CAT 2021 Topper Interview: Yash Mandhana (99.99 Percentiler), Shares his Success Mantra

CAT 2021 Exam results were declared by IIM Ahmedabad on January 3, 2022. Meet CAT 2021 topper Yash Mandhana from Pune who secured 99.99 overall percentile in the CAT Exams. Yash shared with us his preparation strategy for the CAT 2021 exams, his crucial piece of advice and what he aims for.

CAT 2021 Topper Interview: The CAT 2021 Results has been announced on Monday, January 3, 2022. With the results being announced, candidates and CAT aspirants for the coming years are eager to know how the CAT 2021 Toppers prepared for the exams and what they did differently which helped them achieve this feat. Meet Yash Dinesh Mandhana from Pune who secured the 99.99 percentile in CAT 2021. Yash is a Mechanical Engineering student from IIT Bombay. An ardent reader and lover of sports, Yash shares his preparation strategy for CAT 2021 and his advice for future aspirants.

Excerpts from the Interview!

Question 1: Congratulations on cracking CAT 2021! What are your overall and sectional scores in CAT 2021?

Ans:  Thank You! Overall I secured an overall 99.99 percentile and Sectionally I secured 99.96 in the VARC section, 99.37 in the DILR section, and 99.97 in the Quantitative Analysis section.

Question 2: When did you start your CAT 2021 Preparation? What is the ideal time required to complete the CAT syllabus before the exam?

Ans: I started preparing for the CAT 2021 exams by the end of July 2021, however, ideally an aspirant can start preparing from February taking close to 10 months if they are beginning from scratch. 

Question 3: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2021?

Ans: Since there are three sections I prepared for the exams section-wise. For the VARC section, as the major part is reading paragraphs and answering the given questions I started reading a lot and have been an ardent reader for the past few years. This has helped me improve my reading skill which in turn helped in the Reading Comprehension section. Those who do not have the right skills for the VARC section can start by reading newspaper articles, editorials, books, etc to improve their reading skills. Also practicing helps in understanding and preparing for the section better.

For the DILR section, I solved sectional tests and mock tests since this section is totally based on practicing. As you keep practicing over time you get an idea of how to approach the section better and increase their scores accordingly.

For the QA section, there are close to 10-15 subtopics. I went through the theory and practiced the basic questions. One can gradually start increasing the difficulty level of the questions and keep solving sectional tests and mock tests. 

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?

Ans: I was weak in the DILR section. I used to rush through the questions which caused some silly mistakes on my end. I started giving sectional tests since they are timed and I have the added pressure of performing well within the time allotted. Also, I took roughly 2 to 3 sectional tests every day which improved my accuracy.

In the QA section, I was able to attend to the questions but lacked accuracy. To improve in this area I tweaked my methodology a little and started attempting fewer questions but focused on improving my accuracy which helped me a lot. 

Also Read: CAT 2021 Topper Interview - Soham Katkar

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

Ans: I am currently pursuing my Mechanical Engineering Degree from IIT Bombay. I am a single child and my father is an engineer working with Thermax while my mother is a homemaker. I like reading, trekking, and anything related to sports. 

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

Ans: I won't say that I was part of the classroom for any coaching centre but I took correspondence classes with TIME and Career Launcher. I have been appearing for the Olympiad Exams since Class 3 which helped me with the overall CAT approach. Although many find the QA section a little tough, since I am from an Engineering Background it kind of helped me in taking the exams. So personally I did not need to be a part of coaching full time. But for someone who comes from a different background, may require coaching classes to prepare for the CAT Exams. 

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

Ans:  There are a few books by Career Launcher. They have books for each section which I think is good enough to start with. I believe students should focus on mock tests and rather than just appearing and leaving it as it is, they should analyze their scores and progress and focus on the mistakes. To improve which is why I did to prepare for the exams. 

Question 8: How can an aspirant avoid negative marking?

Ans:  For this, I would suggest that candidates be fearless and start to attempt more questions. Once students complete three or four mock tests they will get an idea of the strong and weaker sections for them personally. Students can then start focusing on the strong topics and attempt them as much as possible, while for the weaker section they can classify the easy ones to the hard ones and focus more on the easy questions to avoid negative marking. Gradually as you give more mocks the weaker sections will become moderate and there will be an improvement.

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

Ans: On average, I gave 2 mock tests a week for close to 16 weeks which means that I have roughly given about 35 mock tests. As far as the role of mock tests is considered, I used mock tests as a way to prepare and analyze them which helped me in cracking the CAT Exams.

Question 10: Please share your exam-day strategy for CAT 2021. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test?

Ans:  From the very beginning I have adopted the strategy of keeping myself free the day before the exams. I try to keep my mind empty, listen to good music, watch a movie… basically anything that will keep my mind occupied from the exams which decreased my exam pressure. Complete all the revision and exam preparations a few days before the exams and reserve the last day to chill and reset yourself. 

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

Ans: I don't think academic background plays a role in the preparation for CAT exams compared to one's perseverance and diligence to prepare for the CAT Exams. If you are consistent and keep practicing it will help. My engineering background did not play an important role. Maybe in the QA sections, I could perform better but that is subjective. Students from other backgrounds may perform better in the other sections. You just need to prepare as per your requirement. 

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

Ans:  I am planning to attend interviews for IIM Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata

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

Ans: I have not yet figured it out yet. I am currently in contact with a few seniors at IIM for a perspective. My key strategy now is to keep myself updated with all the latest topics, tailor my resume as per the IIMs, go through the Resume and work on it along with general questions about myself and what the current situation is in the country. 

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.

Ans: I would advise them to be consistent and fetch small and weekly goals and try to achieve them. Candidates preparing for the exams must be persistent to get the results they desire, put in the hours every day and try now to leave mid-way. 

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

Ans: I am not very sure but either I would take up a role in  Finance or a General Management or Strategy role in any FMCG company. 

Also Read: CAT 2021 Topper Interview - Shubh Agarwal

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