CAT Toppers Preparation & College Selection: Top Profiles decline IIMs, XLRI, IIFT, MDI to join SPJIMR; Bare secrets to MBAUniverse.com

MBAUniverse.com News Desk |
November 10, 2021
CAT 2021 exam is now just days away and the best CAT preparation tips can come from the CAT toppers themselves. To help our readers aiming at CAT 2021, MBAUniverse.com interviewed five CAT 2020 Toppers who scored high percentiles and were offered admission by IIMs, XLRI, MDI, IIFT, IITs, NMIMS but preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai. So, if you are interested in learning from the journeys and experiences of these CAT Toppers! Read on…
CAT Toppers & SPJIMR students

CAT 2021 exam is round the corner and not much time is left for the CAT exam day which is on Sunday, November 28, 2021. The best CAT preparation tips can come from the CAT toppers themselves. To help our readers aiming at CAT 2021, MBAUniverse.com interviewed CAT 2020 toppers who scored high percentiles and were offered admission by top B-schools but preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai. These CAT toppers share their CAT preparation strategy and bare their weaknesses and how they won them over to crack CAT. They also share preparations for PI/WAT rounds and why they preferred joining SPJIMR instead of any other top B-school.

So, are you interested in learning from the journeys and experiences of these CAT Toppers? Well, then keep everything aside for next few minutes as MBAUniverse.com takes you up close and personal with these five dynamic Business Leaders in the making. It may also be noteworthy that SPJIMR, which used to accept both CAT and XAT scores, accepted only CAT 2020 score for PGDM admission 2021. Same process continues for PGDM admission 2022.

Before we start discussing about the MBA exams and the college decisions by these CAT toppers and now SPJIMR students, let’s first get to know them well – who they are, where did they study, do they have work-experience and more. So here is a snapshot

CAT Toppers at SPJIMR Profiles: A Snapshot

Name & Hometown
Education
CAT 2020 Percentile
Work Experience
Hobbies
Pratik Prataprao Patil; Manchar (Dist- Pune, Maharashtra)
Graduate in Electrical Engineering , Walchand college of Engineering, Sangli
99.11
25 months in sales and marketing in L&T
Trekking,  Travelling, Cooking, Reading
 
Anish R; Kochi (Kerala)   
B.Tech (Computer Science and Engineering), College of Engineering Trivandrum
99.6
22 months in Amadeus Software Labs as a Software Engineer
Reading Crime Fiction, Watching and playing football
Hrithik Raj Agarwal; Panaji (Goa)
BBA (International Business), MIT College of Management, Pune 
99.5
Fresher
Playing board games, Reading fiction,  Watching TV shows
Pranjali Jagdish Rao; Mangalore (Karnataka)
B.Tech in Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Karnataka
94.87
24 months in Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, Inbound Logistics 
Travelling, Painting, Dancing
 
Vaishali Baweja; Gurgaon (Haryana)
B.com (H) from Hansraj College, Delhi University
92.81
24 months at BCG as Research Associate 
Classical Dancing, Solving Sudokus

So now that you know the CAT toppers at SPJIMR Mumbai, let us take a look at their CAT journey…read on for their in depth interviews with MBAUniverse.com.

Pratik Prataprao Patil: 99.11 Percentile in CAT 2020

Pratik Prataprao Patil

How Pratik Prataprao Patil, an Electrical Engineer from Manchar, working at L&T,  cracked CAT 2020 with 99.91 %ile and Why he Preferred to Join SPJIMR instead of IIMs, IITs, MDI, IIFT, NMIMS
Pratik Prataprao Patil, CAT 2020 topper from Manchar (Pune), cracked the exam with 99.11 percentile and converted number of top B-schools including SPJIMR Mumbai, many IIMs, IIT-B,D,Kh, MDI, IIFT, NMIMS. A graduate in electrical engineering, Pratik earned 25 months of work experience at L&T while preparing for CAT exam. Read all about Pratik’s CAT preparation strategy, his strengths and weaknesses, how he overcame them and why he preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai and declined the admission offers from other top B-schools

Q: Apart from SPJIMR Mumbai, which were the other top B-schools that shortlisted you for final selection round?
A:
I was shortlisted by MDI Gurugram (HR and IB program), IIM Shillong, SJMSOM IIT Mumbai, DMS IIT Delhi, IIFT. I converted all these B-school calls

Q: What motivated you to choose SPJIMR over other B-schools? Please share top 3-4 reasons
A:
SPJIMR had always been my dream college. Following are the reasons to choose SPJIMR over other institutes:

  1. The course structure was fascinating since we are divided into our specialisation branches right from the beginning and completely devote our efforts in that direction. I was very sure of pursuing my MBA in marketing; hence this was abetter choice.
  2. Could resonate a lot with the purpose statement of SPJIMR which is to contribute towards larger purpose in interest of community and society.
  3. The non-classroom learnings: A lot of focus is put into these courses and I personally felt the value-based learning from these courses is something I would miss out in other institutes.

