CAT 2019 Topper Interview : “drive your efforts in right direction,” says Ankit Desai 99.91 percentiler
Updated on Jan 4, 2020 - 10:38 p.m. IST by Himanshu.shekhar
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CAT 2019 Topper Interview - Overcoming the fear in one’s mind is the first step towards success. Once this is done, half the battle is won. This is the view of CAT 2019 topper Ankit Desai who scored 99.91 percentile. There was initial hiccup that he had about how he performed when the answer key was released, however he was excited after he calculated his score. Ankit Desai, CAT 2019 topper did not lose hope when he did not fare well in the mocks or was not able to overcome his weaknesses. He relentlessly worked hard, took mock tests, analysed his mistakes and overcame them. While preparing for the exam, he did not miss the opportunity of having a conversation with his mother and at the same time watched cricket when he was bored with everything else. CAT 2019 topper Ankit Desai enjoyed reading about finance and also read philosophical and biographies that inspired him. In conversation with Careers360, Ankit Desai talks about how he prepared for the exam and different sections as well as his hobbies and what he did to re-energise himself as he prepared for CAT.

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Careers360: Congratulations on securing over 100 percentile in CAT 2019! What was your reaction? Were you expecting this?

Ankit Desai: Thanks a lot. I wasn't really very thrilled as the answer key of CAT had already been released and I was expecting a good percentile. I was more thrilled when I first calculated my scores.

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Careers360: What are your overall and sectional percentile and scaled scores?

Ankit Desai: My overall score is 99.91%ile (199.36). My sectional scores are:

  • VARC - 97.01 (54.60)

  • DILR - 99.99 (79.18)

  • QA - 99.29 (65.58)

Careers360: Tell us something about your background.

Ankit Desai: I am currently in my final year of engineering. Pursuing Computer Engineering from Vishwakarma Institute of technology, Pune. Completed my 10th and 12th in Aurangabad from Podar International School and Deogiri Junior College respectively

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Careers360: How was your exam day experience?

Ankit Desai: My CAT exam centre was Jaipur and it was 30 km from my home. I had to leave early to reach there on time. Once, I reached, I started to feel a bit nervous. Also, it was a bit too cold which made me shiver now and then. I completed the mandatory checks and biometrics process and reached my desk 1 hour before the start of the exam. With enough time in hand, I made myself comfortable and tried to calm my nerves. Overall. it was a very good experience. An experience which taught a lot of things.

Careers360: What was your preparation strategy for CAT?

Ankit Desai: I had joined TIME's classroom program in November 2018. Though I actually started my preparation in August, the classroom lectures helped me to stay in touch with my basics. During this time (Nov'18 - July'19), I just used to attend classes and appear for a few mocks and then analyse them. This helped me understand my weaker sections and also where my strengths lie. So, when I actually started in August, I knew what I had to study. I appeared for around 40 mocks (35 of them from TIME), and analysed them to understand my mistakes and worked on them. Starting August, I practiced 50 questions for each topic in Quant, around 200 sets for DILR and solved over 100 RCs (excluding mocks). This way I had studied all topics by mid October and then started to strengthen my weaker sections. The last 15 days were all about giving mocks (one in three days) and analysing them and going through past year papers.

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

Ankit Desai: VARC was the toughest. VARC was also my weakest section so being on the difficult side, it troubled me. DILR was the easiest according to me, which eventually was also my strongest section.

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

Ankit Desai: Weak sections - I knew I wasn't good at VARC. So in the first few CAT mock tests, I tried to understand the questions I could solve correctly in the section. This is where analysing the mocks comes to the rescue. Once I understood that I wasn't comfortable with inference based questions and para jumbles, I started practising more RCs and more para jumbles daily. Also, I started reading an article or two daily for one month to increase my reading speed.

For quant - I was weak in Geometry and Numbers. So, first I revised all the formulas and wrote them down. After that, I solved around 50 questions more on these topics to understand the concepts better.

Strong Areas - DILR was my strength. Until October I devoted equal time to all three sections. But then with less time in hand, I would solve less sets for DILR and the ones I solved were from topics I wasn't comfortable with.

The topics in which I was comfortable in Quant, for them I would just revise the formula and solve a few questions randomly every 2-3 days to ensure that I still remember the concepts.

