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Our First Student to IIM – C, Razak Gupta, shares his experience…


Razak Gupta, one of the first students to join Arete for CAT 2012 preparation, was one of our most enthusiastic students. He came to us with the single-minded goal of getting into the IIMs. In addition to studies, Razak was and is involved in various extra-curricular activities, which include teaching. He even expressed his interest in offering his services to Arete, in the form of imparting training for mathematics. Although, unfortunately, we weren’t able to create too many opportunities for him in Roorkee, he definitely made the most of his CAT prep: he mustered a 99.75 %ile in the CAT. I remember the nervous interactions we had prior to his GD & PI (in retrospect, I guess I was more nervous than he); so once he was done, I couldn’t wait to hear how they went. This is what Razak replied:

“The WAT essay topic was about ‘honour killings’. They particularly asked about the rationale behind such killings and what it reflects of our society. 200 words were expected in a span of 20 minutes. I described what I understood of honour killings and gave instances of killings in the first para. In the second para, I explained what motivates such acts and how the culprits find justification for such acts in relativism and subjective understanding of common law.  In the last para, I spoke of unrealized effects of education, lack of basic policing, rampant intolerance, illiberal mindsets and populist justice. I concluded fancifully with a line on lack of independence, still, after 63 years.

My interview turn came after a long wait. During that time, I spoke to other interviewees about their campus experiences and the coveted ‘Why MBA’ question. And then I was called in…


Interviewers in my panel were all chilled out. On the website, I have identified them to be Megha Sharma, Biju Pal Abraham and some alumnus. My panel took long time gaps between the exit of one interviewee and the entry of the next. Since they had collected our forms all together, I presume my panel studied those forms before calling the next candidate in. On my entry, they made it clear that they were only going to talk about mathematics in the entire interview, strong extra-curricular involvement was apparent on the form though. Some of the things we spoke about were:

  • Mathematical research institutes in the country
  • Some examples of unsolved problems in mathematics
  • Application of maths in management areas
  • Validating mathematical research
  • Mathematical innovations that are possible in day-to-day businesses
  • Why I liked mathematics and chose the course in the first place?
  • Why did I fail a mathematics course in my first year?
  • Common knowledge puzzle
  • Laplace Transforms and linear algebra
  • Linear Programming basics from optimization
  • Other optimization courses basics
  • Transportation problem in mathematics
  • Graph Theory and  Spanning trees (There were certain algorithms that I could not recollect. I made the panel aware of the fact and reasoned that I haven’t used those algorithms in a long time.)
  • Grading schemes for PGDM prospects from different backgrounds.
In the end, for possibly the first time ever in my life, I got a compliment for my attire from Biju. For the record, I wore a black, three-piece suit. I ended up sharing a laugh with the other interviewers, before thanking the panel and exiting. I have attached an image of my 100 word career goal, written on the morning of the interview, as submitted in the form.
In retrospect and brevity, I enjoyed the 33 minutes thoroughly. In one way or another, you were of immense support while I prepared myself for the interviews. I would like to thank you for the same and hope that I bring you good name by getting a final call for admission soon.”
Needless to say, Razak proved his mettle. He’s now on his way to IIM Calcutta. As I look back –  from the grueling training, to the brainstorming – Razak’s journey has been an example for his peers, juniors and even his mentors. We heartily congratulate him for his accomplishment and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.
Thanks for sharing Razak!


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