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CAT: Nervous? How to build confidence

November 19, 2005

Nervous about the Common Admission Test 2005? 

With less than 24 hours to go, you may be feeling stressed out and low on confidence.

CAT trainers P Viswanath and Manek Daruvala of T.I.M.E suggested this strategy during a chat with Get Ahead readers on November 18: 
Start with a section that you are strongest in.

That will build confidence going into the remaining sections.

P Viswanath is an alumnus of IIT-Madras and IIM-Ahmedabad. He worked for one year in the field of management consultancy and for six years in sales and marketing. In 1992, he co-founded T.I.M.E and has 13 years of experience in training students preparing for CAT and other competitive exams.

Manek Daruvala is a BSc (Chemistry) graduate from the University of Bombay and a post-graduate in management from IIM-Ahmedabad. He worked for six years with Godrej and Boyce Mfg Co Ltd in marketing and sales and has been associated full-time with T.I.M.E. for the last 10 years. He trains students for CAT, other MBA entrance exams, group discussions, personal interviews and in selecting which B-School to apply to.

Here is the transcript:

Part II: 'Intelligent guessing' can help

rahul: what is the time to be given to reading section

Manek Daruvala: If RC and Verbal are part of the same section, most students would answer VA first. This should take about 20 to 22 minutes if it is similar to what it was in CAT 2004. This should leave you with about 15 minutes to do RC. However, if you are confident of doing well in this area, you can try coming back to RC for another five minutes at the end of the paper.

lingiyer: what r the cutoff of IMI,IMT, NIRMA ,SDMIMD,TAPMIand MDI

viswanath: Hi lingiyer. The approximate cut-off CAT percentiles last year were as follows: IMI-85; IMT-90; NIRMA-75-80; SDMIMD-65; TAPMI-90; MDI-96.

lingiyer: does the FMS MS Programme And FMS MBA programme provide us with same salary packages also state which selection is difuculty

Manek Daruvala: The first batch of FMS MS is to pass out this year, so there is no track record yet. For the first summer placement batch, though, FMS was far better than FMS MS -- which is only to be expected.

pratts: Is the strategy of attempting 80-85 questions with 85% accuracy good??

viswanath: Pratts, don't go to the exam with any targetted number of attempts in mind. That will work against you. Just focus on whatever easy questions you find in the paper and that will see you thru. 85% accuracy is fairly good.

amit: do lecturership is consider as a workex

Manek Daruvala: The criterion is that your work experience should be full time and paid. If you satisfy these conditions, then your experience will count.

jaideep: how does one get admission my merely having contacts at the IIMs?

Manek Daruvala: The only way to get into the IIMs is by honest hard work, through doing well in CAT. If anyone tells you anything else, please don't believe them. In all these years that we have been training students for CAT, I haven't heard of a single such case.

sheen: what shld b r strategy if the paper is a timed test? i mean 40 means fr each section

Manek Daruvala: Sheen - It makes life much easier. You don't have to divide your time, just do your level best in each section in the given time.

hitesh: Is there any particualr weightage given to the VA and RC seprately...

viswanath: Till now, CAT has been looking at cut-offs for the section as a whole, not for each individual test area when there is more than one test area in the same section. If RC and VA are given together in one section, you need to clear a single cut-off for the entire section.

vikas: Sir, is their any progressive negative marking or not.

viswanath: Vikas, CAT does not specify. But the analysis of last two years' papers shows the negative marking is fixed.

setfrcat: which section 1 shall start with the weakest or the strongest

viswanath: Shouldn't matter but if you start with your strong section, the scoreboard can give you additional confidence.

nikhil: sir there is one question i wud like to ask. I normally start off with the 2markers..but sometimes tkake a beating in the DI part.get struck and waste alot of time.How do i manage my time in this differential type of paper..especially the DI part?

