CAT 2018 Topper Interview: Subject Knowledge and time management are crucial, says 100 percentiler Niranjan P
Updated on Jan 14, 2019 - 2:35 p.m. IST by Aditi Garg
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CAT 2018 Topper Interview: Once again, CAT 2018 has witnessed a handful of 100 percentilers who aced the exam with their perseverance, hard work and smart strategy. Niranjan Prasad, a Mechanical Engineering student from IIT Madras, has a whopping 100 percentile to his name in CAT 2018. The topper believes that there is no shortcut to the road of success in CAT. During his journey of preparation, he lived by two concepts - improvising subject knowledge and time management. Niranjan idolises the famous Indian business tycoon, Mukesh Ambani, and Indian economist and academician, Raghuram Rajan for their work. In this CAT Topper interview with Careers360, Niranjan shares his experience on the exam day along with how he struck the perfect balance between CAT preparation and college studies.

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Careers360: Congratulations on securing 100 percentile in CAT 2018! What was your reaction? Were you expecting this?

Niranjan: Thankyou. I was very happy when I got to know that I secured 100 percentile. However, I was not at all expecting a perfect 100, but this gives me a lot more options to choose from for admission in an MBA college. My parents were equally excited too. 

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

Niranjan: My overall and scales scores which led to 100 percentile are as follows:

Section name

Sectional score

Scaled score







Quantitative Ability



Careers360: Please tell us something about yourself - Background. College, course, parents’ occupation, work experience etc.

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Niranjan: My hometown is Udupi, Karnataka. I am a Mechanical Engineering student, currently pursuing my final year of graduation from IIT Madras. My mother is a Professor in Manipal University in the Information Systems Department. My father is the HOD of the MBA department in Mangalore Institute of Technology and Engineering. They have constantly supported me throughout my journey.

Careers360: How was your exam day experience?

Niranjan: All I remember from my exam day experience was that I was too focused on managing my time. I wanted to answer the exam in the given time limit. The Quant section seemed difficult as I did not get much time to practice much of it before the exam. This was because I had to devote substantial amount of time to my college exams as well. I kept in mind that I will first attempt and build my score on the topics which are my strongest and then move on to the weak ones. Since I was in my college hostel at the time of CAT, my centre was in Chennai itself. 

Careers360: How did you prepare for CAT 2018? When did you start preparing? Please share your step by step preparation journey.

Niranjan: I started preparing from last year December-January. I did not take the coaching route and prepared fairly well by myself. I focused on mainly two things - first being subject knowledge and the second is time management. These two factors played a crucial role in my preparation. I had to work on my subject knowledge. Time management was not much of a problem as I adopt a similar test-taking strategies in all the exams I appear for. 

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

Niranjan: My weakest section was VARC, while my strongest is DILR. 

To build on my VA, I bought a couple of books online, from Amazon. I utilised Arun Sharma’s book on VARC which is very detailed and has lots of questions for practice. This helped me get a good hold on VARC.

For QA, I did not use much of study material. The questions are mostly high-school level. I utilised a few books lying around in my house.

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

Niranjan: Quant proved to be the toughest for me during the exam as I did not have much practice. It seemed quite time-consuming. I started attempting the questions sequentially. DILR seemed to be very easy for me as most of the questions were logic-based. There was not many questions on data interpretation which involves a lot of numbers and consumes time. My style of going about VARC and DILR is to first look through the questions and start attempting from easy to difficult. DILR will have 5-6 paragraph/cases and there are questions based on it. So I go through the cases and pick the easiest ones first.

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

Niranjan: During preparation phase, I first found my weak points and focused my preparation around them. I kept trying to improve on them and then moved on to the areas I was strong at. I adopted the same strategy of going from easiest to toughest for VARC and DILR on exam day. For Quant, I went sequentially in order of the questions.

This scheme works for me, but for future aspirants, I suggest them to make their on strategy, as the same strategy may not work similarly for everyone. 

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

Niranjan: No I did not take coaching. I still have my college going on and prepared by myself. It is very much possible to succeed without coaching. Like I said, Quant is all about high-school mathematics while VARC and DILR is all about practice. Catch hold of some good books, such as the ones written by Arun Sharma. His books cover all the sections in CAT and prove to be quite useful. Besides that, it is also important to formulate one’s own time management strategy. 

Careers360: What are the factors behind your success?

Niranjan: My parents of course are the main reason behind my success. They helped me at every step, in finding the right study material, financially and emotional support. 

