What do you see yourself doing on CAT Day?

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CAT Strat / Motivation

One of the biggest questions that you need to ask yourself is how do you think of yourself with respect to life?

  • Do you think of yourself as an individual who makes life happen or to whom life happens?
  • Do you see yourself at the doing end of things or at the receiving end of things?
  • Do you believe or do you hope?

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Are you ready for a real test?

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Motivation

From very early on in our lives we are exposed (or subjected) to this word called TEST. As we enter the higher grades the importance that TESTS play or are supposed to play in our lives steadily increases. If we look back, for most of us, tests have always been part of a trinity, they have always been concomitant with two other things —  fear and prayer.

At some point of time all of us when faced with a test (including yours truly) have felt at the least a sliver of fear running through our bodies prior to a test and even most unbelieving of us have muttered a tiny little prayer under our breaths. Read More

CAT 2017: How to manage your 180 minutes

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CAT Strat / Motivation

We have reached the last stretch now. We have done enough concepts, practice & strategy. We have now crossed an invisible frontier, we have moved from the general to the specific, from what is outside of you to what is inside of you, to that space between your ears.

Those who have taken the CAT before will attest that how well you manage your 180 minutes, how well you react to tough set or a section, how well you are able to execute Plan A or switch to Plan B, everything, depends on how well you manage the space between your ears.

So let’s take it section by section, let’s look at each of the 60 minutes, let’s look at what you need to do right, what you need to watch out for and most importantly what can go wrong. Read More

A prep plan for the last leg of CAT

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I was pleasantly surprised when a few days back I started receiving a similar query, both in mails from across the country and from the students I was meeting in person — what do I do in the last 45 days, I need a plan for the last 45 days.It is not surprising since approaching deadlines have a strange effect on our psyche and round figures such as 45 have a strange way of both spurring and postponing action (if the time is 9:45, most people postpone stuff they have to do till 10). I have always felt that our need insatiable need to find meaning in entropy leads us to irrationally seek comfort in rational numbers such as 45 — why not a 47-day prep plan, at least 47 is a prime number! Read More

How to fill the S.P.Jain profile-based form

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B-School Selection / Form-Filling Process

S.P Jain (SPJIMR in full or SP as it is usually referred to) is one of the most underrated business schools in the country. One of the highlights of the S.P.Jain admissions process is that applicants have to choose their specialization at the time of application. While this might be tough for freshers who do not have enough information and self-awareness to choose a specialization, it is a boon for applicants with work experience. Read More

How to increase your score on VA-RC – Part 2

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CAT Strat / Verbal Strat

In the previous post, we discussed how to maximize your VA-RC score by increasing your accuracy on RC. In this post, we will take a look at VA, time-allocation, and order of attempts for the section as a whole.

The VA section is not very different from RC for most test-takers in terms of maintaining a consistent accuracy. Grammar and vocab-based questions are the bugbears for many, while the rest of VA is the main scoring area.. Read More

How to increase your VA-RC score – Part 1

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CAT Strat / Verbal Strat

I have rarely done posts on CAT Verbal, the last one was this one on FIJs somewhere in 2013, and not entirely without reason.

The VA-RC section has always been a peculiar section on the CAT. It is quite to tough to precisely answer the question — what do they actually test? In all honesty even they might not always be in the know!

Be that as it may, your first objective is to ensure that you at least clear the cut-offs, which will be around 35-40, and the second to maximise your score. Read More

Why I Teach

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Motivation

The germ for this post sprouted in the aftermath of the death of Dr.Kalam.

In the deluge of Kalam-related information that dominated the media after his death one small bit struck a chord — his love for teaching. Of all the things he was — a teacher, a scientist, an advisor to the government, the President — it was the role of a teacher that he cherished the most.

On first meetings, people usually ask, “So what do you do?” The only reply I want to give when faced with this question is — I am a teacher. All the rest, the MBA and the business ownership are built around this core.


Teaching at 21

The first paid job that I took up was teaching.

I had completed my engineering as mechanically as possible and graduated with a software job, whose joining date got deferred in the bloodbath that followed the dotcom bust. I had taken the CAT in my final year and contrary to all expectations (including my own) I failed to get a call.