Careers360: What was your time management strategy with respect to preparation as well as exam day?

Ankit Desai: I tried a few strategies before zeroing down on one strategy. The one that I used maximum was -

VARC - Solve as many RCs possible in the first 40 mins. Then for the next 10 mins solved Verbal Ability. And depending on the difficulty and number of questions left, the last 10 mins would be distributed. Since, the difficulty is never known before solving the paper, devoting sufficient time to both RCs and VA is important.

DILR - I would scan the sets sequentially and stop on the set which seemed easy. It could be the first set or even the last. But whenever I felt the set to be easy, I would just start it without scanning all the sets. This would go on till I reach the last set and till then usually I would have solved 3 sets in around 20-25 mins. Then I would choose a couple of sets which were of moderate level and solve in next 20 mins. I would further move on to the last 2-3 sets left and solve as many as I could (if less than 10 mins left). In the last mins I would just solve the questions which could be solved with either specific data or less data and eventually would end up doing 4-5 complete sets and around 2 partial. Even on the D-Day I attempted 6 complete sets and 2 sets partially. DILR is more about accuracy than speed.

QUANT - Go sequentially. SOlve the questions you can. Mark for review the ones that were lengthy. And leave the difficult ones. Sometimes, when I used to find 3-4 consecutive difficult questions, I would randomly jump to some questions and start the sequence from there just to find a few easy questions quickly.

Careers360: How helpful was your coaching institute for you? Is it possible to succeed through self-study?

Ankit Desai: As I have already mentioned, I had joined TIME. It did help me as I wanted a source to guide me and keep me focused. It is definitely possible to succeed with self-study. The major factor would be constant self-motivation. Also, I didn't want to go 10 places, hence joining TIME gave me access to their study material and mocks and the classroom lectures synced well with the material and hence less confusion for me. But someone who is confident enough to clear their basics and does not need external push can definitely do it themself.

Careers360: What are the factors behind your success?

Ankit Desai: Keeping yourself constantly motivated is very important. Although I studied alone and had no group of friends to study along with, I feel having a few people preparing for the same helps a lot. For me, my desire to get into a top B-School never allowed me to relax and I always tried to push my limits. I didn't study long hours but studied in interval of 1-1:30 hours. Also, I had moved to my home to stay with my parents for one month (fortunately Diwali vacations), which helped me a lot. I had no distractions and staying with my parents, talking to them for sometime would relax me and make me feel comfortable. More than studying for hours, CAT tests your mental stability and talking to my parents, studying and breaks and the desire to get the best helped me stay stable.

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

Ankit Desai: Yes, to some extent. I have started revising my technical subjects and also started reading news and staying updated with current affairs.

Careers360: Which other MBA entrance exam have you appeared/appearing for?

Ankit Desai: I didn't appear for any exam other than CAT not do I plan to this year.

Careers360: What is your dream B-School? After that, what career do you want to pursue?

Ankit Desai: My dream B-Schools are IIM A and IIM C. I want to pursue MBA in Finance and work in the investment banking industry.

Careers360: What are your hobbies?

Ankit Desai: I enjoy reading stuffs related to finance. Also, I am a part of an investment club in college, so I try to read as much as possible regarding markets and different financial topics. Also, I love sports. Occasionally, I play badminton. I do read often too, but restricted to philosophical books and biographies.

Careers360: What were your relaxation and recreation methods you followed amidst preparation?

Ankit Desai: I used to sit with my mother and talk to her on random topics. Occasionally, I would go out for a walk and spend some idle time. Other than this, I watched cricket when I was bored with everything.

Careers360: Do you have any idol who you follow?

Ankit Desai: Not really. I don't idolize a single human being. But there are many who have inspired me and keep doing so. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's devotion to knowledge, Richard Bransons' lifestyle, MS Dhoni's ability to handle pressure and stay calm are few.

Careers360: What is your message for next year's CAT takers?

Ankit Desai: To all the CAT aspirants, believe in yourself. If there's someone out there getting a 99 percentile, even you can. It's all about the mindset that you build. Believe that you can score well and drive your efforts in the correct direction, things will eventually fall in place.

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