With CAT 2023 expected on November 26, 2023, MBAUniverse.com in its series of CAT 2022 topper interviews, brings before you success stories of such CAT topper candidates who cracked CAT not with 100 percentile but could get into IIM Calcutta or other top IIMs with their well thought of preparation strategy. One such CAT topper is an Engineering Graduate and Software Tester, Sreyasee Sarkar, who cracked CAT 2022 with 99.68 percentile has joined MBA 2023-25 batch at IIM Calcutta. A full time working professional as Software Tester in State Street, for three and half years after completing her B.Tech (ECE) from SRM Institute Science and Technology, had to discharge multiple roles and had to balance between full time work and preparation for CAT. As such, due to time crunch, she preferred to join Mindworkzz coaching.
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CAT topper Shreyasee Sarkar hails from Kolkata and has a nuclear family with her father, mother and brother. Her father is a retired engineer from NTPC. A make up blogger, Shreyasee loves poetry, skin care, and reading novels. With a firm confidence and planned preparation strategy, Shreyasee prepared and appeared in CAT as well as other MBA entrance exams and scored high. She cracked CAT 2022 and got into her dream IIM. MBAUniverse.com invited Shreyasee to share her preparation and CAT day strategy, how she 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?
A: I scored 99.68 overall percentile in CAT 2022 and scored 99.7%ile in VARC, 96.18 %ile in LRDI and 98.77 %ile in QA.
Q: Apart from CAT 2022, which other exams did you appear? How was the performance?
A: Apart from CAT 2022, I appeared in NMAT and scored 248; appeared in SNAP 2022 and scored 98.6%ile; Appeared in XAT 2023 and scored 96.44%ile and appeared in IIFT entrance exam and scored 96.87%ile.
Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A: I started preparing for CAT in 2020 but unfortunately, I couldn’t score well in CAT 2021 because of exam fear. Initially, when I started the preparation, I didn’t think that I would get into one of the 3 B schools in India. I did have a range of colleges in mind that I thought would add value to my profile and would help me grow from my current position at my workplace. Since I was working, I did not have any fixed number of study hours. My shift started at 12 noon so I used to study in the morning. I didn’t get time to study in the evening. I used to give full-length mocks during the weekends and analyze them on weekdays.
Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC?
A: VARC was the easiest section for me because I am an avid reader. I started reading The Economist and New Yorker every day since their English isn't the easiest to understand. I also practiced a lot of philosophy-based RCs because those are the most difficult. I started reading The Mint and The Hindu which not only helped me with my VARC but also kept me updated with current affairs.
Q: How did you prepare for DILR?
A: I started practicing DILR from previous years' papers, sectionals, and mocks. I solved sets that I couldn't solve on my own multiple times so that I remembered the approach.
Q: How did you prepare for QA?
A: QA was easy once I completed the syllabus. My only issue was speed. So, I used to practice quants in a time constraint to increase my speed. I also practiced the LOD 1 and 2 questions from each chapter in Arun Sharma Quants book multiple times. Arun Sharma Sir said that 10 correct questions in QA are enough to get a good percentile which was the minimum target I had set even in the actual CAT.
Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A: DILR was my weakest section. Not because I couldn't solve the problems but because I used to be afraid as I had performed poorly in this section in CAT 2021. I started solving various sets without any time limit so that I overcome the fear of this section. Then, gradually, I started solving those sets in the stipulated time. I also practiced the same sets multiple times so that I remember the techniques during the exam. I used to watch the YouTube videos of Arun Sharma where he solved a single set in each video. Those videos helped a lot in learning the techniques.
Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A: Mock tests are the most important aspect of CAT preparation. They prepare us for the intense pressure exam that CAT is. They helped me manage time and increase my accuracy in such short amounts of time (40 minutes). Our brain tends to get numb when put under constant high pressure which leads to not being able to solve the questions at the required pace. I remember my brain getting numb by the time I reached the last section when I started my preparation. Mock tests train our brains to work at the same speed for the entire two hours. I used to take full-length mocks during the weekends and sectionals on weekdays. I started taking mocks in May but I only took 10-15 mocks because I think analysis of the mocks is more important than the number of mocks I give. I gave a lot of mocks before CAT 2021 but I realized that I did not spend enough time to analyze them properly which is why my exam-taking strategy for CAT 2021 was slightly flawed.
Q: Did you self-prepare for CAT Exam or did you attend a Coaching Centre and why?
A: I joined Mindworkzz classroom coaching. Since I was working, it was difficult for me to attend live classes. I used to watch recorded videos of topics that I felt I needed on my own time. I love the fact that Mindworkzz gives us the option to learn at our own pace and take up any chapter we want. This level of flexibility helped me especially because I was working and my study hours and timetable were not fixed. Also, the level of difficulty of the mock tests was almost similar to that of CAT so that has definitely helped to gauge my level of preparation and also practice different types of questions.
