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Dismissing notions about the disadvantages of using social media platform, SNAP topper, Sourav Dutta shares how writing on one of such platforms helped him improve his weak section- General English. He not only busted the myth that spending too much time online, especially browsing social media websites can distract you from your preparation to a top MBA entrance exam, but also showed a new avenue for the aspirants to improve their Verbal Ability section. In this interview with Careers360, Sourav, a national level Archer, shares his preparation tips, time management strategy and test day strategy for Symbiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP).
The 99.99 percentiler in SNAP, Sourav, who missed the cutoff for SNAP in his first attempt for few marks identified the areas of weakness and worked on them right from the beginning. As a result, he cracked SNAP in his second attempt with a high score. He also solved past years’ question papers, took sectional mock tests and built reading habit to improve comprehension skills, apart from writing answers regularly in Quora, a social platform for question and answer, which helped him improve his writing and grammar skills.
He further shares that a SNAP aspirant must not have any preconception about the number of questions to attempt, and must be prepared to take decision carefully about the answers while attempting the test.
Read full interview below:
Careers360: How was your experience of taking SNAP?
Sourav: I took around five to six All India mocks and also solved last year’s question paper. When I saw the last year’s question paper, every section was quite similar to the last few years but Reasoning, which carries maximum weight-age was surprisingly tough. It had puzzles and time taking typical reasoning numerical. My plan has always been to start with the strongest area and Reasoning being one of them surprised me. But the most important part is to get used to the paper as fast as possible and not waste time or panic and move ahead. I quickly analysed and made myself understand that it will surely bring down the cutoff as it would be difficult for everyone taking the test and not only me. I kept a positive mindset and no pre conceived notion of cutoffs and solved as per my strategy.
Careers360: What made you pursue MBA, and why Symbiosis over other B-schools?
Sourav: I decided to go for SIBM, Pune because they not only believe in academics but also support extra-curricular activities which I think is really important in shaping our personality. And being a professional sportsperson, I had a good opportunity to not only continue my sport but also meet a lot of talented people from around the country.
Careers360: Since when did you start preparing for SNAP?
Sourav: Having missed cut-offs by very small margins last year I was very determined to prepare again this year and get through. So I had a huge task of managing my professional sports career, job and preparation at the same time. I had to balance my day’s activities accordingly which included my job, 2 hours of classroom session and practice in the morning. Last year I missed cut off by a very small margin and I knew I lacked in Quant and English passages. So I started from the first day. I solved last 10 years’ questions of Quant and timed myself each time. I took sectional tests and the questions in the study booklets and discussed the wrong questions every week. After taking mocks, I used to discuss and analyse my performance and changed the strategy as and when it was needed.
Careers360: What is your take on SNAP test pattern?
Sourav: The SNAP paper has been remarkably consistent in terms of the structure, except in 2008 when differential marks were present in 3 out of 4 sections. Level of difficulty has also been quite consistent. It has 150 questions adding to 180 marks with 25% negative marking for wrong questions. With two hours and no sectional time limits, it gives the students freedom to allocate the 120 minutes as they wish according to their areas of strength. Though there are no sectional cutoffs, there have been instances when a candidate getting a zero or negative mark in a particular section has not been shortlisted. So it is advisable to attempt and allot time to all the areas. Another observation is that they take back the question paper, which ensure the wrong questions or errors cannot be confirmed.
Careers360: Please share your section wise preparation strategy?
Sourav: I used to prepare from the coaching institute study materials only. I was weak at the English passages and a little slow in the Quantitative Aptitude section. So I solved a lot of sectional tests for both these sections and also solved last 10 years’ question papers for these two sections which helped me a lot. I also took feedback from the mentors I got at the coaching institute to analyse my mock performance and what should be my strategy for each section according to my performance.
Careers360: What were your strong and weak areas? How did you tackle your weak area of the test?
Sourav: I was weak at English Comprehension; in fact I’m still not very good at it. I never had the habit of reading books or reading newspapers which made it difficult for me to read long passages. I used to feel bored or lose the data I read till then. But whenever I solved the study materials I used to time myself few minutes less and tried to complete those passages. Then, I started solving last 10 years question paper, mainly RC passages. I also started reading news and listening to a lot of debates. I also started writing answers on forums like Quora which helped me improve my writing skills.
Careers360: How did you manage your time during the test?
Sourav: I was very clear on what my strength was and which section I was attempting and how much time I had to devote for each section. I had no preconceived cut-offs score and wanted to take up each question, solve and move forward. You can’t do much about the cut-offs as it purely depends on others performance so it’s useless to worry about it. I had given good 5-6 mocks and was confident. But on the exam day there was a surprise when I saw the paper was really very difficult. I started with my strongest section which was reasoning and then moved on to GK, followed by English and quant. No last minute preparation strategy as such. I relaxed the day before the exam and spent happy time with my family.
Careers360: Your message/tip for this year’s SNAP aspirants?
Sourav: Yes, first of all be very well versed with the format of the exam and be prepared for surprises. Don’t have any preconception about the number of questions you want to attempt as the cut-offs purely depend on the paper difficulty. So be prepared and take decisions carefully. Also give a few mocks, apart from national level mocks conducted by coaching institutes, Coffee with SIBM mocks also help a lot. Manage time well and spend time in all the sections. Also keep fighting till the end. One question can sail you through. Have a positive mindset and believe in yourself. Do remember to have plenty of rest the day before the exam. All the best!
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