CAT exam in first attempt

Almost all the top B-schools of India that offer degree courses in MBA consider CAT or Common Admission Test as the yardstick for their admission criteria. Conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, the CAT entrance exam is mandatory to get into any of the 20 IIMs. Additionally, more than 100 private and government B-schools consider the CAT percentile to make their merit list yearly.

CAT is among the most competitive and challenging to crack entrance examinations in India regarding PG degrees. Most of the CAT toppers who achieve the 98 percentile or more are first-time examinees. Aspirants started their CAT preparation at least a year ago and underwent rigorous training to prepare for the test.

The different tricks and tips are extensively followed by CAT toppers to clear the examination on the very first try. 

Come up and Stick to a Strategy

Consistency is the cornerstone of a 100 percentile score in CAT. When CAT exam details are available, candidates must begin strategising their preparation process. How to allocate their time and balance the preparation with other studies and work, which coaching classes to attend, what books to consult, and how to approach the entire practice – all these need to be chalked out first and foremost in a transparent manner. CAT aspirants must stick to their original plan if it works for them and try not to deviate from it over the next few months. But while chalking things out, they should remember to keep it realistic and not put themselves under unreasonably high expectations. 

Have clear concepts

CAT is not something that can be cleared with vague or ambiguous ideas. One needs to have no doubt in his or her mind when answering the questions at the examination centre, and that is only possible if the aspirants have crystal clear ideas about the core concepts of the papers involved. That way, even if there is a surprise in the paper or a deviation from the expected, candidates can attempt to answer solely from their knowledge and will not have to depend on practice only. 

Allocation of Priority

The CAT question paper is divided into three broad concepts – 96 marks in Data Interpretation, 102 effects for Quantitative Ability and 102 patterns for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. It would help the candidates immensely to divide and allocate their attention equally and fruitfully among all or balance the preparation process depending on their weaknesses. Moreover, since the ultimate objective is to get into a top B-school, preferably an IIM, candidates must also sharpen their skills for the Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview, which are essential steps for getting into an IIM. Previous academic performance and work experience are also considered critical factors. Focussing on only one aspect while neglecting the other would inevitably reflect poorly on the final outcome. 

Set deadlines and meet them.

The CAT syllabus is vast but is challenging to cover extensively. Without some sort of self-evaluation from time to time, one is bound to lose track of preparations. Even if a candidate is going to a reputed coaching centre, a certain amount of self-study is required by everyone. Setting up self-imposed deadlines can be an excellent way to push oneself regularly and accomplish goals in the final segments. It is necessary to remember to set small, achievable goals rather than putting a massive bulk of tasks on oneself and stressing out. 

Short but Sharp Focus

There is a misconception that to prepare for CAT, one must study all day long before the examination. However, that is optional if one starts their preparation with enough time. If candidates have already begun working on their weak areas and revised the entire syllabus around 2-2.5 months before the examination date, then spabeforeours a day is tough to get ready. But they have to giiattention to the preparation process for those few hours. Since many CAT candidates are working individuals, especially in the case of Executive MBA, this method would help them balance their job and CAT preparation without compromising any. 

Understand the trends

Going through the updated syllabus on the official website and thoroughly solving previous years’ question papers are essential to a first-time crack. It helps the candidates understand the examination pattern better and prepare accordingly.
Time Management

Learning to manage the three hours to one’s best of abilities is the trickiest part of cracking CAT. One has to constantly practice with a timer and take regular mock tests to ensure one finishes their paper within the stipulated time. Knowing shortcut methods and learning to let go of unfamiliar questions to focus on familiar ones are the two pillars of proper time management during CAT.

Also, Read - Eligibility Criteria for CAT exam

Mock Tests

Regular appearance at mock tests allows the examinees to get a real taste of the examination and an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate one’s preparation levels. Analysis of fake test results will help work on weaker areas and fine-tune the preparation strategy. Most importantly, it will give them enough practice so that when they appear for the actual test, nothing will seem like unfamiliar territory anymore. 

Get a strong peer group and expert support.

There are forums for CAT aspirants to get together and discuss their preparation strategies and exchange tips. Getting onto one such good platform with solid peer support helps immensely. Talking to CAT experts via online tutorials or coaching classes will also help with the finer aspects of the preparation. 

Get Enough Rest

The preparation process and the three-hour examination itself are very taxing. Simply grinding oneself and taking no break will have negative impact on the results, contrary to popular belief. The candidates must be at their mental best with a clear mind and unwavering focus to crack the test and give accurate answers only since there are negative markings.