I keep getting asked about what should be an ideal study plan for CAT 2016. Let me start by telling you that making a plan is the easiest step for all aspirants – the challenge is sticking to it through your preparation. Its so easy to get demotivated when you fail to assimilate certain concepts or topics (Engineers fear the verbal part while non-engineers dread the Math). Remember that CAT 2016 is only the means to your final goal – getting into your dream B-School. So, stay focused on that goal – believe in yourself and give it your best shot. Do not worry too much about the outcome at this stage – the final outcome will take care of itself:-)
Your CAT preparation can be divided into the following stages:
1. Stage 1: Concept Preparation
Make a list of concepts/topics assessed in the CAT. Understand their relative importance in the CAT. Make a plan to ensure that you are comfortable with most of the concepts, if not all. You may spend more time on areas where you are weak and rush through concepts where you are strong. For English, work on your reading skills and/or vocabulary(presuming most engineers are good at neither;-)). This is something you will need to do by yourself. Do not ignore Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – learn the art of solving these questions in a structured manner.
Have a study plan for CAT 2016: Decide the number of hours you can give per day, per week for your CAT preparation. Ideally you should not be studying more than 2 hours a day or 12-15 hours a week. If you stay in a place like Mumbai, you can borrow some of of your travel time for your CAT prep. Split the number of hours between the Verbal, Quant and DI-LR – ideally you should be spending around 4 -6 hours each on Quant and Verbal and maybe 2-3 hrs on DI and LR every week. However, this depends on “YOUR” strengths and weakness” – you may take a diagnostic test like SimCAT Zero to identify the same. Decide the days and time when you will be preparing for each of the mentioned areas.
Deadline: Ideally complete this stage by Apr 16
Resources provided by IMS: BRMS (Basic reference material), Class notes and e-concept Builder (online question bank)
2. Stage 2: Practice with CAT level questions
After Stage 1 is complete, you need to now get comfortable solving different question types and under time-constraints. Learn how to use options while solving questions. Learn better and more efficient ways of solving the same question. The more the number of questions that you solve, the more will be you be familiar with and hence confident of tackling CAT questions.
Deadline: Complete this stage by July 2016
Resources provided by IMS: Past CAT question papers, Area-wise Section tests, CAT 500
3. Stage 3: Fine tuning your test-taking skills
Here comes the most important phase wherein you will solve as many tests as possible. You will no longer look at questions in isolation. The objective now is to maximise your attempts and accuracy in a test. Practice the art of choosing the right questions to solve, having an eye on options, not getting stuck in particular questions and efficiently managing time. Take as many simulated tests as possible – but more importantly, analyse each one of them to find what’s going right and wrong. Always pick an area of weakness or two and work on it before taking the next test. Your scores will improve gradually and you should plan your tests in a manner that you peak when it matters – November 17.
Deadline: D-Day CAT 16
Resources provided by IMS: Proctored SimCATs, Unproctored & Take-home SimCATs, CAT Challenge
It’s not just about the CAT
Remember, you also need to clear the second stage of the selection process – WAT/GD/PI. So, alongside your CAT prep, try and add to your profile – if you are working do well at your workplace, if you are studying ensure you get good grades, also try and do projects and internships that add value to your CV. Participation in extra-curriculars, college events, social projects are other ways of enhancing your profile.
Should you join a test-prep institute?
If you are self-disciplined and already good at most,if not all, concepts listed above – you can go for self-preparation. Websites like cat100percentile.com will aid your preparation. You can later join any reputed test series for CAT. However, if you need hand-holding and enforced discipline – join a test-prep institute like IMS – we will be happy to help you.
In the coming weeks, I will post specific posts on how to prepare for each of the sections of CAT 2016.