CAT is quite a different competitive exam that tests your verbal and mathematical aptitude. I decided to appear for CAT 2019 in May end just before my two-month technical internship was about to begin. I skimmed through the syllabus and past year papers and realized that classroom coaching may not be fruitful much in my preparation and secondly managing it along with internship would be quite tough. I enrolled for AIMCAT in early June and just gave 4-5 mocks during my internship tenure.
My real preparation started in mid-August once I secured campus placement. Being an Engineer, quantitative aptitude was not a mammoth task for me. It has prescribed syllabus and following any-one text material religiously is more than enough. You just need to know the right formulas and theorems and practice enough to develop an intuition for their correct application. Practice is all that matters and this is the most scoring section for aspirants from an engineering background.
Since I had only three months and have to manage college semester and projects as well along with it, I realized that I need to simultaneously prepare for the three sections. 6-7 mocks that I gave till then clearly indicated that I was performing below average in VA-RC. As per my analysis, this section needs constant preparation. Eclectic reading is required to ace this section. Consistent reading and practice is the only key that can improve your accuracy in this section. I was taking this section lightly but mocks and their analysis made me realize that I can not score well in this section until and unless intuition is developed. Mock tests and their analysis forms a key role in CAT preparation. All I had was my test series and soft copy of TIME material.
DI-LR is the make or break section of CAT. For this particular section solving 200-300 passages is enough and since I had very few days, this section was almost ignored and I completely relied on questions in mocks and their analysis for its preparation. There are no shortcuts and tricks for this section. The only trick is to judge the difficulty level of each passage and start from the easy ones. Solving 5 passages out of 8 easily fetches 99+ percentile. While giving mocks, start building upon your strategy for the final day.
So my main focus was to complete the syllabus of quantitative aptitude and practice VA-RC questions daily along with one mock per week when 70-75 days were left for the exam. For VA-RC, I started reading articles on multiple topics and practiced unseen passages and verbal ability questions from TIME material. After 40-45 days I started developing a mild intuition for RC passages and VA and my performance in this section marginally improved. These days made me realise the importance of reading habit which I never focused upon. Reading speed is another factor that determines your performance in VA-RC.
Just 10-15 days before the exam I was able to wind up my syllabus for Quant and was having satisfactory performance in that section in mocks. The strategy that I developed for DI-LR was working and thus I wasn't much tensed about that. VARC was still not up to the mark. My end-semester exams were scheduled just a day after CAT, so I decided to conclude my preparation for CAT and started studying for semester exams. Your attitude on the day of the exam matters a lot. As mentioned CAT is quite different from other exams with no prescribed syllabus except Quant. I was relaxed on the day of the exam. My exam was scheduled for the afternoon. I just skimmed through formulas in the morning and went for my first attempt. I attempted around 26 questions in VA-RC, 23 in DI-LR, and 28 in Quant.
As per my level of preparation, my exam went well just because of the calm composure I had on the day of the exam.
CAT 2019 Result
QA: 99.59 percentile
DI-LR: 99.90 percentile
VA-RC: Just what I expected, not worthy of mention.
Overall: 99.44 percentile
Calls: Just applied for 6 IIMs and FMS, got calls from IIM Indore and FMS
So the major takeaways from the entire event were:
1.It's never too late to start. 500-600 hours of serious preparation are more than enough for CAT.
2. Coaching may not be the most suitable option. You need to be aware of your capabilities and take decision accordingly.
3. Mocks are the most important part of your journey. You need to analyze them and work upon your weaknesses.
4. Do not follow a lot of study material. Gather limited study material and follow it properly.
5. One section can completely change your results and interview calls. You need to focus on all three sections.
6. If you haven't started your preparation, at least start reading 1-2 hours daily. Reading habit is not something that can be developed in a short period. Taking VARC lightly was my biggest mistake. Quant and DI-LR can be worked upon in 2-3 months but VA-RC demands time especially for engineers.
7.Your attitude on the day of the exam matters a lot.
All the best for CAT 2020!
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