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Mediocre students can also crack CAT

Mediocre students can also crack CAT
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Sabyasachi Mishra(23), from Bhubaneshwar in Odisha calls himself a mediocre student. He never topped his class in school or college. His dream was to...

Sabyasachi Mishra scored a perfect 100 with just two months of preparation. He is among the five toppers who scored 100 percentile in CAT 2015

Sabyasachi Mishra(23), from Bhubaneshwar in Odisha calls himself a "mediocre student". He never topped his class in school or college. His dream was to join the Air Force, after completing Class XII from the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun, he began preparing for the Services Selection Board exam.

However, in 2010, when he underwent a medical check-up at the Air Force Medical College, New Delhi, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that affects the spinal cord. The condition clearly ruled out his chances at qualifying for the Air Force. He still gave the exam in 2011, but failed to clear it. So after serious introspection, he realised his love for mathematics and shifted his focus towards engineering.

In 2012, he took the IIT-JEE and scored an All India Rank of 968. Sabyasachi joined Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, to pursue B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. In his final year, he decided to give the CAT. But, the night before the test, he had second thoughts. "Juggling between my college exams, which were going on, and appearing for the CAT was proving tough.

I called my parents to tell them I would give the CAT a miss and focus on my college presentations which were equally important," he says. He changed his mind when his friends, who were also taking the exam, asked him not to let his preparation go in vain. His exam went well, but he was not expecting a perfect score. When the results were announced on January 8, Sabyasachi was elated.

He had scored 100 in the quantitative aptitude section, 99.88 in data interpretation and logical reasoning and 99.67 in verbal aptitude and reading comprehension. Sabyasachi, who calls himself a 'quick learner', shares on how he cracked the exam.

What was your reaction when you got the results?
I woke up to a call from my friends who told me I had scored a perfect 100. I logged into the website to check my results. I was so happy.

Did the coaching help?
I would take coaching during weekends when I didn't have college and study for at least eight to ten hours for CAT. I mostly took mocks to improve my performance. On weekdays, I would study for two hours a day. It was only two months before the CAT exam that I actually started to study seriously.

How did you prepare for the exam? What were your study 'secrets'?
Math and logical reasoning have always been my strengths. I am good at English vocabulary but I faced problems correcting sentences and rearranging them. So I put in more effort there and started solving papers from previous years. I also took help from GMAT's official guide; it helps in improving your English skills.
I believe if anyone wants to crack CAT with a good score, you first need to find your strengths like I did. Then, you should focus on your weaker areas and turn them into your strengths before you appear for the exam. Always listen to your faculty at the coaching centre and ask for their help.

Take mock tests to see how well you are performing in the section you aren't good at. For the sections you are good in, taking mock tests helps you revise.
As an IIT student, your life is hectic. You have your share of studies, presentations, exams and the stress of being placed in a good company after your final year. It's very important to maintain a balance, so your studies are not hampered.

Do you think being an IITian helped you in the exam?
It isn't the name of the college that helps you in the exam. But the rigorous preparation that you do to crack the IIT-JEE helps. While preparing for the JEE, I brushed up my mathematical skills and got my fundamental mathematical concepts like permutation and combination, probability, etc, correct.

If you are good in mathematics, you can easily solve the logical reasoning section. I had to give a lot of stress on English while preparing for the SSB test, which eventually helped me in cracking the CAT.

Did the changes in the exam pattern help you in any way?
I didn't benefit from the changes; instead, it was a hindrance. Earlier, you had 170 minutes to solve the paper wherein you could work on any section as per your choice. Now, 60 minutes have been allotted for each section and you cannot switch sections. I had to wait for 60 minutes to get over and then start with the next section of the paper. In fact, I could not even submit my paper before time.

I completed the quantitative aptitude test quickly unlike the others, and had to wait for around 10-15 minutes to submit my paper. If this wasn't for the pattern, I could have given more time to the English and logical reasoning sections.

What mistakes did you make initially in the mocks and how did you correct them?
Before I appeared for a mock test, I revisited my previous answer sheet and checked where I had gone wrong. This helped me rectify my mistakes. For example, if I got a passage wrong, I asked my faculty to point out the errors. The next time I took the mock test, I would have a different approach to the question in order to not repeat the same mistake.

Where do candidates go wrong with CAT?
CAT isn't difficult. Whatever you have studied for your board exams and engineering entrance exams is what comes in the paper. Students usually don't do well in mathematics and logical reasoning or, perhaps, they have a phobia for mathematics. You should remember that if you can solve a mathematical problem correctly, you can score full marks. Personally, I think English is the most competitive paper in CAT. All you need to do is focus.

What books, periodicals and websites would you recommend to MBA aspirants?
Except for the GMAT official guide, I didn't buy any other book. Coaching centres usually provide you with proper study materials. If you are taking the CAT exam for the first time, it's better to enroll yourself in a coaching centre. They will guide you in the right way.

For qualifying in the GD/PI rounds, you need to read national newspapers to keep yourself updated on current affairs. You need to be aware of things that can get linked back to you, for instance the place you belong to, school, college, etc. Read up technical stories on TechCrunch online, even reading news on mobile apps help.

What advice would you give to candidates who aim to get 100 percentile in CAT?
Be honest with yourself. Whenever you sit down to study, you should not let anything distract you. Make a routine and follow it religiously. Even if you study for few hours, make sure you do it regularly. There might be times when you wouldn't want to study any further. On such days, don't force yourself and do something that you would want to at that point of time. Get back to studies later.

What have you learnt from your life and career so far?
Life works in stages. If you work hard now, you will definitely benefit in the next stage. Everybody needs to have a long term vision to keep them inspired and drive them towards success. Instead of seeking inspiration from something or someone, focus on what you want to do in life and achieve it. It makes no sense to pursue something you aren't passionate about. You will excel if you work towards what interests you the most.

CAT aspirants need to be clear about what they want to do next. MBA is just a platform to push you towards what you want to do. When you start your management studies, you should know where you want to see yourself in the next five years and work towards it. Use the MBA as a vehicle to take you somewhere; never think of it to be a destination where you can grab a job placement and secure your life ahead.

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