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
A:
It was my third CAT experience and I am happy that I cracked CAT 2020 and got SPJIMR Mumbai. I scored 99.11 overall percentile in CAT 2020; 93.54 percentile in VARC section; 99.6 in DILR Section and 96.8 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.

Q. Apart from CAT, did you appear in any other MBA entrance exam? How did you perform in it?
A:
Apart from CAT, I appeared in IIFT, scored 97.98%ile; SNAP, scored 96.65%ile; NMAT, scored 256

Q: What have been your academic and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A:
I did graduation in electrical engineering in 2018 from Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli (A govt aided autonomous institute). I belong to Manchar (Dist- Pune, Maharashtra). I am a single child. My father is an engineer and works in chocolate manufacturing and my mother is a tailor and she runs a small tailoring shop. I worked for 25 months in sales and marketing in L&T- Electrical and Automation division before joining SPJIMR Mumbai. I like Trekking and travelling, cooking and am amateur reader

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
So, this was my 3rd attempt at CAT. I had decided to quit my job and focus full time on engaging in preparation. Based on the previous experiences I decided to take full time coaching this time around. I joined IMS thane centre and additionally took test series of Career Launcher and TIME. Considering my past performances and previous strategies I decided to start my preparations as early as March. This allowed me to cover all the topics in detail and then focus on taking mocks and analysing the mocks at later stage. I decided to finish the concepts by end of June and then purely focus on mocks.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
I was very weak at VARC. To overcome this, I realised I need to practise active reading in the test. So initial step was to get acquainted with reading. I started with reading editorials and sports section in newspaper. Reading sports kept me interested in reading newspaper and editorials gave a different perspective to current happenings around me.

Once comfortable with reading I started adding business news to my reading. After this I figured philosophy and psychology is something I feel uncomfortable in reading. So, I forced myself in reading such topics through sources like Smithsonian magazine, the guardian, aldaily etc. This allowed to be comfortable with terminologies associated with these topics and I was more comfortable if I get passages from these areas in test.

I also started reading novels at the initial phase but had to let go of them from October. The result was reflected very late so if someone’s struggling with this section needs to have lot of patience.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC; DILR; Quant
A:
VARC briefly described above. For DILR practise is only key. We aren’t very sure of how the question would come. Initially I solved few traditional problems that we encounter like circular arrangement, tournaments, bar and pie charts etc. Once acquainted with traditional questions I just made sure I solve as many different varieties of questions as I can. I also made sure that I eliminate bias towards LR or DI section and answer the question to its merit. Apart from this I had 3 parameters to judge on whether I am selecting the set or not. I judged the set based on if set is standard vs unique, plugin vs deductive conditions, open vs closed questions. (Strategies learnt at IMS coaching).

For QA the process was easy. Since I am from engineering background and had passion for Maths QA was comparatively easy. Once I had gone through the concepts all I focused on picking the right questions and maintaining the accuracy. For this I followed something known as A-B-C framework (abhi karo- baadme karo- chhod do. This too learnt from IMS thane).  So, when I read a question, if I am sure I can get the answer in 30 sec it goes in category A, if it takes 60 to 90 seconds in category B and beyond that category C. This allowed me to channel my efforts on limited questions and keep things on track.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks were most important aspect of my preparation process. I took almost 50 mocks in total. In the first half my focus on mocks was to check how well I have understood the concept, improve accuracy and experiment with different strategies. Once I get hold of strategy, I focused on improving speed.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A:
I had enrolled in coaching at IMS Thane. The reason being I had taken up CAT twice before 2020 and didn’t have very good scores. I had realised my limitations and felt I need some external push to understand the mistakes in my preparation process.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
Well, I had been preparing for CAT since march 2020. I had developed a thorough strategy which was tried multiple times before and hence was confident. I just tried to relax myself a day prior to the test. I didn’t touch my notes neither took a mock. On the day of exam, I just made sure I stay calm drink lot of water and stay in the moment. I tried not to think of the result. I was in slot 2 and made sure I do not ask anyone on how the slot 1 went and burden myself with expectations. Staying calm on the exam day is the key.

