Here is CMAT topper Gaurav Dave’s interview with TestFunda.com:
Q: Hello. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
A: Hi everyone, my name is Gaurav Dave and I am a senior manager at Testfunda.com.
Q: Congratulations on topping CMAT! So, how does it feel?
A: Thank you. Frankly, it's an amazing feeling to have scored a 100 percentile.
Q: Gaurav, can you tell us a little about yourself and your educational background?
A: I have a Marketing MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), batch of 2006. I worked as an AVP with HSBC for around three years. I have around 10 years of experience in the field of coaching for aptitude tests.
Q: The readers would like to know whether this was your first CMAT attempt.
A: No. Actually, my first CMAT attempt was when it was introduced, that would be in the year 2012.
Q. I see...so what kind of changes have you observed in the exam since its inception?
A. When CMAT was introduced, I thought it was extremely simple - even easier than a bank level exam. But since sometime around September 2013, the quality of CMAT questions has gone up significantly. While the difficulty level is not much higher, the quality has definitely seen an increase. However, the CMAT questions are not free from occasional errors and ambiguities.
The deal breaker is usually the GK section. It is my suggestion to students who aim to ace CMAT, that they focus on static GK. The IIFT exam tests your knowledge of current affairs. But in CMAT it's all about static GK.
Q: Quality-wise and difficulty-wise, how would CMAT compare with CAT?
A: Even today, I would say that CMAT is way simpler when compared to CAT.
But taking a look at CMAT two years back and CMAT today, it is clear that the difficulty level has gone up by 20 - 25%. Right now, CMAT is a little tougher than SNAP but definitely not as tough as exams like NMAT, IIFT, CAT or XAT.
Q: Any advice regarding the time frame needed to prepare well for CMAT for regular students?
A: If a student is preparing simultaneously for tougher exams such as CAT or NMAT then the amount of theory preparation required for CMAT is minimal. I think students should start working on the mock tests at least 30 to 40 days before the exam. While a student may be looking at the same chapter in all these exams, the way the question is framed differs from exam to exam. For theory preparation, a couple of months is what you require at the most.
A student needs to work on anywhere between 8 - 12 mock tests. A good number would be around 10. Ideally, students should take these exams at intervals of three to four days. Around 30 to 35 days is the overall time required for these mocks.
Q: Did you also have a similar study plan?
A: Yes, I did have a rough study plan. Of course, in my case things are much easier because I keep taking these exams from time to time. So I don’t really need to prepare and study separately.
But if I were a student, then for the September CMAT (held in September-end), I would start preparing from somewhere around July 15. From July 15 to August 15, that month should be divided into three parts. Devote approximately 10 days to the three major areas— Mathematics i.e. quant, reasoning and verbal ability. Then start practising the mocks.
As far as GK is concerned, students should take a look at it only in the last 10-15 days. As I said, this is static GK. These are questions where one needs to read a lot of data, assimilate information and retain it. GK section in CMAT is more of a test of your memory. So there is no point in preparing for GK three months before the exam. It is best to prepare for it when the actual exam is approaching.
Q: What kind of changes do you expect in the February CMAT?
A: Right now, I would not expect any major changes in the February CMAT. Over the last three years, I have observed that September and February CMATs generally have the same pattern. One thing we’ve seen is that the structure of reading comprehension (RC) passages has changed from February 2013 to this September 2014. Instead of five moderately-sized passages we now have four long passages. This change can be expected in the February CMAT as well.
CMAT aspirants should look up the analysis of the current CMAT available on the internet and prepare accordingly. They should also take mocks based on the September CMAT. Mocks specifically based on CMAT September 2014 will be available soon. So they should practice at least 8-10 tests of that type.
Q: The CAT exam is fast approaching. With just 15 odd days to go, any advice for aspiring candidates?
A: In any exam involving negative marking, selecting the right questions is paramount. So, at the outset, don't put yourself under pressure by trying to attempt all questions. Secondly, while CAT has sectional cut-offs, you don't need to worry about doing well in QA as well as DI. Play to your strengths. The same applies to section II. Finally, while the exam is important, it is not a matter of life and death. So, focus on just giving it your best shot.
Q: What suggestions can you give our readers to avoid unnecessary distractions while preparing for any exam of this sort?
A: I would say, basically just focus on what you want to achieve from that exam and work towards that goal, then there will be no distractions...other than that, restrict the use of cell phones and social networking sites in the last few days.