Interview with Ashutosh Aggarwal, Batch of 2019, IIM Ahmedabad

DTU Times interviewed Ashutosh Aggarwal, who cleared the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) with a percentile of 99.92 and converted the call for Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

DT: In which exams did you appear for MBA Admissions?

AA: Well, I had my goals set so I only focussed on my CAT and skipped the rest of exams like GMAT, XAT, and NMAT.

DT: What was the process of preparation for the written exam?

AA: For the written half, I decided to seek external guidance and hence joined Career Launcher for a 1-year weekend course.  I devoted all my time solving the questions given in the class and gave as many mock test papers as I could.

DT: What role does coaching play in MBA exam preparations?

AA: I believe that to truly ace a subject, one always needs a guide or a helping hand even if it’s just to point you in the right direction. Now, it isn’t compulsory to join coaching, however, doing so has many advantages like regular class tests, All India Mock Tests wherein you compete with thousands of people to know where you stand, quality peers to provide motivation, and most importantly knowledgeable teachers who will solve your queries hand to hand.

The most important thing any coaching institute does is to familiarize you with the exam pattern not to mention that their study material will be more than enough to study and practice for CAT.

DT: What is the importance of academic achievements and extracurricular activities in getting admission to a good B-School?

AA: Academics always bag the front row seats when it comes down to getting admission into a good business school, without doubt. Extracurricular activities help but are not necessary when it comes to the selection into IIMs. Performing well in academics right from Class 10th to graduation is extremely important. When it comes to extracurriculars, people who have excelled outstandingly are obviously given an upper hand.

DT: Which extracurricular activities were you a part of in your time at the University?

AA: Again, I was very driven by aim to succeed in the CAT examination, so I did not indulge in any extracurricular activities.

DT: How many GD and PI rounds did you participate in, and where?

AA: I got calls from 5 IIMs- Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore and Calcutta. All of them had a Written Ability Test (WAT), which consists of writing an essay followed by a Personal Interview of around 15-20 minutes except for IIM Shillong, which conducts a GD in place of WAT. The admission process of IIM A takes place at Hotel Vivanta by Taj, Dwarka. IIM C conducts PI at Indian Habitat Centre; IIM L uses their Noida campus. I however only attended the ones for IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Indore.

DT: Please share your experiences and takeaways from the GD and PI rounds.

AA: If there is anything I have learnt from my PI experiences it is that it is extremely important to have a good grasp on current affairs. Knowing what is happening around you especially in your country is the most necessary thing after the course subjects because maximum questions are based on those. And always remember, where on hand confidence is key, cliche is definitely not. So always try to avoid answers like ‘better salary’ when asked questions like ‘why do you want to do an MBA?’

DT: Which were the toughest/trickiest questions you were asked during the PI rounds?

AA: It is no surprise that IIM interviewers tend to throw the interviewees off balance into a state of mute bewilderment. During my IIM Ahmedabad interview, I was asked why was Rohini called Rohini and the number of districts in Delhi. Similarly, during my IIM C interview, the panelists asked me to interview them. Then they asked me detailed questions regarding economics and finance like the difference between them, of which I obviously I had no idea and in the end one of the panelists told me that I could ask him any question related to economics – one which I thought he couldn’t answer – and that then only would they accept me. Later of course I found out, he himself was an economist.

DT: What advice would you give students who aspire to crack CAT and get admission in elite institutions?

  1. Keep yourself updated with the latest current affairs from the beginning, as you may not get enough time to grasp the entire year’s news just before the PI.
  2. Do not try to be over smart during the interview. As the panelists are experienced people and will definitely be smarter than you.
  3. Think before you speak. After all, anything as anything you say can be used by the panelists to ask further questions based on that.
  4. As for CAT, having a good speed and accuracy is important than having a good memory. So try to do calculations mentally.
  5. For the English section, start practicing the unseen comprehensions as they usually are the most boring and sadly the largest part of the English section.
  6. Make sure you do as many mock tests as possible and then try to analyse and rectify  the mistakes you made in that test.


Interview With Shashank Shekhar Singh, AIR 306, UPSC 2016

Having completed his graduation and post-graduation at DTU and currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering here, Shashank Shekhar Singh cleared the UPSC Civil Services Examination in his first attempt, achieving an AIR of 306. DTU Times had an opportunity to interact with him.

DT: What’s the mind frame that guided you through these years while preparing for UPSC and how has your journey been?

