The answer to ‘How to crack CAT’ can best be answered by CAT Toppers. In this detailed account, current IIM students, Mudit and Garima detail their CAT preparation strategy and share invaluable advice for CAT aspirants.
How To Crack CAT – Video
Exclusive tips and insights; CAT Toppers’ Interview
A whopping 2,18,664 students took the CAT in 2015 to battle for 3700 seats in 19 IIMs.
For IIM A and B students, Mudit and Garima, two best friends who did their CAT preparation together, the journey wasn’t easy. When they started out, they admit that they were just as clueless as anyone else. However, with sheer grit, consistency and hard work, they managed to successfully bell the CAT.
Cracking CAT is hard enough and to do so with demanding full-time jobs is even more arduous.
The duo shared that up until August, they were able to just about study for an hour or two after work and finish a few assignments here and there. It was only post-August that they started their CAT preparation in full swing and really pushed themselves. Their hard work paid off and they both made it to their dream B-schools.
While Mudit scored 99.90 percentile and received calls from IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong and the newer IIMs, Garima got calls from her dream school IIM Bangalore in addition to Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore, Shillong and newer IIMs with 97.85 percentile.
She even got accepted to the coveted ISB Hyderabad.
In the video above, they share their story and give invaluable insights into their CAT preparation strategy, provide some great tips on how to prepare for CAT, outline details about the important study resources, and help one chalk out the perfect CAT study plan.
These exclusive CAT 2016 preparation tips will equip aspirants with some great ammo in their arsenal for cracking CAT.
Tune in, to their insightful narrative as we chronicle their journey to IIM!
The Road To IIM: How To Crack CAT in 3 months?
The answer to How to crack CAT in 3 months has been excellently elucidated by the duo in the video.
As Mudit puts it, CAT is like a final lap exam. In terms of preparation, it doesn’t really matter what you do in the initial months, but if you can really push it and give it your all in the crucial end months without burning out, you can make it.
Students often get baffled by the number of CAT study material options out there and end up with the insatiable need to get their hands on every CAT preparation book ever written, as if just possessing them will increase their chances of cracking CAT.
In addition to burning a hole in student’s pockets, it may also be an unavailing exercise.
Mudit and Garima reveal that the material is the same across all coaching institutes and thus dedicatedly exhausting the CAT study material of any one coaching institute is all that is need to be on good ground.
However, they strongly recommend candidates to supplement their study material with a CAT test series, as it is absolutely crucial for their CAT preparation. Among the numerous options available, they vouch for Career Launcher CAT Test Series as the most number of people take it, thereby giving test-takers a better understanding of where they stand.
The trick is to create strategies for CAT, apply them in mocks, and assess which one works best.
“Let’s say you’ve been performing consistently and now you’ve benchmarked yourself. Now everything that’s easy for you, is easy for everyone else. And everything that’s difficult for you is also difficult for everyone else. It won’t happen that when you sit for the final test, suddenly everything is hard. So it really helps to practice, and if you’ve practised a lot, you can trust your judgement, on judgement day.” – Mudit
Additionally, solving CAT previous years’ papers is critical. Setting the timer to 3 hours and solving them diligently is what will set you up for success on the day of CAT. It is also important to consequently spend time analysing the solutions and working on areas of improvement.
Nifty Tips For CAT Verbal Ability Section
Online magazines like The Atlantic, New Yorker, New York Post, can be great for reading essays since an awful lot of CAT VA passages are actually picked up from these locations and thus, it makes sense to hit the exact source.
Arts and Letters Daily is a great website that curates essays which are noteworthy in terms of preparation for competitive exams. Bookmarking and constantly following these will give aspirants a significant edge over others.
Utilising idle time while travelling or in office, reading articles on diverse topics from the aforementioned, can make a world of a difference. Mudit also recommends developing the useful habit, of never reading an article from the beginning, but starting off somewhere in the middle. This helps because that is how it appears in CAT.
Cracking CAT Quant
People who set the paper aren’t inventing questions actively, they’re picking up questions from somewhere and tweaking minor details for CAT. Thus, a lot of them are in reality US olympiad questions that can be found on the Art of Problem Solving. Finding and solving them from here will significantly help aspirants in their CAT preparation.
Apart from simply attempting questions, it helps to find multiple ways of solving a single problem.
Since questions in CAT have a tendency of getting repeated, finding more than one ways to solve a problem will ensure that one will be able to tackle that question easily when it appears in a different form on the D-day. Furthermore, Mudit and Garima explain that there are certain questions that if solved correctly, elucidate the entire concept, thus, making a list of these questions and finding one’s own way to solve them can be extremely useful in checking off a certain topic from the list.
The duo would click pictures of these questions whenever they stumbled upon them, and upload them on a common Google Drive.
A simple strategy that came in handy when they got stuck at a particular question was to Google the first line of it. With the numerous blogs that are out there today, a detailed solution for that question would invariably come up.
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The Coveted ‘Why MBA’ Answer
The best way to answer this is to look within rather than turn to Google to find the perfect answer. Simply put, if you don’t know the answer to this questions, you don’t know it.
Most students today, consider taking CAT and pursuing an MBA the de facto choice after graduation, without mulling over the ‘why’.
