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CAT topper: Fine tune your strategies instead of mugging new concepts

Last updated on: October 3, 2011 16:45 IST

CAT topper: Fine-tune your strategies instead of mugging new concepts

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With the Common Admission Test fast approaching aspirants are giving finishing touches to their preparation. Uday Mehta, who secured 100 percentile in CAT 2010 shares his success mantra and offers tips to crack the exam. Read on.

Can you give an insight about your preparation for CAT? Which other exams did you appear for?

I started preparing around four months before CAT.

I was working at the time, and often had to work during the weekends, so I didn't join any coaching institution. However, I did take test series from almost all the well known institutions, and concentrated on giving as many tests as possible.

I also gave XAT and IIFT's test and received calls from both colleges.

Which was the most challenging section according to you? What strategy did you use to deal with it?

I was fairly comfortable with both Maths and English, so there was no particular section that troubled me consistently, but I missed the cutoffs for each section every now and then.

The most challenging part was to have the right strategy to ensure that I cleared all 3 cutoffs every time, and not just to maximise the total score.

I tried to finish my VA section as quickly as possible and gave more time to QA and DI/LR, as I felt VA was my strongest section, and I wanted to ensure that I cleared the other two cutoffs too.

Uday is currently pursuing PGP at Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C).

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'For DI, concentrate on being accurate'

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How does one prepare for Visual Reasoning?

I have never prepared for Visual Reasoning as such questions were not expected in the tests last year, so I can't comment much.

I expect it would be similar to LR in terms of preparation, which would mean practicing as many sets as possible to get comfortable with the format.

Tips to prepare for Quant?

For those who consider this section to be their strong suit, clear your concepts quickly and get on to solving as many questions as you can.

For those who think this is their weak spot, I would suggest that you shouldn't try to cover all the topics that might come. Concentrate on the parts where you're more comfortable, and just learn to do the basic-level questions of the tough portions.

How should one prepare for Data Interpretation?

As I mentioned, since there are no concepts to master here, the only thing one can do is practice.

Fast calculations are helpful, but no need to go out of your way to improve your calculation speed just for this, you'll be better off concentrating on being accurate.

What should be the ideal way to prepare for Verbal Ability?

Try to increase your reading speed as much as possible for the RC's (again, practice helps) and try to eliminate as many options as possible before trying to look for the right answer.

Try analysing where you went wrong as much as possible, and avoid similar mistakes in the next test.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh



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'Avoid making last-minute changes in strategies'

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Your views on the renewed CAT format? How do you think it will benefit the students?

The new format helps students who are weak in one particular section (often QA or VA) a lot.

This gives an opportunity for students who are weak in VA to clear the cutoffs by doing well in LR, and maximising their score in QA/DI.

The new format gives a chance to everybody, provided s/he uses the right strategy.

How many mock tests should a candidate take to prepare for CAT?

You would get a different answer from anyone you ask, but I would suggest 25 tests as the minimum, and there's no such thing as 'too many' in this case.

Can you tell us what are the mistakes commonly made by CAT candidates while preparing and while actually taking the test?

One common mistake is spending more than your allotted time on one section as you feel you could have done better.

This usually compromises the sections one does at the end. Also, avoid making last-minute changes in strategies, which are usually induced out of nervousness.

What study strategy would you suggest for the month before the exam?

You need to have a fixed strategy for solving the tests by now. Solve them like you're attempting the final CAT. Concentrate on fine-tuning your strategies instead of mugging more concepts.

Was IIM Calcutta your first preference? Tell us about your experience so far?

Yes, IIMC has always been the dream, though I would've been happy to get into any of the IIMs.

It's been a wonderfully rich experience, with so much happening in such little time.

Despite the hectic schedule, it could not be more fun. Getting to interact with such brilliant professors, alumni, and current students has been an absolute privilege.

What are your future goals?

I hope to learn as much as possible over the next two years (not just academically) and hopefully get to work in an equally fulfilling environment after those two years.

Any success mantra that you would like to give to CAT aspirants?

Each person preparing for CAT has to have a different way of preparing for it, really, but the one common mantra that everyone has to follow is 'practice'.

The new format means clearing CAT is within the reach of a lot more people than before, so give your best, and keep the enthusiasm up till the last day.



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