Is CAT Really Tough? Or Is It Just About The Strategy?

This is one of the most common questions that I come across every year coming from CAT exam aspirants.
To answer in simple words- NO IT IS NOT. The complexity of CAT exam increases because the stakes are high and so is the competition. Students botch it up under pressure. The CAT is a yearly exam which increases the stakes by big margin every year.

Try not to stretch yourself too much with the preparation. Try not to detain yourself with the preparation plan alone. Invest time and energy doing your favourite activities as well. Lots of candidates take the CAT exam prep too hard on themselves, and this is not fair. Reason being, CAT is an aptitude exam and you can do wonders on your day! It isn’t a syllabus based exam. It is about solving the questions you know well and how you manage your time simultaneously. The differentiator is always an awareness of the shortcuts and smart application of concepts.

The primary thing you have to do is have a constant belief that you can ace the CAT exam. Since you will see a lot of high and low points in these couple of months, so it’s really important not to lose focus. All you need is a good strategy or a game plan for the last few months. No one can tell you the exact way to approach your CAT exam prep. It is you who needs to decide the best way to prepare for CAT 2018. But there are some basic guidelines which might help you find your way.

Concentrate on the basics: The first and foremost step of preparation is learning and comprehending the basics. This is critical as without a solid foundation; you might struggle in solving questions even on topics that you felt you were comfortable with. This is one of the very common issues faced by the students in CAT exam. Nothing should be done in bits and pieces.

Try and utilize every single minute of free time for preparation. Whenever free, try and do something that will help you in one way or the other for your cat exam (mental calculations/reading/revising formulas etc.).

Keep Practicing and Revising concepts. It is true; basics are critical, however, what’s their use of learning them if you do not learn how to apply them. After all, in the exam, you need to solve questions on them. So keep practising as many good cat exam level questions as much as you can. Do revise them periodically so that concepts are embedded properly in your mind. One great source is CAT previous year papers. Also, start reading good English newspapers articles, magazines to start with. You can move to reading business news like economic times, New York Times later on. Read, read and read. Make it a daily routine. This will help you a lot in tackling Verbal section of cat exam.

Attempt Mocks regularly. Attempting mocks, I feel, is the most important part of your CAT exam prep. Mocks these days are carefully designed to give a proper simulation of actual cat exam. Hence, mocks are a must-do. Try to follow the pattern of the Mocks and allocate time carefully for each section. But, just giving Mocks will not be enough. Do their analysis as well. It highlights your weaknesses and strengths that will enable you to focus on your key areas. Try to improve your score on a mock-to-mock basis. Do not lose heart if your mock scores are not as per your expectation, as mocks cannot give a measure of your performance in the actual CAT exam. Take this as an opportunity to strengthen your weak areas. This will help you a great deal on acing cat exam 2018.

Cracking CAT exam is not tough. All you need is the right attitude and a strategy. Try to stay calm during the whole length of the exam. Do not panic or be overconfident. Also, do not lose hope at any point during your preparation. Follow the above basic guidelines strictly, and by doing so, I think you can see yourself getting a good percentile and a call from top B-Schools of your dreams.

All the best!

Harshad Patel

Harshad Patel is a part of student team for InsideIIM and a member of the admissions committee at KJ SIMSR, Mumbai. He is a B.E. Mechanical graduate of M.B.M. Engineering College, Jodhpur.

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