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CAT TopperSpeak: Focus on accuracy and save time

October 03, 2014 13:46 IST
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Arijit Kumar Gorai who received admission offers from nine IIMs and SP Jain Institute of Management tells us how he cracked the test.

The common admission test can be cracked through regular practiceArijit Kumar Gorai cracked IIM Calcutta PGDM admissions with his high CAT percentile of 99.87.

Among the b-schools which offered final admissions to Arijit included the IIM Lucknow, Kozhikode, all the new IIMs and SP Jain Institute of Management.

Arijit, who worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd before joining his MBA programme at IIM Calcutta tells us how having one’s focus on accuracy rather than maximising the number of attempts can result in high CAT percentile. 

According to him, practice and time management helped him crack the test.

Here he tells us more about his study schedule and secrets. Read on...

What inspired you to pursue MBA? What are your aspirations?

I wanted to move into a management role from the technical aspects I currently had.

I felt that I could add a lot of value to businesses if I was on the management side.

Hence, I decided to get formal education in management before practically stepping into it.

Also, an MBA degree teaches you a lot of non-technical skills which are very important to succeed in life.

Apart from CAT 2013, which other MBA entrance exams did you appear in?

I appeared for the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade entrance test and my performance was actually above my expectations.

With a high CAT and IIFT score, I also received an admission offer from the IIFT Delhi.

I had an above average score in the written exam and a decent Group Discussion and Personal Interview rounds.

Arijit Kumar GoraiWhy did you choose to join the IIM-Calcutta? 

Besides the fact that IIM-C is one of the top business schools in India, I had learned that it also gives every student a chance to study and learn with the best brains of the nation.

The global exposure it provides in unparalleled.

Also, the immensely strong network of alumni that IIM-C has is a huge advantage that I wanted to leverage upon.

What was your preparation strategy for CAT 2013?

Preparing for the CAT while working gets a little difficult.

I only had weekends to prepare. I took mock exams from a couple of coaching institutes to gauge my performance.

My primary focus was on accuracy rather than maximising the number of attempts.

My verbal section was weak and I paid extra attention to topics like para-jumbles, these sections are scoring and my strategy was to maximise on those topics.

I put in a lot of effort on Reading Comprehensions and practiced them regularly.

Analysing the mock exams is a major help and should be meticulously done.

How important are mocks and coaching to crack CAT and other MBA entrance tests?

It is very important to give mock tests since it simulates the real exam and gives you a feel of it prior to it.

This way, one is not taken aback when facing the real exam.

Nothing is more important than finding out your mistakes and working upon them.

It is also important to look into the correct answers since sometimes the solutions might provide a smarter way of solving than the one used by you.

One needs to find the best and quickest ways to solve a problem since time is of utmost importance in the actual CAT.

As regards to coaching, it is good to have guidance from a reputed coaching institute but the onus is majorly on you. One needs to do self-study along with coaching and mentoring.

How did you manage CAT preparation schedule along with your full-time job?

It gets tough to manage CAT preparation along with work. However, one has to find some time to get it done.

Personally, I studied during weekends.

I feel that rather than the number of hours you put in, what is more important is the approach one has towards the preparation.

Needless to say, one has to sacrifice a lot of things if one needs to manage studies with work hours.

I cut down on my weekend plans and utilised them for mock exams and self-study.

Please share your section-wise preparation strategy.

For Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, I solved the previous year’s CAT questions from books.

For QA, Arun Sharma gives a good collection of problems.

For LR and DI, I used mock papers and the internet for practicing problems.

For VA, I practiced RC regularly. It is important to practice different types of RCs along with mock tests and other papers available online, they are of immense help.

Checking the solution is one part which should be done religiously.

What was your time management formula while taking the actual CAT paper?

I focused on accuracy and spent around two minutes on each problem.

It is important to let go off problems if you are stuck in a questions.

Wasting time on one question is a huge disadvantage.

It is important to go through all the questions since the last five questions of a section might have some really simple problems which are very scoring and should not be missed.

What were your strong and weak areas? How did you improve your weak areas?

My weak area was the verbal section and it required a lot of practice.

I did the RCs regularly and practiced the other sections in verbal from various sources.

The mock tests I took were of immense help too.

What is your advice for the MBA aspirants who will take CAT 2014?

My advice is that one should be calm and composed during the exam.

The focus should be on accuracy and saving time.

Number of attempts will automatically go up.

Work hard and the results will be good.

There is really no substitute to hard work.

However, it is also important to prepare smartly which makes the whole process more effective.

How did you unwind?
Recreational activities need to be cut down to some extent, however, not completely. If there are no recreational activities, one tends to get a fatigue which is harmful. I spent less hours hanging out with friends during weekends in order to study for CAT. However, I did go out with friends to catch up some good movie or dinner. It is important to break the monotony of the preparation process. Also, I used to watch a lot of sitcoms while preparing. They served a good source of 20-30 minutes break between study sessions.

My favourite movie is ‘Invictus’. The character that inspired me was that of Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman. It showed how one can succeed in they are determined enough.

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