for a month. All the learnings will be gone. You will feel like starting the topic again from scratch. So, don’t just throw away any topic after covering it. Stay in touch with it. And the best way to do is to try solving questions on various social media platforms and peer-learning groups. This will help you revise your concepts, and at the same time, you will be able to help others that will win you friends in this journey.

Analyze mocks religiously:

My non-engineer friends, as well as I, strongly feel that most of the learning happens through mock analysis. Go through each question of the Quant section, try it again on your own. If you are not getting the approach, see the solution. Try to understand the approach they have used in their solution. If you feel that you are not able to solve many questions from a particular topic, go back and brush it up either from the study material of the coaching or from the Arun Sharma book. Inculcate this habit. Analyze mocks religiously.


Read: What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?


Have patience:

Please, don’t get disheartened if you get stuck in preparation and don’t see the light quickly. Don’t feel bad if you fail to solve the questions comfortably. It is okay to struggle. When you start something new, when you see that something is your weak link or something that is not your forte, you need to invest a lot of time in that. Initially, you won’t see the light. You won’t see any improvement in just a few days or a few months, but a consistent effort over a period will fetch you some beautiful results.

In any new project that you work on, the initial few days or few months are required only to find the right way and the right direction. Initially, you will do something and discover that it is not working for you, then you will try a different method which you might find efficient, and then you start following it consistently to get the desired results.

You need to forgive yourself for your faults and mistakes and keep on learning with patience. You need to give yourself sufficient time to do mistakes and learn from them. Those who want instant results, I feel, they do injustice to themselves. So, please, be patient. Please, don’t be harsh on yourself. Don’t overburden yourself. Learn slowly. It is okay. Once you get the hang of it, you will become unstoppable.


Finally, just remember,
“With ordinary talent and extraordinary effort and perseverance, all things are attainable – Thomas Fowell Buxton”
And
The success tastes sweeter if it comes as a result of coming through sheer struggles.


With these points, I feel one should be able to get rid of his Quant fear. However, as I always say, it is just my opinion. This is not the only way to study, but it is surely one of the ways. Those who are struggling to find a way can try this.


Read: How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?
  2. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  3. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  4. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  5. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  6. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  7. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  8. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  9. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

quant for cat

How should I prepare Quant for CAT?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide 6 Comments

This is a very common question. In the outset of the preparation, most of the CAT aspirants find themselves clueless with no idea on how to prepare quant for CAT. They struggle to find answers to the following questions.

  1. Which topic should I start first?
  2. What sequence of the topics should I follow?

They feel that they lack a strategy and a structure for their preparation. Many get worried because they feel that their preparation is random and haphazard. In this blog, I will try to share how I was able to study quant in a structured manner and what sequence of the topics did I follow. It might help you a little in giving a structure to your preparation.

When I started my preparation, I was as clueless as anyone else. I had been out of touch with maths for almost a year and did not have any habit of studying for long hours. So, I decided that I would pick the easier topics first, and started with Arithmetic. It helped me in the following ways.

  1. Arithmetic being relatively easier, boosted my confidence.
  2. It helped me set up the tone for the preparation.
  3. I found questions easy and interesting, so it helped me increase my study hours gradually.

Initially, when I started my CAT journey in January 2017, I would study not more than 2 hours a day for around three weeks. Gradually, I started enjoying my preparation, and so I managed to increase my study hours to an average of 5 – 6 hours a day.


What sequence of the topics did you follow?

I had the TIME material with me, so I followed the topics from that material in the following sequence.

  1. Arithmetic (10-12 questions in CAT)
  2. Algebra ( 10-12 questions in CAT)
  3. Number Systems (2-4 questions in CAT)
  4. Geometry (4-6 questions in CAT)
  5. P&C (1-2 questions in CAT)
  6. Cubes (0-2 questions in CAT)

Arithmetic:

  1. Percentage
  2. Average
  3. Profit and Loss
  4. SI CI
  5. Ratio & proportions
  6. Mixture and Alligation
  7. Time and Work
  8. Speed, Distance, and Time

Algebra:

  1. Sequence and Series
  2. Integral solutions
  3. Log
  4. Inequalities
  5. Mods
  6. Graphs
  7. Maxima Minima
  8. Functions

I covered all these topics from TIME booklets. This gave me a basic understanding of Quant for the CAT. I reinforced these basics through mocks and their analysis by learning from them. In each topic, I used to first read the theory and the solved examples. After this, I would solve the exercise questions.


How did you gain speed?

Initially, I did not focus on speed. My only goal was to understand the concepts. If I got stuck in any question, I used to see the solution and understand that. I did not rush initially. I used to study at my own pace. With time, I was able to gain speed because my concepts got clear, and I had confidence.

