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How Siddharth topped CAT 2006
ARKS Srinivas
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January 24, 2007

He scored the highest marks in Common Admission Test in 2006 and, according to a national newspaper that quoted IIM sources, Siddharth Agarwal also secured the highest percentage (67.95). 

Not only is Siddharth the overall All India No 1, he is also the All India Topper in the Data Interpretation section with a score of 86 per cent.

Siddharth shares his study and test strategies with CAT trainer ARKS Srinivas:

Academic profile

Although he was among the toppers in his school, Siddharth never actually came first in class. His only academic achievement was a merit certificate in a Maths Olympiad when he was in Class IX.


To ace CAT, Siddharth brushed up on his skills by doing the following: 

Verbal Ability

~ He created his own flashcards, mostly from newspapers, to get himself conversant with as many English words as possible. "My speed of reading and comprehension improved as I got more familiar with the language," he says.

~ He started reading more, and particularly focused on books on philosophy. "I found RC passages based on philosophy the hardest to crack. I later developed a taste for such books and, now, Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is among my favourites," Siddharth adds.

~ Pay attention to critical reasoning techniques. "Though it has not a part of the previous CAT papers for some time, practising critical reasoning techniques can give you a sound and logical perspective as far as reading and comprehension is concerned," he says. "I developed a habit of not assuming anything that had not been stated in the passage."

Quant & DI

~ Learn a few Vedic mathematics techniques for multiplication and division.

~ Brush up on the basics of mathematics.

~ Practise problems related to squares (till 30) and cubes (till 12). 

~ Get very familiar with multiplication tables up to 30 x 30.  

~ Make a list of all formulae/ techniques and paste them on your study room's walls.

~ Learn how to convert fractions into percentage and vice versa.

Mock tests

Always analyse the Mock CATs. "This means going through each and every question after coming back home," Siddharth says.

~ Note down specific techniques to solve a question on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall.

~ Mark unsolved question for future references. 

~ Make a note of all your wrong attempts and try to analyse them.

~ Work on fundamentals of specific topics and practise them often.

~ Look out for a pattern in your mistakes. "I found out that I made the most mistakes when I lost concentration. I didn't take any specific steps to counter this problem, but the fact that I was aware of my weakness made me concentrate harder while appearing for the tests," he explains.

~ Go through all the starred question from the previous tests regularly

~ Go with the flow. "I was not able to appear in a lot of practice tests due to unavoidable circumstances, so I did not did not have a preconceived notion or strategy about my approach to the paper when I went into the examination hall," Siddharth says.

"When I looked at the paper, I really did not think it was different from the earlier papers. I simply divided the total marks by four as the paper was of only 75 marks with 1/4 negative marks. This is what we all are used to doing."

So what's in store for the topper?

Siddharth wants to head an organisation and thinks management will help him in this endeavour. Being part of an IIM's management programme, he believes, will equip him with the tools necessary for managerial decision making.

His final piece of advice: "Anyone who appears for CAT should always remember that it (test) is not the end, it is just the beginning!"

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