How Pooja Sudhakar from Chennai, Working as Marketing Professional at Mockat, cracked CAT 2022 with 99.11%ile, and got into SPJIMR Mumbai

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Updated on September 4, 2023
Pooja Sudhakar from Chennai, cracked CAT 2022 with 99.11 %ile and is now a student of PGDM 2023-25 batch at SPJIMR Mumbai. Pooja got motivated to crack CAT and pursue MBA from a Top B-school while pursuing engineering and working at Mockat, a startup coaching founded by IIM Lucknow alumni. Pooja is a B.E. from SSN and has work experience of 26 months with Mockat. This interview with Pooja will inspire you how to prepare and crack CAT 2023
CAT 2022 Topper Pooja Sudhakar presents inspiring success stories of CAT toppers who triumphed in securing admissions to top institutions. Gain motivation from their well-planned preparation strategies, valuable insights on MBA entrance exam readiness, Personal Interviews, and MBA college selection.

Today, we present the motivational interview with Chennai Girl, Pooja Sudhakar, from a well educated family. Her father is Executive Engineer who works for Greater Chennai Corporation, Mother is an officer in Indian Bank and her twin is a Doctor. Pooja cracked CAT 2022 with 99.11 percentile and is pursuing PGDM from SPJIMR Mumbai. Pooja is a B.E. in

Computer Science Engineering from SSN College of Engineering, Chennai and has work experience of 26 months in Marketing with Mockat, a startup by IIM Lucknow Alumni.

Pooja’s CAT preparation journey has lot of lessons. For instance, how she got motivated to prepare and crack CAT while pursuing her graduation, how the marketing role at Mockat further helped her in strengthening her determination to get a top B-school, how did she overcome her weakness in VARC section and how did she maximise on her strengths. Pooja loves singing, playing badminton and watching movies.

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With this introduction, let us read Pooja’s responses to questions

Q: How and When did you decide to pursue MBA and Prepare for CAT?
My drive for an MBA degree began after I won a few hackathons and a Business Case competition at SPJIMR while pursuing Engineering. I read up a lot about Marketing, and I was really motivated by Steve Jobs and Apple’s marketing strategies. I was determined to get a good CAT score and get into as good a B-school as I could. Having conducted Aptitude workshops in college, participated in Elocution and Case Presentations, CAT preparation came easily to me. 

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Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
My After my graduation, I chose to work at a start-up, Mockat, in a Marketing role instead of a tech role from campus placements to have a hands-on approach of how startups work and get practical experience of marketing. Mockat is founded by IIM Lucknow alumni who coach MBA aspirants, and they are 99.9+ percentilers themselves. Even though I had joined for Marketing, I volunteered for Content roles and ended up imbibing a lot from them – Concepts, Test Strategies, and the drive to push myself and get a good percentile. I didn’t attend the classes but having access to CAT 99.9+ percentilers and their content helped me a lot in scoring 99%ile in CAT.

Q: How did you perform in CAT exam 2022?
I scored 99.11 overall percentile in CAT 2022. Coming to sectional scores, I scored 99.31%ile in VARC, 75.04%ile in DILR and 99.20%ile in QA.

Q: Did you take any other exam apart from CAT?
A: Apart from CAT, I appeared in SNAP and NMAT. My SNAP score was 99.16 percentile and my NMAT score was 248.

Q: What challenges you faced during your CAT preparation? How did you come out of them?
The Work was quite challenging as an engineer who tried to learn and implement Sales and Marketing techniques at a bootstrapped start-up. Our workload peaked during September and October as that is when a lot of Content has to be delivered and marketed. So, balancing prep and work was highly hard, but it was worth all the exposure I got. I dealt with stakeholders across colleges, governmental authorities and internal teams – my articulation and negotiation skills played a key role in helping me crack a few B-School interviews as well.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT?
For me VARC was more difficult than DILR and Quant. In the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension area, I was guided a lot by the Mockat founders who have unique teaching methodology – they start from the basics, getting students to read articles across genres and identify the Author’s Point of View through their free Telegram channel. I did this consistently for 2-3 months and saw my reading speed, comfort across RC genres and my accuracy shoot up. Consistency and the Author’s Point of View exercise helped me boost my CAT VARC score from 16 marks in CAT 2021 to 43 marks in CAT 2022 (99.3 %ile in VARC).

Q: How did you prepare for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning for CAT?
I solved a lot of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning cases, and at Mockat, I pitched in and helped the team create DILR cases. This helped me understand all the nuances and extract as much as I could from the clues. Mockat has an 80 pager collation of all DILR cases including past cases covering different types of cases that can come up in CAT. By trying to solve all them, I also understood which cases to select and which to avoid (really important as we typically end up solving 1-2 cases in DILR). My CAT 2022 DILR performance was not as good as I had expected, but my preparation ensured that I got over 99 %ile in CAT.

