Why Engineers working at Societe Generale & TCS, and Ed-tech executives, with 99% CAT Scores Choose SPJIMR Mumbai Over IIMs, XLRI, MDI, IITs: Exclusive Insights from MBAUniverse.com

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Updated on October 20, 2023
The best CAT preparation tips can come from the CAT toppers themselves. To help our readers aiming at CAT 2023, MBAUniverse.com interviewed CAT 2023 toppers who scored high percentiles and were offered admission by IIMs, MDI, IITs, XLRI, SIBM and other top B-schools but preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai. These CAT toppers share their CAT preparation strategy and bare their weaknesses and how they won them over to crack CAT
SPJIMR CAT Toppers

With IIM CAT 2023 round the corner, which is on Sunday, November 26, 2023, the best CAT preparation tips can come from the CAT toppers themselves. To help our readers aiming at CAT 2023, MBAUniverse.com interviewed CAT 2023 toppers who scored high percentiles of 99+ and were offered admission by many top B-schools including IIMs, IITs, MDI, XLRI, SIBM, but preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai. These CAT toppers share their CAT preparation strategy as well as their weaknesses and how they won them over to crack CAT with high percentile. They also share their preparation strategy for PI/WAT round and why they preferred joining SPJIMR Mumbai instead of any other top B-school.

MBAUniverse.com takes you up close and personal with these dynamic Business Leaders in the making. It may also be noteworthy that SPJIMR Mumbai now accepts only CAT and GMAT and has unique profile based shortlisting criteria which consider key achievements alongwith CAT cut off. SPJIMR placements are consistently rising and are at par with top IIMs. In the final placements 2023, SPJIMR has scaled new heights. The average annual salary for Placements 2023 has gone up at Rs. 33.02 LPA while the highest salary has registered an increase of 46% at Rs.77.8 LPA. This puts SPJIMR in same league as Top IIMs. The median annual salary came in at Rs.32.89 LPA registering a rise of 9.3% over last year. Over 70% of the batch secured offers above Rs.30 LPA and over 92% has got offers in excess of Rs.25 LPA. Read More about SPJIMR Placement 2023

Before we start discussing about the CAT preparation strategy and the college decisions by these CAT toppers and now SPJIMR Mumbai students, let’s first get to know them well – who they are, where did they study, do they have work-experience and more. So here is a snapshot

CAT Toppers at SPJIMR Mumbai Profiles: A Snapshot

Name & Hometown

Education

CAT 2022 Percentile

Work Experience

Hobbies

Aditya Uday Manolkar, Sangli

B.Tech from College of Engineering Pune (COEP)

99.56

As Software Engineer with Societe Generale.

Kayaking water sport, drawing and painting

Pooja Sudhakar, Chennai

B.E. in Computer Science Engineering from SSN College of Engineering, Chennai

99.11

2 Years, 2 months in Marketing with an Edtech company

Singing, playing badminton and watching movies

Prateek Kumar Rai, Patna  

B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Patna

99.80

2 years with MathWorks.

Interacting with people and playing Badminton

Sundar Rajan,

Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu

BE (Mech) from Sri Sairam Engineering College, Chennai

99.63

3 Years 1 Month with TCS

Movies and Cricket

 

So now that you know the CAT toppers at SPJIMR Mumbai, let us take a look at their CAT journey…read on for their in depth interviews with MBAUniverse.com.

Aditya Uday Manolkar: 99.56 Percentile in CAT 2022

Aditya Uday Manolkar

How Aditya Manolkar from Sangli Got Motivated & Overcame his Weakness to Crack CAT 2022 with 99.56%ile and Got into SPJIMR Mumbai

Aditya Uday Manolkar from a business family of Sangli, the turmeric city of Maharashtra, cracked CAT 2022 with 99.56 percentile and is pursuing PGDM from SPJIMR Mumbai. Aditya is a B.Tech Gold Medalist from College of Engineering Pune (COEP) and has work experience as Software Engineer with Societe Generale. Aditya’s CAT preparation journey has a lot of lessons. For instance how he got motivated to pursue MBA, how did he overcome his weakness in VARC section and how did he maximise on his strengths with a changed mindset. Aditya loves Kayaking water sport and likes drawing and painting. With this let us read Aditya’s responses to MBAUniverse.com questions

Q: What motivated you to pursue MBA and Positive through your CAT Journey?
A:
I was born & raised in Sangli, known as the Turmeric City of Maharashtra. Growing up in a family business environment, particularly my parents' pharmacy business, fuelled my interest in holistic business understanding which led me to pursue an MBA. I have an elder sister who is currently working as a Marketing Manager in Mumbai. My pet dog, whom I adore, has always been a source of positivity to me.