Alongside this, I covered topics of speed mathematics daily for around 30 minutes. This helped me learn a few speedy calculations, and I applied those in questions. In this way, I was able to remember those tricks, and they were at my fingertips in some time.

Read: What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?


What else did you do?

I was a part of one peer-learning group on WhatsApp and iQuanta group on Facebook. In these groups, I posted all my doubts questions. It helped me immensely, as most of the time, I got the answer to my query within a few minutes. I also helped others by solving their doubt questions in these groups. This facilitated revision of my concepts. Besides, this allowed me to remain updated with all the topics.

Once I started taking mocks, I came across questions that were new to me, and these questions exposed me to new concepts. I learned these through some videos on YouTube. I would face a lot of problems, especially in Algebra questions like mods and Graphs. Fortunately, I found beautiful explanations of all these topics on the Takshzilla YouTube channel. For algebra, I haven’t found anything better than those videos. Those videos made algebra look super easy.

Unfortunately, those videos have been taken off now, and are available only for paid users.

I also maintained a learning diary in which I had noted down all the formulas topic wise and also some questions that I felt were typical.

One last point: I did not focus much on very tough questions (L0D 3). Very few such questions are asked in the CAT exam. And, I feel, more often than not, they are meant to be left so that you can use that time in other questions. To back my point, I am roughly giving the number of questions asked in each difficulty level.

  1. Easy: 8-10
  2. Moderate – 15-18
  3. Tough – 4-6

In a nutshell, what helped me was

  1. Focus on basic concepts
  2. Consistency
  3. Sometimes, I couldn’t solve many questions from a topic, but I did not get harsh on myself.
  4. Mocks and their analysis
  5. Solving questions in Peer learning groups

I prepared Quant for CAT in this way. In CAT 2017, I scored 97.63 percentile in Quant in my first attempt.

I hope this article will give you some direction to your Quant preparation.

Keep going!
All the best!


Read: How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?


Related articles:

  1. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?
  2. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  3. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  4. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?
  5. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  6. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  7. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  8. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  9. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

 

Is MBA from IIMs really worth it

Is doing MBA from IIMs really worth it?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

You must have seen people dreaming about IIMs and going gaga over it. Every year, we see lacs of aspirants prepare for the CAT exam and only a few get an opportunity to become a part of the coveted IIM brand. And among the ones who miss the bus, many of them don’t give up so easily. They get themselves ready to give another shot at the CAT exam.

You must have also heard people bragging about their life at IIM, job and package. This would have definitely made you think if an MBA from IIMs really worth it. While I was preparing for the CAT exam, there were times when this thought crossed my mind. Now that I have completed my MBA, I feel, I should answer this question for the benefit of others.

So, the answer is disputedly, yes!

I will tell you why.

  1. Brand Name: You agree or not, but the brand name matters! The moment your CV reads IIM, the people’s perception of you changes positively. I have experienced this. When I told people that I pursued my Engineering from IET DAVV (neither IIT nor IIM), people usually ignored me, but now when I tell the same people that I pursued MBA from IIM, it surprises them. Their perception of me sounds positive. See, brand matters!
  2. Whopping Packages: People can dispute on this point stating that ROI is not that great, but the fact that most of the people get a good package (an average of 15 LPA) is no joke. Had you been continuing in your job, it would have taken you, on an average, around 5 years, to reach that salary amount.
  3. Exposure: When you pursue an MBA from an IIM, you experience myriad things every day, and you get exposure to multi-domain knowledge which is unparalleled. MBA from IIM widens your horizon of knowledge and awareness.
  4. Network: It is said that Network is your net-worth. Indeed! Pursuing an MBA from IIM manifolds your social network which you can leverage sooner or later for mutual benefits. Sounds good, no?

Note: This article does not talk about any particular IIM. I think the worthiness of pursuing an MBA from a particular IIM will vary on a case by case basis.


Related Articles:

  1. When Should A Working Professional Join An MBA Program?

  2. Is Work Experience A Must To Get Admission Into An IIM?

  3. Should I Quit My Job And Take A Drop For The CAT Exam?

cat journey

How was your life during CAT preparation?

By CAT Preparation One Comment

Challenging and fulfilling!

It was January 2017 when the idea of taking CAT became dominant in my heart and mind, courtesy of my job that was sapping me mentally every single day. New day, new struggle lead to a fierce resolve. And then, I began to read more about the CAT exam, came across various beautiful answers on Quora regarding how to prepare for CAT, which coaching institutes to join, and how to manage time for preparation alongside CAT. I was not in favour of joining any coaching institute after learning about the CAT syllabus, but even then, I visited a few institutes in Gurgaon like TIME and IMS. However, their whopping fee convinced me to go ahead on my own. From there, the battle on the field began.

