CAT 2021 is roughly 10 months away. There is ample time ahead to carve out a schedule for yourself if you are a working professional or student if you start immediately. This article will focus on the guidelines and preparation strategies for working professionals in particular. For Freshers, jump onto this article instead.
The very first caveat that I am going to start with, is this:
1. Do NOT quit your job for CAT Prep
Do not quit your job. It is simply not worth your while to leave the job that you have today. Do not take a drop year. It isn’t worth putting all your eggs in one basket and focus only on CAT Preparation. CAT Preparation is not like UPSC Preparation, where you need 10-14 hours a day to prepare diligently and properly. The drop year will not only increase your fatigue, but also curb your motivation and add incessant pressure. It is a downward spiral waiting to grab you.
A gap year without valid reasons is not going to be viewed positively by the interviewers. Unless your life has come to a standstill due to a medical emergency or family issues, a drop year purely for preparing for CAT isn’t advisable.
2. Too many years of work experience?
People talk about 4 years or 5 years of work experience as though it is a negative thing. W.r.t work experience, there is a sort of bell curve, where freshers get 0 points, someone with 5 years of work experience also gets 0 points and someone with 36 months of experience gets 5 points. Accordingly add some imaginary numbers. Admittedly, many schools also follow this bell curve, with the exception of a few schools where any work experience post 36 months gets a set number of points.
Naturally, if someone has more than 3 years of experience, they start to worry that they will not be getting any points due to their surplus years. Perhaps you could consider schools such as ISB, or other schools abroad by writing GMAT instead. The surplus number of years open up opportunities via GMAT. Visit this link for the best Online GMAT Course in the country.
If you still want to go for an MBA here, then by all means, go ahead. If you feel it will add value to your profile, put your head down, prepare for the CAT and ace it. Do not worry too much about your work experience.
Head on over to this link to learn more about work experience, IIMs and MBA.
3. Scramble for every ounce of time available
I have known a lot of people with strenuous 6 days a week kind of jobs, slogging for more than 12 hours a day and then going to IIM A, XLRI etc. No matter how tough the job is, persistence and temperament will take you a long way in your CAT Preparation.
Read every day. Read during your lunch or tea break. Peruse the editorials and check out Bharath’s Daily Reading List. If your commute takes more than half an hour, and you’re not the one driving (obviously), pick up the phone and read something. Solve a few questions or puzzles.
After work, carve out a schedule for yourself and figure out what works for you early on. Be curious and keep at it. You need to find those x number of hours every day, and optimize your weekends for CAT Preparation as well. If you look for something and work towards it, it will come to you.
4. Set realistic goals and targets for yourself
Don’t tell yourself that you will finish 7 units in 7 days. Only you can know where you stand in a particular section and how much time you need to learn and understand a particular topic. With around 10 months to go, it is the best time to prepare for CAT 2021 with the luxury of time, particularly compared to aspirants who start preparing from June or July.
Head on to this link to learn more about preparing for CAT 2021 and its various sections.
5. Use the Week effectively for your CAT Prep
As mentioned earlier, you should be looking to optimise your weekends to the fullest. If your weekdays are too full, and you are absolutely unable to carve out time for CAT Preparation, then it is alright to play catchup during the weekends instead.
What comes into the fore here, is your temperament. Your tenacity. You’ve set yourself the ambitious yet crackable goal of getting into a top B-school. How steely is your resolve? Are you ready to stay away from distractions and not binge watch your way through the week? Are you ready to devote all your time to CAT Preparation? Only you can help yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. Do have fun and live a little. I don’t expect you to become a machine who does nothing but work and study. It all comes down to how effectively you manage your time – a role befitting a future MBA student, wouldn’t you agree?
Either study in the morning or burn the midnight oil during the week and prepare diligently. Read for an hour everyday. Solve tons of CAT Level Questions (can be found here) after getting your basics in place. It can be done.
6. Don’t lose hope
Life has a knack for illuminating the bleakest of days and dampening the brightest of moments. It helps to remember why you started this endeavour in the first place. Whatever your dream is, reality will only meet with it in the presence of action and hard work.
Lastly, do your best and prepare with grit and a sense of joy. CAT is merely one avenue to get better in life amidst a sea of paths. So remember that, and dive into your preparation. Check out 2IIM’s Online CAT Coaching here.
Stay Safe and Best Wishes for CAT.
Written by Saahil R Bhatt.