Interview with Pooja Gandhi (IIM-K)
B.Tech in Electronics and Communication from Institute of Technology,
Nirma University of Science and Technology, Ahmedabad.
What you are currently doing
Pursuing PGDM (Year I) at IIM Kozhikode
1) Which exams did you appear for last year?
I had appeared for CAT, XAT, JMET, FMS, NMAT and MHCET last year.
2) When did you start your preparations?
This was my 2nd attempt in CAT. So, ideally I had started preparing for CAT in the last year of my engineering.
3) Did you have any separate strategy for the other exams apart from CAT?
Yes, I had designed a separate strategy for the other exams apart from CAT.
JMET, FMS and NMAT are all more of speed based tests. So, focus should be on solving as many questions as one can in these tests. Besides, in each of the tests, there was a certain section that demanded special preparation. For example, for JMET, I had to go through all the topics of higher maths. FMS gives undue weightage to vocabulary, while for XAT, I had practiced a lot of Reasoning and Inference based questions. MHCET has 30 question on Visual Reasoning, which requires a lot of practice to solve them within restricted time limits.
4) Which was your strongest section and how did you prepare for it?
My strongest section was Quantitative Ability. I had started preparing for it by working on my concepts and creating a very strong foundation. TF Skill Builder came to great help in doing so. Once that was done, I began practicing questions starting from very easy ones. Practicing the easy ones first help a lot in boosting confidence. Then I gradually moved towards the more difficult ones. This exercise enabled me to easily pick questions which I was confident of solving, just by browsing through the paper once. In the last 2 months, for this section, I just practiced a lot of questions from wherever I could get them. There were even chapters like Probability, which I just couldn’t get a hang of. I would attempt questions from it, only when I feared not clearing the cut-offs.
5) Which was your weakest section? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
My weakest section was Verbal Ability. During the first 3-4 months of preparation, I just couldn’t make out what was going wrong in this section. I then started making religious efforts to improve my comprehension and vocabulary skills. I started reading whatever I could lay my hands on besides the newspapers. I used to note down any new word that I used to come across and then tried using them while conversing. Practicing this for around 5 months, I started seeing a substantial change in my performance. I started scoring well in the RCs and vocabulary based questions. But the questions related to grammar were still a problem for me. My aim in this section was to clear the cut offs, because I could rely on the other two sections to improve my overall score. Because my accuracy rate in this section was on the lower side, I used to solve as many questions as I could in this section. This strategy used to work for me because even if I got 30-40% of questions wrong, I used to atleast clear the cut offs. However, it might not work for everyone.
6) If you were a working professional, how did you manage your time?
Working left me with not much time to study on weekdays. However I made it a point to study for atleast a couple of hours in the night. If not anything else, I always managed to solve an RC or two while travelling. Apart from that, weekends were the best time to study. As long as possible I used to put in 5-6 hours on weekends to study, which included taking a test and analyzing the paper after that.
7) When did you start taking mock CATs and how many mock CATs did you take?
I had started taking mock CATs from mid-July. I took approximately 18-20 mock tests.
8) What question selection strategy did you follow in the actual examinations?
I generally used to start with the non RC questions of Verbal, followed by QA. I used to solve that many questions from QA in the first phase, so that I could be sure of clearing the cut offs. This used to set me up for rest of the paper. I then moved to RCs, followed by the DI section. In the end I used to come back to QA section to solve rest of the questions to increase the overall score.
9) How did you prepare for the online RCs and DI sets?
The only way to prepare for online RCs was to read as much as possible online. Initially I had a tough time solving DI sets online because I used to actually sit and draw the graphs and tables on the paper during the exam. But I realized this was consuming a lot of time, which I couldn’t afford. So, I started solving all the DI sets from past tests and mocks, without drawing them all over again. It took a couple for months for me to develop that knack. But all the time invested in it was worth, since I actually was able to solve at least one more set in the mock tests by doing so.
10) What were your reading habits, if any?
I used to read Times of India daily and if time permitted, Economic times as well. Once in a while, I also managed to read some fiction.
11) How did you prepare for the GD-PI?
Preparation for GD-PI had begun well before the call. This was in form of regularly reading newspapers and keeping a tab on what is happening around. After the call, I participated in as many mock GDs and interviews that I could. I had attended the TestFunda GD-PI workshop, where I met a lot of my competitors. It made me realize where I stood and what more was required out of me. Besides, since I did not have much of experience, I went through the basics of my engineering, which indeed helped me to sail through.
12) How did TestFunda courseware help you?
As I have already mentioned before, Skill Builder was what I referred to for concepts. After going through the skill builder, the first thing I used to solve is the Concept Practices. Concept tests and the Module tests gave me a reality check of my level of preparation. The past CAT and other exams tests gave me a fair idea of what type of questions and test pattern to expect. But the best part was obviously the iCAT series. I got to solve almost all types of questions from each topic through it, be it QA, DI or VA. The indepth analysis that TF provides for the iCATs is really worth appreciating.
13) Any other TestFunda features that you believe would help in the last 3 months?
More than anything else, I thank TF for the QODs. It featured brainstorming questions from almost all topics, solving which I got a lot of confidence. Besides that, the Ask-a-Doubt feature was also of great help. Be it confusion regarding any concept, or details regarding the cut-offs for different exams and colleges, TF experts went out of their way to answer all my queries.
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