From 78%ile In Verbal To 99.4%ile – Aditya Walke’s Story – IIM Calcutta

Let me introduce myself. I am a Mechanical Engineer from BITS Pilani 2015 batch. I scored 99.89%ile in CAT 2016 and 99.63% in XAT 2016. I had calls from IIM C, L, K, I, S and XLRI. I have converted IIM C and will be joining it.

My story of CAT preparation started during 6-months internship in a core company in my final year of Engineering. One of my colleagues was preparing for CAT 2014 and had joined TIME test series. He used to give mocks on the weekends and analyze them in the free office hours. I used to join him as well and thus, my interest developed. I figured out that I am pretty good in Quant and would do well if I appear for CAT.

Keeping this in mind, I appeared for CAT 2015. It was an half-hearted attempt owing to my job responsibilities. I had joined TIME test series though, which gave me enough idea about the exam pattern and helped me devise strategies to manage time.

CAT 2015 percentiles:
QA – 98.5%ile
DILR – 99.2%ile
VARC – 78.2%ile
Overall – 98.2%ile

I didn’t get calls from any old IIMs as all of them had a sectional cut-off of 80%ile. Where did I go wrong?

I had already appeared for multiple TIME mock tests prior to the CAT and knew that VARC was my weak point. Still, I kept on neglecting my weak areas and kept on further improving my stronger areas.

Lesson learned. It was obvious that I need to seriously focus on VARC to have any chance of a good percentile.

Things I did to improve my Verbal: 

  • First and foremost thing – I started reading The Hindu, especially the editorials. They use excellent English and help improve your vocabulary.
  • I bookmarked some websites on my phone which publish daily articles on different subjects and started reading them on daily basis. Some of these sites are ‘Arts and Letters Daily’,  ‘Project Syndicate’ etc.
  • I started reading some books and novels. (But could not carry on.)
  • Went through the book ‘Word Power Made Easy’. But in my opinion, it is not a must-read for CAT preparation, rather it is good for GRE and GMAT. (But you can always give it a try.)

(This helped me in two ways – It developed my habit of reading which is very crucial to improve accuracy in RCs. And it also kept me updated with the current world affairs which unknowingly helped me a lot during interviews. 1 hour of everyday reading is more than enough.)

  • Apart from that, I started practicing the para-jumbles and grammar related questions from the previous year’s CAT papers and some online forums.

Within 3 months, I saw a drastic improvement in my sectional scores. At the same time, I managed to maintain my scores in QA and DILR.

Final CAT 2016 percentiles:
QA – 99.6%ile
DILR – 99.3%ile
VARC – 99.4%ile
Overall – 99.89%ile

Some important tips in general: 

  • Attempt as many mocks as possible (I joined both TIME and Career Launcher test series’ in 2016.)
  • Analyze the mocks in depth and try to maintain an excel where you have section wise scores of all the mocks. This helps you identify your weak areas instantly.
  • After every mock, solve each and every question again till you get the correct answer. This may be time-consuming, but will fetch you rewards.
  • Develop the habit of identifying tough and time-consuming questions quickly so as to ignore them during the exam.
  • There is no shortcut to increase speed and accuracy in Quant and DI. Practice is the only solution. If you are weak in QA or DI or both, buy Arun Sharma’s book and start solving it. The more questions you solve, the better.
  • Don’s leave any topic in Quant even if you find it difficult or confusing. (I didn’t prepare for P&C and Probability for CAT 2015 and missed out on some very easy questions.)
  • Don’t get disheartened by few poor scores in mocks. I had my shares of 70s and 80s percentiles. Identify where you went wrong and try not to repeat the mistakes.

Again, these are the strategies that worked for me and may not necessarily work for everyone.
Devise your own strategies and stick to them.
Prepare a daily schedule for preparation and stick to it.
Work HARD and work SMART.

Best of Luck!!