Q: How did you prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT?
I have been strong in Maths, and I learnt Quant concepts as I had access to all Mockat videos. I understood the importance of concepts (vs memorising formulae). My concepts were tested as I volunteered to make questions, which meant that I had to really understand the concepts well. I also imbibed test-taking strategies from Mockat’s founder Vignesh, who has scored 99.99 %ile in CAT Quant, which helped me maximise my own marks.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: As I said earlier, I was weak at VARC and needed more work. In VARC, I went from 16 marks in CAT 2021 to 43 marks in CAT 2022 (99.3 %ile) by focussing on the Author’s PoV exercise which Mockat teaches each student. This helped me boost my speed and accuracy consistently. I solved a lot of mocks as well and analysed my performance. Consistent preparation and analysing tests are both key to improving our scores in any section, that’s what I would recommend to all MBA aspirants.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
I have taken around 30+ mocks from Mockat and multiple other CAT prep websites last year. Mocks are really important to get an understanding of the CAT exam, but analysing the mocks completely to identify gaps is even more important. For every mock I took, I would spend time watching solution videos to see if there’s a faster way to solve the problem, find any easy questions that I missed, concepts I need to revise and any other tactical errors. A bunch of us in the team were MBA aspirants and we would discuss our performance as well. This helped me finetune my own CAT strategy, and get a good score.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
: I have worked with Mockat, an MBA prep venture founded by IIM Lucknow alumni. While I did not attend their classes, working closely with the founders who are 99.9+ percentilers in CAT helped me in my own CAT prep journey. I also got the opportunity to volunteer for Content development for 2 months (despite working in a Marketing role), which boosted my concept knowledge.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
I had access to videos from Mockat and did not opt for books, as I realised that videos and online practice is much better for CAT.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
I did not prepare much in the last minute, I just brushed up on some Quant concepts. I recommend finishing your prep in advance and keeping the last 1-2 days light. I also ensured to keep all the necessary documents ready in advance, so that I was not rushed on the last day.

Q: Which all B-schools shortlisted you for personal interview round? How did you prepare for it?
I was shortlisted by SPJIMR Mumbai, IIM Kozhikode, SJMSoM IIT Bombay, SIBM Pune, NMIMS Mumbai. I was solely trained by Mockat on this. I had clear reasons for choosing an MBA degree after Engineering and had won awards at work. I had to work on my delivery because I am naturally quite fast. I took 5 mock sessions with Vignesh and Sanjana before every major B-School interview. And for GK and news, Mockat site has 5 news articles put up every day. I still have the habit of reading that daily. This helped me answer all the current affairs questions in WATs, GE and interviews.

Q: Which B-schools you finally converted?
I converted SPJIMR Mumbai

Q: Do you have work experience? Please share how the work experience can help in MBA?
I worked in a Marketing role at Mockat, an MBA prep venture founded by IIM Lucknow alumni. I was keen to take up marketing and chose this over a higher paying tech role that I had secured in campus placement. This gave me a lot of opportunity to experience Marketing before my MBA, which helps me now and will help me at work after my MBA as well. It also helped me brush up my creativity, leadership skills, problem solving skills among other things. I would wholeheartedly recommend taking up a relevant role before your MBA if you can, in Finance, Sales and Marketing, Business Analytics, Operations, etc to learn the ropes.

Q: What motivated you to Join SPJIMR? What were your top three criteria?
I had actually been to SPJIMR during 2020 for a case competition (aSPire, our team was placed first). I really liked the culture it promoted which includes developing interpersonal skills and values. Going through the course list there, I did find a lot of liberal arts courses that promotes entrepreneurship and values which was not focussed by other institutes. The companies which come for Marketing role to SPJIMR are the best in the country and I feel this is a great opportunity for me. 

Q: Whom you would like to give credit for your success? What role your family & friends played?
I would like to thank my family and friends who were a great support throughout my journey. I would really thank Vignesh and Sanjana for mentoring me in MBA preparation. My parents were highly supportive and gave me the space and environment that aided my CAT prep. Many faculty at my engineering college and my friends have also played a key role.

Q: According to you, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 
In my view, the process at SPJIMR is quite streamlined, and I had a good experience across all college interviews.  

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
CAT scores does not depend on how much time you put into the preparation, but the quality of time you spend on it. So my message for CAT 2023 aspirants is-

  • Do be mindful of your health as well, staying physical and mentally healthy boosts your preparation
  • Do take 1 day off every week, go for a movie, go out with friends and do what you like to take your mind off CAT prep, so the next day you start afresh
  • Try and have fun while prepping, take it as a challenge when you cannot solve a question instead of being dejected about it
  • Do not invest your emotions into the prep. I always believe in “Trusting the process”, then the result will be in your favour.

Team hopes that this interview was truly inspiring for you! Don't miss out on the opportunity to explore more motivational stories from students who have made their mark at IIMs, IIFT, MDI, SPJIMR, XLRI, and beyond. Let their journeys ignite the fire within you…Success awaits you! 

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