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CAT Strategy by Amber Sahu (IIM Sirmaur)
April 13 2024

24th June, 2017 “Finally, I am also going to an IIM.” I said to myself. Two year ago, I was one among the numerous aspirants of Common Admission Test – CAT as we popularly know it. Now, I am in my 3rd term of Post Graduate Programme at IIM Sirmaur. This has been a great journey for me, filled with many ups and downs. It’s an experience that I would like to share with my fellow aspirants. I’d be extremely satisfied to know if the strategies that had worked for me, work for you as well. To put things into perspective, CAT 2016 was my first attempt at the test. Preparing for CAT involves a deeper understanding of yourself. You should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. The main question that students ask themselves initially is – Where to start? This can be a very confusing situation to be in, as right direction is important from the beginning. I started my CAT journey from the basics. I started preparing for CAT when I was sophomore. Believe me, in the beginning I had never thought about getting into an IIM. It was the preparation phase that instilled confidence in me to dream high. I divided my preparation journey into three phase.

  • Building base strong
  • Addressing the elephant in the room
  • Problem solver mode
  • Finishing strokes


Building Base Strong (Jan-March) – In this phase I solved basic question from all areas. I started giving test from basic areas. In verbal ability, I was solving short RCs and various handouts of sentence correction and grammar usage. In Data Interpretation and logical reasoning, I solved 8-10 easy set to strengthen my understanding of fundamentals. Quant section, which was my weak area, I was most concerned about. Taking help of RS Aggarwal book for senior and higher secondary proved to be right decision. I was solving 40-50 basic questions every day from this section. I gave 2-3 full mocks just to realize that I have long way to go. Tackling Difficult Areas (Apr-May) - Now, my basics were clear, I notched up my efforts a bit. I started tackling with those areas which were constantly making me afraid of attempting CAT. It was important to gain confidence in all the areas of particular section. So that on D-day I am not filled with any negative thoughts. Gave 4-5 mocks during this period. Performance was still not improved much. Problem solver (Jun-Aug) – This phase was one of the busiest phase of my life. I left no stone unturned in solving problems as much as I could. Gave intermediate sectional tests and analyzed thoroughly my faults and where I needed to improve. I solved all materials and handouts given by TIME Institute during these three months. Found improved performance in all the 10-12 mocks I gave. This boosted my confidence. Finishing Strokes (Sep-Nov) – In this phase, I did not touch materials and handouts much except in the case when I have had to refer for clearing doubts. I can remember I gave 15 full length mocks and approx. 20 advance level sectional tests from each section. At that moment I was clear about one thing that this period is going to defining phase of my life. In my last full mocks I had scored 80%ile. Now, I was pretty much confident about scoring well in CAT because TIME mocks are considered as tougher than any mocks. D-Day (4th Dec, 2016) – As per suggested by TIME faculty, I rested for 2-3 days before CAT. I watched movies, played cricket, slept a lot except thinking about CAT. I was very relaxed on the D-Day. I went there, wrote CAT and returned. I was satisfied with my performance. Jan 8, 2017 – 90%ile About the Author: 


 Amber Sahu (IIM Sirmaur) An active listener and learner, Amber is a consistent performer since the outset of his academic career. He got Academic Excellence Award for his remarkable performance in BBA. He cracked CAT in first attempt and secured admission in esteemed IIM Sirmaur. He has been carrying out his responsibility dutifully as an organizer, campus ambassador, volunteer and class prefect. He possesses impressive skill in Stock Trading, Drawing and Badminton as well.

Anisha Mukhija

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