Shikhar Sachdeva : ABOUT ME
At the time of writing this answer, I am a final year student at DTU. CAT 2017 was my first attempt, and I scored 99.98 percentile (scaled score – 222.81). My sectionals are: VARC – 98.15 (71.07), LRDI – 99.76 (53.68), QA – 100 (98.09). My past academic record is: Class 10th – 10 CGPA, Class 12th – 95%, Grad – 77% (up to 7th semester).
In the days after the CAT 2017 result got announced, I got hundreds of queries from friends, seniors, juniors and random people from across the wide internet. So I decided to post an answer on a public platform, so that it may be used by anyone wishing to excel at CAT.
This was my first attempt at CAT. I do not claim to be an expert. This answer simply lists my own views and things which helped me succeed at CAT. Different things might apply to different people.
I began my preparation in August 2016, at the beginning of my 3rd year. I was a classroom student at TIME Delhi. Simultaneously I joined the Facebook groupQuanta ( ), which was a group for like-minded CAT aspirants. I think iQuanta played the biggest role in my preparation. Even when I couldn’t go to classes due to exams or other reasons, I kept solving questions on the group.
Moreover, I was pretty good at Maths and English ever since my school days, owing in most part to JEE and board exam prep. This also made it easier for me to face DI sets. So basically my weakest section when I started out was LRDI, and especially LR.
Initially, I spent most of my time strengthening the QA section, often neglecting the other sections. This became a problem for me once the mock season started because even though I was doing well in QA and VARC, my LRDI scores were lagging far behind. Another reason was that I had no defined strategy for LRDI, and hence I often went haywire if I had to face a difficult set. So August 2017 onward, I spent most of my time on LRDI, solving questions and developing my own strategies.
I did not spend much time studying from books. I’ve always believed that practice is the best form of preparation. So I invested most of my time in doing practice questions and giving mocks, and as I said solving questions on iQuanta. Giving mocks is probably the most important thing one has to do in their CAT preparation. It prepares you for all sorts of possibilities.
IMPORTANCE OF COACHING
I took coaching. I was part of the classroom course at one of the most renowned institutes. And personally, I’ve come to feel that classroom coaching is not necessary for CAT. There are amazing web courses available like iQuanta, at a fraction of the price of the classroom courses. The best strategy for an aspirant would be to take 2 mock series from renowned institutes, 1 booklet series, and then make use of any one web course. I’ve myself found iQuanta () to be the best in their domain.
SECTION WISE STRATEGY
So keeping that background in mind, here are some tips and tricks, advice and suggestions, that helped me get a high score. Keep in mind that no trick is a substitute for hard work.
Each and every aspirant would have one or two strong sections, and the other not-so-strong or weak sections. If it is your strongest area, make it your fort. No matter how difficult the questions, they shouldn’t be able to budge you.
VARC – This looks like it is the easiest section, and often it is. After all, we’ve all learned English all through our education. But it isn’t. And for most people, it is really difficult to differentiate between an easy, and a tricky section.
- To improve at VARC, the first step is to improve your reading speed. Because you cannot do well in this section unless you can go through all 34 questions. So read a lot. Any source whatsoever. Prefer to use diverse sources to improve your domain knowledge of various fields at the same time. Quora is a wonderful resource, use it.
- Most of the practice that one needs for this section can be gained from mocks, and you can improve immensely if you work hard.
LRDI – This is the weakest section for most, if not all aspirants. And frankly speaking, there is no book or mock series available that can prepare you for CAT level LRDI. But what can prepare you is having a good strategy.
- My strategy was that even before starting with the first set, I read all of the 8 sets, and set a priority order in which I was going to attempt them. This usually takes about 5-6 mins, but that time is worth spending. In a CAT-like situation, with a tough LRDI section, while others got stuck in tougher sets, I raced ahead and did not have to worry at any moment.
- Also, read and try to understand wide-ranging business scenarios. Over the last couple of years CAT has moved on to very practical scenarios in its questions (restaurants, ticket reservation etc.), and if you can understand the underlying logic, it becomes easier to solve the set.
QA – Probably the one section where you have the highest likelihood of increasing your score. The score in this section often differentiates a 99.5 percentiler and a 100 percentiler (about 30 marks differentiate them).
- The QA section is where the Facebook group iQuanta helped me immensely. Any aspirant who isn’t a member of this group, must join immediately. I started solving doubts from other people in this group, and I really enjoyed doing it. And because of that, I was introduced to a huge variety of questions that I might never have faced otherwise.
- The strategy for a good QA section is to have sound basics. So if anyone is struggling with basics, start with NCERT textbooks. Because if you have good basics, you’ll be able to visualize each and every problem, and would often be able t predict what the question setter is going to ask, even before reading the entire question.
At last, just remember that CAT isn’t a difficult exam. It is just testing some core skills and nothing advanced. Just push yourself with the mantra, “If I can’t, then no one can”.