Q: Which books did you refer during your preparation and how effective were they?
A: I used Arun Sharma’s QA and DILR books and Meenakshi Upadhyay’s VARC. Practising LOD 1 and 2 questions of QA was more than enough to ace the QA section. For DILR, the introduction to basic questions of graphs, tables, and logical reasoning not only helped me to make my basics strong but also helped me with the non-CAT exams. I used to practice VARC questions from the book every day because there is no syllabus in VARC. This regular practice helped me to keep in touch with the section even when I was giving more time to the other 2 sections.
Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A: For VARC, I had only one strategy. Attempt 3 of the easiest RCs and give more time to VA since I felt VA was more scoring than RC. I wouldn't even try to attempt the 4th RC. In the exam, I had the target of solving 2 out of 4 problems which constituted 10 questions because that was enough to get a good percentile in DILR as this was my weakest section. Arun Sharma Sir said that 10 correct questions in Quants are enough to get a good percentile. I attempted 12 questions in CAT 2022 but as luck would have it, I got 2 TITA questions wrong so I ended up scoring 30. I stopped my preparation completely a week before CAT because I wanted to be calm and not stressed as I was overstressed in CAT 2021. Even in the exam hall, I slept for 30 minutes before the exam so that my mind is calm and I don’t panic.
Q: Which top IIMs and B-schools shortlisted you for GD/PI round?
A: I was shortlisted by IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong and all the 9 CAP participating IIMs, FMS Delhi, SPJIMR, MDI, IIFT, XLRI, SIBM Pune, SCMHRD, NMIMS
Q: How did you prepare for GD/PI/WAT Rounds?
A: I started by preparing my answers for hygiene questions like Why MBA, tell me about yourself, why this college, and short-term and long-term goals. I used to read The Mint and The Hindu for current affairs. I read India Today and Business Today magazines to form my opinion on the news I read. I also gave special emphasis on news that is related to my profile. I worked in a custodian bank so I read news about the economy and the recent banking collapses in the US. I also read about the semiconductor and chip industry and 5G in India because I did my engineering in ECE. I also read in-depth about the company I worked for, my hobbies, a few undergraduate subjects, and the college I am interviewing for. Even after covering a wide range of topics, there were many questions that I wasn’t able to answer, and it’s okay. The panel just wants to see the candidate’s temperament. I also revised the questions asked in one interview so that I am prepared if similar questions were asked in my next interview. I have taken 2-3 mock interviews with my mentor. My purpose of taking mocks was to boost my confidence and not get scared which I was able to achieve. I did not take any special preparation for WAT because I was already able to articulate my thoughts which is the most important thing for WAT. Luckily, all the WAT topics I got were known to me.
Q: Which IIMs and Top B-Schools you finally converted?
A: I converted IIM Calcutta, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore, FMS, all CAP IIMs, IIFT, SPJIMR, SCMHRD, NMIMS
Q: What are your top three criteria for deciding which B-school to apply or take final admission?
A: I had a list of colleges in my list to which I had applied and luckily, I received PI calls from all the colleges. I was able to convert most of my calls. My top three criteria were placements, academic rigor, and brand value. Since I live very close to IIM Calcutta, which is the oldest IIM and has a separate cult, I chose IIM Calcutta.
Q: According to you, overall, how can B-schools make their MBA admission process less cumbersome for MBA applicants.
A: If the other B schools (non-IIMs) would consider the candidature for all the candidates who applied to CAT and not bring out separate forms, it would be easier for the candidates. Also, we had to fill in our details in our CAT form, PI form, and post-admission which is repetitive work. If they can extract our personal details from the CAT form, it would be less cumbersome for the applicants.
Q: Finally, your message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2023
A: I would suggest learning the basics in 1-2 months and practicing as many mocks as possible. While a good percentile is needed to get a call from IIMs but it does not guarantee an IIM call. An IIM PI call depends on a lot of factors like past academics, work experience, gender, UG field, etc. In case, you don’t receive a PI call from your dream college, there is nothing to be sad about. Work hard for the calls you received so that you can convert those. Also, these interviews are really unpredictable and there’s no way of knowing what’s going on in the panelists’ minds. In case, you are not able to convert your best call, remember it might not be your fault. A lot depends on the type of panel you get and the mood of the panel. Also, the top 4-6 B-schools are all the same in the long run. It depends entirely on the candidate and what they make from these 2 years. So, if you don’t make it to the rank 1 B-school doesn’t mean that your life is over. Enjoy the process and it will all be good at the end. Read More CAT 2023: Check Exam Date, Pattern, Syllabus, Preparation
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