Over 2,00,000 people took CAT 2018 in November, and approximately 1% of those will be shortlisted to join India's elite business schools in 2019 - the IIMs. But how did they make it there? What was their preparation strategy to prepare for CAT and get a 99+percentile score? What were the various hiccups in their journey to their dream B-school?
To answer this, we spoke with a CAT '18 99.92 percentiler, and an IIM Ahmedabad convert - Chirag Gupta.
Chirag is an engineer from IIT Madras and will graduate in 2019. His academic profile is as follows -
- Maharashtra State Board (SSC) Std 10th: 93.45%
- Maharashtra State Board (HSC) Std 12th: 93.23%
Here, he discusses with us in detail the strategy he employed to crack CAT 2018, and gives his two cents to CAT '19 aspirants on the ideal way to prepare for CAT.
Preparation Strategy For CAT 2018
Q. Take us through your preparation strategy for CAT '18.
- Study material used: I had used only T.I.M.E material and their test series. This helped me.
- Time spent studying: 5-6 hours/ day.
- Weak section, strong section: My weakest section was Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension whereas the strongest was Quantitative Ability.
- Managing studies/work with preparation: Planning is of the utmost importance when you have got a lot on your platter. I, being a final year student, had to manage studies, placement preparation and CAT all together. First, you need to prioritise by importance and urgency and then plan accordingly. Thus, I would plan my day to have dedicated slots for each of them not compromising any.
The D-Day: Strategy For Attempting CAT 2018
Q. What was your strategy for attempting CAT '18?
I will divide this into three phases:
Long before CAT: You need to understand the reason behind doing an MBA and thus get motivated to study for CAT. The mock tests had made me realise my strong and weak links and thus I worked hard upon improving. My focus was on writing as many tests as possible in the D-day simulated environment. The mock test series from T.I.M.E. helped me a lot in this regard. This also helped me strategize the way I will attempt the final paper from the sequence of answering to the time management.
A day before CAT: It is very important to stay relaxed and have a good night’s sleep.
Fortunately or unfortunately for me, my centre was 40 kilometres from my residence and just to ensure I sleep well, I booked a hotel over there a day prior. The maximum you can do is revise the formulae for QA. But apart from that, I would advise not to do anything else but relax.
The day of the CAT: It is important to be calm and composed while answering. I would fluster in Verbal always. However, I made it a point to attempt less and increase accuracy. Even though Quant was tough, I ensured that the time dedicated to each question was sufficient. This way I was able to attempt many where many aspirants actually defaulted.
On Mock Test Strategies & Dealing With Low Mock Scores
Q. Sometimes, mock scores can be very demotivating for CAT aspirants. What advice do you have to give to CAT '19 aspirants to stay motivated?
Mock tests are not only meant for the scores; they are also for making you sit in a simulated environment for 3 hours and focus on the questions, developing the strategies for the final day. I believe that getting poor scores in at least a few mocks is a must. This will make you analyze where you were wrong and improve for the better. I had personally been consistent with poor scores in VA-RC. However, I didn’t lose hope and just strived hard in the other two simultaneously improving VA-RC bit by bit. Thus, getting demotivated by poor scores and not writing the mocks will only lead to uncertainty in your strengths and weaknesses in preparation and the dilemma when answering in the final paper too.
Tips For CAT 2019 Aspirants
Q. Starting from May, how should a CAT aspirant begin her/his preparation to get that 99+ percentile score?
6 months are good enough to crack CAT given that the individual is focused. I had started my preparation in the month of June. You need to give some mocks even though you are not prepared to understand where you are strong and where you are lacking. A 99+ doesn’t require you to be the best in all three. You can focus on your strengths making sure the third one is not neglected. This will help you to strategize a study plan. A good plan will help you to balance your work life or academic life with ease. They should also focus on one set of prep material and write as many tests as possible. This particularly helped me as the final CAT too was just another exam for me and I could keep my calm.
5. Did you have the same strategy for non-CAT exams, or were there any tweaks that you had to make?
I didn’t give any other exams, thus can’t comment.
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