Q: How did you prepare for SPJIMR GD/PI/WAT? Please share some of your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A:
Since I had enrolled in coaching, I went through series of mock GI. I was shortlisted for marketing specialization. To prepare for that I went through few concepts from koetler. I had already completed a course from coursera for marketing and that helped a lot as well. I had prepared for a set of PI questions well in advance.

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you GD-PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your experience?
A:
My PI-WAT was conducted online. The experience surprisingly was very good in online mode. The team from college was very engaging and the process was smooth. There wasn’t much fatigue since the timelines were followed religiously and hence the experience was amazing.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021
A:
My message and key tips are:

  • Do not quit unless you are very very sure. More often than not, it doesn’t help much.
  • We do not study 24 hours a day. If you are able to manage 4-5 hours daily with your job, please stick to that
  • Have patience when preparing for VARC. It is not something which is formula based and hence it takes time in changing the methodology being comfortable with it and then reflecting those in results. Come what may, reading is very important. Read anything but make sure you read.
  • Be as calm as possible on the day of exam
  • Stay away from negativity and believe in yourself.

Anish R: 99.6 Percentile in CAT 2020

Anish R

How Anish R, a B.Tech in CSE from Kochi, working at Amadeus, cracked CAT 2020 with 99.6 %ile and Why Preferred to Join SPJIMR instead of IIMs, IITs, IISc, MDI, NITIE
Anish R, CAT 2020 topper from Kochi (Kerala), cracked the exam with 99.6 percentile and converted number of top B-schools including SPJIMR Mumbai, IIM Indore, Shillong, IISc, NITIE, MDI, IIT-B,D, Kh. A B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering, Anish earned 22 months of work experience at Amadeus Software Labs as a Software Engineer while preparing for CAT exam. Read all about his CAT preparation strategy, his strengths and weaknesses, how he overcame them and why he preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai and declined the admission offers from other top B-schools

Q: Apart from SPJIMR Mumbai, which were the other top B-schools that shortlisted you for final selection round?
A:
I was shortlisted by SPJIMR, XLRI Jamshedpur, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, MDI Gurgaon, NITIE, SJMSoM IIT Bombay, IIM Shillong, DoMS IISc, DMS IIT Delhi, VGSoM IIT Kharagpur, Baby IIMs, NMIMS Mumbai. I converted calls of SPJIMR, IIM Indore, MDI Gurgaon, NITIE, SJMSoM IIT Bombay, IIM Shillong, DoMS IISc, DMS IIT Delhi, VGSoM IIT Kharagpur

Q: What motivated you to choose SPJIMR over other B-schools? Please share top 3-4 reasons
A:
Some of the key reasons are:

  • Interest in Product and Program Management made me lean towards a program that is focussed on Information Management
  • Placement outcome
  • International immersion in the form of Global Fast Track program
  • Brand name of the college

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
A:
It was my third CAT experience. I cracked CAT 2020 with overall 99.6 percentile. Sectional score was 91.88 percentile in VARC section; 99.95 in DILR Section and 97.88 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.

Q. Apart from CAT, did you appear in any other MBA entrance exam? How did you perform in it?
A:
Apart from CAT, I appeared in XAT and scored 99.26%ile.

Q: What have been your academic and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A:
I have done B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering from College of Engineering Trivandrum.I belong to Kochi (Kerala). My father is DGM, BPCL-KR; Mother is Homemaker and Brother is SoC Engineer, Intel. I worked for 22 months in Amadeus Software Labs as a Software Engineer before joining SPJIMR Mumbai. My hobbies include Reading Crime Fiction, Watching and playing football, Trying out cuisines. 

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
My CAT preparation started in the middle of 2017 when I was in my third year of graduation. I enrolled myself in TIME and focussed on completing all the topics through their study material. I could not spend enough time on mocks that year and I ended up scoring 98.17%ile in CAT 2018. I knew that I had more in me and prepared even more seriously for CAT 2019, this time primarily focussing on mocks. I ended up scoring another measly 98.3%ile, in line with what I had scored the year before. I got a few calls from reputed institutes, however could not convert them as I had not put much effort into interviews. In my third and final attempt, I concentrated only on mocks and finetuned an overall strategyfor the D-day. I took close to 50+ mocks, mainly from AIMCATs, IMS’ SIMCATS and past papers. I took considerable time analysing each one of my mocks and making note of all the new tricks that I study and the concepts that I had missed. This helped me score a 99.6 in CAT 2020, mainly coming from a 99.95 in DILR, thanks to all the mocks that I had taken previously.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
If there was ever one section that I was really weak in, it was VARC. My accuracy was always bad in the section and in exams where I was able to do well in terms of accuracy, my number of attempts took a hit. I can’t say that I have still overcome this weakness, however I read a lot during my last attempt and took a lot of sectional exams. This helped me get enough practice that ensured I did not flunk in the section on the day of the exam.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC; DILR; Quant
A: VARC
: I was always weak in this section and focussed on getting as many sectionals done as possible and read a lot, especially the editorial section in newspapers which also helped me get an edge during the interviews.