Manek Daruvala: Nikhil - The key to cracking CAT is by answering all the easy ones that you can manage. It doesn't matter whether they carry one mark or two. If you can solve it - go for it!

rajivdelhi: Afternoon Sir , i have a break of two years due to health reasons , will it affect my selection in case i clear the written examination ?i also have work exp of 3 years in AHR prior to the break ?

viswanath: Afternoon Rajiv. If your able to able to justify the break in your interview, then no problem. Do not worry -- focus on the written test right now.

sonam: Hello Sir, Good Evening. I am an economics grad. And I have completed my graduation this year. Now I m pursuing master's in economics. , after all my efforts I have managed to get scores between 40 to 45 (%ile between 85 to 88) in most of the tests. My scores in Eng and DI-LR are pretty decent ie 20-25 n 16-20 respectively. But in maths my score is still not good, its between 5 to 10. However, in the last two mock CATs I had a score of 8 and 9 in maths. Still, I am confident in English n DI but not in maths. Which institutes according you should I aim for with this score and percentile?

viswanath: Sonam, you should spread your risk and apply to institutes in different categories - A+, A, etc. Right now focus on CAT and get back after your CAT.

setfrcat: good afternoon sir have got an average of 90-93 percentile in the mocks which institutes i shall take a chance on

Manek Daruvala: You can look at applying to the 'A' category institutes ie one level below the top 10.

Prakash: Hi vishwanath ,Bharathidasan Institute of Management (B.I.M) Trichy consider Section cutoff or just overall score

viswanath: Hi Prakash, normally not.

madhusudan: which part of the cat question paper do we need to start answering first in order to ensure accuracy and speed.

Manek Daruvala: Start with section that you are strongest in. That will build confidence as you go into the remaining sections.

vijit: wat are the approx. secttional cutoffs for IIMs?

viswanath: Last year, VA/ RC-16-17; Quant-9-10; DI/ Reasoning-10-11 for IIMs.

great: how good are SIBM,SCMHRD and SIIB for a person like I have done B.Tech and right now working in HCLTech with around 6 months of experience.

viswanath: SIIB if you are interested in foreign trade. If you are working, I would suggest looking for A+ institutes.

VKESA: Dear sir,good afternoon will i beallowed to bring test booklet out, after exam is over.

viswanath: You can take the booklet with you after the exam is over.

setfrcat: i have completed graduation in august this year will it be considered a 1 yr gap bcause many students get admitted to b schools just after passing giving cat while being in last yr of graduation

viswanath: A one year gap does not matter, you can explain it pretty easily in the interview. You are not at a disadvantage.

sumit: i have heard that one should never attempt quant last since my quant is a little weak i have been doing this in every mock should i change my strategy in cat

viswanath: Every section will have easy questions. Please attempt the easy ones in Quant too -- do not leave out the entire section.

SAM1: what are the colleges that we can apply if we expect to get 75 percentile ;; WANNA KNOW THE PERCENTILE... FOR 34 MARKS PLZZZZZ ANSWER SIR

Manek Daruvala: You should apply to a couple of institutes in A+, 3 or 4 in A category and 3 to 4 in B+ category

sayan: good afternoon sir, i am confident about my va ,so should i start of with quants or should i stick to my tried and tested formula of maximising with va,just so as to give me confidence and also could u plz reveal the probable cutoff marks in the last 2 years quants and di sections?

viswanath: Whichever section you start with, allot proper time to each section and make sure you stick to that time. Quant & DI cutoffs around 9-11.

SAM1: Sir i was giveing AIMCAT at time.. getting around 30-34 wih a percentile around 72.. wat do u think are my chance in geting into a decent coll?? and wat wud be the corresponding percentile i might get in the main CAT... PLZ ANS SIR

viswanath: 72 percentile in AIMCAT could be about 80 in CAT. Good chance of A category institute.


viswanath: What is tough for you will be tough for others. Just focus on easy questions wherever they are in all sections.

Khshi: sir please tell me if I get 80 percentile what are the B schools which I look for ??

viswanath: A couple of A+ category, 2-3 A category and 2-3 B category schools.

shan: Hi Manek, can I expect a call from the IIM's with a score of 45-48Do MDI and SP Jain stress on sectional cut offs, or is it the overall score

Manek Daruvala: Shan, IIM calls will come if you get 54+ in CAT -- at last year's difficulty level. MDI and SPJ are known to use sectional cut-offs.

ashwin: PLEASE HELP ME WITH A MORALE BOOST I AM GETTTING BIT NERVOUS I AM A STUDENT OF TIME I HAVE BEEN GETTING 95+ PERCENTILE please give me a morale boost sir i have been getting 95+ percentile in all AIMCAT's at first i was weak in quant but i worked on it and i have been getting marks of 15+ and in english i am getting 25 and in DI around 20 everytime but now when i think of CAT i feel fear will i perform well what if i fail i cant afford to fail this is my second attempt am getting bit nervous help me i have applied to MDI AND IMI i have given away my job to prepare CAT against to my parents wish i am getting bit nervous what should i do ???????

