CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Self-help is the best help, says Rohan Tripathi of IIM Calcutta
Ranjini Basu, 15 Sep 2018, #
Applications Open Now
XAT - Xavier Aptitude Test 2020
Great Lakes Institute of Management

CAT 2017 Topper Interview – Rohan Tripathi, a working professional who bagged a seat at IIM Calcutta by securing an illustrious CAT percentile (99.97) in the year 2017. Utmost perseverance clubbed with smart strategy paved the way to his success even after spending prime hours (9 am to 6:30 pm) in office. Managing time was crucial, so he planned his preparation judiciously without an external assistance, i.e. coaching. The best decision, perhaps, was to start preparing concepts early and remain consistent throughout the CAT preparation tenure. Rohan Tripathi aced CAT exam by sheer determination, clarified concepts and sustained analysis of his mocks and practice tests.

Latest : Analyse your preparation level with Free Mock Test of CAT - Start Now


Apply to XAT - Xavier Aptitude Test 2020

To boost his CAT preparation, Rohan enrolled for test series from a reputed institute instead of regular coaching. He firmly believes self-preparation is a better option to opt for when the aspirant has the zeal and right motivation. To learn more about the CAT preparatory books recommended by the topper, and his sectional preparation strategy, one has to read the CAT 2017 topper interview transcribed here.

CAT Free Mock Test

Analyse your preparation level with Free Mock Test of CAT

Start Now

Watch Video on how to crack CAT 2018 with 99 percentile

Read the excerpts of the interview below:


Careers360: What were your CAT 2017 overall and sectional percentiles? 

Rohan: I obtained an overall percentile of 99.97 in CAT 2017 and the best part is I could strike a balance in my sectional scores as well. The sectional percentiles are as the following -

Applications Open Now
UPES - School of Business
Avail Tuition fee waiver | 96% Students Placed in 2019
SNAP 2019
Pursue MBA @ 16 TOP Symbiosis institutions ,1 Application Form, 16 Institutes.
  • VARC: 99.71 percentile

  • DILR: 99.57 percentile

  • QA: 99.77 percentile

Careers360: What was your preparation strategy? Please share section-wise strategy in detail.

RohanFor the Quantitative Ability (QA) section, my strategy was to brush up all the concepts in the first three months of my preparation and simultaneously solve easy to moderate difficulty level questions. Solving such questions helped increasing my speed without affecting the accuracy (prime importance) as those were easy to attempt and helped build confidence while reinforcing the concepts studied.

The following two months were dedicated for attempting a few difficult to complex questions along with moderate ones.

For gaining competence in VARC, I primarily focused on reading RCs and Grammar and not on vocabulary building. Precisely, while practising questions from relevant topics like para-jumbles, sentence completion etc, I revised my vocabulary.

For DILR section, I solved different practice sets from a variety of coaching institutes. One needs to understand that the only differentiating factor in this section is practice and awareness of mind. So one should solve a variety of questions to get a hang of things.


Careers360: How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Which one do you think is better and why?

RohanI studied by myself. However, I had enrolled for online test series to cope up with the limited time. I think self-preparation is the best method when the person is already motivated. However, solving mock tests regularly is a MUST.

The method of preparation also depends on the candidates. I feel if the coaching centre is in near proximity, then one should opt for coaching. Else, there are plenty of online mediums to choose from; one should select a reputed one for better results. The point here being, time shouldn’t be wasted in commuting between home and coaching centre.


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

RohanI started preparing for CAT from July 2017. As already mentioned, the first two months went into concept building and solving easy questions. Then I started appearing for mocks and analysing where I went wrong and which were my weak points. I re-read those concepts and tried to solve more questions pertaining to that topic to boost my confidence.

Last month was kept exclusively for mocks. Spending time analysing my attempts was even more vital than attempting an actual mock. It helps in re-working your strategy to build an optimal one which works for you. Last minute preparation is just to stay calm. Stop solving difficult questions and decrease the frequency of the questions you solve to avoid running into a drain-out situation. I decreased the frequency of my mocks and kept myself engaged in revising the formulas/RCs and Grammar.

