I’m sure, now that the date of CAT 2017 is out, the race to the finish line has already begun. Everyone has started gearing up for the D-Day. All sleeping beauties have been suddenly jolted out from their stupor as they realised that preparation time now has started its own countdown. Did this happen with me? Yes, it definitely did. Was I successful in getting calls? No, I wasn’t. Then how did I get to IIM Indore?
My first attempt was unsuccessful, even when I had given it with utmost sincerity.
So, I decided to start working and give CAT again 2 years down the line after appropriate work experience. I joined Infosys and got into the routine of my training and weekend trips. I filled in the form just to be in touch with the paper and its pattern. Was I serious about the attempt? Absolutely not.
It was 4th December 2016, the day my journey had inadvertently begun. I got up early in the morning and started revising all the formulae for the Quantative Aptitude section. My mother thought I was being a show off. Had I been serious, I would have spent my weekends not touring the whole of Karnataka, but studying. Well, hard to argue with that logic.
After the exam, I knew I wouldn’t even cross 90 percentile. My paper had been worse than last year. I had attempted lesser questions and I wasn’t even sure that I had reached the correct answers. Lack of preparation does that to your confidence.
To say I was shocked, after checking my result would be an understatement. I had scored 97.75 percentile, without even an hour of proper preparation. How was it possible? Everyone was baffled. Well, so was I. Was it luck? Maybe.
In hindsight, I now know. CAT is an exam that tests your aptitude. It doesn’t check your ability to mug up answers and reproduce them. It doesn’t evaluate you on your ability to solve lengthy sums or be a grammar-Nazi. It just tests your basic English comprehension skills, logical ability and speed. Nothing more and nothing less.
You do need to work on developing those skills and your speed of attempting the paper. That requires practice. I’m not undermining that. In fact, the effort I put in for my first attempt was the reason I could get that score the second time even without any studies. But what is more important than practice is developing concepts. The concepts had stayed with me even when I lost touch with the practice.
My preparation for the first attempt didn’t prove fruitful because CAT is an unpredictable paper. You can never predict how those 3 hours would turn out. Maybe that day, I was too cautious about getting negative marks for wrong answers, which wasn’t the case the second time. Maybe all others had outperformed me the first time, and even with lesser questions attempted than the previous attempt I outperformed others the second time (Sometimes the paper is just plain tricky.) You never know what will happen and no one can predict. But what can be assured is that once your concepts are build, they will help you out sooner or later.
So, what I want to tell all you CAT aspirants is, don’t pressurise yourself into scoring that perfect 100 percentile. Don't practise 10 hours a day because that's what others do and you've got to beat them. Hone your strengths. Identify your areas of improvements and work on them. Don’t run a rat race. It will not get you anywhere. Just be calm and work smart. You’ll surely be able bell the CAT.