March 22, 2012

CAT strategy

Every year, over 2.5 lakh graduates, post graduates and professionals sweat it out trying to bell the CAT. For those living under a rock, CAT(Common Admission Test) is the gateway to the Indian Institutes of Management and other such institutes of repute. One cursory glance at that mind boggling statistic and most of you have already thrown in the towel. Howsoever a single seat should suffice for you and all you need for this is a little self-belief and a well thought out cat strategy.

Step 1:Know your enemy

‘Know thy enemy and know thyself and you can fight a thousand battles without disaster.’ – Sun Tzu, “Art Of War”.

Let us begin with the first half of the aforementioned quote. You need to be well versed with your enemy – CAT (the exam, not to be confused henceforth with its feline namesake 🙂  ).
• For the next few days learn as much as you can about CAT from various sites, friends and seniors.
• Try to get a basic idea of the pattern of the exam and the type of questions encountered.
Next, you move on to the most critical aspect – finding out your strengths and weaknesses.
• Simply pick up a past years CAT exam papers.
• Attempt as many questions as you can without putting the time limit in one go (say you sit for 4 hours read all the questions & attempt which ever you are confident of…..don’t make any blind guess for any of the questions).
• Check your answers and attempts.
Write down your overall score, along with sectional score.
Repeat the above steps for 4-5 more Past Year CAT Papers.
• With your consolidated scores for 4-5 attempts of different Mock CAT tests, you would be able find which section is your strength and which one is your weakness.
• Do not panic if your scores are too low initially, slowly with time & preparation your score will definitely improve.

Once this is done you move on to the next phase

Step 2: Getting Your Hands Dirty

• You should start with self-preparation and stick to it for few months. Revise your class 10 and 12th maths (CBSE/ICSE if possible) to strengthen your basics.
• If you are confident of your foundations and/or are hard-pressed for time you may try study materials of various coaching classes.
• The number of hours that you are required to put in depends on your individual aptitude. For working professionals, however, a minimum of 4 hours is a must.
• Join for Mock CATs after few months of self-preparation. Based on your performance in Mock tests and your self- preparation, you must decide if you really require classroom coaching or not.

Step 3: Aiming for the stars (Or the nearest comets)

After spending considerable time in preparation it would also be advisable for you to set a clear cut target about your aspirations, whether you are planning to take admission only in top 10 colleges or top 20 colleges or top 30 colleges. The target must be realistic based on your self-analysis your preparation and your confidence in yourself.

Step 4: ‘A diamond is a chunk of Coal made valuable through Polish’

Clearing the written test is not the end of your preparation. You need to focus on the bigger picture and keep yourself prepared for group discussion and personal interviews. Everyone has ideas in their mind but the most important thing is how well you convey all your ideas efficiently to the group or the interviewer. Here comes the need for you to polish yourself and rise above the tide.
While you are at it, do make an effort on improving your body language.
Also if you have time on your hand, start reading good novels (stressing specifically on the ‘good’ part).For those looking at improving their grammar, practice for Norman Lewis for an hour a day. It would help you both during the exam as well as after it.

Signing off with the most important tip of them all – Lots of Practice. All the planning will come to naught if not backed up by rigorous practice. During your practice sessions, keep a tab of your mistakes and keep organizing them. It shall go a long way in helping you out. ‘For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.’
Finally, what is the right time to start preparing, you may ask. Do not wait; the time will never be “just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.