Last Minute CAT Prep Gyaan From A 99.99%iler – Abhay Agarwal, FMS Delhi
Hi. I am Abhay Agarwal. I belong to a small town of Kiratpur in Uttar Pradesh. I recently completed my Under graduation (B.Tech-Biotechnology) from Pantnagar University in Uttarakhand. I appeared for CAT’15 and scored 237.2 marks and thereby getting 99.99%ile. Currently, I am pursuing MBA from FMS Delhi.
How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed, and the calculator was introduced?
Change in the pattern made me anxious initially as I was weak in English. But slowly, I got used to it as I started giving different mocks. I started working on my English. On the Day of CAT, This pattern was particularly useful as there was a proper gap between sections and I could start next section after a break of 5 mins. The calculator was very useful in DI. In QA, I think that calculator slows me down but in DI, Calculator is a very useful tool provided by CAT.
What made you pursue MBA, and why FMS and not any other top B-School?
This is a very difficult question and is asked in most of the interviews. I don’t really have an answer to that but this was one of the best decision of my life. The kind of learning I get here in FMS is extraordinary and exciting. I always wanted to learn more and add value to my profile. MBA is taking me towards my goal.
When did you start preparing for CAT? What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2015? And did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of the pattern change or you followed the same routine?
I started preparing in January 2015. I started my preparation by giving mock tests and knowing where I stand and from where I need to start. I followed this routine till July when there was a pattern change. After that, I focused more on English and my vocab. This was a compulsory section now and I had to score good in English too.
What was your strong/weak section and what was your overall test taking strategy?
As I said, my weak section was English. My Overall test taking strategy was to give Mock seriously and then analysing it closely. I found my weak areas. For Ex- In quant, I found that I make mistakes in topics like number system. For next few days, I would give sectional tests of that section and preferably that area only. There was one simple rule that practice makes a man perfect.
What was your strategy for individual sections (Quant/Verbal/Data Interpretation/Reading Comprehension)?
Till July, I was confused as to how should I divide my time between three sections. But after that, It became easier with the pattern change. Time Allocation problem was solved and I could focus more on what I need to prepare. English was inconsistent but I was doing fairly well in other sections. Slowly, I started improving and was able to give my best on D-Day.
What do you think you did right during test prep? Did your educational background help you during test prep? Did it help you in subsequent rounds (WAT-GD-PI)?
My educational background was not much of a help for written exam part but it certainly helped in WAT-GD-PI. Interviews of a fresher are closely linked to their under graduation and so was the case with me. I knew my subjects well so was able to answer those questions.
What was your test prep strategy over the few months leading to CAT? (Last 3 months, last month, last 15 days). Was it a test series inclined one or a chapter by chapter strategy?
I would like to tell my strategy for the last week particularly. It is that time when we have most apprehensions. Sometimes, we start imagining things- Both good and bad. It is a scary thought that how 3 hrs. can decide our future but it is that time when we have to hold our nerves. I maintained my preparation. I was scared but it is okay to be scared. Being scared forces us to do the right thing. But those fears needs to be controlled. 1 Day before CAT – Just relax. Believe me. Get a good night’s sleep.These are some of the things which are more important than studying the night before. Be confident. You have prepared well. It will go well. Period.
How did you manage to prepare for CAT and other exams within the same time frame?
Syllabus for MBA Entrance exams is mostly same. So, I didn’t have to make any extra efforts. Though being a fresher, there is a continuous pressure of academics and it was hard to maintain both but we need to set our priorities. I utilised my 24 hrs. in a day properly and this balancing was not a problem anymore.
What was your strategy for the D-Day? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
We make a lot of strategies but when the clock starts ticking, there are just two things- A Screen and your brain. That should be your world for the next 3 hours. Get engrossed in the exam. Do not look at the clock again and again. Time will move at its own speed. I planned that I will attempt less English and more of DI/LR. But when that paper started, I knew just one thing- Solve whatever you can irrespective of the section. I ended up attempting 34/34 questions in English and 23/32 in DI/LR. It is important to adjust to the difficulty level of the paper. I did that and was able to justify those 3 hours.
What resources you used to refer while preparing for the essay writing? (Please mention the topic)
WAT preparation started by knowing my surroundings. Awareness is very important while preparing for Interview round. I attended a boot camp to freshen up my knowledge. I started reading newspapers and not to forget- Google. Some of my WAT topics were- Swacch Bharat, Eco- tourism, Medical Tourism, Odd-Even scheme etc.
How was the interview experience like? What was your preparation strategy and how did the interview turn out to be?
As I said, It is all about knowing about yourself and your surroundings. I started knowing about the different things happening in the world. Interviews are generally unexpected. However, there is no such thing as ‘Scary IIM Interviews’. They are pretty normal if you are able to maintain your cool for 15-20 minutes. Some of my Interviews went into certain areas where I was weak and couldn’t answer. So, it is important to gain as much knowledge as you can.
Any message you would like to share with the candidates preparing for CAT 2016.
Be confident. If you have worked hard, you will get the result. It is all about being cool for those 3 hours. Relax before the exam. Don’t stress out. Do not fight with a question. If a question is difficult and you are not able to solve it, just leave it and move forward. No need to be hung over it. Just give your best. Wishing all the aspirants the very best for CAT’16.