48-hour strategy to crack the CAT 2013
In an online chat with readers, Rahul Reddy, IIM-Calcutta alumnus and director of VistaMind Education answered questions on CAT, MBA admissions and more.
The Common Admission Test or CAT is the most crucial entrance examination for management aspirants in India.
Scheduled to be held between October 16 and November 11, 2013, the test scores will decide if you'll make it to the 13 elite Indian Institutes of Management or 150 other leading business schools in the country.
With less than 48 hours to go for first phase of the all-important test, Rediff.com had organised an online chat for the benefit of readers.
In the chat, Rahul Reddy, Director, VistaMind Education, a Bangalore-based CAT training institute answered queries and offered essential tips to readers on how they can optimise the last few hours and prepare better in the exam.
For those who missed the live chat, here's the unedited transcript:
Anuj Goyal: sir, I am able to manage only 12-14 attempts in QA with 70-80% accuracy. In VA, I have 20-22 attempts but accuracy is 50-60%.how to improve in the remaining few days?
Rahul Reddy: Hi Firstly, you have done reasonably well, just need an last push. In Section 1 you need to attempt 15-16 Qs. Focus on easy medium Qs. Attempt only those Qs that you are confident about. If struck on a Q, drop it and move on Section 2 attempts are ok, accuracy needs to get better. Try to identify areas where mistakes are high and get a special session with a good VA teacher.
ulfat: sir how to improve accuracy in VA? how many attempts will get me 80 per cent accuracy?
Rahul Reddy: Hi 80% is difficult to achieve on consistent basis and luckily not required. If you attempt high 22-25Qs with 70% accuracy you will get well above 90 percentile
rittika negi: Hi Rahul, will there be sectional cut offs in DI? What score should i aim for in each section to make it to IIM-A, B and C?
Rahul Reddy: No seperate cutoffs for DI. Entire Section 1 QA DI will have a cutoff. For IIM A and C, Cutoffs can be as high as 95%ile in each section. IIM B has lower cutoffs, but higher weightage for profile
kunika: Sir, i am really worried about negative marking scheme. Does it affect my score, if my accuracy is poor? how can i work on this
Rahul Reddy: Hi poor accuracy is a big negative, not just because of negative marks but because of the time wasted. Accuracy in section 1 should be 80% or higher, and section 2 it should be 70% or higher
zubeda-pawaskar: Can you share last year's cut-off figures from last year at top IIMs. With 95 percentile in mocks, which schools can i focus on?
Rahul Reddy: Cutoff figures for IIMs are very complicated and involve wieghtages for Acads, work exp etc. Broadly for new IIMs cutoffs would be 99% overall and for older ones 97 . Bschools like Bangalore, Shillong are exceptions as the weightage on non CAT factors is more
manoj: Which are the other important exams besides CAT and GMAT?
Rahul Reddy: XAT, SNAP and CMAT are exams which are accepted by good Bschools. Additonally IIFT and NMIMS conduct their own exam
omi: Do IIMs demand work experience? What is a good CAT score to qualify? pls guide
Rahul Reddy: Work exp is not compulsory, though some additional points are given for people with work exp. All IIMs have a mix of students, freshers and work exp
mustafa: If I do not get a call from IIMs, which are the other good b-schools I can target?
Rahul Reddy: Non IIMs, best are XLRI, FMS, SPJain, NITIE, MDI, IIT Mumbai, IIT Delhi, JBIMS, IIFT, NMIMS,
sanchit jain: sir...please tell me how i can put my maximum efforts in these last 15 days before CAT?
Rahul Reddy: Hi First, we should keep in touch with all areas. Ideally some time on basic skills - Speed maths, vocab revision, speed reading, grammar concepts would be good. Don't try solving new material. Revise by picking 15-20 key problems from each chapter (or Type of q) and then re-solve it. These Qs can be from Mock CATs, past CAT/XAT papers or any exercise.
rajat: If my net score is 27 with an accuracy of 90.8%, what are my chances this year?
Rahul Reddy: Each day, each slot paper would be different. However an overall score of 27 is quite low.
anuj: Sir i want to pursue job then please tell me the value for money percentile to pursue mBa.., or tell me at least percentile which will be good to pursue mba
Rahul Reddy: Choosing a Job Vs Doing an MBA is common choice for students. Unless you have a great job (possible only for IIT/NIT or Stephens.SRCC types) it is better do an MBA from any Bschool above 80%ile. So MBA from WE, FORE, KJ Som, TAPMI, BIMTECH, would be better than direct Job
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Image: Performance in the exam is crucial for admission to leading b-schools in the country including the IIMs.
