What should be your preparation strategy if you are a CAT Fresher? How different will your strategy be compared to working professionals? It is subjective, to say the least. Regardless, there are certain guidelines that are tailor-made for freshers whilst being firmly rooted in logic and common sense. Let us explore these in further detail.
Firstly, we definitely recommend you check out this article about starting your CAT Preparation from February. Then, come back to this one and peruse it further.
Firstly, who is a CAT Fresher? Is there a particular definition? If you’re still in college, you’re quite obviously a CAT Fresher. If, due to COVID, your results aren’t out yet and graduation schedules are off by a margin, then you are a fresher still. If you graduated in July 2020, and are planning to write CAT 2021, you would not be considered a fresher. These aspirants usually have around 8 – 12 months of work experience in their belt.
Strictly speaking, if you graduate from college and are aiming to join a B-School within 2 months of your graduation by writing the CAT in your final year, you are a CAT Fresher.
Now that we’ve established that, let us move on to the essence of this article. What should be the preparation strategy for a CAT Fresher?
Prep Strategy for CAT Freshers
1. Learn Everything from First Principles
Learn everything from first principles because it matters A LOT. The best way to prepare for anything is to learn it from its first principles. Beyond this, the other reason is that the CAT has started testing questions by mixing different topics together. This means your fundamentals are of the utmost importance ; you cannot proceed without them. Practice without understanding is tantamount to disaster.
Unlearn everything you think you know, start from the absolute basics and go for it. At this juncture, a structured online CAT course is the best way to go, so do check out this link for the same.
2. Do NOT take your eyes off your Semester Exams
Your UG Score will definitely matter and play a role, as will your 10th and 12th scores. If possible, maximize your CGPA, clear all your arrears (if any) and look to make the best out of this opportunity to graduate with the best CGPA you can get.
It will be hard to manage both your Semester Exams and your CAT Preparation, so do keep in mind this fact: The CAT will test your Time Management Skills and your ability to think out of the box. IF done right, it is arguably much easier to prepare for as a CAT Fresher than as a Working Professional.
3. Consider Semester Timelines as no CAT Time.
If you’re starting your CAT Preparation from February, you know that you have thereabouts of 10 months until D-Day. As a final year student, you will already have some idea about those periods in the semester where you’ll be busy submitting assignments or preparing for your Semester Exams. Account for these time periods NOW and make your plans for CAT Preparation accordingly.
Let’s account 2 months for all your sem exams and assignments. So technically, you have 8 months to prepare for CAT, not 10.
4. A Drop Year is not worth it
Unless you have an extremely serious health concern, family emergency or something along those lines, refrain from even considering the possibility of taking a drop year.
Dropping a year means putting everything else on hold and preparing for this already intense, high pressure exam. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your risks. Whichever phrase works for you, use it and grasp this idea.
Doubt will start to creep in like nothing. So just take up a job. It needn’t be a fantastic, so called high five job at Goldman Sachs and the like. It just needs to be a job. You CANNOT make up for the drop year by doing this certification or that course and hope to pass it off.
The pandemic has definitely changed the dynamics of the job market, but opportunities are available if you know where to look…if you have the will to look. Try out Naukri, Shine or LinkedIn if you must.
You may have heard of a few stories where people took a drop year, aced the CAT and are now at IIM A, K or whatever. You may not have heard of the much larger portion of students who not only flunked but also ended up getting the blot of the dot year in their careers.
Bottom Line: Do not take a drop year in order to prepare for CAT. Keep your options open and do not let this one idea of going for an MBA define your life. Make it a priority but do not let it take over you. Prepare with intent and stay calm.
5. Learn in an island.
Depending on your learning style and personality, you may choose to go for a group study plan for CAT, or you may prefer to work in an island and crack this exam. Whatever works for you, figure that part out.
As a CAT Fresher, you need to keep one thing in mind though. Put your head down and forget about what others are doing in terms of their preparation. It is your preparation island. Remember that.
For those folks who prefer learning by themselves and are annoyed by those interrupting little nags in a classroom, check out out Green Course for CAT.
For those who draw their energy through interaction and intensity, check out our LIVE Course for CAT.
The CAT is undoubtedly a competitive exam. However, the very idea of competing and cracking the exam can only come if you’ve got your fundamentals right. IF you’ve got your speed, intuition and revision on point. So prepare in an island for the first 5-6 months and then enter the fray for Mocks.
Check out Bharath’s Reading List for your Daily Reading Needs and Ace the VARC Section.
6. Have a structured plan but do not be too idealistic
Head on to these wonderful links which cover the 3 sections of the CAT. They will prove to be immensely useful.
We will release an article focusing on individual strategies for working professionals as well. Stay tuned.
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Stay Safe and Best Wishes for CAT 2021.