As the title suggests, I am going to talk about my CAT journey on how I went about it and cracked the coveted 99 percentile barrier in my first attempt. I am going to talk about the nuances of each section that makes or breaks that part for me, I am not going to talk about the tips and tricks for solving questions after all that’s what the lectures are for. Please keep this in my mind that these are my views and what worked for me, might not work for someone else.
The most important first step towards clearing any competitive exam is to know about your strengths and weaknesses thoroughly. I would admit that I was not the most diligent of students when it came to attendance, but I made sure to attend the lectures for the topics I knew I wasn’t comfortable with. Everyone has one strong area at least in which they are confident, that with a little effort they can yield big results and one area where they feel that it’s going to take divine intervention to clear that. The earlier you can identify those areas the better. The key is to make sure you give enough time to each of the sections so that you perform uniformly across the board. The hard truth about CAT is that percentiles are deceptive. A person with an overall 98 percentile but with 80 percentile in QA has a lower chance for a call than the person with 96 percentile overall and 90+ across the sections.
Let’s start with the VARC section. Verbal ability is the most unique section in CAT as per my opinion because aspirants are either great at it or are completely clueless about it. The trick to cracking this section is to develop a regular reading habit. It doesn’t have to be novels or big books. Even the small op-ed pieces in newspapers (Preferably: The Hindu), blogs, short stories, anything will do. The idea is to make yourself comfortable with staring at the screen and reading long passages and still have the stamina to solve questions accurately. VARC is the first section you start with and going through those long passages is quite exhausting, plus the fact that you have to spend another two hours solving questions quickly makes it even harder. Therefore getting comfortable with screen reading is extremely important. Once you have that down, it’s all a matter of applying techniques learnt in class effectively and you would sail through.
DILR is one subject which I really dreaded. I was never able to wrap my head around how to go about a question at the first glance. I would read the question 3-4 times and then pick up my pen, even triple check the values I jot down. The cool thing about this section though is that you can achieve 100% accuracy in it. With that in mind I tried to figure out the type of questions I am comfortable with like arrangements, tables, graphs and focused more on those. I solidified my concepts for them and increased my proficiency to the point that I can achieve 90+ accuracy. Now for every mock I gave, in the first 5 mins I would read every question in the list and rank them from ‘sure shot’ to ‘no clue whatsoever’, and just started solving in that order.
Quant was the one subject which I did for the most part during my preparation. It is a must that you complete your syllabus at least 45 days before the exam. Here also the concept of knowing your strengths works wonders. The key to this section is to be a jack of all trades but master of some. Work hard on your best areas and strive for 90+ accuracy but don’t neglect the topics you are uncomfortable with. Even if you can’t solve all the questions, know the concepts and formulas by heart. If you can achieve that it is easy to get 16-17 correct questions which would result in at least 98 percentile in this section.
CAT is a logical exam that is meant to tackled smartly. They don’t expect you to know everything. Be confident in your approach. Give as many mocks as you can and most importantly know that this exam isn’t going to decide your future. it is just a path you can follow and there’s no shortage of paths to follow. It will make for a relaxed mindset on D Day and you can put your best foot forward. To all fellow aspirants, good luck with your CAT preparation and be honest with it.