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com
'For VA, learning from context is much more effective than word lists'
Anuj Goyal: Sir, how to solve the inference based questions in RCs?? I always get confused with the options, because all of them seem to be correct...
Rahul Reddy: RC the key is spend 3-4 min on passage reading it once, making sure you get the key ideas only. Then spend a min of two min for each Q, going back to passage, finding the relevant lines and analysing carefully.
kapadia: What would be the cutoff for Symbiosis and ISB Hyderabad? which one is better for mba?
Rahul Reddy: ISB Hyderabad is a 1year Exec MBA program for people with a min of two years work exp and a good GMAT score is required. The cost is about 25 lakhs. Symbiosis has many good Bschools offering 2 year MBA/PGDM. The best ones are SIBM Pune, SCMHRD Pune, SIIB, Pune and SIBM Bangalore
rakesh: Hi Rahul sir I am good at Quant but my english is not very good. How much should I attempt in QA to get a call from IIMs? what was the cut off for VA last year?
Rahul Reddy: Hi Rakesh we have sectional cutoffs for the IIMs in both sections. So in section 2 you will need a score of 35 for the IIMs. Two things you can do. One is ensure that you score heavily in LA area. Second focus on Qs like Para Jumbles, Para completion etc which are essentially logic qs. This can help increase your score
max: I am getting an overall score of around 46-52 in mocks. What chance do I have?
Rahul Reddy: Hi Max. The exact score required depends on the paper you get. However you need to push up the score and that is possible. If you increase attempts in each section by 2 Qs, then your score can go up by 10-12 marks and that can take you to 85 %ile where we have some very good Bschools
janu: I am an arts graduate. can i apply for cat this year?
Rahul Reddy: CAT is open to all Graduates Com, Arts, Engg etc. However for 2014 admisison cycle CAT starts from 16th October. So too late to apply now.
shahin: My budget is Rs 12-15 lakhs. from which institutes I can pursue mba finance in india?
Rahul Reddy: Hi the budget should be enough for most Bschools in India (except ISB Hyd). Best bschools outside of IIMs would be SP Jain, JBIMS, MDI, NMIMs
mustafa: I always struggle with Mathematics. What according to you would be a fair attempt for Quant?
Rahul Reddy: Depends on the paper. My advise attempt 2 sets of DI and then pick and chose about 6-8 Qs from Quant. Should give you a decent %ile
vishal: sir what is the difference between progressive negative marking and successive negative marking? how does it affect overall score?
Rahul Reddy: Normal negetive would be 3 for every correct answer and -1 for every wrong answer. Progressive negative implies higher negative for greater errors, Ex: -1/4 for 1st 5 mistakes, -1/3 for next 5 and so on. It affects people who have a tendency to make more errors. However, i don't expect it would be a major factor in CAT
rajat: Sir, last year I got 92.6 percent. I did not get any call from the IIMs. What do you think would be the best thing for me to do this year?
Rahul Reddy: Rajat: If you have good job, you can gain experience and going for CAT with 2-3 years experience. However if you don't have a good job, then i suggest you do your best this year and take what best bschool you can get
waman: I am weak in RC passages, this brings down my overall score by 10 percent . What do you suggest I should do now?
Rahul Reddy: Not Sure i understand. Are you saying that you get a effective negative score from RC? Difficult to make improvements this late. Suggest you pick and attempt one Rc while maxing attempts in other areas
vicky: Sir going through last years papers and practicing some mocks are sufficient for Revision in few days before exams ....????
Rahul Reddy: The last week should not be high stress, it should be light revision. If you have 20 days, then you can do more
vicky: Sir how to improve the English vocabulary ????? as I will take cat next year i have 1 years time to do so ...Kindly give me guideline how to do it ....whether we have to learn dictionary words ????
Rahul Reddy: There are many ways. Best is to read 300-500 word passage from newspaper, magazine or online. Write a 3-5 line summary. After that, pick words that dont know from the passage, guess their meaning and then check against a dictionary. This way learning from context is much more effective than word lists. And this method combines preparation for RC as well as vocab
Image: For representational purposes only
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com