As a part of the pooled MBA Q&A series, the placement cell of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, Delhi University collaborated with Non-Engineers to collate the MBA-related questions of their college students. In this post, I will try to answer them one-by-one.
Q: How to crack CAT if I'm just starting out?
A: If you're targeting CAT 2020, then here is the preparation plan for the next months. But, if you're targeting CAT 2021, then you have ample time at your disposal. In that case, I'd recommend you to focus on 2 aspects:
CAT Preparation - You can start with this beginner's guide on CAT. Make sure that if you find yourself weak in any particular section, start self-preparing for it in advance. That helped me.
Profile Building - In order to crack the B-school interviews, you must work on your profile. This includes honing your skills, building a hobby, improving your GK, etc. This profile-boosting post can help.
Q: When is the right time to start preparing for CAT?
A: Ideally, 10-11 months are sufficient for CAT preparation. For CAT'17, which took place on 26th November, I started taking coaching from TIME institute in January 2017. Some of my batch mates who had joined an earlier batch regretted their decision because it can become too tiring to study the concepts at a slow pace.
I'd suggest you to solve a couple of questions from each section online and evaluate if you're weak in any particular section. Self-prepare for that section but join coaching not earlier than the Jan batch. Here is the timeline I followed during my CAT preparation.
Q: How to prepare for the CAT exam online?
A: The most important difference between preparing online and offline is regularity. If you're self-disciplined, you can surely crack CAT using the online mode. Two online coaching institutes that I've heard good reviews of are Byju's and 2IIM but I'd suggest you to talk to students who've used their services to be sure.
For preparing online, you need: concept videos, question bank and test series. I'd strongly suggest you to supplement your online question bank with either the coaching material of an offline institute like TIME/CL or purchase Arun Sharma's book (at least for QA).
I'm also attaching a list of online resources that you can use for free to practice more questions.
Q: What is the difference between MBA and PGDM? Do all colleges offer both?
A: That's a good question. Whether an institute offers an MBA degree or a PGDM depends on its affiliation to the Government bodies. There's an article by MBAUniverse which clearly demarcates between the two, gives examples, a table of differences and a list of institutes offering both kinds of courses. You can go through it and let me know in the comments if you have a follow-up.
Q: Does not having an Honours course impact selection in MBA Business Analytics?
A: The admission & eligibility criteria of MBA Business Analytics Programme (IIM-B) is very similar to any regular MBA. So, you don't have to worry if your undergrad course is not an Honours course. To validate the same, you can check the list of courses from which IIM-A students were selected in the batch of 2018-2020.
Q: What does an ideal CAT preparation plan look like? How did you get 99.09 percentile in the first attempt?
A: The first rule I made for myself was to measure my daily/weekly/monthly progress in terms of number of questions/chapters completed rather than number of hours studied. You must not count the hours of effort for they may not be resulting in any progress in the real sense.
Once you understand this point, decide a deadline by which you'd like to finish your syllabus (at least the basics). Otherwise you will end up solving questions when it would actually be the time to take and analyze mocks. Here is how I designed my preparation plan.
To be honest, I put in a lot of effort in QA - used to solve each chapter in 2-3 days from Arun Sharma (LOD 1) + TIME's basic material. I loved solving DILR sets, so they were more like filler questions when I didn't feel like solving QA. And for VA, I solely focused on RCs and reading editorials - used to solve 5-6 sets/day.
Q: How can I build a strong CV?
A: The first thing you need to know is that IIMs don't ask for a CV. They ask for an interview form which has so many constraints that many of the common CV points don't make it through.
Here is the CV format that we use at IIMs. If you notice carefully, you'll find several buckets that the CV is divided into. Ideally, there are two kinds of CVs that stand out - the ones with balanced buckets i.e. some points in all the buckets or the ones with spikes i.e. an extraordinary bucket.
Basis whichever kind of CV you target to build, here are the CV-boosting points that you can incorporate. As a collegiate, the best opportunities you have include taking up internships and joining clubs and societies.
Q: What are some tips to improve accuracy and mock scores?
A: So, the section-wise preparation and attempt tips are as follows:
The only way to improve your mock scores is by analyzing them properly. A couple of weeks ago, we had a guest post on the blog by Yogesh Chordia, who trains B-school students and aspirants. He shared a very comprehensive mock score improvement plan for anyone who might want to check it out.
Q: Can you share what happens in a GD and PI?
A: Group Discussions are primarily conducted in order to evaluate how the candidate thinks on the spot, is generally aware, puts across his/her point assertively and cooperates with others. Only some IIMs conduct a GD, K happens to be one of them.
In order to crack a GD, you need to be well-versed with the happenings around the world, practice talking in front of the mirror (this also works for PI) and improve your sitting posture (back straight, hands not on table).
A personal interview is conducted to test your overall personality in isolation from others. While GDs are more about your interpersonal skills, a PI is an excellent opportunity for you to freely showcase your skills and hobbies. Here is a one-stop-shop for PI preparation with all the relevant links.
Q: How can I prepare for UG college placements?
A: I understand that at times you might have to juggle between your CAT preparation and college placements, but there is a huge overlap between the preparation you're required to do for both - be it the aptitude tests or the GDs or the PI. So, what I'd suggest is to pick a priority among the two.
I opted for CAT to be my priority because the kind of companies that hired from DU didn't offer the role I was interested in (marketing). So, I knew that even if I get a job, it won't be my best shot.
Once you have this clarity, you can focus more on your priority. The other would automatically get prepared side-by-side. In order to prepare for UG placements, you need a good CV, GD, PI skills and a handy knowledge of the happenings around the world. All of these have been discussed above.
Q: What is it that we're supposed to do in jobs after completing our MBA?
A: Well, that entirely depends on the function you choose. But, across different functions, a similarity is that you'd be put in a managerial role, so you'd be expected to get your team to work. In most functions, you will be the in-charge of creating strategy and communicating the plans to your team, which shall deliver results.
For example, in marketing, as an Area Sales Manager (ASM), you have a defined territory under you along with a team of Sales Executives, who take orders from the retailers. You're in constant touch with people above and below in the corporate hierarchy to meet the targets.
Q: What is the major difference b/w FMS and IIM-A/B/C? What should be one's choice, especially for finance?
A: The most important difference is the ROI. The 2-years fee at FMS is a treasure for someone who doesn't want to take a loan to fund his/her MBA. Having said that, another difference that many FMS students recognize is the campus life - which is quite happening at an IIM due to the on-campus residence.
From a career perspective, there are two factors to be considered:
Learning: Undoubtedly, the best professors teach at the aforementioned institutes. Especially if you look at the faculty profile of A and C, you'd find some finance professors who are a part of government panels and think tanks. Learning from such veterans is a big factor to be considered.
Placements: No doubt, the placement statistics at all these institutes are at par, you must also consider the level of competition among the batch. From what I've heard, there is a tough competition on campus at FMS for finance and marketing roles. The competition at IIMs is primarily in consulting and finance roles (marketing not so much, maybe for Tier-1).
So, while the placement statistics might show a positive outlook, it is always better to reach out to the current/graduate students of these institutes to get a fair idea. I can share about IIM-A but I'd suggest you to connect with some FMS students on LinkedIn to get a better idea of the competition in the finance domain.
Hope this helps you all, let me know if you have any follow-ups in the comments below. Would be happy to take them up. Wish you the best!
P.S. A special thanks to Mayank Agarwal and the entire placement team of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College to coordinate for this endeavour and help pool-in queries of their students. Kudos to the team's efforts!