CAT Strategy for Working Professionals Live One-to-One Online CAT Classes by IIM Alumni
Working Professional – CAT Prep • People who are currently in jobs need to be very serious about preparations • Time available to them might be very less compared to other student aspirants • CAT and other similar exams like XAT,FMS etc are known for changing patterns and differing levels of difficulty every year. • Two Sins while CAT Preparation • A lot of people jump straight into problem solving and finding shortcuts to do “commonly occurring” problems. • Jump into exercise based preparation without getting the fundamentals right • Whether you are starting preparations for the first time or are writing CAT for the nth time; make sure that you get your fundamentals right.
For an average IQ student , the path is not easy, but who said anything is impossible - it just takes that little much longer. MAD over CAT • The CAT is a tough test. The CAT will humble you and bring you down to your knees. • With enough practice and the right guidance, you can beat it! • The key to success is training your mind to think differently and act differently • Get acquainted with both the content and the length of the test. • CAT is not rocket science, it just requires a lot of discipline… • There are no shortcuts— • Identify your weaknesses and then reviewing materials/doing practice problems to fill those gaps • Focus on the problem types you're having issues with • TRUST YOURSELF. You are smarter than you think. • All of the knowledge is inside of you. You just need to discover how to pull it out and apply it on test day!
7 Point Strategy • Mental Ability – Improve mental ability, improve mental responses, practice mental exercises and calculations daily. • Clear Basic fundamentals – Through understanding of principles through different books • Time Management – Solving Practice problems with timer, not more than 3 min for any question regardless of difficulty level ( 4 questions – 12 min) • SWOT Analysis – Know different types of questions in & do a SWOT on those types. More practice on weak areas. • Error Log - Error log will help you to know weak areas. Strategy to solve each type of question within 3 min • Process of Elimination – Understand & Practice Process of Elimination on different question types • Practice – No alternative to practice. It is very important to practice higher difficulty level questions for time management; try to solve every question within 3 min
Analyze, Understand & Plan the preparation • Preparing for the exam • 3 levels of preparation required to crack the CAT. • Knowledge • Exam Strategy • Confidence and Performance under pressure • 3 Steps to ACE CAT • Step-1 Learn all about CAT • Step-2 Do Self Analysis for CAT • Step-3 Execution: Mastering your strengths and improving on your Weaknesses • Study Plan • Never Prioritize topics – study all • What is prepared & what needs to be learned • Time Management • Set accomplishable goals • Stick to your plan
Identify where you stand • Where to start? • The ideal way to start preparing for any exam is by taking a diagnostic test • Diagnostic tests should ideally be of similar type as the previous CAT exam. • You may take the test online/offline. • Detailed analysis of the results
Build the Foundation - Revise the fundamentals • Understand and Develop basic concepts tested in the CAT • Understand different types of questions asked in each section • Gauge your understanding by solving questions for each Concept • Attempt extra practice problems on each concept to go to Pro Level. • Finally, move on to actual past CAT questions – to develop the CAT mindset
Get your fundamentals right • Focus on basic concepts and fundamentals • Understand the formulas/concepts • Shortcuts must come from a deeper understanding of the fundamentals rather than from some black box formula like approach • Take as much time as required to get it done • Don’t jump into exercise based preparation without getting the fundamentals right
Study Plan and Time Management • Time is precious, while everyone has the same amount of time, only those who manage it well crack the CAT. • Budget your time – Create a study plan to manage the time effectively and efficiently. • Give plenty of time for each task and concept • Use a calendar to set specific deadlines. • Don’t get nervous over deadlines; stay calm and keep on track.
Practice - Test, Test and More Test!! • Starts taking timed tests as early in the prep cycle as possible • Start taking sectional tests and time based exercises. • At least 2-3 concept or sectional tests a week • See where you stand and how much improvement you need. • Analyze the tests in detail to check: • A) Where have you gone wrong? • B) Why have you gone wrong? • C) Solutions to questions that you did not attempt to identify the ones that you could have attempted. • Analyze your performance after every test that you take.
