SNAP topper Sourav Dutta who scored 99.994 percentile in 2015 and opted for MBA at SIBM Pune, is a national level professional archer and was also a working professional before joining MBA at SIBM Pune. Sourav belongs to Jamshedpur. He has a consistent good academic record with 87.2% in class 10; 81% in class 12 and 81% in his B.Tech which he completed from KIIT Bhubaneswar in 2013. Sourav Dutta had acquired a work experience of 17 months at Aricent, Gurgaon as Software engineer before joining SIBM Pune.
Apart from SNAP 2015 in which he scored 99.994 percentile, Sourav also appeared in CAT 2015, NMAT by GMAC, XAT 2016. He had admission option among SIBM Pune, NMIMS and a couple of new IIMs but he opted for SIBM Pune.
For the benefit of MBA aspirants, MBAUniverse.com asked Sourav Dutta about his preparation strategy and advice to do well in MBA entrance exams. Details follow:
Q. What was your preparation strategy for SNAP?
A. Last year I missed cut-offs by very small margins so I was very determined to prepare again this year and get through. I had a huge task of managing my professional sports career, job and preparation at the same time. But when you aspire to study management we need to manage right from the start. So I joined the evening classes at TIME Gurgaon where I was working. After the job hours, I devoted 2 hours to classroom session and then practiced in the morning.
I knew I lacked in quant and English passages, so I started from the first day.
I solved last 10 year questions on quant and timed myself each time. I also solved the sectional tests and the questions in the study booklets and discussed the wrong questions every week. I also gave the mocks and discussed and analysed each performance and changed the strategy as and when needed.
Q. How did you prepare for each section in SNAP? What study materials and books did you use?
A. I used the coaching institute study materials only. I was weak at the English passages and a little slow in the quantitative aptitude section. So I solved a lot of sectional tests for both these sections and also solved last 10 years question papers for these two sections which helped me a lot. I also took feedback from the mentors I got at the coaching institute to analyse my mock performance and what should be my strategy for each exam according to my performance.
Q. Was there any particular section that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
A. Yes, I was weak at English comprehension; in fact I’m still not very good at it. I never had the habit of reading books or reading newspaper which made it difficult for me to read big passages. I used to feel bored or lose the data I read till then. But whenever I solved the study materials I used to time myself few minutes less and tried to complete those passages. Then, I started solving last 10 years question paper mainly passages. I also started reading news and hearing a lot of debates. I also started writing answers in different forums like quora which helped too.
Q. How can candidates use Mock tests better? What is your advice?
A. I have always followed GP’s simple rule that the time we devote in taking mocks should be equal to the time we use to analyse them. Taking mocks is just the first step but when we go through our strategy and what we lack, shows the areas of strengths and weakness which help us leave questions on the D-day. As we have limited amount of time we have to attempt questions, which we will hopefully go on to solve and this information can be retrieved only by analysis of our mock performance.
Q. Did you go to offline coaching centre? What role does a coaching centre play?
A. Yes, I went to TIME Gurgaon and joined the swift batch of 3 months. I prepared for MBA entrance exams along with job so it was really helpful when it came to the classroom experience. It gave a lot of exposure and the basics were brushed up. It also bought some practice time for me. The mocks were very helpful as it showed where I stood in the national level among all aspirants.
Q. Other than SNAP, which exam did you appear?
A. Other than SNAP, I appeared in CAT, XAT, TISSNET, NMAT and the IIFT exam.
Q. Which institutes did you apply for admission?
A. For SNAP, I applied for only SIBM Pune and SCMHRD.
Q. Please share your strategy for the SNAP Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your SNAP test taking?
A. I was very clear on what my strength was and which section I was attempting and how much time I had to devote on each section. I also had no preconceived cut-offs score and wanted to take up each question and solve and move forward. As you can’t do much about the cut-offs as it purely depends on others performance so it’s useless to worry about it. I had given good 5-6 mocks and was confident. But on the exam day there was a surprise when I saw the paper it was really very difficult. So first thing I knew was that the GK was the section that would make the difference. I started with my strongest section which was reasoning and then moved on to GK, followed by English and quant. No last minute preparation strategy as such. I relaxed the day before the exam and spent happy time with my family.
Q. Which B-school you decided upon and why?
A. I had an option between SIBM Pune, NMIMS and a couple of new IIM’s. I decided to go for SIBM Pune, because they not only believe in academics but also support extra-curricular activities which I think is really important in shaping our personality. I also selected SIBM Pune as it was the oldest of the three and because of the brand value of Symbiosis. I saw the recent achievements of students and they have been winning national competitions and were improving each year.
Q. Any message you would like to share with the candidates preparing for SNAP?
A. Yes, first of all be very well versed with the format of the exam and be prepared for surprises. Don’t have any preconception about the number of questions you want to attempt as the cut-offs purely depend on the paper difficulty.
In 2016 the cut-off was as low as 78 marks due to a difficult reasoning section whereas the cut-offs for 2015 was more than 100. So be prepared and take decisions carefully. Also take a few mocks, apart from national level mocks conducted by coaching institutes, Coffee with SIBM mocks also help a lot. Manage time well and spend time in all the sections. Also keep fighting till the end one question can sail you through.
At SIBM Pune, we got a role based GD. We had to organise an event and we were divided into different roles. We collectively had to discuss for fifteen minutes and had to come to a conclusion with the final budget for the event.
PI was mainly to check how determined are you to join the institute and do MBA. They asked about life, the journey, why MBA after engineering and about the previous job and learnings
In WAT, we were shown a video and we had to predict the learnings and write few hashtags regarding us, what sets us apart.