CAT is one of the toughest management entrance exam in the country. It's not uncommon to see students struggling with their preparation strategy for the exam. They are often confused about the what's best approach to preparing themselves for one of the most important MBA entrance in the country. And even about which strategy best suits their needs.
To help the students overcome their anxiety and worries regarding their CAT preparation we have here CAT 2014 Topper Akash Gupta. He is an IIT Kharagpur student and cracked the CAT 2014 in his very first attempt with an impressive 99.94 percentile. With calls from almost every top IIM, Akash shares some of the tips from his preparation strategy in this interview with us to help other MBA aspirants.
Jagranjosh.com: Why don't you tell us something about yourself and your family?
Akash Gupta: I am Akash Gupta, a final year chemical engineering student at IIT Kharagpur. Having done all my schooling from my hometown Gwalior, IIT Kharagpur offered me a chance to explore myself. The multitude of opportunities available here had a profound impact on my personality. A keen MBA aspirant, I am eagerly waiting for my IIM Interview results.
Jagranjosh.com: What other interests do you have beyond your academics?
Akash Gupta: I am an avid follower of cricket and also I like to read a lot about things that are happenings in and around the world. I am however, not a big cinema buff, but I do make time to watch good projects. Apart from this, I like to listen to music some of my favourite bands include Queen, Scorpions and Linkin Park and others.
Jagranjosh.com: Why did you decide to go for MBA program after Engineering?
Akash Gupta: Being a person who wants to delve into new dimensions of life, I feel that a career switch for me is imminent. I strongly believe that it is the farmers who lay the foundation of our country; the doctors, teachers and engineers who are responsible for its development; but it is the managers who really make a difference. My graduation in Chemical Engineering which is a production based discipline lays a very strong foundation for a Post-graduation in management. A post-graduation in the field of consumer goods and marketing will only improve my knowledge and skills.
Jagranjosh.com: What was your overall strategy to prepare for the CAT?
Akash Gupta: I had started my preparation for the CAT quite late and thus, I did not have much time at hand. So, my strategy was pretty much target oriented. I made weekly scheduled instead of allotting a fixed time for particular topics, however, I did ensure that I devoted each topic as much time as I need to finish it. I basically adopted a balanced approach. I scheduled smaller chapters of one section with the larger chapters of another section. It helped me avoid putting any unneccesary burden on myself. All together I devoted about 4-5 hours each day for about 3 months to prepare for the CAT. On the weekend, I used to follow up on the topics that I had already covered during the week. I also adopted some section wise strategies to further strengthen my preparation.
Logical Reasoning: Since LR is a very dynamic section. I initially covered all the general topics. After which, I directed my efforts to solve some unorthodox problems from various sources.
Data Interpretation: It was one of my strengths. I took up DI only after I completed the basic requirements for DI in QA section viz percentage, ratio and proportion, preliminary algebra etc. After which it was- Practice! Practice! Practice!
Quantitative Aptitude: This is the area I liked the most. I enjoyed solving questions from QA. Since, this is a very huge section. I used to divide big chapters into smaller sub-chapters. My approach was- study the theory and then attempt the questions from that sub-section. On finishing all the sub-chapters I used to revise the theory again and then finally I used to start with the combined exercises.
Verbal Ability: VA is the section for which any amount of preparation is not enough. You need to be confident about your answer. It either is the answer or it is not, there is no scope of doubt. My approach was simple- read from as many topics as you can. This approach not only vitalizes your reading skills but also boosts the confidence. Other than that, it was the regular- topic wise question practice.
Jagranjosh.com: Which sections of CAT were your strength and which were your weak areas?
Akash Gupta: I felt confident in my preparation for most of the CAT syllabus. And while QA, DI and LR were my strengths I was a little sketchy in VA. However, not so such much as to call the VA section my weak area.
Jagranjosh.com: Do you think taking coaching classes is necessary to crack CAT?
Akash Gupta: No, I don't think coaching classes are at all necessary to crack CAT. I myself never took any coaching while preparing for the CAT 2014. And yet I successfully cracked it with a score of 99.94 percentile with only 3 months of preparation.
Jagranjosh.com: Which IIM would you prefer to take admission in and why?
Akash Gupta: IIM Ahmedabad, simply because it is the best management Institute in the country.
Jagranjosh.com: Please share your preparation methodology for WAT & PI process.
Akash Gupta: Personal Interviews are very dynamic in nature. You cannot predict beforehand in what direction it will go. But broadly the areas I focused on as a part of my PI preparation were- graduation subjects, curricular and extracurricular activities, current affairs, hobbies, family and hometown background, history of the current city and state and then there were HR questions as well like- why MBA? What are your short term and long term goals? Etc. Work experience is also an area from where questions are asked, but being a fresher, I did not need to worry about it.
As far as WATs are concerned, the topic could be anything. I made three broad categories - Abstract, Contemporary and Generic and wrote at least 1 essay on the topics belonging to each of these categories. Apart from that, I and my friends used to have frequent GD sessions where we used to discuss these topics. Though GDs are not part of the admission process anymore, except IIM L, the discussion provided us with beautiful insights into the various topics we discussed.
Jagranjosh.com: How do you think the current change in CAT Exam pattern will impact the performance?
Akash Gupta: CAT is not a test to prove your mettle in specific subjects; you need to prove your overall ability. With the recent change in pattern, a student has on an average 102 seconds to answer all the questions. This has surely affected the difficulty level of the examination. While until last year accuracy was the determining factor, CAT 2014 was a balanced test with proper balance between speed and accuracy. It won’t have any significant impact on performance as such, but aspirants will need to make speed an important factor in their preparation strategy.
Jagranjosh.com: What is your advice to the CAT aspirants?
Akash Gupta: There is no universal preparation strategy for CAT. It depends on the candidate only. The syllabus is nothing new, everything is based on the topics we learned at the high school level, only the approach is different. Don’t follow the herd. Take a few mocks without any preparation, and see where you stand. Categorize the topics as strong, moderate, weak and null and then plan accordingly. Try not to leave any topic, with 50 questions in a section there is high chance that almost all of the topics will be covered. If you feel you need coaching, join one. If you feel group study is the way to go, do it. If you think you should do it alone, go for it. Don’t put extra burden on yourself. Answer questions depending on your level of confidence on the topics, rather than the feasibility of the answers. Set subject goals, not time ones. Lastly, practice as much as you can!
So, here's all the Akash had to share from his experience in the CAT and the preparation strategy that he adopted for the CAT 2014. For more such tips and advice from CAT toppers and other important news regarding MBA keep visiting the MBA section on our website www.jagrajosh.com.
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