CAT Exam: Find the Best time to start CAT preparation

‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.’ – Mark Twain

You ask a top company CEO or a budding entrepreneur in the start-up world about the day when they made it big in corporate world. The answer will be “Every day from the point I decided to start working towards my/our goals”.

So the right time to start your preparation is the moment when you have decided that you want pursue Management studies from top B-school in India. Just as “Rome was not built in a day”, no successful career in any field was built in a day.

CAT Preparation may take 10–12 months for a person with average past academic record, 6–8 months for a person with above average past academic record and 3–4 months for a person with excellent past academic record. But an early starter will surely give you an advantage over the others who are yet to decide on it.

You need to strategize and plan to do well in anything. There a few geniuses out of there who do well in many things without a lot of preparation, but for the rest of us, dedicated planning and hard work can work wonders.

CAT preparation involves two stages, a long term strategy and a focused short term strategy.

a) Long Term – Improving generic skills: These are good habits/skills to inculcate which will improve the all round personality of a person. Doing better in CAT is a positive side effect. Some of them are given below:

  1. Reading Novels: Reading is a very good habit to pick up. It gives you a great perspective of different cultures and time periods which will help you understand the world around you better. With an eye on CAT, start reading as many nonfiction books as possible. Books based on history, philosophy, science, etc will help cultivate an interest in that specific field. This gives you an edge when you are attempting the exam.
  2. Solving Sudoku: Having good attention to detail is a great skill to inculcate. Your CAT percentile will improve significantly if you can cut down on ‘silly mistakes’. You should aspire to perform to the best of your abilities and not miss out on any easy questions. Solving Sudokus enhances your attention to detail and concentration power.
  3. Playing Chess: Chess is an excellent tool to improve problem solving skills. I improved these skills by playing chess. It is very under rated how much they help in improving your concentration levels.
  4. Newspaper habit: Reading newspapers like The Hindu everyday is a great way to enhance vocabulary. People who read newspapers regularly certainly fare better than their peers in Reading comprehension, Para Jumbles and Cloze test. Plus it helps in developing an all round personality that helps in the interview.

The sole point of inculcating these habits is not CAT Preparation. These are good habits to develop which have a positive impact on your CAT preparation.

b) Short Term – Focused effort: With 5 months left to CAT, the preparation should take on a mission mode and completely focussed on CAT preparation. The chart shown is a reliable strategy used by some successful candidates during CAT preparation.

  1. Daily tests for CAT: Daily tests are very crucial for regular practice. Daily tests are to be attempted every day for all the 5 months. Always attempt the questions before checking the answers. Keep track of topics that you are not faring well in, so you can improve your basics of those by watching video concepts and solving study room problems.
  2. Old CAT papers: Previous papers are useful to understand the changing trends in CAT. There is an element of surprise in every exam but there is an element of predictability too. Its is always advisable to start your preparation with previous papers as you can get an idea as to what type of questions you need to focus your efforts on.
  3. Mock Tests:Mock tests help improve accuracy and that is essential for the actual exam. Attempt online timed mocks only. After the mock, a thorough analysis of sectional and topic percentiles should be conducted. Compile a list of questions that were correct, wrong and unattempted. Look for trends in the scoring pattern. To get interview calls from IIMs you have to clear the sectional cutoffs. So, focus on weak areas after every mock. Aim to complete atleast 25 – 30 mocks before appearing for the test. Cracku is offering
  4. Study room: Enroll to a reputed study room package that covers the entire syllabus. The more the questions the better the package is. Good questions are only half the battle. You have to ensure the package you follow has detailed solutions to all the questions as you can improve your fundamentals if you don’t know the answer to any particular question.
  5. Video concepts:Look for video concepts packages which cover the entire syllabus of CAT in detail. Videos should give shortcuts and tips to all the concepts. There should also be a provision to ask doubts where experts review each question and answer them accordingly.

With this strategy success in CAT is a guarantee. Best of Luck!

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