I was more than determined to clear it the second time round and was offered the chance to teach Analytical Reasoning to GRE students (back in the day GRE was out of 2400 with Analytical Reasoning being one of the sections) at the institute where I had prepared for the CAT.

The feedback for my classes was good but back then I did not really think much of teaching as a profession. I can distinctly remember thinking that it can become a really monotonous thing — the same sheet, the same problems and the same jokes.

It would take me more than a decade before I really understood what teaching was all about.


Teaching, now

During my first teaching stint while my feedback was good and I had no problem solving questions, there would rarely be students queuing up to ask me doubts or speak to me after class. But since I moved to IMS Chennai in late 2012 and started teaching again, things have been different.

It was around that time that I realized that in the decade that I spent since I first taught, my approach to teaching had changed completely. I realized that at 21, I was only a good problem solver with good communication skills. I was not a teacher.

At 21, I looked at teaching from my own perspective — what is in it for me? Am I getting a kick out of it? I laughed inwardly about the monotony — the same sheet, the same problems and the same jokes.

I failed to see the most important and unique aspect in this whole process — the student.

The sheet might be the same but there is a set of completely new students experiencing those problems for the first time.

Once one sees this, the sheet no longer remains the same; in fact it is no longer about the sheet, it is completely about the student, forging a connection with them and helping them absorb everything to the fullest.


The teacher always gets more in return

I can confidently say that teaching has actually taught me and given me a lot in return. My successful second attempt on CAT, had a lot to do with the clarity of thinking I developed because of taking classes.

I learn to solve better because I learn to teach better. I learn to teach better from the students. There have been many cases when the same problem and the same explanation with the same energy fail to help a particular student understand. You notice a face in the class that has not really understood it.

It is then that you are forced to come up with a more creative way of explaining the problem. It goes without saying there are also cases where students come up with better solutions.

While these are the very specific benefits, there are others that my fellow teachers, mostly freshly-minted MBAs who take time out on weekends to come and teach, have mentioned:

  • one says that he has to come and teach after a long working week,  just to refresh himself
  • another guy says that his wife says she likes him more when he returns home after taking a class at IMS than when he returns from his full-time work place
  • yet another guy says that no matter how rotten his day or week might have been all he needs to do is to take a class and he is back to feeling great again

My favourite part

It was around April 2013, the GD-PI results for the first batch of CAT students that I mentored were expected at anytime. One of the students with whom I had spent quite some time called and said — Tony…IIM-B…then a pause…converted! I leapt out of the chair and screamed YES!, my other arm outstretched.

This is always the best part, the moment a student succeeds. Nothing tastes like success, only in this case, it is not your own but somebody else’s.

When I look back, I did not leap and scream years ago, when I came to know of my own result that I had made it!


The world needs great teachers

There was a time in this country and in our culture when being a teacher was a mark of distinction — the word guru itself means the one who dispels darkness; we have hymns equating the guru with all three gods.

Not just in myths with Dronacharya & Arjuna but everywhere there have been legends of great teacher-taught relationships from Chanakya & Chandragupta to Socrates & Plato.

We live in a different world now, a world that talks about technology, inverted classrooms and self-learning. I am more than sure that technology can really make things better but that does not mean that we can do with fewer teachers.

There is something about being in the presence of a great teacher that makes us want to be better than the individuals we are. I have had the privilege of experiencing this a few times.

I hope that more and more youngsters seriously start taking teaching as a profession. It’s a very fulfilling profession and what better day to say it out loud than today — the birth anniversary of another President, another Teacher.

Happy Teachers’ Day my fellow mentors, motivators & guides!

CAT 2017: How to increase your DI-LR percentile – Part I

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CAT Strat / DI-LR Strat

After the previous post a few of you had commented saying that you are eagerly awaiting the post on the DI-LR section. The earnestness is understandable since most of you who are facing the SimCATs will know that the DI-LR section is one that will make or break your CAT.

If it goes well, you will take that confidence into the QA section finish strong. If your performance on the DI-LR section goes south then you will start feeling the fatigue of 120 minutes of testing and will fade away in the last section. The latter was the case with most test-takers last year. Read More