‘With The New Change Introduced I Had To Work Equally Hard On All The Three Sections’ – Kshitij Chandrakar CAT 2015 98.3%ile – IIM Raipur PGP 2016-18

Kshitij Chandrakar  is currently at IIM Raipur PGP Batch of 2016-2018. He scored an overall percentile of 98.3 in CAT 2015. He shares with us his experience of how he prepared for CAT’15 and aced it.


How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed, calculator was introduced?

My experience of CAT was a little better than I expected. It was fun and a totally new realm of knowledge and experience. The pattern change didn’t affect me much because the change came in the early stages of my preparation. And regarding the calculator, I worked out strategies while attempting the mock CATs so as to depend on it for the least and the most complicated calculations only.


What made you pursue MBA, and why IIM and not any other top B-School?

Since my graduation I had been planning for a start up in the education sector. For this I needed the proper knowledge and guidance from experts and a perfect credential to score big, that’s why I decided to pursue MBA. I won’t say that I preferred only the IIMs, I had applied for IIFT and SP Jain also along with the IIMs.


When did you start preparing for CAT? And did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of the pattern change or you followed the same routine?

I started my preparation from July, 2015 when I had just left my job from L&T Constructions. When I heard about the pattern change the only thing I planned to change was my attitude and dependence on my strong areas. Earlier VA and LR used to come together which made us engineers think that focus more on your LR and with it cover up the VA & RC. With the new change introduced we had to work equally hard on all the three sections.


Please share your section wise preparation strategy.

QA : Being from maths background, I had comparatively clear basics. Therefore I tried focusing more on the shortcuts and new methods being taught in the class and tried using them as my fundamentals. I focused more on written practice and mental calculations for increasing my speed in it.

LR & DI : I began with solving the basic questions with slow speed. I repeated this process till I got the basics clear. Then I followed with the hard ones and time constrained questions. Finally I solved as many questions as possible and available.

VA & RC : My first aim for this was to increase my grasping power and speed while reading. I started reading novels and newspaper (The Hindu). After reading a particular article or chapter I used to try to recall and write the summary of the same and counter-check if I missed something. Regarding VA, practice was my only strategy, I took help from my coaching institute (T.I.M.E. ) and the reading material they provided.


What was your time management formula for CAT?

I mainly tried to follow a predefined time table. I allotted fixed time for subjects and aimed to complete fixed number of questions in that time. Took breaks for reading newspaper and novels which helped me relax and still help me stay on the topic.


What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the test?

My strong area was Quantitative Ability and weak one was LR-DI. How I tackled it was by practice and practice only. With practice you can know which questions are in your range and which are not, this could save a lot of time of yours in the exam. I tried to be thorough with the basics first, then with the variety and time constrained practice.


After the exam, how did you prepare for the PI-WAT rounds?

For WAT, I first dug out the various topics that have come so far in the previous years. Tried reading as many as possible from them. Attended the mock sessions that were held by my coaching institute and being in regular touch with my teachers for there for advice and help.

Regarding the PI, I started reading newspaper in depth on a daily basis so as to stay updated about the current affairs. Attended mock PI sessions and worked on my CV for any possible cross questions. I even prepared in depth about my interest areas for indulging the panel in a discussion.


What are the key factors, you think, that influenced your selection at the PI stage?

Including some extra elements while interacting with the panel was something I believe helped me with the selection. Talking about psychology or humour that could just lighten the atmosphere in there and lead to a friendly discussion. Other than this confidence in whatever you speak and body language were the other factors.


What was your WAT topic and how did you structure your write up?

My WAT topic was “India has a young population; lots of educational institutions but not many of those institutions are known worldwide.”

I started it with an example followed by some facts and figures so as to support the topic. Then I followed it with some causes that are leading to this scenario with some personal life examples included in it. The next para I talked about the possible solutions and the initiatives that the student/youth population needs to take so as to improve our condition. And finally I ended the write up with a positive note and a hope for better future.


Your message/tip for this year’s CAT aspirants.

During the initial period of your preparation focus more on the basics because speed will be of no use if you have weak foundations. Start reading as much as you can with more focus on grasping of the message. And work on your SWOT from the beginning.