‘I Used To Study For Two Hours For Five Days A Week’ – CAT Topper Shiksha Surana

It’s now crunch time for CAT 2015, and InsideIIM brings you interviews with the CAT Toppers who have aced the CAT exam in the past. As part of this series, we aim to help MBA aspirants understand what it takes to crack this exam on the D – Day.

Today we bring to you an interview with CAT topper Shiksha Surana who scored 99.32 percentile in CAT 2014. Shiksha did her graduation in Computer Science Engineering from Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Symbiosis International University. She graduated in 2015 and got five IIM Calls (IIM B,C,I,K and L). She converted IIM Indore and is currently studying at IIM Indore.

Did your engineering background help you during test prep? Did it help you in subsequent rounds (WAT-GD-PI)?

Most people think that it is easier for engineers to crack CAT but it is not so. I personally believe that if the foundation is strong, i.e. class X and XII then this will definitely help you during test prep. In the subsequent rounds, I was asked questions on my course curriculum but that is true for any stream. So, my advice to all students appearing for CAT is to make your basics a strength and then things will fall in place.

What was your strong/weak section and what was your overall test taking strategy? What was your strategy for individual sections (Quant and Verbal)?

My weakest section was DI. So, I made it a habit to solve at least two to three DI sets every day. I was good at Quant but I practised it nonetheless. I followed a very simple strategy. I used to study new topics in individual sections for two hours for five days a week. But, I used to keep weekends for revision of old topics. I used to solve questions from topics I have already covered and gave a lot of mock tests. This way, every topic was always fresh in my mind.

What was your test prep strategy over the few months leading to the CAT? (last 3 months, last month, last 15 days)? Was it a test series inclined one or a chapter by chapter strategy?

Test prep strategy differs for everybody and one that fit me would not necessarily fit somebody else. My only advice would be to take it easy in the last one week. Eat, relax and sleep. Don’t take stress because that is the only way a good candidate will spoil the paper that will change his life.

What was your strategy for the D-Day and what do you think you executed the Best on the D- Day? 

My strategy was to be calm and not panic. I was in the second slot so I made sure that I don’t hear anything from the people who had already appeared for the exam. I went in with a clear head and made sure that I don’t spend too much time on a question. I remembered the advice my teacher gave me. He told me not to let my ego spoil the paper for me. If I couldn’t solve a question on Quant, I generally would struggle with it until the solution appears but that would be a wrong approach for the final day. Make sure your strength remains a strength and not a weakness.

With the new pattern of CAT this year, any tips for the aspirants or any change in strategy you recommend?

My advice to you all is that make sure you already know your strengths and weakness. Don’t spend more time on a question than warranted. Other than that, just swing it. If you go with a prepared mind set then it would be tough to handle if the questions are extra difficult or more questions from a particular section.

How did you prepare for WAT-PI and GD?

Read newspaper and business magazines. Be thorough with your subjects. Make sure that you write a lot of articles on various subjects.


We would like to thank Shiksha for sharing her set of suggestions with the aspirants. Look out for more such interviews in the coming days at http://insideiim.com

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