Myths and Mistakes in CAT prep!
This in some sense is a compendium of myths, facts and fallacies related to the feline!
In this article (and the one following this) we will look at the facts, try and argue for and against the fact and see if there are any exceptions to the same and how one should (not) be bothered by the same. If you are faint hearted, please stop reading this now, and get the hell out of this page, as we proceed to look at some ugly truths, hiding behind good looking lies.
We will get the facts straight up front. But for the purpose of this blog, we have broken the myths into four parts. We will be discussing the first two in this blog.
Myths about the exam
- CAT is a monster as everyone I know claims so. No.
- Which IIM conducts the CAT this year matters more than my life. No.
Myths related to CAT Coaching
- Joining a Coaching guarantees success. Nope.
- Should I worry about my Classmate scoring more than what I score? No.
Myths on CAT Prep Strategy
- Take couple of mocks in the last few weeks is going to be enough. No.
- How many questions were required to obtain a 99th percentile in each section last year matters a lot? No.
Other CAT related Pish-tosh
- Using facebook groups (erstwhile it used to be pagalguy) is effective preparation, because information is wealth, isn’t it? No.
- I’m a General Engineer (Male) – I’m done already, the system is screwed against me. I’m a non-engineering candidate, the system is screwed against me. No & No.
- My tenth twelfth and grad score is xx, yy and zz. What are my chances? Knowing my chances will let me concentrate enough on preparation. No.
CAT is a monster as everyone I know claims so.
People agonize over CAT being a very difficult exam, and the cat question setters being monsters out there to get you. A Big loud No is the answer. All CAT wants to test is your capability to comprehend numbers, data sets, verbal comprehension and reasoning capabilities. After being in a reasonably okayish B school, I am able to understand why all of these put together make more sense than getting really good scores in some sections and screwing up one odd section. More on this later.
There are requirements for one to understand verbal communication effectively, and so is ability to read charts and analyze things logically. Personally I would claim I’m reasonably above average in the mentioned areas. However Numbers is one thing that haunts me. My CAT score is an attestation to that. I scored 79.8 in Quantitative Ability of CAT 2015. I found it very difficult to undergo and understand courses that used lots of numbers (and believe me most courses are). Doesn’t mean I couldn’t cope up at all. I did what I could to get graceful scores in every subject that I have been through.
Takeaway: CAT tests reasonable abilities that one would expect a manager to excel (or at least be able to work on a day to day basis) at.
Which IIM conducts the CAT this year matters more than my life.
No. People come up with mad theories that would even baffle the convenors of CAT. They have theories like A would concentrate more on numbers and QA would be the toughest section. Oh my god, C is going to conduct the exam this year, so Verbal is going to be screwed. These are at best guesses. There is no correlation between a CAT paper and the Institute setting the same. So heed to no expert, because his guess is as good as your guess.
There is another perception or point of view that needs to be discussed here. It is “the paper is going to be the same for everyone”. Remember that. You are not given a difficult Quant paper compared to others. This exam is comparative. That is why there is a percentile output to this exam. It tells you where do you stand amongst all the aspirants. By no way a different institute setting up a different level of difficulty paper is going to hamper your chances. At best it’s you dishing out lame reason after another for lack of preparation and bad scores in the last day.
Takeaway: Stop the speculation and put your focus elsewhere, i.e., CAT prep.
Joining a Coaching guarantees success
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” – Benjamin Franklin.
Research well before joining any Coaching for CAT. Understand that just because (insert some random number here) aspirants scored more than 99.xx percentile in last cat doesn’t mean that is your best bet for you.
- People buy results from top scorers.
- It is easy to manipulate (prospective) consumers because of Confirmation Bias they have been put into, with gimmicks spread across the world wide web. A wide net is cast to catch the unsuspecting prey and keep him/her in the dark, until one day he/she feels cheated, but it’s already too late to recover, and more importantly one has lost not just money, but a precious year that could have given you advantage over someone else in your career growth, or to have escaped that impending economic recession.
- Results and reviews can be created. It’s like magic. So try something for yourself. In a brick and mortar classroom, ask for a demo class.
- In an online platform, ask to sample. We the regular middle class Indians need to develop that sense of consumer rights. We go meek and shy when it comes to asking for sample, as if it’s a shame on your status to do so. Consider this as an equivalent of test driving that 2 lakh worth thunderbird before making the payment. Only difference is, the 2 lakhs can be earned elsewhere, but not your lost year.
- Look at your personal priorities, schedules and other important factors before committing yourself.
Why is planning Vital?
Here I would like to quote saint Thiruvalluvar
“எண்ணித் துணிக கருமம் துணிந்தபின்
எண்ணுவம் என்பது இழுக்கு”
“Enni thuniga karumam thunindhapin
Ennuvam enbadhu izhukku”
This translates to – Think and plan before you undertake something, it’s a shame to ruminate after the choice is made.
Takeaway: There is one person responsible for your success or failure. No it’s not luck, fate or destiny. It’s “YOU”. Remember that.
I should worry about my classmates
No. It’s an exam that approximately 2 lakh individuals take every year, and many repeat the exam for several years. You can use synergy with your classmates. Use WhatsApp groups effectively. Discuss questions and methods of approach, share useful article links, discuss on trending topics (not the trp kind of trends, rather the healthy ones). Help each other to score better.
It helps one create a healthy competition, mild levels of envy helps increase productivity. Make sure the group is not a place you waste a lot of time. Make sure you chuck out people who spam the group. Worry enough to have enough like minded individuals in the group to be able to carry out a healthy discussion. One last thing, You should not be the only provider in the group. That would lead to an early burnout when everyone else is there only to leech on you. It’s like using torrents. Unless everyone shares, the system won’t work.
It’s a competitive exam, counterintuitively you don’t have to worry about your classmate scoring more than you. There are 9999 kids out there who you need to compete with. Essentially more than 15 people score the coveted 100th percentile.
Takeaway: Collaborate. Create your path to glory.
Stay tuned for the next one as we discuss the rest of them. 🙂