CAT 2017 Topper Interview - Consistency and regular practice led to success, says 100 Percentiler Mayank Raj
Amita Jain, 11 Jan 2018, #CAT
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Breaking the myth that coaching is pertinent for cracking CAT, Mayank Raj, one of the 20 CAT 2017 toppers aced CAT exam in his first attempt with a perfect 100 percentile. A sports enthusiast, Mayank believes that the key to success in CAT is maintaining consistency and not getting stuck in your failures. Hailing from Hajipur, Bihar, Mayank is currently in his final year of Civil Engineering at IIT Bombay and dreams to get into IIM Ahmedabad.

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Mayank has already got a job offer and an interview call from all the three IIMs- IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta. In an exclusive interview with Careers360, Mayank reveals his success story and CAT 2017 preparation strategy for future CAT aspirants.


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Read the full interview below:


Careers360: Please tell us something about yourself and your family members.

Mayank: I belong from Hajipur, Bihar. I did my schooling from there. Currently, I am in my final year of Civil Engineering at IIT Bombay. Talking about my family, both my parents are school teachers.

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Careers360: Why did you decide to do MBA? 

Mayank: I wish to do MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and get into a career in Public Policy somewhere down the line. Through my IIT journey, I realised I lacked management skills. So, in order to gain that wider spectrum of knowledge and necessary management skill-set, I decided to join MBA.


Careers360: What is your sectional percentile?

Mayank: I have obtained 99.76 percentile in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC), 99.92 in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI&LR), and 99.92 in Quantitative Ability (QA).


Careers360: How was your exam day experience?

Mayank: The exam went smooth. There were no glitches from CAT exam centre’s side. Besides that, despite CAT 2017 being my first attempt, I was not much worried. Appearing for a lot of mock tests got me into the habit of handling time limitations and exam day pressures.


Careers360: What was your preparation strategy for CAT 2017?

Mayank: I started preparing for CAT in July 2017, like five to six months before the exam. I did not go for any coaching classes. I only took a lot of online practice tests and a test series. I made sure that I religiously invest two to three hours every day in practice mock tests. If on some days I was not practising tests, I would borrow study material of the topics I am weak in from my friends and study it.


Careers360: How did you tackle your strong and weak areas?

Mayank: As a strategy to figure out my weak areas and to work on them, I took a lot of mocks and kept analysing my performance alongside. For example in QA, a lot of it depends upon remembering the formulas. So, I wrote the formulas on a board which I would see every day when I wake up or enter my room. By seeing them every day, I learnt them in the process. One other weak area for me was VARC. For improving my verbal ability I started reading newspaper, novels, etc. This helped me increase my reading speed and also in developing an understanding of the passages I was reading.


Careers360: What according to you were the toughest and easiest sections?

Mayank: I think in CAT 2017, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning was the toughest, I couldn’t do more than 22 questions from it, which at that time felt like a bad number. The easiest was Quantitative Ability (QA) for me. I found it pretty easy. I could attempt all the question from QA and still had some time left.


Careers360: What was your time management strategy on the day of the exam and during preparations?

Mayank: On the day of the exam, for VARC, my strategy was to focus more on comprehension part than on non-comprehension part. I gave approximately 10 minutes to every passage in reading comprehension. After that I invested the last 10-15 minutes I had left in doing non-comprehension part.

Apart from that, I didn’t have much of a strategy for DI & LR and QA. For QA, I was pretty confident that I could attempt it fully. For DI & LR, all I had in mind was, don’t make any question your ego issue and let it go the moment you understand that you cannot do a question within a frame of one or two minutes.

For preparations, I didn’t make any study time-table as such given that we had placements going on and classes in the same semester. All I used to do is take out two or three hours everyday and more time on weekends, for CAT preparations and doing mock tests.   


Careers360: You did not take formal coaching. How did you manage to secure 100 percentile by self study?

Mayank: CAT is something I think no one can coach you how to do it. You have to develop your own understanding and comfortability with the subjects therein. Like for Mathematics, most of it is class 10th level. Coaching might help you in learning some tricks which I couldn’t learn because I didn’t go for coaching. But, I have seen my friends who use tricks and are able to solve some questions faster than me, but you also have to memorise the formulas and understand the concepts. It ultimately didn’t prove much useful for me. Apart from that similarly in VARC, you have to develop your own understanding. Coaching may help you in giving a push towards the subject, but the bottom line being, you have to make the move yourself. So, I stuck to self-preparations, being consistent and doing as much practice as was possible.


