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Meet Rajesh Balasubramanian, CAT 2012 topper!


For most CAT aspirants, scoring a 100 percentile in CAT would be an elusive (though not an entirely impossible) dream. Meet Rajesh Balasubramanian, one of the 10 candidates who hit the perfect score this year in CAT 2012. And here’s the best part: this is not the first time he’s achieved this feat!  He had topped CAT 2011 as well! But he’s not your typical CAT aspirant.

An IIT Madras and IIT Bangalore graduate, Rajesh Balasubramanian is now director of “2IIM”, an IIM alumnus initiative that prepares CAT aspirants. IndiaEducation catches up with Rajesh in a free-wheeling interview: congratulates you on scoring 100 percentile in CAT 2012! As a faculty member, does it feel different to have topped one of the toughest management entrance exams in the world?

Thanks a lot for the congratulations. As a teacher, the feeling is slightly different. There is perhaps less of elation; more of  just a satisfied feeling.

What inspires you to take CAT? Have you been taking the CAT exam regularly?

I train students to take the CAT, so it is imperative that I stay in touch with the exam pattern, style of questions etc. CAT 2012 was my fifth attempt. I took my first CAT in 2000 as a final year student. I took it again in 2004 when I was a tutor and have taken it in 2010, 2011 and 2012, after I joined 2IIM as director.

Did you adopt any particular strategy while attempting CAT 2012? If yes, please share some valuable tips for our readers.

Some simple rules for CAT
1. Leave early: When in doubt about a question, leave it as quickly as possible. The ones that you leave will rarely hurt you. The dead ends you get drawn into are way more dangerous
2. Maintain intensity: Throw everything into each question. Get consumed in that to the point of not worrying about overall strategy, overall performance, percentiles etc.
3. Have a sense of the overall paper: At any point of time, a student should know how many questions in RC have gone by, how many in LR have gone by, and how many in other categories. This helps you plan.

Points 2 and 3 appear contradictory, but are not. When on a question, sink everything into it. Every now and then, take stock. To give a cricketing parallel – leave like Rahul Dravid, take one question at a time like Virendra Sehwag and finish like MS Dhoni!

Were you expecting to score a 100 percentile for the second consecutive year?

No, of course not. I had done the exam well. And in the last few days prior to the exam and before the results, I was at the receiving end of encore jokes. But, for getting 100th percentile, lot of things need to fall in place. And perhaps some luck as well.

You teach Maths & Data Interpretation at “2IIM”. What advice did you give to your students to crack the “Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation” section of CAT 2012?

Learn from basics. I am a big bore about learning from first principles. I teach everything from scratch and insist that students learn as much without resorting to short cuts and formulae. In the exam hall, keep your cool and make sure that you leave all the wrong questions.


How have your students fared in CAT 2012? They, for sure, must be inspired by your achievement!

We have had quite a few good scores. We teach only around 250 students a year as we believe in maintaining small classrooms. So, we do not have a large number of big scores. But lot of our students have done well. Our results have actually improved over last year’s.

What would be a good time to start preparing for CAT 2013? Any tips for CAT 2013 aspirants?

Starting early has its advantages. Learn as much from basics. In the second half of preparation, work on building intensity. This bit is quite underrated. A lot of students do some very low-intensity, lifeless time-killing and call it preparation. One cannot prepare for more than 15 hours per week for CAT. But if even 8-10 hours are done per week with intensity, this can do wonders.

What books would you recommend to prepare for the Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation section?

I do not think there is one set of stunningly good books for CAT. Keep your eyes open. Get one set of correspondence material that is comprehensive. And stick to a plan. Being a director at 2IIM, I would obviously say that our books are the best. But you will probably have to take that with a pinch of salt.

Cheers and best wishes to all CAT 2013 aspirants!


Interviewed by Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh

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About Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh

Nishatha has been writing about education in India and abroad for the last 9 years. She has been in the digital marketing industry for 8+ years and specializes in content marketing. Nothing annoys her more than slow wi-fi, incorrect usage of the apostrophe and people mispronouncing her name. She prefers not to talk about herself in the third person, but reluctantly, had to do so here!

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