Now that the results are out for almost all top colleges, there would be many students contemplating giving CAT another shot and many who would be appearing for this difficult examination for the very first time. People appearing for the entrances for the first time, listen up.
With CAT 2019 to be organized by IIM Kozhikode, just 6 months away, many articles would come up which would address your issues regarding preparation material, mock-taking strategy and time management. This article is about something different.
Keep the following things in mind and you are ready to embark upon the most thrilling and enriching times of your life:
CAT/XAT and others are just exams
Students, starry-eyed and aiming for the sky, forget that these exams are just testing parameters set for gaining admissions into top B-schools. Do not give them too much importance and never attach your identity with success/failure in these exams (many make the mistake of doing this).
These exams must be given importance, obviously, but in a controlled way. Do not obsess over percentiles of other students during mocks, never feel belittled or inferior as compared to people scoring more than you and NEVER GIVE UP. Your preparation, your plan and your trials and tribulations are solely yours. Each and every single aspirant has his own story and you have you own. DO NOT be bogged down by mock percentiles, which are nothing more than simple numbers.
Success comes with a hefty price tag
You have set yourself a goal, a tough one too. It is important to remember that nothing comes easy in life, nothing. You might see several aspirants scoring great percentiles constantly and seemingly too easily; you would think of them as geniuses or gifted individuals who get lucky every time. DO NOT attribute anyone's success to luck (I agree, it is a factor but not the only one) or genius, think how hard they must have worked to get that percentile and what things they must have given up to maintain that performance.
I know of people who did not meet their friends at all during weekends for more than 10 months at a time, avoided family functions and social media and worked hard while balancing commitments at job. Get inspired, get working.
Work alone and work focussed
No, I am not denouncing group study. What I mean by working alone is that you must travel on this difficult road all by yourself. You must have your own targets and plans and never follow the herd. Do what suits you best, even if it is highly unconventional. Never let anyone get into your mind and change the track you want to be on. Have you seen horse races? All horses have flaps on the sides of their eyes so that they can run without being distracted by how fast or slow other horses are running. Do the same.
An advice if you are a voracious reader - grab a hold of Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Be flexible and open to changes
Being focussed and managing time well is difficult if you have a rigid schedule and limited hours to fit things in. Always keep your preparation plan flexible and adjustable if anything unforeseen comes up. Prioritise activities as per their urgency and importance. Trust me, flexible time management would prove to be your best friend during the rigours of preparation. Do not fit too many books/mocks/material in your schedule when you see others doing that. Remember, your journey is yours alone. See what suits you, what schedule helps you accomplish most and follow it.
For a fool-proof time management plan, refer to the Eisenhower Box.
There will be many instances when you would feel like giving up; the last semester exams at college or clocking long hours at work, things beyond your control, might make you lose focus and track. Remember, you have to decide how you let fire affect you- will you let it burn you or will you let it temper and harden you like steel? I remember something Churchill said- "If you are going through hell, keep going." So, remember why you started and just keep going no matter what.
Be myopic in your approach
Yes, being short-sighted can help when you are going for entrances of B-schools. The entrance exam is just the first step; once you get interview calls, you prepare for them and convert or get rejected from colleges. The first, the very first step, is to prepare for the exams properly. Nothing and nothing else should go on in your mind. Proceed sequentially. Accomplish sequentially.
Do not get bogged down after low percentiles or feel too elated after a string of good mocks. It is going to be a roller-coaster ride. Do not go to the extremes of any emotions and maintain balance. You can control your mind and emotions, with time and practice. As Marcus Aurelius wrote in his journal called Meditations- "You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. I have left out the rest for you to experience on your own.
Walk you own path and write your own story.
All the best!
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