Many of my friends who will appear for CAT this year are nervous about the change in exam pattern. They have been asking me various questions, but the most common ones are “What should I do and what must I avoid while preparing for CAT?” I have tried to answer them to the best of my capacity. But even I am not a master of this topic, as I have appeared only once. But I have observed some of my good friends and today, I’ll be using their example.
I think, CAT aspirants can be categorized in 4 ways.
People in the first category are like AT (Indore city topper and now in IIMA). She was one who prepared for it for 18 months, who sacrificed everything for it and never really moved out of the city in this duration. Her intent to do MBA was clear to her from the beginning and she had mastered all the topics. If you belong to this category, then concentrate on improving your general awareness and personality. Arika had done the same and the result reflects her success. Everyone else starts preparing for Personal Interview after result declaration and so, they get only one month for preparation. Obviously, a person with 6 months of preparation will have an edge over someone with only a month long preparation.
Then there are people like Pravesh(Now in IIFT), who had done everything a coaching institute can ask for. He trusted the institute and never left a single assignment incomplete. If you are from this category, just concentrate on attempting more and more of CAT mock tests. But don’t stop there, analyse it thoroughly. Identify your mistakes and the areas that need further improvement. For example, if your accuracy is satisfactory, aim to improve your speed.
In the third category are people like me, who accomplish just barely sufficient amount of preparation. So any pattern change becomes troublesome for us. We never have confidence in our preparation and are always nervous about it. First of all, if you are in this category, do a thorough analysis of what is the weakest link in your preparation and try to prepare for it. Also, try to gauge your expected ranking at the national level. Give a few mock tests and try to analyse where you stand with respect to the rest. And most importantly, remember that what you have done is enough. You can’t change it on last day. You need not know it all, but be thorough and confident in your scope of preparation. You can only grab a certain amount of sand in your fist; any excess will simply slip through your fingers.
The fourth in the classification are people who could not prepare in spite of their strong will to do so. Then I would suggest you to give CAT just for its experience. Don’t expect anything out of it (though you might turn up lucky). Do not get demoralized if your results aren’t satisfactory. Begin your efforts for the next year right now, do not wait for results and you may have a lead over others. This will improve your chances of making it to first category next year. But if you think you won’t be able to handle failure in the exam this year, don’t even attempt it.
By this time, most of you must be thinking that I haven’t talked about actual preparation. Believe me, there is no right or wrong method. Everyone has their own way. A lion and a deer both aim to live, but they eat different kind of food.
But there are indeed a few things which you can remember:
1) Be focused. Because “ Kisi chiz ko sacche dil se chaho to sari kayanat use tum se milane me lag jati hai.”
2) Your preparation must be balanced across all sections (Verbal/Quants/etc), because if you score 100% in one, yet don’t cross the cut off limit in the other, you won’t be called for an interview.
3) Maintain a balance between your studies and health. If you overdo it for one week and lose the next one, then it’s not beneficial at all. You cannot risk being unhealthy during the examination.
4) Be consistent. If CAT wanted to check your ultimate maths skills they would have asked you calculus and if they wanted to check your language expertise they would have asked you to write a poem. But they want to differentiate students who are willing to put efforts. And hence, they ask those kinds of questions, in which you can improve a lot when you do it consistently. Studying for 10 hours on Sunday is less beneficial than studying for 7 hours by devoting 1 hour every day. The preparation for CAT should become a part of your daily routine.
5) The most important thing is to have faith in yourself and in the coaching institute you are attending. In the end, they are professionals. Your result is important for their own future and hence they will do everything they can in their capacity to improve it.
PS: Best of luck for the exam!