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A perfect balance between family business and CAT preparation is what Satish Parchani did while preparing for the Common Admission Test 2016. Although, he had a difficult time managing both simultaneously but in the end, it was his hard-work that allowed him to top the CAT 2016. Satish secured 99.65 percentile to grab an admission offer from IIM Shillong. He believes coaching gives a conducive environment to study which is required especially when you’re preparing for one of the most established exams in the country.
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His success in CAT 2016 will certainly inspire the working professionals who aspire to take CAT 2017. In this interview with Careers360, he explains the challenges faced during preparation and how he managed to make it large on the d-day.
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Careers360: Congratulations on your admissions to IIM Shillong. What was your overall and sectional score in CAT 2016? Did you appear for any other entrance exam? If yes, please share the score.
Satish: Thank you for your wishes. Here is my overall and sectional score in CAT 2016.
Overall: 99.65 Percentile, QA: 99.67 Percentile, VA&RC: 96.62 Percentile, DI&LR: 98.66 Percentile.
VA/RC – Verbal Ability/Reading Comprehension
DI/LR – Data Interpretation/Logical Reasoning
QA – Quantitative Analysis
Careers360: Which was the most challenging and the easiest section in the test?
Satish: Quant was the easiest section for me whereas DI & LR was the most challenging one in CAT 2016.
Careers360: Please share your preparation journey. How did you strike a balance between your academic/professional life and preparation for an entrance exam?
Satish: I started my preparation in August. For the first two months, I prepared randomly. After that, I started taking mock tests. At times, it was tough balancing the professional life with CAT preparation, but you got to keep finding motivation continuously.
Careers360: Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary for aspirants to bag the top rank?
Satish: No, because it was difficult for me to manage time for classes with my business. Unless one is self-motivated, coaching is recommended. Coaching provides you a conducive environment to study. For a professional, specifically, the environment is very important to keep them focused on preparation.
Careers360: Please share your specific section wise strategy for VARC, DI & LR and QA.
Satish: For QA and DI & LR, I practiced as many problems I could find with varying difficulty levels. For VARC, I read random books and articles.
Careers360: How did you tackle the challenging sections and topics?
Satish: VARC was a challenging section for me. So, I read as much as I could. Beyond that, I didn’t worry much because I didn’t need to be the best in this particular section. I just needed to be reasonably good at it.
Careers360: Mention section wise books and study materials you referred during preparation.
Satish: I subscribed to IMS test series package. I practiced the questions in the test series package. Rest, I used to find question papers online and solve them.
Careers360: What is the significance of mock test in your success? When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency?
Satish: Mock tests are the most important part of CAT preparation. I started taking mock tests in October, two months before CAT. I knew that I was late since most aspirants start taking mocks by July/August. I tried to make up for the lost time by attempting one mock every alternate day.
Careers360: How did you get the mock tests analysed and how did you modify your strategy after that?
Satish: While analysing mock tests, I, first, attempted all unattempted questions and then analysed my mistakes. In first few tests, I experimented with different strategies and then decided on a strategy and perfected it in the remaining tests.
Careers360: What was your time management strategy for section wise preparation vis a vis exam day?
Satish: For every section, I read through the questions and if I was clear about the approach while reading the question the first time, I solved it or else marked the question to be solved later. These questions were again taken up in ascending order of difficulty.
Careers360: How did you utilise the features like calculator and non-MCQs in CAT?
Satish: Calculator, I feel, does more harm than good, most of the time in CAT. If you practise beforehand, then calculations without the calculator are faster than the same with the calculator. In the exam, I used calculator only for very lengthy calculations.
Non-MCQs don’t penalize you directly for wrong answers, but again there is a very low probability of any random answer turning out right, and that is the penalty in terms of time which is very crucial for an exam like CAT. So, I approached non-MCQs in the same way as MCQs.
Careers360: Any suggestion that you would like to share with aspirants?
Satish: Start taking mock tests early. Don’t waste too much time on specific questions either during tests or during analysis. Attempt as many questions as you can with confidence and accuracy. Work on your weaknesses but remember you just need to be reasonably good at it. In the end, knowing what questions to skip is the most important skill in CAT. Introspect and know thyself because in an interview, if you can convey that you are clear about your goals, it makes a good impression.
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Dear Akshat, CAT is exclusively conducted by the IIMs. So the selection for admission to any of the 20 IIMs is through CAT exam. Unfortunately no other score except for CAT score is accepted for IIM Ahmedabad. You can check their selection process at:
Dear Sai, IIMs look for Diversity factor in Academics. They have a special rating scale for Professional courses like MBBS,BDS, CA, etc. We shall help you with the admission process of IIM Ahmedabad just as an example to show how does the selection process work. There are 3 sections in CAT: QA, DILR, VRC. IIM A has released its 2019 cut off percentiles. Only those Candidates who have scored this percentiles will be shortlisted for further rounds. The cut offs are as follows:
VRC DILR QA Overall
General 70 70 70 80
OBC-Transgender 65 65 65 75
SC 60 60 60 70
ST 50 50 50 60
PWD 60 60 60 70
PWD-ST 50 50 50 60
On an average IIMs need a cut off 90 percentile and more for admission to their colleges. You can check the complete selection process of IIM A at:
Now based on these cut offs top 5 percentile from each Category will be short listed for WAT and PI. So inorder to be able to score these cut offs, you need to know the exam pattern and marking scheme. CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.
NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.
Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.
Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.
In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.
Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.
As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.
Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months
We can recommend a few books for you:
NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma
How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha
You can also download free downloadable e books at:
NIFT has nothing to do with CAT or GAT. Those are the exams for MBA. NIFT is for admission in fashion courses.
The eligibilitiy is just marks of your 10th and intermediate. The main point is the candidate must have qualified both from a recognised board and must be having PCM as the compulsory subject.
The exam has an age limit to be 23 and there is 5 years relaxation for category reserved candidates.
For more information please check the article:-
Hope it helps!
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