“Don’t forget to de-stress yourself and take good care of your mind to be able to afford unbridled focus and concentration while attempting the exam.”
I am an engineer, a computer science engineer, and I scored 99.35 percentile in CAT 2019. A graduate of the Institute of Engineering and Management, University of Kolkata, I also have 10 months of work experience, from TCS, prior to joining IIM Rohtak.
As I worked parallelly with the preparation and could dedicate only 5-6 hours a week from September to study, creating a balance between work and preparation became important. The double work schedule could cause burnout. To avoid feeling over-stressed, I turned to running, to refresh my body and mind. I have always loved travelling and so, I took short breaks during my preparation and travelled to nearby places, and went on long drives to divert my mind from work and come back energized.
My preparation for the CAT exam was structured around the sectional strategy. Coming from an engineering background and being a mathematics lover, I was already comfortable with Quant and DI/LR. I was more invested in the preparation of VARC section. The basic concepts were clear to me, and so I focused on solving the questions within the allotted time limit and improving my accuracy. For VARC, I decided on a sequential strategy early on. I would always attempt the sets which were familiar to me first, from the study material or any previous mock/sectional tests, and then move on to trying newer patterns in the remaining time. During the analysis of the mock tests, VARC was my main focus since it made me familiar with varied kinds of unfamiliar reasoning behind solving the sets.
I initially focused on grammar and my reading speed. I inculcated the habit of writing down every new word I came across while reading newspapers, books, or the study material. I read articles and essays on topics that were yet unexplored by me for having a wider choice. It helped me to have at least a basic idea about the topics I was not fond of reading.
My advice for the CAT’2020 aspirants:
Thoroughly analyze the previous years’ CAT exams, as analyzing CAT 2018 helped me understand the exam pattern much better and deal with the questions seamlessly. This would also help develop a better understanding of the scope and depth of knowledge required to excel at CAT.
Time-management is the key to score well. To sync yourself with the exam time, attempt proctored or time-bound mocks and spend a fair amount of time to revise the mocks attempted.
Keep separate notebooks/notes of topics you are weak at or find challenging to understand and go through them at least once every week.
The new 120 minutes duration of the exam should not make aspirants uncertain and anxious. Having a well-practised strategy can go a long way in avoiding any last-minute blues.
All the very best for your exam!