Performing well in a competitive exam rests on a lot of factors but the one that really stands out is the start. Starting your preparations for CAT a year in advance provides you with significant advantages over others. People who are starting closer to the CAT will have to rely on “getting coached” to crack the CAT whereas you can look at “getting trained”. The difference is that by getting trained you are building the skills and most importantly the habits which are required to crack the CAT rather than beating the system by blindly practicing a lot of questions. By getting trained, you not only have better chances at CAT but also have a huge advantage over others when you join the IIMs.
How to get trained for CAT?
Before we jump into the ‘How to’ part it is essential to answer the ‘Why’.
“Why do you want to crack the CAT in the first place?” The reason for this varies from individual to individual and there is no generically correct answer to this. So, if you have a reason which is strong enough to make you live, breathe, eat and sleep CAT for the next 6-9 months, then it is already a job half done. Now, let’s look at the remaining half. These are habits which you need bring into your routine in order to ace the CAT exam.
1) Be stubborn – Don’t proceed if you don’t understand.
This is the first habit which you need to pick up. After starting your preparation, there will be a lot of instances where you won’t understand a concept or a question in particular. The easy way out will be either to give up or memorize the formula or the method. But, be bullheaded and don’t do that, not only in CAT but also in all other things. By doing this, you are continuously training the brain and forcing it to think.
2) Read newspapers daily and in the “write” way.
Reading newspapers is a great habit, as you are directly preparing for your verbal section especially the reading comprehension. But, if you do it the “write” way – follow-up with summarizing at least 3 articles in your own words very briefly. This has a number of advantages. As you are not only forced to read carefully to improve your comprehension (after all, you have to write about it later) but also get better at analyzing, opinion forming and writing (all three are crucial for your WAT/ PI rounds later if you manage to crack the CAT).
3) Fall in love with numbers.
CAT is all about numeracy and literacy. Now that we have taken care of literacy through newspapers, it is essential that you fall in love with numbers to take care of the other. We encounter so many numbers in our day to day lives right from our scored answer sheets to girlfriend’s phone numbers. What if we start working with them? Whenever you encounter any number (start actively looking out for them and you will be surprised to find a lot of numbers around you), do at least 3 computations on or with them mentally. For ex. if you see a car’s number plate carrying 6265, then try doing 62 + 65, 62 * 65, factorize 6265 – all of these inside your head. Once it is done, start looking out for the next set of numbers. I promise you that you will become a math wizard in 6 months if you do it regularly and without fail.
4) Get Puzzled & activate your subconscious.
All of us have two cognitive centers – the conscious and the subconscious. Usually, the subconscious is much more powerful than our conscious. Have you ever wondered how someone who looks incredibly dull can be pretty good at driving a car? After all, driving is a complex task, isn’t it? It is the power of our subconscious that makes this seemingly complex task easy. The flip side is usually you can’t control it. So, how can you activate it?
One sure-shot way of achieving this is to get puzzled every day. Start your day with a puzzle (you can pick it up from a lot of sources on the internet) and keep trying to solve it whenever you get time during the day. You will realize that after some time, even when you are working on other things, your subconscious will continue to put in the effort and solve it for you. This is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills exponentially.
5) Maintain an error Log.
Now comes the last habit- the mock loop with an error log. Once you have understood the CAT thoroughly by understanding all the concepts, you can start with the “Error Log”.
Follow the Mock Loop coupled with an error log. The loop is:>>
Step 1- Give the mock test based on CAT pattern>>
Step 2- Analyze the mock test and create/update error log>>
Error log: It is a notebook where you capture all your errors section wise in a generalized format supported by specific examples where you made those errors.>>
Step 3- Practice on eliminating those errors consciously using untimed test>>
Step 4- Repeat Step 1>>
Doing these things regularly for the remaining 6-9 months will not only help you to crack CAT but also help you during IIM placements
Remember, Motivation gets you started, Habits keep you going.
All the Best!