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CAT Topper’s Interview: Toppers preparation tips for CAT Exam

CAT entrance test is a highly competitive entrance test and they announce the name of student every year who stand first. In this article, we have listed the CAT toppers interview of the year 2015, 2016 and 2017 and they are Abhay Agarwal, Prateek Bajpai and Antriksh Johri/Mukesh Goyal respectively.

CAT toppers Interview

Previous Year CAT Toppers Interview:

Abhay Aggarwal

Abhay Agarwal CAT 2015

Abhay Agarwal is CAT (Common Aptitude Test) topper in 2015 who have scored 99.99 percentile and belongs to a small town of Kiratpur, which is in district Bijnor of Uttar Pradesh. Abhay passed his 10+2 from St. Mary’s School in Bijnor and scored 86.86%. He, then, graduated B. Tech from G. B. Pant University of Agriculture & University, Pantnagar, where his specialization was Biotechnology. His hobbies are playing guitar and reading novels. Below mentioned are the list of questions answered by him:

What inspired you to pursue management and which management entrance exams did you take apart from CAT?

The main thing that inspired me to pursue management was the lack of options in my own field. Biotechnology had a limited scope and I wanted to change my field. Also, I was involved in organizing various events and fests in my college and this further inspired me to learn management. Apart from CAT, I only appeared for IIFT entrance examination.

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How did you prepare for this test and what was your CAT 2015 percentile?

My CAT score was 237.2 marks which resulted in 99.99 percentile. I started preparing for it when I was in my third year of graduation. For CAT preparation, I used to rely on mock tests to a great extent. I gave my first mock test in January, 2015. I scored decent but I realized that there are many weak areas on which I can certainly improve upon. Thus, I used to work on those areas before the next mock. Every mock provided me certain insights and my goals were automatically set for the next mock.

English was my weakest section. I studied a lot of books to improve my comprehension skills. I gave sectional mock tests to learn time management. For DI/LR, I was more focused on selecting right set of questions. Repeated practice helped me to judge the difficulty of the questions. Solving QA questions required speed which I used to lack initially. I gave a lot of speed tests for the same and was able to improve significantly by the time I appeared for CAT.

Did you join any coaching center for CAT preparations or you preferred self-study? Which are the books did you referred for preparation?

Yes, during my third year of B.Tech, I joined weekend classes of TIME. Coaching was certainly helpful but at the same time, I was not too much dependent on it. I followed my own schedule of giving mocks. I preferred self-study but the guidance provided by experts at TIME was helpful to a great extent. As far as books are concerned, I studied from the material provided by the coaching Institute. Also, I used to rely highly on online material. I used to read online and find quicker ways of solving questions.

Are there any mistakes that you believe you have made while preparing for CAT which CAT 2016 aspirants should avoid?

I used to practice a lot and analyze the mistakes. My whole preparation was based on mending my mistakes. But one mistake that I constantly avoided mending was my poor vocab. I did not try to increase my content knowledge and tried to improve upon the knowledge that I already had. CAT 2016 aspirants should certainly divide their time in developing content and then testing it through mocks.

What tips would you like to give to CAT aspirants, who would appear next year? Please share your success mantra.

They should analyze themselves. Every person is different and so is the CAT preparation strategy for them. Start the preparation by knowing where you stand right at the moment in terms of knowledge level. It might seem that there is a lot to cover but concentrated efforts can certainly help you reach your goal. Be confident and customize your preparation for yourself. Syllabus of CAT is too vast that it is almost impossible to cover everything; I basically focused on enhancing my current knowledge. My success mantra was that whatever I know, I should know it completely.

Which B-schools offered you to attend PIs? It might be difficult to shortlist one B-School, when you are blessed with so many options. How did you decide to go to FMS?

I got calls from FMS, IIFT, IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong and other new IIMs. Opting FMS was a very well thought and difficult decision. There are a lot of factors while choosing a B-School. Rankings do not give a clear picture. There is a right fit for each candidate and FMS was the right fit for me. The learning opportunities that were in FMS were unmatchable.

Pursuing MBA, being a fresher is a challenge and I had a feeling that FMS will provide me the opportunity to learn the most. FMS is also known as the marketing campus of the country. This was also one of the reasons that helped me making the final choice.

Is it true that FMS is cost effective & placement is good? Is this the only reason FMS is a popular destination for most of the management aspirants?

