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'How can I break the 90 percentile barrier in CAT?'

Last updated on: September 3, 2012 11:39 IST

'How can I break the 90 percentile barrier in CAT?'

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The Common Admission Test (CAT) 2012 which will be conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode this year is scheduled between October 11 and November 6, 2012.

While lakhs of students from across the country prepare for the test, performance in the CAT will help them qualify admission to pursue MBA in the 13 Indian Institutes of Management and 150 other leading b-schools in the country.

In an online chat with readers on August 31, ARKS Srinivas, ex-director, TIME and CEO, Vista Mind addressed queries on CAT 2012, MBA, b-school admissions and more.

For those who missed the live chat, here's the unedited transcript:


ARKS Srinivas says, Dear All, Welcome to Rediff Chat. It has been a pleasure to be here over the last few years and answering relevant questions on CAT, MBA and b-schools.
catcrack asked, hi how many hours in a day should i spend to prepare for CAT?

ARKS Srinivas answers, at 2012-08-31 16:02:49
No size fits all. It depends on what is the status of your preparation. Having said that, around 3 to 5 hours of study is the minimum one expects when one is taking an exam like CAT.
deepak asked, Good evening sir. I am appearing for CAT this year and find it difficult to finish the quant section on time. Can you give me some tips on how to solve as many questions with minimal errors.

ARKS Srinivas answers, Dear Deepak, Quant Section has basically two areas.- Quant and DI. The reason you are not able to complete the section is only because you are spending too much of time on two or three questions. When you spend too much time on any question, you lose focus and get panicky. The rule of the game is this - Once you spent 2/3 minutes on a question and you haven't been able to come to an answer, SKIP the question. Even if you feel that you can get it, the rule is SKIP. Secondly, give certain time to QA questions and certain time to DI questions (dividing the time correctly). This can help you organise the section better.
deepak asked, sir, i have been doing that lately. however, in actual cat will i be able to go back to the first section after finishing the second?

ARKS Srinivas answers, No Deepak. In CAT, once you finish one section and start the next section, you cannot go back to the first.
catcracker asked, i am unable to break 90 percentile barrier in mocks...how do i break that? what should be my strategy?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
To get 90 percentile, you would need a score of around 80 marks out of 180 marks in the paper (considering that there are 60 questions and 3 marks per question). Now, don't concentrate on the percentile, as you do not have any idea what you would get. Target 80 marks.
prateek asked, what topics in Quant should we focus on & how many hours a day should we practice

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Hi Prateek, Three years back, this was an easy question to answer. One would be certain that Numbers, Geometry and Algebra would be asked in bulk. But, once the online (computer based) exam has started in 2009, there is no way one can predict. We have seen in some slots as many as 6 questions come in Geometry and in some other slots, no questions at all. Having said this, Numbers, Geometry and Algebra will still remain the most important topics to be done. I would say around 3 to 4 hours for QA may be good if you are not very strong in that area.
Gauri asked, Hi... i wanted to know if it is essential to make the individual sectional cutoffs to get a call from one of the IIMs...

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Yes Gauri, Even now, the IIMs have individual cutoffs for each of the two sections and then an overall cutoff for the paper.
syed asked, what is the difference when you have already an mba in your and going for cat again

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Syed, If you are already an MBA and then writing CAT again, it means that you are looking at doing an MBA from a better college. Or maybe you are looking at an FPM program from the IIMs. While there will be no difference in the exam approach per se, it will affect in the interviews.
lp asked, Hi Sir, I am not doing well in verbal. what should i do to increase my score in verbal

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Verbal section has three areas - Verbal (Grammar, Vocab usage, Para Jumbles etc) , Reading comprehension, Logical Ability. If you are getting decent marks in the QA/DI section, then you should be able to solve the LA questions too. Hence, concentrate on this area and make sure that you get all the 8 to 10 questions right. Second, spend time on RC now so that you will become better over the next one month. Even if you can get another 6 to 7 questions correct, (apart from the LA), you should get a good percentile.
syed asked, Hi Sir this Syed your old student from hyderabad it's been long time that i had attended your sessions and at the time of selections for b schools i could not meet you

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Hi Syed, I am so glad to meet you through this forum :) You can mail me at arkss@vistamind.in for any queries too.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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syed asked,
what is the criteria to do FPM

