Preparing For CAT 2018 – Are You Insane?

CAT 2018 – 25th November 2018.

This is the date that can end in tears of joy or tears of failure. The date when you see thousands around you, aspiring to be in the very same premier institutes as you, with the same level of hunger that you have in you.

As we head into the last phase of CAT preparation, there is a certain level of panic and anxiety amongst aspirants. There are questions which begin to rise up and float – “Is this the year for me?”, “What if DI-LR is too tough?”, “What happens if I don’t get through?”, “What if I blank out in the exam?” As more and more such thoughts begin to pop up, the stress levels only increase – preparing for potentially life-changing exams tends to do that to a person.

This stress that we all experience becomes two-folds for working professionals. Not only does one have to deal with the stress of preparing for an exam like CAT, you also have to deal with stress and deadline at work. You want to come back home and just crash into your bed, but you can’t afford to do that. You want to head out in the evening with your friends, but you have that mock test scheduled for 8:00 PM. Your peers are travelling abroad, travelling across the country, but all you can do is see their Instagram stories and just wonder – “Is any of this worth it?”

I know this feeling all too well because I am in the same boat as well – slogging my ass off at work and preparing for CAT, uncertain of the results and what the future holds for me.

But I figured out a way to reduce this uncertainty and channel it towards a more diligent approach of preparation.

Here is a 4-step process for everyone to get the right strategy to crack CAT 2018.

Motivate Yourself

This is the key instigator to a brilliant CAT performance.

Visualise this –

Fast-forward to around January 8th, 2019. You are probably still thinking about the accuracy of your XAT Decision-Making set, and are wondering which b-schools will finally shortlist you. Suddenly, you get a message on your CAT Prep WhatsApp group – “CAT Results out! Here is the link –”. Your palms become sweaty, and for a split second, you blank out. Your nerves get the better of you, as you click on the link. The website opens up, you are barely able to enter your registration number, and almost unexpectedly, the score-card shows up and you see this –

Can you even begin to imagine the disbelief and joy that you will feel? Imagine typing in these percentiles to send to your parents. Imagine calling them up and telling them that you are most likely going to be shortlisted for premier management institutes of the country!

Did this make your heart race?

If yes, this is your brain telling you – “You can do this.”, in the form of an adrenaline rush.

This visualisation works for me. Find your own motivation and drive yourself. Perhaps this article will help.

Knowing Where You Stand

In late June 2018, I closed my TIME material after solving both the exercises for Number Systems, and exclaimed to myself – “CAT 2018? Bring it on”. A month later, I couldn’t even remember how to find out the number of trailing zeroes in an AIMCAT Number Systems question. I was aghast. It seemed like only yesterday that I had finished the entire topic, and now I couldn’t remember squat. I lost complete track of where I stood in terms of my preparation. Panic set in. However, I calmed myself down and simply opened my notes and revised all concepts once again, and now, two months later, all the concepts are fresh in my mind.

Know where you stand.

“How?”, you ask?

Mock Tests. Most of us give a mock test, see an absolutely life-shattering percentile, and give up. After seeing a few mock test scores of other people on iQuanta, we then feel driven to give another shot at it. The result? Worse than before. If you repeat this process, again and again, hoping for a higher percentile, you know what this makes you?

Insane. No, I mean literally.

An unofficial definition of insanity is “doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result”. How can you possibly expect a higher percentile when you don’t even know where you are going wrong? How will you find out where you stand?

If you are a working professional, schedule two mocks in a week as per your convenience, and diligently give each and every mock. I have scheduled a total of 45 mock tests till 23rd November 2018. It is not impossible.

After giving a mock, analyse it properly. Some say it takes 6 hours, but it takes me 3-4 to analyse QA and DI-LR (the former being my weak area). The analysis is simple – find out how to efficiently fix what you have screwed up. Watch the question analysis videos and solve the questions again.

Special Note – Treat your mock tests as not tests but study material. Also, revise everything three times within a space of two weeks. Drill concepts into your head by reading and re-reading your notes. This article will highlight the importance of revision for CAT preparation.

Building Your Knowledge From The Bottom Up

Your mock tests tell you where you stand. But what if you’re standing in quick-sand? How do you stop yourself from sinking into a panic, not remembering formulae and concepts?

Here is where you need to build on your preparation strategy. Try and follow this chain of thoughts (in aspirant parlance) –

My mock score was shit —-> why was my mock score so shit —-> oh, I f***** up in QA (again) —-> where in QA did I f*** up —-> Geometry —> I am not being able to solve questions on the similarity of triangles —-> Obviously, I need to revise this concept again and solve these types of questions twice.

This is followed by solving questions from study material and previous mocks once again and then giving a sectional test to assess if you have grasped that topic.

It’s that simple. There is no complication in this process. Eventually, it will turn out that you are good at 90% of everything that you have studied, simply because you built your preparation from the bottom up.

Special Note – Remember, panic will not help (says me, who frets at least 4 times a day about CAT). Panic is only going to inhibit you from improving your current situation. So the moment you panic, make yourself busy studying and re-studying concepts to become a master of that topic. Having said that, panic is not avoidable, especially a month before CAT. In this case, speak to someone close and tell them about how hard you have worked, and it will feel good to know that you’re not in as bad a shape as you think you are in.

Sleeping With A Goal

“B&#ch*%, IIM Calcutta mein toh ghusna hee hai iss saal” is what I tell myself every single night before going to sleep. For me, the ultimate reward for preparing so hard is a seat at Joka. The oldest IIM in the country inspires me, and it is my dream to be there. I sleep with a smile every night as I chant this to myself.

This step is the simplest of them all in theory, but extremely difficult to implement. You have to believe that you can do it. You cannot EVER compromise on your goals and underestimate your own potential, no matter how low your mock scores are or how much better everyone else is doing. If your mind believes that all you are capable of is Jaipuria Institute of Management, then that’s where you will go; probably lower.

Sleep with a goal, visualise it, and go to sleep with that image in your head.

Special Note – There is a beautiful quote by American motivational speaker, Les Brown –

My father always told me,“Son, I won’t be disappointed if you aim high and miss. I will be disappointed if you aim low and hit.”

There you go.

A 4-Step guide to preparing for the remaining days of CAT.

So far, this is working for me and I hope to continue remaining motivated till the very end.

All the best!

Chirag Shukla

Aspirant. Writer.


One comment


Very apt answer from the preparation perspective. I liked your quote ” Doing the same………….. Expecting diff. Result.