CAT is the entrance exam that opens window to more than 160 management institutes across India, including the 19 IIMs. The online exam is conducted every year which basically tests a candidate’s capability in several areas of aptitude like basic Quantitative Ability; Reasoning branching into logical, critical and deductive; Data Interpretation and English Language skills with respect to language, structure and vocabulary. Candidates need to follow certain plan of action to prepare for CAT exam.
- Awareness of the structure and pattern of exam: It gives a significant idea about how to deal with an exam like CAT that is majorly different on various levels from the regular school or college exams. One should not complacently rely on his/her knowledge of previous year exams as the pattern for the test goes through regular changes.
- Gather study material: It is important to make sure one has collected or referred to right kind of books. The content and topics covered should be relevant, the level of difficulty should be in lines of the actual test, etc. Several online sites also provide with good content to refer to.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses: This will help you find the amount of time that you need for CAT preparation as it will help you judge how difficult or easy is the level of exam for you individually. This helps them focus their energy and time towards the relatively trouble giving topics.
- Regular practice: Regular practice of topics giving trouble is the key to get better and perform well in the exam. During the last few days, it is imperative that the students choose only those topics for preparation which would give you the maximum return for your time.
- Don’t skip important topic: You must not do the mistake of completely skipping a chunk or an important topic only for reasons of difficulty as it is important to clear the sectional cut offs for both sections of the test.
- Find topics that carry specific weight age: It is suggested to have complete knowledge of the weight age of subsections in a particular section. For instance, the previous year CAT had specifically mentioned that the Data interpretation and reasoning questions shall comprise of 4 questions in 4 sets in section 1 and 2 respectively. This information is extremely important as it provides the candidates with a comprehensive idea of how they should distribute the time during the exam.
- Take tips from the candidates who have previously done well: Nothing can beat the value of advices given by people who have actually taken the exam, especially the ones who you can conveniently trust. Moreover, teachers and those who have done well earlier can be a great source of tips before one starts with the preparation.
- Enrich your vocabulary – Vocabulary is an important aspect of the Verbal Ability and Logical reasoning section. Owing to the difficulty level of the exam, it can be very well expected that the words will not belong to the category of regular conversation.
o Follow the tried and tested methods of vocabulary using books available in market.
o Writing down words and their meaning and utilizing them in sentences.
o Using Flash Cards for learning new words are also helpful.
- Focus on grammar – Grammar is a default topic in the Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning section. If you are a regular victim of grammar, it is time for you to go back to basics and curb the problem. Take help from your mentors or seniors wherever you are getting stuck.
- Practice for RC - There’s no better way to gain good grip over an area other than practice. Practice RC passages and other English Usage questions like Fill in the blanks, Para Jumble, Sentence Completion etc. Take sectional mock tests to get an overall practice regularly.
- Solve puzzles, riddles and play mind games to crack Logical Reasoning – Logical reasoning is all about understanding the trick hidden in the question. Solve crossword puzzles, Sudoku, riddles on blood relations, family tree etc. If LR is your strong point, start the section with the Reasoning questions so that you are confident enough to solve the other questions of the section as well.
- The last quarter of preparations:
Sometimes, candidates are underprepared or they feel so or in some cases they have already completed the syllabus and are unsure of revising everything all over again. This is the time when the role of mock tests, online cat replicas and previous year question papers come into play.
- Mock Tests: Most toppers, faculty members and management experts have great faith in the idea of mock tests.
o They actually hone the aptitude levels of students and give them an environment very similar to the actual test.
o Writing tests will help you identify your areas of strength and weakness; helps consolidate your strategy for the actual test and exposes you to questions from all areas.
o Concentration is the highest while writing the mocks – which means it, gives quality preparation time.
o A great means to boost confidence and helps in judging where the student stands in terms of his/her preparation.
o People who score well in mocks have a high chance of doing well on final day as well.
o Mock tests, kept at a difficulty level higher than actual CAT prepares you for the worst and gives them the time to work on key areas.
- Online CAT Replicas: Nowadays, several websites have come up that provide the opportunity for candidates to sit for tests that successfully create almost the same environment as the actual test. It often follows the pattern of CATs held earlier or tips suggested by management experts and try to prepare the replicas on the same line. It is a good way for candidates to have an idea of their final performance in advance. Spend time analyzing them for accuracy –
o You need to specifically look for how often you get questions wrong when you were in doubt.
o This will help you pick topics where your preparation is inadequate as well as question types that you can start attempting in the test and thereby improve attempts.
o Another aspect you will need to keep in mind while analyzing the mocks is the latitude for application of shortcuts/techniques.
o Go through the solutions after writing a test and make note of the shortcuts.
- Previous Year Question Papers: It is extremely important for candidates to go through the question papers of previous years, may be at least 5-6 years. It is true that CAT keeps going through certain changes almost every year. But these papers-
o Reflect the nature of questions,
o the topics always covered without fail
o provides practice material for calculation based questions
o It gives insight into the strategy, patterns and vision of the paper setters.
It is expected that you go through these tips while preparing for CAT achieve success in your endeavors.
All the best!