Try and fail, but never fail to try

Jared Leto

For our next Pulse Series, we interviewed three of our finest seniors graduating this year.  They all made the decision to attempt CAT to move forward to their next step in life and scored extremely high percentiles. 

  • Nikhit T N, scored a high percentile of 96.94 and got into IIMA, is of the branch Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) and has a huge interest in rapping and playing cricket in his free time.
  • Archit Sahay, a student of the branch Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE), scored a high percentile of 99.96 and got into IIMA. He likes to watch as well as write about professional Wrestling, watch and play cricket and is also interested in Arts and Crafts.
  • Madina Manish Chandra, got into IIMB with his high percentile of 87.19 in his CAT examination. He is of the branch Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE), likes to cook and play cricket, and is also a proud movie buff.  

CAT examination has three sections, Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) AND Quantitative Ability(QA).   

Based on their Interviews, here are their tips, strategies and methods of preparation that they undertook to achieve such a score. 

  • What were your thoughts right after the examination? Were you expecting such a score?

After writing the paper, all of them were content at the same time felt they could have done better and a bit different at specific sections.

It is normal to have doubts about your paper or not feel so confident about it but what matters is that you practice hard and give your best during those final three hours. 

  • When did you decide to appear for the CAT? What is the story behind it? 

Nikhit:  “CAT-2020 was my first ever attempt at CAT. I always had this dream to make it into IIT and then an IIM. I did not make it into IIT and that is history. I wanted somehow to make it into IIM and I took CAT very seriously.”

Archit: “I liked the management side of things and business, and I am also still very much Interested in my course ECE as well. So in the beginning of my third year, during the times of companies coming in for Internship selections, I didn’t get into the technical side I was looking for but I did get into the management side which is from where my interest grew, and pursuing this interest, I decided to write CAT.”

Manish: “When I was in second year, I got to know more about this CAT. I knew then itself that I wasn’t interested in my branch and I started to explore and try figuring out my interests. I got into the business SIG of ACM as well as was involved in the Incident Marketing team etc. which boosted my interest in this field. Hence, I made my mind to pursue this field.”

  • How did you go about preparing for the exam? Did you follow any fixed study schedule?

Nikhit: “It was not a fixed study schedule but I tried to give it time whenever possible. I roughly put in 2 to 3 hours of work every day on an average.”

Manish: “Initially I focused on clearing my basics, and then in August I had placements so I had to prepare for that but after placements, it was mostly writing mocks. I wrote a lot of mocks which I believe is essential when preparing for CAT.”

Archit: “Initially I was pretty unorganized but gradually I realised it’s all about practice. I wrote a lot of mock tests and spent 2-3 hours analysing the mocks I wrote. I also attempted as many sectional tests that I could.”

  • Any specific prep strategies you want to share with the readers?  

Nikhit: “CAT needs you to be good with your basics. Mostly the stuff from your school. If you don’t have any problem with the basics then preparing for CAT is not a big deal. If you feel you are weak in those areas for e.g. Math, I would recommend you to start a bit early and get those basics strengthened up.”

Archit: “I struggled a bit with comprehension so my technique to overcome it in that section was to read the questions first, then read the passage, then get back to the questions again. It doesn’t take much of your time and definitely made answering the comprehension section much easier for me. For other sections, such as DILR, I used to rank the questions according to their difficulty and used to answer them that way.”

Manish: “I used to write a lot of mocks. I used to write my mocks for 3 hours and analyse it for around 6 hours. I used to go back to the chapter and find out my mistakes. That was my main strategy as it’s not enough to just write the mocks, it is important to analyse the mistakes that you’ve made as well.”

  • What study resources do you feel benefited you the most?

Nikhit: “I did not take any paid coaching and I don’t feel like anyone requires it. I mostly used free resources from the internet. One can take online coaching if they feel like they need someone to push them to work. Else I don’t see any important purpose a coaching institute serves. I used Arun Sharma books for quant preparation. I used Nishit Sinha’s books for LRDI and VARC. I used online free resources to get as many practice questions as possible.”

Archit: “I used Arun Sharma for maths. I didn’t practice much from it but got all the formulas even the small ones from the book. The rest of my preparation was from TIME student institute’s material, and attempted a lot of their mock tests and sectional tests. 

Manish: “I would say TIME is a really good centre to enrol in for CAT preparation. Their mock tests are sometimes one level ahead of actual mock tests. They prepare you for the worst kind of questions, which really helps.”

  • Did your curriculum at NITK help you in your preparation? 

Nikhit: “It sure does help at an IQ level. But CAT preparation does not need anything as advanced as B.Tech curriculum.”

Archit: “My curriculum at NITK kept me in touch with maths and calculations which helped my speed during the paper as well as my preparation for the exam. The CAT exam also lets us use our calculators, so the practice of using a calculator throughout my college life helped me out.”

Manish:  “The flexibility in my final year gave me time to prepare for placement as well as CAT, which is not common in other college. In this aspect, NITK helped me a lot.”

  • Any topics you feel are a must-read for students appearing for the CAT examination?

Nikhit: “In the past few years, LRDI section has evolved to be the toughest section in the examination. Please check the format of the questions and prepare with the right kind of questions rather than wasting time on outdated question types. You can get lots of up to date question online.“

Archit: “For the VARC section, since it includes more comprehension and reading etc. the more non-fiction one reads, I believe it’ll help more. Read newspapers, books, more articles etc. and I think it will help your preparation more. Keep the fundamentals of Geometry, Statistics and other similar topics practiced and understood.”

Manish: “ CAT is unpredictable, you can’t expect the number of questions or focus to be on a specific topic as it may have been for some past years. Number of questions focusing on a particular topic can vary from how it was the year before.  For VARC, increase your reading speed, read anything as it will majorly help a lot. 

  • A word of advice for future aspirants.

Stay confident. Engineers have the best chance at CAT and even at IIMs. Put in the work and favourable results will definitely come. Stay consistent and work hard. You may have some downfalls but endure through and stick through the process. Practice as much as you can.