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AT 2019 Topper Interview - IIM Kozhikode has announced the result of CAT 2019 on January 4, 2020 in the online mode. CAT 2019 topper Lakshya Kumar scored 99.99 % in his first attempt. Being an explorer of pop culture facets and meme lover, Lakshya tells us that he always fantasized about getting admission in top B-Schools of India. Lakshya was born and brought up in Delhi. Being a BMS student from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, DU emphasized that he practised every day from 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (his exam slot) every day for at least a month before the exam to set his body clock right. According to him, managing time and hard work is the key to success. Considering his Father as his Role Model, Lakshya the topper of CAT 2019 spoke to Careers360 and shared his experience about the exam, how he prepared for the exam, what he did to destress himself as well as his message to the next year’s CAT takers.Latest: Know all Details about CAT Result 2019. Also, Check CAT Toppers 2019
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Careers360: Congratulations on securing over 99 percentile in CAT 2019! What was your reaction? Were you expecting this?
Lakshya Kumar: Thanks a lot! I scored 99.99 percentile in CAT 2019, I was delighted beyond measure when I saw the result and a pleasing feeling that all my hard work has paid off took over me. I was expecting a 99.5+ percentile but 99.99 is something that I could only dream about considering it was my first time giving CAT.
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Careers360: What are your overall and sectional percentile and scaled scores?
Lakshya Kumar: Overall – 229.48 (99.99 Percentile)
Verbal - 83.56 (99.98 Percentile)
DI/LR - 75.98 (99.98 Percentile)
Quants - 69.94 (99.7 Percentile)
Careers360: Tell us something about your background
Lakshya Kumar: I was born and brought up in Delhi. My father is a principal at a government school and my mother is a teacher. I did my schooling from Apeejay School, Pitampura. My interest in management started from class 11th onwards and hence I thought of pursuing bachelors in the same domain. I am currently pursuing Bachelors of Management Studies from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, DU.
Careers360: How was your exam day experience?
Lakshya Kumar: I believe exam day mental state plays a huge role in deciding one’s CAT percentile. With my exam slot scheduled in the afternoon, it became all the more difficult to calm my nerves especially amidst all the news about morning slot exam pouring in. Listening to music helped me with it. The rest of the experience was smooth and I must commend the organizing committee of CAT for pulling of the exam with minimal problems.
Careers360: What was your preparation strategy for CAT?
Lakshya Kumar: To start my preparation, I took a CAT mock test to figure out my base level. This is how I learnt what my strengths and weaknesses were. I started by joining TIME and then focused on completing the foundational booklets. I was a regular at testing myself via mock tests (once a week) from April. Post any mock I gave some time to analyze the test and figuring out what went wrong and then focused on that.
For Verbal: My approach was building up my reading speed and that was achieved by reading newspapers daily as it contains articles from various fields of life ranging from psychology to biology which is similar to the Reading Comprehension section of CAT. The verbal ability section was a tough nut to crack for me but thinking about the question from an examiners perspective and allocating it a greater percentage of time during the actual exam (feasible due to fast reading pace) did help me a lot.
For DI/LR: Data Interpretation and reasoning section during my preparation phase was attempting a wide variety of questions from the previous year papers of CAT and then re-attempting them. During the mocks, I made sure that I read all the question sets first and then picked out the ones that were easy and could be managed instead of doing the questions in order of question paper. After all, CAT is never about attempting all questions but getting one more right than your competitors.
For Quantitative Ability: My approach was to practice a lot of basic arithmetic questions (profit and loss, Percentage, etc), Number system and geometry as these have been the key areas of focus for the CAT exam. This combined with quick calculation speed (developed over 6 months) helped me ace the exam. The advice from my seniors to mark important questions and concepts so that a quick revision is possible did help me a lot during the final leg. I did coaching books of quant twice. My focus during mock and actual CAT was on the fact that I shouldn’t miss out any easy or medium question and hence I deliberately left the difficult question for the last
Careers360: What according to you were the toughest and easiest sections?
Lakshya Kumar: I was always fond of reading novels and hence easiest section for me was the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. This is no way implies that I did not practice the Verbal section, I was practicing at least 3-4 RCs every day during the final month of preparation. The toughest for me was DI/LR, the sole reason is the volatility of this section as the questions are not bound by any specific topic and hence practising a large number of previous years is a way out.
Careers360: How did you tackle your strong and weak areas?
