‘Analysing Mocks Is More Important Than Taking Them’ – Ankit Baheti – 99.5%iler CAT ’16
What was your overall and sectional score in CAT 2016? Any other exam you had appeared for, please share the score for the same.
CAT 2016: 167.16, VARC: 46.80, DILR: 55.29, QA: 65.07
XAT: 98.362, QA: 97.006, Verbal and Logical Ability: 85.647, DM: 98.362, GK: 95.503 (for XAT, all figures are in percentile)
NMAT: Score 219, 99 Percentile
MAT: 99.85 Percentile
Talking of sections, which was the most challenging and easiest section in the test?
CAT 2016 had all the three level of varying difficulty per se. But again, it still depends on the student taking the exam as what he felt comfortable. Going by the general perception of aspirants taking CAT 2016, VA was the simplest and DILR was the toughest of all. But for me, QA seems to be the easiest of three and DILR was the toughest. I’ll rate VA at a moderate level as perceived by me. But again, it is subjective to the test-taker.
Please share your preparation journey. How did you strike a balance between your academic life/professional and preparation for an entrance exam?
Before beginning my CAT journey, I was working in my startup. The sales were stagnant, and I was finding it difficult to grow the way I had envisioned, I decided to go for a formal managerial training. So this is when I started my CAT preparation. Initially, I only use to go to coaching and did not study much. Along with that, I was handling my startup. Due to this, I wasn’t getting enough time to focus on my CAT preparation. In a nutshell, I was the jack of both the trades and master of none.
In August 2016, I decided to solely focus on CAT preparation and shut shop of my startup. It was the toughest thing to do for me then but as they say, “To achieve something, one needs to let go of some other thing.”
Being an average student, I prepared day in and day out. For next four months, it was only and only CAT for me and nothing else. At times, I use to leave home at 6 AM in the morning and return home at 10 PM.
But as Shakespeare said, “All’s well that ends well.” My hard work paid off scoring a decent 99.50 in CAT 2016.
Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary for aspirants to bag the top rank?
Yes, I was a student of TIME in Nagpur.
Whether one should go for a coaching or not, is very subjective. But general thumb rule goes that if you are an average student and confident that you can cope up, then probably there is no such need for a coaching. Regular practice should suffice. Having said that, if you think that your basics are not clear, maybe you should go for a formal coaching.
Also, if you have someone to guide you, may be your friend, seniors, family, etc. then you may not need coaching but mock tests. On the other hand, if you don’t, then you should seek out for a mentor in a coaching center.
Please share your specific section wise strategy for VARC, DI & LR and QA.
VARC: Most people (read engineers), including me, fear this section. Many think that their English is not that good and hence are at a disadvantage. But just to remind the reader, that this is not a test of your English but how well can you comprehend what is given. To develop that I’d suggest to do the following:
- Read a National Daily (The Hindu/The Indian Express) and a Pink Paper (The Economic Times) daily. Also, read topics from the internet in which you do not find interest or are boring to you. Usually, CAT has RCs/Para Jumble from such topics that are read less by students. They may include – but not limited to – History, Psychology, Anthropology, etc.
- Vocabulary: Keep it simple and basic. One should know the word root approach and should be able to guess words from its word root and context of the text. CAT does not believe in the hypothesis that a student A if knows five difficult words on a particular given day has the capability to become a better manager. So they don’t test your vocabulary. However, reading between the lines is important and, one must develop.
- Grammar: One should be well versed in Grammar. This is where you’ll have a better understanding of RCs, Para Jumble, Para Completion among others. It plays a very significant role. Don’t miss out on it.
DILR: The only thing that you can do is practice. The more you practice, the better you get at reasoning skills and the lesser the chance of error. Practice different kind of sets from whichever source you get. If one can solve 400 to 500 sets before your CAT, there is no reason to believe that one would score anything less than 99 percentile.
QA: CAT is not JEE. It doesn’t require you to solve the most complicated questions of calculus. Having said that, don’t prepare for CAT like JEE. IIMs want diversity, and they crave for it. So they won’t raise the bar higher for a section in which engineers are at an advantage. The questions demand basic concepts to be clear and their application. Here are some strategies that one can follow:
- Brush your basics: Go down to the most basic level of the topics one find difficult to deal with. I’d even recommend going through NCERT of 10th, 11th and 12th. They have explained things in the most basic manner one can. While solving NCERT, you should focus on the concept rather than answering the question right and be moving ahead. Everyone at this stage can get all the NCERT questions right.
- Maintain a Formula Notebook: Write down each and every formula, tips, tricks, shortcut, etc. in that notebook and revise it every time you appear for a mock. It will help. Going by my personal experience, I revised formulas at the dawn of my D-day, and I got one question that was simple formula based. It took me less than 30 seconds to solve it and get it right. Had I not been able to recall that, it might have taken me two precious minutes in getting the answer right.
- Solve questions with a different approach: There are many ways to address a particular question. Usually, test-takers will adopt the way that suits them the most. The only problem here is that CAT paper setter knows this. I’d suggest you solve each and every question with all the methods you can think of. Go to you mentors and ask them for any other way of solving the same, however long or difficult that method may be. For example, a question can be solved with method A and method B. Let’s say method A is easy and most students are aware or comfortable using it. The question maker can then twist the question in such a manner that method B now becomes easier to apply. In this case, most will find it difficult and the ones who have practised the other way may take it as a cakewalk.
