“How do I prepare for CAT 2020 from May/June/July?” is one of the most frequently asked question. There is no one straight answer to this question, although there is a detailed schedule of sorts available for free access, here. Since that is a giveaway, what I am going to focus on are more specific aspects of CAT preparation from TODAY. Some of it are relevant throughout your CAT preparation journey, but most of them are applicable for the period spanning July to the D-Day.
1) Own your preparation
If someone tells you, “Prepare for Quant during this hour of the day, read during the evenings, relax during nights for these many hours”, that is THEIR SCHEDULE. That need not work well for you; if it does, well and good. If not, however, you have to own your preparation.
2) Create your own schedule
Create a schedule that is in sync with your work hours, nature of work and other chores. If you are retaking CAT, and know all the moving pieces of the examination in general, your CAT preparation (from July) should focus on taking more mocks, analysis them and intense course correction measures.
If you are taking CAT for the first time this year, there are five crucial steps to kick–start your CAT preparation. You should get a hang of which section is difficult for you, which you can manage with relative ease; plan your schedule accordingly. Initially, you have to make sure it is Quant intensive.
What would MY preparation schedule look like?
If I were a person who works between 9 am and 7 pm, I would make sure I have a hour and a half of time in the mornings where my preparation is intense; during weekdays, I would concentrate on Quant, there might be one session (or a maximum of two) for DILR, zilch for VARC. During work hours, I would ensure that I have an hour of reading quality content. VARC takes care of itself with that. In the weekends, I will take a mock and analyse it, which would take a minimum of six hours
The caveat here is that I am a morning person. You need not be one. If I am doing 15 hours of intense solving a week, plus about six hours of reading, and a mock to top it up, I am done for the week.
I have known people who wake up just in time to get to work in the morning, but stay late; in that case, squeezing two hours of intense preparation between, say, 8 pm and 10 pm, is quite possible and workable for those people. Find your niche, and capitalize on it.
3) Don’t be unrealistic with your CAT preparation plan
If you are working 8-10 hours a day, you simply cannot push yourself to do 4-5 hours of CAT preparation per day; it is more likely to end up being less qualitative than the one or two hours of intense preparation. Remember, more hours of work does not automatically translate to more work all the time. This is especially true when it comes to CAT preparation, be it from May or June or July.
4) Input-driven metrics vs. Output-driven metrics
When you start CAT preparation, or anywhere during the course of it, do not start focusing on things like “I will score 99.xx %ile in CAT 2020”. This is an example of an output-driven metric. Your scores, percentiles, calls, converts will be there for you to see once CAT 2020 results are out, anyway.
Instead, focus on input-driven metrics. Things like “I will read for 6 hours, solve Quant for 8-10 hours, do 10 DILR puzzles this week” are more tangible and manageable goals.
The advantages of setting micro-targets on a daily or weekly basis are that:
- You will be able to track your progress visibly.
- Course correction becomes easier; you can tweak the time spent in each section, if you find yourself lagging behind in a particular area.
5) All the pieces of any jigsaw will never fall in place
More often than not, even in your daily chores and errands, AND sometimes/mostly at work, things will not go as per plan. There is a team meeting of sorts, new plans are put in place, and work gets done. Life moves on.
It is exactly the same with CAT preparation as well. Particularly, if you are starting from July, you are most likely feeling the panic of joining the party late. Don’t do that. Have a schedule. Set simple, tangible, measurable goals. Hit them. Keep hitting them. Follow these 6 pointers to get yourself ready towards CAT preparation from today.
6) The greatest relaxant is WORK
You can watch tons of motivational videos and self-help philosophies, and maybe some more quintals on “CAT in 30 days/24 hours” (The shortest, and most obvious, time-frame, by the way, is just 3 hours of that actual examination; so, why go for 24 hours!). But, none of these will matter if you are not doing your things right.
Working hard is highly underrated, especially when it comes to CAT preparation. There is no substitute for WORK. As cliched as it may sound, it is true. If you had a bad mock, fretting over it and watching countless videos on “Getting over the fear of mock CATs”, the best way is to buckle up and start analyzing that particular mock in extensive detail.
7) Show up. Show up relentlessly
Consistency, perseverance, endurance, relentlessness, bouncing back. You name them, CAT preparation requires them. Keep attending classes, taking tests, practicing sums; over a period of time, you will get better at it. Your muscle memory will kick in at some point during your preparation, and you will suddenly witness improvements in the metrics you track. (For example, when there is a mention of 3 and 4, your mind automatically races to think 5 (even if it is not Geometry) – Pythagorean Triplet!)
Stay safe, start today 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.