The Homestretch: The Final 72 Hours before Your CAT
You can feel them coming on…at first it’s just a faint flutter of wings somewhere around your heart, but soon enough you can feel the fervent flapping down in the pit of your stomach, rattling your whole body. You’ve got butterflies in your stomach, otherwise known as nerves, and it’s all due to your CAT Test. Test anxiety is a common, almost universal problem, and all the more so when you are dealing with a high stakes test such as the CAT. While meditation, acupuncture, and medication are all used in attempts to calm the butterflies, the best cure for this anxiety is often the confidence that comes with knowing that you are as prepared as you possibly can be.
Assuming you have taken loads of practice tests, completed untold numbers of practice problems, and reviewed the content backwards and forwards. (Well, hopefully not backwards. With all of that preparation, the final three days before your CAT become just as much about your mental preparation as they are about your intellectual preparation.
72 hours (3 Days Left for CAT exam)
This is supposed to be the last day when you go for mock. I would actually recommend taking your final test a day or two before this, and using this day as your final “cram session”, reviewing mistakes from previous tests or drills. Either way, today is the day you should make a complete review sheet for yourself that summarizes your strategies for each questions type. For example, make a list of the most common types of grammatical errors that appear in sentence correction problems and the ways that you know how to spot those errors. For math, write down the formulas, rules, and any mnemonic devices that you know you will need on the test, such as the special right triangles (30-60-90, anyone?). If you have taken a prep course or used study guides that have taught you step-by-step approaches or strategies that you find successful, write down those steps or strategies here. A good review sheet will take two to three hours to complete, and will involve a complete survey of the material you’ve used over your weeks or months of preparation.
48 hours (2 Days Left for CAT exam)
The most important thing to remember at this stage is that it is very doubtful that you will learn anything “new” that will be of any use to you on the day of the test. So taking a full length test at this point of time may do you harm than any good. Instead of this drilling, use today to look over every practice test that you have done, looking at the questions that you missed, guessed on, or that you got right but took too long to answer. If you have been keeping a log of missed questions in your practice drills, you can review this as well, and review any patterns to identify what areas you had trouble with. After reviewing your previous mistakes, and what should have been done, the correct approach will resonate with you more clearly. Now, take some more time to read, refine, and tweak your review sheet to that it is of maximum use to you between now and the test.
24 hours (The Day Before for CAT exam)
The immediate thought that generally most of us have is when we think about this day is “Last Chance!” As in, last chance to learn everything, last chance to get better, and last chance to increase my score! But in reality, the only last chance you have on this day is to screw yourself up. As I mentioned in the previous day’s activities, you’re not likely to learn anything new at this point that is going to help your score. So, surprisingly, the best thing to do on the day before your CAT is…nothing to do with the CAT!
Other than these short CAT-related activities, try to keep yourself otherwise occupied the day before the test .Go for shopping if you love to! Go out for a dinner with a friend or family members and watch a good Movie. Do a puzzle or computer game that requires your focus and intelligence. These activities will keep your mind off the test, which will help calm your nerves, while the information from the review that you have been doing percolates in the back of your head, readying you for “THE DAY.”