Objectivity, perseverance, logic, self-study and smart preparation were the yardsticks Sahajdeep Singh swore by while preparing for CAT 2016. Not only did he ace the exam but also balanced his career very well with studies. His job as a financial analyst was quite taxing, but Sahajdeep proved it that the right approach is the key. A B.Com Honors graduate from Delhi University, Sahajdeep’s main focus was on taking as many mock tests as possible along with section wise strategy to crack the CAT 2016 exam. Zeroing on his weak areas through constant practice along with utilizing the time at hand optimally proved to put him in good stead right at the onset. Apart from CAT, he also aced XAT with similar preparation strategy.
In an interview with Careers360, Sahajdeep Singh gave a sneak peek into his preparatory schedule for CAT which for many is a hard nut to crack.
Read the full interview below:
Careers360: Heartiest Congratulations on your admission to SPJIMR. What was your overall and sectional score in CAT 2016? Did you appear for any other entrance or competitive exam? If so, please share the score for the same.
Sahajdeep: Thank you very much. My overall Percentile is 99.17 and the sectional score is as follows: VARC: 97.22, DILR: 98.96, QA: 96.85.
Yes, I did appear for XAT 2017 where I scored a total percentile of 99.098.
Careers360: Talking of sections here, which was the most challenging and easiest section in the test?
Sahajdeep: The DILR probably was the most challenging section of CAT 2016 as there were no traditional questions this time. Perhaps, in retrospect, they could be aced too, if you have an analytical bent of mind and have practiced similar questions.
Careers360: How were your preparatory days like? Did you manage to balance your academic/professional life and entrance preparation time well?
Sahajdeep: Having prepared for Olympiads during school, I was accustomed to the type of questions asked in competitive exams. Hence, I decided to appear for CAT 2016 while I was working as a financial analyst. Since my working hours were irregular and depended heavily on the project at hand, I sometimes had to even work overtime till 12 midnight and I only had weekends to prepare. So, I thought of studying at weekends and manage my time effectively. But, as we know, it is easier said than done. After a long tiring week at work, I almost had no energy or motivation to study during weekends, thus, I focused on AIMCATs (TIME test series) to practice and understand the questions. It was always important for me to study with a fresh state of mind, that is why I took a leave during the last two weeks from office to study and gave my all during that time.
Careers360: Did you join any coaching institute? Is coaching necessary for the aspirants to bag the top rank?
Sahajdeep: Yes, I took test series from TIME. They are quite useful and handy to test oneself in a live simulated test environment with your results being compared with all other TIME students from across India. You get a fair idea of where you stand currently and how much is the room for improvement. However, I believe that coaching classes are not really a necessity to bag the top rank. I have always been inclined to self-study as it makes one think about the possible answers and thereby, eliminating certain approaches based on one’s own logic. Spoon feeding in coaching institutes ruins one’s capability to analyze questions and approach an answer on his/her own.
Careers360: Please share your specific section wise strategy for VARC, DILR and QA.
Sahajdeep: I had a very objective approach for the VARC section. There were 3 RCs with 6 questions and 2 RCs with 3 questions each. So, I used to first go for RCs with 6 questions and then switch to VA. Then, in the remaining time, I used to try the rest of the RCs questions.
The DI & LR section requires a lot of practice. Being good in both DI & LR, I did not have any specific strategy. I just skipped the questions which seemed to involve a lot of calculations to save my time.
For QA, I first attempted all the questions I was confident about. In the remaining time, I tried my hand at other questions which were time-consuming but could be solved by hit and trial.
Careers360: How did you tackle the challenging sections and topics?
Sahajdeep: Don’t be put off by challenging sections. Time is limited hence, utilize it optimally. Solve the easiest questions first and then go about the difficult ones. The way you approach a question is what matters the most.
Careers360: Please share section wise the books and study material you had referred to?
Sahajdeep: I borrowed the course material from my friend provided to him by TIME. Other than that, Google is the new gen God, You can find anything if you know where to look for it.
Careers360: How significant a role did the mock tests play in your success? When did you start taking them and what was the frequency?
Sahajdeep: Mock tests are the reason I aced CAT. They helped me stay in constant practice. I started taking TIME’s AIMCATs around June and took the tests almost every other week.
Careers360: Where and how did you get the mock tests analyzed? How did you modify your strategy after that?
Sahajdeep: The analysis is usually provided in AIMCATs. I looked for solutions to the questions which were wrong or where I spent more than average time. If there was a particular section where I performed badly, I practiced similar questions on the Internet.
Careers360: What was your time management strategy for section wise preparation vis a vis the exam day?
Sahajdeep: For RC/VA, I restricted myself to solving 3 RCs with 6 questions each within 35 minutes or maximum 40 minutes and vested the remaining time in VA. For LR/DI, I had fixed an upper limit of 10 minutes per question and for QA, I kept a cut-off time of 3 minutes per question.
Careers360: How did you utilize the features like the calculator and non-MCQs in CAT?
Sahajdeep: Operating on-screen calculator is very time consuming and should be used only when too necessary, eg. For calculating exponential functions etc. For some Non-MCQs, if the solution seems time-consuming, and the possible answers are limited, then you can try and take an intelligent guess and move on to other questions to save time.
And finally good luck to CAT 2017 aspirants!
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