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How to Start Preparing for CAT 2017 - Preparation Tips by Sagar Babu

Last Updated - August 22, 2017

Sagar is an outstanding student who cleared CAT with 97.95 percentile score in 2011. He participated in 2 GD rounds. He chose IIM Kolkata among many institutes which offered admission to him. He shares his experience of clearing CAT and getting admission into IIM Kolkata from the day 1 of CAT preparation.

CAT Preparation

Here’s the questionnaire-

Ques. The institutes that offered you admissions?

Ans. My target was only IIMs. So, I didn't opt for any other B-school. I didn't receive a call from IIM A, I have attended IIMB interview with 6 months of work experience criteria. But, I failed to have my name on the list. I have received calls from all the remaining IIMs, almost from all top B-schools except IBS, also got the offers from all the private universities as TAPMI, AMITY, Fore, UBS etc.  

Ques. Review the coaching institutes and what was their role in your story?         

Ans. T.I.M.E. helped me to acquire the right skills and confidence level to do well in CAT and the subsequent WAT/PI rounds. The study material provided was comprehensive and covered all possible types of topics & question types expected in CAT following the CAT exam pattern. The course has been structured in such a manner that you get adequate time to complete and revise the study material provided. Faculty put in every effort to bring out the best in me. The classes were enriching in themselves.

The exhaustive study material and AMCAT tests made sure that I didn't have to look anywhere else. Guidance was always available at TIME. You just had to ask. And the GDPI workshops were great. They ensured that I attended the selection process with confidence and the right frame of mind.

Ques. How did you manage CAT preparation schedule along graduation studies/working hours?

Ans. It gets tough to manage CAT preparation along with work. However, one has to find some time to get it done. After a long tiring day at work, attending coaching classes in the evenings. I found it very difficult to come back home and study. Personally, I studied during weekends. Hence I made use of the morning hours and gave few hours to CAT preparations and followed the best CAT preparation tips.

Needless to say, one has to sacrifice a lot of things if one needs to manage studies with work hours. I cut down on my weekend plans and utilized them for mock exams and self-study. I also regularly followed online forums and chatted with fellow aspirants to know my relative position after each mock CAT.

Ques. Name of the institute where you took admission.

Ans. IIM Kolkata.       

Ques. What is your five-point rule to excel CAT 2017?     

Ans. Few things that I did, I would advise students to follow as well for CAT 2017:

  • The motto of studying for at least 4 hours every working day. Sleep only after study of 4 hours is complete. Absolutely no compromise on this.
  • The study time does not include the time spent for watching News or Browsing on the Internet (for whatever).
  • During weekends, study for at least 7 hours each day.
  • Alternate days in weekdays for QA and DI/ LR & VA. All the sections in the weekend.
  • Maintain a chart which indicates the effort in Hours for Optional/GS. In my calendar, I have entries which indicate how many hours I spent
  • Be Hostile in your approach.

Ques. What were your strong and weak areas? How did you prepare and what special efforts did you put for improving your weak areas?        

Ans. My weak area from the entire CAT syllabus was the verbal section and it required a lot of practice. I did the RCs regularly and practiced the other sections in verbal from various sources. The mock tests I took were of immense help too. My strongest area was Logical Reasoning, Data Interpretation was my weakest.

I practiced DI questions from past year's CAT papers and also from the mock exams. I tried to attempt more Quant questions to cover up for the DI marks. My strategy was to be accurate rather attending all questions

Ques. Which mock papers did you take?

Ans. I took CL, IMS, TIME mock series. Test series always helps you to assess your strengths, weaknesses, your position, more than all they always help you to learn managing time. It is very important to give mock tests since it simulates the real exam and gives you a feel of it prior to it. This way, one is not taken aback when facing the real exam.

Nothing is more important than finding out your mistakes and working upon them. It is also important to look into the correct answers since sometimes the solutions might provide a smarter way of solving than the one used by you.

Ques. Rate the role of your coaching Institute (classroom or online both) in cracking CAT?

Ans. Classroom and online learning both are very important to get good CAT Result. I will give it 9 rating. 

Ques. Name the coaching institute (online or classroom)

Ans. Career Launcher in 2010 and TIME in 2011. In 2010, I took a crash course for 45 days, CL has a good team, they have a very personalized program, and there is a lot of help given very specific to my personality, strengths, and weaknesses. I can contact my faculty members any time to discuss my doubts or a clarification that I would need. After that, I couldn't manage better time for my studies because of my academics. I got placed in MIT, Hyderabad. After joining into MIT, Many of my friends suggested joining with TIME. I joined for evening classes. TIME is always one of the best coaching institutes of management exams.

Ques. Apart from CAT which exams do you appear? 

