To help the aspirants preparing for CAT, MBAUniverse.com has published a series of videos & articles on CAT preparation plan & strategy adopted by CAT Toppers. Here is an Interview and Video with CAT Topper Sandeep Rajguru who is an IIM Ahmedabad student of 2020-22 batch. Discharging multiple roles as a responsible Media person in corporate sector and as a freelancer, and yet cracking CAT with high percentile, is not an easy task. On the top of it getting admission in the top B-School of India – IIM Ahmedabad makes you come out with flying colours. This is what Sandeep Rajguru, a graduate in Media & Communication from SCMC Pune and working professional from Bhubaneswar managed to do balancing between his job and preparation. Sandeep scored 98.07 percentile in CAT 2019, got interview call from IIM-Ahmedabad, MDI Gurgaon, IIM Rohtak, XIMB, IMT Ghaziabad and converted IIM Ahmedabad, a dream of every MBA aspirant. Of course, her journey wasn’t a cakewalk. It required persistence, focus and ability to effectively juggle multiple roles.
CAT Topper Mantra Video Series – Watch Sandeep Rajguru on 'My CAT Strategy & Road to IIM Ahmedabad'
CAT Toppers Interview Series – Read Interview with Sandeep Rajguru on 'Preparation strategy for CAT & GD/PI/WAT'
Q: How did you perform in CAT 2019?
A:I scored 98.07 overall percentile in CAT 2019; 99.07 percentile in VARC section; 94.03 in DILR Section and 91.91 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.
Q: Apart from CAT 2019, which other exams did you appear?
A: Apart from CAT 2019, I did not appear in any other exam
Q: Which top B-schools have offered you admission and which one you have finally chosen?
A: Apart from getting final admission offer from IIM Ahmedabad for PGP 2020-22 batch, I have converted IIM Rohtak (PGP); MDI Gurgaon ( PGPM); XIMB (BM) and IMT Ghaziabad (PGDM- Full Time). I finally decided to join IIM Ahmedabad
Q: What are your academics, interests and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A: I have done Bachelors in Media Studies (Audio Visual Production) from Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, Pune. My interest areas are Reading- Contemporary fiction, economics and history; Cinema and TV series; Following Football and Playing Badminton.
I belong to a service class family. My father works as an engineer in Hyderabad and my mother is a homemaker. Other than being great parents, they are also the most encouraging people in my life. I have 3 years of work experience in the Corporate Sector and as a freelancer.
Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A: I started my preparation in May 2019, and spent the initial few days understanding basic things like CAT score to percentile trends over the last few years, selection criteria of all my targeted colleges and took 2 mocks even before joining a coaching centre to see where I stand- all this helped me to set an objective target to work towards.
Thereafter, I spent the initial 5 months (May-September) to clear my fundamental understanding of all topics in the three sections and do some practice exercises alongside to reinstate my understanding. Halfway into this phase, I started preparing with a study partner from my institute and his motivation and perseverance created a very healthy environment of competition and it pushed me even further to do well. During this period I would take mocks only once every two weeks.
The final stage of the preparation (October- November) was only and only about taking and analysing mocks in great detail. I would take at least 3 mocks a week and analyse my performance for several hours to try and understand how to improve my scores.
Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for VARC in CAT
A: Fortunately, I had a slight advantage in this section with respect to vocabulary and reading speed due to my background in mass communication. However, RCs related to Science and Technology were my weak spot and I tried to solve passages of that nature more than others. On an average, I would at least solve 3 RCs every day along with a few PJs, Summary Questions etc. The aim here was to maximise my accuracy as the number of attempts were usually high.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section
A: DILR was the section I enjoyed the most from the start, as I viewed the questions as interesting puzzles to be solved. Even during the initial stages I would time myself and see if my speed is increasing. The good thing about this section is that it is entirely dependent on practice and logical thinking (unlike the other two sections where you might have an advantage/disadvantage due to your educational background). I started from very basic problems and moved on to CAT level sets only after I was very comfortable with the fundamentals.
Q: Please share your preparation strategy for Quant Section
A: This was my weakest section, as I had no training in Maths after 10th standard (a gap of 9 years). Topics like Geometry and P&C were especially challenging as they were both conceptually difficult and time taking to solve. So I decided that my focus needs to be on accuracy over attempts- and I got 100% comfortable with questions from Numbers, Arithmetic and Algebra. In the final exam I could achieve a 92.85% accuracy rate.
Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: Quant was my weakest section. I decided to focus more on accuracy than on attempts. This strategy made me comfortable in the topics on Numbers, Arithmetic and Algebra.
Q:What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A: Mocks are incredibly important. CAT, I believe is not just an exam of knowledge but also strategy where handling pressure is as crucial as subject knowledge. And that’s what mocks help you deal with. I must have attempted at least 35 mocks during my prep.
Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A: I joined IMS for my preparations and it turned out to be a great decision. The mentors and peers I found there played a very crucial role in my journey to an MBA admit through their constant guidance and help.
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 got plenty of sleep the previous night. Listened to my favourite music on my way to the centre and tried to be as relaxed as possible. I believed in my ability to do well and kept a positive outlook before and throughout the exam.
The VARC section was much tougher than expected but I took each RC with a logical approach (even made notes) and told myself there was no reason to be intimidated as it would only reflect poorly on my performance. In DILR section I made the mistake of picking one of the toughest sets and missed out on probably the easiest set of the section which wasted a lot of my time. But I didn’t let that affect my mindset in the QA section, and everything went as per plan there.
I didn’t do any kind of preparation 24 hours before the final exam.
Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT? Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A: I kept myself updated with current affairs and made a list of expected questions in an MBA interview which I practiced in mock set ups with friends and my mentors from IMS.
All my interviews took place during Feb 2020, so a majority of topical discussions were around: Union Budget, Brexit, State of News Media in India, CAA-NRC, Academy Awards etc. Other topics of discussions were based on my profile.
Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2020.
A: I’d suggest following five points for your CAT Preparation:
- Be methodical in your preparation
- Set monthly targets for yourself and map your progress
- Please be consistent in your studies- even a break of a week can prove to be a major setback
- Seek help from friends and mentors whenever you think you are stuck
- Most importantly, be positive and enjoy the process.
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Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates on CAT Preparation Strategy by Toppers