IIM - CAT Coaching: Experts' Insights

IIM - CAT Coaching: Experts' Insights: January 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CAT 2011 - Thoughts based on CAT 2010

CAT 2010 results were released a few days ago, and it is time to think about what we have learn from the results. I have categorized my thoughts into two categories.

Opinions that have been reinforced

1. CAT is not an impossibly tough exam. A number of diligent non-genius candidates have done really well. (All the evidence I am going to refer to is anecdotal and not based on any survey.). Thorough preparation, lots of practice and good planning should be enough to get candidates close enough. The final ingredient is perhaps a little bit of luck, but we cannot budget for that. The previous post on Self-belief holds good even now.

2. CAT rewards preparation from first principles: Quant, DI and verbal have all become more application-intensive and CAT 2010 has continued on with that trend. There is a higher bias towards non-formulaic questions. In maths and verbal, intuition and deeper-understanding is getting rewarded vis-a vis blind formulaic learning. As my boss never tires of saying - Intuition can be built with practice.

3. Balanced preparation is a must: With competition this high, one cannot afford to say my strength in quant should take me through. A few of our students learnt that lesson this time around

New pointers that CAT 2010 has shown us

1. Quant level across the country is pretty high: 15 years ago, \a student needed to just now a bunch of formulae, and need not have been conceptually sound. 6-8 years ago, when CAT made a shift towards more application-intensive questions, it was sufficient if one was conceptually sound. And you could get away without much practice. You always had time to derive 1-2 formulae, do trial-and-error and build hypotheses, verify with bunch of examples, etc. Now, the luxury to do all that is disappearing. A student almost needs to pick the right method to solve a question straightaway. No time for any trial-and-error business. One needs to have basics sound and practice gazillions of questions. The more different kind of problems you can lay your hands on the better.

2. To crack DI, one needs to be good at DI and LR: One out of two wont go. There are some tough DI passages and tough LR questions that you are better of leaving. The option of "I will kill DI and leave all LR questions" will not work

Those of you who are preparing for CAT 2011 and beyond, best wishes.

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Belief in Self - That is ALL the difference

At the risk of imitating Mr. P. Chidambaram, I am going to seek the help of a tamil verse from the book Thirukkural, written by the poet Thiruvalluvar


Vellathanaya Neermattam Maandhar tham
Ulla thana duyarvu

The meaning of this "kural" is - if you have seen a lotus, it will go up when the water rises in the tank and go down when the water level fell. Like that, the rise or fall of a human is based on his behavior and thoughts.


Many an youngster is daunted by the fact that the CAT is written by 200,000+ students every year. Out of these, only 2,000 students make it to one IIM or the other. Only 15,000 students make it to a Tier - 1 b-school. The youngster conveniently concludes "I do not have a halo behind my head. I do not belong to those 2,000 students. Heck, I doubt if i even belong to those 15,000 students".

Think about it for a moment. Did those 17,000 (2,000 + 15,000) students make it to those b-schools because of a halo behind their heads? Were they differently built? Did they study in schools that the other 180,000 youngsters did not go to? Were the opportunities available to them as kids vastly different from the ones available to the other 180,000? Definitely not.

I think the ONLY difference was that the 17,000 students believed in themselves and believed in their ability to work hard while it was not the case with the other 180,000. Rather than write pages and pages of gyan, let us look at an real life example.

Year 2001: Our protagonist, X, is in his final year of college. As is the tradition amongst his batchmates, he also decides to write CAT. He does not prepare for it. Performs poorly. Arrives at the convenient conclusion that he is not 'CAT material' (whatever that means)

Year 2005: All along, X had not even given CAT a second thought - even though he always wanted to do an MBA. His colleague at the same office, Y, mentions that he had taken the cat in 2004 and is attending interviews at the IIMs for his admission.

That is when it dawns on X how naive he had been. He had let go 4 valuable years without even trying to figure out what it takes to crack the CAT. Y mentions that he had been preparing for a year for his CAT and it was not all THAT difficult. That is when it occurs to X that ALL it takes is preparation and a belief in self and anybody would be able to crack the CAT.

X starts preparing for the CAT exam in the same year. Keeps at it. Does not let go of his target. Cracks the CAT and goes on to study at an IIM in the city whose name starts with an A.

To this day, X is thankful to Y for having changed his mindset; for having opened his mind to the untapped opportunities; for helping him realize his dreams.

This is the real life story of one of our students. Last we heard about this guy, he helps CAT aspirants reach their goal.

There is an X in each of the 180,000 students who did not make it to a tier - 1 b-school of their choice. The X in this story was lucky to have bumped into Y. Are you one of those 180,000 X's? Do you still have to wait for the CAT to happen to your friend for you to start believing in yourself?

Our firm belief: It is not a matter of ability. It is a matter of self belief.

All the best ! God Speed !

With CAT results just gone by, and many students mulling over CAT 2011, I think this is an excellent time to read an article like this.

The article is by none other than X, who currently runs 2iim Mumbai.

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