Q: What challenges you faced during your CAT preparation? How did you come out of them?
A:
I think it is quite common to feel anxious when you prepare for the CAT. On days when I was unable to perform well in the mock exams, I did have self-doubt. My biggest sources of support throughout this time were my parents and my pet. I believe that treating each day of preparation whether good or bad as an opportunity to learn and grow benefited me.

Q: How did you perform in CAT exam 2022?
A:
I scored 99.56 overall percentile in CAT 2022. As regards sectional scores, I scored 94.58%ile in VARC, 76.21%ile in DILR and 99.99%ile in Quants.

Q: Did you take any other exam apart from CAT? How did you perform in it?
A: 
Apart from CAT, I appeared in IIFT entrance exam and SNAP.  I scored 99.1%ile in IIFT and 99.73%ile in SNAP

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
I started CAT preparation with Elites Grid in 2021. Being a complete newbie in CAT, I blindly followed the suggestions of my mentors (Hunny Sir, Gaurav Sir, and Shahzar Sir) from Elites Grid, and I believe it helped me a lot. I scored around 98 percentile in CAT 2021 and around 99.7 percentile in QA. Along with CAT, I also appeared for IIFT (99.4 percentile) and SNAP (99.9 percentile) and finally secured an admission offer from IIFT Delhi. However, as suggested by my Elites Grid mentors, I decided to appear for CAT again, and this time I focused more on my weaknesses (the VARC section, of course!) and capitalised on my strengths. I joined the IMS, Career Launcher, and Elites Grid test series and analysed my performance in detail.

Q: How did you prepare for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) in CAT?
A:
VARC has been and continues to be my pain point since the day I started preparing for CAT. I think it was because I am not an avid reader, so it took me a long time to read and decipher the text compared to people who have a habit of reading. Instead of choosing the correct answer, the best strategy in this section is to eliminate the options. Along with Shahzar Sir's guidance from Elites Grid, I also enrolled in Gejo Sir's VARC 1000 course from Career Launcher, and I believe it helped me tremendously. The course changed my attitude about how to actually attempt the VARC section. I focused on solving at least two RCs a day to improve my comprehension ability. Although I scored around the 95 percentile this year in VARC, it is a huge improvement from last year's 84 percentile. I believe that generally, it is very difficult to do exceedingly well in all three sections, and hence, it is important to play to your strengths and play it safe with your weaknesses.

Q: How did you prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) in CAT?
A:
I really enjoyed solving LRDI questions because I believe that solving DILR questions makes you think in creative and out-of-the box ways. I just followed what Gaurav sir from Elites Grid told us to do. Gaurav sir is one of those teachers who always has a unique method for every question, and I tried to learn this from him. Even though I didn't do well in the DILR section because of a technical problem during the exam, I made sure not to let that pressure affect my performance in the QA section (My strongest section!).

