First of all, one must understand that there are factors that decide your overall result- factors that are in your own control, and some factors that are out of control for an individual. The idea is to be able to control as many factors as possible in order to create an appropriate environment for preparation.
CAT preparation for working professionals
A few factors that you must keep in control:
- How much time do you spend traveling?
- Your health and fitness (both body and mind)
- Your level of preparation
- Distractions in life.
- Your dedication towards preparation
Note: These factors totally depends on you the way you are looking for preparation.
There are also some factors which are not in your control:
- Uncertain interruptions such as health issues etc.
- What will come in the paper?
The first step is to understand the things that are mentioned above, and maximizing your control over factors, maximizing chances of good performance. The factors that it takes to perform well are optimum utilization of time, discipline, innovation, and self-belief.
Factor 1: Optimum utilization of time
To be able to work, for a certain amount of time, on a task at hand with determination and focus. You have to give at least 2–3 hours of a weekday for preparation and 5-6 hours on a weekend, which which you need to shave off your distractions (facebook etc., say). You have to wind up work as quickly as possible, and try leaving early. You have to develop a habit of reading whenever you are willing to take a break at the office. It is better to wake up early, rather than sleeping late and study with a fresh mind for 1.5 hrs.
Factor 2: Discipline
“A plan is as good as dust if not followed till the end.” You have to follow up with your schedule so much that it might become a part of your nature. You have to find time for your preparation and make sure that somehow you manage to squeeze those 2–3 hours from your day for dedicated preparation.
Factor 3: Innovation
Find new, innovative ways to learn something new throughout the day, in a sly manner. We can say that this is why many educators across India are developing Online Education Resources for the students preparing for the examination as it makes things convenient for them. Try to go for online videos and solve questions yourself to master the concepts. You can find many other such resources on YouTube also which could be very benefitting. You can also save the videos offline, so that you can carry your class with you. You can use your smartphone to read, or to practice some mathematics, or to revise something. Find new ways to learn and implement them. Our minds are well tuned to finding gaps/exploiting them using our own ways. Apply different ways to augment your knowledge. Try to pull more hours on the weekend, can say around 5-6 hours.
Factor 4: Self-belief
One must first completely trust themselves, have faith in their capacity to achieve what they have set out to achieve.
The CAT preparation will look very enriching since it will be a departure from your monotonous office work. This might add a flavor to the preparation, and you might start looking forward to the time of the day when you would be preparing. Enjoy the journey!!
Some additional pointers for CAT Preparation For The Working Professionals
1. Know your priorities.
If you want to ace CAT, then don’t try to be that guy who works 12–15 hours a day. You need to be fresh to prepare for the examination and need to take out time.
2. Set realistic expectations at work.
Make sure that you don’t overwork or work consistently on the weekends. You have to keep yourself fresh to prepare properly.
3. Learn to say NO.
There are many possibilities that people will try to shove work on your plate late at night/ on weekends. If you have got the point no.1, this shouldn’t be a problem.
It is very much possible that you can ace CAT with work. Almost 60% of students at top IIMs have work experience during their admission. In one of the batches at IIM Calcutta, they have 72% people with work experience this year. Work experience adds to one’s profile, and allows them to participate somewhat better in classroom discussions. Try to balance things as it is the key to do well on the CAT while working.
For self-study you can go for the following sources:
- For Quantitative Aptitude, you can go for either Arun Sharma or Nishith Sinha or Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma.
- For Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation, you can go for Arun Sharma or Nishith Sinha.
- For Verbal Ability, you can look for Arun Sharma & Meenakshi Upadhyaya.
- For updates, you can follow certain pages on the web.
- For Video Lectures and practice questions, you can follow some of the pages on the web and Youtube. Many more resources are available online. Try to use these resources for your own good. It will save you time and will help in preparing in a better way.
Now if you are thinking, how should you actually plan your studies for CAT. I have a simple guideline for you. Keep following the pattern of the CAT exam. CAT is broadly divided into 5 areas:
- Quantitative Aptitude
- Data Interpretation
- Logical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- Verbal Ability
Here, we can say that the relative weightage of the above-mentioned categories is roughly 2:1:1:1:1. Here 2 is marked for the Quantitative Aptitude part. A lot of students make the mistake of focusing on just Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability. Try to understand that Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability form only 50% of the CAT syllabus. The other 50% comprises of Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation. You should avoid making this mistake. Here is the plan that you can follow:
- Monday & Tuesday – Quantitative Aptitude
- Wednesday – Data Interpretation
- Thursday – Logical Reasoning
- Friday – Reading Comprehension
- Saturday (First Half) – Verbal Ability.