Common Aptitude Test or CAT as its commonly known is one of the most popular management entrance tests in the country. The CAT management entrance exam is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, the top b-schools in the country. Hence, lakhs of students appear in the CAT entrance exams every year however, it's only a select few who are able to make the cut to the elite list of the CAT Toppers.
Cracking the CAT entrance is no easy task however there are many candidates who have achieved this feat in their very first attempt of CAT. Shaumik Daityari is one of these candidates, he is an IIT Roorkee Alumini and he made it to the elite list of CAT toppers in the CAT 2014 with a score of 99.86 percentile. In this interview, Daityari has shared some of his CAT preparation secrets that lead to his success in the CAT 2014.
Jagranjosh.com: Why don't you tell us something about yourself and your family?
Shaumik Daityari: My name is Shaumik Daityari and I am currently in my final year of Integrated M.Tech. in Geological Technology at IIT Roorkee. Born and brought up in Assam, I have always harboured an inquisitive attitude. Being involved in various extracurricular activities in college, I ventured into the world of web development and freelance writing.
Jagranjosh.com: What other interests do you have beyond your academics?
Shaumik Daityari: That’s a tough question because I like doing so many things that I am never left with any free time! I believe freelance writing tops all my other activities. Background reading for my writings take up a huge chunk of my time too. Quora has been a fairly recent addition to my life, which helps me learn about a variety of random topics. Apart from that, I tune in to the occasional football game in the weekend to support my team. I love travelling too, having covered most parts of Uttarakhand during my college years. The hobbies section would be incomplete without the mention of the mobile app that I am forced to use to keep track of the number of TV series that I follow.
Jagranjosh.com: Why did you decide to go for MBA program after Engineering?
Shaumik Daityari: I believe the career paths of most people are nonlinear. During my college days, I discovered my flair for web development (which in turn, introduced me to freelance writing) and got selected for the Google Summer of Code program twice. I also got a taste of entrepreneurship, which I believe is the way forward. An MBA is definitely not a necessity for pursuing my dreams, but I know that this is probably the right time to go for it considering my age and eagerness to learn.
Jagranjosh.com: What was your strategy for CAT preparation?
Shaumik Daityari: I decided that I would go for an MBA during my prefinal year. Many of my seniors had received great scores before (including 99.99 percentile), which is why I had a rough idea of the syllabus. Looking at the Quant and DI section, I realized I didn’t really need classroom coaching for it. I just needed to improve my accuracy and speed. In the Verbal section, I figured that a little improvement of the vocabulary was necessary. I ordered two books that covered all the topics in general and contained questions already asked in CAT to start my preliminary preparation. In July, I enrolled in a free test series by BullsEye. They upgraded my guest account to one with full access under their scholarship program, which gave me access to almost 50 mock CATs over the duration of the course. In mid September (two months before the CAT), I also enrolled with Career Launcher for their test series, as I felt I had grown too comfortable with the BullsEye test series.
My objective by giving so many mock tests was to get familiar with the test pattern. Just appearing for the mocks is not enough, you need to carefully analyse where you committed mistakes.
I also figured out what my approach to the whole exam would be. I started with the Verbal section in my initial tests, but grew comfortable with attempting the Quant section first over time as I had started committing too many errors in the Verbal section.
One should also be flexible and be prepared to change the strategy during the exam as the actual CAT exam may be quite different from your mocks. For instance, at the back of my mind, I thought 150 was a good score for 99 percentile when the exam started, but it turned out the Quant section was relatively easy and my scaled score was 226 for an overall 99.86 percentile.
People often ask whether it’s good to take rest in the days leading up to the exam. Although it varies from person to person, I appeared for a mock test every day at 3 pm in the 10 days leading up to the exam (keeping tabs on my fatigue level too). I made the mock test at 3 pm an essential part of my day.
Jagranjosh.com: Which sections of CAT were your strength and which were your weak areas?
Shaumik Daityari: With the kind of an exam that CAT is, I wouldn’t classify anything as my strength. I believed RCs to my strength to such an extent that during my initial mock tests, I would attempt all RCs. Eventually, my accuracy dropped. So, tackling every problem with respect was something that I learnt.
The same kind of logic applied to my weaknesses too. Given enough time, every CAT problem was solvable. So the trick was to leave questions that would take too much time to solve and come back to them later. Considering individual types of problems, my accuracy was in between 60-80% for all topics, which shows that nothing was truly my strength or weakness.
Appearing for a lot of mocks, I did get comfortable with a few types of questions though. Geometry and mensuration were my favourite problems. On the other hand, I didn’t particularly love solving DI and LR sets as they required an extra level of concentration on my part (although solving them would get me through a 3 or 4 question set).
Jagranjosh.com: Do you think taking coaching classes is necessary to crack CAT?
Shaumik Daityari: For engineering students, it’s not necessary. The Quant section contains problems that we learn in high school, which leaves the necessity to improve our accuracy and speed which you gain only through practice. On the other hand, no classroom coaching can help you get well in the Verbal section unless you put in some considerable effort yourself. And if you put that considerable effort, the same classroom coaching is not necessary!
Jagranjosh.com: Which IIM is your choice and why?
Shaumik Daityari: Since I didn’t get a call from IIM Bangalore, that is out of the picture. I would give IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta the highest preference, although I haven’t decided which one to choose in case I get selected for both. I would not focus on rankings but the profiles of individual professors to make a final decision.
Jagranjosh.com: How do you think the current change in CAT Exam pattern will impact the performance?
Shaumik Daityari: Had there been a change at the last moment, say a week before the exam, perhaps it would have affected a part of the test takers. However, as we knew about the new pattern well in
advance and every one had to appear for the same pattern, there was enough time to adapt to the new pattern. Compared to CAT 2013, this year’s CAT gave us more freedom to attempt questions at our own pace. But, if you were not careful you could end up wasting more time in flipping through the sections. Since we were given enough time after the announcement, people who were serious about the CAT must have figured out the best strategy with this pattern.
Jagranjosh.com: What is your advice to the CAT aspirants?
Shaumik Daityari: If you are reading this and you want to appear for the next CAT, do not follow my footsteps. CAT is a very different exam from engineering entrances and there is no fixed path. Try to find your weaknesses and work on them, honing your strengths at the same time too. No special talent is required to crack the CAT, just some determination and hard work should get you to your goal fairly easily.
Jagranjosh.com: What was your preparation methodology for WAT & PI process?
Shaumik Daityari: The CAT was the elimination round, whereas the WAT and PI process is the selection round making it all the more important. The WAT is often underestimated by students, but it has a
10-15% weightage for each college. Writing in clear and concise language, expressing your thoughts in a logical way is necessary for this task. There is no fixed “syllabus” for the PI, which is what makes it very interesting. Ideally, if you a mechanical engineering student, they won’t ask you Biotechnology. In general, whatever you have learnt in school, graduation, work experience, projects and extra curriculars, along with current affairs (which in itself is a vast topic) should suffice. Knowing a bit about everything is generally better to get the conversation started, after which you can steer it your way. Besides, there are some standard questions like “Tell us about yourself?”, “Why MBA now?” and “What
are your weaknesses?” that you should prepare beforehand.
So here's all the Shaumik had to share about his preparation strategy for the CAT 2014 exam. If you'd like to read more such CAT toppers interview or receive any other MBA news visit our website, www.jagranjosh.com.
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