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Chhavi Gupta is one of the two women CAT 2017 toppers securing 100 percentile. An alumnus of IIT Delhi’s five year dual B. Tech and M. Tech degree in Biotechnology, she is currently working at Opera Solutions as a Business Analyst. She could prepare for CAT only during the weekends due to her office schedule. Despite the time crunch, planning her study schedule, concentrating on the logical applications of formulae, basic concepts and practicing about 35 mock tests helped her crack the most competitive MBA entrance test for IIMs and over 100 B-schools across India.
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Chhavi Gupta, an avid reader; one out of the two female candidates who bagged 100 percentile, shares her CAT 2017 exam experience in details with Careers360 in this interview.
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Careers360: Heartiest Congratulations on scoring a perfect 100 percentile in CAT 2017. Please tell us something about yourself.
Chhavi- Thank you so much. I hail from Jaipur, Rajasthan. However as my Dad is a Govt. employee, we kept relocating to different places. I completed my schooling in Delhi and acquired various scholarships since my school days. My mother, a part-time Pharmacist was very particular about my studies since my formative years. I am the eldest and have two siblings; my younger sister is pursuing MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College and my younger brother is studying in 6th standard. After completing my dual degree from IIT Delhi in Biotechnology, I got placed at Opera Solutions as a Business Analyst.
Careers360: What were your overall and sectional percentiles?
Chhavi- My overall percentile in CAT 2017 was 100. Here are the sectional percentiles:
CAT sectional percentile
Verbal Ability/Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Quantitative Ability (QA)
Careers360: How was your exam day experience? What, according to you, were the toughest and easiest sections?
Chhavi- I was pretty confident on the exam day, as my mocks had gone very well few months before the CAT day. I kept my calm throughout the exam hours. For all the sections, I picked up the sets which I was confident about to avoid negative marking.
There were no sections which, according to me, were tough or easy. I had encountered similar questions in my mock and sample CAT tests. Mostly all the question patterns were known to me.
DILR and Reading comprehensions were quite tough, so I chose the ones which could be easily comprehended by me. Took five to seven minutes in selecting what to do and what not to do.
Careers360: How did you prepare for CAT 2017? What are the factors behind your success?
Chhavi- As I had limited time, had to plan accordingly. I took up coaching sessions with T.I.M.E, but did not have enough time to read through the modules. So, I rigorously practised the Mock CAT series(AIMCAT) prepared by them, selected some random tests online and sample CAT. To be precise, solving 35 practice tests and analysing them critically called for the cent percent percentile.
Sound knowledge of the basic concepts, controlling distractions, working through practice tests and critical self-analysis were the factors which led to my success.
Careers360: What was your time management strategy?
Chhavi- Selection of the questions was the first thing I indulged in and devoted five to seven minutes for doing the same. I had answered 24 questions in RC and spent 42-45 minutes as my accuracy level was very high. In general, the accuracy in VA questions was low, so for rest of the VA questions (Jumbled sentences and Fill in the Blanks), I spent nearly 15-20 minutes.
For DILR- I gave five to seven minutes to plan and select the order of the sets. As I could not comprehend the first two sets, just skipped and solved rest of the sets.
Finally, for the QA section, I gave 30 minutes each to the two sets of 17 questions.
I religiously followed my preparation pattern and did not change my strategy on the test day. It is important to let go of a question if it is costing more time.
Careers360: Did you take coaching? How helpful was it? Is it possible to succeed through self-study?
Chhavi- Yes, I took a student programme with T.I.M.E and the centre had a pool of good faculty members. Due to the time constraint, I could not refer to CAT modules; depended primarily on the lectures and the mock tests. (AIMCAT series).
Certainly yes. If one is focused, has his/her basic concepts clear, solve a substantial number of practice tests, he/she does not have to enroll in coaching classes.
Careers360: For the first time ever, IIMs released CAT question paper and answer key. Did you find any wrong question/answer? Did you file an objection?
Chhavi- Yes. I wasn’t sure of an answer provided in the answer key, so clarified the same with one of the professors and he explained me the answer. So, I do not have any further objection.
Careers360: Which B-School are you planning to join and why? What are your career plans after MBA?
Chhavi- I am looking forward to one of the top three IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta). All the three have great campuses and faculties. I would also get an opportunity to interact with bright peers and exposure to new aspects of management studies.
Do not have a dream career per se but as I am working as a Business Analyst, would like to be in the Consulting domain.
Careers360: Who has been your idol?
Chhavi- The one name that crops in my mind is my mother. As I already mentioned earlier, she used to be very serious about my academics. I would not have been able to score 100 percentile if she had not pushed me with her guiding spirit. I look up to my father as well; admire his diligence and dedication towards work.
Careers360: What are your spare time activities? How did you relax amidst CAT preparation?
Chhavi- Reading books (History, Drama and Non-fiction), singing and spending time with family, especially younger brother.
I used to study for three hours at a stretch and then take a break to go out for cycling or watch television. It helped me getting rejuvenated physically as well as mentally.
Careers360: Any suggestion that you would like to share with aspirants?
Chhavi- To score well, you need to focus on time practice how to let go off a question, if you cannot solve it within 5-7 minutes. Also, keep your calm and follow your preparation pattern; do not change your exam strategy on the test day. My best wishes for all the future aspirants.
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Ayush, 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.
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.
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.
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.
IIMs shortlist candidates for the interview stage based on their own criteria, which may be independent of each other. The process may include Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, and Personal Interviews. Performance in the CAT examination is an important component in the admission process. IIMs may additionally use other factors such as the previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience, gender and academic diversity and other similar inputs in shortlisting and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs. Now based on your Category, to be shortlisted for an IIM, you should score atleast 85 and more percentile.
Now the IIMs part has been cleared, you need to decide one among MBA in India via CAT or go abroad for higher studies. You cannot be double minded on this. You know your strengths and capabilities and so this should be completely your call.
If you are planning to get your details corrected in the form of CAT 2019, then now you don't have any option as it is now too late. The exam is scheduled for 24th November, 2019 which is just a week away.
However, in the meantime you can ask on the helpline for any assistance if they can provide.
Hope this helps. Thank you.
Yes I'll enlist down some of the top institutes for MBA whose cutoffs are between 80 to 90 percentile.
Thank-you. Best wishes.
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