Archit Gurg from Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi, was one of the 20 applicants who scored 100 percentile in the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2016. We offer him our congratulations and get insights about his study schedule, thoughts on the importance of a coaching institute and engineers bagging the top percentiles.
Q1. Scoring a perfect 100 percentile must have required a lot of hard work? How did you manage to cope with the studies of CIC and CAT simultaneously?
Answer: CAT is mostly aptitude, and the questions are more time-consuming than they are hard. It’s just the time aspect that has to be mastered, and the best way to achieve this is through practice and hard work. This had been my focus throughout the preparation. A couple of hours each day were sufficient till the very end.
As for coping with CIC and CAT simultaneously, I had a lot of support from the college. For instance, the date sheet of our semester examinations was created keeping in mind the various exams students were appearing for. I believe this is what helped me keep the preparation going even during November and December.
Q2. There are a lot of CAT aspirants in the league to crack the exam next year. So what are the few tips based on your own experiences that you will like to share?
Answer: In my opinion, consistent preparation is absolutely essential. The key to a good percentile is: figure out your strengths and weaknesses and continuously analyze your progress in the same. This helps you to work upon the areas where you can improve, and maintain your strengths till the very end. It helps in prioritizing among the subjects and topics to be studied. Analysis of strengths and weaknesses is also essential as it keeps fresh in your memory the mistakes you make in the past, and helps you refrain yourself from repeating them.
Q3. What is the hardest and time-consuming section that you think is for a CAT aspirant? How did you manage to get over it?
Answer: This is totally dependent on an individual’s strengths. For instance, I found the LR & DI section of CAT 2016 easily doable and ended up getting a full score in the section. However, others found it really difficult and time-consuming. It completely depends on one’s comfort level with each subject. On a personal level, I believe Verbal Ability takes the most effort to prepare for, for a person who is not that proficient in it. Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation are relatively easier to master.
Q4. The Verbal ability part of the paper is very extensive as there is no end to the vocabulary that one can have. There are many words and people often feel scared of that section. How do you think it should be handled?
Answer: Well, I believe I can identify with the question. I always used to be concerned about my vocabulary, or the lack of it. But VA is not really about vocab. It is more logic based. For instance, it might not be essential to understanding an RC passage in its entirety, as long as we can decipher the intent of it and the questions that follow. This understanding can be achieved through practice.
The best way to improve one’s score in VA, in my opinion, is reading. While this might sound like a cliché solution to the age-old question, it is the ultimate solution. It is also the hardest to pursue. While in QA, if you practice a particular topic extensively, you may be able to observe a boost in your score. In the case of reading, the same won’t be visible that easily. It would take weeks, rather months, to actually achieve a significant improvement. However, the key is to keep at it.
Q5. Each section requires an adequate amount of time so how did you train yourself for the same?
Answer: According to me, in order to make optimal use of time, one needs to have a strategy for attempting each section. This can be achieved by knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses. In VA, I always found reading through all the RCs consecutively, tedious. Hence, I preferred attempting two RCs, followed by non-RC questions such as para-completion, and later coming back to the remaining RCs. This helped me not lose interest in the paper.
Similar strategies can be employed for Quant. Initially, for chapters like Geometry, I used to take a lot of time to solve the questions. Hence, I used to keep those questions for the end. As I progressed with my preparation, I modified these strategies according to my strengths.
One thing I always used to keep in mind was: while it might not be necessary to attempt all questions, it is absolutely essential to, at least once, read through all of them. This ensures that one doesn’t miss a really easy question in Quant or an almost obvious question in the RCs.
Q6. This time the engineers were quite a show on the result! There were twenty students scoring a perfect 100. Do you think engineers have some benefits?
Answer: Not at all! This is a myth in my opinion. All of us, engineers and non-engineers alike, have had the same level of mathematics education till class 10, which is what the paper comprises of.
Q7. Did you opt for a coaching institute or prepare on your own? How important is each of them?
Answer: I did opt for a coaching institute. At first, it used to seem that coaching is an essential part of preparation. However, as I moved on with it, I realized that it was completely dependent on one’s self-devotion and preparation.
CAT is a paper based on aptitude. A self-motivated person, who can manage to remain motivated throughout the preparation period, is equally likely to crack the exam without any coaching. The only benefit I reaped from my coaching was the material that they provided, and the test series which helped me analyze my performance at each step. If one has access to these things, coaching might not make that great a difference.
Q8. Last few days to exam come with anxiety. How did you utilize your study time in the last few days leading up to the exams?
Answer: In the final few days, I focused on reading through my analysis of all the mock tests I had given. This helped me recall and learn about the mistakes I often made. Other than that, I maintained a regular schedule of going through a couple of passages, doing a set of Quant questions from each chapter, and a bunch of LRDI questions as well.
A concern that most of us might face is that our semester examinations usually occur around the same period as CAT. So I targeted completing my preparation before the same. Also, even during the examinations, I regularly devoted an hour or two to CAT preparation each day.