SSS: I came to DTU as an M.Tech. student and worked my way to a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering specialising in arsenic ground water mitigation. Though I had always wanted to become a civil servant, I wanted to finish my post graduation first. It was only after working on my doctorate for one and a half years that I decided to pursue civil services. I studied rigorously for a month and a half before the prelims and for about two months before the mains and then for the interview I brushed up on my general knowledge and current affairs. Thus undoubtedly, my journey has been an academically enriching one.

DT: Ideally how much time is required for civil services preparation.

SSS: For those who read the newspaper daily and are up to date with their surroundings, devoting five to six months religiously is enough to hone their skills. For others, a period of one year is optimal for scoring well. Since I, was aware of at least 45 percent of the syllabus, my preparation phase went more smoothly as compared to my peers.

DT: What role does coaching play for the same?

SSS: No coaching can guarantee that you come through with flying colours. Any serious aspirant just needs to be proficient with the basic framework of the examination. In my case, coaching did not play any role as I opted for self-study. It is my belief that 5-7 months of complete devotion will take you through easily, rather than being dependent on any institution.

DT: What is the difference in 3 stages of the exam?

SSS: Well I would like to say that Prelims is an exam of rejections, where 15000 people are selected from a bunch of 5-7 lakh people. To make your chances better, religious practicing of tests would do. I practiced question papers daily.

If one has practiced some 10000 odd questions, then Prelims is a cake-walk. In mains you need to be selective in your approach. If something is asked in a political perspective, you must integrate the historical aspects, current scenario and the speculated future.

One thing to be kept in mind while answering questions in mains is that you have to practically positive. For example I got the all India highest marks in the Ethics exam in the Mains 2 paper, only because I suggested innovative solutions  at the end of my answers.

Interviews are very unpredictable. One thing you can do is that you should study your Detailed Application Form, which you submitted to UPSC thoroughly. If you have written something about your hobbies for example cricket, then you should have in depth knowledge about cricket. Also you should stay calm and positive during the interview. Since there are 7-8 different boards and each board will have different types of people, you really can’t predict anything. They will judge your personality and not merely your knowledge. Special emphasis should be placed on your outlook and perspective and not only your content as they have already tested your content in mains.

DT: What subjects did you choose for mains and why?

SSS:: I chose sociology because it has a concise syllabus. I never deviated from academics and my Ph.D. so I needed a subject which had a clear learning path. I browsed the UPSC website and went through the previous year questions of quite a few subjects before  coming to the conclusion that even without any prior knowledge I was able to answer a lot of questions of Sociology. Sociology is relevant subject and takes into account what is going in your society and being in India, one has knowledge of the same.

DT:  Which subject, in your opinion, should engineers opt for in order to obtain appreciable scores in the Mains Examination?

SSS: There is no such thing as an easy or difficult subject. For example, a civil engineer should be an expert in his/her field.

DT: Is it better to opt for graduate subjects, or is it easier to go for social sciences?

SSS: It depends on the person. Engineering subjects are really vast and preparing 4 years’ worth of engineering subjects is quite difficult. Thus, it is easier to study subjects like Political Science, Geology, Sociology and Anthropology, and the various literature subjects to an extent.

DT:  In what portions would you attribute your success to your hardwork and your own aptitude?

SSS: I think 50-50 to both, although I believe that aptitude would have a greater share. I didn’t spend a lot of time studying. On the day of the declaration of Prelim results, I forgot my roll number, tried checked the result after one hour of declaration and when I remembered the roll number, the network gave up on me. When I finally saw my prelims result, I decided to collect the study material for the MAINS examination according to the syllabus. The closest library to my home was in IIT Delhi, so I went there daily for the next 2.5 months, and was subsequently able to clear MAINS. I would hence attribute my success to my aptitude, and to those 2.5 months of intense hardwork.

DT:  Who are your role models, and who do you look upto for inspiration?

SSS: I look upto myself for inspiration – I want to improve every day. Being a poet, I also refer to my poems for inspiration. Above all, I am inspired by my grandfather, by the hard work he put in in life, and my parents, who continue to do so.

DT: Can you please share more details about your preparation phase? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

SSS: The vast syllabus and the time crunch were the major challenges. Before starting preparation, I decided precisely what I wanted to study. I did not go forth and study all topics – in fact, I prepared only 70-80% of the syllabus for the exam. There were certain topics that I left altogether, since I was sure I could answer those from experience and previous knowledge. The most important place in your preparation is occupied by the newspaper. If you are socially aware, your preparation requirement comes down considerably.

DT: Your success must have inspired many aspirants back in your home town, can we expect more selections in the future?

SSS: Ever since the results have come out, I’ve been receiving more than 50 calls a day from Balia alone, with aspirants wanting to interact with me. I will soon be organizing a session back at home, in order to guide prospective Civil Services aspirants. I feel extremely proud to have come from Balia to Delhi and tasted success. I hope many more do the same – this is one of the many ways that national integration takes place, and the rural-urban divide is bridged.