SWOT Analysis - Don’t forget it • Give mock tests to understand one’s strengths and weakness • Important to use, develop strength or compensate for Weakness • Ideally for a 2 hour test, one should spend at least 2-3 hours analyzing things like • a. What went wrong? • b. What went right? • c. Where am I consistently strong • d. Where am I consistently weak? • e. Did I attempt questions that where time sinks? Why? • f. Did I skip or not attempt simple questions? Why? • Track your performance section wise and concept wise • Analysis : attempted, non-attempted questions, Silly mistakes and guess work attempts • Know strengths and weaknesses, concentrate on areas where you need to improve • Understand strength/weakness thoroughly and ensure that you play to your strengths in the exam
FACT -double the time given to a candidate in exams, most of the candidates will score 90%+ marks. Time Management during exam • Practice the element of “TIME” in problem solving • Most problems in management institute exams do not require knowledge of rocket science. • These exams are about • Skill and knowledge • Ability to manage time in the most efficient manner. • How to solve problems in minimum time • Focus on 2 more questions and get proficient in them -: • a) How much time will it take me to solve this problem? • b) Compared to the problems that I have seen what level of difficulty do I think this problem lies in? • Important for candidate to decide • Which questions to attempt and which questions to leave • In which order - which might very well end up being the most important thing esp. in exams where time is the crunch.
Plan your answering strategy • These are few points you must plan out before taking the CAT-: • What is your time allocation strategy? • How much time do you plan to spend on each of the sections? • In particular, do you plan to devote equal time to each section or slightly more time to the section that you are the strongest at? • How will you respond to a different marking scheme if that is specified? For example, if there are 2 marks and 1mark questions, do you plan to attempt the 2 mark questions first? • Do you plan to spend some time at the completion of the exam, cross-checking or verifying some of the answers, especially of those questions that you are not really sure of and have just estimated or guessed the answer?
Find your strategy - Experiment: • Till you have found a rhythm/strategy keep changing things • The target number of questions you want to attempt, • The time you spend on each section etc. • This kind of experimentation will prepare you for any surprise that you may find on D-Day • Perfect the optimum CAT-solving strategy • Strikes the right balance between speed and accuracy, • Ensure that you clear all cut-offs and as well as get 99+ percentile
Attention : Interviews and GD/WAT • Start preparing for the interviews and GD’s from beginning • Candidate needs to show that he/she has a well rounded personality in complete admission process • Start orienting on this aspect six months before even applying to the b-schools. • Know and Understand different question asked in interviews • Pick up a hobby, • Project something to be your hobby in an interview, • Good understanding of history, personal association, ground details, rules, current news items related to it and finally your views on its future etc. • For GD/WAT preparation, • Keep updated on General Knowledge/ General Affairs • Get a taste of the real thing • Preparing in groups of friends for GD/Essays is a good idea
Current Affairs – General Knowledge • Interview/GD/WAT Essays requires that you be aware of your surrounding and current affairs. • Read at least one good newspaper daily and a weekly magazine on current affairs (and 1 business magazine preferably) regularly. • Most publications from same media houses would be a bit biased in some respect • A variety of views from different media houses would strengthen your knowledge of the subject and help you especially in GD/WAT Essay
Train Your brain • Entire CAT evaluation (including GD/WAT/PI) is designed for people who can work for longer periods of time without breaks • Train your brain for working effectively and efficiently for longer periods of time • Build Mental stamina • Mental fatigue is real and it tends to snowball • At the end of an exam, mental fatigue will cause him/her to think more slowly, it will force you to re-read or re-calculate, • Spending longer on each question will only serve to fatigue you even more. • Mental stamina is required to perform efficiently and to get a good score • If you need to warm-up for an hour before beginning to be able to concentrate and study productively, now is the time to break that habit. • You need to be able to start concentrating almost immediately, and need to do the same thing for more than 140 minutes.
Work life balance • Keep yourselves distressed • Balance your work/study with preparation. • Be genuine to yourself and spend time every day regularly in a systematic manner • Take it slow and do not garble all the information. • Work your way through different types of problems and keep track of your performance in every possible area • It’s about ‘You’ and you know better about yourself; devise a strategy that works for you • Keep fine tuning the strategy, until you get better results
Final Words • CAT is a tough exam and you need to train your brain for it. • The key to success is training your mind to think differently. • Get acquainted with both the content and the length of the test. • CAT is not rocket science; it just requires a lot of discipline. • CAT is a very logical exam and if you are good with logic, you should be able to do reasonably well. • The challenge is not to master all concepts, or to do all problems rightly; the challenge is to maximize the score • You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; all you have to do is follow a plan which the high CAT scorers use and customize it to suit your needs. • NGUFO = (Never Give Up - Fight On)
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