Kamal Koushik was the first to graduate from his immediate family based in a village that is difficult to find even on Google Maps. To support his college education, he took up a job at Starbucks and continued to develop his skills. One key skill that he developed during this time was ‘networking’, which helped him get a UI UX designer job. It is around this time in his career that he decided that he wants to go for higher education and CAT seemed the right way to go about it. But, things didn’t go as planned for him. His CAT tanked badly. But, the fighter that he is, he never lost hope. ‘CAT Nahi Toh XAT Sahi’, says Kamal in this motivating video, where he shares his journey and crucial tips to crack XAT.
Kamal Koushik's Detailed XAT Preparation Strategy
XAT Score: 43.85 | XAT Percentile: 99.89%ile | XLRI HRM '23
How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Which one do you think is better?
I was a part of the Cracku online course and used the 2IIM questions bank extensively. Both work, But I personally prefer taking up online coaching of sorts because it gives you a silo to prepare in, there will be no distractions inside that website, like the Cracku or 2iim website will only have CAT content and I don’t need to move from one place to another and waste time in finding topics, but with Facebook groups and telegram, there is a lot that can distract you and also a lot of time is wasted trying to find content.
According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?
1) Getting Your Basics Right
2) Forgetting Formulas And Making Your Own Shortcuts
3) Mental State
Which mock series did you enroll for?
Cracku mocks itself and previous year papers
How many full-length mock tests did you take?
Did not take any mocks for XAT only thoroughly went through previous papers for DM, Unlike CAT you don’t need 20-3 mocks for XAT because there’s no sectional timing just take a few mocks to fix how much time you want to spend on each section and you should be good
How many sectional mock tests did you take?
I think sectional tests are pointless, you will only get to the quant section with the mental fatigue of the first two sections, it’s pointless trying to attempt only that because it doesn’t replicate the actual test experience.
What was your approach while taking mocks?
In the beginning, try a bunch of things and see what sticks, once you find your rhythm try to incrementally improve at it, the best way is to treat your Actual exam like just another mocks. Helps take a lot of the pressure out
How do you think the mock tests helped you in your preparation?
They helped me identify where I need to spend more time/where I’m wasting time etc, basically helped me a lot with the timing
Which section were you strong in? Since you were strong in that section, how did you focus on the other sections?
Not tooting my own horn, but I had gotten pretty good at the verbal section, Since XAT doesn’t have sectional timing I saved time here and used it in the other sections, infact I finished both DM and Verbal in 60 minutes and spent the next 100 minutes on quant, I ended up solving each problem 3 times to make sure I Had everything right in quant, I solved 17 and got 16 right there
Which section was your Achilles heel? How did you overcome that?
Coming from a biology background, naturally, quant and I didn’t get along all that great, the one solution I found to this conundrum was just focusing on what came naturally to me, I focused on the more “real world” concepts and things that I could just think of naturally and made sure I made as little mistakes there as possible, I skipped most topics that just didn’t come naturally to me like co-ordinate geometry, modern math etc, but I recommend you to learn the basics of all concepts because sometimes you get these sitter questions from “tough concepts” and you shouldn’t miss those.
What challenges did you face while preparing for Decision Making and what are the resources you used to prepare for DM?
Honestly, Just try to think what the right thing to do would be from an organizational point of view. If you’re having a hard time with this Thoroughly go through previous year papers and you’ll see a pattern arise in the DM section answers, it’s difficult for me to tell you the pattern but once you go through like 5-7 papers you should get it yourself
Tell us about the lowest point in your preparation journey and how did you overcome that?
I thought I had totally fucked up cat 2020, I had a mini panic attack during the exam and though I wouldn’t even cross 85 percentile, which ended up being a false alarm because I’d scored 97.5 percentile, but at the time I was like completely distraught, I took a few days off writhed in bed and then just decided to go full steam ahead for the other entrance exams, My main mistake here was taking too much pressure, So i chilled a lot before all the other exams I stopped learning any new concepts now, just figured out strategies and everything.
My XAT centre was 200km away in a tourist destination I treated the exam like a weekend getaway, didn’t take any pressure went sightseeing in the city after the exam and what do you know it worked out, I ended up with nearly a 99.9 percentile.
What resources would you suggest to 2021 aspirants?
2iim question bank and Bharath’s reading list are honestly the best free content out there. Other than this I’d recommend some online course, I’ve used Cracku and 2IIM so I can vouch for those
What according to you are the DO's and DON'Ts of XAT preparation?
DO NOT LET CAT bog you down, never ignore DM, I know people with higher scores than me who didn’t cutoff DM cutoff, imagine having a 99.95 percentile yet still not receiving an interview call, so pay each section its due.
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?
For the test series, I’d recommend one of Cracku for budget-conscious people or 2IIM for people with a bit more money. As for the mock series, I’d definitely recommend you pick up IMS along with the test series I mentioned earlier.
What would be your final advice to CAT & XAT 2021 Aspirants?
Lite le bhai, It’ll be alright