DT: What made you choose the Civil services? Which service are you opting for?

SSS: I would like to opt for the Indian Police Services. I want to improve the situation of law and order in the country. I feel the job will be more satisfying and challenging, and I love facing challenges.
A large part of the credit goes to my family, especially my grandparents, parents and sisters. I further owe my success to my Ph.D. guide, Dr. S.K. Singh. All the best to the future aspirants!

Interview With Sanghpriya Singh, AIR 655, UPSC 2016

DTU Times interviewed Sanghpriya Singh, AIR 655, UPSC Civil Services Examination, 2016 and an alumnus of DTU.

DT: Congratulations on your amazing result! How was your journey after you graduated from college in 2014? What made you appear for the Civil Services Examination?

SS: My time at DTU taught me a lot and I’m grateful for it. I started studying for the Civil Services Exam around 6 months after graduating from college due to its diverse work profile and a chance to give back to the society.

DT: Ideally, how much time is required for the Preparation for the Civil Services Examination?

SS: Before starting the preparation, reading the syllabus and scheme of examination thoroughly is very important. There is no time limit as such, one can do it with and without a job. Sincerity and perseverance are must. Coaching is a personal choice, I relied on self study but coaching sure can provide a certain direction and clarity of basic concepts for various General Studies topics.

DT: The UPSC Examination consists of three rounds, namely, the Preliminary Exam, the Mains Exam and the Interview. What is the difference in preparation styles for each of these rounds?

SS: All the three stages have a certain portion of syllabus common, with the addition of more during mains and PT stage, and require basic understanding and repetitive revision. Only slight tweaking in method is needed.

DT: We have to choose a particular subject for the Mains Examination. Which subject do you think engineers should choose to get an optimum score in the Mains Examination?

SS: Graduation subjects are usually preferred but it is a matter of one’s interest. I took Political Science and International Relations as I could integrate it with my General Studies preparation and most of its syllabus is dynamic.

DT: Which service are you choosing out of all the Services allotted to the selected candidates in the Civil Services Exam?

SS: My service preference order is IAS>IRS>IPS.


Interview With Anand Vardhan, AIR 7, UPSC 2016

DTU Times interviewed Anand Vardhan, AIR 7, UPSC Civil Services Examination, 2016 and an alumnus of DTU. 

DT: Congratulations on your amazing result! How was your journey after you graduated from college in 2013? What made you appear for the Civil Services Examination?
AV: It has been a great learning experience. I decided to go for Civil Services in my final year, and continued my preparation through my job. It was a well thought out and clear decision, and I stuck to it. It took some time, but in the end it has all been worth it.

DT: Ideally, how much time is required for the Preparation for the Civil Services Examination?
AV: I think at least one year of studying is required to understand the requirements of the exam and prepare oneself for it. It took me four attempts to do the same.

DT: Does Coaching play a crucial role in preparation for the CSE?
AV: Coaching has to be a strictly personal decision. It is not mandatory. In my case it helped introduce me to the preparation and showed me the direction in which I should move. For interview programs and such, mocks are helpful.

DT: The UPSC Examination consists of three rounds, namely, the Preliminary Exam, the Mains Exam and the Interview. What is the difference in preparation styles for each of these rounds?
AV: All three stages require a slightly different conditioning. I suggest that anyone wanting to appear for the exam should first understand what these stages are about and what is being tested where. However, the basic course work remains the same, it is only slight adjustments one needs to effect.

DT: We have to choose a particular subject for the Mains Examination. Which subject do you think engineers should choose to get an optimum score in the Mains Examination?
AV: Again, a strictly personal choice based on one’s interest. I chose Political Science because of considerable overlap with General Studies and a genuine interest in it. All sorts of optionals have a potential to fetch good marks. To give you an example, the top 20 ranks this time had optionals as diverse as Telugu Literature, Public Administration, Geography, Psychology, Political Science, Mathematics, etc.

DT: Which service are you choosing out of all the Services allotted to the selected candidates in the Civil Services Exam?
AV: I will be opting for the IAS.

DT: What is your best memory from your time at DTU?
AV: DTU Times was always a special part of my college life. My tenure as the Associate Editor was extremely memorable, and I was able to induct some brilliant talent into the team. The farewell that the team offered me was a very special and emotional one.


