Rounak Majumdar, 22-year old, CFA level 1, achiever tops CAT 2018 exam with 100 percentile score. The CAT 2018 result was finally announced by IIM Calcutta on the official website i.e. iimcat.ac.in and surprisingly the result was declared before the actua time and slot mentioned on the website at aroind 9:30am on January 5. Earlier on January 1, IIMCAT suffered a technical glitch due to which the CAT 2018 result was leaked and students could check their CAT 2018 result online.
CAT 2018 result has brought smiles and cheers for various CAT aspirants especailly for those scoring 100 percentile which is, a matter of fact, no child’s play, that too when it is India’s toughest MBA entrance exam. For Raunak Majumdar, who is one of the CAT 2018 Toppers, and a 100 percentiler, this is just a start to his career in the domain of management.
JangranJosh.com brings to you an exclusive interview with the CAT 2018, 100 percentiler. Read about his journey to make it to the IIM.
Rounak Majumdar – CAT 2018 Topper
Ques: Congratulations on being one among the top 1 percent percentilers in CAT exam! What are your overall and sectional scores in CAT 2018?
Rounak Majumdar: Thank you so much.
Here is my overall and sectional percentile in CAT 2018:
Overall: 100 Percentile
Ques: When did you start your CAT 2018 Preparation? What is the ideal time required to complete the CAT syllabus before the exam?
Rounak Majumdar: I seriously started my CAT preparation in August 2018. I took a couple of mocks, and felt that while I was strong on fundamental aspects, it was necessary for me to work on aspects like time-management and problem-solving strategies, which, in my opinion, is as important an aspect in CAT as are strong fundamentals. With this in mind, my strategy was to take mocks, but even more importantly, analyse what went wrong in each mock, and how things could be improved.
I feel that the ideal time to cover the CAT syllabus depends on the core competencies of each individual. It is important to maintain a balance between starting early (and running the risk of burning out) and starting late (and regretting the lost opportunity due to incomplete preparation). I believe that for someone with a quantitative background, ideal time to start preparing would be around July-August. For someone with a non-quantitative background, March/April might be a good time to start working towards creating a solid base in basic maths.
Ques: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2018?
Rounak Majumdar: My preparation mostly revolved around taking and analysing mock exams. My preparation strategy worked for me because taking a couple of mocks a week meant that I was sufficiently touching base on all fundamental topics, and by analysing my mistakes, I could quickly gauge the topics where I needed to brush up. Towards the end, such topics started to disappear, and I was generally left with silly mistakes or slight errors in judgment. This helped me gain a lot of confidence regarding my preparation level before CAT.
Ques: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge? What strategies did you adopt to master that section?
Rounak Majumdar: I was pretty fortunate in the fact that I did not really have a particular section which was a constant Achilles’ heel for me. I did feel that my LRDI speed could improve, and I worked on identifying easier sets, and selecting solving strategies with greater speed and accuracy.
Ques: Please share your section-wise preparation strategy for QA, DILR and VARC.
Rounak Majumdar: My VARC and QA preparation were mostly an endeavour to clarify fundamental mistakes that I might have committed during my mocks. Increasing my set-solving speed, while improving my accuracy, was my primary objective during my DILR preparation.
Apart from this, I was fortunate to have a couple of good peer groups/forums over various social media sites, who challenged me to think critically, either through the various doubts that were posited on such groups, or just through the intellectually stimulating discussions in the group itself. This also helped me experience and solve queries which were irking the best of people, thus ensuring that my preparation was consistently at a competitive level.
Ques: Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary to ace CAT?
Rounak Majumdar: I had taken up the mock test series of IMS , and a couple of other leading institutes, for my preparation. Apart from that, I was fortunate enough to meet some great mentors like Shaminder Sir, and the legendary Scrabbler, at the IMS Thane centre, who selflessly guided me and helped me get into the right mindspace before CAT, and in life in general.
In my opinion, taking mock tests is an essential part of CAT preparation. They ensure that a candidate is exposed to enough scenarios that they would be able to navigate whatever surprise CAT throws at them. I strongly believe that taking mock tests conducted by reputable institutions is a must for CAT, since they also help you gauge where you stand with respect to many your fellow aspirants.
As for full-time classes, or night classes, it is definitely helpful for people who might have fallen a bit out of touch with their basics in maths, or might not have had exposure to puzzles, novels, etc., things which form the bedrock upon which further CAT-relevant skills could be built.
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Ques: Any particular book or study material that helped you gain an edge over other candidates?
Rounak Majumdar: I did not refer to any book or study material specifically for CAT. However, being an avid reader, I made sure that I finished a minimum of 2 books each month (mostly the classics and fiction), which helped me stay refreshed and took my mind off CAT preparation. In a way, not only did that help in the VARC section, it also helped me avoid burnout over the course of my preparation.
Ques: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
Rounak Majumdar: Mocks played a huge role in my preparation. In fact, taking and analysing mocks formed a major chunk of my preparation strategy. I attempted around 30-35 mocks before the exam, generally ensuring that I take at least 1 mock and a maximum of 2 mocks each weekend.
Ques: Please share your exam-day strategy for the CAT 2018. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
Rounak Majumdar: I kept it pretty simple before the D-Day. I stopped taking mocks the previous weekend itself. I stopped reading anything related to CAT preparation the day before CAT. This helped me avoid feeling nervous or getting unnecessarily worried by the myriad of information floating around during that period. I did not have any particular strategy for taking CAT, I just went according to the flow. The mock tests conditioned me well enough to face all kinds of scenarios, so I knew I was ready to face most, if not all, curveballs that came my way.
Ques: Do you think academic background plays an important role in CAT Prep and Why?
Rounak Majumdar: No, in my experience, I have seen engineers being great in Verbal Ability, and students from Arts background being proficient in Mathematics. It is not a person’s academic background that determines his/her core competencies; it is defined by every facet of an individual’s life.
Ques: Which institutes have you applied to admission and why did you opt for them particularly?
Rounak Majumdar: I have opted to apply for admissions to IIMs A, B, C, L, K, I, FMS, and XLRI. All of these are the top management institutes in our country, and there is no doubt as to the sheer quality of their pedagogy, not to mention the pedigree of the alumni who have graced the hallowed halls of these institutes before us. The fact that the peer group I would encounter in these institutions is bound to challenge me intellectually, while at the same time helping me grow personally and professionally, which is definitely the icing on the cake.
Ques: How are you preparing for GD – PI and WAT rounds of the selection process?
Rounak Majumdar: My strategy for PI is going to remain simple- Introspect. I want to convey my motivations to pursue an MBA, and my fitness to pursue the same at their institute, to the interviewers as succinctly as possible.
As for GD and WAT, it will be important to continue keeping abreast of various socio-political and economic developments in India, and internationally, while at the same time, taking a deep dive into some of the most important of these issues in order to gain a better understanding of the situation.
Ques: What is your message for CAT aspirants? One crucial piece of advice that you would like them to follow and wish you had known.
Rounak Majumdar: I wish that CAT aspirants realise sooner CAT is not the make-or-break deal that it’s made out to be. It is basically a shortlisting criterion, so it isn’t prudent to split hairs over small blips like a few mediocre mock scores, which might happen to anyone at any time. Losing confidence and overanalysing such situations make even talented people lose the composure that is quintessential for CAT.’
Ques: What is your dream career choice after completing your MBA?
Rounak Majumdar: I wish to pursue a career in finance, preferably investment banking, after my MBA. I have cleared my Chartered Financial Analyst Level I course last year, and will be taking up level II this year.
I also have a lot of interest in the strategy and consulting field, and would love to explore these options in depth during my MBA.