DILR: Mainly focussed on completing TIME’s material and doing questions from previous years papers.

Quant: Quant came naturally to me, and I did not have to spend a lot of time preparing for it. The mocks that I practiced helped in keeping my edge in QA.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks were absolutely crucial in my CAT journey as they helped me find a balance and devise a strategy no matter what kind of paper turned up on the day of the exam. They helped me mentally prepare myself to all sorts of difficulty levels and allowed me to experiment between various strategies and fine tune my exam taking approach. I have attempted more than 50+ full length timed mocks for my last attempt in CAT.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A:
My strategy for first and subsequent attempts was:

  • I attended TIME’s classroom program for my first attempt.
  • I depended just on self-preparation for my last two attempts.
  • I did not feel the need to attend classroom programmes as they are more focussed on building conceptual clarity which I believe I already had.
  • I felt that mock preparation was more important to bell the coveted CAT exam and deviated my efforts to taking more exams.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A: VARC: Focussed mainly on RC questions as my accuracy was very bad when it came to the verbal section. This did not work in my favour as the RC questions where highly tricky and confusing and I ended up wasting a lot of time reading the articles before deciding to drop them altogether.

DILR: Coming off a dismal VARC performance, my confidence was low. However I buckled up and focussed on choosing the right set of questions after reading through all the sets. This worked well as I was able to eliminate the sets that I thought were hard and was able to pick the low hanging fruits quickly. In the last 5 mins, I remember being able to solve a question set just by making an educated guess and keying in a few options, eliminating some others. This helped me score a 99.95 in this section, shooting my overall to 99.6%ile.

QA: I went through all the questions in the first few minutes, and picked the easiest ones to start with and then gradually went on to the more difficult ones. This helped me get a balanced score in Quants.

Q: How did you prepare for SPJIMR GD/PI/WAT? Please share some of your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A:
I joined a mentoring program called 7Lakes Consulting for GD-PI prep and followed news extensively in that period, also forming an opinion on them in the process. I took close to 20 mock interviews with elaborate feedback and this helped me get comfortable with any sort of interview that was thrown at me.

WAT Topics : Importance of CSR to companies.

PI Questions

  1. What will you do differently if you were your company’s CEO?
  2. Future of airlines
  3. What about crime fiction novels do you like so much?
  4. Movie that you watched recently and your take on it.
  5. Why is your UG SGPA all over the place? Why so inconsistent?
  6. How do you think India handled the COVID pandemic?
  7. Favourite cartoon character and why?
  8. Questions on recommendation algorithms and deep learning.

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you GD-PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your experience?
A:
It was conducted online. I would say the experience was as similar or even better than that of an offline interview process as I did not have to worry about travel and reaching the place on time. Colleges like SPJIMR and SJMSOM conducted the process so smoothly that at one point I even forgot an interview was taking place and felt so at ease.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021
A:
The message and tips are

  1. Don’t put off taking the mocks till the very end. My advice would be to start your preparation by taking a mock and then analysing the areas where you are weak in and concentrating on them rather than trying to hit a something blindfolded.
  2. Focus on interviews only after your exams are done and don’t mix them up.
  3. Join a mock interview coaching program as they can really help you iron your flaws.
  4. Look out for top 10 colleges like MDI, SPJIMR, FMS etc that close their application processes a day before the exam.
  5. Don’t put all your hopes on one or two sections, try to strike a balance between all sections. Spend more time on sections that you are weak in.
  6. Don’t take mock scores to heart, also don’t get overconfident after a good mock.

