Well, CAT-2013 dates have been announced (rather early this time) and it is time for you to get your act together. With CAT-2014 being held from October 16 onwards, it becomes imperative for every student to use the coming months in the most appropriate and focused manner. But before we actually delve into the basic strategies that you need to adopt for your CAT test-prep, you need to understand the nature of the exam. CAT is an aptitude based exam, evaluating basic skills of a student with respect to language ability and mathematical aptitude. The exam, dreaded in the eyes of some students, can be handled with ease and the challenges posed by it can be overcome with a series of simple steps and practices.
- Step-1: Understand the structure of the paper
The CAT, with its two sections now, checks a combination of things. One is your subject knowledge (that is your knowledge of Mathematics, English and Logic-based problems). On the next level, it is a check of your mental awareness and your ability to identify the questions that you need to attempt, and solve them in the given time. In the exam, you would be faced with numerous questions that you think you can solve but you struggle to do so in the normal time limit. In that context, it becomes vital for you to develop an exam strategy, so that you do not goof up on the last day. But before you develop the perfect exam strategy, you need to evolve a basic preparation strategy, based on your strengths and weaknesses.
- Step-2: Understand your own potential
The one key aspect of preparation that most students neglect is to understand their own abilities. Majority of the students are not able to identify their true potential, and perform to their best. The best way of identifying your strengths and weaknesses is to solve a number of area/topic tests for a particular topic, and then making sure that you are honest enough to understand your weaknesses and work that much harder on them. At the current point of time, you have sufficient time available to work on our concepts and make sure that you do not bungle any given topic just because you did not work hard enough for it.
- Step-3: Work on Conceptual Clarity
One piece of advice that is quoted most often and can almost be labeled as clichéd is that one should focus on the basics. Keeping the time-frame in mind, it is an absolute must for any student right now to work on his concepts and make sure that you are clear with the fundamentals. Do not cut corners and avoid hard-work at this stage. Keeping the Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section of the exam in mind, we can safely conclude that the questions asked in CAT over the last 3 years have focused on the basic concepts of the subject, and a person with conceptual clarity has excelled in these sections. Always remember: it is not about the number of questions you solve, it is about the conceptual clarity you possess.
Coming to Verbal Ability, it is another section that requires you to work on the core essentials of the subject: Reading, Vocabulary and Grammar. Reading is an absolute must and make sure you read as much as you can at this stage. You can use the E-library section on our website in case you need help with selection of which books to read and secondly, how to read them. Vocabulary is something that takes time to evolve and develop, and that is why it is essential for you to give it time and application. Though direct questions on vocabulary are rare in CAT, it is imperative that work on this area as an expanded vocabulary base has add-on effects on your general comprehension and language abilities. You can use the Vocab Builder section on this website to develop your vocabulary. Vocab Builder provides in-depth vocabulary coverage through its various lists for various purposes, and every list is accompanied with tests. Such an approach enables complete learning and does the job for you.
- Step-4: Plan and Practice
Once you have carried out an in-depth analysis of what to do and what not to do, it becomes important that you break down your preparation into phases. Divide topics and sub-topics into compartments; adopt a phase-wise approach, where you finish one topic at a time for a particular subject. Along with that, make sure you practice as much as you can. Few things that you should do on a daily basis are:
1. General Reading
2. One to two reading comprehensions a day
3. Puzzles and logical reasoning sets.
4. Daily words (through a word-list or any format that you find easy to use)
5. Fundamentals of Mathematics (try to study or revise at least one Maths concept everyday).
These are five basic things that you need to practice every day. Take an off once in a while, so that you learn in a relaxed manner, but make sure you don’t end up relaxing only.
The countdown for CAT-2014 has begun and we expect you to do your best in the examination.