Naïve aspirant: Should I take a drop for the CAT?
The guy who’s been there and done that: No, you shouldn’t.
Naïve aspirant: I can't study with my job. I don’t get the time. I need to take a drop!
1 month later
Naïve aspirant: Hey! I took a drop!
2 months later
Naïve aspirant: ..... Shouldn't have done this.
This article does not tell you about the topics you need to study, nor does it try and give you a schedule of studying. It attempts to explore the mindset required to overcome the psychological barriers to your preparation. It is assumed that you have your plan in order. (Everybody knows what to do, it’s the execution that fails)
Taking a drop becomes more about managing your emotions than the actual preparation at times. A well-intentioned aspirant will never want to do anything than prepare but will find himself doing everything but preparing. The answer lies in the emotion management of the person taking the drop and we will try to explore this in the article.
Scenario 1 : Sloth “I could complete this quote but…..”
The candidate starts studying but is unable to carry on studying. His mind diverts elsewhere, and this keeps happening, the person used to manage solid 4 hours of studying after his job in his free time (which was of 5 hours) but is barely able to manage 4 hours when his entire day is free.
The problem lies in the fact that the capability of studying still remains at 4 hours. And added with the illusion of extra time; makes it seem like he can do it later (or araam se).
The solution is to increase the seating capacity and studying capacity. Try to sit for long hours without your phone or any other distraction around. Even if you aren’t able to focus entirely, sit on the table and read an article or an easier topic but keep working on increasing your quality study time. In certain cases, pursuing a certification like CFA and doing it in your free time provides the much need respite from CAT studies.
If utilised correctly, this extra time can increase your interview marks by a few points.
Scenario 2: Jealousy “There’s a reason why you never should stand at the adjacent urinal”
The candidate diligently writes down solutions to all problems and has solved all TIME questions. He has solved all previous mock questions and yet is unable to perform up to expectations. Worse yet he sees someone with much lesser preparation doing better in the same topic. Though I am steering away from the intent of the topic, I would recommend spending hours on a question and ruminating over it. Thinking about. You will be amazed at the insight you get if you spend some quality time with the question. This is the main difference between the above categories, one has a thinking mindset and the other is mechanical in approach. I wouldn’t propagate a single mindset but urge you to combine both.
Coming to the feeling of jealousy, it won’t go away suddenly. You have to work hard to achieve the level you desire. I would recommend preparing in a bubble (alone) and keep yourself away from scenarios where you end up comparing yourself. The only race you are running is against yourself. Always remember that. Your yardstick is yourself. And your strengths will always be essentially different from someone else. Play accordingly. CAT is as much a game of knowing yourself as it is a game of comparison.
Know yourself, know your enemy. ~ Sun Tzu
Scenario 3: Dread “I am a champion. I am also anxiety. Lots of anxiety”
The constant feeling of tension and stress. In every mock, in every decision we take, there is a lingering feeling of dread. Which boils down to the same question “What if it doesn’t work out?”
While logically speaking, it is good to think about alternatives and many of my logic-driven readers will want to know how to work around, let me put a simple flowchart:
What a common aspirant would do is focus on Event B. And try to maximise the detail of Plan B. While it’s an obvious truth. One should work to maximize P(A). The effort required is significantly more for maximisation. Example: P(A) requires 10 units of effort. Event B requires only 2 units of efforts.
For my emotion-driven readers: Mull over mock questions and not your life decisions. But if you do find yourself ruminating or getting low. Find an anchor. My anchor was this video.
Picture yourself living your dream. The universe works in mysterious ways. Remember why you took the drop. You did it because something was stopping you from achieving this dream of yours. Don’t take too much stress. (That sounds like telling a blind man, don’t be blind) but it works at times.
Scenario 4: Monotony “It’s the same bloody shit every day”
There will be days in your drop when you will get sick and tired of preparing. It's bound to happen one day or the other. There is a certain limit to which one can work, you are only human. Bring some spice into your life, it's fine to watch a movie to unwind. I personally like to avoid people as they bring too much variability with emotions. So find a few things you love to do and don’t forget to do them. Secondly, a healthy proportion of all subjects in your time table will avoid subject boredom. And thirdly, do the reading that excites you. VARC can be tailored to include interesting articles. Be smart in managing your boredom. You know yourself better than anyone else. You know when the boredom monster is going to attack. Prepare your pre-emptive strike.
Scenario 5: Loneliness “Makes dinner for two…….. Doesn't need food for tomorrow”
There will be days when you look at others and you see them roaming around, enjoying themselves, gossiping, chatting, partying all night and having great fun. While you are locked in a room with your undoable LRDI set.
Remember this. You have chosen to improve your life in the future by sacrificing the petty joys of today. The most arduous journey is travelled alone. And by alone I don’t mean that your parents, loved ones abandon you. The art of solving your own problems and CAT problems is to be learnt by you. Nobody can do it for you nor can anybody understand your situation.
Embrace your loneliness. After all, it’s not loneliness, its solitude if you do it right.
Appreciate this time. You will know yourself better than others. And this will make all the difference.
Scenario 6: Giving up No jokes for this one.
The most deadly one. “I don’t think I can do this. Let me settle for Bablu Institute of Management.”
There will be days that whatever you do, you will fail to get the desired results. It is bound to happen. You will fail a million times before you crack the paper only once. It has happened to me that my very last mock gave me a shocking 80 percentile. (My absolute lowest till date) and the CAT gave me a 99.
If you give up on your dream, you are eroding the base that drives all the effort forward. You will then reduce your studying hours. You will slowly go back to your old habits. And then you will realise that you have so many regrets for not having prepared well. Don’t fall into this cycle.
And one last parting gyaan.
It's just a test.
If you've taken a gap year or are planning to take one, you must read these articles too!