It is suggested that one must not read anything on the D-Day and attempt the exam with a fresh mind. Having a tight sleep of seven to eight hours before the examination day is a mandate to score well!


Careers360: How did you balance your preparation with studies or job? Please share your timetable.

Rohan: I had a full-time job while preparing for CAT 2017. This made it very difficult for me to join any regular coaching classes. However, I enrolled myself for online test series to practice for mocks.


My time table before CAT was as the following:



CAT Preparation

8 am-9 am

Commute for work

Complete reading two Reading Comprehensions/solve easy questions/watch video lectures (Youtube)

9 am-6.30 pm



7 pm – 9 pm

Study Time

Learn new concepts: either QA or VARC

10pm- 12 am

Study Time

1.5 hours for DILR, 30 minutes for 1-2 RCs/Grammar-VARC

After 12 am

Office assignment


Careers360: What was the one thing that you did consistently during your preparation and how did it help you?

Rohan: Solving mocks regularly and analysing the mistakes made in those mocks is one of the most

important aspects of preparation. Not getting bogged down during the whole process and not letting

it go are also important when someone is in his/her phase of CAT preparation.


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

Rohan: Apart from the regular books, I would like to suggest some online materials as well. Some of them have huge impact on the preparation.

  • Mention must be made of the YouTube content; for example, Dinesh Miglani’s videos are quite eloquent, especially for beginners.

  • Next in line is none other but books by Arun Sharma to attain clarity on the basics.

  • The coaching material provided by renowned institutes.

  • Last, but not the least is the habit of reading Economic Times, Competition Success for GD/PI rounds. This habit has helped me in improving my reading speed. 

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?

Rohan: Any CAT aspirant should ideally finish 40-45 mock tests during his/her preparation. I started taking mocks from three months before the examination. I attempted three mocks/week and I increased the frequency to five to six mocks/week in the last month of my preparation. My mocks were analysed online and I used to spend at least two hours after each mock, going through the possible solutions and my weak points, trying to solve similar questions again and work on strengthening those weak concepts.


Careers360: How can someone from vernacular background prepare for CAT or other MBA entrance tests?

Rohan: Someone with a non-English background will face initial difficulties to cope with the VARC section, especially the section of Reading Comprehension due to lack of reading English content. However, the VARC section emphasises a lot on grammar, which can be seen as just any other rules/syntax of the language. Improving on reading speed by regular practice and focusing on grammar rather than vocabulary can help any non-English background student fetch good percentile.


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

Rohan: My strategy was to go all out on the day of the exam. I treated every section in isolation as if there are three different exams. I started with easier ones because those were the ones that built my confidence. Not losing confidence after attempting the DI& LR section (the toughest of all) was a big plus to my exam day strategy. This helped me sail through the QA section quite smoothly.


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

Rohan: Don’t get bogged down by a few bad mocks initially. You are bound to get bad scores in the start; be patient, disciplined and sincere in your preparation. Things will surely fall into place.


Careers360: What is your message for CAT 2018 aspirants?

Rohan: Be regular in your preparation and sincere in your efforts. Always try to analyse your mistakes and rectify those in the next iterations (tests/mocks).


Also Read,

How to prepare for CAT 2018

How To Crack CAT 2018

How to score 100 percentile in CAT 2018

Applications Open Now

Great Lakes Institute of Management
Great Lakes Institute of Mana...
XAT - Xavier Aptitude Test 2020
XAT - Xavier Aptitude Test 2020
SNAP 2019
SNAP 2019
UPES - School of Business
UPES - School of Business
IMI Delhi
IMI Delhi
BIMTECH - Birla Institute of Management Technology
BIMTECH - Birla Institute of ...
Delhi School of Business (VIPS-TC)
Delhi School of Business (VIP...
View All Application Forms

More like

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

1 View

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.

The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

Download the Careers360 App on your Android phone

Regular exam updates, QnA, Predictors, College Applications & E-books now on your Mobile

Careers360 App
150M+ Students
24,000+ Colleges
500+ Exams
1500+ E-books