From 70%ile to IIM-A

You might be aware of the Featured Student on GP ka Funda. Today’s post is about and by one such student – Sharad Giria. The age old saying “Success comes to those who strive for it” is extremely fitting in the case of CAT aspirants who work extremely hard and make their dreams come true. Similar is the story of Sharad Giria, a SRCC passout and a student of the Founder’s batch 2016 in Delhi, who gave his CAT prep everything that he could only to rise from being a 70%iler to converting his IIM-Ahmedabad call.

This is the story of Sharad Giria in his own words:

“At a certain point during the prep phase, we all look for confirmation to know if it is still possible to make it to one of the top B-Schools. When you’re scoring terribly mock after mock, you look for it all the more vigorously. I was consistently scoring around 75%ile in my mocks when all my friends were scoring 95+ %iles. I desperately needed someone to tell me it’s still possible to make it and how to do it.

That’s when I went to meet Shivku Sir, my teacher, sometime in the first week of October. He told me it’s still possible if you put up a fight and you have to put up a fight. He was right. I can’t just give up. But how? We sat there that evening preparing a 45 day schedule for me on an excel sheet. At the end of an hour I had a detailed schedule in front of me which told me what I had to do for each of those 45 days.

Of course I had been through the entire drill before that like everyone else- the classes, the funda books, the online material and the mocks as well. But what I needed was to really believe that I could do it. And a way to do it.

I think you’ll want to know what was there in the schedule. I had to give a mock test every 3 days. I hadn’t given enough mock tests earlier. The main reasons were that I always thought I should complete the syllabus first and I was always scared of scoring badly in my mocks. CAT is unlike boards. Most of the paper has no syllabus as such and even in the part that does, the way you attempt it is much more important than any syllabus. I had left portions of two or three topics myself. I just couldn’t get a hang of them even after trying. For one, I clearly knew what I did and did not know. Made my life very simple. As for being scared I’ll score badly in the mocks, that’s just a way to run away from your problems. Until I started scoring badly, I didn’t put in as much effort as I did once my scores were in front of me.

On the days that I had to give a mock, I had nothing else in my schedule other than analyzing it. Make sure you analyse your mocks really well. Find out which strategies are paying off well and what you need to do differently. In particular I tried to find out which were the easy questions I didn’t attempt and which were the difficult ones I uselessly wasted my time on. This was something GP sir always told me to do.

On other days I solved questions from test gym( short topic-specific timed tests CL has) of whichever topic I felt I needed practice in. It was predicted that the maths will not be tough that year so I stuck to practicing easy to medium level problems and not burden myself with difficult sums unnecessarily. English was a strong area for me so I didn’t need a lot of practice. For the LRDI section, I used to give one hour sectional tests.

I considered sectional tests extremely important and took at least one everyday. Sectional tests are the place where you make, change and test your strategy. A couple of the strategies that paid off well for me were:

I realized quite late that LRDI is the game changer in CAT. It is without a doubt the most important section and also one which is ignored in the earlier stages of preparation. Along with that I realized how horrible I was at it. I couldn’t solve the difficult sets in time and improving this in the last month didn’t seem practical. I had to work around it somehow.

In the sectional tests I started focusing on choosing the right questions. Out of the 8 sets, my aim was to always ensure that I have attempted correctly the easy and medium difficulty level sets. There are no guarantees about the number of such sets. So I had no preconceived goal but just to judge each question on its merit. I practiced this continuously in sectional tests. What came out of it was that now I could perfectly chose the easy sets and at least get done with it first. Here is when you defeat most of the competition because most people, who might even be better at solving LRDI sets, get stuck with a difficult set and waste too much time over it or get it wrong. This paid off well for me because the LRDI in CAT were a mix of difficult and easy questions and choosing correctly was a key factor in scoring well.

Maths had a similar story where I followed a method taught to me by GP sir. I attempted questions in 2 rounds. The 1st round was just attempting all the questions you are a 100% sure of. These are the questions that you see and instantly know how you are going to go about it. Attempt it then and there and quickly move on to the next question. Then there were a few questions which you have a fair idea about but you’ll need to apply yourself a little bit. You need to invest time in these questions so you mark them and try to come back to them later. You don’t want to attempt one Round 2 type question when you can easily answer two Round 1 type question. Also you should happily leave questions you really know nothing about. Make sure you practice enough sectional tests to perfect this quick decision making. That’s all there is to it: quick decisions.

Exam Day Tip : Never premeditate. Play the shot on the merit of the ball. Premeditation has cost many students and make sure you are not a victim. Go with an open mind. Just focus on what’s there in front of you. This can work wonders for you!

Lastly, there is no one way of succeeding. Everyone who did well would have a different story and a different way they prepared. Listen to everyone and try to find out why something worked for them and does the strategy go well with your strengths and weaknesses. Your personal strategy can be the concoction of advice received from 10 different sources. What’s important is that you put in effort to find out what’s working for you.

It gives me great pleasure to write this sitting in the Louise Khan Plaza at IIM A. It is my first day here and the campus is awe-inspiring. I hope you guys get an opportunity to see it for yourselves.”

If your’s is also an inspiring story then you can also write for GP ka Funda. Stay connected!

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  1. Sir, this was indeed a wonderful article! I am a CL student and have purchased a few sets of test series from CL. Please prepare such a study schedule for us CL students too.

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