The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Catapult yourself to success

1. Work out a detailed study schedule with targets that you wish to achieve in these remaining weeks.

2. Do not take more than three simulated CATs. That way, you'll have enough time to analyse the tests that you have already taken and work on minimising your errors. If you do require more practice, take sectional tests.

3. Try and consolidate your strengths rather than pick up new concepts. Do work on your weaknesses as well. Most top institutes have sectional cut-offs. Hence, even if maths happens to be one of your strengths, you can't afford to leave it out to concentrate on say, English.

4. For the last five years, CAT has been a three-section test. This year, they could well spring a surprise to throw you off guard. Try and take practice tests that provide every possible variation of content and format.

5. Practise data interpretation for half-an-hour daily. We recommend half-an-hour as that is approximately the time you will get to solve these questions in CAT.

6. Though accuracy always pays off in CAT, at times you can take a shot at intelligent guessing. But make sure your guesses are not wild. If, for instance, you are unable to choose the correct answer, make a guess only if you have narrowed down your choice to two. This is particularly true for the subjective part of the test, namely, the English questions. So you need to work on intelligent guessing in these last four weeks.

7. While taking practice tests you need to start identifying questions that you can attempt correctly and find easier to solve. This will enable you to recognise a pattern and improve your speed. Success is essentially a function of intelligent selection. So the key is going to be your ability to select the problems that you can crack and to skip the ones that you can't tackle in the given time.

8. Try taking a few tests at the real CAT time to tune your body clock to the pressure.

9. Go through past CAT papers.

10. Don't just read. Make sure you practise writing the answers as well.

11. While preparing for CAT, keep an eye on other B-school application deadlines. At most institutes, the deadline is going to be over in November.

12. Work with a study partner or in a group. This aids preparation.

13. Try and take care of your health. Fit in some kind of a physical exercise in your schedule.

14. Assuming that you study for five hours everyday, make sure that you set aside an hour for each of the five components of the test. This will stand you in good stead for the exam. It has been noticed that in the run up to the CAT it pays to devote equal time to all sections.

15. Use short-cuts and read intelligently. Look at all the mock tests that one has done and select, let's say, all philosophy passages and then read all of them in about an hour or two. This will ensure that you know almost all the terms that keep coming in the exam and also give you familiarity on a topic.

16. While preparing for verbal ability, remember that this is not the time to memorise words. It would be too little too late. Since the number of questions which directly relate to vocabulary can at best be around five, it may not be prudent to spend too much time in this area. However, the basic types of questions viz., paragraph-formation (jumbled paragraph), fill-in-the-blanks and grammar, have to be thoroughly revised from all the papers you've done till date. Spending about an hour on the verbal ability section becomes imperative as this is a very scoring area of CAT.

17. Spend about three days (one hour per day) for data sufficiency around the 10th of November so that you can brush up on all the tricks of tackling them.

18. Start preparing for group discussions and the interview as well. This year the results could be declared earlier than usual which means these tests are going to be upon you very soon.

19. Think positively and tell yourself that you can do it.

20. Finally, this is that time of the year when there are two conflicting emotions in the minds of CAT aspirants: One, that 'CAT will soon be over' and two, 'If only I had one more month, I would have prepared better'. Neither of the two is going to happen and hence, make the best use of the time available.

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