Thomas A. Edison had once said that Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
A person to admire in the campus for her stellar academics, dedication, and perseverance in everything she undertakes, Trishita Dasgupta saw right through it. Being an avid reader herself, she made sure she conquered every milestone and emerged as the CAT topper of the institute. After her rigorous interview session ended, Sarjana had the opportunity to interact with her and share her story.
We bring to you excerpts from our conversation with Trishita Dasgupta, a student from the Electronics and Communications department (Batch 2016-20), B.I.T. Sindri who brought laurels to the institute with her CAT percentile of 98.69 (VARC-97.70/ LRDI-92.00/ QA-98.72). She received interview calls from IIM CAP, XLRI, IIM-Indore, IIM-Kozhikode, IIM-Shillong, and IIM-Bangalore for its PGPBA program.
Hello ma’am! On behalf of the entire Sarjana family, we congratulate you on belling the CAT examination and becoming the institute topper. It must be a very proud moment for you and it is, for us as well!
Thank you so much! Yes, I can safely say that it was one of my best moments.
How did it feel when the news of being the institute topper in CAT-2019 was broken out to you?
I wasn’t expecting that I will become the topper of the institute. Yes, I had calculated my score and it seemed decent but I didn’t expect this. It was an overwhelming moment for me. I was occupied in a viva when the results were announced. I was overwhelmed when I came out of the viva room and got the news.
Many students are found to be struck with career choices in the initial years of their college life. How did you get the call that MBA is your thing to aim at? And would you give some piece of advice to all others who are baffled in this regard?
I was too confused. At the end of the second year, all of my friends had started preparing for GATE, but I found it very tough. I consulted my seniors about what to do and finally, after a lot of thinking, I decided I will not go for GATE and will attempt CAT.
I believe personal interest should be the deciding factor. If you wish to go for GATE then you should think whether your interests are matching to what is required in that field and if you wish to go for management then you should check whether your interests are matching this side. Whatever field you choose, develop an interest in that field.
Ma’am, could you enlighten us a little on the preparation strategy that you followed in order to clear the exam with flying colors?
I firmly believe that everyone has a different schedule and a strategy that they implement while preparing. To begin with, I joined Career Launcher in September, almost at the very beginning of 3rd year, but due to excessive vacations in our college, I could not attend the classes regularly which proved to be a little setback. From April 2019, I started taking mock tests regularly and analyzed all of them carefully to see where I was making the mistakes. Taking mocks and their earnest analysis is a very crucial part of the preparation. From October, I started taking mocks every two or three days and this helped me a lot in improving my scores. So, whatever the strategy be, mocks are destined to play the most important role and I guess that stands true for every competitive exam.
Since you mentioned about your enrollment in coaching, how important do you believe it is to seek the help of a coaching institute for the extensive preparation that CAT necessitates?
It is not at all important to enroll in a coaching institute. As for myself, I wanted to get into a schedule because I found it difficult to fix a proper schedule. That’s why I enrolled myself in a class but if you can manage it on your own, and have in you, the appropriate self-discipline, then self-study would be totally sufficient for an exam like CAT.
Which textbooks or resources do you think will suffice one’s preparation for the exam? Any specific material that you suggest one to go for?
I personally made use of Arun Sharma’s book for Quantitative Aptitude. It’s a very good book and helped me a lot in this section. I also used Arun Sharma’s books for Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation. Along with these, Career Launcher’s booklets and notes helped me with getting the grip of concepts with adequate questions to practice.
CAT takers often believe that one section in the paper is usually difficult for a particular year, and according to the majority, VARC was ‘the troublesome one’ in CAT-2019. What are your views on this and how did you prepare for this section or any other section you considered difficult?
I believed that the verbal section or VARC was my strongest suit as in every mock, I scored the highest in this section, and thus I was a little more confident in this section. Even I heard from a lot of friends that Verbal was a tough nut to crack this year, but to be honest, LRDI is to be attributed to giving me the toughest time in the examination.
For VARC, reading the editorials and practicing questions is important. I practiced previous year questions and mocks a lot. I didn’t go through any extra material for VARC. For LRDI, I used YouTube videos and I had to put in extra efforts as that was my weakest part.
How should one prepare for Reading Comprehension? How do we decide what to read as there is a lot of jargon available on the internet?
Initially you should begin with reading the topics that you are interested in and then slowly widen your horizon to different areas. Reading editorials also helps a lot. The basic strategy is to read as much as you can, as efficiently you can, in lesser and lesser time. This will increase your reading speed and CAT is all about speed and accuracy. For practice, go through the previous year papers and give a lot of mock tests.