In the outset, around mid-January, I started taking baby steps. My work hours were from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. In those days, morning hours were not very productive from the preparation point of view, so I used to study after office for about two hours every day. I didn’t force myself to spend more time because I wanted to set the tone for preparation. I would pick a quant topic and cover it in a few days, and also a little LRDI. No specific preparation started for VARC then, because I didn’t feel the need to do so. The point is, I did what I wanted to do at my own pace. This made my preparation intriguing. I started liking CAT preparation.

Perhaps, God was also on my side. It was around mid-march when my office timing changed to the afternoon shift (1 PM to 10:30 PM). It was indeed a stroke of luck because this timing gave me ample time in the morning to study. My preparation went to a whole new level.

My day started at 6 AM, and before leaving for office at 12:45 PM, I made sure I studied for around 4–5 hours. Not only at home, but I was also swamped in my preparation in the office as well, thinking about one question or the other, and reading news online. I remember I used to have one pen and paper in my pocket always in the office. Whenever I found no one around, I would go to the office library and solve a few questions from social media platforms like iQuanta and 2IIM. In a nutshell, on weekdays, I used to study for around six hours every day. And this routine worked pretty well for me, for days and months.

On weekends, I used to take a mock and analyze it. Weekends were relatively less productive than weekdays because there was no fixed schedule. And I used to chill most of the time on weekends. So, roughly, this was my schedule throughout my CAT preparation.

But, what was challenging in that?

The most challenging part was dealing with failure despite putting in my best effort. There were times when I was outrightly depressed with low mock scores. On certain days when I felt low, I won’t study anything. There were days when fear about failure crept in. There were times when all I did was overthinking. This was challenging. Channelizing this negative energy into positive was challenging. I had to motivate myself now and then.

Fortunately, I could succeed in hanging in through the rough patches by various means like motivational videos, success stories, failure stories, taking pauses, and going for the weekend trips.

There were times when I felt like giving up the CAT preparation, but as soon as I thought about continuing my job, I gave up the idea of giving up.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

How was your life during CAT preparation

My tenacity kept me going. In the last two months, I did not care about marks and percentile. I did not care about what others would think of me. All I cared about and focused on was learning from my mistakes in the previous mocks. And when the D-day came, the fortune changed. I was calm and gave my best.

How was the CAT preparation fulfilling?

That evening, when I looked back into my journey, I felt contented. I saw a complete turnaround in me as a person. What this pursuit made of me was truly satisfying. I felt it was all so damn worth it.

6 AM to 11 PM! Work and study! For days and months!

I truly savoured that yearlong odyssey, a transformational journey of patience and persistence. Witnessed failure. Cried. Witnessed excellence. Smiled. Witnessed unwavering patience. Realized strength. The strength to endure. The strength to wait.

From there on, I walked with impunity because I had done all I could have done. No regrets.

Eventually, I converted IIM Trichy.

And then, I got into a different world and lived a life I had never experienced before. Yes, I cherished every single moment of my life at IIM Trichy.

Should I keep preparing for the CAT 20, or should I apply for CAT 21 due to Coronavirus?

Should I keep preparing for the CAT 20, or should I apply for CAT 21 due to Coronavirus?

By CAT Preparation No Comments

Of late, many CAT aspirants are perplexed with this one thought – “Should I keep preparing for the CAT 20, or should I apply for CAT 21 due to Coronavirus?”

Should I keep preparing for the CAT 20, or should I apply for CAT 21 due to Coronavirus?I understand your apprehensions. Undisputedly, coronavirus has upended our life. In the wake of this pandemic, we are falling into a deep recession. Generally, a recession lasts for 3-4 quarters. And then, the growth phase begins. So, this might affect the placement of 2019–21 batch adversely. I have been seeing many MBA students of 2019-21 batch struggling for their summer internship. Many companies have revoked their summer internship offers. And this has been done irrespective of the b-school you are from.  This pandemic has impacted the 2018-20 batch as well. I have been seeing many LinkedIn posts in which recent graduates are looking for a full-time job. It is because many companies like Uber, Raymond and Gartner have revoked their final placement offers due to this pandemic. And this will continue now for some time.

A few days back, I read an article related to the aftermath of the 2008 recession. The article talked about how the placements of IIM students were severely impacted. The average package of IIM A reduced to 12 LPA from 18 LPA following the recession year. And I feel the same picture will repeat now. So, yes, we will have some tough time ahead, but hopefully, and we will sail through that. This aberration is fleeting, and we will soon get rid of this virus.

Now, the question is: Considering the present situation, should aspirants prepare for the CAT exam?

As I said, the recession lasts for 3-4 quarter. It implies that the economy should be bouncing back from the last quarter of 2021. And that is the time when the placement of PGP 2020-22 begins. So, I don’t think that they will have to bear the brunt of this COVID-19 pandemic.