Another major factor is hard work. There is no substitute for it and it is extremely important here. It is vital to use one’s time efficiently during preparation. 

Simply putting in 12 hours of study everyday is not enough, and not even required. Whatever time is invested, it must be utilised in the most optimum manner to build on one’s weak areas.

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

Niranjan: Yes, I am all set to prepare for GD/PI/WAT. I have spoken to IMS Learning coaching institute and they are ready to help me out with it. I have been assigned a mentor who will guide me throughout. They have years of experience and I am sure they will guide me well. 

Besides, I will also talk to some of my seniors from college who have gone through GD/PI/WAT and seek their guidance.

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

Niranjan: I have not appeared for any other entrances, except for CAT.

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

Niranjan: My dream B-school is of course IIM Ahmedabad. I aim to make a career in Finance or Corporate Strategy.

Careers360: What are your hobbies?

Niranjan: Well, I like to play chess and swim. When I need to relax, I listen to music and read thriller novels. 

Careers360: Do you have any idol who you follow?

Niranjan: Yes, I do. I really like Mukesh Ambani and Raghuram Rajan for their work.

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

Niranjan: I advise all CAT takers to start early and have a ‘subject knowledge-time management’ plan. Like I said, time management and subject knowledge are very important, and these two concepts must be kept in mind at all times while preparing for an exam like CAT.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8002 out of 8002 Questions

I have got CAT OA-89.83 %ile with VA/DILR/QA 58/85/97 X-91.2% XII-95.4% UG-87.6% No work Ex GEM. Any chances of getting call from IMI Delhi,XIMB and IMT Ghaziabad and converting it?

Sampriti Student Expert 25th Jan, 2020
With your CAT percentile you may not get a call from IMT Ghaziabad, XIM Bhubaneshwar or IMI Delhi as they require a minimum of 90 percentile in CAT.  These colleges consider only the overall CAT scores and not the sectional percentile so it may be a little difficult for you. But you have a pretty decent CAT percentile so you can definitely expect a call from the following colleges, provided that you've applied for them
  • KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research
  • Great Lakes Chennai
  • FORE School of Management
  • TAPMI Manipal
  • BIM Trichy
  • LIBA Chennai
  • LBSIM Delhi
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • IIFM Bhopal
  • FMS BHU and others

These are also very reputed colleges with almost similar placements as IMI or IMT. The academics is also good and they have a pretty strong alumni base.

Good Luck

From where how I will take preparation for CAT as beginner? I only know its a entrance exam for MBA and get good college, other I dont know anything thing about it. please help me from first step.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 25th Jan, 2020
We cannot vouch for any coaching center for any CAT preparation and its success. But what we can do is help you with CAT exam pattern, syllabus and preparation tips.
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:


my percentileis 97.26 general cat.female can i hope for addmission in any of top 10 nits branch computer

Devraj choudhary Student Expert 25th Jan, 2020


Your performance is good. And you may accept admission in NITs with CSE. To predict your college use the college predictor. Us this link

Hope it


Hello! Whatre my chances of getting shortlisted by iit kharagpur for mba? My CAT percentile is 82.36 overall, V: 84.51, DI:78.59, Q: 78.00, OBC-NCL, X: 61% Assam State Board, XII: 67% Assam State Board, Graduation (Engineering): 76.70% thanks.

Sampriti Student Expert 25th Jan, 2020
VGSOM IIT Kharagpur requires a minimum of 90 percentile in CAT and it only considers the overall percentile and not the sectional ones. So it may be a little difficult to get a call from there. But since you've a pretty decent CAT percentile so you can still get some very good colleges like
  • LBSIM Delhi
  • BIM Trichy
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • XIME Bangalore
  • Department of Management Studies, IISc Bangalore
  • XISS Ranchi
  • Christ University Bangalore
  • IFIM Business School and others.

All of them are good in terms of academics and placements with strong alumni base. So you must try to appear for their GD/PI processes, given that you've registered for them.

Moreover among these colleges also BIM Trichy, BIMTECH Noida and LBSIM Delhi will offer you placement opportunities as good as IIT Kharagpur with an average compensation package of 10-12 lakhs.

Good Luck

should i start cat preperation in my 1st year ,of bba

Sanjay Khandelwal 25th Jan, 2020
Yes you can start, it is upto you if you can complete it in 1 year then you can start during the final year of your Bachelors. But if you want to start now you can start and it is a good option. By preparing from 1st year you will have good advantage to get good percentile and admission in good colleges.
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