Let me give a brief background of myself. I am a mechanical engineer from a reputed state university. After completing BTech, I prepared for the UPSC Engg services exam for a few years, and after multiple failed attempts, I decided to move on and try something else. And the rest is history.
Certain things helped me during my preparation. They are listed below, not in the order of importance.
- Shortage of time?- Honestly, It did trouble me in the beginning when I started preparing. I used to think that I didn't have much time. But then I asked myself that "Do I have an option?" Can I be the first person to turn back the clock? No. So, I stopped thinking about the lack of time and instead focused on what I had. I devised a strategy based on the time available. It's always about the quality of time and not the quantity. This learning will help you in cat preparation and also in life:).
- The past- My 10th score is X, my 12th score is Y and my graduation percentage is Z. Can I reach alpha/beta B-school? Social media is full of doubts like this. These things should be looked upon before deciding to prepare. Once you are in, commit yourself and give your best. These questions pull you down. I had an 8/7/7 profile, but once I decided to prepare, I never thought of the possible colleges and scenarios for shortlisting till CAT. The bottom line is that you can't change your past, so why let your past ruin your future?
- Confidence- If you are confident, you may or may not succeed. But if you are not confident, the chances of failure increase multifold. I was confident that I would do well during most of my preparation phase. I never asked someone else whether I would be able to crack the exam or not. How can someone else tell you if you can do it or not? You need to be confident about your abilities and back them up.
- Low mock scores- Mock scores are a tool to prepare you for the exams. I never allowed a low mock score to pull me down. I used to tell myself that the students appearing for the mock tests were serious students. So, the percentile in mocks won't always reflect in the actual cat, and I would perform better. And I did. And let me tell you, I scored 75 percentile in a few mocks.
- Too many resources- When you lack time, you can't pluck all the mangoes. And even if you have the time, you can't rely on too many resources. It would confuse you instead of helping you out. This I have learned from my UPSC preparation phase. Chasing too many resources is never going to help you. And life is too short for making mistakes yourself and then learning. Learn from my mistake and limit your resources. Fewer resources and more practice is highly recommended, at least for the CAT exam.
- Test series- It is this one preparation component that can make or break your chances. I used the test series too religiously. I not only analyzed the mock tests by solving the wrong or left out questions that very day, but I also used to come back to the mock and solve those questions again after a week or two. This is a highly underrated strategy. People solve questions from mocks on the day of taking mocks, but most don't revise them after some time.
- Not keeping a specific target- I never had a particular target in my mind to achieve the XYZ percentile. I just used to tell myself that I would do well, and that's it. Having a fixed percentile in mind would be an added pressure on your mind. Even if one question goes south, you will start thinking about how I will reach my target. So, refrain from a hardbound target like 99. xx.
I may not be at IIM Ahmedabad, but at least I have got a good platform with a brand of IIM, and the points mentioned above helped me reach there.
In the end, I would say that it's all about the quality of time. You might have heard the dialogue of Rajesh Khanna, which says, "Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nai." Focus on the remaining time and stop whining about the lack of time. It's all about fighting until the end, whether life or CAT.
All the best for CAT.