Having said that, CAT 2020 aspirants should be unfazed by this deadly virus. You should not have an iota of doubt about your preparation. Prepare well and get into your dream b-school. By the time you are ready to step into the corporate, I feel, the market will flourish and you will come off with flying colours. I hope I have cleared the air in this regard. But again, this is just my perception of the situation. 

Today, I watched one video on the same topic by Rajesh Sir, the director of 2IIM, and he beautifully answered this question. You may watch that video here.


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?

  3. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  4. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  5. How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

  6. How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?
  7. Which Is Better – Online Coaching Or Offline Coaching?

  8. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  9. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  10. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

  11. Why Do Students Fail In CAT?

Is work-experience a must to get an admission into an IIM

Is work experience a must to get admission into an IIM?

By CAT Preparation 3 Comments

A lot of people wonder if work experience is a must to get admission into an IIM. So, in this article, I am sharing my opinion on the same.

Is work-experience a must to get an admission into an IIM

Yesterday, I was listening to a speech by Bhargav Das Gupta, IIM B Alumnus, and MD & CEO of ICICI Lombard. He made one very interesting point. He said,

“Until you experience the corporate life outside, you won’t be able to admire the lessons taught inside the classroom of an IIM.”

I feel this is the very reason why work experience carries weight in the admission process of an MBA.

So, work experience is ‘not a must but a good to have’ in your profile before the MBA.

Now, let’s look at some of the advantages of work-ex in the MBA program.

  1. It carries weight in the admission process: Each IIM has weight for the work-experience, only the degree varies.
  2. It lets you know why you want to pursue an MBA: The job exposes you to the practical corporate world. This allows you to understand where your interest lies and helps you find a reason to pursue an MBA.
  3. It helps you think in a structured manner: I have realized that work-ex makes you a mature individual who is more practical in his perspective and approach to solving a real-world problem.
  4. It facilitates rich discussions on various topics in IIMs: Students with work experience from various sectors facilitate a rich discussion in the class. This is beneficial because students get exposure to varying perspectives and possibilities to deal with a particular situation.
  5. It helps in campus placement at IIMs: The exposure to the corporate world enhances your awareness and practical knowledge. This allows you to drive the interview in the direction you want and helps in your campus placement. A job gives you some practical knowledge that becomes visible when you speak in an interview, and that helps. Some companies look for people with some work-ex, and in those companies, you get an edge over freshers. For this reason, quitting a job is also not a good idea.

Now that you know that the work experience counts, one another question must have crossed your mind. And that is, how much of work experience is considered as good to get an admission into an IIM?

So, I will answer this as well based on my experience.

Generally, lesser than 12 months of work-ex is not considered. And the optimum work-ex, which can give you an advantage during admission as well as placement, is anything between 24 and 36 months. Again, this is purely my opinion based on my experience.

If we talk about the quality of work-ex, only the top few IIMs consider the quality of work experience,  Most of the other IIMs offer marks based on months of work experience only.


Edit: To the freshers!

After reading this article, many freshers approached me to ask if they should stop their CAT preparation now and resume preparation after some work experience.

I would say no to them. Keep preparing. As I said, work experience is not a must for admission in an IIM. Why would you stop trying when there is an opportunity for you to get into an IIM as a fresher itself?

I think if you are preparing for CAT during graduation, you have an added advantage of extra time and age. During college, you can spend more time on preparation. You also don’t have to worry about too much of work experience that many people with work experience go through because they could not crack the CAT exam in the first attempt and now they have 4-5 years of work experience. Understand that the CAT is unpredictable and uncertain. So don’t think that you can crack it as and when you want it. Things may not fall in place for you in the first attempt. As a fresher, you can afford one extra shot at the CAT exam. So, prepare early, prepare well, and grab every opportunity that you get.

I hope I have cleared the air now.


Read: When Should A Working Professional Join An MBA Program?


Related Articles:

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  2. Should I Quit My Job And Take A Drop For The CAT Exam?

  3. Is Doing MBA From IIMs Really Worth It?

How do I develop the reading habit

How do I develop the reading habit?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide 9 Comments

Are you also looking for ways to develop the reading habit?

If yes, this article might be helpful to you.

In the CAT examination, I find VARC very amusing. It is interesting that for some, it is a cakewalk, while for others, it is no less than a nightmare. The people in the latter category find themselves dumbstruck as to what they should do with this section. They often say that they can handle quant and DILR because those are formula and logic-based and can be mastered through regular practice. But in VARC, there is no logic as such. They often get stuck with the following questions.

“How can I score well in the VA section?”
“What are the ways to increase my accuracy in VA section?”
“Why do I fail to understand the meaning of many words that I come across.
“My reading speed is very slow. What should I do?”

And those who have taken the CAT exam, the only answer they have for this is: Develop the reading habit. Read, read, and read is what they advise. I second their opinion.

I also strongly feel that the VARC section can be comfortably tackled if one is good at reading. In my opinion, a good reader has a few good qualities.

