While most candidates burn the midnight oil, Sabyasachi Mishra cracked one of the toughest examinations, the Common Admission Test (CAT) in his first attempt in 2015. While preparing for his last semester examination at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, he scored a perfect 100 percentile. However, he has opted for the deferred admission policy and will join the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad after two years.
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He elaborates his exam strategy, future plans and shares his new found love – making friends.
You cracked CAT 2015 while you were pursuing mechanical engineering. How did you manage to get time for CAT preparation?
I used to study mostly on the weekends. Weekdays were packed up owing to the final year schedule at IIT. During the last few days, I devoted my time completely towards CAT preparation.
Tell us a little about your academic background.
I would not call myself scholarly but I was a bright student and scored good marks. In the CBSE Class 10 examination, I got 89.8 per cent while in Class 12, I scored 79 per cent. In IIT Kharagpur, my CGPA was 7.45.
How easy it is for an engineering student to crack CAT?
Qualifying an entrance examination entirely depends on how focused an individual is. It doesn’t matter if you are an engineering student or a commerce graduate, your confidence over your subjects is the key to success. To get a more than 90 percentile is easy with just three to four months of preparation.
Did you take any coaching for CAT preparation?
Yes, I had been enrolled in various coaching institutes throughout different steps of the CAT journey.
What were your strengths and weakness (in terms of subjects)?
I knew I am good in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and quantitative analytics (QA). But I was not confident with Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). Therefore, I referred to a lot of CAT preparation materials available in the market as well as GMAT guides.
What was your exam strategy?
In QA, I solved all the questions in the sequence skipping one or two questions in between. The reason for this approach is that my grasp over this section was pretty good.
In VARC, I tried the RCs first. I spent some time skimming through the paper and answering only those questions that I am completely sure of. Then, based on the amount of time I have left and the number of questions remaining, I took a call as to whether or not to take a calculated guess.
I had completed both QA and VARC sections before time.
In the DILR section, my first passage (four questions) took me around 12 minutes which was way higher than my regular average.
Subsequently, I just read all the passages first and then attempted them in the order of my comfort level. Easy ones first and tough ones later. I attempted five passages (20 questions) and I was left with six minutes.
I knew I couldn’t have solved any passage completely, so I went through the 12 remaining questions without reading the passages and deciding which ones could be solved through option elimination.
I picked up a couple of questions, read their passages to help narrow down options and then guessed them.
Did you always want to be an engineer?
I have had goals in terms of acquiring a particular skill or learning a theory or being able to run a marathon and so on. I know the kind of work I would like and the job title doesn’t exactly matter. So, I didn’t want to be an engineer.
However, engineering isn’t that bad. A lot of engineering related skills are relevant even in other domains.
Any plans to start your own business?
I am focusing on making friends and finding pain points in different areas as of now. Someday when I find an issue that I want to solve, I would already have a team.
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