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Being a non-engineering student did not pose a challenge for Shubham Goyal, an English Hons. Graduate to crack CAT 2015 with 99 percentile. The IIM Lucknow student took this as an opportunity to revisit the concepts of Mathematics taught in school. He made preparation fun by practicing puzzles, sudokus, crosswords etc. to hone his Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning skills.
For Shubham, who aims to be an entrepreneur, the key to crack CAT 2016 is to enjoy the process and take it as a learning experience.
Read full interview below:
Careers360: What made you pursue MBA, and why IIM?
Shubham: When I applied for admissions at IIM, I knew I would be treading unfamiliar territories. Being an English Hons. Graduate, it would be difficult coming up to pace with engineers and commerce students who are used to the sort of subjects taught in a management programme.
But it was the very tilting of odds that made me want to go for it even more. I want to be a successful entrepreneur and I took it as a challenge. I knew I had to compete with the toughest to really be successful. I wanted to learn about how big firms operate. I had ideas, but they needed practical grounding.
For all of this, IIM was the place to be. I would be pitted against the best in the country here, against people who are really good at what they do.
Careers360: How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed, the calculator was introduced?
Shubham: CAT changed its pattern last year and it did bring about some significant changes. One needed to be strong with all three sections: as equal time was to be allocated to all sections and each had equal weight-age. The calculator was not a major help though one could use it for huge calculations (which are generally very few in the CAT).
Careers360: How beneficial were the new changes, and would you like the officials to follow the same pattern?
Shubham: I feel that the changes made were justified, as it is really a better test of one’s aptitude when you test the candidates’ understanding and approach. There was lesser focus on speed, which I think is an area that could be made more challenging. But otherwise, I think the changes are for the good.
Careers360: Since when did you start preparing for CAT? Did you change your preparation strategy after the announcement of the pattern changes or you followed the same?
Shubham: I started preparing for CAT from July 2015 onwards and gave time to it regularly till November. To me, CAT was a learning opportunity. It gave me a chance to revisit things I had learnt in school and learn about new and other interesting topics. With the change in pattern, there was a lesser focus on speed and more on a wider understanding of all topics covered. That came to me as an advantage. I could spend more time on understanding concepts and their applications. It was fun, really.
Careers360: Please share your sectional preparation strategy?
Shubham: The Verbal Section was something I knew I could crack once I was familiar with the pattern. It was, therefore, only a matter of routinely solving papers to be in practice. I think it also helped that I read a lot generally. It creates a better understanding of language nuances than studying grammar particularly.
For the QA section, I put in a lot of effort. I covered topics one by one and started solving papers really early. It was discouraging in the beginning as I never scored well. But consistently keeping at it made me get through, I think. I became comfortable with the topics slowly and I tried to keep in mind the various kinds of questions I had encountered and any variations that could be made of those.
The DI and LR section needed smart work. Instead of solving only the CAT specific questions, I expanded my domain. I tried learning some Vedic Math concepts to increase speed in calculations. I solved puzzles on my phone through apps, solved Sudokus, crosswords, and anagrams to keep it fun at the same time. I think all of this helped considerably in strengthening my LR base.
Careers360: What was your Time Management formula for the CAT?
Shubham: For Time Management, I only solved the questions I was extremely confident with first. After finishing those off quickly, I moved on to questions that seemed tricky and lastly to the ones that needed more time to interpret and understand.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the test?
Shubham: My strong area was the VA section. My weak area was the QA section. My strategy to tackle my weak area was simple, to give it enough time and effort until I feel comfortable with it.
Careers360: Your advice for this year’s CAT aspirants?
Shubham: The trick to crack the CAT is to enjoy the process. It is a great learning experience to simply prepare for the exam, if done well. The CAT might not be the perfect test of one’s aptitude, but one can use it well to expand one’s general aptitude.
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You have to score a minimum of 99 percentile to get at least one good IIM call as your academics are not good. You could get a call from new IIMs if you score 99 percentile as the top tier IIMs will not give you a chance due to your poor acads.
Colleges you could look for are like IIM Nagpur, Kashipur, Shillong, etc. These colleges if you study well will provide you with a good package of 10-12 lpa.
Hope this helps. Thank you.
You will not be able to get any good business school like top IIMs, MDI, IIFT, or FMS. However, you can still get a good MBA tier 3/4 college if you increase your percentile to 98 percentile.
However, according to your grads, you must not be disappointed if you don't get a call at 99 because your marks are not good.
Hope for the best. Thank you.
Eligibility for CAT is graduate in any discipline from a recognized university with 50% aggregate, for SC/ST/PwD it's 45%.
So, people from any background can apply for CAT, provided they have required aggregate at their graduation level against their category.
Now, coming to the syllabus for CAT, there's no specific syllabus for CAT, one needs to rely on past years sample papers to get a fair idea about the pattern and weightage given to each topic and section.In general, questions are mostly from middle school level English and Mathematics.
There are mainly three sections in CAT-
Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation which includes topics such as Tables, Graphs, Data Caselets, Seating Arrangement, Blood Relation, Syllogism etc.
Quantitative Aptitude which includes topics such as Geometry, Algebra, Time and Work, Mensuration, Number System etc.
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension which includes topics such as Sentence completion, Questions based on reading comprehension, Para-jumbles & para-summar, inferences etc.
To know the detailed topics, kindly go through the following link-
Honestly there is a difference between just finishing the syllabus and preparing for selection in cat. See you can finish the syllabus if you'll work really hard in one month but trust me only unless you are extraordinary you won't be able to get selected for iims or other good colleges. But don't loose hope you should fight till last.
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