Common Aptitude Test (CAT) is a renowned test among management aspirants. It is organised annually and is a national level exam. It is a computer-based test lasting for 2 hours comprising of 100 questions in total.
It is conducted every year to fish out management professionals that have exceptional aptitude and knowledge for management and endowment for the corporate world.
It puts your brain on tease in 3 categories: Verbal ability to assess your communication skills, Data Interpretation along with logical reasoning to analyse a given situation, and Quantitative Aptitude to arrive somewhere by using basic maths.
CAT is one of the most intimidating entrance exams, so if you are planning to ace it, you should have an exemplary strategy and preparation plan.
One question that keeps daunting aspirants is "how to start preparing for the CAT exam"? You need to go thoroughly through the preparative plans, strategy, tips and tricks if you are appearing for CAT exams as ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish’.
According to few CAT toppers, they described the strategy for CAT preparation as SMART PREPARATION. In this, they preach to you to annul meaningless preparation that may take a toll on your valuable time.
You can prepare for your exam in 3 ways; (A) by doing self-study, (B) by joining coaching institutes online or offline and (C) blended mode with coaching and self-study.
Let's begin with a detailed preparation strategy for the CAT exam:
1. Get acquainted with CAT syllabus, marking scheme, exam pattern well: CAT has 3 main segments: Verbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning (DILR), last but not least Quantitative Aptitude (QA).
You get 3 marks for every right answer and -1 is deducted for every wrong answer. In the VARC section majority of weightage is given to comprehensive passages.
This section is quite devious and will consist of a variety of questions. Reading good grammar English books, newspapers, articles, the blog will help you in your vocabulary and grammar. In the DILR section, you get questions based on graphs, charts, Venn diagrams, seating arrangements etc.
It is the hardest segment which primarily needs analysing skills. For this section learn and start with tricks that might help you save your time.
In QA, you get questions on profit loss, discount, ratio and proportion, probability and much more. Before going to attempt the test, check the entire syllabus in detail.
2. Get your hands on the finest resources available offline and online: With the advent of technology in the educational sector, there have been so many online platforms offering personalised coaching.
So many coaching centres are running offline as well. They can be lifesavers. Try solving previous year's question papers to get to know about the type of questions being asked in the exams.
Join live course study by experts in their field. Solve the latest test series designed especially for CAT. In case of any doubt immediately take expert help and resolve it.
3. Join peer groups online: You can do wonders if you join forces. Join groups on platforms like Quora, Facebook, telegram etc. You can have healthy discussions in these groups.
Exchange of ideas takes place in these groups. People share their knowledge, provide guidance, and solve queries here.
4. Go for a weekly timetable and stick to it: One can't emphasise enough the importance of time table.
It sometimes may look like a herculean task to prioritise your work and sort it out, but once done it may be fruitful.
The benefit of time table is that you won't get bored or stuck in a rut. You will have a sufficient amount of time for all your favourite activities without compromising your study hours.
Make weekly goals as they are more realistic to be achieved. It depends on person to person how much time they need to devote for the preparation.
5. Give mock exams with clock ticking: This step is generally avoided by the CAT aspirants. It's designed to make aspirants aware of the pattern, level of difficulty, speed, the accuracy of the paper.
It helps immensely in studying how well you do under pressure. It helps you to keep a regular tab on assessment.
It will also help you to design and formulate your preparative plan strategy effectively. Giving as many mock tests as you can, will let you be aware of what works best for you.
6. Managing your time: Procrastination is a thief that will rob you of your time. Start preparing as early as you can.
Managing time is not only important before the exam but is also important during the exam. With 40 min given to each section, you should move with the speed of light to attempt as many questions as you can.
Managing time has proven to be effective in lowering stress levels, increasing efficacy and productivity simultaneously.
7. Basic is strength: While learning the entire hotshot topic, we tend to forget our basics. Instead of mugging everything, get conceptual clarity.
8. Always try learning from toppers: It is one of the important aspects of learning as you will be getting the answers from those who have passed these exams with flying colours.
Who else can be better than toppers to give feedback on how to prepare well for your exams, they can be a live example of what to do and what not to!
9. Drafting notes: It's smart to make notes of the topics. Notes will help you tremendously during your revisions. It will be your one-stop go during the revisions.
10. Don't lose sanity: No doubt CAT is a mind-boggling exam, which may devour your senses.
But in a time of desperation stay calm and focussed. Meditation and yoga will help you a lot in times when you see nothing but oblivion.
Crucial points for CAT preparation:
• Since CAT is a speed-based test you need to be as fast as a cat.
• There is a provision for a time limit in each section; you have to keep that in mind while solving the paper.
• CAT also has sectional cut-offs, so be generous with each topic and prepare well.
• Due to the negative marking scheme, refrain from overdoing questions and attempt only those you are confident in.
• Attempt time-bound mock test series to see where you stand. Analyse where you need to work more.
• Try mugging all the important formulas for an hour daily.
• Analyse the previous year's question papers.
Check out the essence of experts' tips and suggestions while preparing for the CAT exam.
Do not go pestering yourself after theory. If you have learnt it, use it in the application while problem-solving. Once you have conceptual clarity attempt the CAT quiz.
Practising what you learn is where the core lies. Take quizzes, mocks on a regular period. Starting to prepare early will give you a required kick-start.
It will give you a copious amount of time to analyse your strengths and weaknesses.
Remain calm and poise from the beginning. No matter how much time you invest in coaching or online class, self-study is paramount. It is normal if an aspirant is feeling stuck or delirious.
All they need is someone to push them out of this situation. They can be anyone; colleague, dear or near one, mentor. Completely revise your CAT syllabus at least thrice before the exam.
The key to success is focused smart work! Don't doubt yourself. Have faith in you and the process.
All the Best!