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Having appeared for CAT in 2014 had helped Yasaswini M, 95.69 percentile and MDI Gurgaon student identify the strengths and weaknesses and complete the conceptual preparation way ahead. But the announcement of change in pattern led her to change the strategy as well. She took mocks to get accustomed to the new pattern including different sectional arrangement and time bound sections.
In this interview with Careers360, Yasaswini, an Electrical and Electronics Engineer shares how she tackled her weakness, which is Data Interpretation and managed time in the new format of CAT. She suggests that rather than getting stuck in a tough question, you should mark it for review and attempt easier questions and come back to the difficult questions later.
Read the full interview below.
Careers360: You had appeared in CAT 2014 as well as in CAT 2015. How did you change your strategy as per the new pattern?
Yasaswini: For CAT 2014, my preparation was focused on the previous pattern. DI was one of my weak areas and I hoped to score better in Quant to improve my overall Quantitative Aptitude percentile. Soon after the pattern change, I started solving more DI problems as it now gained more importance than before. I took a lot more mocks to ensure that I stay comfortable with the pattern. Though the calculator was introduced, I felt that the questions seemed to be more logical rather than calculation oriented. Despite the calculator, I concentrated on speed Math and short cut techniques. I used the calculator only when it was absolutely necessary.
Careers360: According to you. how beneficial are the changes introduced in CAT 2015?
Yasaswini: In the earlier pattern, aspirants who were good with Quant and not so good with DI still managed to get decent percentiles in the QA & DI section. A similar pattern could be observed in the Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning section too. The new pattern ensures that a candidate is equally good in all four divisions which ensures a more holistic assessment. The new pattern should thus be enforced in the forthcoming years too.
Careers360: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
Yasaswini: My preparation strategy obviously changed as I now had to ensure equal distribution of marks in three sections. Also because DI and LR featured in a separate section, I had to practice them individually and improve my speed and accuracy. I also made sure to not go too easy on calculations as I realised that approximating and arriving at an answer was faster than using the calculator. I practiced questions without depending on the answer choices after the pattern change as this was a major requisite. Though my approach towards the preparation changed, my routine continued to be the same.
Careers360: What was your sectional preparation strategy?
Yasaswini: I was relatively stronger in Verbal and Logical Reasoning than Quantitative Ability and DI. I worked on my weaker areas in the initial days of my preparation. I took up more sectional tests to get accustomed to varied questions and the time constraints. As the exam came nearer I leveraged more on my areas of strengths to get my scores a notch higher with every mock test that I attempted.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area in the test?
Yasaswini: As mentioned previously, my strongest area was Verbal Ability and my weakest was DI. To increase my scores and attempts in DI, I took many sectional timed tests. The tests exposed me to a lot of question patterns. Moreover, analysing the test after taking it is of utmost importance. I usually spent more time to analyse a test than to attempt it. It is important to simultaneously learn the concepts and best approach to every type of problem.
Careers360: How did you manage the time for CAT during preparation as well as the exam day?
Yasaswini: More than a test of skill and aptitude, CAT is a test that runs against time. It is important to understand that every question carries the same marks and spending more time with difficult questions and leaving out the easy ones do not make sense. During normal practice, I gave all my time and effort until I solved the problem. However, during timed mock tests, it is important to view the paper objectively. I ensured that I did not spend too much time on one question. I got into the habit of marking the question and continuing with the rest. Many a times, answers and methods do strike when we get back to the difficult question after finishing the easier ones.
Careers360: After the exam, how did you prepare for the PI-WAT rounds?
Yasaswini: Generally, for both PI and WAT, current affairs is considered to be of utmost importance. I made sure to keep myself well informed about all important happenings. Everything that we claim in the interview must be solidly backed up. I worked on those lines and made sure I could talk about my interests for at least five minutes. I was part of many social media platforms and forums that gave vast inputs on the structure and kind of PI-WAT in every college. Also, discussions on these forums based on the previous years’ topics and experiences gave me an insight.
Careers360: What are the key factors, you think, have worked in your favour at the PI stage?
Yasaswini: Since I did not have related prior work experience, I really had to give thought to justify my decision to take up an MBA degree. I related the positions of responsibility I held in college and my interest to MBA and was able to convince the interviewer of my interests to pursue an HR degree at MDI.
Careers360: What was your WAT topic and how did you structure your write up?
Yasaswini: My WAT topic was regarding the rankings that many websites put up about the MBA colleges. We had to pitch in our views on how effective the rankings are and what are the parameters that have to be taken into consideration. I first identified the popular parameters on which the B-schools are generally ranked. I then spoke about how relevant these parameters are for an aspirant for choosing the best B-School. Every aspirant has his own priorities on the parameters of judgements. It is important to understand the basis of ranking before a person can make decision based on the data. Also, there are few other aspects that have to be taken into consideration to portray a holistic view of the rankings.
Careers360: What is your advice for this year’s CAT aspirants?
Yasaswini: It is important to stay motivated and be consistent in your preparation. Certain slips in performance are inevitable and we should not lose heart over it. Practice more mocks that are deemed closest to the actual CAT exam to ensure that you can adapt to the interface and improve accuracy within time limits. Here is wishing all the aspirants good luck and hoping to see a whole lot of you at MDI next year.
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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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