How A Graphic Designer, Painter with B.Tech, Nancy Jain Cracked CAT 2020 with 99.72 %ile and got into IIM Calcutta for MBA 2021-23

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Updated on July 16, 2021
Nancy Jain, a B.Tech from IGDTUW, a graphic designer and painter from Delhi cracked CAT 2020 with 99.72 percentile and converted many top B-schools including IIM Calcutta. Before joining and improving the academic diversity at IIM-C, she had earned 22 months of work experience at Tata Motors. In an exclusive interview with, she shares her CAT preparation strategy and how she cracked CAT despite being a working professional
CAT 2020 Topper Nancy Jain:  IIM Calcutta Student

The CAT 2020 topper who scored 99.72 percentile and got into IIM Calcutta MBA 2021-23, Nancy Jain has diverse personality with Engineering back ground. Nancy is not only a B.Tech, but is also a Graphic designer and Painter. She had worked with Tata Motors for 22 months before joining IIM Calcutta.  

Nancy converted number of top B-schools including IIM Calcutta, FMS Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, IIM Lucknow, however, she has opted for IIM Calcutta. With a firm confidence and planned preparation strategy, Nancy was confident to crack CAT 2020 with high score and get into her dream IIM. She did not appear in any other MBA entrance test apart from CAT. invited Nancy Jain to share her preparation and exam taking strategy, GD-PI experience. Read on for her views and success mantras

Q: Apart from IIM Calcutta which were the other top B-schools that you converted
I converted IIM Calcutta, FMS Delhi, MDI Gurgaon and was wait listed at IIM Lucknow. But I preferred to join IIM Calcutta.

Q: What motivated you to choose IIM Calcutta over other B-schools?
To be frank IIM Calcutta was my dream college even before I started preparing for CAT. The moment I saw that I have been offered seat at IIMC I burst into tears of joy. Moreover, it was my best call as well.

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
I scored 99.72 overall percentile in CAT 2020. My sectional percentile was 94.68 in VARC; 99.84 in DILR Section and 99.18 in Quantitative Ability section.

Q: Apart from CAT 2020, which other exams did you appear?
I did not appear in any other exam as I focused on CAT only.

Q: What have been your academics & interests? Do you have some work experience as well?
I am a B.Tech from Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW) Delhi. I have interest in Graphic designing, Painting and Sketching. I have 22 months of work experience with Tata Motors. I belong to Delhi.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
I started with building up concepts of QA before jumping onto mocks. Then I started giving mocks in regular intervals. For VARC, I started reading regularly and also worked upon vocabulary. For DILR, I used to solve atleast 4-5 different types of sets/day. During the time, I tried numerous strategies and gave sectional tests in between to be consistent with my prep.

Q: How did you prepare for VARC section?
I particularly struggled with VARC. As I was constantly scoring low marks, I started reading from various online platforms. The Hindu, The Indian Express, Medium, Knappily, Guardian were some of the major online platforms I followed. I made it a habit to read at least 6-7 articles/day. I solved questions from question banks of the test series I took. I also followed “Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha” regularly.

Q: Please share your preparation strategy for DILR Section?
For DILR, I started with getting familiarized with a variety of sets. I began with solving 4-5 sets/day and eventually increased it as I got comfortable with the sets. For DILR it is important to choose the right sets in the exam. According to me, daily practice and proper analysing of the sets are very crucial for DILR prep.

Q: How did you prepare for Quantitative Ability Section?
I began my CAT prep by building up QA concepts. I started with understanding the concepts from the book and then solving topic-wise tests. I followed “Quantitative Ability by Nishit K. Sinha” and made detailed notes. I used to revise my notes regularly from page 1 till the last. For the initial months, while attempting questions, my motive used to achieve good accuracy. My mock strategy for QA was mainly to solve the questions in three phases:

  • I would first attempt the questions that could be solved within 1-2 mins
  • Next to the question which I could solve within 3-4 mins
  • Questions that are time-consuming but could be solved

In the end, if time permits, I’d solve the remaining questions.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
As a typical engineer, VARC was my pain area. I was very scared of my VARC scores as I was constantly scoring low marks. Then I started reading a variety of articles. The Hindu, The Indian Express, Medium, Knappily, Guardian were some of the online platforms I followed. I made it a habit to read at least 6-7 articles/day. I also solved 4-5 RCs/day and worked on VA simultaneously. Mock video solutions provided by the test series institute helped me build up the approach and thought process for solving RCs. From scoring as low as percentiles in the 50s, I ended up scoring 94%tile in CAT.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
Mocks played a major role in my CAT prep. I started with 1-2 mocks/week and eventually increased it to 1-2 mocks/day. Mocks provided me with an environment almost similar to the actual exam D-day. With the help of mocks, I was able to keep a regular check on my performance. A proper mock analysis helped me understand my weak and strong areas. I had to tweak my mock strategies several times which ultimately prepared me for the uncertainties that were waiting for me on D-day.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
As I was working at the time of CAT prep, I decided to go for self-study. Because of the time crunch, I wanted to devote whatever free time I got towards my CAT preparation.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
In the case of CAT 2020 the total number of questions and the section-wise breakup was a surprise for all the candidates. Although I had exam in the 3rd slot, yet I decided to switch off my phone since the morning itself. I knew my phone would be full of notifications as soon as the slot 1 candidates would come out of the exam hall. As I did not want any last-minute panic, I decided to stay away from any news related to the exam on D-day.

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT. Please share your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
For GD/PI/WAT preparation, I joined IMS and TIME for mock PIs and knowledge sessions which gave me a taste of the different topics that are generally asked in the interviews. I was lucky to have people to guide me and motivate me with the entire GD/PI/WAT preparation phase. My PIs majorly revolved around acads, workex, GK, hobbies, and in some cases questions from maths were also asked.

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your PI-WAT experience?
I had all my PI-WAT conducted online. Initially, I was sceptical of the online mode, however, all my interviews were conducted smoothly. All the panellists were quite patient and understanding of the difficulties of online mode.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021.
To all the CAT 2021 aspirants, I would like to recommend being consistent with your preparation. There are going to be many ups and downs in the prep phase, don’t let them demotivate you. Just keep moving forward with your prep. Do not let the pressure of scoring good marks overtaking your calm. Attempting exam on D-day calmly did wonders for me.

I wish all the aspirants All the very best with their journey. If they want, they can also reach out to me via LinkedIn. I will try to help to the best of my abilities. 

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