Before starting CAT preparation or dreaming to get admission in IIMs, one must take three oaths.
Paheli Kasam [First Oath]
There are two types of CAT aspirants.
- Those who’re sharp in maths so they just keep doing maths 24/7 because it feels “good“, but don’t touch the English portion. (Vocabulary, Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension)
- Those who’re weak in maths (myself included), so they just keep doing maths 24/7 in hope to master it.
Both approaches are wrong – CAT is not made up of maths only. There exists a section II (30 questions) on English! So be well prepared for both.So you first oath must be:
I’ll prepare well for both sections and won’t become a quant-maniac..
Dursi Kasam [Second Oath]
From Auguest to November, Most CAT aspirants donot prepare GK, Current affairs, group discussion or profile based interview questions.
They wait until they recieve the interview calls from IIMs and other assorted MBA factories. This is second mistake, you start preparing for GDPI only in January-February and your interview is in March – you cannot do justice to every topic in such a short time. So daily newspaper reading, business GK etc is must throughout the year. And by Newspapers, I mean The Hindu or Indianexpress only.
I’ll read newspapers Daily. + I’ll note down the difficult words in a diary to expand my vocabulary.
Teesri Kasam [Third Oath]
Many CAT aspirants start feeling guilty and insecure because of their pathetic scores in 10,12 and college graduation, lack of extra curricular certificates, no work experiance etc.etc.etc. It affects their performance indirectly, during the interview. You must remember that there are people who get admissions in IIMs, despite all of above shortcomings. (Just try to score as high as you can in CAT, to compensate whatever few marks you’re loosing the “profile-weightage” and be thoroughly prepared for GDPI.) If your 10,12 and graduation marks are bogus, you cannot go back in time machine and fix it. So please stop feeling guilty or inferior for that.
And thus, the third and final Oath:
I shall not feel guilty about myself for whatever I’ve done or haven’t done.
Now talking about the CAT booklist and strategy. Google search will throw up all the “ideal strategies” for CAT preparation, but many of them are just ‘ideal but impractical‘.
So here I’m sharing my “ragtag” strategy for CAT success (or atleast getting 95+ percentile), based on my misadventures in CAT-2011.
I gave first CAT in 2011 and was totally (and that means totally) lame in aptitude stuff.
Just 4-months of preparation and coaching from TIME: 2 hours lectures, 3 days per week. (Not a fan of coaching myself but given the short amount of time before exam and absolutely no idea about how to prepare for CAT, I had no choice.)
The so called “ideal strategies” on google, prescribe following but I didnot do any of it.
- I Didnot read any philosophy books, novels for “Reading Comprehension” practice. (there is hardly any time left to breath, let alone browse through Alchemist and similar stuff)
- I Didnot prepare any dictionary / list for vocabulary.
- I Didnot try any method for ‘speed-reading’.
- Had totally bogus AIMCAT scores 6, 9 etc, never did ‘post-analysis’ of questions and later stopped giving them altogether, as they were wasting my time and hurting my confidence.
- Skipped trigonometry, coordinate geometry, games n tournaments and any topic that I couldn’t grasp on first two tries or anything that wouldnot go in my long term memory.
- Didnot do much arithmatic series and logarithm. because most of them would require application of some special ‘magic-move’, which won’t go my long term memory.
- Am still confused about Chinese remainder theorem.
- Skipped most of Pagalguy quant/LR threads & discussions. (Well most of their sums go above my head anyways.)
- Can’t do much speed-maths or mental calculation of percentages for DI/Quant.
- Can’t solve most quant-problems without filling up half page+ calculation: Was scolded many times by the coach that I use pen ‘too-much’ for CAT standards.
- Don’t know squares upto 50.
- Can remember multiplication table upto 25, but 13,14,17,18,19,23 still give nightmares.
- I did solve Arun Sharma’s book on Quantitive Aptitude (TMH publication) (done twice)
- I did solve and Sarvesh Kumar’s Quantam CAT (Arihant Publication) (done twice)
- I did solve Demystifying Number System by Nishit K Sinha (Pearson Publication). (done twice)
- I did read Word power made easy by Norman Louis (not done twice, only once.)
- I did all questions from booklets & handouts given from the coaching class (done twice).
- Please note: IF you’re not a student of TIME coaching class, you can still get their study material at a very convinient price from Flipkart. Here is the link: http://www.flipkart.com/author/time
- I noted down the methods of solving questions (weight-misuse by shopkeeper, allegation etc) from them and kept revising the ‘moves’.
- Last 15 days before exam: only did online sectional tests @TIME website. (not Aimcats).
- Even in those online sectional-tests, I would get Quant/DI/sentence correction answers incorrect most of the time, but it taught me the hard way about :
- which questions to attempt and what to skip altogether because you get in wrong everytime (sentence correction in my case)
- and which questions take too much time to solve (LR sitting arrangement, DI graphs in my case).
- Also whenever and wherever I solved any question (be it maths or english grammaer), If I made mistake or had trouble solving it, then I would note it down in my “diary of mistakes for future revision.
- Similarly I would note down the difficult words I came across during daily-newspaper reading and find their meaning using a free software called “Wordweb” – and noted down those meanings in a diary.
- Total 3 full-scape notebooks filled up in this exercise. 2 for maths, 1 for English grammar & vocabulary. Kept revising it in last days.
- I got overall 96.00 percentile : Attempt 44/60
- QA: 90.41 : Attempt 17/30
- VA: 97.05 : Attempt 27/30
- Anyways 96 percentile feels good only for a few days – bragging in front of friends and relatives, otherwise 96 is as bogus as 55 percentile – can’t get you admission / interview call in any big IIMs. (Especially when you don’t have those fancy paper certificates to prove work-ex and extra-curricular activities and no good marks in 10, 12th and college and GDPI turns into a fish market.) So try to work harder than I did.
My articles on “Aptitude Made Easy without Formulas” can be accessed by clicking ME
All the best to all CAT aspirants of 2012.