How Surat Boy and NIT Hamirpur Graduate Shantanu Yadav cracked CAT with 99.7%ile and got into IIM Ahmedabad for MBA 2020!

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September 5, 2020
Shantanu Singh Yadav, CAT 2019 topper from Surat, cracked the exam with 99.73 percentile and has converted number of top B-schools including IIM Ahmedabad. A graduate from NIT Hamirpur, Shantanu belongs to a modest service class family. While preparing for CAT exam, he earned 3 years of working experience in a fertilizer industry. Read his CAT preparation strategy and success mantra
Shantanu Singh Yadav, CAT 2019 topper

CAT 2020 exam date is Sunday, November 29, 2020. To help the aspirants preparing for CAT 2020, has published a series of articles on CAT preparation plan & strategy adopted by CAT toppers studying at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, MDI Gurgaon among others. Below are shared the interview excerpts with CAT preparation tips by CAT Topper Shantanu Singh Yadav, and IIM Ahmedabad student of 2020-22 batch 

Coming from the small town of Surat in Gujarat, Shantanu Singh Yadav cracked CAT 2019 with  99.73 percentile and has converted number of top B-schools including IIM Ahmedabad. A graduate from NIT Hamirpur, Shantanu belongs to a modest service class family. While preparing for CAT exam, he earned 3 years of working experience in a fertilizer industry.

Shantanu appeared in CAT 2018 also, and scored 95.73 percentile but decided to prepare again to get his dream B-school. He likes playing Football and his hobbies and interests include Photography, Trekking and Hiking. invited Shantanu to share his exam taking strategy and GD-PI experience. Read on for his views and success mantras. 

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Q: How did you perform in CAT 2019?
A: I scored 99.73 overall percentile in CAT 2019; 89.44 percentile in VARC section; 99.76 in DILR Section and 99.86 percentile in Quantitative Ability section. I also appeared in CAT 2018 and scored 95.73 percentile.

Q: Apart from CAT 2019, which other exams did you appear?
A: Apart from CAT 2019, I appeared in XAT 2020 and scored 99.914 percentile; appeared in IIFT 2020 and scored 98.74 percentile.

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, I have converted IIM Calcutta, IIM Shillong, MDI Gurgaon, all Baby IIMs. I have finally decided to join IIM Ahmedabad

Q: What have been your academics and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A: I graduated from NIT Hamirpur with Chemical Engineering in 2017 with 82.6 percent. I scored 91.2 percent in class X; 90.2 in class XII and 82.6 in Graduation. I have 3 years of work experience in the Fertilizer Industry. I belong to a service class family. My father is in Service, Mother is a housewife and younger brother is in 11th grade.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A: CAT 2019 was my second attempt at the exam, when the first one in 2018 fetched me admits to some new and baby IIMs. I started preparing again in May’19, mostly focusing on mocks and timing my attempts effectively. I started cross-checking and analysing my wrong answers, something I never used to do earlier.

The quants section was my strength but still I devoted equal time to all the three sections with some extra effort towards DI and LR which is I believe is the most unpredictable section in the exam. You could practice a hell lot of LR sets prior to the exam but might still hassle on the D-Day. LR sets are not straightforward like Quants or DI sets. Timing my complete mocks and sectional tests along with thoroughly analysing my wrong as well as right attempts turned out to be fruitful.

Q:  Please share your sectional preparation strategy for VARC in CAT
A: For Verbal and RC, I used to read articles from diverse fields to get a hold of difficulty faced to comprehend as well as retain a column when it does not belong to something you’re usually used to. Reading articles from newspapers and business magazines not only helped in VA and RC but also made a solid base to ace the current affairs during the interview and GD rounds.

Q:  Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section
A: For DILR, I focused mostly on LR and LR based DI sets, as for the past few years you rarely get to see a pure DI set in the actual exam. LR being the most unpredictable section in CAT, I followed a strategy to solve and analyse each and every set I face either during mocks or during practise from dedicated books. Try looking for practise material online on GoogleDrive and you’ll find plenty of LR sets to solve. IMS’s mocks helped a lot in DI LR section as they had questions which were closest to the ones actually faced in the CAT Exam.

Q:  Please share your preparation strategy for Quant Section
A: For Quants, I thoroughly practised books by Arun Sharma with a timed approach to solve at least 25-28 questions from various topics under 60 minutes. Apart from this I also solved previous years’ CAT papers with minimal use of on screen calculator. 

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: I was lagging a bit in VA and LR during my initial preparation. For VA there’s only one approach and that is to read, read and read. Read from publications you’re not familiar or used to. Read foreign journals/magazines, editorials in intl. newspapers etc. For LR I solved as many sets I could get my hands on with a timed approach, trying to crack the set within 10-12 minutes was my strategy.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A: Mocks are the key to better preparation as well as time management skills. I solved about 40 mocks before the actual CAT.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A: I self-prepared for the exams and took guidance from IMS Surat for the WAT-GD-PI. I also enrolled for mocks with IMS because of their well-structured and closest to CAT mocks.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A: Strategy for D-Day would be to avoid any last minute preparation. Since the syllabus for CAT is so wide and even has no boundaries defined for VARC and DILR, last minute hustle mostly turns fruitless and overloads you with added stress. I appeared for one mock, a day before the exam and scored just 16 in VARC which freaked me out. It somehow affected my actual performance in CAT where I scored merely 40 marks in VARC which took my sectional percentile below 90.

Take rest and sleep well a day before the exam, not much you’ll be able to change with a day’s preparation. I spent my rest of the day watching Netflix after flunking VARC a day before CAT.

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT. Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A: Post the release of response sheets by IIM Kozhikode and realizing I was scoring 180+, I started my preparation for GD and PI. The first thing I did was to prepare an exhaustive write-up about myself, starting from academics, work experience, achievements, projects, interests and hobbies, short and long term goals. Current affairs for GD and PI didn’t require much preparation owing to my habit of reading newspapers and magazines religiously.

I attended a few sessions from experts along with two mock GD and PI sessions, of which one was purely focused on my IIM Ahmedabad interview, which was only my second interview in a long list of 14-15 shortlists including IIM A,C,L,S, MDI, SPJIMR, XLRI and IIFT. I also prepared a few core subjects from my engineering and also mathematics, which eventually aided me a lot during my IIM A, C & L interviews.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2020.
A: I want to share following four tips for the prospective candidates:

  1. Always analyse your mocks thoroughly. It’s not at all tough to land in the top 1 percentile.
  2. Try not to appear for a mock on the penultimate day. Relax and sleep well for the D-Day.
  3. Try not get stressed, during the exam and also in the interviews.
  4. Never globe in the interviews. Professors will have a laugh and you’ll walk out looking like a clown.

This article is published in partnership with IMS Learning, India’s leading CAT Coaching Institute. To know more about their CAT 2020 Online Preparation & Test Series, and to get extra 10% Reader Discount, check details here.

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