The official CAT 2020 Notification came out yesterday. There are a bunch of things that will remain the same, and there are quite a few aspects that remain uncertain. Since we have discussed the constants and variables yesterday, this is a good time to ponder how to make the best use the last 120 days of the CAT 2020 preparation.
What is going to be the same in your CAT 2020 preparation
First things first, if you are just starting your preparation now, do not panic. If you are taking CAT for the first time, fret not. The following are the four aspects that ought to remain the same for any CAT aspirant whatsoever.
1) Read A Lot
Time and again, we have been reiterating the importance of reading as a habit. You need to read diverse sets of articles, books and novels, and some more of them. Reading should become a habit, if you are to score well in CAT VARC.
2) Learn from First Principles
You simply cannot master this enigma of CAT 2020 without getting the concepts right. Just because it is already August does not mean you do not have time. There is still time.
Besides, the best way to minimize time spent and maximize productivity is to get the fundamentals in place.
Do not fall into the trap of rushing through the portions, especially with respect to Quant. That backfires big time.
3) Building speed towards CAT 2020
Similar to the last point though, you still have time. Do not look for an x% increase in speed immediately after you have put in y% extra effort. Change takes time to reflect; give it that time. Your CAT 2020 preparation at this point should have plan for practicing a lot.
Focus on practice, not on improving speed.
4) Take Mocks
If you are starting in August or October, whether you are preparing for CAT 2020 or CAT 2021, this is the gold standard. Take mocks. Take lots of them.
Have a plan for the mock regime, say, one mock every fortnight. Look to maximize it to one per week in late September to early October. Later, you should be doing two per week or even more in the last lap.
Anything in the range of 20+ mocks from now is a reasonable number. The more the merrier.
What is going to change in your CAT 2020 preparation from now?
Obviously, there are certain tweaks you need to make in this 120-day phase.
While panicking is counterproductive, being lethargic is equally dangerous.
The intensity of your CAT 2020 preparation has to increase, now that the official CAT 2020 notification is out as well.
1) Iterative revision towards CAT 2020
The chances of you forgetting what you learnt in certain topic(s) is natural. The process of iterative revision puts this problem to rest.
What exactly is it?
If you learn topics 1 and 2, you will go for topic 3. Once you are done with topic 3, though, come and revisit topics 1 and 2 once again. Then, go for two or three more new topics. Rinse. Repeat.
This ensures you are constantly in touch with the overall CAT 2020 syllabus, as you fill gaps in your weaker areas.
2) The importance of mocks
While taking a number of mocks is crucial, analyzing them to death is even more important. The basic outline for the mock regime has been discussed earlier in this post. But the important point is there should be tangible takeaways for you after each and every mock.
Some aspects that you need to look for in mocks
- Which topics eat your time up?
- Where are you spending lesser time and getting the answers right?
- What are the topics that you seem to have a flair for?
- How can you minimize negatives and maximize accuracy?
- How do you tackle the speed and accuracy battle?
- What should you do and not do in the next mock?
You should aim to fill in the learning gaps and the speed gaps. For this reason, your mock routine and mock analysis pattern cannot simply go on an auto-pilot mode.
3) Reinforcement is vital; speed is not the only thing
As you take more and more mocks, your concepts must get reinforced. If they do not, revisit the topics, fix the issues before stepping ahead.
You cannot afford to do the same mistakes again and again at this point of your CAT 2020 preparation.
Do not be hell bent on speed. Of course, it is important to identify the areas where you take more time. But that should not be the principal criteria around which your CAT 2020 preparation revolves.
4) Dumping certain topics during CAT 2020 preparation
Once you are in the mock routine, you will realize that no matter what, there are mistakes that keep occurring in one topic or the other.
There comes a time somewhere in the second half of September – the time to take decisions. This is when you decide to dump certain topics. Now that the CAT 2020 notification is released as well, you might want to start planning on this.
However, dumping these topics does not mean that you are looking to downgrade your preparation. It is important to understand that when you are skipping something, the need to be perfect in other topics becomes even more significant.
You can choose to maximize on RC and decide to dump the VA part. You can choose between Number Theory or Algebra. These kinds of decisions help you focus on lesser things with more intent.
5) Volatile mock scores and dealing with them
Mocks go bad. Yes, they do go bad often. It happens, and is a part and parcel of each and every aspirant’s CAT preparation journey.
There are two parts to this.
The overall mock goes South
When all the three sections go South, there is a high chance that you were not focused enough, the external factors were not congenial, you were not in the right mind space, OR the mock itself was genuinely tougher than the level of difficulty to be expected in the actual CAT 2020.
It is alright. Like I have stated earlier, analyse the paper and get to the root cause of the issue. Make inferences, take notes, and keep taking your mocks and mock analysis one notch higher every time.
One section of the mock goes awry
This is the most crucial aspect. When one section or a set of questions or even one puzzle gets to your head, do not lose heart.
How you bounce back from that setback decides your final CAT score. How well you could bounce back from the precarious situation differentiates a bad CAT attempt from a good one.
I have been taking CAT year after year after year. I am still not able to come out of a CAT attempt unscathed, without falling into some trap or the other. That happens, and that is how it is.
This is where GRIT plays a key role. If VARC does not go well, practice sitting through the mock and do the other two sections well. Try to salvage that mock to the best possible extent. It will come in handy during actual CAT.
P.S.: Bharath will be doing a session on ‘CAT 2020 Notification and what next in your CAT 2020 Preparation‘ tonight at 9 pm in YouTube. Tune in for the same.
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.