Bell the CAT successfully!
Will I get a call from top B-Schools after clearing CAT? Will I be able to score well? Will I get into IIMs? How will my career look like? These are a few of the questions that constantly cross the aspirants’’ minds. No doubt, CAT is a tough nut to crack. But it takes correct strategies, focus, and a clear mind to help you with the preparation.
Common Aptitude Test, most commonly known as CAT, is the national level entrance examination administered every year by IIMs. It is held once a year in the month of November and is considered to be one of the most competitive examinations by thousands of aspirants. Rightly so, as it is the avenue for getting admission in IIMs, MDI, FMS, IMI, and many more, which are considered to be top MBA colleges in India.
The question that comes to the mind of thousands of aspirants is how they can perform well and excel in one of the most challenging competitive examinations in the country. It is designed in such a way that it measures the candidate’s aptitude, analytical skills, communication skills, vocabulary, reasoning, data interpretation, and basic mathematical skills. Most of the candidates either join different coaching classes to prepare for the examination or they start preparing on their own.
The ideal time that a candidate should start his/her preparation for CAT should be at least 8-9 months prior to the scheduled examination. This is because many of the aspirants, who are either fresher’s or working professionals, will be able to devote the required efforts and number of hours to practice and will also get an ample amount of time to revise the syllabus thoroughly. This is considered to be a crucial period as the preparation strategy that will be put into action during this time will give results afterward.
Most of the CAT experts and toppers describe the CAT preparation strategy as SMART WORK. They time and again emphasize on the fact that candidates should develop expertise in the areas they are confident about and should avoid hard meaningless preparation that consumes so much of their time with little or no gain.
Aspirants need to keep in mind the below mentioned tips while preparing for CAT:
- Time management: Prepare a timetable and divide your days/weeks according to different subjects. Make sure you allot a minimum of 3-4 hours each day for CAT preparation. You can shuffle the subjects a little so that it doesn’t become monotonous for you and you actually start enjoying solving the questions.
- Practice: Practice makes a wo(man) perfect! The more you practice, the more you will get clarity on the concepts.
- Newspaper reading: Make sure you develop a habit of reading newspapers on a daily basis. Newspapers like The Hindu, The Economic Times, Mint, etc. will help you stay updated about the current affairs and latest business updates which might come handy during Group discussions and Personal Interviews.
- Comprehension: One of the sections in CAT examination is Verbal Ability, which also has a comprehension section. The more you will read, the faster you will be able to attempt the comprehension section. Aim to read four-five comprehension passages daily.
- New words per day: Make sure you learn at least five new words each day. Make a glossary of your own and keep writing them down every day. You can read novels, newspapers, or even watch a documentary on television. This will enhance your vocabulary.
- Aim for accuracy: Especially in the first section, make sure you do not get carried away and attempt all the questions. Aim for accuracy rather than hit and trial. Keep negative marking in mind.
- No fixed pattern: Change is the only thing constant! Do not rely too much on the sample and previous year’s papers. Patterns change every year. Yes, you can use them as a reference, but do not swear by them.
- Cut-off pattern: The same goes for marks. Every year the cut-off is different. You should not rely completely on the previous year’s cut-off.
- Other sources: You can join various Facebook groups where regular discussions take place regarding CAT. You can also obtain study materials from various coaching institutes. Subscribe to various apps which provide online classes and study material.
- Mock tests: Attempt as many mock tests as you can. Analyze your performance after every mock test and then prepare or change your strategy.
- Maintain a formula book: Write all the formulae in one place. You can quickly revise them if needed.
- Stress management:A day prior to the examination, sit back and relax. Do not panic and start going through the syllabus. Practice yoga, meditation, listen to music. Most importantly, believe in yourself…!!
All the best!
Ms. Sonali Arora
Assistant Professor, RDIAS