Shivam is a mechanical engineering graduate from Delhi Technological University - Class of 2020. He has two years of work experience in consulting, split across PwC India and McKinsey & Co., where he worked as an Analyst in the Procurement & Product Development division under the Operations practice. He has previously worked with PwC in the Data & Analytics division of their Tech Consulting unit. He is also the Global COO of 180 Degrees Consulting, which is the world's largest social impact consultancy. Shivam's Academic Profile: 10th: CGPA 10 12th: 94.2% Grad: 77.3%.
In 2020, Shivam had converted IIM Indore, but decided against joining the same. A student from IIM Calcutta's Co'24, Shivam shares his CAT preparation strategy in this interview. Read on!
Q) Please Share Your Score And Percentile With Our Readers.
Overall score 114.22 Overall percentile 99.75%ile VARC, 58.22, 99.94%ile DILR 31, 98.50%ile QA, 25.10, 95.8%ile
Q) Please Share Your Journey In Achieving The Mentioned Percentile.
I would put this as a follow-up to my last article that was published two years ago, where I tried to address how to balance your CAT prep with your academics (without sacrificing your ECA) and how to make the best out of your final year in college and excel at CAT at the same time. A lot has changed since then.
Despite scoring a good percentile and having converted IIM Indore for the 20-22 batch, I chose not to take admission, mainly for 3 reasons:
1. All classes, and effectively the whole college experience had moved online which, needless to say, is not anyone's preferred mode of attending postgrad - especially an MBA.
2. As I had a placement offer with PwC, I wanted to gain some work experience and learn more about the industry. Almost everyone I talked to at that point concurred that having some experience allows you to derive more value out of the degree.
3. I wanted to be with my family during the uncertain and tiring times of the pandemic.
So the plan was to continue working and take a good attempt in 2021. I did not want to take anything other than mocks, as I had already taken coaching during my first attempt. However, that did not turn out as planned...
In Dec 2020, I met with a near-fatal accident that left all four of my limbs riddled with fractures, ligament tears, and deep injuries. I had to be in the bed for the next two months with no mobility and little to no strength left in my arms to even write. After starting the long road to recovery, I got infected with covid during the peak of the second wave in India, and again, on the bed for a whole month.
All study plans and life schedules had already gone haywire in the first 6 months of this year, with little hope in sight. Having been unable to prepare as planned for so long, I decided to abort the self-study approach and take up coaching for a full revision from scratch. I was very clear to do it online given my hectic work-from-home job and chose ElitesGrid - who did an amazing job of covering everything plus the constant revision and mock discussions.
Q) Please Share Your Month-Wise Preparation Insights For Upcoming Aspirants.
I actively started preparing from July onwards and started completely from scratch especially quant. The mocks season also began dedicatedly from August and was fully immersed in prep by then. I was also looking for a job switch during this time, just in case CAT didn't work out (my luck is not really great, as you'd have realized by now), and started applying and interviewing for roles at other firms.
Juggling between multiple rounds of interviews and CAT prep during Oct-Nov was super challenging, however, this did not sideline my prep and I also managed to receive offers from all three of the MBBs for their Analyst level positions, and eventually joined McKinsey. Looking back, I would say that around 6 months are sufficient for the whole prep process, with an incremental increase in effort with each mock.
Q) If You Wish, You Can Talk About Any Section In Particular?
In 2019, I scored a 99.90%ile in VARC, and this time I had a 99.95%ile - which goes on to show that the exam is much more about maximizing your strengths than bandaging your fault lines. Once again, cracking Verbal was solely due to my regular reading and writing habit and not due to solving numerous RC sets.
Here are a few tips from my side:
1. Just read whatever you get your hands on, but do spend at least a couple of hours reading every day. Everything from newspaper editorials to Aeon essays to The Atlantic articles to good quality Instagram captions - ranging in a wide variety of themes and styles. The trick is not to read everything as an RC passage, but to read the exam passage as just another thing you're reading off the internet.
2. Try to gain in-depth insights about the fields you're remotely interested in, but don't force yourself to read something if you find it boring. Instead, identify triggers that interest you, because ultimately it is your level of understanding of a subject that aids comprehension and will help you in GDPI as well. Familiarity, comfort, ease of reading - all these are offsets - your knowledge will take you through.
3. And I can't stress enough about writing regularly if you want to improve your reading ability and vocab. Even if it is half a page of your diary or just 100 words on a Reddit thread, do write and express yourself as freely as you can. Only once you get in those shoes, are you able to firmly grasp the portrayal of the ideas in text from the author's perspective, which is imperative to solving RC questions.
Q) Is There Anything Else That You'd Like To Add?
I would also like to talk more about the difficult decision of leaving a great job (at either MBB or IB firms) when the general sentiment is usually against it given the ample opportunities you get internally. It was a tough decision for me too, and I had to talk to a lot of people before taking the step - would be helpful for someone in a similar position down the line.