As a working CAT aspirant, when I planned to take the CAT 2019 exam, just like most other working professionals, I was also stuck in the question - how to manage CAT preparation along with a job routine?
I was always contemplating quitting my job or not. I had been in my profession for nearly 3 years and leaving the job seemed like an impractical and risky decision. Quitting work was, thus, not an option for me. So, I decided I will continue working and make a routine so that I can study after returning from office. This, my friends, is just not as easy as it sounds! There are many “attractions and distractions” after work that can lure you away from studying. At times your favourite show is going on the TV and sometimes, your bed is calling you for a small nap. And then you would never realise how this 30 mins break to watch TV or sleep turned into hours. At other times, your office colleagues or college friends would call you to hang out with them for a couple of drinks or dinner. Finally, you ended up wasting some very valuable time. Since I could study only in the evening, post-office, time was even more valuable to me .
To avoid the trap of sleep and other useless things, I joined a library from 7:00- 10:00 PM. I started going to the library somewhere in April and I feel this was the best step I took. The study environment with the pin-drop silence was so fruitful that my only task left was to force myself to go to that library. And for that basically, I made a strict routine, the most crucial thing the CAT requires.
What did my ‘strict routine’ look like?
I was particular about how to divide my study time into preparing for different sections of the CAT exam. Out of three hours, I used to spend one hour on VARC and the remaining two hours on either Quant or LRDI on alternate days. I used to practice solving 3-4 sets of RCs and doing their analysis on a daily basis. This helped me build and maintain a good reading speed.
After a couple of months, I also started going to the library in the morning for one and a half-hour. This additional study time in the morning time was then dedicated for VARC and my evening time was then completely reserved for LRDI or Quant. On Sundays, I used to take mock-tests and do their analysis thoroughly.
I followed this routine till 10th November, after which I took a leave of 15 days from office. I shifted my focus on taking more and more sectional and full mock-tests. Throughout this period I was very strict with my study times and schedules. Ultimately, this routine helped me to land with a percentile of 96.77 in the CAT exam.
If you are, like me, a working professional and a CAT aspirant, I will suggest that you should have a very strict routine. You should develop a habit of saying NO! There will be many around you who will try to shove work on your plate late at night/ on weekends or will try to distract you from your goals, but, you have to remember your priorities.
My strategy for different sections was:
I would also like to share my sectional strategy with everyone to help students understand how to prepare for each section for CAT:
VARC: I was terrible in this section, but now I can explain how one can easily score more than 90%ile in it. Just practice 3-4 RCs and read 3-4 articles of different types, daily. You might not be able to see any improvement in the first 2-3 months. But after this initial period, you will be familiar with almost all topics, and you will start noticing an exponential increase in your score. Yes, exponential! Just don't give up your practice.
DILR: In this section selecting the right sets is the Key, and one should have a good practice for sets selection with set solving. For this, I used to pick up a complete section from the mock test (current year or past year), set up the timer and tried to solve as many as sets I could in that one hour. After completion of time, I used to check my answers and also used to do all the left out sets/questions.
Tip: Try to solve each set with your full power before asking from someone or seeing the answer, because once you solve it without any help, the strategy will remain there in your mind and will help you in future.
Quant: For the first 2.5 months, I cleared all basics, prepared notes and solved workbook questions only. For the rest 3-4 months, I used to revise my notes and practice this section also in the form of timed sectional. Because selecting easy and medium level questions is also the Key for this section, and we should have a good practice of choosing the right questions. For the last 30 days, I revised all quants notes daily and this helped me to remember each small thing on D day.
TIP: Don’t run behind shortcuts, you won’t be able to remember on the D Day. Cat is all about practice, do it as much as you can. Join some renowned preparation groups on Facebook and WhatsApp; you will get some good mates there during the journey to help and motivate you. Just don't give up.
All the very best!!