Jigsaw Pieces Of The Freshmen Year

-Anjali Bhavan, 2nd Year, MCE
-Shashank Shekhar Jha, 2nd Year, ECE
-Zara Khan, 2nd Year, PSCT

One fine boring day, when you’re done with your last exam and striding briskly out of the hall, you look around at the nerds discussing the answer of the second part of question three, and your friends discussing plans for Mussoorie, and yet some others grabbing a guy for a GPL – and you realize that hey, first-year is over. One year of your life, simply over.

Calls for a photograph with all the urchins and bulky heroes and random human beings you’ve pulled through an entire year with, doesn’t it?

There you all huddle, some rushing to the lawns for the front-most place, some sauntering in with iced teas, chattering and standing in circles while the CR and the photographer try to get everyone in place.

And a couple of days later, you get a beautiful picture on your Facebook wall and WhatsApp DP – the final nail in the unofficial first year coffin.

Who all constitute that picture, though?

There are the ghissus, sitting on the left, and the NRIs, sitting besides them, sedate and self-assured. The nerds – simply wanting to go home and make study plans for the summers, and the NRIs – dreaming of a less fatal summer than the one in Delhi …and Toblerones and Bvlgari perfumes!

Move a little to the center, right in front, smiling wholeheartedly are the chatterboxes, the group which basically gossips and grins throughout the day. Brownie points for guessing who rules the roost on the class groups!

At the back is the group of rich kids, who are always upto something or the other. They might spend hours sitting in MechC, or suddenly go out for shopping in South Delhi. Always ready to escape classes, they stick together through thick and thin.

And of course, what photograph is ever complete without some urchins to bomb them? You’ll veritably find someone from another batch in every class photograph – because there’s no fun to have a non-bombed photo, is there?

And all these strange, different, unique pieces come together and complete a beautiful puzzle that is called the first-year of college life. Sitting in the OAT, you look at all  your peers and suddenly it strikes you that one year has already passed with this eccentric bunch of people.

Your first-year of college will never come back again. And a picture? It’s the perfect way to cherish it forever!


                                                                                   –Anjali Bhavan, 2nd Year, MCE

In Bharatanatyam, the dance form that carried me in the clouds and nailed my feet to the soil hidden underneath black and white floors – in Bharatanatyam, before beginning the session for the day,

we were supposed to tap the ground once with each foot, then slowly sit in a lotus position with hands coming in a full circle and together,

then we touched the ground with our fingers and brought them to our closed eyes and then we would clasp our hands in prayer and get up, I think it’s beautiful.

Through this little gesture we apologize to the earth, the primitive life-force, for all the subsequent thumping and thunderous dancing that would happen and the pain which would be inflicted on it consequently, I think it holds much meaning.

We all have a lot to apologize to the earth for,

to the skies that are a 24X7 running TV show with just advertisements,

to the lands that smell of despair and car footprints and arsenic,

to trees with fractures and sprains laden with barber mirrors and suffocation,

To the sunshine that sparkles dimly in silver earrings, a sorrowful reflection that like the moon, the sun is waning as well.

I think we have a lot to apologize for,

Atone for,

Amend for.

I think it’s sad that we hear more pressure horns than bicycle bells,

that the air is just a blazing marquee of nothing but cacophony,

swirling past our ears,

racing in auto rickshaws

through busy intersections that kill more people than pneumonia ever did.

I think it’s sad. I want to do something. I want to write about it, maybe it’ll help me forget the four hundred trees felled in a wan summer to craft the pages I’m writing in.


Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan is the month, the beginning of which is mercy, the middle of which is forgiveness and the end is freedom from fire.

-Raunak Kapur, 3rd year, EEE

Ramadan is not a month of fasting during the day and binge eating during the night.

It is not a month when working women stay in front of the stoves during the day for preparation of the sunset meal.

It is not a month when employees get an excuse to come back early from work.

Ramadan is not one of those things.

If done right, it is a chance for spiritual boost with lessons to be applied long after the month is out. Ramadan is the month, the beginning of which is mercy, the middle of which is forgiveness and the end is freedom from fire.

It is the month when we are reminded of the Most Gracious and Most Merciful. We recite the holy Quran with utmost sincerity, even more eagerly with profound devotion.

This is a month of sharing. Celebrate this holy festival with everyone. What better way to start spreading love and care to others especially during the month when the gates of Paradise are most welcoming?

It is the time, when you bury the past and forgive others for their wrong deeds as Quran has rightly stated:

“The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers.” (Surat Ash-Shura, 40)

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) rightly said:

“Whatever you have prayed for at the time of fast is granted and is never refused.”

So this holy month, along with remembering the almighty and following all rituals, strive to perform a noble deed, for Allah forgives a person and forgets all sins of the one who works tirelessly and selflessly to bring about a smile on an individual’s face.

Ramadan Kareem.

Image Source: Google