How Miss India Finalist and Law Graduate Adya Niraj cracked CAT 2019 to get into IIM Ahmedabad

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Updated on September 8, 2020
Miss India Finalist, A Model, A Bachelor of Arts and Law Graduate from Ranchi, Adya Niraj, cracked CAT 2019 with 96.69 percentile and converted number of top B-schools including IIM Ahmedabad. Before joining and improving the academic diversity at IIM-A, she earned a few months of experience as a faculty at leading CAT coaching institute. Read her CAT preparation strategy and how she cracked CAT despite coming from diverse academic back ground
CAT 2019 Topper Adya Niraj

If you need a big doze of motivation to help you crack CAT 2020, here it is! This is a story of a young lady who triumphed over all odds to get into India’s best B-school – the IIM Ahmedabad. She broke the mold and myths that cracking CAT and getting into Top IIMs is only for Engineers and Quant types. Presenting Miss India 2016 Finalist and now IIM Ahmedabad student Ms Adya Niraj!

Adya completed her Bachelor of Arts and LLB with International Law Hons from National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi. She scored 96.69 percentile in CAT 2019, converted IIM Ahmedabad and MDI Gurgaon amongst many others.She was the Miss India 2016 Finalist and has been a professional Model.

What is even more interesting about Adya’s profile is that she scored only 80%ile in Quantitative Ability section and faced a few questions from panelits in PI round, yet she emerged a winner. Adya’s success also shows how venerated IIM Ahmedabad is changing its admission approach to welcome students who come from diverse backgrounds, and may not be the Top 1% candidates on CAT percentile yardstick alone. 

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Indeed, Adya’s journey wasn’t a cakewalk. It required persistence, focus and immense self-belief. interviewed Adya to understand her CAT preparation journey, how she cracked IIM Ahmedabad interview and more. So, read on for getting inspired and accelerating your CAT journey! 

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Q:So let’s start with your performance in CAT 2019. How much did you score?
I scored 96.69 overall percentile in CAT 2019; 99.73 percentile in VARC section; 91.83 in DILR Section and 80 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.

Q: Apart from CAT, which other exams did you appear?
Apart from CAT 2019, I appeared in TISSNET and cleared the cutoff for MA in HR.

Q: So, which B-schools did you finally converted?
Apart from getting final admission offer from IIM Ahmedabad for PGP 2020-22 batch, I converted MDI Gurgaon, IIM Rohtak, IIM Bodhgaya, IIM Jammu, IIT Madras, Roorkee, Dhanbad, XIMB and IMT Ghaziabad.

Q. Ok. Tell us about yourself and what motivated you to do MBA after doing Law?
I have done Bachelor in Arts and LLB with International Law Hons, from National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi.

I was a finalist of Miss India 2016 and during that competition and even after that, while I was working as a model, I got inspired to become an entrepreneur. But, I felt that I should first gain the requisite knowledge and experience so I decided to pursue an MBA. Another reason is that after an MBA my career prospects, even in the legal field would diversify far and wide. I analyzed all these possibilities and decided that it would be worth a shot to give CAT 2019. 

My personal interest areas are Dancing, Reading, Writing poems, Stories and Articles.

Q: Coming to your CAT preparations, what was your overall preparation strategy?
My preparation was primarily focused on Quants as I was not in touch with it since past 5 years. The second area of difficulty for me was DI. Also, I had started preparation only three months before the exam so, I had no option but, to stress on these two sections. I was good at LR and VARC from the start so, I only practiced them through several mocks but, I ensured that I read newspapers every single day and that helped me greatly, in VARC and WAT-PI rounds.

Q: How did you prepare for VARC section?
For VARC, as I said, I ensured that I read the newspaper every day. I used to note down the time taken by me to read articles from editorials to fasten my reading speed. Also, I tried to read articles from diverse topics as we get some very interesting and difficult articles in CAT exam. 

