IIM - CAT Coaching: Experts' Insights

IIM - CAT Coaching: Experts' Insights: November 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

What to do the day before CAT?

The simple answer to this is 'Nothing'. The more elaborate answer is "Nothing much". But since I cannot pass off two words as an article, I am going to do the MBA-thing. Say lot of words that convey the same point.

Dont let lack of sleep get to you.
Everyone is going to tell you that you should sleep a lot the day before the exam. But if you have prepared with any amount of intensity, you will find falling asleep tough. Acknowledge that. Keep in mind that the adrenaline on the day of the exam will drown out any fatigue from sleep-deprivation. If you can get 8 hours of the good stuff, great. But if you manage only 4 hours of it, the worst thing to do is to go into the exam beating yourself about this "mere 4 hours". 4 hours is more than enough. Sachin Tendulkar has slept less than that and scored centuries the next day. Going into a critical exam, it is likely that you are too switched on and cannot sleep that easily. Dont worry about this.

Do something that you enjoy, but do not overdo it
Watch a movie, play football, watch youtube videos of Lionel Messi, take a nice ride/drive. Do whatever it is that puts you at ease, but dont do this 2 am.

Get the small details right
Fuel your vehicle, check the hall ticket, verify if the photograph is the same, set aside your favourite pen etc.

Dont fret about preparation, now is not the time to regret the long weekend you took to goof off
However well you might have prepared, give your best shot with that. Do not go in feeling that you are under-cooked. The last day is to gee yourself up, so focus all your attention on conning yourself into believing.

Fly off the blocks, let adrenaline do its thing
In the minutes before the exam, bin all thoughts of percentiles, formulae, strategy, cut-offs and other nonsense. Simplify. Think what Usain Bolt would be thinking before  a 100m dash. He might have prepared his entire adult life for the race. But on the eve of the race, he is going to operate with a simple framework "Hear starting gun, run for 10 seconds". Solving questions is the best way to relax yourself. The least you can do is give yourself a chance.

Remember, this is not such a big deal.
Anyone who does well in the exam has to be reasonably sharp; while the converse is not true. This exam is but one outlet to showcase your mettle. Nothing more, nothing less.

Best wishes from the entire 2IIM team for CAT 2015. 

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Monday, November 02, 2015

Why I take CAT every year? - article by Rajesh Balasubramanian

I have been asked this question many times in many fora and I had always provided a 'fudged' answer. So, I thought I could have some fun thinking about the real answer. Ergo, this post.

I completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Management more than a decade ago. And like most of my classmates, I graduated with the feeling that I had already completed one MBA too many. Why then do I take the CAT every year?

There are two reasons for this. The first is the ‘professional’ reason. I run 2IIM, an online education Company that focuses on CAT preparation. I spend gazillion hours teaching students and creating content and so it helps to have a sense of what the exam is all about.

The second, personal reason is probably more interesting. I like the challenge of taking an exam where one has to reactivate the grey cells for three hours. If you have ever sat down to try a crossword, math puzzle or good old Sudoku, you will have a sense of what I am talking about here. 

The CAT provides more context so test-taking is far more than being merely a fun exercise of the brain. The exam setting creates an intensity that is absent elsewhere and this adds to the thrill.
In one sense, the exam is also my own way of saying I can compete with the youngsters today. Of  striking a blow against the ageists, and telling myself that the intermediary years spent on the drudgery of stock-peddling have not (yet) dulled my senses.

The obvious question here is whether there might not be far better avenues of challenging myself. There probably are. But they all probably involve lot more practice and training. For instance, running marathons needs six months of training and the very thought of consuming long miles with just myself for company leaves me with dread. So, I want something that can push me over a few short hours, preferably only once every twelve months or so. Ergo, CAT. Besides, I have saved up long-distance running for the mid-life crisis.

Contrary to popular perception, the CAT is actually a high quality exam. Any testing mechanism can commit two kinds of errors - It can let in undeserving candidates, or it can miss out on deserving candidates. The better exams do a good job on both counts. The CAT is very well designed for limiting one kind of error - anyone who does well in the exam has to be reasonably sharp; while the converse is not true. It is society that perversely assumes the converse and therefore ends up placing enormous pressure on candidates. Standardized tests cannot be created to cater to all types of intelligences. We should be mature enough to accept that.

As a potential candidate, you are probably thinking – I have read this piece about the motivations of a 35-year old ex-banker whose idea of a good time is to take exams. What am I going to get out of this?

My experience as a test-taker has placed me in a unique position of being able to view the exam not only as an involved participant, but also as someone who is pressure-free as far as the wider consequences are concerned. The one input I would give all aspirants is to have a sense of joie-de-vivre while approaching the exam. Try to retain a sense of wonder about the idea of solving problems or cracking puzzles. To cite a sports parallel, football can be associated with either catenaccio or Joga Bonito. As far as CAT goes, Joga Bonito (play beautifully).

Best wishes for the CAT.

An excerpt from this piece appeared in the India Today Aspire issue that can be found here.

The author, Rajesh Balasubramanian is an alumnus from IIMB (2003) who runs 2IIM Online CAT Coaching company. The author takes CAT every year and has the distinction of having scored 100th percentile in CAT 2011, 2012 and CAT 2014.

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