CAT 2017 Success mantra from Varsha, IIM Ahmedabad student “Make a concepts book for challenging Questions”

MBAUniverse.com News Desk |
November 6, 2017
Varsha Murali who graduated as a fashion designer from Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune cracked CAT 2016 with 98.74 percentile and found her way to flagship PGP 2017-19 programme at IIM Ahmedabad. She suggests to set targets for each of the three sections
CAT topper success mantra
“I made a concepts- book where I used to list down challenging questions and formulae so I could refer to it before any test ” Varsha Murali CAT topper & IIM Ahmedabad student

IIM Ahmedabad, the dream B-school of CAT toppers is no more a prerogative of engineers only. Candidates with diverse back ground are adding to the diversity in IIM Ahmedabad class rooms.

    An inspiration for CAT 2017 aspirants, Varsha Murali who graduated as a fashion designer from Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune cracked CAT 2016 with 98.74 percentile, found her way to flagship PGP 2017-19 programme at IIM Ahmedabad. Varsha practiced as a freelance graphic designer during her preparation for CAT exam.

    Varsha has put a positive note to inspire CAT 2017 aspirants in their preparation journey. CAT topper with 98.74 percentile and IIM Ahmedabad student of PGP 2017-19 batch, she shares her experience on CAT preparation journey which she completed in a few months only alongwith her working as a freelance graphic designer. Varsha suggests to set targets for each of the three sections and make a concepts book to list down the challenging questions as she did to improve her performance regularly.

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    Varsha  belongs to Mumbai. Her father is a Solar Consultant and mother is a violinist. Varsha also has keen interest in singing, travelling, illustrating and painting.

    MBAUniverse.com has brought a round of CAT toppers’ success stories for the benefit of CAT 2017 aspirants. In the series we present the success story of confident Varsha Murali, coming from a different academic back ground. Varsha not only scored 98.74 percentile in CAT 2016 but also converted her admission call to IIM Ahmedabad. Varsha also appeared in XAT exam and scored 93.6 percentile.

    Sharing with MBAUniverse.com Varsha highlights her preparation strategy and modestly attempts to give the ‘success mantra’ to the CAT 2017 aspirants

    MBAUniverse.com: What was your preparation strategy for CAT?
    Varsha (CAT topper): I started preparing for the exam 5 months in advance. I analysed my strengths and weaknesses in each section through mock tests and worked on them accordingly. I set targets for each section at various points in my preparation and assessed my progress through that. Quantitative Ability and DI-LR were my weak sections so I devoted more time on crack that. I made a concepts- book where I used to list down challenging questions and formulae so I could refer to it before any test.

    MBAUniverse.com: How did you prepare for each section QA, VARC & DILR? What study materials and books did you use?
    Varsha (CAT topper): My sectional preparation strategy for each section was

    VARC:
    I mostly worked with intuition when it came to the verbal section. But I also refined my thinking like that of a test-taker to bridge a few gaps. For example, I would quickly glance through the various kinds of passages and pick those I was comfortable reading or those that had a good number of questions. I would not spend more than 40 minutes on the reading comprehensions, and I kept the last 5 minutes for revision.

    DILR:
    Logical reasoning was what I struggled with in the beginning and so, I began by concentrating on that part. I used to practice 4 sets each day, till I could classify every set into a type. For example, Arrangements. My strategy was to solve 4 sets of LR in the exam (of easy-to-medium) difficulty in 35 minutes and then move on to solve a set or two of DI, based on the difficulty level. The aim was to do at least 5 sets in a paper of moderate difficulty and 6 + in an easier one.

    Quant:
    Quant was my weakest section among the three so I had to work extremely hard to crack this section. What I realised through the preparation was that it wasn’t about answering a lot of questions. It was about doing whatever you did, correctly. So I started focussing on accuracy levels because I couldn’t do more than 15 in most tests. The intention was to get those 15 wrong, or if at all one or two do go wrong, they be TITA questions so that didn’t affect my score. I classified my preparation into 5 categories- Arithmetic, Algebra, Numbers, Geometry and Modern Math and prepared accordingly. Through mock tests, I slowly built on what I should work on and what I shouldn’t waste my time on.

