While commitment towards your MBA dream is a pre-requisite for scoring high in management entrance exams, the mode of preparation that you choose is also one of the major factors that play a vital role towards your success. Being one of the most coveted entrance exams- CAT is a tough nut to crack, although, with right study schedule and guidance one can easily achieve success. Every MBA aspirant, while starting preparations has to decide whether or not to opt for coaching. How important is it to take formal guidance in order to secure a good percentile in CAT? What if you keep coaching off your preparation scheme? Would it be possible to score high and clear cutoffs for top B-schools?
CAT 2017 will be conducted by IIM Lucknow in December. The CAT application form will be available from the first week of August. Though experts and toppers suggest that coaching and mentorship definitely facilitate your preparation, they believe that a right self-preparation plan coupled with a disciplined approach can also lead you to crack CAT. Further, your dedication to following the preparation plan and tweaking the same on a regular interval depending on your progress are the keys to success.
The level of competition for CAT is tough given that more than two lakh candidates appear for the exam for around 4000 seats. Entering in such a tough competition, a coaching guide definitely helps you prepare and execute preparation plan within a definite timeframe. But, what if your circumstances don’t allow you to take coaching? This article by Careers360 brings to you the answers related to your queries of whether or not coaching is important for CAT, or how to get a high score in CAT without any coaching?
There are many successful candidates who have excelled without the expert guidance. For example, Mukesh Goyal, who secured 100 percentile in CAT 2016, prepared for the test without joining a coaching institute. He says, "Since I was working, I devoted one hour to my preparation every day and took mock tests on weekends. Purchasing the test series of T.I.M.E. and IMS Learning helped me a lot as I did not join any coaching institute for preparation."
Maram Maheedhar, one of the 16 toppers who scored a perfect 100 percentile in CAT 2014 achieved the success without coaching. Sharing his strategy, Maram says, “I feel coaching only guides you and the rest are upon you. You have to practice, perform and be the perfect. The three P’s always lead you to success.” He further adds, “I did take coaching guidance a year back but left after 2-3 months. After that, I practised myself taking help from newspapers and dictionaries and different practice sets.”
Here we bring to you six ways to make your self-preparation plan more effective for MBA entrance exam.
1. Know the exam pattern and syllabus in detail
After you decide to take the MBA entrance exam, the first thing to do is to know the exam pattern and syllabus in detail. The next step is to go through the past years’ analysis so that you can prepare a comprehensive plan and also set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. The generic exam pattern of CAT is that it is a multiple choice objective type test from four areas, namely Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. Some exams also have a section on General Knowledge. On the basis of that, prepare a study schedule. Sandeep Manudhane, Chairman, PT Education says, “Make a micro plan splitting your effort into weeks and days. Write down that plan, and stick to it religiously. Remember that a weekly revision across test areas must be a key part of the plan. Do not work on any one test area for too long a stretch. Rotate across areas. It will keep you energised, interested and alive!”
2. Get the right study material
Those who opt for coaching get the tailor made section-wise preparation material. But, even if you do not go for coaching classes and cannot access the expert notes, there is no dearth of right study material. There are ample books, question banks, CAT Sample papers and preparatory books by expert authors available in the market. Get the right materials and study in a systematic and diligent manner. Also, utilise the practice papers so that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. The books and materials are available online as well as offline markets. Some of the top books for CAT preparation include How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma, The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit Sinha, Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma to name a few. Other than that, read newspapers and magazines daily to get a grip over your language and comprehension skills along with brushing up General Knowledge. Supreet Gupta, CMAT 2015 AIR 4 suggests, “For current affairs, go through at least one newspaper daily. The Hindu, Indian Express are the best options to choose from. You can take help from some Internet websites as well. Start reading the newspaper as it will help you to comprehend RCs in Verbal Ability section and will help you to tackle GK questions. Practice is the only other thing which is required so give as many mocks you can give.”
3. Take online mock tests
After the basic preparation, you have to start taking CAT mock tests on a regular basis. With each mock test, you will be clear about your strengths and weaknesses. Remember, the analysis is very important for your progress in preparation. Based on the analysis, you have to change the course of action of your preparation. Initially, you need to take the mock tests once or twice a week and later on, you can increase the frequency of the mock tests to thrice or four times a week. Ensure that you analyse each test in terms of common errors. Know what the factors are behind those errors, lack of conceptual clarity or silly mistakes. Shiv Raj, 99.94 percentiler in CAT 2016 shares, “I took up test series and also enrolled for a course with online coaching. So, in all, I gave about an hour or two for preparation on weekdays and about 6-7 hours over the weekends, which included taking a mock test. By the time I wrote CAT, I had given close to 30 mock tests. This prepared me for the unseen.” Even if you don’t go for regular classes at coaching institutes, you can enrol for the test series to have a proctored test taking experience and get evaluated by experts.
4. Create Study Group
A good company of people ensures that you are on the right track. You can discuss your problems, strategies, topics etc. with your study group members. It’s not necessary that all the group members are doing self-preparation. If some of them are taking coaching, that can be an added advantage for you. They can clarify your queries and confusions and also give you the suggestion based on expert inputs. You can also take same mock test or practice test together and analyse your competition and get your performance analysed with your group members. Neha Manglik, the only female CAT 2014 topper among the 16 toppers obtaining 100 percentilers shares how group studies helped her, “I do not think it is necessary to join coaching for CAT. Preparation can be done through group studies with friends, reading online or popular study materials etc. Group studies with my friends helped me a lot as we helped each other with our respective weaknesses.”
5. Utilise the Internet
The best part of using the internet is that you can get help and guidance on anything and everything. There are numerous education news websites which serve articles and news related to your exam along with study materials and sample papers on their website. You can also be part of social media groups for the CAT or XAT aspirants by liking the several Facebook pages or Forum threads created by aspirants or coaching institutes and being a part of online study groups. You can also follow the Twitter handles of the exam authorities and officials to be updated with the happenings. Sandeep Patra, who secured 99.60 percentile in CAT 2016 shares, "Since my job at Coal India Limited is very hectic & am located in a very remote area where there is no access to classroom coaching, I made optimum use of various social media platforms. I used to dedicate three to fours every day for CAT preparation."
Emphasising on the importance of utilising social media groups for CAT preparation, Mukesh mentions, "Though I am not very active on social media, still I joined various CAT preparation groups on Facebook which helped me a lot."
6. Be confident and stay motivated
This is the most important factor for those candidates who are preparing on their own. Don’t think that you have any less potential to crack the test than your counterparts who are taking coaching. As Vishesh Patni, CAT 2014 100 percentiler shares, “Having the right attitude is the key to crack CAT.” You need to keep a very positive outlook to stay confident and remain motivated through you CAT preparation journey.
Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more on CAT preparations.
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