ARKS Srinivas answers,
CAT scores around 90 percentile and then some experience in the industry will help getting into a FPM program of an IIM.
star asked, what percentile need for admission in IIM?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
for PGP programs - more than 99 (for ABC); 98+ for others (LIK) and 97 atleast for all others - for general catergory
Hid asked, sir i know its a tough question to answer,But help me please. Assuming previous 3 years difficulty say me how many questions should i answer in each section with 90% accuracy to score more than 99% on the whole.Assume everthing else like students taking,difficulty level etc to be normal

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Very difficult question. However, if your attempts are around 20 in QA with 90 percent accuracy and 25/27 questions in VA with 80 percent accuracy. You can aim for the percentile you are looking for.
lp asked, Hi sir thank you .i have one more questions. Does the exam slot factor will have any impact on the score? (i mean initial days of slot or final days of slot)

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Definitely NOT.
AMAN asked, Hi sir, I am doing BBE from Delhi University. What is better doing MBA after job experience or doing MBA before the job.

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Frankly Aman, it depends on which B School you are getting into and when. For eg. If you get into any of the IIMs in your final year of graduation, then there is no doubt that you join right away, Instead you get a final admission from Timbuktu college of management this year, then you may work first and write CAT again and get through the best schools.
wesresawal asked, Any suggestions for countering the last minute panic/anxiety?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Don't think of the result. Then you would do well. Ofcourse, it is easier said than done.!
dis asked, Can one improve ability with numbers /intense calculations ? cause I m excellent with verbal n related stuff but always stumble in DI and caluclation intesnive question

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Absolutely. It is a skill and skill can be developed with constant practice.
Soumya asked, Can you please explain normalization of scores? Is it true that getting an 'easy' question wrong is a greater sin than getting a 'difficult' one wrong? And does the time spent on a question also have a role to play?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Hi Soumya, I will try writing an article on this so that the clarity will be there. However, for today, let me explain. Scores of each of the students are normalised (made equal) with the kind of questions (easy/medium/difficult) the the student has got in his exam. Therefore, what you said is right. If you get an easier question wrong vis a vis a difficult question wrong, you will lose a higher scaled up score.
wesresawal asked, Not thinking about the results doesnt seem to be possible as i know for a fact that for most of the people and families, a lot of hopes would be pinned on the results. do u think doing easier questions on the last few days will result in a boost of confidence or will it result in over confidence?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
While it may, the pangs of the exam will return. I would still say, the world will not write the exam for you. You have to. Therefore forget about the world. Concentrate on what you can do without worrying about what will happen if you don't make it.
sri asked, do you have any tips on how to prepare for the essay or written ability phase now that GD is no longer preferred as a testing mechanism

ARKS Srinivas answers,
There are many things that can be said to improve Essay and Written Ability, but fundamentally, the only way is to read and write everyday. There are three things required to write a good essay. a) Knowledge of the topic b) Logic c) Grammar. You need time and practice.
Srinivas asked, My marks are fluctating between 75 percentile to 95 percentile in the mocks.How to be conistent? Plz help

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Please check the reasons for the fluctuation. You may also notice that it depends on your moods and expectations. More often than not, you get lesser percentiles when you are thinking of getting more marks in a particular paper and good marks when such expectations don't exist. Realise this and go into the exam thinking only of the questions, not about the marks or percentiles or therefore the results.
ankur asked, I have an IT experience of 7 years , want to do MBA , executive mBA are too costly in the range of 20+ lakhs , and is it any benefit to do 2 year MBA for me ?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Ideally NO. However, if you have to do, try doing it from the top colleges only
Subrata asked, whether candidate has to be strong in Maths for CAT ?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Partially yes. One section is full of QA and DI.
Pratik asked, What should be the priority while preparing for CAT?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Priority is to CRACK the exam. And hence, whatever you do, you have to ensure that you get good marks.
vish asked, Hi sir,i have 15 months of experience in field of video CODECs,will it play a prominent role at the time of selection process?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Vish, It may not play a big role, but it will be important.
Pratik asked, How much time should one take to prepare for it and when one should start preparing for the CAT?I mean, I am persuing Graduation(2nd year)...so in which year I should start preparing for it?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Ideally, you can start in the second year (3 year degree) and third year (for engineering). This is important as you can improve on English on a long term basis.
Yogesh asked, How to reduce time to answer questions on Reading Comprehension?

ARKS Srinivas answers,
Yogesh, improving reading speeds can improve your speed of answering RC questions. In addition, it is the time to take decisions that makes a difference. when you spend too much of time deciding on a question, your time becomes more.
ARKS Srinivas says, Thank you folks for joining me today. Will be back next Friday!!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier


Tags: ARKS , CAT , MBA , Hi Soumya , FPM

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