"CAT is around the corner. There’s less than a month left for the date with CAT. The 24th of November is the date which will decide your fate. It’s a do or die scenario for all you CAT aspirants".
People who tell you this either haven’t been to a B-school or just haven’t understood what life after B-school looks like. So, let’s drive this basic point home. CAT is not the end. Getting into a B-school is not the end. To achieve something big, a degree in management is not a must. Although it provides a launchpad for you, it’s certainly not the only way to achieve what you want to achieve. So, the first thing you should do is shed the extra load that you are carrying owing to this undue pressure. Don’t overhype the exam. It’s just an exam, so, treat it like one. Nothing more, nothing less. Now that you have emptied your mind and heart of the negative thoughts, you can now think about and grasp the content that lies ahead (This is for those aspirants who see their scores/percentiles fluctuate significantly).
Being someone who’s played cricket at the national level, I like to draw analogies from the sport and apply it to a real-world scenario. So, let’s begin. Once, Virat Kohli was asked about his preparations for all the three formats he plays and how he manages to do equally well in a 5-day test match as well as in a 3-hour T20. His reply was simple yet amazing. He said, “I have done well because I have worked hard on my basics.” That brings me to the first point that one should focus on during this last lap - Work on your basics (concepts) and make them strong. CAT is no longer an exam that tests how many shortcuts you know, rather, it tests how strong your conceptual know-how is. So, dedicate a good chunk of your time for this.
Sachin Tendulkar has a century of centuries to his name. But, do you know which one he rates the highest? The one (241*) he scored in Sydney. Before that test match, he got out multiple times in the slip cordon playing his favourite shot i.e. cover drive. So, before the Sydney Test, he made a promise to himself that he won’t play a single cover drive and the rest, as they say, is history. He scored a mammoth 241 runs and not a single run came off the cover drive. That was the discipline that he showed. This brings me to the second point. Know your strengths and weaknesses and attempt the paper (mocks) in a disciplined manner. By this time, you must be knowing your areas of strength and weakness. While giving mocks, play to your strengths. Be disciplined and don’t stay on the same question (even if it’s your favourite topic) for a long time. Learn to leave questions and move on.
It’s been famously said - The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. This relates aptly to the third point. Take as many mocks as you can and analyze those for the pattern of mistakes that you commit. It’s important to know why you are doing the mistakes that you are committing now. This will be known only when you take mocks diligently and honestly. Also, while taking mocks, work on finalizing your strategy for individual sections. See what works for you and stick to it. By the 10th of November, you should have that customized strategy that works best for you.
I have given CAT thrice and my percentiles have ranged from the mid-60s to high-90s. One thing that helped me to improve was working on strategy and having the right mindset. CAT is not a very difficult exam per se. It’s the strategy and the mindset that takes you through. Aspirants who keep their calm are the ones who bell the CAT.
Best wishes for CAT-2019. Hope to see you soon on the other side of the table.
P.S.: 1) There are a lot of videos on YouTube which talk about the different strategies for attempting CAT. You can browse through them and see which suits you the best.