Q: How did you prepare for Quantitative Ability (QA) section in CAT?
A:
QA was always my strong section, and getting a 99.99 percentile in CAT 2022 seems to confirm that. All credit goes to Hunny Sir from Elites Grid. I completely trusted his advice, kept track of my mistakes, and focused on studying the concepts thoroughly. I also worked through previous year's questions to understand what the exam really expects. In my opinion, CAT has a quantitative section and not a math section, and hence, the paper setters are aware that people from diverse backgrounds will be attempting the paper. Hence, with S.M.A.R.T work, anyone can be able to ace this section because this is only one of those sections where you can quickly see the results of your strategies.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
VARC was an Achilles heel for me. I think what truly helped me in this section was the mindset change about how to actually attempt the paper. Last year, I focused on solving all questions in 3 out of 4 RCs and maximising my VA attempts. However, I used to pick up the wrong RCs and would heavily lose on accuracy. However, this year I made it a point to attempt all the RCs without necessarily attempting all four questions. With this strategy, I was at least able to solve the straightforward questions in a particular RC. Eventually, although my attempt rate remained mostly on the same lines, the questions I actually solved were pretty doable, and this boosted my VARC score.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mock exams are one of the most important tools for testing your knowledge. It actually tries to simulate the exam environment to some extent. Having said that, they are also not a true indicator of how you will actually do in the exam. I had enrolled for mock exams from Career Launcher, IMS, and Elites Grid Academy. The mocks are purposely designed with varying difficulty levels so that one is prepared for the worst-case scenario, and hence, I would suggest not to focus on the mock scores but instead focus more on what you actually learn from them. I gave around 40 mocks with detailed analysis this year.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
A:
I needed a well-structured course so that I did not have to chart out my schedule, and that's exactly what Elites Grid did for me. They designed my schedule completely, including mocks, sectionals, revision sessions, regular class sessions, and break times as well. As Elites Grid has been a pioneer in the CAT coaching sector for many years now, I fully trusted them with their schedules, and that indeed helped me.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
A:
I did not buy any CAT coaching books as such. I studied using the material provided by the Elites Grid mentors. If any additional material was required, the mentors made it available for us.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
After putting in so much hard work, staying calm is of utmost importance on "The Day". A day before the exam, I revised all the quant formulas and took a long 8-hour sleep. Luckily, I had the first slot, and hence, there were no biases when I went to attempt the paper. Although I faced a tech glitch in my DILR section, my ability to stay calm helped me, and I was able to capitalise on my strength, which was the QA section.

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT Rounds?
A:
I prepared for the interviews with Btribe and did exactly what the Btribe mentors advised us to do. The process involved mocks interview, basic HR questions, questions related to prior education and work experience/internships, current affairs, and college specific questions. Before going to the interviews, I made sure to check up the college's website and the course structure so I would have some topics to discuss and ask relevant questions at the end of the interview. 

Q: Which all Top B-schools shortlisted you for personal interview round?
A:
I was shortlisted for PI round by IIT Bombay - SJMSOM, IIT Delhi - DMS, XLRI, MDI Gurgaon, CAP IIMs, SIBM Pune, IIM Bangalore PGPBA.

Q: Which B-schools you finally converted?
A:
I converted SPJIMR Mumbai, SJMSoM IIT Bombay, DMS IIT Delhi, XLRI Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, CAP IIMs and SIBM Pune

Q: What motivated you to Join SPJIMR? What were your top three criteria?
A:
I had an interview opportunity at SPJIMR last year; however, I was unable to perform at my best due to contracting COVID-19. Nevertheless, the enriching interaction with SPJIMR's faculty motivated me to attempt the CAT exam again. I believe what makes SPJIMR different from the other institutes is its focus on not just academics but also the five non-classroom initiatives. These initiatives help in the holistic development of a student. Apart from this, location is also important. Being in Mumbai provides you an advantage in networking with business leaders because Mumbai is where most company offices are.

Q: Do you have work experience? Please share how the work experience can help in MBA?
A:
I had a work experience of around 21 months on the CAT form and around 30 months overall. While I was preparing for CAT, it was often challenging to manage both a full-time job and the CAT. However, I believe that having work experience does help in the MBA. Whenever we have classroom discussions, my prior experience helps me bring in a different perspective. Moreover, preparing for the CAT alongside my full-time job helped me improve my time management and prioritisation skills, which are essential in an MBA.

Q: Whom you would like to give credit for your success? What role your family & friends played?
A:
My family and my mentors deserve all the credit for what I have achieved. They all helped me along the way, through both the highs and the lows. I made some amazing friends while preparing for the CAT, and they've all received admission to some of the top institutions in the country. All of these were my main sources of motivation throughout the CAT journey.

Q: According to you, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 

A: I believe that when you have numerous interviews scheduled on the same days, the process becomes very hectic. Travelling to various cities to attend various interviews can be difficult for persons who don't live in tier 1 cities. Therefore, in my view, improved cooperation between the institutes with the option to select the interview format would be beneficial.