Hrithik Raj Agarwal: 99.5 Percentile in CAT 2020

​Hrithik Raj Agarwal

How Hrithik Raj Agarwal, son of SPJIMR Alumna and a Fresher, cracked CAT 2020 with 99.5%ile and Preferred joining SPJIMR to IIMs, MDI, IIFT, SIBM, NMIMS
Hrithik Raj Agarwal, CAT 2020 topper from Panaji (Goa), cracked the exam with 99.5 percentile. Hrithik is a BBA (International Business) from MIT College of Management, Pune and is a fresher. His mother is an alumna of SPJIMR Mumbai.   Hrithik converted number of top B-schools including SPJIMR Mumbai, New IIMs, MDI, SIBM, NMIMS but chose SPJIMR as his preferred destination. Read all about his CAT preparation strategy, his strengths and weaknesses, how he overcame them and why he preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai and declined the admission offers from other top B-schools

Q: Apart from SPJIMR Mumbai, which were the other top B-schools that shortlisted you for final selection round?
A:
I was shortlisted by SPJIMR, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Kozhikode, MDI, NMIMS, SIBM, Baby IIMs, IIFT, MICA.

Q: What motivated you to choose SPJIMR over other B-schools? Please share top 3-4 reasons
A:
SPJIMR has one of the most unique pedagogies in the country and has a very different vision in comparison to other top B-schools in the country. They focus more on a person’s soft skills and on the other facets of the personality.

They focus on all-round development with NCL courses like Abhyudaya and ADMAP. Additionally, As someone who has always been interested in Finance, I liked the fact that I can choose what I want to do beforehand and that there would be focussed studies. Being in the financial capital of the country was just a bonus. Lastly, the smaller batch size told me that SPJIMR gives its students much more attention than other B-schools.  

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
A:
It was my first CAT experience. I cracked CAT 2020 with overall 99.5 percentile. Sectional score was 96.88 percentile in VARC section; 99.51 in DILR Section and 98.07 percentile in Quantitative Ability section.

Q. Apart from CAT, did you appear in any other MBA entrance exam? How did you perform in it?
A:
Apart from CAT, I appeared in SNAP and scored 99.6178 percentile; in NMAT score was 254. Also appeared in IIFT and scored 96.8795 percentile

Q: What have been your academic and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A:
I have done BBA (International Business) from MIT College of Management, Pune. I belong to Panaji (Goa). Both my parents are entrepreneurs by trade, and my mother has done an MBA from SPJIMR, Mumbai itself. I am a fresher. My hobbies are Playing board games, Reading fiction and Watching TV shows

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
An honest answer would be that I tried many different strategies that my mentors suggested, but in the end, I realised that they don’t work for me. Most concepts in CAT are all taught in high school and below. There are very few concepts that are above this level. All I needed was some brushing up. I found what works for me is that I used to help my peers in clearing their concepts. This helped me become crystal clear in my own.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
As an avid reader, my reading speed was fast from the get-go and in the mocks, I used to finish the hour long VARC section in under 45 minutes. But, the one thing I struggled with is accuracy. In QA and DILR my accuracy was consistently close to a 100% but barely hit 70% in the RC section. To remedy this, I started slowing down and instead of attempting all 34 questions, I targeted attempting 22-23 with an accuracy of 85%. For practice, I did a few RCs but never timed them and made sure not to try and give it in a haste. It took a little work but pretty soon I managed to improve my score in VARC as well.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC; DILR; Quant
A:
I always enjoyed solving sets of DILR so that section was never a problem. In the last month or so, I had started doing DILR during my breaks from the other sections. For VARC, I focused on improving my accuracy since my reading speed was pretty good. In QA, most of the concepts were ones that were covered in school, so I made sure to keep my basics clear. I found that explaining concepts to other helped clear my own as they had a different perspective to the problems.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks are definitely an integral part of the process. But I believe that more important than just giving the mocks is sitting and analysing them after. There’s no point in giving 40-50 mocks if you keep repeating the same mistakes. A week before CAT, I went to an office and gave a mock there, all the while keeping my gloves and mask on to simulate the actual experience. I gave a total of 17 mock and 3 past year papers.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A:
I registered with IMS for their classroom learning program before the pandemic hit. Once the lockdown started, they were quick to set up an online portal and distribute their students on the basis of their preferred time slots. The classes, although online were very useful and the teachers used to reply at all times of the day and the night.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
I had gotten the morning slot for CAT and as a night-owl, using my brain in the morning was not something I was used to. I changed my schedule completely and started sleeping by 10pm and waking up by 6am. The day of the CAT, I had my favourite breakfast and did everything to mentally calm myself. During the paper, I numbered the pages for DILR beforehand. I had planned on doing the VA part first and in QA sticking to the topics I know. In the last 2-3 days before CAT, I attempted the previous years papers.

Q: How did you prepare for SPJIMR GD/PI/WAT? Please share some of your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A:
As part of the IMS classroom program, I had a couple of mock Group interviews. These helped as they gave me an insight into the type of interviews conducted. Apart from this, what struck me the most was the unique type of interview. Most other colleges had interviews either focused on academics or on current happenings. SPJIMR included that in the first round but kept another round of interviews that were just focused on the values and the morals of a student. It showed that the college has a different and unique perspective when it comes to accepting students. 

