MBA Topper interview: Mocks are the single most important aspect of CAT preparation, says 99.63 percentiler Rohan Joshi
Aditi Garg, 06 Apr 2018, #CAT
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It’s not everyday that one comes across someone who has cracked and aced a myriad of MBA entrance exams in a single attempt. Meet Rohan Joshi, an engineering graduate from Mumbai who outshined in CAT 2017 with 99.63 percentile and went on to secure 99.96 percentile in MAH-CET 2018. He bagged AIR-37 in MAH CET 2018 and appeared for GD PI WAT rounds of top B-schools in India like MDI Gurgaon, IIM Kozhikode and Calcutta. He is yet to appear for the selections at FMS Delhi and JBIMS Mumbai. Rohan understands the pith and core of the MBA entrance exams which he has shared in this interview with Careers360 for the benefit of future aspirants.

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Rohan started preparing almost nine months before the actual test when he understood that the Two-Year MBA program would be a value addition in terms of skills and knowledge, better perspectives, career development and networking. He feels that one must enjoy solving puzzles and do them regularly to get habituated to the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section. He started giving mocks and worked upon his weak areas thereafter. Mocks are the single most important aspect of the preparation as far as CAT is concerned, he says. For both the exams, he adopted a common strategy of solving easy questions first. He recommends that random guessing during PI rounds is clearly a no and answers must be backed up with some reasoning each time. Know more about the topper’s success mantra, exam strategies, WAT GD PI experience and how he maintained a balance between his job and exam preparation.

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Excerpts from the interview:

Careers360: Tell us about yourself in terms of your academic and family background, work experience etc.

Rohan: I graduated in engineering from VJTI in 2016 from VJTI, Mumbai. From there I had two professional stints – one at a proprietary trading firm as a trader and other with an Ed-Tech startup.

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Careers360: Why and when did you decide to pursue MBA?

Rohan: I was fortunate enough to get into finance directly after my engineering. I started seeing things with a business perspective. I understood that the Two-Year MBA program would be a value addition for me in terms of skills and knowledge, better perspectives, career development, networking, etc.


Careers360: Which MBA entrances did you appear for and what are your scores and percentiles?

Rohan: I appeared for CAT as almost all top B-schools accept it. I secured 99.63 percentile in CAT. I also appeared for MAH-CET as JBIMS, Mumbai accepts it. I secured 99.96 percentile with an All India Rank of 37.


Careers360: Which B-schools have shortlisted you for the WAT/GD PI rounds? How many have you already attended?

Rohan: I have received calls from IIM Calcutta, IIM Kozhikode, FMS Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, etc. Apart from GD PI  rounds at FMS, I have completed rounds of all other institutes. JBIMS will be conducting admission through CAP process so no PI will be conducted.


Careers360: Please share your WAT/GD-PI experiences which you have attended so far, in detail.

Rohan: IIM Calcutta had a WAT-PI process and no GD. WAT topic was on Indian education system for which we were given 25 minutes.

IIM-K and MDI-G had all the three rounds - WAT, GD and PI. The WAT topic in IIM-K was ’Agriculture vs Manufacturing sector in India’. WAT topic in MDI was ‘Protectionism vs ‘Globalisation.’ The topic of GD was same as WAT for both the institutes.

All the three interviews were stressful.


Careers360: How have you prepared for these rounds?

Rohan: A lot of introspection is needed to prepare well for the interviews. One must be clear about how an MBA would be helpful and how does it fit into one’s short term as well as long-term goals. I worked on these aspects, read extensively on current affairs, global happenings and gave a couple of mock interviews.


Careers360: What are the questions you have been asked during PI?

Rohan: There were questions about why do I want to do MBA. I was asked about my hobbies. In all the three interviews I was grilled with questions based on my work-ex and other profile details.


Careers360: Were there any questions which you were not able to answer? How did you tackle them?

Rohan: IIM Calcutta is known for asking tough mathematics questions in the interviews. I was asked probability questions but couldn’t answer all of them. After trying for some time I just told the panel that I’m not able to get the answer. It is always better to say no to questions whose answers one doesn’t know.


Careers360: Any interesting question or incident which you enjoyed answering?

Rohan: In my IIM-C interview there were 3 panel members. I was told that 2 of them are professors and the other one is from the industry. I was asked to find who among the three was from the industry. This was a tricky question. Main motive behind such question is not to know the right answer but the approach in answering the question. Random guessing is a clear no. Answers must be backed up with some reasoning.


Careers360: What was your strategy for cracking the entrances? From when did you start preparing and what was your approach?

