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CAT 2020: Top Tips from a Topper | Chhavi Gupta: All India Topper (female) & 100 %iler

Jagranjosh welcomes a CAT 100 percentile, Ms. Chhavi Gupta, who has pursued her engineering from IIT Delhi followed by MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and is currently a Senior Associate at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). She is also an All India Topper among Women in CAT 2017. Apart from her excellent academic achievements, she was actively associated with Career guidance, mentoring, through her own YouTube channel and other Social Media handles such as Instagram, LinkedIn etc. Her hobbies include reading, work-out, social interactions (career guidance). 

Let’s find out from her what it takes to Bell the CAT and to make it to the country’s top B-school. Read the detailed interview in which she shares practical tips for the CAT 2020 aspirants to appear for the exam on the D-day and her experience about the life post MBA. 

Q1. This year CAT exam has taken a different form and will be conducted by IIM Indore in 3 sessions. What time management strategies would you like give to the aspirants to appear for the exam this year?

The change in the CAT exam pattern is primarily because of the COVID19 Pendamic and as a part of maintaining social distance among the aspirants at the CAT test centres. However, there are several implications on the aspirants regarding the changes being introduced. For say, candidates are not sure about the no. of questions to be asked in each CAT exam section. Therefore, follow the advice of the CAT 100 percentiler, as mentioned below:- 

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Understanding CAT Exam Pattern:-

  1. In CAT 2020, the sectional timeline has been reduced to 40 minutes from 60 minutes
  2. As a consequence, the no. of questions to be asked are also expected to reduce this year
  3. It is important for the candidates to understand that the time they will get per question to solve it

For example

Take for an example if the candidate gets 34 questions in the quant section that are to be solved in 60 minutes, this indicates that the time available per questions is 1.5 to 2 minutes. However, with the new time limit candidates can expect 24-25 questions to be solved in 40 minutes which also comes to a similar standard of 1.5-2 minutes per question. 

No. of Questions

Time Limit

Time allotted per question

34

60

1.5-2 minutes

24-25

40

1.5-2 minutes

Therefore, candidates are advised to carefully read the CAT exam instructions provided at the beginning of the exam and identify the time per question available with them. 

Candidates should overcome the mental hurdle of facing the new exam pattern. With the reduced time limit, it is easy to prepare a strategy of solving the questions on the spot if candidates can identify the time available per question to solve it. 

Candidates are advised to appear for CAT Mock tests in order to make a calculative move to solve all questions within the available time limit

Q2. IIMs have released CAT exam day important Do’s and Don’ts for the aspirants. Apart from these can you suggest any exam day strategies to the aspirants based on your past experience?

Here are some important tips suggested by Chhavi to the candidates for the D-day (29th November 2020):-

  1. Chhavi advises aspirants to be Punctual and adhere to the CAT exam reporting time mentioned on the CAT Admit Card. Candidates shall reach CAT test centre on the reporting time mentioned for their respective time slot. 
  2. Figure out the Logistics - Figure out the mode of commuting to the CAT test centre and the time it takes to reach the test venue. 
  3. If you practice mocks at the slot being allotted to you for the CAT exam, you will be able to fine attune your body’s biological clock to work at its maximum on the D-day. 

At the Test Center

Candidates are advised to take note of the following tips to excel in the exam:-

  1. Identify your seat and observe the surroundings noise, light and other ergonomics carefully
  2. Get accustomed to the external/random noise so that there are no distractions later on, and it is easy to give 100% focus on the exam. 
  3. Check the computer hardware properly 
  4. Enquire for Pen and paper and keep a water bottle at a convenient position
  5. It is crucial for the aspirants to focus only on their own performance and ignore the pessimistic thoughts. Stay positive and give your best. 

Q3. Please suggest some quick last-minute tips preferably section-wise which aspirants should keep in mind before appearing for the CAT exam.

Firstly understand that CAT exam is an aptitude based exam and it takes considerable time and effort to show improvement and excellence in the VARC and LRDI section. Therefore, if candidates have already put enough effort into improving their progress in each section then they shouldn’t worry about the end result. 

