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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why iim mba??

All of us have heard that MBA CAT is a test of Quantitative ability and Verbal ability.We can't really blame students for thinking so, but this is more because institutes inject this thought into their minds.Moreover, students believe CAT for MBA is all about 150 questions divided into three sections to be tackled in 120 minutes.

Often, we come across examples of class toppers performing badly in CAT, while an average student in the same class would have cracked CAT.

This puts forth a few questions:

1. Are B-Schools actually looking for your Quantitative and Verbal skills in the written CAT?

2. Are B-Schools looking for your communication skills in GDs and interviews?

If your answer to these questions is yes, it is time you snapped out of your hallucination and facd reality.

Most test preparatory institutes prepare you for Quantitative and Verbal skills, but forget to put an element of stress that forms the basis of written CAT.

CAT -- a few home truths

For most students, GDs and interviews mean preparation of certain macro topics and self-awareness issues.

But interviewers want to know the core of your business acumen.

GDs and interviews preparation is not a 10 to 12 session programme, but a year-long process.

They are more about sharpening your business acumen.

  • Do you know something about impact of China's deliberate slowdown on Indian economy?
  • Why is the Indian prime minister giving top billing to infrastructure?
  • What are your thoughts on the consolidation in the Indian telecom sector? etc

If you have an idea of the above, your preparation has direction.

If not, you probably are so engrossed in your Mathematics and English that you are ignoring the real aspects of CAT preparation.

MBA: some facets

-Just having an IIM MBA degree will not help you. Dig into the reason why you want to do an MBA. Discover your core skills.

-If you are good at creativity and have an aptitude for advertising, advertising schools are a better option for you than a B-School.

-Don't get bogged down with the fat pay packages. Salary packages are just a direct function of economic growth.

If in a particular year, there is an upward economic swing, salary packages will shoot. In any recession year, even the best B-Schools in India find it tough to place their students.

Look at the placement scenario this year. The IT and ITES companies led the fray, followed by finance companies.

Old economy companies were almost out of the reckoning.

This tells us the economic growth pattern in the year to come.

Steps to an iim MBA

Remember, an MBA is a medium to reach your destination. It is not the destination.

The following points might help you build a strong foundation to your management career:

  • Set a goal for yourself.
  • Introspect and find out your flair.
  • Shortlist the B-Schools or specialisations based on your flair.
  • Start reading about management so as to get an edge over others.
  • Know how to prepare for CAT. CAT iim is not only about Mathematics and Verbal skills.
  • Introduce an element of stress and uncertainty at each and every step of your preparation deliberately.
  • Learn to relax at the end of the day.

All the best for your MBA IIM CAT preparation and examination!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

IIM CAT tips & tricks

Here are a few tips that should fetch you a call from the best B-Schools in the country.

Tip 1: Handle pressure and uncertainty well. And reap the rewards!

Handling pressure and uncertainty is a crucial element of mba CAT. This is a vital skill that a manager requires in his/ her daily decision-making process.

The IIM CAT examination spans 120 minutes, but if you are able to handle the pressure in the first 15 and last 10 minutes, your chances to excel increase.

Some pointers to help you excel at this stage are:

  • Have a flexible strategy.
  • Scan your question paper for the initial three to four minutes to locate easy questions.
  • Attempt your favourite section first.
  • Remember CAT is just another name for uncertainty. If it ain't uncertain, it ain't CAT! This year, you might get a paper based on Reasoning. Or you might have an additional section on Reasoning.

(The above prediction is based on the increasing emphasis on Reasoning in the last decade. Also, CAT patterns/formats are revamped every five years. The last time the pattern was changed was four or five years ago.)

Tip 2: Sequence and prioritise -- your mantras for success

Sequencing and prioritising mean:

~ Deciding on the sequence in which you will attempt the various sections.
~ Allocating an approximate time to each section.
~ Prioritising questions within sections.