This is certainly not the only and also not the most important reason that aspirants choose FMS. Though, it may seem so because these points are very attractive but reality is otherwise. FMS has renowned faculty who impart their knowledge as well as experience. The batch size at FMS is small as compared to other B-Schools, which provide a better ratio of faculty and students and thus students get to learn better. The return on Investment part is just a final reassuring nail in the decision process.


How do you feel to study at such reputed FMS? Apart from the brand name that the Institute carries, how do you think FMS could help you build your career?

FMS has already given me much more than I expected of it. Studying here makes me so proud. FMS has one of the most grilling MBA programme. I have learned new concepts in a very short time because of the efforts of the teachers as well as seniors here. The majority of the alumni base is heading some of the top most organizations in the world. We get to interact with them and they share there valuable experience of the Industry. As part of Guest Lecture Series, we often meet several CEOs who share their valuable insights. Thus, apart from the brand name, these are some of the key things that I think can help me greatly.

What was the selection procedure at FMS and how did you prepare for it?

Selection process at FMS comprised of extempore and a Personal Interview. My extempore topic was Swacch Bharat. The questions asked to me were based on General Awareness. I was asked about some business newspapers and their publishers. I was then asked about the internship project of my Under-Graduation. Also, various HR questions were asked which needed to be carefully answered as they directed the flow of the interview.

To prepare for the PI, I made it a point that I should know my CV in and out. I should be able to justify each point mentioned in it. I was also prepared for HR questions. TIME faculty helped me a lot in that aspect. I gave some mock PIs and used to get the feedback. I also read about hot topics of the year.

What facilities, clubs and extra-curricular activities does FMS offers to students? How are the residential/hostel facilities of the Institute?

Management Science Association (MSA) is responsible for various activities in the college and it is run by students. A special feature about FMS is the collaborative culture between 1st and 2nd year students. There are 13 clubs and societies which all come under MSA. We have certain events spread around the year including section war, TEDx, Convention, National Level Management and Cultural Fest etc. These events help us to showcase talent as well as organizing them teaches us a lot.

FMS is under Delhi University, the residential facilities are available in the University Hostel. But, mostly students prefer to live in flats or PG’s as they are nearer to college. There are several group projects which involve a lot of brain storming. The college campus is accessible till late night for such purposes.

Prateek Bajpai CAT 2015

Prateek Bajpai managed to crack the toughest management examination in 2015, that is, Common Aptitude Test in his first attempt. He scored 100 percentile. Mr. Bajpai chose not to go for coaching classes. Instead, he prepared for the examination himself, while working in Algeria. Once, he got through CAT 2015, he decided to pursue PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad. In an interview, he revealed all the strategies and preparations that helped him for CAT.

What was your academic background? Where did you study and how good were you in studies?

I did my schooling from Indore and B Tech in civil engineering from NIT, Trichy. I would consider myself an above average student. I was quite active in sports too.

Did you always want to do study management?

No, I didn’t plan to go for MBA during my under-graduation. After completing B Tech in civil engineering, I took up a role as a civil engineer in Shapoorji Pallonji Group and worked with them first in Chhattisgarh and then in Algeria, North Africa, but in a year or so, I felt that a post-graduation is essential considering long-term career prospects. That’s when I decided to go for an MBA due to my underlying interests and capabilities/skills.

Which MBA course are you currently pursuing and is it the same course that you wanted to study since the beginning?

I am pursuing PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad and it is a dream for almost every MBA aspirant in India. I was not targeting IIM Ahmedabad. I just tried to do well and make it to a decent B-School. Getting into this institute is like a cherry on the top.

People have certain myths in India that CAT is extremely tough, especially because of mathematics. What would you like to say about this?

It is not tough because of the difficulty level of questions but because of the competition that a person faces in CAT. Given enough time, all the questions are solvable by most of the people but to do it within the stipulated time is the real challenge. Maths is certainly a bit challenging for those with non-maths background but with decent practice, anyone can crack it easily.

Did you opt for coaching to crack MBA?

No, I didn’t. I was working in Algeria and I started my preparation there only. Forget coaching, I didn’t even have any books with me to study from. Most of my preparation came from various content available online and mock tests.

How did your B Tech degree helped you in the preparations?

I don’t think B Tech degree will help any person in cracking CAT. Mathematics certainly helps but knowledge of engineering, be in Civil/Mechanical/Computer science etc. would not be of any help as it is not at all relevant.

