CAT 2019 Toppers Interview: Shiva Garg (99.36 percentile) shares mantra to crack CAT without Coaching

CAT 2019 Result has been declared today by IIM Kozhikode and Shiva Garg from Guwahati, Assam has managed to secure 99.36 percentile in the MBA entrance test. He managed to achieve this feat without any help from coaching centres. Let’s hear his story.

Created On: Jan 6, 2020 09:54 IST
Modified On: Jan 6, 2020 09:54 IST
CAT 2019 Toppers Interview Shiva Garg
CAT 2019 Toppers Interview Shiva Garg

CAT Toppers Interview: CAT 2019 Result has been declared today by IIM Kozhikode and Shiva Garg from Guwahati, Assam has managed to secure 99.36 percentile in the MBA entrance test. He managed to achieve this feat without any help from coaching centres. In an exclusive interview with, Shiva shares his motivations and inspirations that helped him achieve this feat without any help in the form of classroom coaching. He also shares his future plans and dreams that he has after completing his management programme.

So, Let’s hear his story!

Question 1: Congratulations on cracking CAT 2019! What are your overall and sectional scores in CAT 2019?

Answer: Thanks! My overall percentile is 99.36 with 99.55 in quants, 99.15 in DILR and 92.17 in VARC.

Question 2: When did you start your CAT 2019 Preparation? What is the ideal time required to complete the CAT syllabus before the exam?

Answer: Well I started my preparation a bit early in August as I was juggling my time between job and preparation. If I can dedicate his full time to preparation, I think two to three months are enough for CAT as the syllabus consists of basic tenth level English and maths.

Question 3: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2019?

Answer: For first two months I focussed on basic concepts and started reading newspapers and novels on a regular basis. After September I started to dedicate about 80 percent of my preparation time to Mock tests. I used to give around two to three mocks in a week and analyse it for my shortcomings. Rest 20 percent of the time, I used to just read newspaper articles.

Question 4: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge? What strategies did you adopt to master that section?

Answer:  Being an Engineer, I was always good at maths and aptitude so I had less problem dealing with quant and DILR section but I found VARC tough. Well I started reading extensively as out of 32 question in VARC, 24 were based on reading comprehension and about 3 questions on paragraph summary. At the same time I used to give a sectional mock for VARC in every two days apart from full length mocks.

Question 5: Tell us something about yourself, your family and your interests beyond academics?

Answer: I belong to a very religious family, my father is a business-man and my mother is a homemaker. I also have a younger sister who is really into K-pop. Apart from academics is make memes, workout and in future aspire to build a start-up in space-technology.

Question 6: Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary to ace CAT 2019?

Answer: I prepared for CAT myself without attending any classroom teaching. But yes I did subscribed for test series from TIME and IMS which was the backbone of my preparation strategy. Since CAT syllabus do not have any tough or sophisticated concepts to understand, I think self-study is enough for concept building part but subscribing for a good test series do help a lot

Question 7: Any particular book or study material that helped you gain an edge over other candidates?

Answer:  For first timers, VARC and Quant, MC Graw Hills’s Arun Sharma is very good. Apart from that I found Career Launcher’s study material good.

Question 8: How can an aspirant avoid negative marking?

Answer: First of all by not trying to guess and apart from that aspirants should try to strike a balance between speed and accuracy especially in their weaker section, which of Couse comes with practice. My rule was to mark an answer only if I am at least 95 percent sure.

Question 9: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?

Answer: Mocks played very important role in my success. I will even say that mock was the backbone of my preparation strategy. CAT is a speed based paper where questions are not that hard IF given enough time so the real challenge lies in managing your time effectively for those three hours and this is where mocks come into play. I appeared for 27 full length mocks before the D-day and took 5 hours to analyse each mock after writing it.

Question 10: Please share your exam-day strategy for the CAT 2019. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?

Answer: I stopped studying 24 hours before CAT to relax and have some fun. I also went to watch a movie. I believed that I have completed by preparation by then and all I can do is appear for the paper with a calm mind.

Question 11: Do you think academic background plays an important role in CAT Prep and Why?

Answer: Yes academic background do play a role in CAT prep as being an engineer I struggled less with quant prep and likewise someone from English literature background would struggle less with VARC. But such weakness can be overcome with time.

Question 12: Which institutes have you applied to admission and why did you opt for them particularly?

Answer: Apart from IIMs, I applied for FMS and XLRI Jamshedpur as these instituted is at par with IIMs in terms of academic learning and peer group.

Question 13: How are you preparing for GD – PI and WAT rounds of the selection process?

Answer: I am still reading newspaper regularly to stay updated with current affair and I am also taking help of IIM alumni for GD-PI part through online forums.

Question 14: What is your message for CAT aspirants? One crucial piece of advice that you would like them to follow and wish you had known.

Answer: Well I will like to wish all the CAT 2020 aspirants all the best. You have ample amount of time to prepare. Prepare well and you all can also come to, it is an online forum where you can interact with other aspirants and your “prep-seniors” for guidance and motivation.

Question 15: What is your dream career choice after completing your MBA?

Answer: I always wanted to be an entrepreneur as the start-ups have a huge impact on the society through innovations. I aspire to build my own start-up on space-technology after I have completed my MBA.

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