CAT 2016: How can a NOT-So-Intelligent Student crack CAT; know from expert Nishit Sinha


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June 17, 2016
The myth that only an intelligent candidate can bell the CAT 2016 is busted by CAT preparation expert and IIM Lucknow alumnus Nishith Sinha
They believed that they are going to make it happen to them and came out of their mental block and any negative thoughts before marching on preparation for CAT Nishit Sinha, IIM Lucknow alumnus and mentor on CAT preparation

The myth that only an intelligent candidate can bell the CAT 2016 is busted by CAT preparation expert and IIM Lucknow alumnus Nishith Sinha who has also authored books to guide CAT aspirants and number of his students have made it to top B-schools

Intelligent Vs Average
A most common definition of an intelligent person is - One who can process the data / information fast and solve the questions in a short span of time. Accorginly, an average person is one who takes more time.

If I have to define a unit for Intelligence (like m/s for speed), it’s going to be -quantity of information processed per minute (or second). Keep in your mind - the more information you process per unit time, more intelligent you will be.

1st of all, understand that ALL those who make it to IIMs are NOT:

(a)Born Intelligent, (b) IITians, (c) 90 or 80 percentage plus overall in X, XII, Graduation, (d) Voracious readers during whole of their life, (f) Exceptional with calculation or mathematical skills.

CAT; exam for Common
There lies the beauty of this exam CAT - 1st letter stands for COMMON. From my experience, I can tell you that, in a batch of 297 students, there would be at least   80–90 students who would NOT fall into any of the categories mentioned above.

Will win, if confident
Statistically speaking Zero marks in CAT is equivalent to 55 percentile. That means almost 55% of total aspirants got zero marks or negative marks. Please NOTE it is primarily because they believed they cannot and won’t get into IIMs since initial days of their preparation.

Would you like MSD to hold the captaincy in the next World Cup Cricket if he says on day 1 that we are not going to win World Cup? Apply the same yardstick for yourself too.

Only 60000 serious
Real fight is among a max of 50,000 - 60,000 aspirants. To get atleast ONE IIM call, you need to be among top 11,000 - 12,000.

Key Mantra to get into IIM
This is the more important part how others got into IIMs while you are still gathering courage.
They believed that they are going to make it happen to them and came out of their mental block and any negative thoughts before marching on preparation for CAT.

Action Plan
Following action plan is suggested:

(a) Identify your natural strength area - that can be quant or verbal or NONE (still fine). Anyways, DI / LR is more about practice, practice upon quality content, regularly.
(b) There were 34 questions in QA in CAT 2015. If you can manage to get around half of 34 right, you will be at 93–94 percentile (as per CAT 2015). To be able to do this (or better), following points should be noted:
(i) Are fundamentals clear - Fundamentals is knowing where you can use a concept and what are the limitations?
For example - What will be the LCM of 10, 20 and minus 30?
Or, Can I call (-2) (minus 2) an even integer? Can I use unitary method in directly proportional relations or inversely proportions relations?
(ii) Once you have acquired fundamental knowledge of a concept, next question should be:
Do you have conceptual clarity ? For example, if 2 and 3 are the roots of a quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0, what is the value of (a+b+c) ?
Answer is - cannot be determined uniquely.

Avoid silly mistakes

  • On an average, how many questions do you get wrong because you read 'must' at the place of 'can'? Many a time, we skip the words, and that results in error.
  • Wrong assumptions - You went ahead with only one set of values to check your answer, without realizing that there could be another possibility. For example, if length of a rectangle is increased by 20%, and breadth is increased by 10%, what is the percentage change in perimeter?
    Did you get 15% or 16.66%? 
    Answer is - cannot be determined because percentage is not a function of addition or subtraction. Perimeter has a plus sign in it.

Practice is the key

  • Once you have taken care of the above points, then comes the need of Practice. This one is most significant after the above points. Remember that even Tendulkar used to go for a net practice before every match. It’s not that he was not aware of a batting type, but practice keeps you alert.
  • Practice upon Quality Questions which are NON-REPETITIVE in nature
  • Get a good book for LRDI, and solve 4–5 sets (i.e. 20 questions everyday). In my book (Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT, 5th edition), you will find how to approach a question in DI as well as LR. There are questions at Foundation, Moderate and Advanced levels with solutions and explanations.
  • Start reading a good newspaper / non- fiction novels. This will help you get a good hold in RC. In any case, questions from Verbal Logic like Para Jumble and CR are quite logical in nature, and you can learn the tactics to solve those questions easily. You may use the book – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT (3rd edition). This covers all the components of Verbal Section of CAT (and other B- School exams like SNAP, XAT etc) – English Usage, Verbal Logic and Reading Comprehension.

Go through the concepts
If you find yourself average in an area it means (in most of the cases) that you have NOT solved similar questions in your life. It is your time - to go through the concepts and solve the questions - that will take you to higher levels of intelligence.

The good part is - types of questions asked at CAT are finite. A question is difficult only if you are seeing it for the first time. If you find a question difficult even if you are seeing it for the second time, ask yourself - Are you honest enough with your preparation?

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