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For CAT 2014 100 percentiler Neha Manglik, topping exams have become a matter of habit. The only girl among the 16 CAT 2014 toppers, Neha is a Chemical Engineer from BITS Pilani who had previously made her mark as the 5th ranker at CMAT September 2014. Not only that, Neha has been a consistent success story since her 10th exam, which she topped in her school with 96%. Neha is also the first female CAT topper securing 100 percentile since 2009.
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“MBA is not always just finance. It teaches management principles, which are useful to manage every part of your life,” says Neha sharing the factors which inspired her to switch to a career in management.
In this interview with Careers360, the CAT 2014 topper reveals that it is her interests in management topics as well as her balanced approach towards extra-curricular activities that has shaped her academic achievements.
CAT 2014 Topper Neha Manglik does it again – Tops XAT 2015
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Below are the edited excerpts from the interview:
Careers360: Congratulations on your perfect 100! Were you expecting this result?
Neha: Thank you. My exam went well, so I was expecting a good percentile, but 100 percentile is something I was never sure of.
Careers360: What is your sectional percentile?
Neha: My sectional percentiles are 99.84 for Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation, and 100 for Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning.
Careers360: You were also one of the top scorers of CMAT September 2014. Did you pursue admission in any B-School through CMAT scores?
Neha: No, I wanted to wait for my CAT score before deciding which B-schools to apply for.
Careers360: Which other MBA entrance exams did you take?
Neha: In addition to CAT, I took CMAT, IIFT and NMAT. I'm also planning to write XAT 2015 which is scheduled on January 4, 2015.
Careers360: You have done your engineering from BITS Pilani. Why did you decide to go for MBA?
Neha: Unlike what most people think, MBA is not always just finance. It teaches management principles, which are useful to manage every part of your life. So yes, MBA has always been a dream. Also, in BITS, I took up electives like Principles of Management, Human Resource Development and I realised I wanted to know more about these topics. This gave me another reason to do an MBA.
Careers360: Tell us something about your family. How supportive are they about your MBA dream?
Neha: My mother is a school teacher while my father is working in a private company. I have younger brother. Fortunately, my family has always supported and motivated me in all my endeavours including MBA.
Careers360: Which are your dream B-schools?
Neha: My dream B-School is IIM Ahmedabad. My experience in BITS Pilani taught me that we can learn a lot about practical skills for life while interacting with students and faculty of premier institutes.
Careers360: What is your preferred MBA specialization or career path which you want to pursue post MBA?
Neha: IIMs have common subjects in the first year, and then on the basis of what we like, we can take electives in the second year. I will use my knowledge of subjects that I gain in the first year to determine which subjects I take up in second year and choose my career accordingly.
Careers360: What was your preparation strategy and routine study period for CAT 2014?
Neha: If I may say so, I had started my preparation from childhood itself by solving logical and mathematical puzzles along with reading and writing poetries and literature since I was a kid. For the last six months, I focused on giving mocks and analysing areas in which I could improve. There was no fixed schedule or routine; I gave time to preparation based on what was required and what was available.
Careers360: Did you take coaching for CAT? Do you think coaching is necessary for being successful in CAT?
Neha: Yes, I had joined coaching. I had also joined online workshop for CAT. Coaching did help me as my study methodology and mock tests were much more systematic with the help of the expert guidance. Regular analysis of mock tests also helped me in devising changes in preparation strategy.
I do not think it is necessary to join coaching for CAT. Preparation can be done through group studies with friends, reading online or popular study materials etc. Keep yourself motivated so that you do not lose focus. Take as many mock tests and possible and analyze them thoroughly.
Careers360: What was your exam taking strategy?
Neha: I ensured that I didn't waste too much time on just a few questions. As long as I was able to finish the paper on time, I believed in my capability to maintain a good accuracy rate. In CAT, I attempted all 100 questions because I wasn't good at separating the easy ones from the hard ones like most coaching institutes suggest!
Careers360: Tell us about your strong and weak areas in CAT
Neha: Quantitative, logical reasoning and grammar questions were my strong areas. I was also good at reading comprehension as I have a high reading speed. I was comparatively weaker at Data Interpretation, especially speed math based questions. For that, I did Vedic Maths. I searched for videos online and completely changed my way of calculation, including basic things like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Careers360: Have you started preparing for GD PI? How are you going about it?
Neha: Yes, I started preparing about two weeks back. I am planning to be completely honest about my goals and personality in the interviews and this required some introspection. In addition, I'm revising Chemical Engineering concepts that I learnt in college and keeping an eye on all important news and current affairs.
Careers360: Tell us about your hobbies.
Neha: I am interested in co-curricular activities like writing poetry, and doing arts and crafts among others. I also like public speaking. In BITS Pilani, I headed the Poetry Club, which has shaped me and made me who I am.
Careers360: It was quite a busy preparation schedule for you. Could you find time to connect with your friends on Facebook during your preparation?
Neha: I've never been very active on Facebook, actually. I use it mostly for work purposes. But I always found time to talk to all my friends in real, face-to-face conversations. I love talking to a diverse set of people about a large variety of things and I find that I learn a lot from all such conversations. So, that was something that I didn't want to compromise on and I planned my time such that I could always do both.
Careers360: Did you turn to any recreational activities before preparing for CAT 2014 exam?
Neha: I love watching anime. So, I used it as a stress buster and a tool to focus and concentrate, somewhat similar to how sports persons listen to music before a match. Before every mock and even the morning before CAT, I watched an episode to cut out the external world and bring my focus to one point - the anime and then the paper. I think it's a really effective strategy. And recreational too!
Careers360: Do you enjoy watching movies? Which was the movie you saw last?
Neha: I like watching movies but I like a lot of things a lot more. So I end up not watching many. The last movie I watched in the movie hall was probably Gravity. More than a year back!
Careers360: What would be your tips for CAT 2015 aspirants and fellow CAT takers?
Neha: I urge all my friends to believe in themselves and not lose focus of their goal. Don't let disappointments get to you, I'm sure you'll do great in CAT and in life! Always remember - The one who wins is the one who thinks he/she can.
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