Can you walk us through your preparation strategy?
I had decided to give CAT in 2021 Dec, and it was my first attempt. I started preparation a bit early in Mid Feb - March time since I am working. I used to read 2 hrs. every day and 3 - 4 hrs. in the weekends. I am here writing my experience topic-wise.
Quantitative Aptitude: I am an Engineer and comfortable with mathematics, so I decided to work on Quantitative aptitude since I felt it was more scoring for me. I have prepared Quantitative aptitude from the Educator Sameer Sardana on the Unacademy platform. A senior and friend of mine has suggested his name and I have seen a few classes of him. I felt the teaching style would suit me and trusted that. In the classes, he used to discuss the models for 15 mins and later he would move to problem-solving with a timer. So, I got good practice while attending the classes itself. The most important part of Quantitative aptitude is to avoid solving through formulae and try to do them with concepts. It would help you to save time and you can solve even if you encounter any new kind of problem. I have revised the complete syllabus twice before the final exam. We should not leave any part of the syllabus based on the number of questions from that particular topic or the difficulty you feel with that topic since we should not leave any easy questions from any topic. In my case, I have practiced geometry the whole syllabus thrice.
DILR: For DILR I have referred to multiple sources, like unacademy, youtube, etc. Everywhere you will get the models based on the previous papers. The more you solve the more you get comfortable with them. Try to solve at least 1 set every day fixing a 15mins time frame initially. There is no particular syllabus in DILR and you should always be ready for a surprise. So just practice, that’s all.
VARC: When I started my preparation, VARC was my weakest point and I used to get single digits in mocks in the beginning. I tried to find a good resource that suits me and finally, I relied on VARC1000 by Gejo - Career Launcher. The style of the course has worked for me. And I could attain a good percentile in VARC.
According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?
Understanding what the exam needs and what you are able to give. Identifying one's own mistakes and rectifying them. I'll share my Experience.
In the beginning, I used to score around 60 - 70 in mock tests.
Even though technically I am good at Quants, I used to lose marks because of silly calculation mistakes. And after a few mocks, I noticed a pattern in the mistakes that I made and noted them. After that, I used to double-check the answers in the mocks based on the notes I took. Although it killed sometime in the beginning it really helped to improve my accuracy. still, I made a calculation mistake in the final exam ;).
In VARC, many people try to pick good RCs and kill some time there. It’s always better you start solving from the first RC you encounter answer the questions you can and move to the next one. It’s better to use the time to solve than to choose. It’s not necessary that you solve all the questions in an RC, you can pick the questions you can and don’t waste time on the one you didn’t understand or are not sure about. Coming to VA, it has a few techniques to solve, which are obviously not useful in all questions, but you can find at least 3 4 questions solvable and since they have TITA questions, you can take a chance. VARC needs good practice if you are not good in the beginning.
Which mock series did you enroll for?
I took SIMCATs by IMS.
How many mock tests did you take, and how did they help you prepare for the actual test?
I have given around 40 mocks including past papers. Mocks will show your weak points, where you can make mistakes when you have time pressure. I would say, we shouldn't take any simple mistake also for granted. If you are seeing a pattern work on that. I did the same and I could score better. They helped me to change and shape my approach.
Which section was your Achilles heel? How did you overcome that?
For me it is VARC, I did overcome it by changing my approach towards that. I think I explained it above.
What according to you are the DO's and DON'Ts of preparation?
Let's talk about Don'ts first. All of us have a habit or general nature of wanting to see the results at the earliest possible. But good things take time, every time you feel that you learned something, you want an improvement in the score, it might give you. A lot of times you don't see the gradual improvement, I would say you learn, you make mistakes, you rectify yourself and relearn and then you perform the way you wanted. So just don't expect results too soon. Give it some time, trust the process and you will see the improvement at once and then it will settle there.
Bow do's, just practice, see that you have the right approach that suits your thinking, trust the process, and believe in yourself.
CAT is not an exam of knowledge, it is an exam of practice and consistency. So work on that.
How did you prepare for the interviews?
For the Interview, I have taken a Mock Interview series. Before that the first thing I did was to understand myself, everything about me. What I have done till now, Academics, Extracurriculars, etc. Then strengths, weaknesses, Interests, hobbies, etc. I tried to make a flowchart of questions in every possible way and tried to find answers to them. Since I have work experience, I tried to learn the major things related to it and also focussed the current affairs topics that are related to my work profile more. Also brushed-up acids too.
Which B-School interview calls did you have? How many of them did you convert?
I have calls from all BLACKI, FMS, CAP, SPJIMR, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi. And I have converted IIM A, IIM B, IIM C ( The Holy Trinity ;) ) , IIM L, SPJIMR till now. I didn't give FMS and IIT Delhi interviews and awaiting the results of the rest.
Which institute are you joining?
I am joining IIM Bangalore.
Can you describe your institute interview experience?
IIM Bangalore interview is mostly about my SOP, which talks about my work experience. Since I am into Strategic sourcing which includes contract management etc. We have spoken about different types of contracts and the major focus on carbon neutrality commitment agreements, Carbon taxes, Cap systems,s, etc. Then it shifted to the Air India deal with Boeing and Airbus and asked me what the factors I would have looked into if I were there( In negotiations POV) and a few following questions and a few other questions on international issues and my interests.