CAT 2020 exam date is Sunday, November 29, 2020. To help the aspirants preparing for CAT 2020, MBAUniverse.com has published a series of articles on CAT preparation plan & strategy adopted by CAT toppers studying at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, MDI Gurgaon among others. Below are shared the interview excerpts with CAT preparation tips by CAT Topper Sruthy S Kumar, and IIM Lucknow student of 2020-22 batch
Coming from the small town of Alappuzha in Kerala, Sruthy S Kumar cracked CAT 2019 with 97.71 percentile and has converted number of top B-schools including IIM Lucknow. A B-Tech in Chemical Engineering from NIT Calicut, Sruthy belongs to a modest retired service class family. While preparing for CAT exam, she earned 2½ years of working experience in Reliance Industries.
With a firm confidence and planned preparation strategy, Sruthy was confident to crack CAT 2019 with high score and get into her dream IIM. She did not appear in any other MBA entrance test apart from CAT.
Sruthy likes Sketching, playing sudoku, watching series. The city she lives in, is famous for back waters cruises, snake boat races, scenic beauty, temples and is a major tourist attraction.
Q: How did you perform in CAT 2019?
A: I scored 97.71 overall percentile in CAT 2019; 95.23 percentile in VARC section; 98.68 in DILR Section and 93.42 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.
Q: Apart from CAT 2019, which other exams did you appear?
A: I did not appear in any other exam as I focused on CAT only.
Q: Which top B-schools have offered you admission and which one you have finally chosen?
A: Apart from getting final admission offer from IIM Lucknow, I converted IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, IIM Shillong, all the CAP participating IIMs, NITIE, SPJIMR and MDI Gurgaon. I finally decided to join IIM Lucknow
Q: What have been your academics and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A: I am a B. Tech. from NIT Calicut in Chemical Engineering. I have 29 months of work experience in Reliance Industries Limited. I belong to a small family of four. Mom and Dad are both retired government employees. I have a sister who is married and is now settled in Hyderabad.
Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A: As a working professional I was very well aware that I had to use my time very judiciously to crack CAT. I started my preparations by going through IMS books to refresh the basics. Then mostly, I concentrated on taking as many mocks as possible. I enrolled for IMS test series and I religiously took all the mock tests and evaluated them at length. I also kept a tab on my performance by making a chart and writing down my score and percentage after each test. I had a habit of noting some good/tricky questions in a book for future reference.
Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for VARC in CAT
A: After skimming through Norman Lewis book I stuck to online test series for improving my VARC score. I was a moderate performer in my VARC section from the time I started taking the mock tests. Reading the newspaper editorials is a good way to ace this section and also the general awareness will be very useful for the interviews after the CAT. I took sectional tests to get more grip on solving RC passages. In my mock tests, my scores oscillated between 45 and 75 in this section.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section
A: I wasn’t particularly good with DILR when I started with my preparations. The major reason was the lack of strategy. Choosing the right set is the key in this section. I had to try out different patterns for choosing sets and I eventually found a strategy that worked for me. And to my surprise, I scored the highest in DILR in my actual CAT test.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for Quant Section
A: I kept a notebook for writing down all the important formulas. Coming from an engineering background Quant wasn't that difficult to crack for me but I had to work a lot to design a strategy as to which questions to attempt first, which questions to be left and which ones to be visited later.
I usually started with solving easy ones right away and then would bookmark easy questions which would take more time and then in my second round I would try to solve these. This strategy worked best for me as I was able to go through the entire section and hence there wasn't a chance that I would miss any easy questions. And also, I was well aware that to get a good score I wouldn't have to answer each and every question. All I tried to do was maximize my score in the given time frame. I concentrated more on Arithmetic and Geometry as maximum questions used to come from these topics. I regularly took sectionals and found my weak points and worked on it. I didn't leave any topic untouched because there are chances that easy questions could come from hard topics. Hence practice is the key in the Quant section.
Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: DILR was the section I struggled with. I used to get bizarre scores in this section at the beginning and there was no specific pattern as I used to perform tremendously well in some mocks while I used to get really bad scores in others. I was under the impression that my performance in this section is completely upto luck and I couldn't control the outcome. But once you take amble number of mocks/sectionals you will start getting an idea as to which sets to choose and which sets to half attempt and which sets to completely ignore. I had to try out different strategies to find the one that worked for me. There are some strategies elaborated in IMS website which I found extremely useful for this section. They help you with different perspectives to solve DILR sets in the least time. In DILR section the key is to select the right sets. Five right sets will fetch you the percentage you are aiming for. At times it's very much advisable to solve half of a set rather than wasting more time on one/two calculation intensive questions in the set. So, choose judiciously, sometimes the usual kind of sets might be tricky or lengthy so always be cautious and keep an open mind while choosing/solving the sets.
Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A: I cannot stress the importance of taking Mocks and analysing them. Everyone serious about CAT needs to take atleast 20+ mocks. Initially, taking a mock test and reviewing it used to take me almost an entire day and gradually I was able to analyse in 3 hours or so. As your learning curve progresses you will be able to do this faster. And try to replicate the environment of the CAT test at home while you are taking the test and be serious about it as this will help you ease your nervousness on the D day. I personally found the IMS online test series analysis videos very helpful. In quant & DILR section, tricks for solving a lengthy question/set in a fraction of time are discussed elaborately and this can help you with time management. The content quality and mock test platforms are top-notch.
Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A: I mostly resorted to online materials and IMS books as I was a working professional and it was really difficult to manage time for offline coaching. Mock tests are the best way to ensure a good CAT percentile because the syllabus for CAT has already been covered in your school days. You just need to put in more practice and you need to formulate a strategy for attempting the questions.
Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A: As the CAT exam approached, I began concentrating more on revising concepts and questions rather than taking more mock tests. During my mock analysis, I had bookmarked some important questions in each section and I stuck to solving these questions with a timer. One week before CAT I stopped taking mock tests but I regularly took VARC sectionals as it’s very important to keep the momentum. And something I found very useful was the routine I followed. Once the CAT admit cards were out and I realised that I had a morning slot I started aligning my studies to fit the D-Day routine. I started walking up early morning and took all the mock tests in the morning slots and stuck to this schedule till the last day. This will really ease you come the CAT exam day.
Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT. Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A: For your GD/PI/WAT preparations there are two parts:
- One is self-preparation: This includes reading the newspaper, writing mock WAT and covering your undergrad basics.
- The other is taking mock PI’s: Mock PI’s with faculties is really important as an interview includes so many hidden nuances that a candidate is unaware of; from your body language to your communication skills.
- It’s not just what you are saying in an interview, but how you are saying it.
- An experienced faculty can point out all the trivial mistakes that you are unconsciously making.
- IMS Surat and National Achiever’s Workshop helped me with my WAT/PI preparations.
- My PI experience was very different for each IIM. Some asked me general knowledge questions, while some asked me about my undergrad/workex.
Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2020.
A: My advice would be to take as many mocks as possible and religiously review the tests and correct your mistakes later. At times some mock test scores might be underwhelming but remember your aim is to get the best score you can on the D-day. So, don’t ever let your mock scores bog you down. And, stick to the strategy you have worked out for yourself.
Consistent efforts and perseverance will pave you the way.
This article is published in partnership with IMS Learning, India’s leading CAT Coaching Institute. To know more about their CAT 2020 Online Preparation & Test Series, and to get extra 10% MBAUniverse.com Reader Discount, check details here.
Read more inspirational stories & secret mantras of CAT Toppers, only on MBAUniverse.com
- Why SPJIMR is A Preferred Destination for CAT Toppers with 99+ %ile? Aditya, Prateek, Pooja, Sundar Joined SPJIMR Mumbai and Declined IIMs, XLRI, IITs, MDI, SIBM; Toppers Bare secrets to MBAUniverse.com
- Why CAT 2022 Topper with 99.44%ile, Akshat Agarwal, declined IIMs, MDI to Join MBA at IIT Delhi; How he prepared & cracked the Exam-MBAUniverse.com Interview
- Why CAT Toppers with 99+ %ile Jatin, Shrey, Vishal, Nikhil Joined IIM Kashipur and Declined Other Top B-schools? Toppers Bare secrets to MBAUniverse.com
- How Pooja Sudhakar from Chennai, Working as Marketing Professional at Mockat, cracked CAT 2022 with 99.11%ile, and got into SPJIMR Mumbai
- XLRI Student Nipun Garg Cracks XAT 2023 with 99.95% and CAT 2022 with 97.02; Reveals Why he Chose XLRI over IIMs, MDI - MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How Jay Bosamia, A Chartered Accountant with Work Experience at PwC & Reliance overcame his weakness to crack CAT 2022 with 98.79%ile, and got into IIM Kozhikode
- XLRI Student Tanish Jain Cracks XAT 2023 with 99.99% and CAT 2022 with 99.78; Reveals Why he Chose XLRI over FMS - MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How Patna's Prateek Rai secured 99.80%ile in CAT 2022 and joined SPJIMR Mumbai by sacrificing Social Media, uninstalling YouTube, and overcoming his Weaknesses
