I, Nikhil Mittal, 97.78 %ile in CAT 2019, would like to share my journey with you all. I wanted to discuss some important things with you, regarding MBA entrance exam preparation, things that are usually not explicitly known; things people will not tell you; things you will learn only after 3-4 months of preparation.
The Unspoken CAT rules
Rule#1: It’s Management
Firstly, to begin with, we must remember that it's a Management Aptitude exam and not just a random knowledge test. We have to learn to manage ourselves to be able to ace these exams. Along with the specified syllabus for all the sections we also need to focus on things like our reading speed, comprehension, exposure to different situations in life, work experience, ideas, views on social conditions etc. This is management - management of your language skills, management of life situations or management of your test taking strategy. Organising and planning are some of the primary steps in any management process. Learn to do this to simplify your life and prepare well for these exams.
Rule#2: Consistency redefined
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Another important thing is consistency and perseverance. Consistency does not only refer to studying everyday for a certain number of hours. It also means determination to take all mock tests one after another, analysing each of the tests and then targeting to improve scores in the others. You even need to consistently experiment your test taking strategy in every mock. Consistency is all encompassing - stability of mind, regularity of studies, uniformity in understanding, unity of action, and reliability of your plan.
Rule#3: Know thy 50%
It is of paramount importance to understand the exam you are preparing for. Understanding, means to know what is actually needed to crack a section. For example, CAT - Quant has 34 questions but attempting 12-15 questions with 95+ % accuracy can easily get you to 95%ile. Play the 50% card to minimize your negative score and maximize your percentile. All we need is the skill to recognise our strength areas and know the areas that we aren't very good at. MBA entrance exams are designed to see if you are good at making the most of your skills.
Rule#4: Cross-functionality of Sections
You don’t need to study for every section in isolation. None of the three sections are mutually exclusive i.e., independent from each other. When you study certain topics or concepts in one section, they might aid your grasp over other sections as well. When you practice the basic concepts of percentages, ratios, number system and averages in Quant, these concepts will also speeden up your calculations in DI/LR. Similarly, a good understanding of reasoning concepts can help you in critical reasoning sections in VARC.
Rule#5: Newspaper reading is BASIC
Many aspirants have a problem with verbal ability and wonder if there is any specific material to go through to prepare for the same. For those people I would recommend reading newspapers every single day to start with but not be limited to. MBA students should be well read for better prospects in a management career. Therefore, they must broaden their horizon and scope of reading. Read through an international magazine once in a fortnight, read novels listed as top 30 written by internationally acclaimed authors and read works from different genres - history, fiction, management, etc. Start with the ones you are comfortable reading and rise up the ladder slowly and steadily. Discus what you read with your friends and family, it will ensure that you understand the crux of your passage.
Rule#6: For the Record
Another very important task is to keep a track of your everyday contribution to CAT Prep. You must record the time that you give to each subject in a daily log book and try and put in all your test assessments in it too. This may sound a little bit boring and cumbersome but trust me, at the end it would help you analyse yourself and grow. Trust me, very few people will even recommend you to do so. But I have seen the results myself and would strongly advise you to maintain a record of your preparation.
Rule#7: Learn about the World
Apart from these things make sure that you are updated about the things going on around you, in your society, your college, city, state and the country. You may not have your own ideologies but you must have some opinion on everything that's happening around. No matter what profession you choose, a well-informed and aware candidate will have an edge over the others. Don’t wait for an opportune time to start learning about the world at large. The time is now! Apart from this, practice writing short essays on everyday issues. Writing will give you clarity of thought and would also help you in your WATs after the aptitude tests are over. Remember that everything that’s under the sun is of an MBA Aspirant’s interest. So be curious and read as much as you can.
Rule#8: Time rules
Time everything. Everytime you pick up a set of questions, just keep a timer on and stop as soon as the time ends. This will also help you identify the areas where you take more time and areas where you take less time. Hence you will be able to plan your attempts better.
" The target is not to do every question right but to do a few questions right with what you have, in the given time."
In the end, keep one thing in mind, don't lose hope when you face some difficulty during your preparation. Practice difficult concepts again and again, you may fail numerous times but don’t give up while you are practicing.