05 January 2022 16:46:20 IST

Watching cricket is a priority, says CAT 2021 topper

Keep taking mock tests and never miss a match, is Soham Katkar’s advice to future aspirants.

Nearly two lakh candidates took the Common Admission Test (CAT) exam in November 2021. Only nine students across the country earned a perfect 100 percentile, and Soham Katkar is one of them. He is computer science engineering graduate from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai.

Engineers wanting to do an MBA is not new. But what made this engineer different? Unlike most toppers who go to great lengths to avoid having a passionate interest in anything but studying, Katkar’s preparation revolved around his cricket-watching schedule. “Watching cricket is a priority. I have been watching cricket since I was a kid. I never miss a match even when it is on an exam day. Luckily, my parents never shunned me for this. They did not intervene with my cricket craze, which I think is because I was still producing the desired results. I plan everything around cricket, including preparing for the CAT.”

This is Katkar’s second attempt at the CAT exam. In 2020, during his final year of engineering, he took the exam for the first time and scored 99.66 percentile. But no calls from the top IIMs. He did not clear the sectional cut-offs for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). “I wanted to do an MBA from one of the top IIMs. I did not want to settle for anything else, so I decided to give the exam again,” he says.

It was relatively smooth-sailing for Katkar the second time, since he had graduated and did not have to juggle college assignments and CAT prep. The first attempt gave him a fair understanding of the exam and ways to approach it, so he spent a lot of his time, between his cricket matches, solving mock tests prepared by T.I.M.E, Mumbai, where he was enrolled for coaching. “The mock tests from T.I.M.E are highly competitive and it helps you push boundaries and try out difficult questions.”

On what helped him clear the VARC section successfully this time, Katkar gives an interesting answer. He wrote a 253-page Kindle e-book on cricket, no surprises there, about the inspirational leadership of cricketer Ajinkya Rahane in the India vs Australia match in January 2021. Tomes of reading and writing gave him appreciable impetus to cracking the VARC section, which he found tough in the first attempt.

Katkar says there is no magic potion to bell the CAT, though. “Every student has their own strategy. One has to find what works for them in terms of solving questions, time management techniques, and so on. For instance, I always take the exam in a linear fashion because I do not want to complicate things for myself. This is contrary to the popular advice of start with your strongest section, and then attempt the rest. I did not take that route at all.” Similarly, he also quashes the usual advice of revise all the concepts well; “focus on the mock tests instead.”

What are his ambitions and long-term plans? “I finally have the opportunity to join a premier institute and I wish to make the most in the next two years. Life is very uncertain and the world is changing at an unrecognisable pace. Whatever I might want to do now might not exist ten years from now. So, I try not to have any rigid ambitions. I like to keep learning. Even during the lockdown, I honed my coding skills to better myself. My ambition is to be a life-long student.”