‘Don’t Lose Confidence in Yourself ’ Siddhartha Srivastava, CAT topper and IIM Calcutta student

CAT 2018 Topper success mantra
Monday, September 17 2018, 12:07 PM
Siddhartha Srivastava scored 99.64 percentile in CAT 2017 and got admission offer from IIM Calcutta and IIM Lucknow but he preferred to join 2018-20 batch at IIM Calcutta. He had earned working experience of 3 years at Uber in Business operations & strategy and product management before joining IIM Calcutta. Siddhartha preferred self preparation instead of joining a coaching institute
“The trick is not losing confidence in oneself and believing that making it here, or for that matter, anywhere you desire to go is not the end of the world” Siddhartha Srivastava, CAT Topper & IIM Calcutta Student

An inspiration for CAT 2018 aspirants, Siddhartha Srivastava scored 99.64 percentile in CAT 2017 and has accepted admission offer from IIM Calcutta. He converted call both at IIM Calcutta and IIM Lucknow but preferred to join 2018-20 batch at IIM Calcutta.  He had earned working experience of 3 years at Uber across Business operations & strategy and product management profiles before joining IIM Calcutta. Siddhartha preferred self preparation instead of joining a coaching institute to prepare for CAT exam. In his view coaching is needed in case some discipline is required to be instilled.

Siddhartha is a Civil Engineering graduate from Nirma University, Ahmedabad which is his home town. His sectional percentile in CAT was 99.49 in VARC, 96.62 in DILR, and 99.09 in Quant. Siddhartha did not get his dream IIM despite scoring 99+ in earlier CAT exams and continued his preparation for the exam. It was his 4th attempt in CAT which has led him to admission in IIM Calcutta.

Siddhartha comes from a family of four. His father is a businessman, Mother is a teacher and elder sister is a retail banker. He loves quizzing, playing and watching football and bastekball. He appeared only for IIMs’ CAT exam to pursue his dream of doing MBA from one of the top three IIMs and has joined IIM Calcutta.

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Siddhartha shares with MBAUniverse.com his CAT preparation journey for the benefit of CAT 2018 aspirants:

MBAUniverse.com: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper):
This was my fourth attempt at CAT, having scored 99%ile in multiple past attempts, I realised that I only needed to get test practice in order and I shall be ready. I attempted almost 40+ mock tests, relying on test series of most major CAT coaching institutes. Maintaining my temperament in the exam is absolutely critical for me and by exhaustive mock tests I ensured that I was doubly prepared for CAT. `

MBAUniverse.com: How did you prepare for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): I have found VARC to be the easiest section and I tried to max out my marks here. I also tried to finish the section early in mocks and get a small break which allows me to clear my head for the subsequent sections

MBAUniverse.com: What was your preparation Strategy for Quantitative Ability (QA)?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): My preparation strategy here used to be attempting 34 questions in 40-45 mins by artificially limiting the section duration. The idea was to build speed and also buy time for some questions which I would not be able to crack in the first attempt

MBAUniverse.com: How did you prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Section in CAT?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): This was the toughest section for me, and I approached it with the ‘Easy first, Medium difficulty next, tough questions last’ approach where I would kill the easy LR and DI sets first and then progressively move ahead. This was very different from Quant and VARC where I was comfortable enough to move around sequentially

MBAUniverse.com: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?

Siddhartha (CAT Topper):  I was weak at LR despite spending countless hours of preparation. I would employ multiple tactics like option elimination, multiple attempts at the difficult sets after finishing off the paper to ensure I scored reasonably enough to clear cutoffs

MBAUniverse.com: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): Immense. All my practice and results were down to Mocks ONLY. This year due to personal commitments I could not more than 40 odd mocks but in the previous 3 attempts I had attempted 80-100 mocks each year

MBAUniverse.com: Did you Self-Prepare or attend a Coaching Centre?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): Self-prepared. I find Coaching adding very little value except to those who need some Level of discipline instilled.

MBAUniverse.com: Please share your strategy for the CAT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?
Siddhartha (CAT Topper): Cannot emphasize the importance of a well-rested body and mind for the test-day. Would recommend 8 hours of sleep, light breakfast/meal a hour before and lots of water to be had during the test. In order to get myself oriented for the test, I would attempt mocks in the same hour slot as my eventual CAT slot which helps adjust your sleep cycle and attention cycles accordingly.

MBAUniverse.com: Your final message and tips for candidates preparing for CAT 2018
Siddhartha
(CAT Topper): Do not let it become larger than life

MBAUniverse.com: Did you face any weak moment when you self-doubted your preparation and scared failure? Please narrate it, if so.
Siddhartha (CAT Topper):
I believe the trick is not losing confidence in oneself and believing that making it here, or for that matter, anywhere you desire to go is not the end of the world. If you’re able to come to terms with that, you shall not let it become stressful and will do just fine.

MBAUniverse.com: One interesting/unique memory/incident that you can recall of related to preparation days.
Siddhartha (CAT Topper):
A particular night’s worth of preparation stands out where I had had a very difficult day at work and post which I had started on a mock post dinner. This was well beyond midnight when I finished the first mock and had scored despairingly low which riled me up further. At that point, late into the night, I decided to go for another mock, to make myself better and some 180 minutes later I was pretty happy to know that I had scored 100%ile in that particular mock. Well worth missing that night’s sleep

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