CAT 2018 Exam Topper Interview: After the CAT 2018 results, the next big thing which became the point of fascination for the MBA aspirants was to find out about the CAT toppers and their success mantra. Coming from an expert and especially those candidates who have a first-hand experience with one of the toughest MBA entrance exams of India, listening to the advices and success mantra of the toppers, is quite resourceful for the ones preparing for the CAT exam.
Meet 99.99 percentiler, Purav Gandhi, who has shared his exclusive interview with jagranjosh.com and find out how he aced the CAT exam this year.
Q1. Congrats on scoring 100 percentile in the CAT 2018 exam. Tell us something about yourself, your family and your interests beyond academics?
Purav Gandhi is a 21 year old Gujarati who has been born and brought up in Mumbai. He is currently in the 4th year of B. Tech in Computer Science at IIT Bombay. A family of 5, Purav stays with his grandmother, parents and brother. His father is the CI of Piramal group and mother is a homemaker. His younger brother is currently in second year of his studies at IIT Bombay. Apart from academics, he is passionate about football and serves as a goal keeper of the IIT Bombay football team for the past two years.
Q2. What was your overall strategy to crack the CAT exam?
His advice to all CAT aspirants would be with regards to time management during preparation and during exam. He feels that during preparation, time management is the key for both the working individual and college students. It is very important to manage work study balance. Another thing which is very important is consistency. He advises candidates to take mock tests consistently. At the end he feels that it is important to remain calm and appear in the exam without any stress.
Q3. CAT Exam has 3 major sections. Which sections were challenging for you to prepare? And what strategy did you adopt to prepare well for that section?
While appearing for the mock tests, Purav realised that he had been scoring good consistently in the QA section. However in the DILR section, the scores were inconsistent. Out of all, the most challenging section was VARC. RC was still manageable but in VA sometimes I was getting only less than 50 percent marks. Purav focused on the weekly mock tests for the three months leading up to the exam. In addition to giving the tests, he had spent a lot of time in analyzing the aspects which went wrong while appearing for the exams. He appeared for the sectional tests in order to strengthen the weaker section which was VARC. He also watched video lectures of CAT professors to strengthen the VA section.
Q4. Did you take any coaching for the exam? If yes, how helpful did it prove to be?
Purav did not take any coaching; rather he enrolled for the TIME test series which are called AIMCATs. These test series helped him strengthen the weaker area which was VARC and also gave him practice for DILR. Another useful tool in this was the 'Time Spent Analysis' helped him manage time better during CAT mock tests.
Q5. What were your last minute strategies before appearing in the CAT exam?
To all aspirants, Purav wants to share the message that “CAT is not an exam for which you can prepare very quickly. CAT is an exam which tests you verbal skills, logical skills, and mathematical skills. And it takes time to develop these skills. So, in case anyone wants to do last minute preparation I would suggest that you revise your mathematical formulae.” Before appearing for the exam, Purav had a light breakfast, a light lunch so that he doesn’t feel sleepy during the exam. Alongside, it is important to remain calm and clear headed.
Q6. Beyond the MBA exam preparation, what should be the right approach to attempt the CAT exam on the D-day? For say, how can an aspirant avoid negative marking?
He believes that it is important to remain calm and stress free on the exam day. Secondly, time management is of utmost importance. Choose questions wisely that you want to solve in your 3 hour time span. As per his experience, in each section be it VA, QA or DILR there are generally 12 to 15 tricky questions which most of the students get wrong and are very time consuming. Leave those 40 questions odd questions because the rest 60 questions are solvable and turn into 180 marks. Scoring 180 marks will easily get an aspirant a 99 percentile and calls from the top IIMs.
Q7. You have an engineering background. Do you feel that this qualification gave you an edge to prepare for the CAT exam?
In Purav’s opinion, it is a myth that engineering students have an unfair advantage. However, during the 4 years of engineering, candidates are not been taught about the concepts of QA and DILR which can help in cracking the CAT exam. It is the base knowledge which starts developing since class 11th and 12th. The only merit with the engineers is that that they are in constant touch with tough mathematics. On the contrary, engineers have trouble with VARC section. To improve that section takes hard work to outperform in CAT exam.
Q8. Which institutes are you targeting and why?
He is targeting IIM Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Calcutta in that order. Ahmadabad for its high reputation and its diverse curriculum. Banglore because of its good alumni network and being close ad being the tech hub of the country and Calcutta for being a premier financial institution.
Q9. Pls suggest some tips for the future CAT aspirants who are aspiring to get a 100 percentile in the exam.
His advice for all CAT aspirants would is about the time management aspect during the preparation stage and even while appearing in the exam. It is very important to manage work and study balance for working professionals and college students. Another important aspect is consistency; it is not enough that you do well in one test and then do badly for the next three tests. Try to get good scores consistently. Try to get a good rank consistently in your test series. Be calm; don't stress out because that will in turn affect morale and your confidence on the exam day.