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023

A: Because the CAT exam is so unpredictable, luck does matter on test day. This, however, does not minimise the effort and perseverance required for the exam.  One piece of suggestion is to concentrate on other tests as well, such as XAT, IIFT, and SNAP. Everyone has different strong and weak points, so it's more important to play to your strengths.

Pooja Sudhakar: 99.11 Percentile in CAT 2022

Pooja Sudhakar

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

Chennai Girl, Pooja Sudhakar comes 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, she got motivated to prepare and crack CAT while pursuing her graduation. The marketing role at Mockat further helped her in strengthening her determination to get a top B-school. In this interview, she shares 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. Let us read Pooja’s responses to MBAUniverse.com questions

Q: How and when did you decide to pursue MBA and Prepare for CAT?
A:
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.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A
: 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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
I converted SPJIMR Mumbai

Q: Do you have work experience? Please share how the work experience can help in MBA?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A:
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. 
A:
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
A:
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.

Prateek Kumar Rai: 99.80 Percentile in CAT 2022

Prateek Kumar Rai

How Sacrificing Leisure Time & Uninstalling Social Media Platforms Helped Prateek Kumar Rai from Patna, overcome his weakness to crack CAT 2022 with 99.80%ile, and get into SPJIMR Mumbai

Patna boy, Prateek Kumar Rai comes from a modest and educated family. His father is an officer in Indian Railways in Jabalpur and his mother is a housewife. His sister is studying at IIT Dhanbad. Prateek cracked CAT 2022 with 99.80 percentile and is pursuing PGDM from SPJIMR Mumbai. Prateek is a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Patna and has work experience of 2 years with MathWorks.

Prateeks’s CAT preparation journey has a lot of lessons. For instance how did he overcome his weakness in VARC section and how did he maximise on his strengths. Prateek sacrificed his leisure time and followed a very disciplined plan while preparing for CAT. To avoid any kind of distraction, Prateek uninstalled all social media platforms from his phone to focus only on CAT preparation. Prateek loves to interact with people and likes to play Badminton. Let us read Prateek’s responses to MBAUniverse.com questions

Q: What challenges you faced during your CAT preparation? How did you come out of them?
A:
The main challenge I faced in my preparation was to manage my work and CAT preparation at the same time. It was tough to be motivated throughout the preparation and manage both of them diligently. However, the urge to be the best of the best kept me motivated.

Q: What Steps did you take to Focus on your CAT Preparation Journey?
A:
For my preparation, I sacrificed my leisure time as well as uninstalled social media platforms like Facebook & Instagram. Even I took it to another level and uninstalled YouTube from my phone to avoid wasting time watching reels (if I needed YouTube, I was using my laptop for that).

Q: How did the uninstalling of Social Media Platforms help you?
A:
I realized that uninstalling saved my time and also increased my concentration which in turn increased my productivity. Also, I made two types of plans to follow: the short plan where I decided on which sets to practice and the long plan where I decided on a monthly basis as to which topics to cover.

Q: How did you perform in CAT exam 2022?
A:
I scored 99.80 overall percentile in CAT 2022. Coming to sectional scores, I scored 84.98%ile in VARC, 99.82%ile in DILR and 99.90%ile in QA.

Q: Did you take any other exam apart from CAT?
A: Apart from CAT, I did not appear in any other exam.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
I had a pretty hectic schedule since I was working for full time. Hence, I started my preparation little early from February. On week days, I made a strict schedule where I was working from 9 to 6 followed by attending online CAT preparation classes from 6:30 to 8:30. After class, I used to sit from 9 pm till 1 am for revising the notes and practicing the questions. On weekends, I prefer practicing as many questions as I can and was focusing more on learning tips & tricks which really came in handy at the actual D-day. In the last months before CAT, I solved a lot of mocks as it was giving some sense of experience on what the actual CAT day would look like.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC?
A:
I think it is very important for you to first self-introspect on which section is your strength and which is your weakness. I knew that VARC could be a tough nut to crack for me and hence I planned to allot a fixed number of hours for VARC daily. I used to solve 5 questions each of para-jumbles, para-summary, and odd-one-out on a daily basis. Also, I used to solve atleast 1 reading comprehension question daily. Apart from that, I started creating a reading habit by reading newspapers daily.

