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?
- 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.
- Do not try to be over smart during the interview. As the panelists are experienced people and will definitely be smarter than you.
- Think before you speak. After all, anything as anything you say can be used by the panelists to ask further questions based on that.
- As for CAT, having a good speed and accuracy is important than having a good memory. So try to do calculations mentally.
- 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.
- Make sure you do as many mock tests as possible and then try to analyse and rectify the mistakes you made in that test.