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To develop a holistic knowledge of the industry you work in is a factor that supports your career growth. An electronic engineer, Abishake pursued his MBA with the same thought process. Abishake appeared in CAT 2014 and secured a percentile of 99.29, and took admission in IIM Lucknow. He gives his credit of high CAT percentile to his strategy of ‘Familiarity with Sectional Questions.
In this interview series of CAT Topper Strategies by Careers360, Abishake shares his preparation and exam taking strategy which he followed to cope up with the changed pattern. According to him, the key to crack CAT is to get familiar with the type of questions to expect in the test and focus your preparations on solving those question in each section.
Abishake also suggests taking as many mock tests as one can, and solving different type of questions along with an eye on time. Read his interview to know how solving every type of question can help in cracking CAT 2015.
Careers360: What were your initial thoughts behind pursuing MBA?
Abishake: My work was related to the technical domain and I wanted to have a holistic experience of the industry, along with my desire to pursue higher studies. So I decided to go for MBA. I joined coaching classes, attended week day classes after office hours, cracked CAT and took admission in IIM Lucknow.
Careers360: How was the overall experience of appearing in CAT 2014? What was your preparation strategy for CAT 2014 as the pattern was changed?
Abishake: As per the changes in CAT 2014, questions increased from 60 to 100 and time from 140 minutes to 170 minutes. It was initially difficult to cope with as I had already given a few mocks on the older pattern but as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I shifted my focus on getting familiar with the type of questions that would appear in the exam. I practiced via mock tests, trying to solve every type of question. Doing this prepares you to tackle every kind of question without pressure. You must know what CAT sections will test and what type of questions could appear.
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Careers360: Any preparation strategy suggestions for the Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning?
Abishake: For Quant, don't leave any topic uncovered. On the exam day, it might so occur that the difficult topic you have left has more weightage compared to those you have covered. This affects sectional scores, resulting in decreased percentage. I followed Arun Sharma additionally for practice.
For, DI & LR, you should be familiar with all types of case lets. All types of questions should be bread and butter for you before the exam. This is the section which makes the difference between a mediocre and a good percentile.
In Verbal, RCs is the most important section. With the changed format, there might be around 3-5 RC and there is no escaping them. I spent a lot of time reading working in RCs.
In addition for all the portions, I religiously practiced the handouts shared in class and along with other material. It takes time for consistency to show in your scores but mocks definitely help as they tell you what your weak and strong areas are.
Careers360: What was your Time Management formula for the CAT?
Abishake: My strategy on exam day: 10 minutes for scanning the paper, 50 minutes to the 35 questions of Quant, 50 minutes for 30 questions of DI and LR, 40 minutes for 20 questions of RC and 20 minutes for Verbal.
I had to give sufficient mocks to reach this level and this would differ from person to person. So, every individual has to decide his own strategy depending on portions he/she is comfortable with.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the exam?
Abishake: Quant: Strong & Verbal: Weak
For Verbal, I used to work on the handouts in class and the material provided in coaching classes. I used to do RCs from online websites. One book which helped me a lot to easily cope up with the vocabulary in CAT was Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.
Careers360: After the exam, how you prepared for the PI-WAT rounds?
Abishake: This was the tricky part and coaching definitely helped during this.
For PIs, I used to attend the knowledge sharing sessions on Economy, Budget, Politics and Environment to improve on my GK portion. I also started reading the newspaper every day without fail. Before the PIs, I also revised my technical subjects from undergraduate course and also gave a few mock PIs to get acclimatized to the pressure situations inside a PI.
For GDs, I used to regularly attend mock GD sessions and improve on the feedback received from moderators. You have to work on your communicational aspects like voice modulation and body postures. Also, it requires coming out your comfort zones as a lot of GDs tend to become a fish market.
WAT wasn’t very difficult for me to prepare but there are certain cases where the topic is technical or news based and you need prior knowledge to write on it. So, it is again important to read a lot of current topics.
Careers360: Any tips for the Personal Interview round?
Abishake: Some tips for PI from my side:
Do prepare a backup question which the panel might ask you after the interview. It leaves a good impression on the panel and shows your keen interest.
Always be composed even if you don't know most of the questions being asked. The panel might be putting additional stress.
Try leading the interview by saying out things about which you are fully confident and want the panel to question you on.
Why MBA is a sure shot question. You should be convinced yourself on this to convince the panel.
Careers360: Your message to this year CAT aspirants?
Abishake: Make your own strategy for the exam. Focus of knowing each type of question from all the sections and keep practicing.
CAT 2015 Exam Pattern
Expert Interview on CAT 2015
CAT 2014 Topper Strategies
How to utilize group studies
How to utilize calculator in CAT 2015
CAT 2015 pattern change: Why and how you need to tweak preparation strategy
Other Feature Stories on B-School and MBA:
Life @ B-School Campus
CAT Topper Interviews
MBA Internship Experience
B-School Placement Reports - 2014
Stay tuned to www.bschool.careers360.com for more news and updates
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