64 days. Close to two months. Just over 4 fortnights. Irrespective of the way this is stated, the fact remains the same. CAT 2020 is going to happen on 29 November 2020. The last two months towards CAT are usually more heated than the others. This year, there is yet another layer to the already-stressful last mile preparation – the CAT pattern change. Additionally, the exact split-up of questions have not been announced yet.
The interruption in the weekly mock rigour, the imaginary/real loss of momentum in terms of CAT 2020 preparation, the helplessness and anger that stem as a by-product of all these sudden, unexpected changes… The list goes on. In the wake of all these uncertainties, the obvious question arises: How do we adapt to the changes, given there are 64 days to go?
The “Goddamn, I prepared so much for nothing” conundrum
At the risk of parroting the oft-repeated trope, let me take a shot at this. The word, ‘nothing’ in that statement is far from reality. For all practical purposes, just because the examination duration has changed, the preparation routine does not change.
Take a moment to reflect on how the last three months have been. You started preparing from scratch probably in June? Began taking mocks in July/August? Did you learn something that does not seem to hold any relevance to the new pattern, whatsoever?
The answer to the last question is glaringly obvious.
NO, you have not lost anything. So, take a deep breathe and continue preparing with joy.
64 days and the level-playing field
“There are just 64 days, and this new pattern change is irking me so much.” – I have received questions of this nature for the last one week from many people. As an aspirant vying for a place in the top 1% to 2%, I can definitely empathize with all these questions. In fact, the more I type, I realize this is me using this as a reservoir, while giving some perspectives as well.
What I have learnt to do is just flip the argument within myself. Whenever the statement, “This is so unfair” strikes my mind, I remind myself that this is the same for all the other aspirants as well. If it is unfair for such a huge lot of people, is it unfair at all in the first place?
If there was one hypothetical opportunity where aspirants who started preparing late could compete with those who started way back, the new pattern change has made it a reality. Now, think of the level-playing field that has been laid out in front of you, pump your fists and double down on your preparation.
The importance of not yielding to FOMO
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has always been a problem when it comes to intensely competitively examinations like CAT. With the changes in the examination pattern and the question on how to prepare for the same, there is going to be an obvious increase in fear and anxiety.
There are several forums that continuously feed on this tension and speculate a lot of things. Do not give in. It is important for you to shield yourself from unproductive discussions, unverified theories and speculations.
‘Learning’ vs actual learning
This, if any, should be the important takeaway when you complete reading this piece. The idea of learning is subjective. People learn in different styles, at different times through different modes. You must endeavour to spend the maximum time learning at a pace and approach you always do.
If participating in discussion forums and social media groups make you feel skeptical about your performance, give yourself a pat and log out/deactivate. Learning for CAT should be an intense process with a lot of focus and self-control. Do not compromise on this absolute, by contending yourself with some superficial discussion on a Quant topic in some forum.
CAT is an exam where performance is measured in terms of percentile, not percentage. Why do you think it is the way it is? Because this is an examination where everybody knows you cannot and need not score 100% (God bless you if you can and did).
Why is this understanding important for your preparation?
Translating this to your CAT preparation, there are always going to be doubts, questions and things to work on. If Math and English were so easy, they would not have witnessed iterative developments over the course of several centuries, right?
So (try to) shed all fear and pressure. Take a deep breath. Come to terms with the fact that this change is equally new for everyone. Prepare vigorously. Keep at it. The results will be for you to see in four to five months.
As Rajesh Sir likes to say, “Getting into a b-school is not the only way to make a mark in your life. There are plenty of other avenues which will take you where you need to go.” So keep this in mind and prepare with belief, but when all is said and done, it is not the end of the world should your attempt go awry. Cheers. 🙂
Stay safe, and best wishes for CAT 2020!
Written by Giridharan Raghuraman