Rohan: I started preparing almost 9 months before the actual test. First thing I covered was the basics for quants and verbal. To prepare for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, I feel one must enjoy solving puzzles and do them regularly to get habituated. Then I started giving mocks and worked upon the mistakes and weakness after every mock. Mocks are the single most important aspect of the preparation as far as CAT is concerned. For CET I didn’t give any mocks as had already prepared for CAT but practiced some visual reasoning questions as they are not asked in CAT. For both the exams there’s one common strategy of solving easy questions first.


Careers360: How did you balance time between your job?

Rohan: In the end, these entrances are just aptitude tests. I used to give practice tests and sectional tests during weekdays. During weekends I gave full length tests and analyzed them. In parallel, I kept working on my weaknesses and the areas which I wasn’t comfortable with.


Careers360: Please share your exam day experiences in terms of difficulty level, time management, technical glitches etc.

Rohan: It is very important to be calm on the examination day. I was prepared to be ready for the worst in terms of the difficulty level of exam, and the DILR turned out to be arduous. A composed mind helped me avoid being tensed and ace the exam. I made sure that I didn’t spend too much time on a single question.


Careers360: What is your advice to the MBA aspirants preparing for next year's CAT and other tests?

Rohan: Firstly, believe in your abilities and do not consider CAT as an extremely tough examination. Be super disciplined, prepare well, work on developing the ability to grasp and apply concepts in different scenarios. Know your limitations and work on how to overcome them. Remember that it is the difficult path that leads you to a better place.

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More like CAT

Questions related to CAT

Showing 7362 out of 7363 Questions

I have less than 50% marks in high school, can I apply for cat,mat and GMAT???

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 19th Nov, 2019
CAT, MAT and GMAT are entrance examinations for admission tio Post Graduation courses. Now as their eligibility criteria, CAT has a condition that Candidates should score a minimum aggregate of 50% in the Graduation. It is 5% for General Category and 45% for Reserved Categories. MAT has no minimum aggregate requirement. Your High school aggregate is not counted for eligibility criteria of these exams. In fact, it is only considered for the shortlisting process.

i have got 50 percent marks in graduation..if i will get good percentile in CAT OR MAT. will i get admission in good college or should i stop dreaming of mba?

Shareef 19th Nov, 2019
No, Never give up. When there's a will, there is a way.
Now, getting admission into MBA is not based on your graduation marks, most of the Institutes only care about your performance in CAT/MAT examinination.
If you a good percentage in your entrance examination, then most of the Institutes don't consider your graduation percentage, where few Institutes need a minimum percentage in graduation.
Don't get tensed about your graduation percentage, you have a minimum percentage which is news for getting admission.
So, don't get tensed about it, just prepare best, and give your best. Best of luck

i m 34 yrs old, having work ex of 5 yrs as an Officer in Ministry of Defence. I wanted to do full time MBA from top IIM-A/B/C through CAT exam. M having poor academics record below 65%, also belongs to Reserve category. is thr any chance for me to get into TOP IIMs, nt interested in Exe-MBA.plz help

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 19th Nov, 2019
Mr. Gupta, each IIM has its own selection procedure. While CAT percentile remains the main criteria, there are other factors as well. Here we shall help you with the criteria, cut offs and the selection procedure. IIMs shortlist candidates for the interview stage based on their own criteria, which may be independent of each other. The process may include Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, and Personal Interviews. Performance in the CAT examination is an important component in the admission process. IIMs may additionally use other factors such as the previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience, gender and academic diversity and other similar inputs in shortlisting and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs.

IIM Ahmedabad:


General: 70 70 70 80
NC-OBC/Trans: 65 65 65 75
SC: 60 60 60 70
ST: 50 50 50 60
PwD-UR,OBC,SC: 60 60 60 70
PwD: ST: 50 50 50 60

10th Rating:

Percent score Rating Score

<= 55 1

> 55 and <= 60 2

> 60 and <= 70 3

> 70 and <= 80 5

> 80 and <= 90 8

> 90 10

The same rating score is used for 12th Science /Commerce Streams. For Arts/Humanities:

Percent score Rating Score

<= 45 1
> 45 and <= 50 2
> 50 and <= 60 3
> 60 and <= 70 5
> 70 and <= 85 8
> 85 10

Work Experience in Months as on July 31, 2019 Rating Score

< 12 months 0

> 36 months 5

Work-experience Multiplication Factor (MF) = 0.20

Minimum cut offs for Average percent of marks scores:
Stream in 12th UR NC- OBC/Trans SC ST PWD PWD -ST

Science 80 75 70 65 70 65

Commerce 77 72 67 62 67 62

Arts & Humanities 75 70 64 59 64 59

From each Academic sectors top 5% from each stream and each Category will be short listed. It might look like:

Category Upper Limit

General 100

NC-OBC-cum-transgender 57

SC 32

ST 16

PwD 6

After shortlisting the Candidates, the selected Candidates will have to go through WAT and PI rounds. Selection at this stage will strictly be based on the shortlisting of the candidates done separately for each Category on the basis of their Final Composite Score. . The numbers selected in different reservation categories will be in proportions mandated by law.

