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‘You needn’t quit your job to crack CAT’

Harshita Pathak, an alumnus of Apeejay School, Nerul, who completed her MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, shares practical tips on how to prepare for the CAT (Common Admission Test) without quitting your job.

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1. Time management and self-discipline hold the key  

The task of managing both your work and CAT preparation simultaneously can appear to be daunting, but it’s not impossible.You needn’t quit your job to crack the CAT examAfter completing my schooling from Apeejay School, Nerul in 2012, I did B.Tech in Information Technology from the Vellore Institute of Technology. Then, I worked with Cisco for two years and prepared for CAT while working. CAT is not difficult to crack if you have done well in your school. Studying consistently is critical. One must devote at least 2 hours a day. Obviously, there will be days when you will not be able to give adequate time to studies, but make sure to make up for the lost time on weekends or on your holidays. I took coaching for CAT preparation as I needed someone on the top of my head to push me to study, but you can do without coaching as well. Though, all plans and preparations will fall flat if you are not self-motivated. At the start of each week, I used to make a list of the topics I had to cover.  

2. Take plenty of mock tests

Preparing for CAT is not only about mastering the theories, but also to take regular mock tests and analyse your preparation. Mock tests help you prepare for the big stage while keeping you grounded. Here’s how! On some days you will get good scores and on other days you will not perform as per your expectations, mock tests ensure that you are neither overconfident nor under-confident when you write the final CAT exam.

3. Don’t be under pressure to crack CAT in first attempt  

How many attempts should you take to crack CAT? It depends on an individual’s present conditions and time in hand that can be devoted to it. You should also be clear whether you want to get into the top 3 IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta) or not. In my first attempt, I scored 96.32 percentile and got an admission offer from the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, but I didn’t accept it as I knew that by putting more effort I could get into one of the top three IIMs. In my second attempt, I scored 98.4 percentile and got into IIM, Bangalore. Though, you should carefully analyse your strengths to see whether or not you should let go of such an opportunity. 

4. Do not waste time on tricky questions

In CAT, you should know when to leave a question (s). You should attempt only those questions which you are 100 per cent sure of as there’s negative marking for each incorrect answer. Also, don’t spend too much time on tricky questions otherwise you end up wasting a lot of time. Remember, there will be some easy questions distributed throughout the paper. Your priority should be to find and solve them. You can attempt the skipped questions in the end.

5. Consider CAT as just another test

A day or two before the exam don’t learn new things. Revise your formulas. Importantly, don’t even give mock tests because if you get low scores it could really dent your confidence. Take the CAT as just another test. Even if you don’t score well you have the opportunity to do better next year.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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