Q: How did you prepare for DILR?
A:
For DILR, first of all, it is important to realize that there is no fixed syllabus for this section. No matter how many questions you have seen, you will be definitely getting surprises in the CAT with a whole new problem. However, solving a lot of problems enhance your confidence and that helps you in solving the new problem which appears in the exam. Firstly, I made sure that I solved all the standard problems. Secondly, I looked at the previous problems of CAT and solved them thoroughly. After I completed the standard and previous year's questions, I started looking at new problems as well as problems from mocks.

Q: How did you prepare for QA?
A:
Quantitative Ability was the section that was my personal favourite as I loved Maths since my school days. I knew that Maths was my strength and I might score higher even with little preparation. However, I had a different plan for that. I decided to work on my strength and improve it further. And so I did. I spent a considerable amount of time on my QA preparation daily and learned various tips and tricks to solve problems faster. I even learned basic stuff like tables, squares up to 20, and cubes up to 15. These small things really helped me make a large difference in CAT and hence I was able to score 99.90 percentile in the QA section.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
I was weak in the verbal section as I never had reading habits. So first, I started developing my reading habits by reading articles and newspapers daily. At start, I felt that it would not help me much but after some days, my comprehension speed really increased. Apart from that as stated above, I allotted a fixed amount of time for VARC prep daily where I was solving all possible types of questions asked in CAT.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks played a crucial role in my preparation. In my initial preparation, I was solving mocks twice a week. From August, I started solving one mock per week. And in my last month before CAT, I started giving mocks daily. Secondly, introspecting mock is very important as you will learn what mistakes you should avoid in the actual exam.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
A:
I took online coaching for my CAT preparation. The logic was simple, I did not want to spend my energy on finding good study materials or planning which chapters to learn first. I believe that coaching centres are doing that for years and hence I attended coaching for my preparation.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
A:
I generally referred to my coaching materials for the preparation. However, I bought Arun Sharma’s books on CAT and used them to solve some questions. Apart from that, to strong my vocabulary, I referred to “Word Power Made Easy” by Norman Lewis. I would say that you can refer to this if you want to enhance your vocabulary.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
This is where my mocks helped me much. I was able to try out various strategies in mocks and was able to learn which was working for me. For VARC, I followed that initially I will be solving only 3 RC sets and then use the rest of the time to solve VA questions. Also, I scanned all four RCs very quickly and decided on which 3 RCs to solve. For DILR, I scanned all the sets similar to how I did for VARC. Then, I focused on solving the two sets which I found to be on the easy side. Additionally, I planned that if time remains after solving 2 sets, then I will solve the third set. Luckily, in my case, I was able to get some time and I solved the third set as well. For QA, I used the solve-as-you-go approach where I started with the first question and was serially solving each question as I was moving ahead. Also, in this process, if I found that any question requires more time to solve, then I was simply leaving it with the idea that I can come back to the question at last.

Q: Which all B-schools shortlisted you for personal interview round? How did you prepare for it?
A:
I was shortlisted by IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, FMS Delhi, SPJIMR Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon and the CAP IIMs. To prepare for GD-PI-WAT, I took the coaching where I got the idea of how to prepare for the interview day.

Always remember that the second part of your selection process is also equally important as it is not just the CAT score that will land you in your dream B-school. For WAT, firstly I read a lot of current affairs (and this is where my reading newspaper has helped) and secondly, I started writing on some general topics daily. Writing is as important as reading since it helps you to organize your ideas and note them down in a structured manner. For GD and PI, I preferred giving mocks to get a glimpse of actual GD and PI. Also, it is very important to have a self-introspection since you can expect questions like (i) What do you really want to do in life? (ii) Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? (iii) What are your hobbies and what’s the latest news in the areas of your hobbies?

