Common Admission Test (CAT) is considered as one amongst the toughest academic entrance examinations in the country. This exam conducted for an admission to various management programs in Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other top business schools all over the country.
CAT exams have been changing in some way or the other every year. But a mixture of strategy, planning and implementation always helps in scoring well in this test.
Most of the aspirants start their preparation even before the release of the official notification but there are also some MBA aspirants, who are in a dilemma on how to kick-start their preparation for CAT.
If you find it difficult to start the preparation for the examination then there are some tips to ignite your preparation and make you feel more confident and geared up for the examination:
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Know about the CAT
At present there are many entrance exams in the country that one can take to get admitted in good management courses.
But CAT is different from others and has a unique selection process for the business schools. Before starting your preparation, get complete knowledge or details about the CAT like the cut-off, reservation, etc.
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Get Familiar With The CAT Exam Pattern
The exam pattern of CAT is different from other management entrance exams. The examination consists of three sections, namely, Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC).
It is a computer based examination and the duration of the exam is three hours and one has to answer a hundred questions.
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Go Through The Revised CAT Syllabus
Though the syllabus of the examination is well known to the aspirants, they should know the revised syllabus to avoid ambiguity during the preparation as the syllabus and exam pattern is updated from time to time.
CAT tests the candidates on their logical thinking and analytical skills.
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Never Compromise On The Diagnostic Test
Be it any entrance examination like CAT or any other, taking a diagnostic test prior to starting the preparation will make your preparation strong.
The results of the diagnostic test help you to understand where you need to improve in order to crack the examination.
It helps you to find your weak sections and topics in the syllabus and you can devote more time to that part. One can take as many diagnostic tests as they want, however, at least 2 to 3 tests will provide accurate results.
Right selection of topics
Rather than focusing on all the topics, students need to try and select those topics which they are more comfortable with.
Even on the exam day students shouldn’t try to solve each and every question in the question paper and waste their energy, rather they should spend 5 minutes in scanning a section and selecting questions from their area of expertise and skill.
First focus on your strong areas and then go for the ones in which you are a little bit confident and last opt for the questions that seem tough to you and will take more time.
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Aspirants should always start preparing for the exams early as an early start would benefit them in gaining knowledge about the kind of questions asked in the examination.
Another advantage from it can be of spending time in developing extra reading habits and increasing vocabulary.
Starting the preparation early provides you enough time to cover your whole syllabus and also keep time for revision and practice & mock tests.
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Mock tests and previous year papers
In order to ace CAT, students should look at questions from previous years’ CATs and understand its syllabus. Evaluate yourself in every 10-15 days through mock tests.
While going through the previous year papers, assess whether they are proficient, average or need improvement in each of the areas and the areas that fall in the third category should be focused on first followed by second and first.
Students should be careful not to repeat the mistakes made by them in either the mock CATs or while practicing at home otherwise the whole purpose of taking mock tests would be lost.
Calculation practice and tricks
Time management is an essential ingredient to crack the CAT exam and make it to your favorite college. Managing one’s time during the exam includes balancing speed with accuracy, handling the pressure and uncertainty and the apt decision making.
Students should practice on calculations rigorously on an everyday basis. There are no long equations in the CAT but the only thing that works here is the smart way of calculations which can be mastered by practicing the tricks available in books and internet.
Go For SWOT Analysis and Calculate The Weightage
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a method used to identify your internal and external factors. Do this analysis to know about your positives and negatives during the preparation.
But in any exam hard work alone will not be sufficient to crack the CAT exam. Aspirants should also know the weightage of topics in each section to score strategically. And then focus on the important topics and make the most them in the given time.
Preparation Material And Books
Management schools seek to test the understanding of basic concepts that the student possesses. Gathering the appropriate study material and reference books is a very important process of the preparation.
Also just stop looking for the toughest material to practice and realize that their understanding of concepts is not as good as they think it is.
Collect and cover your syllabus from study material from some good coaching and then go for some reference books from good authors for practice purpose. Also get yourself enrolled with some time bound mock and practice tests.
Negative marking is also a part of CAT examination and thus the aspirants are advised to not take wild guesses in the Exam paper.
Take a guess during the paper only if you are able to eliminate 2-3 choices otherwise you drop chances to make it right. Prepare an effective study schedule based on the SWOT analysis, the diagnostic test and the weightage of topics and give your maximum time to the preparation.
Allot time for taking full-length mock tests and revision in the schedule.
Aspirants are advised to opt for section-wise preparation because every section is important for the exam and always make a note of all the important information you learn in your own language as it will help you during the revision and last days of preparation.
Enhance your vocabulary, study newspapers, editorials, magazines and books as it will help you with the current affairs and reading comprehension sections.
Work on your communication skills as well; it will be useful during the group discussion and personal interview round.
Almost two lakh students compete for the CAT every year but you should never lose your confidence upon seeing the number of candidates because the actual aspirants will be less than fifty thousand.
Most of the candidates who appear for the CAT examination are just trying their luck at it.
Lastly, students are advised to keep their calm, relax, be healthy and believe in them on the day of the paper. Don’t go through any new or tough topic few days before the examination as it will create confusion and will mess with your confidence.
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