Q) Please Share Your Journey In Achieving The Mentioned Percentile.
When I was in third year of my computer engineering, I realised I had no real interest in my field. After that I figured out that there were 3 mainstream options before me: Mtech, MS and MBA. My disinterest in the field ruled out MTech and MS was too big a financial burden. Hence, MBA. But as I went on, I realized that I was interested in learning the science behind businesses all along. Later I joined the TIME full-time course and was on track to do good enough, except I was really really struggling at VARC. I couldn't read quickly or even understand much after reading slowly. I also got placed in a company in September which distracted me even further. I ended up scoring 97 points something with my verbal at a meager 85-86 percentile. One of my friends, who struggled at math and DILR was quite happy with the way his verbal section went. There I realized firsthand the importance of a reading habit. I used to get sleepy while reading books and had only read 2 until December 2019. I then took it as a dare to read 50 books in the year 2020. as a new years resolution. Come January 1, I started with a small murder mystery book by Agatha Christie. I ended up reading it in 3 days and found that I liked it. I just had to push through the sleepy period and then I could keep going for a couple more hours. And thus began my speed reading quest in 2020. The covid crisis sure helped me speed up more. I ended the year reading 60 books which included The Harry Potter Series, Lord of the Rings, HUnger games series, The Godfather, and many more. But I had focused too much on reading speed and did not notice one key difference between books and RCs. RCs are much denser. In a book, even if I didn't understand something, eventually in a couple of pages I would get the gist of what happened. This skimming past the hard-to-understand parts would be my doom. Also, that year CAT decided to switch to the 2-hour paper, the paper pattern and number of questions being unknown. I had overanalyzed the relative percentage of questions I need to solve to get a 99+ percentile. Come D-day, I happened to pick up one of the densest passages that year and I spent the first 15 minutes reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading, over and over again, not understanding anything at all. As per my projections, I wanted to get at least 3 right in every passage, and skipping a passage was too much for my 60 books a year ago. I failed. I literally, failed the CAT exam. I got an 18 percentile in verbal. 5-6 marks I think. And a 99%ile aspirant should've at least knocked the ball out of the park in the remaining two sections. I don't remember my percentiles but that speaks for itself, doesn't it? 93%ile said the mark sheet. Completely lost as to what I should do to improve or if I am even cut out for CAT. Maybe I had become average after the 12th standard I thought. Maybe I was that even before. I had a job that I didn't like. But how many really do right? The self-doubt took control. The relatives made it easier, to doubt even more of course. The critics and co-aspirants ridiculed my reading spree. I was done. But one day I realized, that though stupid, though average, though unprodigious, I still had read 60 books while working a full-time job and preparing for a competitive exam. If nothing else, I can work hard. Really really hard. Once this realization came, I also realized something else. Last year a Facebook page called Quantifiers would post quant threads every night and I would start solving them as soon as it was posted. Even then, a few students would post the answers before I had finished solving. No matter how fast I solved, they were faster. I used to message some of them and I would come across a whole new approach. There it was. Maybe, just maybe it was possible that I wasn't slow or dumb, that I just didn't know all the concepts. I joined Quantifers itself for this attempt and decided to learn everything from scratch. All three subjects. I also changed my approach to looking forward to the D-day. In the previous attempts, I wanted to be the best I could be on the D-day. This time, there was a Top 10 AIR list released by IMS after every mock. I just wanted to be on that list. And the D-day would take care of itself. I also practiced identifying the tough ones from the easy ones just by reading a few lines of the question/ passage. I knew this was actually the most important skill I could develop. I also prepared for bad luck and gave mocks while hungry, sleepy, at night, early morning, with gloves and mask on, while wanting to pee, in cold, while sweating, everything I could think of. I never reached the top 10 in the IMS list(HIghest I reached was 34). But it turned out to be good enough and I scored 99.89. The hard part was done. At last. Now for the interviews, I realized that all questions are interlinked, who is your role model's answer depending upon why you want to do an MBA, which in turn depended upon telling me about yourself, etc etc. I realized that the question at the core of it all is, Why MBA? I spent 2 months, December and January, figuring out just that question, what I am gonna do post MBA which would in turn answer why MBA and why MBA from XYZ college. I framed my other answers around this one. Also, I came to know from a few failed interviews that knowing the correct answers to all questions isn't what the interview is about. I practiced saying no, in a few different ways in front of a mirror. My ultimate goal was to have a conversion with the panelists. And so I put in some catchy things like I have practiced abacus since I was 6 years old, that I love reading fantasy literature, etc. For Calcutta, Lucknow, and Indore, I was able to guide the interview like I wanted and ended up having a nice chat with the panelists. And that's all there is to it.
Q) Please Share Your Month-Wise Preparation Insights For Upcoming Aspirants.
I started preparing in January, in all 3 attempts. I feel the months you get before the start of the mock are the most crucial. You reach a new percentile range in these 2-4 months. I would see the lectures, solve all the assignments, and past year's Cat papers, and start a method that would make an unsolvable question, an oral one. So till June - Practice June-August- Identify weak areas in mocks/Identify what to leave. Sept-Nov- Give as many mocks as you can/ try to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible. Also, always count your maximum possible score in every mock.
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Q) Please Share The Section-Wise Strategies Followed By You During Preparation.
To me, Science articles were a breeze as compared to sociology, etc. So try to familiarise yourself with the slang of the domain by reading articles/ books which go into the history of the domain. And read random things, frequently. For DILR, most importantly, learn to identify which ones to solve and which ones to leave. One misjudgment and see you next year. To do that, you need to solve stuff daily to know which kind takes most of your time. For quant, if you are using the most obvious method, you are using the slowest possible method. Develop the skill to check options, learn to approximate, and keep your silly mistakes to a minimum.
Q) If You Wish, You Can Talk About Any Section In Particular?
Verbal. this section varies from the others due to one main reason. You don't find the right answer in this section. you're not supposed to. You are supposed to find 3 wrong answers. 3 Definitely wrong answers. If you can't call them definitely wrong, move on, don't attempt the question.
Q) Please Talk About The Role Of Mock Tests While Preparing.
I have given IMS, TIME, and CL mock. But I feel IMS is the best. Because, though TIME gives you a tougher paper, it messes with your judgment of ducking the tough questions. It ain't JEE to solve the hardest paper to prepare the best. While giving mocks, always note your maximum possible score in each section. And the difference between the real score and the maximum. If the maximum is increasing, you are learning new concepts, if the difference is increasing, you need to work on accuracy and slow down, attempt less. And a few other combinations where you'll know what you gotta do. Just monitor these 2 metrics.
Q) Is There Anything Else That You'd Like To Add?
The number of aspirants is about 2 lakhs. There is always someone smarter than you. But, the competition isn't the people, it's the paper. More or less you have to solve half to get a 99%ile. Focus on that. The day you get there, the number of aspirants is immaterial.
CAT Notification is released, Now is the time you take your preparation seriously and go the extra mile. To aid CAT aspirants, we have compiled a few sectional tests as a giveaway. Take them now and see how your accuracy turns out!
|Verbal Ability And Reading Comprehension||Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning||Quantitative Aptitude|
|VARC Sectional Test 1||DILR Sectional Test 1||QA Sectional Test 1|
|VARC Sectional Test 2||DILR Sectional Test 2||QA Sectional Test 2|
|VARC Sectional Test 3||DILR Sectional Test 3||QA Sectional Test 3|