The official notification for CAT 2020 came less than a week ago. Ever since, self-doubts to the tune of “Will I be able to crack CAT 2020, starting now?” have steadily risen. Along with it sneaks in the question: “What about CAT 2021? What should be my plan for CAT 2021 vis-a-vis CAT 2020?” And the most surprising aspect of these questions it that they arise from the fresher aspirants and aspirants with work experience, alike.
With less than 120 days to go for CAT 2020, the direct, honest, succinct answer to the former question will be “YES”. Before delving deeper into the latter – what happens with CAT 2021 and the preparation plan towards CAT 2021 – let us get some perspective. It is important to understand what one should think about before jumping to conclusions like, “Let me try CAT 2021, since I have anyways run out of preparation time for CAT 2020.”
1) CAT 2020 – the first, immediate and most certain outcome
Cracking CAT a year earlier can make so much difference to your career.
Look at it this way. Let us say you are 25, and you expect to work till you turn 60.Each additional year of work with an MBA means so much in furthering your career on a fast track. What is worse, some of these job openings do not exist without a top ranking MBA degree. So, crack CAT soon. Crack CAT 2020 than CAT 2021. It is better not to postpone certain things in life.
2) CAT 2021 – the distant outcome (and when is the right time to think about it)
If you have read the previous argument, congratulations. Because, I am going to contradict myself to some extent. Imagine it to be a real-life encounter of “an argument that STRONGLY INVALIDATES the claim made by the author.” (some VARC, along with Quant, does not hurt, does it?)
The career paths and astronomical salaries that I mentioned earlier are typically reserved for students of the elite institutes (‘typically’ is the word to be noted there). So, do not do an MBA or a PGDM from any random Business School (there are outliers, who go on to achieve great things in life. But that is who they are – OUTLIERS).
Let us say you get only 95.xx percentile in CAT 2020 and manage an admit only from a not so very popular XYZ Management Institute. Now in this situation, it might make sense not to take that admit and slog another year to crack CAT.
Remember, most people DO ONLY ONE MBA in their lifetime. Even if your MBA education is delayed by a year, do not settle for anything less than the best.
3) What does it take to get there?
This is interesting. Be it CAT 2020 or CAT 2021, a seat at one of the top IIMs requires a humongous score. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule when diversity comes into play. Some aspirants might gain an advantage, but the fraction is very small, if you look at the number of CAT aspirants that take CAT every year.
Besides, you know the rules of the game. If you belong to a particular gender, category and socio-economic strata, it is required you be one of the top 0.5% to 1% if you are vying for glory. Since this is sort of the preamble, do not keep lamenting that the system is ‘unfair’. If you score well, you would not even look back to blame the ‘system’. Get some perspective.
4) TL; DR
CAT 2020 is happening for sure, despite the COVID scare. At this moment, it is the only aspect we can work towards. Focus on the preparation part for the next ~120 days. Take a lot of mocks, fill gaps, revise and get yourself ready for this battle first.
You, I and all of us know the power of procrastination very well. Even if you plan the schedule for the next 365 days, we can be sure that most of us will most likely not stick to it until the panic ensues.
Let us be honest, folks. We are preparing for a competitive entrance examination, not shooting a James Cameron movie. It should not take a year to prepare for this examination. Forget the outcome; the preparation part should not take you a year at any cost.
The ‘what if’ aspect comes later
CAT 2020 is the first checkpoint. Whether you continue the Grand Prix after that or your car backfires and you need to ready yourself for the next Grand Prix s a decision to be made after the Checkpoint. Now, aim to reach the checkpoint with the fullest rigour. The ‘What if’s and ‘If… else’s are a worry for some other day.
Stay safe, and best wishes for CAT 2020!
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.