CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Do not skip mock tests for the fear of scoring low, says Hitesh Lohani of FMS Delhi
Aditi Garg, 22 Aug 2018, #
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CAT 2017 Topper Interview -  “One thing I was doing consistently which most of the aspirants don’t do only to regret later- is giving mock tests.” This mantra is what set Hitesh Lohani apart from other CAT takers on test day. Read this CAT 2017 topper interview to know how he aced CAT with 99.91 percentile and secured admission in FMS Delhi.

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Besides CAT 2017, Hitesh also scored impressively in various other competitive management exams. He devised a comprehensive phase-wise strategy for self study as he had already had a taste of coaching during his attempt at CAT 2016. He utilised some of the best books and study material for CAT which he has also recommended in this interview for CAT 2018 aspirants. Above all, he lays immense emphasis on the the importance of CAT mock tests as they are crucial in improving speed, accuracy and getting habituated to make use of the three hours during the exam. Due to his well-thought strategy and unwavering focus, Hitesh had copper-bottomed guarantee to score atleast 99 percentile in each section when he came out of the exam hall. 

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For Hitesh, the best way to keep calm and confident was to interact with his fellow CAT aspirants and discuss queries and preparation tips. Without further ado, let us read the CAT 2017 topper interview of Hitesh Lohani and know the best preparation strategies to score a high percentile in the exam.

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Excerpts from the interview:


Careers360: What was your CAT 2017 overall and sectional percentile? Apart from CAT, which other entrances you appeared for and what were your percentiles?

Hitesh: My overall percentile in CAT 2017 was 99.91. My sectional percentiles are as follows:




I also appeared for IIFT 2017 where I scored 99.46. I appeared for XAT 2018 and scored 99.707. In MAH CET 2018 I secured 99.97.


Careers360: What was your preparation strategy?

Hitesh: My section-wise preparation strategy was as follows:

  • VARC: In VARC, my main focus was RC portion since it has 24/34 questions. The best source for preparing RC for me was GMAT official guide. The passages and the type of questions asked in the Official guide are very similar to the ones asked in CAT. After completing Official Guide, I switched to Manhattan Prep.

  • Quant: For quants, I first went over the T.I.M.E. modules which I found very good for basic preparation. Then I solved LOD-2 of the Arun Sharma quant book. After that I focused solely on sectional tests as it was a better way to improve accuracy.

  • DILR: For DILR, I initially referred to standard books but found them useless. Best source for DILR for me were mock tests especially ones by Career Launcher. Their difficulty and pattern were very much similar to the ones asked in CAT.

Careers360: How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching?

Hitesh: I joined a coaching for CAT 2016 and for CAT 2017 I was doing self-study. Having done both, I believe both are good in their own ways and which is better depends from person to person. If a person has very weak basics and/or is not from a mathematics background or doesn’t have much idea where to start from, then coaching would be the way to go. Taking coaching would not only clear your basics, but also provide a structure to your preparation. But for repeaters or those who are comfortable with aptitude papers, practise is the key for them to improve accuracy and self study would do.


Careers360: When did you start preparing for CAT? Please share in detail your month-wise preparation strategy.

Hitesh: I started my preparation from June. I had divided my preparation into three phases.

In the first phase from June to July, I had planned to completely revise the whole theory portion of all the three sections. I gave the three mocks per week during this phase. In the second phase from August to October, my main focus was to target my weak areas and solve as many questions from them as possible. I solved previous year mocks and sectional tests to improve my weak areas.

During the last phase from October to November, I gave as many mock tests as I could. My weekly target was to give at least six mocks with complete analysis. In the last week before CAT, I stopped giving mocks altogether and just focussed on revising basic formulas. One day before CAT, I glanced once through my revision note book and for the rest of the day and focused on getting a good sleep since I was allotted the morning slot.


Careers360: What was the one thing that you did consistently during your preparation?

Hitesh: One thing I was doing consistently which most of the aspirants don’t do only to regret later- is giving mock tests. Most aspirants have this fear of scoring low in mock tests and hence skip them.

What they fail to realize is that most learning happens through failure only. Giving regular mock tests is the most important aspect of preparation because CAT is more of an attitude test than an aptitude test. It depends on how you maintain your calm in those three hours of D-day. Regularly giving mocks makes one ready to sit continuously for three hours without losing focus. Mocks should be given in proctored mode in the centres and not at home.


Careers360: What are the best study materials for CAT or other exams?

Hitesh: According to these are the best study material for section-wise preparation:

  • VARC- GMAT Official Guide and Manhattan Verbal. IMS RC100 is also good.

