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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

None | 12 February 2006 | Tags: Best of PaGaLGuY

There are some, for whom, drinking 40 bottles of Pepsi in one go is a feat. There are others who would settle for nothing less than summiting Mt Everest. But here we present to you, the Great-Grandma-of-Them-All Muneera Lokhandwala, who will settle for nothing less than a 100 percentile or close, in CAT year upon year upon year upon Okay, we shut up now, and pass the mic to Munira to give us the dope about smacking time management into submission for cracking CAT.

I am Munira Lokhandwala, a Math graduate from St. Xaviers college, Mumbai. I took the CAT in my final year of graduation i.e. Dec 1996 and got calls from all 4 IIMs (IIM I and IIM K had just started that year and I hadnt applied to either). After my GD/PI I got calls from Calcutta and Lucknow. I completed my post graduation from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (batch of 1999). When I was preparing for my CAT, I didnt even consider taking the other entrance exams for various institutes. Was this arrogance? Lets see.

Here I would like to take what is fondly called in film making: a flashback. All of us remember the seventh standard scholarship exam that tested the math, verbal and visual skills of students. In that test I scored 36 out of 100 in Math (64 in Verbal and 50 in visuals). So you can definitely say that I wasnt born with the aptitude to crack such examinations.

So after the background, you can see where this will lead to. How does someone who is not born with the required aptitude skills go ahead and crack the CAT? Not just crack it, as in, just manage, but crack it with confidence. Incidentally even I had started my preparations for the CAT in February of (hold your breath) 1996. Whew! I was in the same boat as most of you are. I was in the second year of my Bachelors studies. So I started in February, took a break in April for my exams, in May for some holidaying and started again in June and continued till the end. There were two weddings (no, not mine) of close family members in between, so there was a slight break there. Excluding these breaks, I was preparing for the CAT, 2-3 hours a day, 6 days of the week, every week. So finally we can roll our sleeves and get down to the task. This article is not about what to do during the CAT. It does not talk about the shortcuts you can apply during the paper, the food you should eat to score better at the CAT and all the numerous facts / statistics /precautions/ rumors that you have heard about the day of the CAT. This article is about the long period before the CAT right from when you decide to take it to a nice slightly chilly Sunday morning when you are checking your pencils, eraser and admit card.

1) Plan backwards

You will never really remember when your CAT preparation started, but you will always remember when it ended. Did I hear 19th November? No, it will end on the 17th November. The CAT is an exam where presence of mind is essential, studying till the last minute or till the last day leads to an exhausted mind. So it is a good idea to stop preparing on the Friday evening before the CAT. So currently your deadline is 17th November. The last few months will be spent primarily on taking comprehensive tests. Lets try and work that out.

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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

Right now is a good time to decide how many comprehensive tests you will take (including sims/ mocks/ aims). I think 30 tests are fairly sufficient. There is no point taking a test everyday or worse still, taking 2 tests per day. Working with 30 tests will easily take you between 70-80 days. This is because if you take a test with feedback on day 1 you will revise and take some area tests on day 2. Also you may need one or two days of break. So, assuming 75 days for comprehensive tests, takes your deadline to the end of August.

Taking full length tests right after covering your basics, is like walking into harsh sunlight from an air conditioned room, it will definitely lead to discomfort and if you are unlucky then perhaps headaches and vomiting too. Hence there should be some middle layer which acts like room temperature, in our analogy. That middle layer is going to be your section tests. So in the last fifteen days of August, you should take around two section tests at least from each area and spend some time going through the analysis and feedback for the tests. This will be the first time usually when you really start solving with the second hand making a loud noise every second. So get used to the idea before you venture into the comprehensive test territory.

So finally we have come to our first major deadline 15th August i.e. Independence day. Symbolically, it will be an independence of sorts for all of you. Independence from the normal area of basics and theory. Independence from learning and honing what you already know. From 15th August, you will be looking at applying what you have learnt and if you have learnt well. Then believe me you will enjoy the process.

