How to prepare for CAT exam?
The answer is simple: KISS CAT
But what is this KISS CAT?
I am writing this article just for one simple reason: I receive numerous mails daily, asking questions such as: How to prepare for CAT exam?
The most continuous stream of queries I receive all revolve around one simple question: Can I crack CAT within in a few months? Some of the questions I receive are:
- How to prepare for CAT so that I get into A+ B-schools?
- How to prepare for CAT in the next few months?
- Are 4 to 5 sufficient time to prepare for CAT?
- How to improve one’s RC or score in the Verbal Ability section?
- I am non-engineer. How to I improve my quantitative aptitude skills?
- How do I approach CAT Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation?
These are all questions in the ‘How to prepare for CAT exam’ series that I frequently receive and at the back of all these questions, there is just one common thread of thought that is operating for all students: the basic human fear of failure. Since we are actually scared of the outcome, it stops us from performing to the best of our ability in the present. Are you a victim of this mentality? In case you are, you have landed at the right place to find an answer to this problem.
Well, I select a slightly different and an indirect approach to answering these questions. As someone who has taken CAT multiple times and cleared the dreaded 99% percentile barrier in all the sections, I believe I can pass some meaningful advice.
There are 3 simple mantras to be kept in mind while when you are faced with the question, ‘how to prepare for CAT exam?’:
1. Keep it Simple
Countless experts have said it and I say it again: CAT it not tough, the approach we take to the exam is keeping in mind the time frame, about 6 months to go, it is imperative that you devise a simple strategy for the exam. What does the ‘simple strategy entail’?
- For Maths, make sure you revise the concepts of every topic in detail. For my last attempt at CAT, I had not touched a maths question for nearly 7 years, yet I scored 99 percentile in the section. I did not remember a single formula, I cannot recall when I used a single formula, yet I managed to score. How? I had a wonderful Maths teacher, back in the year 2006, who clarified every concept of mine and told me only to work on concepts and solving questions was inconsequential without conceptual clarity. I still retain those concepts and use only those while solving questions. Without a single formula and without any short-cuts, you can clear the cutoff. It all depends on CONCEPTUAL CLARITY.
- For Verbal, Wordpandit (that is I) have just one piece of advice: read like there is not tomorrow and should be fine.
Remember, ‘simplicity of approach’ works best in this case as it keeps your head clear and makes you focus on the important things. Far too often we focus on things that don’t matter (for example, what will be my final percentile?, what do I need to score to get through X Institute? and so on). Remember, these questions don’t matter if you just focus on constantly improving yourself.
2. Keep it Sensible
There would be tough times, there would be dark days, there will be moments when confidence would be sapped out of your veins, but these are the precise times when you need to be sensible about things. I will give a specific example. In my first attempt, I was really messed up with Geometry. I made a call in October (after trying my best till September) that geometry does not figure in my plans. Left the topic, left all its questions in the exam, focused on the other three topics (number system, arithmetic, and algebra) that made sense to me and scored 97 in Qauntitative Aptitude. Not bad, eh? In short, the deal is: be sensible about the choices you make, there are topics and sub-topics that would bother you, don’t get fussed about them and just give them your best. In case you fail to master them, there is plenty of scope in the exam for you to pick questions from the topics that matter.
P.s: The one topic you cannot leave is Reading Comprehension; therefore you must read and read some more. Read this Q and A guide on RCs to know more about them.
3. Keep it Stringent
Well, the above two pointers make CAT look too simple, don’t they? You have all the information you need to answer the question: How to prepare for CAT exam? Well, I will contradict myself here. CAT does require one thing: strict and stringent study routines. I am not saying you need to study 12 hours a day, but you need to identify your level, and in case your starting point or base is pretty low,
Well, you almost have all the information. But just before you get a little too happy, I need to contradict myself here. CAT preparation does require one thing: strict and stringent study routines. I am not saying you need to study 12 hours a day, but you need to identify your level, and in case your starting point or base is pretty low, well in that case, go ahead and study 12 hours a day. It is about identifying your current levels, and doing with that honestly. While studying for the first time for CAT, I realized I was not natural when it came to Maths. When I say natural, I mean that I could not really solve questions that required conceptual knowledge on my own. How did I counter the problem? A sensible and stringent study of concepts. I made sure I had the clarity needed to solve questions, and for that, I had to work very hard. And that hard work still pays off.
P.s: The one thing that requires the maximum amount of hard work is reading comprehension. So, at the cost of sounding dull, drab, monotonous, clichéd, banal, hackneyed, platitudinous, I repeat again: Read as much as you can. Read this CAT RC secrets article to learn some clever tricks for this topic.
This finishes the dose of motivation some of you might feel the need for at this moment.
All I can say is treat CAT like a love, kiss her/him (according to your gender), keep your relationship with him/her simple, be sensible about it and make sure you understand him/her and lastly make some stringent efforts to get him/her, else you might not end up at the right side of this relationship.
I hope you have found the answers to the question we started with: How to prepare for CAT exam?
Always remember to KISS CAT.