CAT 2021 Topper Interview: Karan Desai (Faculty at IMS) Says Be Consistent Rather than Being of Content

CAT 2021 Topper Interview – Karan Desai, a faculty of IMS has aced the CAT 2021 exam with 99.75 percentile. Karan Desai has scored 89.33 percentile in VARC and 99.07 percentile in DILR, and 99.95 in Quant. Karan Desai has done his B.Tech. in CSE from Babaria Institute of Technology. The CAT 2021 exam was conducted on November 28, 2021. IIM Ahmedabad has released the CAT 2021 result on January 03, 2022. This interview is also for those candidates who are preparing for CAT 2022.

CAT 2021 Topper Interview

Q. Can you tell us your sectional percentile in CAT 2021? 

A. My sectional Percentile was in Verbal I was able to manage 89.33%ile, DILR 99.07%ile, and for QA I was able to manage 99.95%ile.

Q.  Can you tell us about your background?

A. Yes, Basically I am an Engineer in Computer Science. I completed my Engineering a few years back in 2016 and after that, I started preparation for my entrances, I was actually preparing where I am teaching right now and later on I joined here as faculty.

Q. You have done Engineering, So you would have appeared for CAT Exam after Engineering?

A. Yes, I first appeared in CAT in 2016. That was my first CAT. I was actually writing a form for admission that year.

Q. What was your experience of this year’s CAT as the total number of questions was reduced and what was the difference in 2016 and 2021?

Ans – So, I have been attempting CAT since 2016, so this was my 5th CAT actually. When I started appearing it was a 3 hours CAT. So, it used to be 1 hour for each section. Last year due to a pandemic, it was reduced to 2 hours. After that, the questions were 76 last year. There was a notification that the number of questions will be released whereas last year it was a 1/3rd reduction in time and a 24% reduction in question. This year they made it very much even what it used to be it was more like a 33% reduction in time and 33% reductions in questions as well. So, it was quite manageable and it was expected to be around 65-70 and that was the number day came up with.

Q. You are a faculty at IMS, but you would have prepared for the CAT exam. What strategy do you follow for CAT preparation?

A. Well, yes here being a faculty at CAT, it’s very important to opt for the CAT and I should know the process what they are actually gonna go through on the D- Day. So yes I do prepare but moreover, it is the strategy that I prepare instead of content. So, my focus is more on giving more and more tests, understanding where I am lagging, identifying the areas where it is to be done. So, test-taking is the skill which I majorly work upon.

Q. What was your strategy for CAT exam day?

A. My strategy is very simple. It’s very popular among the CAT Takers which is ABC Strategy. I classify the questions into three categories A, B, and C. I know my strength and my weakness, so I focus more on my strength, if the questions are from my strength and I am able to visualize the solution I go for that immediately.

Q. VARC is one section in CAT which students take lightly but is a tough nut to crack. How did you ace this section?

A. Verbal is something that is actually being problematic for many of the students so it is more like a language test than an Aptitude test. So here you need to be more analytical and critical thinking over language. Many students don’t go through many news articles enough RC practice, because this is one area that takes more time that is RC which has 75% of questions in the verbal section.

Q. What strategy did you advise for Quant and DILR?

A. There are certain questions that I am able to visualize but it is a little bit time-taking and if some questions seem tricky or difficult to understand the language they have used, I prefer not doing it unless and until I have attempted all the other questions. That’s my general strategy for Quant. For DI, I don’t generally attempt any question in 2-3 minutes. I just go through all the questions of sets. I have to understand the overall difficulty level, that they are having this year. Then I am a little bit peaky. The one I find most easy I target and keep on moving with the sets.

Q. My next question is related to the CAT syllabus. What should be the approach of candidates in completing the syllabus?

A. It is basically on the type of profile the candidates bring in. If you are a fresher and never appeared for the exam before. It will be perfect if you need 1 month before the course completion and the last 4-5 months in testing skills. So that way you will be able to cover all the syllabus parts. All the concepts you will be able to practice. The last months can be used for going through different mocks, going through question difficulty levels, and identifying the areas where you need improvement so you have time for that too. Ideally, it will be around 9-12 months for the completion of the course and followed by 4-5 months of testing practice.

Q. Mock tests are very essential in preparation. What should be a way to attempt a mock test and how they are helpful in the preparation?

A. So, a mock test can be treated as a net practice if we take the example of cricket itself Virat Kohli cannot directly play in the match if he has not faced enough balls in the test session. It is advised to do at least 20-25 mock tests during your entire preparation. It also provides you benchmarking where you stand. So, the students understand what are the areas they are actually working upon and they are able to perform well as well. And where are the areas they need to work on as many times the students are not able to identify that?

There are also some instances where the student will get stuck in the question, they will keep trying and retrying, as the timer keeps on moving whether you are stuck or not. Mock tests will make you ready for the actual exam. If you analyze them well, that is also very important. So when you do give CAT it is like one another mock.

Q. What is the unique specialty in IMS, is it the resources or modules that IMS provides, or is it the mentorship that IMS provides. What is the best thing in IMS?