While trying to find an answer to the ‘why’, picture your life after the MBA and analyse where you want it to take you. To make this process easier, do what Garima did while she tried to unravel her answer to the question, talking to as many people as possible, exploring the various career options that seem viable as well as interesting after an MBA, going to LinkedIn, finding out what people are doing after passing out from top B-schools, looking up the faculty, and understanding if her goals seem achievable through an MBA education.
However, doing it just because you think it’ll give you an instant hike in your present paycheque, may not be the right approach.
To try and measure it in terms of ROI only would be wrong and depraving the true worth of education since there is much more to it than that can be measured in terms of numbers.
“Don’t judge the value of higher education in terms of careermanship. Judge it for what it is — a priceless opportunity to furnish your mind and enrich the quality of your life.”- David Oglivy
Connect the dots and extrapolate it into a future goal. If you think of reaching your end goals as a journey for which an MBA can be a catalyst, you have your perfect answer.
Be honest, the panellists have a way of knowing when someone is faking it, from their years of experience.
While many argue that an MBA is not required for someone to start up, Mudit holds an interesting and valid view that with everyone wanting to become an entrepreneur these days, it is crucial to know some basics like accounting, financial planning etc.. A premiere MBA gives you all of that, and more, in a condensed manner, in addition to the opportunity to network with some of the smartest minds in the country.
“MBA is someone’s way of dealing with unsurety. I think people don’t gain certainty even when they’re done with their MBAs. A lot of people join consulting companies just so that everything can be open to them in the future. Uncertainty is one thing, but you must be able to phrase it in your head as to what you want with life. If that answer is clear, and an MBA is the way forward, then so be it. But if you’re only doing it for a better job, then an average MBA might not make a lot of sense.” – Mudit”
The Final Challenge: Cracking the IIM interview
Garima and Mudit shared the IIM interview questions from their interview experience and described how arbitrary the process is. They explained that one can be quizzed on absolutely anything under the sun. In this regard it helps to be prepared for any kind of questions related to one’s area of study, everything about the domain one is working in, current affairs etc…
During Mudit’s Ahmedabad interview, they asked him what he finds most interesting about Biotechnology which was his undergrad area, if he is aware of Genetic Modification, in addition to a few questions about his hobbies. He reckons they asked him these question to gauge how well he knew his undergrad area. In the process of asking him what he likes about it, he revealed much more about himself than if they had posed specific direct questions about Biotechnology.
At IIM Calcutta, he was asked very generic questions like his weaknesses, why he wants to do an MBA, and that is all.
“The PI is extremely arbitrary. You can be asked everything from top to bottom, or you can be asked nothing at all. In my Calcutta interview, I was just asked very basic questions about myself, none of which were very challenging, and that was it. However, in Lucknow I was actually interrogated; they asked me Mathematics, questions from one of my courses, and a lot more. So it would help if you know everything in the vicinity of your area of study/work. For instance, you need to know exactly why you did what you did in your life, everything from your curriculum, it would help if you’re somewhere who is aware of what’s happening in the world and in your country. It would also help if you’re opinionated.”
There are certain patterns that can be drawn when it comes to the kind of questions that different IIMs are most likely to pose during the interviews. For instance, it is said that at IIM Lucknow, a lot of technical questions related to your undergrad are asked, at IIM Calcutta questions on mathematics or finance are posed.
For IIM Bangalore and ISB Hyderabad, Garima says the interview experience was very similar. At both places for a majority of candidates, the interview was predominantly around their Statement of Purpose(SOP).
What Mudit also recommends is talking to a lot of people who have successfully converted IIM calls and finding out what worked for them. Most of them will suggest that reflecting on and knowing everything about yourself, and being absolutely honest.Get Mentored By IIM Alumni(Free)
Garima says that for GD PI, current affairs is perhaps the most important area to work on.
If you are in the habit of reading the newspaper every day, you’re in good hands. If not, even after the results are out you have good 2 months to prepare and that period is sufficient to brush up all the major happenings that took place in the last one year. It also helps to go through the typical list of HR questions; Why MBA, introduce yourself, state strengths/weaknesses and consequently form your own honest answers without succumbing to the urge of finding a tailor-made one online.
Final Words on ‘How to crack CAT’
The minimum GMAT score required for admission in IIM-A’s PGPX for the 2009-10 batch was fixed at 722 out of 800. This figure even exceeds the score required for admission in prestigious institutes like Harvard or Stanford, where the GMAT cut-off is between 710 and 715, thus showing how uphill the journey to an IIM is.
“A very good motivator if you actually want to get studying for CAT is to go YouTube, or the official website of various IIMs, take a look at the campus, take a look at the faculty. Go to LinkedIn, find out what people after IIM A, B, C do. THAT is your best motivator. It’ll actually give you a clear picture of ‘This is where people get, this is where I want to be. But if you don’t know what you’re fighting for, it gets harder to make it. All those ‘Life at IIM A’ videos, they helped us a lot. Because you get a view of the campus and of what your life will be for the next two years if you actually get there.” – Mudit
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There is no silver bullet on how to crack CAT. But with a clear strategy, it isn’t impossible to crack. Incorporating the CAT preparation tips stated here, taking and evaluating CAT mocks consistently, working on areas of improvement and following your CAT study plan strictly, you have a fair shot at making it to your dream B-school.