Before all these new-age Keep calm and carry on tag lines came into being, there was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and this wonderful phrase on its cover – Don’t Panic. But as we all know, the phrases ‘be calm’, ‘relax’, ‘take it easy’ were all created primarily for the feel-good of the speaker and do little to nothing for the recipient. Especially when spoken in a kind of low baritone that several motivational speakers have now adopted.
So, if you are the kind that panics, then panic you should. It is wonderfully useful to fixate on some inane aspect and make it the center-point of your panic-energy. This does nothing for your preparation or anxiety but could be fun anyway. So, here’s how to panic well 12 days before CAT 2020!
1. Fret about your D-day routine
What do you wear on the day of the CAT, which route to take and most importantly what to do in the 2 hours before the exam that the powers-that-be insist we spend inside a large building being herded from one room by officious TCS employees who are super-peeved at losing their Sunday to some god-forsaken show of ambition by 20-somethings whose idea of a good time is to sacrifice 26 weekends in a row in order to write a 2-hour exam in the middle of nowhere? Plan for these in great detail.
In these 12 days, decide whether you are going to mentally construct a world best XI of left-handers or a team of 10 attacking players in the football world cup.
2. Fret about your attire
Are those your favourite pants are not? The fact that you got stood up for a date made you refocus on CAT and this could take you places. So, these pants were working in your favour. On the contrary, if the exam actually does not go well, then these pants cost you six months of fun. Grrr.
Fret about wearing something comfortable, but remember what Napoleon said
Fret about the fact that your lucky dress might not be lucky all the time. With dress and luck, do patterns hold good or law of averages? Are my lucky pants from 3 months ago on a rich vein of form or were they on the last leg of a good run? You have 12 days to decide! 😛
3. Fret about your watchlist
The week before CAT, should you watch thrillers that transport you to another place, or gentle comedy? Do you choose to binge-watch or plan to watch only for a break and then binge-watch anyway? Plan a nice watchlist well ahead of time.
4. Fret about your sleep schedule.
If you have the 4:30 pm slot, should you wake up late and be well-rested or should you wake-up early and grab a nap from 11 to 12? Is this 1 hour nap really practical, is it even possible with an exam right around the corner?
Get a good sleep routine going in these last 12 days, and befriend your biological clock!
5. Feeling anxious is natural folks, everyone feels the heat
I have taken the route of this elaborate whimsical post to see if we can have a detour from the creeping anxiety of an approaching exam. One of the best ways of handling stress (especially with 12 days to go for D-Day to arrive) is to embrace the idea that everyone is going through a similar experience.
All of you youngsters who saw Sachin Tendulkar from 2000 onwards do not have sufficient understanding of how he carried the team from 1992 to 1998. The entire nation used to fixate on that one youngster. We would lavish him with praise and hurl abuse at him alternately and sometimes simultaneously ALL THE TIME. The fervour we now see in the Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni fans is all a bit meh and benign compared to how we used to cohabit with Sachin of the 90’s. Sachin braved through all of that and played in a bubble.
Apparently, that Sachin Tendulkar – the one who took the super-imposition of a billion dreams on himself rather well – used to have trouble sleeping on the night before matches. Very frequently. So, feeling a bit stressed before an exam is completely natural.
6. Take your mind off CAT – let adrenaline do its thing
Take your mind of these things by doing a bunch of things – Eat healthy, watch favourite TV programs, play whenever possible, read plenty, talk with old friends who make you feel good about yourself and drink plenty of water. In the last lap, feeling good is way more important than completing any other set of tasks. Lucky pen, thriller TV series, old songs, favourite movies – focus on whatever puts your mind at ease in the last few days. Be unconventional and find your routine.
If Sachin can bat for 4 hours in highly challenging conditions with less than 2 hours of sleep, you can easily take a 2-hour exam even if anxiety has kept you up the previous night. Exam-day adrenaline is a wonderful drug. It can open your mind up in ways you did not think was possible. Give it a chance.
Speaking of opening your mind up in previously unknown ways, allow me to reassert the value of the absolute gem that is Bharath’s Curated Reading List. Read for the sake of reading!
Best wishes folks, have fun all the way up to the day of the exam and sign off joyfully inside the exam hall. Stay Safe!
Rajesh Balasubramanian takes the CAT every year and is a 4-time CAT 100 percentiler. He likes few things more than teaching Math and insists to this day that he is a better teacher than exam-taker.