CAT 2019, expected to be conducted on 24th November 2019, is now less than 5 months away. While many MBA aspirants have already begun their preparation months ago, a lot of IIM aspirants are beginning their preparation now. It is at this stage that very crucial questions can pop in your minds - is 5 months even enough to prepare? Should I take coaching? What should my month-wise preparation strategy be? What should I not do while preparing for CAT? To answer all of these questions, we had conducted a webinar with the CEO for MBA Products at Career Launcher, Arks Srinivas.
If you missed the highly insightful webinar, this is a brief transcript of what Arks had to say to MBA aspirants looking to score 99+%ile in CAT 2019. It is, however, recommended that you view the entire webinar (scroll to the bottom of this post) since Arks has answered very specific questions during the course of the webinar which may be of some help to you.
5 Months For CAT 2019 - Is It Enough?
Are these 5 months sufficient to prepare for CAT 2019? It is not scary if you have a very sincere plan. If you can plan the next 5 months well, getting higher than 99.5+ is possible. 5 months is good enough to prepare. People who work 4-5 months can get 99+%ile.
Here is a solid 5-month preparation strategy for CAT 2019, by Arks himself!
How Much Do You Need To Score 99.9+%ile?
200 marks are what is needed to score 99.9+%ile, while 99.5%ile is possible with a score of 175.
Strategy For First Two Months - July To August
You will need to spend 8-9 hours on weekends, 2.5-3 hours on weekdays. Anybody, who can give 3 hours per day or 20-25 hours a week over the next 150 days, can comfortably make it to an IIM.
To assess where you stand in your preparation, start with a diagnostic test of any coaching centre, e.g., Career Launcher.
The most important topics in QA are Numbers, Geometry Mensuration, Algebra, Arithmetic. To effectively prepare for QA, take the first 20 days to learn Arithmetic, 10 days to learn Numbers and Number Systems, 20 days to perfect Algebra, and 10 days for Geometry and Mensuration. From July till the 31st of August, for two months, every type of question and concept under these four major topics must be solved at least once. This is your first round of preparation and requires you to complete your basics. Start with Arithmetic, then Geometry Mensuration, and then the other two.
An exam like CAT requires a systematic study plan for each section. E.g., if you take Percentages. There are 6-7 concepts in that topic, solve 40-50 questions for each concept. You may not solve a question, but you must be comfortable with it.
Here are some important preparation tips from CAT toppers and IIM students/alumni for QA:
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Verbal Ability requires you to start earlier than normal. If you're working, your verbal ability training has to be during your commute or breaks you get at work.
Reading Comprehension - Improvement in RC will never happen as long as your vocabulary, grammar, knowledge of topics, is bad. If you look at RC, you get essays on topics around knowledge management, political science, sociology, science, literature.
For RC preparation, the logic is to spend ½ hour on RC on a daily basis. Read the editorial of any mainstream newspaper. In 60 days, if you read 4-5 articles a day on various genres, you would have read 200-250 articles on various areas. You will be on a different level in 60 days. When you read, underline words you don't understand. Write down the gist of what you read in 2-3 sentences. This is an exercise for the next 5 months, daily. The idea is to make sure that your vocabulary improves. Even your grammar will improve if you practice this regularly. After this, proceed to take mock tests.
In mock tests and the actual CAT exam, RC has fact-based direct questions, inference questions (main idea, tone of the passage, thoughts of the author), and indirect questions.
Pro tip: "If you can get the main idea of the passage, what is it that the damn author trying to say and for who is he writing for, then all questions are easy to solve because they are similar."
You can use resources such as Word Power Made Easy and Wilfred 6 Weeks To Words also.
Here are some important preparation tips from CAT toppers and IIM students/alumni for VA-RC:
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
The only way to improve DI-LR is by practice.
For LR, give 5 hours in a week or half an hour per day. Do 20-30 sets of each question type under important topics such as Arrangements, Venn Diagrams, Distribution, Games & Tournaments, Order Selection etc.
- Week 1 - Arrangements
- Week 2 - Venn Diagrams
- Week 3 - Distribution
- Week 4 - Games and Tournaments
- Week 5 - Order Selection.
- Week 6 - Miscellaneous
Data Interpretation is not about data but about calculation. There are two parts to solving DI questions:
- Interpreting data, identifying where you get the information from.
- Processing this information to arrive at an answer.
To prepare for DI, 10 minutes of daily speed mathematics, along with 1 week of tables, 1 week of bar charts, 1 week of pie charts is necessary. You will need to do this daily for 5-6 weeks. Within 2 months, you will be in a position that you will understand all DI questions, though you may choose not to solve them.
Here are some important preparation tips from CAT toppers and IIM students/alumni for DI-LR:
- From 60%ile To 90%ile In Mocks For DI-LR – A Verified Approach
- The Crucial Focus On LRDI – How To Maximise Your Score In LRDI – Tips By An IIM Student
- How Do 99+ Percentilers Prepare For CAT | Part 3 – Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning
Last Three Months - September, October, November
September onwards, focus on taking mock tests and sectional tests only. Take mock tests once a week at this stage. By the month of October, decide which topics you don't want to do and move on.
If your mock scores are getting stagnant, you are not doing something to improve. Think about how you can improve your attempts because that is the only way to increase your marks. You have to ensure that you see all of 100/100 questions, that ensures you will not waste time in any set, more than the stipulated time. Keep a stop-loss plan. You then need to move on to understanding your weak areas and improving them. Please write as many mocks as possible.
Work Experience - How Important Is It To Get Into An IIM?
Work experience is not important. For instance, 39% of students at IIM-A students of the current Class of 2020 are freshers and students of other top B-schools also have a large chunk of freshers.
How Important Is Coaching For CAT 2019 Preparation?
Coaching can only help you to give you a direction, and somebody to compare yourself with when you're studying together. It's an individual decision and depends on how well in place your basics are. If you can do self-study, please go ahead with that. But do understand that coaching gives you consistency and pushes your consistency better. Coaching will make a difference to your CAT result, should you choose to opt for it.