Arihant is a Chartered Accountant and CFA Level 3 candidate by qualification. He started his career as a business analyst for Intrasoft Technologies Limited. 6 months into the job, he came across a national level start-up competition where he pitched a business idea he had to Shopclues.com and ended up winning the title of India's next big e-preneur 2016. He was able to raise seed funding for his start-up and since then he have dedicated his life to business and entrepreneurship. He will be joining the PGP batch of IIM Kozhikode this year as he begins the next chapter of his career.
He loves reading and he is a geek when it comes to comic books. He is passionate about fitness and he loves travelling and hitchiking whenever he can take out some spare time for himself.
His CAT 2019 score was 98.26 percentile with a 99.96 percentile in VARC.
Which mock series did you enrol for?
I enrolled for the CL mock CAT series. I had also registered myself for the CL Smart CAT Cracker series and had religiously followed every single video that it contained. It's a very useful tool for students who are repeating their attempt and want that extra bag of tips and tricks to add to your previous score.
How much did you use to score in your mocks?
It started with 85 percentile in the beginning and improved to 92-93 by the time D-day was near. However, a 97-98 percentile in VARC was always a given.
What approach did you follow while taking mocks? How did you manage your time in the section?
I had managed to score 99.97 percentile in VARC in my previous attempt also, but I had missed out on good calls because of poor sectional scores in Quants and LRDI.
I had realised in that attempt that a score of 150 was enough to fetch you calls from tier 1 colleges. An ability to score 90+ in VARC gave me the luxury to ensure that I only needed to score 30+ in each of the other sections to reach the coveted 150 mark while at the same time clearing the minimum sectional requirements.
What approach did you follow while analysing the mocks?
In VARC, I made sure I completed all the RCs within the first 40 minutes. The last 20 minutes were left for individual questions which were mostly non MCQ type. The reason I did that was because it allows you to guesstimate the answers to such questions if time is running out in the last few minutes, without ending up with negative marks.
In LRDI, I found that attempting too many questions resulted in a lower score. I had to constantly remind myself that 40 marks in this section was an automatic 95 percentile. Accordingly, I trained myself to first skim through all 8 sets and then identify the 4-5 easy sets I was going to attempt instead of trying to attempt all 8 sets and then missing out on easy questions just because I wasted time on a difficult set.
We know that for most of us, VARC has always been a section in which scores fluctuate a lot. What tips would you like to give to aspirants in this regard?
VARC is the only section where you can attempt all questions comfortably within the given time frame. It is the highest scoring section and therefore a 99 percentile in VARC carries much more weight than a 99 percentile in say, LRDI. It is also the first section you attempt and therefore a good VARC sets the tone for a good overall CAT exam.
The first thing one needs to understand is that you don’t need to be good in English to be good in VARC. This section is a test of your ability to connect ideas in a logical sequence and it's not about how many long words you know. Focusing on vocabulary and grammar is absolutely the wrong approach.
The second thing one should know is that VARC is not a random, instinctive section but one which has a fixed set of rules and which relies on cold logic. Most students have the tendency to go for the "aha" answer, or the most "awesome" answer that comes to them instinctively. Don’t go for such answers. VARC is about countering your instincts and following cold, ruthless rules.
Thirdly, elimination is your best friend. Always remember that the person setting the question paper had only one correct answer. It was his task to manufacture three wrong options to confuse the candidate. Now, there are only 4 ways he could have manufactured the wrong options - either by "Broadening" the scope of the answer to a sweeping generalisation, by introducing "Alien" concepts that are not mentioned anywhere in the RC, by "Narrowing" the scope of the answer to something that is too specific, or by using "Extreme" words like always, never, none, every etc.
"Broad, Alien, Narrow, Extreme" a.k.a. BANE. Find out the BANE options and eliminate them. It works 9 out of 10 times.
Lastly, never leave questions on para jumbles empty. Ideally a good VARC attempt requires you to answer all questions, but if you have to choose between two questions due to lack of time then go for the non MCQ questions that do not carry negative marks.
What are your views on reading novels and newspapers to do better in the VARC section?
The most common tip that people dole out to students who are weak in VARC is to read novels and newspapers. However, I believe reading is a habit that can only be cultivated over a long period of time and forcefully reading newspapers and novels solely for the purpose of VARC will make you hate the subject even more.
Reading will only help you to increase your speed; it will not improve your accuracy. Therefore, it is important to approach reading with the sole intent of improving your speed. If you are only preparing for CAT, do not waste time on vocabulary and grammar. Use the following techniques to increase your speed. -
- Read a full paragraph or 2-3 lines together and then summarize the broad meaning instead of trying to understand every single sentence.
- If you don't understand the meaning of a word, forget the word and move on. You will be quizzed on the main ideas and themes of the topic, not on vocabulary and grammar.
- Use a pencil or your finger to guide you while you read.
- RC is not about understanding 100% of the para in 10 mins but about understanding the topic and tone (positive or negative) of the para in 5 mins.
- Read the full RC in one go and then answer the questions. This is the fastest and only way to solve RCs. Any other technique - like reading the questions first or going back and forth between the answers and questions is a waste of time.