‘Non-MCQs Are Indeed Tricky If You Are Used To Answering Questions By Looking At The Options’ – Saransh Vyawahare – 99.75 percentile – IIM Udaipur

Congratulations on your admissions to IIM. What was your overall and sectional score in CAT 2016? Any other exam you had appeared for, please share the score for the same.

Overall – 99.75

VARC – 99.77

DILR – 97.48

QA – 99.12


Talking of sections, which was the most challenging and easiest section in the test?

The most challenging section was DILR and the easiest was VARC.


Please share your preparation journey. How did you strike a balance between your academic life/professional and preparation for an entrance exam?

Well, my main aim was to complete my quants syllabus for CAT which should take about 40-50 hours. And the remaining time my focus was only on giving mocks. Though I couldn’t give my 100% for mocks, it’s important to realise how to maintain a balance between your work life and education. I used to try to give 1-2 mocks a week and spend the time to analyse it later.


Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary for aspirants to bag the top rank?

No, I wasn’t though I took up the test series and the material from TIME. No, it’s not really necessary to join an institute because at the end of the day it’s all the basics that you learnt till your class 10th. So it’s just about practice and doing mocks.


Please share your specific section wise strategy for VARC, DI & LR and QA.

VARC: This section is considered tough and only for one reason, lack of practice to read RC’s. So I divided all the available RC’s into different categories like history, literature, technology, psychology etc. And then identified the categories which I couldn’t read at a stretch and the ones I was interested in. I did this because the requirement of this section is to get used to the terminology. After this, for example, if I disliked history and liked technology,

I would 3-4 passages of history at a stretch followed by 1 of technology. This is what helped me in this section.

DILR: Practice is all that is needed with this section. So my concentration was only on giving mocks. Also, another really important thing in this section is to have your accuracy really good which means you should know which question to attempt and which to leave.

QA: This is the only section in CAT which requires some knowledge along with practice. I have never believed in learning formulae and solving questions. The best way is to understand the concept and use it in whatever way you find it easy.

Finally, mocks are what play a crucial role.


Mention section wise books and study materials you had referred.

I have used TIME’s material and their online sectional test along with their AIMCATs which is their test series. My recommendation in addition to this will be Arun Sharma’s book for Quantitative Ability. It helps to build your concepts.


What is the significance of mock test in your success? When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency?

As I have already told, mock tests are what play the crucial role in order to ace CAT. I started taking mocks towards the end of August. I planned to give one mock a week but sometimes due to office hours, I couldn’t really follow it. But then, it’s these mock tests that help you form a strategy, get used to sitting for 3 hours and giving your 100% and they also help you practice. Even if you take just 10 mocks that is close to a database of 1000 questions of different models and types.


How did you get the mock tests analysed and how did you modify your strategy after that?

I analysed my mocks to understand what were my weak areas and where did I go wrong. Following this, I would brush up on that chapter, and make sure to not repeat this mistake again.


What was your time management strategy for section wise preparation vis a vis exam day?

For VARC, I was clear that I will start with RCs and then move on to the non-MCQs. Luckily the paper turned out to be easy which gave me ample time to understand and answer a question. I attempted 34/34 questions with this strategy.

For DILR, I had only one thing in mind. Doesn’t matter how many I attempt, whatever I attempt has to be correct. I wanted 100% accuracy in this section. So, I spent the initial 3-4 minutes to check the type of questions asked, and then started attempting the ones I was comfortable with and managed to attempt 16/32.

For QA again, attempt the questions you know and skip the others. I attempted around 25/34 questions in this section.


How did you utilise the features like calculator and non-MCQs in CAT?

Non-MCQs are indeed tricky if you are used to answering questions by looking at the options. But then if you solve a question using concepts and logic this should not be a problem for you. Yes, for VARC non-MCQs do create a problem for which you need to practice.

The calculator was not really very useful but it plays a role in DI to solve a few percentages.


Please share your detailed experience of WAT/GD and PI.

I had given interviews with two IIMs, namely IIM C and IIM K.

Experience with IIM C:

WAT topic: Should women be allowed inside temples.

Interview –

Well, the interview started with questions related to my height and the pros and cons of it. I ended up cracking some jokes here for this answer. Then, I was asked a question about the company I work for and my job description. I was also asked about a company called Greyorange because they were related to the work I do.

Then, when the panellists realised that I was from SRM University, I was asked a few questions my college founder who was recently arrested due to an IT raid. The next follow up question was on my opinion about whether Private colleges should be regularised by the government. The discussion on this topic went on for some time, with a lot of cross-questioning and inter-related questions. I was also asked about why I took up engineering, why I took up Math’s and why MBA now. I happened to mention my Dad’s name quite a few times because he’s my inspiration for taking up MBA now so they followed it up with a question on my mom asking that if you asked her two points on how to be a good manager what would she answer? I answered that, finance management and time management is what she would tell me because she’s the one who handles the finances of the house single-handedly and keeping in mind the number of tasks she takes up in a day, prioritization and time allotment to each task becomes really important.

Having worked with PETA, I was asked questions on my view about the Jallikattu and PETA fiasco that happened in Chennai.

Finally, the interview ended with a parting question on Laplace theorem.


Experience with IIM K:

WAT/GD topic: Should GD be a criterion to select a candidate for a job/admission.

Good experience, nice GD.


I was the first person to be interviewed on my panel. The interview started on a positive note with a question on tell me about you. This was followed by a question on my academic record, my graduation percentage and my rank in college. Then they moved on to a question on Samsung and the current issues faced by it. This was followed by questions on the recently concluded BJP elections in Manipur and Goa. I was also asked about Malli Mastan

Babu, the famous mountaineer from AP. Finally, I was asked about my other calls and my preferences.


Any suggestion that you would like to share with aspirants?

Concentrate on building your basics, get your foundation right and give as many mocks as you can. Another really important thing is to not focus on your percentile in these mocks and rather focus on your accuracy and the concepts that you need to work on. Its general tendency to feel demotivated when you have a bad performance but it’s just a mock at the end of the day and this learning is what will help you on the D-Days.


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