On our way to provide a long term preparation plan to all MBA-seekers, we are providing you tips and tricks to crack the CAT and other MBA entrance exams. Since CAT 2009 is still a long way ahead, its the best time to try various strategies and fine tune them till the end. Everyone learns differently and follows different study techniques, and so there is no universal method. Its up to the MBA aspirant to try and test each strategy that best works for him/her.
In this article we will be discussing the top 5 DONOTs for CAT 2009..
Do not forget about time
As we have always emphasized, CAT is all about time. A typical CAT paper is not difficult in itself, and can be solved by a 12th grade student. But solving it in the allotted time is the challenge. Always keep in mind that the one who manages the time efficiently is the winner. So it is important to start allocating proper time to your sectional preparations right from the start. Try to allocate a specific time for your set of questions, and try to solve them. You will understand how fast, or how slow you are. Try to adjust the level of difficulty and variety of questions and the time allocated also. For example, take 30 random algebra questions and try solving them in 25 minutes. And then do a thorough analysis. Do not take extra time. Count the number of questions you attempted, and were wrong. Also count the number of questions you could not attempt, and were sitters. Note down your performance, and your weak areas. Analyzing on these points will make your strategy work during the actual CAT. So instead of putting too much emphasis on getting the problem right, put more emphasis on getting the problem right in the right amount of time.
Do not just concentrate on the section you are good at
This is another mistake that most people do. We have seen people who just concentrate on the section they are good at. This might increase your percentile in that particular section, but will not help in getting you a MBA seat, especially in the IIMs. Most MBA institutes require that you clear the cut-off in all sections. If you are good in Quants, it may feel good to prepare and practice just Quants on and on. But the truth is, you might just lose the time you require in other sections. And in fact, if you are good in a particular section, you might need less practice in that section than others. So, go ahead and adjust your timetable according to this. Find out the sections, areas you are weak in, and invest more time in that. It may be difficult to concentrate more on RC, for example, if you are not good at it, but with regular practice you could do it. Keep taking sectional and/or full length tests in between, and you will find the difference in scores, and then you will feel good and confident.
Do not go for Quantity, but Quality
Many aspirants believe, solving a lot of problems will help in cracking CAT. This may be true to a certain extent but not always. There are a lot of materials and question-banks available now-a-days. However, simply exposing yourself to all sorts of problems is not enough; you have to actually study the problems, and this may mean doing fewer problems. You are not done with a problem when you get it right. You should spend twice as long reviewing a problem as you spend doing it, whether or not you got it correct. As a part of your review, ask yourself whether you identified the topics being tested. Did you do answer the question in the most efficient way? Was there another approach you could have taken? Does the problem or any of the concepts remind you of other problems you've seen? The goal is to find a lesson in each question and be able to apply those lessons to the next group of problems you do.Also this helps in keeping track of areas you are poor or strong in. Try to find a pattern in the way you solve problems. And then improve on the weak areas, instead of just solving a number of problems.
Do not just rely on mock tests.
If you take a practice test a day for six weeks, you might think you will be well prepared. This might be true for a few but not for most people. Practice tests are helpful to gauge your timings, and to test your speed and accuracy. But they are not sufficient. You need to clear your basics first, work hard on each subject and then take a leap towards mock tests. If you are not good at basics, you might score badly in your mock tests, and it might hurt your confidence. So do not make mock tests your primary tool. Best thing to do is to keep the mock tests for the last 6 weeks before CAT. Before that, concentrate on sectional tests, and more importantly on each chapter/module you prepare.
Do not slog, be methodical.
Studying all night just before the test might have helped you in college, but not in CAT. Studying for long periods of time is not effective preparation for CAT. Rather, you should pace yourself. Be systematic, and methodical. Give yourself a good amount of time to prepare for the test, working about three-four hours a day (and more on weekends, and when you are not working). Concentrate equally on all sections. Do a set of problems for an hour and spend the next hour reviewing those. Take a stretch break, come back, and do another set of problems. Review them again and then call it a day. Longer work sessions lead to diminishing returns, a concept that all business schools care about. Do not forget to test yourself on 10 AM of everyday if possible, because cracking CAT means you are 100% awake at that time.