CAT 2020 Topper Interview – Meet Swapnil Kumar, 99.46 percentiler who is also an IIT Kharagur Alumnus

Find out the success story of CAT 2020 topper, Swapnil Kumar who has score 99+ percentile in the MBA entrance exam. Know what inspired him to appear for the CAT exam.

Jan 6, 2021 16:28 IST
CAT 2020 topper Swapnil
CAT 2020 topper Swapnil

For an IITian, the next big step to achieve heights in the corporate world is to pursue MBA and CAT exam gives the wings to achieve this dream. Swapnil Kumar is one such IITian from IIT Kharagpur who not only appeared for the CAT 2020 but has also performed exemplarily well by scoring 99.46 percentile in the exam.

Let’s read his interview to find out what it takes to prepare for one of the toughest MBA entrance exams and how to bell the CAT with 99+ percentile.

CAT 2020 Topper Interview – Swapnil Kumar

Question 1: Congratulations on cracking CAT 2020! What are your overall and sectional scores in CAT 2020?

Thank you! I have scored an overall percentile of 99.46 with a scaled overall score at 110.53. In terms of sectional percentiles, in VARC the scaled score of 41.52 with 98.93 percentile. Similarly, in DILR the score was 24.64 with 94.89 percentile while In Quant Section, I had a score of 44.37 and 99.13 percentile.

Section

Section

Section

Total

Verbal Ability &

Reading Comprehension

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

Quantitative Ability

Scaled Score

Percentile

Scaled Score

Percentile

Scaled Score

Percentile

Overall Scaled Score

Overall Percentile

41.52

98.93

24.64

94.89

44.37

99.13

110.53

99.46

Question 2: When did you start your CAT 2020 Preparation? What is the ideal time required to complete the CAT syllabus before the exam?

I started my CAT preparation in the month of August. I believe 2-3 months of preparation is sufficient to cover all the concepts and topics along with the mocks.

Also Read - Meet Ashish Sen, 99.99 Percentiler sharing CAT preparation strategy

Question 3: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2020?

My strategy for CAT 2020 was basically giving as many mocks as I can. And I was working too during the time of preparation so I used to keep weekends for writing mocks. During  the initial period i.e. during the months of August and September I didn’t focus on my performances in mocks as I was more focused towards getting an idea about the types of questions asked. Then after analysing and going through the mocks, I saved a few for the end where I focused to maximise my marks.

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?

I was not well acquainted with the VARC section, the time was an issue as well as the accuracy. So I tried reading more and more editorials and articles to increase my reading speed. Also I had this habit of skimming through the content while reading which was a tough challenge to overcome. So the strategy was to read every word and then come up with the meaning of each passage which I read.

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

I graduated in 2018 from IIT Kharagpur with my B.Tech degree in Electronics and Electrical Comm. and then I worked as a Software Developer since then.
We are a family of five members; my father is a government employee whereas my mother along with my father also has a marketing business. I have two younger sisters, one is pursuing MBBS and is in second year and the other one is in 9th standard.
Apart from academics, I play football and was captain of the Football and Athletics Team of my hall in IIT Kharagpur. Also I had been working as a mentor in Newton School for the last 6 months guiding students/ college graduates for software development roles.

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

My preparation was solely based on self study and giving mocks, as work and mentorship didn’t allow me time during the weekdays. I feel if the basics are good then going through mocks and video lectures should suffice.

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

I used the generic preparation strategy, not sure it would have given me an edge over other candidates though.

Question 8: How can an aspirant avoid negative marking?

Reading the questions carefully, as sometimes the words are mixed which might be confusing. Also in VARC avoid making any assumptions going out of the scope of the passage.

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

My preparation was based on giving mocks and their analysis. I attempted around 25-30 mocks before the paper. I feel analysing the mocks to understand the strengths and weaknesses should be given more emphasis than just attempting mocks.

Question 10: Please share your exam-day strategy for the CAT 2020. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?

My last-minute preparation strategy was just to go through my previous mocks and back myself in the exam to do well. On exam day I made sure that everything was in order as there were many protocols to follow due to COVID-19.

Also Read - Shivanshu Pandey, A Formula1 enthusiast who cracks CAT with 99.85 percentile

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

Yes, being from an engineering background helped me in the quant section as I didn’t have to study in depth the quant topics.  Similarly if someone is reading through different sorts of things since the start it will give that person the advantage in the VARC section, so it’s more about where the affinity has been throughout in general.

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

I have applied for top IIMs, FMS Delhi and XLRI as these are the traditional and top B-schools in the country.

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

I will be enrolling in some coaching institute’s preparation course and make sure that I appear for a lot of mocks to enhance my chances of acceptance.

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.

Best of luck for CAT 2021! One thing which I felt was it’s important to stick through the plan on the CAT exam day. From my personal experience I had a slip up in DILR section which was a silly mistake to say the least; which affected my Quant section as well, so it’s important to keep a calm head during the paper and treat each section as an individual test to maximise the score.

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

There is no dream career choice for me as of now. The purpose of doing an MBA for me is to explore the various fields offered during the course. However I do have an affinity for consulting and jobs in the financial domain.

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