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 Tanuj Ruia, and IIM Bangalore student of 2020-22 batch
A Chartered Accountant and Fresher Tanuj Ruia from Surat, (Gujarat) cracked CAT 2019 with 99.69 percentile. Tanuj converted IIM Bangalore and Calcutta but has opted to pursue MBA 2020-22 from IIM Bangalore. He took 30 Mocks before the exam and invested close to seven hours to analyse each of them to check his mistakes. Tanuj had appeared in CAT earlier also in the year 2017 and scored 97.7%ile. He was offered admission by one of the old IIMs, but decided in favour of completing his Chartered Accountancy.
Tanuj has done B.Com from VNSGU, Surat and has no work experience to get bonus marks as defined by IIMs in their admission process. With a firm confidence and planned preparation strategy, Tanuj was confident to crack CAT 2019 with high score and get into his dream IIM.
He focused on managing the time during the exam to bell the CAT easily. Tanuj appeared in XAT 2020 also and scored 98.8 percentile which was good enough to get top B-schools accepting XAT. But, he preferred IIM Bangalore to any other MBA college. Tanuj has great interest in Playing Cricket, football, Table Tennis, Badminton. His hobby of Reading Books gave him an edge in cracking CAT. MBAUniverse.com invited Tanuj to share his preparation and exam taking strategy, GD-PI experience. Read on for his views and success mantras.
Q: How did you perform in CAT 2019?
A: I scored 99.69 overall percentile in CAT 2019; 99.39 percentile in VARC section; 98.13 in DILR Section and 99.08 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.
Q: Apart from CAT 2019, which other exams did you appear?
A: Apart from CAT 2019, I appeared in XAT 2020 and scored 98.8 percentile
Q: Which top B-schools have offered you admission and which one you have finally chosen?
A: Among the top B-schools that I converted include IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta. I finally decided to join IIM Bangalore
Q: What have been your academics? Do you have some work experience as well?
A: I am a Chartered Accountant and a B. Com from VNSGU, Surat. I am a fresher as per the CAT form and have no regular work experience as defined by IIMs
Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A: CAT is one of the most competitive exams in the country. If you manage your 180 minutes of the exam, belling the CAT becomes a lot easier. So my main focus this year was to practise as many mocks I can before the D-Day. After clearing my fundamentals and the basics, I enrolled for the mock series. It helped me in analysing my current level of preparation, my weaknesses and my rank amongst a pool of serious aspirants. I used to attempt the mocks as if I was actually giving CAT. I gave close to 30 mocks. After the mocks, I made it a point to analyse each and every question. Initially, I invested close to 7 hours in analysing each mock test to analyse my mistakes and to understand if I was missing out the sitters.
Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for VARC in CAT
A: This is the most unpredictable section of CAT. It generally has 24 questions of Reading Comprehension and 10 questions of Verbal Ability (Parajumbles, odd one out and fill ups). I divided my 1 hour in 2 parts- 45 minutes for RC and 15 minutes for VA. I gave a lot of sectional tests for VARC to get a good practise. Question types like “Central idea” and “Context of a particular para” can only be mastered through practise. Also, try to maximize attempts in this section. I used to read a RC, if the topic of the RC is such that I was interested in (e.g. Economics, Finance) or have read earlier, go for it. Else, I kept that RC for the last in the chronology. Since I was scoring better in RC then VA, I used to attempt all the RC questions first.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section
A: This section will test your time management skills. It generally consists of 8 sets having 4 questions each. I would spend 3-4 minutes initially during the beginning of this section in mocks and actual CAT to scan through all the sets and rank them in order of difficulty. I made sure that I completed all the easy sets and grabbed the marks which boosted my confidence while doing the tougher ones. I never aimed at solving all sets. Instead, pick and choose was my mantra. Initially, I worked on the basic question types of graphs, linear arrangement, circular arrangement, matches and games, etc. These questions helped me in solving most of the sets.
Remember not to miss out any easy sets. It can make or break your score. Also while solving, don’t get stuck on a single set and take that set on your ego. I had set a time limit 12-15 minutes. If I was not able to think of a method, I used to leave that set.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for Quant Section
A: Being from commerce background, I made sure not to miss questions based on Profit & Loss, Interest, Allegations and Mixtures and Partnerships in QA. I prepared thoroughly for other topics such as Modern Math, Algebra, Time Speed Distance, Work and Time and Geometry. Initially, I read and understood the formulas and then started focussing on my speed. For complex calculations, I preferred online calculator. But, I also improved my mental maths which ended up saving me a lot of time.
