My Experiences, Straight From Heart - Ajit Kumar S, XAT 99.61 Percentile

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    Ajit Kumar S  did his B Tech from NIT Jaipur (Mechanical Engineering) and worked with Bharat Petroleum for 3.5 years. He aced XAT with a score of 99.61 percentile and would be joining XLRI PGDM, 2016 - 2018 Batch.

    First time I was told to write an article about how did I manage to pull off “so called” the feat of getting selected in XLRI, I didn’t know what should I write about. Yeah, “So called”, I didn’t mean to dissuade you but trust me it is way easier than it seems, at least after one achieves it. In my opinion hard work coupled with consistency and a bit of smartness, can do anything which feels like a dream at prima facie. It is the only prerequisite in pursuit of any goal, rest i.e. strategies, methods and action plans are by- product of the process which may differ for each individual suiting to their condition and time schedule.

    To begin with my brief introduction, I am Ajit kumar S. As the name indicates, A Malayali (not mallu :p pun intended) , but born and brought up in a small town near Jaipur. I did my schooling from a typical Hindi medium school and subsequently, B. tech in mechanical engineering from NIT Jaipur. I have been working in a central PSU for past 3.5 year, recently scored 99.61 percentile in XAT 2016 with job and will start course at XLRI for 2016-18 batch for PGDBM.

    In following part of this article I shall make an attempt to present a strategic model that has worked for me and I shall try to keep it devoid of rhetorical writings. It may help people with a job /limited time and may seem a little like preaching but opinions presented in this article are purely subjective. This worked for me.

    To begin with: Few words of caution, “Once you start preparation take it sincerely. Casualness was a mistake I made during first year of preparation, it doesn’t matter even if you have been a “Topper” for your whole life, you may fail and vice versa.”

    For a start know everything about you are preparing for , I didn’t mean about B schools  but entrance tests (CAT/XAT/IIFT/NMAT…..) know the pattern , approx number of questions , structure , type of questions etc.  These tests may demand for different strategies for execution during exams but preparation is almost same and commonly these exams demand both speed and accuracy, so in subsequent headers I shall discuss about section wise modules :-

    Quantitative ability :-

    1.  At first learn the basics, read theory and solve some basic questions form notes of any good coaching institute to understand the basics first. Don’t worry about complex problems at first. This will get your juices flowing.
    2. Get into depth, try to solve more complex problems topic wise. Quant section is all about finding the unknown variable with the given information.  
    3. Try to prepare an abridged version of entire theory to revise the basic within 2-3 hours including all topics.
    4. Now start to give tests, at first topic wise, then sectional and then full length mock tests.
    5. Analysis of test is more important than test itself. Test scores give you an idea where are you standing but analysis of test is to identify areas of strength and more importantly, areas of improvement.
    6. Go through each and every question.
    7. Category 1:- At first go through the solutions of the questions you have answered correctly, check if there is better, and more effective method.
    8. Category 2:- Check the question you have marked incorrectly. First try to solve these again, if you are able to solve these now then it is just a matter of focus and attention, don’t let ticking clock distract you during the test. You knew the concept; you knew the approach, only thing is that you couldn’t solve it under pressure. Practice under pressure, you will get these questions right. 
    9. Category 3:- If you could not solve the question with sufficient time during review, check the solution. Ask yourself whether you knew the concept but couldn’t apply. Try and think of ways you could approach the question to get it right but again solve the question by yourself to get the better idea. Explain yourself or somebody out loud, because teaching is the best way of learning.
    10. Category 4:- And at last, questions of which you didn’t know the concept. Note down the topic and refer back to the theory / basics and update your theory/concept book.

    DI and LR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning):-

    These two can be put under same category. Both of these about handling and compartmentalization of the information overload in very short time.  In DI, info is more numerical in nature, therefore practicing, learning mental calculation and approximation will certainly help you. Remember time is the key factor in DI otherwise almost anybody can solve DI with unlimited time.

    LR is about deducing the missing information after restructuring the given information to make more sense. There are some standard tools such as tabularizing the data, would help to do so but one need to improve short term memory to solve LR faster by practicing. It is more or less like juggling with information.

    VA (Verbal Ability) :-

    A lot of aspirants ignore this section under false presumption that it is an innate ability to have good command over English language. Even after being a student from a typical Hindi medium school I managed to score 98+ in VA section of XAT and IIFT. It certainly takes time but considering the persistence most aspirants have, it is a walk in the park, if applied with little prudence.  To score good in VA one need to focus on two parts; vocabulary and grammar. Many may argue that tests are not vocab based now a day. True, but good vocab definitely helps you to read faster and interpret better apart from correcting some direct vocab based questions as bonus. I made a diary and noted down all the new words I came across during the day, from movies, newspaper, books, serial or anywhere else. You can first save the word in dictionary (Wordweb) and note it down later and keep on revising to remember the words. After some time you will feel that this practice has become a part of your life style and you have many words to express your thoughts.

    For grammar please refer the school level grammar if you have forgotten but learn the basics.

    Simultaneously use similar approach as quant for practice and improvement. High level of accuracy can be attained in this section over the period of time.

    Apart from aforementioned points there are some other external factors which helped me during the preparation, to list out a few:-

    1. A friend, who is also preparing, will help you to have mutually productive discussions about strategies, sources of learning and even healthy competition but don’t get overwhelmed by momentarily performance of you or your friend. Try to be receptive and seek for improvement consistently.
    2. Please don’t undermine the value of other entrance test i.e. XAT, IIFT, NMAT and other, which offer admission to very good B-schools.
    3.  Having someone in your life, may be a family member, friend or partner to encourage in times of self doubt. Watch some good videos, read good articles to boost up the morale but don’t overdo it.
    4. Exercise or play some sport, it clears your mind after a tiring day at office and keeps you fresh and active to study. Learn to let go any small incident/conflict with people. Don’t let these affect your focus. I have seen people getting disturbed over small matters and wasting time.
    5. Have proper sleep. Don’t trade your sleep on the cost of efficiency instead cut down some other unproductive activities.
    6. Try to complete office jobs within office hours and being efficient there will help you. You will get some time in office as well and you won’t have to bring your office at home.
    7. Join any online preparation group which not only helps you to keep your knowledge abreast but also enable you solve quality problems anywhere, literally anywhere. They will also update you about patterns and important dates.
    8. You don’t need to prepare 24x7, take a break if you feel.
    9. Don’t worry about interviews now. You will get enough time afterwards.

    But the most importantly, enjoy the process. One can be sincere in preparation without being serious. Laugh a lot, have a smile on your face, enjoy reading or solving a good problem and be enthusiastic. Being focused doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy little thing in life, after all this is a process of self improvement better we should rejoice the journey rather than making a misery out of it. Remember, a free mind always do better in exams than a stressed one.  And Finally, All the best for your future endeavours and thank you for your patience to read.

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