Ans. My focus was only on CAT, hence I didn't go for any other exams except CAT. But, during my graduation final year's attempt, in which I secured 87.5 in CAT 2010, I appeared for FMS, SNAP, XAT, TISS, and IBSAT also. 

Ques. Which websites did you follow regularly to practice free sample papers or to get updates? 

Ans. I usually visit Handakafunda, Pagalguy, Mbatious, Xtutors for material and updates. Testfunda for free mock series. Some other websites I glance through are SuccessCDS, Tyconline, Exacthub, MBAcrystalball etc.

Ques. How was the interview? Share some of the questions.     

Ans. The interview was good for me thankfully, the interview process was consists of 4/5 rounds including GD, HR round, Director round, Technical round. So, the college has decided to take 2 rounds of interview on that 1st day and fortunately, I successfully cracked the 1st round as well as the 2nd round, then they asked me to come next day for the remaining round which was the director, technical rounds. After the whole interview process, they told me we will call you back you can leave for the day.

So the questions that I have faced they were like-

1. Tell me something about yourself briefly?

2. As you have a commerce background, then why BBA/Why not B.Com.?

3. How many colleges did you apply till now for your MBA?

4. What is marketing (in your language)?

5. Do you know, who is Dr. Philip Kotler?

6. Why do you want to join our college?

7. Do you have the capability to represent our college in future? Various segments (sorry but I forgot the exact question).

8. As you are not that good in English, so how can you survive in corporate/in our college?

9. Who inspires you most to go for MBA?

10. Basic marketing questions (7p’s, 4p’s etc) 

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Quantitative Aptitude section.   

1: Getting the conceptual clarity- I used to collate formulas from various sources and practiced problems every day.

Ans. For Quantitative Ability, I solved the previous year’s CAT questions from books.

2: Practice- Merely knowing the concepts or formulas won’t help. Because unless you practice a different variety of questions, you won’t become proficient in applying those concepts flawlessly in the actual exam.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for DI.    

Ans. For standard models-How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT’ by Arun Sharma; for extensive practice-How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT’ by Arihant Prakashan; for vivacity- Pearson guide to QA and DI, by Nishit K. Sinha.   

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Data Interpretation section.

Ans. There are only 3 ways to learn anything Practice, Reading and Analyze. I did the same. Try to be good in calculations and learn shortcuts.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Quant section.      

Ans. Actually, I don't have any particular book for CAT, but many of my friends used few books like-

1. How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma.

2. Quantitative aptitude by R.S Agarwal is also a very good option.

3. Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma

Chapters to follow- Interest, Ratio-Proportion and Variation, Time and Work, Time Speed and Distance and Applications of time speed and distance

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Logical Reasoning section.        

Ans. Spend most of your time seeking to understand what is being asked, rather than jumping in and working on the answer. Practice hard and also another way, you can easily find many apps for your android mobile to practicing logical reasoning.

Ques. List the Name of books you followed for Logical Reasoning section.   

Ans. How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma. These are the chapters that I followed specifically- Reasoning Section, Logical, and Verbal.

Ques. Verbal Ability: Discuss Your strategy for the Section

Ans. Practicing for your verbal aptitude test, practice read newspapers, read books/articles, watch English movies it will help you.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Vocabulary and Grammar.

Ans. Try to learn at least 5 new words daily, keep a dictionary along with you (e-book dictionary is also helpful). Play some English learning games, read as much as possible and try to have English conversation every day.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Vocabulary and Grammar section.   

Ans. There is no such particular book for grammar and vocabulary in my opinion. Try to read novels.       

Ques. What should be the strategy for someone who is starting just two months before the exam?

Ans. This is my favorite part as I have been in this kind of situation many times. Anyways, just try to clear the basic fundamentals as early as possible, then to take CAT practice papers and fine tune your strategy. Try to solve various types of questions instead of same types of questions every day. Try to understand what your strong area is and work on that as well as give 200% on your weak areas. But mostly try to remember the shortcuts and easy ways to solve problems in exams.

Ques. How would you rate the following preparation strategy in terms of their efficiency in your story?

Coaching ClassesNCERT Text BooksOnline Study MaterialCoaching Printed Study MaterialMock & Sample Test PapersStudy GroupsSubject Wise ClassesSelf-Study
ModerateModerateHighHighVery HighVery HighModerateVery High

Ques. What s your answer to the frequently asked question by the students-How to prepare for CAT 2017? What will you advice the students in the last phase of their CAT preparation 2017?

Ans. Don't think too much now, in this phase you just need to have some relaxation time. Just enjoy and try to listen to chill music, have a fun time with friends. Don't take tension whatever the situation is, hope for the best, just believe in yourself and go for the best. Keep your mind away from tensions and fear. That's it.

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