2) In-depth Scheduling

With 15th August as the deadline, you should make a list of what is the kind of theory you want to complete, till that time. I have made a rudimentary representative list here to work from:

Reading

Word List

Math

Book on Verbal Ability questions

Book on Reading Comprehension questions

Book on Analytical Reasoning

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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

Book on Data Interpretation

Practice book for Math

Your maximum time should be spent doing two major activities: reading and Math.

3) Daily schedule

Make a daily schedule which incorporates all your routines and breaks. If you watch movies a lot then it would be silly to make a schedule which does not consider 3 hours a week on the week-end spent in catching the latest release. Also try to shuffle the subjects, so that you do not get bored with one subject. A good time table for 2 days can look like this:

Day 1:

Half an hour of reading

Half an hour of word list

2 hours of math

Day 2

Half an hour of reading

half an hour of word list

1 hour of analytical reasoning / data interpretation

1 hour of reading comprehension exercises / verbal ability


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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

4) Reading

For those who read as a hobby this will not be a major problem. For others, it is essential that you take out anything between 30 minutes to one hour for reading, daily. For the uninitiated reader, you can start by reading fiction but there is no use if you spend 3 months reading one big book by, say, Ayn Rand. Instead pick up any collection of short stories by assorted authors and start reading those. You will get used to various styles and different settings and, of course, different content. After reading fiction for one to one and half months, you can graduate to nonfiction. So, the next time you log onto pagalguy.com, open another window where you google on various CAT topics (a list of CAT topics is given as an appendix) and read articles related to them. The advantages are twofold. Firstly, you will get used to CAT-like passages and secondly, you will start gaining some knowledge on these topics. So the next time you have an RC on the same topic, you will not feel completely lost. For these reading sessions, never focus on speed. Only focus on understanding, if you read enough your speed will automatically increase.

Reading will not only help you in the verbal section, but also increase your comprehension in the other sections. It is the single most important factor that will help you crack the CAT.

5) Word List

There are very few questions that directly require knowledge of words. But knowing a lot of good words and improving your vocabulary will never harm but always help your CAT preparations. So pick up a good word list and start working on the word list every day or if your vocabulary is already good, then every alternate day. Even if you do an alphabet a week, you will take around 6 months, to complete the word list. Having a good vocabulary also ensures fluency in GD/PI. This is the part, where students are lazy, but after the CAT if you feel that just knowing one word would have fetched an extra mark in no time, thenit really hurts.

6) Math

Math, based on strengths and weaknesses, should be done either every alternate day or every day. Go through the theory, solved examples and then tackle exercises. If you cannot solve a problem do not rush to the explanatory answers, give it some time. Think. Get your mind to oil those rusted math gears and levers.

Try solving problems in the head, minimize the use of pen and paper Make a note of important relationships in a topic. Make a note of innovative approaches. Remember writing a lot is very unhealthy for the CAT, but after you solve it in your head writing the explanation will clear doubts and reinforce learning. So please make good notes.
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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

Munira Lokhandwala is an alumna from IIM Calcutta, batch of 99. She has been associated with cat coaching since 2001. In 2005, she started catalyst group tuitions for cat. (www.catalyst4cat.com) she is a regular cat taker herself. These are her scores: year overall percentile 2005 100 %ile 2004 99.99 %ile 2003 99.98 %ile
184 0 0 0

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4u.solanki & 17 others like this

Comments (53) Showing Comments: 1-50 51 -53 Report This

anonymous (#1) 07:29 PM, 12 Feb '06 Hats off to ya Madam!!!...u inspire the mere mortals like us......acing it once is itself a big achievement but doing it every ..read more yr,that too with an increasing a.p %ile is an awesome achievement!!! Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#2) 04:45 AM, 13 Feb '06 Just one question that's been on my mind ever since I heard of this serial CAT-taking. You do not actually apply to any of the ..read more IIM's in the form do you?(for the uninitiated, I mean, tick any of the 6 options) Reply . Like Report This

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anonymous (#3) 05:48 PM, 13 Feb '06 Can test taking be outsourced to you? Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#4) 09:47 PM, 14 Feb '06 Fantabulous!!Munira U've proved it again that there is no subsitute to Hard Work! People usually plan their work,but don't work ..read more their plans out.Absolutely disciplined work-out. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#5) 02:53 AM, 15 Feb '06 Now, we are finally seeing some action on the CAT zone! Good work, Munira! Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#6) 07:28 AM, 15 Feb '06 this is simply incredible, but u've inspired people like us to slog more and come out with flying colours. Thanx a lot for the ..read more article and enlightening us. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#7) 02:26 PM, 15 Feb '06 nice post madam!! Reply . Like Report This