Personal Interview Multiplication Factor (PIF) = 0.50

AWT Multiplication Factor (AWTF) = 0.10

CAT Score Multiplication Factor for Final Composite Score (CATF_FCS) = 0.25

Application Rating Multiplication Factor for Final Composite Score (ARF_FCS) = 0.15

After the AWT & PI round, admission offers are made by IIMA to successful candidates. The final selection is based on a diverse set of attributes which includes performance in CAT, performance in AWT & PI, academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements, work experience, etc.

General: 80 80 85 90
NC-OBC: 70 70 75 80
SC: 65 65 70 75
ST: 60 60 60 70
PwD: 50 50 50 60
For all the Candidates shortlisted, the 10th and 12th board results are initially adjusted by dividing each such score by 90th percentile score of that board. And then an adjusted score is calculated for the Bachelor's degree for each of the candidates based on the final scores obtained by the candidate are used for the Bachelor's degree and professional degrees. For example,
CAT = 40
10th board = 20
12th board = 10
Bachelors = 20
Gender Diversity = 2
Work Experience = 8
The 40 points for CAT are derived from the performance in each of the three sections as follows:
Verbal & Reading Comprehension - 14 points
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning - 16 points Quantitative Aptitude - 10 points.

OPEN: 75 80 80 85
NC-OBC: 65 65 70 75
EWS: 65 65 70 75
SC: 60 60 65 70
ST: 55 55 55 65
PWD: 55 55 55 65

And the final selection is based on:
CAT 2019 Score 30
Personal Interview 48
Written Ability Test 10
Academic Diversity 04
Work Experience 08
Total 100

What IIMs also look for apart from Academics is the diversity factor. So with your work experience, that might actually work in your favour. So secure atleast 85-90 percentile and you can be shortlisted for any of the IIMs.

hii ths is jitesh, i jst want to make it clear tht i m t good in maths n bczx of ths i he fear of cat exam so can i do mba from abroad n wat are the examinations tio be gvn fr abroad ??/ plzz somone reply

Niveditha 19th Nov, 2019

Hi Jitesh...

Firstly do not be scared of maths just because of CAT exam. It is not just the mathematics which you do as your subject but it is an aptitude test test your mathematics skills obviously along with your thinking ability to solve the problem.

So coming to your question first thing you have to keep in mind when have to do MBA abroad is the minimum requirements to do MBA abroad.

The second thing is the exams that you must attend.

Firstly lets looks at the eligibility requirements where the candidate must must have minimum of 3 years of bachelor's degree of any discipline,

A masters or doctoral is also acceptable. Some colleges in abroad also accept distance or the education in correspondence.

Unlike the MBA colleges in India, the colleges abroad ask for minimum two years of work experience or the work exposure for pursuing MBA. The do not need your technical skills or the marks which you have scored , rather than that they need your managerial skills.

The exams that must be given for MBA abroad are GMAT or GRE.

GMAT score is highly predict your verbal and aptitude level to manage the strees and workload of MBA.

TOFEL for US, Canada

IELTS or PTE for UK,Australia,New Zealand

CAE or CPE for UK

CELPIP for Canada

TOFEL , IELTS is conducted to check the vocabulary and the English proficiency. This evaluates the listening, speaking,writing and reading skills of English.

Even the GRE and GMAT exams have a section similar to the quantitative ability which you are probably scared of .

The subject quantitative ability will not be for these competitive exams but also in your placements you attend after your education.

The foreign universities also assess your application on the basis of your achievements, experience, leadership qualities at work and other academic achievements.

MBA is not just learning theory in the class rooms, it is the application of the experience that you gain.

All the best!!!


I have 96% in 10th, 92.4% in 12th and 81.1% in Engineering. What percentile should I score in CAT to get calls from IIM Indore, Kozikhode and Trichy(NC- OBC Category)?

Sonali Sahu Student Expert 18th Nov, 2019


your score is good until now. You have did your best all the way. For CAT exam, IIM Consider 90% to get an admission.

For IIM Kozhikode:- 75% for CAT,Sectional Cutoff:- 65% for  10th:- 60% and for 12th 60%.

For IIM Trichy:- 78% for OBC-NC

for IIM Indore :- 80% for OBC-NC

for OBC category there will very less relaxation. But there is high competition but number of seats available is very less.

So you have to prepare accordingly and get an admission.

CAT exam score hold a 45-50 % weightage for admission at IIM Kozhikode. You have so good qualification in the rest. If you put more effort into it then you can get it.

Hope it helps!

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