CAT prep was most focused in the last 2 weeks leading up to the exam. I decided I would write CAT a little late, relatively, so I had some lost ground to catch up with. After going through the basics in math (revision of geometry and linear algebra, mostly) and DILR (logic problems and probabilities), I started solving past years' papers.
I did every CAT paper from 2017 to 2021 and analyzed what kinds of sets gave me trouble. There were only a few patterns that kept repeating, and once you see the solution it is possible to approach similar problems quicker the next time. Another key learning that helped me was that sometimes I needed to learn to let go.
There would be questions that I'd be stuck trying to solve, ending up with a lot of lost time. I think what I tried to do was to find a 'smart' solution to every problem and stick to trying to find that smart solution. Sometimes I needed to either abandon the question or try to brute-force the solution. Knowing to let it slide definitely helped me a lot.
According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?
Trying to get exposed to the different kinds of questions that can be asked in each section. As long as you are familiar with the method behind the solution, it becomes relatively easier to implement the method. When you solve a question and you get it right, or when you are looking at a solution and you try to figure out where you get wrong, keep a note of what are the patterns you see.
Learning to spot those patterns is something I've enjoyed since a young age, and that really helped me kickstart my prep. So I would say, try to intuit the logic behind the solution. The next time you see something remotely similar, you will automatically start putting the patterns together.
Which mock series did you enroll for?
None! My prep for CAT revolved around looking at past years' papers and solving them to time on my own.
How many mock tests did you take, and how did they help you prepare for the actual test?
I did every single CAT paper from CAT 2017 to CAT 2021.
Which section was your Achilles heel? How did you overcome that?
DI was my weakness. How did I overcome it? I don't think I did. But looking at past scores in the DI section helped. With the wealth of information that platforms are putting up, it's easy for you to understand how many questions you need to get to the cutoff line.
Of course, prep-wise, going through various kinds of sets helped. Often what we do is that we take questions at face value. But in the end, with a little bit of trickery, a complex DI arrangement would boil down to a Venn diagram or a combinations-based question.
As long as you get that pattern right, it's good to go. Fun note, DI was my worst-scoring section in CAT 2022.
What according to you are the DO's and DON'Ts of preparation?
1. Expose yourself to a wide variety of questions.
2. Approach your mock like you would the actual exam.
3. Keep notes, and analyze for a bit but don't overanalyze.
4. Start looking for patterns in solutions. Often a solution will have one intuitive key inference that will simplify the whole process. Start by finding that out.
1. Don't stress yourself out. You may end up burnt out before exam season officially begins.
2. Don't overanalyze your prep strategies. There is no one perfect approach. Find the one that fits you best.
3. Don't lose focus in those two hours of the mock. :)
How did you prepare for the interviews?
Prep for interviews doesn't work like prep for exams. It starts well before. Some key points that helped me prepare:
1. Have a generic idea of the major happenings around the world in different fields.
2. Answer for yourself why you want to do the MBA.
3. Map out your career path and the steps you need to undertake to get there.
4. Prepare for your major academics if you are a fresher or not.
5. Have opinions, and logically back them up.
Which B-School interview calls did you have? How many of them did you convert?
I had calls from IIM Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Shillong, CAP, XLRI BM JSR, SPJIMR, and MDI. I converted IIM A, S, XL, and SPJ, waitlisted at L and MDI. Awaiting results from the rest.
Which institute are you joining?
Can you describe your institute interview experience?
My interview wasn't the best, in my opinion. I was asked about retail banking, credit card businesses, and math (integration, statistical distributions, factorials). I was even asked to integrate a function on the spot. I was also quizzed on past awardees of the Nobel, Arjuna Award, Olympic medallists, CMs of India, and so on in a wrap-up rapid-fire GK round.