My WAT topic was: If given a chance, will you visit mountains or beaches ?

Some of the PI questions which were asked in GI-2(group interview 2) were:

  • Who is your favourite superhero and why?
  • What is your biggest achievement which is not in your CV?
  • What is your biggest failure and learnings from those?

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you GD-PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your experience?
A:
My GD-PI-WAT process was entirely online, and it was one of the, if not the smoothest interview experiences. The students and the teachers had planned the entire process down to a T and had left no stone unturned. Throughout the process, we had our current seniors talking to us and telling us about their experiences both, during the interview and in an MBA.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021
A:
At the end of the day, its just a test. Don’t stress yourselves over it too much because you’ll end up doing more harm than good. In the last 2-3 days, go watch a movie or play a sport and just relax. Cramming at that time will not help. Just make sure you keep your practice consistent, and focus on all the sections equally.  

Pranjali Jagdish Rao: 94.87 Percentile in CAT 2020

​Pranjali Jagdish Rao

How  Pranjali Jagdish Rao, a B.Tech and Working Professional from Mangalore cracked CAT 2020 with 94.87%ile and preferred SPJIMR to IITD, SIBM, NMIMS
Pranjali Jagdish Rao, CAT 2020 topper from Mangalore (Karnataka), cracked the exam with 94.87 percentile. Pranjali is a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from NIT Karnataka. She earned 2 years of working experience with Vedanta Aluminium while preparing for CAT. Pranjali converted number of top B-schools including SPJIMR Mumbai, IIT Delhi, MICA Ahmedabad, SIBM Pune, SCMHRD, NMIMS among others but chose SPJIMR her preferred destination. Read all about her CAT preparation strategy, her strengths and weaknesses, how she overcame them and why she preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai and declined the admission offers from other top B-schools

Q: Apart from SPJIMR Mumbai, which were the other top B-schools that shortlisted you for final selection round?
A:
I was shortlisted by  IIM K, MDI Gurgaon, SIBM Pune, MICA Ahmedabad, NMIMS Mumbai, IIT Delhi among many other colleges

Q: What motivated you to choose SPJIMR over other B-schools? Please share top 3-4 reasons
A:
 SPJIMR, Mumbai has always been my dream college. It had been my father’s dream for over 25 years to be associated with SPJIMR. He, unfortunately could not pursue his MBA due to financial constraints back then. This made me strive more for SPJIMR, so as to fulfil his dream.

Apart from this, the pedagogy at SPJIMR helps in the holistic development of the student. Non-Classroom Learnings like GFT and PG Lab really fascinated me while I was preparing for my exams last October. This, along with the fact that SPJIMR is known to be among the Top 10 B-Schools in the country and the quality of placements is what lured me into choosing it over any other B-School.

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
A:
It was my first CAT experience. I cracked CAT 2020 with overall 94.87 percentile.

Q. Apart from CAT, did you appear in any other MBA entrance exam? How did you perform in it?
A:
Apart from CAT, I appeared in SNAP and scored 99.7 percentile; appeared in XAT 2021 and scored 96 percentile; appeared in NMAT and scored 260

Q: What have been your academic and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A:
I have done B.Tech in Chemical Engg from National Institute of Technology, Karnataka. My father was in Business Planning and Control with Heinz in Dubai. I have 24 months of experience in Vedanta Aluminium Limited, Inbound Logistics. My mother was with State Bank of Mysore as Head Cashier. They both are retired now. My hobbies are Travelling, Painting, Dancing.

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
My overall preparation strategy was to wrap up all the topics that had to be covered by the beginning of September. After that, I used to only concentrate on mocks. Post giving the mocks, it was imperative that I analyse each and every section very well and figure out my pain points. This would give me an idea of where I was lagging behind and I would brush upon these topics again. As such there was strategy to put in enough hours of sincere hard work and to believe in yourself and to not feel dejected by the occasional poor performance.

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A
: I had always been weak at LRDI. No matter how much effort I used to put in, I wouldn’t be able to crack all the questions. I knew that it was not my area of strength. Hence, I used to scan through the questions for a minute or so in the beginning. This would give me a fair idea of the kind of questions that are on the paper. I would then breakdown the amount of time that needs to be dedicated towards each set. This would help me to manage time and would ensure that I was not spending too much time on those questions which I knew I wouldn’t be able to solve, thus giving enough time for me to work on the sets I was confident about.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC; DILR; Quant
A:
My basic strategy of covering all topics as early as end of August and concentrating only on mocks for the next 3 months was my only strategy. I used to dedicate around 14 hours a day to prepare for the entrance exams. I would try to cover each of the 3 sections on a given day.

