The topic at hand today, is making the most out of your CAT Preparation. I hope most of you are aware of other management exams such as the GMAT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT etc. You’ve devoted around 8-10 months of your life towards the CAT…let us help you gain the maximum value from this and ensure that your MBA dream powers through the storm that was CAT 2020.
There are 2 themes I am going to be talking about in this article. I shall elaborate further as we go ahead. 🙂
Do not hit the snooze button!
It is too soon to hit the snooze button.
I am specifically referring to the other management exams that you may be writing, particularly the XAT. For more than 2 decades, the XAT has been conducted a month or so after the CAT, and XLRI is a fabulous B-school to aim for. Students have frequently reserved the XAT as a backup in case the CAT did not go well for them.
Now, I understand that most of us would love to let ourselves go and frolic about our days after the CAT. I did that as well, back in the 90s. However, a couple of my friends kept their preparation momentum going, and wrote entrances such as the one for FMS (it used to be separate) , XAT and the GMAT. Follow their example, and give yourself other options apart from the CAT. It is always better to use your previous momentum than to start all over again.
If you’re wondering about the other options, here is a wonderful article that may help you decide which management exam(s) to take up and write!
Whatever examination you are taking up after CAT, my sincerest advice would be to take up their respective mocks and keep the pace going every week until the exam. Not to mention the fact that these exams will keep your MBA dream alive that year, in case CAT went down the drain.
In case you are wondering if you can still apply for XAT 2021, we have good news for you. You most definitely can, but do hurry up. Registrations end by 10 December 2020! For more details regarding XAT 2021, click on this link! You can find the important dates to other MBA exams here.
So the takeaway is, do not hit the snooze button! 🙂
Leverage CAT Prep & Crack the GMAT!
The second thing I want to focus on in this article, is leveraging your CAT Preparation and get your GMAT in place! The GMAT or Graduate Management Aptitude Test, is a management entrance examination that helps you get into MBA programs predominantly from B-Schools outside India (although a few B-Schools accept GMAT scores here as well).
Why should you write the GMAT?
Firstly, a few caveats about the GMAT: it is expensive, and it takes about Rs.20,000 to write this exam. Bear in mind that most forms of education outside India is bound to be more expensive (around twice as much as what you will be spending for an MBA in IIMs).
Despite all of this, does it make sense to write the GMAT and will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely.
It makes sense for freshers who are still in college, it makes sense for someone with work experience as well. Let us go through why the case for GMAT is so.
Firstly, in about 2 days, the CAT response sheet will be out. You’ll know what you got right, and what you got wrong. You’ll have a tentative idea about your result as well. Come January, you will know your percentile. For a moment, assume that you have scored a percentile of 99.8% (stay with me here :P). Even if you have scored 99.8% in the CAT, there are still 2 important steps to go before you can call it a day and declare that you have got into an IIM. Your high percentile of 99.8% doesn’t necessarily guarantee a shortlist for the second stage.
I’m sure most of you are either smirking cynically or shaking your head dejectedly because we all know that factors such as your 10th, 12th, UG and work experience also influence your shortlisting into the second stage. There is also WAT and PI to be done.
Doesn’t it make sense to have a backup option? All your months of investment and preparation needn’t go to waste. Shouldn’t you stretch it a little bit more, and take up one more examination which lends itself beautifully in terms of certain things. I will define and describe as we go further.
1. Conservative Estimate Prep Done: 60%
You’ve invested 8 months of your time…make it count! Roughly 60% of your preparation for the GMAT is done while preparing for CAT. This holds good for other management examinations as well.
GMAT also tests Quant, Verbal and an equivalent of DILR called the ‘Integrated Reasoning Section’. The gist of what you have learnt, comprised of quadratic equations, geometry, arithmetic is all going to hold good for GMAT!
What about the other 40%?
About 35-40% of the questions tested under Quant in the GMAT falls under the type: Data Sufficiency Questions. It’s a completely different beast and requires adequate practice. Even a 100 percentile in CAT doesn’t guarantee that you will ace the DS section.
Basically, take the Quant concepts and entwine it with a layer of ‘can I find the answer the question with the data given?’ for the DS Section. Yes, there is a bit of Logical Reasoning mixed with Quant for DS Questions.
Give yourself anything from 10-15 days to prepare for the Quant DS. Understand the mechanics of the questions, and solve 400+ questions…and you will be good to go.
