‘Being Confident And Believing In Myself Helped Me Achieve My Dream’ – Vershita Srivastava – CAT 2015 99.21%ile And IIM Raipur PGP 2016-18

Vershita Srivastava is currently at IIM Raipur PGP Batch of 2016-2018. She scored an overall percentile of 99.21 in CAT 2015. She shares with us her experience of how she prepared for CAT’15 and aced it.

How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed and calculator was introduced? 

The introduction of sectional time limit was a welcome change. It ensured that marks in one section did not overpower the other sections. I did not find the calculator as much of a help because students become over dependent on it, thereby slowing their mental calculation ability. Plus, the other MBA exams do not allow the use of calculator.

What made you pursue MBA, and why IIM and not any other top B-school? 

Due to its heritage the kind of exposure and experience that you get in an IIM is phenomenal. The personality development opportunities that you get from an IIM are of altogether a different level and they go a long way in shaping you for the corporate world. Also, IIM comes with a brand of its own. The respect and recognition that you get when people come to know that you are from an IIM makes you feel delighted.


When did you start preparing for CAT? And did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of the pattern change or you followed the same routine?

With the change in pattern, a change in preparation strategy was necessary.

With the announcement of the new pattern and inclusion of ETA questions, we had to answer questions without the help from the options which actually increased the time taken to answer the question. Adhering to the time constraints also required some time to adjust to.

How beneficial were the new changes? Any suggestions from your side? 

The introduction of sectional time limit was a welcome change since it would ensure that the overall score is dependent on all sections and does not shoot up simply because of one section.


Please share your sectional wise preparation strategy?

For the verbal part, I started with an RC but never did two consecutive RC’s, I always sandwiched some grammar questions in between as reading all the RC’s in one go can be tiring and may not give optimum results.

Quant was my strongest section, the only point of worry for me in Quant was Geometry, the best way to tackle that is to write all the theorems on a paper and read it thrice daily.

My LR was very strong but I was not that great with the DI part. Since they form the same section I tried balancing any deficiency in one with a high score in the other.


What was your Time Management formula for the CAT?

Since sectional time limits were introduced I did not have to worry about when to switch between sections. There are different ways to approach an exam like CAT, attempting sufficient mocks gives you an idea which strategy is best suited for you. I used the ABC approach to categorize questions which helped a lot in managing my time.

The ABC approach is

  • Abhi karo
  • Baad mein karo
  • Chod do

What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the test? 

My strong area was Quant and my weakest area was DI simply because it was too time consuming for me. My observational DI was fine but I wasn’t very comfortable with calculative DI. Since DI/LR fall under the same section I focused my attention to improving my LR and observational DI to such a level that it would cover any inefficiency in calculative DI thereby balancing the score.

After the exam, how did you prepare for the PI-WAT rounds? 

For WAT-PI rounds it is essential that you update yourselves with the current affairs on a daily basis. Sitting with them after the exams are over does not give the students enough time. Reading the editorial pages of leading English newspapers also gives students a fair idea about attempting WAT.


What are the key factors, you think, that influenced your selection at the PI stage?

The main factor that influenced the decision in my favor was clarity of thought. I knew why, what, how and when of everything that I had done or was planning to do. The next most important thing is confidence. Being confident and believing in myself helped me achieve my dream of entering into an IIM.


What was your WAT topic and how did you structured your write up?

My WAT topic was ‘Living is not about just being alive’. Being an abstract topic this had the capability of being interpreted in multiple ways. I started with the true meaning of life and moved on to what people do and in which way they can improve their life to make it meaningful. I ended with an optimistic note on facing the situations that we are about to face in our life.


Your message/tip for this year’s CAT aspirants?

Start your preparations early, the time advantage would help you a lot. Identify your weak areas and work on them religiously, every single mark has the capacity of making a huge difference. Be well prepared with all the topics, CAT can be as unpredictable as it gets. Though you have the option of using a calculator don’t make it a habit because other exams don’t have that option plus mental calculations are always faster than using a calculator.