How a Chemical Engineer and Fresher Shivam Cracked CAT 2022 with 99.84%ile and got into IIM Calcutta - Interview

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Updated on June 24, 2023
A Chemical Engineer and Fresher, Shivam cracked CAT 2022 with 99.84 percentile. Shivam joined Mindworkzz to prepare for the exam and has converted number of top B-schools including IIM Calcutta, FMS Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIFT, NITIE among others but decided to join MBA 2023-25 batch at IIM Calcutta. Shivam looks after his fitness by exercising, loves Reading and Watching Documentaries. Read his CAT preparation strategy and success mantra
CAT 2022 Topper Shivam in its series of CAT 2022 topper interviews, brings before you success stories of such CAT topper candidates who cracked CAT with high percentile and got into one of the top IIMs or other top B-schools with their well devised preparation strategy. One such CAT topper, a Graduate in Chemical Engineering, Shivam who cracked CAT 2022 with 99.84 percentile and has joined MBA 2023-25 batch at IIM Calcutta. A fresher with Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering from Pandit Deendayal Energy University, Shivam belongs to Patna and to prepare for CAT 2022, he joined Mindworkzz coaching of Arun Sharma.

With a firm confidence and planned preparation strategy, Shivam prepared and appeared number of MBA entrance exams including CAT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP and in each of these exams he had scored high. With his CAT 2022 percentile of 99.84%ile, he converted number of top IIMs and other B-schools, but decided to join IIM Calcutta. invited Shivam to share his preparation and CAT day strategy, how he cracked IIM Calcutta interview and more. Read below the CAT 2022 Topper Interview with CAT topper preparation strategy

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2022?
I scored 99.84 overall percentile in CAT 2022 and scored 98.27%ile in VARC, 99.33 %ile in LRDI and 99.63 %ile in QA.  

Q: Apart from CAT 2022, which other exams did you appear? How was your performance?
Apart from CAT 2022, I appeared in NMAT and scored 264; appeared in SNAP 2022 and scored 99%ile; Appeared in XAT 2023 and scored 98%ile, appeared in IIFT entrance exam and scored 99.93%ile.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
Focussing on different approaches to solve any given question so as to identify the one that took the least amount of time. Practicing as much as I could to make solving a sub-conscious ability. Taking mocks and sectionals, along with noting the mistakes in a notebook, and revising them from time to time.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC?
As far as sections are concerned, I looked to maximize my attempts in VARC. I would attempt anywhere between 18-22 questions. The accuracy would vary, but this strategy would ensure my score ranged between 30-45. DILR was the section I would defend and play safe. Quants, again, was my strongest section and I would maximize my attempts. Preparation for VARC involved reading as much as possible, across diverse topics and interests. Practicing active reading, meaning connecting ideas in the passage in the form of a flowchart. It helps a lot with retaining most of what is mentioned in the comprehension, while taking minimum time in answering the questions that follow.

Q: How did you prepare for DILR?
Going through all basic types of sets that have appeared in the CAT over the years, like games and tournaments, LR puzzles etc. Taking lots of sectionals to improve solving capacity and confidence.

Q: How did you prepare for QA?
Preparing for QA was all about solving as many questions as possible so that I knew the approach and flow of most of the problems during the exam. The basic idea was to make answering the common formats of questions a sub-conscious effort. I made a note of the mistakes I made or the types of questions unseen thus far in mocks, in a notebook and revised them often.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
LRDI was the section I wasn’t very confident about. My strategy with regard to it was to take sectionals and mocks, besides practicing questions appearing in them at least twice. When it came to the tests, I usually glanced through all the sets first and then solve the ones that were the easiest. Subsequently, if I had time, I would take up another set. This way, I was able to solve 12-14 questions with a reasonable accuracy.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
Mocks were instrumental in preparing me to do well in the exam. I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Also, mocks are a great source of new questions. Being able to solve those, given the time constraint, is a definite confidence booster. The aim with mocks is to draw as many learnings as possible from each of those. I must have taken 40+ mocks over the course of my prep.

Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
I had joined Mindworkzz by Arun Sharma sir as I wanted to learn from the best in the CAT prep scene. The simple explanation and tips and tricks, provided by him were of immense aid. Additionally, his sessions on maintaining composure during the test were truly a game-changer for me. The entire Mindworkzz team was always available with their support and guidance.

Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
I had referred to Arun Sharma sir’s books for LRDI and Quants. For VARC, it was all about solving passages in mocks and sectionals. They were extremely effective in guiding my prep in the right direction.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
I had my test in the first slot, so, I did not have enough time to prepare anything. I had chocolates on my way to the exam centre to keep glucose levels high and ensure proper functioning of my mind, especially to handle the pressure of it all. Also, I had practiced sitting idly for 30-45 mins, before the mocks I took. This was to ensure that the void, just before the beginning of the test, could not unsettle me with unwanted thoughts popping up in my mind. 

Q: Which top IIMs and B-schools shortlisted you for GD/PI round?
I was shortlisted by IIM Calcutta, all the 9 CAP participating IIMs, FMS Delhi, SPJIMR, MDI, IIFT, XLRI, IIT Bombay, and NITIE  

Q: Which IIMs and Top B-Schools you finally converted?
I converted IIM Calcutta, FMS Delhi, IIT Bombay, MDI, IIFT, NITIE

Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT Rounds?
GDPI prep was essentially about understanding myself better, knowing my achievements and drawing strength from them, while working on my weaknesses. I worked on the subjects of my undergrad, focussed on current affairs and practiced articulating my ideas properly.

Q: What are your top three criteria for deciding which B-school to apply or take final admission?
According to me the top 3 criteria for deciding on B-school are: 1. The peer group 2. The brand value and placements of the institute 3. The alumni network

Q: According to you, overall, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants. 
In my view, the institutes could have better coordination amongst themselves so that students do not have a tough time rushing from one interview to another.

Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
My message and tips for CAT 2023 aspirants are -  1. Practice, to make solving instinctive; 2. Take mocks as early as possible, along with sectionals. Once the admit card is released, take mocks in the time slot when you are actually supposed to the test; 3. Sit idle before the mock so that you have a habit of handling the void before the exam starts. 

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