“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” is a famous quote from Walt Disney. A very apt quote for those who are preparing for CAT and other management entrance exams.
Success, as with most things, starts with the correct attitude and effective planning. Quite often MBA aspirants who prepare for the CAT exam and other management entrance exams often tend to do blind hard work without any proper planning in place. One should remember that to succeed in an exam of nature like CAT, it’s not just only the hard work which is required! Hard work coupled with smart work is the main key to success here. Apart from this, one should also try and avoid some common mistakes which usually the CAT takers commit. In this article, we will try to highlight such mistakes so that you would be careful of them.
Avoid a CAT-astrophe: Common Mistakes to avoid during CAT 2020 Preparation
Mistake 1: Not formulating a study plan/ following a time table
While most students work hard, but many of them do not prepare a daily/weekly time table. It is advisable for every aspirant to plan his/her daily preparation by making a schedule and stick to it religiously. This time table should be prepared in such a manner that it can be practically followed i.e., “promise more, deliver less’ kind of situation should not arise because of your over-ambition, else this might lead to demotivation.
Mistake 2: Procrastination, overconfidence or getting demotivated
The three terms mentioned above are the biggest enemies of success in life and hampers the smooth preparation of the CAT 2020 exam. Procrastination refers to delaying or postponing action and is a vice observed in many people and CAT aspirants. However, one must remember that the right time to do anything now so does not leave tasks or topics unfinished for the future.
Overconfidence is another vice that can hamper your performance in the exam. You might be a CAT retaker or scoring high on mocks. However, you lose the battle the moment you overestimate your ability to crack the CAT exam. Staying confident is good and positive but one should not take their ability or preparation for granted.
Mistake 3: Judging one’s preparation only in terms of “number of hours spent”
You should not quantify your quality of preparation in terms of a number of hours spent in studying, rather you should look at your preparation in terms of the number of topics covered, the number of concepts learned and so on. Doing this will ensure that you will be finding yourself in a much comfortable position with regard to the CAT syllabus.
Mistake 4: Too many mock tests
This idea has gained attraction among the students preparing for CAT over the last 3-4 years. It has primarily happened because a lot of achievers / top-scorers / 100%ilers swear by this idea. Yes – it is a good idea for them. It is a good idea for anyone who is confident enough about getting a 98+%ile. It is good for someone who has prepared for CAT earlier and scored anything above 95%ile. These types of CAT aspirants are already done with the basic fundamentals of the topics. They know what works for them and what doesn’t. All they need is some high-quality practice and they will be able to do well in the final CAT exam. Having said that, the idea of giving too many mock tests or preparing only via mocks is harmful to the majority of CAT aspirants. There is very little merit in that. An ideal number of mocks should be anywhere from 10 to 20. A mock is not a set of practice questions. It is not even a tool for practice. It is a tool for testing. It should be used to figure out your strengths and weakness. The learning from the mock results should be used to improve your weak areas and tweak the time that you are allocating to various sectors. To avoid making this mistake, all you need to do is quickly figure out your comfort level with CAT and adopt a strategy that suits you.
Mistake 5: Not setting targets
Students who do not set targets end up spending a lot of time on the topics which otherwise might require less time to prepare. Therefore it is advisable that we have a target set for each day and study accordingly.
Mistake 6: Not devoting enough time to each topic
Another area of concern is when students do not devote ample time to understand the concepts and jump to another topic. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the course instead focus on understanding the basic concepts of each area. When the concept of knowledge is incomplete, then students perform poorly in the exam. For instance, in critical reasoning questions, one should have a proper understanding of the terms like inference, assumptions, etc. One has to understand the question types for individual sections.
Mistake 7: Dearth of regular revision
One needs to regularly revise all the concepts, formulae and shortcuts learned; else it might become difficult to recall them on the day of the final CAT exam. In this regard, you can keep half a day aside every week or fortnight, wherein you would be revising all that you have covered so far.
Mistake 8: Not having personalized preparation & exam-taking strategies
There are many candidates who follow the preparation plan of others and not strategize their own. Some candidates do not even strategize their exam-taking strategies and randomly attempt the questions.
It is always suggested to understand personal capabilities and then strategize the preparation plan. Some students might have good grammar skills while some might be good with numbers. So, there cannot be a “one strategy” for everyone. Also, candidates should devise personal test-taking strategies that can be easily done by taking a good number of mock tests and solving several sample and question papers.
Mistake 9: Not analyzing the mocks
Students who do not analyze mocks are not able to find out the areas of improvement. The factors such as the correlation between a number of attempts and accuracy, time spent on each question, selection of right questions in terms of difficulty level, etc, contribute towards a good score. Therefore analyzing the mocks forms a crucial component in your CAT preparation journey.
Mistake 10: Spending too much time on one’s area of interest
Students prefer to spend time on subjects wherein they are comfortable and are already getting a good score. But students appearing for CAT need to understand that one has to get a decent score in all three sections namely (Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC).Therefore concepts from each section have to be understood, practiced and mastered.
Conclusion: Finally, students should make a strategy to master each subject that comes in the CAT exam. Also, one should definitely go through previous years’ CAT papers to assess the difficulty level of the exam. A very important piece of advice is that you should be thorough with the process of CAT registrations, eligibility criteria, cut-offs, syllabus, and exam pattern.
Quoting Helen Keler “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”