Then comes Verbal:
Firstly, Verbal in GMAT and Verbal in CAT are significantly different. There is a common element between the 2 which gets covered in the 60% that CAT Prep provides which is Reading Comprehension. A 1/3rd of the questions under Verbal in the GMAT are RCs. If you’ve done well in your CAT RCs, you should be able to do well in this as well.
The extra preparation for Verbal in GMAT which falls under the 40% is to practice 2-3 RC Passages from now till the time you write the GMAT. Take 4-6 weeks for Verbal Prep.
Out of that take 2.5 weeks for practicing Sentence Correction type questions. This accounts for another 1/3rd under Verbal in GMAT. Typically, about 8-9 Common Error Types will be present, and it will take you about a week to get a handle on all the error types and grammar rules that are tested within the GMAT. Another week and a half out of the total 2.5 weeks to wrap it up with around 400-500 Sentence Correction type questions.
Then comes Critical Reasoning. Basically, you need to understand logical arguments, what the author is tying to convey and then answer subsequent questions which ask you to strengthen or weaken the author’s argument. Take a week to understand how to identify the type of question asked, the conclusion, how to evaluate an argument and so on, by working with numerous examples. Then solve about 400-500 questions in the following week and a half.
By adding another week for buffering, and keeping up with your RC practice, we have around 6 week for GMAT Verbal. This should enable you to get a score which is above 90%.
Use 2 weeks to do anything from 6-8 Mock GMATs. Take a mock GMAT every other day and review it carefully. Plug in the knowledge gaps and keep practicing.
Totally, it will take you 10 weeks to finish preparing for GMAT after your CAT. Assuming you are starting in January, by mid-Feb, you should be done preparing for GMAT.
You’ve done 60% of the work…go the extra mile and give yourself another chance! Why should you do this?
2. Benefits of writing the GMAT
What is the beauty of writing the GMAT?
1. CAT is conducted once a year. If it did not go according to your plan, you will have to wait for another year to take a crack at it. On the other hand, GMAT can be taken 365 days in a year! The 10 weeks I gave you is a rough estimate. Should you need more time (or less depending on how well you feel you’re prepared), you can take a crack at GMAT right then!
2. Your CAT Scores will be valid only for 2021. Your preparation of 8-10 months will be valid only for a year. Your GMAT Scores on the other hand, will be valid for 5 years. Say you take the GMAT in 2021…you can apply to a B-School which accepts GMAT (there are numerous premier institutes across the world, including our country) as late as September 2026! A score such as 730 or 740 will be invaluable down the line.
3. Conversely, even freshers without any experience can take the GMAT and get into top B-Schools without USA, Europe and programs such as the MIM. If you have more than 3 years of experience, you can straight away apply for the ABA program.
4. The choice of B-Schools opens up like a door to Narnia. CAT and XAT are limited to institutes within India but the GMAT can open doors into places and their institutions in your dream country! 90% of the best B-Schools in the world accept GMAT Scores. Canada, Australia, Europe…you think about it and choose!
5. Institutions in India which accept GMAT Scores such as IBS and SP Jain offer a second chance for you to pursue your MBA within India. If your CAT Scores weren’t enough for SP Jain, GMAT can offer you a second chance.
6. A GMAT changes the way you look at the cost dynamics of an MBA. If you managed to get a percentile of 99 in CAT, a few more months of prep towards GMAT will give you a good chance at cracking GMAT as well. A 99 percentile in GMAT is a score of 750. Even if you get 730+ and apply to B-Schools outside India, you have a chance of getting into top B-Schools across the world…with some B-Schools also providing a tuition fee waiver for a score above 750. Some B-Schools also provide a stipend for doing the MBA and a scholarship as well if you apply with a score above 750.
The ROI may start to make sense now…
A GMAT in your dream country provides you with placements that may help you settle in that country as well! So definitely do give it a shot! Head on over to this link to compare the syllabus of CAT and GMAT in further detail!
A Final Note
The kind of support and the quality of teaching that you get from 2IIM, you will get it in Wizako as well! 🙂
We’ll let you decide for yourself. Check out our Lessons below, along with our other YouTube Content before you choose us!
For the video of this article, look no further than below!
Stay Safe and Best Wishes for GMAT!
K S Baskar founded 2IIM and Wizako and continues to head the parent company. He is a Mechanical Engineer from College of Engineering, Guindy, Class of 1991 and completed his PGDM from IIM Calcutta in 1994.