What was your strategy for the examination?

My exam strategy was to rely on my speed and I ended up attempting all 100 questions in CAT. Also, DI/LR was my strength so I wanted to do good in that. During the exam, I was extremely calm and composed due to the amount of practice I did beforehand and I think that helped me the most in doing well in the actual exam.

How did you manage to keep balance between your work and preparation?

It was all about discipline. As this was my first CAT attempt and I didn’t have anything specific to study from, the preparation was even more challenging. I made sure on a daily basis to study for two-three hours and on Friday (weekend in Algeria), six-eight hours. I utilised even the travel time to office for some meaningful activity like revising formulae etc. The biggest challenge was my work itself as I was on-field construction engineer which iwas quite physically taxing. However, being‘discipline’ did the trick for me.

You seem to be interested in smartphones. Do you see a full-fledged career in it?

Yes, I enjoy following the industry and particularly, recommending people which one to buy. I even write a blog about smartphones which is not that active currently owing to the hectic MBA life. A full-fledged career in the smartphone industry, I would love that, particularly a sales and marketing role. However, I am not restricting myself to just that as of now. In the long run, who knows, maybe.

How did you unwind?

During CAT preparation, I was in Algeria. The people there, the beaches, the experience etc. was more than enough to keep me refreshed. One thing I enjoyed a lot was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.

What advice will you like to give to CAT aspirants who would appear next year in the examination?


  • Always solve questions by setting a time limit. This way, you can develop the art of leaving questions which is very important for doing well in a speed based exams such as CAT.
  • Maintain a thick notebook with all the QA formulas and keep updating it with every mock/sectional test you give. Revise it once every 15-20 days. By October, these formulae should become an extension of your mind. Recalling them instantaneously during mocks/CAT is important. You can utilize travel time to office or other free time for revising this like I did.
  • Mental calculations are very important. Make these calculations a habit and a part of your life. Trust me, it will help you in more ways than you can imagine even long after CAT is over.
  • For VA/RC, instead of investing time in novels/newspapers, invest that same amount of time in solving RC passages on various themes and topics (with a time limit of course). This way, you will practice a lot of reading as well as also practice spotting answers for questions.
  • Mock tests are the single most important step in your CAT preparation. It prepares you for the final battle by simulating the same. Start giving mock test if you haven’t already and analyse it properly afterwards.
  • Once you start writing mocks, maintain an excel sheet to keep track of questions in VA and QA topic-wise. After every mock, during analysis, just fill this excel sheet. After 10-15 mocks, you’ll be very clear about which topic you are attempting less, where your accuracy is pathetic etc. It will help you much more than you realize. When you’ll be finalizing a strategy for the final exam, this data will help you in deciding how to approach the paper. It helped me a lot.
  • Do not try to do too many things. Keep it simple. Don’t ask for too many suggestions. Talk to a few good people, make a good plan that you feel will work for you and just do it.
  • Do not get affected by a change in pattern or any other changes. Take it as a challenge and as an opportunity to develop yourself as per the need. Remember that this change is for everyone, not just you.
  • Develop a balanced performance across all three sections. This is very important. Devote more time to your weak areas and work on it until you are good at that too.
  • Keep calm. Develop this skill with every mock you write. This way, you will not get all tensed up during CAT and will be able to perform to your full potential. You will be able to take CAT just like another mock test.



Mukesh GoyalMukesh Goyal CAT 2017 Topper

Mukesh Goyal is CAT 2017 topper who have scored 100 percentile. He was a small-town boy from Sunam in Sangrur district of Punjab, who cracked this examination through rigorous hard work without any coaching. He is a working Market Analyst at Futures First when he initiated preparations for CAT. He balanced his CAT preparations and work both simultaneously.

Mukesh, after cracking CAT 2017, now studies at FMS Delhi which is one of the best B-school with very low fee structure and high placements. He has been a consistent performer throughout his academics. He scored 91.2% in 10th standard, 87.8% marks in class 12th and 72% marks in Bachelor in Engineering (B.E.). He is quite interested in playing and watching Cricket & Football, acting as hobbies.

What was your exam preparation strategy for CAT 2016?

My strategy was to improve my weak areas and strengthen my strong areas. I focused on mocks as I think through Mocks, one can check his/her preparation level easily and can accordingly improve. Also, I used to have discussion with my friends who were preparing for CAT as well and that helped me a lot in my preparation.