    Study Material:
    I used all the material given by my coaching centre- IMS Vashi. Additionally, I used Arun Sharma for topics like Arithmetic and Numbers.

    MBAUniverse.com: Was there any particular section that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
    Varsha (CAT topper): Quant was my weakest section among the three so I had to work extremely hard to crack this section. What I realised through the preparation was that it wasn’t about answering a lot of questions. It was about doing whatever you did, correctly.

    So, I started focussing on accuracy levels because I couldn’t do more than 15 in most tests. The intention was to get those 15 wrong, or if at all one or two do go wrong, they be TITA questions so that didn’t affect my score.

    I classified my preparation into 5 categories- Arithmetic, Algebra, Numbers, Geometry and Modern Math and prepared accordingly. Through mock tests, I slowly built on what I should work on and what I shouldn’t waste my time on.

    MBAUniverse.com: How can candidates use Mock tests better? What is your advice?
    Varsha (CAT topper): The last two weeks of my preparation, I gave only mock tests. Mock tests are the most crucial part in the entire preparation. I believe this kind of an exam only needs practice so each one can build his own strategy. Mock tests are not only about time management. They serve a bigger purpose. If you spend 3 hours on writing the test, spend 2 more hours on just analysing each section to see where you’ve faltered. It helps you understand which kind of questions to attempt and which to leave, based on your strengths and weaknesses.

    MBAUniverse.com: Did you go to offline coaching centre? What role does a coaching centre play?
    Varsha (CAT topper):  I went to IMS for my preparation. IMS’ mock tests are very accurate in terms of the structure and difficulty level. Their supplementary material was also very useful for practice. I particularly found two teachers of mine very approachable and supportive, which contributed to my performance.

    MBAUniverse.com: Other than CAT, which exam did you appear?
    Varsha (CAT topper):  I appeared for CAT and XAT.

    MBAUniverse.com:  Which institutes did you apply for admission?  
    Varsha (CAT topper): I applied to all the IIMs, SPJIMR, XLRI, MDI Gurgaon, FMS Delhi.

    MBAUniverse.com:  Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
    Varsha (CAT topper): I actually did no last-minute preparation. I gave my last mock test on 2nd December 2017 and only revised my concepts-book after that. I solved my CAT paper like just another mock paper since that was the only way I could stop the pressure from getting to me.

    MBAUniverse.com: Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions at different institutes and the ones who offered you admission?
    Varsha (CAT topper): I was mostly asked about my field-Fashion Design in the personal interviews. The next most common question I encountered was why I wanted to do an MBA and that I was stepping into a course that was extremely analytical and calculative. They wanted to know if I was ready for that. I was asked about subjects in my undergraduate course of study, along with my future aspirations.

    MBAUniverse.com:  Which B-school you decided upon and why? 
    Varsha (CAT topper): Among my final calls, I chose IIM Ahmedabad since it had always been my first preference. IIM Ahmedabad is the best B-School in the country, renowned for Marketing, something I’m looking forward to pursue in the near future.

    MBAUniverse.com:  Any message you would like to share with the candidates preparing for CAT 2017
    Varsha (CAT topper): Read as many interviews and preparation strategies but build one of your own at the end of the day. Your mind would work very differently from the others and that is something you need to remember through your course of preparation.

    Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more success mantra stories and CAT 2017 preparation tips from toppers

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    MBA/PGDM Admissions 2018 Open - Important Dates
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    Application for PGP 2018-19 at SOIL is open till February 25, 2018

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    CAT Previous Year Question Papers, Answer With Solution:
    CAT 2008    |    CAT 2007    |    CAT 2006    |    CAT 2005   |    CAT 2004

    Section 1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

    CAT 2017: Quiz 1

    CAT 2017: Quiz 2

    Section 2: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

    CAT 2017: Quiz 1

    CAT 2017: Quiz 2

    Section 3: Quantitative Ability

    CAT 2017: Quiz 1

    CAT 2017: Quiz 2