IITian and CATKing Student Manas Churi Aces CAT with a 99.78 %ile and shares his success mantra of converting IIM Ahmedabad!
After getting selected for such a premier institute (IIM Ahmedabad), I still get goosebumps at the thought of it. It has been quite a daunting journey but if you believe in yourself and have the tenacity to give it your all, then you’re halfway there. There will be ups and downs in the form of deviations in your mock scores, but you should not falter and worry too much about it, in the end, it will not matter, at least that has been so in my case. I’m very excited to meet and interact with all my fellow batchmates in the institute. I was overjoyed to see such a great percentile even though I had messed up VARC in the CAT exam. Everybody at home was also very delighted and motivated me to work harder for the interviews and set my goals straight.
Right from my college days being an Events Manager at Techfest, the Science and Technology festival of IIT Bombay, I had made up my mind to pursue a degree in Management as it would enrich me with the set of skills and set my career on a good track. My Dad was also my firm supporter and believer and kept motivating me to pursue MBA right after college. I aimed to convert the top 3 B-Schools, i.e.- IIMA, IIMB, and IIMC.
Coming to my profile, I’ve completed my B. Tech from IIT Bombay in Mechanical Engineering and would be joining IIMA as a fresher. My dad is a Stock Trader by profession and my mom is a homemaker. On a personal note, playing guitar and watching movies and anime are my leisure time activities. As a person, I’m quite inquisitive and like to explore different things. This has been my journey so far & I can’t wait to explore what lies ahead.
It was my first attempt and too being a fresher, had to balance college academics and CAT prep. After the starting mocks, I was nervous, but believed in myself and kept on grinding religiously. CATKing played a crucial role in my prep, right from Rahul Sir’s motivational videos and VARC tips from YouTube videos to its concise study material helped a lot. After clearing CAT, the CATKing mock interviews were also very good and helped me in realizing my true potential.
My preparation started a bit late in May 2022. I began with solving Arun Sharma and reading editorials for improving VARC. Later around in August, I started attempting mocks 1-2 every week according to their schedule. After every mock, I used to make sure to take out time to go through the detailed analysis to figure out what was my weak topics and analyzing time spent on each subpart also gave me a fair idea of where to improve. From August to November, I think I gave around 35-40 mocks in total and I believe that mocks are crucial in assessing your prep so far and figuring out room for improvement.
So, having just 6 months left to CAT, I chose my weakest section i.e., VARC.
- For VARC, I started reading and making quick summaries of editorials from ET and The Hindu, to increase my reading speed and paraphrasing skills. I then made sure that I solved 3 RCs daily to try and grasp the pattern of the questions. Majorly, I referred to Arun Sharma for the same.
- For DILR, I watched YouTube videos to cover the portion and get a purview of what kind of questions were asked frequently in the past years. I began solving around 4 sets of each DI and LR daily and used to time myself so that I could analyze my performance. I value solving quality questions over quantity as in DILR there are by far a limited set of topics and kinds of questions that could be made. Slowly but surely, I then improved my attempt accuracy in it by solving more sets each time in mocks.
- Quants came naturally to me and felt a bit easy, and I knew with daily practice I’d be able to ace this section. So, I started solving miscellaneous question sets from Arun Sharma and tried to improve my agility and accuracy. I reviewed all the topics and went through all the formulae and shortcuts to make sure I could use them in mocks as well. I think solving a defined no of questions regularly helped me increase my accuracy and speed in solving the Quant section.
I attempted around 35-40 mocks in total. Mocks give you an actual idea of your preparation level and roughly expected score in the actual exam. Giving and analyzing mocks regularly help you in improving different weak areas one at a time and make sure that you won’t repeat the same mistake for similar questions expected in the actual exam.
After 1-1.5 months of steady and rigorous prep, I began attempting around 1-2 weekly mocks. I made a habit of analyzing the mock on the same day of giving it to ensure, I’m aware of my mistakes and methods to improve accuracy and speed. Your performance in mocks is a combination of both speed and accuracy so you can’t rely on just one. As CAT came closer, I increased the number of weekly mocks to 3-4 and did an in-depth analysis of the mocks, which is quite easy thanks to the dashboard analytics which precisely helps you to identify your weak points.
- In VARC, I tried to re-read all the passages to understand what the author was trying to imply and what I had misinterpreted. For para jumbles, there’s nothing more than to practice it till you get the hang of it.
- For DILR, I read the solutions to benchmark my thinking process and method of attempting the same questions. Another important thing here was selection, you need to identify what sets are best to attempt and have a higher chance of cracking it since you’re already on a time crunch.
- For Quant, I went through all the shortcuts and noted them to use in subsequent mocks to save time.
After each mock, I tried to analyze my strategy and how could I tweak it further so that I could attempt more questions or improve accuracy. After 30-40 odd mocks, you have a fixed strategy in mind for all the sections individually, which can maximize your marks in the final CAT exam. While continuing to solve the mocks, I spent August and October picking up individual weak topics that I could figure out from the mock and solved rigorously from whatever material I could get my hands on. Next comes, experimenting with different strategies and trying different approaches. For a good final score, one needs to strike a balance between accuracy and speed. And believe me, that comes only from practice and analysis. It is the same logic as one shoe size doesn’t fit all, you need to come up with your strategy to attempt mocks that maximize your scores. Finally, you need to hone a strategy to perfection and just apply it on D-Day.
In the last few weeks, I sort of revised all the topics, fundamentals, and formulas, and reviewed my mistakes from the mocks. A day before D-Day, I tried to cool off and did not write any mocks or solve anything, I just tried to keep myself calm and boost my concentration. Finally, on D-Day, I went with a cool mind to write the exam not thinking about the results. Tried to meditate just before the exam and concentrate and give my best in the next 2 hours.
I think the last week should be kept for revision only and no new material is solved. You should go through all the mistakes you’ve made and compare the solution so you won’t do it wrong on D-Day. One day before the exam, I mostly chilled out not solving anything, and just kept a cool head and looked at formulae/Quant shortcuts to pass the day.
You need to remember that if you’ve prepared well then one day’s prep won’t matter so you need to tire yourself out and rather try keeping a cool head and entering the exam hall. Just before the exam, try closing your eyes and focusing on it for a few mins, and just think of giving it your all, that’s it!!!
My advice to the CAT aspirants would be to start your prep early, realize your strengths and weaknesses, and align your strategy according to it. Keep on practicing and perfecting it, CAT exam tests your consistency rather than anything else. Be confident and believe you can make it! Best wishes for your CAT preparation journey!
– Manas Churi
CAT 2022 – 99.78 percentile
VARC – 89.97 %ile
DILR – 99.14 %ile
QA – 99.94 %ile