Preparation for CAT 2019
CAT is not an exam of intellect or formulas, but a platform that tests a candidate for aptitude and skills through perseverance. The only way to bell this exam is through practice. The skills CAT tests are time management, speed, and determination, which I believe are expected from a management graduate post- MBA.
Name: Shantanu Singh Yadav (M,24)
Qualifications: B.Tech (Chemical Engineering), NIT Hamirpur batch of 2017.
Work Ex: 34 Months at Kribhco Limited (Urea Manufacturing), Hazira.
Preparation Strategy -
Going with my personal experience, CAT 2019 was my second attempt at the exam, with the first one being in 2018, which fetched me admits to some new and baby IIMs. I started preparing again in May’19, mostly focusing on mocks and timing my attempts effectively. I started cross-checking and analyzing my wrong answers, something I never used to do earlier.
The quants section was my strength, but I still devoted equal time to all the three sections with some extra effort towards DI and LR, which is I believe is the most unpredictable section in the exam. You could practice a hell lot of LR sets before the exam but might still hassle on the D-Day. LR sets are not straightforward like Quants or DI sets. Timing my complete mocks and sectional tests, along with thoroughly analyzing my wrong as well as the right attempts, turned out to be fruitful.
For Verbal and RC, I used to read articles from diverse fields to get a hold of difficulty faced to comprehend as well as retain a column when it does not belong to something you’re usually used to. I used to read The Indian Express, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Financial Times. Reading articles from newspapers and business magazines not only helped me in VA and RC but also made a solid base to ace the current affairs during the interview and GD rounds.
For DILR, I focused mostly on LR and LR based DI sets, as for the past few years, you rarely get to see a pure DI set in the actual exam. LR being the most unpredictable section in CAT, I followed a strategy to solve and analyze every set I face either during mocks or during practice from dedicated books. Try looking for practice material online on Google Drive, and you’ll find plenty of LR sets to solve. IMS’s mocks helped a lot in the DI LR section as they had questions that were closest to the ones faced in the CAT Exam.
For Quants, I thoroughly practised books by Arun Sharma with a timed approach to solve at least 25-28 questions from various topics under 60 minutes. Apart from this, I also solved previous years’ CAT papers with minimal use of the on-screen calculator, although I’d suggest getting used to the on-screen calculator (can’t afford to hassle with it on the D-day). TIME’s material and test series are helpful when it comes to QA, while for VARC and LRDI, I found IMS’s test series to be closest to the actual CAT exam.
I was lagging a bit in VA and LR during my initial preparation. For VA, there’s only one approach, and that is to read, read, and read. Read from publications you’re not familiar with or used to. Read foreign journals/magazines, editorials in international newspapers, etc. For LR, I solved as many sets I could get my hands on with a timed approach, trying to crack the set within 10-12 minutes was my strategy. You can’t afford to lose even 10 minutes on the actual exam since a 10 minutes lag or 10 minutes wasted on a LR set or a QA question you couldn’t eventually solve would push your percentile at least 1.5-2 points to the south. Just try to improve your attempts through mocks and push your score as north as you can.
Strategy for D-day -
The strategy for D-Day would be to avoid any last-minute preparation. Since the syllabus for CAT is so vast and even has no boundaries defined for VARC and DILR, last-minute hustle mostly turns fruitless and overloads you with added stress. I appeared for one mock a day before the exam and scored just 16 in VARC, which freaked me out. It somehow affected my actual performance in CAT, where I scored merely 40 marks in VARC, which took my sectional percentile below 90.
Take rest and sleep well a day before the exam, not much you’ll be able to change with a day’s preparation. I spent the rest of the day watching Netflix after flunking VARC a day before CAT.
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