  1. Candidates are advised not to ‘Pressurize’ themselves to perform well. It is essential to overcome your mental blocks to perform well on the D-day. 
  2. Revise a few important concepts quickly at the last minute
  3. Revise your formulae sheet to memorise formulas to perform well in the Quant and LRDI section
  4. Appear for quick Sectional-tests related to VARC, LRDI and Quantitative Ability section
  5. Solve at least one mock test of time avails and remember not to take any stress with the score you achieve in your last mock test. 
  6. Aspirants are advised to appear for the mock test on the timing similar to the actual exam time slot as this will enhance your brainpower. 
  7. On the exam day, follow the strategy that you have been following to solve the exam in the last few months. 
  8. Ensure you get good 6-8 hours sleep before the D-day. 

Q4. As you were a 100 percentiler and an All Indian Women’s topper in CAT 2017, so as a women youth icon what advice would you like to share with the female CAT aspirants this year?

Chhavi says that females, in general, are raised within the patriarchal boundaries of the society in a manner that they lack self-confidence in general as compared to their male counterpart. On the contrary, males receive more appreciation for their accomplishments than females. Therefore, IM topper advises female candidates that:-

  1. Females candidates should trust and believe in their own skills, hard work, and capabilities 
  2. Female aspirants should believe that they carry tremendous potential, capabilities and they only need to bring that out to the World. 
  3. Another myth that restricts females from growing is that they think there is male dominance in the top B-schools. On the contrary, this ratio is changing every year. Back in 2017, only 33% of females were pursuing an MBA in the top B-schools and since then the female-to-male ratio is improving year-on-year basis.
  4. Concluding, she says that females must work hard to get admission in the top B-school and the best company that they want to achieve the best in life. 

Q5. You have transitioned very successfully into the Post-MBA job role, would you like to share some insights about your journey so far to guide the future MBA aspirants?

As a CAT alumnus, Chhavi often finds candidates being inquisitive about the life they would get to pursue post MBA. She shares that the MBA colleges in which you get admission are the door of opportunities where once an aspirant enters, will meet a plethora of opportunities. One can pursue various case studies, competitions, and should focus on grooming personality. 

Just like any MBA fresher, Chhavi also had different opportunities available and she zeroed down on what works best to fulfill her career aspirations and that is how she landed with a career in Consulting. 

However, with most aspirants out there, they choose different area during the Summer Internships and then eventually shift to some different field in their MBA final placement round. So do not think that if you don’t have a concrete plan to pursue post-MBA life then you are someone weird. 

Explore what the world has to offer and just decide then itself based on your experience. MBA prepares candidates for the corporate world and boosts confidence to face the challenges in any field as you undergo rigorous training. 

Q6. Ongoing Pandemic has caused significant academic disruptions, students are struggling to acclimatize to this new normal, what has been your experience, and which coping strategies will your suggest to our viewers?

Agreeing to what has been asked from her, it’s not just the students who are struggling but everyone is facing a lot of disruptions in their lives in terms of:-

  1. Loneliness
  2. Depression
  3. Uncertainty about the future

However, in the current circumstances, academics progress is getting back on track with a shift in the modal of teaching which has completely gone ‘Online’. 

Therefore, to reduce the negative vibes and to ward off stress, candidates are advised to follow these tips:-

  1. Try to organise quick and virtual catch-up with friends, family members, new people online. 
  2. Log in to apps that enhance your personal growth
  3. Spend good time with family
  4. Enroll for online courses, certifications
  5. Participate in virtual internships matching your skills
  6. Pursue a hobby of your own

Chhavi runs a YouTube channel on which she posts content often and that has helped her stay motivated, engaged and has also helped her gain traction from new users, viewers. During the lockdown, she pursued this hobby to keep herself abreast with the trend. 

The overall objective is to motivate the candidates to focus more on increasing the array of skills and enhance their experience and learning while being at home.

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