With YouTube video lessons, IISER Pune student tops CAT 2021

A native of Ahmedabad, 21-year old Chirag Gupta is among the nine candidates who cracked the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2021 with a perfect score. He is currently in the final year of the BS-MS programme at the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune and his master’s thesis is focussed on the cross-country study of water poverty.

“Initially, I was interested in physics research but a semester project on water poverty got me hooked onto the issue. I read extensively about the water crisis and decided to devote my time to research on the subject that is in dire need of attention,” he said.

Chirag’s interest in research propelled his decision of joining IISER Pune over an IIT. “I had appeared for JEE Advanced in 2017 and achieved all India rank 5064. Despite being eligible for joining IIT Kharagpur and BITS Pilani, I chose to pursue a dual-degree at IISER because of the research ecosystem,” he said.

Chirag studied at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Shahibaug from class 1 to 10 and later shifted to the New Tulip International School for classes 11 and 12. “I decided to change schools in the most crucial years of school education because my school was very far away from my home. With JEE preparations, I didn’t want to waste my time in travelling. Despite being an above-average student in class 12 with 83.8% marks, I managed to qualify for admission in one of the premier technical institutes due to concentrated efforts,” said Chirag, who is an avid chess player and also qualified for many national-level championships.

His father, Dharmendra Gupta, works as a deputy general manager at SBI Life and his mother, Anita Gupta, is a homemaker. Having spent his childhood and early teens in Ahmedabad, he is now a Bombay boy as his family moved to Mumbai around three years ago.

Unlike the traditional route, his preparation strategy for CAT 2021 did not include any handwritten notes or volumes of books. Instead, he completely relied on online learning and prepared for the exam via Youtube. He started preparing for the management entrance exam only in March 2021 and achieved 100 percentile with only a few months of dedicated efforts.

“During my initial months of preparations, I was not very serious with studies and only took one mock test every week. But, as time passed, I started taking 4-5 mock tests per week. When I was stuck, I turned to YouTube videos to enhance my conceptual knowledge. I did not refer to any books or notes and spent all my time into self-studying,” he added.

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