  1. Good comprehension kill.
  2. Better intuition concerning the English language as compared to the ones who are not voracious readers.
  3. Rich vocabulary
  4. Relatively higher reading speed

So, one thing is clear: It is important to develop the reading habit to ace the VARC section of the CAT exam.

Then, the next question that comes to our mind is: How?

To answer this question, I will tell you a little about my background and what I did to enhance my reading skill. In the outset, I want to tell that if you are looking for some formula or any instant solution, you will be disappointed, because what I followed did not yield result quickly. So, in that case, you may skip reading this answer further.

I had my schooling till class 8 in the MP board school in my village. So, there was no culture of English. All I did till class 8 was rote-learning. In class 9, my family moved to a city, and I secured admission in a CBSE convent school.

And then began the struggle. There, the way of the study was completely different, where we had to study books instead of just mug-up text back questions. No concept of rote-learning was there. Also, teachers used to teach in English, and students were also very fluent in English communication.

Among them, I felt dumb. The inferiority complex crept in. I struggled a lot for years. My colleagues used to mock me for my inability to speak in English and my rustic pronunciation. Everything went wrong except one thing – this ordeal fuelled the fire within me.

During my engineering, I started reading the newspaper because we used to get it for free in our hostel. When I initially started, it took me an hour to read one page of the newspaper. I did not know the meaning of many words. But I was patient. Every day I would read one page of the newspaper, and in that also, I would pick articles that fascinated me.

I mostly read articles related to politics, sports, and lifestyle, and ensured that I understood what was written there. I would not assume the meaning of any word, rather I would underline the word, and look into the dictionary for the meaning. Not only reading, but I would also write all the new words in a notebook and make one sentence on my own using that word. This helped me remember the words.

Besides, I used to write a few words on my palm each day and form sentences using those words. All this helped me understand the articles well. I could understand how a sentence was written and learned quite a few new words in this process. After a month, I could read a page in around 40 minutes with a lesser number of unknown words cropping up each day.  I continued this practice for around six months, and it did wonders for me. I fell in love with English, and as a result, I started writing, and eventually, I started my blog.

Today, I read the English newspaper the way I read the Hindi newspaper.

I enjoyed this process. To my disbelief, it was very unwinding. I felt really good when I used to frame a sentence for words written on my palm during my free time – sometimes during my evening walk or at night when I was just roaming around.

I am not saying that this is the only way to enhance your reading skill, but it is one effective way I feel. It might work for you as well. But yes, in this process, one needs to be patient because it is a slow process, and it will take some time to yield a positive result.

In this whole process, one thing is very important, and it is that one should not try reading topics that do not fascinate them. At least, in the beginning, read those topics which fascinate you so that you develop a taste for reading and start enjoying it. Once you start enjoying reading, you can read those editorials of The Hindu and the likes.

Lastly, this process would work better if your basic English grammar is fairly good. If not, they brush it up as well alongside. You should be very clear with basic topics like tenses, voice, and speech.

To conclude, those who are targeting CAT 2021 should try this, and those who are targeting CAT 2020 can try this, but due to a paucity of time, instead of reading one page, read only one article a day. But be consistent. And for that matter, throughout your CAT preparation, be patient and work consistently. I strongly believe, CAT is one exam which is more about patience, persistence, and perseverance than it is about intelligence.

Read: How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?


Related articles:

  1. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  2. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  3. How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?

  4. Speed or Accuracy – What should I focus on?
  5. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  6. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  7. How To Do CAT Mock Analysis?

Should I quit my job and take a drop for the CAT exam?

Should I quit my job and take a drop for the CAT exam?

By CAT Preparation 2 Comments

In 2017, when I was preparing for the CAT exam alongside my job, one thought would often cross my mind, “ShouldS I quit my job?” While I was working, every single day was a struggle for me. I just hated going to the office. There was negativity all around, and I just wanted to move out of that place anyhow.

My CAT preparation was going pretty good and I was quite confident about getting through. I was so obsessed with the preparation that spending time at the office felt like a waste. All I wanted to do was quit my job and prepare for CAT whole-heartedly.

So, I talked to my mentors expressing my reluctance to continue the job. And every time I asked them, their answer remained the same– a big no!

I asked them, “Why do you ask me to not quit my job when I feel terrible there?”

Each of them said,

“CAT is very unpredictable. You can never be confident about the result. The risk is too high to take. And CAT is an exam which one can easily manage with the job. Moreover, a drop year is not good if you are preparing for an MBA because interviewers look for candidates who have some exposure to the corporate before, and have felt the heat before.

Preparing without CAT gives a hint that you can not work under pressure and can not manage time effectively. So, quitting the job is not an option. Throw it out of your mind and focus on juggling office and preparation. If you are feeling terrible at the office, change your job, but don’t take a drop.”

