Can a UPSC Aspirant crack CAT Exam?

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CATKing’s Student and a UPSC Aspirant Karan Bhalani Aces CAT With 98.75 Percentile and shares his success mantra! 

I was actually on a holiday in Rishikesh when my friend called and said that the results were out. I was actually thinking of skipping the result until I came back home. But my friend said ‘jo hoga dekha jayega’ so let’s get it over with. But much to my surprise and shock, I saw a 98.75 %ile. I was half expecting that the first 9 was an 8 and maybe it’s an 88.75. It literally took me a week to finally come to terms with it. 

Coming to my profile, I am an associate systems engineer at Tata Consultancy Services. I have 22 months of experience. I completed my B. Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from Amity University, Rajasthan in 2020. I also have a Minor in Management and have studied French at the University.  I was born and brought up in the UAE and immigrated to India in 2010. I am currently in Rajkot, Gujarat. I am an avid car enthusiast. I also love consumer electronics and am a keen investor in the stock market.

 

I had given CAT earlier as well. I actually give these exams for practice/Fun. I have given the CAT twice before, as well as UPSC and GPSC once. I was always interested in pursuing an MBA and wanted to make sure that when I was finally serious, no exam jitters or other disturbances came my way. But this was my first real attempt at it. I had a 92%ile and 90%ile in the first two. I would say that the hardest part of the CAT exam is going from 90%ile to 99%ile. I have a GEM profile. So, MDI, CAP IIMs, IITs, IMT, and BITSOM are my dream B-schools.

 

CATKing played that crucial last-minute role in getting me to invest in going at full throttle, motivating me to stay focused, and inspiring me to leave nothing on the table. Plus, the trophy feature on the CATKing dashboard really kept me competitive until the end. Other than that, I knew what my weakness was in Quants so studied all the lectures by Krishna Sir and all the live classes with Sudhanshu Sir. Also, I liked that the classes were one hour each. This kept me going even on the days I didn’t feel like studying.

I already had a good experience in my last two CAT attempts. I started some light studies in September. Then upped the ante in October and gave it my all in November. I would divide the month into sets of 10 days. I had nine sets in total. I practiced Quants for the most part and gave a mock test here and there. I decided to join a fast-track course in the final month and had heard great reviews about CATKing, so signed up for the rocket batch.

My strongest section was VARC. I got a 99.66 in it. I would say my weakest section would be Quants as that needed the most practice. LRDI was a wildcard. In my first attempt, I had a 99%ile score. In the second one, I got a 70%ile score in LRDI. 

For VARC, I understood that my only weakness was a lack of an attention span, and if there was a really long passage I would lose focus and start skimming and lose important details. So, I read The Economic Times daily. I cut back on anything that would be detrimental to my focus. Social media, TV all that was at a minimum in my last month. In my first two attempts, I had seen that I was scared of attempting the para summary questions which were quite easy when I analyzed the answers afterwards. I was so scared of losing marks in those that I wouldn’t even read them thinking that I was saving time and would surely get the marks in para jumbles.

Doing the preparation in CATKing, I saw that the answers for para jumble questions were usually what I was marking and I became confident with practice. 

For Quants, I made a lot of notes with a lot of tricks. The problem with tricks is that unless they don’t come naturally to you in the exam, you might end up wasting time thinking what the trick was or in your haste, use an incorrect trick. It all comes down to how much practice you have done. So, I solved at least 2500-3000 questions. I did a ton of revision questions. I was great at arithmetic, decent at modern maths, and just terrible at geometry. So in my last month, I spent and focused only on one set of Geometry and Modern Maths.

 

For LRDI. I just did the basics. Nothing too advanced. But I had practiced a lot of those questions. So many in fact that I was confident that I could answer the questions without a pen and paper. I attempted a lot of mocks in November. In the last 9 days, I attempted around 20 mocks in the first 7 days and then 1,1 each on the 8th and 9th day.

CATKing is the backbone of my success. As mentioned before, it gave me the inspiration to give it my all and motivated me to do so until the end.

On the exam day, I woke up early and gave a mock test just to warm up the engines but I didn’t check the result. I was in the second slot that day. I didn’t even do the watch paper analysis from the first set. I didn’t want anything to bring in doubt. 

 

I was calm and cool. The main piece of advice that I was given was either go to war acting like you have already one, or you’ve already lost. Decide on the outcome beforehand so you aren’t worried about it during the process.

I had a chat with the people sitting next to me before the start of the exam so that I remained cool and confident. The last thing you want is to sit in silence and overthink failure.

 

I was very analytical and alert in the writing section. The passages were easy. I made sure not to guess the answers to any questions. I came back to the paragraph questions I missed after finishing up on the summaries and jumbles.

 

For the LRDI I found the Easiest set and went for it. Double checked and went ahead. Then I found the second easiest with a lot of TITA questions. Same with the third. Guestimation is alright in TITA but don’t do it in the others. 

 

In the LRDI sections, I knew that I had to find 10 questions and I would clear the QA part. I double-checked all the 10, I attempted. I think I was confident in 8 & I was 80% sure in 2-3. 

 

My advice to all CAT Aspirants would be – Practice Practice Practice. No amount of secret tricks and formulas can make up for hours and hours of dedicated practice. Don’t run away from mock test results. At the last minute don’t get lazy or so nervous that you don’t even look at the books.  Because after the Last Sunday of November, you can’t improve your CAT result.  It’s alright to keep a plan B, but that doesn’t mean you don’t give it your all on your plan A. My best wishes to all CAT Candidates! Have faith and do well!

 

– Karan Bhalani

CAT 2022 – 98.75 %ile

DILR – 87.56 %ile, 

VARC – 99.66%ile, 

QA – 94.49 %ile

 

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