CAT is yet to come out of the bag but MBA aspirants aiming for a seat at the coveted B-schools in 2018 have already started planning on how to bell it. While some students take the safer route and start their preparations even before the notification is announced, some wait to plan their preparation strategy based on the official release of exam pattern. But there is another group, which is in a dilemma on when and how to start the preparation process.
Understand the syllabus
This is a useful tip for almost any exam. Understand the syllabus by going through past year’s papers and official guidelines. CAT can be segmented into four broad parts-
- Quantitative Ability
- Data Interpretation
- Logical Reasoning
- Verbal Ability
The concepts used in this examination are broadly of class 10 level. However, the questions are little bit tricky to solve and require good amount of logical thinking. But it can be developed by practice.
Begin with the end in mind
Start your preparation with sheer determination. Whenever you feel demotivated, you can dream about the day when you will crack the exam and it will definitely motivate you. March-April is a good time to start preparation for the exam which will be held in October-November.
Should you join coaching?
This is based on a lot of things. If you have a lot of time, you can go for coaching. However, if you are into a hectic job and get very little time to study, you can prepare on your own without wasting that time in going to coaching. Coaching will only give you guidance. Rest depends on how sincerely you practice.
Also, the syllabus of this exam does not require any special training. Most of the things we already study in our school. So you can join distance learning from Eckovation. The flagship program Super 50 for CAT Exam is excellent for working profession which help in ensuring 98+ percentile.
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Books and material
First of all, get CAT preparation material of some good coaching institute.
For Quant, there are two good books- Arun Sharma & Sarvesh Varma. You can refer to any of these. I referred the latter one as suggested by one of my friends. However, I think the former is more popular with the students. Both the books are good. But don’t buy both. No need to unnecessary collect a lot of books & material. If you have limited time, solving one book is enough. Go for the second book only when you have finished the entire syllabus.
No special book for concepts of Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability. You can rely on the coaching material for all the concepts and can solve all the practice questions. However, you can refer to some books on these topics only after you finish the entire syllabus.
For verbal, you also need to read “Word Power made Easy” by Norman Lewis. It is a very good book which helps in increasing vocabulary not by memorising stuff, but by understanding the ideas behind the words. It is distributed into 45-47 sessions meant to be read one at a time. It is a must-read book and should be completed within two months of starting your preparation.
You also need to read a few good story books as explained in the next point.
Reading, reading & reading
Many students, specially engineers are already good at quant but perform badly in verbal. Earlier, CAT was heavily based on vocab and grammar concepts. But these days, it is more of a general English exam which tests one’s command over English in common usage. You should be very much familiar with English.
The only way to improve your verbal score is to read a lot of good books written in standard English. These can be fiction, non-fiction or anything, just written in good English. I have already written a blog post regarding this.
This is like the Holy Grail of CAT preparation. Subscribe to one good Test Series and write all the tests very sincerely in simulated environment. Fix a day, say Sunday, fix a time, say 9 AM, and give the test every week at the same time. Sit in proper position while attempting the test and tell all your roommates or family members not to disturb you at that time.
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News coverage for post-CAT preparation
Once you clear CAT, you need to qualify the Personality Test rounds of various colleges which include Group Discussions, Written Tests and Personal Interviews. Qualifying CAT makes you eligible to attend this stage and its your performance in these rounds which finally help you getting selected. Preparing for this stage immediately after CAT result can be difficult. Try to follow the basic news in your daily life from today itself. This will ease down the load of preparation for Personality Test rounds and boost up your confidence as well.