Q: Which B-schools you finally converted?
A:
I converted SPJIMR Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, CAP participating IIMs

Q: Do you have work experience? Please share how the work experience can help in MBA?
A:
Yes, I have a work experience of 24 months as a software developer. There were two ways in which my work experience really helped. Firstly, the journey of preparing for one of the most competitive exams alongside my work taught me to prioritize things as well as taught me time and work management. Also, acing an exam like CAT along with my full-time work really boosted my self-confidence which is really important in the life ahead. Secondly, my work experience came in handy in my personal interviews since it gave me a lot of things to talk about at the time of my interviews. Also, whatever I was saying in my interviews, I could connect it with my work experience. That being said, it does not mean that freshers can’t ace their interviews. It is just that they have to prepare more thoroughly for their undergraduate college experience or atleast should have clear ideas in their mind to answer the questions.

Q: What motivated you to Join SPJIMR? What were your top three criteria?
A:
I could easily list more than three criteria that motivated me to join SPJIMR. However, let me state the top three among them. Firstly, according to me, the diversity in profile which comes in SPJIMR is remarkable. You can find people from diverse work experiences, undergrad colleges, and age groups sitting and learning together for becoming future leaders. Secondly, the unique set of interviews that SPJIMR conducts makes sure that not only people with high IQ but also with high EQ (emotional quotient) join the batch which is most required for leaders nowadays. Thirdly, is the brand of SPJIMR. Everyone knows that SPJIMR is one of the best B-schools in our country and associating yourself with such a brand will always help in your career ahead. So, these were the top three criteria for me to select any B-school and hence I joined SPJIMR since it excels in all of my criteria.

Q: Whom you would like to give credit for your success? What role your family & friends played?
A:
I read somewhere that if you are achieving something that does not mean that you only worked hard to achieve it, rather it means that “you along with your environment worked hard which in turn favoured the circumstances to achieve your success”. I totally relate to this and hence want to give credit for my success to my family and my friends. My family & friends always supported me and stood up with me in my hard times. They believed in me and motivated me throughout the CAT journey which helped me land in SPJIMR.

Q: According to you, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 
A:
According to me, there are many ways a B school can make its MBA admission process less cumbersome. One could be to give a chance to candidates to opt between offline and online interviews. I know it is easy to choose people based on offline interviews but from a student perspective, it is tough to go to different cities for interviews while managing their work/undergrad college at the same time. Secondly, I think it is important that students should get results soon as the waiting time is very frustrating because of the uncertainty of their careers. Here, SPJIMR has an edge since SPJIMR declares its results way ahead of other B-schools in the country.

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
A:
My message is simple - Just prepare yourself smart and work hard. CAT is all about speed, practice, and hard work.  If you really study seriously and strategize well for your preparation, you can easily excel CAT. Also, give a thought upon your strengths and weakness and plan for the exam accordingly. I certainly believe that if I can ace CAT’22 along with my full-time work, then anybody can do it with the right amount of effort fuelled with strong motivation to study in one of the top B schools in the country.

Sundar Rajan: 99.63 Percentile in CAT 2022

Sundar Rajan

How Sundar Rajan from Tenkasi (Tamil Nadu) & Wokring Professional with TCS Cracked CAT 2022 with 99.63%ile and Got into SPJIMR Mumbai

Sundar Rajan, from Tenkasi (Tamil Nadu) from a modest family, cracked CAT 2022 with 99.63 percentile and is pursuing PGDM from SPJIMR Mumbai. Sundar’s mother is a Head Mistress of a Girls High School. Sundar has work experience of 37 months with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Sundar’s CAT preparation journey has a lot of lessons. For instance how he got motivated to pursue MBA, how did he overcome his weakness in VARC section and how did he maximise on his strengths. Sundar loves watching movies and loves Cricket. With this let us read Sundar’s responses to MBAUniverse.com questions

Q: What motivated you to Join SPJIMR? What were your top three criteria?
A:
1. The reputation of SPJIMR is very high. It is one of the best b-school in the country.