How did you tackle the challenging sections and topics?
- Identified the problem area. It can be done best through mocks.
- Identified resources that I have to address the problems. They may be a guide, mentor, seniors, friends, family, etc. For me, it were my coaching mentors.
- Used all the resources possible and started working on it. With determination and the right attitude, it wasn’t a problem anymore.
Mention section wise books and study materials you had referred.
“How to Read Better and Faster” by Norman Lewis
“Word Power Made Easy” by Norman Lewis
“High School English Grammar and Composition” by Wren and Martin
TIME and IMS material
TIME and IMS material
TIME and IMS material
What is the significance of mock test in your success? When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency?
Mocks are probably the most important aspect of your preparation. One may not join coaching, but one cannot succeed without attempting mocks. Here are some general tips that I employed:
- Wrote a mock for 3 hours; analysed it for 6 hours. Like literally.
- Write as many mocks as you can. I wrote 48 in total. 100 percentilers have taken 80+ mocks.
- Join at least two different coaching’s mock test series.
I found mocks to be very important in choosing the strategy I was best comfortable in. Also, it helps to simulate the environment that will be there during CAT. I use to attempt them in a single sitting without getting up from my chair for 3 hours at a stretch. I’d advise all to practice the same.
Initially, I took a mock a week. As D-Day approached, I increased it to two and ultimately to three in last 2 weeks.
How did you get the mock tests analysed and how did you modify your strategy after that?
Analysing mocks is more important, in my opinion, than taking mocks. A mock analysis is not only restricted to solving the questions that you couldn’t address previously.
- I spent at least 5-6 hours analysing mocks.
- I use to divide each section into Easy, Approachable, hopeless.
- Analysed that Easy questions had high accuracy or not, marks per minute was greater than rest of the questions or not. For the approachable set of questions, made sure I’ve improved from previous mocks or not, accuracy and ROI (marks per minute) was better than previous mocks. If not, I made sure that doesn’t happen again in future.
- Worked on hopeless questions/areas if time permitted. If not, focused on where my strength lied.
- Identified where I mismanaged time and worked upon it.
- In questions where I solved using elimination method, worked on my approach to eliminate better.
What was your time management strategy for section wise preparation vis a vis exam day?
I’ve already decided on a strategy that works best for me. I was following the very same from the last 10-12 mocks. It may or may not work for others, and this may not be the best strategy available.
VARC: I solved RCs first. I use to read one paragraph and tried to guess whether I will be able to sail through it or not. In an RC, there are two types of question. The first is the specific area questions that can be attempted even if we do not read the entire passage. I use to target them first. If the RC was easy to comprehend, I attempted the other type of question as well, which require though reading and understanding. It was done in 35-40 minutes. Next 15 minutes I spent on VA section where I attempted MCQs. I use to avoid TITA as the probability of getting them right is quite low. However, if I felt that some of them are no-brainers and can be attempted, I took a shot on it. The remaining 5-10 minutes I tried some left off questions that may be moderate or difficult or required considerable time in understanding and attempting those.
DILR: As I’ve practised more than 500 sets of DI and LR, I started with those that I felt familiar and was easy to attempt. Some sets were new and required a good amount of time to understand and attempt. So I did not follow any time breakup between DI and LR section but only focused on solving easy ones first. The sets that were tough, I spent 2-3 minutes reading and deciding whether to go with it or not.
QA: I usually start attempting from the very first question, as this was my strongest section. So from Q1 to Q34, I attempt those that are of Easy and Moderate difficulty level. After that, I attempt those that are of difficult level but from the topics that I am quite confident of. If time permits after that, I try to attempt those difficult questions that are from the area that is not of my forte.
How did you utilise the features like calculator and non-MCQs in CAT?
In CAT, I did not make use of the calculator. But in mocks, I used them quite a lot to have my hands free on it. I was well versed in Vedic math, and that helped me calculate simple calculations faster compared to using On-Screen Calculator.
I usually avoided TITA in VA section as it had very less probability of getting it right. In DILR and QA, it did not matter to me as I solved the question to reach the answer.
Please share your detailed experience of WAT/GD and PI.
I have had a startup, so a major part of most of my interviews was more focused on that. Some questions which were common in many of the interviews were:
1. Some learnings from Startup?
2. Why did it fail?
3. How would MBA help you?
4. Will you take up a job or go for Entrepreneurship again?
5. Some situation based question
6. Questions on startup world and current happenings in startups like Housing, Flipkart, Zomato, Oyo, etc.
7. Some technical terms related to startups.
8. Funding, VCs, Angel Investors, Seed Funding, Series A Funding, Series B funding, etc.
There were some other questions which I had expected:
1. Reason for low score in 10th, 12th and graduation
2. GK and current affairs question
3. Area of interest
5. Common HR questions
What were the topics of WAT and GD at b-schools you had appeared for? Also, mention the PI questions you were asked.
Topics I cannot recall but mostly all were abstract topics. I’d recommend practice at least one essay after CAT. Almost all top B-Schools have WAT now. Idea generation in WAT will also help in GD/CD.
Any suggestion that you would like to share with aspirants?
End of the day CAT is just another aptitude exam that demands diligence and hard work. Put those 2 in and you will taste success. All the best!