How conceptual clarity and time management made Chandan Saxena secure 99.35 percentile in CAT
Urvashi Dalal, 20 Sep 2016, #CAT
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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.

Appearing in CAT 2016 Ask Discuss here

Also Read:

CAT Topper Interview

What if I don’t take coaching? Can I still crack CAT?

CAT 2016: When and how to start preparations

Must read books for CAT

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I want to know about CAT entrance exam syllabus

Prashant Singh 15th Dec, 2019

CAT is a 3-hour computer-based test consisting of 100 Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) and Non-MCQ type questions. There were three sections, namely Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR).

CAT has a vast syllabus, you can check all the detailed syllabus and important topics from the link given below -


I want to know about CAT entrance exam

Burhan Khan 15th Dec, 2019


CAT Exam (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based selection test conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as a prerequisite for admissions to their business administration programs. Apart from the IIMs, the CAT is also a prerequisite for admissions into numerous other prestigious management colleges across India which includes institutes like S.P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Management Development Institute (Gurgaon), Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), International Management Institute (IMI), National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) and several others.

To be able to get eligible for CAT, candidates to fulfil the following criterion:

  • Should Hold a Bachelor’s Degree and have secured a minimum of 50% marks or equivalent CGPA from a recognized university.

All the best!

Hope this helps!


How I prepare for CAT Exam How many marks?

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 15th Dec, 2019
CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
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.

First things first, know the syllabus. And 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 because even Rome wasnt built in a day.

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.

Preparation tips:

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.

Preparation tips:

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.

Preparation tips:

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:


About CAT exam How to prepare? All and all

prem meghani 15th Dec, 2019
DEAR Aspirant,

The common admission testis a computer based testfor admission in a graduate management program. The test scores a candidate on the bases of Quantitative Ability (QA) , Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC), Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR) . The Indian institute of Managements(IIMs) started this exam and use the test for selecting students for their business administration programs.

There preparation strategy should be as mentioned below-
As we know that cat Is a difficult exams as many aspirant give exam to take admission in you have to first know about exam pattern and Syllabus so you can work on the topic which are comfortable for you .Then you have to collect genuine study material Like sample paper ,Right books for preparation .You should also give online mock test so you can keep command on what you have studied .and the last thing is Stay motivated and Be confident during your preparation.

If you want to know how to prepare for Cat and want to score good marks without coaching then you can go through the link mentioned below.


All the very best


Pankhuri Kumari 14th Dec, 2019

Dear student!

CAT stand for common admission test.

XAT stands for Xaviers aptitude test

MAT stands for management aptitude test

ATMA stands for AIMS test for management admission.

TANCET stands for Tamilnadu commin entrance test.

All these are management related entrance examinations. For more details refer the link below -

Hope this helps.

Good luck!

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