At that time, I got angry with my mentors because they were not understanding my problem, but then, I witnessed many working professionals who quit their job for CAT and could not get through. Many of them became jobless. And some of them who cracked the CAT exam couldn’t convince the interviewers as to why they quit the job. This is unfortunate. 

So, if you want to quit the job and prepare for the CAT, ask yourself the following questions and make a decision.

  1. What will you do if the CAT doesn’t work out for you? Do you have any back-up?
  2. Does CAT really require the practice of 10–12 hours a day that you can’t juggle the job and the preparation?
  3. Are you ready to deal with the probable repercussions of leaving the job – the financial stability and the pressure to perform?

If you ask my opinion now, I would never ask you to take a drop. I feel that the job gives you both – security and opportunity. So, don’t quit it. If your job frustrates you, change it, but don’t simply quit.

All the best!


Read: Is Work Experience A Must To Get Admission Into An IIM?


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  2. Is Work Experience A Must To Get Admission Into An IIM?

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  4. How Was Your Life During CAT Preparation?

 

Which is better – Online coaching or offline coaching?

Which is better – Online coaching or offline coaching?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide One Comment

In the last 4-5 years, there has been a paradigm shift in the way preparation for the CAT exam is done, with more and more online coachings gaining substantial traction. And the results have been positive as well.

I have seen many people acing the CAT exam without taking coaching from established institutes like TIME, IMS, and CL. These people prepared mostly through online platforms and with the guidance of the ones who have been through the same journey.

Having said this, I agree that online coaching is gaining traction, but it doesn’t mean that offline coaching is not worth it.

People often seek answers to the following questions.

“Should I join coaching or prepare on my own?”
“Which coaching should I join – online or offline?”

I feel these questions are very subjective, and the answer to these can be different for different individuals.

CAT is one exam in which, more than intelligence, patience and persistence matter. It is an exam in which, more than talent, intent matters.

There are 3 Ps that are of utmost importance in the CAT preparation.

Persistence: Can you continue your studies even if you find it difficult? Do you have enough motivation to crack the CAT that you willingly face the challenges?
Perseverance: Can you slog daily for 3-6 hours for days and months? Can you adjust your schedule to ensure that you take out sufficient time to study?
Patience: Can you calmly prepare for 8-12 months without getting frustrated to such an extent that you decide to quit the CAT preparation midway?

The syllabus of the CAT exam is no rocket science. Anyone can master it with the help of above 3 Ps. And I believe, coaching institutes help you with these 3 Ps more than the teaching (I don’t mean to offend anyone. This is just my personal opinion). They offer you an environment to study that helps you trudge this long walk.

The biggest advantage of coaching institutes is that they provide you with a schedule. And when you are let down, they can motivate you. 

So, if you feel that you have your basics right in place and you can manage your schedule well, I feel you can ace the CAT without any coaching. Nowadays, so many online platforms are available to help you with your doubts and other queries. There are so many online platforms available that facilitate peer learning. And the best thing is – you can study at your own pace.

However, if you feel that you are not able to manage your schedule on your own or your basics are not in place, you should join a coaching institute. Now, which one to join depends on your daily routine and your budget.

If you are a working professional and have a paucity of time, I feel you should go ahead with online coaching. It is because –

It will save travel time.
It will let you study at your own pace because their lectures can be viewed again and again at your convenience.

If you are not a tech-savvy person who is comfortable with the online mode of learning, you don’t have a paucity of time, and also if you don’t have any budget constraint, you can join any offline coaching. That will give you a fair schedule to follow.

Finally,

I have seen people getting 99+ percentile with no coaching and people failing miserably even after taking coaching for a year, and also the other way round.

So, no matter which coaching you join, eventually it all boils down to how determined you are to crack the CAT, how much practice you have done, how many mocks you have taken, how well the analysis of mocks you have done, and whether or not you have followed the 3 Ps.

All the best!
May The Force Be With You!


Read: How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?


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  2. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

  3. My Maths Is Weak, How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT Exam?

  4. Which Is The Best Mock Test Series For CAT? Can I Predict My CAT Percentile From Mock Test Results?

  5. What Strategy Should I Follow In CAT Mocks?

  6. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?

 

best book for cat preparation

What are the best books for cat preparation?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide 5 Comments

This is another very common yet important question. Once they make up their mind to take the cat exam, they start thinking, “what are the best books for cat preparation?”

Many times, aspirants get stuck with choice overload bias when it comes to choosing the study material to start their preparation. Choice overload, or “over choice,” is a phenomenon whereby we tend to have difficulty in choosing if presented with numerous options. As a result, they feel trapped with no clarity on how to prepare for the CAT exam.

So, based on my experience, in this blog, I am trying to help aspirants get over this dilemma.

