Harjot Singh is pursuing Post Graduate Program in Management from IIM Ahmedabad, He graduated from Delhi College of Engineering in 2010. This cheerful lad from Delhi is humble to the core and when quizzed about various topics like his preparation and life in college, answered all our volley of questions patiently.
Considering his 99.83 percentile, it was no surprise he received calls from 4 IIMs and FMS as well.
Having made his friends and family proud, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur soon.
Have a look the interview below. His answers will definitely help you prepare for CAT and other MBA entrance exams. He also points out difficulties faced in the online CAT pattern and you must keep in mind these small things that might turn out to help you out big time!
Which all exams did you appear for MBA Admissions (Like CAT, SNAP NMAT, XAT?)
I appeared for CAT and FMS entrance test (which now accepts CAT scores)
Best Percentile /Scores
99.83 in CAT 2010
B school calls you received
IIM A, IIM L, IIM C, IIM I, FMS, SP Jain
Wow! How did you prepare for the written exam?
I joined a classroom program at Career Launcher in the third year of my college and appeared for its test series. The classroom program started in Nov and continued till April. Between April and the date of the examination, the various online test formats (topic-wise tests, section tests, and mock tests) helped a lot in revising the concepts.
In Quantitative Analysis and Data Interpretation sections, the concepts are not very hard to comprehend but require regular practice. In english section, get yourself comfortable with reading comprehensions. The other questions in this section are relativity easier to crack but again require practice for gaining confidence.
Did coaching play an important role? Should students take coaching for MBA Exam preparations?
As mentioned above, there is nothing conceptually very difficult in the CAT syllabus but requires you to practice so that you are exposed to a variety of questions. I believe a coaching institute is like a check which ensures that you study regularly, which is otherwise difficult to achieve on our own.
The study material and the online tests provided by the coaching institutes are of great help during preparation. If you have access to these, it will help you approach the exam in a structured way. Joining or not joining classroom program is a personal choice. If you can be regular with your studies then you can still do without classroom coaching.
You were in DCE, one of the best colleges for engineering in India. How was the experience?
Getting admission in one of the oldest and best engineering colleges of the country was always a privilege. Being among the brightest minds of the country helped me take more informed decisions about my career and always pushed me to perform better and better. With the vast range of opportunities, both academic and extra-curricular, that the institute has to offer to its students, it has been instrumental in the overall developments of the students. Faculty as well as administration has always been supportive of any initiative that we, as students, want to take.
On a scale of 1 to 10, what is the importance of academic achievements and extracurricular achievements in getting admission in a good B School?
9 for academic achievements (if you are a fresher, otherwise the job profile might compensate for that); 6 for extra-curricular activities (but gets more important once you get admission into a B-school)
What role did hostel life play in your overall growth and MBA preparation?
Hostel life helps you to come out of your comfort zone and live an independent life. It helps you to take your own decisions and not be dependent on others. Being a hosteller, you get to discuss problems or share better methods. Specific to MBA preparation, I don’t think hostel life had a very important role to play.
You also worked in Grail Research for about a year. How did you handle work pressure and CAT preparation?
At Grail Research, it is a 5-day working week. So you get Saturdays and Sundays to prepare for entrance exams. As I have already mentioned I had taken classes in my third year of engineering, I just required revising the concepts and practicing a few tests to be ready for the test. So it was manageable. Starting the preparation afresh along with the job will certainly be a tough task.
The best books / study material you used
I think coaching institutes have a very comprehensive and well-structured material. Apart from that the only book I found useful was “Puzzles and Teasers” by George J. Summers for logical reasoning section (interesting book even otherwise,
Did you find the online pattern of CAT troublesome?
With the online exam, you tend to make mistakes will copying data especially in DI questions. Moreover, it is difficult for you to mark important points (the onscreen highlighter is not very convenient) and make notes as you read comprehensions, which breaks the continuity. This requires extra concentration and some extra time to solve these questions.
How many GD and PI rounds you participated in and where?
GDs: IIMC, IIML, FMS
PIs: IIMA, IIMC, IIML, SP Jain, FMS
Did not appear for IIM Indore’s process because by then a few results were out
Please share experience of your GD and PI rounds in each place.
Written Aptitude Test: Essay on “Should Politicians be Given Language Training”
Personal Interview: Questions on my work experience – work I do, projects, tools I have used; Questions on an Intellectual Property certification I had; Basic statistics and calculus questions; questions on my technical knowledge (biotechnology) – majorly about latest events in the industry and my opinion on that.
Group Discussion: “Hosting Asian Games – Positive or Negative for India”
Interview: Questions on why I wanted to pursue MBA and how I see the 2-year course helping me in my career; questions on limits, continuity and differentiation and differentiation and integration; questions on extra-curricular activities.
Group Discussion: “Should Advertisements be Censored like Movies”
Interview: Brief Introduction; Questions on Intellectual Property rights (because of the certification) and relating it to the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Questions on my work experience (projects, tools, etc.); questions from some randomly selected subjects mentioned on my college mark sheets (one question I remember – state all the principles of management); review the last book read
Group Discussion: Importance of Women Empowerment in India
Interview: Questions on why I wanted to pursue MBA and how I see the 2-year course helping me in my career; Newspaper I follow daily – its editor, which pages interest the most; last new financial term learn and explain it; CAT percentile; other calls and then the most difficult question – priority order IIM A, IIM C or FMS
Psychometric Test and two rounds of interview based on that.
What is the one question that bowled you over in the interview?
In the IIM C interview, the interview said that he would quote two points from my CV and asked me to establish the link, frame a question that an interviewer will ask based on these two points (he said that since you might have appeared for many mock interviews you know what to expectJ) and then give an unexpected answer to that question.
How should a student start preparing for the written exam?
I would recommend some coaching institute’s preparation material. Get comfortable with reading passages and practice concentrating for long time.
Last minute preparation tips
Do not study too many concepts during the last days. Just practice some tests daily. Analyze tests to identify your weak areas and work on them. Confidence is the key thing. If you are not confident about a certain topic, start from the easiest questions on that topic just to regain confidence and feel happy that you know that topic. Then try and move to more difficult questions. Confidence matters a lot.
One awesome thing about IIM A
Faculty. They just make your classes fun to attend and have so much experience behind them to share that you feel more knowledgeable with every session.
Some words of wisdom for the students who are aspiring to crack the CAT and take admission in elite institutions like IIMs
Competition does not end with CAT, it is just the beginningJ. Work on your overall profile while or before preparing for CAT.
What are your plans after MBA?
I plan to join a consulting firm or a strategy role after my MBA. Some years down the line I would like to take up the path of entrepreneurship if I get the right team in place.
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