FAQs For CAT Preparation By A 99.87%iler (CAT 2016) – Akshita Agarwal

Over the past two weeks, I have been receiving a lot of queries from fellow aspirants on different aspects of their preparation for CAT. While there were some questions unique to the individual, other questions were quite common. I believe the entire aspirant community can benefit from these questions and that’s why I am penning down this post.

Q. I am weak in VARC. How should I improve my scores?

A. Let’s think strategically here: 20-24 questions out of 34 questions in VARC section are purely on RC. So, if I invest more time working on my RC skills, that would have a greater impact on my overall scores.

I put my focus on making sure that my accuracy in RC was top notch. That’s why I deprioritised VA section. I followed GMAT study materials for RC. You can also follow up with some practice through mock tests/sectional tests.


Q. Which test series should I join?

A. I joined TIME since a majority of CAT takers appear for AIMCATs. That way, my mock percentiles became a good proxy for my performance and my standing amongst everyone else. I would recommend joining one of TIME, IMS or CL. They offer a mix of self-invigilated and invigilated tests, questions are based on CAT patterns, and you get some of the best faculty to resolve your doubts.

Some may argue that Byju’s, 2iim, or some other coaching institute may also offer these services, and I am happy to oblige. Ultimately, you should choose a test series that serves its primary purpose – giving you enough look-and-feel of the actual CAT and good quality study material to supplement your preparation. For me, TIME fit the cut.

Q. How should I improve my quant percentiles? I am not from an engineering background.

A. The only advantage an engineer has is that we are thorough with basics of quantitative questions. We may not be able to solve a question at one go, but understanding the solution and process of grasping quant concepts is faster for us. My recommendation for non-engineers would be to start right from the basics.

Step 1: A good starting point would be Arun Sharma’s QA book LOD I exercises and/or QA modules of any coaching institute (TIME modules had concept review questions and Level A exercises).

Step 2: After you are through with these, you can move to LOD II and TIME QA Level B exercises.

Accuracy improves with conceptual clarity. So, if your answers are incorrect in QA, that’s a sign that you need to go back to basics.

Q. What should be my strategy for increasing DI-LR percentiles?

A. I don’t think I had any particular strategy for DI or LR. It pretty much came down to practice. I basically solved sets, one after another, tried to cover as many exercises as possible from Arun Sharma DI and LR books. 

Additionally, I spent my time analyzing DI-LR sets in AIMCATs. Some were really difficult to solve in a test environment and through the practice of rigorous analyzing, I could gauge the time it took for me to solve those questions. In turn, I slowly started to leave difficult questions for later iterations and solved easier doable ones up front.

Q. IITians and engineers are preferred in WAT-PI shortlists. How will I, a non-engineer make it into IIMs?

A. From my personal WAT-PI experience, there is absolutely no preference given to IITians over non-IITians, or to engineers over non-engineers. This is one of the myths that I am here to burst. IIMs or any other business schools value academic and gender diversity. The richness in perspectives brought by students from different backgrounds is one of the most important facets of a business school experience.

As evidence, I present to you the shortlisting criteria for WAT-PI for IIM Ahmedabad PGP class of 2017-19 and you will notice that general engineers have had the lowest selection ratio.


About the Author:

Akshita Agarwal is a student at IIM Ahmedabad PGP class of 2017-2019. She scored 99.87%ile in CAT 2016 and bagged final admission offers from IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, and IIM Lucknow. You can find her blogs on CAT preparation here.