CAT 2017 - 4 months strategy to crack the test: The official announcement of CAT 2017 has brought with it a relief for MBA aspirants as IIMs have not thrown any surprise this year. Scheduled on November 26, 2017, there are hardly four months left for the biggest MBA entrance exam for 20 IIMs and over 100 B-schools across India. With approximately two lakh candidates expected to appear for the exam, the competition level is indeed high. It is high time for MBA aspirants to buck up with a proper preparation plan in place. To help the CAT takers, this article of Careers360 brings to you the preparation tips for the next four months.
- Predict your percentile before the actual result
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If you have already started preparing for CAT 2017, you must have completed the basics and moved forward to the higher level of preparation. If you had delayed your preparation anticipating a change in CAT 2017 exam pattern, you need not wait any longer. The exam pattern of CAT 2017 has not changed and continues to follow the previous year's structure. Take a look at the plan you need to follow for the final preparation of CAT 2017.
CAT 2017 - 4 months strategy to crack the test
Know the exam pattern – As per the CAT 2017 pattern, there are three sections, Verbal and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Ability. The total and sectional durations are three hours and one hour respectively. Time management needs to be focused on since you get one hour for each section and will not be able to switch sections. There are 34 questions each in Quantitative Ability and Verbal & Reading Comprehension and 32 questions in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning section.
Make a study schedule – CAT aspirants are either graduation final year students or working professionals. The decision to take CAT or other MBA entrance exam comes with a dedicated plan and commitment to give your best shot. At this stage, you need to study for at least four to five hours in a day covering each section. If this is your first CAT attempt, start with the basics, go through the solved papers of past years’ CAT to start with. Choose the time of the day in which you are comfortable and can concentrate fully. As per experts, early morning is the ideal time to study with fresh mind before the hustle and bustle of the day begin. However, some night birds also prefer to study during the late night hours. But since after the long day you may find it hard to focus, hence you can take a couple of hours’ nap before starting your preparation. Sharing his time table, Piyush Bule, who secured 99.41 percentile in CAT 2016 says, "I started with my preparation six months prior to the exam, i.e. from May. I spent two to three hours a day to go through the concepts. From August onwards, I started attempting two mocks every weekend and then spent time analysing my performance and working on them during weekdays. Last 50 days were totally focussed on mock tests."
Work on your weaknesses – After the basic preparation and taking the initial mock tests, you will be able to identify your weak areas. While preparing your time table, assign maximum duration for the weak areas. Once you get a grip over these areas, shift your focus to the strong areas. Akshay Mehndiratta, a first-year student at IIM Ahmedabad and 100 percentiler in CAT 2016 mentions, "It is important to identify your weak areas as early as possible and start working on it. In the initial days of preparation use some good materials. Once you start taking the mock exams and test series, then there should be an improvement. "
Take at least three mock tests in a week - Mock test should be an integral part of your preparation curriculum. Every week, you have to take at least three mock tests along with proper analysis. With each mock test, you will be well aware of your preparation status, strengths and weaknesses. After completing the basic syllabus, take section wise mock tests. While you may take two regular full-length mocks, one mock test can be sectional, depending on your weakness. "After I would complete a topic or have the feeling that I have spent a significant amount of time on it, I would appear for the topic-wise mock tests. If I got a 100 per cent, I would move on, if not, back to the concepts. That was an extremely effective way to move ahead with great pace," says Soham Banerjee, an IIM Udaipur student.
Decide your test taking strategy – By taking a couple of mock tests, you will be able to select your strategy in terms of making a maximum attempt with accuracy. Also, you can decide about how much time to assign per question, which type of questions to choose and which topics to leave out etc. by taking a series of mock tests. You can try several strategies in your mock tests before finalising the one which is most convenient for you. Gautam Puri, Co-founder of Career Launcher suggests, "Try to attempt each section in three rounds. In the first round, pick the questions that you are sure about and can solve without wasting time. In round two, pick questions that are an opportunity for you, while in round three, pick
Focus on building time management strategy – It is important to utilise one hour of each section properly. As per experts, the best way to manage time is to scan the questions, select the ones to attempt and solve. In case you get stuck to a particular question, leave it out and solve other questions. In order to avoid further wastage of time, you are suggested to select some backup questions while scanning the sectional questions. Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, IMS Learning says, “ With sectional time-limits, test-takers neither have the option to decide how much time to allocate to each of the areas nor to decide the order in which they would solve questions from different areas. Test-takers will need to look at CAT as a series of three one hour tests one after the other, wherein they need to maximise their scores in each of the tests.”
Only bookish knowledge is not enough – For the highly competitive exam like CAT, depending only on the subject specific books or study materials would not be enough. You need to broaden your horizon for the questions on Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and also for the non-MCQ type questions. Read business newspapers, magazines and brush up your general knowledge and vocabulary in order to ace each section. Try to analyse the figures and graphs given in the business sections of the newspaper in order to crack the Data Interpretation section. This will not only help you for cracking the MBA entrance exams like CAT, XAT, IIFT etc. but will also help you for GD, PI and WAT as well. Antariksh Johri, who secured 99.66 percentile in CAT 2016 shares, "For Verbals, I was advised to read books and newspapers, which helped me a lot to understand language and its usage. I read over 20 books, both fiction and non- fiction during my preparation."
Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more on CAT 2017.
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