For our success stories segment, we interviewed Deepti Kini who is a first year student at IIM Calcutta. Deepti was our online course student and converted IIM Calcutta with a 98.95 percentile. In this candid interview, Deepti talks about her preparation journey, her background and interests, and gives a sneak peek of what life is like at IIM Calcutta.

Deepti, for the benefit of our readers, share your profile with us.

1410913_10201534527042139_2285499521541900704_oI come from the city of Mysore. I did B.E in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from SJCE, Mysore. Post that I worked in Oracle Health Sciences as a developer for 11 months. My job responsibilities included developing software for giant pharmaceutical companies to support clinical trials and drug research.

Academic record:
10th – 98.4% (4th rank in Karnataka)
12th – 88%
Engineering – 9.57 CGPA

Tell us a little about your extra-curricular achievements and hobbies

I learnt French from the University of Mysore and I think knowing a foreign language helps. As a socially responsible citizen, I co-founded an NGO during college days to support education for the underprivileged. I was also involved in a lot of CSR activities during my work experience. I am a trekking and travel enthusiast and have been on treks to Kashmir and Himachal. Also, for the past nine years, I have been learning to play Sitar and enjoy it thoroughly.

When did you start your preparation?

I formally started preparing for CAT during my pre-final year and gave my first attempt in CAT in 2014 and second attempt in 2015.

Did you join any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is required?

I had joined TIME for my first attempt. In my second attempt, I enrolled for the online course by Learningroots. I do believe that coaching is a necessary part of preparation. Even if you are exceptionally good in a few areas, a coaching institute helps you with the nitty-gritty of the exams and guide you in the right direction. Guidance from people who have “been there done that” is very important. Another advantage is that you get to learn with a bunch of people who are moving in the same direction, and they will be a support system during the stages of preparation.

Did you have any advantage because of your engineering background?

My college is one of the top 5 engineering colleges in Karnataka, but it is not very well known. This was a bit of a disadvantage. However, during preparation I found it easy to get a grip over Quant owing to my engineering background.

How did you prepare for the test?

My preparation can be broken into two phases. I started preparing for CAT ’14 towards the end of 2013. I had joined the coaching centre and completed the syllabus even before it was taught in the class. I would spend 1-2 hours everyday solving level 1 and level 2 problems. I would spend another 30 minutes reading newspapers/articles, etc. I started taking mocks from April 2014. From July, I spent 2-3 hours every day.

In the second phase, I started preparing from June 2015. Since it was my second attempt, I did not spend much time on basics. I started focusing on mocks. I made it a point to give at least three mocks every weekend (as I was working on other days). The rest of the week I would spend 1-2 hours a day analyzing the mocks I had taken over the weekend and improving my weak areas. As the exams approached, I increased the number of mocks to 5-6 mocks a week.

CAT ’14: 98.31 percentile
Calls: IIM I, K,new IIMs
Converts: all calls (Did not join, as I wanted to give it another shot at the big 3)

CAT ’15: 98.95 percentile
Calls: All IIMs except A and B, FMS
Converts: All calls except L

XAT ’16: 97.62 percentile
Calls: XLRI HRM (did not attend the interview)

Tell us more about IIM Calcutta.

IIM Calcutta shortlists candidates on the basis of CAT score and past academic record. The criteria for this year can be found here. The shortlisted candidates are then called for an interview. The interview process consists of two parts:
a. Written ability test
b. Personal interview

The final list of candidates is announced based on the performance in the interview process.

Advantages of IIM Calcutta

Triple Accreditation: IIM Calcutta is the only Indian B-school that has earned all the top three Global Accreditation – AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA.

CEMS-MIM: It is the only Indian B-school to be a part of the prestigious CEMS-MIM programme. More details about the programme can be found here.

Faculty: We have excellent faculty in the fields of Finance, Economics, Public policy etc. Some of them are alumni of Harvard, Cambridge, and other renowned business schools. IIM Calcutta has set up a state-of-the-art Financial Research and Trading Lab (the Finance Lab) and Management Centre for Human values. Entrepreneurship is also encouraged through centre for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Campus Life: IIM C has one of the most beautiful campuses in India. There are seven lakes and the campus is home to a plethora of species. The special “Joka Traditions” make the stay a memorable experience.

Any tips for aspirants?

A common mistake is getting bogged down with the mock results. I have seen a lot of good people giving up on the preparation after scoring low in a few mocks. The mock results are not meant to judge you, but an opportunity to improve. If you score less, see where you are faltering and improve in those areas. Do not get intimidated by the scores.

The key to crack CAT is consistency in preparation and continued motivation. It becomes too long and frustrating at times. But always remember, CAT is not the destination, but a journey to be cherished. Irrespective of the end result, it makes you a stronger and a better person in life. Make sure you enjoy each moment you spend in preparation. All the best!

It was great talking to you, Deepti! We wish you all the best. Thanks!

End of interview.

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