- How K. Sashank, Software Developer at JIO from Coimbatore overcame his weakness to crack CAT 2022 with 99.90%ile, and got into IIM Kozhikode
- ‘XAT Not More Difficult than CAT’ Nandagopal V Busts the Myth; Scored 99.99%ile in XAT 2023 and 99.15%ile in CAT 2022; Declines Top IIMs to join XLRI Jamshedpur - MBAUniverse.com Interview
- Gurgaon Girl & NIFT Graduate Kirti Goyal Cracks CAT with 99.1%ile, Secures admission at IIM Kozhikode! Shares her success strategies with MBAUniverse.com
- How Mumbai Girl and VJTI Engineer Srishti Yadav overcame her weakness to crack CAT with 99.69%ile, and got into IIM Kozhikode
- Why Amit Kumar Chakraborty, CAT 2022 Topper with 99.34 %ile & XAT 2023 Topper with 99.55%ile declined NITIE, SPJIMR, MDI to join XLRI Jamshedpur; How he cracked Exams – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How Soumik Banerjee, an Engineer Working with Public Sector, Cracked CAT 2022 with 99.95%ile and Got into IIM Calcutta – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How Bhanu Pratap, A Small Town Boy from Farmer Family and a Fresher, Cracked CAT 2022 with 99.67%ile and got into IIM Calcutta – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How Mehak Rathi, a Psychologist & Graphologist, cracked CAT 2022 with 98.08 % to get into MDI Gurgaon - MBAUniverse.com Interview
- Why CAT 2022 Topper from Agriculture Family, Kunal declined IIMs, IIFT to join MDI Gurgaon; How he cracked Exams – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How a Defense Personnel Ward and Consultant at Deloitte, Avinash Cracked IIFT Entrance and Got into IIFT Delhi MBA (IB) 2023-25 – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How An Agriculture Science Graduate, Amit Shailesh cracked CAT 2022 with 96.42%ile and got into IIM Lucknow – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- Why CAT 2022 & IIFT Topper Pushti Shah declined 11 IIMs to join IIFT Delhi; How She cracked Exams – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How a Chemical Engineer and Fresher Shivam cracked CAT 2022 with 99.84%ile and got into IIM Calcutta – MBAUniverse.com Interview
- How a Software Tester Shreyasee Sarkar cracked CAT 2022 with 99.68%ile and got into IIM Calcutta
- How a CA and Asset Management Expert cracked CAT 2021 with 94.78%ile to get into IIM Ahmedabad
- How a CA, NTSE Scholar and a Published Poet cracked CAT 2021 with 98.49% to get into IIM Ahmedabad
- How Ekansh Gupta, a Poet and Working Professional from Moradabad cracked CAT with 99.91 %ile & Got into IIM Calcutta for MBA 2021
- How a BBA Graduate and Fresher from Surat, Yashvi Bansal Cracked CAT with 94.72%ile and got into IIM Udaipur for MBA 2021
- How an Arts & Craft lover, a blogger with BMS, Pranita Maheshwari Cracked CAT with 98.81%ile and got into IIM Udaipur for MBA 2021
- How a BMS Graduate from DU working at DE Shaw, Nandan Goel cracked CAT with 99.95 %ile & Got into IIM Calcutta for MBA 2021
- How A Graphic Designer, Painter with B.Tech, Nancy Jain Cracked CAT 2020 with 99.72 %ile and got into IIM Calcutta for MBA 2021-23
- How Software Developer at Nomura and IEM Kolkata Graduate from Surat - Shubham cracked CAT with 99.98%ile and got into IIM Calcutta for MBA 2021
- How an Animation & VFX Lover with B.Tech Venkata Satya Srikar Medisetti from Tuni Cracked CAT with 98.44%ile and got into IIM Udaipur for MBA
- How A Kathak Dancer, Painter & Engineer Vasundhara Tiwari, Working as Accounts Manager –cracked CAT with 96.68%ile and got into IIM Udaipur for MBA 2021
- How an Electrical Engineer & Working Professional Shuktisindhu Mondal Cracked CAT 2019 & got IIM Ahmedabad for MBA 2020
- How National Medalist in Swimming, A Triathlon Participant & Chemical Engineer Tanishq Diddee Cracked CAT 2019 to get into IIM Ahmedabad for MBA 2020
- How Doordarshan Anchor, Kathak Dancer and Graduate in Tourism, Shefali Chhaya cracked CAT 2019 and Got into IIM Ahmedabad
- How Miss India Finalist and Law Graduate Adya Niraj cracked CAT 2019 to get into IIM Ahmedabad
- CAT Toppers Video Series: How Masscom grad Sandeep Rajguru cracked CAT to get into IIM Ahmedabad
- An NGO Activist and BBA from Surat, Nikita cracked CAT with 99.22%ile; Preferred PGPM at MDI Gurgaon instead of IIMs
- How CA Anushree Naik juggled her finance job in Mumbai, and yet cracked CAT 2019 to get into IIMA! MBAUniverse.com Interview
- Video Series with CAT Toppers: Tanuj Ruia tells MBAUniverse.com how he cracked CAT and PI/WAT Round to get into IIM Bangalore
- Chandanbala, a B.Com with 51% Cracks CAT 2019 with 98.28%ile; Gets into IIM Udaipur; Never found Questions too Hard
- How Alappuzha Girl and NIT Calicut Graduate Sruthy cracked CAT with 97.71%ile and got into IIM Lucknow for MBA 2020!
- How Working Professional & IIT Roorkee Graduate Rahul Gupta cracked CAT with 100%ile and got into IIM Ahmedabad for MBA 2020!
- How Surat Boy and NIT Hamirpur Graduate Shantanu Yadav cracked CAT with 99.7%ile and got into IIM Ahmedabad for MBA 2020!
Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates on CAT Preparation Strategy by Toppers