Q:  Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section…
For DILR, I had to pay more attention to DI. I tried to solve atleast 1 difficult DI question every day. I had planned that if need arises I would only solve LR questions in CAT but, the worst occurred, LR questions in my set were very difficult so I solved two DI questions and two LR questions in CAT.

Q:  So, how did you prepare for Quant Section?
For QA, as I was extremely short of time, I focused on mainly arithmetic. Questions from arithmetic form the bulk of questions in CAT.

Q: How did you overcome challenges for Quant and DI section?
Quant and DI were my weak areas. To overcome the challenge, I focused more on Arithmetic for Quant and solved atleast one difficult DI set every day.

Q:What role did Mock Tests play in your success?
Mocks played a huge role in my success. I used to give mocks every week. Mocks help one to be comfortable in the stress during the exam which is the most important factor to score well.

Q:Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
Yes, I took coaching as I was in a very poor state for the exam. I started preparation only three months before the exam and I had to study Quants and DI from scratch. Coaching greatly facilitated my preparation as I had different teachers throughout the period of my preparation to seek help from.

Q:What was your Exam Day strategy. What was your last-minute preparation?
On the day of the exam I tried to sleep as well as I could. I had received the afternoon slot and thus, was panicky that I would get sleepy during the exam- which actually happened! In general, I tried to keep myself as much relaxed as possible since the eve of the exam. This is because I realize the importance of a calm mind during the stressful exam that CAT is.

I did not have any last minute preparation as I don’t believe in the same. The only thing that I did was that I went through all formulas for Quants that I had compiled at one place.

Q: How did you prepare for PI Round?
I read newspaper every day, especially the editorials and economics sections. I also revised my graduation subjects and the research work that I had done in my UG course.

Q: You scored 80 percentile in QA section in CAT. Was there any question on this aspect by panelists during your PI round?
 Yes, one of the interviewers was curious to know how I expected to keep up with the competition at IIM Ahmedabad given my feeble quantitative skills. I convinced him by clearly stating that I realize the challenges ahead of me and I am ready to undertake them, which is why I attempted CAT in the first place. Also, given my diverse academic background and varied experiences I would definitely contribute to the peer learning process at IIMA. 

Q. So, how has been the experience of online classes at IIM Ahmedabad?
 The experience has been pretty smooth until now. At first I, along with most other people, was very apprehensive about online classes but they have tremendously exceeded our expectations. Classes are fun and interactive in every way. And given the workload honestly, I hardly notice that I am receiving virtual education. But, I am sure, that reaching the campus would be an altogether more enriching and thrilling experience. 

Q. Your journey is a great motivation…How can Non-Engineers do well in IIM Admission process?
I don't think that non-engineers can do anything specifically different to enrich their profile. I feel that it applies to all candidates to have a great and balanced profile because that definitely helps in the admission process. Especially in interviews and group discussions, having diverse experiences enables one to make some significant points which do come to the notice of the panelists.

Ultimately, what matters is that one should have some interests and they should be capable of establishing the impression that they have worked passionately towards pursuing those. In other words, one should be a passionate person, who has sincerely worked towards some or other goal in life. 

Q. What is your message for Non-Engineers, who may be afraid of Quants, but still have talent and aspirations…
I think non-engineers should realize that CAT is not all about Quants. There are other sections as well. So, the exam is not impossible for non-engineers. In fact, non-engineers do get relaxation in selection for WAT-PI rounds so the competition gets evened out in the later half. Therefore, just keep working towards it and you will achieve it!

Q:Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2020.
Keep practicing because there is no other way to be successful in CAT but, at the same time, don’t take a lot of stress and don’t keep thinking about the result. Take each day at a time. Also, try to keep your mind fresh by doing things that you enjoy like, playing instruments, cooking, exercising and so on. Remember that you can only keep your enthusiasm high for the exam if you give yourself adequate breaks/leisure time in between. But, then again, I reiterate, practice problems every single day. 

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