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A dreamer with a desire to be an entrepreneur, Kanav Gupta followed his ambition to study in IIM and took up the CAT challenge. He passionately prepared for one of the toughest management tests and secured 99.45 percentile along with a spot in the CAT 2015 topper league. Currently, a PGP student at IIM Indore, Kanav shares his CAT preparation strategies in this article, which is part of a CAT Topper Interview series by Careers360. This series will guide CAT 2016 aspirants to learn and adopt topper strategies and guidance to secure a high percentile. While preparing, Kanav applied a similar strategy for the three sections of the test. He devoted 40% of the time studying for quantitative ability and the remaining time was equally divided between verbal ability, data interpretation, and logical reasoning. Further, he read newspapers every day to help increase his general awareness quotient and verbal skills. Kanav advises future aspirants to use the changes in the CAT 2016 pattern, if any, as an advantage. He further adds that aspirants must not become negative and change their strategies entirely; rather, a few adjustments are enough to crack CAT under any circumstances.
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Read full interview:
Careers360: What made you pursue MBA, and why IIM and not any other top B-school?
Kanav: I wish to become an entrepreneur and carry forward my family business. This has been the sole reason for me pursuing an MBA. It had been a dream to get into an IIM for the same. Moreover, I believe that the quality of education what an IIM can provide, no other b-school can. Also, the coveted ‘IIM tag’ is very much respected in the industry. In the long run, the IIM badge can provide you much better opportunities than any other b-school.
Careers360: How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern was changed?
Kanav: CAT 2015 was a wonderful experience for me. It got me into IIM Indore which was a dream come true. Talking about the change in pattern, it was not a lot different from what I had been practising. I just needed to make a few adjustments in my strategy such as paying more attention to RC, and reducing my time allocation to Quant. The introduction of the calculator was a diversion for me because in the actual exam we do not get enough time to use the calculator. Even my pre-exam preparation was carried out without the use of the calculator.
Careers360: When did you start your preparations for CAT? Did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of the pattern change or you followed the same routine?
Kanav: My preparation for CAT started in August 2014. I used to study 3-4 hours every day for the first 6 months and then steadily increased this time. My schedule involved giving 1-2 hours to quant and dividing rest of the time equally between VA and DI/LR. This helped me in staying in constant touch with all the subjects. I had to make a few adjustments here and there after the change in pattern was announced. The introduction of subjective questions made the paper a bit tougher but it was offset by no negative marking in those questions. I started practicing harder for the subjective questions since you needed to be 100% accurate in those kinds of questions. I also refrained from using the calculator since I felt that it actually slowed me down.
Careers360: How beneficial were the new changes, and would you like the officials to follow the same pattern? Any suggestions?
Kanav: I don’t think new changes were beneficial to anyone except that now the time was divided equally between all the sections. This prevented a person from using up all his time on 1 particular section. This proved to be very helpful. On the other hand, subjective questions made the paper a bit tougher. It required much more time to solve the questions since one could not use approximation now. I would suggest that the authorities should shift slightly back to the previous format and should not provide calculators rather exam should be more reasoning based than calculation based.
Careers360: Please share your sectional wise preparation strategy?
Kanav: I adopted a similar strategy throughout all the three sections. 40% of time used for studying was spent on quant and the remaining time was used equally for VA and DI/LR. I used to read a newspaper every day as it not only helped me in increasing my general awareness quotient but also improved my verbal skills to a great extent. I used to find DI/LR very interesting as it required one to think out of the box. I used to solve 1-2 sets every day for both of them. Quant was my favourite part. I could spend hours on solving quant questions without getting tired. One very important part of my preparation was that I used to discuss all my doubts with my friend who was also preparing for CAT and then together we tried solving them. This helped both of us in getting our basics strong.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the test?
Kanav: My strong area was quant. I was very confident that I would do well in that section. Even most of my study time went into solving quant questions as I liked doing those. Within quant, geometry was a weak topic for me. I always escaped from those questions. Before the D-day, I already had a mindset that I would not be attempting any geometry questions. Also, I was a bit weak in VA. I used to have very low accuracy in that section during my AIMCATS and no matter how much I practised I was not able to improve that. I resorted to reading newspapers, interacting with my friends in English, continuous practice and all this ultimately helped me in improving my final score to some extent.
Careers360: Your message/tip for this year’s CAT aspirants?
Kanav: Just believe in yourself and keeping on working hard and don’t forget to thank your friends, family or any other person who supported you during your CAT journey.
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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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