is an article from "The Hindu" contributed by the director at 2iim, Rajesh Balasubramanian
CAT 2012 will be conducted from October 11 to November 6
this year. A number of candidates will be fine-tuning their preparation
right now, while others will be looking to somehow kicking the inertia
out of the system and starting their preparations in right earnest. We
provide a plan of action for the latter group.
tell yourself it is too late to start now. Do not listen to anyone who
says that there isn’t enough time for preparation. Till about 10 years
ago, students used to start their CAT preparation only in August (very
reluctantly, I must add). The basic syllabus for this exam roughly
corresponds to Maths and English taught in class VI- IX. So, if the
fundamentals are reasonably strong, a student should require only
200-300 hours of preparation for this exam.
should be the plan of action? With the Olympic spirit in mind, let us
think of this preparation as a parallel to an athlete preparing for the
Olympics. Divide your preparation into three phases.
Do the grind
phase I, cover the basics for all the topics in quant. Solve as many
questions as possible. This is the phase where one builds on first
principles and gets the mind ready for the tougher battles ahead. For
the verbal section, set aside two hours every day to reading. Read lots
of stuff and with as much variety as possible.
topic, style, subject and size do not matter (Fiction, non-fiction,
sports, politics, economics, science, anything goes). Just build the
reading habit and get the mind ready to receive written content. This
phase is similar to an Olympic wrestler/badminton player spending hours
in the gym. This phase should go on for about six weeks.
building intensity. Take section-wise tests, set yourself targets for
sets of 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Start practicing for Data Interpretation
and Logical Reasoning. Increase the intensity steadily by mixing up
topics and setting varying time targets. This is the phase where you
should select one DI bunch, one LR puzzle, two passages in RC, eight
questions in Number Theory and set yourself 50 minutes of high intensity
preparation. This is akin to an athlete training muscle by muscle and
play-by-play. This is probably the part of CAT preparation that is
heavily underestimated. People who are used to spending 10 hours in
office or eight hours in college think that writing a 2 hour 20
minute-exam cannot be that taxing. Taking a test for 140 minutes without
concentration “drops” is challenging and will not come without getting
the mind ready for it. The better you do this the less tired you will
get handling regular questions in CAT and more energy you will have for
handling tougher ones. This should go on for about four weeks.
Fine tune your preparation
III is simple. Take mock exams. Analyze them vigorously. Plug whatever
gaps you find by revisiting phase I or phase II. And when you analyze a
paper, you should focus on what kind of questions you have gotten wrong,
which ones you should have attempted but have skipped, which ones took
time without giving you much in return, which questions should you have
skipped straightaway, etc. Do not waste time on studying percentile
patterns and such. Most mock CAT percentile scores are nothing more than
a distraction. This should ideally go on for about five weeks. This is
the phase where the athlete simulates match conditions, studies
opponents, figures out the draw, etc.
Phase I, II and
III could overlap. If you plan well and are willing to throw in lots of
time toward preparation, this can be done in 10 weeks. The students
with intense shorter-term preparation have seen better results than
those who enroll into long-term courses but do not do justice to them.
those who have been preparing for a while, the strategy is simple. Skip
Phase I. Kick start your preparation now and focus on building
intensity. Best wishes for CAT 2012.
The author, a B-school trainer, is
one of the CAT toppers last year with 100 percentile. He takes CAT every
year to understand the pattern and help his students better.