Avani Raghuwanshi is an Instrumentation and Control engineer of Nirma University, batch 2020. She has been a gold medalist throughout her engineering career and pursued a minor specialization in finance along with it. After graduating, she started working at Reliance as a Graduate Engineer Trainee, while preparing for CAT 2020 and XAT 2021 simultaneously. She has joined XLRI Jamshedpur BM class of 2023 this year. She’s a professional diploma holder in Kathak, associated with various NGOs and fundraiser organizations. She is deeply passionate about healthcare, education and body positivity.
Please give a brief introduction about yourself. Please mention your Name, Xth, XIIth, Graduation credentials and Work Experience (if any).
I’m Avani Raghuwanshi, an Instrumentation and Control engineer from Nirma University, batch of 2020. I’ve been associated with Reliance Industries Limited as a Graduate Engineer Trainee, post the PPO conversion. My academic scores: Xth - CGPA:10/95%, XIIth - 90.2% , B.Tech - 8.89 (Gold)
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Please share your score and percentile.
QA : 95.86%ile VA: 92.67%ile DM: 85.22%ile Total: 97.28%ile
How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Which one do you think is better?
I enrolled for a classroom program (Endeavor) which turned online completely, to stay in touch with their strategies, course material and latest updates. But that’s not enough, one needs self-discipline and dedication as well to attain that milestone. So, self-study is a must. Taking up any coaching should be a personal choice. It helped me because I could manage my time efficiently and align it with their pedagogy. I would advise others to devise a plan for themselves based on their schedule.
According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?
I was lucky to be a part of a highly focused study group throughout my preparation. It gets easier to meet the deadlines, take mocks, discuss and analyse them together, gather miscellaneous questions and solve them in a cohort. Keep it small, but highly focused, that’s what helped all of us achieve our goals.
That group keeps you motivated and always entertains a healthy competition.
Which mock series did you enrol for?
I took the entire program of Endeavor and opted for the IMS mock series.
How many full-length mock tests did you take?
More than 30 take home mocks and around 25+ All India mock tests.
How many sectional mock tests did you take?
I was very particular about taking 1-2 sectional mocks for VARC daily, in order to strengthen my grip on reading comprehensions.
QA and DILR sectionals used to go alternatively. I took around 40+ sectional mock tests for each in the entire preparation. It helped me in managing the time crunch, tackling new types of questions every time and figuring out my strengths and weaknesses.
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What was your approach while taking mocks?
I followed a different approach for each section. But the only constant was to focus on accuracy, rather than the number of attempts.
VARC: I took 3-4 minutes to skim through all the RCs and pick the right sequence to start with. I used to take up the ones who’s genre I was most familiar with, for eg: technology, economics, instead of jumping towards psychology. Then, shifting towards verbal ability, which took barely 8-10 minutes. So, I always had some time to revisit the RCs I left earlier. Doing 4 out of 5 RCs was my standard plan but that's a call one should make upon seeing the difficulty of the exam on that given date.
DILR: Accuracy is the key in order to ace this section. I tried to skim through all the sets and picking the right ones is what comes with practice. I always devoted 5 minutes to figure out the doable sets and then started attempting. Logical reasoning was my strength, so I preferred attempting those sets before DI.
QA: One of my core strengths, but ultimately the last section of any exam. But still, I feel this section always saw my maximum number of attempts. I never took a single question on my ego and was quick enough to skip it without wasting any time. My strategy was to find and attempt the easy ones and then switch to the medium difficulty questions. Lastly, to go with 1-2 lengthy questions with intense calculations but an easy approach. Because, I’d be too exhausted by the last hour to handle the difficult ones.
How do you think the mock tests helped you in your preparation?
I feel it's never too early to start taking mocks. It helped me manage my calm and think straight under time pressure. I started taking various mocks for CAT, XAT, NMAT, etc to help me get hold of their format and type of questions.
Which section were you strong in? Since you were strong in that section, how did you focus on the other sections?
Quantitative ability was my strength. I completed the majority of my QA modules and syllabus in 2-2.5 months and spent the rest on practising different types of questions. For VARC, continued reading of business daily and solving sectionals every day helped. And for DILR, a good grip on fast calculations and practising questions by clubbing them under various categories like tables, bars, games, etc helped me a lot.
Which section was your Achilles heel? How did you overcome that?
DILR used to give me shivers. Completing the sets with bang-on accuracy and that too on a time crunch gave me anxiety.
Pro tip: Not to give up and trust the process. I used to club a certain type of question under some 10-12 categories of this section and practice them religiously. Get your basics straight and then approach the set.
For logical reasoning, I used to practice sectional mocks and solve various sets on zoom meetings with my study group to track the time taken by each one of us and discuss the shortest approach to that specific question.
What challenges did you face while preparing for Decision Making and what are the resources you used to prepare for DM?
DM is an entirely new section for XAT and I would say it's a make or break section. I practised around 10-15 past year DM sectional papers of XAT and took DM sectionals of IMS and Endeavor. Once you get hold of it, you’ll realize the trick to getting the correct answer is to think rationally and select the most appropriate option. Don’t try to put yourself in their shoes, just think rationally and you’ll ace it.
Tell us about the lowest point in your preparation journey and how did you overcome that?
It was around July-August when my family tested covid positive and I was in the middle of my serious mock tests. I could see my scores depleting as I wasn’t getting ample of time to analyze my previous mocks. So, I started taking it one at a time. Never started a new mock without analyzing the previous one. Always take the mock tests seriously, and their analysis even more seriously.
What resources would you suggest to 2021 aspirants?
VARC - Aristotle RC-99 | QA, DILR - Arun Sharma | DM - Past year papers with solutions | GK - GK mojo XAT specific subscription
What according to you are the DO's and DON'Ts of XAT preparation?
- Practice abstract reading comprehensions.
- Don’t miss out on news headlines.
- Analyse your mocks seriously.
- Think rationally when it comes to DM.
- Increase your accuracy before increasing your attempts.
- Don’t lose your patience in a 3-hour exam.
- Don’t be afraid of the VARC section. Just keep practising.
- Don’t score a negative digit in the GK section.
Which mock series would you like to suggest to CAT & XAT 2021 aspirants? Is one mock series sufficient or do you suggest a combination of 2 different mock series?
I would suggest taking a classroom program which will cover from material to classes to interviews. And another for specific All India mock series. You can go for IMS, Career Launcher or Endeavor.
What would be your final advice to CAT & XAT 2021 Aspirants?
It’s not just an exam. It’s an entire journey that has ample life lessons for you. It is all about figuring out your strengths, accepting your flaws and working on them. Keep challenging yourself and you'll have a lot more potential than you think. All the best!