Even a layman is aware of the difficulty level that one of India’s toughest exams, CAT, entails. For a candidate to crack and top CAT in the first attempt, it is a feat in itself. An engineering graduate from IIT BHU 2019 batch and a fresher in experience, Priyanshu Singh scored 100%ile in CAT 2019 and joined the prestigious IIM Ahmedabad. In the third year of his B.Tech graduation at IIT BHU, he decided to go for an MBA, primarily because of his avid interest in the field of Finance.
Let’s take a peek at Priyanshu’s tale and his path to CAT 100%tile!
When did you decide to go for an MBA?
I completed my internship in May 2019 as a Data analyst. The thrilling experience there made me affirm my decision to pursue MBA. In April 2019, I decided to take the CAT Exam, but it was only from July that I started my preparation for the exam.
How did you manage your time while studying for engineering and CAT simultaneously?
There was a time during my preparations when I had to hustle multiple things like CAT exams, Term Exams, and Final Year Placements. Those few days were very chaotic and rough for me. But I buckled up and planned my day, where I assigned some part of it for engineering and some for CAT. And now, when I look back in time, I feel that was one of the essential parts of life which taught me how to manage pressure and time.
What was your routine while preparing?
I used to give mocks once every week. Apart from that, I used to dedicate 90 to 120 minutes daily to solve some additional questions. I adopted the habit to solve quant questions whenever I was bored randomly. I devoted 45-60 mins every day to read articles from leading national dailies to maintain my reading habit.
What study material did you follow?
I subscribed IMS and Career Launcher test series. My roommate also loaned me TIME preparation materials. Aside from that, I would recommend Arun Sharma’s book for Quants. I was an avid reader in school, so I had an ingrained reading habit, but I had some difficulties in VARC. It was hard to comprehend the test format at first. I spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos to learn how to solve the Reading Comprehension in the Verbal Section. Reading articles from the Hindu regularly also helped me enhance my reading skills.
Based on my experience, I would advise students to collect as little study material as possible and focus on the basics first. It is not so much about how many books you read as it is about how thoroughly you study.
What was your reaction when the results were out?
After about a week following the exam, the CAT answer key was out, and I had my final placements coming up. Upon examining the answer key, I realized that I could be among the top scorers. Albeit this, I was stunned on January 4th, the day the final results were released. I reloaded the website twice to ensure that the results were correct and snapped a screenshot as soon as I saw the word “100%ile” on my screen. My family was ecstatic as well.
Did you ever feel exam stress? How did you manage it?
When I was preparing for CAT and the placements simultaneously, I wasn’t getting expected scores in VARC. I wasn’t sure how I was going to score in CAT. It was a stressful time. At a fleeting phase, the thought to not focus on CAT at all and go with final placements instead crossed my mind. But my friends pushed me through this phase. They helped me with my studies, provided me with notes and assignments, and made me focus on CAT.
Where did you find your motivation?
Who you surround yourself with is very important. I feel lucky to have a bunch of good friends around me. We had a lot of fun, but they were also supportive with exams and careers. Their support mattered a lot, and I am thankful for that. My friends always kept me on track in the hard times and motivated me to focus on CAT.
What was your exam strategy?
For Quantitative Analysis, I read all the topics of quants in a week and then just started practising the questions. This is how I got an idea about my strong points and where I needed to focus.
While preparing for DI/LR, I analyzed around 8-10 different sets that could be asked in the exam. During my practices, I solved all types of sets, and in the end, I analyzed my strengths and weaknesses. In the mocks, I spent the first 5 minutes just browsing through the questions and marking them with scores out of 10 based on difficulty. I created a sequence based on ranking all the data set questions. Then I used to start solving from the easiest one.
To solve the Verbal Section, I made a strategy to break down the available time. Out of 60 mins, I gave 40 mins to the Reading Comprehension part and 20 mins to Verbal Ability. I split the 40 mins of Reading Comprehension to give 8 mins per passage. For one passage, there were around five questions. So, I planned to read the whole article in 3 mins and then gave 1 min to each question.
What advice would you like to give to all the CAT 2021 aspirants?
The one piece of advice I would like to give is not to take the stress of the exam. When I appeared for my exam, CAT was my second priority, and maybe that is why there was no pressure. I gave the exam stress-free, and I feel that improves the performance. So, try not to take stress just right before the exam.
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