Don't let Pandemic take a toll on your CAT preparation

About the Author:

Naman Joshi (MBA IIM Calcutta 2020-22)

MA: What inspired you to prepare for CAT/MBA?

Naman: After graduating from IIT Kharagpur in 2018, I had been a techie for two years working mainly in the field of data science/artificial intelligence with product-based companies such as Cisco and capillary technologies. Working as a developer I realized that I wasn't getting a fair say in the direction in which the product shapes. 

As a techie fresh out of college, I was expected to be the guy who gets the job done rather than being the guy who gets a say in what the job will be. So this particular aspect of contributing more directly towards the product made me look towards a very promising and emerging field ie product management. Since this role generally has an entry barrier in terms of managerial skills required to deal with various stakeholders, I decided to pursue an MBA for the same.

 MA: How did you begin the preparation, did you have a strategy or plan for the upcoming months before the D-Day?

Naman: I basically prepared for four months starting from July till November mid. I had a fair amount of idea about the pattern of the exams before starting the preparation. I joined a coaching institute for its Mock test series and started attempting weekly mocks.

During the week, as I had limited time due to job requirements, I tried to devote as much time as I could to revise the mock. So, on the weekends I took mock tests and spent the week analyzing and revising the test, and then being ready to take a new mock test on the weekend. My practice of taking mocks regularly and analyzing them so as to figure out the weak and strong areas and solving the time management issues was the single biggest factor which ultimately made me score 99.69%. So it's not specifically about the D-day, it's treating each day before the actual exam as your D-day and give your 100%. 

Consistency is the key.

 MA: Which were your strongest and weakest areas. How did you work upon them?

Naman: Being from an engineering background, I was the strongest in quant, fairly strong in verbal and quite weak in LR/DI. So the entire preparation for me was to work on improving on my weak areas as my strong areas were already good enough. Many candidates who attempt CAT feel LR/Di, as the make or break session as it is the hardest section every year. So choosing the sets to do wisely and not going for attempting every question becomes the key.

 MA: Can you share some of your interview experiences at B-Schools?

 Naman: My interview at IIM C didn't actually go well. They started grilling me on various aspects of my resume and I wasn’t able to defend myself on many points but what I did manage was to keep a smiling face throughout and tried answering every question in a confident manner. In the hindsight, I think that they were going for a stress interview and since I was able to take the shakedown approach from them with ease, they gave me a go-ahead.

 MA: Any tips for the CAT 2020 aspirants?

Naman: A lot of you might be stressed due to uncertainties regarding the CAT 2020 and uncertainties in our life in general due to the ongoing pandemic situation. I would say don't let the external factors determine your motivation levels. Give your 100%, be consistent with your preparation and I am sure each one of you will come out with flying colors no matter what the situation is. Keep up the faith and keep working hard; as the harder, you work, the luckier you get :)

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