CAT- One of the most feared exams in India and also the dream of many students who are looking to make it big in their career. I was at the same stage in 2015- the year I took CAT. In this article, I will share my experiences and also some points which may help you prepare for the same. Preparing for CAT involves a deeper understanding of yourself. You should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. The main question that students ask themselves initially is – Where to start? This can be a very confusing situation to be in, as right direction is important from the beginning. I started my CAT journey by taking Mock Tests. Although, I was not prepared enough but still I took the 3 hours long test and completed it. This mock test helped me gauge my strengths and weaknesses. Some areas needed immediate attention. I started my preparation with a focused strategy in these areas. I practiced more questions from these topics and was able to improve upon them. This trend continued as the more mocks I took; the better I was able to assess my preparation.
Each mock helped me improve and I learned a lot. I had one basic idea- A Mock Test is not a measure of my potential, it is a measure of my weaknesses. One can commit as many mistakes as they can in a Mock test, till there are none left. Overcoming weaknesses is easier said than done. I feel Quantitative Aptitude requires a lot of practice. Practice improves speed and that plays a crucial role in CAT. Try to use options in Quant. That really helps save time. Some options in the questions are very easy to eliminate and using the elimination technique makes it a lot easier to solve the questions. But even this needs a tremendous amount of practice. If DI/LR is a weakness for you, then it will be a good idea to keep giving sectional mock tests. You cannot predict the types of question you will get in the actual CAT so it is better to just keep trying out all varieties. VA section is altogether different. The majority of aspirants are weak in this section. Even I used to score considerably lesser marks in this section. To improve VA section, I developed a habit of reading regularly. I used to find the RC Passages very boring. To read them with full concentration was very difficult for me. I started reading more materials like philosophical novels and intellectual articles. And eventually, those 2-3 passages of comprehension started appearing smaller to me and I was able to concentrate better. If you are willing to improve in this section, you must develop the habit of reading.
More than anything, what matters most is the confidence and belief that you have in yourself. Like I pointed out earlier, CAT requires a deeper understanding of yourself. It tests a person even during the preparatory phase. Never underestimate yourself. I have observed people break down one month prior to the exam. But this is the time when you have to be at your best. Students judge themselves on the basis of their performance and score in the mock tests. So, it is crucial to be confident and to back yourself up. And Finally, it all comes down to those 3 hours in the exam hall. I have seen most intelligent students spoiling their chances as they panicked in those final 3 hours. I know the amount of pressure that one feels during the exam as I have been there. This is where confidence helps. Aspirants must have faith in their abilities and keep believing that with proper preparation, they can manage a good score and turn those 3 hours in a lifetime memory.
Written exam is not the end but just the beginning of a competitive journey. Shortlisted candidates are notified and interviews are scheduled. Candidates compete with the finest talents in the country to secure a seat at the top B-schools. The thought of 15 minutes of conversation in a room deciding your future is a scary one but it is a good idea to strive to make those 15 minutes fruitful. Be patient in an interview. Interviewers like it when you are calm and composed. They might even test you on your ability to keep calm under pressure. Before answering, take a brief moment to think through and then answer the question at hand. Be fluent while answering the questions, as good communication is the key to a great interview. Follow these little tips during your interview and when you come out of that room, you would have written a better future for yourself.
Remember, CAT is a journey starting from the time you decide to write the exam to the time you get in a B-School. It is a testing and rigorous but equally beautiful journey. If you are sincere throughout, you would emerge as a much better and stronger person than you were before this journey. Whatever may be the result, the experience is enriching.
I wish the aspirants all the very best for their exams!