  • LRDI- Pearson guide by Nishit Sinha for basics. Online blogs like LRDI of the day series by is very good. Best way is to practise using mocks.

  • QA- T.I.M.E. material is the best to learn basics. For a little advanced difficulty, refer to LOD-2&3 of Arun Sharma.

  • 2iim question bank is very good for advanced concepts.

Careers360: When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency? How did you get it analysed and integrate it in your preparation?

Hitesh: I took the mocks during their window period only, i.e. as and when they were released. Mocks started around July and initially I used to give one mock per week but after September, I increased it to three to four mocks per week. I had a notebook where I would note down important questions and any new concepts that I learned in the particular mock. I would also make a note of the most common mistakes I was making in order to avoid them making them in the future.


Careers360: How one with non-English background should prepare him/herself for the exam as the mode of the exam is only English?

Hitesh: CAT doesn’t test English speaking skills. It tests English comprehension skills so as such being from a non-English background can be made up for by putting in a little extra effort. I would recommend that one should start by reading news articles daily and may be read some novels. Although I believe merely solving a lot of reading comprehension would also do since in the end it all boil downs to your comprehension skills.


Careers360: What was your exam day strategy in terms of question selection, time management, accuracy and sectional attempts?

Hitesh: I had devised a strategy to follow during CAT based on my experience in mocks. For VARC, I had decided to solve all RCs in first 40 minutes and do VA in the next 20 minutes. For DILR I had decided to first just read and get an overview of each set and if I found a particular set very easy, only then I was to attempt it. My aim was to solve only 4-5 sets max but with full accuracy. For Quant, my strategy was to attempt only easy questions in the first go and mark the difficult ones for later. I did not really care for the cutoffs as I was pretty confident of scoring at least 99 percentile in each section even on my worst day.


Careers360: Preparing for CAT is a long and tiring process. How do you suggest one should keep his/her calm and confidence?

Hitesh: Best way to keep calm and confidence during this process is to interact with your fellow CAT aspirants and make friends with them. Share your preparation strategy and be a part of this incredible journey together. I had a Whatsapp group of people who were also preparing for CAT and together we used to discuss our queries, mocks, ups and downs, share jokes and it made my preparation memorable.


Careers360: What is your message for CAT 2018 aspirants?

Hitesh: One message I would like to give CAT 2018 aspirants is to neither get dismayed by poor performance in mocks nor get overconfident if performing well in mocks. Ultimately it is those three hours which are going to decide your college. As I said, CAT is more of an attitude test than an aptitude test. One who can maintain his calm during those three hours is sure to excel in it.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 7193 out of 7194 Questions

how to prepare for cat in 1 month

Anupam Kumar Student Expert 17th Oct, 2019

Hey there

Honestly there is a difference between just finishing the syllabus and preparing for selection in cat. See you can finish the syllabus if you'll work really hard in one month but trust me only unless you are extraordinary you won't be able to get selected for iims or other good colleges. But don't loose hope you should fight till last.

Check about cat good luck


I want to know where can I get mock tests for cat exam online?

Vishwaksen Gouda Student Expert 17th Oct, 2019

Hello sanket mane,

The CAT examination mock test can be found at many platforms but more comfortly and easily you can have free access on career360 platform here is the link where you can get CAT examination mock test

All the best


i m going to start my preparation for cat 2021. i dont want to join an institution for this so tell me how can i prepar for it to crack the cat.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 17th Oct, 2019
CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.

First things first, know the syllabus. And go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections.Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months because even Rome wasnt built in a day.

NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.

Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.

Preparation tips:

Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.

In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.

Preparation tips:

Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.

Preparation tips:

As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.

Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months

We can recommend a few books for you:

NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class

Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena

Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma

How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma

Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha

You can also download free downloadable e books at:


i am to going start my preparation for cat 2021 , can you please tell me a better institution for coaching in delhi?

Anupam Kumar Student Expert 17th Oct, 2019

Hey there

for CAT preparation there are a lots of institutes in delhi but out of them only a few is worth joining. TIME and career launcher are undoubtedly good brands and give extraordinary results but alchemist and MBA Guru are also good as they pay more individual attention than the big brands.

Good luck

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I am a SC category student. My Academic record is 83.60% (10th), 68.46% (12th) and 2.41/4.00 (Graduation). What should be my CAT score to get a call from FMS Delhi ?

Rehan Alam Student Expert 17th Oct, 2019

Dear Aspirant,

FMS or the red building of dream as they say is one of the most sought after management schools in our country. To get a call from such an institution with so much of competition is not an easy task. Even with the SC reservation you have to score a minimum of 98 percentile to get a call from FMS due to limited number of seats and such a high competition.

Hope this helps Thank you.

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