A B.Tech graduate from IIT Delhi and an avid novel reader, Anandu S Mukundan decided to pursue MBA during his graduation. Hence, he decided to appear for the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and started preparations well in advance by enrolling for coaching. Anandu, who secured 99.74 percentile in CAT 2016, credits his success to consistent preparation through mock tests and coaching classes. He also shares how his engineering background helped him in sections like Quantitative Ability. Since he had aimed to join one of the IIMs, he only appeared for CAT and fully dedicated himself to preparing for the exam by identifying his strengths and weaknesses and customising his strategy accordingly.
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MBA aspirants planning to appear for CAT 2017 will find it useful to note the preparation strategy followed by CAT toppers of previous years. In this interview with Careers360, Anandu, a first-year student of IIM Kashipur, explains his preparation strategy and describes how coaching classes and mock tests played a vital role in his success.
Careers360: Congratulations on your admission to IIM. Was there any other exam you had appeared for? If yes, please share your score from the same.
Anandu: I had only appeared for CAT as my main goal was to make it into an IIM. I obtained an overall score of 99.74 percentile in CAT 2016.
Careers360: Please share your preparation journey. How did you strike a balance between your academic and professional life and preparation for an entrance exam?
Anandu: I consider myself to be someone with good Quantitative Ability and with my engineering background, I did not have to prepare much for the QA section. I made sure I read as many English novels as I could to increase my reading speed. Fortunately, it was easy for me to balance my academics and entrance exam preparations as I recognised my strengths and weaknesses very early and knew exactly which area required more attention and which required the least.
Careers360: Which were the most challenging and easiest sections in the test?
Anandu: If your preparation strategy is weighty enough, then half the work is done. According to me, the most challenging section was Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning as it was quite lengthy, while the easiest was Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.
Careers360: Did you take any coaching? Do you think coaching is necessary for aspirants to bag the top rank?
Anandu: I enrolled at T.I.M.E. Delhi for CAT coaching. Their exam series was very helpful for me to achieve my current percentile. I would not say coaching is necessary but I would suggest aspirants first recognise their weak areas and then make their decision. If you ask me, I will suggest opting for coaching classes only if you are weak in the QA and DI & LR sections. Otherwise, it is not really necessary.
Careers360: Please share your specific section-wise strategy for VARC, DI & LR and QA.
Anandu: I did not follow any specific strategy for any section. Instead, I followed the simple ritual of solving question after question for the QA and DI & LR sections. For the VARC section, I just read a lot of English novels to help with my reading speed and the parajumbles portion, as I realised RC takes up a huge chunk in that particular section.
Careers360: What is the contribution of mock tests in your success? When did you start taking mock tests and what was the frequency?
Anandu: I would say my CAT preparation would have been incomplete without the mock tests, as I started taking mocks six months prior to the exam. Apart from that, I solved at least one sectional mock test daily and took a full-length mock test once a week. Mock tests gave me a lot of insights into the mistakes I was making. I was wasting a lot of time on questions that I couldn’t find the solutions to. So I started giving each question a defined time within which I tried to solve them. If I could not solve it within the designated duration, I skipped the question and would go back later if there was time left.
Careers360: What was your time management strategy for section-wise preparation?
Anandu: I basically invested a lot of time in VARC and DI & LR sections. In the former, because I identified it as my weak point, and in the latter because I wanted to enhance the speed with which I was solving DI & LR problems.
Careers360: How did you utilise the features like calculator and non-MCQs in CAT?
Anandu: I did not use the on-screen calculator as I felt it was more time consuming than manual calculation. And there was no particular strategy for non-MCQs other than to attempt all of them as they carried no negative marking.
Careers360: Please share your detailed experience of WAT/GD and PI.
Anandu: My WAT experience was really good and I believe concluding all your points within the limited time is important in the case of WAT. I didn’t have to give GD. I would say I underperformed in the Personal Interview and I am still trying to work on my interview performance for the future.
Careers360: What were the topics of WAT and GD at B-schools you had appeared for? Also, mention the PI questions you were asked.
Anandu: Differentiating strategy and execution for United Nations was one of the topics for WAT. Whereas for the Personal Interview, I was asked questions related to my reasons to join IIM, my hobbies and general awareness among others.
Careers360: Any suggestions that you would like to share with CAT 2017 aspirants?
Anandu: I would just suggest that they recognize their strengths and weaknesses and work accordingly on each of them. If they can master that, then nothing is out of their reach. I wish every aspirant who will be appearing for CAT 2017 the very best of luck.
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