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99.99 in CAT, topper at IIM-C, professional at McKinsey & Company, he bagged it all at 23

Apeejay alumnus, Lakshya Kumar shares tips for aspirants; says ‘mock tests were my best friends’



Born and brought up in Delhi, Lakshya Kumar, has had an academic focus at home since childhood. He says, “My parents have been in the education line and have maintained that learning should never stop.” In an interview, the young professional discusses his Common Admission Test (CAT) exam preparation strategy and learnings in the Management course. Read On:

Please tell us about your educational journey.

I studied in Apeejay School, Pitampura till 2017. After that, I pursued Bachelors of Management Studies from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, University of Delhi. Then, I opted for a Masters in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta.

Since class 12, I have been inclined towards Management studies. And so, during my undergraduate days in the University, I started preparing for CAT and took the exam. Luckily, I got shortlisted for a couple of IIMs, after which I chose IIM Calcutta due to my interest in front-end consulting. At present, I am a Junior Associate at McKinsey & Company for the past few months.

Your role at McKinsey & Company?

The global management consulting offers solutions to multifaceted business problems. As part of the company, I perform market research, look into providing business solutions and analyse data, just to mention a few responsibilities.  

How and when did you realise your calling for the field of Management?

It happened in Apeejay School, Pitampura. Once, we were working on a group project in class 7. And one of my friend’s parents advised me that I should pursue Management. At that time, I had no idea what it meant but they were the first to identify that I have a knack for managing people.

Later in my school and college years, the skill enhanced further as I began to participate in different competitions. The necessary problem-solving skills, dedication and persistence became all the more evident and I thought that I must test my abilities in the college societies, and eventually in the corporate world.

Seeking a Management degree is becoming highly popular among aspirants. Why so?

I was fortunate to study at the most prestigious university in India. And the question people often ask me and ponder on is, ‘When to pursue a Management degree?’ To my mind, the answer lies in the fact that right from a homemaker to a professional in any field, management skills are crucial. Let’s take an example of a family gathering in which a homemaker would plan and strategise about the cuisine, choices, budget, expenditure, etc. The same thing, taken to a higher notch is what an organisation does.

The other commonly asked question is, ‘Does one need work experience before enrolling for a Management course?’ I think it depends on the objective you wish to achieve and the job prospects you want to look for. In my case, I had some background about the field, thanks to my undergraduate degree in business. So, if one has identified the right curriculum, area of expertise, peer group and domain, they are ready to join a Management course without any work experience.

How did you prepare for CAT examinations?

I secured 99.99 percentile in CAT (November 2019). My learning has been that one does not have to think about becoming a topper. Rather, they should focus on taking these exams and giving it their best shot. During my preparation, I trusted my mentors, teachers and picked up their insights from them. Then, I judged what applied to me and I went forward.

My best friend during CAT preparations was taking mock tests. Though the exam has three sections, English, Logical Reasoning and Mathematics, the most important thing that aspirants often miss out on is – improving their test-taking ability. One should know how to solve the exam questions efficiently and accurately in the given amount of time. This might also involve skipping some questions. For example, if one knows that attempting a question will take at least 4 minutes, then skipping it is a good option. To test it, mock tests give you the real picture and tell you about your strengths and weaknesses.

I have also realised that my family and peers have helped me a lot during this time. I could share my ups and downs with them and my parents never pressured me to score the highest marks. Rather, they encouraged me to self-analyse and work towards improving my weak areas.

Your crucial learnings?

If the number of bad days in a company is more than the good days you are having, it is time to shift. Also, every job will have difficult and easy days. But, it is up to you on how you use these opportunities.

A lesson that has stayed close to my heart is when you have a good support system, your endurance towards difficulties is greater.

A work-ethic you closely follow?

Whenever I enter a room, I ensure that I must learn and gather as much knowledge.

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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