After the IIFT results were announced in January this year, I received a barrage of messages on Facebook from shortlisted candidates who wanted me to help them prepare for their interviews – turned out that all of them had read my answers on Quora. I had extremely mixed feelings about this. At first, I was chuffed that these candidates wanted me to help them out. Later, I started getting a bit annoyed by the sheer number of messages but I’d still try to take out time and help everyone out nonetheless because I could empathize with them. I can still clearly remember how I used to scour through Quora, Facebook and Pagalguy in search of tips and advice of any sort. Somewhere along the way, I thought that writing a blog post about my own preparation for CAT and the ensuing interviews might prove useful to some candidates somewhere along the line. This is that post…
When did you start preparing for MBA entrance examinations?
Sometime in my fifth semester of engineering, I decided that I wanted to do an MBA straight after my undergrad. I joined TIME Trivandrum and started attending their CAT classes on weekends from November 2015 onwards (and wrote CAT/IIFT in December 2016).
I don’t think it is necessary to join coaching classes to prepare for CAT/IIFT/XAT and it can easily be managed on your own. However, I tend to procrastinate very often, and hence, decided that attending classes and having a peer group would serve as motivation.
Why did you decide to join TIME instead of X,Y,Z?
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Honestly, it’s because there weren’t any good alternatives in Trivandrum. TIME Trivandrum had also built up a pretty good track record over the past few years. It’s always best to try speaking to your college seniors or other acquaintances who have already attended such classes to gauge how good they are.
Did you do extra reading of any sort to prepare for VA/RC?
Not really. I didn’t really feel the need to do too much extra reading since VA/RC was easily my strongest section.
I tried reading Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis but never managed to finish it because I found it boring and repetitive after a certain point of time. However, I recommend that you try reading it because it’ll help you to start thinking about words in a certain way. You can easily pick up second-hand copies from book stalls in your town. Or order one from Amazon!
I also used to read articles posted on Arts & Letters Daily (www.aldaily.com). Most of the articles posted there are extremely dense and long-winded, which is exactly why you should make reading them a habit. I strongly believe that if you can read an AL Daily article in one sitting without much effort, CAT RC passages will become a piece of cake for you! For this, you slowly need to build your endurance over time. So, do try and read one article per day – without fail!
It’s also very important to develop an understanding of what is happening in the world around you – and this isn’t just to clear the GK cut-off in the IIFT entrance examinations. This will be useful for all your interviews and group discussions for admissions as well as placements, and will stand you in good stead later on in your careers as well. Apps like InShorts and Knappily can help you get started, but nothing beats reading articles straight from newspapers and magazines. I personally like reading The Hindu, The Economist, The Washington Post and The New Yorker.
Did you attend all the CAT coaching classes at TIME? Did you adopt any strategy with respect to the classes and course material?
I tried being as regular as possible with the weekend coaching classes as well the mock CATs that were scheduled regularly. I made it a point to go over every question that was discussed in class or that came up in an AIMCAT until I was sure that I could attempt it if a similar question ever did come up. I felt that was the least that I could do since I was spending around 8-9 hours every weekend on CAT classes and mocks.
I believe that you ought to spend at least as much time analyzing your mocks as you spend attempting them. Go over the solutions to all the questions because you might find a better way of approaching even the ones that you got right on your own. None of the questions in CAT/IIFT/XAT are that hard per se, but what matters more than anything is speed and accuracy. Technique and practice hence become the most important aspects of your preparation. At one point, I even started playing Sudoku to improve my concentration skills.
I was almost obsessive about my performance in AIMCATs and I even maintained a spreadsheet in which I tracked my performance regularly. It helped me stay on course with my CAT prep, while simultaneously handling my undergrad college life. You can take a look at the sheet by clicking here.
(Subsequent parts will be posted soon! If you have any questions that you’d like to ask me, please do post a comment here)
Reps. Reps, Reps (Of Dollars and Data)
Why Procrastinators Procrastinate (Wait But Why)