CAT preparation-related FAQs galore almost all year long. We keep getting a lot of questions from CAT aspirants about the exam, prep plan and general preparation strategy. For the benefit of everyone, we have compiled a list of some of the top FAQs and answered them in two posts. You can read Part 1, here.
In Part 2, we will be discussing three important issues that play a tangible and intangible role during your CAT preparation.
- Practice, mock CATs and analysis
- Managing work and CAT preparation
- Retaking CAT and the pressure that tags along
1) Practice, mock CATs and analysis
i. Improving your Vocabulary
How to improve my vocabulary? Even after practicing a lot, there are so many words and contexts that I am not familiar with.
All good things take time, and mastering vocabulary, or for that matter, VARC itself, is no different. However, this does not mean you should be cramming n thousand words with synonyms.
Vocabulary is about understanding meanings as well as contexts. The only way to improve these aspects is by reading a lot.
CAT Verbal section does not require you to be on top of ‘Wren and Martin’ and ‘Word Power Made Easy’. It is more about understanding ideas, themes, arguments and contradictions in a given passage/statement. Reading a lot of different things in different styles gives you an edge generally.
ii. Level of difficulty in mock CAT questions
While analyzing mock CAT, if a particular problem is extremely hard and the logic of the answer is also difficult to comprehend (especially some Quant problems), is it worth spending too much time trying to understand the problem?
NOPE. If the question is complicated, take a sneak peek into the solution. If the solution is also complicated, it clearly indicates the question is clearly way beyond CAT-level. Dump the question. If the mock CAT provider gives a lot of questions at this level of difficulty, dump the provider.
There are certain strategies that need to be kept in mind while taking mock CATs.
Breaking your head over a diabolically difficult question that is not going to appear in the actual CAT is obviously NOT one of the strategies to score better.
Quant is especially a trickier section, where you should not fall far for the traps. Further, being aware of the Do’s and Don’ts while taking mock CATs comes a long way during your CAT preparation cycle.
iii. How to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over?
While analyzing my mock CAT papers, I find that in every paper, there are some inevitable mistakes I make every time (They are neither silly mistakes nor mistakes due to lack of concept; nor are they because of missing reading some crucial data in the problem). I don’t know how to improve on this.
Fatigue or Pressure? (CAT preparation-related FAQs without this question). Refer to Question #2 in Part 1, which briefs how you can handle those during the exam.
2) Juggling work and CAT preparation
I have been assigned various project works at office for the next two months. These two months are going to be very crucial for CAT. How to manage time, and some tips on what to focus on with limited time?
This is probably the most recurring among all CAT preparation-related FAQs. You are preparing for MBA because you are ambitious. You are aspiring to be a manager or an entrepreneur in the near future. Squeezing in two to three hours daily should be a knack you need to figure out right away.
Schedule your day in such a way that there are couple of hours for focused preparation. These two hours should not have any distractions -- no checking WhatsApp groups, no Facebook posts, no songs, no YouTube videos, no memes. This is strictly your preparation time; it can be early in the morning or late in the evening. But, it should be a time where you are at the peak of your mental focus. Keep at it for two to three weeks. It becomes a habit.
3) Retaking CAT and the pressure that tags along
This is the second time that I am writing CAT (last time I got 91.88 percentile). But unlike last time, I am feeling enormous mental pressure to crack the CAT this time. And, when I see some of my friends going off to the US to pursue their MS, I am feeling even more pressurized. I am so desperate to do well, and now my stress is only starting to de-motivate me. Also, I have been taking some mock CATs on a regular basis from May; I was consistently getting 88-90 percentiles in the mocks. But for the last 4 mocks or so, my percentile has dipped down to 65-70 percentile and I don’t know what to do or what to focus on to improve.
You are reattempting CAT, and there are natural advantages and disadvantages that come along with it. With diligence, you could make a few things right this time vis-a-vis your last attempt.
Handling stress is the toughest part. No one has a fool proof solution. But, I am going to give a bunch of small ideas:
- Prepare in a cocoon
- Take n mocks
- Worry about the small details. Don’t worry continuously about the big picture.
- Have a good Plan B. Don’t tank your end semester, don’t shout at your boss, don’t scream at the office receptionist. Don’t do anything stupid.
Best wishes for CAT 2020. Stay safe and happy learning!
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.