Why CAT 2022 Topper Kunal, Coming from Agriculture Family, declined IIMs, IIFT to join MDI Gurgaon; How he cracked Exams – MBAUniverse.com Interview

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Updated on November 2, 2023
A B.Tech with about 4 years of work experience in IT, Kunal Singh Bhadauria declined the admission offers from IIMs, IIFT, NMIMS and has joined MDI Gurgaon PGDM 2023-25 batch after taking a judicious decision. Kunal, coming from an Agriculture family, cracked CAT 2022 with 98.44 %ile and IIFT entrance with 98.13%ile with his preparation with IMS. Read his CAT preparation strategy and success mantra and why he opted MDI instead of any IIM, IIFT or NMIMS
CAT 2022 Topper Kunal

MBAUniverse.com in its series of CAT 2022 topper interviews, brings before you success story of a CAT, IIFT and NMAT exam topper Kunal, who cracked CAT and IIFT with 98+ percentile and was offered admission by IIMs, IIFT, NMIMS but he preferred MDI Gurgaon to any other top B-school.

Coming from a modest Agriculture Family of Hyderabad, Kunal Singh Bhadauriya is a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Sree Vidyanikethan Engineering College. After completing his B.Tech, Kunal joined IT Industry and has gained 43 months of work experience before joining MDI Gurgaon. Kunal scored 98.44 percentile in CAT 2022, 98.13 percentile in IIFT entrance exam and a score of 248 in NMAT exam with his well devised preparation strategy and support from IMS Coaching Institute. Despite getting admission offers from IIMs Shillong, IIFT and NMIMS, he decided to join MDI Gurgaon PGDM 2023-25 batch. Kunal’s father works in Agri Industry and Mother is a home maker. Kunal is a Public Speaker and a Story Teller.

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MBAUniverse.com invited Kunal to share his preparation and CAT day strategy, how he cracked CAT and IIFT, why he preferred to join MDI Gurgaon instead of IIMs and IIFT. Read below his Interview with preparation strategy

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2022?
I scored 98.44 overall percentile in CAT 2022. I scored 83.13%ile in VARC, 98.91%ile in DILR and 98.39%ile in QA.  

Q: Apart from CAT 2022, which other exams did you appear? How was the performance?
Apart from CAT 2022, I appeared in IIFT MBA Entrance and scored 98.13%ile. I also appeared in NMAT and scored 248 marks.

Q: With such good scores in all the MBA entrance exams that you appeared, which top B-schools shortlisted you for PI Round?
I was shortlisted by SPJIMR, MDI Gurgaon, IIFT, SJMSoM IIT Bombay, IIM Shillong, IIM Lucknow (PGPSM), CAP participating IIMs, IMT Ghaziabad, NMIMS Mumbai, BITSoM

Q: Which were your final Converts after PI Round?
I converted IIM Shillong, IIFT Delhi, NMIMS Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, IMT Ghaziabad and most of the new IIMs.

Q: Before we understand your preparation strategy, please share your key criteria why you preferred to join MDI instead of IIMs, IIFT, NMIMS and other top B-schools?
I opted for MDI Gurgaon PGDM after giving a due though based on the following parameters - 1. Placements in desired domain 2. Brand Value 3. Exposure (location, peer group, foreign exchange, etc). I found MDI Gurgaon most suitable on all of them

Q: This is very thoughtful of you to have researched so well before finalising your B-school. Let us now understand what was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
CAT 2022 was my second serious attempt after CAT 2021. During my 1st attempt, I took coaching from IMS and scored 93.87%ile in CAT and 97.2%ile in XAT. So, when I started my preparation for CAT 2022 in June, I was confident with the basic concepts, with VARC being my strongest area. I was average in quants and below average in DILR. And since I was working, I had to ensure I utilised the time at hand effectively..

I used to study for 2-3 hours every day and during weekends allocated 6-10 hours for CAT preparation. I started my preparation with a special focus on my weaker sections (Quants & DILR ) and opted for only one test series( IMS ) unlike my peers who took 1-3 test series. I believed that analysing the mocks effectively was the key to improving scores in mocks rather than solving numerous mocks and not analysing them properly. I was able to attempt 40+ mocks during my preparation period of 6 months. Initially, I was taking only 1 mock per week and was allocating the majority of the time to practising QUANTS and DILR questions from IMS coaching material, Masterclasses and PYQ. From September, I started taking 2-3 mocks per week and for the last 3 months, I only attempted mocks and analysed them properly. It used to take me 6-8 hours to analyse each mock effectively, but it was worth the time. Overall, if one is clear with concepts, taking mocks and analysing them effectively will be sufficient to score a good score in CAT

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC?
After the preparation, VARC became my strongest suit, but it was not always the case. Initially, I was weak at VARC since I used to get confused between the options (as all looked similar to me) and had a slow reading speed. I still have a lower reading speed, but it is better than before. To improve my reading speed, I started reading a lot more than before and used to read close to 10k words a day. Later, after learning proper techniques like “FIVE PAUSE METHOD”, and “XYZ Method”, etc to solve Reading Comprehension, Para Summary from faculty at IMS, I was able to analyse the text critically and thus was able to increase my accuracy. Following a proper technique that suits you rather than going by gut feeling is very important to consistently score well in VARC. I practised 3-4 RCs every day from various sources like IMS material, IMS sectionals, GMAT official guide and CAT Mocks. This helped me make VARC my strongest area.

Q: How did you prepare for DILR?
Since DILR was my weak area, I allocated a significant portion of my time to this. Initially, I became familiar with the different types of DILR sets asked in the test. For this, I used IMS material which covers almost all variety of DILR questions. Once I became familiar with all kinds of sets, I started practising 3-4 sets daily from various sources like IMS Sectional Mocks, PYQ and CAT Mocks. The more familiar one gets with the DILR sets more the chances they perform well in this section. For me personally, PYQs are the best source to practice DILR sets.

