Be clear about your goals, says 99.91 percentile CAT scorer
The ever-growing craze of pursuing MBA has made Common Admission Test (CAT) one of the most sought after and competitive examinations. To help aspirants decode the formula for cracking the exam, HT interviewed Himanshu Chopra who scored 99.91 percentile in CAT conducted on November 24, 2019, the result of which was declared on January 4, 2020. The 26-year-old graduated as a computer science engineer in 2016 and is an assistant manager with the State Bank of India (SBI). This was his second attempt at CAT. Earlier, he had scored 99.8 percentile. He wants to study masters in financial engineering from UC Berkeley, California, USA.
What is your academic background?
I completed my schooling from Shishu Niketan Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, Chandigarh. I scored 91% in Class 10 and 84% in Class 12. Following this, I did engineering from Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET), Sector 26, in 2016 and scored 85%.
Why did you choose banking after that?
After graduation, I was placed in Infosys, but due to my inclination towards finance, I didn’t join the company and sat for the SBI probationary officer exam. To my surprise, I cleared the test in the first attempt.
When did you first appear for the exam?
I took CAT in 2017 and scored 99.8 percentile. However, I did not join any B-school as I wanted to gain more work experience. Most of these schools do not consider probation as work experience.
Who supported you in achieving your dream?
My family has been my biggest support. My father Vinod Chopra, mother Nisha Chopra and sisters Hina and Herry, who are also engineers, have been a constant source of inspiration.
Did you join any coaching institute?
Yes, I joined a city-based coaching institute in 2015, but not after that. I have been studying on my own.
How did you manage to strike a balance between work and preparation?
I started preparing early in January so as to have enough time to study. I made a plan and stuck to it. I made sure I studied for at least two hours every day and about 3 to 4 hours on weekends. I set milestones for myself.
Any particular section that you had to work harder for?
Math wasn’t an issue for me, but I had to work hard for the verbal section.I read newspapers and ‘Word Power Made Easy’ for vocabulary building. I made flash cards, referred to Wren and Martin grammar books and joined online English clubs.
Did you feel stressed out during preps?
Honestly, I have mastered stress management. Since 2016, I have appeared for more than 50 competitive exams, mainly banking, and now, I do not feel any stress.
Any tips for future cat aspirants?
Study every day. Don’t lose focus. It might be difficult in the beginning, but you have to keep working on weak areas without giving up. Self study is the key to success. Just be clear about your goals and take no short-cuts.