Shikhar Sachdeva makes CAT preparation look easy. He scored 99.98 percentile in CAT, has completed graduation from Delhi Technological University, and got placed in Amazon. Shikhar’s goals are pretty high but his confidence and capabilities are sure to take him far. He believes in practice over theory, and smart work over hard work. To know what else he kept in mind while preparing, read his interview. Here is his motivational success story for all you future MBA aspirants.
Shikhar Sachdeva – CAT Topper with 99.98 percentile, 100 percentile in QA
B.Tech from Delhi Technical University
Sachdeva public school
Shikhar’s Success Story
AS: First of we would like to congratulate you, we really respect the hard work you have put in. Kindly share your feelings with us and whom you credit your success?
Thank you for the wishes. For my success, I’d like to thank all the people around me. My family, for all their support. My friends, with all the motivation they gave me to keep pushing forward. And my mentors, who taught me everything I know. A special thanks to Indrajeet Singh, who guided me through my prep.
AS: Can you tell us about your family?
I’m an elder child. Apart from me, my family consists of my parents and my younger brother. My dad’s a businessman. He runs a call center. And my mom is working as well. She was a teacher for primary classes for a while during my childhood. And later she joined my dad in his business.
AS: Who was the most motivational person in your journey for cracking CAT exam?
Two people actually. My mentor Indrajeet Singh, who guided me throughout my preparation. He told me what to do to make the best of the time that I had. And the second person was my best friend, who was always there for me, and motivated me whenever I felt low. These are the two people to whom I attribute my success.
AS: Please share your college life experiences.
I’ve had a pretty amazing college life. I was a member of the dramatics society of my college for two years. Later I got selected to the Cultural Council of my University, which was one experience that taught me a lot.
I took part in a lot of other academic and co-curricular activities. So I pretty much had a very well rounded college life, which was one of the main reasons that I got two campus placements – one at Amazon as a Software Engineer, and another at Bain and Co. as an Analyst.
AS: Which is your dream B-School? Do you have any particular specialization in mind?
Well my dream B-School, without any doubt is INSEAD in Europe. The experience of studying in Europe, at one of the best institutions in the world, and the amazing ROI they offer is something unparalleled. Among the Indian B-Schools, I’d love to be a student at IIM Ahmadabad if given a chance. As one of my seniors said, “IIM A is not a college, it’s a feeling”. I’d love to be a part of that feeling.
How Shikhar prepared for CAT exam
AS: How did manage your studies along with CAT preparations?
For me, CAT was always the main goal. Everything else was secondary. Placement for me was only a backup option that I had to have in case I did not do well in CAT. The thing that gave me the most confidence in my journey was the first ever Mock I gave. It was an AIMCAT, and I got AIR 3 in that. That was the first thing that gave me confidence that I could compete with everyone out there. After that, it was all about keeping up with my own expectations. I set high standards for myself, and thankfully I did achieve them. It also helped that I got an early placement, and so did not have to worry at all about the placement, and could then work single-mindedly towards CAT.
AS: When did you start studying for management entrance exams?
I started my prep last year in August. I joined the classroom course at TIME, CP. Simultaneously I joined the FB group iQuanta, which was a group for like minded CAT aspirants. I think iQuanta played the biggest role in my preparation. Even when I couldn’t go to classes due to exams or other reasons, I kept solving questions on the group. And moreover it connects one with a diverse bunch of people, each of whom have different doubts, which prepares you for all sorts of challenging questions. Moreover, I was pretty good at maths from a young age, so that played a part. I personally think that CAT, as an exam doesn’t test learnt skills, but lays more importance on skills that you gain over time.
AS: Please share your study plan from day 1 to the end (topics you covered from then to now).
I did not spend much time studying from books. I’ve always believed that practice is the best form of preparation. So I invested most of my time in doing practice questions and giving mocks, and as I said solving questions on iQuanta. Giving mocks is probably the most important thing one has to do in their CAT preparation. It prepares you for all sorts of possibilities. Moreover I’ve experienced that a lot of people focus only on their strong areas, and do not give enough time to their weak areas. Infact even I went through this phase during the early stages of my prep.
One thing that I’d like to add is that it’s never about the quantity of time you put in, but about the quality. So I’ve always worked with that mindset.
AS: Which books did you use to prepare ?
I stuck to the course material provided by the institute. I guess almost all of the books related to CAT preparation are pretty much standardized, so it doesn’t really matter which books one follows.
AS: What are the things one should keep in mind while preparing for CAT?
The skills tested in CAT are pretty basic, specially for people from engineering background like me. We’ve gone through a lot of higher maths in our senior secondary, and so maths isn’t as tough a challenge.
I think the most important part that any kind of coaching plays is to give direction to one’s preparation. And in that way it’s really important in the early stages of preparation.
And there’s the thing with mocks. Some of these institutes absolutely amazing mock test series which are invaluable in terms of the practice they provide. So make the best of them.
AS: Your success mantra.
“Don’t work hard, work smart.”
AS: What was your analysis of the CAT exam?
I’d sat for the engineering entrance exams. And CAT by far was one of the best organized exams I’ve ever faced. No technical glitches, no management issues whatsoever. As far as the actual exam goes, I’d given a lot of mocks, so I wasn’t really worried about any eventuality. Quant was my forte, so I knew that even if I had mediocre scores in other sections I could’ve made up in quant. So yes, a tough LRDI definitely didn’t faze me as much as other people.
I felt the toughest section was VARC. It seemed easy at first glance but definitely had a lot of tricks up its sleeves. This prompted a lot of people to answer more questions than were necessary, and hence they accumulated negative scores. LRDI may have had tougher questions on the whole, but everyone expected that, and so it wasn’t much of a surprise.
QA was the easiest section. Easy questions using simple concepts. Nothing too tricky at all. It helped that this was my strong area too.
AS: Any tips for the upcoming aspirants ?
Don’t take undue pressure. Enjoy your preparation, and don’t give up on your dreams, ever. Nothing is bigger than your dreams.
AS: What are your future plans?
I don’t like looking much ahead into the future. I follow MS Dhoni’s strategy of setting short term goals and achieving them. So for the moment I’m just focusing on my PI and WAT preparation, and making the best of the opportunities that I have.