Q: How did you prepare for QA?
QA was the area, where I found myself as average. Firstly, I completed all the topics in QA (concepts & practice). This helped me cover all the basics. After this, I started taking QA-specific sectional Mock tests and full-length Mock tests and once, I was able to identify the topic I need to improve upon, I immediately started working on it. This way I was able to work on my weaker areas and also was able to revise the complete topic. I made sure that if I found a more efficient method to solve a problem from faculty/peers/mocks, I implement it in further solving. This way I was able to save time which I can utilise to solve other problems during the test. I also made notes of all the important formulas in a book (had photos of which in my phone) so that I can revise them whenever I found some free time. For QA, the best preparation strategy is to practice as much as possible. Through this one will get familiar with problems and will be able to solve them quickly.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
  When I started my preparation, DILR was my weakest section. I was only able to do 2 sets during the test and sometimes used to select the wrong set to solve which eventually ate up my time. For me, the major challenge was to select the right sets to solve and increase my solving speed. This I was able to overcome by first solving all the varieties of sets present in the coaching material followed by solving 3-4 DILR sets every day. This entire process helped me get familiar with different types of questions and thus was able to recognise the most suitable sets easily during the test. I also used to go through the video solutions provided in IMS Mocks to learn efficient methods to solve a particular set so as to save time.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
I believe MOCKS are the most important resource to crack an exam like CAT. By taking Mocks and analysing them properly I was able to identify the areas of improvement and work upon them to increase my scores. I also was able to experiment with different test-taking strategies so as to maximise my scores. The solution provided for the Mock tests helped me discover better methods to solve a particular problem and thus helped me increase my solving speed. During the 6 months of preparation period, I was able to attempt 40+ Mocks.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
: Though CAT is an aptitude test it is also a test of speed. It is not enough to solve a problem but to solve it as quickly as possible and maximise one’s scores. I opted for coaching from IMS as I believed learning better(fast) techniques from the faculty and preparing along with like-minded students can help me improve my scores. Also, it becomes easy to clarify one's doubts as early as possible. Also, if someone is not self-motivated and doesn’t have any mentor to guide them through the entire CAT preparation process, I recommend they enrol themselves in coaching.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
: GENERIC RESOURCES (for all sections): IMS material, CAT PYQs, IMS full-length mocks and sectional Mocks. VARC: GMAT Official guide for RC and CR, Aeon essays and The Hindu for reading practice. These resources helped me cover all the basic to advanced concepts and also provided CAT-relevant questions for practice. I believe, If one has covered all the above-mentioned resources effectively, one can crack CAT easily.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
: I stopped practising/revising the concepts 1 day before the CAT exam. This helps in calming down your mind which is very important during the test. Just before the exam, I read an Aeon essay so that I can warm up before I hit the RCs. I decided to follow the strategy that I have been following during my mocks as making changes at the last minute can hurt. For VARC, I first solved 3 RCs, followed by Verbal ability. For DILR, I selected 3 sets in the first 5 min and started solving them. This reduces the chances of getting stuck in a set. For Quants I followed the “ABC technique”, doing easy ones first, then medium-difficulty ones and then tough ones. During the entire test, it is very important to stay calm (Many mess up their exam by not doing this). When the exam was about to start, I took deep breaths to cool myself down. Also, do not let a bad section affect your other sections. 

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT Rounds?
I believe to become good at something it is important to practice it. I followed the same ideology for GD/PI/Wat preparation. I enrolled myself with the IMS GDPI program and gave close to 10 mock GD/PI/WAT. With each mock PI, I was able to improve my answers and became more and more confident.

I divided my GDPI preparation into 5 buckets, 1. Academics 2. Work experience 3. Current Affairs 4. Extra-curriculars 5. Generic MBA interview questions and worked on them diligently so that if any questions are asked from these buckets, I should be able to answer them.

I also went through previous years' Interview transcripts of students to better understand the type of questions asked and how to deal with them effectively. I also used STAR framework to effectively put my point across. For current affairs, I followed IMS GDPI Resources, The Hindu, Finshots and other business newsletters. For WAT, I selected a topic randomly each day and tried to write on it in a structured manner in a given time frame. I followed intro-body-conclusion as a structure to send my point across effectively.

Q: According to you, overall, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 
: It is my firm belief that a single day shouldn’t decide the future college of a student. As we all know along with students’ aptitude, there are other factors at play which decide the final result. And underperforming on that single test day can cost students a complete year. This can be avoided by conducting CAT 3-4 times a year or following the way GMAT is conducted. This will give students a fair shot at their dream B-Schools and not waste their whole year.  Apart from this, it would be helpful if B-schools can wrap up their admission process as early as possible so that students can take decisions about their future accordingly.

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
: My message & tips for CAT 2023 aspirants are:

  • Start taking MOCKS as early as possible. Mocks are the best resource out there for CAT preparation. Taking Mocks-->Analysing them effectively---> Finding areas/topics of improvement and working on them-->Taking Mocks, should be the cycle that everyone must follow.
  • Keeping your mind calm and open and having patience and an optimistic mindset during the entire preparation process is very important – Don’t stress out yourself by overdoing things
  • Along with CAT do attempt all other MBA entrance tests so that you are not dependent on only a single test.
  • Today is the right time to do things because tomorrow never comes, so start your preparation from today and practice as much as you can without causing yourself burnout
  • During any time in preparation, if you feel low or want to give don’t feel shy to talk to a mentor/student from B school, who has gone through a similar process. They will be happy to help and will guide you in the right direction

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