Deciding your sequence before entering the examination hall helps you methodically attempt CAT.

As a result, you don't shuffle between sections and lose time. Once you have scanned the paper, allocate an additional five to 10 minutes to a tough section and take out five to 10 minutes from an easy section.

Let us assume that, before entering into the hall, your strategy was:

~ Scanning: 3-4 minutes
~ Quantitative Ability: 40 minutes
~ Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency: 35-40 minutes
~ Verbal Ability: 40 minutes

If, say, Quantitative Ability is tough and the other two sections are comparatively easy, your changed strategy may look something like:

~ Scanning: 3-4 minutes
~ Quantitative Ability: 45-50 minutes
~ Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency: 30 minutes
~ Verbal Ability: 30-35 minutes

By all means, attempt your favourite section first.

Those who have taken mba CAT, though, will advise you never to attempt Quantitative Ability in the end. QA utilises your core fundamentals and formula; sometimes, they are difficult to recall under the twin pressures of time and mental fatigue.

The other two sections are primarily practise-based.

Here are some sequences you could adopt if you do not have a strategy yet:

Sequence I

1. Quantitative Ability
2. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency
3. Verbal Ability

Sequence II

1. Quantitative Ability
2. Verbal Ability
3. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency

Sequence III

1. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency
2. Quantitative Ability
3. Verbal Ability

Sequence IV

1. Verbal Ability
2. Quantitative Ability
3. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency

Tip 3: Tame mba CAT by taming each section individually

Here are some specific section-related strategies:

Quantitative Ability

Attempt questions in three rounds.

Round 1

~ Attempt all one liners.
~ Attempt all two liners.
~ Attempt all four liners.

Round 2

Come back to the leftover questions of Round 1. Under pressure, you might just have left easy questions from Round 1 unattempted. Attempt them again

Round 3

If time permits, tackle the lengthier questions on your favourite topics.

There is a second school of thought which says lengthier questions are easier.

CAT MBA verbal section

CAT Verbal Ability section tests basic grammar and your vocabulary through questions on analogies, antonyms/ synonyms, logical sequencing of paragraphs and sentence completion.

This section has approximately 50 questions in iim mba cat entrance test. It is allotted 50 marks and has to be completed in approximately 40 minutes.

This section cannot be mastered in one long cram session or within a scheduled number of days. You need to start small and then pick up fast, until the desire to know the language becomes second nature to you.

Here's how to make a start:

~ Pick up the Wren And Martin's High School English Grammar and Composition (often used in junior classes) for approximately Rs 85 to Rs 100.

Go through the chapters on nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Do not spend time on practising exercises; concentrate on the application of these words in sentences.

~ Get a pocket size dictionary, which truly is the best investment. Make it a point to read upto 10 to 15 words, or one page, every four hours. Don't memorise or cram.

Read complete meanings, usage and sentences. Use mnemonics; this means you create a mental image of the word.

For example, the word SUTURE means 'joining edges of a wound or incision by stitching'. You can relate this to your getting hurt and requiring stitches during an operation.

Similarly the word WARLOCK means 'sorcerer'. Make a mental picture of a wizard or magician to remember.

By the time you take the examination, make sure you have gone through the entire dictionary at least twice.

~ You will usually be tested on the application of the word, not its meaning. It is not possible to just cram and remember the approximately 5,000 odd words in any of the 'vocab lists' given to you.

~ As this is a multiple-choice type of test, you do not need to know meanings verbatim, nor exactly nor vaguely. It just pays to 'know' more words.

~ To enhance grammar skills, read books, magazines, newspapers and journals. The more you read, the better.

~ When you come across a new word, immediately check its meaning in the pocket dictionary.

Quick tips for iim mba cat

~ Don't forget you are human and have a limited capacity to learn at any given time.

-Make the study process easier by doing all preparation in small doses.

~ Plan judiciously and proceed accordingly. This is the key to success.