Careers360: What do you think were the factors behind your success?

Mayank: My family has always been very supportive in whatever I have chosen to do. After all, at the end of the day I have to make my own decisions and they have always given me that freedom. I think that breathing space they have always provided me has helped me a lot. Besides that whenever stressed I would talk to my younger brother, my seniors from college.


Careers360: What are your hobbies?

Mayank: I am a sports person at the core. I play and watch all kind of sports. I was a part of Kho-Kho team at IIT Bombay. Apart from that, I follow football a lot. Even during CAT preparations, whenever my mind would feel too occupied, I would just go out and play football with friends. Besides sports, I like to read.


Careers360: So what is the next step?

Mayank: I will start preparing for GD/PI/WAT and talk with my seniors about preparation strategy. I haven’t thought much about it as of now, but yes that is going to be the agenda for next few months.


Careers360: Any message for future aspirants of CAT?

Mayank: I believe there are two keys to success- be consistent and don’t get stuck with failures. Sometimes people just get stuck in their failures, get disappointed and keep sulking inside. It doesn’t help. Keep going on. A combination of consistency and strong will do wonders.


Also Read:

CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Having self-confidence is a prerequisite for success, says 100 percentiler Vishal Bohra

CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Solving and analysing mock tests is the key to success, says 99.91 percentiler Suryansh Bhargava

CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Take every mock like it is the final exam, says 99.78 percentiler Shubham Abrol

CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Focus on speed over concepts during CAT preparation, says 99.61 percentiler Avinash Iyer

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Showing 7358 out of 7359 Questions

I have 96% in 10th, 92.4% in 12th and 81.1% in Engineering. What percentile should I score in CAT to get calls from IIM Indore, Kozikhode and Trichy(NC- OBC Category)?

Sonali Sahu Student Expert 18th Nov, 2019


your score is good until now. You have did your best all the way. For CAT exam, IIM Consider 90% to get an admission.

For IIM Kozhikode:- 75% for CAT,Sectional Cutoff:- 65% for  10th:- 60% and for 12th 60%.

For IIM Trichy:- 78% for OBC-NC

for IIM Indore :- 80% for OBC-NC

for OBC category there will very less relaxation. But there is high competition but number of seats available is very less.

So you have to prepare accordingly and get an admission.

CAT exam score hold a 45-50 % weightage for admission at IIM Kozhikode. You have so good qualification in the rest. If you put more effort into it then you can get it.

Hope it helps!


when can I apply for CAT and when are the admissions for MBA open?

Ruchika Chauhan Expert 18th Nov, 2019


Common Admission Test (CAT) is the most popular national level management entrance exam. CAT 2019 application process has been completed and the exam is scheduled to be conducted on 24th November 2019.

Application forms were available from 07 Aug, 2019 - 25 Sep, 2019.

Aspirants seeking admission to the MBA course have to appear for entrance exams such as CAT/XAT/MAT/SNAP/etc. After the entrance test, candidates have to apply to colleges for admission.

Check the details about the CAT exam using the link below and do let us know if you have any other queries.

Good Luck!


what is the pass mark of cat exam

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 17th Nov, 2019
There is no pass or fail marks for CAT. For example if you get 70 percentile, it means that ypu have done better than 70% of the Candidates who appeared for the exam.

How I crack CAT examinations for MBA to take admission in IIMs.. I also want to go abroad for further studies after completing my bcom degree but i am confused so much what path can I go for future if I want to earn good money ?? Please give me advice guys..

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 17th Nov, 2019

Ayush, 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.

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.

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.

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.

IIMs shortlist candidates for the interview stage based on their own criteria, which may be independent of each other. The process may include Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, and Personal Interviews. Performance in the CAT examination is an important component in the admission process. IIMs may additionally use other factors such as the previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience, gender and academic diversity and other similar inputs in shortlisting and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs. Now based on your Category, to be shortlisted for an IIM, you should score atleast 85 and more percentile.

Now the IIMs part has been cleared, you need to decide one among MBA in India via CAT or go abroad for higher studies. You cannot be double minded on this. You know your strengths and capabilities and so this should be completely your call.


Cat Application form correction course by mistake type BAA instead of BBA

Rehan Alam Student Expert 17th Nov, 2019

Dear Aspirant,

If you are planning to get your details corrected in the form of CAT 2019, then now you don't have any option as it is now too late. The exam is scheduled for 24th November, 2019 which is just a week away.

However, in the meantime you can ask on the helpline for any assistance if they can provide.

Hope this helps. Thank you.

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