Mayank Raj, one of the top 20 CAT 2017 toppers broke the myth that coaching is crucial for cracking CAT, aced CAT exam in his first attempt with a perfect 100 percentile. A sports fanatic, Mayank believes that the key to success in CAT is maintaining consistency and avoiding any disappointments aspirants face during preparation. He is presently in his concluding year of Civil Engineering at IIT Bombay and is eager to get into IIM Ahmedabad. He has already received a job proposition and interview call from IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bengaluru and IIM Calcutta. In an exclusive interview, Mayank Raj shares his success story and preparation strategy for CAT.
Q. What is your CAT Sectional percentile?
A. I have obtained 99.76 percentile in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), 99.92 in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and 99.92 in Quantitative Ability (QA).
Q. Why did you decide to pursue MBA?
A. I wish get into a career in Public Policy. During my years in IIT Bombay I realized that I miss out management intelligence. So in order to gain an inclusive spectrum of knowledge and necessary skill-set, I decided to go after MBA.
Q. What was your CAT 2017 preparation strategy?
A. I initiated the preparation in July 2017 so that I could devote five to six months at a stretch for the preparation. As I didn’t join any coaching classes, my main focus was on online practice tests and test series. I made it appoint to invest two to three hours each day practicing only the mock tests. In case, I was not practicing the tests, I would borrow the study material from aspirants around me and read them.
Q. How did you manage your weak areas?
A. As I stressed on mock tests, I made it a point to analyze the tests properly and identify my weak areas. For QA section, which included a lot of formulae, I used to write them on board so that I could see them every day and hence revise. Seeing them every day, I gradually memorized them without much efforts. Another section which I focused on was VARC. To work up on my verbal ability, I stressed on reading newspapers, novels. Etc. This not only helped me to improve my reading speed but also providing better understanding of the passage I was reading.
Q. What was your exam day experience?
A. I was able to attempt the exam unruffled. Though CAT 2017 was my first attempt, I tried to keep my calm throughout. In fact, there were no complications at the CAT examination venue also. Entire process of authentication was completed smoothly. Another added advantage was my practice of giving mock tests, which helped me a lot to handle examination pressure and time constraints.
Q. How did you manage to score a perfect 100 percentile without any coaching?
A. In my point of view, CAT is something you will have to work upon, yourself. Nobody else can train you for the same. It is necessary that you develop your own comfort with each subject and topic. Most of the questions in Quantitative Aptitude section are of class 10th/ SSC level. On contrary, coaching might be helpful for some reasoning and mathematics tricks which are not available online also, which I also could not learn. Similarly, in VARC, candidate must develop his/ her own understanding. Coaching might be helpful to an extent nut its finally you who will have to consistently devote ample amount of time towards self study and practicing as much as possible.
Q. How did you plan to regulate your time?
A. For the D-Day, I had focused more on a proper strategy for VARC when compared to DILR and QA. For VARC, I tried to attempt more questions from Reading Comprehension than non comprehension part. Approximately, I had devoted at least 10 minutes for every RC. After completing RCs, I was left with 10-15 minutes, which I spent on the non comprehension part.
For DILR and QA, I made it a point to let go off the question which I didn’t understand within one or two minutes and proceed to next. I was quite assured of my performance in these two sections.
As far as preparations are concerned, I didn’t follow any specific time table as I had to focus on my academics and placements as well. But still, I made it a point to study for CAT examination dedicatedly for at least two to three hours each day.
Q. In your view, what were factors for your success?
A. One of the crucial reasons for my success is my family. They have always been supportive in all my decisions when it comes to career. I have always been given freedom to make my choices for career. I think their faith in me and my decisions has helped me a lot. Besides this, whenever I felt dismayed, my younger brother and seniors were always there for the rescue.
Q. How will you assess each section of the examination?
A. According to me, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) was the most difficult sections. I had attempted only 22 questions from it. On contrary, I was able to attempt Quantitative Aptitude effortlessly. I had attempted all the questions for that section and still had some time left.
Q. What are your leisure time activities?
A. Being a sport enthusiast, I play and watch almost all kinds of sports. I was also a player a Kho-Kho team at IITB. Among all others, my special dedication is towards football. Every time I feel stressed and occupied, I opt to play football. Also, apart from sports, I prefer to read.
Q. What are your plans ahead?
A. As for now, I am planning to prepare for GD/ PI/ WAT under the guidance of my seniors.
Q. Any suggestion/ preparation tip for future CAT aspirants?
A. For me, consistency is the key to success. It is necessary that we don’t get struck with our failures and keep going. A merger of consistency and desire for success is all what it takes to be successful.