Lakshya Kumar: Strong and weak areas evolve, one mock you score high in verbal and in the next your scores dwindle. A balanced approach which includes regular testing is the way to measure your performance and identifying areas of improvement. Generally, my scores in Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension were amongst the best scores and hence I felt confident while attempting it. Nevertheless, I maintained a strong pace of preparation on that section with regular readings of novels and newspapers aided by regular articles provided by the coaching institute. For the weak area, there was no synonym to hard work there. If practicing 2-3 hours didn't cut it then I worked 4-5 hours on that section. Geometry as a whole is a very wide topic and I always had the fear that there were a lot of concepts that I had not prepared. To counter that, I carefully understood the pattern and extent of the topic and prepared accordingly.
Careers360: What was your time management strategy with respect to preparation as well as exam day?
Lakshya Kumar: Time management should be considered as the fourth section of the CAT examination. It is not just preparing Verbal Ability, Reasoning, and Quant but preparing all these 3 and attempting them within 3 hours of the stipulated time. For Reading Comprehension, I made sure that I complete it in the first 40 minutes (skipping any difficult questions) and then gave 20 minutes for the Verbal ability section. For Reasoning, I gave the first 7-8 minutes reading and deciding the difficulty level of each question set and then the rest 52-53 minutes in attempting the sets with the easiest being attempted the first. For quants, the rule of them for me was to attempt in order of question paper but skip the question if within the first 30-40 seconds the approach does not strike your mind.
Careers360: How helpful was your coaching institute for you? Is it possible to succeed through self-study?
Lakshya Kumar: For any competitive exam, a guide or mentor leads to better results. For people giving their first time attempt, it is all the more important. A coaching institute did this job for me along with my friends and family who encouraged me throughout the preparation phase. TIME’s mock test series was an important asset and the sheer number of mocks and analysis made it easy for me to learn from home itself. Forming a focused friend circle with the same objective helps you clear your doubts and formulate a test strategy. This helped me stay focused on the end goal.
Careers360: What are the factors behind your success?
Lakshya Kumar: Hard work is the key. Practising from 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (My exam slot) every day for at least a month before the exam set my body clock right and a positive outlook during the exam were the factors
Careers360: Have you started preparing for GD/PI/WAT?
Lakshya Kumar: Yes, I have started preparing for the further stages of MBA entrances.
Careers360: Which other MBA entrance exam have you appeared/appearing for?
Lakshya Kumar: I only appeared for XAT apart from CAT.
Careers360: What is your dream B-School? After that, what career do you want to pursue?
Lakshya Kumar: My dream B-Schools are the old IIMs famously called as A, B, and C and I would like to try consulting post my MBA.
Careers360: What are your hobbies?
Lakshya Kumar: I love reading novels and have been passionate about it since a young age. Also, I also like to explore various facets of pop culture and am a meme lover.
Careers360: What were your relaxation and recreation methods you followed amidst preparation?
Lakshya Kumar: I made sure that I was involved in my college activities even during the prep face, this helped me relax from the CAT preparation. Music was a good way to relax my nerves before any mock test and eve before the actual CAT. Apart from this, hanging around with friends who know the importance of exam helps a lot as this leads to a time-bound fun period where in your friends start asking you to start studying post a decent amount of recreational time.
Careers360: Do you have any idol who you follow?
Lakshya Kumar: For the personal aspect of life I always regard my father as a role model, the way he balances his personal and professional life along with his outlook towards education is exemplary.
Apart from this for the ethical and moral aspect, I hold Mahatma Gandhi on a high pedestal and his views about non-violence and ahimsa are cherished by me.
Careers360: What is your message for next year's CAT takers?
Lakshya Kumar: CAT is an exam that not only tests your subject knowledge but also an exam that tests your mental grit and determination. Everyone faces low points during preparation and there will be a time when even you would. Working hard and not achieving the desired result is a very common phenomenon in CAT preparation but what separates a winner is the next step. Not giving up is the only way ahead. I have seen people scoring 50-60 in mocks go onto achieve 99 percentile in CAT. Even I did not clear the cut off in the reasoning section of a mock test but achieved 99.98 percentile in reasoning in the actual CAT. The gist of the story is that low scores are a part of the cycle and it is your job as a CAT aspirant to figure out what went wrong and work harder than before to conquer it.
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You should start preparing for CAT as soon as possible as few months are left for the exam. CAT has got the largest applicants in india and the toughness of question is also very good in the exam. So
1. There are three sections verbal and reading comprehension, quantitative, LR and DI.
2. Out of three quantitative is the section one should practice a lot as it becomes a deciding factor and students find it tough. Read arun sharma book for quantitative
3. Verbal again arun sharma book is good and besides you can read newspaper editorials etc.
4. LR and DI Arun Sharma book is again fantastic for it. I have suggested his boon as his book is the best and is 1st choice for maximum cat aspirants.
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