Man who cleared CAT 17 times
Thane's Patrick Dsouza shares what he's learnt from taking the same exam 16 years in a row, scoring 100% four times.
Given the high stakes of the Common Admission Test (CAT), the complexity of the paper increases each year. After all, the entrance examination is a direct ticket for admission into the country's premier B-schools. In 2019, around 2,44,169 candidates registered for the exams, the highest since 2008. Yet, one entry stands out particularly.
Patrick Dsouza has cracked the crucial test 16 times, and scored a perfect 100 in four attempts. A resident of Thane, 43-year-old Dsouza studied at St John The Baptist High School, completing junior college from KJ Somaiya. Soon, joined the mechanical engineering course at Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad. Despite making it to a reputable institute, he says he was never really a "bright student". "I was never close to being a topper even. But as the years passed, I evolved and got better in studies. So in 1996, during my second-last year of engineering, I decided to appear for CAT exam," he recalls. Dsouza remembers not having a mentor to offer guidance. "I had subscribed to the IMS correspondence material, and referred to it about five hours a day for seven months. Back then, there was no awareness on preparation for an intense CAT exam. I wish I had prepared for the test differently, though."
To his surprise, Dsouza received a call from IIM Calcutta, stating he had secured a place. "Back then, candidates were not told how much they scored. If you got a call, you were in. If not, you had to do it [appear for exams] all over again," he informs. The next year, he again appeared for the test, but never got a call. Dsouza then worked in the corporate sector for a year, followed by pursuing management studies from 1998 to 2000. His job at NIIT Limited after, however, did not make him happy. "When I was in college, my mother used to take tuitions for school-going kids at home. I remember helping her and enjoying it. So, when working in the corporate industry did not satisfy me, I realised I should chase my dream of teaching instead." First, he started teaching students to clear the company secretary course. But there "weren't enough takers", so he moved to training kids in CAT and, with his wife Rochelle, started Quoin Academy in Thane and Dadar.
"Today, you have a lot of information and that is also a problem. Over exposure to information can ruin your mindset. So, we take in 250 students each year, so that each gets our close attention," he adds. From 2004 onwards, Dsouza appeared for CAT exams every year. But is that boring, we ask. He laughs, and says, "When I started teaching, I was not an IIM graduate. You need to have a legacy or create one for people to trust you. While I had appeared for CAT exams in 1996 and 1997, the results were not exceptional. So 2004 onwards, I began experimenting with my methods and attempted my paper differently—dedicating more time to verbal tests, my weak point, and gave lesser time for the written test. Each time, my score improved and that set an example for my students."
In 2007, for the first time, he scored a 100 percentile, followed by another victory in 2009. The 2015 exam, however, was a tough one to crack. "The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) section had been upgraded. I remember being nervous before the exams. While writing the test, I lost my pace. So I took a break of half-a-minute and got back to it. This really helped. But it was only in 2016 that I managed to hit gold again." Ever since, Dsouza has scored a perfect 100. But does he share his secrets with his students? "There is no point in keeping them to yourself. I have realised, students who share their knowledge with others have a high chance of scoring better. I also share everything I learn from my experiments; if my students fair well, what else do I need in life?"
Hacks from the 'Baap' of CAT
1. Enjoy reading. Start with reading what you enjoy
2. Solve puzzles. Helps to tickle your mind beyond the notes
3. Try to find ways of solving sums beyond what is given in the book
4. Quality is more important than quantity. Studying few quality hours with right methods gives better results than investing long hours
5. Help others to help yourself. When you share your knowledge with others, you benefit as well
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