Manek Daruvala: Ashwin, you HAVE TO relax. Don't worry -- give it your best shot. Go into the paper determined to stay cool and attempt whatever you can. Best of luck!

gauravb7: is 96% plus 2 years experience sufficient for IIMs/MDI clearin the sectional cutt off

viswanath: 96 percentile should be good for MDI. Bit difficult for the IIMs, though not impossible.

shrutiIIT: sir from where we can get original last year FMS paper

viswanath: We give a paper which is a replica of last year's FMS paper to T.I.M.E. students.

rajivdelhi: Respected Sir, I am a TIME student ( classroom ) , In case i dont get thru this time , I will have ato take a job ( most probably BPO ) is it true that BPO exp is not counted at all ?

viswanath: Not true. Any experience will count if you can explain in the interview what you learnt and what you contributed to the organisation.

mashiprabhu: Good Afternoon Sir,I am working and have 2 yrs of IT exp.I will give CAT exam next year.Is part time MBA(HR) better than the full time.

Manek Daruvala: Mashiprabhu, a full-time MBA will always be better.

CRACKINGCAT: sir,going by past records,what should 20 marks less than the iim cutoffs fetch in terms of percentile?

Manek Daruvala: Cracking CAT -- if we take the IIM cut off around 54, then a score of 34 would be in the 70 to 75 percentile range.

sumit:  is bpo job for a mechanical engineer considered as a -ve in PI

viswanath: Not at all!

nikhil: sir please reply.A percentile of 95 avg in mocks wud translate to what score in actual cat if i perform on the same level? I really wanna knw if i can really be hopeful for IIMS..considering a couple of 99.85 percentiles in mocks as well?

viswanath: Could get you to 97 percentile.

adhan: Sir, I have very little preparation for CAT..merely a week or so what should be the best strategy for me

Manek Daruvala: Concentrate on your strengths and give it your best shot. Don't start out on new areas at this stage.

kasper: good evening sir, im a TIME student i have my BE exam tomorrow until 5 pm so to come back. could you please suggest me what to do tomorrow evening??? as it would take me about 7 to get back home

viswanath: Just get back home and relax. No touching any material for CAT.

Make sure you know where your CAT centre is.

neha: how to clear sectional cut ofs

viswanath: If you take care of all the easy questions in all sections, cut-offs will not be a problem.


Manek Daruvala: Vikas - 90 percentile in any given section with 99 overall should certainly get IIM calls.

Kurusa: Sir, I am a girl appearing for CAT05. How much score is required for all the IIMs in the SC category. Plus is there any reservation for girls?

viswanath: No reservation for girls. SC cut-offs are much lower than the general category.

qwert: Sir , i have been getting good percentiles in both SIMCATS AND AIMCATS - 98.5 -99 . i am not doing anythg in preparation frm this TUE onwards .jus havin peace ,revising formulas and looking at mock - analysis . is that ok ? wont i get out of touch ? . also shdnt i study anythg now.

viswanath: Nothing new -- not even any revision at this stage. Just relax and go crack CAT the day after.

chait: Is it worthwhile for someone with around 7.5-8 yrs of work ex to apply in CAT and go to IIMS?Will they consider so much of work ex a negative point??

viswanath: It is worthwhile, you need to be clear as to what you would like to do after that. There are a few such people every year at the IIMs.

vvarun: In parajumbles i usually narrow down to two choices and most of the time mark the wrong one.Shoul i guess after narrowing down to two choices

Manek Daruvala: In paragraph forming questions you must spend time trying to narrow down to the last option. However, if you can't decide between the last two, then go ahead and guess.

winner_01: Good Afternoon Sir,my query is that though I do well in English..on average 35 or so..I always miss cut-offs in DI and/or QA by 2-3 marks though I clear overall cut-offs...its said that we need to get 20 in each of these do I manage it?I get around 10-12 in both..I want to get into IIM-A..I have 2 yrs exp and have been getting 97-98%

viswanath: Cut-offs last couple of year for Quant and DI were in the 9-11 range. Don't get tense by listening to people who give you wrong info of high cut-offs.

pankaj: sir,i m obsessed with IIM's which i think sud not happen n i m getting scores varying from 93-98 in AIMCAT this year wat do u think are my chances getting call from atleast 2-3 IIM's

viswanath: You should not worry about what score you will get when you are going to write CAT. Do your best and it will work out very fine for you. 

Part II: 'Intelligent guessing' can help



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