For VARC: I made sure to do all RCs from RC-99. This helped me increase my understanding on how to familiarise myself with content heavy comprehensions without losing concentration. Apart from this, I used to read the newspaper daily, to keep myself up to date with what is happening around the world along with increasing my reading speed. I would also read a lot of books to give myself a break, yet stay in the flow.

For LRDI: I would practise around 5-6 sets each day and do several questions from the YouTube.

For Quants: Quants was my favourite section and I would enjoy solving questions. I would go through my notes. I even had made a thick book of formulas for the D-Day and would keep updating it regularly. I would pick out a random topic for the day and solve assignment questions of the topic to familiarise myself with the concepts and increase my speed

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks, as I mentioned were an integral and essential part of my preparations. I used to strengthen my concepts with the help of these mocks as I could figure out the areas that I was falling behind in. I did around 20-25 mocks during my preparation, but I would definitely advise an MBA aspirant to do around 40 mocks to prepare himself or herself better for the D-Day.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A:
I took online coaching from Elites Grid. It really helped me sail through my preparation. I tried to study for a month by myself, but I realised that it was really time consuming and that I wasn’t able to study in a holistic manner. Hence, I thought that it was better to study in a structured manner through coaching.

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 the D-Day, I stopped studying after 8 pm the previous night. I needed to be relaxed on the final day. I had my exam in Slot 3, so on the morning of the exam, I only went through the formula book that I had prepared over the months.
However, I panicked during the exam because I found the LRDI section very difficult. I would urge all the aspirants not to panic during the exam as I am speaking of personal experience. I let my fear of LRDI move onto my Quant section because of which I couldn’t perform well in both these sections.

It is of utmost importance to stay calm and composed.

Q: How did you prepare for SPJIMR GD/PI/WAT? Please share some of your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A:
I completely relied upon YouTube videos to prepare for my GD-PI-WAT. I would first listen to the topic and list down all the points that I thought were relevant. Then I would compare the same with the videos and list down those points that I had missed out on. This helped me to get a 360-degree view of the topic. Several such sessions later, I was confident that I would be able to handle any topic that was presented in front of me. I would also read the news regularly and would ardently follow current affairs.

Some of the topics that I got were, “Your views on the Farmer’s Protest”, “Do you think the Military Coup of Myanmar is justified”, “Work from Home is beneficial for the society” and several more. My PI was mainly focused towards my work experience, which made it very easy for me to speak about. This helped me sail through my interviews with ease.

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you GD-PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your experience?
A:
All of my interviews were conducted in the online mode except the GEPI process of MICA. I thoroughly enjoyed all of my interviews as they all were so different from each other which helped me gain a lot of knowledge. I felt that the panellists were also very friendly which helped me reduce my anxiety that I used to have before the interviews started.

I also enjoyed MICA’s offline GEPI process. This was the first time I got to interact with fellow applicants and I also got to make some good friends from the experience. All in all, I will surely cherish this face of my life. Even though life ahead was uncertain, it surely taught me a thing or two.

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021
A:
My final tip would be that be confident about yourself. You have put in enough hard work and that will definitely help you during your exam. My only advise is that please do not panic if you feel that things are going out of your hand. I am telling this from personal experience that I created a blunder in my paper because I panicked. Just pause and take a deep breath and tackle the questions with a fresh perspective. Don’t let one section affect another one because you can still bounce back from the previous blow. Just believe in yourself. Things are going to work out for you.

Vaishali Baweja: 92.81 Percentile in CAT 2020

Vaishali Baweja

How Vaishali Baweja, a B.Com and Working Professional from Gurgaon cracked CAT 2020 with 92.81%ile and preferred SPJIMR to IIM Indore, MDI Gurgaon, XLRI, NMIMS
Vaishali Baweja, CAT 2020 topper from Gurgaon (Haryana), cracked the exam with 92.81 percentile. Vaishali is a B.Com (Honours) from Hansraj College, Delhi University.  She earned 2 years of working experience with BCG while preparing for CAT. Vaishali converted number of top B-schools including SPJIMR Mumbai, IIM Indore, MDI Gurgaon, XLRI Jamshedpur, NMIMS Mumbai among others but chose SPJIMR her preferred destination. Read all about her CAT preparation strategy, her strengths and weaknesses, how she overcame them and why she preferred to join SPJIMR Mumbai and declined the admission offers from other top B-schools

