Let me start by saying, there is no such thing as a perfect study plan. There may be something like a good study plan but that will also vary from an individual to an individual. This post and the couple more which will follow are an exercise in generalization which should be taken as just that – a gross generalization rather than something written in stone. Having said that, this generalization might be able to throw some light in the right direction and might help you choose your path to success.
To begin with, I would like to define the CAT aspirants into two categories:
a) Working Professionals
I know that there are plenty of aspirants who do not fit into either of the categories. So, think of the two categories as ‘Busy’ & ‘Free’. Now you might argue that as a Fresher / student you have workload of assignments, end-sems, project submissions, etc. Stop quibbling! If you do not have a boss breathing down on your neck asking you to submit the Weekly Estimated Net Usage System report on Monday morning, you are in the ‘Fresher’ category. On the contrary, if you are warming the benches of a mass recruiting soul sucking IT company – you are not in the ‘Working Professional’ category.
First things first, how much time is actually required to perform well in CAT. In my opinion, anything from 300 to 500 hours is more than enough preparation for CAT. You will be able to reach your peak performance in that space of time. The key idea is that this period of 300 to 500 hours should be spread over anywhere from 5 months to 10 months. Anything above that is overkill and students tend to lose focus. Anything less than 5 months, the students tend to panic. If you are reading this, the day it got published you are nicely poised to start your prep and take it to the next level. Do not be worried or concerned about being too late or too early. Whenever you start, is the right time. The idea is not to lose momentum in the middle – which happens way too often than you would imagine once the test series starts and people start getting disappointing scores.
Whatever I have said till now is valid for any CAT aspirant. As to what you should actually be doing, I believe a different approach is required for both categories. Today, I am going to talk about what should be done by ‘Working Professionals’.
As a ‘Working Professional’, you should try to find around 15 – 20 hours a week of study time. The key is that every day should try to find at least 1.5 to 2 hours with a little more on the weekend. If you already know what your strong / weak areas are: brilliant. You should devote majority of your time in clearing up your weak areas and building up your basics. In case you don’t, here is what I suggest.
Mon / Wed / Fri – Quant Basics
Tue – Verbal Basics
Thur – Reading Comprehension Basics
Saturday – Section 1 Application (Quant + DI)
Sunday – Section 2 Application (Verbal + LR)
As you might have noticed, there is no time which is devoted towards LR / DI basics. Well, that is because I don’t believe there is anything such as LR / DI basics. You should just practice questions of various Logical Reasoning / Data Interpretation.
If you are Fresher candidate, just multiply the time allocation with a factor of 1.5 and keep following the same plan.
With this I would like to wrap up this post. In my next post, I would try to answer the following questions:
a) In which order you should prepare
b) How much should you cover and by what date.
c) When should you start your test series
- Ravi Handa
(Ravi Handa, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, has been working in the CAT Prep sector for the past 7 years. He currently offers online CAT coaching and preparation for CAT 2015)
Other articles by Ravi Handa can be found here