The CAT exam is one of the most competitive entrance exams in India, and cracking the exam itself is no easy task; in fact, it is not unheard of CAT aspirants attempting the exam even five times before finally making it to their dream IIMs. In a webinar conducted by InsideIIM, we brought together five MBA students from India's top business schools, including IIMs Ahmedabad and Calcutta, to share some invaluable tips on CAT preparation and answer some important questions. Here are the six key questions that students from IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, XLRI, and SPJIMR answered with brutal honesty.
What are the 5 things that one should do before appearing for CAT?
- It is important to get acquainted with the exam pattern before moving to the preparation part. To understand the syllabus, format, number of questions etc. you can appear for a mock test. It will give you an understanding of your current strengths and weaknesses and the past trends of the exam.
- Do not base your preparation on only one resource. Your approach should be a balanced one. Read diversified articles from various sources. Take a combination of test series by various institutes like IMS, TIME etc.
- Give an equal amount of time in analyzing the mocks. Don’t take mock scores seriously except when you sit to actually analyse the mocks. Benchmark your performance vis-à-vis others. Try various strategies during mocks and see what works best for you.
- Develop a routine. It really helps in staying disciplined and focused. Use 50–30–20 rule. Give 50% of the time to the section where you lack the most. And likewise to other sections.
- There is no shortcut, fall in love with the journey. Practice consistently for a good number of hours every day which should increase as time passes. Plan ahead and set an aim of how many mocks, RCs, DI and LR sets you will solve before CAT and stick to it.
How Can You Ace The CAT Exam?
- Build your basics. Getting the basics right is the fundamental step for your CAT preparation. If you are weak with QA, start with practicing from resources like Arun Sharma, Jagran Josh etc. For VARC, practice from the editorials from The Hindu, Indian Express, Aeon etc.
- Sectional Mocks are must, it will help you a lot in tracking your progress based on sections. Identify which sections are you strong and weak at. It is important to maintain 85-90%ile in each section as most entrance exams have a sectional cutoff. Give a lot of time on improving your weak areas but do not let go of your strong areas.
- First perfect the sectionals and then focus on appearing for full length mocks. When you give the exam, start with the questions you are good at as it will help you in building confidence. After every mock, make sure you do a thorough analysis. This will enable you to figure out where you are committing errors and how you can improve the same.
- Sanjana Arora Shares In Details How She Built Her Basics For CAT And Cracked IIM Ahmedabad!
- How Should You Prepare For CAT? | Naman Agarwal, CAT 2019 99.57 %ile
- Guide To Prepare For CAT 2020 | Pratibha's CAT Prep Strategy
Is it advisable to quit one's job to prepare for CAT if one finds it difficult to balance the two?
It is in your best interest to not quit your job for CAT preparation merely because quitting does not guarantee you a good CAT score. You might have a bad day or a bad 15 mins which could ruin your score. Having a plan B is very important given the nature of unpredictability of the exam.
Even at the time of interviews, it would be very difficult to convince the interview panel if you quit your job. A couple of hours of preparation each day and extended hours on weekends consistently should be more than enough for anyone to clearly understand all the topics that one needs to know for the examination and practice well.
Every IIM has a separate selection criteria. Colleges such as IIM Bangalore give weightage to work-experience right from the shortlisting stage, and therefore one would be at a position of a disadvantage as compared to others. Quitting your job affects your profile and might be a signal of poor time management to the panelists.
- Should You Quit Your Job To Prepare For CAT This Year? Perspective From A 99 Percentiler Who Quit His Job
- hould You Quit Your Job For CAT Preparation? Perspective From An IIM Ahmedabad Alumnus
Is it possible to get into the IIMs and other top B-schools with low graduation scores?
Colleges really value consistency, therefore your past academic records are an important part of your application. It is essential to maintain 60% in your graduation to be eligible for the selection process of the top IIMs.
However, the graduation score is just one part of the selection process. Another way to look at it is, based on the selection criteria released till now for different B-schools, your academic profile accounts for just 20-40% of the total composite score, and the rest is accounted for by the CAT score.
So clearly, all is not lost just because your graduation scores are low. While having poor academics hampers the scope of getting into some IIMs, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot get into any IIM. All you need to do now is focus on a good CAT score and try to score a good percentile in the exam.
- My Journey From 5.33 GPA To IIM-Indore
- Making It To SPJIMR With Poor Academics | Hari A, 99.44 Percentiler, GEM
- How A Student With 6/6/4/6 Profile Made It To IIM K
Should one pursue one's MBA with or without work experience?
There is no one size fits all approach to this question. However, it is usually advisable to gain some relevant work experience as it adds to one's perspective and gives a more realistic view of certain concepts.
When it comes to placements, people with work experience generally are held to it and most companies try to fit them into roles that will best exploit their prior knowledge. Sometimes companies prefer freshers because it's easier to mould them. You also gain a lot of clarity as to which field to choose for your specialization post an MBA if you have work experience.
- MBA As A Fresher Or After Work Experience? - An MBA Student's Perspective
- MBA With Work Experience Or MBA As A Fresher? - IIM Bangalore Student's Perspective
- MBA After 4 Years Of Work-Experience?
Is Targeting IIM Ahmedabad For An MBA In Your Best Interest?
It is also important to understand your potential. A few months into the mocks, one should understand their potential and where they can reach. Depending on your profile it will be wise to figure out what B-schools could you target and make an informed decision. Shortlist colleges basis aspiration, specialization, location and the types of companies that visit.
But even without having done that homework, there are people who have made it to the top business schools. The decision is yours but these are the two approaches that you can take forward. Put in your hard work and the rest of the things will follow. Everything is achievable if one puts their mind to it. Aim as high as you can and don't limit yourself.
You May also try InsideIIM's AI-Driven Profile Evaluation Tool. Based on our extensive research, we have developed a tool that will match your profile with the profiles of the students who have made it to top business schools in India and give you a match percentage.
In case you wish to watch the entire webinar, you may watch it here!