Topperspeak: CAT is very easy but highly competitive
Subhashish Bhadra, a final year student of Economics at the St. Stephens College, Delhi University who cracked CAT 2011 with a 100 percentile tells us how he did it.
Subhashish Bhadra is a final year student of Economics at the St. Stephens College, Delhi University. He is also among the nine candidates who have achieved a 100 percentile in CAT this year and the only one from Delhi to have done so.
A day before the CAT results were announced, Subhashish was enjoying a picnic with his friends when his friends jokingly said that when the results will be out, he will get a 100 percentile.
Subhashish was so sure he wouldn't make it that far, promised his friends that he would treat them at the Taj if it indeed turned out to be true. But after the results were announced, Subhashish knew that he won't be able dodge the treat anymore and is short on funds. Now, it seems like his friends will have to wait till he completes his MBA.
Here, he talks to rediff.com's Priyanka about how he prepared for the exam while pursuing other interests in college, how he tackled the Quantitative Analysis section and also shares his plans for the future. Read on
How long have you been preparing for the CAT?
I joined a coaching institute in September. I wasn't very serious about the CAT initially as I was always more occupied with college studies. But it was during the summer vacations I think, I really got serious about cracking it.
I studied very intensively for about 2-3 months and then took a break again, say about 3 months prior to the exam to prepare.
Why is that so? What got you busy just months before the test?
There is a finance and investment cell in our college and I am very actively involved with it. The organisation of events for the cell took a lot of time. Also, the college recently installed Wi-Fi and I discovered online gaming, so, a lot of time was spent that way.
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Image: Subhashish Bhadra
'My professors told me not to study for the verbal section'
So, when did you get serious about CAT?
I think sometime in June. I was doing an internship with a start-up and had told them I would want to prepare for CAT and hence would probably be working from home. So, I was working as well studying.
But preparing for the CAT exams is not like studying for your college exams. I would put in a maximum of three hours a day.
How did you plan your studies?
Well, I didn't pay much attention to the classroom coaching. And by the time I got serious about CAT they had actually completed all the classroom coaching so I had to ask them to provide me with extra classes.
They were kind enough to do that, so for the next 2-3 months I studied the course material. It really let me relax.
What is your favourite section in the paper?
I was very comfortable with the verbal section. In fact I did not even prepare. I have never studied for the verbal section.
But for the quantitative section, I did prepare a lot. I was never comfortable with the Maths section and I knew I had to put in that extra effort.
The fact that I knew where my strengths are,(mostly in the verbal section) must have contributed in some way. And I was in touch with my teachers so we planned it out well.
In fact, my professors told me not to study for the verbal section. If I didn't do well in the verbal section of a few mock tests, they would tell me there is probably an issue with the test, not me.
Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
'I had completed all the sections individually with about 10 minutes to spare'
How did your parents react?
I am sure they must have been extremely happy about it but they did not show it.
I had topped the class 12 board exams as well. I was the topper in the Delhi region and stood third nation-wide. At that time, there was a lot of media attention and it had become very chaotic.
I knew that my parents would compare my CAT success with that. Besides, I already had a job offer, so it (CAT results) was not a matter of life and death for me.
But it was heartening to see my joyous friends. For instance, my juniors made a sticker saying 'we are proud of you' and they attended a day in college with those on.
When these kind of things happen, you feel you have achieved something more than a 100 percentile.
Were you preparing in a group?
Not many in St. Stephens are seriously thinking about CAT. Hence, I don't think more than 10 people out of the 400 were serious about the CAT exam. It's usually not their first option. People would first want to do a job, which, in fact, was my plan too.
So, I wasn't preparing in a group, but that really wasn't an issue for me. The issue was that there was no benchmark.
I had enrolled with an institution called The Alchemist, which is much smaller (just three branches in Delhi), unlike the bigger ones. Hence, benchmarking was an issue.
At Alchemist, there were very few people, so I really didn't know how well I was doing until I started appearing for mock tests.
Did you ever realise that you might actually get a 100 percentile? What do you remember thinking when you came out of the test centre?
I had attempted a lot of questions, hence I knew I will either do very well or simply fall flat on my face. Honestly, I feel CAT is very easy. Even my professors told me that it is an easy exam to crack, but it is highly competitive, nevertheless.
In CAT, I had completed all the sections individually with about 10 minutes to spare. So, I knew that things might look good when the results are out.
But were you expecting a 100 percentile?
Not quite. In fact, just a day before the result was going to be out, I had gone out for a picnic with my friends, and my friends had jokingly told me that the CAT result is going to be out soon and I would be getting a 100 percentile. I was so sure of not scoring that much that I agreed to treat them at the Taj hotel if indeed I get a 100 percentile. Now I don't have the money to treat them at The Taj and have asked them to wait till the time I complete my MBA!
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
'Numbers are probably not my best friend'
Does it feel different being a topper?
I feel very humbled. I was not even a class topper in my class; I did not even top my college. But it has happened during a crucial time in my life, it happened during the board exams, now with CAT.
Wouldn't you be interested in doing masters?
Probably not, because even at this point I am quite convinced what I want to do and where I want to be in the next five years.
I want to work as a consultant. The first few years I would probably work across sectors and projects.
I like to apply my skills creatively and numbers are probably not my best friend. So, I would like to do something that is more inclined towards creativity and problem solving.
I see myself in a consulting role. I like to do statistical work. When I see data, like India GDPs, I start running regressions.
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com