How Overthinking Can Affect CAT Preparation

“What if I don’t get it?”

“What if I do my best here and I fail to perform in the exam?”

“I know I will not crack it, there is no use!”

“He/She has the IQ to do it, I don’t.”

“CAT is for geniuses, not me!”

“What if I practice and even then I don’t get my DI/LR right?”

“What if I choose the wrong RC to start with?”

These are some of the questions that every serious aspirant has thought of or stumbled upon. There is a worse scenario where we assure the rest of the world that we are studying and we can do it, the world believes in us, but deep down, we feel that it’s all futile and nothing is going to work.

If these feelings and thoughts linger for more than the invited period, then they are not the result of our thinking; they are the result of our overthinking.

CAT aspirants inculcate various hobbies during their preparation time like sleeping, daydreaming, being a freelance motivator to other CAT aspirants, etc., and then there is another hobby known as overthinking.

The definition of overthinking involves thinking about something for a very long time; thinking about each and every aspect and going to the extreme town of positive and negative.

This generally is the habit of every human in this world. Only a few are blessed with a habit of not taking having extreme thoughts.

I personally divide “overthinkers” into two different categories:

  1. The aware (realist) overthinker
  2. The unaware (idealist) overthinker.

The Realist: These are the ones who are aware of the realistic scenario but still go through every positive and negative aspect of the issue at hand so that they don’t miss out on any possibility or outcome. This might lead to a negative or a positive impact on the thinker’s mind. Here, the thinker’s mind stays in that state for some time and then comes back to the reality and starts again. (This is where the aspirant goes into a state of extreme thoughts but comes out of it no matter what)

The Idealist: These are the overthinkers who create a scenario in their head far away from reality. The overthinking only goes towards the extremes of negativity. The conclusion is drawn on the basis of the most negative possibility, with many imaginative conditions created in between. (this is what I call “A Rocking Chair”)

Being aware of overthinking, can sometimes serve us positively, but being an unaware overthinker can only lead to negative thoughts, negative conclusions and (to some extent), anxiety and depression.

One more result the overthinking brings out is a state of numb thoughts. This is the state where the mind goes numb, gets enervated, and goes into the state of complete self-abnegation. This is where the aspirant says, “I cannot do it. I don’t have the IQ to do it and I know my hard work will go futile.”

This state can be temporary or in many cases becomes permanent.

I do not support overthinking in any sense but it is an inbuilt and inculcated hobby of humankind that resides in all of us. So what do we do to control it?

We take a milder approach towards things and settle somewhere between not over thinking and the aware overthinking. That is a safe area.

How do we reach this area?

We do our research from a trusted resource, know the possibilities, and also believe in an unknown scenario that might pop up in the end. We don’t linger onto the fact that we are useless and our hard work will go waste. We shut down these thoughts and keep on working consistently.

But if the thinker falls in the second category, something drastic measure has to be taken. The second category has many side effects which can lead to permanent damage. What can be done?

Working consistently can surely help. The aspirant should try to divert the mind by setting small targets instead of thinking CAT as one big target. This habit can take time to develop and grow but this will surely help us reach the safe zone. The root of negative overthinking is our lost confidence and low self-esteem. So to start the journey towards the safe zone one has to be a little positive (baby steps) and believe in the realistic goal we set for ourself.

The journey of a CAT aspirant towards achieving the desired CAT score and bagging the dream college doesn’t comprise of just studies, mocks, basics and working consistently. It also comprises of staying positive and not feeding the overthinker inside her/him (Don’t think too much after you have given it a thought thoroughly).

So we must work hard, we must work consistently, and we mustn’t stress too much about the possibility of not achieving it or not bagging the dream college. We should always keep in mind that the hard work never goes futile.

Medha Gupta




Abhir Mishal

I would have needed this post back back then in 2016. I overthought and had to pay the price in CAT 16. Nice write up. Hope people follow this and not overthink.

Priyanka Chaudhary

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. It will help many CAT aspirants to think positive and to give their best.