Q: Apart from SPJIMR Mumbai, which were the other top B-schools that shortlisted you for final selection round?
A:
I was shortlisted by IIM Kozhikode, Indore, MDI Gurgaon,  XLRI Jamshedpur, NMIMS Mumbai, IIFT

Q: What motivated you to choose SPJIMR over other B-schools? Please share top 3-4 reasons

A: I preferred SPJIMR Mumbai due to many reasons. Some of the top factors are

  • Finance Specialization right from the beginning
  • Smaller batch size
  • Non Classroom Learning courses
  • Values and Culture for which SPJIMR stands for

Q: How did you perform in CAT 2020?
A:
It was my first CAT experience. I cracked CAT 2020 with overall 92.81 percentile. My sectional percentile was VARC- 93.86; DILR- 89.27; QA- 85.39

Q. Apart from CAT, did you appear in any other MBA entrance exam? How did you perform in it?
A:
Apart from CAT, I appeared in XAT 2021 and scored 98.8 percentile.

Q: What have been your academic and family back ground? Do you have some work experience as well?
A:
I have done B.Com (Honours) from Hansraj College, Delhi University. Both my parents are teachers. I worked at BCG as a Research Associate for 2 years. My hobbies are Classical Dancing, Solving Sudokus

Q: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
A:
My strategy was to mainly focus on the concepts of VARC, LRDI and QA sections. Once I finished the concepts in the time span of 3 months, I started practicing mocks and revising the concepts simultaneously. Taking mocks was a game changer for me

Q: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A:
I was weak at LRDI. Although I had conceptual clarity, it used to take me a lot of time to solve the questions. To overcome this, I always used to time myself even when I wasn’t taking mock tests to make sure that I wasn’t spending a lot of time on one question. Moreover, I tried different strategies in mock tests like being selective about the questions that I was picking up to solve, trying different trade offs between speed and accuracy etc.

Q: Please share your sectional preparation strategy for CAT? How did you prepare for VARC; DILR; Quant
A:
For VARC my accuracy was always high. However, my reading speed was slow. To overcome that, I practiced reading comprehensions, newspapers, non-fictional books from different genres etc. For Quant, my speed and accuracy were both good and hence it was never a problem area. Quant was one section which I used to practice daily alternating between VARC and DILR for the remaining time. For the last month I took a break from the VARC section and only practiced DILR and Quant as I was doing good in VARC. I only practiced VARC via mocks.

Q: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
A:
Mocks were game changer for me. They are definitely an important part of the preparation. However, merely taking the mocks is not enough. It only helps when you take them in a single sitting with a pre-defined strategy and also analyse them later on. I had attempted 30 mocks before the exam.

Q: Did you self-prepare or attend a coaching centre and why?
A:
I prepared on my own for CAT. I felt that the concepts were basic and something that we had already studied up till 12th standard. Hence, I mainly focussed on revising those concepts. I had enrolled for Career Launcher’s mock test series to practice questions.

Q: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
A:
I took a break from studies one day before CAT. I watched a movie, went for dinner outside and slept. I was used to studying during the night and sleeping during the day. I changed that schedule a week before the exam as I had the morning slot for the exam. I made sure that my sleep cycle was adjusted to that. On the day of the exam, I utilized the time before the exam to form my final broad strategy for attempting the exam and tried to calm myself down and remain positive

Q: How did you prepare for SPJIMR GD/PI/WAT? Please share some of your GD/WAT topics & PI questions?
A:
I had joined Eptitude, a coaching institute for GD/PI/WAT preparation. As part of the program, I had a couple of mock interviews. I made sure to incorporate the feedback that I got from these interviews. Besides that, I was regular in brushing my academics, reading newspapers and practicing WAT everyday. My first interview at SPJIMR was focussed mainly on academics and general knowledge related to my stream. Second round was more value based and focussed on ethical dilemmas in business situations

Q: In this pandemic situation, was you GD-PI-WAT conducted in person or was conducted Online? How was your experience?
A:
SPJIMR’s GD-PI-WAT process was completely online. It was a completely smooth and seamless experience. It was very well managed and organized. SPJIMR had both interview rounds on the same day and the whole process was as good as an in-person interview

Q: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2021
A:
Be consistent with your preparation throughout the year. The exam itself is not difficult and requires more smart work than hard work. Having said that, don’t take a lot of stress over this one exam. Your career won’t come to an end if you don’t make it to a top B school

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