2. SPJIMR focuses more on experiential learning with it’s unique programs such as Abhyudaya, DOCC and GFT.

     3. SPJIMR's unwavering focus on values and ethics sets it apart from the rest. 

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2022?
A:
I scored overall 99.63 percentile in CAT 2022. My sectional percentile in VARC was 96.77; in DILR was 99.87 and in QA was 97.46

Q: Did you appear in other MBA entrance exams also? How did you fare in them
A:
I appeared in XAT 2023 and scored 97.17 percentile. I also appeared in IIFT Entrance exam and scored 97.55 percentile. I was shortlisted by XLRI, SPJIMR, MDI, IIM Lucknow, Kozhikode, Shillong among others 

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
For approximately two months, I committed about twelve hours each day to my exam preparation plan. During the initial month, I focused on gaining a comprehensive understanding of the syllabus, while the following month was dedicated to more intensive study, involving the completion of mock exams and a thorough analysis of my performance.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC?
A:
I improved my reading speed and response accuracy. Recognizing that this section held the highest scoring potential, I made the decision to take calculated risks and attempt more questions, even though Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) was my weakest area. I read more articles and mentally prepared myself to concentrate while reading

Q: How did you prepare for DILR?
A:
DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning) was my strong suit. I found it relatively easy and consistently performed well in this subject. I devised a strategy of attempting two sets thoroughly and aiming to complete at least one more data-intensive set during my practice mock exams.

Q: How did you prepare for QA?
A:
For the Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section, I went back to basics, relearning fundamental concepts, and also sought out shortcut formulas to increase my efficiency. I made a practice of taking multiple mock exams to reinforce my skills in this area. Learning to effectively use CAT calculator will save a lot of time.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) was my weak point. To address this, I focused on increasing my reading speed by reading more extensively. This allowed me to read paragraphs more quickly and efficiently.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mock tests played a pivotal role in my CAT preparation. During the final month leading up to the exam, I dedicated myself to taking mock tests day in and day out. After each mock test, I conducted a detailed analysis to identify areas where I could make improvements.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
A:
I joined online coaching by Cracku. It had a plan that aligned with my schedule, and it gave me a framework and outline on what I could do.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
A:
For books my source was those books authored by Arun Sharma, and online materials provided by Cracku

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
On the day of the CAT exam, I remained calm and composed. I had confidence in my preparation and was certain that my hard work would pay off. To ensure I was well-prepared, I spent the previous day revising all the formulas, tips, and tricks that I had learned.

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT Rounds?
A:
I chose not to enroll in any coaching centers or institutes for Group Discussions (GD), Personal Interviews (PI), or Written Ability Tests (WAT). Instead, I proactively connected with alumni from particular B-schools, seeking their valuable insights on effective strategies and pitfalls to avoid during these processes. Moreover, I dedicated time to expand my general knowledge regarding current events and pertinent subjects.

Q: Do you have work experience? Please share how the work experience can help in MBA?
A:
I have more than three years of work experience in Tata Consultancy Services. Having work ex is a major advantage in MBA, as it can give you a validation of your purpose. It can help you figure out what you want and what you do not.

Q: Whom you would like to give credit for your success? What role your family & friends played?
A:
My mother offered unwavering support throughout the entire process, standing by my side even when I made the bold decision to leave my job without a clear direction for the future. My friends played a significant role during my interview preparations. They not only assisted with arranging accommodations for interviews and understanding and giving me my space.

Q: What challenges you faced during your life, academics, preparation? How did you come out of them?
A:
I lost my father when I was just one year old, but my family ensured that I received the best care and support. I come from a place that isn't as urban as some cities, and I didn't have all the amenities that a child growing up in a city might have. However, I managed to thrive and progress from Tenkasi to Chennai, and now from Chennai to Mumbai.

Q: According to you, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 
A:
The interview process is often one of the most demanding stages in the MBA admission process. Some B-schools conduct interviews online, while others prefer face-to-face interviews. In certain cases, offline interviews are organized regionally, making it somewhat more convenient. However, in some instances, candidates must travel to the B-school for the interview. It can be challenging to determine exactly what the interviewers are seeking in a candidate. I personally appreciate the approach of colleges like SPJIMR, which prioritize assessing a candidate's ethics and values over asking questions related to a specific subject that I might have learned many years ago.

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
A:
Maintain persistence, avoid becoming demotivated or overly confident based on your mock results. Trust the process and commit to regular and consistent effort.

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

Read more inspirational stories & secret mantras of CAT Toppers, only on MBAUniverse.com 

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