Now that the CAT results are out and most aspirants are preparing for interviews, I feel nostalgic and inspired to write my preparation journey.

I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS PILANI Hyderabad campus. CAT 2020 was my first CAT attempt. I never prepared for anything in between, so it was slightly difficult for me to get back to that competitive exam preparation mode. It was especially difficult in the initial months. But as the final CAT exam approached, I became serious.

The first thing I did before starting CAT preparation was that I went through the syllabus. After that I took a mock test from a reputed CAT coaching institute. My performance was not particularly good but it wasn’t bad either. I got the score which would have got me around 90 percentile in the actual exam. Then I went through the answers and noticed that my accuracy in VARC was quite abject. My accuracy in DILR and Quant was good, but I used to leave many questions in Quant section unattempted because I was not speed enough.

I was decently good in every section, there was no section that I was particularly good at, though I scored the highest in Quant always(owing to my background in Engineering). DILR was the section which I found the most difficult. I used to find it difficult to judge the difficulty of the cases, and I used to end up picking the tougher cases and leave the easier ones. I used to take about 20-25 minutes to solve a single case in DILR section. I realised its not possible to solve all the 8 cases in DILR section, so its very important to be able it select the easier ones and leave the tough ones. So, the sense of judgement is a very important aspect here. I had a decent reading practice , so  I didn’t find VARC to be a particularly difficult subject. But, what I noticed is that practice is the most important thing in this section. The more I practiced the passages, the better I got at them.  In many of my subsequent mocks, I could attempt most of the questions in this section but I struggled with the accuracy. My accuracy in the section was sometimes as low as 40 percent. So I knew I had to work on that, I could improve the accuracy in this section by learning from the correct answers that were displayed after the end of the test.

I understood early on that I was conceptually good in Ratio & proportion, percentages and allegations and mixtures topics. But I realised that I need to learn shortcuts and practice more because I was not that quick enough in solving those problems and took more time. So I started learning shortcuts and after a few days of practice I could easily calculate the squares of every number upto 150, without using a pen and paper/calculator. I was pretty quick with problems related to Mixtures and allegations, ratio and proportion, percentages. But Geometry, Permutations and Combinations, Probability were my areas of weakness in Quant section and I started spending time learning those topics.

Looking retrospectively, I wish I could have done a few things right. I think I could have done a lot of things better. I wish, I had spent more time on preparation especially on weekends. I joined an offline coaching institute, a decision which I regret to this day. I should have joined an online institute which would have been more convenient to me. I barely attended classes because the coaching institute was far from home. I should have been more consistent in my practice and dedicated more time for my preparation. But in the end, I am more than happy with the way things turned out and the college I have joined.

Though I started my CAT preparation from March, it was ad hoc and inconsistent. I started taking my preparation seriously from the beginning of September. I used to spend at least 3-4 hours every day. One habit that helped me a lot is that I took my mock tests very seriously and never considered them just like practice questions. This kind of mindset helped me in improving my focus and time management in the exam. Sometimes I scored as low as 95 percentile even going into the last month before the exam. But I didn’t feel discouraged and religiously went through the answer sheets and learned what my mistakes were after the mocks. I fell sick with viral fever the day before the exam. I was feeling slightly better on the exam day but I didn’t fully recover. I found it quite difficult to focus and didn’t perform as well as I wanted in, especially in VARC and DILR. In the end I scored 99.08 percentile and got calls from MDI,FMS,NITIE,CAP and all the new IIMs I applied to.

Our XAT exam was on the next day after the CAT results came out. I was pretty happy with the results and it relieved the pressure off me. I was quite cool headed when I took the XAT exam and scored 99.43 percentile. I got a call from XLRI for BM programme, but I was waitlisted and couldn’t convert in the end.

After the dust settled down and interviews got over, I joined MDI PGPM programme.

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