120 Days Preparation Plan For CAT
The D Day has been announced and CAT 2018 is going to be held on 26th November 2018.
Now for the real work!
So, you are thinking of an MBA from the IIMs and/or the top B Schools in the country.
How difficult is it to get to the IIMs? Is it really difficult for one to make it to the best B Schools? What if someone’s percentages in 10th and 12th are not very good? Are only engineering graduates preferred? Is it a liability if you are an Engineer?
These are some of the myriad questions that students have of all hues and backgrounds!
Add to this, the question – Are just 4 months sufficient for CAT preparation? – Makes it a thoroughly confusing journey in the aspiration for an IIM!
First, the easier answer!
Forget 4, even 3 months are sufficient to crack CAT.
One needs to have the confidence and a plan to back this confidence to reach your goal. It is NOT an IPL final that ONLY one team would win. There are close to 5000 seats in the IIMs alone and you are looking at getting just ONE!
Let’s understand on a broad basis what should be done from now to November end.
There are three levels of preparation (In the parlance of IPL!)
- First Power Play
- Middle Overs
- Final Slog
First Power Play
This is the first 45 days to 60 days of preparation. You need a solid foundation to ensure that you can build on the same and be ready for the actual CAT exam on the 4th of December!
There are three broad areas to prepare viz. Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension. One other area, General Awareness & Current Affairs, though does not appear in the CAT exam, is also very important for one to be ready for the post CAT exams as well as GD, PI and WAT.
The best way to prepare for Quant is to divide the entire area into areas – Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry & Mensuration, and Pure Math.
Over the first 45 days to 60 days of your preparation, you have to go through every concept in every chapter and solve the exercises thoroughly. There are roughly about 17 to 18 topics in the whole of Quant area and it would take 2 to 3 days per topic to finish by giving about 1 to 2 hours a day.
After solving every chapter, taking a slip test/topic test would be of utmost importance. You would figure out whether you have really understood the topic or not.
Going through the classes once again will help one to grasp the concepts thoroughly.
Those students who have completed the basic material should do it once again so that the concepts are better understood.
Data Interpretation (DI) /Logical Reasoning (LR)
To be good at DI, your ability to calculate fast can make a huge difference. Spend 10 minutes everyday on Speed Math techniques. VistaMind is going to release an APP (VistaMind) on Google Play Store, which will have a daily dose of speed math tests.
DI can be subdivided into the type of graphs: Table, Bar, Line, PI, Triangle, Spider etc. In addition, Games and tournaments, Cubes and Venn Diagrams can also form the base of DI. Solving about 8 to 10 sets of each type of DI graphs can make one completely comfortable in solving.
LR can also be subdivided into types of questions such as Deductions, Connectives, Selections, Arrangements, Distribution, Circular Arrangements, Order Sequencing, Networks and Routes, Binary Logic. Apart from these, any miscellaneous puzzles can appear in the LR area. The prep for LR would be very similar to DI. Solve around 8 to 10 sets from each type of LR set and it would be good enough!
By covering one type of question in every 2 to 3 days, you can easily go through all types of sets/varients/questions in both DI and LR within 45 to 60 days.
Taking slip tests for DI and LR would help you get the speed and the rhythm.
Verbal Ability/Reading Comprehension
Verbal Ability can be divided into three broad areas viz., Vocabulary, Grammar, and Verbal Reasoning.
There is no way you can learn hundred words in a day consistently. Ideally, learning about 5 to 10 new words a day (everyday for the next 100 day) will help you get richer in vocab by 500 to 1000 words. In addition, you can improve vocabulary by revising the words that appear in the MOCK Tests. Since the words that are given in CAT are the words normally in vogue, it is very likely that by going through the MOCK Tests and Individual tests, you would come across almost all words that may appear in the exam.
Grammar is a habit. The more you read the better your comfort zone in Grammar. There is no other way but to practice as many questions that come your way and keep reading. It looks like a simplistic way of preparation, but this is the only way. There could be hundreds of grammar rules and trying to remember them would be futile.
For Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, getting familiar with the type of questions and paragraphs is the key. Make sure that you spend at least half hour every day on this area so that you are either taking a slip test or reviewing one.
Reading the editorials of the News paper(s) is a very good way to improve the comprehension.
The next 45/50 odd days after the first round of preparation are very critical for your preparation. Those aspirants who are working should understand that this is the most important phase of your prep. It is better to take leave (from office) at this juncture (in September maybe) than taking leave in the last few days before CAT.
By end of August/middle of September, you should have finished learning all the concepts. The month of September and October should be used to solve as many exercises in all the areas/topics as possible. Confidence builds up if you find that you can solve almost every problem that you see. October should also be used for complete revision of all areas/topics that you have already done in the previous month.
Apart from the prep part, you need to continuously take Mock CATs. Analysing the Mock CAT and making corrections for the next one is an important part of your overall preparation.
Last 30 days: The last 30 days require you to finalise your strategy of attempting the CAT Paper and iron out the issues that you are facing while taking the Mocks.
Typically, issues that make one falter are
- Inability to solve the first few questions correctly, making one nervous
- Taking more time to solve a question than required
- Getting stuck in a question/set that you know and being unmindful of the time.
- Ego hassles of letting a question go!
- Taking too much of time to decide on an RC/Vocab question.
- Not sticking to basic time limits within a section (e.g.: the division of time between VA and RC or DI and LR)
- RE-CHECKING/RE-CALCULATING an answer (especially when you have cracked it in the first minute and are flabbergasted to find such an easy question in CAT!)
Since CAT is a Computer Based Exam, it is useful to get comfortable with the mouse (clicks!). Reading on a Computer instead of on a paper should become a habit and utilizing this time for the same is advised.
In addition, the most important part of any competitive exam is the strategy you adopt. Given enough time, you will realize that you can always solve almost all the problems. The fact the same has to be done within a time limit and that too make as few mistakes as possible makes the task onerous and challenging.
Every student, whether he is a BE, B Tech, B Com, BA, BMS, BBA or MBBS can become a Manager. Hence any exam that tries to test all these at the same level has to be at a level, which is comfortable to all the students with these degrees. The only common level that these students have is at the 10th Std Level. Hence, the CAT and other such exams test aptitude at that level. Each one of you is capable of getting there if you prepare systematically. There is enough time to revisit your school level math and aptitude. Start Now, You can MAKE IT!
All the BEST!
About the Author:
ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently MBA National Head at Career Launcher.