Some people plan to prepare for the CAT exam years ahead of taking it. They enroll themselves in CAT preparation courses through face to face coaching or online. So, you may be asking if, with all the pressures of managing day to day life, including perhaps a full-time workload, it be possible to prepare for the CAT exam in three months?
With planning, preparation, and the right strategy, you can crack the CAT exam in three months.
Part one in the preparation process is to sit down and with a focused and methodical approach, start with an honest analysis of yourself first. What are your strengths? Where are you good at? What are your areas of improvement? Where do you need more time to practice? This analysis can be done by taking up a CAT mock test. Take the test as though you were answering the real one. Take it seriously. And then, when you are done, see the patterns of your results. What key points come up? Are you weak in vocabulary? Do you take more time in reading comprehension? Do you have mastery of quantitative fundamentals? Are you able to complete the mock test by the required time? Do you blank out and get nervous?
Knowing where you stand is a great ground work to knowing how to prepare and be ready in three months. So, you have three months, where do you begin?
You begin with the knowledge that you have on your strong points and weak area. Chart out your performance in each section, into four main quadrants:
Good Speed, Good Accuracy. Strategy: Lesser focus. You are already good.
Good Speed, Bad Accuracy. Strategy: Look at your practice answers. Where is the mistake happening? Is there a pattern? Assess and improve.
Bad Speed, Bad Accuracy. Strategy: Put in the most focus into this section. Work by researching on easy tips and techniques to improve the speed and accuracy for these types of questions.
Bad Speed, Good Accuracy. Strategy: Practice. Practice hard. Practice more. Practice will improve speed. Get easy strategies on improving and keeping the momentum that are available online
Once you have made your assessment, Familiarize yourself with the CAT examination. Know the parts of the test. The CAT is made up of Quantitative Ability or mathematical aptitude, Verbal Ability or your English language skills and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. The questions on Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning are on Graphs, Charts, etc. The online CAT contains only 2 sections, with Data Interpretation clubbed with Quantitative Ability and Logical Reasoning clubbed with Verbal Ability.
Quantitative Ability section is made up of topics in Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration and all those topics which you have studied prior while in school.
Verbal Ability covers reading, grammar, comprehension and vocabulary.
Then, divide the work load into two simple steps.
Step one. See your performance in the vocabulary section of the mock test. Are you good at knowing the meaning of difficult words? Is there a lot of room to improve? Then, if so, set a target. Let us say to memorize one thousand difficult words in three months. Divide it up into chunks and seriously master each chunk. Memorize with a fresh mind . Read books like Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis to improve your vocabulary skills. You can use the difficult words assigned for the day in conversation or in your writings to help you practice. Improve your context skills and learn how to free associate. Play word games online or with friends and crossword puzzles. Use memory tricks like mnemonics. Practice using mock vocabulary tests. They are available free online. Target to improve your results each time. Use flash cards available from online CAT preparation courses to practice your vocabulary. Get excited about learning new words.
Here is a list of suggested book titles to help you as a CAT aspirant in your qualitative/vocabulary section:
Next, see your performance in the reading comprehension section of the mock test. Are you quick in picking up the context and meaning of what you are reading or do you need some time? Practice by doing a lot of reading. Read books, articles, blogs, websites, newspapers etc. of varying topics and length. Reading newspapers like the Hindu, Economic Times etc is a good start. Certain international newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Economist and New Yorker (all available online) will give you international perspective and good reading practice.
This will improve your reading speed and comprehension. Here is a list of suggested book titles to improve reading comprehension:
Step two. See your performance in the quantitative section of the mock test.
The basic idea is to get your fundamentals strong. Generally, quantitative questions in the CAT are based on simple concepts, and this makes it an absolute must that one has a working knowledge of these concepts. For this, a few core skills should be developed. These core skills include accuracy and speed. (Refer to the four quadrants mentioned earlier.) It also includes the ability to perform simple and/or complex calculations under time pressure; and the ability to use logic and reasoning while solving mathematics questions. Furthermore, pacing is an important aspect. It involves the practice of moving onto the next question if you are stuck on a single question so to cover more of the test. Do not waste most of the time in a few questions while missing out on the rest.
Here is a list of suggested references to improve quantitative skills for the CAT:
Rest assured, you can prepare for the CAT exam in three months by consistently taking mock tests, keeping track of your scores, and constantly reassessing your performance into the four quadrants. Be disciplined and drill for the CAT exam every day. Keep a daily schedule, and rigorously prepare. Let us say eight to ten hours a day for thoughtful preparation.
For your preparation, you can try the route of face to face coaching, online courses, or a combination. There are a number of online courses available.
Handa ka funda: helps you in online CAT Coaching with the help of videos.
totalgadha.com: helps you with online CAT preparation; providing lessons, questions, mock tests, exam results and discussion forums for CAT aspirants.
Pagalguy: an MBA resources website offering you a well frequented forum for applicants from all over the world.
Then there is also Gradestack. The Gradestack CAT course includes practice tests and questions to help you crack the CAT exam.
Built for learners on the go, the course contains study notes, tests and questions on Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar, Math and Writing Skills, covering the CAT syllabus exhaustively.
The mobile app contains all kinds of sample questions that are asked in the CAT along with detailed solution to each of them. You have now made smart use of your three months. Be confident and sleep well. One day before the CAT exam, just relax, go the movies or mall. You are now ready to take the CAT exam.