A. The resources that are available in IMS i.e. the online portal as well as the offline material. Before the pandemic itself, we went to hybrid. We provide one of the best materials for online platforms along with offline material. So, that is one of the USPs we had because our material was also updated in a very few years. Many of the faculties give CAT so they know what kind of questions do come. The second thing is that we believe that each student is unique. Their style of preparation is unique that we are able to understand and the best way for them to prepare and prepare is also modified according to the students.

Q. Who were your mentors in IMS?

Ans – My mentors were Vipul sir and Jaydev sir. I took a transfer from one center to another. So later on it was sir.

Q.  One of the most important aspects to crack CAT is achieving accuracy. How one should manage negative marking in the exam?

A. Again I already mentioned the ABC Strategy when you are going through the A’s you practically working on the areas which are your strength, you are able to visualize the question. In that cases, you will not mistakes so easily. You will need to figure out a strategy to improve your accuracy. In a few minutes, identify the easy ones. So you are able to manage the correct attempts first. In level B you know you have already visualized but you know they are time taking. So you are taking more time and then choosing the correct answers then.

While the C-level ones, are the areas you are not good at. That has to be avoided initially and if you have time left you can attempt those ones. In the preparation, you should focus more on average and weakness areas while practicing more and more questions. The syllabus is very simple like class 10th in QA but the way of doing the questions changes a lot. It is very important to know the shortest approach.

Q. If you have to give the strategy for other exams like XAT, IIFT, what would be the strategy as there is GK Section there and this year XAT also included an essay section. So what would be the preparation strategy?

A. With every other exam, there is a little bit of moderation in the strategy. If we talk about CAT, in general, it has a sectional time limit and a fixed number of questions and if you are done with the section you can move on to the other section. Whereas in exams like XAT you don’t have any sectional time limits. So to improve your overall score you have to focus on the area which is your strength like your verbal if you are good at it try to attempt more questions in that, the same way in other sections.

XAT also has a Gk section in which you will receive your score but it is not a part of the selection criteria unless you got a call for PI. Before the pandemic it was once you give the exam there would be a GD, PI, and a WAT. Conducting WAT for different people at the same time is difficult. So, they included an essay in the exam. So, preparing for the essay, reading is important and many structures of sentences, grammar, and vocabulary and how to structure the essays. For IIFT gk preparation the student should be updated on what is going around. It will be also useful in the personal interview. You cannot do it in a short period of time, you need to be updated on the current affairs. Read the newspapers and details of the past events.

Q. How should the candidates be preparing for GD/PI and WAT?

A. Yes, for GD it is much important now as 50% of selection was based on percentile and the remaining 50% depends on the GD, PI, and WAT. So for the PI, it is important to start preparing now before you receive the call. Starting early gives you an advantage, get your discussion with your friends on different topics, know about yourself, the profile of the college, different courses will help to ace your PI. One thing is very important, that why you want to MBA, you should be able to convey this to your interviewer. Many students end up giving many cliche answers.

Q. What is the role of the IMS in the preparation of the GD, PI, and WAT?

Ans – Before the CAT result was actually made, we have started preparing the students. We have conducted 115 interview IMS. So they are well prepared, what they need to brush upon. We also conducted sessions that helped them understand marketing, finance, etc. We have a special series known as future you where some of the industry experts used insights for different roles, jobs, that helps the students in deciding what specialization has to be taken. So, here they have started a month back.

Q. If you have to sum up your success mantra in 1 line. What would it be?

A. For any student to ace CAT, it is an exam of consistency rather than being of content. You need to be consistent while preparing, you should have a proper schedule, have your own prep. plan, how much time has to be given for each section, etc. So, consistency is my advice to the students.

Q. There is a Myth, that engineers can only crack CAT Exam. It’s very tough for non-engineers to crack it. So, what’s your take on that?

A. I would say only one thing here is that we have more than 600 students preparing with us and the topper we have this year is from a non-engineering background. So, if he can do it then definitely others can. So, it’s just a myth.

Q. In the future do you have a plan to teach and help students prepare or are any other plans in mind?

A. When I joined here, I started here as a student. I converted SIPM, some of the IIM’s as well but at that point in time, I took the decision, that was something I wanted to do. I just want to help students to go into their dream college.

Q. My last question for you is related to fear and anxiety. It is a very common issue these days and at some point or the other, everyone feels so. Did you ever have a fear of making it or felt anxious? How did you overcome it?

A. We use to have one on one sessions with the students where we understood where they need help so what I advised here is to just focus on the scores and on the weakness. If you are able to manage the minimum score then. The result is not the only thing I mean it will help you in admission but PI is also a very important process. There are certain colleges that focus on profile-based calls. Just focus on the 2-3 percentile improvement in each of the CAT, you will ultimately make it. Doing things in a proper way, making study plans modified, etc.

With this interview, we can get that cracking the CAT exam is not impossible, as Karan Desai says It’s the hard work that matters and your way of strategy and above. He says that you can follow the ABC strategy in which you can see what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses. Attempt your strengths first to achieve correct answers.

We wish Karan all the very best in your future endeavors. Hope you achieve great success ahead. Thank you!

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