Confidence will see you through

CAT 2010
Last Updated : 14 July 2010, 10:53 IST
Last Updated : 14 July 2010, 10:53 IST

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The CAT notification  acts as a stimulant to many students to     start their prepar-ations in right earnest.

Most of you would have started preparing for CAT 2010 some months ago. Some of you would have even started as early as a year ago. But then, how many of you have the same zeal and desire to crack CAT as you did when you signed up for CAT coaching?

Start now!
Those of you who have not started preparations for the test this year may be wondering whether it is too late to start now. Ask yourself two questions: Have you passed your 8th, 9th and 10th std exams, especially the Maths exam? Do you remember the Grammar that your English teacher in school drilled into you? If yes, then the remaining days are more than enough for you to prepare for CAT and make it to any of the IIMs.

However, there’s a niggling doubt which I must address right now. If you don’t have the confidence and self-belief that you can crack the test, why should the IIMs even look at your candidature?!

Power of positive thinking
First, you must understand that CAT is not an insur-mountable hurdle. The exam has very simple areas, some of which have been covered way back in high school.

Second, with systematic preparation, CAT is probably one of the easiest tests to crack.
However, what is most important for you at this stage is to take stock of your situation.
Know what have you achieved till date and objectively analyse areas where improvement is  required. By now, some of you would have written the first AIMCAT (All India Mock Test). This test gives you a clear indication of where you stand vis-à-vis others in the country who are preparing for CAT.

More than 150 B-Schools take CAT as a standard written test. Your idea of getting into a good B-School starts with CAT and such exams, and the route to the same is not as difficult as it is made out to be.

Timelines are the key
Let’s understand what should be done from now until November. It would be useful to work backwards. 

Last Month/October: The last month of preparation should be less of study time and more of practice time. Since CAT is a Computer Based Exam, it is advisable to get comfortable with the mouse. Reading on a computer should become a habit. 

The most imp-ortant part of any competitive exam is the strategy that you adopt.Given eno-ugh time, you will realise that you can solve almost all  the prob-lems in the test. The fact that the same has to be done within a fixed time and that too by making as few mistakes as possible is what makes the task challenging.

October 1: You should have finished learning all the concepts by this time. You should have solved as many possible exercises as possible in each of the areas/ topics. Speed is important but more crucial to your success is the accuracy of your answers.

Your confidence will soar with every problem that you successfully solve. By this time you should have gone through all books/study material that you have at least once, preferably twice.

July 15th-Sept 30th: These two-and-a-half months are very crucial. Those of you who are working, please do under-stand that taking leave in the last few days before the test and trying to prepare for it is not a good idea. It is better that you use the leave (that you intend taking for your preparation) partly in this period and partly in October/ November.

Tackling Quants
The best way to prepare for Quants is to divide the entire subject into topics and set a time target for each of the topics. Ensure that while you are setting your targets, the revision schedule is incor-porated.
Ideally, you should have finished the Quants portion (going through the basic study material) by July 15th. The same should be completed at least by August 31st, if you have started your preparation now. Those students who have completed the basic material should do it once again so that they are thorough with the concepts.

At the end of each All India Mock CAT (AIMCAT), you can check your scores in each area/section and find out where you lack expertise so that you can concentrate on those topics before the next AIMCAT. This way, you can work on your weaknesses and transform them into strengths.

Data Interpretation
Your ability to calculate quickly can make a huge difference if you aim to be good at Data Interpretation/ Logic. Spend 15 minutes every day on Speed Maths techniques. Make a check list of all the types of graphs and questions that appear in CAT. Give yourself a target of 10 days to go through each and every graph. Revise the same every 10 days. Take tests periodically.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Verbal Ability can be divided into three broad areas: Vocabulary,  Grammar, and Verbal Reason-ing.

There is no way you can learn by rote or memorise hundreds of words. The best way to improve vocabulary is to concentrate on the words that appear in the mock tests and ensure that you are thorough with them. Since the words that are given in CAT are the words in vogue, it is very likely that by going through the mock tests and individual tests, you will come across almost all words that may appear in the exam.

The more you read, the better will be your comfort zone when it comes to  Grammar. There is no other way but to practise as many questions that come your way and keep reading.

It may look like a simplistic way of preparation, but this is the only way to improve your skills. Memorisation is impossible.

When it comes to Verbal Reasoning and Reading Co-mprehension, you need to get familiar with the type of questions. Make sure that you spend at least half an hour every day on Reading Comp-rehension exercises.  

Last word
Every student from any stream — B.E/ B.Tech/ B.Com/ B.A/ B.B.A/ MBBS — can become a manager. Hence, any exam that tries to test students from different streams has to be at a level which is comfortable to all students. The only common level that students from diverse streams have is the Std 10 exam.  Hence CAT and other exams test aptitude at that level. Each one of you is capable of getting there if you prepare systematically. There is enough time to revisit your school level maths. Start now.  All the best!

(The author is an XLRI alumnus and Director, T.I.M.E. Bangalore.)

Published 14 July 2010, 10:50 IST

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