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How Prerna Daga scored 99.36 percentile in CAT & cracked SP Jain

prernaScoring 99 percentile in CAT exam is no easy feat. But each year, there are some candidates who manage to score this magic number, making their way to the top business schools of the country.

Prerna Daga is one such person.

Scoring 99.36 percentile in CAT 2013, Daga cracked S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai. An engineer (B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering), Dada has previously worked with Accenture for 35 months. She is currently in the second year of MBA (Information Management).

Here’s Prerna, discussing CAT preparation strategy with Shiksha.com


  1. According to you, what is the minimum time frame needed to prepare well for CAT? How long did you prepare for it?

CAT is an aptitude test so time frame should vary from person to person and depends on the knowledge gap between skills possessed by exam taker and what is required. Students with Mathematics and English background should take lesser time for preparation as compared to those who are not in touch with these subjects.

I had taken coaching during engineering. So brushed up fundamentals and practiced mocks. I must’ve prepared for around three months.

2. Is it necessary to join a coaching institute or is self-study good enough?

If you are self-motivated and disciplined you might do without joining coaching institute but joining a very good coaching institute always helps. It keeps you motivated, focused and provides competitive environment. Now a days almost all the resources for preparation are available for free on forums and other online sources but joining a coaching institute will help you save time which you’ll spend in figuring out how to prepare, what to prepare and from where to prepare.



  1. What study plan did you follow for your CAT prep?

For verbal preparation, I used to read a lot and had prepared my own set of flash cards for words. I revised them every now and then. This way of remembering the words which you yourself have read in an article or a book is much better way of enhancing vocabulary than slogging from random lists.

One more thing – in my case I could solve all the questions given that there is no time limit. In other words, my fundamentals were clear. I needed to learn selecting the right questions to attempt, solving them quickly. Thereafter, if I couldn’t solve a question, not getting attached to that question and moving to the next question was important. So for last one month I just took tests and analysed them. Every alternate day I took one complete mock test and analysed it the following day.


  1. How did you divide time for each section? Which sections did you spend more time on?

In 2013, there were two sections and time was pre-determined for each section. So, while taking test that was already taken care of.

While preparing I think I devoted almost equal time but I made sure that I’m completely prepared on a few topics/questions for each section. To name a few Numbers, Geometry, Progressions etc in Quant. So if any question from these topics come I should correctly solve them.

I was pretty confident of logical reasoning so didn’t practice it much except the questions which were in mock tests.


5. CAT 2015 test pattern has changed quite a bit. What’s your take on it?

Introduction of calculator is a very pleasant change. Wish it was there earlier. I must’ve spend half of my effort in speeding up my calculations. It makes sure that now a student’s ability to comprehend question and analyse figures is tested and focus is not on number intensive calculations.


  1. How should be a candidate’s preparation strategy for the new CAT 2015 pattern?

With introduction of calculator, obviously students don’t have to drill on calculations. Work on concepts. Also, no going back and forth from one section to next, so choose questions more wisely.



  1. How did you work on improving your weak areas for CAT prep?

DI was one of my weak areas. At that time two things were important for DI:

  1. a) Understanding the question and figuring out what calculation to do
  2. b) Actual calculation

First part was not a problem. For second, I practiced a lot of speed mathematics tricks and  started calculating everything in my head without calculator or writing it down so that I could make calculations faster.

For English, somebody suggested me to start reading and finishing a book/novel in a day. I couldn’t do that but I improved drastically.  Infact, I continued reading from engineering days so in a way was never out of touch of preparing for CAT as far as verbal section is concerned.


  1. How much time did you spend on revision?

I consider taking mocks as revision on which I spent a complete month.


  1. What did you do right to crack it?

Attitude and perseverance. Even after some not so good tests I didn’t lose hope and kept practicing and preparing.

10. Why SP Jain?

SP Jain makes you choose your specialisation right at the time of application. So, if you’re really sure of what do you want to do SP is the place for you.

Some of the courses like Rural internship – Development of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC), where in each student after its first year has to work with an NGO in a rural area, ADMAP- every student gets into a committee to learn the art of administration, Abhydaya- mentoring an underprivileged child are unique to SP Jain and makes it special.