An Electrical Engineer from IIT Kanpur, Rahul worked for one year as a Software Engineer in Samsung Research and Development Institute Bangalore before cracking CAT 2017 with 99.98 percentile and finally getting into IIM Calcutta.
Rahul hails from Faridabad in Haryana. His father is a Software Developer, mother is a housewife and younger brother is a student of IIT Delhi.
Q. What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A. When I decided to do MBA, first thing I did was to look at the syllabus of CAT. I realised that it was not a test of knowledge but that of aptitude and speed. Hence, to get familiarity with the type of questions and to build speed, the best strategy that I could think of was to give a lot of mock tests and analyse them thoroughly. This helped me a lot in identifying and curbing mistakes that I made in different sections.
Q. Please share your preparation strategy for VARC section in CAT `
A. Since this section tests you largely on your comprehension, it helps a great deal if you are familiar with varied topics like philosophy, science, business, technology, sociology and even art. I made it a daily habit to read at least an hour on different topics from various sources like newspapers, books and magazines. I also used to learn meanings of 5 new words daily in order to improve my vocabulary.
Q. How did you prepare for Quantitative Ability (QA) section?
A. This was my strongest section, as is the case with almost all engineers. The topics that come in quant are of 10th standard level at best, hence knowledge was never an issue. Only issue was timing which I improved considerably by solving more and more mocks. While analysing the mock tests, I made it a point to keep in mind any tips or tricks that could be used to solve a particular question quickly.
Q. What was your preparation strategy for DILR Section?
A. This section tests your stamina and perseverance as you have to make sense of a large amount of data in order to answer the questions. Hence, I used to do one set each of DI and LR daily in order to build that stamina. Also, some sets can be deceptively tough or deceptively easy, hence you should be able to choose quickly which sets to attempt. Sometimes, this can prove to be the game changer.
Q. Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A. I was troubled a lot initially by DILR section as I had not encountered these kind of questions before in my life. My speed and accuracy both were below par. The turning point was when I came across ‘The Great Book of Puzzles & Teasers’ by George J. Summers. This is a very fascinating book and contains similar questions as in DILR section. This book piqued my interest towards DILR, I started practising more and as a result, the scores improved.
Q. What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A. Mocks play the most important role in determining whether you end up scoring 90th percentile or 99th percentile. During preparation, there comes a point when everyone is well versed with the syllabus. The differentiator is speed and the ability to choose questions on merit. This skill can be honed by giving more and more mocks. I used to give one mock every weekend. Hence in 4 months of my preparation, I gave around 20 mocks.
Q. Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A. When I decided to pursue my MBA dream, I was working in a software job with not much free time on my hands. For a start, I decided to blindly attempt a past year CAT paper. I realized that it was a generic exam and I knew almost all the topics that were being asked. A look at the CAT syllabus strengthened my belief. Thus, I decided to enrol for an online test series and gave tests every weekend. Fortunately, it turned out to be more than enough.