How involved were you in the various co-curricular activities that happen around the year?
I was part of two organizations in the college. I was the Article Bank In-charge and Editor at Sarjana and Vice-Chairperson at the Painting Wing. So I was actively involved in the co-curricular activities happening around the campus. Just before the CAT exam, we had the Cultural Fest at our college and I was enthusiastically engaged in that also. Co-curricular activities are important for interviews too as it makes your profile interesting.
How did you strike a balance between academics and the societies or organizations you were an active part of? How important can involvement in these be considered for the overall development of a student?
I was involved in various activities but I had to manage my time efficiently. Time management is very important or you might end up wasting a lot of valuable time. We had the cultural fest in our college and that made me devote my crucial hours there but then, I would come back to my room, give mocks and analyze them as well, so managing was somewhat difficult, though not impossible. All you need is a strong conviction and you’ll sail through.
Ma’am, how did you plan to handle the time management stress that creeps in amidst the preparation?
You have to give 3–4 hours daily for your CAT preparation. That would suffice if you follow it religiously. For the academics, we all acknowledge that we study just a couple of days before the mid-semester or semester exams, and that made it easy for me to devote time to CAT preparation rather. We do get a lot of free time in our college, right?
You just need to utilize that free time properly.
How do you suggest the students cope with the pressure that accumulates with placement season alongside their preparation for competitive examinations?
Even in this case, the important factor is time management. You have to manage time adequately in different facets of your life.
Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal sections are as important for placements and GATE as they are for CAT, so you must practice and be well versed with these sections. For the placements, you also have to go through your branch papers. For this, you will have to take out some time or if you are thorough with the syllabus from the start then it is well and good.
What was your strategy when the exam was closer?
When the exam comes near you have to give more time to your preparations. Foremost, revising the concepts that you have already studied will help a lot. Going through new concepts at the eleventh hour is a little bit risky and everyone should avoid doing that. You must revise those concepts which you are already clear with. And then again, mocks and analysis comes to your rescue to remind you of the precautions and tricks to the questions.
Ma’am, as you said you took a lot of mock tests and then analyzed it, what was your method of analysis of these tests?
After giving a mock I used to go through the solutions and see where I made the mistakes and I tried not to repeat the same mistakes in the next mocks in case of repeated or similar questions.
Tell us something about your interview experience. Is there something specific you learnt from that phase or some insights on how to tackle interviews in general?
My first interview was not a very good experience for me as I couldn’t answer a majority of the questions that were asked. They ask questions from anywhere and everywhere. You cannot expect them to stick to a restricted field. In my first interview, I was asked questions from the politics of Jharkhand, the geography of Jharkhand, state capitals, and questions related to academics, and many more. The academic questions I answered well but the extra questions that they asked, I wasn’t able to answer them smoothly. After this, I prepared myself in these fields, and then the next interviews went quite well.
Ma’am, how did you prepare for the interviews because as you said they can ask anything and everything?
I was constantly reading the current affairs and news which is very important for every interview and the academics, I went through the syllabus of four years of B.Tech.
Now that the CAT race and interviews are over for your batch, how are you engaging yourself in this mundane lockdown, Ma’am?
Though the interviews are over now, admission sessions have started, so I am investing my time in applying to various colleges. Also, I have enrolled in some online courses that might help me in coping with the MBA curriculum.
Ma’am, can you let us know about the courses that you are enrolled in and how will they be
Well, for the time being, I have enrolled myself in a few courses offering the basics of Excel, PowerPoint, and Accounting. I didn’t have a lot of idea about any of these topics, and since I consulted a few of my seniors, all of them advised to go for the mentioned courses to get the basics cleared before actual classroom learning begins.
The journey is about to see its conclusion and while you prepare for the next phase of your life, where do you see yourself next? Would you like to spill beans about what the destination is going to be like?
I haven’t thought about the prospects that much but yes, I wish to improve my personality and become successful in whatever I venture into. Right now, I have not decided on my field of specialization in MBA, but whichever field I’ll choose, I’ll strive to excel in that. This is all that I have thought of till now.
We too wish the same, Ma’am!
The mandatory question! What message do you have for the current aspirants?
Prepare yourself thoroughly but also enjoy your college life. Don’t be completely deviated, enjoy both. It shouldn’t be that in the process of enjoying your college life, you neglect your studies. You have to manage both. I’d advise that you create the necessary balance yourself.
Thank you, ma’am. It was a pleasure talking to you and this interview will certainly help many in deciding their future goals.
All the best for your future endeavors ma’am.