CAT 2017 Topper Interview: Classroom coaching is not necessary for CAT, says 99.98 percentiler Shikhar Sachdeva
Vikas Gaur, 15 Jan 2018, #CAT
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Even if you know how much you’re going to score after giving the exam, thought of topping the exam usually stays away from the mind. Something like that happened to Shikhar Sachdeva who expected around 99.8 percentile but ended up topping CAT 2017 with 99.98 percentile. A complete family person, Shikhar credits his success in the country’s most competitive management entrance exam to his family. He believes that classroom coaching is not required to crack CAT. He says that coaching takes you to a certain level but the end of the day, practice and self-motivation are the keys of success.

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To your surprise, he’s inspired by Adolf Hitler (as a leader of course and not the genocidal psychopath). In this interview with Careers360, he reveals about his success mantra in CAT. Read on to know more about the topper’s personality.


Read the full interview here:


Careers360: Congratulations on your CAT result. Please tell us something about yourself and your family.

Shikhar: First of all, I’d like to thank you for the wishes. I’m an elder child. Apart from me, my family consists of my parents and my younger brother. My hobbies are playing cricket, watching and collecting movies, and reading. As far as heroes go, as odd as it sounds, I’ve always been inspired by Adolf Hitler, not the genocidal psychopath but the leader.


Careers360: Please share your overall and sectional percentile in CAT 2017?

Shikhar: My overall percentile is 99.98 (222.81). My sectional percentiles are 98.15 (71.07) in VARC, 99.76 (53.68) in LRDI and 100 (98.09) in QA.


Careers360: Were you sure that you’ll be able to score 99.99 percentile?

Shikhar: Not at all. I mean there were two sides to me all through the waiting period. One side was realistic, wherein I was expecting not more than 99.8. And there was another side that was wishing for an amazing result, and that side of me was constantly praying for 99.98. That exact figure. And it’s an amazing coincidence that I got just that.


Careers360: How was your exam day experience?

Shikhar: Pretty good. I’d seen engineering entrance exams and CAT by far was one of the best organised exams I’ve ever faced. No technical glitches, no management issues whatsoever. As far as the actual exam goes, I’d given a lot of mocks, so I wasn’t really worried about any eventuality. Quant was my forte, so I knew that even if I had mediocre scores in other sections I could’ve made up in quant. So yes, a tough LRDI definitely didn’t faze me as much as other people.


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

Shikhar: I felt the toughest section was VARC. It seemed easy at first glance but definitely had a lot of tricks up its sleeves. This prompted a lot of people to answer more questions than were necessary, and hence they accumulated negative scores. LRDI may have had tougher questions on the whole, but everyone expected that, and so it wasn’t much of a surprise. QA was the easiest section. Easy questions using simple concepts. Nothing too tricky at all.


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

Shikhar: I think practice is the key. Coaching will go only so far. After that, it all comes down to your own motivation. What I did was work on my strong areas early on during my preparation. Later on, I focused my attention solely on my weak zone (LRDI) and developed my own unique strategies that helped me counter it, one of which was to go through all the sets, before I attempted even one question. This helped me prioritise on which question I felt comfortable, and which I wanted to leave.


Careers360: What was your time management strategy during the test?

Shikhar: There isn’t enough time to do all 100 questions. So one has to prioritize.  Focus on doing questions from your strong areas at first, and later get on to your weak areas. Don’t waste time on a question that you feel you’re not getting ahead with.


Careers360: Did you take coaching? How helpful was it? Is it possible to succeed through self study?

Shikhar: I took coaching. I was part of the classroom course at one of the most renowned institutes. And personally, I’ve come to feel that classroom coaching is not necessary for CAT. There are amazing web courses available like iQuanta, at a fraction of the price of the classroom courses. The best strategy for an aspirant would be to take 2 mock series from renowned institutes, 1 booklet series, and then make use of any one web course. I’ve myself found iQuanta to be the best in their domain.


Careers360: How your family supported you and what was the biggest source of motivation during the preparation?

Shikhar: They were always there for me. They’ve supported me in all of my endeavours. One of the incidents comes to my mind. I was always a night owl. So during my CAT preparation, I often gave my mocks late at night. So often if I was up till 4 or 5 in the morning, and felt hungry, I could just knock on my parent’s door, and my mom would cook something for me. Not a lot of parents are as supportive as they are.


Careers360: What are the factors behind your success?

Shikhar: The people around me. My family, with all their support. My friends, with all the motivation they gave me to keep pushing forward. And my mentors, who taught me everything I know. Special thanks to Indrajeet Singh, who guided me through my preparation.


Careers360: For the first time IIMs released CAT question paper and answer key. Did you find any wrong question/answer? Did you file an objection?

Shikhar: Well there were a few, especially in VARC. But then at the end of the day, VARC is something that is very subjective and open to interpretation. I’m satisfied with the way the entire process was carried out by the organising authorities.


Careers360: Please tell us which is your Dream B-School and why?

Shikhar: Well my dream B-School, without any doubt is INSEAD in Europe. The experience of studying in Europe, at one of the best institutions in the world, and the amazing ROI they offer is something unparalleled. Among the Indian B-Schools, I’d love to be a student at IIM Ahmadabad if given a chance. As one of my seniors said, “IIM A is not a college, it’s a feeling”. I’d love to be a part of that feeling.


Careers360: What next? Have you started preparing for GD/PI/WAT?

Shikhar: Not yet. I wanted to take a short break from the B-School preparation and just enjoy for a while, and then get back into the game all refreshed, and relaxed. So, I’ll probably be taking a small vacation for the time being.


Careers360: Anything you like to say to management aspirants who are preparing for entrance exams?

Shikhar: Don’t take the undue pressure. Enjoy your preparation, and don’t give up on your dreams, ever. Nothing is bigger than your dreams.

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