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Chandan Saxena cracked CAT 2015 with a percentile of 99.35 and secured his admission at IIM Kashipur. According to him, the factor that gives an edge in CAT is conceptual clarity. In this interview with Careers360, Chandan shares his experience of CAT with a new pattern.Chandan, who was a working candidate did not stress due to the new pattern and modified the preparation and time allocation strategy per question. According to him, rather than focusing on attempting the maximum number of questions, the objective must be having a conceptual clarity to ensure accuracy. A conceptual understanding to solve questions of varying difficulty levels is the key to became a CAT topper. He also stresses upon the importance of proper time allocation for each section and question to ensure a high percentile.
Read the full interview below.
Careers360: How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed?
Chandan: My experience was good. The pattern was made more challenging for everyone. It stressed on the quality of questions rather than quantity. The DI section was much tougher than expected. Focus towards quality makes it one of the toughest competitive exams of our country.
Careers360: What made you pursue MBA, and why IIM and not any other top B-school?
Chandan: An MBA provides me an opportunity to explore myself and learn about various verticals of a business such as finance, marketing, operations, etc. This provides an overall picture of a business/industry for our understanding. It allows us the opportunity to decide that towards which particular vertical our interest is and hence we can pursue it.
I chose IIMs because they have international level academic and non-academic standards and the opportunities to pursue a general MBA by choosing subjects from various disciplines rather than sticking to one core vertical. Apart from these reasons the IIM Brand value is also a factor. IIM Kashipur has given me a first-hand experience of all these differentiating qualities of an IIM.
Careers360: Did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of CAT changes?
Chandan: I started preparing for CAT around 3 months before from the date of the exam. The preparation strategy was almost the same and that was to increase conceptual understanding to solve questions of varying difficulty level. Because of pattern change, slight modifications were done in the strategy, such as change in time allocation to a question, etc., to account for the changes.
Careers360: Please share your strategy for preparing CAT sections.
Chandan: All sections require practice. The strategy for all three sections is almost similar. Few points in my strategy which I followed are:
1. Don’t try to solve the entire question paper
2. Leave difficult questions aside
3. In the first 30 seconds of seeing a question, decide whether to attempt it or not
4. Don’t give more than 2-3 minutes to a question even though the solution may seem near
5. Increase conceptual understanding before solving questions
Careers360: What was your Time Management strategy for CAT?
Chandan: As I was also working in a job, I could allocate only 2-3 hours per day and towards the end, I took a week’s leave for the exam. This I believe was enough for my preparation. Some days it might not be possible to give 2-3 hours, the important thing is to solve some questions every day so that the touch from the subject is not lost.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak areas in the test?
Chandan: My strong areas were English and DI sections. My weak areas were some areas in Quant such as geometry, probability, etc.
I focused on making my strong areas stronger. Since I was weak in around 30-40% of quant sections and was pretty strong in the rest, I took the risk of focussing only on the areas which I was strong and was confident to perform well in those areas irrespective of the difficulty level. With this strategy, I was able to get around 96 percentile in Quant whereas I obtained higher than 99 percentile in Verbal and DI sections.
Careers360: Your message for this year’s CAT aspirants?
Chandan: CAT can turn out to be quite easy for you if you can provide sincere efforts for 3-4 months. Even 2-3 hours of self-study plus regular mock tests are more than enough to crack CAT.
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