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anonymous (#8) 10:04 AM, 16 Feb '06 Amazing! a ultimate ready recokener for a lazy lad like me. thank God I searched b4 scribbling at my own. Why not use other's ..read more intelligence? isin't it? Thanks Muneera for a very informative and inspiring post. I regret why I never came to know about pagalguy when I needed the most? But still I hope it's not too late and this post may help me in some way or the other. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#9) 03:12 PM, 17 Feb '06 *took out my specks* *stood on the chair* *bowed to the computer*....... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#10) 07:07 AM, 18 Feb '06 Way to go lady! ur post has been a real eye opener. thanx for inspiring people like me who are pretty lazy (to say the least) and ..read more just get goose bump at the very thought of cracking the cat. thanx again. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#11) 08:25 AM, 19 Feb '06 just great Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#12) 04:37 PM, 19 Feb '06 i think its a nice post but then ultimately wad i think is cat is ultimately a test of ur nerves too how well u hold it on the d ..read more day is of utmost importance, but i really think ur methodolgy will be a great help to all test takers Reply . Like Report This
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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

anonymous (#13) 05:23 PM, 19 Feb '06 After reading the article, it looks as if CAT is an easy exam. And everyone with right mixture of preparation will succeed. Its ..read more awesome to see the 100% score every year. Congratulations on that par, and i hope you will hold a record on the same. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#14) 03:18 AM, 21 Feb '06 highly motivatin an d real picture of test preparation rather than the tigerred awful picture created otherwise,thanks a lot mam Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#15) 04:12 PM, 21 Feb '06 Absolutely to the point talk, i guess so. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#16) 10:49 AM, 22 Feb '06 Kudos to U..i was in gr8 need of such a motivating n true-to-life article on CAT Preparation...thx a lot n keep posting other such ..read more articles on cracking CAT !!! Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#17) 12:42 PM, 22 Feb '06 really inspiring post. Reply . Like

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anonymous (#18) 01:26 PM, 22 Feb '06 Tumne meri muh ki baat cheenli. *bows* Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#19) 06:42 AM, 23 Feb '06 There were two weddings (no, not mine) LOL... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#20) 11:22 AM, 23 Feb '06 i guess ths post shud hav come up last year itself ths time so dat v cud hav benefitted more..wat say guysss.... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#21) 06:18 AM, 25 Feb '06 Seriously Ma'am, posts like yours is very much essential for pathetic lazybones like me. Please keep us enthuse until IIM's ..read more door opens. : Nishant Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#22) 03:58 AM, 26 Feb '06 I am new here can someone tell me how to find the Appendix of CAT topics mentioned in the article?? Reply . Like Report This
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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

anonymous (#23) 10:20 AM, 28 Feb '06 hmm.. nice read.. and kinda realistic widout bein preachy.. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#24) 11:49 AM, 01 Mar '06 Excellent article...Not much funda...plain truth,,,,It reminds me of the 'Law of conservation of Energy - Energy can neither be ..read more created nor destroyed, energy is transferred'. Work smart and your scores will be transferred to your IIM score card. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#25) 04:40 PM, 03 Mar '06 I don't get the point of slogging and cracking CAT. It's better if you crack it without doing so. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#26) 05:24 AM, 06 Mar '06 nothing new, same ol gyaan!!!!! Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#27) 01:28 PM, 06 Mar '06 gr8 post.....thanx Reply . Like Report This

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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

anonymous (#28) 03:49 PM, 07 Mar '06 it is really inspiring Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#29) 06:33 AM, 12 Mar '06 Dont you think madam that you are repeatedly snatching seats [read: interview calls] from genuine candidates over and over again ? ..read more Cant understand what do you wanna prove?? nyway as you hav acheived cent percentile I hope u wont hamper my already dwindling chances @ CAT2006 Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#30) 05:36 AM, 16 Mar '06 Damn! Gud article. Realistic nd a wake up call 4 all the lazy mba aspirants like me. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#31) 08:32 AM, 16 Mar '06 Where can we find the Appendix on CAT Topics Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#32) 08:52 AM, 17 Mar '06 Great post and surely a much needed Wake Up Call... btw maam, wl u be taking cat06 ? Reply . Like Report This