How did you prepare for each section (VARC, DILR & QA) in CAT examination? What study materials and books helped you with the same?

I prepared for CAT mainly through mocks. I used to write 1-2 mocks per weekend and then analyse those mocks and make changes to my approach accordingly. I used to prepare mainly through mocks, sectional and topic specific tests. MBAUniverse.com: Was there any particular CAT exam section that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?Mukesh Goyal (CAT topper): I was weak at VA section. I practiced sectional tests and topic specific tests in order to improve this section. I used to focus on analysis part of these tests. I used to solve a lot of RCs and CR questions.

How can MBA aspirants use Mock tests better in CAT 2017 exam? What is your advice?

One can try different types of strategies in mocks and accordingly see what kind of strategy suits him/her better. All the mock questions – incorrect, correct and un-attempted should be analysed properly. Through proper analysis, one can know about his/her weak and strong areas and can work accordingly. Attempting the easy and doable questions first and leaving the difficult ones for the last is important and one can learn about this through mocks.

Did you go to any coaching center? What role, according to you, does a coaching center play?

I did not go for any offline coaching. I think apart from providing subject knowledge, coaching might help you in getting in regular touch with studies. It depends on the individual whether he/she needs coaching or not. Students have done well in CAT with coaching as well as without coaching.

Other than CAT, which management exam did you appear in?

I appeared for XAT 2017 and IIFT 2016. I scored 99.795 percentile in XAT 2017 and 99.84 percentile in IIFT.

Which institutes did you apply for admission?  

I applied for IIMs, FMS, XLRI and IIFT.

Please share your strategy for the CAT exam day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?

For the CAT day, I just had one simple thing in my mind that I need to be calm. I knew that if I would be calm, I would do well as I was well prepared. I had no particular test taking strategy in my mind. I just wanted to see the exam first and then make the strategy accordingly. I did not want to have any preconceived notions and that thing to affect my exam.


Antriksh Johri Antriksh Johri CAT 2016 topper

For Antriksh Johri, the mantra to securing 99.66 percentile in CAT 2016 was very simple, do your Math and read as many books as possible. The Delhi boy, who is currently pursuing Chemical Engineering from IIT Delhi, has read over 20 books over the short period of his preparation.

Congratulations Antriksh! How are you celebrating your success?

Thank you! I am excited. Right now, I am in the hostel. So, I am planning to discuss my future course of action with my family.

What is your CAT 2016 section wise percentile?

I have secured 93.78 percentile in Verbal Ability and 94 percentile in Data Interpretation. My percentile in Quantitative Ability is 99.99 percentile.

Which section of the examination was toughest for you?

For me, Verbal Ability was one of the sections that was a bit tricky. Especially, the Reading Comprehension part. Data Interpretation was okay. It was not much time consuming for me. For me, Quantitative Ability was the easiest section since it involves calculations and conceptual clarity for the most part.

Can you share your exam preparation strategy with us, that might help other students?

I started preparations around a year back. Most of the questions in Quants test your conceptual clarity from 10th and 12th standard, hence my aim was to clear my concepts on the required topics. For Verbals, I was advised to read books and newspapers, which helped me a lot to understand language and its usage. I read over 20 books, both fiction and non- fiction during my preparation. I enjoyed reading Charles Dickens’ though!

Which business school would you prefer? Which specialization are you interested in?

I want to get into IIM Ahmedabad. My next option is IIM Calcutta.  Basically, I am interested in taking up Finance as a specialization as my interest lies in that field.

You are an engineering student. Is there a specific reason you wanted to pursue management and change your field?

I have observed that my inclination lies in Finance related subjects. In fact, I had done a few short-term programmes in Finance and Marketing. Also, to handle any project these days one should have management skills, which is best taught in the top business schools of the country.

How is your preparation for the next rounds for admissions?

I have been reading books and newspapers. I am trying to keep myself updated with latest happenings. The next rounds would basically depend on the business school I get a call from.


What do you like to do in your leisure time? Do you enjoy any kind of sport or watching movies?

I love cricket. For me, it is the best kind of sport. I can play cricket all day! Sachin is my favorite cricketer, without a doubt. I think he is a classic player. When I am not following cricket you will find me playing poker. Although I like to watch movies but given a choice over films and cricket, I would choose the latter!

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