I divided the entire section in 3 rounds. 1st round consisted of such questions which could be solved within a minute or two. So, in 30 odd minutes (if the paper is easy or difficult, time will vary), I solved all such questions by going from Q1 to Q 34. In the next round, I again visited the questions which were of medium difficulty. And, if the time permitted, I went for another round of tough questions. In this manner, I was able to solve easy questions which were scattered throughout the question paper instead of not going through them if I would have attempted questions as per the serial number.
Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: Since I had Mathematics till my 10th grade, I was not very comfortable with some of the topics in QA. So I attended lectures, practised questions from various materials and gave a lot of sectional tests. I analysed the mocks and found that I was not scoring well especially in Geometry and Modern Math. So I cleared my fundamentals in these topics and improved my accuracy. Hence, I could see my scores improve in the areas in which I was not scoring well.
Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A: Mocks are undoubtedly the most important part of CAT preparation. High quality mocks having resemblance to the actual CAT exam are a must for any serious aspirant. By analysing mocks, I could identify my standing amongst a pool of serious candidates, my weaknesses and my strong areas. I used to calculate the Score: Time ratio for various question types and tried to first attempt those questions in which my ratio was higher. In this way, I could get more marks in the limited time. I gave close to 30 mocks this season.
Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A: I took coaching classes for CAT 2017. I scored a 97.7%ile and had a final admission offer from one of the old IIMs. But I thought of completing my Chartered Accountancy first and then try getting into one if the Holy Trinity (IIM ABC). So this year, since I had my basics clear, I enrolled for the test series and GDPI sessions at IMS. The mock series at IMS is definitely among the best in the country.
Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A: On the CAT day, I made sure that I slept more than my daily average and had a heavy breakfast. Since my exam was in the afternoon slot, I thought of revising just the few basic Geometry formulas in the morning. I was pretty calm and composed. As I had given a lot of mocks earlier, I was pretty relaxed. So there was no such pressure.
Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT. Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A: WAT is generally based on current affairs or information which is provided in the paragraph itself. So, I read newspapers regularly (including a financial newspaper). Also, I read various fortnightly magazines which had some interesting articles (like India Today, Business Today).
For PI, I revised all my major subjects which I had studied in my graduation and CA (like Finance, Costing, Accounts and Economics). There are some common HR based questions like “Why MBA", “Why this institute" etc. So I prepared a crisp answer for all these questions. For people having experience, questions about your current role and responsibility are bound to be asked. Also, do some research about the companies for which you have worked or are currently working.
- IIM Ahmedabad: “Spending money on Statue Unity resulted in wastage of resources. Instead, it could have been spent on other things like infrastructure in a developing country like India. Your views on the same.”
- IIM Bangalore: “ Aadhar has been a game changer as it has enrolled more than 100 crore people in India. However, a lot of people are worried about the privacy and protection of their data. What are your views on the same"
- IIM Calcutta: Social media has given the freedom of speech to the masses. However, it has led to a lot of false information being spread resulting into incidents of violence and riots. What are your views on the same?
My IIM B interview panel had 2 interviewers, both of them are professors at IIM Bangalore. The interview lasted around 25 minutes. I was asked to substantiate my stand on the WAT topic, Why MBA, discussion about my hobbies and was asked questions from Finance. For IIM B, an SOP (Statement of Purpose) has to be submitted before the interviews. So many questions were based on the SOP.
One of the interviewers gave me a hard time by constantly disagreeing with whatever I said. It was a stress interview. Every statement which I made was countered by her. But I kept calm and eventually made it to my dream B-School.
Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2020.
A: The 5 tips I would like to share for the candidates preparing for CAT:
- If you spoil one of the sections, forget about it and brace yourself for what's coming next.
- If the questions are hard for you, it will be hard for the other test takers and hence you should always focus on maximizing your marks
- Practise by giving as many mocks as you can
- Analyse your mistakes and avoid doing the same mistakes again
- If you are not able to crack the CAT in the first go, don't get disheartened. Try again and quit only when the happiness and the desire of belling CAT < Fear of Failing
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.
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