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anonymous (#33) 07:27 AM, 20 Mar '06 just amazing..... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#34) 06:46 PM, 20 Mar '06 Great Post.... would def CAT 06 seekers (am personally am mailing it to some of my juniors)... but like j0 i would like to know if ..read more u "apply" to any of the institutes... bcz if u do, it would be one call taken away from a more needy candidate.. i raised this question in the post CAT 05 discussion forum, and am raising it again Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#35) 05:03 PM, 26 Mar '06 I think some people don't realise sloggin through the year(or years) isn't that impt as the last 40 days(excluding the pre CAT ..read more week)... Anyways I thought Munira that giving CAT was just a personla boost for you but its a successful marketing ploy for your Institute.. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#36) 12:38 PM, 03 Apr '06 gr8 article ma'am .. keep posting such interesting articles. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#37) 01:32 PM, 05 Apr '06 fantabulous Reply . Like

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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

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anonymous (#38) 06:12 PM, 15 Apr '06 I hate to be a party-pooper, but how is it statistically possible to get a 100th Percentile in a percentile based exam? Isn't the ..read more highest you can get 99.99999999' percentile. How can you have 100% of a sample scoring lower than you, considering YOU are part of the sample. You can't score lower than yourself, now can you? Assuming 100,000 people give the CAT, and you get the highest, that would mean 99,999 people are below you. Hence, 99.999 percentile. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#39) 05:28 AM, 27 Apr '06 gr8 idea to creck CAT, just need to get in mind... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#40) 05:14 AM, 14 May '06 hi why dont you tell us how to go about the course during the two years of MBA. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#41) 05:16 PM, 17 May '06 Really thanks Munira, I will make my plan accordingly.. got inspired very much... Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#42) 12:47 AM, 19 May '06 100% ile? Howz this possible? This is not yet answered.. Reply . Like
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anonymous (#43) 12:44 PM, 27 May '06 ur prep strategy is no doubt excellent!! but tell me, aren't u taking away seats 4m the genuine candidates? wat abt ur plans for ..read more CAT-06?? n yes, the concept of 100%ile also hasnt got thru me.. how can anybody achieve 100 %ile??? but but but... d prep strategy was EXCELLENT!!!!!!!! Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#44) 12:11 PM, 03 Jun '06 No comment Mam the article u have written it`s really fantastic and very helpful for CAT aspirants.i just got through your site ..read more and am very inspired to saw your score card.Your article will work like as boost if he/she implements within. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#45) 04:56 AM, 18 Jul '06 Hey Maam... I think you was my math teacher in IMS class at Dadar in 2002-2003... Good to see your article.. Reply . Like Report This

sbk1337 (#46) 02:56 PM, 21 Aug '09 @nonedone the CAT %tile score is actually rounded-off to the 3rd digit after decimal point which means if u get 99.995 it is ..read more rounded to 100 and if u get 99.994 u get 99.99%tile Reply . Like Report This

sbk1337 (#47) 02:59 PM, 21 Aug '09

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Confessions of a serial almost-100 percentiler : PaGaLGuY

@peterpan i hav heard that Munira doesn't tick the IIM PGDM boxes in the CAT form, only the FPM boxes so that it doesn't affect ..read more the regular candidates like us. Reply . Like Report This

anonymous (#48) 08:15 PM, 28 Nov '09 minute detailing will be very helpful thnx for sharing ur experience Reply . Like Report This

Er_mayank (#49) 01:48 PM, 11 Jul '10 THANX INDEED FOR THIS AWESOME POST Reply . Like Report This

DIKSHIT_CHHABRA (#50) 11:01 PM, 13 Feb '11 she reminds me of lance armstrong.. hats off to u mam!!! Reply . Like Showing Comments: 1-50 51 -53

Wieacmet. rt omn..

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