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CAT 2019 Toppers Interview: Nitesh Panigrahi (99.55 percentile) attributes his success to Shiva Trilogy Books

Nidhi Gupta

With CAT 2019 Results already out, it is time to meet CAT 2019 Toppers who have aced the MBA entrance exam and scored 99 percentile and above. One such candidate is Nitesh Kumar Panigrahi who has scored 99.55 percentile in the toughest MBA entrance exam of the year. Jagranjosh.com got in touch with Nitesh for an exclusive interview in which he shared how he managed to ‘Bell the CAT’ 2019 exam along with this preparation strategy and plans that helped him beat the competition. He also shared his future plans as well.

Extracts from the Interview

Question 1: Congratulations on cracking CAT 2019! What are your overall and sectional scores in CAT 2019?

Thanks for the wishes! I have scored the following in the CAT 2019 exam:












Question 2: When did you start your CAT 2019 Preparation? What is the ideal time required to complete the CAT syllabus before the exam?

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I started my CAT preparation from the month of June 2019. It took me another 6 months to complete the entire CAT syllabus. A dedicated student need time of minimum 6 months to score 99+ in CAT exam.  

Question 3: What was your overall preparation strategy for CAT 2019?

It is important to brush up the fundamentals of all the sections that come in CAT exam. I recommend aspirants to join Regular classroom courses. And apart from that dedicate few hours at home to practice what they learnt in the classroom. Most importantly, appear for the Mock test series and then analyse the mock test.

Read as many CAT preparation books as possible irrespective of the genre and the author. Practise is what makes you perfect. Read Hindu editorial regularly to strengthen preparation of VARC section. I have read of lot of novels during this time. So I recommend, to develop reading speed, read novels as well.

Question 4: Was there any particular section/area that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge? What strategies did you adopt to master that section?

My weakness was VARC section for which I had invested lot of time and energy. I read editorials of various newspapers especially The Hindu. My favourite novel being Shiva Triology from Amish Tripathi.

Question 5: Tell us something about yourself, your family and your interests beyond academics?

My key interests are philately, numismatics and trekking. Beyond the classroom time and CAT preparation, I rejuvenated myself through these interest. During the CAT preparation, I went to trekking at Harishchandragarh in Pune) with my friends.

Coming to my family, my father is a retired government officer and my mother is a homemaker. I have an elder sibling who is married.

Question 6: Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary to ace CAT?

Yes, as I mentioned I joined regular classroom course of TIME Education in Pune – Kharadi branch. I feel that coaching is necessary for the CAT exam preparation. 

Question 7: Any particular book or study material that helped you gain an edge over other candidates?

I did not rely on just the popular books. I practised the study material provided by TIME coaching and all the other possible sources that helped me with the good study material.

Question 8: How can an aspirant avoid negative marking?

Accuracy is the key to crack the exam. I have scored 99.55 percentile because I did not attempt the entire exam but only the questions that I was confident about.

Questions attempted in each section






Attempted Questions





Question 9: What role did Mocks play in your success? How many mocks did you attempt before the exam?

Mocks are very crucial for the CAT Exam preparation. However, the more important aspect is to analyse the mock tests. Until and unless you analyse mock test, you wont be able to understand your weakness and therefore you will find it challenging to practice further.

Question 10: Please share your exam-day strategy for the CAT 2019. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your CAT test taking?

Emotional stability will help you gain an edge  over others. Do not panic about the exam. Exam jitters would be there, it is unavoidable but think positive and all will be done.

About MBA CAT Percentile Predictor

If you have appeared or are appearing for any CAT entrance exams and want to know which college you can get based on the score secured in the entrance test, then you can use the CAT percentile predictor. To calculate the CAT percentile, the scores are normalized as most of the exams are held in different sessions. A normalized score is obtained which is used to calculate the CAT percentile. Candidates can also use the CAT percentile predictor to calculate their scores. They can get the exact calculation of their performance in the entrance examination with the help of CAT percentile predictor.

Question 11: Do you think academic background plays an important role in CAT Prep and Why?

Though I belong to engineering background, and my familiarity with numbers helped me in acing the CAT Exam, however, I feel that the syllabus of CAT Exam is very different from what study during graduation. So it takes time to grasp the syllabus and perform well. Dedication and commitment plays an important role here.

Question 12: Which institutes have you applied to admission and why did you opt for them particularly?

I have applied to the old IIMs i.e. IIM – A, B, C, K and Shillong. Apart from that I have also applied to SP Jain, FMS, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi.

Question 13: How are you preparing for GD – PI and WAT rounds of the selection process?

For the WAT, GD and PI round, I have joined PI practice sessions.

For the WAT and GD, I am reading editorials of leading newspapers and reading Manorama year book to stay abreast of the current affairs and trending topics.

Question 14: What is your message for CAT aspirants? One crucial piece of advice that you would like them to follow and wish you had known.

My message to the CAT aspirants is that surround yourself with positive people be it your family, friends or colleagues. Do not pay heed to the negative thoughts. If you are unable to workout one section, don’t panic. Things will work out sooner or later. Practise mock tests, analyse them and focus on your strengths.

Question 15: What is your dream career choice after completing your MBA?

Post MBA, I would like to join top consultancy firms such as McKinsey and later start my own venture. I want to see myself as an entrepreneur few years down the line.

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