Preparing for the CAT

Most students appearing for the CAT begin their preparation a year and a half prior to the scheduled exam. Those appearing for the CAT 2010, in all likelihood started preparation way back in June 2009. In light of such high preparation periods one wonders then if the preparation in the last one month has any significance.

The answer is yes. Obviously one cannot expect miracles: however, you can certainly make your last month preparation count by well planned effort. Typical queries in the minds of students include: Should one study concepts or practice mock tests? Should the revision veer towards the topics in which one is weak or should these be completely ignored?

Tips for the last 30 days

Personal appraisal

Start by assessing where you currently stand. Analyze the last five six mock tests and prepare a topic wise list of your strong and weak areas. Be as specific as possible E.g. In the verbal section I am weak at vocabulary whereas I am good at grammar and RC . This will help you to strategize later to maximize your score.

Must know topics

The last five years trend of the CAT reveals that there are a few topics which consistently account for a bulk of the questions in all the section. E.g. Year on year number system, algebra and geometry has made up nearly 30 percent of the quantitative section. Needless to say, if you are weak in any of these regular topics, you need to immediately start working on them even if it means learning the basic concepts. Avoid solving the extremely complex types. It is difficult to crack the CAT without mastery over the regular set of questions that appear each year.

Final strategy

The last month is certainly not the time to experiment. Consolidation is the name of the game for exam strategy as well. To get a call from the top institutes not only do you need to perform well overall but you also need to perform well in each of three sections individually. Since there are chances that you may not be able to perform as well as in a particular section as you expect to you need to have a contingency plan to counter the loss. One possible time allocation strategy is the 40 – 40 – 15 minutes strategy here you must give 40 minutes to each of the sections and keep about 15 minutes as the buffer time to either salvage a section or to maximize scores.

The easiest way to success is hard work

Make this maxim your motto for the next 30 days and devote as much time as possible to CAT. This is not the time to be solving too many mocks test. A maximum of two mock tests per week should not be exceeded because you also need the time to analyze them thoroughly. Take sectional tests and make sure you are in regular touch with all the topics

Self management

While everybody focuses on the hard aspects of CAT, which is the actual act of studying one must not ignore the soft aspects of CAT i.e. making sure you are in the best possible frame of mind while taking the actual exam.

A few suggestions are:

1) Be ready for steady improvements and not Meta improvements in your percentile score.
2) Practice stress management techniques like meditation, visualization etc. The focus is to make sure that you are in your peak performance state of the D day.

To summarize in the last one month before the CAT, consolidate your preparation and stop experimenting with your exam strategy. Practice all you can and continue to analyze your performance. Also, ensure you have covered the most important topics and focus on your strong areas. Practice visualization / meditation for at least 15 minutes a day. Keep a calm head while writing the exam.

Finally, ‘all the best go crack the CAT’.