I will say there are many best books for CAT preparation. By this, I don’t mean that you need to cover many books in and out. However, I feel that if your basics are clear, you need not solve each and every question from the renowned books like Arun Sharma or following books like Word Power Made Easy to enhance your vocabulary.

Why?

It is because those books are too exhaustive, and you might not get sufficient time to cover those books in and out (I’m assuming that you have 8-10 months for preparation). Also, I feel that one does not require so much of a detailed study in the CAT exam.

You need to understand that CAT exam, and for that matter, all the competitive exams require smart work, not hard work. Competitive exams are as much about robust strategy as about hard work.

So, you need to learn to get the most out of all the available resources smartly. You need to choose resources smartly, and more importantly, you need to know how to study from those resources.

In the CAT exam, certain topics are very important, while certain others are not that important. So, you need to invest your time accordingly. And a major preparation in exams like CAT, which requires great time management, happens through mocks and their analysis.

As such, you need to be abreast of major concepts from all the topics and start taking mocks. I want to emphasize more on the importance of taking mocks and analyzing them for the preparation of the CAT exam.

Now, to get a fair idea and understanding of all the topics, you can do the following (again, this is what worked for me. It may or may not work for you. But definitely, it is one way that can be worked out.)

Cover basics from materials provided by the coaching institute:

Unlike any book, coaching institutes offer relatively crisp study material that covers all the important topics. So, you can take handbooks of any coaching material, be it TIME, IMS or CL, and get hold of the basic concepts. For example, in quant, you can start with Arithmetic → Algebra → Number Systems → Geometry (I prefer this order because arithmetic and algebra are relatively simpler and Geometry and Number Systems are little tricky.)

Read: How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

Similarly, in LRDI, you can cover the basics of all the topics from the study material. So, this way, from handbooks of coaching institutes, you can get a fair idea of the concepts of all the concepts.

No need to solve thousands of questions from books like Arun Sharma. However, if you feel that you are very weak in a particular topic, you can refer to such books to cover that particular topic.

Takshzilla Videos for Arithmetic and Algebra:

They are the best, because every topic is lucidly explained, and I can vouch for it.

Join a peer-learning group for doubt-solving and mixed questions:

The peer-learning group is a must for healthy preparation. These groups will give you an opportunity to solve many questions daily from across the sections. It also facilitates prompt doubt-solving.

Read, Read, and Read:

For VARC, a big NO to learning vocab by heart because VARC is more about comprehension. Read a lot. Read whatever you feel like, be it novel, newspaper, articles, or anything. Just read. It will do wonders for you after some time.

Read: How Do I Develop The Reading Habit?

Previous Year Questions:

This is very important as it gives you an idea as to what type of questions are asked in CAT. You can get it online. I have discussed the list of such online resources in detail here.


Now, these resources do not guarantee you 100% preparation. And for that matter, you can never be 100% prepared for a highly uncertain exam like CAT. Such exams are known for throwing surprises. However, these resources will make you ready to take mocks. These will make you feel that you are 50-60 % prepared. And then, the remaining learning will happen through mock analysis.

While doing mock analysis, you will come across some new questions and new concepts. So, learn these from mock solutions or YouTube videos. Keep exploring. Keep learning. You will have to leverage all the resources at your disposal. Smartly.

My final words: There are many best books for cat preparation, and there is no best book for cat preparation. I hope you got my point.

Links of the study material:

  1. Peer-Learning Group for an instant doubt solving
  2. Previous year solved questions
  3. Takshzilla Videos

Read: How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?


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  1. How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
  2. How Should I Prepare Quant For CAT?

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How should I prepare for the CAT exam

How should I prepare for the CAT exam?

By CAT Preparation, The Beginner's guide 12 Comments

This is a common yet important question, especially for those who have just made their mind to give a shot at the CAT exam. Oftentimes, what happens is that aspirants are highly motivated to study hard and crack the cat exam, but they just don’t have an idea as to how to kick-start the cat preparation. They don’t know where to start.

I was in a similar situation in 2017. I began my preparation in January 2017, and I did not join any coaching institute. So, based on my experience, I am sharing with you how you can prepare for this exam (assuming that you have 7-10 months for preparation). A word of caution – the following points are the ones that I followed. These might or might not work for you. Having said that, this is not the only way to prepare, but one of the ways that you can follow.


Start with WHY:

The first step towards CAT preparation is knowing why you want to do it. The CAT exam demands consistent preparation over a period. In this period, there comes a time when our confidence shakes, and we get demotivated. In such a situation, it is important to have a good reason to prepare for CAT so that when you feel down, your reason can lift you and motivate you to keep going. So, always start with why.

