Pointers to an effective CAT preparation strategy

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    Shiladitya Bhowmik is currently pursuing his graduation from Jadavpur Univesity in Computer Science and Engineering. He cracked CAT 13 and received calls from all IIMs and other major Business schools. He converted IIMA, IIMB and NMIMS and is awaiting results for other programs. Besides academics, he is interested in sports, mainly football and tennis and also like spending time in his garden.

    Most aspirants wonder where to start, how to start and what to start off with. I had the same doubts and questions. Well to begin with, before starting off one needs to assess one’s own abilities and standing. Some are gifted in maths/DI while others excel in Verbal ability/Logical ability. If you feel that your weak point is maths then I suggest you start off with chapters like Simple Equation, Ratio Proportion and Percentage and Profit and loss. Then you should move on to other areas like Numbers, Geometry, Speed and time etc. Being good with calculations is a must. Not only it helps you in the QA section but also gets you going in the DI sets.

    On the other hand if you feel that your Achilles heel is the Verbal section, then you should start with newspaper articles (and then move on to editorials), to get the habit of reading (essential for RCs and well everything as a matter of fact).One also needs to be aware of one’s reading speed (Recommended one is 400 wpm but around 230-250 wpm suffices). Besides you need to work on your vocabulary. Write down the new words that you come across while reading new articles and revise them afterwards. Try to use them in your own sentences whenever possible, just writing them in a notebook doesn’t have the full effect because every word is an idea and you need to know how to use them. Books like Norman Lewis or Barron’s also help, but the best way is to read. Keep a dictionary in your phone for quick reference.

    Once you are done with the assessment part, it’s time to decide on a strategy. It’s better to join a coaching center (although people still get wonderful scores without joining them) as they have professionals who will be able to help you during the course of your journey. Besides you will also get well structured study materials and test papers and online practice tests (taking tests before the screen is hugely important to get that feel).

    After this comes the problem of time management. If you are a college student, you might opt to dedicate your weekends for CAT and the weekdays for college work , or you might go for a balanced (in my opinion a better ) approach of keeping aside a couple of hours for CAT each day. The latter one is more efficient since it keeps you in touch regularly rather than just weekends. For working professionals weekends might work out better.

    Now after selecting an institute and a strategy for time management, it’s finally time to get the ball rolling. Understanding the basics of every chapter is essential, and though this sounds very elementary it's not what everyone manages to do. It’s also vital to take the online sectional tests after covering the various topics. Keep track of the performances and you will get to know where you stand and exactly how you are progressing. Taking the All India Mocks will give you an idea about your percentile and please don’t develop a habit of skipping them. And make sure you don’t ignore LR or DI. My CAT quant section was a bit tough but DI helped me get through.

    This journey is arduous and challenging, so make sure you are not alone. Form a group of friends who are dedicated and determined aspirants. Regularly discuss problems with them, try to complement one another. It will benefit everyone instead of hurting anyone’s odds. Besides this, make the most out of your teachers. Good teachers are difficult to come by and when you get some in your life establish relationships with them and those will reap rich dividends!

    Well now I am in the last phase of this article but what I personally feel is the most important one. Let me tell you, that no matter how good you are you will face depressing situations during the course of your preparation, will get humbling percentiles in mock tests, and abysmal scores in classroom tests. Your job then will be to stand by yourself and that is IMPORTANT and very difficult to do. Many people lose interest and drop out when faced with such situations. That’s certainly not a trait of a winner!

    Lastly on a personal note I wish you the very best and may you fulfill your aspirations and the dreams that you dared to dream!

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