Don’t rush, cover the basic concepts first:

It is very important to do things at your own pace. Don’t rush. In the first place, you can start solving basic questions of all the sections. Spending 2-3 hours daily will help you gain some confidence in a month itself. You can increase your study time then. I solved questions from TIME booklets, and that helped me gain some basic understanding of the concepts. You don’t need to join any coaching just because you want to have the material. If you feel, you can prepare on your own, you should. You can easily get the study material of any coaching institutes in soft copy. 

    1. Quant:  If you have been out of touch with books, a good idea is to brush up the basic concepts first. You can cover the basics from booklets of any coaching institute. They precisely explain the topics and then provide practise exercises that help you reinforce the concepts. From my experience, you should cover the topics in the following order. Arithmetic –> Algebra –> Number Systems –> Geometry. This order ensures that you are covering the easier and relatively important topics before the tricky ones. And for speed, you should work daily for around half an hour working on speed maths learning various tricks to calculate fast. Speed Maths module of TIME can come in handy for this. I have covered the quant preparation strategy in detail here.
    2. LRDI: To be honest, LRDI is all about practice and getting exposure to as many varieties of sets as you can. And for this, you need to practice as many sets you can. To start things, you can start practising topics from any of the coaching institute’s booklets. Once you are abreast of all the basic concepts, you can start exploring more LRDI sets here and there. You can also solve sets from previous year mock tests (AIMCAT and SIMCAT).
      Read: How Should I Prepare LRDI For CAT?
    3. VARC:  Don’t rush, cover the basic concepts first: Quant and LRDI can be mastered by practice. Certain formulas can be applied to quant and LRDI questions. However, VARC is a different ball game. To get better in VARC, read, read, and read. There is no substitute for reading. The more you read, the better you can become at comprehending RCs, which form a major chunk of the whole VARC section. So, read. Read anything and everything. Read whatever you like, be it sports, entertainment, politics, history or psychology or whatever. Just read. It is very important to develop the reading habit to ace this section. You may read from any source – novel, newspaper, blogs or websites. And be consistent with reading. If you are not an avid reader, you may not like reading initially, but with persistence, you will develop a taste for it.

Be consistent:

This is the most important aspect of CAT preparation. You need to be in touch with all the sections throughout your preparation. Long breaks may break your rhythm and cost you dearly. So, even if your schedule is hectic, make sure you spend some time to solve at least a few questions daily from all the sections. This helps you retain your confidence and positivity.

Join peer-learning groups:

This point is derived from my second point. Peer-learning groups are a great way to maintain consistency in your preparation. These groups keep you busy daily through myriad questions that keep coming up on these groups. This allows you to help as well as get helped. You can join ‘The CAT Talk‘ group on Facebook. It will help you get all your doubts and queries answered quickly.

Don’t delay in taking mocks:

Once you feel that you have covered 60-70% of the syllabus, buy a test series, and start taking mocks. You should not wait to be 100% prepared. This will never happen. You should start taking mocks ideally from the first week of June. Every week, you should take one mock. And there is one thing more important than taking mocks, and that is analyzing it. If you are taking a mock for 3 hours, you should spend 5-6 hours analyzing it. This is how you will feel 100% prepared gradually. Before the CAT exam, you must take at least 30 mocks (assuming that you are an average student). 

Maintain a learning diary:

Some formulas, some concepts are really hard to grasp, no? Indeed. So, to ensure that you get a better hold on them, you should maintain a learning diary where you can note down all the important formulas and concepts. You can also maintain word files topic wise and take screenshots of tough/important questions and save them in that file. Revising them time and again will help you solve those quickly in the exam (telling this from my experience, literally).

Don’t ignore any section:

99.5+ percentile is a waste if you fail to clear the cut-off score of all the three sections. So, don’t take any section for granted. Try to solve questions from each section daily. This is important.

Solve previous year questions:

Generally, questions don’t repeat in CAT, but concepts do. So, solve previous year questions religiously to get the hang of what CAT questions look like. This is one of the best forms of practice. You can get all the previous year questions in the Face2Face book. It is available on Amazon.

Practice, practice, and practice:

More than talent, cracking any competitive exam is about intent. So, persevere. Keep practising. Practice as much as you can from as many sources as you can. There is no one book that one should follow for CAT preparation.

Take time out to unwind yourself:

Just like any machine, humans also need breaks. So, take breaks at regular intervals of time to unwind yourself so that you can practice harder and longer.

Finally, don’t give up:

Not saying this for the sake of saying, but I mean it, literally. CAT is more about intent than talent. In this journey, there will be times when you won’t score well in mocks, or when you will lack the motivation to prepare for the CAT exam. In such moments, do anything but give up. As mentioned above, whenever you feel low, take a break, but don’t give up. Around two lac aspirants take CAT every year, but only around 20 k go on preparing seriously till the end, others cave-in to disappointment mid-way, and fail eventually. So, competition is not that fierce, you see!


Read: What Are The Best Books For Cat Preparation?


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